Some questions about the Consecration in the Tridentine mass

Why is it in the Tridentine Mass, the Altar Server (or the Deacon or the Subdeacon, which of them) lifts up the Priest’s Chasuble during the Consecration? Is this done at High Mass, or Low Mass or both?

Like in these images:

And, what exactly are they carrying? torches? why? is it still done in Tridentine Masses today? :confused:

Thanks in advance for those who’ll answer this. :slight_smile:

I dont know why the chasuble is lifted like that but from my experience is yes it is lifted at both low and high Mass. They are probably carrying torches because there wasnt electricity back then and so they were used to help the priest read the canon. It could be of symbolic of Christ being light of the world as well, since at the indult chapel I attend four altar boys kneel with candles with red glass coverings over them during the canon.

The server also lifts up the chasuble with his left hand at the elevation, not at the genuflection (Rubr. gen., VIII, 6). This is** to keep back the vestment** while the priest elevates. With a modern Roman-shaped chasuble it is a mere form, and a memory of better days. In those days the Chasuble was longer, heavier, and went well down the arms.
When the priest lifted his arms, the chasuble would “drag” his vestments down his arm and expose his bare arm.
The arms were to be covered, however. So, lifting the chasuble’s weight and raising it up took the “drag” off the priest’s arm covering vestment.
I tell u what, they didn’t miss a thing did they?

Yes, and can be done in NO ones as well. If you watch the ones from the Vatican offered by the Pope they do just that. Now days acolytes do it, but before in Papal Masses it used to be prelates.

One primary reason for the lights was in order to see the Host as it was elevated. Mediaeval churches, particularly the cathedrals, were a mass of screens and so were quite dim. So for example, one finds in the early instructions of the Carthusians * that when the Body of Christ could not be seen because of the early hour at which it was celebrated, the priest should have a well lit wax taper behind him so that It would be visible.

In the rubrics of the Roman Missal there was also a rubric requiring that a candle be lit on the Epistle side at the elevation of the Sacrament (Rub. Gen. XX) . In the revised rubrics of 1960 it was made optional (Rub. Gen. XI ) i.e. wherever the custom prevailed (and it didn’t prevail in many places- by the 19th century it was being classed under descriptive rubrics rather than prescriptive ones)

Another thing was that the candles were for honour of the Blessed Sacrament. Votive Candles were already being used in honour of the saints, and in time were extended to behind but not on the altar and of course, the Blessed Sacrament. An example of this is the Council of Exeter’s decree ** on having two candles for the honour of the Sacrament and to prevent accidental extinction. Gihr says that the torches are a sign of the respect and adoration given to the Blessed Sacrament.

Some authors have also commented on the parallel between the older Papal custom of seven torches at the Gospel and the torches carried at an elevation supposing the latter to be a Gallician custom. It makes sense if one considers that both the reading of Gospel and Canon especially the Consecration are the “high” points of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (yes, I know it wasn’t called that back then)

An interesting fact noted by a book I have on mediaeval practises (which quotes Dendy’s the Use of Lights in Christian Worship, which I haven’t read but is supposedly an excellent book on the subject if you can get your hands on it) is that in mediaeval times the Bishops of Exeter and Winchester granted an indulgence for those holding the torches at the elevation.
Another thing noted is under the section on popular piety and the various societies. The “Corpus Christi societies” had as one of their aims the maintaining of lightrs and carrying of torches for the Blessed Sacrament- in fact, membership fees were paid in wax candles.

  • Quando non videri corpus Christi eo quod mane celbratur potest sacerdos tenere cererum bene ardentum in retrosacerdotis ut Corpus Christi in hoc parte posit videri

** ……Duo saltim luminaria habeantur tam ob reverantiam sacramenti quam extinctionis causum fortuitum….

And at the High Mass, the consecration is also incensed. Awesome. :thumbsup:

I believe that at Solemn Mass (High Mass in American terms) the Deacon lifts the Celebrant’s chasuble. At Sung Mass and Private Mass (Low Mass in American terms) the Master of Ceremonies lifts the chasuble. At Solemn and Sung Masses, the Host and the Chalice are incensed during the elevations (two swings on each ring of the bell, 2x3).

The chasuble is lifted because in the past it was much bulkier, in some cases with jewels interwoven into the vestment. This helped take part of the weight off the priest during the elevations. It is also a sign of respect.

Dear Caesar: Would you mind giving a citation showing where the lifting of the chasuble was a sign of respect?

Ah, no. I am actualy going by my training to be a server at the TLM. I asked Father what the point of lifting the chasuble was and he told me what I posted above.

That’s alright, I don’t think it actually IS a sign of respect, at least not one for which we COULD find a citation (no discredit to your good priest, either). I was told much the same as TNT relates: That the chasubles used to be quite heavy, due to the ornamentation, and it was difficult for the priest to raise his arms, so the acolytes helped him (which they should have done). If that’s so then, it has little to do with a ritual gesture of reverence or respect (though it certainly has to do with basic human decency: who are you going to help, if you won’t help a priest?).

This is just one of the things that bug me about “traditionalism” (and Caesar, I’m not aiming this at you or anyone in particular, so please don’t take it so). There’s a story about a new bride who cooked a ham for her husband and proudly presented it to him. He says,“Wow, that looks delicious! But what happened to the end of it?” His bride said,“Oh, you have to cut the end of a ham off before you cook it.” “Why?” asked the husband. “Why, because…because…well, I’m not sure!” So, a couple of days latter, she calls her mom to ask why one has to cut the end off a ham before cooking it. Her mother replies,“Well, you have to cut the end off ham before you cook it!” “Why?” “Well, I…I…I dunno!” So, a couple of days latter, she calls HER mother to ask why SHE cut the end off a ham before cooking it. “So it will fit in the pan,” says the grandmother. A family “tradition” bites the dust.

That’s what’s problematic about the mindset of a lot of “traditionalists.” They don’t know WHY something is done (it may have been for a pragmatic reason that no longer exists), but by golly, don’t let’s consider changing or dropping it because it’s a TRADITION. That’s why I see the point for the conciliar call for a “noble simplicity,” and the call to clear from the Mass the things that obscure it (I’m equally sensible of the fact that innovation for the sake of innovation, the priest playing loose with the rubrics, etc., also obscure the Mass). With the cut of even the most ornate Roman chasubles and the lighter fabrics we use even for the Gothic, most priests probably don’t find it terribly difficult to elevate the chalice. Yet we’ve “ritualized” this gesture to the point that some would be bitter over its

With the cut of even the most ornate Roman chasubles and the lighter fabrics we use even for the Gothic, most priests probably don’t find it terribly difficult to elevate the chalice. Yet we’ve “ritualized” this gesture to the point that some would be bitter over its

Oh please…in yur dreams.
There is no place anywhere where anyone against the NOM cites among other things, not lifting the chasuble.
Now, no longer using elevation bells…I have seen ONE person rant about that…he was Anglican of all things.
Otherwise what we gripe about are those things abandoned which support Lex Orandi Lex Credendi…did it support, externalize, what we and our ancestors believe. That is the general criteria.
Tradition is not for tradition’s sake.

I’m talking about a general mindset, TNT, and this example is what I cited.

Well, I do agree with you that many do not know the exact reasons for a certain tradition, however I do not believe that certain traditions should be dropped simply because they outlived their immediate purpose.

There are many things that enhance the beauty and mystery of the Liturgy, but haven’t been necessary for centuries. Just because we have electric lighting doesn’t mean we should do away with the altar candles, or throw out the incense because there are more fragrant smells to be found in aerosol cans. Sacred artwork originaly served the purpose of illustrating the Scriptures for an illiterate population- shall we do away with artwork because 95% of people today are capable of reading the Bible on their own? A Bishop can be easily identified today by hanging a large sign around his neck announcing his rank, so why keep the miter and crozier?

There are many traditions that have been built up over the centuries that no longer serve their original intents, but they have accumulated symbolism and deeper meaning. For example, the lifting of the chasuble can be seen as an allusion to the Gospel story where the woman sought after Our Lord in a crowd only to touch the hem of His robe so she would be cured.

“CAN be seen.” Yes, it can be seen to do that, but HAS it been seen that way? Not that I’ve ever heard, all I’ve heard is that the priests had difficulty negotiating the use of the more ornamented vestments. To keep something and then scramble to attach a meaning to it so we can keep it seems disingenous (and frankly, we see the liberals doing that as well, don’t we, with innovations?). The Church doesn’t do that. The other things you mention above don’t fall into the same category, really, because we don’t have to say,“Now what’s that supposed to mean?”, at least not usually. The Church has taught us what those things mean.

I’m merely positing a suggestion that “change” is not always the “heresy” or offense that some “traditionalists” claim (but sometimes, I admit, it CAN be dangerous). The prayers at the foot of the altar, for example. Originally, they were said in the sacristy. Heaven forbid anyone suggesting that they might be moved BACK into the sacristy. Or the use of the fannon (an obscure liturgical garment, the name of which I’ve probably mispelled, but that some people would like to see returned). I can remember people going on about how “traditional” it was of Pope Benedict to appear wearing the camauro, the velvet cap with the ermime trim. Now, while I don’t think anyone would describe Pope Benedict as a liberal (well, maybe some of the fringe element, “Pope” Pius XIII, “Pope” Michael et al), I hardly see his choice of hats as being the bell weather of his papacy that others apparently hailed it as being. He’s an old man and Decembers are cold in Rome and popes do not usually wear stocking caps (I think you call them “touques”).

Again, this isn’t addressed to you (I picked your post because you asserted that the lifting of the chasuble was a sign of respect and I was honestly hoping that you DID have a citation), but I don’t think this kind of mindset is any more helpful to the Church that the one that says,“Oh, we don’t do that anymore, not since Vatican II.” They’ve no more idea what the council or the popes said than others know about the lifting of the chasuble, or the use of the fannon, etc., that they insist upon.

The candles symbolize Christ and His Gospel as light of the world, do they not?

Of course, but was that the original reason for the use of candles (not specificaly the altar candles either), or is this just an example of a tradition that began with a practical purpose and found new meaning over time?

Certainly not, our use of incense has it’s roots in our Judaic heritage and it symbolizes the prayers and praise of the people rising before God (I would also argue that objectively there ARE NOT more fragant smells to be had in aerosol cans! My gran used these in the bathroom and they almost choked me, something good incense never does!).

And since I hesitate to back up the notion that the use of incense began because the Early Church was smelly, I won’t get into it’s original purpose. And I will agree that incense is far more fragrant then anything in an aerosol can, but that is just our opinion.

Anyway, those were just some rather poor examples of what I’m trying to get at. My point is that traditions need not be discarded because their purpose is not immediately apparent. Like I’ve said before, traditions accumulate meaning and symbolism over time, and if the Liturgy has failed in this respect at all it is not because of these traditions, but because of a lack of explaination for their relevance and meaning.

Or the use of the fannon (an obscure liturgical garment, the name of which I’ve probably mispelled, but that some people would like to see returned).

Ah yes, the Papal Fanon. John Paul II wore it a few times and I think Benedict has too-

Again, this isn’t addressed to you (I picked your post because you asserted that the lifting of the chasuble was a sign of respect and I was honestly hoping that you DID have a citation), but I don’t think this kind of mindset is any more helpful to the Church that the one that says,“Oh, we don’t do that anymore, not since Vatican II.” They’ve no more idea what the council or the popes said than others know about the lifting of the chasuble, or the use of the fannon, etc., that they insist upon.

That is why, once again, what should be done is not discard every tradition that might bee seen as pointless, but to educate people on why it is not pointless. Little tradition such as these might not be practical today as they once were, but they enhance the Liturgy through beauty and mystery. Rather then destroying these traditions we should be rediscovering them.

But to take the example we’re using,“Why do they lift the chasuble from behind at the consecration,” the answer being,“It’s a holdover from when the chasubles were really ornate and heavy,” then the question doesn become the same question as “why do you cut the end off the ham,” unless we cast about looking for something to attach the practice to (as you did). And I would gently and respectfully suggest that some things MIGHT also obscure it. That’s why I’ve never regarded the “noble simplicity” called for by the Council as a bad thing. Just my opinion.

Thanks for the info TNT. My nephew went to the TLM with my son and I for the first time last Christmas, and the lifting of the chasuble was one of his questions…I’ll have to forward it along to him.

And despite what others may think here, I see it as obviously (and quite simply) a sign of respect/reverence for the priest acting in persona Christi. Like the priestly vestements themselves, they have lost their original utility I suppose - but still serve the purpose of demonstrating the uniqueness and reverence due to the priest. To understand the history behind such things is enlightening.

Peace in Christ,

And there are many opinions on just what “noble simplicity” is. And not all of those opinions involve discarding every tradition and turning the Mass into an Amish service.

I absolutely agree with you there, Caesar, absolutely. Note, I have not called for that either.:smiley: A beard would make me itch and I do rather like electricity.

Are you sure your beard would be itchy? I find mine most opportune during the winter, and it lends an inordinate air of maturity to my face. But I suppose that’s somewhat off topic.

I think we need to be careful about winding up at extremes when consider the origins of our traditional actions together with their sign value today. It’s quite true that if an action is only practical and the practical justification disappears, we do poorly to cling to it as if instituted by Christ Himself (I’m a good American, I can’t possibly restrain my hyperbole). If we all recognize that something is purely utilitarian, we should all be willing to forego it when it is unnecessary. Yet I think I’d have pretty good odds to win a bet against JKirk that he will be hard pressed to find an originally practical element of the Mass (and, for fairness, I think we might exclude the newly reinstituted rites of Holy Week whose symbolisms may have fallen into disuse) that hadn’t been invested with symbolic and religious meaning long before traditionalists had to start whining about the dismantling of their liturgy.

Catholics are smart, even if only instinctively, so we know that our ritual action is meaningful - what we do with our bodies speaks just as well as our words, and we can even extend this to what we say through our architecture, iconography, vestments, etc. Knowing this, we have a wonderful genius for symbolism and are rarely if ever satisfied to allow a liturgical element to exist as brute fact. Our respect for the power of creation to carry meaning drives us to find it in the minutest details, even if this might seem strained to an outside observer.

I think, then, that we must pay very nuanced attention to accretion of meaning when evaluating practices in light of the guiding principles of changing nothing unless absolutely demanded for the good of the Church and seeking to remove that which obscures the essence of the Mass. We can’t simply ask, “How did this practice originate?” but must also inquire, “What do many or all of us now consider this act to proclaim?” Or concerning obscuring the essence of the rite we cannot ask, “Was this an element that is more ornamentation than substance?” expecting any substantive recommendation of action because even an affirmative answer requires the extra step of “Would eliminating this be absolutely necessary to show forth the fulness of the liturgy for the benefit of the Church?”

Regarding this particular example of lifting the chasuble, I fail to see how it can be construed to obscure the heart of the rite as it requires no extra time (occurs simultaneously with a central element) and simply draws more attention to the majesty of the moment. My indult happens not to utilize this practice, so I’m not fighting for my own usage when I say: this particular custom should not be eliminated under the criteria of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

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