4 April 2020

Palm Sunday (2)

You need to have read Palm Sunday (1).

The Pius V liturgy  for Palm Sunday was accounted for by Fr Thurston in a neat CTS booklet. He was a more elegant writer than I am; and more learned. But I think he probably got it wrong.

He explained the S Pius V Palm Sunday in this way:
The preliminary rite for blessing the Palms consists of the remains of what was originally a separate Mass. It includes all of the components of a Mass ... even a Preface ... but not the Consecration and Oblation. What clearly happened originally was that clergy and people attended one Mass at a church outside town; then progressed into town for a second Mass.

I think that, over the years, many of us have come uneasily to feel that, logically, two possibilities are equally probable:
(1) Thurston's: we have here the eviscerated remains of what was originally a full Mass; or
(2) the Blessing and distribution of the Palms was gradually built up by accretion, with the structure of the Mass providing a pattern.

I think the second of these models deserves a run for its money. But I want to look at the 'Preface' (translated below mostly by O'Connell/Finberg):

It is very meet, right ... Lord, Holy Father, Almighty everlasting God: whose glory is in the wisdom of thy Saints. For to thee thy creatures render service, acknowledging thee as their sole origin and their God; and the entire fabric of the universe joins in praising thee; and thy saints bless thee. For they boldly proclaim that great Name of thine only-begotten Son before the kings and powers of this age. Around him stand angels and archangels  ...

I don't actually think this is a superb piece of Latin. I would be surprised if it had been composed by S Leo I or even Leo XIII. But its content is very good dogma. And it is attractively cheerful.

We are blessing branches ... or a branch ... of Olive ... or perhaps of Palm. And we regard the sanctification of these inanimate parts of creation as a sign and foretaste (some 'biblical scholars'might use their fancy grecism 'prolepsis) of the restoration of that creation which fell with and through the primeval Fall (Romans 8:18-24; this is worth reading). These blessed twigs will indeed (see the next prayer) be a 'tuae gratiae sacramentum'.

And so, as the King rides past on his donkey, Creation (omnis factura tua) comes to life (is this a bit Narnian?) and joins in praising him (collaudat). But the Saints are busily blessing too, and speaking with parrhesia before the earthly powers. And ... get this ... not only the Saints but the angels and archangels join the praise.

So it is eschatological: we are teetering here on the edge of the great Restoration at the End when all shall have been put right, even in the trees along the sides of the roads. They are already praising their Maker, and it's not surprising that the Saints get caught up in this cosmic glorification. And ... Yes! ... the heavenly powers, unfallen, seeing this apokatastasis have gathered around the Only-begotten and are singing for all they are worth.

More tomorrow.

5 comments:

Gregory DiPippo said...

You are very gentle, Father, but Fr Thurston's hypothesis is a fantasy, pure and simple, a relic of an age in which the claim that "It seems to me that it must have been this way, therefore, it was that way" was considered just as valid a form of liturgical scholarship as reporting on the contents of the liturgical books.

In older Sacramentaries, the blessing of the Palms appears as a blessing, and is labelled as such, with JUST the prayers; e.g. the Sacramentary of Echternach (895 AD), has five prayers of blessing, but no preface. The blessing as we have it in the Missal of St Pius V, which is clearly structured to imitate the rite of Mass, is a shorter version of the version found in the Mainz Pontifical, the rubrics of which make it very clear that it was a blessing, and not a Mass.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. Jesus rode upon the Ass representing the Jewish people who lived under the yoke of the law and He also rode on the colt representing the gentiles but apokatastasis?


That is an ancient heresy

Banshee said...

Maybe we need to be a bit Narnian. I had to explain to someone Catholic, on a Catholic website, that the Song of the Three Children and other Bible hymns include the thought that plants, animals, and natural forces all worship God (at least by doing His will), rejoice, mourn, etc.

This guy interpreted the Song of the Three Children as "this guy is just naming stuff in Creation, and the rest is just ordering humans to worship God."

It's not even stupid. It's isn't like people like this have never read the Bible; it's like they've never read anything or sung anything, or even played any games.

That wasn't even the most depressing thing this week. That was the Protestant Internet law guy who said that Jesus was God, but that He came to earth as a sinner and a racist to "meet us where we are." (I am guessing that he was going off the "become sin for us," without understanding that is what they said about the scapegoat.)

This guy talks about levels of discourse in law _all the time_, and he was an English/creative writing major before that. But as soon as he reads the Bible, his brain turns off. I mean, yeah, there's a lot of weird Protestant liberals in the churches in his part of the country, but I haven't been so shocked since the organist at my former parish denied physical resurrection, right after his mother died.

Freaking sheep without a shepherd! Yes! But some of it is their own fault!

frjustin said...

Father is using apokatastasis in the sense of St. Peter's speech in Acts 3.21 ("Christ Jesus who must remain in heaven until the time of the final restoration of all things χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων").

He clearly states that the "Saints [not unrepentant sinners] get caught up in this cosmic glorification. And ... Yes! ... the heavenly powers, unfallen [not the fallen angels]".

This is not the heresy condemned by the Ecumenical Council of 553. Rather, it is a lovely lyrical passage which is all too rare among the expositors of classical liturgy.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Fr. Justin. Thanks for the response.

ABS was thinking of a more extensive exegesis which would not exclude judgment of those who refuse to accept Him as Messias.

The restitution of all things. Jesus remains in heaven, till his second coming to judge the living and the dead. That is the great day, when every thing shall be finally settled, and restored to its proper order. He shall avenge the injuries done to God; restore peace to the afflicted just men of the earth, and justice to their persecutors.

For example...

Luke 19:27 Jesus says, But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring the hither: and kill them before me,

It is words like these that makes it imperative we strive to convert The Jews for to not do is is the worst possible form of anti semitism.