28 February 2010

A friend asks ...

... about the OF Offertory Prayers.

The Ordo Missae of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (23 ff) says that the two "Blessed are you ..." formulae are to be said "submissa voce" - with lowered voice (the earlier edition had said "secreto"). It adds that if there is no singing at the Offertory, the priest may (not must) utter them with a raised voice. If he does that, the Congregation may (not should) reply "Blessed be God ... ". In other words, there is NEVER an obligation to say these words loudly and there is never an obligation for the people to make a response..

The other formulae are to be said "secreto"; in other words they may never be said to be heard by the congregation whether or not there is singing. The fact that some clergy say them aloud is either out of ignorance or a well-meaning feeling that the people should not be deprived of these important words. In fact, they are not important words but merely designed to keep the celebrant recollected.

Deep down, the problem is that for very many Western clergy the idea that the Liturgy is an objective sacrificial action has been totally lost and replaced by the idea - fostered by Mass versus populum - that it is a performance for the edification of the people.

In the General Instruction of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (141 ff) the "Blessed are you" formulae are ordered to be said "secreto"; which is not precisely the same as the "submissa voce" of the Ordo Missae. This is all the more striking in that the corresponding paragraph of the previous edition of the GI says neither. And the Third Edition of the GI adds that they are not to be said aloud if there is organ playing. There are here slight and curious inconsistencies.

However this may be, it is true that in each edition and in both the Ordo Missae and the General Instruction, the priest is NEVER obliged to say these prayers loudly and is NOT ALLOWED to do so when there is any sort of music. He certainly is not allowed - as some clergy do - to wait until the music is over so that he can then deliver them audibly!

The prayers at the Commixture and before the Priest's Communion are also ordered to be said "secreto".

Bishop Peter Elliot's Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite comments: "When there is no singing, the celebrant may still choose to say these prayers quietly. The 'silent' option is mentioned first in the missal".


Maurice said...

Would you mind explaining the difference between the terms 'Offertory' and 'Preparation of the Gifts' please?

Thank you

Joshua said...

Præparatio Donorum I think was intended, in a reductionist manner, to be a neutral term, since the formerly more-strongly worded, as the OF's current more anemic prayers, are all alike proleptic prayers - as Bp Elliott put it drolly, the Eucharist is not a cereal sacrifice (nor a libation): the Sacrifice is offered up, strictly speaking, at the moment of Consecration; yet the classic Offertory prayers more or less explicitly look forward to this, and speak of the Victim as already offered up. To replace what they found "confusing", the revisers substituted more neutral language, about offering bread and wine, which in due course will become "the bread of life" and "spiritual drink".

Yet directly after those prayers, the OF, retaining several EF prayers, has the priest pray that "our sacrifice" be accepted since it is offered with humble spirit and contrite heart, and of course the Orate fratres is a full-blooded affirmation of the sacrifice to be offered by priest and people as being, hopefully, accepted by the Lord for all the causes for which we plead.

Dale said...

One may suggest that what has been done to the Roman rite by the modernist Catholics does rather make the insertion of a Byzantine style epiclesis into the Orthodox western-rite Roman Mass rather pale in comparison.

One could mention that many Orthodox are also opposed to this 1870 insertion by the Russian Synod as well. Tampering with a venerable Canon should never be tolerated, that goes for St. Joseph as well.

But to simply gut the whole rite of its private, priestly prayers and especially the offertory is criminal. Hopefully there is a growing realization of the theological damage that has been done, on both the part of the Romans as well as the Byzantines. But I would posit that Rome as done far, far more damage to the ancient Roman liturgy than any Orthodox would ever conceive of doing.

Steve said...

There are a lot of us who believe - and this, unless I am very much mistaken, is the position of the Church of England - that the Eucharist is neither "an objective sacrificial action" nor "a performance for the edification of the people". It is an act of worship, in which the priest leads the people of God to the throne of God for God to bless them and impart more of himself to them.

Priests - or any others - who are leading the people of God in worship, especially liturgical worship, cannot do so in any meaningful sense while they are praying silently or in a foreign language. Not only were the architects of the modern Roman Mass right to put a stop to these things - it was a tragedy that it was even necessary, in that they were there in the first place.

I really cannot understand why, when Christians worship a God who got (and gets) his hands dirty in the mess of human life, as the crucifixes in every Roman Catholic church bear witness, some Christians are so keen on a form of worship that speaks of a distant God whom only certain people are allowed to approach.

And finally, I refuse to believe that John Hunwicke has ever celebrated a Mass in contemporary English irreverently in his life, whether CW1 or any other rite. And if he can do it properly without the benefit of being in communion with the Pope, why should it be so hard for those who have that benefit? (I suspect that the truth is that when a Roman Catholic priest celebrates the EF irreverently the congregation don't realise he's doing so, whereas if it's the OF they do!)

Dale said...

Hello Steve,

I think that you have indeed hit the nail on the head. Your position is that of the average liturgical Protestant, but it does not relate to Catholic or Orthodox understanding of either worship or the place of the priest. For us the priest is not "presider" or "worship leader," but becomes persona Christi whilst offering the sacrifice of the Mass, which is not entertainment, but is the actual reenactment of the Sacrifice that our Saviour made on Calvary. More akin to worship as you express it would be found in the non-sacramental offices of Evensong, Benediction or mattins, but not the Eucharist.

I could not agree with you more concerning the gutting of the old Roman Mass by the modernists, they have indeed rejected the old Catholic Faith and needed a liturgy that reflected this move to a more Protestant ideology of worship, hence the need to reject the old eastward facing altar and its replacement with a presider power-desk in which to lead the people in "worship" and the deletion of all of the prayers indicative of sacrifice...hence, the novus ordo.