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I’ve noticed some of the priests on EWTN adopting Tridentine postures as well. Its not 100% (one priest may keep the thumb-finger together for a Mass on Monday, but will not on Wednesday). However, you can clearly see the revolution is happening.
It is genuinely refreshing to see; Fr. Theodore Book, Director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, has been noted for his traditional postures at all times, particularly his unfailing clasp of the thumb and forefinger until his hands are purified.
A quick question, are these postures acceptable in the novus ordo? I was under the impression that because it is not in the rubrics it should not be done. Aren’t many of the ABUSES we are all familiar with in the liturgy a result of priests going beyond the rubrics? I don’t want to seem like I don’t appreciate this gesture, because I do, and I love seeing priests do it, and I believe much like the priest who wrote the entry does that it is a constant reminder of the gravity of what is being celebrated. However, if we are to demand a “Say the black do the red” rule, shouldn’t liturgical practice be in accord with that? If we allow this extension beyond rubrics what is stopping more “progressive” celebrants from citing this as a backing for their personal going beyond the rubrics of the mass?
C: I have to agree with you. You raise some very good questions. Kudos!
The thing about the Novus Ordo is that it gives almost no direction to priests on matters such as how or where his hands are to be help. For example, the rubrics say nothing about where a priest is to place his right hand when his left is employed and vice versa or what to do with his thumbs and forefingers after the consecration (in the Gregorian Rite all these minute details are specified). Failing to have direction, it can’t be wrong, according to a strict reading of the rubrics, to do them one way or the other. One might say, though, that applying a hermeneutic of continuity would lead us to interpret that the old rule would still stand, being not contradicted in the new rubrics. There really is no such thing as “going beyond” the rubrics. What is it that you really mean by this? With regards to rubrics you can really only follow them or violate them. If the rubrics do not address a matter I don’t see how you can be in violation of them. Where there is no rubric we are left to the celebrant’s discretion according to taste and custom, both of which seem to me to call for the old practice’s conservation. This is the case regarding the celebrant’s thumbs and forefingers following the consecrations. It absolutely does not violate any rubric to preserve the more ancient practice.
“Failing to have direction, it can’t be wrong, according to a strict reading of the rubrics, to do them one way or the other.”
I ask, would it be ok then for a priest post consecration to start making shadow puppets with his hands? I mean where does it end, it is NOT contained in the rubrics, so is it truly not wrong to do one thing or another? Is it ok to do whatever we please so long as it doesn’t contradict the new rubrics? I mean the rubrics say nothing contradicting shadow puppets! Do the rubrics exist to prohibit the actions of the priest, or to tell him what he ought to do? I understand your point about the “hermeneutic of continuity” however are we to assume that where there are no rubrics for something we immediately default to the rubrics that were present for it in the Extraordinary form missal, and if so, doesn’t this very closely borderline the mixing of rites or forms which is frowned upon even by our Holy Father. I’m just saying that if this is allowed so many other things will creep their way in too, not all of which will be so positive in liturgical practice.
Hmm, this would seem like a valid objection, and I hold it is, if we identify the meaning behind say the black and do the red as simply an adherence to the rubrics, yet I am not quite convinced that is a valid objection. Why?…. Well, isn’t the reason for the slogan “STBDTR” to pay obedience to the Church, which ultimately is a belief in Christ Himself.
Abuses come from a rejection of Christ, an elevation of self to not desire to serve Christ but man. This human tendency to rebel has been a constant battle in the Church for centuries.
So is paying reverence to the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by using Catholic expressions of His Presence an abuse?
The MC’s in my Church are told not to kneel at the Consecration, since the parish coordinator doesn’t like it. (an abuse) I obey her yet of course I am conflicted, what is the point of the abuse, to pay heed to Christ or to express another belief.
I agree that more “Progressive” celebrants can reverse the arguement, but only if they use a deconstructive point of view, instead of putting Christ first.
If I am wrong feel free to correct me and I will be happy to listen and discuss.
I find the “petite gestures” of some priests to be affectations; that is, little more than “look at me, I’m doing it right” ritualism. Of course, “doing it right” is vital but drawing attention to doing to it right distracts from what’s really happening in the Mass. Many times I have listened to lay folks complain rather bitterly that Father didn’t hold his fingers right when he blessed the congregation, or that he failed to nod his head at the correct moment. The turning of liturgical gesture into magical fetish is not an inevitable consequence of simply following the rubrics…but we do seem to slide rather quickly into liturgical scrupulosity when we pay inordinate attention to ritual requirements. Please hear me: I am NOT advocating ritual chaos here…only that our focus needs to be on Christ made present in the sacrament rather than on whether or not Father puts his thumb and forefinger together after the consecration. To me, to do otherwise is a supremely missed opportunity. Fr. Philip, OP
Fr. Philip of course underscores the most important point. But as regards the question raised above, making shadow puppets is not part of the tradition; holding the thumb and index finger together out of reverence for our Lord’s Body and Blood is. So I don’t think the comparison is tenable. When an absence of a rubric exists in such a case, it seems to be a matter for the priest celebrant to individually determine as best affords the decorum and reverence requisite of the situation, in keeping with appropriate custom, and of course in such a manner as to avoid drawing unnecessary attention away from the Mystery itself. The gesture serves the Mystery.
What if the gestures express the focus on the Presence of Christ in the Sacrament and not merely a desire to put attention to oneself. I am sure there are people who seek attention and just have a desire to put too much importance on “completing steps” rather than expressing the faith.
Father, shouldn’t we have both a belief and expression of belief complementing each other?
I agree that our focus should not be on the whether or not Father does this or that, except we have been almost conditioned to do so by the liturgical chaos of the last few decades that many of us do pay almost too much attention as we sincerely desire to attend licit, respectful Masses. I pains me to see the almost implicit denial of Christ in some of the actions I see at different Masses.
I have to agree with C. On such matters I feel that genuine reform is weakened when rubrics from the Tridentine Mass are transposed onto the novus ordo — we can’t have it both ways. All of us would be the first highlight a liberal priest taking liberties with gestures that are not prescribed. Many will say that such gestures are ways of improving the novus ordo. That arrogant approach sets the individual priest as the one who thinks he knows better than the mind of the Church. This is where “traditionalists” are sometimes the exact same as “liberals” except in nicer vestments…
You must remember that the Council Fathers, and those who worked on the rubrics of the Missal of 1970, were all ordained in the traditional form, and it was this Mass that they said EVERY DAY.
So where the rubrics were simplified in their directive character, to those (perhaps innocently, we see with hindsight) who wrote them, the gaps were to be informed by custom.
We see clearly where certain this were expressly to be omitted, the rubric makes this clear, such as the rubric “nihil dicens’ for certain blessings and actions, clearly requiring that the former prayers or actions are omitted. Even those of us who are quite young, remember older priest who continued with the traditional gestures when the learnt the new Mass. Are we to say they were in some way wrong? Most clearly not.
It is a true interpretation of the will of the Fathers, within the hermeneutic of continuity, that these pious observances are restored, even if the continuity has been somewhat halting.
Again, we are not the supreme legislators. It is not up to us to say “this is what they intended…” and therefore we should continue with such rubrics in the novus ordo. To do so is a form of ABUSE whether we like to hear that or not.
I have recently recommenced holding the forefinger and thumb together after the consecration and before and purifying the fingers when purifying the vessels. I sometimes say mass in a parish where the extraordinary ministers expect to purify whilst Father sits down, following this procedure politely lats them know politely that they are not expected to do so for me.
Please inform the group where you found this rubric in the GIRM for the novus ordo.
How do we discriminate between other practices that we just with to introduce? What is the criteria that is used when introducing a rubric that is not specified?
I thought this blog was all about “say the black, do the red”.
Dear C, Dear Kells, Reverend Fathers,
In the rubrics for the newer form of mass, does it say that the priest shall disjoin his fingers?
isn’t this all kind of moot, considering the hordes of EMHC and “in the hand” communicants?
I’m a gung-ho “Say the Black, Do the Red” kinda priest. If the rubrics say to hold the thumb and forefinger together…that’s what I do. However, the rubrics, as we all know, are pretty thin in the OF. I don’t celebrate the EF (yet) or the OP Rite (yet), so who knows what petite habits I will develop! :-)
Fr. Z., any personal interest in learning the OP Rite? That assumes, of course, they you don’t already know how to do so.
Fr. Philip, OP
“isn’t this all kind of moot, considering the hordes of EMHC and “in the hand” communicants?”
Maybe you could look at it that way, but if I were to exaggerate the case, isn’t if moot to abstain from the Eucharist while not in a state of Grace if nobody else does?
Just because others may not have reverence for the Eucharist(I should point out that EMHCs and in the hand are legit, so it isn’t any major slight), doesn’t mean we get a get-out-of-jail-free card.
While there is certainly room for healthy discussion on this topic, there are a few logical fallacies being bandied about in several of the above posts.
The “shadow puppet” comment above is one such comment. Yes, it does not say to NOT make such motions, so it would seem logical to assume that such a thing COULD be done if we want to claim that the thumb-and-forefinger motion can be done without specific mention. However…the Mass is informed by tradition as well, and there certainly IS a tradition guiding the latter action, while the “shadow puppet” idea has no such precedent (outside of Orange County CA at least…). There is, even in liturgical interpretation, a considerable difference between saying to NOT do something, and NOT SAYING to do something. Since the NO was developed (at least in theory?) from the older missal, those things for which there is no mention would be guided by tradition, or at the very least pastoral prudence. The desire to maintain the hand positions from the older Mass would be an example of such prudence, while the “shadow puppet” option would be imprudent. I understand that there are some points to be argued (which hand position is preferable, for instance)…but there are limits to how far the argument can be taken…
Now, before I post this dubium that was submitted and answered by the SCDW in the 70’s, please let me say I believe the answer was ill-conceived, and comes straight from the school of the hermeneutic of rupture.
With that said, it is still a valid dubium that would govern the introduction of old practices into the Ordinary Form. We need the CDW to address this dubium in particular. With that, here it is…. read it in its entirety:
QUERY: In Mass with a congregation celebrated more solemnly, different ways of incensation are being used: one plain and simple; the other, the same as the rite for incensation prescribed in the former Roman Missal. Which usage should be followed?
REPLY: It must never be forgotten that the Missal of Pope Paul VI has, since 1970, supplanted the one called improperly “the Missal of St. Pius V,” and completely so, in both texts and rubrics. When the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing or say little on particulars in some places, it is not to be inferred that the former rite should be observed. Therefore, the multiple and complex gestures for incensation as prescribed in the former Missal (see , Vatican Polyglot Press, 1962: VIII and pp. LXXXLXXXIII) are not to be resumed.
In incensation the celebrant (GIRM nos. 51 and 105) proceeds as follows: a. toward the gifts: he incenses with three swings, as the deacon does toward the Book of the Gospels; b. toward the cross: he incenses with three swings when he comes in front of it; c. toward the altar: he incenses continuously from the side as he passes around the altar, making no distinction between the altar table and the base: Not 14 (1978) 301-302, no. 2.
According to this dubium, then, if the rubrics do not specify how to do something, then one may really do *anything* as long as it is not ‘from the old rite.’
1. It does not say that one cannot do what the former rite observes, just that one doesn’t HAVE to do it.
2. I would argue that this dubium makes little sense in light of the “hermeneutic of continuity”
3. Paul VI regularly kept his fingers together after the consecration in the NO.
Importing gestures (or the lack thereof) from one rite to another corrupts both and is not appropriate. A simple Mass, reverently said, is enough. Christ exposed himself to every imaginable scandal. Hyper-scrupulous observance of uncalled-for gestures is not what he is looking for. “It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.” We owe Mother Church adherence to what is in her liturgial books. It is only in this that the universailty of the Church can be realized. It is not for an individual priest to substitute, add or subtract, whether he be of “progressive” or “conservative” mind.
Please inform the group where you found this rubric in the GIRM for the novus ordo.
Comment by Kells — 13 January 2009 @ 6:18 am END
Others please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the Vatican released a direvtive to priests in the last couple of years stating that cleaning of the sacred vessels is the responsibility of the priest.
It’s not two different rites, but two forms of the same rite. Perhaps you have noticed Pope Benedict saying the old incensation prayers during the NO?
On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided
regarding the Most Holy Eucharist
[119.] The Priest, once he has returned to the altar after the distribution of Communion, standing at the altar or at the credence table, purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice, then purifies the chalice in accordance with the prescriptions of the Missal and wipes the chalice with the purificator. Where a Deacon is present, he returns with the Priest to the altar and purifies the vessels. It is permissible, however, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them, covered as may be appropriate, on a corporal on the altar or on the credence table, and for them to be purified by the Priest or Deacon immediately after Mass once the people have been dismissed. Moreover a duly instituted acolyte assists the Priest or Deacon in purifying and arranging the sacred vessels either at the altar or the credence table. In the absence of a Deacon, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes and arranges them in the usual way. Cf., Institutio Generalis Missale Romanum nn. 163, 183, 192, 279
Also in a letter from Cardinal Arinze [Prot. n. 468/05/L]
“Paragraph 279 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs that the sacred vessels are to
be purified by the priest, the deacon or an instituted acolyte. The status of this text as legislation
has recently been clarified by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.”
I would also quote the GIRM #42 on Gesture which is the most recent official declaration on the subject:
“Attention should be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice.”
Holding one’s fingers together is certainly in line with the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and seems to be quite licit.
Again, I do not agree with the Dubium I posted. However, it is still a valid response by the SCDW. So, in effect, I AGREE with you when you state “I would argue that this dubium makes little sense in light of the “hermeneutic of continuity””. I think this dubium is directly from the school of the hermeneutic of rupture.
With respect to what the Pope does in his liturgy, that really has no binding effecxt on the rest of the Roman Rite. The pope also has added an additional genuflection (like the EF) before raising the species. He has raised the species in the four directions. He has offered to old incensation prayers. But, none of this really matters. He IS the original legislator under the law. It is not to be inferred that what the Pope does is to be allowed to all.
Additionally, when the IGMR states “Attendendum igitur erit ad ea quae a lege liturgica et tradita praxi Ritus Romani definiuntur, et quae ad commune bonum spirituale populi Dei conferant, potius quam ad suam propensionem aut arbitrium.” It is referring to only the OF, not the EF. The IGMT was published prior to Summorum Pontificum and the mind of the legislator is pretty clearly referring to the Rite as it existed with the prior IGMR.
Look, I do NOT like this dubium, but it MUST somehow be DEALT WITH. We have the right person at the CDW to do this precisely now.
Surely, you aren\’t suggesting that the GIRM\’s reference to the \”traditional practice of the Roman Rite\” is meant to mean only since 1969? I think that\’s quite a stretch.
That’s exactly what I am suggesting. When the IGMR was published in 2002, the official position of the Holy See was that there was only one Roman Rite that was legal, the Pauline one (now OF), and that the Pian Rite (now EF) was only allowed under the Ecclesia Dei indult.
Never was it suggested anywhere, or in any document at that time, that the Pian Rite should inform the celebration of the Pauline Rite. In fact, the only guidance at that time was the dubium, which holds a certain level of canonical force.
Again, I do not agree with the dubium, but it must be addressed. Now that the EF is allowed generally (and never abrogated), it does not follow that it changes the original meaning of the IGMR.
I think your interpretation is incorrect. Whether or not the Holy See understood one form or another of the Roman Rite to be legal or not, the fact is that both the NO and the EF were understood to be the Roman Rite (perhaps in force at different times). Simply look at the introduction to the GIRM which goes into detail describing the history of the liturgical books of the one Roman Rite. In the end, wouldn’t it be a little strange to refer to a “new” 35 year-old rite as “traditional”? Again, I think your interpretation is a real stretch.
surely the point is that we are told that we must use a hermeneutic of continuity, and not a hermeneutic of discontinuity. It would be absurd to use a hermeneutic of discontinuity before the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” and a hermeneutic of continuity only for documents published after it.
The much vaunted dubium is a relic of the hermeneutic of discontinuity, and so looses much of its original force. Another well-known blog pointed out that the EF directs which sleeve of the alb to place each arm in, but the rubrics of the OF contain no such instruction – are we then to abstain from what the EF orders, and so put the alb on back-to-front?
Nowhere is it explicitly said in an encyclical or canon law, “It is desirable that the choir should sing on-key.” But prudence and continuity of unwritten tradition direct us to do so. Nor do we assume that the OF music should all be written in some more modern mode, such as being all twelve-tone. No, not even the most “progressive” music director has ever advocated that.
So clearly, “thinking with the Church”, maintaining continuity, and prudence are important to everyone.
C, Kells, Sacerdotale, and others,
The May 4, 1967 document, the Second Instruction on the orderly carrying out of Sacrosanctum Concilium, TRES ABHINC ANNOS, taking effect on June 29 of 1967, in #12, permitted that the celebrant need not join the thumbs and forefingers after the consecration. It did not forbid this traditional gesture. It also reminded the priest to rub his fingers over the paten to remove Sacred Particles, particularly if his was not maintaining the traditional posture. No later legislation forbade the traditional holding of thumb and forefingers by the priest after the consecration. As happened so often, when something was permitted it became “mandatory”, like Mass ‘facing the people’.
Similarly in the same document, the maniple is no longer required. It was not forbidden.
Xathar, Flabellum, Maureen, and Priest in KC:
I want to make clear once again that I believe this dubium was ill advised, not smart, wrong, etc. However, it WAS a definitive ruling from the SCDW. I have not seen it repudiated anywhere else.
My point is that the dubium had a legal effect. It certainly has not been extant and ignored long enough to fall into desuetude. Maybe custom contra legem could be cited, but the proper authority would have to authorize it. I don’t know where that happened.
CDW should just clarify and make clear that this dubium is no longer definitive, and should be set aside.
With respect to Tres Abhinc Annos, again, this referred to the 1962 Missal, as modified by the altera edition in 1965. It makes no sense to project this document forward on the Roman Rite when it was instituted with a new Apostolic Constitution.
I would like to see this dubium set aside.
Priest in KC:
I am familiar with TRES ABHINC ANNOS and what it says are no longer required, but aren’t forbidden. However, the question I wished to address is whether or not a celebrant may perform an action not in the rubrics of the liturgy even if it is not explicitly forbidden? And if so, doesn’t this create rupture with consistency in observation of liturgical rubrics?
Papabile, if the NO rubrics do not direct the priest how to hold his fingers, how does he decide how hold them? Anyway he wants as long as no joined canonicals? What is to prevent him from using the U Texas “hook ’em horns” formation? I see no mention of a mandated “neutral” position of flat hands.
All that the most recent GIRM and Missale Romanum say regarding the posture of the priest after the consecration is EXTENSIS MANIBUS = hands extended (in contrast to MANIBUS IUNCTIS = hands joined). That is all. For some commentators to assume that that excludes or forbids the joined thumbs and forefingers after the consecration is false. “You can’t hold your hands that way because that was the way that they used to do it. We are different now.” Instead you have some priests looking like they are trying to catch rain in the palm of their hands, some priests looking like someone pointed a gun at them and said ‘stick ’em up’, and other priests doing who knows what. And that is all great as long as you don’t do it the ‘old way’.
The Dubium mentioned earlier – which is the Holy Grail of the break and remake Catholics – has nothing to do with this posture of the priests. The Dubium was about following an older rubric when it contradicted a newer rubric (no you can’t). This would be the case here if the latest rubrics instructed the priest never to join his thumbs and forefingers when extending his hands. But the church has never, NEVER, said a priest cannot do so. If someone can show me where, I would be thrilled to grow in understanding even if the information would sadden me.
When people want to use that Dubium to say that nothing at all can be done in the newer form as it was done in the older form, to be consistent, we all would have to find a new way to genuflect, because we are doing it the same way in the newer rite as in the older rite. The Dubium mainly says that it should not be inferred that the older rite rubrics must be followed when the new rite says little or nothing. It does not forbid it. The newer rubrics do not give precise instructions about how to genuflect, so we are allowed to genuflect as always, with the right knee touching the ground and upper body upright. What it precisely does not allow is following an older rubric which contradicts an explicit newer rubric. Since joining the thumbs and forefingers does not contradict the instruction EXTENSIS MANIBUS – which was also instructed in the 1962 Missal (disjunctis manibus or extensis manibus) – it is not to be inferred as being required, but neither is it forbidden. Extensis manibus with Texas Longhorn symbols is not in the spirit of the Sacred Liturgy of the Roman Rite, but extensis manibus with thumbs and forefingers joined after the consecration is certainly part of the Roman tradition. Not required nor forbidden.
If the Pope uses older incessation prayers and adds genuflexions because he is Pope as suggested then it blows the arguement out of the water that he can not celebrate a Ceremonial Mass presided over by him according to the books of 1962, without the full Papal Court..He could then simply add what he feels is necessary…Perhaps the trumpets playing the Silveri piece, or 1 or 2 nobles…Not to be criticized for lack of some element or addition of another, for he is Pope…Which is it???? I like the recovery of the finger elements or anything from the older Mass that links it more clearly to the two..However I do think if it is done by the Pope then it should be explained and perhaps mandated to other clergy…He is doing it for a reason and I find it hard to believe it is just for the sake of doing it with no intention of it “rubbing” off….And I am not referring to the strictly Papal perogatives and presciptives, just things that were done according to the older books for centuries by ordinary Priests all over the world. There must be more of a message than look at me, I’ m the Pope and can do it this way…Our Holy Father is much wiser than that..I guess I wish he would share the reasoning behind his wisdom in no uncertain terms..
I know of a priest who would always tap the host after putting it on the paten (Novus Ordo)drove me nuts, got to the point I could not watch. I finally found a parish that were praying the TLM, and I will not leave, God willing.
I have been celebrating the TLM for one year two months now. There are no words to describe the devotion and reverence I feel when I celebrate the EF. Soon after, I began join my index fingers and thumbs together also in the Novus Ordo Mass. When I started to show our Lord that reverence in the EF, it was just natural to continue to do so in the OF. Now, I could never go back!