Saturday, March 19, 2005

Some thoughts on The Elevation at Mass

One of the things I have noticed in happening at a couple of churches in the Bay area is the habit of diminishing elevation of the host and chalice during the mass. The rules call for the priest elevate the host for adoration after the consecration of the bread and then the wine, and at the per ipsum "through Him, with Him and in Him..." and the great "Amen." I can see why there is a temptation to do this.

In the Tridentine liturgy the separate elevations of the sacred host and chalice are called the major elevation and the elevation at the per ipsum is called the minor elevation. Indeed, it would seem fitting to elevate the sacred bread and wine together from the per ipsumto the great Amen.

As Peter Elliot says in his book Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite"

The elevation of the host should be a gracious and unhurried "showing" of the Body of Christ to His people. Having said the words of Consecration, the celebrant stands upright, still holding the Host, which he reverently raises directly over the corporal. It seems preferable to raise the host at least to eye-level, where it would obscurer the celebrants face. The action is more significant if he raises the Host higher, without stretching....It seems best to pause for a moment and then lower the Host slowly and reverently to the corporal."

304.Standing upright, he then elevates the chalice carefully with both hands, directly over the corporal. It seems preferable to raise the base of the vessel at least to eye-level, preferably higher, then to pause for a moment before lowering it slowly and reverently to the corporal."

Since the Second Vatican Council, there has been a confusion or disagreement about when exactly does transubstantiation occur. Does it happen exactly at the words HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM. for instance, or does it happen at some time throughout the prayers. Well if it didn't happen before the major elevation then we wouldn't be elevating it. So it has to happen at least by that time. The following is from the Catholic Forum

Elevation of the Host

"The ceremony in the Mass according to the Roman Rite wherein, immediately after the Consecration of the Host, the celebrant raises It high enough to be seen and adored by the congregation. The most ancient mention of the Elevation is found in the synodal statutes of Eudes de Sully, Bishop of Paris (1196-1208), who introduced this practice, to protest against the erroneous opinion that the change of the bread into the Body of Christ was complete only after the Consecration of the chalice. There is a like Elevation of the chalice, which is first mentioned in the Ordo Romanus XIV (1311), the papal ceremonial of Pope Clement V. A bell is rung at each Elevation to call the attention of the faithful. Pius X granted an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines (40 days) to all who look with piety, faith, and love upon the elevated Species."

At one church I know of, the priest doesn't even do the two elevations and at the per ipsum and great Amen, he stands back and points to the many vessels containing the sacred species as the whole congregation says the per ipsum and the great Amen. Of course when Bishop Wester was there saying the mass this did not happen.

I wonder if they are implementing the GIRM like the rest of the diocese. As I said in a previous post, it was refreshing for a priest to invite people to kneel at the Ecce Agnus Dei.

What I have noticed is the priest will hold the sacred host or the chalice just below chest height and say the words of consecration and after just keep it there for a second and set it down. He may lift it an inch but that is all. Sometimes he bows his head and other times not. Then at the per ipsum he elevates both the sacred Host and Chalice together.

The result is that the elevation and separate consecrations are somewhat dimished. The reason for the separate consecrations is well stated on the Perth Catholic Youth Ministry Pagewebsite.

"The priest, by the power of Christ, acts in the person of Christ, and by the words of consecration, changes the bread into the Body, Blood, Soul and Godness of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The 3 rd bell is rung after the priest says the second words of consecration: THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD etc. Jesus did this changing of the wine into His Blood at the end of the Last Supper. He showed forth His death, His SACRIFICE, by the SEPARATE CONSECRATIONS of bread and then wine. He showed HIS BODY and then, separately, HIS BLOOD to God the Father. The priest at Mass does the very same: he changes the bread and then the wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At the Last Supper, Jesus called the consecrated bread HIS BODY ONLY, and the consecrated wine HIS BLOOD ONLY. This was done to show His sacrifice (the cleaving of Blood from Body – which always means death) under the forms of bread and wine until He comes in glory. So, it is the SEPARATE consecrations of bread and wine that account for the sacrificial nature of the Mass. It is the same sacrifice offered on the Cross at Calvary only, like at the Last Supper, in an unbloody manner. At Mass, before the consecration, the priest drops water into the chalice of wine to signify our personal participation in Our Lord's sacrifice."

Maybe I am just reacting to my own preferences. However, it really is best that the celebrant listen to the Holy Father's Letter for Holy Thursday this year and try to "ensure the observance of the liturgical norms intended to safeguard the sanctity of so great a sacrament."


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