Sunday, January 25, 2009

Communion from the Tabernacle

Acceptance and adoption of new directives such as the Australian bishops promulgation of the new GIRM, tend to take on some strange twists and emphases.

One such instruction that has been interpreted literally by local priests is the instruction that Holy Communion MUST be from hosts consecrated at that particular Mass that the communicant is attending. If this does not happen some liturgists or priests who feel that they are liturgical authorities get very angry. In their view people MUST receive communion from bread and wine consecrated at that Mass. We will take a trip through history to see where this has come from.

The earliest reference to the desirability comes from Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei. He in turn quotes from Pope Benedict XIV (reigned 1740-1758).

"And although in addition to those to whom the celebrant gives a portion of the Victim he himself has offered in the Mass, they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved; however, the Church has not for this reason ever forbidden, nor does she now forbid, a celebrant to satisfy the piety and just request of those who, when present at Mass, want to become partakers of the same sacrifice, because they likewise offer it after their own manner, nay more, she approves of it and desires that it should not be omitted and would reprehend those priests through whose fault and negligence this participation would be denied to the faithful."(Encyclical Letter Certiores effecti, par. 3.)

Furthermore Pius XII states that :

Now it is very fitting, as the liturgy otherwise lays down, that the people receive holy communion after the priest has partaken of the divine repast upon the altar; and, as we have written above, they should be commended who, when present at Mass, receive hosts consecrated at the same Mass, so that it is actually verified, "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."[Mediator Dei para 121].

The constitution on the sacred liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium states that:
That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended. (n55)
which really is a repeat of Mediator Dei.
The may 2007 edition of the GIRM states it again:
It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s
Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated (n85)
Note that the terms over the centuries are desirable, strongly commended, fitting, desires.
However, it is not something to get totally our liturgical nickers in a knot about if not everyone can receive from the hosts consecrated at Mass. It is good practice to provide as much as possible by estimating as accurately as one can, as to how many hosts are needed. What we need to wipe out is the remaining practices where all the hosts are got from the tabernacle.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Archdiocese of Brisbane in 2059

Now that a whole lot of urgent matters have now been set aside - time fro more blogging. Hopefully Roman will have some interesting photos and gossip from his travels.

This year we have launched upon the 150 anniversary celebrations of the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Given all the self congratulations it is worthy to reflect upon what possibilities that the next 50 to 100 years might bring. Here is a scenario. Like all future forecasting, it is dangerous to to hinge upon one single scenario, we do not know what is around the corner (look at the current financial crisis for example).

In 2059 I am sitting at my device or walking down the street thinking about the history of the Catholic Church whilst the device (previously called a computer) writing my thoughts.
Many changes came upon the archdiocese of Brisbane in the first half of the 21st century, with bigger impacts upon the archdiocese than the years following the second Vatican Council. The largest impact was the collapse of the priesthood in the archdiocese in the years 2010 to 2020, as the seminary continued to fail to attract students, and existing priests retired and died. the total staff of priests for the archdiocese shrank to around 30 (down from 150 in 2006). This had a number of flow-on effects. Although the laity assumed leadership in some parishes, this brought its own difficulties with the bishops having to mediate as some parishes split into warring factions. However, the impact was mitigated somewhat as the "silent" and "baby boomer" generation, (the generation brought up with the idea that not attending Sunday Mass was a mortal sin) died off but were not replaced by their children who had all left the church as soon as possible, and congregations shrank, and in some places collapsed also.

Most of the congregations consist of immigrants and converts which has led to a re-definition of the ethos of committed Catholicism. As many choose to be Catholic in culture as well as belief, the archdiocese overall in 2059 a lot more fundamentalist that it was 50 years previously. Part of this also has been a disenchantment with the liberal catholicism of their parents, as well as an adoption of "religion of choice" rather than being born into it. This tighter and more closed-in catholicism has resulted in more vocations to the priesthood and some of the new religious orders, particularly when far reaching reforms were made to the local seminary after 2010.

Liturgy changed as well with the launch of new English translation of the Roman Missal in 2010, and other reforms, the most controversial being the withdrawal of the indult allowing Communion in the hand by Pope Gregory XVII in 2025. The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite was also revised in this period so that although it differs very little from the 1962 Missal of St John XXIII, the 2022 edition is the most common one used. It still appears unlikely that there will be a total blending of the two forms of the Roman Rite. However, some communities have abandoned table Altars and the celebration of the Eucharist facing the congregation, and have adopted some usages from each other. There is still some tension between the two forms of the rite particularly coming from the charismatic communities.

The changing structure of the church has resulted in the parish system, as envisaged by Archbishop Duhig in the early part of the 20th century being almost disbanded and replaced by a more flexible missionary structure. Therefore people travel on Sunday to the church community that suits them, largely on the city metro system built between 2030 and 2050, as car travel is now too expensive for most families. The more established communities are led by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, who celebrate according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite in a handful of churches in Brisbane (eg. their parishes at St Brigids Red Hill, and St Marys at South Brisbane and St Lukes at Buranda, as well as their Mass Centres on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts) and the Neo-Catechumenal Way who minister in some of the bible-belt areas of Ipswich and Logan. The Legionaires of Christ and other groups also minister to communities formed out of the old parishes.

The lasting legacy of the old parish system was the local catholic school (formerly called convent schools) which have continued to flourish. However, their links with the church are now only to do with property ownership and administration, as they have ceased their identity as Catholic schools, apart from their unique names which date back to the old parishes. Many of the adjoining churches and convents that they were based around are now demolished or converted into school halls. Catechists visit these schools on an occasional basis and this is a major activity of the priests during the week.


A realistic scenario? I would be interested in comments that anyone might have.

Monday, January 05, 2009

My retreat

The first days of this New Year, I gave to my private retreat. I hope that my consecration of these few days to the Lord will set the tone of this year. Black Madonna, one of the Marian Valley’s retreat houses provided an almost monastic cell for these few days. I enjoyed having a few days where in a quiet and tranquil setting I could pray the hours, spend a large chunk of time conducting lectio divina and most importantly being absorbed in silence.

Daily Mass and even a common recitation of vespers with one of the Pauline Monks was a great addition to my some what light schedule. Surprisingly the Pauline monks retain there somewhat eastern roots by chanting the office tono recto, very similar to my experience of the Byzantine office.

As St Benedict stresses, the unity of prayer and work, was also a feature of my retreat, thanks in large part to an early morning storm, that allowed a good mornings work of clearing branches.

Surprisingly I experience a quasi spiritual conference, with an Anglican priest, which yields unexpected fruit. I even asked for his blessing, regretting that I didn’t receive his first blessing after his ordination.

Marian Valley is a marvelous place to conduct a retreat, I hearty recommend it.

Our Lady of Jasna Gora , Pray for us.

The New Year

Let's begin the year with a hymn

Veni, creátor Spíritus,
mentes tuórum vísita,
imple supérna grátia,
quæ tu creásti péctora.

Qui díceris Paráclitus,
altíssimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, cáritas,
et spiritális únctio.

Tu septifórmis múnere,
dígitus patérnæ déxteræ,
tu rite promíssum Patris,
sermóne ditans gúttura.

Accénde lumen sénsibus,
infúnde amórem córdibus,
infírma nostri córporis
virtúte firmans pérpeti.

Hostem repéllas lóngius
pacémque dones prótinus;
ductóre sic te prǽvio
vitémus omne nóxium.

Per Te sciámus da Patrem
noscámus atque Fílium,
teque utriúsque Spíritum
credámus omni témpore.

Deo Patri sit glória,
et Fílio, qui a mórtuis
surréxit, ac Paráclito,
in sæculórum sǽcula. Amen.

Watch this space....