12 June 2009

The Roman Canon

When I was a little lad in Essex (yes, all those Essex Man jokes you have ever heard find their fulfilment in me) I used to drop in quite often to the local RC church. One of the clergy there - I can still remember his name: it was Fr Horace Tennant of the Oblates of S Charles - used to say Mass with incredible rapidity. He 'recited' the (silent in those days) Canon quicker than I could flick my eye down the text of it in my hand copy of Missale Romanum. Frankly, one can only call this sacrilegious.

Nowadays, many clergy say the Eucharistic Prayer in just as brief a time-span ... aloud; they achieve this by using the 'Hippolytan' Second Eucharistic Prayer: which is unnaturally brief. My accusation is this: what was a corruption before the 'reforms' has been now institutionalised as law: i.e. clergy treat the Eucharistic Prayer as an unfortunate formality which has to be disposed of as quickly as possible so that neither priest or people have to spend a nannosecond longer than the possible minimum before they get back to doing all things they'd rather be doing which are so much more important than saying a lot of tedious old prayers with affection and devotion.

Soon we reach the 450th anniversary of the day when the English parliament made the use of the Roman Canon a penal offence. This was an act of oppressive tyranny which could only be imposed by the shedding of much blood, both priestly and lay. At this time I implore clerical readers seriously to consider making the Roman Canon their normative Eucharistic Prayer. It was used for the first millennium of English Christianity; it is the Canon of the oldest liturgical book to survive in these islands, the Stowe Missal; it was dear to the Fathers of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. The current Roman rubrics make it pretty clear that it ought to be the normative prayer on Sundays and Festivals, and say - uniquely of this prayer - that it may "always be used". And I urge lay readers to nag their clergy to use it. Many clergy sincerely think that their people will be grateful to be let out of church as soon as possible. Disabuse them of this notion!

4 comments:

Saint Justin said...

Father, I would seek it a joy to do this. However I'm concerned as regards my ordinary and the Canons regarding worship. Should this be attempted under the aegis of Canon B5? Or should I write to my ordinary and ask his opinion beforehand?

Maurice said...

I agree with much of what you say. Prayer II is far too short and should only be used with an appropriate preface (much misunderstood by many) since it doesn't recall salvation history specifically otherwise (eg Preface for Martyrs or Pastors wouldn't provide the necessary salvation history). That's, I think, why Prayer II is printed with its 'own' preface. And it's not supposed to be used on Sundays either.

All that having been said ... You certainly don't need me to tell you that a fundamental Catholic principle here is ex opere operato. We mustn't fall into the trap of reducing everything to only being 'valid' or even 'worthwhile' when it's said in a particualr way (or even by a particular priest in a particular way). This is, it seems to me, the worst kind of anti-Catholic drivel. Not that you mean that, of course ...

And the Church always supplies what is lacking ... (DG).

Steve said...

To Saint Justin: I think you are quite right to have misgivings. I do not think that Canon B5 can possibly cover it, and I would be very surprised indeed if your Ordinary did not take the same view. I take my hat off to you for being more honest than some.....

Gillibrand said...

What is the exact date and when was it repealed, I wonder.