Saturday, 31 December 2011

To elevate or not to elevate

Not that long ago I was upbraided for my unrubrical celebration of the Mass. I was somewhat stung, as I thought that I do take a lot of care do say the black and do the red, as Fr Z would put it. My particular offence was that
1) I elevated the Host and Chalice high after each consecration, and
2) not high enough for the 'Per Ipsum'.
It was pointed out to me that the rubric directs, after the Consecration that the priest
Hostiam consecratam ostendit populo
and, after the chalice:
Calicem ostendit populo.
The priest is to show the Host and Chalice to the people, and no more. This is underlined by the instruction that at the Per Ipsum, the priest is actually to elevate the Host (on the paten) and Chalice:

Accipit patenam cum hostia et calicem, et utrumque elevans, dicit: Per ipsum…
Therefore, I was instructed, I should lift chalice and paten high for the Per Ipsum, and merely present (as it were) the Host and Chalice after the consecration.

I took the point that this was indeed what the text said, but mutinously continued to maintain my practice, only with an uneasy conscience, on the grounds that

a) my practice was sanctioned by tradition,
b) I thought the other looked silly and (I'm afraid)
c) I wanted to.

I thought to mention this on a post that Fr Z put up yesterday, and then went to check some facts. Interestingly, I discovered that the Extraordinary Form also directs that the priest after each Consecration:
ostendit populo [Hostiam & Calicem]
and, at the Per Ipsum,
elevans parum Calicem cum Hostia, dicit 'omnis honor et gloria'.

Now it is very clear from a hundred liturgical commentaries that the 'showing' at the Consecration is a lifting up high, while the elevation at the Per Ipsum is parum, a little.

Here the Sarum use may be of help, being more explicit. The Celebrant is directed to
elevet [hostiam] super frontem ut possit a populo videri
(let him raise the Host over his forehead that it might be seen by the people)
elevet calicem usque ad pectus vel ultra caput.
(let him raise the Chalice to his chest or over his head)

In using the same expressions in the same places, Mgr Bugnini was clearly intending that the rubric be interpreted exactly as it always has been interpreted otherwise he would have made a change (as he did in requiring that the paten be involved in the Per Ipsum). And therefore, I contend, it is those who do not lift the Host high after the Consecrations who are being unrubrical.

There is, by way of interest, another useful connection that can be made. I do not think that this has any ancient witness to it (unless some of you know different), but surely there is an interesting parallel between the elevation and the crucifixion:

John 3:14—
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

John 8:28 —When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he,

John 12:32—And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (ESV)

At least catechetically, then, there is an important connection to make in people's minds here.


Joshua said...

You can take this further:

1. The rubrics assume that the priest is facing the same direction as the people (else they would not specify that he face the people, i.e. turn round to them if necessary, at certain points);

2. Hence, the only way to show the Host and Chalice to the people immediately after they are consecrated, there being no direction to do so facing them, is to lift them above the head so they can be seen;

3. Furthermore, there is no instruction to show the people the Host and Chalice at the doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer - so it must be presumed that this is a lesser lifting up, to chest height and no more.

motuproprio said...

If you are using the Benedictine altar arrangement with a substantial altar cross you will have to elevate the consecrated elements quite high in order to 'show' them to the congregation.

GOR said...

Well Father certainly in the usus antiquior the celebrant did raise the host and chalice above his head at the Consecration, in order to be seen by the people. However at the ‘Little Elevation’ he raised the host and chalice just barely above the corporal (4” per Fortescue) and there was no showing of them to the people. I suspect, as Joshua noted, that this has nothing to do with ‘showing them’ to the people. He just happens to be facing the people while doing so in the Novus Ordo.

However our local pastor does make a show of showing the Sacred Species to the people at the per ipsum - raising them as high as he can reach (he is small of stature…). However only the Precious Blood is visible, as he raises the paten with the host on it.

And why is the Precious Blood visible, you ask? Because Father uses a glass receptacle, which Archdruid Eileen would probably term a ‘beaker’ and which we called a quartino in Rome many years ago. From which you may conclude that saying the black and doing the red is not strictly adhered to in our parish, alas.

Joshua said...

As Bp Elliott points out in his handy guide to the ceremonies of the modern Mass, it is foolish to confuse the three showings of the Sacrament - at:

1. the Elevations of Host and Chalice after their consecration, which are intended for us to adore and worship Christ truly present in His Sacrament (hence the genuflection in adoration afterward);

2. the joint elevation of Host-on-paten and Chalice at the Per ipsum, which is a solemn offering of the Divine Victim to the Father, as we confess that all glory and honour is paid through, with and in Him to the Father in the Spirit (and in this the Sacrifice of the Mass is reaffirmed); and

3. the ostension of the Blessed Sacrament (the priest facing the people and holding the Host slightly raised above either paten or chalice) at the Ecce Agnus Dei, our invitation to receive the Lamb Who takes all sins away, to Whose summons through His priest we make humble yet confident reply.

The distinct forms in which each of these showings takes place, and the words accompanying the second and third, signifies their respective purposes.

It is much to be regretted that too many priests sloppily mix up the distinct forms of these three showings of the Sacrament, when really to anyone of normal intellect their performance ought be self-evident. For example, priests will transpose the forms appointed for the elevation at the doxology with that at the "Behold the Lamb of God" (holding Host over Chalice, when that is not prescribed; it is presumably a misremembering of the crossings with Host over Chalice in the E.F.); or they will hold Host over paten at the elevation after the consecration, which is the first alternative form for showing the Sacrament before Communion! Honestly, given how clear and simple the rubrics for O.F. Mass are, you'd think priests must be stupid or contrary given the antics of some of them. (But enough of my complaints.)

Rubricarius said...

An excellent book on the history of the various elevations in Eastern and Western Liturgies is T.W. Drury's 'Elevation in the Eucharist: Its history and rationale'. This is now available in facsimile form from Kessinger Publishing.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that there is anything wrong with what you are doing, Father. As a fellow priest, I encourage you to continue with this practice, sanctioned by the Church's venerable Tradition. I, personally, do the same.

Also, with the new edition of the Roman Missal, the priest can now (thankfully) hold the Host over the Chalice at the Per Ipsum (as is done in the Traditional Mass), instead of having to hold the Paten and the Chalice in separate hands.

Some "liturgists" also claim that one cannot do anything that is not specifically in the rubrics, so if the rubrics don't specifically say RAISE, the priest cannot raise them. I think this is an erroneous interpretation, however, of liturgical rubrics. The rubrics assume a particular liturgical context, and that context is liturgical Tradition. So maintaining a traditional practice is not (in my opinion) being unfaithful to the new rubrics -- unless the new rubrics specifically say otherwise.

Granted, this is my opinion, but I think that I am not alone in professing it.

God bless you and your ministry, Father.