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.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Christmas Prefaces

First, the ordinary tone, which to my mind definitely needed some adjustment:

And I thought I'd have a go at setting it to the tonus sollemnior (Ben having reminded me in the last post). It actually seems to work rather better than I thought it might, though the proof of the Christmas pudding will be in the eating.
If these are any use to you, I dare say you could easily print them off. I wrote them on A4 paper, so if you're using American Letter, you might need to scale down a little.
The resolution could be higher, and I could replace these with a clearer version if anyone thinks it a good idea.

Saturday 17 December 2011


On the whole I am pretty happy with the new translation. One thing, though, that I find particularly irritating is that the prefaces have not been set well to music. My spies tell me that the musicians had almost no time to reset the prefaces once Mgr Moroney had stopped tinkering, so did a rush job.
No doubt many celebrants have experienced the same thing. Particularly awkward is the fact that the musicians don't seem to have noticed that prefaces fall into three 'paragraphs' which need separate musical treatment. Some of the settings remind me of priests who can't read music, and have a go at vaguely fitting the tune to the words without preparing it first (we've all encountered those priests).

The preface for Advent I wasn't very good, nor others I've looked at, so I thought that I'd have a go myself. Here's the one for this weekend, Advent II: actually the one in the missal is very nearly okay, and I've agreed with it almost everywhere. But it was good for me to get the practice. And I prefer square notes for this sort of thing.

Friday 16 December 2011

Services of Reconciliation

Yesterday I held two 'reconciliation services' in the parish; one in the morning at our smaller centre, where some twenty (more senior) people came and another in the evening in the main church. I had asked two other priests to help, and they kindly came. The participants? Ten. From a Sunday Mass attendance of between 250 and 350.
I have read so often that the reason people do not come to confession is that the priests are failing in their duty to preach about it, or make opportunities. In this parish, I offer an hour and a half every week (distributed through the three churches) (when I sit alone saying my breviary), and a conveniently timed 'reconciliation service' during Advent and Lent. And I do preach about it. Occasionally very directly.
In the past, I have been told that it is 'forbidden' to hear confessions during Mass. I know that this advice is false.
I should add that the times are calculated to be easy and available, and that the opportunity in the main church coincides with the hour's exposition of the Blessed Sacrament that happens daily.
I know excellent priests who hear confessions before every Mass; these tend to be city-centre parishes, and this would simply not work here.
So, I would be interested to know whether anyone has tried the experiment of having visiting priests hearing confessions during Sunday Mass a couple of times a year.
Or, frankly, I would be grateful for any advice at all.
I am very depressed about this. My parishioners clearly think that they are saints. Some may be, but most, I suspect, are no more saintly than I am. Well, perhaps a little bit more.


I have been receiving emails encouraging me to engage in some sort of competition. The prize, apparently, is to see some arctic monkeys. I do enjoy those David Attenborough programmes, and have seen polar bears (not nearly as cuddly as one might suppose), though never arctic monkeys.

Someone suggested that it might be the name of some pop group. Sounds very unlikely to me, though of course the Beetles are named after insects. What's become of them? I haven't heard them for some time.
But now I have a worry: if I enter this competition, I might stand some remote chance of winning. And if I won, perhaps they would make me go to the performance. I don't think I should like that. Flower power was never my thing.

Monday 12 December 2011


I had an enquiry this morning from one of my ecumenical opposite numbers about the song A Partridge in a Pear Tree. She had heard that this was a sort of catechetical song of the Catholic Underground during penal times. This is an explanation that I have heard, too, but I have to say that I don't find it remotely convincing. The only thing that it might teach is a child to count backwards from ten; what one might want a child to learn is not that there are seven sacraments so much as what those sacraments are—children would learn that there are seven anyway.
Several of these sorts of crypto-Catholic practices were described in Fr Mark Elvins' book Old Catholic England, and I hesitate to say that I think that lots of these connections are simply fantasy, romantic invention, but, having hesitated [……], there, I'm afraid that I do think that they are just that.
I'd be interested to hear if anyone knows any more about it: I'd be very pleased if any sort of real connection were made between these things and the recusant period.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Extraordinary Form Train and a very Ordinary Form church

While outside the church today, waiting to hear our 8-year-olds first Confessions, I was pleased to hear a chuffing in the distance from the railway line that runs past St Peter's. It's 34067 Tangmere, on the way to Bath.

Saturday 3 December 2011

What if?

…and I write as a financial dunce (please don't rub it in)…

 Catholics, Christians, were to put their money into those British Islamic banks that don't do usury? Or even have our own, similar, institutions?

In the end, has the ancient prohibition of usury been shown to have more behind it than might have appeared, say, ten years ago?

Friday 2 December 2011


Irony, do you think?