Wednesday, April 15, 2015
THE COMMUNION RITE IN AN OF AD ORIENTEM MASS, EVEN IN THE VERNACULAR, IS WHAT VATICAN II REQUESTED AND AN IMPROVEMENT OVER THE EF'S COMMUNION RITE
Also, as you know, our 12:10 PM Ordinary Form sung Mass is celebrated "ad orientem" for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As well, at this Mass only, the laity are invited to use the full length of our newly restored altar railing, with the option for those who desire, to kneel. On their own accord, 99.9% kneel; maybe more than 50% receive in the hand while kneeling. Even receiving in the hand looks more reverent and communicants do not get up and leave prior to placing the Sacred Host in their mouth and pausing briefly in prayer and a "Sign of the Cross."
As I have mentioned before, this method of distributing Holy Communion is more of a workout for the priest and Holy Communion takes less time with two distributing at the railing compared to four stations which don't move. At the railing, it is slower for the laity, most of whom must wait for the priest or deacon to approach them. It is less rushed for the laity in other words.
But I'd like to focus on the Liturgy of the Eucharist for the EF and OF Masses both of which are celebrated "ad orientem." What are the blessings that come from both and how does the OF's Liturgy of the Eucharist compared to what Vatican II desired in terms of simplicity and intelligibility for the laity?
Of course we know that the EF is in Latin and has a more complex offertory rite which is prayed quietly. The OF has a simplified offertory rite and may be prayed silently if the celebrant so desires and usually in a sung Mass it is silent. From the laity's point of view when both are celebrated ad orientem, I don't think there is much to see that is different.
The Orate Fratres is only partially prayed aloud in the EF by the priest with the response completed by the laity/servers after the priest turns back to the altar. In the OF when I turn to the laity, the entire part of the priest is prayed out loud and then I wait for their response until I make complete circle back to the altar. The laity are speaking to the celebrant at this point and this makes sense to me to face them for the completion of their part.
Using the Roman Canon for the OF, the new and glorious vernacular is almost verbatim and in sync with the Latin version. In fact, it would be very easy to include the extra "signs of the cross" over the oblations, because the wording is identical now to the Latin. However, this is not kosher in the OF to do this and either way the laity do not see it, in the EF or OF when done ad orientem.
Of course the canon is prayed out loud in the OF but not in the EF. I normally chant the Epiclesis through the Mystery of Faith in the OF. I pray the canon in the OF in a subdued tone but quite audible for the congregation.
Of course the Pater Noster forward in the EF is a bit different but not dramatically so to the OF although the OF has eliminated many beautiful prayers.
I would like to focus, though, on the Communion Rite. I prefer the OF's order and simplicity and the elimination of the double "Lord I am not worthy" once for the priest prior to his Holy Communion and then again for the laity, for their Holy Communion after the priest has received his in order to make the Mass completely valid by completing the Sacrifice by consuming the Holocaust.
I prefer the OF's joint chanting of the Lamb of God and the priest's quiet prayer of preparation for his Holy Communion. Then once the Lamb of God is completed, I turn to the congregation with the Chalice of Precious Blood just consecrated and the fractured Host just consecrated held over the chalice and say "Behold the Lamb of God..." with everyone, priest and laity saying the "Lord I am not worthy..." We can debate if it was wise to eliminate the three-fold saying of this which mirrors the Agnus Dei three fold trope, but it is what it is.
In the EF Mass, by the time the priest turns to the congregation and say "Ecce Agnus Dei" he has already consumed the Body and Blood of Christ consecrated and shown at the elevations. Rather than showing the Precious Blood in the chalice, he simply holds a small consecrated Host (often taken from the tabernacle) above a ciborium and invites the people to do their "Lord I am not worthy."
Then I turn back to the altar, receive what I have just shown to complete the Unbloody Sacrifice by consuming the Holocaust and then I distribute Holy Communion kneeling at the extension of the altar which is the altar railing, their table for the Eucharistic Banquet.
I find this part of the OF's Communion Rite truly in line with Vatican II and eliminating a useless repetition in terms of two distinct Communion Rites for priest and laity.