Tuesday, 18 February 2014

broken and whole

I do not doubt the validity of the new Mass, I wish to make that clear.  Indeed, I believe, probably unintentionally Bugnini and his friends pulled off a masterstroke.  They "invented" a liturgy that manages to "subsist" entirely within the Catholic Church, be fully orthodox, yet embrace an "enlightenment" mind-set that should be acceptable to any protestant (provided they can come to accept the Real Presence).  It was a great act of ecumenicism, there can probably be none greater or with a greater cost, we have a "protestant friendly" liturgy, they are welcome into the fold and they will find a form of worship there that will not terrify them.  The fact that the enlightenment is bogus is neither here nor there, we will not be judged on our understanding of metaphysics, but we will be judged on our love.

One aspect of the new Mass, does however deeply distrub me and I ask for help if any of my readers can help me out with this.  I have never felt comfortable at the "ecce Agnus Dei" when the priest holds up the broken Host to the congregation, it seems especially unfortunate when a priest decides to just hold up half the Host and doesn't try to conceal its brokenness.  When I have asked priests why this is done, they say it is because scripture says so.

[In the older rite, the sacred host is broken for the comingling (and this makes sense), it is not displayed before everyone in this broken state, at the "ecce Agnus Dei" a complete Host is elevated.]

But does it actually say in scripture that Christ's body is broken for us?  Not if we read John's Gospel (19:36) For these things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of Him.

What about what is written in 1Cor 11:24, the earliest account of the Last Supper?  It depends on the translation you read.  In the Douay it says, This is my body which shall be delivered for you.  This do for the commemoration of me.  There is no mention of the work "broken" there.

Then I find a sermon by Mgr Knox (who is no fan of the Douay and was quite happy to go beyond the Vulgate when reserching scripture).  I read this and I am even more disturbed:

Curiously, no one can tell us with certainty what words Our Lord used when he, the first Chritsian Priest, stood there in the Cenacle offering his own flesh to his disciples. [...]  "This is my body on your behalf" - the phrase was a  mysterious one, and it was natural copyists should try to fill it out and make sense of it, some writing "my body which is being broken for you", and others "my body which is to be given up for you".  But it looks as if Our Lord simply said "my body on your behalf".

No one can deny that He broke the bread.  That is not the issue.  That the bread is broken so that we can each individualy receive in entirity, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Saviour is as it is.  I am simply disturbed that the emphasis in the new rite is on the broken and not on the whole.  And I have been disturbed even before I knew of the existence of the old rite.

When I attend the new rite, often I simply don't look.

Isn't unity everything?


Ttony said...

Dom Gregory Dix, of whom I have become a keen reader since seeing how much Fr Hunwicke draws from him, derives the Last Supper from a Jewish chaburah rather than from the Passover meal. In this context, the breaking of the loaf of bread by the host/president and the passing round of the pieces to be consumed enjoys a communitarian sense of the whole being shared by and in all which I hadn't noticed as absent in the New Mass until I read this.

But the broken host really contradictory of "You shall not break a bone of him" or it wouldn't have happened since long before Pope Gregory codified the TLM, because the conmingling of a particle of the Host in the Chalice goes back to very, very early times indeed.

So that makes me think it must be the sight of the broken host, the display of it, which worries you, and I can honestly say that it is something I have never noticed before (which, obviously, tells you that it hasn't worried me).

If I still smoked, and if I hadn't a house with offspring who demand the noise of TV and radio, this would have been a three piper, as I try to work out not just why this bothers you, but why it hasn't bothered me before; and as I realise that perhaps I ought to have been at least a teeny bit bothered.

I won't mention Barcel ... oops!

Rita said...

Yes it is the public elevation of the broken Host that bothers me... and how misleading that ghastly hymn is "this is my body, broken for you, bringing you wholeness.....'

As for Barcel-oooooonah!....
Listening on the radio, there was a wierd fatalism about the crowd painfully reminiscent of Maine Rd back in the late 1980s... it was never going to be a winner, but it was all "very City"... bless their little blue socks

Ttony said...

I've had a quick look at Bugnini's history of the Reform of the Liturgy and he is characteristically shifty, but it will take a long look to see if it's possible to get to the bottom of what went on (and my guess is that he won't say). The nun he cites, who thought that putting a piece of the Host into the chalice shouldn't be done because it might imply that the Transubstantiation depended on the contact between the bread and the wine doesn't inspire you to think that the first team was on the job.

Rita said...

I was once told about a nun in a very remote region of a very poor country. She was the main source of spiritual guidance for the people as priests rarely got there. She seemed to be of the opinion that if wine wasn't available for Mass, fizzy pop would do.

Nuns eh!

Ttony said...

Curiouser and curiouser. Look what the GIRM says:

"The Fraction
83. The priest breaks the Eucharistic Bread, assisted, if
the case calls for it, by the deacon or a concelebrant. Christ’s
gesture of breaking bread at the
Last Supper, which gave the entire
Eucharistic Action its name in apostolic times, signifies that the many faithful are made one body (1 Cor 10:17) by receiving Communion from the one Bread of Life which is Christ, who died and
rose for the salvation of the world. The Fraction or Breaking of
Bread is begun after the sign of peace and is carried out with proper reverence, though it should
not be unnecessarily prolonged, nor should it be accorded undue
importance. This rite is reserved
to the priest and the deacon. The
priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation, namely,of
the living and glorious Body of Jesus Christ. The supplication Agnus Dei, is as a rule, sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding; or it is, at least, recited aloud. This in vocation accompanies the fraction and for this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite has reached its conclusion, the last time ending with the words dona nobis pacem.


84. The priest prepares himself by
a prayer, said quietly, that he may fruitfully receive Christ’s Body and Blood. The faithful do
the same, praying silently. The
priest next shows the faithful
the Eucharistic Bread, holding
it above the paten or above the chalice, and invites them to the banquet of Christ. Along with
the faithful, he then makes an
act of humility using the prescribed words taken from the

In other words, there is no requirement to elevate the fractured priest's Host at all.

(To be continued)

Rita said...

Thank you.