7 March 2022

FORCED CONCELEBRATION: Louis Bouyer on why it is wrong

It is no secret that some bishops and some liturgical circles are ardently attracted by the idea that clergy who are devoted to the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite should be compelled, as a sign of communio, to concelebrate with their Bishop at the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday.

Personally, I not only have no principled objection to doing this; I actually favour it and regard it as appropriate. (I just wish that the daft 'Renewing of Vows' could be got rid of.) But my personal preferences are not the point.

Louis Bouyer was one of the most influential liturgical writers of the pre-Conciliar and Conciliar periods; he was himself actually involved in liturgical draftsmanship during the post-Conciliar period. In 1954, he had written Life and Liturgy; it appeared in English in 1956. In my view, it is a book still worth reading ... and not least because the positions he adopts and defends are not always comfortable to those who might regard themselves as "Vatican II" thinkers. 

Bouyer defends Concelebration in general: "It is certainly a legitimate hope that the practice of concelebration be allowed in the West as freely as in the East." 

But he goes on to assert that it "is definitely not primitive". And he argues for a liturgical "usage which is still quite according to the law in the West, is more ancient than the use of concelebration, and has, perhaps an even deeper significance [than Concelebration]." (My emphasis). For Bouyer, the essential unities of the Eucharist are "perhaps shown most clearly by the primitive type of celebration, that is, when only one priest, the bishop or his representative, says and performs the prex sacerdotalis."

So the preference (of, I believe I have heard, some members of the FSSP, as well as of others) for being present in choro at the Chrism Mass, but not concelebrating, is, in the mind of Bouyer, more 'primitive' and theologically, liturgically, better.


Everybody should remember that Vatican II at no point enforced Concelebration. 

If anybody tells you that Vatican II does, in any context, require Concelebration, he is a liar. Vatican II, in fact, explicitly preserves the right of every presbyter not to be made to concelebrate (Sacrosanctum Concilium 57 2 2). 

So, if any Bishop were to require a presbyter to concelebrate, or were to make Concelebration a precondition for some pastoral or canonical favour, that Bishop would ... constructively ... be a liar.

It is, I think, clear that those who deem it of great importance for their presbyters to concelebrate with them at the Chrism Mass (or on any other occasion), are not activated or motivated by genuine and soundly-based theological or liturgical principles. 

I find it difficult to avoid a conclusion that what would (if this happened) be going on would be an act of crude 'managerial' bullying whereby a small disfavoured minority would be publicly humiliated by being required to perform a ritual act of meek submission to a bully ... or his Daughter-in-law elect ...

Not nice. 



J N said...

It is almost as if, under the instructions of PF, (ironically) the bishops are designing a series of "Test Acts" to strain the consciences of those priests who do subscribe to PF's vindictive, personal wishes.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father


4. The People of God are joined together primarily by the word of the living God.(1) And rightfully they expect this from their priests.(2) Since no one can be saved who does not first believe,(3) priests, as co-workers with their bishops, have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all.

Florida Mission Statement

St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary shares in the mission of Jesus Christ “to bring the good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18) in the training of future leaders.

The seminary’s primary mission is to foster the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of candidates for the Roman Catholic priesthood so that as ordained ministers they share the joy of the Gospel with all…

Like a frozen Budgie shot into the air by a Spudzooka can also be said to be novel, this sixties synod's idea of the primary function of a priest is also novel, and, like the frozen Budgie, it has come crashing down to earth.

One can look up online a SSPX Seminary and read what its purpose is.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. The Purpose of an SSPX Seminary

The Catholic priesthood is the heart of the Society of Saint Pius X. The training and supporting of holy priests is its primary mission. "The Society’s purpose is the priesthood and all that pertains to it and nothing but what concerns it; i.e., the priesthood as Our Lord Jesus Christ willed it when He said: Do this for a commemoration of me.” Statutes of the SSPX: - "The object of the Society"

The Society must therefore orient the priest towards—and have him concretize in his daily life what is essentially his raison d’etre—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with all that it means, all that flows from it, and all that complements it.


One can soar with the eagles or crash to earth like a frozen Budgie and it all depends on what the Church sees as the primary mission of those they train and ordain.

In Florida, I think that after a half-century of an experiment that has produced weak protestantised preachers it is clear that the faithful require more real priests but how wicked was it that this was taught a worthy experiment?

Fr Edward said...

Moreover, what of the language of the celebration, and of course the readings?
We do not want to "laughing at God," by not understanding them in our native tongues.
And so the readings would go on for hours.

And yet we should remember those prophetic words from 1562,
"It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God... to have public Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people." (Article xxiv)

Atticus said...

A more humane and clement prelate
There never did exist.
Bugnini the Second,
I’m certainly reckoned
A lib'rul liturgist.
It is my very humane endeavour
To make, to some extent,
Each stubborn traddie
Appear a baddie –
A harmful dissident.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time –
To crush the Usus Authenticus,
The Usus Authenticus.
And make each son of Trent
Unwittingly represent
A rigid stirrer-up of dissent,
A stirrer-up of dissent.

Venite Adoremus said...

I am too tired to come up with a witty rewriting of "Our great Mikado", though I am confident other readers of the blog will take up the challenge.

Father, can we expect a comment on the most recent communication from Msgr Vigano?

armyarty said...

Personally, I think that concelebration has its place, but it can detract from the symbolism of the priest as another Christ, re-presenting the one perfect sacrifice of calvary. Since every Mass is a participation in Christ's sacrifice on Calvary, it is better that the priest do it alone.

I believe that the real objection of most priests to concelebration is that it makes a sort of "event" out of the mass that does nothing to give worship to God. It becomes a big, glitzy celebration, an extravaganza; something showy. As if a hundred priests concelebrating for the benefit of the mayor and local celebrities, featuring welcoming remarks by the bishop to the assembled crowd of millionaires and pro-abortion politicians, each holding a coveted ticket granting them preferred seating and velvet rope treatment, is somehow better than one priest celebrating mass for actual faithful. There is nothing wrong with pomp, with ceremony, with great music and precious vestments, when these things serve to promote worship, but having Placido Domingo and Yo-Yo Ma perform at your funeral will not keep you out of Hell (some of you might know the funeral that I am referencing here) Mass as a media exstravaganza has filled the heart of many a priest with sorrow, or dread, or a dozen other emotions. Such a priest does not need to be a traditionalist, or a devotee of the Latin Mass to object to leaving his important work in his parish to take part in a public display designed, at best, to assuage the insecure emotional state of some bishop needing a validation of his leadership, or at worst, satisfy the bishop's craving for media attention.

The Saint Bede Studio said...

I sometimes wonder if commenters on this blog understand that Father Hunwicke does not live in the United States of America?

J N said...

In my earlier post I should, of course, have written: "who do not subscribe to PF's pesonal, vindictive wishes". Careless typing and lack of proof-reading!

armyarty said...

Well, Bede, it is obvious that he lives in England, but anything that I post about America is equally true for anywhere else. By the way, I once met Fr. Hunwicke in the crypt of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral on Mott Street in New York. He gave a very nice talk.