1 November 2008

Concelebration 8

I began this series by disagreeing with a footnote in Laurence Hemming's Liturgy as a Revelation (if you haven't read it, you should. It's a fresh and revolutionary exposition of the Tradition). He described how the newly ordained, in the Mass of their Ordination, vested in all the garments of the priestly celebrant, say the Canon, including Hoc est enim Corpus meum and the rest ... and claimed that this had nothing whatsoever to do with Concelebration! With regard to this footnote, I am reminded of the description by the immortal Edward Frankel of one of his predecessors in the Corpus Chair of Latin: 'A man viz a remarkable instinct for ze improbable'. Perhaps it is worth adding that, in the old Pontifical, the neo-ordinati even recited the Offertory Prayers ('Receive, O holy Father, almighty everlasting God, this spotless host, which I thine unworthy servant, offer unto thee ...). If they were not concelebrating, their behaviour was very weird and their words and garments peculiarly misleading.

It is the practice of the simultaneous recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer which seals and guarantees the reality that these presbyters are severally as well as corporately offering the Holy Sacrifice, and not merely occupying a pompously elevated position in the Sanctuary. It teaches that the Priesthood is not only a corporate charism but also a deeply personal one, indelibly imprinted on the soul of each priest. Priesthood is not only a necessary function in the Body of Christ; it also defines and structures how the priest is a Christian. I know that among Byzantines, in some places the concelebrating priests to not join in the Prayer, but our Western practice is deeply fitting. Moreover, it states that a priest concelebrating is doing exactly the same thing as a priest saying a Private Mass, and thus in turn defends the wholesome Western tradition of the Private Mass. Those are to be resisted who dislike both Concelebration and Private Masses on the ground that the Priesthood is merely functional and utilitarian. As one goes down this path one's ultimate destination is the Protestant heresy that the community may commission any one of its members to discharge this function; a heresy not unknown among liberal Roman Catholics.

Unlike the SSPX and unlike the Liberals, I believe that both Concelebration and the Private Mass are precious and profoundly edifying gifts from God in our Western tradition. I believe that we need to develop a new praxis with regard to the godly and sensible use of both of these within our priestly ministries; and that, in this regard, the generation since the Council has been a generation wasted.

This is not the place to attempt to guess what such a new praxis may ultimately look like. Let me just share one thought. In our pilgrimage to Lourdes, we priests, not able to concelebrate the International Mass with Walter Kasper as, surely, we would have liked, sat 'in choir'; a decent practice validated by custom. But how much more edifying if, previously, we had each said a private mass at one of the fifteen altars in the Rosary Basilica?


Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

And indeed Father... why didn't you all offer a private Mass... were these Altars not available or did nobody think to ask...?!

Christian said...

I think it rather unfair for you too identify a disapproval for concelebration with elegance to the SSPX. I am a bi-ritual (EF preferred) Catholic and have never once been to such a service but I totally disprove of concelebration. I see no real value in it for the Roman Rite - we did without it for 1000 years (except at ordinations) and I think history shows that those 1000 were pretty good ones, Concelebration is just one Mass, so rather than saying 40-50 Masses every day modern Monasteries, for example, say a mere one or two! Concelebration is not the daily Mass of a priest, as far as I can see. Think of all the graces being missed. This is not to mention the undermining of priestly identity which happens in some communities.

Besides concelebration is one of a myriad of 'easternisations' in the New Rite. All of which are incongruous with the Latin Rite and are an invasion of our traditions. I can give the deacons not kneeling for the consecration as a specific example of this.

falmouth said...

Re: 'Easternisations' in the New Rite. So much for the Church learning to breathe on both lungs, East & West (as the late Pope JPII hoped). Presumably christian thinks that the Latin Church has nothing to learn from the Christian East. I'm not sure that a pure Latin rite tradition devoid of Eastern influences exists ... after all, Christianity itself is a Near Eastern cult in its origins. Our Lady did not sing the Magnificat in Latin! And the Mass was celebrated in Greek before it was celebrated in Latin.

Christian said...

While I would not deny the obvious eastern influences that you point out I would also point out myself that the east has for the past few decades been quite obsessed with the removal of 'Latinisations' and that it is surely right that we should guard against the influence of eastern only traditions on our own rite. Our rite is both ancient and orthodox and needs no such interpolations.