20 November 2009

Naming the Bishop

The 1984 Statement of the Jouint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church which included such heavyweights as John Zizioulas and Joseph Ratzinger described mention in the Canon of the bishop by virtue of communion with whom one offers Mass as "essential". This may seem a trifle overstated - after all, there are extant Eucharistic Prayers which have failed to do this; are they therefore lacking an 'essential'? - but I believe it does express the ancient notion that the Bishop is the true primary celebrant and, as S Ignatius put it a long time ago, that Eucharist is to be accounted bebaios which is celebrated by the Bishop or by one to whom he commits it.

In the Te igitur of the Roman Canon, the mention of the Bishop is not a prayer for him but an expression of the fact that the presbyteral celbrant offers qua delegate of that bishop.

Together with the mention of the Roman Bishop, the Te igitur thus gives full expression to the synchronic unities which constitute a particular Eucharist as the Eucharist of Christ's entire Catholic Church, and not a ritual activity of a local gathered and autonomous group. The presbyter is at one - ideally! - with his Bishop; the bishops of the world are at one with each other through the ministry of Peter. Ideally!


  1. I recall reading somewhere that Rome, when asked after the Council to approve various new Eucharistic Prayers supernumerary to the four in the new Missal, proposed certain criteria to be met by candidate texts, such as a requirement to express ecclesiastical unity by mentioning the name of the Pope and bishop, and by commemorating the Blessed Virgin and the saints.

    (I take it that this is the modern equivalent of the famous reading of the diptychs, Fr H?)

  2. This has interesting consequences for any Anglican Canon to be inserted in the upcoming Roman Rite Anglican Use Missal (B.D.W. 2.0) - so far as I can see, the only way to do so would be to follow the Scottish 1764 Communion Office, and have the Prayer of Consecration immediately followed by the Prayer of Memorial and Oblation, with the Prayer for the Church tacked on at the end, rather than read at or before the Offertory. (Rome would also require, as it has for all new Eucharistic Prayers, that the Epiclesis be put back before the Consecration, as in other Anglican traditions than the Scottish and its daughter the American.) But would not having these three prayers in sequence make for a very long Canon?

  3. Joshua, Common Worship Prayer ... E (?) has square brackets which would permit the prayer for the Church, Bp of Rome and Abp of Birmingham/wherever (presumably he'd be in there rather than the Ordinary) to be included.

  4. Fr. H, that was nicely and succinctly put.

    I've always wondered myself about the connotations of "episcopus" vs. "antistes". Are they equivalent latinized-Greek and Latin?

    Jacob Hicks, I doubt that, in parishes of the ordinariate, there is any reason not to include the name of the Ordinary of the Ordinariate after the local Bishop, especially since he will have at least partial "ordinary jurisdiction" over the members of the Ordinariate. I think the principle is "communion all the way 'round".

  5. Joshua - or Preface, Prayer for the Church, Prayer of Consecration, Prayer of Memorial and Oblation - the original 1549 arrangement. Omitting the "without any eleuacion" rubric, of course.

  6. Chris,

    True, that is the 1549; but the Scottish rearrangement (which derives from the 1718 Nonjurors' liturgy) is superior:

    1. Prayer of Consecration;
    2. Prayer of Memorial and Oblation;
    3. Prayer for the Church.

    By putting the Prayer for the Church last, and including the words "accept our Oblation", it makes it clear that the Eucharist is an impetratory sacrifice, not merely one of praise and thanksgiving: it is offered up for determinate ends.

    As St Cyril of Jerusalem says,

    "Then when the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless act of worship is complete, we beseech God, on the ground of that sacrifice of propitiation, for the common peace of the churches; for the stability of the world; for kings; for our soldiers and allies; for the sick and afflicted; in fact, we pray for all who need help, and for them we offer this sacrifice. Next, we remember those who have fallen asleep before us; first the Patriarchs, Apostles, Martyrs; that by their prayers and intercessions God may receive our supplication. After that we pray for the holy Fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep; and, in short, for all the departed, believing that it will be the greatest advantage for the souls of those for whom this supplication is offered when the holy and awful sacrifice is set before God. We offer up Christ, sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our compassionate God on their behalf, and on our own." [Mystagogical Catecheses 5, 7-10]

    The Prayer for the Church, in its more catholic recensions (1549, as returned to and reworked by the Nonjurors and the Scots, praying for the dead and fulsomely commemorating the Saints), fits this description admirably. As Bishop Thomas Brett (1667-1744) wrote:

    "The Reason of the Thing also pleads for putting the Prayer for all estates and Conditions of Men after the Consecration, for as it is one general End of Sacrifice, and of this Eucharistick Sacrifice in particular, to render our Prayers more effectual...it is certainly most proper, that the Sacrifice or Oblation should first be offered, and that Prayer should be made whilst it lies upon the altar, and is already dedicated to God."

    It will be observed that this order is in fact the common pattern of the post-Conciliar Toamn Eucharistic Prayers:

    Proemium; Epiclesis; Consecration, Anamnesis/Memorial; Oblation; Prayer for Communicants; Intercesssion for the Living and the Dead with Commemoration of the Saints; Doxology.

    Note that, in regard to the Epiclesis, Rome has been clear that in the Roman Rite, for the avoidance of all confusion, it must be placed before the Consecration, so 1549 must be followed, not the Nonjurors, the Scots and the Americans.

  7. Excuse the typo above: it should be Roman, not Toamn (which appears to be Gaelic).