19 October 2001

Concelebration 1

Having written a rave review of Laurence Hemming's Worship as a Revelation, and repeatedly urged everybody to read it, I think I am entitled to pick up particular observations and express a contrary view. And I want to question his apparent disapproval of Concelebration. Having summarised the way, in the old Pontifical, that newly ordained priests, in their Mass of Ordination, said the Eucharistic Prayer with the ordaining bishop, he observes 'This has nothing to do with concelebration - it is a formal demonstration of the way in which each priest's future recitation of the most sacred prayer of the Mass is intrinsically linked to, and in concert with, what the bishop himself does, as the one to whom he is hierarchically tied, and so this action is a formal demonstration of how the priest acquires, and exercises, his right to say this prayer and effect the miracle of transubstantiation'.

I have no problems with any of this except with the opening clause. If Hemming is suggesting that concelebration is a modern fad which misinterprets the ritual he describes, then he is wrong. The acid test is 'May a priest accept a mass-stipend for what he does at his Ordination Mass? If so, then it is a Mass of which he is a celebrant. And the answer given before there is any suggestion of modern liturgical faddery is that he may. The most learned pope before our present Holy Father, Benedict XIV, took this view. So did weighty and reliable authorities such as Gasparri and Cappello.

When the post-Conciliar Ritus concelebrandi formally made this into law, it was simply repeating what was already the universal judgement of theologians and manual-writers; what was part of the Ordinary teaching of the Western Church.

This is by no means all that I want to say about this subject, but I do feel the need to establish the authenticity of the notion of concelebration within the practice and teaching of historic Western Chistendom.

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