23 May 2015

Communion Procession in a new Dark Age? (2)

The thesis I am testing is that the moment when S Pius X started encouraging frequent communion is the moment at which the the mass cultural Catholicism of post-Constantinian Chritianity, in which mass conversions led to a situation in which most people and most societies were not radically 'converted', had been superseded. Some anecdotes from my own unsystematic reading of Irish Church History: a twelfth century Bishop of Ardfert (i.e. Kerry) was reputed to be "chaste". Just think what that implies for the most of the episcopate: they were presumably Caseys, Doyles, and Conrys to a man! I once amused byself by looking at the entries in episcopal registers of the late medieval parochial clergy of Kerry. Time and time again, the record revealed that a cleric was dispensed for illegitimacy. That might mean that most couples were not canonically married and that therefore most children were canonically illegitimate; or, more probably, that these clerics were the sons of priests who naturally planned to inherit their fathers' trade: in either case, it tells us something about society!

But the counter-Reformation implied a clericate different from the medieval priesthood in which a man who could read but had no training could turn up at the Embertide and be ordained (the old system which, like so many of the medieval abuses, survived in the Church of England long after the Catholic Church had moved on). The introduction of seminaries meant a much more professionalised priesthood with an expectation that they would have a more professional attitude to the formation of their laity.

By the time of S Pius X, things were ripe for a new Catholicism in which frequent Confession and frequent Communion could be encouraged. The Dark Ages had finally come to an end. Their ritual marks remained; Communion from the tabernacle rather than within Mass was still common in Oxford Anglo-Catholicism when I was an undergraduate in the 1960s; in both East and West the Body of Christ was not delivered into the hands of the laity; neither was the Chalice delivered into the hands of the laity. Both of these were practices which developed in the 'Dark Ages' out of fear profanation or sacrilege. But, with a more trained and 'sacramentalised' laity, the situation had become ripe for change.

Dv, to be continued.


Grumpy Beggar said...

I wish you'd been my history professor when I was back in school Padre . . . dare say I might've retained more of it in that case because it's so interesting the way you present it.

My first "official" spiritual director explained to me that the word communion is, in its simplified etymological essence, two words joined together: common and union ; and Online Etymology would appear to concur in the general scheme.

When I subsequently contemplate Holy Communion, I think of the common union which takes place between our Blessed Lord and each of us when we receive Him, and it can in turn,serve to remind one of our Blessed Lord's prayer recorded in the Gospel of John :

". . . That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us."

- an end goal which surely is the consummation of Communion as God Himself intends.

In that sense "Communion Procession" easily puts even the mildly sensitive Catholic nose out of joint. When I read Part (1) of your current tract, the first thing I thought was ("Oh No ! . . .'Communion Procession' - we must've done it here in Canada first - even before they did".)

As it turns out , in the Canadian equivalent of the "hand Missal" for the laity, even in the missalettes [and if I've read you correctly - that we are discussing that part of the Mass which directly proceeds the conclusion of the Per Ipsum],and even in the American pre-New English Translation, we would all appear to have retained the heading "COMMUNION RITE" [RITUS COMMUNIONIS], ( - don't know how a current US Missal for the laity renders it though.)

Given the various unholy common unions you touched upon in Part (2) , the Church would seem to have employed much wisdom in Her referral to the common union of the subject matter in question as "Holy" Communion. But "Procession" just doesn't fit.

. . . Unless some divinely inspired soul, somehow rose above our limitations of time and space to contemplate the immanent Procession as an act rather than a series of sequences, as in:

PROCESSION. The origin of one from another. A procession is said to be external when the terminus of the procession goes outside the principle or source from which it proceeds. Thus creatures proceed by external procession from the triune God, their Primary Origin. An internal procession is immanent; the one proceeding remains united with the one from whom he or she proceeds. Thus the processions of the Son and the Holy Spirit are an immanent act of the Holy Trinity. An internal, divine procession signifies the origin of a divine person from another divine person (Son from the Father), or from other divine persons (the Holy Spirit from Father and Son) through the communication of numerically one and the same divine essence. From Father John Hardon, S.J. Modern Catholic Dictionary.

Considering the above, if there truly has been a deliberate attempt to obscure the meaning of Communion by placing the word "Procession" adjacent to render it adjectival, it just might rate as one of the greatest catholic modernist freudian slips ever since the Ship had first begun to take on water.

In the interim, until we can discern any of that with a degree of certainty, "Communion Rite" appears the more steady course : Compared to Communion Procession , Communion Rite just sounds . . ."right."

Jacobi said...

I think St Pius X must be turning in his grave now at the widespread abuse of the Real Presence.

His intension to encourage more frequent reception at a time when reception was rare is understandable, but it has resulted in a swing to the opposite extreme, where reception of Holy Communion has become a “right” for those who for the most part do not understand what the Real Presence is, and that “right” has replaced the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as that which we are called to attend.

Yes, in the past there was probably widespread sinning, but it was, certainly amongst the laity, acknowledged as such.

Now so called “Catholics” decide for themselves and as a result abuse the Real Presence - not at all what St Pius X had in mind!