Saturday, February 1, 2014

THE PRAYER OVER THE OFFERINGS I USED THIS MORNING IN A VOTIVE MASS FOR THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY: IS IT HERETICAL?


Our parish's parochical vicar, Father Godfred Boachie-Yiadom from Ghana now earning a Phd. in Mariology from the University of Dayton (now writing his dissertation here in Macon) concelebrated with me this morning's Mass.

I recently ordered and received the new "blue" Roman Missal, updated in the gloriously new English Translation of the Mass, that has many, many votive Masses for the Blessed Virgin Mary and additional wonderful prefaces for each Mass.

The ordo recommended for this morning votive Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a Saturday, one the Masses from the blue Missal's collection of Masses entitled  "The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of the Lord." (It is not the Feast Day Mass for February 2nd, btw.)

However, I only scanned the "Prayer over the Offerings" before hand and then stumbled as I prayed it during Holy Mass, thinking I had misread what I clearly thought sounded awfully heretical to me. But no, I read it correctly, but continued to think that whoever concocted this prayer must have made a huge heretical mistake. I was so concerned I asked for our resident Mariologist Priest, Fr. Godfred to comment on it for me. I'll post what he said in an update to this post when I receive sufficient comments for you all as it concerns the orthodoxy or heterodoxy or outright heresy of this Prayer over the Offerings.

But here it is with the offending, at least in my mind, line that looks like heresy to me:

"Lord, let our prayers and offerings be acceptable to you as we present them with joy in our hearts on this memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary who made the offering of the poor to redeem her son, himself the redeemer of all. Through Christ our Lord." 

Have at it!

(And by the way we are blessing candles for Candlemas (Presentation of the Lord in the Temple/Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary) at all our Masses this weekend including the Extraordinary Form Mass at 2:00 PM Sunday. It is a Low Mass as our Choir Director and Organist is on an extended leave due to a couple of serious surgeries! Please pray for her complete recovery. She's be out since before Christmas, Ms. Nelda Chapman, although we have wonderful musicians in place because of her to carry the ball with all the other Masses!)

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a tad defensive are we Father. Catholics are upset with a pope who says things like converting an Atheist to the Gospel is "solemn nonsense". Catholics don't have a problem with a prayer from the Missal that is completely orthodox to a Catholic who know Catholic theology.

rcg said...

Sounds like a use of the word 'redeem' in the same manner as 'Bless' which causes concern in the Gloria. There is adequate and inadequate redemption. I think this was intended to highlight the adequacy of Christ's Redemption through the fulfillment of the Prophecy and the less than adequate atonement of the Old Testament.

The firing line is HOT.

Bernard Fischer said...

Wasn't that the Jewish practice at the time? To make an offering to redeem the first born son? In Joseph and Mary's case it was the offering of the poor: two turtle doves. However, I guess I'm not clear on the meaning of "redeem" in this case. I read about it once, but I don't remember how this use of the word may differ from the meaning we use when talking about Jesus' mission.

Anonymous said...

"I'll post what he said in an update to this post when I receive sufficient comments for you all as it concerns the orthodoxy or heterodoxy or outright heresy of this Prayer over the Offerings."

That statement smacks of the clericalism that Pope Francis is fighting. You are being sarcastic about lay Catholics determining whether something is orthodox or heretical as compared to you the priest. It implies that because we are laity and you are ordained we cannot make that judgement. I have news for you Father. I have heard maybe thousands of homilies from priests in my life time, and the majority couldn't even piece a decent sentence together. Just because you have a collar around your neck does not mean you are more intelligent than a lay person. It means there are no consequences to how you live your life that is totally supported by lay people who are smart enough to make a living it his world. A world that most priests of today's Church would be laughed at in the work place. I can read St. Thomas and St. Augustine and the Summa and the CCC and grasp it as well as any priest or bishop. So I don't know who you are being condescending to but I may remind you that it wasn't the laity that raped and molested children all over the world and hid it. It was you clerics. And may I also remind you that it has always been a priest that caused heresy and confusion in the Church.

FrJBS said...

I'm struggling a little to understand which phrase or word is in question.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Ann. I judge your anti clericalism horrible and wicked and you misunderstand my post given my reaction to the prayer and such reaction that I brought to an expert whose knowledge is grater than mine. I might remind you that the greatest crisis of child physical, mental and sexual abuse occurs in the home from the laity who are parents brothers, sisters aunts, uncles and boy or girlfriends. These are more often than not hidden from lae enforcement through the complicit behavior of these family members in the know who do nothing and perpetuate the abuse for decades!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FrJBS: "to redeem her son"!

FrJBS said...

At the risk of sounding like a "know-it-all", this is just basic Jewish theology and practice. God Himself commanded that the first-born sons be redeemed from priestly service after the incident of the Golden Calf. Any convert from Biblical Protestantism would know that!

FrJBS said...

Anonymous makes some good points, but as is often the case in blog comments, lacks the rhetorical training to state his or her position logically. As for his or her comment about abuse, it would support his or her argument if he or she would cite a list of organizations that have released statistics of abuse and response within their respective organizations. I would start with public schools state by state (in the USA).

George said...

Bernard Fischer

I agree. This has to do with the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the offering
of the two turtle doves. .
I wish a few more words could have been added to the prayer to make this more explicit.
Christ willingly entered into our human existence and willingly made Himself subject to to all that entailed, including being subject to the Law, both civil and religious. The Blessed Virgin would of course follow the religious laws of the time, and in doing so she conformed to what was expected of and by her in giving honor and glory to God.

Henry said...

My first question would be, What Does This Prayer Really Say? Truly, what do its words mean? On its face, the blatant ambiguity makes it look like a terrible old ICEL-like English translation of something. So it would be good to see the original Latin version. I've never seen a Latin oration, whether good or bad, that seemed so ambiguous. I wonder whether the collects in the blue BVM missal have been accurately re-translated. Or did they just lift the new translation of the Order of Mass and EPs for this new version?

Joe Potillor said...

Father, do you happen to have a copy of the Latin Original? This might be one of those "things missed by translating into English"

I won't even attempt to analyze it unless I can get to the Latin Original, then I can see the structure and intent :)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

And now for my confession; I did not really study the "Prayer Over the Offerings" prior to actually praying it during Mass. And yes, as I prayed it I thought that maybe I left out something and so I stumbled and to be quite frank I thought to myself that this is the most heretical thing I've prayed in the Roman Missal, new or old. So, not knowing myself, because of my crass ignorance, I went to the higher academic authority in my parish and on my staff, Fr. Godfred, the Doctor of Theology with a focus on Mariology! And he explained much in the way that both Fr. JBS and Bernard Fischer have! Congratulations.

The offering of the poor, are the two turtle doves and certainly after her several month period of purification prior to returning to the temple, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who technically would not have been impure in the first place because of the Virgin Birth, fulfilled the prescripts of Jewish Law nonetheless for herself and then for her Son. She did what was customary as any Protestant Convert knowledgeable of the Scriptures would know. Of course Jesus didn't need to be redeemed at that point, He's the Son of God as well as the Son of Mary. But Mary may not have been fully aware of all the complexities of Catholic Dogma concerning her Son at the time and so brought Him to the temple as any good Jewish parent would do for their first born Son. But just as the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan anticipates the sins that Jesus will accept as His own on the Cross, thus enabling Him to experience suffering and death, so too does the Presentation of the Lord in the temple do somewhat of the same thing in anticipation of all the sins Jesus accepts as His own in order to redeem the world through the Paschal Mystery.

However, this prayer is a new composition and I don't know where one would find it in the Latin Roma Missal. I have not seen this collection of Prayers in this particular separate Missal in any Latin counterpart. It does sound confusing to me and thus worthy of a homily just on it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Fathers and other contributors, for this excellent explanation. It does seem that it would be wise to have added a couple of words in there to make it clear what was meant, but the explanation of the sacrifice of the doves is very edifying. Thank you.

Joe Potillor said...

Beautiful

Henry said...

"However, this prayer is a new composition and I don't know where one would find it in the Latin Roma Missal."

I'd not think it would be found in the (Latin)Roman Missal 3/e. Not all Masses are. But, so far as I have ever heard--for all new and old compositions alike--their official versions are in Latin, and any English version is a translation of the Latin original. In this case it would be particularly interesting to see the Latin and whether it makes the intended meaning more explicit.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Mcdonald, When you say Mary would not have been impure because of the virgn birth, what do you mean?

George said...

Anonymous
Mary would have been considered impure under Jewish religious law.
Under that law, the first born son had to be offered to God in commemoration of the sparing of the first-born of the Jews in Egypt at the time of the Exodus.

We know of course that Mary was and is a virgin and so was not "impure" in the sense we have of that word. The more positive connotation of that word would be a state one would be in in which certain things would be prohibited until one was ritually cleansed. Under Jewish religious law, A woman was required to immerse in a mikveh (which is a ritual cleansing bath) after her menstrual period or childbirth before she and her husband could resume marital relations.The Blessed Virgin did not need this purification but she was religiously observant (and of course would not do anything to cause scandal) and so she fulfilled the law by which she was bound.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Question:

My question is on the subject of cleanness of a mother after the birth of a male or female (Leviticus 12). The woman is unclean for seven days after a male birth, and after the birth of a female the mother is unclean for fourteen days. Why is there a difference between the birth of males and females?

Answer:

You write the word "cleanliness," when really it is "ritual purity." A woman's "impurity," or "tumah" in Hebrew, during her menstruation is a built-in component of her natural monthly cycle. Her status of "impurity" demonstrates her descent from a peak level of holiness, when she had the ability to conceive a precious new life through her union with her husband.

The status of "tumah" is not meant to imply sinfulness, degradation or inferiority. On the contrary, it emphasizes, in particular, the great level of holiness inherent in woman's G‑dly power to create and nurture a new life within her body, and the great holiness of a husband and wife's union, in general. Since a woman possesses this lofty potential, she, also bears the possibility of its void; hence her status as tameh, ritually impure. Since she experienced "the touch of death," so to speak, with the loss of potential life, as reflected by her menstruation, she enters this status of "impure."

After having given birth to a baby boy, a woman must wait a minimum of seven days before beginning her pure days; while after a baby girl is born, she must wait a minimum of fourteen days. Since the female child inherently carries a higher degree of holiness, due to her own biological, life creating capability, a greater void, or tumah, remains after her birth. Thus, the greater tumah after a baby girl's birth reflects her greater capacity for holiness (due to her creative powers) and necessitates the longer wait to remove this ritual impurity.

Anonymous said...

Fr. McDonald, when you say "...the Blessed Virgin Mary, who technically would not have been impure in the first place because of the Virgin Birth,..." what do you mean?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

She was ritually pure after her virgin birth, she did not need to wait to go to the temple but did in order to be faith to Mosaic Law and Jesus didn't need offerings of two turtle doves in the temple to redeem Him either, but they fulfilled the requirements of their Holy Religion nonetheless.
Ritual impurity is from the Jewish perspective is highlighted in my above posted comment and really should not be viewed in the same way we Christians do so.

Anonymous said...

Father, what is it about a virgin birth, as opposed to a standard birth, that kept Mary from being ritually impure? What are the differences between the two?

Charles G said...

I think you can think of "redeem" in quotes here if you wish. I see the presentation of the two turtledoves as along the lines of "fulfilling all propriety" the way St. John the Baptist baptised Jesus, who needed no cleansing or redemption.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

That's your homework and based upon the Jewish answer I gave above, go and do your homework especially from the Church's doctrinal and tradition on how the Blessed Virgin Mary remained spotless and a Virgin not only at the moment of conception but during and after childbirth. Please come back and tell us your findings, based on Catholic sources that the Church approves. We await your show and tell!

Anonymous said...

Father, you are supposed to be the teacher.

How was Mary "technically" not impure from giving birth to Jesus?
She was "Virgin after and before."

I am trying to understand what you mean when you say that Mary was "ritually pure" after giving birth to Jesus.

What is there about the birth of Jesus that is different from all other birth that allows Mary to remain ritually pure, technically?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, as teacher, I gave you homework and you are to do it and report back! Hint (virgin birth)!

George said...

Anonymous said

"She was "Virgin after and before."

Mary was a virgin before, DURING and after the birth of Jesus.

It may have been Augustine who
explained the transiting of Jesus
from Mary's womb as "like light which penetrates glass without breaking it."

Our Omnipotent God created the universe out of nothing. The miracle of the Christchild's birth was not beyond His power to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

Father, I have reviewed the material I have regarding the Nativity of Our Lord and find nothing in the church's teaching to suggest that Mary was "technically not impure."

I ask again, when you make this statement, what is it you mean? Do you suggest that Jesus did not exit the womb of Mary through the birth canal, with the attendant contractions, dilation of the cervix, delivery of the placenta, etc...?

If so, what magisterial sources can you cite so that I may continue researching my homework?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My, my all the things you infer by my request, none of the imputed things implied in my request to you to report back your findings, so I must ask as I don't want to infer from your comments do you think Mary was impure after child birth, it sounds like it to me but I don't want to impute that to you, so please provide the Church documents that Mary was impure!

Gene said...

Hey, Anonymous," what was different about the birth of Jesus…" Um, it was an act of God. It broke the rules of biology and nature. Didn't you get the word that God can do stuff like that? Now, if you believe that God created the universe, if you believe in the Holy Trinity, and if you believe that He raised Jesus from the dead, then what is the problem with believing the Virgin Birth? Oh….wait a minute…you probably don't believe that other stuff, either. So, what are you doing on this blog?

Anonymous said...

If you can't answer my question, it's perfectly acceptable to say so.

I'm not inferring anything from your statement. Rather, I am asking you to say what you mean by it.

Anonymous said...

In the Old Testament system, women who gave birth were ritually impure. So, they needed to undergo this purification 40 days after giving birth.

The Mother of God submitted to this purification law even though she was not ritually impure because her childbirth did not change her virginal state. This makes sense because she gave birth to Purity Himself in a singularly unprecedented way.

You may give it interesting that in traditional communities (Catholic and Orthodox), women still undergo what is called "Churching" before returning to the Liturgy (usually 40 days after giving birth). This isn't a legal purification, but it is a blessing you can find to read online, if you're interested.

Anonymous said...

On Calvary, Mary united herself to the sacrifice of her Son and made her own maternal contribution to the work of salvation, which took the form of labour pains, the birth of the new humanity.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the "impurity" under discussion here has anything to do with Mary remaining in a virginal state.

The laws regarding ritual impurity have everything to do with blood. If, as Fr. McDonald, suggests, Mary did not give birth in the normal way, she would not "technically" be impure.

But the Church has not declared that the birth of Jesus was anything other than normal. This is one of those questions for which lots of opinions can be found, from "light passing through glass" to "through her labour pains."

The question becomes, "Is Mary giving birth to Jesus in a "miraculous" way (a la light passing through glass) necessary to defend/understand some truth about Jesus?

Gene said...

"Is Mary giving birth to Jesus in a miraculous way necessary to defend/understand some truth about Jesus?"

You're kidding, right?