The confirmation slap

A Pray Tell reader writes:

 I’m catechist at the Church of Saint Paphnucius, where we celebrated confirmation recently. The bishop was not able to be present so a priest presided. He gave each person being confirmed a small slap on the cheek after anointing with chrism. I understand that this slap was in the preconciliar rite with the meaning that the newly confirmed should be a “soldier of Christ.” Is it still an option in the reformed rite?

Fr. Paul Turner, the go-to source on many things including confirmation, says this:

The reformed rite of confirmation eliminated the sacrament’s most famous moment: the bishop’s slap. The slap first appeared in the 13th century. Incongruously, the bishop tapped the confirmand’s cheek while saying, “Peace be with you.” The slap inspired military imagery and fostered an interpretation of confirmation as a maturity rite. Durandus, who inserted the slap into the ritual, also thought it would serve as an exorcism and as a memory device to keep people from forgetting that they were confirmed. Its meaning was poorly understood. The removal of the slap supported the council’s desire that confirmation be connected more closely to initiation. The slap never had anything to do with initiation, and its removal helped purify the sacrament’s meaning.

So the answer to the reader’s question is: No, the slap is not an option.

I suppose some will say that it’s not expressly forbidden so nothing prevents adding it back in. I’m sure some will say that it is the “mutual enrichment” desired by Pope Benedict XVI if our stripped down reformed rites are gradually loaded back up with the accretions they acquired over the course of the centuries.

In this season we’re in of “re-Catholicizing” and “reforming the reform,” I think it’s more important than ever to celebrate the reformed rites as they appear in the liturgical books. Thing were omitted for a reason, and that should be respected.

What do you think? Is there a case, ever, for adding in preconciliar mannerisms? Anyone want to argue for flexibility?

awr

55 comments

  1. One of my bugbears is the practice (used by most of my confreres here) of doing the elaborate pre-conciliar incensation of the gifts… oops… I should say the offerings (!) with the various thuribular circlings and crossings.

    It doesn’t do any harm, I guess, but I sometimes think the very elaborateness of it suggests that something more significant is happening, and that this is some sort of epiclesis or consecration ‘moment’.

    Funny how the rubrics police don’t mind when the variation from the rubrics is in the direction of more ceremonious ceremonies….

    1. The Pope censes the oblations in this manner. Of course, he is above liturgical law. But I just wanted to point that out.

  2. The five things I remember from being Confirmed in the 4th grade in 1962 was (1) being able to go to the top step of the altar where the bishop was sitting, (2)kneeling before him and awaiting the (3) tap on the cheek which we were warned would be a “sock in the face” but it wasn’t. It was very light and gentle. I remember the (4)smell of the sacred chrism and then going back to the pew and stopping at the altar railing to have a priest use cotton (5) to remove the sacred chrism which I thought was a bit odd even as a 4th grader.
    I think we should do say the black and do the red in which ever form of the Sacraments we are celebrating though.

  3. I dunno ’bout this one…Forty some odd years ago Oakland’s first bishop, Excellency Floyd Begin of advanced age and happy memory, gave this collegiate convert his welcome thusly: his slap had some snap.
    Best thing for me, really, I recall thinking that Easter Vigil in St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Oaktown!
    But it doesn’t need a comeback now, f’sure. We had 120 or so confirmations (four parish merged cluster) and adding the slap would have pushed us over the four hour mark, a new record!

  4. Is there a case, ever, for adding in preconciliar mannerisms? Anyone want to argue for flexibility?

    If anyone does argue for flexibility in permitting other things not found in the rubrics, I would say there should not be an across-the-board ban on rubrics from the older ritual forms: not everything dropped from the Rite was dropped for the same reason.

    However, this touches very close to the form of the sacrament, and so I would tread very carefully.

    That said, my bishop does it (or did it, at my parish).

  5. What do you think? Is there a case, ever, for adding in preconciliar mannerisms? Anyone want to argue for flexibility?

    The Ceremonial of Bishops seems to pave the way for this, referring in places in its footnotes to the Caeremoniale Episcoporum 1886 to expand on how to carry out certain ceremonies. But more fundamentally, the GIRM, etc. are simply not sufficient to explain how to conduct oneself in the ceremonies. Understanding how to carry out the new ceremonies is conceptually dependent on knowing how to carry out the old ones (or at least on a tradition based on how they were formerly carried out.)

    The famous prohibition of 1978 on the old way of doing the incensation has the problem pointed out by Fr. Tim Finigan humorously points out the difficulty of applying this across the board in his blog post, “Is your alb back to front?”.

    All that said, I would in no way advocate the practice described in the post of using the “blow” in the new rite of confirmation.

    I think there are significant questions about Fr. Turner’s commentary. He cites Durandus and says “The slap never had anything to do with initiation, and its removal helped purify the sacrament’s meaning.” But in fact, Durandus himself makes the connection with baptism.

  6. For reference, the postconciliar rite of confirmation was published in 1971 and implemented at the beginning of 1973.

  7. I thought the tap on the cheek was a remnant of the laying on of the hands recovered in the reform of Confirmation. I’ve seen bishops in the modern rite lay the open palm of their hand on head/forehead of the candidate after the anointing but as a part of the same action.

  8. Fr. Ruff: In this season we’re in of “re-Catholicizing” and “reforming the reform,” I think it’s more important than ever to celebrate the reformed rites as they appear in the liturgical books. Thing were omitted for a reason, and that should be respected.

    I would say that the “confirmation slap” should be licitly omitted during celebrations of the 1962 rite of confirmation. Given the Church’s current anguish over child abuse, even a rubrically motivated intention to strike or touch a child is highly inappropriate. Change must often occur because of an outstanding pastoral need.

    The (re)-introduction of blessings, more complex incensations, incensation prayers, and osculations from the EF Mass into the OF Mass should be licit but not obligatory. I realize that the 1970 Missal’s removal of almost all the blessings and osculations was an intentional decision. I also respect the liturgical and theological arguments behind these simplifications. However, one might make and equally plausible argument that the ostensibly redundant profusion of blessings and osculations in the EF Mass created another layer of performative meaning just as influential as spoken or sung liturgical prayer.

    The readmittance of certain gestures from the EF into the OF not only amplifies organic continuity but also recognizes the cultural and pastoral value of the older rubrics for certain congregations. The readmission of certain older rubrics would be an example of the way in which inculturation is not always innovative but also retrospective.

    1. Jordan, there’s historically been (and perhaps still is) some debate over the form and matter of the sacrament of confirmation, but it’s been universally agreed that touching is required. Given that the Bishop has just touched them for the anointing, I think it is not really likely that the blow (which from the earliest time has been described in the rubric as “leviter”) is so much like child abuse and so different from the anointing for this to be a serious problem.

      1. re: Samuel J. Howard on May 11, 2012 – 6:33 pm

        Sam, I mention the possibility that the “slap” (which, as you note, has always been properly leviter or a brief touch), could be omitted from the confirmation rite simply out of pastoral concern for parents.

        Marjorie Campbell’s April 2010 Crisis magazine article “Is it Time to Rethink Confession for Minors?” illustrates the anxiety some parents have about sacramental contact between their children and clergy. Campbell proposes that only Catholics of legal majority or older should receive auricular confession. While Ms. Campbell’s desire for general confession for minors might not be canonically or theologically possible at this time, certainly the omission of any touch between the minister and confirmand outside of the sacramental formula of confirmation is liturgically possible and even pastorally prudential in some cases. I do not know the way in which PCED’s responsum would read. I suspect that the leviter touch could be waived for the EF considering that it is no longer required in the OF rubrics.

      2. Jordan: I mention the possibility that the “slap” (which, as you note, has always been properly leviter or a brief touch), could be omitted from the confirmation rite simply out of pastoral concern for parents.

        I can only respond to the comment you wrote, not the comment you meant to write.

        You wrote that the gesture was “highly inappropriate” and “should be” omitted, not that it could be.

        I doubt that any parent who has chosen specially to have their child confirmed in the extraordinary form would insist that the rite be deviated from. If they did, the first pastoral response would be to explain to them the meaning of the rite. If that is insufficient, there are other possibilities than altering the rite, such as having the child confirmed in the new rite, which omits the gesture. As such, there can’t really be said to be a necessity to alter the rite, which is the only case in which a priest or bishop could do so without permission of the Apostolic See (since, as far as I know, there is no other concession of authority for such alteration).

      3. re: Samuel J. Howard on May 12, 2012 – 11:23 am

        Sam: You wrote that the gesture was “highly inappropriate” and “should be” omitted, not that it could be.

        You are right Sam that my argument from emotion is contradictory (aren’t emotional appeals erroneous by definition?) While I am sympathetic to Campbell’s call for greater sensitivity to parents’ anxieties about the administration of the sacraments to minors, this issue is properly a pastoral and not a liturgical question.

        Sam: As such, there can’t really be said to be a necessity to alter the rite, which is the only case in which a priest or bishop could do so without permission of the Apostolic See (since, as far as I know, there is no other concession of authority for such alteration).

        My previous conjecture that the PCED could allow for adjustments to the 1962 rite in light of due pastoral concern is also irrelevant in light of Fr. Ruff’s original premise. As I have understood him, Fr. Ruff is concerned with the rubrical integrity of the Ordinary Form in contrast with the readmission of previous liturgical forms and not ad hoc adjustments to rites. Concessions and indults are necessary components of liturgical law, but are not pertinent to the development of liturgical ideology.

        Sam, you appear to offer a mirrored response to Fr. Ruff’s premise. While he contends that the Ordinary Form maintains an intrinsic rubrical integrity in light of possible EF “enrichments”, your previous arguments in this thread suggest that the EF is also a rubrical “whole” which should not be influenced by liturgical developments after reform. Your argument is the crucial bookend to Fr. Ruff’s premise. I must carefully answer your argument if I maintain that liturgical enrichment in the Roman Rite is bidirectional between the OF and EF.

  9. Jordan – sorry but your whole explanation here leaves me confused:

    “The readmittance of certain gestures from the EF into the OF not only amplifies organic continuity but also recognizes the cultural and pastoral value of the older rubrics for certain congregations. The readmission of certain older rubrics would be an example of the way in which inculturation is not always innovative but also retrospective.”

    And who determines that? Picking up on what Fr. Ruff said so well –

    “I suppose some will say that it’s not expressly forbidden so nothing prevents adding it back in. I’m sure some will say that it is the “mutual enrichment” desired by Pope Benedict XVI if our stripped down reformed rites are gradually loaded back up with the accretions they acquired over the course of the centuries. In this season we’re in of “re-Catholicizing” and “reforming the reform,” I think it’s more important than ever to celebrate the reformed rites as they appear in the liturgical books. Thing were omitted for a reason, and that should be respected.”

    This whole movement of “mutual enrighment” is based upon what? what some may think B16 means? what some divine from watching papal liturgies?

    What bothers me is that the reform direction set by Vatican II and based upon 50+ years of liturgical study and writings and led by liturgical experts, now seems to hinge upon an amorphous comment in a papal speech about “mutual enrichment”. So, one of the biggest complaints about the Paul VI liturgy was that is was a rupture or it was led by Bugnini (that monster), etc. and yet, some have no trouble with picking and choosing from pre-VII liturgies as if their choices are reasoned, based upon liturgical research and knowledge, etc.

    Sorry, the whole argument about continuity as “restoring” or “recovering” accretions that, through study, were determined to be exactly that – accretions that masked or changed the original intent of the sacrament or liturgy. One of the primary goals of VII and SC was to “ressource” the simple lines of ritual activity (let the action speak for itself – it does not require added ritual, added words, added incense, etc.). This elegant goal seems to be at stake with the “mutual enrichment” movement that is decided by whom?

    Sorry – when you start to take sacraments such as confirmation and want to go back to pre-VII liturgies, you have lost me in this mutual enrichment movement. You say – “organic continuity” – but the VII reformers did exactly that – they ressourced the organic continuity and removed the accretions. Your suggestions appears to say – sorry, reformers, you were wrong; or your research and conclusions were wrong. Some of the accretions (you then clarify – for some/certain communities or groups) might be cultural/pastoral values/older rubrics for certain groups.

    It would seem that most folks alive and impacted by VII reforms have to be 60 years old or older. How does this apply to “confirmation”; to matrimony (in almost all cases); baptism, etc. Sorry, your argument just isn’t convincing.

    1. What bothers me is that the reform direction set by Vatican II and based upon 50+ years of liturgical study and writings and led by liturgical experts, now seems to hinge upon an amorphous comment in a papal speech about “mutual enrichment”.

      It wasn’t an “amorphus comment in a papal speech,” it was in a letter to the bishops:

      “It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.”

      As for undoing the work of the past 50 years or the 50 years before the council, I’ve repeatedly made the point that the way the EF is celebrated today is different than the way it was celebrated in 1962 and different than the way it was celebrated in 1912.

      It likely proves too much to say that it’s wrong to wipe away the work of 50 years… how much more so the work of the previous 500. Did they not also study, work and pray?

      1. The problem with the “mutual enrichment” argument is that Benedict provided an example of the OF enriching the EF by means of importing something into the EF missal (incorporating Prefaces, etc., from the OF), but does not provide an example of the EF enriching the OF by means of importing something into the OF missal (e.g. older offertory, prayers at the foot of the altar).

        What he wrote seems to run contrary to the idea of the EF “enriching” the OF by means of liturgical development: “The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.”

        I interpret that to mean: 1) the OF Mass should be celebrated according to its own books, 2) the OF Mass should be celebrated according to liturgical directives which impact it (not based on preferences for an older practice), and 3) the OF Missal has its own spiritual richness and theological depth which should be respected and demonstrated.

        In other words: the OF Mass can be celebrated according to its own books and yet “demonstrate … the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.” So, until there is a liturgical directive to import this or that practice or prayer from the EF into the OF, I think it’s best to celebrate the OF Mass by the book, by its book.

      2. ” So, until there is a liturgical directive to import this or that practice or prayer from the EF into the OF, I think it’s best to celebrate the OF Mass by the book, by its book.

        Jeffrey, as I pointed out above, there are and have been from the publication of the Ceremonial of Bishops directives in the liturgical books of the OF relating this or that practice from the EF to the correct practice of the OF.

        Furthermore, the liturgical books don’t constitute a complete set of instructions for carrying out the liturgy in all its particulars. You have to have reference to the tradition of the Church in order to celebrate it at all and, eventually, if you’re going to be serious about it, that means looking at the old books and other documentary and material evidence of what the past practice was.

        How would you know what a chasuble looks like without that tradition? How would you know how to wear an amice? The liturgical books don’t specify the shape of a stole… etc. etc.

      3. Samuel, while celebrating the newer liturgy requires knowledge derived from the older liturgy, that is of a different degree than celebrating the newer liturgy with elements of the older liturgy that are not implied.

        It should go without saying that an alb be put on with the left arm through the left sleeve and the right arm through the right sleeve. (Whether the order of left-right or right-left matters is another matter.) I don’t think the same can be said for including a pat on the cheek during the celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation; it’s in the older books but not in the newer ones, and I would guess its exclusion is not a matter of implied knowledge.

    2. re: Bill deHaas on May 11, 2012 – 5:19 pm

      Bill: It would seem that most folks alive and impacted by VII reforms have to be 60 years old or older. How does this apply to “confirmation”; to matrimony (in almost all cases); baptism, etc. Sorry, your argument just isn’t convincing.

      In his instruction to bishops which accompanied Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict unambiguously recognizes the aspirations of Catholics who, despite having been born during or after the liturgical reforms, nevertheless exhibit a strong devotion to the older forms:

      Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. (para. 7)

      Pope Benedict’s recognition that an attachment to the sacramental rites of 1962 transcends age and experience absolutely affirms that the older rites are worthy for all Catholics unconditionally. Consequently, the “accretions” of the older liturgies are unalienable components of the Roman liturgical heritage. (c.f. Summorum Pontificum, para. 5, Inter Ritus romani […] magnam habent similitudinem, my ellipsis)

      Since SP clearly affirms that Tridentine-era liturgy is alive within the modern Roman rite, then there is no reason why certain “accretions” could not be reintroduced in certain places or throughout the Roman Rite even on an optional basis. The framers of the reformed rites can be doubted simply because their reforms in no way supersede the continued relevance of older forms.

      1. Thanks, Jordan. You only underline what & where my questions and thoughts were going. We are back again to one “letter” by “one pope” who started out in VII supporting the “reforms” of VII and then, somewhere later, doing a 180 degree shift.

        This led to his papacy and SP (let’s agree that SP is a “rupture” in terms of conciliar liturgical reforms that suppressed former forms – that is/was the tradition – see Chris’s comments below. Doubt you will agree because this weakens your overall approach)

        The letter – sorry, it appears to be interpreted to mean all kinds of things to whomever is reading it – thus, you highlight correctly who and what age group is being singled out by B16. Yet, we know that others believe that this is not what B16 meant in terms of allowing SP’s directives – it was carefully meant for a very limited group and not for any younger generation (argument by Rev. Komonchak. JP does a good job of deconstructing and raising the confusion in terms of the letter’s interpretation.)

        No one seems to have really responded to my comments around OF/EF sacraments and their rituals – do you really think that B16 had thought about that in his letter?

        Add to this the historical fact that all bishops’ conferences were opposed to SP, where does that leave us?

        Sorry, not big on giving a “new” direction to a solitary pope that overrides a council, 100 years of liturgical expertise (sorry, Mr. Howard, but there have been more changes in terms of liturgical documentation, knowledge and approachs to scripture/liturgy/historical documents since 1948 than the whole 2000 year period prior – whether you admit it or not, this significantly changes the playing field).

        You raise a good point about “accretions” vs. “development” – but would suggest that any careful study of the VII documents, participants’ writings, expert/periti writings gives you their definition of “development” and how they defined and acted on “accretions”. (BTW – you can get a very good look at how accretions, development can lead to a skewed and warped direction based upon bias (vs. solid liturgical research, expert knowledge following agreed upon liturgical standards and meanings) by quickly perusing the “alternative EF mutual enrichment universe” of Fr. Allan’s blog. (talking about the EF version of the oft stated OF Clown Masses examples)

        Finally, would suggest that this letter has been “run with” – example, VII did insert and begin a process to allow liturgy to take into account enculturation. Would argue that enculturation of the council referred specifically to regional societies, cultures, languages, customs. Would suggest that the idea that a “culture” was made up of folks that wanted to retain a “past” rubric or ritual or form had no place at VII. Guess you can suggest that this “new” understanding is a development but we then get back to the original argument – is this reform or rupture? Would suggest that this whole EF/OF and mutual enrichment can result in rupture (not development)? How do you develop a past/dead ritual or form – it appears to be merely hanging on to old rubrics as if they are “museum” pieces – is that what liturgy is about? Who decides what “EF development” is and isn’t an accretion? (again, if you want to see how not to do it – peruse Fr. Allan’s blog)

        Sorry, still see no solid case for this whole “mutual enrichment” – rather, only experience a growing polarization, confusion for the people of God, and the opposite of what “ritual” means in its classical sense.

  10. One of our eighth graders merited a slap by the bishop, but it was some kind of inside joke that I did not understand.

    I had the honor as pastor to confirm one of our eighth graders this year due to special faculties. It was a wonderful privilege.

  11. St John Damascene (675-750 A.D.) and St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Basil the Great, the Synod of Trullo, St. John Damascus, etc, described the method of receiving communion in the hand. Usually by placing their hands in the form of a cross, receiving the Sacrament in the palm of the right hand, supported by the left.

    Since this is how we receive in the OF, I intend to enrich the EF by attempting to receive communion in the hand at an EF mass, standing no less.

    Wish me luck. Wanna see hypocrisy in action? Watch what happens when the temple police see this…..

  12. I never quite trust dismissive attitudes like Fr Turner’s above: “never had anything to do with initiation.” [emphasis added] it seems particularly common with confirmation.

    Military imagery lies beneath the sacraments. The Sacramentum was originally a Roman military oath, until Tertullian said Baptism was the only sacrament a Christian needed. The word stuck, paralleling Christian ritual practice with military.

    This is particularly true for confirmation. The Hebraic anointing, which already had military imagery alongside the priestly and prophetic, was not well known outside the Middle East. In Greece and Rome, anointing was better known from athletic contests, including military contests. Even St Paul uses athletic contests to describe Christianity. These things account for an understanding of initiation as like a military induction, which makes Turner’s comments seem awkward.

    We are not particularly familiar with either military or priestly uses of anointing, so it’s easy to be dismissive of them. Pentecost is probably a good choice for modern explanations, but it is not a “purer” depiction of a complex symbol.

    Also, the rite calls for an anointing with a laying on of hands. It sounds like it is meant to be a single gesture.

  13. I was once told that the ‘slap’ was actually originally a caress(i.e. a sign of affection), and that over time it became distorted. Can anyone confirm this?
    Ratzinger seems to have kept this practice when he was Archbishop of Munich, where he seemed to make it more of a caress than a slap. You can see the video here (it’s about 6 minutes in)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edbLdrIaQ-0&feature=relmfu

    1. 1911 Encyclopedia (Britanica?) at About.com has this:

      ACCOLADE (from Ital. accolata, derived from Lat. collum, the neck), a ceremony anciently used in conferring knighthood; but whether it was an actual embrace (according to the use of the modern French word accolade), or a slight blow on the neck or cheek, is not agreed. Both these customs appear to be of great antiquity. Gregory of Tours writes that the early kings of France, in conferring the gilt shoulder-belt, kissed the knights on the left cheek; and William the Conqueror is said to have made use of the blow in conferring the honour of knighthood on his son Henry. At first it was given with the naked fist, a veritable box on the ear, but for this was substituted a gentle stroke with the flat of the sword on the side of the neck, or on either shoulder as well.

  14. The ‘slap’ is not part of the new rite, so it shouldn’t be done in the ordinary form. The faithful deserve the integrity of the rite. After all, it’s their right! (pun intended)

    But, I do have a question: What is the difference between an acretion and a development?

    [Full disclosure: This is the only site that I’ve had my comments removed because I’ve gone over the top–in other words, I deserved to have my comments removed because I’ve become uncivil–sometimes, convert and traditionalist that I am, some of the comments here drive me to distraction, and I lose control. I”m trying to reform.]

    Nevertheless, I know that the word “acretion” isn’t necessarily a pejorative, although it seems to me that it is used here as one. Is it possible that there was a ‘development’ in, say, 1200, that was good, or an ‘acretion’ in 1982 that should be jetisoned? Or is the decade or century self-defining?

    [Further disclosure: I was a student of Fr. Farrell, OSB (RIP), in the early 80’s; he clandestinely said the old Mass for us, with the silent canon, so that we would understand how the music and ritual overlapped at times, yet came together at important moments. Boy, could he play Tournemire!]

  15. Mr. Kosala, thanks for that video. I revise my opinion on the “slap” at Confirmation in the Ordinary Form. What Cardinal Ratzinger did at Confirmation is perfectly acceptable in the OF and should be recovered in the Ordinary Form of Confirmation and also kneeling for this Sacrament as seen in the video. I’m all in favor of it now! 🙂

  16. The whole notion of the “OF and EF enriching each other” is a furphy. The old (Tridentine, 1570, pre-Vatican II, 1962, Lefebvrist, whatever) rite was reformed, and became what was until recently popularly called the Novus Ordo. It remained so throughout the reigns of three popes (one of them of exceedingly great length) and into the reign of a fourth, the current one.

    If you want a fine example of the hermeneutic of rupture, you need look no further than the creation of “OF and EF” of the one Rite – a thing hitherto unheard of throughout history.

    And the rupturer’s name is Benedict.

    1. We could call the Holy Father’s (Pope Benedict’s) liturgical rupture, “Original” and “Reformed” Masses,
      OM and RM although I still like Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and Traditional Novus Ordo, (TNO) but with my new designation we could have Original Ordo (OO) and Reformed Ordo, (RO) and revel in the recovery of “rupture” by calling it “the hermeneutic of continuity within rupture” as a legitimate “spirit” since Vatican II! 🙂

      1. Allan is entitled to his opinion, even if you don’t agree with him.

        Just as you are entitled to yours.

  17. The Anglican reformers were dismayed when the more traditional priests turned what they considered a purified communion service back into a mass, by adding popish interpolations such as bowings, crossings, mumbled prayers, incense, vestments and the like. The same thing happened with the revival of religion after the Oxford Movement.

    I suspect that you are indeed experiencing another aspect of the much vaunted Anglican Patrimony.

    1. Ah be careful, Brian: the success of the ruse depends on NEVER defining “Anglican patrimony” , , ,

  18. My liturgy professor in San Antonio, Fr. Paul Decker, OMI, taught us that the so-called “slap” was a misunderstanding of what was originally a caress by the confirming bishop. It makes good sense to me, in the context of “Peace.” Anyhow, it was something I tried to imitate when blessing children. It was a blessing to me.

    1. The so-called slap/caress by the Bishop was in fact a ‘degenerated form’ of a ‘gesture of peace’. When a Bishop was giving Confirmation in “wholesale numbers” as often happens even today — this gesture was reduced to a minimum just by repetition in these circumstances.

      Originally it had not any other significance — it was certainly not a ‘military or knightly’ reference — the very idea of that sort of reference comes from the 20th century ‘catechetical explanation’ thought up after St. Pius X restored the age of First Communion to the ‘age of reason’ in the seventh year, really after the sixth birthday of the child. This ‘displacement’ of the order of the giving of the Sacraments of Initiation caused a ‘re-thinking of the ‘justification’ for Confirmation — turning it into a sort of ‘Catholic Bar-Mitzvah’ — a theoretical problem which is stil rampant in ‘catechetical circles’.

      In the Middle Ages and still later Confirmation was given to all ‘Baptized’ since the last visitation of the Bishop to the parish — so from babes in arms (baptized last week) to people up to five or six years old or perhaps even older. Until recently, this remained the custom at least in Mexico and South America — in fact it still may be.

      1. Thanks – your exegesis only highlights my opinion that this whole “mutual enrichment” exercise (bi-directional, no less) as demonstrated by comments here is way off track.

        The reforms were a complex process that involved historical study and research into current, past rites, ressourcement, etc.; then, there was an effort to get to the “essentials’ of the sacramental and liturgical actions (stripped of various accretions). The council fathers basically attended class with experts to be educated, to understand the historical process, the definitions, and the structure of the process so that they could then make contributions.

        The issue with this “late” papal announcement is that there is no structure, there is no process, who determines what is a development or an accretion. Look at some of the comments just about the “slap” – no carefule research; obviously, some were not educated on how this came about or why it continued; etc. But, because it was part of the pre-1962 liturgy, it must have worth and be either kept or restored. Why?

        Sorry – one of the chief complaints about the “spirit of VII”: was/is that it was arbitrary. This whole mutual enrichment is arbitrary and seems to try to replace a church council by “smokes and mirrors”.

      2. Aquinas wrote of Confirmation:
        “it is evident that in the life of the body a certain special perfection consists in man’s attaining to the perfect age, and being able to perform the perfect actions of a man: hence the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 13:11): “When I became a man, I put away the things of a child.” And thence it is that besides the movement of generation whereby man receives life of the body, there is the movement of growth, whereby man is brought to the perfect age. So therefore does man receive spiritual life in Baptism, which is a spiritual regeneration: while in Confirmation man arrives at the perfect age, as it were, of the spiritual life.”

        This passage justified the use of Confirmation as a kind of “Catholic Bar Mitzvah,” a rite of passage from child to adult.

        St Thomas also makes use of military imagery in his answers on Confirmation, even quoting older sources: “as Pope Melchiades says (Ep. ad Episc. Hispan.) “after Baptism we are strengthened for the combat.”

        And the Baltimore Catechism, copyrighted in 1885, clearly states “166. Q. What is Confirmation? A. Confirmation is a Sacrament through which we receive the Holy Ghost to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.”

        So I find it hard to believe your claim that the rite of passage and military references came only after these things were written. They appear to have been extant and important long before Pius X.

  19. Of course the greatest hermeneutic of rupture in the Church since Vatican II is the lack of charity and charitable discourse, or sins against this virtue, which is the greatest subversion of Vatican II, not the return of pre-Vatican II ecclesiology, discipline or liturgics.

    1. Yes, that would be delusional. Are ther people out there who think that postconciliar lack of charity is snot in continuity with the preconciliar lack of charity? A brief look at Papal teaching should be enough to show how rough things were before the Council, eg the inaugural encyclicals of Benedict XV:
      The spirit of insubordination and independence, so characteristic of our times, has, as We deplored above, not entirely spared the ministers of the Sanctuary. It is not rare for pastors of the Church to find sorrow and contradiction where they had a right to look for comfort and help

      or Paul VI.
      a spirit of independence, bitter criticism, defiance, and arrogance is far removed from that charity which nourishes and preserves the spirit of fellowship, harmony, and peace in the Church. It completely vitiates dialogue, turning it into argument, disagreement and dissension-a sad state of affairs, but by no means uncommon.

      A lack of charity has plagued the Church for more than a century. I hope no one mistakes this continuity for a rupture.

      1. Good points all! I should have posted that a lack of charity is rupture with the Gospel pre or post Vatican II. All the more reason for the Sacrifice in any Liturgical form no matter the lack of the hermeneutic of continuity.

    2. Allan you want to keep this appeal for charity in mind next time you’re filling the ether with vitriol in your own blog.

      Or don’t the rules of charity apply to you?

  20. Fr. Allan – given your 5:14PM statement, please edit and delete your harsh comments and opinionated statements about President Barack Obama, LCWR, etc. on your blog…..if one is talking about “lack of charity and charitable discourse”. You seem to be “channeling” Bishop Jenky these days. How sad.

    1. Well of course it appears my 5:14 comment no longer has a reason for existing but I stand by it even out of context.

  21. “It likely proves too much to say that it’s wrong to wipe away the work of 50 years… how much more so the work of the previous 500. Did they not also study, work and pray?”

    Um, no, they didn’t; they couldn’t. One of the effects of the medieval period was a loss of classical learning and patristic sources *as a resource* for liturgical structures. There was a genuine loss of a living memory of liturgical sources, plus a conscious suppression of local traditions in the post-Trent reforms. It seems that the medieval allegorization of the priest at the altar as modeled on the Jewish priests in the “holy of holies” had become the standard model for celebrating the eucharist. The Trent directive to have the altar and the people in the same space — eliminating the rood screen — was considered by some to be an inappropriate “intrusion” on tradition — but the “holy of holies” presumptions continued. (I attended mass in Seville, ES where the enclosure around the main altar was intact, and only the top half of the door was open, which meant that the sanctuary, the altar, and the priest were at best only partially visible.)
    The increased centralization of Church authority over texts (after Trent) and bureaucracy (after the French Revolution) in the Vatican pretty much made it difficult for anything resembling “organic development” to happen.
    The directive (from Pius X, I think) that the faithful receive communion *during* mass [not before or after] was once considered a disruption in the action and function of the priest at the altar.
    I still remember the priest coming out before daily mass to offer communion to people who could not stay for mass. “Mass and communion” were still two different activities in the piety of the early ’60s.

    1. Thank you for this post. Although I don’t agree with most of your conclusions, you’ve given a cogent, reasoned explanation, in general, of why a recent development (rooted in the last half-decade) can sweep aside a millenium of “accretions.” In fact, I’m going to have to investigate Trent more closely; yours is one of the first explanations I’ve read not rooted in emotionalism and sentimentality.

      Trent mandated the removal of the rood? I didn’t know that.

      1. Let me give you the all too predictable St. Paul (neither heighth, nor depth..etc., etc., can separate us from the Love of God…), so proximity isn’t tantamount on the one hand.

      Yet, on the other

      2. It is a shame that Trent swept aside all the local uses (various Gallican uses, for intance), early forms of healthy local “inculturation,” free of the contrived exoticims we’re now experiencing in a rather stilted reach for the “authentic.”

      Interesting. Thanks, again, for a lucid post.

      1. Christopher

        Trent did not sweep away all of the other uses or rites of the Church, only those with a pedigree of less than 200 years: the Rite of Braga, the Mozarabic Rite, the Carthusian Rite, the Dominican Rite, the Premonstratensian Rite, the Use of Sarum (to name the ones I have to mind) and, indeed, the Gallican rites continued to be authorised and used long after the promulgation of the Pian Missal.

  22. Fascinating discussion.

    I see accretions from former practices to current liturgical celebrations all around me, and I don’t have any idea of “why?”

    My new bishop likes to wear “Roman Style” vestments of spun gold to big events like the Chrism Mass, and then he sends out emails to the entire prysbeterate claiming that he was “just having some fun” and not “making a statement” by wearing the old-style vestments.

    Currently, when we have ordinations to the priesthood, the seminarians have convinced the Bishop to let them have makeshift “Maniturgians”, the cloth that used to be wrapped around the newly anointed hands of the priests, but which has been dropped by the new ritual for ordinations. The seminarians claim that they want to give the cloth to their mothers, so that they can be buried with it. How do you spell superstition?

    Also, our seminarians have revived the old practice of having 6 torch-bearers and one thurifer kneel in front of the altar for the institution narrative, for Episcopal liturgies.

    It really seems that even our vesture is going backward. No longer are simple, opaque albs considered to be sufficient as an adequate expression of our baptismal garment, but we are being told that the more lacey, more ornate old-style albs and surplices are now “in style.” Anyway, after 20 years of service as a priest and pastor, I’m very scared for the future of the Church in the United States.

    1. Don’t worry Padre.

      This nightmare ends w/ the next conclave, which can’t come soon enough for most.

      One influential cardinal (according to John Allen) has stated that it may happen before years end…

      What we have now is called the “last gasp”.

      1. Only a fool would try to predict the next pope BUT one can take a look at the previous conclaves and see a pattern usually in the opposite direction…
        John XXIII, too liberal, elected a more conservative
        Paul VI, considered too weak, too controversial and drifting, elected a younger, mild mannered
        JPI, died 4 wks later, considered too old, elected younger
        JPII, young, lasted too long, elected a much older “temporary”
        B16, too conservative and out of it.

        Therefore if previous conclaves are any indication a younger more progressive moderate/liberal will emerge.

        I can’t wait for the slate to be wiped clean.

      2. That may be true, Kim, but I’m struggling to see anyone currently wearing a red hat who we can honestly say would take a different liturgical direction to Benedict (by your criteria we’re looking for a younger man and a more dynamic administrator).

    2. Without commenting on the Roman vestments and lace albs of your bishop, I think you are a bit harsh in calling the giving of the manutergium to the priests’ mothers “superstition”. I doubt they really think it bestows a particular supernatural value of some sort. It probably has sentimental value for the mothers, to have a more tangible memento closely linked with the ordination.

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