25 January 2014

Reordination (3): Consummatio

This is the third part of a letter in four sections which are to be understood closely in relation to each other.
So S Theodore, doubtful about S Chad's Consecration as Bishop, "ordinationem eius denuo catholica ratione consummavit". "Consummavit" is an interesting word. It can quite simply mean "finished off", as, elsewhere in Bede, it refers to the finishing-off of the building of a wall. But I somehow doubt - it seems anachronistic - that S Theodore examined every detail of S Chad's original Consecration Rite, discovered some technical detail which had been omitted, and then, as we used to say, "supplied the ceremonies". Sometimes consummare suggests an action which, as it were, seals or puts a final ritual touch upon a rite. So, in the account of the Martyrdom of Ss Perpetua and Felicity, we are told that the saints, before their final death in the amphitheatre "osculati [sunt] invicem, ut martyrium per sollemnia pacis consummarent". This Kiss was not, chronologically, the last episode in their martyrdom; nor was it essential to its validity: for who would say that, if they had failed to exchange such a Sign of Peace, their death in witness of Christ would not truly have been a 'valid' act of Martyrdom? It was an action which spoke of the Sealing of their deed, the ritual signing-off of what they were doing. It suggested the consent of their mutual agape, love, in the solemn act of martyrium in which they were collaborating.

Similarly, in the early history of the Western Rite, the Kiss of Peace 'sealed' the consecratory action of the Consecration and Offering of Christ's Body and Blood in the Mass. Tertullian calls the Pax the "Signaculum Orationis". He asks if any prayer is complete (integra) without the Holy Kiss and asks "quale sacrificium est, a quo sine pace receditur?" Pope S Innocent I writes of how, after the Canon of the Mass, "the Peace must necessarily be given; for it shows that the People have given their consent to everything which is done in the mysteries and in churches, and it is shown that they are finished by the signaculum of Peace which concludes them". In the technical modern language of 'validity', a Eucharist in which the Anaphora was not followed by the Kiss of Peace would not be deemed 'invalid' (in particular, Byzantines, Ambrosians, and Anglicans, who do the Pax earlier in the Rite, would have trouble with such rigorism). Yet there is something moving and gracious about this ancient gesture of consent, of unity, and of ratification. I, for one, would be sad if it disappeared from its present, unspeakably ancient and moving, position in the Roman Rite. But that is not what I am discussing here. My topic is to demonstrate it as an example of the consummatio of an action which would not have been a complete nullity without it.

But ... you know my habit of wandering off ... back to the question of Ordination. The author of the Apostolic Tradition says that when a presbyter is ordained, and the members of the presbyterium join in the imposition of hands, the presbyter laying on hands "has no authority to give kleron. Wherefore he does not cheirotonei a klerikon, but, at the cheirotonia of a presbyter, he sphragizei while the Bishop ordains". Non-Hippolytus is clearly not saying that the presbyteral participation is essential; he pretty well asserts the opposite (and, of course, this action cannot indeed be essential because it is unknown in Oriental ordination rites). But such a 'sealing' is far from being nothing. Such a sphragis is the equivalent in Greek terminology of the Latin signaculum . It is, I suggest, very close to 'consummatio'.

Consummatio appears also in the medieval Pontificals. In the course of their complicated history, the old Roman consecratory prayers had ordination prayers of Gallican origin added to them, thus creating - to the Bugnini mindset -  that worst of all horrors: Duplication. Yes: in a sense, an ordinand in the time of the developed Western ordination rites was ordained twice on the same day! And those Gallican interpolations are, rubrically, described as Consummationes or labelled ad consummandum. Until the post-Vatican II reforms, everybody ordained Presbyter had had hands laid on him twice, at two very different points in the rite! So those of us who enter the presbyterates of Ordinariates are really in the position of every man ordained priest in the Latin Church until half a century ago ... except that for us there is a bit of a gap between the two layings-on!

What I am saying is that there seems to be an inveterate liturgical inclination to finish off, seal, consummate, perfect, or add a final and graceful flourish to, sacramental rites. Naked adequacy, the stark minimum needed for validity, was not, until the 1960s, a Catholic instinct. Furthermore, there was a great desire to be sure about things. Indeed, there are stories about RC bishops as late as the first half of the twentieth century conditionally reordaining all their ordinands once they got them back into the Sacristy ... just for safety's sake! And Vatican dicasterial decisions required ordinands who received the (two) laying-on of hands but accidentally missed the porrectio Instrumentorum, the Handing-Over of the chalice and paten, to be 'done' again (so those poor chaps ended up having had pontifical gloves on their heads four times!).


GOR said...

Interesting note about bishops conditionally ‘re-ordaining’ priest in the Sacristy, Father.

An anecdote ad rem.

I was ordained by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in the 1960s. At the laying on of hands John Charles (as he was known familiarly) pressed down hard on my head. I felt like he was trying to press my head into my chest. Though small in stature, he had biblical strength in his arms!

I don’t recall if I showed some reaction or surprise at that point, but afterwards he explained himself to us. He said that early in his ministry he didn’t use much force in the laying on of hands. Later, he had scrupulous priests whom he had ordained come to him questioning the validity of their ordination and whether he had in fact laid hands on them. Thus he determined to ensure that all future ordinands would be in no doubt about the fact by using noticeable force.

If you were ordained by John Charles, you were in no doubt that he had in fact ‘laid hands on you’…!

Anagnostis said...

Doesn't the "Low Mass culture" prior to the 1960's indicate precisely an "instinct for naked validity"; and isn't that, precisely, what made everything that followed conceivable - a decorous rigmarole for getting to the Magic Words?

D. Harold said...

Gor said about Archbishop McQuaid "Later, he had scrupulous priests whom he had ordained come to him questioning the validity of their ordination and whether he had in fact laid hands on them." But Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution of 1947 "Sacramentum Ordinis" answers clearly their 'doubts' or over scruples "6. In order that there may be no occasion for doubt, We command that in conferring each Order the imposition of hands be done by physically touching the head of the person to be ordained, although a moral contact also is sufficient for the valid conferring of the Sacrament." So a mere moral presence suffices for sacramental validity even if a physical imposition of hands was missing ! See: http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12SACRAO.HTM

Marco da Vinha said...

Speaking of "just in case", our daughter was baptized by immersion (according to the old rite), but the priest baptized her conditionally by affusion afterwards because he was not sure if he had done it correctly the first time (it was the first time he had baptized by immersion). Better safe than sorry, I guess ;-)