27 February 2022

Saint Abraham on Quinquagesima

S Abraham, of course, does appear in the Roman Martyrology. His Day is October 9 (just imagine him and S John Henry Newman fighting it out for that day). And, in the Latin Rite Patriarchate of Jerusalem ... and in the Old Carmelite Rite ... there is a proper (duplex maius) for him on that day. Unless, of course, PF suppressed it with a mighty stroke of his potent hand this morning before brekker.

The reason why this Saint is not on the Universal Calendar takes us back to the time when Saints commemorated were either local, or Saints whose relics were held by the local Church. But ... for those who would like it ... I offer at the end of this post the Collect for S Abraham.

However ... I hope nobody will be upset ... I doubt whether this October liturgical provision has the same antiquity and auctoritas as the ancient, probably Gregorian, Roman provision for S Abraham: which we find in the Breviary Office of Quinquagesima. Deft and subtle clergy might usefully seize the crafty opportunity on Quinquagesima to preach about S Abraham.

This office was, needless to say, eliminated by the vandals who, according to arthur roche, produced the "much richer" Usus Deterior of the Roman rite, which he and his Argentinian mentor now desire finally to establish as the unicus usus of the Roman Rite. Their policy, poor poppets, whether in the Bugnini Age or in that of Bergoglianity, seems to me to come perilously close to being anti-semitic.

Because, in the Bergoglian 'mainstream' church, S Abraham now gets next to no mention at Mass. True, he is in the 'First Eucharistic Prayer' ... but in what percentage of churches is that august prayer used?

Mention of S Abraham can be found elsewhere in the liturgical world, not least in the de Sacramentis, but I am going to stick out my neck and claim it as a distinctive part of the distinctively Roman Rite. Rather like the teaching that Transsubstantiation is performed in caelestibus by the Acceptance by the Father of the Sacrifice, rather than by an 'epiklesis' of the Holy Spirit. 

Eucharistic Prayers which fail to mention the Saint (and which attempt to consecrate by Epiklesis) should be carefully cut out of soi disant "Roman" missals and forwarded to Hannibal B, via whatever his present post-code is.

S Abraham is our Patriarch in a way that no other human being is. It is by our participation in  his Faith that we are redeemed. His offering of his son, as mosaics in Rome and Ravenna and early Christian iconography powerfully remind us, is the type of which the Sacrifice of the Mass is the antitype

But Stay!! You don't need to go to Great S Mary's in Rome or San Vitale in Ravenna ... you don't need to traipse around the Romanesque churches of Lombardy ... to experience this. Direct your gondola to the glorious Ordinariate basilica of S Agatha in Landport: that will do you nicely instead. At the High Altar, as the celebrant raises his patten and his eyes, and prays Suscipe Sancte Pater ..., what directly meets his eyes is the fine sgraffito painting by a disciple of William Morris, Heywood Sumner. S Abraham stands there; beside him, his son carrying over his shoulder the wood for the sacrifice, just as the antitypical Son carried His Wood up the Hill of Sacrifice.

"Deus, qui in praemium fidei Filium tuum Unigenitum ex semine Abrahae mundo nasci promisisti; concede propitius: ut fide, quam in baptismo suscepimus, in nobis usque ad mortem per caritatem operante, caelo nasci mereamur. Per."



Thomas said...

Those who attend Mass regularly in the Novus Ordo and who still believe in transubstantiation - and in my experience there are more who fit that description than some hard-core traddies seem to suppose - would presume that the consecration takes place when the priest says the words of institution, in continuity with Roman Catholic tradition, rather than at the epiclesis, which is the Byzantine understanding. It is only at the consecration that the people instinctively adore what is before them (Eucharistic adoration is alive and well supported in several 'mainstream' parishes of my aquaintence). Perhaps, if they thought deeply about it, they might say that the means by which the great transformation at the consecration happens is due to the action of the Holy Spirit previously invoked, but I think there is at least an unresolved tension between two theologies going on in the actual devotion of the faithful in the Novus Ordo.

Rubricarius said...

And let us not forget S Abraham is mentioned every single day of the liturgical year at Vespers: Abraham et semini ejus in saecula.

Colin Spinks said...

I personally do not see any contradiction between the two methods of consecration, acceptance by the Father and Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, biblically, appears when God the Father is pleased with something, eg Christ's Baptism, His Ascension. He is not magicked up by people, but is sent as a "sign" or "seal" of approval. So I think when the Holy Spirit is invoked in the Eucharistic Prayer (by which I mean the unsatisfactory EP3 and the defective EP2), we are actually asking for the same thing - that God the Father be pleased to accept the perfect Sacrifice of His Son.

John the Mad said...

As an ordinary Novus Ordo Catholic gentleman living in the frozen (at the moment) Great White North and as one who has no expertise in theological matters I have always believed that the bread and wine become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of my beloved Saviour when the priest or bishop pronounces the words of institution "this is my Body..." and "this is my Blood...."

At the Last Supper, in the upper room, it seems to me at the very moment when Jesus said it thus it was.

If I did not believe it so I would not attend mass. It is my Catholic faith summed up in those few precious beautiful words. When I bow my head at the consecration I am worshipping my actual Lord and Saviour in the Eucharist. Thanks be to God.

John Patrick said...

On the calendar next to my computer (from the Fraternal Society of St. Peter) the page for February has the wonderful painting by Caravaggio of The Sacrifice of Isaac and a reference to the Responsory from the Office of Quinquagesima. Sadly today is the last day I will be able to see it as time marches on.

E sapelion said...

I don't have the expertise in philosophy to express this accurately, but asking when the transubstantiation takes place is a meaningless question, and a dangerous distraction. What we need to know is that by the end of the EP, when the priest raises the offered sacrifice they are by then truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord. And of course it is perfectly proper for us to respond in our hearts when the elements are elevated after the consecration(s) "My Lord and my God".
As a student of mathematical physics I learned to see and accept that "simultaneous" is a vacuous concept.