On Concelebration

I see where Cardinal Burke has uttered against excessive concelebration at a liturgy conference in Ireland. A generation ago, it would have been taken as a progressive matter among liturgists. He has his reasons, of course:

I don’t think there should be an excessive encouragement of concelebration because the norm is for the individual priest to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

If it is repeated too frequently, it can develop within him a sense of being another one of the participants instead of actually being the priest who is offering the Mass.

Interesting observations. I always thought concelebration was something of a shot against an all male clergy. Sure, a man appears more like Jesus. But multiple Jesus figures around the altar? What’s that about: some spiritual cloning? Of course, that’s just the view from the pew. Cardinal Burke lives in what must be a concelebration paradise, Rome. I’m sure that if a priest is called upon to concelebrate with a famous cardinal, or even the pope, it might seem like a spectator events for him. From the pews–not much difference to our eyes.

I also noted that Cardinal Burke comes down against Word and Communion services. But he doesn’t mention that fewer concelebrating clergy mean more priests for communities that don’t have resident pastors. Just saying …


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to On Concelebration

  1. John Drake says:

    As the great Father Z likes to say, concelebration should be legal, safe and rare!

  2. Liam says:

    Cdl Burke is coming at this from the more-is-more or quantitative school of indulgence-oriented sacramental theology, which Trent tried to dampen. The sight of side chapels filled with priests celebrating simultaneous Masses individually, a sight beloved of some, does not fill my heart with warm fuzzies.

    I don’t have, and never had, a bugaboo about concelebration and have generally found the principled protestations against it to be unpersuasive.

    For practical reasons along the lines of Todd’s last paragraph, there might be more pressing needs to be met, but I’ve not lived in areas that as of yet are that starved for priests or Masses. Generally, despite the declining numbers of priests, we have more Masses scheduled than are actually *needed* other than for mere convenience. I don’t encounter ordinary Sunday Masses anywhere where the church is packed to the gills the way it was in the 1960s.

    I would venture that there are other practical reason why concelebration is not typical in a parish with more than one priest in residence: (i) restrictions on bination/trination (assuming the parish has multiple Masses scheduled), and (ii) the non-celebrant priests are available for other sacramental calls.

  3. Brendan Kelleher svd, Japan says:

    Something tells me that both Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Canizares live in different worlds. But that is something that most readers of this blog would probably already realize and agree on.
    Concelebration as now implemented is the result of a long process of development during and after Vatican II. Pope Paul VI was the main celebrant at the first ever concelebration in modern times, the Opening Eucharist for the Third Session, Sept. 14, 1964 (Alberigo/Komonchak, vol 4, pg 7-8, Congar, Diaries, pg 569 – 70). The number of concelebrants was limited by choice, as is still possible according to the norms. “Mass” concelebrations normally only occur at large diocesan gatherings, and on Holy Thursday for the Chrism Mass, or national conventions, and have a role on such occasions. I have always participated in the Chrism Mass when teaching commitments permitted it, and felt it was really right and fitting, given the nature of that particular liturgy. Truly “mass” concelebrations became a regular sight during the pastoral visitations of Pope John Paul II. I participated in one in a baseball stadium in Tokyo, and swore I’d never do one again – my main task that day was to “shepherd” a dozen or so US Military Chaplains, who arrived suddenly with a letter from the then Apostolic Delegate, formally requesting they be allowed to concelebrate; I didn’t really feel I had celebrated the Eucharist at the end, hence my overall lack of enthusiasm for the same.
    I believe they have a role, at major community celebrations eg vow ceremonies, naturally at ordinations, at jubilee celebrations etc, but on a daily basis for so called ‘conventual’ Eucharists, I see it as an open question. However the current norms state that when a priest attends a Eucharist, rather than celebrate or concelebrate, then he should wear “Choir dress”, and one presumes sit in a separate area. In the case of communities where the habit is still part of daily dress that may be possible, but otherwise, and in tropical/sub-tropical climates ( temperature over 30 degrees celesius, and humidity of 80% and over) the impracticality of norms written in air-conditioned rooms in Rome are obvious.
    Yes, possibly time to rethink the norms, but not for the reasons offered by the two Reverend Excellencies who have shown a preference for the EF and the revival of the cappa manga.

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