Through whom, O Lord, thou dost ever create, sanctify, quicken, bless and bestow all these good things upon us.This paragraph near the end of the Canon can confuse people. They can take it as refering to the consecrated Elements upon the altar. But the language is highly inappropriate if the Sacrament is meant. The Blessed Sacrament is not Blessed Bread, like the Antidoron of the Orientals or the Blest Bread of Medieval England. It is the transsubstantiated Body of Christ our God. It is God Almighty, on earth.
This paragraph originally concluded the blessing of substances seasonally brought to the Altar: such as ... beans on Ascension Day! Not that beans have any liturgical association with the dogma of the Ascension that I can think of: it just happened that the bean harvest in Rome coincided with the Ascension (no, don't ask me how the bean-harvest fluctuated according to the varying date of Easter). And the first grapes were available to be blessed on the feast of S Xystus! On both these occasions, this form was used:
Bless, O Lord, also these new fruits of the Bean [or whatever] which thou O Lord by the dew of heaven and the showers of rain and the serenity and quietness of the seasons hast deigned to bring to ripeness, and hast given them to our uses to receive them with thanksgiving in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom, O Lord, thou dost ever ... etc..
The Latinity is workmanlike, I almost wrote banausic, even gauche and gawky, with little in the way of Renaissance elegance or theological sparkle. Old Roman, in fact, in its sobriety and earthiness and utter, utter matter-of-factness.
The Maundy Thursday practice of blessing oils at this point in the Canon survives, of course, even in the modern rites. (And the admirable, erudite Dom Benedict Andersen of Silverstream Priory in the County Meath ... a truly magical place! ... has told me of a French Benedictine Missal of 1781, Congregation of SS Vane and Hydulph, in which grapes are still blessed on the Feast of the Transfiguration.) So this old custom has still, by the the very tips of its fingers, kept a purchase upon Usage.
I sometimes feel sad at the opportunities the post-Conciliar reformers missed. In their keenness to spend long hours devising innovations ... such as new Eucharistic Prayers and lectionary systems yanked ex nihilo ... they rarely bothered to go for the organic development which the Council had actually mandated. They could have allowed local hierarchies to incorporate appropriate blessings at this point in the Canon, and thus also have promoted a genuine inculturation which yet was totally within the spirit of the traditional Roman Rite. No, don't panic: I'm not advocating this now. The moment has passed ... the moment for gentle, unflashy conservative enrichment was stifled by the culture of brutalism and rupture. So be it. They did it, the ..... Still ...
... I wonder if it would be nice, on some feast in August, to bless fragrant flowers at this point in the Canon of the Mass? The feast, perhaps, of Someone whose empty tomb when opened was found to be filled with fragrant flowers? (Until Pius XII set his pruning hook to the propers of August 15, we used to share all those delightful 'apocryphal' legends with the Orientals; as far as I am aware, they are now almost totally forgotten in the West. Very narrowing.)
That is the first Innovation I shall mandate when our Holy Father Pope Francis makes me Cardinal Sarah's successor. Perhaps I will aso restore the Beans to Ascension Thursday. Perhaps I will even restore the Ascension to Ascension Day.