7 September 2017

"Hippolytus"; or "The Second Eucharistic Prayer"

How able, how cunning, the Enemy is in his plots to bring Evil out of Good.  I will illustrate this by considering his use of a Eucharistic Prayer still sometimes linked with the name of the early third century antipope Hippolytus.

My distinguished predecessor at S Thomas's, Dr Trevor Jalland, wrote 'The widespread interest evoked by the visual demonstrations of the Hippolytean Eucharist, which have been given in various parts of the country [by Dix since July 1948], testify to the deep indebtedness not merely of scholars, but of the ordinary worshipper, to Dr Gregory Dix in making available for English readers the text of Hippolytus' invaluable treatise The Apostolic Tradition.'

One aspect of this rite which particularly appealed to Catholic Anglicans was the presence of the phrase 'we offer unto thee this bread and this cup'. This seemed to provide an alibi for smuggling back into the mainstream worship of the Church of England a formula expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, absent from our Parliamentary Liturgy since 1559. Thus in 1966 the English Liturgical Commission recommended a rite ('Series II') which contained this phrase; justified on the ground that 'It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries. It is the language used by Hippolytus ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity'.

At about the same time the pot-Conciliar revisers of the Roman Rite incorporated a mangled version of 'Hippolytus' Eucharistic Prayer' as an alternative to the venerable Canon Romanus, the invariable Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman rite for so many centuries. The version which those revisers adopted had been confected by Dom Bernard Botte and Fr Louis Bouyer in between caraffes of wine in one of Rome's seedier areas tras Tevere. 

By 1989, however, Bouyer, at least, had given up the idea that 'Hippolytus' really was by Hippolytus, or even had any connection with the Roman Church. This doubt has now become the academic orthodoxy. (If necessary, one murmurs here the name of Professor Paul Bradshaw.)

Unfortunately, 'Hippolytus' failed in the laudable struggle to recatholicise the worship of the Church of England; the Evangelicals vetoed the crucial phrase. The Enemy saw to that.

But the version put out by the Roman revisers did, by the Enemy's able machinations, succeed in almost entirely eliminating the Canon Romanus from the worship of most ordinary RC churches, where its extreme brevity appealed to priests and people alike (despite the rubrical guidance given that the Canon Romanus was for Sundays and 'Hippolytus' for other occasions). The passion for brevity, which made dear old Fr O'Murphy I say the Old Mass with such unholy rapidity, made his trendier nephew Fr O'Murphy II select 'Hippolytus' with unholy regularity in the New Mass.

So, in the one body, 'Hipplolytus' failed to achieve the hoped-for good of restoring the Eucharistic Oblation; and in the other body it did massive positive harm by edging out of use the Eucharistic Prayer which did express the full doctrine of that Sacrifice.

 Satan's Smoke! Killing two birds with one stone!


Christopher Boegel said...

The world-wide suppression of the Roman Canon is a crime against every soul in the Catholic Church.

It is hard to keep faith in the "contemporary church" which is characterized by rejection of tradition. This situation is a totally insane.

KaeseEs said...

I don't think your average priest wants brevity simpliciter. How often is Eucharistic Prayer 2 used to trim perhaps two or three minutes from the Mass while paired with a twenty minute sermon? You can imagine the impression this gives to (admittedly impressionable) laity such as myself about the relative importance assigned by most clergy to their own thoughts and the thoughts handed down to them by the Church.

rick allen said...

I know that you don't care for the second Eucharistic Prayer, but it seems a little over the top to characterize it as Satanic.

By the same token, whatever the beauty and merits of the Roman Canon, surely the Church was not any less holy, catholic, or apostolic in her early years before its adoption.

When my kids were young our two parish priests normally celebrated six Sunday masses between them, in two and, occasionally, three languages (English, Spanish and Vietnamese). It would have never occurred to me that there was anything lazy or irreverent in their frequent (if not universal) use of the shorter canon.

Bill Meyer said...

"Pot-conciliar" may have been a slip, but that does not mean it is inappropriate to describing the wreckage which ensued.

Christopher Boegel said...

Precisely - no time for tradition - plenty of time for blathering.

Highland Cathedral said...

Can you please say where precisely can be found "the rubrical guidance given that the Canon Romanus was for Sundays" so that I can pass the information onto my PP.