Liturgy in Collegeville: From the Archives – Part XXXIV

Pray Tell continues its series on the liturgical history of Collegeville. The sub-series “From the Archives” reprints some of the Liturgy Committee meeting minutes from 1963 to 1969. This sub-series is a behind-the-scenes look at liturgy in Collegeville during and immediately after the Second Vatican Council.

The next record from the Liturgy Committee:

Minutes of the Liturgy Committee

September 2, 1966

Present: Fathers Daniel, Godfrey, Aelred, Gerard, Emeric, Simon, Kieran, Bruce, and Brothers Gerard and Dominic.

The first point dealt with was the use or disuse of gestures at the Concelebrated Conventual Mass. It was emphasized that the extension of both hands at the Hanc Igitur should be retained. The pointing to the elements of bread and wine at the words of consecration is to be omitted. The concelebrants may extend their arms for the Our Father. It was again re-emphasized that the chief celebrant’s voice should prevail and that the other concelebrants should follow his pace in a discreet tone. It was agreed that the concelebrants should remain in the church for part of the recessional hymn. The exit route was also briefly discussed. It was pointed out that the present slipping out at the end of the stalls looks a bit too casual. Maybe all the concelebrants could come out into the sanctuary for the final hymn, but that creates a problem for books. A second suggestion was that all process out from the aisle between the large and small sections of the choir. Finally, it was stressed that freedom for personal opinion must be respected wherever the rubrics themselves allow for one or several variations on a given point.

A second point brought up pertained to the readers at Mass and in the refectory. It was hoped that Brothers as well as Clerics should read in both these places. A suggestion that a sign be posted for Brothers who are interested was opposed by one or the other who believed that they should be hand-picked. Others did not like this idea of eliminating some automatically. A proposal was then made that Father Dominic be asked to take charge of interviewing and preparing all readers for Church and refectory. This would give all a chance to volunteer, but knowing beforehand if they did not produce well, they would be dropped. All liked this idea. If Fr. Dominic did not have the time for this, Fr. Daniel said he would be willing to perform this service to improve the caliber of reading.

The third topic discussed was that of the experimental horarium. All in general liked the new horarium. It was hoped that it be continued into the school year since many have not been home and that this would be the acid test of the schedule. As for the schedule itself, the time of the Mass at 5:00 was liked by all, though one or the other thought the possibility of a 12:00 noon Mass should be explored. The length of the service seems to be less of a problem than the routine and tediousness of its performance, it is psychologically tiring. It was hoped that some experimentation be forthcoming at three nocturne offices also.

The problem of tabernacles was once again raised. The following suggestions were made: 1) Place of reservation of Blessed Sacrament be the Assumption Chapel with the Sacrament reserved in the ambulatory for Communion purposes, but not for public veneration, 2) the Blessed Sacrament be moved to the present holy oil cabinet, which is presently unused, to the right of the throne on the back wall. The possibility for this under present diocesan legislation seems highly unlikely however. #1 would be possible under the present legislation.

Respectfully submitted,

Bruce, osb

19 comments

  1. The suggestions seem very logical to me, except that there would be a tabernacle for communion purposes but NOT for veneration. That seems illogical.

    1. @Brian Culley – comment #2:

      As I read it, they suggested reservation both in a chapel (where presumably veneration could occur) and in an ambulatory for Communion purposes only. That seems eminently sensible: veneration in an ambulatory would not be practicable.

      Redemptionis Sacramentum 130 stipulates that the tabernacle should be

      “in a part of the church that is noble, prominent, readily visible, and adorned in a dignified manner” and furthermore “suitable for prayer” by reason of the quietness of the location, the space available in front of the tabernacle, and also the supply of benches or seats and kneelers.

      None of that is possible in a walkway.

      I think those monks were visionary, in that they thought about doing something which most liturgical architects have never dreamed of, i.e. disentangling the original, functional purpose of the tabernacle (reservation) from the later, devotional purpose of the tabernacle (veneration) by providing two tabernacles with different locations and purposes. We are still suffering from this entanglement, as when local Ordinaries insist on moving tabernacles intended for devotion to locations where they not only conflict with the liturgical action but are also not in accord with the provisions of RS 130.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #4:

        But would not such a disentangling create precisely the distance between the Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament that, from the perspective of the liturgical movement, we would prefer to avoid?

        Is not the rootedness of veneration of the Blessed Sacrament in the action of the Mass itself important to maintain clearly?

      2. @Scott Smith – comment #5:

        I think it’s important to remember, to start with, that Communion from the tabernacle was the norm at the time they were having this discussion. The stipulation in GIRM 85 that the people should receive bread consecrated at the actual Mass and not from the tabernacle had not yet “arrived”. The tabernacle at this period was therefore used for two purposes, one functional, the other devotional. The monks were trying to resolve that confusion and at the same time address practical issues.

        Secondly, the altar tabernacle itself did not “arrive” until the middle of the 2nd millennium. Prior to that, the pyx with Communion for the sick and dying was reserved in a place apart from the main body of the church, or placed in a sacrament tower or dove. To this day, there is no tabernacle in Orthodox churches, the Blessed Sacrament being reserved in a special cupboard in the sacristy. (Their equivalent of venerating the Blessed Sacrament is the veneration of icons.)

        Thirdly, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle did not begin until roughly the 14th century, a little after the feast of Corpus Christi began to be celebrated.

        In other words, although Communion to the sick, housebound and dying has always had a connection to the celebration of the Eucharist in the local community, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament has in a sense never been connected with the action of the Eucharist as such, but evolved very much as if it were a separate entity.

        That is why, incidentally, the document Holy Communion and Celebration of the Eucharist Outside Mass (1973), quoting earlier documents, stresses that devotions should derive from the liturgy and lead worshippers back to the liturgy (although this is still generally not the case, and veneration/adoration is still very much an individual exercise, rather than a communal liturgical practice), and also emphasizes that devotions “should carefully avoid anything which might somehow obscure the principal desire of Christ in instituting the eucharist, namely, to be with us as food, medicine and comfort”. In that sense, Scott, you are right about the connection between Eucharist and devotion.

        We still live in an era when there is a tension between the Eucharist seen as food to be consumed, and thus intimately connected with the action of the Mass, and the Eucharist seen as something not to be consumed but to be gazed at, which arose as a substitute for Communion at a time when actually receiving Communion was a very infrequent practice. In that perspective, in an era of frequent Communion one might expect devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle to be dying out as a practice rather than being constantly promoted, but this has not yet happened; and so the dichotomy between function and devotion is still with us.

      3. @Paul Inwood – comment #6:

        Paul,

        Thank you for your extended response. I still, however, struggle to see why you identify the “dichotomy between function and devotion” as a bug.

        It seems to me that, given what you rightly acknowledge regarding the “connection between Eucharist and devotion”, it is a feature. The devotion should, ideally if not always historically, be closely associated with the action (function) of the Eucharist.

        In other words, it is not a confusion or dichotomy, but an important link, association and connection. And if this was lost, we might in fact be the poorer for it, just as we might be if we tried to reduce the number of ways people are able to access the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

      4. @Scott Smith – comment #8:

        Scott, I think my point is that the devotion evolved as a substitution for physically receiving Communion. Now that we receive Communion “all the time”, as did the early Christians at their weekly celebrations, an important question is why in that case the devotion is still thought necessary. For some, that is a difficult question.

        One answer is that we have not educated people sufficiently well. Another might be that for some the devotion has taken on an almost supersititious patina: it is a “mark of Catholicism”. There is no one alive now who lived through and can testify to the change in praxis following Pius X’s reforms, but it seems clear that as the practice of frequent Communion was revived, the substitute devotional practices were not simultaneously phased out. People were used to the devotions and simply did not let them go — at least not immediately.

        That leaves us with, as you say, an argument about ways of accessing the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The earlier Church would not have understood any of that argument, perhaps responding that the Real Presence of Christ is to be found in those around you, especially those who have received Communion at Mass.

        Nevertheless, I perceive that the number of adherents to devotional practices is in fact quite small in comparison with the number of those who attend Mass, so perhaps people have subconsciously realized that receiving Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist is a primary value, and that gazing in adoration at the reserved sacrament originally intended for the sick and housebound is not, however much some people like it to be.

      5. @Paul Inwood – comment #11:

        Scott, I think my point is that the devotion evolved as a substitution for physically receiving Communion. Now that we receive Communion “all the time”, as did the early Christians at their weekly celebrations, an important question is why in that case the devotion is still thought necessary. For some, that is a difficult question.

        Respectfully, this logic appears to be faulty, and leads to a false dilemma. Just because the conditions which lead to a practice being developed have ceased, does not mean such practices should revert to some prior state. Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament has to be considered in its own right with reference to current conditions, as in the absence of its initial motivation, it may indeed most fruitfully find new purposes and places in our devotional life. For example, perpetual adoration allows access to the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament at times when a priest or congregation are not able to be gathered, which might be precisely when this presence is spiritually required.

        That leaves us with, as you say, an argument about ways of accessing the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The earlier Church would not have understood any of that argument, perhaps responding that the Real Presence of Christ is to be found in those around you, especially those who have received Communion at Mass.

        Well given we have timelessly valid doctrines which confirm the Real Presence of Christ is especially present in the Blessed Sacrament, though not to the exclusion of other modes, it would again seem your proposals would in practice reduce the understanding of the truths we are trying to teach.

        Nevertheless, I perceive that the number of adherents to devotional practices is in fact quite small in comparison with the number of those who attend Mass, so perhaps people have subconsciously realized that receiving Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist is a primary value, and that gazing in adoration at the reserved sacrament originally intended for the sick and housebound is not, however much some people like it to be.

        But no one is arguing adoration should be given primacy over the Eucharist. Indeed, my position is precisely that by retaining a single tabernacle, we are demonstrating the dependence of adoration on the action of the Eucharist.

        Also, I would suggest it is terribly reductive to argue that because something is less primary or important than the Eucharist, it should therefore cease. We would be able to do little else but the Eucharist if that was the case!

        Rather, our focus outside the Eucharist should from flow from the action of the Eucharist, which adoration does if done properly. Indeed, compared to very many other devotions which could be practiced outside of the Mass, adoration might be considered the one which most strongly points back to the Mass itself.

      6. @Scott Smith – comment #13:
        +1

        I’d also suggest that, at least as a prudential matter, top-down (that includes parochial-level clerics and ministers, not merely from Rome or chanceries) efforts to “correct” the devotion to the reserved Blessed Sacrament among the faithful at large have been shallow and unwise.

      7. @Scott Smith – comment #13:

        Scott,

        Thank you for this response. I’m not really talking about primary or more or less important as such, nor is my point about reductionism.

        With respect, I think neither you nor KLS have yet tackled a point I made in #6:

        The Church now understands, as backed up by the 1973 document, that veneration is not, or is no longer, an individual devotion but a communal liturgical event. I do not think that has penetrated through to the vast majority of persons who practise adoration. For them, it is still individual, silent prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Probably no more than a handful of people at a time. Often only two. In no sense is it a liturgy. On those occasions when people come together in larger numbers, it remains a collection of individuals in a room all doing their own thing simultaneously.

        Furthermore, those individuals doing their own thing can on occasions take over the church so that others cannot carry out other activities in it, whether cleaning, rehearsing or whatever. This is a particular problem in places with perpetual adoration. (And yet I keep reading impassioned appeals in parish bulletins for people to join the rota so that perpetual adoration can continue, and wonder why they don’t simply go for temporary or intermittent adoration instead.)

        On the other hand, the increasing numbers of young people who seem to be taking to adoration appear to have a different concept of it. To begin with, they do it in large numbers, and it has a distinctly communal character. They do have songs, readings and prayers as well as periods of silence, as the documents mandate (see HCWEOM 58). In that respect, it feels rather similar to Taizé-style worship, which is definitely a communal liturgical experience and not something where individuals practise their own devotions. Yes, there is personal prayer and devotion, but in a very different context from adoration as practised in most parishes.

        If I seem to be trying to push adoration into a secondary position, it is only the first, individualistic form that I am concerned with. I have no problem with the second, communal form.

      8. @Paul Inwood – comment #16:
        Paul

        As seems to be your sometime habit with these documents, you’ve cherry-picked Eucharistiae Sacramentum to discourage individual adoration in addition to the communal acts of adoration that are in part the subject of the legislation. I don’t believe it’s a reasonable read of the thrust of the document. Even if it were, I don’t think your anecdotal evidence is any more representative than counter-anecdotal evidence by trad bloggers. (To be clear, I count myself as a progressive, but one who wishes progressives would triage our battles better than we have done over recent decades.)

      9. @Paul Inwood – comment #16:

        Firstly, I should make clear, I have no issue with trying to “push adoration into a secondary position”. It IS secondary – The Mass is primary. My point is merely there is no good reason for adoration not to remain, even if individual and devotional, as an adjunction to the Mass.

        For example, I would not suggest perpetual adoration is in any way liturgy, because it is precisely an individual devotion. But liturgy is not required to the exclusion of devotions, nor are communal activities to the exclusion of the individual.

        This appears to be recognised in the 1973 document you quoted – “devotions should derive from the liturgy and lead worshippers back to the liturgy”. That is, devotions need not BE liturgy, but they should derive from and lead back to liturgy. Your quote recognises devotions and liturgy remain separate things, even if the connection between them should be clear.

        And in this regard, things like perpetual adoration are the devotion par excellence from the perspective of the 1973 document, because they are precisely non-liturgical things which “derive from and lead back to liturgy”. Particularly if we do not obscure their derivation from liturgy by trying to disentangle them as you have suggested.

        For example, surely something like perpetual adoration is to be preferred as a devotion from this perspective, over something like reciting the Hail Mary?

        I mean, can we not offer a devotion at times when we cannot gather as a community? Or at times when we spiritually want to spend some time alone with God, while retaining an ecclesiastical (and therefore ultimately communal) context?

        * In terms of the practical issues which can arise with perpetual adoration, they are indeed real, and moving to temporary or intermittent adoration can make sense.

  2. The suggestions seems fine to me, except that there would be a tabernacle for communion purposes but NOT for veneration. That seems illogical.

  3. Paul Inwood : To this day, there is no tabernacle in Orthodox churches, the Blessed Sacrament being reserved in a special cupboard in the sacristy.

    I believe current practice among the Orthodox is to reserve the Eucharist on the Holy Table in a tabernacle called the artoforion.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #7:

      Thank you for this information, Fritz. My researches indicate that this may be a more recent practice, and not universal but now widespread. I have also been fascinated by the fact that artophorion can mean pyx as well as the box on the altar containing the pyx.

      Despite this, the faithful do not render veneration to the artophorion but to icons, including those on the iconostasis.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #10:
        I would suggest Paul, that you attend a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts this Lent in an Orthodox church. Watch closely what happens as the Pre-Sanctified Gifts (Blessed Sacrament in RC parlance) are moved from the artophorion to the altar of preparation and then from the altar of preparation through the church body in procession back to the Holy Table. If that’s not worship of the Gifts themselves, I don’t know what it is.

        The faithful are not for the most part allowed behind the iconostasis near the Holy Table and artophorion, and usually the doors are closed and the veil drawn, except during services anyway. They rarely venerate the icons on the screen itself. That’s why there are analoy or icon stands set before the screen or other parts of the church for the faithful to venerate.

      2. @John Kohanski – comment #12:

        John,

        Thank you for this — very useful and very interesting.

        I still think there’s a difference between (1) giving honour to something by processing it around and (2) a static gazing in prayer and adoration. What you describe seems not a lot different from the usual procession of the gifts through the people to the sanctuary, accompanied, I seem to recall, by the singing of the Cherubikon.

        As far as venerating icons is concerned, yes, I’ve seen plenty of people venerating icons at icon stands, but I’ve also seen plenty of people standing in prayer before the iconostasis, presumably venerating what they are looking at. I imagine that both are common practices. Perhaps it varies from one denomination or region to another.

      3. @John Kohanski – comment #12:
        in the eastern Divine Liturgy when the unconsecrated elements are brought up there is a huge “to do” that seems to us westerners to be a kind of devotion we reserve for the elements at Benediction. It is an emphasis on bread and wine that will by the power of the Holy Spirit be transformed. That bread and wine are receptive to the Spirit as all creation is, demands that they be honored. Beautiful I think.

  4. Thanks Deacon Fritz, that is absolutely correct in the case of both the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. There are rare instances where a pyx, in the shape of a dove hanging over the Holy Table from the baldacchino, is used as well. But the majority have the artophorion directly on the altar itself.

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