From a reader:
Fr. Z: Our parish priest often resorts to using “Corpus Christi” from the Novus Ordo rubrics in the distribution of Holy Communion at our extraordinapeory form Traditional Mass— when the deacon is not present and presumably he believes the distribution of Holy Communion takes too long.
For those laymen familiar and unfamiliar with the differing rubrics, we are left to wonder if we’re supposed to say “Amen” or not reply?
A deeper question is whether or not this is allowed in the Traditional Mass, or are the rubrics supposed to be used as called for strictly in the 1962 missal?
I thought there was an instruction some time ago that stated “no mixing of rites” should occur between the two? I’ve been to extraordinary form Masses with the FSSP, Institute of Christ the King, Institute of Good Shepherd, SSPX and other diocesan priests, and no matter the number of those communicating, the priest always used the traditional formula.
Just today, after writing the PCED, I received this response from the PCED to my question: “Priests are not free to change the rubrics or to mix the two forms. Period.”
First, there is an old phrase “gratis asseritur, gratis negatur“. Maybe you received a response from the PCED and may be you didn’t. That must be demonstrated. Send me a scan of the letter. I will “anonymize” it and post it here. If you have it, that is.
It is unlikely that any response from any dicastery of the Holy See would include that “Period.” Just wouldn’t happen. Period.
But assuming that there was such a response – a real response (there have been in the past), there are several issues here. Let’s tease them out.
First, there is the issue of “mutual enrichment” that is supposed to take place between the two forms of Roman Rite, according to the vision of Pope Benedict. Then there is the response that came from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” (PCED) to, I believe, someone in Poland.
Apparently the time isn’t ripe for every kind of “mutual enrichment”. It may be that we need a period of stability of the use of the two forms side by side before a “mutual enrichment” can take place. Also, these things will have to take place gradually and then receive approval along the way… at some point.
I anticipate that some are virtually frothing to jump in with comments that the new Mass “Corpus Christi” during the eternal-Mass-of-all-ages-exactly-the-same-as-it-was-since-even-before-the-Lord-printed-the-books-Himself would be an “impoverishment” of the TLM rather than an “enrichment”.
During distribution of Communion during the Novus Ordo, the priest/deacon… whatever… is to say “Corpus Christi” (“The Body of Christ”) and the communicant responds “Amen.”. Straightforward. Efficient. That says just about all that needs to be said if the communicant is paying attention and is well-catechized, etc.
During distribution of Communion during the Extraordinary Form, the priest/deacon … no whatever… is to say, in Latin of course, “May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.” The communicant says nothing.
Ideally, if we were closer to the angels, we might not have to have any formula for the distribution of Communion. But formulas there are. And that older form surely helped to strengthen the priest’s and people’s understand of what the Lord was doing for them in the face of attacks on the Church’s doctrine and on the Mass during the theological revolts of the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, let’s just say it, the faith of many congregations isn’t exactly exemplary.
Maybe it was a mistake to shorten that formula for distribution? Maybe?
During the priest’s own Communion during the Extraordinary Form he says: “May the Body [Blood] of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep my soul unto life everlasting. Amen.” But in the Ordinary Form this was changed to “keep me… custodiat me“, instead of “custodiat animam meam“. I suspect the cutters and pasters of the Novus Ordo were worried that priest might be dualists if they said “animam meam“. Indeed, I think there was a problem with a dualism, a kind of Jansenism among clergy trained in a certain place or under a certain regime … but I digress.
A simpler explanation is that those who tinkered with the Mass and pasted together the Novus Ordo were themselves tired of saying lots of prayers. They jettisoned the prayers at the foot of the altar not so much because people were clamoring for them to be abolished, or that the “good of the faithful” required their suppression, but in large part because they themselves were tired of saying them and were bored by them. They shortened Mass because they wanted a shorter Mass. The same could apply to shorter offertory prayers and getting rid of the Last Gospel, repetition of readings, additional collects, etc.
I can understand why, if a priest is facing several hundred people for Communion and he is alone, and there is another Mass coming up, he would want to shorted that long form for Holy Communion. Should he? Probably not. The PCED has said “no mixing” in letters/responses on paper to some of the faithful when asked if elements of the new Mass can be used in the old Mass. In most cases of distribution of Holy Communion taking a few more minutes doesn’t threaten the stability of the parish or the health of anyone present. Also, a few more minutes might underscore the fact that Catholics think that the reception of Holy Communion is fairly important in the larger scheme.
That said… if during Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form the priest uses the newer, shorter form, stay calm. Everything will be okay. Just say “Amen.”
Someone has to.