Saturday, December 17, 2005

Liturgy Bites

Now that the last post got me on a liturgical kick, I will continue....

In the Christmas ritual combox, RightJack -- a great man if ever there was one -- says:
Can't say that I warm to all of this as much as you do, Rock, beginning with the fact that there is no "post-communion meditation hymn" in the Roman rite.
And, in theory, he's absolutely right. Never said he wasn't.

By mentioning such a thing as the meditation hymn, I wasn't saying it was approved practice -- it's just what happens in the trenches, more often than you'd think, particularly on festive occasions.

The Missale Romanum (third edition) stipulates that the communion hymn is to begin immediately as the celebrant receives the Host. Once the distribution of the Eucharist is completed, there is to be a "moment of religious silence" in advance of the closing prayer.

However, with great frequency, an additional hymn is thrown in and the "moment of religious silence" lasts, on par, for about eight seconds. For example, on Holy Thursday at the Evening Mass, it's almost universal in this neck of the woods for "In Remembrance" to be sung after the vessels are cleansed and the tabernacle is closed. At the morning Chrism Mass -- and yes, we still do it on Holy Thursday morning here -- the Archbishop of Philadelphia returns to The Throne as the choir and congregation sing the stellar Te Deum arrangement, "God We Praise You." At Francis George's installation as archbishop of Chicago in May, 1997, Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" was performed as a post-communion hymn and -- most memorably -- Edward Egan wound down his installation in New York in June of 2000 to the "Alleluia" from Mozart's Exultate, Jubilate, performed by Renee Fleming of the Metropolitan Opera.

(As Fleming sang, Egan, seated at his new perch, looked like an eight year-old who had just been given a long-coveted toy. And, as the soprano broke with operatic practice and sang into a microphone -- which, particularly given the magnitude of her voice, she doesn't need -- one bishop present told me afterward, "I almost had to put my fingers in my ears, it was so loud." But the new archbishop of New York asked for it, loved it and that's what matters.)

The other day on Zenit, someone asked a question about the following formulation in the Eucharistic Prayers at Funeral Masses of priests:
"Remember N., whom you have called from this life. In baptism and holy orders he died with Christ; may he also share his resurrection."
The addition of "and holy orders" is utter hogwash; how many long-suffering spouses would be worthy of "in baptism and marriage s/he died with Christ"? But that'd never be allowed, ever -- ergo, it's more clericalist self-promotion and conservative liturgical abuse (another great example of which is found in an oft-changed word from Eucharistic Prayer II: "In memory of his death and resurrection, we offer you, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup. We thank you for counting us worthy to kneel [as opposed to the approved "stand"] in your presence and serve you..." The natural response to a celebrant who distorts like so is, "Get over yourself." It's always a dead giveaway.)

Regrettably, I'm told that the "in baptism and holy orders" variation was used at the funeral of Msgr. Fred McManus some weeks back. Given Fred's concept of church and his life spent in service of the liturgy, this distortion of a text which was written as it was for a reason at his own Mass of Christian Burial is a travesty, almost a scandal.

Then again, there are a lot of liturgical scandals going on these days. And they pale in comparison to the strawmen of glass vessels and dancing.