29 September 2018

Where should the PAX come?

What seems like a long time ago, Pope Benedict XVI asked for thought to be given to moving the Pax to its 'Ambrosian' position before the Offertory, so that the Lord's command (be reconciled with your brother before you bring your offering) can be obeyed. But I wonder if we are being a bit too quick in assuming that the Roman position is secondary.

Remember Dix's point:  "Unless we recognise the important change produced in Christian theological method by the definite canonization of the N.T. Scriptures, which only begins to have its full effect after c.A.D.180, we shall not understand the second-century Church" [Jurisdiction pp117-8]. And don't ever forget the immemorial antiquity of the Roman Rite, older than any other liturgical tradition, older than the time when the New Testament Canon was settled (another Dixian point). A Roman custom is not to be sneered at for being "late"; it might be earlier than biblicising fashions which started to circulate in the third century. So perhaps the 'Ambrosian' position was introduced later, when people had begun to tinker with Liturgy to make it "fit Scripture" better.

Clergy may explain the Peace variously. They may, for example, draw the attention of their people to the words at the end of the Our Father about the Lord forgiving our trespasses as we forgive the transgressions of others. Fair enough, Father. Edifying. Good stuff. But it's not the (historical) reason why! So I do think that there is a lot to be said for the clergy, at least, themselves to know the real reason why the Roman Rite does things the way she does.

We have the Magisterial authority of Pope S Innocent I to help us. The people of Gubbio (Iguvium), an important town some distance North of Rome, had been nagging their bishop to move the Pax from the 'Roman' position to the 'Ambrosian'*. The Holy Father [PL20, 553 or 56,515] explained to him: "The Peace has to be done after all the things which I am not allowed to mention [i.e.the Consecration] to show that the people have given their consent to everything which is done in the Mysteries and celebrated in Church, and to demonstrate that they are finished by the signaculum of the concluding Pax". And Tertullian [PL1,1171&1176-9], speaking about the ending of the Prayer, uses the phrase "assignata oratione": "When the Prayer has been sealed". The imagery is of somebody writing a letter or an agreement on a wax tablet and then pressing his signet ring down into the wax so as to seal, confirm, what is written. Tertullian asks "What Prayer is complete when the holy kiss has been torn from it? ... What sort of sacrifice is it, from which people go away without the Peace?" And other early writers such as Justin [First Apology 65] and Origen [PG 1,1282] bear witness to the belief that the Kiss "seals" a prayer which has preceded it. So the Pax 'seals' the Consecration and the Oblation. And, importantly, it has nothing to do with being chummy to ones neighbours. It is a sombre, almost legal**, business; more like signing a will or a bill of sale, than like greeting friends in the pub.

If this were realised, there would be fewer complaints that the moment between the Consecration and the Communion is not the right time to socialise (people are right! It isn't!).

I am glad that the proposal of Benedict XVI was not followed!!


*I suspect there is significance in the fact that the Pax was already in the Roman position at Gubbio. The 'Ambrosian' position looks to me like a spreading fad which was threatening an established practice. We get no hint in S Innocent's words of an awareness that the Roman position was an innovation; this would in any case be surprising, given the conservative and archaic habits of Roman Liturgy. And possibly even the 'Ambrosian' position may originally have had the purpose (see Justin) of sealing the prayer at the conclusion of the Missa Catechumenorum, rather than of expressing reconciliation before you make your offering.
** Remember the very 'legalistic' instincts of Roman Liturgy; in the Eucharistic Prayer we actually ask God to make our Sacrifice 'adscriptam' and 'ratam'; 'written into the list' and 'ratified'!


Pelerin said...

Interesting to learn the history of the Pax. However I for one would be pleased if it was suppressed entirely or at least kept among those in the Sanctuary. I understand it is not obligatory and when I attend a church where the Priest does not ask all to shake hands at that point I breathe a sigh of relief.

There could be several reasons why this 'chummy' handshake is not welcome and for me it is due to arthritis in my hands. On several occasions strong handshakes have left me in severe pain for some time and on one occasion I had to attend the A & E as a result of a particularly crushing handshake.

Of course when I have the opportunity of attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form I do not have to worry.

RWJ Clair said...

This is a fascinating analysis of the matter. For the record, Pope Benedict's little committee did issue a proclamation to the effect of "Keep the Pax where it is but remember why it is done".

Lazlo Dobszay's "The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite" somewhat addresses this in his hypothetical description of an organically developed Rite. He retains the Peace of the Clergy in its traditional place, rightly because of its ancient character, but he moves the Peace of the Faithful to before the Creed (which he also places after the Intercessions, which I don't agree with).

I think this idea may mesh with your note about a Pre-Offertory Pax (POP?) being a signing of the Mass of the Catechumens. If one wanted to apply this less intrusively to the Pauline Rite (without reversing the Creed and the Intercessions), my nomination would be to place the Peace of the Faithful as a capstone to those Intercessions. This would solidify the unity implied by the Intercessions while not disturbing a rite-in-progress, as now the Mass is transitioning from Word to Eucharist.

And, for clarity, I think this would fit best with the Peace of the Clergy remaining in its customary place, reserved for Masses with multiple clerics (such as Mass with a deacon, Solemn High Mass, Pontifical Mass, a concelebration, etc).

Gregory DiPippo said...

Two points worth adding. 1. In the traditional Ambrosian Rite, between the Gospel and the Offertory, there is ritual in which the priest says "Dominus vobiscum", followed by three Kyrie eleisons and an antiphon. The deacon then says "Pacem habete", to which the choir replies "Ad te, Domine." But the Peace is actually given in the same place as in the Roman Rite, preceded by the deacon saying to the people "Offerte vobis pacem", to which the choir replies "Deo gratias." The modern reformers removed the latter, and put the Peace in its current place before the Offertory, solely on the basis of an academic reconstruction without attestation in any ancient manuscript.

2. For a long time, liturgical scholarship had labored under the notion that the Ambrosian Rite is an archaic form of the Roman Rite, and hence, a valid reference point for knowing what the "original" customs of the Roman Rite were. This notion is false, and based on a circular argument. The Ambrosian Rite was understood to be an archaic form of the Roman Rite because it "preserved" ancient features that had dropped out of the Roman. And how was it known that these features were in fact anciently part of the Roman Rite? Because they are preserved in the Ambrosian Rite.

PaulLong said...

And yet, to be rid of the daily how'd'y do...

Dale Crakes said...

Mr DiPippo what then is lineage of the Ambrosian Rite?

Gregory DiPippo said...

Mr Crakes, this is not a question that admits of a single or simple answer. There is only one manuscript of the Ambrosian liturgy that predates the Carolingian period, a palimpsest of the 7th century preserved at the monastery of San Gallen in Switzerland. The other major early manuscripts of the rite are much younger (10th/11th centuries) than their Roman analogues. The Ambrosian Rite underwent a partial Romanization in the Carolingian period, as demonstrated by the research of Dr Patrizia Carmassi, and a good many of the similarities between the Roman and Ambrosian Rites come from this Romanization, NOT from a long standing ancient common ancestor, as the liturgical scholarship of earlier generations would have it.

My colleague Nicola de' Grandi, who has done a great deal of research on the Ambrosian liturgy, believes that it is the product of a deliberate hybridization created by the Lombards as a "national" liturgy, in order to distinguish themselves from the Romans and the Byzantines. The palimpsest mentioned above, however, attests to a series of readings for the month of October which are also explicitly attested as part of a cycle of readings in the sermons of St Ambrose; this demonstrates that some aspects of the Ambrosian tradition do in fact predate the Lombard invasion, reaching back to the Patristic era.

Marko Ivančičević said...

St. Justin has the Pax after the prayer of the faithful (also, Justin says that the Amen of the people is the consent to the EP), and that prayer of the faithful would probably correspond to the Tertullian's "oratio" since the fathers mostly use "Prex" when they talk about the Eucharistic Prayer.

Also, the Gallican Rite has it there, not to mention the Eastern Rites.