12 March 2012

Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

We don't have enough new Churches built and consecrated these days for this to have become a noticeable problem, but after putting part of the following text on Counter Cultural Father's blog the other day, I realised that it might be of wider interest.

This is by Archbishop Bugnini and explains the changes to the rite of Blessing of a Church and an Altar in the new dispensation.  It includes two of his footnotes.

The material building is a sign of the Church as people of God. This Church becomes visible when the Christian community gathers with its ministers and the local bishop to inaugurate a place of worship that it wanted and has built. If possible, the people go in procession to the church; there they and the individuals who worked on the building of the church hand it over in symbolic fashion to the bishop; its doors are solemnly opened and the community enters.

The bishop takes possession of the presidential chair. He then blesses the water that will be used in sprinkling the faithful, the altar, and the walls of the church. This sprinkling has taken on a new meaning: in the old rite it was regarded primarily as a purification; now it is a reminder of baptism and a call to conversion.
After the singing of the Gloria and collect, the inauguration begins at the ambo, the place where the word of God is proclaimed and where the book of the Scriptures is solemnly enthroned.

The homily is followed by the most expressive actions in the rite of dedication: the invocation of the saints and the deposition of their relics beneath the altar;8 the prayer of dedication;9 the anointing of their relics and church walls by the bishop, who can be helped by other priests as at a concelebration; lighting of the incense on the altar and incensensation of the altar; preparation of the altar and lighting of it and the church.

The Eucharistic liturgy has a proper preface. After communion the place where the Eucharist is to be reserved is inaugurated by solemnly bringing the Blessed Sacrament there. The entire celebration ends with a solemn blessing.

8. The relics of the saints are placed beneath the altar and not in the table; the latter is not to be incised. Furthermore, the relics are not to be in the form of small "fragments" but are to be "meaningful," that is, of sufficient size; otherwise the rite is to be omitted.  The relics are carried into the church in the entrance procession.
9. This point was also the subject of lengthy discussion. Initially the study group thought that the preface of the Mass should serve as the prayer for the dedication of the church. But then the celebration would have been deprived of a characteristic element and one of great importance and instructional value. Therefore the decision was reviewed, and the prayer of dedication was retained.

This is all taken from page 796 of the translation of Bugnini's The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975.

Note that the altar of sacrifice has been cast aside in a footnote.  Note that in the same footnote the rationale of relics has been cast aside.  Note that in another footnote the very reformers had to be reminded about the reason behind the structure of their worship.  Note further up that an element of the rite has changed meaning.

Oh so wrong! in oh so many ways! Even more than in the changes in the Mass "the enemy at last was plain in view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off".


Fr Ray Blake said...

Whenever I have taken part in this Rite it has always struck me how dull and uninspiring it is!
There is no awesome mystery to it, not much sense of taking possession, of purifying, of sanctifying, of handing over to God. It is Rite that does not really seem to move anywhere.

Genty said...

It will be interesting to see what rite is used when (please God)the Ordinariate finally gets its headquarters church.