Wednesday, February 26, 2014

IS IT TIME TO REVISIT THE QUIET DEVOTIONAL PRAYERS OF THE PRIEST AND HIS IMMEDIATE MINISTERS?


The reform of the 1962 Missal brought about in specific ways, with a specific theology, was accomplished through the papal committee of Consilium. Part of this reform was to show forth not only the priesthood of the ordained but also the priesthood of all the baptized. There is nothing new in the doctrine of the priestly character of all the baptized. However, prior to the Council, it was not much discussed or promoted.

For some reason, the designers of the new Mass, went backwards to the early forms of the Mass in the time of the Fathers (a radical form of pre-any ecumenical council). Of course when we go backwards to the early Church, especially when the Church was outlawed and persecuted, we will find a stripped down, underdeveloped form of the Mass. We will find only the nuts and bolts and no organic development that came about both in the east and the west and in differing cultural contexts but on a similar trajectory in terms of adding the ceremonies of the court (state) and making the liturgy more regal, public and distinctive when the Church was freed to worship in the public square.

It was in this period that prayers were added, especially those private, quiet, beautiful devotional prayers of the priest and also books developed to standardize the Mass in various regions of the Church. The Council of Trent ordered the most widespread standardization of the Mass into the Latin Rite Missal that the pope would issue subsequent to that great reforming Council.

This Mass of Trent, that is a culmination of various traditions in the Latin Rite kept a certain healthy "clericalism" in terms of the piety, spirituality, devotion and art of personal prayer of the priest in the Roman Missal itself.

These quiet, clerical prayers, not intended to diminish the laity's dignity, included the following:

The Preparatory devotional prayers of the priest and his immediate ministers at the Foot of the Altar as private devotion prayed publicly prior to  approaching the altar. As this was happening, the norm of the sung Mass had the schola chanting the Entrance Chant, or Introit, which was the actual beginning of the Mass (not the priests private, devotional prayers that he recited with his immediate ministers during this time).

Then the priest enters  approaches the altar, praying quietly, "take away from us our iniquities...that with pure minds we may worthily enter into the Holy of Holies...

Then kissing the altar, the priest says quietly "We beseech thee, O Lord, by the merits of Thy Saints, whose relics are here, and of all the Saints, that Thou wilt deign to pardon me all my sins. Amen." This private, devotional prayer is said silently as the Introit is chanted, it being the actual beginning of the Mass.

So the legitimate question is, why in the name of God and all that is holy, given the position of leadership and sanctity required for the priest for his unique and necessary presence for the celebration of Mass, were these private prayers said quietly but nonetheless publicly opposed by the masters of Consilium? Why do the laity either need to hear and participate in them, or  if Consilium determined these devotional prayers of the priest are not a technical part of the Mass for the laity, then it would be necessary to eliminate these quiet devotional prayers of the priest and his immediate ministers since it was not advisable for the laity to pray these too? What was the point of that other than the  unwholesome false egalitarianism that entered the spirit of those redesigning the Mass and going backwards in time to justify their elimination of these unique, devotional prayers of the priest?

Fortunately no other quiet and devotional prayers are removed (accept the psalm recited quietly if the priest incensed the altar both at the beginning and offertory) until the revision of the Offertory Prayers which now is known as the Preparation of the Offerings.

The Offertory of the Mass was completely redesigned by going backwards to the time of the Fathers to a paring down of this part of the Mass. Consilium seem to think that the Offertory Prayers acted as a sort of duplication of the actual offering that Christ does of Himself during the Canon.

Consilium either did not know or were completely oblivious (or knowingly misrepresented)  that the priest, as a baptized human being and not in persona Christi, offers the bread and wine as bread and wine on behalf of himself and the lay baptized for it to become later in the Canon, not the offertory,  "transubstantiated" meaning the Body and Blood of Christ (brought about not in the offertory which has the priest offering only bread and wine) but in the Canon where Christ, acting sacramentally in the ordained priest beginning with the Epiclesis and words of consecration changes the substance of the bread and wine into His Body and Blood. Then after the Consecration, the High Priest, Jesus Christ, acting in the person of the sacramental priest during the Anemesis, offers Himself as Priest and Victim, but in an unbloody way, in a re-presentation (memorial) of the actual one Sacrifice of our Lord at Calvary, perpetuated eternally in every Mass until the Lord returns at the end of time.

In other words there is a big difference in what is being offered  in the Offertory of the Mass and Who is being offered in the Canon! There is also a huge difference in terms of who is do the offering in the Offertory and Who is offering Himself after the Consecration!

If one understands the difference between the sacramental priest offering ordinary bread and wine to God in order that His Son may then change it later in the Canon of the Mass into Himself, then there is no reason why the traditional Offertory Prayers could not be recovered since these were removed for the wrong reasons. In the Offertory with its traditional calling of the Holy Spirit to bless the bread and wine, not to become Christ, but to prepare these to become Christ, is completely reasonable to retain.

The biblical aspects of the 1962's Missal of the blessing of the water prayer terribly deformed in the revision with the blessing of the water eliminated altogether, should be returned.

The longer lavabo with its biblical imagery should also return. These are devotional in terms of being said quietly as are all of the Offertory Prayers, but that does not negate their importance in terms of retaining them or recovering these.

I think one can make a good case that the Prayer over the Offering (Secret) and the Canon are not devotional prayers of the priest and thus should be spoken in a raised voiced for all to hear.

The other quiet devotional prayers of the priest removed by Consilium for corrupt purposes are the quiet prayers of the priest following the Pater Noster which include:

"Libera Nos..."

"Panen caelestem...I will take the Bread of Heaven and will call upon the name of the Lord.

"Quid retribuam (what return shall I make) prior to the priest receiving from the chalice
the fuller "abultion" private prayers of the priest

Then following the Post Communion Prayer, these private prayers of the priest eliminated in the reform should be restored:

The Placeat Tibi, Sancta Trinitas (May the tribute of my homage...)

All of the above devotional prayers could be added in the Ordinary Form's missal retaining all the other prayers, prefaces, Eucharistic Prayers and new orations.

12 comments:

rcg said...

The question has been asked, for example, why do we have the "redundant" act of contrition. My question is why do we assume it is redundant? If the priest asks forgiveness then why should I? I think it is wrong to assume these two events are simply a belt with suspenders approach to worship. Similarly the deconstruction of the Liturgy could lead to a more profound understanding of the prayers if one assumes they are layered under meaningless or non-value added flourishes. Yet the simplified Mass and Liturgy instead attracted all sorts of accretions that in fact hid the meaning of the prayers and has not merely confused but actually misled the laity.

The priest leads us to the altar of God, his example is a template for us to follow, he cleanses himself and in turn leads us to do the same. The "secret" or sublingual prayers are not tricks but written right in the missal for us to see and are explained to the faithful as part of their education.

The people of old were not stupid nor were they fools. They put a lot more thought into what they did than we credit to them.

John Nolan said...

There is no point in trying to reconstruct primitive liturgical practices since evidence is lacking. The Protestant reformers believed that they were going back to the practice of the early Church before it was 'corrupted' by Rome. The archaeologism which pervaded the Consilium (which didn't prevent them from also proposing startling novelties) naturally gave the impression that they were adopting the Protestant position. Some of its members undoubtedly were.

When one considers that it took ten years to produce even a new translation of the MR, it is quite astonishing that the replacement of the Roman Rite with a Novus Ordo which is radically different was accomplished in just five. This produced a sense of rupture which is either lauded or reprobated depending on where one stands in the liturgy wars.

I was a teenager in the 1960s and the emphasis was on change rather than continuity. We were being told, in effect, to worship in a different way from that in which we had been brought up. Some of my parents' generation welcomed this brave new world, but many, perhaps most, did not. Not that anyone was consulted - even the bishops were sidelined.

Henry said...

"All of the above devotional prayers could be added in the Ordinary Form's missal retaining all the other prayers, prefaces, Eucharistic Prayers and new orations."

And could not these private devotional prayers be said silently by the priest, without even inserting them in the missal? If they're the priest's private prayers, do they really have to be read by the people in their hand missals or pew missalettes?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I do not think we could tamper with the Ordinary Form's current Preparation of the Offerings, but I suspect a priest could quietly pray the devotional prayers quietly that were removed (not the actual EF Offertory prayers for the bread and wine or the current brief prayers for the infusion of water and washing of hands.

I suspect too that as the Introit or for that matter and processional hymn that is chosen, if it is long enough, the priest and servers could pause at the foot of the altar to say the PATFOTA quietly while the hymn is sung, and then approaching the altar to kiss and incense it the quiet devotional prayers of the EF. I don't think that would be illicit, but if did these aloud and invited the congregation to do the PATFOTA I think that would be illicit.

Henry said...

Yes, I meant the priest praying his private devotional prayers silently to himself, interspersed as appropriate with the (unchanged) vocal and official prayers of the OF missal.

After all, surely most sufficiently devout layman pray silently their own private devotional prayers at quiet times with the Mass. As priests really supposed to be less devout than the laymen in the pews?

Pater Ignotus said...

Why,good Father, do you classify the more pure, more Apostolic mass as "underdeveloped"?

And surely you do not suggest that the "developments" of later centuries are uniformly beneficial or worthy of maintaining?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, apart from language issues and yes whatever "useless repetition and noble simplicity mean" as well as the the more important call for more scripture in the lectionary, as well as the intelligent actual participation of the laity, what was wrong with the 1962 Missal's Order of the Mass that it needed to be re-imagined, especially since no one but an academic elite was pushing for it, no one, let me repeat that, no one but an academic elite (the most clerical class in the world bar none) was pushing it?

Henry said...

On "actual participation"--which we all hear about incessantly--a possibly fresh new perspective:

IF 20% of U.S. Catholics attend Mass every Sunday now, whereas 80% did in the 1950s,

THEN the totality those actually attending now likely correspond pretty much to the top 20% (in actual prayerful attention) of those attending then, with the bottom 80% then (including those attending only because of obligation and not participating actively) corresponding to those who have dropped out and don't attend Mass regularly at all now.

BUT as one who attended EF Mass in the 1950s and today attends both EF and OF Mass with equally serious prayerful participation in both (though this requires greater preparation in advance for the OF), . . .

. . . I know that there's less intent prayerful participation among OF worshipers as a whole today, than there was among the 20% of most attentive and prayerful participants in the 1950s, all of whom then were using their hand missals to follow prayerfully the action at the altar and unit their own prayers with those of the priest, as well as (where I was) often making the responses in a dialogue low Mass or chanting them at high Mass. (Just like then, some are fully participating now, but many or most are not.)

HENCE, especially when you consider the majority who are sitting at home now and not participating in any way whatsoever, I see no alternative to concluding that cumulatively there is a total of less active prayerful participation now than there was then. Could anyone sensibly draw a different conclusion?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry I agree with you. Actual participation is being at Mass. No participation is not being there. Once you are at Mass it is good to develop good participating skills, but being there is the best.

So you are right, today with the Modern Mass there has been a more than dramatic decline in actual participation.

John Nolan said...

PI, would you care to enlighten us as to the text and rubrics of 'the pure, more Apostolic mass (sic)'? This is worse than archaeologism; mistaken as that was, it was at least based on some sort of evidence.

Anonymous said...

I've already jumped ship on the reform of the reform and gone to an Eastern Catholic Ruthenian parish, and attend the TLM whenever I can, so in affect I have give up on the OF.

I'm tired of playing Russian Roulette and wondering what I am going to find when I go to one.
To me, I think the OF is irraformable, unless scrapped and made to look like the 1962 or 1965 missals, and even after the OF is fixed, you have ALL of the other rites (wedding, funeral, etc) to think about. I am in my early 20's so my only hope is that I will outlive this current generation of errant priests and bishops. Even though I hope it is not soon, God willing, I have already made it know that I want my last rites/funeral in either the TLM or the Byzantine Rite, they are more efficacious.

Serious thought/question: My main thought of those who are concerned with the OF/ROTR, in 10-15-20 years when all these modernists are finally dead, who exactly do they think is going to be left to even care about the liturgy?

John Nolan said...

This last comment by Anonymous needs to be taken seriously. The revision of the Mass was the priority of the reformers. The revision of the Roman Ritual was a more gradual process, but in my opinion was far more radical. I know priests who never celebrate the Usus Antiquior but have nothing but scorn for the so-called 'Book of Blessings' which doesn't actually bless anything.

It is not a question of validity, since the reforms of the sacramental rites must be valid, since they are authorized by the Church. But is the new rite of baptism as efficacious as the old, which has three prayers of exorcism whereas the new rite has none? Actually, exorcism is a case in point; although it is a sacramental and not a sacrament, its efficacy can be seen in action, and the new form (1998) was shown to be so deficient that exorcists (including Fr Amorth) demanded the right to continue with the 1614 rite, and Cardinals Ratzinger and Medina readily acquiesced.