3 November 2009

Pope Innocent III on Concelebration

For a number of years, while at Lancing concelebrating each morning with my colleagues (except on those mornings when I said a Latin Mass in a different Chapel with the boys and masters who liked that sort of thing), I was disconcerted by a colleague who had a habit of edging his voice ahead of mine even when I was Principal Celebrant. Why should he, I fretted, snatch the Mass from me by consecrating ahead of me and leaving me without the substances of bread and wine to consecraate myself? So I developed a habit of getting a good head of breath earlier in the Institution Narrative so that I could keep in sync with him. I needn't have bothered. A Pope sorted this problem out for me 800 years ago.

Innocent III (1198-1216; was he the pope under whom England became a feudal subject of the Holy See?) takes it for granted that "from time to time many priests concelebrate" and adds "the Cardinal Presbyters of Rome have been accustomed to stand around the the Pontiff and to consecrate together with him" - a pretty blunt and authoritative indication from the Bishop of Rome as to the meaning of the Rites of his own Church. What concerns him is this very question of what happens if they don't keep their voices together at the words of Consecration. "Is the one who first pronounces the words the only one who confects the Sacrament?" His answer to this is that "Whether the priests utter them before or after, their intention must be referred to the instant at which the Bishop says them, with whom principally they are concelebrating, and then all consecrate and confect at the same time".

I wonder if S Thomas Aquinas agrees with that? I'd better have a look in the Summa.

This series continues in the near future.

6 comments:

Albert said...

I wonder if S Thomas Aquinas agrees with that? I'd better have a look in the Summa.

It seems likely: "An intention is an act of the will, presupposing the ordination of reason, ordering something to an end" he says.

Therefore, if one intends to concelebrate, the end one intends is to celebrate with and not before others.

But I'd be fascinated to hear if you can find anything to the contrary though.

dunstan said...

The king met Pandulf, the papal legate, at Dover on 15 May 1213 and agreed to hold the kingdoms of England and Ireland as a fief of God and the ROman Church for which he would do liege homage and pay a tribute of 1,000 marks sterling each year.
Good King John!

johnf said...

Good King John indeed! I much prefer him to his brother who was a worse King but had better spin doctors.

With all the accusations of his antipathy to the Church, he still asked to be buried at Worcester Cathedral.

It would be great to find and recover his crown jewels - with land reclamation and all that, they are probably now in some farmer's field. I suppose they will turn up some day.

Joshua said...

The consecration by several priests together is a moral unity, inasmuch as they all act in the person of Christ the Priest, and He is one.

That said, I have always wondered what would happen if an overeager priest blurted out Hoc est enim Corpus meum well ahead of the massed voices of the other concelebrants...

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

I thought, Joshua, that that was exactly where I started off!

Joshua said...

I can be a tad inattentive...

My P.P. last year was joking about this with me - he says the EF, and claimed that, if called upon to concelebrate at the OF, he would effect the consecration of the Host by saying the "Hoc est enim corpus meum" alone, whereas all the rest wouldn't achieve the result till they had added "quod pro vobis tradetur", or however it goes in the vernacular!