Significance of the Altar boy lifting up bottom of chausable


#1

Hey!

Im used to the OF of the Mass so I dont see this often... but usually at the EF of the Mass at the moment when the priest elevates the host/chalice the altar boy lifts up the bottom of the chasuble of the priest... so my question is... what is the significance (liturgically & theologically) of doing that?

Merry Christmas on this Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord!

In Christ through Mary
Zac


#2

I’m not sure how the theological significance would be explained. But I was once told that many centuries ago, chasubles were bigger than even modern-day Gothic vestments, and quite heavy. The combination of size and weight may have made raising the arms at the Elevation difficult, so as assistant raising the chasuble may have been necessary to allow the priest to raise the Host/Chalice fully. When chasubles became smaller and lighter, this wasn’t as necessary, but the gesture still remained, although the modern lifting of the bottom of the chasuble may only be a residual reminder of this.


#3

Old school altar boy here…it’s done so that when the priest lowers his arms his vestment doesn’t bunch up on his shoulders and cause a distraction during the consecration. His hands are devoted solely to host and the spiritual significance of the moment.


#4

I remember this custom practice when I was a kid and going to several EF Masses when I was in my twenties.

Its interesting to realize that this custom wasn’t merely for practical reasons as there is also symbolic reasons even though its not officially mentioned in the rubrics.

IMHO the richness of symbolism when understood and taken to heart brings out the meaning of the gesture into fuller view similar to seeing the symbolic meaning of priest greet the Altar with a kiss at the beginning of Mass and before exiting at the end of Mass.

The Symbolic Purpose of Lifting the Rim of the Chasuble During the Elevations
arsorandi.blogspot.ca/2010/10/symbolic-purpose-of-lifting-rim-of.html

There are two clues to the symbolic meaning of this ceremony. One comes from the ordination Mass wherein the chasuble is said to signify charity. The second comes from the vesting prayer the priest recites when he puts on the chasuble before Mass wherein the chasuble is referred to as the “yoke of Christ”.

In the ordination Mass, when the bishop bestows the chasuble upon the priest he says: “Receive the priestly vestment, which is signified by charity.” The chasuble, therefore, is a symbol of charity.

At the moment of the elevations, all are called to adore the God-Man, really present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. As those assisting at Mass adore the Blessed Sacrament, a minister at the altar lifts the rim of the chasuble, symbolically signifying that from which all charity flows, namely the God Who dwells among us, Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Altar boys performing the ceremony at low Mass.
Secondly, when putting on the chasuble before Mass the priest recites this vesting prayer: “O Lord, Who hast said, ‘My yoke is sweet and My burden light,’ grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace. Amen.” Thus, as well as being symbolic of charity, the chasuble is specifically referred to as the “yoke and burden of Christ” in the Church’s rites. When the deacon lifts the rim of the chasuble at the the elevations he symbolically signifies that the God-Man’s “yoke is easy and His burden light” (Matt 11:30) specifically because He dwells among His people in the Eucharist.

These more important symbolic reasons for the ceremony can bear much meditative fruit for those assisting at Mass. For this reason, even though the rubrics do not call for the altar boy to perform the ceremony at low Masses, it is a good and upright custom for the faithful. Because of the rarity of solemn Masses today, if it were not for the custom of the altar boy imitating the ceremony at low Masses the faithful would needlessly be denied the ceremony and the symbolic significance attached to it.

Merry Christmas
Chris


#5

=Podo2005;10170132]Hey!

Im used to the OF of the Mass so I dont see this often... but usually at the EF of the Mass at the moment when the priest elevates the host/chalice the altar boy lifts up the bottom of the chasuble of the priest... so my question is... what is the significance (liturgically & theologically) of doing that?

Merry Christmas on this Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord!

In Christ through Mary
Zac

The OLD Vestements were quite heavy so the first reason was accomidation

A second reason COULD BE ????] uniting our offering with the priest.

God Bless,

Pat


#6

[quote="centurionguard, post:4, topic:309363"]
I remember this custom practice when I was a kid and going to several EF Masses when I was in my twenties.

Its interesting to realize that this custom wasn't merely for practical reasons as there is also symbolic reasons even though its not officially mentioned in the rubrics.

IMHO the richness of symbolism when understood and taken to heart brings out the meaning of the gesture into fuller view similar to seeing the symbolic meaning of priest greet the Altar with a kiss at the beginning of Mass and before exiting at the end of Mass.

The Symbolic Purpose of Lifting the Rim of the Chasuble During the Elevations
arsorandi.blogspot.ca/2010/10/symbolic-purpose-of-lifting-rim-of.html

Merry Christmas
Chris

[/quote]

:thumbsup::thumbsup:


#7

Actually, it’s not the heaviness of the vestments, but their shape. Modern chasubles fold out flat and then fold over the priest with the head sticking out the fold at the top. Pre-Vatican II chasubles were conical in shape, like an upside down ice cream cone (but with a lot more play), they didn’t fold out flat.

And so, it was impossible for a priest to hold arms straight out without hiking up the material over his shoulder. That’s why deacons needed to follow a priest/bishop and hold the chasuble up while they incensed, or a server picked up the chasuble so that the sacred species can be raised. Back then, they really did pick up a load of material and hold it up so that the priest can get his arms up. Today, when it’s done, it’s more of a symbolic lift (which would be a good reason to stop doing it altogether since it was once of a pragmatic nature and not holding any spiritual significance).


#8

[quote="O_Moriah, post:7, topic:309363"]
Actually, it's not the heaviness of the vestments, but their shape. Modern chasubles fold out flat and then fold over the priest with the head sticking out the fold at the top. Pre-Vatican II chasubles were conical in shape, like an upside down ice cream cone (but with a lot more play), they didn't fold out flat.

And so, it was impossible for a priest to hold arms straight out without hiking up the material over his shoulder. That's why deacons needed to follow a priest/bishop and hold the chasuble up while they incensed, or a server picked up the chasuble so that the sacred species can be raised. Back then, they really did pick up a load of material and hold it up so that the priest can get his arms up. Today, when it's done, it's more of a symbolic lift (which would be a good reason to stop doing it altogether since it was once of a pragmatic nature and not holding any spiritual significance).

[/quote]

I challenge this. Conical chasubles have not been popular for a very long time. Even prior to Vatican II they were rarely used. They haven't been common for hundreds of years. Rather, before Vatican II, the shapes most common are those still most common now: Gothic and Roman. Roman chasubles were more common then than they are now, but all the same.

However, as I understand, your reasoning is the reason the rubric was included in the first place. In the 1500s many or most chasubles were conical or at least much more ample than now.


#9

I'm just going to sidetrack quite a bit, but I am personally of the opinion that we should abide by the set practice and only permit a vested deacon and subdeacon to lift the chasuble. The lifting of the chasuble is a very specific liturgical action linked to the elevation, which only the ordained should be permitted to partake of. Nobody else should do it, not even the altar boys. To do so appears strange and seems to be an overextension of their duties the same way allowing them to distribute communion does. Additionally, they should be keeping that respectful distance from the priest during the consecration.

Additionally, I might like to add another symbolism that I have found to be spiritually enriching. The sight of the deacon and subdeacon lifting the chasuble with their hands shows the joining of their prayers with the priest in the elevation, and shows the union of the ordained. This is especially helped by the fact that all three are vested in the liturgical colour of the Mass, whereas the altar boy is not. It appears that the elevation is a joint effort by the ordained.

The shortage of solemn masses don't seem a good reason to bring this action - which is otherwise only found in the solemn mass - into the low mass. If that was a valid reason, then one could argue that we should just use all the prayers and blessings of a solemn mass in a low mass, since solemn masses are so rare anyway, and "the faithful would needlessly be denied the ceremony and the symbolic significance attached to it." There are reasons why the elements of the solemn mass are kept in the solemn mass, no matter how rare it is to find a solemn mass these days.

Anyhow, it is just my opinion. :)


#10

Additionally, I might like to add another piece of symbolism that I have found to be spiritually enriching. The sight of the deacon and subdeacon lifting the chasuble with their hands shows the joining of their prayers with the priest in the elevation, and shows the union of the ordained. This is especially helped by the fact that all three are vested in the liturgical colour of the Mass and therefore appear to be acting in concert and unity, making the elevation appear as (and historically, because of the weight of chasubles in the past, actually was) a joint effort by the ordained.

I'm just going to sidetrack quite a bit, but I am personally of the opinion that we should abide by the set practice and only permit a vested deacon and subdeacon to lift the chasuble. The lifting of the chasuble is a very specific liturgical action linked to the elevation, which only the ordained should be permitted to partake of. Nobody else should do it, not even the altar boys. To do so appears strange and seems to be an overextension of their duties the same way allowing them to distribute communion does. They do not carry the same symbolism, as they are not vested in the liturgical colours, and appear to be somewhat external to the act of elevation.

The shortage of solemn masses don't seem a good reason to bring this action - which is otherwise only found in the solemn mass - into the low mass. If that was a valid reason, then one could argue that we should just use all the prayers and blessings of a solemn mass in a low mass, since solemn masses are so rare anyway, and "the faithful would needlessly be denied the ceremony and the symbolic significance attached to it." There are reasons why the elements of the solemn mass are kept in the solemn mass, no matter how rare it is to find a solemn mass these days.

Anyhow, it is just my opinion. :)


#11

That’s how the action first started. It then continued even though it was no longer necessary for practical reasons.

And, as we can see in this thread, the action, now devoid of its pragmatic usefulness, but still continuing as a matter of ritual inertia, gets backward etiologies (i.e., after-the-fact explanations that no longer have anything to do with the original intent). These backward etiologies are given spiritual symbolism. And as people are taught the spiritual symbolism, they then regard this new explanation as somehow the real reason it’s done and are filled with dread over changing it since it feels like they’re somehow dishonoring the backward spiritualized etiology.

At some point in history, the priests robes become so encumbering that he needed help with it to preside. If the robes are no longer encumbering, there is no reason to continue the practice. Lifting the chasuble is a human-made practice, not divine law. The appropriate authorities can, if they wish, stop the practice as no longer necessary. Those who understand the origin of the action should be able to understand the change if it ever comes. Those who don’t understand the origin and are never properly catechized as to its origin become scandalized thinking that something purely spiritual is being taken away for no good reason.


#12

[quote="O_Moriah, post:11, topic:309363"]
That's how the action first started. It then continued even though it was no longer necessary for practical reasons.

And, as we can see in this thread, the action, now devoid of its pragmatic usefulness, but still continuing as a matter of ritual inertia, gets backward etiologies (i.e., after-the-fact explanations that no longer have anything to do with the original intent). These backward etiologies are given spiritual symbolism. And as people are taught the spiritual symbolism, they then regard this new explanation as somehow the real reason it's done and are filled with dread over changing it since it feels like they're somehow dishonoring the backward spiritualized etiology.

At some point in history, the priests robes become so encumbering that he needed help with it to preside. If the robes are no longer encumbering, there is no reason to continue the practice. Lifting the chasuble is a human-made practice, not divine law. The appropriate authorities can, if they wish, stop the practice as no longer necessary. Those who understand the origin of the action should be able to understand the change if it ever comes. Those who don't understand the origin and are never properly catechized as to its origin become scandalized thinking that something purely spiritual is being taken away for no good reason.

[/quote]

Your reasoning makes some sense, but don't all liturgical actions in a way consist of the spiritualisation of an practically obsolete action? The lavabo (washing of the hands) before the Eucharistic Prayer (to clean hands which in the past were quite dirty, but modern hygiene practices render it unnecessary), or even the shape and form of the chasuble (a raincoat to cover the priests who journeyed far and wide to celebrate mass, but now the most rain the priests will encounter will be in the short walk between the parish office and the nave).

In that vein of logic, wouldn't your reasoning mean that we should take out quite a lot elements of the liturgy, which, though no longer practically necessary, still contain much symbolism? Wouldn't removing the chasuble yank a whole chunk of symbolism from the spirituality of the liturgy? In fact, why bother with the elevation, or the recitation of the readings, when everyone can see the Eucharist now, or is literate enough to read the Bible on their own?

I understand your argument, but its conclusion seems rather uncomfortable to me. Unless a particular element of liturgy does not add to the spiritual significance of the mass or actually subtracts from it, I don't see a particular reason why it should be removed. Of course, I will defer to the superior judgement of the Magisterium on this matter. :)


#13

I learned a few things here from this post as I never realized the significance of the altar server raising the chausable for the priest during the Consecration as I do go to the EF Masses from time to time. Thank you for the detail here.


#14

[quote="Filii_Dei, post:12, topic:309363"]
In that vein of logic, wouldn't your reasoning mean that we should take out quite a lot elements of the liturgy, which, though no longer practically necessary, still contain much symbolism? Wouldn't removing the chasuble yank a whole chunk of symbolism from the spirituality of the liturgy? In fact, why bother with the elevation, or the recitation of the readings, when everyone can see the Eucharist now, or is literate enough to read the Bible on their own?

[/quote]

Well... isn't there something to be said for letting the main sacramental symbolism shine through by means of simplicity when all other actions that were added later whether for a pragmatic reason or because someone at one time thought it would be a nice extra gesture are removed?

The Latin rite is known for being stark and usually abhorring repetition. There have been several times over its history where things were added and added and added until a liturgical reform strips a lot of that away because the additions were becoming too... much.

And there is a big difference between an action added for pragmatic reasons than one added specifically for spiritual edification or liturgical enhancement. The readings were read for the purpose of group reflection and faith formation, not necessarily because they couldn't be heard or read elsewhere. Lifting the chasuble was added because it was encumbrance. Big difference.


#15

[quote="O_Moriah, post:14, topic:309363"]
Well... isn't there something to be said for letting the main sacramental symbolism shine through by means of simplicity when all other actions that were added later whether for a pragmatic reason or because someone at one time thought it would be a nice extra gesture are removed?

The Latin rite is known for being stark and usually abhorring repetition. There have been several times over its history where things were added and added and added until a liturgical reform strips a lot of that away because the additions were becoming too... much.

And there is a big difference between an action added for pragmatic reasons than one added specifically for spiritual edification or liturgical enhancement. The readings were read for the purpose of group reflection and faith formation, not necessarily because they couldn't be heard or read elsewhere. Lifting the chasuble was added because it was encumbrance. Big difference.

[/quote]

Since when was the roman rite supposed to be stark?


#16

The Roman Rite has been noted variously throughout history as being less elaborate in most ways than the Eastern Rites. If you just look at the various component prayers, in many respects they are much simpler than prayers in many of the Eastern Rites, with the exception of the Gloria (which Easterners use too).

Even if you take such a glorious Mass as a Solemn EF with polyphony and brocaded vestments, it has a certain starkness and austerity to it. The word I would use to describe the ceremonial of the EF is “formal,” not “elaborate.”

I am not sure this reckoning is wholly true, but I do agree to an extent.


#17

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:16, topic:309363"]
The Roman Rite has been noted variously throughout history as being less elaborate in most ways than the Eastern Rites. If you just look at the various component prayers, in many respects they are much simpler than prayers in many of the Eastern Rites, with the exception of the Gloria (which Easterners use too).

Even if you take such a glorious Mass as a Solemn EF with polyphony and brocaded vestments, it has a certain starkness and austerity to it. The word I would use to describe the ceremonial of the EF is "formal," not "elaborate."

I am not sure this reckoning is wholly true, but I do agree to an extent.

[/quote]

Now I see what you mean. Now that you say it, even the solemn high Mass has a certain austerity to it. Don't know how to explain it, but I know what you mean.


#18

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