Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Local "tradition" Recovered?

In a post on his blog, "Liturgical Notes", of Sept 3, 2009, Fr. John Hunwicke asked Was Gregory Organic?

The question raised was whether Gregory was engaging in a bit of "spin" in his replies to certain objections to recent liturgical "innovations" or "reforms", raised by someone who had visited him. The objections seem to have been motivated by "zeal" for the customs of the Roman See, or else by "jealousy" regarding those of the see of Constantinople -- it was probably all the same at that time.

This led to various interesting comments from others -- I also had some comments to make -- but one of the things I learned that day has stuck in the back of my mind. It is the rationale given by St. Gregory for moving the recital of the Lord's Prayer from some unknown location within the Mass to where it has always remained afterwards in the Latin Rite, immediately following the Canon, preceded by its introduction and followed by the embolism. Let me reproduce those prayers here in Latin for those who are not familiar with them.
Praeceptis salutaribus moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere:

Pater noster, qui es in caelis: Sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cealo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
Resp. Sed libera nos a malo.

Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, praeteritis, praesentibus, et futuris: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genetrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni purturbatione securi. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum.
Resp: Amen.

This is the version of the Our Father from Lk 11, 2-4.

Prof. William Tighe, in a comment, included a longish commentary on Gregory's thoughts from an Anglican liturgical authority, G. G. Willis. Among other things Willis says, "There is no doubt about the text of St. Gregory’s letter, but there has never been agreement about its precise meaning, nor is it agreed what St. Gregory found in the Mass at this point, and what exactly was the change that he made." I recommend reading the entire exchange at Fr. Hunwicke's site.

The quote from St. Gregory about which there is disagreement as to its precise meaning is the following:
Orationem vero dominicam idcirco mox post precem dicimus, quia mos apostolorum fuit ut ad ipsam solummodo orationem oblationis hostiam consecrarent, et valde mihi inconveniens visum est ut precem quam scholasticus composuerat super oblationem diceremus, et ipsam traditionem quam Redemptor noster composuit super eius corpus et sanguinem non diceremus.
the translation of which (depending on how you read certain phrases) is:

But we say the Lord's prayer immediately following the Canon (precem) for the very reason that (idcirco... quia) it was the custom of the apostles (or, an apostolic custom) to consecrate the Host of oblation by that very prayer alone, and it seemed to me grossly inappropriate that we should recite a prayer over the Offering (precem... super oblationem) composed by a learned man, yet not recite over His Body and Blood the very prayer (traditionem) which our Redeemer composed.
I must warn the reader that this is not the consensus meaning at this time, according to Drs. Willis and Tighe (q.v.), but it is how I understood the sentence the first time I studied it. Apparently, again according to the same scholars, this would accord with the reading of Amalarius of Metz/Treves (AD cc. 775-850), an influential liturgical scholar and student of Alcuin at Charlemagne's court. As the Catholic Encyclopedia says of him, however, his liturgical theology was a bit too "mystical" for modern minds. You can read the modern view expressed rather well in the comments at the original post.

I, though acknowledging my lack of expertise in this area, did mention at the time that perhaps there was a Scriptural basis for Gregory's statement, i.e., St. Jerome's rendition of the Mt 6, 9-13 version of the Our Father, where he renders v. 11 thus: Panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie. Notice this differs from the version (from Luke) we pray during Mass, and which was inserted at this point of the Mass by St. Gregory. Although the Greek word, ἐπιούσιον, is used in both places, and is thought by scholars to have been coined by the Evangelists, Jerome decided to render the same clause differently in the Latin. I have heard that this was to acknowledge the range of meanings the word may take on. Be that as it may....

Recently, though, I have been reading J.N.D. Kelly's Oxford Dictionary of the Popes, and became curious about the "Book of the Popes", the Liber Pontificalis, which he dates from the middle of the sixth century, and in which he finds one apocryphal "fact" after another. So I decided to see if I could find some version of it online, and I did, here. On page 6 of the online edition, under the entry for "Linus", footnote 2 provides us with the following information:
One manuscript adds the following. "He [Linus] first ordained the celebration of the mass to commemorate the Lord's passion, with bread and wine mixed with water and the Lord's prayer repeated alone and the sanctifying of the holy cross, a rite which the other holy apostles imitated for this celebration."
Other editions of the Liber Pontificalis omit it, and at least one locates this sentence at the end of the entry for St. Peter himself. If this were part of the original text of the LP, made in the middle of the sixth century, i.e., before the letter written by Gregory to bishop John of Syracuse, then perhaps there was actually some sort of local tradition in the Roman Church of which Gregory was mindful, that the Apostles originally consecrated the Eucharist using Our Lord's words in the Our Father?.

For Reference: Gregory I, Letters, Book 9, Letter 12.

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