23 August 2015

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (5)

If you browse through the Pontificale Romanum as it so admirably was before the post-Conciliar alterations, you will discover that the most solemn liturgical blessings and consecrations both of persons and of things had one constant feature. They began like the Preface of the Mass, with Dominus vobiscum; Sursum corda; Gratias agamus; Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare .... This is how Major Orders were conferred; how Chrism and the Paschal Candle were blessed; how Abbots, Abbesses, Virgins and Queens, Churches and Altars, were solemnly blessed. The custom was not 'primitive'; but fitted very beautifully the 'primitive' understanding that it is by Thanksgiving, Eucharistia, that things are blessed and made over to God. Nowadays, apart from the Mass, the Paschal Candle appears to be the only survival of this noble custom (apparently, in modern liturgical theology, candles are more sacral objects than Bishops or even Virgins!). Couratin provides the Prayer for the Ordination of Priests remodelled in this way. Here we have something more than just an elegant literary embellishment; it is in itself a theological statement. Priests are something more than the merely functional.

The Rite of Ordination which I have described was only used in one diocese (as far as I know) and possibly only during two episcopates. I must emphatically disclaim any intention of investing my narrative with any broader theological significance. But that Diocese was a rather special star in our Anglican firmament (fuit Troia, fuimus Troiani ...), and Kirk was a profoundly significant figure in the now vanished Anglo-Catholic world of Dix and Mascall and their associates. Surely, it cannot fail to be a matter of interest precisely how just such a bishop solemnly administered the Sacrament of Holy Order in his Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford?

Does anybody know how Robert Mortimer, another Good Egg, did things down in Exeter?



John F H H said...

Does anybody know how Robert Mortimer, another Good Egg, did things down in Exeter?

Presumably in accordance with Patrick Ferguson-Davie's The Bishop in Church (Church Union & SPCK, 1961)
which has an Introduction by Fr.Couratin.

There are two chapters on Ordinations (one for when the bishop celebrates solemnly, one for simply).
More concerned with what is done than the texts, I noted:—
a) assumes full pontificals for the bishop, and provides for vesting the candidates (dalmatic/chasuble)
b) restricts number of priests joining in laying on hands to four, wearing eucharistic vestments (or surplice and stole in case of necessity). The "scrum" is (sadly IMHO)regarded as "unseemly". They stretch out their right hands with the bishop at "And we humbly beseech Thee, by the same . . ."
c) detailed instructions for concelebration by newly-ordained priests
d) The bishop sings the verse in the Litany "That it may please thee to bl+ess these thy servants"
I suspect, that in widely available print, this book is slightly conservative in tone, and it would be interesting to know what actually happened in practice.

Incidentaly, abe books has half-a-dozen copies available, including one once belonging to Dr.G.G.Willis.

Luke Togni said...

The dialogue introduction to the blessings is found in a number of blessings in the Apostolic Constitutions, including cheese, I believe. , and of course, oil. Is this form not preserved even in the NO blessing of the Chrism?

Auriel Ragmon said...

Now I wish I had not given away my 1590 Pontificale! durn! Well, I did send it to a Latinist.It even had a rite for crowning a king, and rites for demoting people from holy orders. Gone the way of all books, I suppose
Rdr. James Morgan