I know a who uses the Old Offertory Prayers when he says an Ordinary Form Mass. Is this okay for a priest to do? Is it a liturgical abuse?
The legislation which covers the use of the Extraordinary Form spells out that there is to be no mixing of the two rites (I say “rites”, because I don’t think that they are, liturgically, the same rite… juridically there are two “forms”, but liturgically and in many points theologically there seem to be two… but this is a digression).
Yes, I think it is an abuse to use the older offertory prayers in the newer form of Mass.
Is it okay? Not really.
However, that brings up the question of how the desired “mutual enrichments” which Benedict XVI aimed at is to take place unless there are these “mutual enrichments”. In the short term they are illicit. In the long run they become legitimate developments. That said, the present legislation says you are not to do things like this.
Another point to add is that in the approved rite of Holy Mass for Anglicans who have come into union with the Church through Anglicanorum coetibus have the older offertory prayers. This is now a rite of the Catholic, Latin Church. Mutual enrichment.
The substitution of the traditional offertory prayers in the Novus Ordo was a monumental change that went against the mandates of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium.
The Council Fathers said that, in reforming the liturgy, there should be no change unless the good of the faithful surely required it. The change to the offertory prayers in no way was required for the good of the people and the the people have not in any way benefited from that change. As a matter of fact, it has undermined over decades understanding of what is about to happen during the Eucharistic Prayer. Sacrosanctum Concilium 23 says (my emphasis):
That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress Careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.
No one will deny that the Offertory Prayers in the Novus Ordo are innovations. They are dramatic innovations. As Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, wrote in The Catholic Herald (3 July 2009),
“the most striking textual difference between the Mass of St Pius V and the Mass of Paul VI will be the Offertory prayers of the former with their reiterated concern with the Sacrifice being offered or about to be offered.”
Did “the good of the Church genuinely and certainly” require these dramatic innovations? I can’t see how.
The Offertory prayers used in the traditional form of the Roman Rite, the Extraordinary Form, are not from the time of the ancient Church, but are rather from the medieval period. So, they had a pedigree of over 1000 years.
The post-Conciliar prayers, based on Jewish blessings, were pasted together by experts.
In the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass there are two distinct prayers for the host or hosts and the chalice. They developed into something like the modern forms by perhaps the 8th century.
Over the host the priest prays (in translation):
“Receive, O holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless host, which I, thy unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for mine own countless sins, offenses and negligences, and for all here present; as also for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may avail both for my own and their salvation unto everlasting life. Amen.”
This prayer evolved over a long time and under many influences. By the time it was codified in Pius V’s 1570 Missale Romanum, the Roman way of worshiping was polished under the influence of the theologically clear Council of Trent. The prayer over the host expresses specific intentions and the priest’s characteristic recognition of his sinful nature and humility. There is a clear reference to our salvation, the reason why we are at Mass in the first place.
In offering of the chalice in the Extraordinary Form the priest prays:
“We offer unto Thee, Lord, the saving chalice, beseeching Thy clemency: that it may go up with an odor of sweetness in sight of Thy Divine Majesty, for our and the whole world’s salvation. Amen.”
The prayer over the host is in the first person, “I”. This new, innovation prayer has the plural “we”, which might reflect that the deacon, who had prepared the chalice, traditionally said the prayer together with the priest. In the prayer for the chalice, the reference to rising sweetness is biblical, found in the Old Testament and New (cf. Gen 8:20-21, Eph 5:2). There is, again, the clear and all-important reference to salvation.
For the Novus Ordo it was decided to jettison these millennium-plus-old prayers in favor of new compositions. They are based on Jewish blessings taken not from the Old Testament, but rather from the 5th century Babylonian version of Talmud (T.B.), a central Jewish text which codified oral law and teaching.
Jews were/are required to pronounce many blessings, well over a hundred, in the course of a day including the famous Shema of Deuteronomy 6 and, more controversially now, the three blessings, “Blessed art thou … for not having made me a gentile (variously “godless”) … a woman… a am ha-aretz (slave, or ignorant rube)” (T.B. Menahoth 43b). They were also – laudably – “forbidden to enjoy anything in the world without saying a blessing” (cf. T.B. Tractate Berekoth 35a). Thus, if they put on a piece of new clothing they said a blessing, if they saw lightning they said a blessing, if they studied they said a blessing, etc. There are bewildering variations in the spelling of the Hebrew words, due to different forms of transliteration and possibilities of vowels. You might see in your own research forms such as Berakhot, Brachot, Brochos, Berakhah, Bracha, Brokhe, Birkot, etc.
The Novus Ordo Offertory prayers are based on the Berekoth in the category of “enjoyment blessings” or B. HaNehanin (again with variants): HaMotzi said when eating bread and HaGafen for wine. They are among the most frequent uttered and are used during the Sabbath meal Kiddush. After washing his hands the head of the household raises two loaves of bread, challah, and says the HaMotzi blessing. Two loaves of challah are used because the Lord’s manna didn’t fall on the Sabbath when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Instead, a double portion fell on Friday (cf. Exodus 16).
The Novus Ordo Offertory prayers were cobbled up from these Berekoth:
“Baruch atah Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam ha-mo-tzi lechem min ha-aretz … Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth” and “Baruch atah Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam bo-ray p’ree ha-gafen … Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.”
These blessings are perhaps inspired from Ps 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (cf. 1 Cor 10:26) and also Ps 115(114):16: “The heaven of heaven is the Lord’s: but the earth he has given to the children of men.” Humans make bread and wine, but ultimately they came from God.
I suspect the liturgists who assembled the Novus Ordo of Mass under the aegis of the Consilium and Fr. Bugnini, et al., hoped these prayers, obvious innovations, would remind us of our “Jewish roots” so to speak, and inspire a mental connection with the Passover and Exodus which foreshadowed the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.
If we were to remain focused on the literal meaning of the innovative Offertory in the Novus Ordo, one could conclude that all they express is an offering of the bread and wine which will become the “bread of life”, and “spiritual drink”. If we use John 6 as an interpretive lens for these new prayers we can bolster them a bit. “Bread of Life” can certainly be taken as a Christological title. Christ said “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35). “For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.” (6:56). On the other hand, it is sadly possible to take these new prayers as merely referring to bread and wine we might eat and drink each day. “Bread of life” is not unlike the famous description of bread as “the staff of life”. “Bread” is sometimes used by metonymy to mean all food in general. After the Original Sin of our First Parents, human beings ever after would eat their “bread” by the sweat of our brow (Gen. 3:19). The little insertion what it would become “nobis… for us” has its own problems, since in it some have recognized in it the hint perhaps the consecration of the elements may in some way depend on the spiritual disposition or faith of the one who receives it.
Before the imposition of the Novus Ordo innovations in 1969, there was enough concern on the part of a not inconsiderable number of bishops and theologians that adjustments had to be made to it so that it would express at least at key points adequate and clear theological distinctions about what Holy Mass is. In 1967 a Synod of Bishops was held in Rome. The newer form of Mass was celebrated in the Sistine Chapel for the first time in the presence of the bishops of the synod. Afterward, these bishops were asked to vote about its implementation. The vote was 71 Yes, 62 Yes with reservations, and 43, or a third, voted No. To assuage the concerns of those who were troubled by the newer Mass, two of the priest’s quiet Offertory prayers from the older, traditional form of Mass were incorporated back into the order, but not the prayers for the bread and wine.
Before the official release of the Novus Ordo, two important Roman Cardinals, Alfredo Ottaviani (+1979) and Antonio Bacci (+1971) lent their support in 1969 to a group of theologians protesting the theological problems they perceived in the Novus Ordo. In what is now usually called the “Ottaviani Intervention” the new Offertory prayers were thought not to express adequately the “ends of Mass”:
“The three ends of the Mass are altered; no distinction is allowed to remain between Divine and human sacrifice; bread and wine are only “spiritually” (not substantially) changed… Not a word do we find as to the priest’s power to sacrifice, or about his act of consecration, the bringing about through him of the Eucharistic Presence. He now appears as nothing more than a Protestant minister.”
The French liturgist and converted Protestant minister Louis Bouyer (+2004), who was a key figure in the liturgical reform, wrote in his work Eucharistie that the old prayers were abandoned in order to situate “the words of institution of the Eucharist back into their own context which is that of the ritual berakoth of the Jewish meal.”
So, you can see why some priests would want to say the older, traditional Form of the Roman Rite and also use the older, traditional Offertory Prayers during the Novus Ordo.