12 July 2021

Pope Innocent III on Concelebration (2)

When we aren't Covid-depressed, we presbyters are faced at this time in the year with the question of whether to concelebrate the Chrism Mass; perhaps, also, the Easter Vigil. 

I intend, over the next few days, to investigate what the Catholic Church, and particularly the Latin Church, has historically taught about Concelebration. One of my reasons for doing this is a feeling I get ... that there are some, keen Traditionalists, whose concept of Tradition is "What people did in 1950". 

I violently resent the prohibitions now in place in one of PF's basilicas in Rome. I deplore the disappearance of the normative discipline of the daily Mass for each and every priest in the Latin Church. I think a lot of concelebrations are just plain silly, as well as highly indecorous.

But Concelebration does exist in the Great Tradition within the Latin Church ... and I think it is worth disentangling this Tradition from the malpractices of Bergoglianity.


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 brother priests (except on those mornings when I said a Latin Mass in a different Chapel with those students and colleagues 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. I wish I'd known!

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 and taught differently. Look him up if you don't believe he really "counts" as a "reliable" pope.

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


Cosmos said...

So long as it scrupulously avoids the kind of egregious acts which would expose it to "legal" complaints, it is very difficult to criticize a legitimate authority which uses its discretionary power in pursuit of improper, ideological goals.

Pope Benedict alluded to this issues when he noted that the malady of the modern liturgical reform was not so-much the changes per se, but the sudden, "inorganic" nature of the changes which created the appearance of an arbitrary, political, and positivist Church.

As a person who sides with the "traditionalist" perspective, I tend to explain the focus on the 1950s with a computer analogy: "When your computer is suffering from a virus, your technician will try to restore it to the most recent time period that you know it didn't have that particular virus. That doesn't mean the computer was 100% healthy at that time. But that is generally the best you can do." Same goes for the liturgy.

John F. Kennedy said...

"Some modern 'traditionalists' believe that all Concelebration is wrong."

Is this true or just a straw man?

While I don't consider myself as a traditionalist but just plain ol Catholic and have no complaint per se on Concelebrations. But there are some problems with Concelebrations as I've seen them at times.

I typically attend a Dominican parish / Priory (with first year Novices) with typical concelebrated Novus Ordo Masses with the monthly Dominican Rite Mass. I have a problem with a Concelebrated Mass where the Eucharistic Prayer (The Roman Canon) is broken up into parts, in which Priest 1 (the main celebrant) says this part, Priest 2 on this side of the altar says this part, Priest 3 on the opposite side of the altar says that part and Priest 4 (next to priest 2) says the next part then it goes back to Priest 1. It seems like a Mass by committee and NOT a priest acting In Persona Christi. This committee approach doesn't feel right. Please tell me where I'm wrong...

I also have a problem with the prohibition of all Masses in St. Peters at all of the "side" Chapels and only in Italian. It seems that's why they were built and have been used for Mass for many centuries. It makes no sense from a faith point of view (God's eternal and constant sacrifice on the Cross) nor from the practical point of pilgrims attending from all parts of the globe at many times of the day. I think the requirement that ALL Masses MUST BE Concelebrated Masses an abuse.

William said...

"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…"
That makes perfect sense. But what it there is no Bishop (con)celebrating? Does the priest who has been designated as the Principal Celebrant become a kind of Bishop-by-default for that Mass? The theological and liturgical dynamics involved seem to me to be far less clear when it is simply a bunch of Presbyters concelebrating without being unified around the Bishop there present and leading the celebration. (Which is why I generally try nowadays to avoid participating in any priest-only concelebrations.)

Amont said...

A few years (during the current Pontificate)ago whilst visiting London, the priest in our group had asked if he might celebrate Mass in Westminister Cathedral, at one of the side chapels.He was told there was a concelebrated Mass for the clergy once a day .This post concilluar Bergolist attack comes on many fronts

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. There is an excellent lil' book on Pope Innocent; Pope Innocent III and his times" by Joseph Clayton

He has been described as "The greatest Pope of the Middle Ages,"

"...Sunday, February 22, 1198, seated on a horse bedecked with scarlet trappings..."

Here is a crucial truth that he emphasised in his consecration sermon:

Omne animi victim tanto conspectus in se crimean habet,
quanto qui peccato major habetur

The higher one may climb in pride of place,
The lower he will sink who falls from grace.

Prayerful said...

When that well known Vincentian +Bugnini provided indults, it was for the some form of the so called transitional missal modified by decrees of Vatican 2(articles keep saying 1965 but the major typical editions which largely preserved the Mass, were I think '64 and '66). Although Pope Benedict was probably hoping to woo the SSPX with the 1962 missal, I thought it a bit unusual that no aspect of the Mass as modified by Vatican 2 made a re-appearance. Any demands for concelebration has been under the New Order. Perhaps a halfway measure might be to revive the V2 authorisation for concelebration of the traditional Mass. I'd prefer not, but it might help a bit.

Honestly if canon 803 of the 1917 code of canon law, forbidding concelebration except for ordination and consecration Masses, held, it might be better. Tweaks and changes based on former practice have had an unfortunate outcome.

Fr Manfred Hauke in Sacrosanctum Concilium, Sacred Liturgy and the Second Vatican Council, did suggest that Benedict XIV had a flawed interpretation of Apostolic Constitutions and Canons.

vetusta ecclesia said...

This , and the earlier note about stipends,I assume disposes of the criticism I have read more than once that concelebration reduces the number of Masses celebrated.

Ryan Carey said...

I simply ignore 50s trads after correcting them once. Let them have their brylcreem and thin ties and 18 minute low dialogue Masses.

I've seen Byzantine concelebrated liturgies. I know that they all sing the consecration together. I think they all get a chance to do some incensing and other things. I don't understand it well.

The problem is what exactly did Romans do with concelebration? And if it was done back before the canon was silent it introduces another problem. Many specifics must be researched. And if there aren't good records, then how can you reconstruct it? And why? Resurrecting concelebration after it had been practically dead for centuries is a liturgical archaeologism that was condemned by the Popes, Pius XII most recently. There is a reason it fell out of favor. If we rightly condemn the Frankenstein members that were dug up to create the Novus Ordo (prayers of the faithful, handshake of peace, offertory procession, Communion under both kinds), then concelebration is also a Frankenstein body part.

Pulex said...

I would like to second Mr. Kennedy. It is most obvious that for FSSP (in the case of Dijon) or other traditional priests the problem is not concelebration as such, but any celebration (con- or not) in the Novus Ordo.

Of course, it is possible to adapt concelebration to the traditional rite on the basis of rules issued in 1965, or on the basis of the existing ceremonial of the Chrism Mass, or the use of Lyons. But this hardly will solve the problem. The diocesan bishop and most of priest would likely not be willing to have the diocesan Chrism Mass or any other such Mass in the traditional rite. Also, the concelebration options mentioned here would limit the number of priests concelebrating, which would not work in a large diocese or large gathering of priests.

Greyman 82 said...

Thank you for your recent posts concerning concelebration. Whilst I'm traditionalist by inclination, my knowledge of Church history is rather sketchy, and I had thought till reading your posts that concelebration was one of the sub-optimal liturgical fads introduced by, or in the wake of, Vatican II. I'm glad I'm much more well-informed as a result of following your blog. I still dislike concelebration, but at least one cannot dismiss it as a purely modern innovation.

Andrew Rex said...

Doesn’t Canon Law state that a priest may not celebrate mass at a side altar of a church where a concelebration is taking place at the main altar?