7 August 2015

S Xystus and the blessing of the grapes

Through whom, O Lord, thou dost ever create, sanctify, quicken, bless and bestow all these good things upon us.
This paragraph near the end of the Canon can confuse people. They can take it as refering to the consecrated Elements upon the altar. But the language is highly inappropriate if the Sacrament is meant. The Blessed Sacrament is not Blessed Bread, like the Antidoron of the orientals or the Blest Bread of Medieval England. It is the transsubstantiated Body of Christ our God.
This paragraph originally concluded the blessing of substances brought to the Altar: such as oil on Maundy Thursday ... and beans on Ascension Day! Not that beans had a liturgical association with the dogma of the Ascension: it just happened that the bean harvest in Rome coincided with the Ascension (no, don't ask me how the bean-harvest fluctuated according to the varying date of Easter ... just don't go there ...). And the first grapes were available to be blessed on the feast of S Xystus!
Bless, O Lord, also these new fruits of grape which thou O Lord by the dew of heaven and the showers of rain and the serenity and quietness of the seasons hast deigned to bring to ripeness, and hast given them to our uses to receive them with thanksgiving in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom etc..

The Latinity is workmanlike, I almost wrote banausic, even gauche and gawky, with little in the way of rhetorical flourishes or theological sparkle. Roman, in fact, in its sobriety and earthiness.

I sometimes feel sad at the opportunities the post-Conciliar reformers missed. In their keenness to spend long hours inventing innovations ... such as new Eucharistic Prayers and lectionary systems yanked ex nihilo ... they rarely bothered to go for the organic development which the Council had actually mandated. They could have allowed local hierarchies to incorporate appropriate blessings at this point in the Canon, and thus also have promoted a genuine inculturation which yet was totally within the spirit of the traditional Roman Rite.

I wonder if it would be nice, on some feast in August, to bless fragrant flowers at this point in the Mass? The feast, perhaps, of Someone whose empty tomb when opened was found to be filled with fragrant flowers? Until Pius XII set his pruning hook to August 15, we used to share all those delightful 'apocryphal' legends with the Orientals; as far as I am aware, they are now totally forgotten in the West. Very narrowing.

6 comments:

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Great points, Fr. Thank you

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Great points, Fr. Thank you

Protasius said...

The legend of the flowers in the Blessed Virgins grave is not completely forgotten. At least in Germany I don't remember ever coming across a church that didn't bless herbs on Assumption day if Mass was celebrated that day. However more explicit references to this legend remain scarce in my experience (especially since it is no holiday of obligation in the part of Germany I live in).

Dom Benedict Andersen OSB said...

Dear Father H, perhaps of interest: here's an image from the Missale Romano-Monasticum (1781) of the French Benedictine Congregation of Ss. Vanne & Hydulph (related to the Maurists). In the propers of the Transfiguration, it directs the celebrant to bless grapes at precisely the point you mention.

https://books.google.ie/books?id=4r5FAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA404&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U3GyihqAZKVV620x1N6nXHPHPFu3A&ci=532%2C736%2C371%2C660&edge=0

Mike Cliffson said...

Sorry Father , I AM going to go where the number of beans make five if I may, ie their variable harvesttime matching Ascension day.
In the beds. village my parents are buried in , (far from ancient Rome, physically nearer Cambridge than Oxford , in the sight of God who shall say) into the sixties at least there were various smallholders and market gardeners sowing various crops according to the phases of the moon, directly and indirectly. They certainly got bumper harvests , perhaps by also knowing every other trick in the book , good seeds and good fertilizer, local knowledge, etc .
Plenty of sealife breeds by the moon, and I understand human births peak by the moon too, there is no need to mutter superstition when modern science hasn't got there yet.
My ignorance of Roman agricultural practice is complete, but why should they not have had good or bad reasons for doing similiar,(those who sow by the moon can easily end up reaping by it too, so to speak,) meaning that things coinciding by moon independantly may then coincide more or less on a solar basis, too.

If there really is some complicated , maybe antipythagorian, explanation given in the commentaries, as a very ignorant man I would be suspicious of its veracity, even if charmed by its ancientry.

Mike Cliffson said...

Sorry Father , I AM going to go where the number of beans make five if I may, ie their variable harvesttime matching Ascension day.
In the beds. village my parents are buried in , (far from ancient Rome, physically nearer Cambridge than Oxford , in the sight of God who shall say) into the sixties at least there were various smallholders and market gardeners sowing various crops according to the phases of the moon, directly and indirectly. They certainly got bumper harvests , perhaps by also knowing every other trick in the book , good seeds and good fertilizer, local knowledge, etc .
Plenty of sealife breeds by the moon, and I understand human births peak by the moon too, there is no need to mutter superstition when modern science hasn't got there yet.
My ignorance of Roman agricultural practice is complete, but why should they not have had good or bad reasons for doing similiar,(those who sow by the moon can easily end up reaping by it too, so to speak,) meaning that things coinciding by moon independantly may then coincide more or less on a solar basis, too.

If there really is some complicated , maybe antipythagorian, explanation given in the commentaries, as a very ignorant man I would be suspicious of its veracity, even if charmed by its ancientry.