10 February 2011

Finigan's free bonanza

The Hermeneutic blog, happily, enables you to read, free of charge, an article by Fr Tim which has appeared in Usus Antiquior. It provides a good example of the phenomenon of 'ideas in the air'; when different people turn out to have been thinking along the same lines without any one of them being directly indebted to the others. Fr Zed has been delving into what he has called "Mutual Enrichment and Common Sense"; Bishop Andrew Burnham has staked a claim to a place in this discussion; and even I have nibbled at the edges of it. What is all this about? To what extent can the OF be improved by the importation of EF customs at the whimsy of the celebrant? Fr Tim, however, unlike most of us, approaches the matter with scholarly precision. My ensuing comments make absolutely no sense whatsoever unless you have first read his important article and done so carefully.

I love it all. My only adverse comment would be that the article is sometimes a trifle light-fingered when it comes to distinguishing between usages which are praeter legem and those which are contra legem (to use the categories in which O'Connell discussed the question of liturgical law two or three generations ago). Examples of the first: the priest says silently Aufer a nobis and Oramus as he approaches and kisses the altar. Or, as he censes the Altar at the Offertory, he says the old prayers. Or, he says Placeat tibi as he walks back from the Altar. While these formulae are certainly not prescribed in the OF, as far as I know there is no rubrical prohibition against the celebrant saying silent private prayers (or even reciting sotto voce the opening twenty lines of the Iliad or the Three little maids song from the Mikado) as he celebrates. But, on the other hand, double genuflections after each consecration (Ranjith) do, as Fr Tim makes clear, contradict an explicit instruction in the IGMR. They are contra legem. So is the usage I noticed at the Holy Father's Inauguration: joining the hands at Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.

Fr Tim also gives us a section headed "Elements that could be fairly easily allowed". But the first usage he describes under this heading - that of saying the modern Offertory prayers silently - is not only allowed rubrically but (as Fr Tim says) even has pride of place among the allowed options (I explain that roughly every three months on this blog). It is not something that 'could fairly easily be allowed'. It is something that is allowed. However much it might surprise some congregations, it is already the officially preferred usage in the OF. It is neither praeter legem nor contra legem, but completely secundum legem. But the next possibility mentioned - saying silently the EF prayers instead - is (although the congregation would not even notice it being done) definitely contra legem. Or is Fr Tim craftily suggesting that the former secundum legem usage is a good way of preparing the ground for the latter contra legem? The following item Fr Tim lists is the silent recitation of the Canon (which Bishop Andrew Burnham celebrated his entry into Full Communion by doing ... what bravura we Anglicans do display). Here, sadly, Fr Tim does not have a suggestion, crafty or otherwise, as to how secundum legem we could prepare the way for behaving contra legem.

Possibly Fr Tim is reserving for a future article the really juicy, truly fundamental, question: to what extent is it acceptable to follow usages which are contra legem? This would involve a rereading of the old discussions among the manualists whom O'Connell summarises. Perhaps I will take a look into this, even though it is well known that Anglicans are completely ignorant in Canon Law.


Left-footer said...

Thank you. Tweeting now. Your blog is a joy to read, even for a very rusty Latinist such as me.

God bless, from the other side of the Tiber.

Woody said...

I have it on good authority that at Saint Josemaria's suggestion, Opus Dei priests used to say the old offertory prayers quietly and in addition to the new ones, during the lavabo. Evidently this is not done by newer priests of the Work. I think, or maybe imagine, that I can tell if the priest is in fact praying the old offertories silently based on the length of time he takes to dry his fingers after the washing, and also from the especially recollected facial expression. It is very edifying.

Joshua said...

It has intrigued me how priests not known for their Latinity nor their traditional liturgical interests will often, quite unconsciously, point at the consecrated elements (briefly lowering their outstretched arms to do so) when referring to "this Bread and this Cup" or however the similar words run after the Consecration, whichsoever of the Eucharistic Prayers they happen to be using.

It is entirely obvious that in this practice we have the seeds of a ritual pointing to the elements organically developing, and soon enough this may change into "the done thing", and done, eventually, by making the sign of the Cross over each.

In other words, "the nature of man requires" the postconsecratory signs of the Cross in the Canon, and soon enough custom will restore them.

James C. said...

Father, only last Sunday I wondered about the Offertory.

I was at a Dominican conventual Mass (Novus Ordo), and during the "Presentation of the Gifts" I was surprised to hear the schola chant the Offertory antiphon (the first time I've seen this at a Novus Ordo). In amazement, I directed my eyes to the schola, but afterwards I wondered if the celebrant used the old Offertory prayers...