14 April 2011

Hemming again (2)

Continues from the last post.
Hemming sees the fly in the o******t as being actuosa participatio, as the phrase is understood in 'Enlightenment' liturgical fashions ... that is, by the liturgical apparatchiks who still act as the guardians of what they see as the Pure Spirit of Vatican II; the same jokers who for decades sneered so nastily at Joseph Ratzinger's contributions to liturgical rethinking on the grounds that 'he is not an expert'.

The idea (writes Hemming) that a single self can consummate in itself the entire meaning of every particular liturgical act as it is enacted ... is foreign and indeed corrosive to the interior character of a complex and centuries-long symbolic language which uses the differentiatedness of place, of time, and of the different vocations and stations of all humanity, to mediate the full range of the drama of our salvation. ... The idea - well known in the East* - that the entire liturgy must be fulfilled, but that it is impossible for any one person to fulfil it alone - was superseded in the West by the idea that every priest must complete the Office and Mass daily and in full ... (he concludes by describing liturgy as:) something which the whole local church - monastic house, convent, diocese, and so forth - has to distribute across its membership and life for the sake of the distributed body of Christ as it manifests itself in particular places.

You see his point. Frantically determined that every priest should say the whole Office, the West has repeatedly slashed and reduced that Office to make the aim attainable ... and, by so doing, has lamentably ravaged its traditional Office. The alternative would be to keep (or to restore) the great integrity of the historical Office while limiting the amount of it that each individual is required to fulfill.

Hemming's principle represents exactly what happened in the medieval cathedrals of England, such as (the one I have studied in most detail) Exeter, codified by its great reforming bishop John Grandisson in his Ordinale. The Lady Chapel, for example, had its own complete and distinct establishment to ensure the fulfilment each day of an entire round of Office and Mass in honour of our Lady, which duplicated the worship at the High Altar. There survives in the Chapter library just one sheet of a Marian Missal, corrected in Grandisson's own hand, for use either in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral or in that of his Collegiate establishment at Ottery. The weekly Mass and Office of our Lady in Sabbato, as we have them in the Tridentine books, are but a pale remnant of all that. Our massive cathedrals, which now so embarrassingly struggle to demonstrate to the tourists (and to the parishes) their 'relevance', were built quite simply to house those majestic structures of worship; a massive round of daily sacrifice and praise performed in full, not necessarily by each individual, but by a large differentiated community.
Continues.
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*I would welcome comments by Orthodox about whether Hemming is right here. My instinct is that he is dead right; but we occidentals can so easily misunderstand a different tradition.

13 comments:

Juventutem London said...

This is a fascinating idea. Hunwicke for Pope!

Of course that statement supposes that it is the role of the Pope to decide what liturgy is....

josephmchardy said...

Not an Orthodox, but I have been described, by persons of less erudition than your good self, as a 'n****r', and I don't appreciate reading it whether or not it is veiled in asterisks, in any context other than reported speech, Father. Great post otherwise.

Hierodeacon said...

Is Hemming correct about the Orthodox approach? Yes and no. No individual priest or layman, and no parish, is expected to recite the entire Office each day. Probably hardly anyone does. But even at those monastic houses or cathedral where a stab is made at the fullness of the Office, very few serve it without significant abbreviation. The principle that Hemming refers to can be seen in some monasteries where indeed the entire office is read, but most of it in an empty Church with one priest and one or two reader, where the rest of the brothers go to work. The assigned priest and reader change every week, so many do participate, but not all the time. For feast days, however, the whole community would tend to be present (and the schedule is usually altered as well).

Hierodeacon said...

PS: Mount Athos is a notable exception. There the monasteries do not abbreviate the Office, and the brothers are present for most of it. But sometimes one fines that as 1st Hour (at the conclusion of Matins) is begun in the main Church (Catholicon), it is likely that everyone will be shuffled off to a side Chapel for Liturgy; and arriving there they find 3rd and 6th Hours already in progress, as the "prelude" to Liturgy. So even on Athos you will find some overlap.

Laurence said...

I think Hierodeacon is making exactly the point I was trying to make . . . 'Yes and no' looks like 'yes, indeed' - or did I miss something? I've thought a lot about this over the years since I wrote that section of the book: it seems to me that the cathedrals and great monastic houses were the places in which - more or less - the whole work was done (but even then, not by everyone), with lesser places, right down to chapels, participating in as much or as little as was locally possible. It is in places and not persons where the work is done.

Fr Levi said...

Thanks for this post, Father. I've been thinking about beginning the liturgy of the hours, but the more I looked at it, the more my heart sank at the idea of trying to incorporate it into my life on top of the demands of parish ministry and family. Good to know some is a reasonable option.

Albertus said...

I have read both Hemming's book and Laszlo Dobszay's books ''The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite'' and ''The Bugnini Liturgy''. In these two books Dobszay explains exactly as Hemming does, that the Orientals still go by the prinicple that we Romans once did, that is, that the Liturgy of the Mass and of the Office is a task of the whole Church, and not the ''burden'' of the single individual. The parish church's obligation to sing Lauds and Vespers was fulfilled by the clerics and faithful who gahtered to celebrate those offices, whether the priest was able to be present or not. The priest was not bound to ''re-celebrate'' what his parish had celebrated. Dobszay explains how the Orientals do not shorten their Liturgies to accomodate inidividuals, but rather, each christian celebrates as much or as little of the Divine Office as his state in life and circumstances allow. A monk in a monastery would obviously celebrate the whole Office. A priest in parish life a part of that Office. I can only agree witht his sound liturgical principle. The latin Church later on decided to shift the obligation of Mass and Office from the community to certain individuals, and thus also to turn the Liturgy of Mass and Divine Office into a mere burden of ''reading'' and ''recitation'', and ended up rearranging (Pius X), shortening (Pius XII, John XXIII) and eventually totally recreating (Paul VI). A renewed Latin liturgical motto should be, Shorten the obligation, not the Office!

Christopher said...

Practically speaking any personal obligation to read the entire office is dependent upon the existence of large numbers of breviaries, which we may date approximately to the thirteenth century. But the western idea that a priests, even those not living in community, should ideally possible recite the whole office is much older. Might we locate its origins in the Carolingian era? Certainly this was a culture in which a high premium was set upon constant prayer; take for instance Angilbert's directions for his foundation at Centula (St-Riquier). The whole community of about 300 monks celebrated the Divine Office in common, but so that divine praise might constantly be offered in the principal church (and since the Office had not yet achieved Cluniac dimensinos) the monks took turns (in choirs of 100 monks) between each office at singing the psalter, while their brethren attended to work and sleep.

Rubricarius said...

The Tridentine revision kept more than just the Office of the BVM on certain Saturdays. Cathedral and collegiate foundations still had the Officium Parvum in choir. What is interesting is that various decrees of the SRC indicate that this additional Office was often being sung on days other than those on which it was ordered. (The Tridentine Breviary required the Officium Parvum on nearly all days which were not of nine lesson at Mattins). Various decrees, e.g. 970, 1334, 2587 confirm its celebration on doubles, semi-doubles and Sundays where it was the custom.

I suspect its demise was probably due to the political revolutions that swept across Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Matthew said...

It's worth pointing out that in Orthodoxy (to which I am a fairly recent convert) Matins & Vespers are truly 'popular' services -- as Dr Cranmer succeeded in making his versions of the same things. In my parish (Exeter) on the weekdays of Holy Week (Mon - Sat) Matins will be celebrated 5 times and Vespers twice; the eucharistic Liturgy only once (on Saturday morning, roughly equivalent to what westerners used to do at that time and now do on Saturday night.

threehearts said...

Archbishop Lazar Orthodox Church of Canada affliated with the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia asked me to send this to you

"The Holy Eucharist is the undivided body of Christ, the true presence of the body and blood of the Saviour. We would not use the word `transubstantiation,' but say no more than this: the bread and wine are `changed' by the Holy Spirit. The consecrated or `changed' Lamb is broken for communion of the faithful with the words, "Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God, which is ever distributed by never disunited, which is ever eaten but never consumed.' It is then added to the chalice with the words, `The fulness of the cup of the faith of the Holy Spirit.' From this chalice the faithful who have prepared themselves through confession, fasting and prayer are given the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ."

B flat said...

The Orthodox monastery I know best, in Germany, certainly tried to fulfil the celebration of the whole daily liturgical round according to the Typikon of the Russian Church as adopted in the 18th century. This is basically the Typikon of the Lavra of St Sabbas near Jerusalem.
With often less than ten monks, of whom two or more may be novices, the services were usually attended by the whole community.
However, even there, adaptations had to be made in Great and Holy Week, when all four Gospels are ordained to be read from Monday to Wednesday at the Little Hours. This meant that, beginning at 4.00am, the First Hour (Prime) ended at about 7.10am. A break was taken, until 8.00am when the Third Hour begins, and the Offices continued without pause until 13.45 with the end of Vespers with the Presanctified Liturgy, after which a mug of black tea and some honey could be taken. This punishing schedule proved physically unendurable for some, and the Gospel readings were transferred to the comparatively less demanding preceding week, distributed over five days, rather than three. Even ascetic endeavour must be tempered to the limits of human frailty.

For comparison, I have the experience of the Hours with their Gospel readings (but without the additional Psalms appointed for Great and Holy Week) read in his Cathedral by the Metropolitan of Warsaw in 1995. He was entirely alone for the first hour or so when first one priest, then another, came and joined the Service. I recall no congregation apart from myself, but many(most?) people started work by 7.00am, and so few would be able to come.

Although I have heard that the modern Russian Church has revised the Typikon in practice, the annual publication Богослужебные Указания (equivalent to an Ordo with detailed instructions for each service throughout that year) explicitly assumes that some churches at least, not only monasteries, will be performing all the offices. Some churches, because they will have the staff to do this, but by no means all, and not by obligation.

Residents of London, and long-time visitors, may have noted the change in the schedules at Dormition & All Saints Cathedral, Ennismore Gardens, since ten years ago. Now they have Liturgy nearly every day, and Vespers (OR some other service) in the evening) daily, again reflecting the changed practical possibilities.

I think Hierodeacon has put the Orthodox position fairly (and more succinctly) than I. The whole Church has a richness of Services, in which individuals and groups participate to the limited extent possible for them. The Orthodox have avoided applying a concept of obligation to anyone in this regard, respecting the dignity of Freedom which is God-given. The burden then falls rather on individual spiritual direction, to maintain piety by an active conscience against the tendency to sloth and self-indulgence.

josephmchardy said...

Very d***nt of you.