Sunday, August 24, 2008

Part VI: The Canon of the Mass.( I )

The canon of the mass is an old prayer, reaching in substance,at least as far back as Gelasius I (Think gelasian Sacramentary), and Pseudo-St.Ambrose, who quotes a similar prayer as being that used in Milanese Italy at the time in 'De Sacramentis', and the canon is remarkably related to the Anaphora of St.James.
It consists of a series of three sets of three prayers, known by their respective Latin titles (1)Te igitur, Communicantes, Hanc igitur, 2) Quam oblationem, the Dominical words, Unde et memores, 3) Supra quae, Memento, Nobis quoque, ) Originally, These petitions were contained in the prayer of the faithful, but when these began to be used less and less (Eventually being dropped altogether) they were inserted into the prayers after the consecration. Soon, By pope St.Damasus' time, the prayers were split in half between the words of consecration. Still undeveloped, pope St.Gregory the great added the final touches to the Roman Canon, leaving us with what we have today.
Nowadays, there is a multiplicity (22!) of Eucharistic prayers. I personally object to their use*, because like many things, they were approved as a concession to disobedience and liturgical abuse.
During the final years of the Second Vatican Council, many priests, on their own initiative, began to write thiner own Eucharistic prayers and used them to imitate the practice of primitive Christians, and some eastern rites. Pope Paul IV condemned this as an abuse, and reminded preists that no ones was to undertake modifications to the rite of holy mass without the express permission of the local ordinary, and the holy see. Certain people who shall not be named told Pp. Paul VI that it would be better to simply construct and approve more Eucharistic prayers, since the abuse was too widespread to stem. He agreed, but on the condition that their use should be governed by specific rubrics, and that the roman canon, like Gregorian chant, would be given pride of place as that which is inherently proper to the Roman Rite. This didn't happen. Rather, they disregarded him, and set them out wit no governing rules at all, and with the roman canon soon falling out of use. Majorly digressing, we go to the subject of the first petition: Te Igitur.
The celebrant, with hands extended prays:

Therefore, most gracious Father, we humbly beg of You and entreat You through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord, to deem acceptable and bless these + gifts, these offerings, these holy and unspotted oblations which, in the first place, we offer You for Your Holy Catholic Church, that You would deign to give her peace and protection, to unite and guard her throughout the world, together with Your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop; and all true believers who cherish the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.
Te first part of the te igitur,The gifts, the offerings, the holy and unspotted oblation is Christ. The priest, representing the community of believers should show us the manner that w e should participate in this sublime privilege of attending holy mass, humility, it can't be stressed enough, in these days of horizontal "me" oriented masses, where it's about me, me feelings, my personhood, my life, and God gets left out. An old interpretation says that we say "Haec dona", because Christ is the gift of the Father for the salvation of the world. And we say "Haec MuInera", because we offer him to the father, or rather, he offers himself to the Father. Ths should be our mindset. Self offering to God, and not just during mass. During this first part, pray for humility and a life centered on God.
In the second part, we pray for the Holy Catholic Church, and that God our Father would guide, protect, and govern her, along with the Pope,(The earthly representative of her head, Christ.) The Bishops (The successors of the apostles, who should hand on to us the faith true, uncompromised, and unabashedly.) and for all true believers who hold fast to the faith.(i.e., those not separated from the church by heresy or mortal sin.)
During this part, pray for the church, that she, her faithful, and Her pastors may recover from the problems most encountered in the modern church these days, especially the aging double-knit dinosaur that we call "Dissent".
That's all for now.
*I promise, no more opinion dumping.

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