Monday, December 31, 2007

The Missal of Paul VI - a historical analysis

Over the past few months, I have promised to undertake a further analysis of the Missal of Paul VI and the evolution of current practices. I note that I promised this in August! How time flies.

In that analysis I also referred to Summorum Pontificum and what its impact would be on any reform of the reform.

The key practices that I speak of which are of most controversy are:
  • the use of Extraodinary Ministers of Holy Communion
  • Communion in the hand
  • female Altar servers

I have in my book collection Vatican Council II - The Conciliar and post-Conciliar Documents ed. Austin Flannery OP; Liturgical Press 5th ed 1980.

To summarise the developments.

3 April 1969 - Paul VI issues the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Missal, highlighting that the revision encapsulates the decrees of the Second Vatican Council. The document highlights key changes such as 3 more Euchraistic Prayers to supplement the Roman Canon, a wider selection of readings and prefaces, the restoration of the homily and the prayers of the faithful. Interestingly it states that the Graduale Romanum remains unchanged, but that a responsorial psalm and antiphons for the Entrance and Communion have been revised.

29 May 1969 - the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship issues Memoriale Domini on the manner of distibuting Holy Communion. This document was issued in response to the growing practice in some parts of the world to place Holy Communion on the hand. The question had been put to the bishops around the world with the overwhelming response that "the present discipline should not be changed and that if it were, the change would be offensive to the sentiments and the spiritual culture of the bishops and many of the faithful". However, it makes further inconclusive statements about how bishops conferences allowing Communion in the hand can continue to do so but need to report back on the outcome etc.

29 June 1970 - SCDW issues Sacramentali Communione; instructions on the extension of the faculty to administer Holy Communion under both kinds, with a list of people who may receive under both species. Interestingly it lists every kind of special liturgy except for general Sunday church congregations. However, later editions of the GIRM such as the Australian version issued in May 2007 leave it up to the local ordinary to decide what other circumstances may be appropriate and implies general congregations in some limited circumstances.

25 January 1973 - Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments issues Immensae Caritatis; an instruction on facilitating sacramental eucharistic communion in particular circumstances. This document provides for the local ordinaries (or them to allow individual priests) to appoint suitable people as extraordinary ministers. This faculty may be used whenever:

  1. there is no priest deacon or acolyte;
  2. these are prevented from admistering Holy Communion because of another pastoral ministry or because of ill health or advanced age
  3. the number of fathful requesting Holy Communion is such that the celebration of Mass or the distribution of the Eucharist outside of Mass would be unduly prolonged.

The key reason for this is to ensure that "the faithful who are in a state of grace and who with an upright and pious disposition [who] wish to share in the Sacred Banquet, may not be deprived of this sacramental help and consolation".

It is interesting that originally the use of EMHCs was primarily for visitation of the sick rather than for use at Mass. This makes a lot of sense to me. However, I do note that distribution of Holy Communion under both species is extremely difficult without them.

15 March 1994 - a circular letter [1] from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to presidents of episcopal conferences on 15 March 1994, which announced a 30 June 1992 authentic interpretation (confirmed on 11 July 1992 by Pope John Paul II) from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. This authentic interpretation said that canon 230 §2 states that service at the altar is one of the liturgical functions that can be performed by both lay men and women. The circular letter, written by the cardinal-prefect of the Congregation, also clarified that canon 230 §2 has a permissive and not a preceptive character, that is, it allows, but does not require, the use of female altar servers. Thus it was for each diocesan bishop to decide whether to allow them in his diocese.

It should be noted that this instruction, based upon the new Code of Canon Law, overturns previous documents such as Inaestimabile Donum issued on 17 April 1980 and Liturgicae Instaurationes issued on 5 September 1970.

Where does this leave a sensible Reform of the Reform Agenda?

If anything, my interpretation of getting parish liturgies back to "best practice" is that:

  • Communion on the tongue is the best practice (whether kneeling or standing). This was one which unfortunately "got through the keeper". Years of solid Catholic teaching would be required to address the current "protestant"practice. This would also bring us back into line with our sister churches, instead of following protestant communions.
  • Really how many EMHCs do you need at a normal parish Mass?? The use needs to be a "fall-back"option at Mass only if it is logistically impossible to distribute Holy Communion under one or both species. However, a lot of prudent judgement is involved here, with a proper assessment of need rather than pandering to what some people think is a right.
  • Female Altar servers - yes they can be used in the Ordinary Form Mass but again I believe that good practice, which I adopt, is making sure that males form the majority. Having a majority of female servers in the sanctuary sends the wrong message on priesthood.

With respect to other issues:

The Altar - I believe that Benedict and Mons Marini have shown the correct way with Altars where celebration is carried out versus populum, with the arrangement of a central cross and candles on both sides. I think that there are some difficulties with the OF Mass being celebrated Ad Orientem similar to the EF, due to is greater "dialogue" emphasis between priest and people (I have not seen celebration of the OF in this form so I am willing to see if my opinion can be changed on this*). However the cross and candles do remove the priest as "talk show host" which is the biggest problem with the OF. The GIRM is correct in providing for a freestanding Altar so that the priest "can" celebrate facing the people, as in the OF "this is desirable where possible". However, it is good practice to allow for the other orientation to permit celebration of the EF.

* At the church of San Lorenzo in Florence the high Altar is used in normal celebration of the OF Mass. The priests chair is located where the traditional faldstool is located in an EF Mass, facing the congregation. In San Miniato in the same city, the chair is located on the Gospel side facing the congregation. At Monte Casino in italy and at the Valle de los Caidos in Spain the chair is located facing the sanctuary (viewed side-on from the congregation).

Music - we need to learn more about the Graduale Romanum as it appears in so many of the Concilar and Post-Conciliar documents as well as the GIRM.

I would be interested in finding out what other peoples opinions are in respect to reforming the OF, without turning it into a copy of the Tridentine form, (remember we have the EF Mass already). Comments on the OF only please.


Summa Theologica said...

I think communion under the species of bread on the one hand and wine on the other are considered two different matters. That is the impression I obtain from Roman documents. However, whether you need an extraordinary reason to use lay ministers for the wine (which said reason would never exist)is an interesting question. I'm not comfortable with the practice on grounds of the sanctuary being the Holy of Holies, something I think we have totally lost compared with the reverence the Jews had for instance. Even altar servers are vested and located for the most part on the lower rung. Lay ministers walking up onto the sanctuary (and nearly always around the Lamb of God which they are NOT supposed to) does not help in conveying that the sanctuary is holy ground. Not enough consideration has been given, in my opinion to this aspect of the question.

As for female altar severs are majority of males is normally only feasible where the former are absent altogether. I agree in the current climate that is a difficult matter. Even one female server creates a discordant note with respect to the male symbolism.

Stephen said...

I have been incomfortable with lay ministers ever since I first saw them. As for the sanctuary being the "holy of holies", this has been increasingly difficult to maintain over the years, particularly as there are now deliberate attempts to morph it into the rest of the church. A number of times I have had to tell people that hey are not permittted to be in the sanctuary. The main offenders seem to be older Australian women. There are a number of church renovations around Brisbane which do not have a sanctuary at all - total horizontalism.

As for female Altar servers, I agree that I do feel uncomfortable with them playing a highly visible role and sometimes I will deliberately "engineer" the duties to ensure that they are not out there and being prominent. Mainly the issue tends to resolve itself as there are only certain duties that female Altar servers want to do. A roblem with females is that they do tend to cherrypick roles and do not have the flexibility that the guys have.

Summa Theologica said...

I think in your situation you can only work with the authority you have. It would be much easier if they were unambiguously disallowed and the bishop was obedient.