19 October 2008

Concelebration 1

Having written a rave review of Laurence Hemming's Worship as a Revelation, and repeatedly urged everybody to read it, I think I am entitled to pick up particular observations and express a contrary view. And I want to question his apparent disapproval of Concelebration. Having summarised the way, in the old Pontifical, that newly ordained priests, in their Mass of Ordination, said the Eucharistic Prayer with the ordaining bishop, he observes 'This has nothing to do with concelebration - it is a formal demonstration of the way in which each priest's future recitation of the most sacred prayer of the Mass is intrinsically linked to, and in concert with, what the bishop himself does, as the one to whom he is hierarchically tied, and so this action is a formal demonstration of how the priest acquires, and exercises, his right to say this prayer and effect the miracle of transubstantiation'.

I have no problems with any of this except with the opening clause. If Hemming is suggesting that concelebration is a modern fad which misinterprets the ritual he describes, then he is wrong. The acid test is 'May a priest accept a mass-stipend for what he does at his Ordination Mass? If so, then it is a Mass of which he is a celebrant. And the answer given before there is any suggestion of modern liturgical faddery is that he may. The most learned pope before our present Holy Father, Benedict XIV, took this view. So did weighty and reliable authorities such as Gasparri and Cappello.

When the post-Conciliar Ritus concelebrandi formally made this into law, it was simply repeating what was already the universal judgement of theologians and manual-writers; what was part of the Ordinary teaching of the Western Church.

This is by no means all that I want to say about this subject, but I do feel the need to establish the authenticity of the notion of concelebration within the practice and teaching of historic Western Chistendom.


Scott Smith said...

Kind Father, I would counter with: while canon law allows a priest to accept a stipend for the Mass of his ordination that does not mean that he is concelebrating in the theological sense that commonly understood today. First, I would offer that a reason the newly ordained priest would be allowed a stipend is that traditionally, he would not be permitted to celebrate a Mass (wherein he must receive Holy Communion) on the day of his ordination at which he already received Holy Communion, the former law of receiving only once in a day being then in force.
Secondly, it has been the constant teaching of the Church that the celebrant of Mass must, for validity of the Mass, receive Holy Communion under both kinds. Only in the Mass of Consecration of a Bishop, does both the principal consecrator and the newly consecrated bishop recite all of the Mass parts as celebrants and both receive Holy Communion under both kinds while standing. At the ordination of a priest, the priests do not say the entire Mass and they receive communion kneeling. (They are separated in their communion with the Bishop apart from the deacon/subdeacon and the rest.) It would seem by looking at the rituals that the two kinds of concelebration are different from eachother and both from the more modern conception of concelebrating.

Nebuly said...

Eucharistic Concelebration, like that of priest concelebrating sacerdotal ordination, ( and concelebrating Bishops at an episcopal ordination ) might profitably be in union with the Bishop who along pronounces the formula of the rite, ie the concelebrants might be vested and silent. This would, I believe be more in common with the Orthodox who although they concelebrate have a clear idea of who is con and who is celebrant.

Might it not also be more expressive of the manner in which deacons con celebrate and the entire People of God con celebrate as the Body of Christ is caught up into the High Priesthood of Our Lord?

I write under correction