15 July 2021

Money and Concelebration (5).

Benedict XIV (1740-1758) concludes his argument that concelebrants are, each of them, true celebrants (pariter concelebrant) by dealing with the question of concelebrants accepting Mass-stipends. This is the acid test. You are stealing from the laity if you accept a Mass-stipend but do not say the Mass for the intention of the donor. So the question is: if a hundred priests concelebrate, can a hundred priests accept, each of them, a Mass-stipend for that same Eucharistic celebration? Now ... traddies among you had better hold on tightly to something fixed to the ground, because you are not likely to enjoy what follows ... the answer given by the Sovereign Pontiff is an unambiguous Yes. In other words, each concelebrant has precisely the same sacramental standing as a priest saying his own private Mass. Watch his lips: Each : one : is : saying : Mass.

It is not surprising that, for the next two centuries, manualists concurred with this weighty papal judgement. Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini, had an immense reputation, based equally upon his own erudition and his papal status. In the last expiring months of the Old Rite (which had at that point received only two or three trifling modifications), on March 7 1965, a Rite of Concelebration was promulgated for use with the old rite. In accordance with the actual words of the Council, the document was less than whole-hearted in its endorsement of daily Concelebration when all the concelebrants are presbyters, but the rite was intended to be used universally at Ordinations, Consecrations, Abbatial Blessings, in Councils, Synods, and Episcopal meetings, and at both Masses on Maundy Thursday.

As far as Maundy Thursday Concelebration is concerned, this is something which had not lost its last foothold in the Latin Church until our own time. The Rite of Lyons, which survived until the Council, provided that on that one day six presbyters had the right to sit with the Archbishop and concelebrate (honor sedendi et offerendi). This was but the last survival of a widespread practice of such concelebration in French cathedrals during the Counter-Reformation period.

So those 1965 provisions seem to me a thoroughly 'organic' liturgical development. They seem to me to draw, not as revolutionary liturgical subversives so often and so cheerfully do, upon dubious, improbable, and unedifying reconstructions of "what the Early Church did", but upon a broad consideration of the Latin Church's whole liturgical tradition; upon the Magisterium, and especially (when the meaning of the Roman Rite is concerned) that of Roman Pontiffs; and upon the consensus of reliable manualists.They seem to me to rest on the consistent and reiterated teaching of Popes and Doctors over the last millennium. They are not some load of rubbish dreamed up by archbishop Bugnini's generation.

And (paragraph 10) they concur with the judgement on Mass-stipends of Benedict XIV and those who followed him: Singuli concelebrantes stipendium legitime percipere possunt ad normam iuris.

The mature and settled inheritance, the auctoritas, of the Latin Church prescribes that, normally, each presbyter should celebrate ('presidentially') daily, and do so privately if he is not obliged to serve a pastoral need. This needs to be upheld and, where necessary, restored.

But the notion which one sometimes meets among traditionalists who have not informed themselves of the facts, that any form of concelebration is a treacherous sell-out to the 'Spirit of Vatican II', contradicts the traditions of the Latin Churches and the Magisterium of Popes Innocent III  and Benedict XIV and the considered judgement of S Thomas Aquinas ... and a lot of Counter-Reformation manualists.


vetusta ecclesia said...

A good reposte to the claim occasionally heard that concelebration has decreased the number of Masses offered, to the detriment of the Church

cyrus83 said...

I think concelebration as practiced in the Novus Ordo is more the problem rather than the concept. After all, in a solemn Mass in the old rite, there are three clergy vested and concelebrating, but the key difference seems to be that the old rite more concretely assigns roles so that none of the three seems to be an optional extra.

By contrast, in most Novus Ordo Masses where I have seen concelebration, the concelebrants are mostly left with nothing to do while the celebrant with the laity, servers, and deacons do all the work. In other words, most concelebrated Masses now look about the same as any regular Sunday Mass.

It would look quite different if the concelebrating priests were participating as acolytes or deacons - of course, in that scenario, the zeal for concelebration would probably disappear from certain quarters.

Chrysologos said...


The Solemn Mass in the traditional form to which you allude is not a concelebration. There is only one celebrant. The other two clergy, even if priest, are acting as deacon and subdeacon assisting the celebrant.

Even in a Mass in the Novus Ordo form, any priest acting as deacon would not be concelebrating the Mass. although there could be other priests who might be truly concelebrating.

PDLeck said...

I am confused by the comments made bt cyrus83 concerning Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form (EF). Perhaps someone may help. He says in an EF Solemn Mass that three clergy concelebrate, but I do not see how this could be. Certainly prior to Vatican II only one of the three was a priest. The other two were a deacon and a sub-deacon. If they were not to be had a Solemn Mass could not be celebrated. As only priests can concelebrate the deacon and sub-deacon could not.

Nowadays I know sub-deacons no longer exist in the Latin Church. If an EF Solemn Mass is held now can priests act down as deacon or sub-deacon? Can only a deacon do this? If a priest is acting down as a deacon or even a sub-deacon can he be a concelebrant?

Farmer's boy said...

PDLeck, in the EF there is absolutely no problem in all 3 clerics being priests. I have attended many Solemn High Masses where this was the situation, even when within the community there were some in minor orders. But Solemn High Mass is NOT a concelebration. There is a celebrant with assistants.

Farmer's boy said...

Ref my last. The Rector may have selected deacon/sub deacon for their ability in correct intonation of their share of the sung liturgy. I also recall the sub deacon rather than the celebrant giving the sermon... a good old blood and thunder suited to schoolboys

Ben of the Bayou said...

It is true, as Father H has admirably shown, that each concelebrant is saying Mass. However, I do not believe that Father H can show that each priest is causing the Sacrifice to be offered distinct from the other concelebrants. In fact, that is the point, isn't it? They are con celebrating ONE offering.

Therefore, it is not correct to say that Father H offers a riposte to those who say that concelebration decreases the number of Masses offered, because that is in fact the case. It does reduce the number of times the Holy Sacrifice is (distinctly) offered.

You may wish to study the evidence brought forward in “The Holy Eucharist—The World’s Salvation. Studies on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, its Celebration, and its Concelebration,” by Fr. Joseph de Sainte Marie OCD.

John Nolan said...

The practice of having priests vest and act as deacon and subdeacon at a Solemn Mass is not confined to the older rite, as demonstrated by the Oratorians in London and Oxford.

Pulex said...

Now we are in the position to tell the poor FSSP priests that it is their own fault that they were sent away from diocese of Dijon, aren't we? They just had to propose to the bishop to concelebrate according to the rite published in 1965. But could the bishop and those priests by the best will do so? The cutoff point for the traditional form is year 1962 and to introduce something of a later date they have to get a permission from Rome. I think in such a case the ceremonial should be published anew in a form adapted to the rubrics of 1962.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Of course, those of my fellow "trads" who so object, don't kmow what they're talking about.