12 June 2010

Bodging the Bishop around

Some nice pictures a few days ago on the Papa Stronsay blog of a young FSSP priest saying his first mass in the RC Cathedral in Edinburgh. I know of few lovelier events than First Masses. And how good to see Cardinal O'Brien greeting the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists. Let us pray that their canonical erection may be finalised soon. It sends out bad messages when people, who, on a wave of great euphoria, have accepted the Holy Father's invitation to full canonical union with the See of Peter, are, apparently by local RC establishments, subjected to slowcoaching.

Traddy RCs tend to be impatient about the unwillingness of their archbishops to celebrate the EF. Personally, I have some sympathy with the hierarchs concerned. I have watched, in S James's Spanish Place and in Merton Chapel, bishops who manifestly are unfamiliar with the EF, being dragged and pummelled through it ... "stand here, look that way, do this, read that". It is quite painful as well as being dreadfully lengthy; and undignified for the pontiffs concerned. If I were Vin, I wouldn't want to do it. What might be better, at this stage, would be for one bishop in a particular area to get genned up on how to do the EF, so that he can do it fluently and enjoy the doing of it. I understand the view of CMOC (who spead EF events around his various Area Bishops) that he didn't want an EF 'flying bishop', but it would be more comfortable for all concerned.

Some of us have learned a great deal about the true nature of pastoral episcopacy from 'flying bishops'. It would be good for RCs to get the experience.

7 comments:

Sui Juris said...

In my experience, sometimes in the good old CofE we have to pummel our bishops even through the most modern and pared-down of liturgies...and I speak as a parish priest hosting a confirmation this week!

Better that bishops show support for the EF by presiding or even just by attending in choir and preaching, like the cardinal did, leaving most of the intricacies to those who really live the rite.

davidforster said...

It would be more seemly if the various pontiffs were invited to preside over masses 'coram pontifice' rather than be dragged through liturgies that they don't understand and can't do without a lot of coaxing. Through presiding at mass, the office and role of a bishop is made clear, without need for the complexities of a full Pontifical.

Having said that, a couple of the Westminster auxiliaries are certainly competent to pontificate, and appear willing to do so.

Once of the pontiffs who celebrated in London in recent years was heard to be reading out some of the rubrics as well as the text, until the assistant priest restrained him from doing this.

A big issue with some bishops is that, much as they might be willing to celebrate the usus antiquus, they don't have the Latin necessary to do it properly. They are rightly hesitant to make asses of themselves. No name, no pack drill - this applies to a high profile archbishop in southern England.

(OK, we laity know that being an ass is part of the job description of a prelate, but we don't tell them that until after they're consecrated.)

If each archdiocese had at least one bishop who was willing and able to pontificate, that would be a major advance.

The ethos of the old mass - the carefulness and precision required - is the antithesis of the 'anything goes' ethos of the 1970s. Priests and bishops who were trained from about 1965 onwards often find it difficult to adjust to the old rite, for this reason. It's not the Latin in these cases, it's not lack of willingness or devotion; but it is the lack of liturgical discipline - a carefulness of rubrics, words, and ceremonies. There are notable exceptions to this, including most of those who regularly choose to say the old rite.

Dale Crakes said...

Fr I suggest that you take a look at Fr Z's post for 12 June "Brick by brick in NYC: Pontifical Mass at the Throne". Those poor British Bloke Bishops.

Patricius said...

The Bishops should always celebrate Mass in Pontifical fashion, with the assistance of his priests and deacons - this is the ancestral foundation of the Church's life.

As for the bishop not having the Latin to adequately celebrate Old Rite Pontifical Mass - well isn't that just a scandal? It is a matter of canonical law that all priests are well-versed in the Latin and Greek tongues. St Gregory I refused to consecrate a man bishop because he couldn't recite the entire Psalter from memory...I wonder what he'd think of the modern episcopate?

David Gould said...

It is time that Bishops learnt the so-called EF rite and applied it's rubrics to the Novus mass. When I see priests not holding their fingers together after the consecration, the way communion is administered - handing over the chalice and in the hand, and the failure to genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament, it makes me realise that we Anglicans who have in the main not gone down this road are very lucky.

David Gould said...

It is time that Bishops learnt the so-called EF rite and applied it's rubrics to the Novus mass. When I see priests not holding their fingers together after the consecration, the way communion is administered - handing over the chalice and in the hand, and the failure to genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament, it makes me realise that we Anglicans who have in the main not gone down this road are very lucky.

Monica said...

"...they don't have the Latin necessary to do it properly. ...this applies to a high profile archbishop in southern England."

I little uncharitable, perhaps? I have been present at more than one Mass celebrated by such an archbishop now in southern England and his competence at not only speaking the Latin, but also singing in Latin was highly commendable. Each of these occasions was, however, the celebration in the NO. One suspects that any decicion not to celebrate the EF is more to do with the intricacies of the Old Rite than an inability to handle Latin. Credit where it is due.