17 April 2023


Points arising from recent comments or questions:

(1) The private Offertory prayer of the Celebrant, Veni Sanctificator ... is not an epiclesis. It does not ask for God to do anything except bless; it was not in the Roman Mass until the late Middle Ages; it is absent from ... for example ... the Dominican Rite and the Sarum Rite.

(2) The ICEL phrase "Make it spiritual" does not involve the Holy Spirit. Rationabilem, repesenting the Greek logiken, was used in the Patristic period to make clear that, in the Christian Sacrifice, there is no qestion of a farmyard ... or other ... animal having its life terminated. logike was sometimes coupled with "unbloody", for this same reason.

(3) The Prayer formerly known as 'Hippolytus' does not exhibit in all its versions an epiclesis. When Dix wrote in 1944 he believed that the Prayer was 'hippolytan' but not that the original text had had an epiclesis. He footnoted "This clause is more likely (on the textual evidence) to be a fourth century addition than Hippolytus' third century text". 

As far as I am aware, everybody agrees that the Roman Canon does not have an epiclesis, whether they find this satisfactory or not.

In Oriental contexts, I see no reason to interfere. They have developed their own holy and venerable rites, and for me to start lecturing them would be a plain impertinence. But why should the holy and venerable Roman Rite be marched into line with the later Oriental Rites?

The Roman process of consecration is, as I have explained before, perfectly simple. The Father is asked ... quite a number of times ... to accept the Offering. He asked to accept it so that it may be the Lord's Body and Blood because that is what he promised. Because he accepts it, it is the Body and Blood. We do not need, nor does the Father need this, for us to give him procedural advice: "Ah, Father, and by the way: we do not think it is adequate for you simply to accept; things won't, y'know, work unless you also send down your transmuting Spirit in order to effect the transformation."

In my view, the Roman Canon has a conceptual clarity which makes it unnecessary for us to interfere.


Colin Spinks said...

Thank you Father for your most helpful explanation of 'rationabilem'. It strikes me then that 'spiritual' is at best a clumsy translation, if not plain wrong. However, having remained longer in the C of E than you and therefore more used to the requirement to believe 4 impossible things before breakfast, I still think there is not as much difference as one might expect between asking the Father to "accept" and asking Him to "send the Holy Spirit", provided one accepts (that word again!) that the Spirit customarily makes His appearance as a sign of the Father's acceptance. When I attend Mass and hear EP II or III instead of my much preferred EP I, that is what I understand when the Father is asked to "send down your Holy Spirit like the dewfall" (or any other meteorological phenomenon). The Spirit's appearance is not in order to perform a magic trick, but as a "seal" and "pledge" that what is offered has now indeed been accepted and "put on the list" ('ratam')

Arthur H said...

Thank you, Father, for your excellent and kind teaching on this subject. What a consolation your good offices are to us.
Happy St. Benedict Joseph Labre Day.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. A number of years ago you corrected me on my claim (sourced from Fortescue) that there was an epiclesis.

Thank you for that correction. You are right.

As for "experts' always seeking to change the One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church to become more like those who do not accept its authority, what does that tell you about the Faith and agenda of those clamoring for change?

Do the "experts" ever source, from Tradition, a Council, Pope or Saint who first advanced such a claim.

Semper Idem or révolution semper. The choice really is that simple and straightforward.

Christopher Boegel said...

I certainly do find in my copy of Fr. Fortescue’s 1914 book, “The Mass, A Study the Roman Liturgy,” that Fr. Fortescue concludes that the Roman Canon at one time contained an “epiclisis.”

This evidence is not to suggest that Fr. Fortescue went any further (such as asserting or suggesting that Jesus’ words of fiat, “This is my Body,” were in any way less than all that was needed to transform the bread and the wine, which suggestion or assertion others, in both East and West, may and do make).

But I would like to see the exchange btw Fr. H and Mick J…

Tom said...

What about the Quam oblationem prayer in the Roman Canon?

The celebrant asks God to make the oblation (or offering):

"... in all things blessed, approved, ratified, reasonable, and acceptable: that it may become for us the Body and Blood of Thy most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ."

Cherub said...

I entirely agree with Fr Hunwicke's opinion. Let the tradition of the Western Church stand without intruding an epiclesis.

I recall when I was an Anglican theological student (more than 60 years ago) that liturgists were also preoccupied with what they called "the moment of consecration", denying that the words of institution consecrated and that therefore we should not genuflect until after the Amen at the end of the Canon. Despite the inability of these to define in an exclusive way what constitutes a "moment", they still insisted that the Church of Rome had got it wrong and that we should imitate the practice of the Eastern liturgies and bow/genuflect at the end of the canon. So many fads over so many years by liturgists!

Peter Kwasniewski said...

Fr. Barthe in his book "A Forest of Symbols," just published by Angelico in English, writes:

<< Qui pridie: this is the narrative of the Institution, the central
moment of the Canon (even if the petition that follows,
beginning with the prayer Unde et memores and ending with
the epiklesis, Supplices te rogamus, is the climax of the Eucharistic

The Supplices te rogamus (We most humbly beseech thee,
almighty God, to command that these things be borne by the
hands of thy holy angel to thine altar on high, in the sight of
thy divine majesty, that as many of us as, at this altar, shall
partake of and receive the most holy Body ✠ and ✠ Blood of thy
Son may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace) thus
causes this part of the Canon to close (Per Dominum nostrum
Jesum Christum. Amen) with the idea of oblation. This is the
first ending of the Roman Canon.

This prayer is, moreover, the real equivalent of the Eastern epiklesis: “Command that these things be borne by the hands of thy holy angel to thine altar on high.” The liturgists speak of a “communion epiklesis,” that is an invocation aimed at uniting the earthly altar and the heavenly altar, distinct from the “consecration epiklesis” of the Eastern liturgies, where God is asked to descend on the sacred elements by the power of his Spirit. According to Durandus, the priest in the thirteenth century used to rest his crossed hands on his breast and make a very deep bow. >>

Peter Kwasniewski said...

Gregory DiPippo wrote a good critique of Fortescue here:


George said...

I agree with you on the whole about the Roman Canon. However, to say that the "Veni, sanctificator" be not an epiclesis is untrue. Epiclesis means literally invocation, and this is an invocation, even more than the Eastern and Oriental ones. Why? Because in the Eastern and Oriental, the Church asks the Father or the Son to send the Spirit, while here, in the Roman family, the invocation is directly made to the Spirit. The fact that it is "late" doesn't mean much. In the Sharrar anaphora, the epiclesis comes at the end of the anaphora (it is the Assyrian pattern), the priest kneals while saying it, although there is no explicit request for the "metabolê" to occur. In the anaphora of Our Lord, there is an epiclesis, but again without the explicit request for the "metabolê". The fact that the "Veni, sanctificator" is outside the anaphora doesn't mean it is not there. As a matter of example, some Oriental liturgies have the verba before the communion, out of the anaphora. My guess is the following: when the Church had to fight pneumatomachism, the Eastern and Oriental liturgies incorporated some strong epicleses within the anaphoras themselves. The same happened in the Mozarabic rite. However, the Roman rite did not dare to alter the Canon of the Mass. Therefore, while the epiclesis smoothly developped, it was relegated to the end of the offertory. Whichever be the rite, the epiclesis is NOT necessary to the consecration, of course. And probably not even the verba are necessary, but only the praise and thanksgiving.