9 May 2015

Pope Innocent III on Concelebration

For a number of years, before I came to believe that Concelebration should only be done rarely and under the presidency of one's bishop, I concelebrated each morning with my colleagues (except on those mornings when I said a Latin Mass in a different Chapel with the boys and masters who liked that sort of thing). I was disconcerted by a concelebrating colleague who had a habit of edging his voice ahead of mine even when I was Principal Celebrant. Why should he, I fretted, snatch the Mass from me by consecrating ahead of me and leaving me without the substances of bread and wine to consecrate myself? So I developed a habit of getting a good head of breath earlier in the Institution Narrative so that I could keep in sync with him. I needn't have bothered. A Pope sorted this problem out for me 800 years ago.

Innocent III (1198-1216) takes it for granted that "from time to time many priests concelebrate" and adds "the Cardinal Presbyters of Rome have been accustomed to stand around the the Pontiff and to consecrate together with him" - a pretty blunt and authoritative indication from the Bishop of Rome as to the meaning of the Rites of his own Church. What concerns him is this very question of what happens if they don't keep their voices together at the words of Consecration. "Is the one who first pronounces the words the only one who confects the Sacrament?" His answer to this is that "Whether the priests utter them before or after, their intention must be referred to the instant at which the Bishop says them, with whom principally they are concelebrating, and then all consecrate and confect at the same time".

Some modern 'traditionalists' believe that all Concelebration is wrong.  Innocent III thought differently.

I wonder if S Thomas Aquinas agrees with him? I'll answer that question next.


Ivan said...

I wonder why are there so many concelebrations. Here in Zadar, in the church of st. Michael operate third order Franciscans (I believe). There are three Masses (at least public), 7 AM, 8:30 AM and 6 PM. Today I attended the 8:30 Mass, and there were 5 priests I think.

I need not say that only the NO is served there. But, I wonder why do they have 5 priests on that Mass. I think it is a conventual Mass (at least the morning office is said) so maybe the statues or something order it to be concelebrated (you, Father, would know more), but why?! There are side altars in the church. Of course, these days I wouldn't expect to see them used, but wouldn't it be better at least for themselves to say their own Mass? I imagine it is a profound and glorious experience (they could just have someone as an altar boy) to say a Mass.

Is it, today, only seen as an obligation? "Hmm, when will I say my Mass? Ah, I could sneak into Fr. Joe's Mass! Just utter some words during the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer [because we all know which one is usually used] and maybe read the readings and similar." Of course, I hope it is not like this. And this is not meant to be an attack on the good priests in that church which serve confession every day from 8 AM to noon (I think it's 8 AM) and from 5 PM to 7 PM. (maybe different on Sundays)

Woody said...

Interesting. I didn't know you could concelebrate a TLM. However, wouldn't the the priest who is the "concelebrant" keep his voice inaudible as he says the Mass? The only instance I hear the priests say anything together during the Eucharistic prayer at an OF concelebrated Mass is at The Doxology.

filip said...

Father, could you give a bibliographical footnote to this?

Christopher said...

Please could you give us a reference? This is good stuff.

fr. Thomas said...

Is that from Innocent's work, 'De Sacro Altaris Mysterio'? St Thomas disagrees with various things in it, saying that the pope was speaking 'opinative non determinative' at one point (3a 78,1 ad 1).

Chris said...

I note the assumption in there that concelebration only happens with the Bishop as principal concelebrant.