31 July 2008

Hippolytus

Dr Jalland's sermon (see earlier post) on the 1549 Eucharistic Rite has a fair bit to say about the 'handicaps which beset [Cranmer's] study of the Fathers'. One of these was his ignorance of the rite now linked with the name of the early third century antipope Hippolytus. Jalland writes 'The widespread interest evoked by the visual demonstrations of the Hippolytean Eucharist, which have been given in various parts of the country [by Dix since July 1948], testify to the deep indebtedness not merely of scholars, but of the ordinary worshipper, to Dr Gregory Dix in making available for English readers the text of Hippolytus' invaluable treatise The Apostolic Tradition.' One aspect of this rite which particularly appealed to Catholic Anglicans was the presence of the phrase 'we offer unto thee this bread and this cup'. This seemed to be an alibi for smuggling back into the mainstream worship of the Church of England a formula expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, absent from our Parliamentary Liturgy since 1559. Thus in 1966 our Liturgical Commission recommended a rite ('Series II') which contained just this phrase; justified on the ground that 'It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries. It is the language used by Hippolytus ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity'.

At about the same time the Bugnini revisers of the Roman Rite incorporated a mangled version of 'Hippolytus' Eucharistic Prayer' as an alternative to the venerable Canon Romanus, the invariable Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman rite for so many centuries. Perhaps this is one of the things which Bubbles Stancliffe, soi-disant Bishop of Salisbury, had in mind when he wrote about the Bugnini clique as having 'learned their trade ecumenically'.

Unfortunately, 'Hippolytus' failed in the laudable struggle to recatholicise the worship of the Church of England; the Evangelicals vetoed the crucial phrase. But it did succeed - unfortunately - in almost entirely eliminating the Canon Romanus from the worship of most ordinary RC churches, where its extreme brevity appealed to priests and people alike (despite the rubrical guidance given that the Canon Romanus was for Sundays and 'Hippolytus' for other occasions). The passion for brevity, which made Fr O'Murphy I say the Old Mass with such unholy rapidity, made Fr O'Murphy II select 'Hippolytus' with unholy regularity.

So, in the one Church, 'Hipplolytus' failed to do any good and in the other it did massive positive harm. Satan's Smoke!

3 comments:

patrick said...

At least in my neck of the woods, it is EPII on weekdays, and EPIII on Sundays. It is highly regrettable that the Roman Canon is usually ignored, though I must say that EPIII is a fine, albeit invented by committee, anaphora. I look forward to the new ICEL translations being used as soon as possible.

As for EPII, I must confess that I am grateful that it is used when I attend weekday masses, as I amnormally on my lunch hour or on my way to work in the morning. Short and sweet masses do have their place. So, one-and-a-half cheers for Bugnini/Pseudo-Hippoltyus from me.

Steve Cavanaugh said...

Fr. Louis Bouyer in his later works (esp. The Eucharist) questioned whether the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus really represented the early liturgy of Rome. If the Hippolytus of AT is identified with the sometime antipope Hippolytus, who is nevertheless commemorated as a martyr, it may well be that his AT is more a reflection of what the liturgy ought to be, rather than what it was. Bouyer speculates that Hippolytus was from the East, in the Syrian sphere of influence (due to the theology that seems to underlie much of his writing), and he didn't think things in Rome measured up to what he'd known back home. In other words, Hippolytus may well have been the Bugnini of his time!

Father said...

As I understand it, the thesis that the Apostolic Tradition is the work of Hippolytus of Rome is quite out of favor these days. In a variation of the idea Steve describes, Paul Bradshaw et al. have proposed that it is not the work of a single author at all, but a composite work which doesn't represent the actual practice of any single community or period.

None of this diminishes the inherent virtues of the anaphora in question, but it diminish somewhat the sense that in using it one os participating in a genuine tradition.