Sunday, July 12, 2009

Holy Mass and the hermeneutic of continuity

A pictorial guide to better celebrating the ordinary form of holy Mass in continuity with the entire organic liturgical tradition which preceded Vatican II.

The floating facility, or FAF, at Pier 11 in Norfolk used by the crew during the USS Theodore Roosevelt repair period was the setting for Sunday holy Mass with Chaplain Father Charles Johnson.

Father Johnson provides a dignified liturgical setting despite the humble and industrial environment of the FAF. Note that the altar cloth hangs from the sides of the altar but does not extend below the front of the table.

Book with stand, candles and crucifix are the only items placed on the mensa, or altar table. Other items necessary for the celebration of holy Mass, such as water, wine, paten, bells and lavabo are placed near the altar on a separate, or credence, table.

Father arrives at the altar and places the chalice in the center to begin Mass having removed his beretta and placing it on the credence table. The Mass is celebrated entirely in English to better enable "fully conscious and active participation" on the part of all.

When Father arrives at the altar he removes the corporal from the burse and unfolds it on the mensa, placing the chalice which he has carried with him on top of the corporal. Note that the corporal should not be left on the altar outside of the celebration of Mass but rather should be used as an envelope for collecting particles of the host which may fall during the celebration of Mass. These particles are then reverently consumed.

Father prepares the Gospel. The burse is placed to the left of the crucifix. Note the corporal visible below the veiled chalice. Chief Inocencio, partially visible at left, was stationed with the blog author, and active in the Catholic chapel communities, in Naples, Italy and Mayport, Florida.

Father's homily was gentle, learned and practical. He urged us to remember the twofold commandment to love God and neighbor as symbolized by the counsel of the Lord who sent the disciples out two by two to bring Him and His Gospel to the world. Just as we cannot move forward but by walking upon both of our legs, so we cannot move toward God except by loving and keeping both commandments which are the fulfillment in Christ of all that preceded Him in the Law and the Prophets.

Father prepares the altar for sacrifice. The veil is folded and placed on the right side of the altar.

Father departs after Mass with beretta and carrying the chalice.

Chatting with Mr. Richard Loud of Hampton, Virginia.

A view of USS T.R. and Pier 11.

Much thanks to Father Johnson for his hospitality and kindness.


Iskoching01 said...

how it is to be in your place Sir? im just be in that kind of place and have that experience is a one of a kind thing..

Matthew said...

Thank you for this interesting post.

MCITL said...

Nicholas Dollar wrote:

Dear Father,

I wanted to commend you for your excellent post of Holy Mass on the FAF (Jul 12)--very cool...thank you for your good work.


Anonymous said...

You appear to be following the ceremonial directions given in the 1975 Missal for "Mass Without and Congregation."

These provisions differ from those in the 2003 Missal for "Mass With Only One Server."

Only in a 1975-style "Mass Without a Congregation" is the corporal spread and the chalice placed on the altar at the beginning of the Mass.

Why do you hold up this outdated usage as an ideal?

To say that the celebrant's facing east during the Eucharistic Prayer (for example) is reflective of the "Hermeneutic of Continuity" would be entirely reasonable. But to revive silly pre-Conciliar practices such as placing the chalice on the altar at the beginning of the Mass is simply silly.

The "Hermeneutic of Continuity" does not call for indiscriminate revival of pre-Conciliar practices in contravention of the rubrics of the Novus Ordo. It calls for the interpretation of the Novus Ordo rubrics in the light of tradition.

Bruce E. Ford
Newark, New Jersey

Matthew said...

How is the act of spreading the corporal on the altar before Mass, "...reviv[ing] silly pre-Conciliar practices?" What is "silly" about this?

MCITL said...

Father Johnson offered the following comments:

"1. The idea that if something is not mentioned in the GIRM it is forbidden comes from a reply back in the late 70’s (I believe) from the CDW: namely, if something in the rubrics is left vague or undetermined, it is not to be presumed that the older rubrics should be used.
Now, this interpretation was basically quashed about seven (?) years ago, when the same Congregation stated in so many words that this kind of continuity was legitimate.

"The same kind of objection could be raised about the biretta, the burse, the practice of wiping away water on the inside of the chalice at the Presentation of the Gifts, etc.

"Finally, isn’t the whole point of this discussion about the 'hermeneutic of continuity'? If the opponents say that there should only be the minimal use of anything traditional in the ceremonies, then isn’t that a partial (or entire even) rejection of continuity?

"2. Also, considering the exigencies of Mass in the military, it isn’t possible usually to have a lectern, lectors, an instituted acolyte, etc. So, there is a certain amount of freedom in adapting the rites, I would think; and that is why I basically use the “Ordo Missae sine Populo [in the sense of the canonical congregation].” After all, the AMS in the person of the Vicar General once allowed Mass without all the vestments (save a stole). How is that less a departure from the GIRM than using the 'sine Populo' form? At least with my method, I am falling back on a legitimate and foreseen form, rather than using a historically unprecedented abandonment of Catholic ceremonial."

-- Father Johnson

imatrad said...

Just for clarification:

"Biretta" is the priest's liturgical head covering.

"Beretta" is the manufacturer of the standard military 9mm pistol.

I bet Father Johnson knows how to use both.

I was also a Navy officer and spent many nights on a similar living barge in the shipyard. Unfortunately we did not have Mass on board. God bless Father Johnson and all the Navy people who spend so long away from their families and the sacraments. Most smaller ships do not have Chaplains along.

Thank you for visiting.


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