19 July 2016

The Tablet and Cardinal Sarah and Trained Liturgists

No; I don't read the Tablet, considering it dubiously moral to push one penny in that direction, but I noticed that its front cover is currently advertising an attack (inevitably) on Cardinal Sarah, by some "liturgist" called Mark Francis. This set bells ringing in my mind. I think he may be the same person as the writer who welcomed Summorum Pontificum with the condescending comment that Papa Ratzinger, poor chap, meant well but was "not a Trained Liturgist". On that occasion, so I recall, he described the Tridentine Rite as "Medieval", and complained at the same time that the Roman Canon was "pneumatologically anaemic" ... which (for those of you who prefer to speak English) means that, except at the end, it doesn't mention the Holy Ghost.

That, of course, is because the Roman Canon is still marked by its origins before the fourth century explosion of interest in the Holy Spirit which led, in the East, to the idea that the Transformation of the Eucharistic Elements is caused by the celebrant calling down upon them ("Epiclesis") the Holy Spirit. The Roman Canon, being of earlier origins, operates on the assumption that the Elements are transformed simply through their gracious acceptance by the Father. MF breezily informed us that everybody agrees on the importance of the Epiclesis, so that the classical Roman Rite is gravely defective because it lacks one.

MF, astute bloke, thus contrived to criticise the classical Roman Rite both for being too late ("medieval") and for being too early ("pneumatologically anaemic"), and to do so pretty well in the same breath. (Given this instinct for enthusiastic self-contradiction, it would not be surprising if he feels rather more happily at home in this pontificate than he did in the last.)

What a terrific shame it is that Time Travel is only a literary fiction. Otherwise, we could have shipped MF back to that hillside on which the Man from Nazareth was advising His disciples on how to pray. After hearing the text of the Our Father, MF could have put Him straight on a whole raft of highly important things. "Of course, my dear Fellow, you chaps from Nazareth don't have the advantage of being trained liturgists. If you did, you would have realised that the prayer you have just suggested (of course, it does have one or two good bits in it; not bad; not at all bad for a first attempt) is gravely flawed by its pneumatological anaemia. My fellow Experts and I will draft for you three Alternative Lord's Prayers which will include an essential clause about the Holy Spirit. We will make one of them very brief indeed, so that your followers over the millennia will be saved an awful lot of time ... ".

And the Lord's Prayer to His Father at the Last Supper (John 17) stands very badly in need of the revising pen of Trained Liturgists. How we all wince every time we hear that disgracefully Binitarian formula ("Thou, Father, art [one] in me and I in thee ...")! How much less defective it would have been if it had been revised or, indeed ... far, far better still ... created from scratch by the sanctis et venerabilibus manibus of Archbishop Bugnini himself.

(My Byzantine friends will understand that I am nothing if not deeply respectful of their own beautiful and venerable rite in its own full integrity. I deplore the Byzantinisation of the Roman Rite not one ounce more than I would condemn the Latinisation of the Byzantine Rite.)


GOR said...

Certainly, Father, this supposedly ‘Trained Liturgist’ is representative of many others of similar ilk circa 1969. Except that back then they were self-confessed ‘experts’ in Liturgy.

It seems they have come down in the world and now are merely ‘trained’ – much as a circus animal may be said to be ‘trained’ if it merely parrots its trainer. I believe you’re right that such persons may be more comfortable – and energized – in this pontificate over the previous one. The parrots coming home to roost, as it were.

El Codo said...

Is MF the chap from Made in Chelsea ,the must watch of Tabletistas?

Prayerful said...

The New Mass was written by a Concilium of expert liturgists, and we today live with the baleful consequences of their expertise. Similar could be said of ICEL (although Benedict XVI was able to correct things like 'pro multis' as 'for all') Just on that basis, arguments against living Tradition from a self described expert, have to be treated with caution. Judging from the first of the Tablet comments (no interest in registering for that publication, much less paying for Premium Access) Fr Francis set himself a handy strawmen. Cardinal Sarah suggested ad orientem for the NOM equivalent of the canon with other portions of the liturgy versus populum. The last (of a very small set of comments) was full of words like 'meal' and 'community' and 'thanksgiving'. It shows a very dreary conception of the liturgy.

JKH said...

I have posed this question before but without seeing any reply or interest in it; is it possible to maintain that the Tridentine Mass does indeed contain an explicit epiclesis, but that it takes place at the Offertory, where we find the words '' VENI SANCTIFICATOR OMNIPOTENS AETERNE DEUS : ET BENEDIC HOC SACRIFICIUM TUO SANCTO NOMINI PRAEPARATUM ''.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

This formula is not an integral part of the Classical Roman Rite; it is lacking in some forms of it. It is a late addition and is part of the private prayers of the priest. So things would get rather confused if it were thought of as the Epiclesis of the Tridentine Mass.

It does not in fact mention the Holy Spirit. In view of the word tuo, it would appear to be addressed to the Father (the Eucharistic Sacrifice has always been thought of as offered to the Father, not the Spirit).

It does not ask that the Spirit may come down on the elements to transsubstantiate them into the Lord's Body and Blood. This makes it totally unlike either the epicleses of the Oriental rites, or those of the Paul VI Missal.

It is not part of the Eucharistic Prayer, in which, according to a rare consensus, people agree that all the serious business must be done.

shadrach said...

what about the 'Supplices te rogamus'? Epiclesis?

JKH said...

SANCTIFICATOR remains a puzzle; whereas the equivalent of 'sanctifying' would be perfectly clear. I wonder if there are other examples of God the Father being addressed as 'Sanctificator'? Other points taken, and thank you for your response.

Jhf884 said...

Father--what do you make of the argument that the supplices is in fact the Epiclesis? Fr. Christian Kappes argues that is is, for instance, in his paper on "Mark of Ephesus vs. John Torquemada on the Epiclesis at Council of Florence." He cites an impressive list of sources that hold (or so he claims) the view that the Supplices is consecratory. I believe he also thinks it is implicitly directed toward the holy spirit (based on his reading of St. Ambrose).


Fr John Hunwicke said...

I used the word epiclesis in my piece in the sense that it is commonly used. Talking about that wonderful prayer the Supplices te rogamus as an epiclesis only confuses terminology.

William Tighe said...

"He cites an impressive list of sources that hold (or so he claims) the view that the Supplices is consecratory."

"I used the word epiclesis in my piece in the sense that it is commonly used. Talking about that wonderful prayer the Supplices te rogamus as an epiclesis only confuses terminology."

Fr. Kappes' paper is one that I should like to read (having recently read his book on the Immaculate Conception). Still, I should, in my turn, urge interested folk to read what that careful scholarly Anglican clergyman, a scholar of the History of the Early Roman Liturgy, G. G. Willis (1914-1982) wrote in his posthumously-published, *A History of Early Roman Liturgy* ed. M. B. Moreton (!994: Henry Bradshaw Society; Subsidia 1). Alas, copies are hard to get, and costly:


Willis' sparkling and mordant essay on "The New Eucharistic Prayers: Some Comments" in the January 1971 issue of "The Heythrop Journal" is also worth reading, but it discusses the matter of the epiclesis only passim. Willis's view of these new EPs can be discerned from two Latin phrases which he uses in the essay: "In Tiberim defluxit Orontes," concerning the result, and "Omne ignotum pro Magnifico," concerning the "principles" operative behind it - the latter rather confirmed by what Louis Bouyer wrote concerning "the liturgical reform" (in which he was a significant "player") in his *Memoirs" (published last year).

Savonarola said...

How else does the Father graciously accept and transform the elements except through the outpouring of his divine nature as Trinity, which includes the operation of the Holy Spirit? Why should one object to expressing that in eplicletic prayer? Could it be (perish the thought!) that making this explicit might counter the widespread assumption that it is holy priests with all the magical mumbo-jumbo of the TLM (those mysterious passes at the altar that only God can see) who "confect" the Eucharist by their special powers?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I thought readers might enjoy the above example of illiterate spleen. Apologies to anyone who feels hurt; but I think we all need to know that there are people like this around.

I shall not, in future, enable this lady's comments.

Nor shall I enable any comments on that comment or this one. Just have a laugh and forget it.