22 May 2015

"Communion Procession" in a new Dark Age? (1)

In the CTS hand Missal for the Laity, where one might expect a heading "COMMUNION", there is instead the heading "COMMUNION PROCESSION"; "Communion" has, functionally, become adjectival. Syntactically, this rather teutonic agglutinisation of nouns is a phenomenon which has become very common, and is often found in newspaper headings. "Football Manager" "Rape Victim" "Crash Survivor". There is no justification in the Ordo Missae itself for this particular insertion. It seems to me strange that emphasis should thus be taken off the centrality of the act of Holy Communion and the weight made to rest upon the act of processing.

But there is reference to the Communion Procession in the IGMR. In its original 1969 version it read (56 (i) "... cantus ad Communionem, cuius est  ... processionem ad Corpus Christi suscipiendum magis fraternam reddere." In 2001, this became " ... cantus ad Communionem, cuius est ... indolem 'communitariam' processionis ad Eucharistiam suscipiendam magis in lucem ponere." This is undoubtedly a strengthening of the idea. As for the idea itself, I can't see much in Jungmann's Volume II to support it.

The propriety of this development seems to me to arise from the process of frequent communion encouraged by S Pius X, and so accentuated since the middle years of the last century that it became  what we Anglicans used to call a "A General Communion". I want to suggest that the impetus given to this by the Holy Pontiff needs to be seen in a particular historical context.

It was in the nineteenth century that Catholicism in many countries was reformed very radically in its social manifestations. Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, presided over a revolution which eliminated the centuries-old peasant Catholicism of Irish culture (elements of which I strongly suspect go back to the sixth century) and finally imposed the discipline ... I nearly wrote 'military discipline' ... of the Counter-Reformation. In particular, out went the 'patterns', the old Patronal Festivals, which although cultic were occasions of every known kind of debauchery. The old Catholicism, in which one went to confession before Easter so as to be in a state of Grace and 'fit' to receive at Easter the Holy Communion which most people did not receive during the rest of the year, was laudably replaced by a new Catholicism in which the clergy were encouraged to strive to ensure that their people were normally, and not just for a few days each spring, in a state of Grace.

I suspect that a connection could be found between this and the general increase in disapproval of adultery, and other sexual sins, in both Protestant and Catholic contexts. As late as the seventeenth century royal courts, nobody failed to believe that adultery was a mortal sin. But equally, it was a cultural assumption that Kings did commit that mortal sin of adultery and even had mistresses en titre, right down - in France - to the accession of the saintly Louis XVI; and acknowledged and ennobled their bastards. I read somewhere of an uxorious German prince who maintained mistresses he didn't sleep with because princely status required it! In England, that culture lasted until William IV in the 1830s; the eldest of his bastards by Dorothy Bland, of Parknasilla in Co Kerry (where Pam and her sons and sons-in-law played golf in just about the most scenic 12 hole hotel course there must be anywhere) was made Earl of Munster ... but nota bene ... only the eldest son and only an earl. By the end of the same century it had become unthinkable that Albert Edward Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, certainly one of the hundred most unedifying lechers known to history, should acknowledge and ennoble bastards.

Things had changed.

Dv, to continue.

2 comments:

Michael Leahy said...

Father, a fascinating article. However, I couldn't help thinking that the peasant Catholicism which was supposed to be so inadequate was nevertheless that which survived 'dungeon, fire and sword', not to mention it's having rested on a foundation which was a very big part of preserving Christian Civilisation in Northern Europe in what is popularly known as the Dark Ages. Oh for a bit of that peasantry today as many of our "new Catholics" threaten to enter homosexual "marriage" into our Irish Constitution. No doubt, many consider this all part of being in a state of Grace, but there's a world of a difference between falling into debauchery and claiming it as normative. Please pray that this satanic attempt at changing our constitution will be rejected.

Michael Leahy said...
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