11 January 2011

culture changes (3)

Continues ...
It is an idea deeply embedded in most ... I think I may mean all ... traditional rites, that the Eucharistic Prayer is far from being a folksy prayer which the celebrant hopes will be short enough to stop the people getting bored, and which, if he is trendy enough, he will invite them to join in saying so that they 'feel involved'. This Prayer is a profound mystery in which the celebrant is, as it were, halfway out of this world, alone and face to face with the God whom Moses met when he climbed the mountain and entered the cloud at Sinai. Early Ordines tell us that at the beginning of Te igitur surgit Pontifex solus et intrat in canonem ... surgit solus Pontifex et tacite intrat in Canonem*: I am sure that I am not the only priest who, as he raises his hands at Te igitur, senses vividly that he is, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonements, entering the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifice for all the people before the Holy God who dwells in unapproachable light. The Byzantine priest enters the Royal Doors in order to sacrifice; some of the older Roman churches still possess the hooks to hold the curtains round the ciborium which concealed the celebrant from view.

I believe it can be shown that the developed form of the Canon Romanus, with its careful distinctions between nos servi tui/servitus nostra, and plebs tua sancta/cuncta familia tua, dates from the time when distance and curtains separated the celebrant and his sylleitourgoi from the People. The inaudible recitation of (most of) the Canon is a central feature of sound liturgical praxis; if it cannot be immediately restored, I suppose the next best thing is its recitation in a language not understanded of the people, or its recitation in a voice which at least does not officiously strive for audibility. (Why on earth, in OF Latin Masses at Brompton, is the celebrant when at the altar electronically amplified? If he simply said the Eucharistic Prayer in a clara et elata voce and left to God the management of the laws of Physics which determine how much of it the people in the various parts of the nave could hear, that surely would fulfill the rubrics?)

This restoration of a sense of the Holiness and otherness of the One Oblation of the Lord Once Offered is going to be the greatest task, the most laborious up-hill struggle, for all those Western clergy who desire to re-enter the historic, ecumenical liturgical consensus of the Latin West and the Byzantine Churches and the Semitic Christian East. Its destruction in the West a generation ago was one of the greatest successes of the Evil One. Its recovery is the calling of faithful clergy in the third millennium.


*Jungmann comments: "The Canon is a sanctuary into which the priest enters alone".



Священник села said...

Curiously, in spite of the consumerisation of worship, and the demands for *active* participation by everyone in everything and the flattening egalitarianism of modern *ministries*, the man in the pew (having arrived in the Clapham omnibus, no doubt) doesn't realise that in traditional worship there is a sense in which it is already all about him. For whom are the Mysteries offered, for whom do the clergy and servers shuffle about, process, sing, kneel, pray? For whom do choirs sing and altar guilds fuss and cleaners sweep? For whom is the temple designed? For him, for the man in the pew. The most important person in the church is precisely the man in the pew, the worshipper rapt in worship and devotion. To stand and pray before God and offer him worship, adoration, devotion is the highest of human activities - and all the actors and all the props are just there to enable that, to lead him into that Mystery.

John F H H said...

For whom are the Mysteries offered, for whom do the clergy and servers shuffle about, process, sing, kneel, pray? For whom do choirs sing and altar guilds fuss and cleaners sweep? For whom is the temple designed? For him,

And then, and then:
the man in the pew

Now I suspect that this may be a case of "both...and..." rather than " "either...or..."

but I must confess I was expecting Him . . . He whom the earth and heavens adore . . to be the first answer to your question!

Kind regards,
John U.K.

Anonymous said...

The primary purpose of Catholic worship is to glorify God - ''Glorificatio Dei''. God enables us to glorify Him by putting into the priest's hands His own Divine Sacrifice, which the faithful join themsevles in offering. The secondary purpose of Catholic worship is our own deification, sanctification, which is brought about by devout participation in the Sacrificial Worship and, chiefly, by reception of the fruit of the Sacrifice, which is Communion with the Victim and Offerer, the God-man Jesus Christ.
If worship is to be authentic and fruitful, the priest and faithful must put God at the centre of their worship: only by giving first unto God that which is due Him (Sacrifice Worship, which He Himself provides!) can we become receptive to God's gifts to us (forgiveness, sanctification, union with Him, as well as temporal favours).
Most protestants have no such Worship, no such Sacrifice, no such Sacrament, and do not perceive at all their need for such things, nor our insistence upon them. Alas, as Fr.Hunwicke recently wrote, most post-conciliar Catholics have also become de-facto protestants.