Friday, April 26, 2013

The Ordinariate Grows

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross – not yet a year old, having been established on the feast of the Sacred Heart in 2012 – continues to grow, quietly and steadily; to-day, its thirteenth priest will be ordained: Fr Gordon Barnier.

Some time ago, another priest of the Ordinariate gave an interview in Kairos, the Melbourne Archdiocesan magazine, indicating that there were fifteen in formation, so we trust that in due course a few more men will be ordained for priestly service in full communion with the Catholic Church. 

In a similar way, groups of Anglicans have been admitted into that full communion – most recently, several members of the St Patrick's Ordinariate Group (centred on Benalla, in north-east Victoria), in early April.  The members of these groups are often widely-spread, but now, rather than being on the fringes of Anglicanism, mainstream or "continuing", they are full members both of the Catholic Church worldwide, and in a special way of the local Ordinariate.

Of your charity, please pray for the following priests of the Australian Ordinariate, especially on the anniversaries of their ordination as Catholic priests:
Western Australia (2):
Very Rev Mgr Harry Entwistle, Ordinary (ord. 15/6/12)
Fr Stephen Hill (ord. 1/3/13) 
Victoria (4):
Fr Christopher Seton (ord. 8/9/12)
Fr Neil Fryer (ord. 8/9/12)
Fr James Grant (ord. 8/9/12)
Fr Ramsay Williams (ord. 8/9/12) 
NSW (1):
Fr Warren Wade (ord. 12/12/12) 
Queensland (6):
Fr Antony (Tony) Iball (ord. 18/10/12)
Fr Lyall Cowell (ord. 18/10/12)
Fr Andrew Kinmont (ord. 5/4/13)
Fr Gordon Barnier (ord. 26/4/13)
Fr Owen Buckton (ord. 1/2/13)
Fr Ron(ald) Wallis (ord. 5/4/13)
Please pray, too, for the Ordinariate, and those considering entering full communion in it, that it may welcome many souls heeding the call to unity, and thus bear fruit for the wider Church:

Our Lady of the Southern Cross, pray for them.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Over one hundred thousand Australians have died in wars; for them, and all slain in warfare, we pray:

Almighty everlasting God, who sent your Son to die that we might live, grant, we pray, eternal rest to those who gave themselves in service and sacrifice for their country. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Collect for ANZAC Day (Roman Missal)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Liturgical Ethos of the Ordinariate

The Mater et caput of all the Personal Ordinariates is surely that of Our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales (and Scotland): its Ordinary, Monsignor Keith Newton, has recently issued Guidelines for the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which, inasmuch as they well promote the liturgical ethos of the groups of Anglicans that have come into full communion with the Catholic Church, may with profit be studied and emulated, not just in the other two Ordinariates, mutatis mutandis, but throughout the wider Latin Rite of the Universal Church.

Some of the more notable points in the Introduction and Norms of these Guidelines are:

1. Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Book of Divine Worship [Rite One only – cf. 2.] are the current liturgical texts, for the Office and for Holy Mass, proper to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, as indicated by the faculty given (cf. AC III). 
3. Liturgical celebrations should always take into account the desire of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, for the maintenance of the traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church (cf. AC III). This should be evident in all aspects of liturgical celebration, whether according to the Book of Divine Worship or the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not least in the choice of sacred music and vesture. 
5. Where the dynamic of the building allows it, the ancient practice of ad orientem celebration is commended. 
6. Where versus populum celebration of the sacred liturgy is necessary, the placing of a standing crucifix with the corpus turned towards the celebrant, in the centre of the altar, is commended. 
9. Where it is possible, Sundays, solemnities, and some feasts (e.g. Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, Annunciation, Visitation, Transfiguration, Holy Cross, Blessed John Henry Newman, All Souls) should be celebrated in a more solemn form, with the use of incense and music. 
10. The Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) is highly commended for use, not simply on Sundays or solemnities. This prayer is a particular sign of continuity with the Uses in force in the Church in England before the Reformation.

Whether, at Mass, either the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, or the Book of Divine Worship is used, the Anglican Patrimony, that treasure to be preserved and indeed shared with the wider Church (as Benedict XVI put it), ought be evident in the liturgical ethos and atmosphere, in all aspects, "not least in the choice of sacred music and vesture": and by "vesture" I daresay the use of beautiful and dignified vestments, not cheap polyester ponchos, but those of a higher quality, as favoured by Benedict XVI of happy memory, is suggested, as also the use of cassock and surplice by servers, not sacklike albs for all and sundry.

Furthermore, on all Sundays, solemnities and some feasts, incense and music ought be employed where possible. The eastward position is recommended to be used, if the physical layout of the church building allow it; however, as happens, if this is not possible (here in Australia, the church of the Ordinariate parish in Melbourne has an altar that has been moved forward, so that it is impossible to say Mass ad orientem), then the so-called Benedictine arrangement ought be used.  The use of the Roman Canon is highly encouraged, not merely on Sundays and solemnities, but on all occasions.

Quite frankly, if only ordinary Masses across the wider Roman Rite were conducted in such a manner! There would indeed be a hermeneutic of continuity employed. The Roman canon, incense, music, celebration ad orientem... this would gladden the hearts of the New Liturgical Movement.

The Guidelines then detail recommendations about Sacred Music:

15. The use of sacred music is integral to the celebration of the sacred liturgy. As such priority should be given to the liturgical texts as found in the liturgical books (cf. GIRM §48) and to the use of plainchant (cf. GIRM §41). 
16. The priest or deacon should sing those parts of the rite indicated by the rubrics to a varying degree dependent on the solemnity of the occasion. 
17. Well-chosen hymns have a particular role in Anglican liturgical patrimony and in recent years have almost displaced the singing of the Propers. The Anglican Use Gradual, successor to the English Gradual, is a simple tool for the recovery of the singing of the Propers and is highly commended. 
18. The sung proclamation of the gospel is commended when the prayers of the Mass are sung and especially at celebrations of particular solemnity. 
19. It is desirable that the faithful know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, as a sign of our unity with the wider Church (cf. GIRM §41). 
20. Each Ordinariate Group should be well-versed with the plainchant setting of the Ordinary of the Mass found in the English translation of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. Where this is employed in celebrations according to the Book of Divine Worship, the Greek/Latin is used. 
21. Mass VIII (Missa de Angelis) in Latin, Credo I and Credo III, and the Lord’s Prayer set by John Merbecke are highly commended for use. In celebrations according to the Book of Divine Worship where a congregational setting of the Ordinary of the Mass is used, John Merbecke’s setting and the Anglican Folk Mass by Martin Shaw are highly commended. 
22. Certain plainchant hymns, proses, and anthems in English should be known by the faithful of the Personal Ordinariate (e.g. the seasonal Office Hymns, Advent and Lent Prose). It is good that the seasonal Marian antiphons are known in Latin as well as to vernacular, metrical settings (e.g. Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven).

Aside from a few references particular to the Anglican Patrimony, if only the standard of sacred music aimed at here were the norm throughout the Western Church! Note particularly the encouragement of the singing of the Gospel at sung Mass (once the norm, now exceedingly rare), the singing of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin as well as English, and the use of sung Propers.

As for the readings from Scripture, only the Revised Standard Version (Catholic, 2nd edition) is permitted for use at Mass (n. 23) – but, when members of the Ordinariate worship with a congregation made up mainly of diocesan Catholics, for "pastoral reasons" the Jerusalem Bible may be used, lest a change cause wonderment. (As an aside, be it noted that, sometime in the next decade, the Lectionary will be brought out in a new version, employing the English Standard Version.)

When the Book of Divine Worship – the preferred form of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Ordinariate – is to be used for Mass, further rules apply:

27. The Propers are taken from the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal if they are to be used. If they are to be sung, the equivalent texts (together with the accompanying chant) from the Graduale Romanum, Graduale Simplex, or the Anglican Use Gradual are used. 
28. The Collect for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist may be taken from either the Book of Divine Worship or the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in English. If the latter is used, it should not be adapted (i.e. by the adopting the conventions of ‘traditional language’). 
29. The Traditional [BCP] Psalter as found in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Psalter as found in the RSV Lectionary may be used for the psalm in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours. 
30. The Psalter as found in the Book of Divine Worship [being the Episcopalian revision of the original BCP Psalter] is not permitted for use. 
31. Penitential Rite B [after the Intercession and before the Preparation of the Offerings] is to be preferred. 
32. The Preparation of the Offerings is taken from the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. 
33. The Prayer over the Offerings is taken from the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. 
34. The Roman Canon as found in the Book of Divine Worship is used with the following words of consecration inserted in place of those found in the Book of Divine Worship: 
Who, the day before he suffered, took bread into his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes lifted up to heaven, unto thee, God, his almighty Father, giving thanks to thee, he blessed, broke and gave it to his disciples, saying: 
Likewise, after supper taking also this goodly chalice into his holy and venerable hands, again giving thanks to thee, he blessed, and gave it to his disciples, saying: 
35. The response to ‘Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith’, is one of the acclamations taken from the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal.

These modifications fall into two categories: firstly, updating the Book of Divine Worship to conform to the latest edition of the Roman Missal (in other words, removing the obsolete ICEL paraphrases and inserting the far more acceptable new ICEL translations – the sudden change from Cranmerian prose to ICEL vernacular and back again for the Offertory and Consecration was one of the most jarring aspects of the Book of Divine Worship); and secondly giving directions for the use of the sung Propers, even in Latin – so Graduals and the like may be sung.

Finally, the Guidelines provide very pertinent directions about "The Distribution of Holy Communion" in conformity with the restoration of Catholic tradition (as exemplified by the practice of Benedict XVI) and the maintenance of the orthodox Anglican Patrimony:

36. In keeping with the Anglican tradition, it is highly commended that Holy Communion be distributed at a communion rail (or in a similar manner) to kneeling communicants. 
37. Where Holy Communion is received in the hand, due reverence and the patristic and Anglican practice of ‘making a throne’ and taking the Sacred Host to the mouth are highly commended, as is the practice of receiving Holy Communion directly on the tongue. 
38. In keeping with the Anglican tradition, it is highly commended that the chalice is always retained by the Minister of Holy Communion, whether Ordinary or Extraordinary, and not passed into the hands of the communicant. Holy Communion under both kinds is part of the patrimony and remains normal practice in the Personal Ordinariate.

Anglicans of whatever variety have always knelt for communion, and when I have occasionally glanced into Anglican churches I have very often noted the altar rail and kneeler still in place for regular use, whether the locals be High or Low in their churchmanship. The near-universal rejection of kneeling in favour of standing is a Catholic innovation of the last fifty years, after centuries of kneeling. As to reception on the hand, it seems more reverent to convey the Host to one's mouth in that manner, by bearing It gently to the mouth upon the "throne" of the hands, rather than to seize It with the fingers as if It were a potato crisp! But of course to receive directly upon the tongue is also most commended, as the normative Catholic practice even today, whatever of widespread contrary custom.

(I would guess that the employment of extraordinary ministers of holy communion is not so common in the Ordinariate, and that any such are male servers, vested in cassock and surplice, as is most fitting.)

In sum, these Guidelines are a marvellous programme for noble and dignified Eucharistic worship (and also when the Divine Office is celebrated, though I have omitted to comment on that in this post). Aside from the particular use of elements proper to the Anglican Patrimony (the Customary, the Anglican Use Gradual, the Book of Divine Worship), if these Guidelines were widely disseminated and employed, how greatly would worship, liturgy and true piety profit throughout the wider Church!

Imagine, for a moment, how this would look in a parish, and not one part of the Ordinariate, but where these sane principles were embraced by priest and people as a timely reminder of the true Catholic ethos, "which I have loved long since and lost a while":

  • worship ad orientem (n. 5);
  • incense and sacred music used on all Sundays and solemnities, and on many feasts (n. 9);
  • the Roman Canon employed not merely on Sundays and solemnities, but more often (n. 10);
  • "silence and due reverence before the tabernacle, and in the Church before and after liturgical worship" (n. 11);
  • "public and sung celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours" (n. 12) – e.g. Vespers, which ought to be celebrated in all parish churches at least on Sundays;
  • "The celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation... before Mass... as a means of bringing the sacrament to the renewed awareness of the faithful" (n. 13);
  • priority given to singing the liturgical texts and to plainchant (n. 15), to the singing by the priest or deacon of their parts of the Mass (n. 16) – e.g. the Preface and even the Gospel (n. 18) – to the singing of the Propers (n. 17), and to the singing by all of well-known settings of the Mass in both English and Latin (nn. 19-21);
  • Holy Communion distributed to kneeling communicants at the altar rail, where they may receive either on the tongue or in the hand in a reverent manner; and the administration of the chalice in a like and seemly manner (nn. 36-38).

These remind me of the famous "six points" of Anglo-Catholic or ritualist worship: the mixed chalice, wafer bread (unleavened hosts), lights (candles),  Eucharistic vestments, the eastward position, incense – the first four of these are and have always been universal Roman Catholic practices, but the last two have sadly dropped away, and ought be restored.

I pray that we have here, not one last fruit "out of season" of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, but the first blossoming of the ongoing rediscovery and repristination of divine worship which is the fundamental duty of the whole Church.

My only regret is that Monsignor Newton did not see fit to employ that famously witty Anglican sense of humour, and give us thirty-nine of these Guidelines!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Moral Paradigm Shift

When I was an undergraduate studying theology, I recall my moral theology lecturer (a relatively youthful religious sister, whom someone at her Roman alma mater had nicknamed Barbie) telling the class that one could extract no useful list of moral injunctions from either the Old or the New Testaments. At the time it seemed best not to challenge this extraordinary statement with some fairly obvious counter-examples... Similarly, my lecturer on the Epistle to the Romans, a well-known Melbourne Jesuit, bent over backwards (if you will excuse the pun) to explain away the apparently damning references St Paul makes in the first chapter thereof to unnatural practices as grave sins. In both cases – and these were classes at nominally Christian institutions – the modern secular Zeitgeist had entirely overcome traditional morality no less than the repeated assertions of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church down to the present day.

A priest friend was talking with me about hearing the confessions of young people, and relayed to me the case of a fellow priest, who, upon being told by his penitent that she had last been to confession ten years ago, and yet had no sins to confess, exclaimed that surely she was a saint – though the intended satire no doubt passed over her head. I have been struck more and more by the modern lack of any sense of sin, let alone of any angst about or craving for redemption, for a Saviour. It is as if whatever one does, it is of little consequence – even in the case of those brought up as what passes for Catholic these days, so inculcated is the hazy notion of a God ever-loving, never ever condemning, that the assumption is made that sin doesn't really exist, let alone matter, or perhaps require some contrition.

In the wide world around us, New Zealand now takes her place as the thirteenth nation to legalize a logical absurdity. And these days, in which legal positivism has triumphed, whatever is legal is perceived as ipso facto right and good and moral and just, and if some desideratum is not yet legal, then all effort will be expended soon enough to have our elected representatives declare it so: whereas the sinister pronouncements of those dreadful fun-killing Christians, let alone the vile monsters of the Church of Rome, are per se to be distrusted, dismissed, loathed, mocked and rejected.

Are we not now living in the aftermath of a paradigm shift along the lines of Nietzsche's seconding of Satan's cry "Evil, be thou my good"? I fear we are; and that the Christian message is not merely repellent to, nor unpersuasive for, but completely unimportant to many postmodern persons, whatsoever their psycho-sexual identity. They have no interest in any pretended God or world beyond this one and its idols. I fear that the compliment is being returned by Providence in the way of ineluctable demographic decline: "I looked for the wicked and he was not there". By living in a way manifestly opposed to rational nature, human kind dies out in the decadent West.

The Christians who lived at the time of the fall of Rome thought it a sign of the end of the world: it indeed marked an end of a world, but Christianity grew and flourished apace in the new world that succeeded it. In the West (whose Patriarch is the Bishop of Rome, whatever his immediate forerunner may have said about it), Christianity is dying in the midst of a dying civilization, the dregs of which are reverting to pagan ways, as a dog returns to its vomit – or rather, worse still, the former demonic lord of this world returns to again reside in his residence of old, with seven yet more terrible devils. O tempora, O mores.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ditch the Witch versus Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

Over in the Old Country, those not remembering Baroness Thatcher with happiness have been promoting the old song "Ding Dong! The witch is dead" – forgetting for the time being their manners and the old advice to speak not ill of the dead.  I have not heard anyone pointing out the lack of common decency in this, let alone crying that it is a misogynistic attack on a woman. Instead, I have seen commentary to the effect that, despite her being the first female British PM, the Iron Lady was no feminist (and thus her gender was irrelevant). Presumably, then, labelling her as a witch, and rejoicing over her death, is "alright", at least in lefty circles.

Here in Oz, meanwhile, a year or more ago some unhappy munchkins notoriously waved placards bearing slogans such as "Ditch the Witch", when calling on our own tin-eared PM to go away (others referred to her in still more derogatory language, implying she had an unseemly relationship with the then leader of the Greens – a man uninterested in women). This, in contradistinction to the mockery of Thatcher, was apparently deeply hateful and misogynist; and Gillard herself has played the gender card against "that dreadful man" (as a close female relative of mine refers to Abbott, unconscious of her own gender stereotyping of the Leader of the Opposition).  Apparently such a verbal attack upon our Labor Prime Minister is an unconscionable act of gender aggression.

Is it simply that Thatcher was of the right wing, and this means she is fair game for mockery on the part of her left wing foes – whereas Gillard is of the left wing, and thus it is vile wickedness on the part of her right wing opponents to use similar words against her? This no doubt implies that the media takes a left-wing slant on these issues: imagine that!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Catholic Reform: New Latin Patriarchates?

Upon the discovery of the New World, King Ferdinand asked the then Pope, Leo X, to establish a patriarchate for the ecclesiastical governance of the lands of America conquered by the Spanish. Eventually, in 1524, the title of Patriarch of the West Indies was created, but it remained merely honorific – the Papacy not being keen on setting up an entirely new autonomous jurisdiction. King Philip II again pushed for it to become an actual and not merely titular dignity, but Rome refused. Eventually, it was merged with the Military Vicariate of Spain, until the latter was abolished; the last holder of the title of Patriarch, after the Vicariate's end, was the Bishop of Madrid (1946-1963). The title remains in abeyance, never having been officially suppressed.

Considering that the reform of the Curia, and thus of Church governance in general, is a matter of current concern, I make bold to propose that the Papacy, overburdened by decision-making, ought make a strategic decision, and establish several new Latin patriarchates, with jurisdictional autonomy – not in any way to endanger the Faith or Catholic morals, of course, but so as to relieve the Holy See of matters better delegated to other bodies. The Pope would thereafter relate to these new Latin Patriarchates in the same way as he deals with the Eastern Catholic Patriarchates and the like; they would be autonomous, but subject to his Petrine authority as Vicar of Christ.

The obvious first step would be to elevate CELAM (Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano), the Latin American Episcopal Conference (or Council), currently a federation as it were of 21 national and 1 international (the Caribbean) episcopal conferences, into a synod for a new Latin Patriarchate: that of Latin America. The old titular Patriarchate of the West Indies would be revived and made into what it was in the first place proposed to be – an autonomous Catholic jurisdiction for the New World (excluding Canada and the USA). Since the title was never attached to any one diocese, it could be conferred by the Pope upon a worthy bishop in some part of Latin America, who would have patriarchal jurisdiction, assisted by CELAM (renamed or reconstituted or not), over that vast region of the globe, which contains over 40% of all Catholics, the vast majority of whom are united by either Spanish or Portuguese culture and by the Holy Faith (for over three-quarters of Latin Americans are Catholic, despite the inroads of secularism and Protestantism). The 798 dioceses and the like (vicariates apostolic, military ordinariates, and so forth) that govern the present territories of CELAM would be presided over by the new Patriarch, with real and not merely titular jurisdiction.

If it seemed timely, the same erection of a new Latin Patriarchate with jurisdictional autonomy could be carried out for South and East Asia combined, with the courtesy title of Patriarch of the East Indies to be transferred from Goa to Manila (the obvious choice, seeing as Catholic Filipinos constitute nearly two-thirds of all Catholics in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and East Asia). This Patriarchate would contain perhaps one-tenth or more of all Catholics worldwide, spread throughout 405 dioceses and the like. However, since unlike Latin America this is still a region in which the Faith is in a minority in nearly all places, the Philippines aside, perhaps it ought remain under the jurisdiction of Propaganda Fide...

In the same manner and for the same reason (and subject to the same caveat), Sub-Saharan Africa could be erected into a new Latin Patriarchate, whose 495 dioceses and so forth would contain more than 12% of all Catholics, and which is the most dynamic and flourishing part of the Universal Church in terms of conversions to the Faith. The title of Latin Patriarch of Alexandria, suppressed in 1963, could be revived and transformed into the title for some worthy prelate, to be appointed from among the ranks of African bishops by the Pope. UPDATE: The primatial see of North Africa was not fixed in any one place, but allotted by seniority; some analogous arrangement could be made for Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Pope, meanwhile, would revive and make meaningful his recently-suppressed title of Patriarch of the West – which would be redefined as encompassing Western Europe, Canada, the US, Australia, NZ, and various satellite regions such as Oceania, and the Catholics of Latin Rite in more than one thousand dioceses and other administrative divisions throughout Eastern Europe, Russia, North Africa and the Middle East (unless the last two were united to the rest of Africa and Asia respectively*). This Patriarchate of the West, whose administration could be made more clearly separate from the purely Petrine jurisdiction of the Pope over all, would still contain more than a third of all Catholics worldwide.

*UPDATE: I now think that the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem ought have its jurisdiction extended over North Africa and the Middle East.

Rather than the centralization of matters in the Roman Curia resulting in administrative paralysis in the heart of the Church, and lack of responsiveness in the periphery, this devolution of jurisdiction to new Latin Patriarchates, parallel to the Eastern Catholic patriarchates and the like, could result in more vigour and action in the cause of the Gospel.  Then again, it may be persuasively argued that in point of fact dioceses are already extraordinarily independent of each other and of Rome!

Is this a mad notion, or not? (For the sake of argument, focus not on any alleged low quality nor potential heterodoxy of bishops, but assume they are Catholic and possessed of the necessary qualities by nature and grace to teach, rule and sanctify.)

I leave it to the musing of readers as to whether, should Pope Francis implement this scheme, he ought appoint himself first Patriarch of Latin America and return thereto, resigning the Papacy – and calling yet another Conclave!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gaudete, Populi: an Oratory to be established in Brisbane

According to this press release from the Archdiocese of Brisbane, a new Congregation of the Oratory – that excellent form of priestly life in common established by St Philip Neri – is to be set up in Brisbane by 2016. Four experienced priests from around Australia, together with two current seminarians (who will go overseas to train) will form the nucleus of this new Oratory, which has been in planning for two years.

As a devout (though sinful) client of St Philip, I can only rejoice at this wonderful and unexpected news, and beseech him to intercede with the Lord that this venture may be blessed with every success.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Slight Editing

Some months ago – was it last year? – one of my friends at choir asked me, with some degree of trepidation, if I were in agreement with the perspectives expressed at the blog Rorate cæli, to which I link. As in fact I tend to find some of the views expressed on that blog to be rather too close to the SSPX, and rather to the "right" of my own, I explained as much to my worried friend (much to his relief!), and then added an editorial comment to the link to Rorate cæli that I have in my blogroll, to the effect that I find some of their views "extreme", implying therefore that I do not in fact share their views, lest my own views be taken as wholly in agreement with all of theirs.

As soon as Pope Francis was elected, that same blog featured some rather unflattering commentary about him, in contradistinction to the more positive tones of various other blogs to which I also link, with whose views I am in rather closer agreement – and the rather insulting tone of the many comments added to some of the Rorate cæli posts about him particularly scandalized me (as I mentioned in a recent post). For that reason, I added to the editorial comment to my blogroll link to Rorate cæli, inserting the phrase "and they don't like Pope Francis".

Just to-day, I received a very polite email from one of the contributors to Rorate cæli, explaining that my labelling of it as extreme, with a warning, was not exactly helpful, and could make trouble for that blog. I had not realized that that could get it into trouble, and do apologize for any inadvertent harm I may have done to that blog.

I have therefore deleted that reference, and simply retained "NB They don't like Pope Francis" as my editorial comment, in order to distinguish my views from those who express their views at Rorate cæli – since that seems to me to be a fairly matter-of-fact statement about their take on our new Supreme Pontiff (though of course, as Catholics, they acknowledge him to be the Pope, I hasten to add, and doubtless pray for him and revere his sacred office – a cat can look at a king, after all).

UPDATE: Strange to say, in further correspondence I learn that those operating Rorate cæli in fact do like Pope Francis – ! – so in a spirit of compliance I will relabel their blog "Not quite my cup of tea".  Let readers make of that what they will; my blogroll exists primarily as an easy method for me to jump to read my usual selection of blogs, whether I agree with them or not.

I hope that those who contribute to and run Rorate cæli will understand my motives in seeking to distinguish my blog from theirs, and at the least forgive me any harm I may have done them. I pray that they and all bloggers – even unworthy me – will, by their contributions online, continue to advance the cause of Christ, to the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.

To Hobart, To Hobart...

Time to hit the road and get to Mass...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Experience of High Mass

I've been reading again, on and off, about the Anaphora of Addai and Mari (the most ancient and most frequently used Eucharistic Prayer of the Assyrian Church of the East, and which famously lacks an Institution Narrative; a certain ex-Cardinal, now ex-Pope, politely explained that the Words of Consecration were not present explicitly and ad litteram but "in a dispersed euchological... manner" – I defer to his theological acumen), and the theories of some liturgiologists about the development of the Roman Canon, accepting for the sake of argument both that Addai and Mari is orthodox and valid (as the Roman Church has pronounced, back in 2001, when Bl John Paul II approved the decision of the CDF about this), and that it preserves evidence of the evolution of the Eucharistic Prayer, whereby the oldest forms developed without initially having the Verba Domini present as a coherent Institution Narrative: as I say, this is evidently controversial, but, per impossibile or at least per improbabile, it is an interesting thought experiment (Gedänkenexperiment) to posit an unrecorded stage in the development of the Roman Canon, earlier even than the evidence adduced by St Ambrose in the late fourth century (when he records the central portion of an earlier version of the Canon, from what is now the Quam oblationem, through the Qui pridie and Simili modo, to the Unde et memores and a shorter combination of the Supplices and Supra quæ), which would have – like Addai and Mari – omitted Qui pridie, Simili modo and Unde et memores.

Pursuing this thought, and recalling that the section of the Roman Canon from Quam oblationem to Supplices inclusive – that is, from the equivalent of a consecratory epiclesis, through the Institution Narrative, anamnesis, oblation, prayer for acceptance and equivalent of a communion epiclesis – may be termed the "Canon within the Canon", as the modern rubrics require the celebrant and all concelebrants to recite it together (the rest of the Canon consisting of intercessions for the living and the dead, with commemoration of the Saints, and a concluding doxology, to say nothing of the Preface and Sanctus), it is at least curious to imagine what this section would look like if, as in Addai and Mari, it still appeared sans Verba and sans anamnesis:

Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as once you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.
In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ironically, the Anaphora of Addai and Mari is if anything more explicit in affirming its intention to do as Christ commanded, offering up His Body and Blood, celebrating the Mystery of His Passion, Death and Resurrection, and calling down the Holy Spirit to render fruitful the oblation for the communicants, than this entirely hypothetical and indeed anachronistic reconstruction of the central parts of an earlier Roman Canon (since the equivalent paragraphs as reported by St Ambrose are shorter and simpler), as that ancient Eastern Anaphora includes such words as:

O my Lord, in thy manifold and ineffable mercies, make a good and gracious remembrance for all the upright and just fathers who were pleasing before thee, in the commemoration of the body and blood of thy Christ, which we offer to thee upon the pure and holy altar, as thou hast taught us... 
that all the inhabitants of the world may know thee ... and we also, O my Lord, thy unworthy, frail and miserable servants who are gathered and stand before thee, and have received by tradition the example which is from thee, rejoicing and glorifying and exalting and commemorating and celebrating this great and awesome mystery of the passion and death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ... 
And let thy Holy Spirit come, O my Lord, and rest upon this offering of thy servants, and bless it and sanctify it that it my be to us, O my Lord, for the pardon of sins, and for the forgiveness of shortcomings, and for the great hope of the resurrection from the dead, and for new life in the kingdom of heaven with all who have been pleasing before thee...


But whatever of this, in plain truth, until the reforms of the 1960's, the Words of Consecration (following now the plain and obvious teaching of the Church, rather than rather confusing reinterpretations thereof) were not heard by anyone except the priest and perhaps those listening in at his side (as M.C. at our monthly Missa cantata, I can overhear the celebrant quite easily – according to the rubric, he ought read the Canon is such a quiet voice that he can hear himself, but no one else can, which is quite a difficult rule to fulfil evidently), and the experience of well over a thousand years was the same for all in attendance: the Consecration was accomplished in awe-filled silence.

The Canon was not originally said secretly, sotto voce: that roughly seventh century record of Roman ceremonial, the Ordo Romanus Primus, indicates that it was chanted in the same tone as the Preface, as is logical. However, in the Gallican Church the Institution Narrative, aptly enough called the Mysterium (and regarded as so holy it has only been found recorded in one surviving manuscript), was recited inaudibly, and evidently this practice spread, either from the non-Roman to the Roman West – or from the East, since the Emperor Justinian tried in vain to prevent the Anaphora at the Divine Liturgy being recited in a low voice (rather than chanted, presumably, as all the audible parts were and are).

I recall that Dix claimed this practice of praying the Eucharistic Prayer softly rather than in a loud voice developed first in Syria and environs, and spread from Jerusalem and Antioch throughout the Church – partly for reasons of brevity (a long prayer, such as the Anaphora of St Basil, which was originally used on all Sundays in the Byzantine Rite, takes a long time to say, let alone chant), partly because the choral parts were growing in complexity and length (tempting the priest to "get on with" saying the prayer, while the choir continue singing a not yet polyphonic but certainly elaborate setting of the Sanctus, for instance), and also partly out of a sense of devotional awe and dread.

The Eucharistic Sacrifice was emphasised as the mysterium tremendum et fascinans, the awe-inspiring appearance and Epiphany of Christ in His very Flesh and Blood in the Sacrament of the altar, worthy of worship, worthy of every reverence: the proleptic chants of the Cherubikon, as sung in the Byzantine Rite, amply demonstrate this attitude of holy fear and love. In the East, the actual words of consecration (according to the more typically Western theory) are still chanted aloud, from within the iconostasis; in the West, they were not, but instead the innovation of the Elevation of the Host (and, later, of the Chalice) was introduced in the twelfth century – the two by-then-sundered portions of Christendom thus in their respective fashions half-veiled, half-revealed the Eucharist made present at the consummation of the Divine Mysteries.


Put simply, the Western Mass (leaving aside the Byzantine East and the rest for the moment) divides into the choral and chanted parts, perceptible to the ear (the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract, Gospel, Creed, Preface, Sanctus, Lord's Prayer, Pax, Agnus Dei, Communion, Postcommunion and Ite missa est); and the sacred Action itself, for the most part effected in silence, spoken in secret by the cultic priest.

The parts said in a low voice may themselves be divided into two groups: the first – the Secret, Canon and Embolism (Libera nos) – are the immemorial constituents of the Mass, while the second – the prayers at the foot of the altar, the blessing of the deacon at the Gospel, the offertory prayers, the various prayers before, during and after Communion (some of which, as famously the Domine non sum dignus, came to be said aloud, but not chanted as the older chanted parts were), and the Placeat, blessing and Last Gospel (again, some of these came to be said aloud) – were gradually added over the course of the Middle Ages. (Local forms of the Roman Rite, such as the Dominican, codified in the thirteen rather than the sixteenth century, have shorter and simpler collections of such prayers.)

In the Ambrosian Mass (as said at Milan, both in its older and in its reformed version), the Secret and the Embolism are chanted aloud – the latter is chanted aloud on Good Friday even according to the  traditional Roman Rite. It appears that the Secret and Embolism were probably chanted aloud (as was the Canon too, originally), but motives of reverence and brevity led to their secret recital in the Roman Mass.

When able to join the congregation at High Mass, rather than – as too many do – read along furiously in my hand missal, ignoring the music (good or bad), I prefer to participate in the Sacred Liturgy precisely as Holy Church surely intends: by listening to all that is chanted aloud, and – when sacred silence descends – by praying as I am able. As the mediæval English canonist Lyndwood so wisely wrote, the Canon is silent Ne impediatur populus orare, Lest the people be impeded from praying. (Of course, when serving as M.C., as next Sunday, I have perforce to be busy about directing the celebrant and servers – one attendee, ex-army, congratulated me on my sergeant major manner, which may or may not be the ideal!)

While attending to all that is chanted, I also tend to look to the words of the Secret in my missal, and of course I know from long experience the words of the Canon and Embolism (and much else), and by the gesture and posture of the priest and ministers I know exactly what is going on at each stage. Sometimes, though, as was done in the early Middle Ages, I will pray psalms rather than pray along with the Canon: the psalms of preparation for Mass, as found in old Missals, are eminently suitable for this.

Consider the Mass as falling into two parts (as is the traditional division): the Mass of the Catechumens, during which nearly all is aloud (obviously the Introit masks the preparatory devotions of the sanctuary party); and the Mass of the Faithful, during which far less is, relative to that which is accomplished in mystery, in the pregnant silence.

The fore-Mass contains psalm chants selected with an eye to the liturgy of the day (the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract), cries for mercy (the Kyrie), songs of prayer and praise and faith (the Gloria Patri of the Introit, the Gloria in excelsis, the Creed), the Collect – the first and only time the celebrant prays aloud until the Mass proper begins, assuming it to be High Mass – which sums up the orientation of the feast, and the two lessons, the Epistle and Gospel (chanted by subdeacon and deacon respectively). Christ appears to us in the solemn proclamation of His Gospel; His salvific teaching is imparted to us by His minister, His priest, in the homily or sermon. Therefore, while Mass is fundamentally oriented toward divine worship, the Mass of the Catechumens has a partially didactic quality also.

When the Mass-Sacrifice begins at the Offertory, the chant of the Offertory ought, in a sense, occupy us, rather than the proper liturgical role of the priest (saying his private prayers as he arrays the elements, prepares himself and censes the oblations and altar, ere he too is censed) or his assistants. True, knowledge of the ritual and its forms of prayer informs the spirit of worship, facilitating actual participation; but I would argue that, just as one may well join in singing a hymn in the modern Mass during the preparation of the gifts, while the priest and ministers prepare according to the simpler rules and words appointed, so too in the older form of the Mass it is fitting to attend to the Offertory chant (and motet) rather than too closely to monitor the activities in the sanctuary.

I well recall two devout Italian ladies, who at Mass (OF) sat side by side, hand missals open – and reading in a low but still audible voice every single word the priest said, even at the Consecration! That to me seemed rather odd.

Instead, when the priest concludes the offertory, and in that marvellous chant tells us "Up hearts" (Sursum corda), to which we reply "We have them toward the Lord" (Habemus ad Dominum), then is the time to hearken to his words of praise, as he gives thanks to God for His marvellous works in the Preface, mingling our praise with that of the angels: then we join in the liturgy of heaven, singing the Sanctus.

Silence descends: the bell rings; the priest bows low; he genuflects, then elevates the Sacred Host – to Which incense is offered in adoration. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Now is the time to worship and pray! As I mentioned in my perhaps less than immediately apposite prolegomena above, the fact that the Roman Canon is all but silent, and the words of consecration themselves are never heard, instead focusses attention on the "Do this" of the Lord's command at the Last Supper: the Mass is no mere verbal sacrifice, but a sacred action.

After the Canon, the Lord's Prayer is sung; soon enough, the priest gives us (as Luther of all people rightly noted) a pre-communion blessing, in the words Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum; and again we plead for mercy with the Lamb of God now present, once slain yet ever alive, as our Christian Sacrifice present on our altar, as the choir sings the Agnus Dei. Thus fortified, we proceed to receive Him in Holy Communion.

Again, the communion chant is for us, to assist us in our devotion; while the priest's chanting of the Postcommunion (only his fourth prayer aloud, counting the Preface and Pater noster as well as the Collect) leads us in the sentiments that we ought have after receiving Our Lord in the Sacrament. The deacon dismisses us with those concise and mysterious words Ite missa est. All else following is added devotion.

This, I think, is a sane and sensible way to hear and participate in Holy Mass. (At Low Mass, some modifications must be made in this method; while in the Ordinary Form, as is unfortunately evident, the banality of much of the music, and the perhaps overly didactic atmosphere engendered by the relatively larger amount of text proclaimed aloud, can sometimes distract – that said, I find that an unpleasantly sloppy Mass ratchets up in tone once the Liturgy of the Word is over, and the more stable, less easily mucked-with Liturgy of the Eucharist begins.)