Naming the Bishop in Eucharistic Prayers

Today I want to address the naming of the diocesan bishop in the Eucharistic prayers or the Canon in the 1962 missal. Under most circumstances, the naming of the pope and the diocesan bishop is rather routine and looks the same in both forms of the mass. In the ordinary form of the mass, the naming of the pope and diocesan bishop is governed by 2002 GIRM 149. First it covers what a bishop says when he celebrates in his own diocese and then when he is in another bishop’s diocese. Of interest to me is the next paragraph which states that:

The Diocesan Bishop, or one who is equivalent to the Diocesan Bishop in law, must be mentioend by means of this formula: together with your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop (or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect, Abbot).

In the extraordinary form, the naming of the pope and diocesan bishop is determined by Ritus servandus VIII, 2:

2. […] When he says “et Antistite nostro N.,” he specifies the name of the Patriarch, Archbishop, or Ordinary Bishop in the respective Diocese, and not the name of any other Superior, even if the Celebrant is entirely exempt, or under the jurisdiction of another Bishop. If, however, the Bishop who is Ordinary of that place, in which the Mass is being celebrated, is deceased, these words are omitted, and are omitted even by those who are celebrating at Rome. […]

One will immediately notice that the 1962 missal tries to provide direction for when a diocese is occupied and when it is vacant, but it is silent with regards to vicars and prefects and other transitional situations. The new law, while being very helpful about how a bishop can reference himself and others and what is done is non-diocesan territories, is entirely silent about what happens when the see is vacant. What happens in the situations that fall into these holes in the law is where this topic gets interesting.

I want to dive into these differences because they affect those priests who celebrate both the ordinary form and extraordinary forms of the mass. As I explored earlier with regard to deacons, the differences in ecclesiology that underpin the discipline of the ordinary and extraordinary forms can, at times, produce results that are opposite to each other. And, because the Summorum pontificum derogates from liturgical laws promulgated after 1962 and which are incompatible with the rubrics of the pre-1962 liturgical books (cf. Universae Ecclesia [UE] n. 28), priests have no choice but to juggle these differences.

Extraordinary Form

As early as 1722, it was the opinion of the Sacred Congregation of Rites that during a vacancy, that name of the administrator of a diocese should not be mentioned in the Canon (S.R.C. Decree 2274 [3952], Sarsinaten, n. 5). This was repeated in S.R.C. 3047, n. 4 and 4288, n. 2. Following the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the same congregation answered a dubium whether apostolic vicars and apostolic prefects should be named in the Canon, because they enjoy in virtue of 1917 CIC 294 the same rights within their territory as territorial bishops. Relying on 1917 CIC 2 (liturgical laws retain their force unless expressly changed by the code) and a distinction made in 1917 CIC 308 between vicars and prefects augmented with episcopal character, the Congregation of Rites responded negatively (S.R.C. Dubium, 8 Mar 1919, AAS 11 [1919], p. 145). The one exception rubricists made was in allowing apostolic administrators who are of episcopal character and who are permanently constituted over a territory to be named in the Canon because 1917 CIC 315 extends to them the same rights, honors, and honorific privileges that residential bishops enjoy (Cf. O’Connell, The Celebration of the Mass [Bruce: Milwaukee, 1964], 259).

Ordinary Form

The first edition of the post-conciliar missal provided no direction regarding who may be mentioned in the Eucharistic prayer. The Congregation for Divine Worship addressed this omission in 1972 with the decree Cum de nomine (AAS 64 [1972], pp. 692-694), which forms the basis of the current language in the GIRM. Reflecting the increased awareness of local and universal communion which the documents of Vatican II highlight, the decree reads

[the] mention of the bishop in the eucharistic prayer is not simply or mainly a matter of honor but of communion and charity […]. Such considerations obviously apply also those who, whether marked by episcopal consecration or not, preside over some community of the people of God.

The decree goes on to say that the follow must be named: a territorial bishop, a bishop still retaining administration of one diocese after being transferred, apostolic administrators who is a bishop whether permanent or temporary whether a see is vacant or not, apostolic vicars and prefects, and a prelate or abbot nullius having jurisdiction over a territory not attached to any diocese.

In the American Experience

In the American context, the only tricky situation that one is going to encounter is a vacant diocese with either a diocesan administrator or an apostolic administrator. A diocese is vacant if the bishop dies, takes possession of a new see (i.e. is transferred), is granted retirement, or is removed from office (cf. 1983 CIC 416). One of three situations follow:

A) If the Holy See names an apostolic administrator who is a bishop to administer a diocese, he is certainty named in the ordinary form. In the extraordinary form, it’s a bit less clear since the canonical distinctions upon which the 1962 rubricists relied are no longer present in the 1983 code, which doesn’t even discuss apostolic administrators. It might depend on the details of his appointment. There is some precedent for naming apostolic administrators in the Canon, so it would not be entirely improper, especially if one has a view toward organic development in the liturgy, to also name an apostolic administrator who is a bishop in the extraordinary form.

B) If a diocesan administrator is elected by the college of consultors (cf. 1983 CIC 421), if he is a bishop, he is named in the ordinary form; if he is not, he wouldn’t and the line “and N., our bishop” would be omitted entirely. In the extraordinary form, a diocesan administrator is not mentioned at all and the Latin phrase would be omitted.

C) When a bishop is transferred, from the time of the announcement of his transfer until he takes possession of the new see, he is still technically bishop of his current see but his power is limited to that of a diocesan administrator (cf. 1983 CIC 418, §2). Because he is still the bishop of the see, the 1972 CDW decree stipulated he must be named. The extraordinary form would do the same since who possesses a see is a matter for the Code of Canon Law, from which Summorum Pontificum does not derogate (UE, n. 27). When he does finally take possession of the new see, he ceases to be bishop of his former diocese and that diocese is then vacant. At that point, he would cease to be named in both the ordinary or extraordinary forms.

An Interesting Alternative

I mentioned at the start that Summorum Pontificum derogates from laws connected to the sacred Rites promulgated after 1962 and which are incompatible with the rubrics of the pre-1962 liturgy. As one may have noticed at the outset, what the liturgical laws actually say is rather limited. One may ask the question, in this very narrow matter, how much of the post-conciliar law is actually incompatible with the pre-conciliar law?

Certainly, the provisions in the post-conciliar law allowing for apostolic vicars and prefects and abbots nullius are incompatible with the pre-conciliar law since it calls for an alteration of the Canon from Antistite nostro N. to Vicario, Praelato, Praefecto, Abbate nostro N.. The same goes for the post-conciliar law allowing for the naming of auxiliary and coadjutor bishops as well as a bishop referencing himself and the local bishop, since all these require insertions or adaptations of the Canon text. The post-conciliar situation with regards to diocesan and apostolic administrators who happen to be bishops is different. Since neither the post-conciliar rubrics nor the pre-conciliar rubrics provide for this situation, there can be not incompatibility of law. Moreover, there is no alteration of the Canon text(antistite being a synonym for episcopo). The post-conciliar practice is based on the interpretation of the Congregation for Divine Worship as explained in Cum de nomine regarding the purpose of naming the bishop, while the pre-conciliar practice is based on earlier interpretations of the same congregation (before its name was changed). The more recent interpretation should carry more weight not only because it is more recent, but because more accurately reflects the doctrinal and canonical reality of the Church today.

In that case then, at least in the American experience, what a priest does when he reaches that point in the Eucharistic prayer or the Canon will be the almost same regardless of the form of the mass being celebrated.

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What do “ductus” & “ictus” mean?

Yesterday I began addressing a common phenomena I’ve witness, namely the practice of incensing the Blessed Sacrament with three triple swings of the thurible. I’m fairly confident that my last post has shown that there is no way to justify this custom under the current rubrics of the Roman Missal, 3rd. edition. I left unanswered, however, the question of the proper definitions of ductus and ictus. I will answer that question here.

For most people, the English translations by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, Inc. (ICEL) of the Ceremonial of Bishops (The Liturgical Press, © 1989) and the General Instruction (USCCB, © 2003) are your first, and perhaps, only reference. Unfortunately, neither is particularly helpful in determining the proper meanings of these two words. ICEL’s translation of the GIRM erases any distinction when it translates both ductus and ictus simply as “swings of the thurible.” The translation of the Ceremonial of Bishops (CE) done about a decade earlier does attempt—albeit poorly—to distinguish between the two. It translates these phrases in n. 92 as follows: “The censer is swung back and forth three times for the incensation of […]”; and “The censer is swung back and forth twice for the incensation of […]”. CE n. 93 reads, “The altar is incensed with a series of single swings of the censer […].” While credit should be given for trying to preserve the distinction between two Latin terms, the phrase “back and forth” doesn’t clarify much since all swings go back and forth; the difference is how many times it does.

Since neither the English or Latin versions of the post-Conciliar provide a definition of these two terms, reference has to be made to the pre-Conciliar liturgy, which also used these two words, in the hope that something from the years prior to the Novus Ordo liturgy can answer the question. This is where I’ve run into trouble with people. While the arguments differ slightly, the bottom line always is that the 1962 liturgy has no bearing on the new liturgy.

This is where the 1983 Code of Canon Law is helpful, because it reiterates some general rules that apply to all ecclesiastical laws, and we know that rubrics are liturgical law (see can. 2). Canon 19 directs that holes in the law be resolved in “light of […] the […] practice of the Roman Curia, and the common and constant opinion of learned persons.” (I’ve omitted parts that are not immediately relevant to this discussion.) One could also say, by analogy of law to can. 6, §2, that the new rubrics in so far as they use the same vocabulary should be assessed according to tradition (emphasis mine). All this confirms what the 2000 GIRM says in no. 6 and, in particular, no. 42 which instructs that the gestures and postures of the people, priest, and ministers should be determined in accord with the general instruction and the tradition of the Roman Rite (emphasis mine). The conclusion that the new rubrics on incensation are understood in the light of the pre-Conciliar liturgy is further supported by the fact that the 1984 Ceremonial of Bishops itself directs readers to the pre-Conciliar ceremonial (1886) in footnotes 72-75, concerning the way the thurible is to be held, the way it is to be presented and received back by the thurifer, etc.

The answer, then, to what is the proper meaning of ductus and ictus is found in the pre-Conciliar liturgy. To be specific, the distinction between the two terms is found in three decrees* by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (S.R.C.)—the predecessor to the modern CDW, which from 1588 to 1969 was tasked with resolving rubrical questions. The first decree was given on 22 March 1862 in response to a question submitted by the Archdeacon of the Cathedral Church of San Marco in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It reads, “Dubium 20: Is the two ductus of the thurible, with which the Deacon ought to incense each Canon in choir, to be understood such that each individual ductus ought to be made by a double swing? — Regarding no. 20: Yes.” (S.R.C. Decree 3110 [5318]). On 24 November 1899 the Congregation replied to Fr. Juan Barber Pons, Rector and Master of Ceremonies of the Cathedral Church of Menorca in Spain. To the question, “Is the incensation of the Most Holy Sacrament to be made with a triple ductus of double swings, even within Solemn Mass, before the Introit and at the Offertory?” the reply was “Yes, according to the Decree under no. 3110 on 22 March 1862, reply to no. 20.” (S.R.C. 4048). Lastly, on 29 May 1900 the Congregation answered in the negative to the query of the Master of Ceremonies of the Cathedral Church of Urgell in Spain asking “Should ductus be made with double swings during the incensation of the Altar […]?” (S.R.C. 4057).

From these three dubia it becomes clear that a ductus is composed of two swings and that an ictus is composed of one swing. This same understanding was reiterated in all the English-language commentaries on the pre-Conciliar liturgical rites. Canon J.B. O’Connell, for example, in his major work The Celebration of Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, in 5 editions © 1940-1962) gives a detailed description of the double swing of the ductus, and regarding the ictus he writes, “In incensing an altar […] the thurible is raised to the height of the breast, swung out towards the object or person and then lowered. In other words the act of incensation is a simple ictus” (p. 490). Similar descriptions can be found in commentaries by Adrian Fortescue and others.

This finally puts to rest the question of how one properly incenses the Blessed Sacrament, the priest, the people, and so on in the Mass of Pope Paul VI.. Number. 277 of the 2000 GIRM and 1984 CE nn. 92 and 93 (and even temporary provisions from 1978) were written using the vocabulary inherited from the pre-Conciliar mass and, thus, the definitions of these words as established in the late 19th. cent .by the Holy See for the pre-Conciliar mass still hold true for the current Ordinary Form of the mass.

* It is interesting to note for liturgical scholars that the distinction between these two words grew out of centuries of liturgical practice, and was not formally recognized by the Holy See till 1862 long after the Tridentine liturgical books were first implemented. It would be indeed interesting to investigate how these two words were understood when they were first written into the rubrics.

Triple swings of the Thurible?

I’m continually amazed at how frequently I encounter the practice of using three triple swings of the thurible to incense the Blessed Sacrament. This was the case just a few days ago at Benediction in a local parish. Despite years of searching, the best explanation I’ve found is that it’s either a complete invention or a mistaken interpretation of the governing documents (Caeremoniale Episcoporum (1984), nn. 92-93; Institutio generalis Missalis romani (2000), n. 277). I’m still convinced there is no way to justify the practice according to the current liturgical law.

The Mass of Paul VI is governed primarily by the Institutio generalis Missalis romani, usually referred to by its English name General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM). For our purposes, the 1975 and 2000 versions are most relevant. All the editions of the GIRM prior to 2000 did not contain any instructions on how incensations were to be carried out. A temporary solution was given by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacramentes (CDW) in 1978 (Notitiae 14 (1978), 301–302, n. 2.). The first clear legislation in this regard was the 1984 Ceremonial of Bishops (CE) typical edition (nn. 92 and 93). The 2000 Latin typical edition of the GIRM adopted CE nn. 92 and 93 verbatim with only two minor editions (cf. 2000 GIRM 277) indicated below by underlining. It reads (emphasis mine):

[92] Tribus ductibus thuribuli incensantur: Ss.mum Sacramentum, […] oblata, crux altaris, […] presbyter celebrans, […] et populus […]. Duobus ductibus incensantur reliquiae et imagines Sanctorum publicae venerationi expositae[, et quidem initio tantum celebrationis cum incensatur altare].
[93] Altare incensatur singulis ictibus thuribuli, […]. Oblata thurificantur [incensat sacerdos tribus ductibus thuribuli], ante incensationem altaris et crucis[, vel signum crucis super oblata thuribulo producens].

Even if one does not understand the distinction between the Latin wrods ductus and ictus, it is immediately evident that whatever three ductus (tribus ductibus) means, the Blessed Sacrament (Ss.mum Sacramentum) along with the priest (presbyter celebrans), the cross (crux altaris), and the people (populus) all get the same incensation. Nowhere in the lists for two ductus (duobus ductibus) or single icutus (singulis ictibus) does one find the words for the Blessed Sacrament, the cross, the priest, or the people. There is nothing in the 1984 CE or the 2000 GIRM to justify giving the Blessed Sacrament a different incensation than the priest, cross, or people.

I’ll address how we can definitively conclude what ductus and ictus each mean in a subsequent post.