12 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 5

(As regards comments, see the first part of this.)
But ... quam oblationem ... the prayer in which the Church beseeches the Father that her Oblation may be given-the-OK (benedictam) and written-on-the-list (adscriptam) so that, being accepted, it may become the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Word ... is not yet a completed sentence, because it carries on qui pridie quam pateretur ... Thus, the Church goes on to recall, in a subordinated relative clause, the Episode, the Last Supper, on the grounds of which she asks that the consequences of acceptance will indeed be transformation.

Qui is an important word in the Church's life of prayer. A common pattern, which goes back to pre-Christian prayer in the Roman and Greek worlds, is (1) to address a deity, then (2) to recall some attribute or undertaking of that deity, and finally (3) to make the intended request. The logic (going back perhaps to a sense that a deity needs to be convinced or cajoled, even threatened or bribed, or that it will consider itself bound by legal precedent) is that (2) gives the reason why it reasonable to ask for (3) with an expectation of success. Latin has a handy little verb impetrare, which cannot be translated by one single English verb because it means to-ask-and-to-get. Impetratio is at the heart of successful prayer in the ancient world ... I don't think a Roman would waste his time praying if he had no grounds to hope that he was in fact impetrating. So the qui, who, which links up (2) with (3) in effect means something very much like forasmuch as. Almost legally, rather as in the preamble to a British Parliamentary statute*, we tell God why our prayer deserves to be an impetratio. And the qui which links the 'Institution Narrative' to the Prayer for Acceptance which preceded it, has very much this character. So, surely, the logic of this entire passage we have been looking at is: Accept our Offering so that it may become the Lord's Body and Blood forasmuch as the Lord himself guaranteed that Bread and Wine, being thus accepted, would become His Body and Blood.

In our Latin shorthand, we think of this as constituting the Verba Domini as 'consecratory', and this is a very sensible way of thinking and talking (the Church of England adopted the same principle in 1662). It is an extremely ancient view, quite possibly going back to when Christians first started to think logically about such matters. Notoriously, it is given vivid expression in the Byzantine East by S John Chrysostom (c347-407); in Syria, Severus (should I call him Saint?) 'monophysite' Patriarch of Antioch (c465-538), shared it (Dom Gregory Dix was dead chuffed to discover this fact in one of Severus's Letters); and it is found in the Slavic East as late as the first edition of the Orthodox Confession (1638) of Peter Mogila, Metropolitan (should I say Patriarch?) of Kiev (1596-1646). 

It is true that 'the Great Church of Constantinople', replying in 1896 to overtures of unity from Leo XIII, alleged that "The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils used to receive [the teaching that] the precious gifts are hallowed after the Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit by the blessing of the priest", apparently thereby implying that the Church and Rite of Rome did not exist in the centuries between Nicaea I and Nicaea II in 787. But this only proves that we Latins are not the only ones who quite often say and do extremely foolish things. Happily, a few years ago a writer in the theological journal of the Moscow Patriarchate declared himself content with the Roman Canon.

It is a shame that the dominant school among the fashionable intellectuals of the Western Church in the 1960s did not share this contentedness.
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*I think the English 'Reformers', with their Tudor legalese, would have used the term 'warrant'.



9 comments:

Joshua said...

Given your cogent argument for the Roman Mass being defined by the use of the Roman Canon, would you also assert that the following options ought be used to maintain the Roman liturgy?

(1) Initially, Dominus vobiscum (or Pax vobis, if a bishop), rather than the untraditional other salutations;

(2) The Confiteor, rather than the other two forms of the Penitential Act;

(3) The recitation sotto voce of the berakoth during the Offertory, as they are flagrantly untraditional;

(4) Ite missa est, rather than the other recently-inserted options.

Unfortunately, the Memorial Acclamations (introduced from the Alexandrian Rite, I recall) and the strange use of the doxology as a response to the Embolism cannot be avoided - at least in the Ordinary Form.

Charles Kramer said...

I wonder if you see any parallels between the different approaches to the consecration in the Eucharistic Prayers and the two accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2? It would seem that Genesis 1, where God speaks and what he speaks springs into existence, resembles the way the Roman Canon's conceptualizes the consecration. The Eastern approach would resemble Genesis 2 where God breathes on man in order to vivify him.

Steve Cavanaugh said...

Regarding point 2 in Joshua's post, it could be noted that the Confiteor, except when recited just before communion (the 3rd Confiteor), is not traditionally part of the Mass, but is part of the prelude, the prayers at the foot of the altar. The "penitential rite" of the traditional Mass is the Kyrie, and the use of tropes with the Kyrie is (form 3 in the Ordinary Form) is actually a pretty old usage, being widely (too widely?) used in the Middle Ages until supressed following Trent.

Marko Ivančičević said...

What do you make of st. Irenaeus' 37th fragment?

" And therefore the oblation of the Eucharist is not a carnal one, but a spiritual; and in this respect it is pure. For we make an oblation to God of the bread and the cup of blessing, giving Him thanks in that He has commanded the earth to bring forth these fruits for our nourishment. And then, when we have perfected the oblation, we invoke the Holy Spirit, that He may exhibit this sacrifice, both the bread the body of Christ, and the cup the blood of Christ, in order that the receivers of these antitypes may obtain remission of sins and life eternal. Those persons, then, who perform these oblations in remembrance of the Lord, do not fall in with Jewish views, but, performing the service after a spiritual manner, they shall be called sons of wisdom."

Anonymous said...

You are quite right that the Roman and Byzantine concepts of consecration each operate under a different paradigm. St John Chrysostom's words, however, do need to be seen in context. For him the celebrant and consecrator at every Divine Liturgy is Chris. In citing the dominical words, the saint is pointing out under whose licence and authority the earthly priest (the icon of Christ) is serving the Liturgy. It is perhaps significant that we tend to speak of a priest 'serving' the liturgy (not 'celebrating' the liturgy.) There is a fuller explanation of this in Eucharist and the Holy Spirit by John H McKenna (Alcuin Club No. 57 pub.1975)
It is also worth reading St Nicholas Cabalas' Commentary on the Divine Liturgy' (Section 30, pp.76-79 in the SPCK 1977 edition.)
where that saint draws attention in The Roman Canon to, 'supplies the rogamus deus, iube haec perferri per manus angeli...' Here, St Nicholas implies that the Roman Rite has no need for an explicit Epiclesis, as in the Rite of St John Chrysostom. Overall, this supports your view that both rites have their own, unique integrity which may be mutually respected.
Fr Chrysostom MacDonnell
Antiochian Orthodox Priest, Poole

Anonymous said...

You are quite right that the Roman and Byzantine concepts of consecration each operate under a different paradigm. St John Chrysostom's words, however, do need to be seen in context. For him the celebrant and consecrator at every Divine Liturgy is Chris. In citing the dominical words, the saint is pointing out under whose licence and authority the earthly priest (the icon of Christ) is serving the Liturgy. It is perhaps significant that we tend to speak of a priest 'serving' the liturgy (not 'celebrating' the liturgy.) There is a fuller explanation of this in Eucharist and the Holy Spirit by John H McKenna (Alcuin Club No. 57 pub.1975)
It is also worth reading St Nicholas Cabalas' Commentary on the Divine Liturgy' (Section 30, pp.76-79 in the SPCK 1977 edition.)
where that saint draws attention in The Roman Canon to, 'supplies the rogamus deus, iube haec perferri per manus angeli...' Here, St Nicholas implies that the Roman Rite has no need for an explicit Epiclesis, as in the Rite of St John Chrysostom. Overall, this supports your view that both rites have their own, unique integrity which may be mutually respected.
Fr Chrysostom MacDonnell
Antiochian Orthodox Priest, Poole

William Tighe said...

Marko Ivančičević wrote:

"What do you make of St. Irenaeus' 37th fragment?" (etc.)

Has the genuineness of this fragment been ascertained? Reading it brought to mind a vague memory of an early 18th-Century controversy about the Eucharist-as-sacrifice in the Church of England which involved in part fragmentary writings attributed to St. Irenaeus, and so, pulling from my bookshelves the 1847 Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology reprint of the second volume of John Johnson's The Unbloody Sacrifice and Altar Unvailed and Supported (the second volume was published in 1718; the first in 1714, but had a second edition in 1724) I found, in the preface to that volume, a discussion of certain fragments of Irenaeus published by the German Wuerttemburgish Lutheran theologian Christophorus Matthaeus Pfaffius in 1715 (and recently reprinted by Kessinger Publishing under the title Fragmenta Anecdota, Quae Ex Bibliotheca Taurinensi (1715) Irenaeus ).

Pfaffius claimed to have discovered these fragments in the ducal library at Turin, but from what I have been able to gather there was a good deal of doubt about the provenance, or even existence, of these fragments, at least at the time. Johnson expressed doubts; so did Daniel Waterland, controverting Johnson, some years later. I recall reading that nobody had ever subsequently located these purported Irenaean fragments in Turin or elsewhere.

And here we find this statement:

https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/irenaeus-saint

The four fragments which Pfaff published in 1715, ostensibly from a Turin manuscript, have been proved by Funk to be apocryphal, and Harnack has established the fact that Pfaff himself fabricated them. (For the Pfaffian fragments see Funk, "Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen", II (1899), 198-208; Harnack, "Die Pfaff'schen Irenaus-Fragmente" in "Texte and Untersuchungen", XX, iii (Leipzig, 1900), 1-69.)

If so, then the alleged Irenaean epiclesis vanishes into dust.

William Tighe said...

As a postscript to my last comment, I will note that in the preface to volume two of Johnson, its subject of discussion is clearly "St. Irenaeus' 37th fragment," since on pp. 8-9 he gives the Greek text in a footnote, and provides his own English translation.

E sapelion said...

I don't think the tropes to which Steve Cavanaugh refers are penitential in character. And I do not agree that they make 'eleison' penitential. An admittedly cursory inspection of them suggests that they are, like those in the current Roman Missal, invocations of the saving works of God. They in no way state our sinfulness, still less express repentance.