Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Is it a liturgical abuse? What should I do...

I received a question from a reader, L, about some liturgical abuses she witnessed at a Mass in Brisbane.

Should we tolerate liturgical abuses?

Now I have to admit I've become rather resigned to liturgical abuses - it is a rare mass indeed I encounter these days, novus ordo or otherwise, that does not involve a failure to follow the rubrics in matters greater or smaller.  Nonetheless, the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004) does say:

"...it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms."  

To be honest, that is pretty much a joke in this country as far as I'm concerned, and complaining about it privately to priests and bishops, in my experience, is rarely a fruitful experience, and the prospect of Rome acting seems pretty remote. Though I'd have to say that blogging about it has sometimes proved effective..

On the whole though, I have to admit that I try and shut my eyes to them and pray, and find another Church to go to when I can't stand a particular set of abuses any more!

Nonetheless, it has to be said that Redemptionis Sacramentum does in fact impose a serious duty on all of us to do what we can to correct such matters:

"In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism."

Accordingly, I thought it might be timely to look, once again, at some of the liturgical abuses one regularly encounters.

So I'm compiling a list, for which I'd welcome your contributions!  My list has, at the moment three categories: serious liturgical abuses that warrant a complaint to the bishop; other abuses which should be corrected if possible; things that aren't technically abuses but should be avoided because they offend good liturgical sensibilities!

I'm not an expert on these matters, so I'll just cite the relevant documents, but feel free to jump in if you think I have it wrong.

Let me start off today though, with the ones raised by my correspondent.

1.  The (lay) Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion poured poured all the remains from three chalices of the Precious Blood into one vessel and consumed it.

 OK so a few issues in that one!

First, pouring the Precious Blood between chalices is strictly forbidden at any time:

"However, the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery." (RS 106)

The instruction states that this is a grave matter, so worth pursuing.

Secondly, who should consume the remaining Precious Blood?  RS says:

"Furthermore all will remember that once the distribution of Holy Communion during the celebration of Mass has been completed, the prescriptions of the Roman Missal are to be observed, and in particular, whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ must be entirely and immediately consumed by the Priest or by another minister, according to the norms..."

The question, does 'another minister' include an Extraordinary Minister?  Well no.

The General Instructions on the Roman Missal for Australia (2007) clearly state that the priest must undertake this duty:

"163. When the distribution of Communion is finished, the priest himself immediately and completely consumes at the altar any consecrated Wine that happens to remain..."

The only exceptions seems to be if there is another priest or deacon present at the altar: minister really does mean minister.

This is in the category of abuses that should be 'carefully avoided and corrected'.  I'd note though that is pretty well universal wherever communion is offered under both kinds...

2. The Extraordinary Minister, AFTER the consecration, walked to the separate room where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, and brought the covered chalice full of hosts to be divided amongst the other servers. Should they not have already been on the altar for the Consecration?

On this one I would give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that hosts brought out had been consecrated at a previous Mass (and thus were valid).  It is a fairly common practice (including at traditional Masses). 

It is, however, disgraceful that the faithful should have to worry about whether they have actually received the Eucharist.  Moreover it is easily preventable.  First, why not consecrate enough hosts at the Mass concerned, and only use those reserved if there prove to be insufficient?  The Instruction actually says:

89. “So that even by means of the signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the Sacrifice being celebrated”, it is preferable that the faithful be able to receive hosts consecrated in the same Mass.

Secondly, those churches that have hidden away the tabernacle in rooms invisible to the faithful need to be revamped!  RS actually says:
"[130.] “According to the structure of each church building and in accordance with legitimate local customs, the Most Holy Sacrament is to be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is noble, prominent, readily visible, and adorned in a dignified manner”..."
Redemptionis Sacramentum states that:
"Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity."
More anon...
In the next part of this mini-series I'll cover some common abuses and poor liturgical practices.  Feel free to contribute to the list...


Sharon said...

A few weeks ago I attended a baptism in a church which had been wreckovated.Sister Pastoral Associate shouted greetings to all and sundry as they entered the church for Mass. One wall had been removed to allow natural light and distractions to flood in. The stations of the cross had been removed from the body of the church and crammed into the sanctuary. The altar had been moved to the centre of the church giving most of the congregation a side on view of the Mass and a full view of each other. A landscape of mountains and sky was behind the altar.My son assured me that the cross near the altar had a tiny picture of a cross with a corpus on it, I couldn't make it out myself. Most of the seats had no kneelers. No one bowed to the altar or genuflected to the Blessed Sacrament - in the tabernacle where the altar used to be - and school-age children wandered all over the place all of the time. The low hum of talking did not cease. Father omitted the creed. The impression of the church was that it was a hall which accepted donations for a jumble sale; there were bits and pieces of what must have been a Catholic church mixed in with the plastic chairs and mountain scene painting.There was no sense that the world had been left behind when we entered this building. I had no feeling that this was a holy place, God's house where the unbloody representation of the sacrifice of calvary was going to take place. I would guess that most of the people in the building, with the exception of the PP and Pastoral Associate, had no idea that anything was wrong. A relative asked me after the mess/Mass "what did you think of the Mass?" All I could honestly say was that it was "interesting." It was not the time or the place for a catechetics lesson on the Sacrifice of the Mass.

NickD said...

I don't know if you have a different situation than here in the United States, but an instituted acolyte (often a seminarian) is allowed to purify vessels after Communion. However, a lay person (i.e. an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) is not allowed to do this.