10 April 2016

Inspiration and cuckoos

The Holy Week liturgies afford  ... to put it mildly ... food for thought. Example: those who attended Chrism Masses will have noticed that the Bishop 'breathed' the Holy Spirit into the Chrism. This is because the Greek word Pneuma means breath/spirit/wind; and the Bishop is the supremely potent spirit-filled charismatic Minister of his church. He also breathes the Spirit into the water which he blesses for the Holy Baptism which is part of the Easter Vigil. Here we have an ancient liturgical convention of the Roman Church, rich in meaning.

It set me thinking ... you know those Eucharistic Prayers which a succession of passing Byzantine cuckoos laid in the unfortunate nest of the Roman Rite in the 1960s and 1970s, all glistening with dewfall, and which all invoke the Holy Spirit in order to transsubstantiate the elements ('the Epiclesis'). Regular readers will recall insistent articles of mine in which I express my strong preference for the true Roman doctrine of Consecration: that bread and wine become the Lord's Body and Blood simply by being accepted in sacrifice by the Father. This, of course, is a much older idea than the 'Eastern' notion that we secure consecration by getting the Father to send down his Spirit; a fashion which dates from a sudden outburst of enthusiasm for God the Holy Spirit which swept through the Church in the fourth century.

So ... if those Cuckoo's-egg-Canons are to stay in the Roman Rite, Epicleses and all, they should surely be accompanied by proper old Roman ritual. The bishop/presbyter should breathe on the elements, taking care, so as to be absolutely certain about validity, that his breath reaches everything which is to be consecrated (even if he's got a bit of a bad cold ... better a good sneeze than the risk of invalidity ... the laity will understand ... there would be no risk that it might make them think more carefully before approaching Holy Communion ... ).

You know it makes sense.

Frankly, I don't like cuckoos and I think their eggs are best tipped out of nests and trodden under foot. Altar books which contain them and which have the words "Roman Missal" on their spines are in breach of the Trades Descriptions Act. Inspector Knacker should send Mr Plod round to confiscate them, and hurry them on to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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