Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 1 August 2009

"Lifted Up Between Heaven and Earth"

A lovely reflection on the elevation by Fr Ray Blake at the St Mary Magdalen blog.

As a young Protestant child taught "Divinity", as my school pretentiously called "RE", by a Methodist minister, I was taught that one of the main differences between the Protestant communion service and that "Romish fable" the Mass was the elevation. We weren't taught in a bitter polemical way but merely presented with historical facts. Indeed, I became intrigued by the tremendously high, and difficult to comprehend Catholic notion of transubstantiation.

So, the first time I went to Mass I was fascinated by the elevation and what it signified: notions of being "lifted up", being "between heaven and earth"; ideas of the exaltion on the Cross or Ascension, the lowering of the host too evoked ideas of Incarnation, kinosis, descent into hell. I remember being a little shocked by reading the rubric in the GIRM, which merely said, "the priest shows the host to the people". What was the cause of so much division between Catholic and Protestant for centuries, seemed to be about merely saying "look". All that talk about the "gaze that saves", those recussant cries at illegal, secret Masses of "hold, sir priest" became reduced to a merely practical showing of the consecrated elements.

Obviously any reading of the connection between the "elevation" and "Corpus Christi" devotion would indicate our forefathers understood a deeper connection, the Protestant hatred and elimination of the "elevation" too, indicates more than a utilitarian presentation for viewing.

The Bugnini rubric allows a great deal of interpretation of "shows the people", from the casual one-handed elevation, an elevation just a few inches above the corporal, the elevation of the pale host against the equally pale face of the celebrant, so actually nothing is seen, to the abrogation by simple priests of the papal prerogative of elevation to the cardinal points of the compass.
Despite participating in a great deal of dysliturgy, I had never encountered the casual one-handed elevation he rightly deprecates until recently.

And now I've seen such carelessness several times in short order.

O the times, O the mores...

And O God, thank you for such priests as Fr Blake. (I don't think I knew until this that he was a convert. Interesting, interesting...)

No comments: