Thursday, 3 July 2008

When offering your gifts at the altar……

Gregor Kollmorgen at the New Liturgical Movement has picked up on a rumour that the Holy Father wants to have studied the feasibility of having the liturgical sacramental formulæ recited in Latin even at a vernacular celebration. Well, it would be an interesting and fruitful development, though I can foresee quite a fight over it. Less controversial is the other subject he would like to see discussed; moving the pax to the offertory. Were this particular change to happen (which I think I would welcome), I would nonetheless prefer to retain the liturgical pax between sacred ministers in its present place.

4 comments:

william said...

I think (though I can't immediately find the reference) that in The Spirit of the Liturgy Cardinal Ratzinger expressed a preference for what is, of course, the default Anglican position for the Pax.

Oddly enough (given that I am an Anglican), I am less than enthusiastic about this. In the Anglican position, the Liturgy of the Word is over, and the Liturgy of the Sacrament is yet to start. As a result, the Pax takes place in a context defined by neither ambo nor altar - in other words, there is at that point in the liturgy no other focus for the eucharistic assembly than themselves. It thus naturally lends itself to an inward-looking, self-congratulatory, all-run-around-and-hug-one-another use of the Pax, which is not only, in practical terms, unseemly, but at variance (as it seems to me) with the proper theological import of the Pax. As I can testify, it is hard for the celebrant to resist the imperative to join in the ??fun?? by going round the church and exchanging the peace with everyone (and if there are fewer than 50 people there, woe betide you if you haven't "done" everyone!)

For that sort of thing to happen in the Communion Rite, with the Blessed Sacrament upon the altar, would be a gross liturgical abuse (which is not to say it doesn't happen!) - it certainly makes it easier to explain to people (a) why one is not oneself abandoning the altar in order to run hither and thither, and (b) the context within which they themselves are exchanging the peace, and the consequent implications for how it is to be exchanged.

Probably it's just British reserve, but I have found my people relieved and gratified to have an unambiguous and clearly explained restraint placed upon the manner in which the Pax is exchanged.

Anonymous said...

William - you just need better control of your poeple! Though I find the sort of free-for-all you describe to be restricted to only a very few congregations, that like that sort of thing!

The fact is, our 'Anglican' position for the Pax is both scriptural and ancient, going back in tradition to the time before the Christians had been expelled from the temple in Jerusalem. They attended the Temple for the Ministry of the Word, then they travelled to a member's home, greeted one another with the kiss of peace, and proceeded to break bread together. It is natural, seemly, biblical, ancient, and in every respect proper. No wonder the Holy Father wishes to take a leaf out of Common Worship...

Pastor in Valle said...

Ouch! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Liturgy of the Word in the Temple?
Prayer, yes, but liturgy of the Word: evidence?

Fr Stelios