Friday, July 19, 2013

A Report of the FOTA VI Conference in Cork, Ireland (Conclusion)

Mr. William A. Thomas' report on the FOTA VI Conference concludes with summaries of the talks given by Professors Manfred Hauk, Robert L. Fastiggi, and Fr. Sven Conrad F.S.S.P. Our thanks once again to Mr. Thomas for his diligent reporting.
Professor Fr. Manfred Hauke of the Theological Faculty of Lugano presented a paper entitled “The Dogmatic Discussion on Concelebration from Sacrosanctum Concilium to the Present.” “The Constitution … enlarged the possibility of Eucharistic concelebration that was (thitherto) restricted to newly ordained priests at their ordination and to the consecration of bishops … the starting point of this enlargement was the difficult experience with numerous Masses celebrated individually at international congresses and in great monasteries, but also the unity of Eucharistic celebrations in the ancient Church. Before the Council, Pope Pius XII clarified (in 1954 and 1956) that a priest celebrating or concelebrating the Holy Mass is operating in the person of Christ, which does not occur when he only assists at the Eucharist. For a valid sacramental consecration, the priest must pronounce the words of our Lord (so also the Holy Office, 1957). … Systematical reflection on concelebration begins only in the Middle Ages and is focused on the possibility of such an act, affirmed by the authority of Pope Benedict XIV.”

During the Council and its preparation, practical aspects dominated the discussion. Before the beginning of Vatican II, the Congregation of Rites observed that “a new and careful historical and dogmatic investigation on the origin, the nature and the extension of the strictly sacramental concelebration would be necessary”. This problem is very serious because the enlarged practice would be “a notable change in the liturgical discipline of the Latin Church”. The Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Larraona, asked two declarations from the Holy Office: 1) about the value of the concelebrated Mass: if one Mass concelebrated by ten priests really has the same value as ten Masses celebrated by ten priests; 2) about the legitimacy of the idea that every concelebrant can receive an offering. These declarations never arrived.

The Professor continued “The final text of the Council on concelebration in SC 57f states that concelebration “remained in use to this day in the Church both in the east and in the west,” an historical affirmation which requires a distinction. The enlargement of concelebration is intended for very special occasions (such as Holy Thursday and conferences) and must be regulated by the Ordinary, who can permit it for other cases in monasteries and in the parishes. Each priest retains his right to celebrate Mass individually (though not at the same time in the same church as a concelebrated Mass nor on Holy Thursday). The preference for communal celebration expressed in SC 27 must be taken together with the note of the Conciliar Commission, that every Mass has in and of itself a public and social nature. This is true also if there cannot be present a number of the faithful (PO 13). PO 7 recommends concelebration “at times” together with the bishop. Vatican II did not resolve the debated question of stipends for concelebrated Masses nor did it go into depth on the topic of the sacramental fruits of concelebration compared with Eucharistic Sacrifices offered up individually.

The “Ritus servandus” of 1965 provided that the number of concelebrants normally should not be over 50. The decree Ecclesiae semper of the Congregation of Rites in the same year mentions that in concelebration the priests operate together “one sacrifice in one sacramental action”, referring to the explanation of St. Thomas Aquinas, abandoning the precedent observation (during the preparation of Vatican II) that the concelebrating priests operate various sacrificial acts in the person of Christ. Concelebration manifests the unity of the priesthood, the sacrifice and the whole people of God. Benedict XVI poses critical questions on the validity of large-scale concelebrations (Sacramentum caritatis, 61; talk of February 7, 2008).

After the Council, various dogmatic problems were discussed: the possibility for a sacramental concelebration without pronouncing the words of Christ at the Last Supper, the significance of the extension of the hands in concelebration (indicative or epiclesis) and the validity of large-scale concelebrations, when the distance from the altar is very great. He went on to describe various positions taken by Karl Rahner and Gisbert Greshake, by the Thomists Joseph de Sainte-Marie and Rudolf Michael Schmitz, and by Paul Tirot and Philippe Gouyaud.

Robert L. Fastiggi, Professor of Systematic Theology at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, gave the following paper entitled “The Mass as the Sacrifice of Christ and the Church according to Sacrosanctum Concilium.” This paper examines how the constitution reaffirms the traditional Catholic dogma of the Mass as an unbloody re-presentation of Christ’s bloody sacrifice at Calvary, in response both to those who claim Vatican II de-emphasized the Mass as sacrifice, and those Catholic theologians who have tried to obscure the sacrificial character of the Mass. “The emphasis of Sacrosanctum Concilium on the ‘Paschal Mystery’ is demonstrated to be intrinsically linked to the sacrificial character of the Eucharistic liturgy, and furthermore, (the) recognition (in paragraph 48) of the participation of the faithful in the offering of Christ’s sacrifice at the Mass is shown to be a teaching previously expressed by both Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII.” As he concluded his paper Fastiggi continued “this participation though, must be properly understood as rooted in the Church as the ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ as taught by Pope Pius XII, and that this participation in the sacrificial offering is a privileged form of active participation,” he said.

The final paper of the Conference was given by Father Sven Leo Conrad of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, entitled “Liturgical Act or Liturgical Celebration? Some Considerations in the Light of Sacrosanctum Concilium and Presbyterorum Ordinis.” Fr. Conrad began by citing a report on an Extraordinary Form Mass celebrated at the German Katholikentag of 2012, characterizing it thus: “The priest stands with his back to the people. The chants and the texts are in Latin. This is not a common celebration of the faithful. It is the Sacrifice of the Mass at which the faithful assist.” Prejudices and misunderstandings towards the Gregorian Mass are today often founded on this idea, that this liturgy is not concerned with common celebration, and the faithful are excluded from the essential action. In order to adequately respond to this we must first clarify the concept of liturgical celebration.

“What the Liturgical Movement strived to do by reaching back to the celebratory character of the Sacred Liturgy was to surmount both rubricism and legalism. We could say that de facto what was sought was a return to the ‘pristina norma Patrum’. The more recent Magisterium in the 20th century has systematically appropriated this concept. Already Pius X in Tra le sollecitudini speaks of the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries. The term then often surfaces in the encyclical of Pius XII Mediator Dei, as also in the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium. Although the Magisterium with Pius XII had overcome a one-sided external view of the liturgy, there were still pushes in this direction, he said, Continuing he said that “ these initiatives were lastly aimed at preventing a theological qualification of the Sacred Liturgy … seen only as an external aid to the workings of Grace and in no way as a salutary activity in itself. Josef Pieper has made an important contribution to the fundamental understanding of the relationship between worship and celebration. What is decisive for him is the realization that every true feast is finally based on an “affirmation of the world” which must result in the recognition and praise of the Creator. Precisely the Sacrifice of Christ, and thus the centre of Christian worship, takes place “in the middle of Creation, which finds in this Sacrifice of the God-Man its' highest affirmation and fulfilment.”

The full text of all these talks will be published in book format.

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