Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Consistory Questions

Fr Justin makes some justifiable criticisms regarding the Consistory ceremonies.

I do agree with him regarding the Chair of Peter and most especially the consecration of hosts not visible to the principle celebrant.

Looking at this picture, I hadn't realised how undignified the staging is in front of the altar.


Berolinensis said...

Father, I am glad you raised the point of the hosts held by the priests at the sides. I have been wondering about this for quite a while. I am by no means a sacramental theologian, but I do think this is problematic in several ways. There must be some limit regarding distance, and as you say, visibility seems also to be an issue. It is difficult to describe an intention that extends to determined hosts that cannot even be seen. Since this concerns the validity of the consecration, it is not a minor point either. I am sure that this was all thought about before adopting this manner, but I would really like to have it explained to me.
On the other hand, the concelebrating cardinals who don't go up to the altar are even farther away from the hosts on the altar and still they are considered to be consecrating them - also kind of a stretch, no? Then again, in the extraordinary form, at an ordination, the new priests also concelebrate without seeing the host at all. However, at least they know exactly where they are, viz. on the corporal.

Thorny issues.

As you say, that could be avoided. It surely is one of the plagues of our time that everyone thoughtlessly walks up to communion. At big papal outdoor Masses, where you have no control over who is there, whether they are even Catholic etc., I am afraid some sacrileges occur, as was evidenced by that story about someone who tried to sell a Host consecrated by Pope John Paul via ebay. I thinkt it is high time to recognise that, while communion at Mass is highly desirable (if properly disposed - here is a field of urgently needed catechesis), there are times where it is not practical. The huge papal affairs seem to be one of these occassions.

As for the chair: I think the throne we saw at the consistory and thrones like it were never used during Mass. Instead, a simpler but high-back chair, covered in white or red cloth was used.

Here used by Pius XII:

John XXIII: http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff319/kjk76_95/PopeJohnXXIII.jpg?t=1195616331

Paul VI: http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff319/kjk76_95/paulv1.jpg?t=1194983701

I think the Pope could well return to this (perhaps - although not if I am to decide ;-) - with a few less steps and drapery).

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

A useful picture. Until I had a second look at it, I hadn't fully realised that the men were carrying away the chairs during Mass !

That won't do at all.
It's very unliturgical.
And it's very, very distracting to see people moving furniture during the Mass.

This is a strong argument in favour of restoring the staus quo.

The modern decking, or whatever it's called, which was installed as a sort of bridge over the confessio which it partly obscures, is visually a terrible disfigurement.

It should be removed forthwith.

JB said...

I'm so glad this question has been brought up; this is one major problem that I have with Papal Masses; during televised Masses seeing priests and nuns standing in the congregation far away from the altar (not even in the Sanctuary!) holding a ciborium filled with Hosts awaiting the Consecration: I’ve even seen priests/seminarians processing out of St. Peters with the Ciboriums whist the Consecration is actually taking place.

I'm sure I've read somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember where (if only I could!!), that only the Hosts which are present on the corporal are actually Consecrated. If this is not the case then how is it that the Hosts which are not even near the altar during a Papal Mass are consecrated but not the extra Hosts which the priest at my parish removed from the ciborium this morning and placed on the credence table before the offertory? And if distance from the corporal does not affect Consecration, than surely dubious people who require Hosts for nefarious purposes can sit in the pews with a Host and await the Consecration, then leave. I’ve been meaning to ask my priest about this; meanwhile, I hope that someone here can help me out.

Fr Ray Blake said...

The priest consecrates that which he intends to consecrate. Most priests would intend to consecrate that which he had placed on the corporal, or on the mensa of the altar. The Pope obviously intends to consecrate all that is offered for consecration, therefore it is valid.

On the side of the angels said...

asking a hypothetical here :
supposing there's a big cathedral mass and the single celebrant has a heart attack and dies imediately after the consecration - then an altar server notices that inadvertently a ciborium has been left on a side table - did the cleric know ? if there is uncertainty - now this is where I simply don't know but isn't there no problem with re-consecration ? as theologically spatio-temporally all hosts are consecrated at that single moment on calvary there would be no scandal or sacrilege involved as double consecration isn't tenable as it all happens [and always has happened] at a single instant ? Please correct me if I'm in error !

gemoftheocean said...

Here all along, I've assumed that at those large outdoor papal affairs priests, etc. are holding ciboriums filled with hosts that had already been consecrated at a prior Mass. Was I wrong in that assumption? If so, then it's truly a mess that the bread is not all in the same general area. I know that technically the hosts don't all have to be on the corporal (though 99.9% of the time they are) but as a practical matter the priest has them on the altar as a rule of thumb.

AdamZ said...

To be fair, even Marini the Elder recognised that the position of the chair at St Peter's is unsatisfactory. In the last years of JPii the chair was placed in front of the pier of St Longinus (presumably for practical reasons), which was a definite improvement. At least the collects could be recited in the direction of the altar, which is the custom in the old rite if I am not mistaken.

Marini the Elder writes about an earlier experiment:
"The project was to place the papal chair on the left facing the altar, opposite the statue of Saint Peter, and to set the lectern in front of the gates of the Confessio. The project was experimented with for one celebration, then discarded. The solution for the lectern was kept, although with the ambo inside rather than in front of the gates of the Confessio. The problem however persists, both with regard to the requirements of the celebration itself and the theological and pastoral significance of having a fixed location for the Pope’s chair near the statue of Saint Peter the Apostle."


Philip said...

Cheer up! Things are on the up and up!!

Michael Clifton said...

It may be of interest to note that the priests imprisoned at Dachau concentration camp were allowed to build a large hut chapel (there were several hundred priests there in their own wing) and initially they started (somewhat illegally ?) concelebrating doing exactly as you described. ie each one holding a host. After a week or so The Cardinal of Munich got to hear of this and had concelebrations stopped and only one Mass was said each day for all the priests who then simply communicated. Of course they werelucky to have this priviledge which was due to Cardinal Von Galen whom the Nazis seemed to be afraid of.