8 June 2019

Are the Institution Narratives of the Roman Rite legalistic? (1)

A striking characteristic of the Roman Institution Narrative is its determination to gather in whatever can be found in Scripture ... and, by that, we mean the Hebrew Scriptures as well as what we call the New Testament. Too often even Catholics, who should know better, fail to comprehend the Scriptures holistically as a single narrative of Salvation History in which everything relates to everything.

An example: we say that the Lord took hunc praeclarum calicem. This is taken from Psalm 22:5 [The Lord is my shepherd...]. A dreary 'Enkightenment' approach might tediously discuss the date and authorship of the psalm, and would implicitly ignore the Eucharistic reference, obvious to any Catholic or Orthodox, of calix meus quam praeclarus est. But we are Catholics.

The words about the Lord lifting his eyes to heaven ... you will have noticed that these are taken from the Feedings recorded in Scripture which we recognise as Eucharistic anticipations. Our Covenant is not only the  Covenant [Testament] which lies at the heart of the 'Old Testament'; it is also 'New' (I Corinthians 11:25), and additionally 'Eternal' (Psalm 110:9; Ecclus.17:12; 45: 15: etc.).

The most puzzlement is caused by the words Mysterium Fidei. Jungmann rightly dismisses as "poetry, not history" the theory that these were words originally spoken by the Deacon. Baseless myths, however, die hard and after Vatican II it became yet another silly (and illegal) fad to give these words to the Deacon. I am quite sure that the phrase was borrowed from I Timothy3:9, which was understood in terms of the custom whereby the Chalice was the special responsibility of the Deacon. So the Apostle's words about the Deacons "holding" [ekhontas] the Mystery of Faith were understood literally.

Readers will be able to work out for themselves other details in these pericopes. In the second part of this piece, I shall discuss the distinctive style of the Latin canon; and the purpose of that style.

1 comment:

Hans Georg Lundahl said...


Deliberate or lapsus digiti?