Tuesday, 31 May 2011

That deponent verb...

I find it terribly amusing that those who accuse me of Jansenism are often those who have a Confiteor before the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass. Is the rationale for doing away with all those Misereres at Tenebrae because they were repetitive? Most likely; but the reason the ''third'' Confiteor was done away with was not so much because the Ministers had already made their confession and received absolution before they ascended the Altar at the beginning of Mass, but because to have another Confiteor smacks of Jansenism; apropos the abolition of the ''third'' Confiteor is not something to be lamented, but praised, since it rids the Eucharistic liturgy of Jansenism.

Food for thought, perhaps, but who am I, so untutored and sinful, to sift the wheat?


  1. Jansenism, like fascism, is just one of those words that seems to mean whatever the author wants it to mean. In reality Jansenism refers to a specific heresy concerning grace and free-will. Later Jansenists did become ardent enthusiasts of liturgical reform (most notoriously at the Synod of Pistoia). Some of the hard-hitters in the 20th century Liturgical Movement paid tribute to the Jansenist reformers of the 18th century.

    The Irish Church is often (wrongly) accused of Jansenism.

  2. The third Confiteor was done away with in the MR 1962, not because of any connexion with Jansensism! - because it was perceived as redundant, since in the Missa Dialogata (introduced under Pius XII) the faithful recite the Confiteor with the Mass servers at the beginning of Mass. Historically, the Third Confiteor with Ecce Agnus Dei and Domine non sum dignus of the faithful, seems to have been introudced into the Mass in a block from the Rite of Communion outside of Mass. But perhaps not. As in the Solemn Mass, the Deacon does sing the Confiteor just after the Consumption of the Precious Blood by the Priest. However that may be, the third Confiteor is still recited in most Masses, because it is preceived by most as not being redudant and superluous at all. INdeed, the first Confiteor is said by the Priest. The second Confiteor by the Mass servers (who represent the Sacred Ministers). The third Confiteor is recited (or should be) by the Faitfhul, who then recieve Absolution from their venial sins just before Communion which is a very proper and good thing. In the ancient Liturgy (and in many eastern litugies still today) at this moment in the Mass, just before the Comunion of the Faithful, the Priest used to bless the Faitfhul with the sign of the cross. Which is probably why the Confiteor with Absolution with the sign of the Cross were intorudced at that very same moment of the Mass. Jansenism has never had any thing to do with this.

  3. This extract from the Oxford Companion to Irish History may be of interest:

    " “Jansenism was viewed with great suspicion by Rome, and 17th-century Irish synods toed the Roman line. Indeed, while its moral rigorism made it attractive to elements of the Counter-Reformation church, Jansenism’s theological and political radicalism alienated both local hierarchies and Catholic monarchs. This was especially the case in France and most Irish clerical students there associated with the milieux hostile to the movement. Indeed their anti-Jansenist opinions were singled out for criticism by the pro-Jansenist journal Nouvelles ecclésiastiques, Irish clerics, in general, being more attracted to Jesuit-style humanism. The success of the anti-Jansenist bull Unigenitus (1713) marginalized the movement but it survived as a popular millenarian-cum-miracle cult. Neither as a theology nor as a political attitude did Jansenism recommend itself to the Irish Catholic community, either at home or abroad. The frequent claim that Irish Catholicism was Jansenist-influenced springs from the tendency to confuse Jansenism with mere moral rigorism.”

    copied from: http://lxoa.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/jansenism-and-irish-catholicism/

    On of the comments there by "Richard M" is also interesting:

    " Macgreevy’s conclusion is striking: ” The so-called Jansenism of late nineteenth century Ireland was nothing more than an element of Victorianism that came over with the compulsory English after the Famine.”

  4. What is wrong with the third Confiteor and Indulgentiam? It's a custom that should be more widely applied. Every blessing is grace-filled. We should be glad that we are strengthened twice in our vigilance against venial sin!

    Even in parishes that strictly adhere to MR 1962, I still say the Confiteor before the Domine non sum Dignus, even when I do not receive the Eucharist.

    I am a pietist, but not a Jansenist. I reject TULIP and Jansen's semi-rejection of the "P" (he did not believe that we could know of our election in this life.) I strongly believe in cooperation in grace and the universal atonement. Still, there is nothing wrong with a third reminder of our sinfulness before approaching the Sovereign Priest.

    And yes, Low Mass is glorious. However, I know that we disagree on that one!


  5. Albertus,

    The 'Dialogue Mass' was not introduced by Pius XII, or during his pontificate. Its origins go back to the early years of the last century and the response to Pius X's musical reforms. Of course, it certainly gained much popularity during the 1940s and 1950s.

    The most detailed history of the practice I know is Ellard's 'The Dialog [sic] Mass', Longmans, 1942

  6. Thanks, Rubricarius,
    I actually meant to write Pius X, instead of XII, but came a couple days ago back from Roma where i was given a beautiful photo of Pius XII! and was still thinking of him. What i did not know was that the Missa Dialogata was a response to Pius X musical reforms, and not formally introuduced by him.
    To the comment of JM, the Indulgentiam at the Third Confiteor contains the words ''peccatorum vestrorum .. tribuat vobis..'' ''yoru sins... grant you... '' whereas the unlike the INdulgentiam of the Prayers at the Indulgentiam after the Confiteor at the Foot of the Altar has ''peccatorum nostrorum... nobis'' (our sins... us). After the third Confiteor the priest is actually granting us present the Absolution of sin {albeit venial sin, you will say.) But that is much more than the Indulgentiam after the first and second Confiteors. Which is a good reason to retain the third Confiteor and Absolution.