Friday, June 09, 2017

The epiclesis - a later addition?

Fr. Hunwicke, "The epiclesis of the Roman Rite" (Fr. Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment, September 2, 2010) writes:
Dear old Fortescue's The Mass records the long debates of liturgists a century ago about where the epiclesis of the Roman Rite originally was before it ... er ... "dropped out". Their assumption, of course, was that the epiclesis was original to Christian liturgy and that the Oriental rites which preserve it were more 'primitive' than the Roman Rite. Now, happily, we know better. We see the Oriental epiclesis as a comparatively late fad in the evolving liturgical tradition. Rather than seeking traces of a lost epiclesis in the Canon Romanus, we realise that the prayer Supplices te rogamus, in which we pray that our offerings be taken to the Heavenly Altar, represents an earlier and lovelier expression of the linkage between our offering and the eternal oblation of the Eternal Son at the Heavenly Altar. Patrimony liturgists such as E C Ratcliffe played a large role here, not to mention Dom Gregory. Read more >>
In "Consecration in the Roman Mass 2" (Fr. Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment, March 15, 2015), Fr. Hunwicke adds:
Why this Gadarene preoccupation, in the 1960s, with epicleses asking the Spirit to be sent to change Bread into Body? The answer is embarrassingly simple. Pretty well all rites except the Roman had an epiclesis. Therefore it must be 'Primitive'. Therefore it was desireable. The alternative possibility, that Rome lacked an epiclesis because it was older than those other rites, occurred to very few. So, for a hundred years or more, the question had been (not why did the other rites add an epiclesis, but) Whatever Happened to the Roman Epiclesis ... deemed to have existed originally but, for some mysterious reason, to have gone missing. Readers who still have on their shelves The Mass by Adrian Fortescue can still find page after page describing the ingenious pursuits, by entire generations of clever and erudite men, of this particular invisible (well, to be frank, mythical) fox. The conviction was bolstered by an inclination to believe that all the existing rites of Christendom must have descended from an Original Liturgy which, at least in its dominant features, was fairly uniform, and could therefore, in principle, be reconstructed from a comparison of existing liturgies. This assumption, as the pendulum swings, is currently highly unfashionable; an Anglican liturgist called Paul Bradshaw has spent most of his life rebutting it. Read more >>
[Hat tip to L.S.]


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