13 January 2011

Benedictus es ...

A writer on another blog recently criticised a priest who conflated the Offertory prayers into a singular formula. Since this is an unauthorised alteration, the writer was right to call it a liturgical abuse. But he also criticised it on the grounds that the separate offering of Bread and Wine was "theologically significant". Well; perhaps it is; I don't know what reasons he had in mind for saying this. But I think anybody going very far down that particular path needs to watch what they say. In the Sarum Rite, the Bread and Wine were offered together, with one prayer, and the Ecclesia Anglicana was for a thousand years in peace and communion with the Holy See. And the Dominican Rite - the traditional one - still offers the elements together; and the Order of Preachers is still in full communion with Rome. This represents a sustantial piece of traditional praxis. It can't be theologically unCatholic to offer the elements together.

Personally, I intensely dislike those prayers anyway on a practical ground: because I find them immensely difficult to say. Since they are so similar to each other, you can't lift the elements up and say the prayer on autopilot; you have to look at a printed text or else concentrate mentally on getting each lot of words right. I bet there isn't a priest in the Latin Church who hasn't at some time bungled it.

I also dislike the words "spiritual drink". I know poma pneumatikon is a clever borrowing from I Corinthians; but as a spoken formula judged in literary terms -particularly in its English versions - it seems to me to make the end of the prayer collapse into an unattractive bathos. I certainly understand those people who improve it with the phrase, from the Canon, "Cup [Chalice?] of Salvation".

But the plain fact is that these prayers are not ordered by the rubrics to be said aloud; that is merely an option on those occasions, and only those occasions, when there is no singing at the Offertory. For twenty or thirty years I did say them aloud in English at said Masses; but quite a long time ago I took to saying them, when I celebrated a Novus Ordo said Mass, silently and in Latin.

Well, to be honest, for some time now I have silently said Suscipe ... etc. instead. Happily, thanks to a writer on another blog, I can now justify this as Common-sense-and-mutual-enrichment.

4 comments:

B flat said...

Each day I read your blog religiously, usually with ediication, and am always grateful to you for writing.

Today's offering caused me to muse, and wonder if you know ancient altars whose mensa is supported by four columns at the corners, but in the very centre, supporting the necessary reliquary of the martyr(s), is a matching fifth column?

Patricius said...

Would the common-sense-mutual-enrichment part be a reference to the infallible Fr Zed?

I marvel, pater reverende, that someone of your erudition would look to that man for guidance in matters liturgical!

Maureen Lash said...

I believe that those who 'improve' the second prayer by substituting "Cup of Salvation" are simply following Common Worship.

Chris said...

simply following Common Worship.

And, that being the case, the Liturgical Commission was probably thinking of Ps. 116 rather than the Canon.