Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him


Fr Simon Henry has a post about participation, in which he says he chooses to read the shorter form of the Passion on Palm Sunday, I have been doing that for years, partly because if we didn't our Mass would over run and the Poles who have the next Mass slot will be arriving and waiting for Polish confessions and it just would not be fair. His reason is, "...rather than endure the miserable doling out of parts to various readers and the "crowd" voice to the slightly embarrassed congregation, with the attendant inconsequential mutterings of, "cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him" echoing underwhelmingly around the church.

Yes, I too hate the primary-schoolisation of adults, I really loathe that classroom thing some old priests have, of greeting with, 'Good morning everyone' to which the congregation like Class 2 replies "Good-morn-ning-Father", it is horrid, it is infantalising, it is secular, especially if it replaces the Christian greeting of "Dominus vobiscum", in whatever language.

But my real big hate, which has a very serious theological  basis, is I too hate the congregation crying, "Crucify him". It is obviously necessary for a deputed person to do it as it is the text of the Gospels but actually we aren't the baying mob, we are the Faithful who stand at the foot of the Cross, we are the Church, we stand alongside the Holy Women and St John. For all our sinfulness, we are the friends of Jesus, though maybe we behave like enemies, we are his costly-bought disciples.

I am glad Fr Henry's congregation mutters underwhelmingly, "cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him", it shows that his catechesis on the Mass and his people place at Mass has had a good  effect. It would be terrifying if they really did say these words with any enthusiasm.

23 comments:

Patricius said...

Thank you, Father, for articulating something I have felt for a very long time. I was extremely fortunate today in hearing the Passion sung in the cathedral of Liverpool by two cantors and a priest with the choir supplying the crowd parts. It was beautifully clear and very moving and altogether devoid of that infantilising- and distracting- nonsense.
Just one query, if I may. If a priest begins mass with "Good morning, everybody'" it seems churlish as a layperson to fail to reply "Good morning, Father" and so I tend to humour them. What, however, is the correct reply when the celebrant is a bishop? "Good morning, my Lord" or Good morning, your lordship"?

Patricius said...

I should just like to make it clear that the hypothetical bishop referred to in my earlier comment was not in Liverpool Archdiocese.

Francis said...

The clergy who insist on saying "Good morning everyone" and "Have a nice day" at the beginning and end of Mass are often the first ones to point out that the "Judica me", the prayers at the foot of the altar and the last gospel had to be stripped away because they were "accretions" that had been added to the body of the Mass over the centuries.

viterbo said...

"we are his costly-bought disciples. Well said, Father. The world outside is constantly screaming, 'cru ci fy Him'. All we need to do is be silent for two seconds and it is deafening.

(and unfortunately the world is all too much inside the Church and the Mass now.)

Nicolas Bellord said...

Here in our village in Portugal we have the fair of Saint Ivo (Yves?) on Palm Sunday with lots of stalls around the Church. Our priest then blesses the palms reminding us that it was the same crowd who cheered Jesus on Palm Sunday but then cried Crucify Him later in the week. This seems to me making a good point that we all do the same - praising and betraying. He gives the crowd role to one of the readers so the congregation does not have to join in.

When I say palms in fact here they are laurel branches and one wonders whether there is any laurel left so big are the branches that are carried often seven or eight feet long. Further people hang chorizo sausages on the laurel branches. I asked one person what the chorizo was for and rather puzzled he replied "to eat of course". Another told me that the idea was to get the chorizo blessed as well as the laurel. Presumably they do not eat it until Easter.

On Palm Sunday the Church and the square are packed with the whole village. Attendance for the Triduum tends to be sparser as being the full moon the priority is to plant potatoes! We have the Easter vigil starting at 9p.m. but I get the impression that the most important event for them is the Mass at Dawn at 7.30a.m. which is really dawn here with the sun just rising and the cocks growing and the Sacrament being processed around the whole village and the mountains covered in white broom.

Jacobi said...

“the primary-schoolisation of adults”

Father,

You put it so well. That is exactly what these present attempts at “active participation” amount to. They are awkward, contrived and above all, in the Passion, distract attention from the actual story of the suffering of Christ. Yes, a few seem to revel in it because they like their own voices, but most of the congregation are just embarrassed.

The whole question of “participatio actuosa” needs to be looked at by the Church liturgical authorities. It constitutes one of the major problems that came out of Vatican II.

In essence the term means paying attention to what is going on. But it has led to so many abuses. Swarms of lay distributers handling the Host and Sacred vessels, including cleaning, indifferent readers, and endless prayers dictated by the Saturday evening TV news, all while the priest sits for a considerable part of the Mass, doing nothing and looking bored. It has contributed to what has been described as the “protestant hymn sandwich” version of the Mass.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the function and responsibility of the Ordained Priesthood. Until we get back to that, our congregations – particularly the young - will continue to just seep away.

Fr Simon Henry said...

Indeed, Father, I completely agree. I can recall, even as a teenager, being uncomfortable with mouthing these words in church during Holy Week.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Nicholas,
They were not the same crowd. The Gospels imply that Jesus enters Jerusalem, with the 12 Apostles, the disciples - from whom the 72 were chosen, those wealthy women who supported Jesus and the disciples, and presumably other supportive Galilean and Judeans who had collected with Jesus. The entry procession into Jerusalem was an 'away team' event. Remember Passover was the focus of a huge annual pilgrimage.
Those who cry 'crucify Him' are definitely the 'home team'.
+++
The sausages are interesting - in Spain the Inquisition made conversi hang hams in their doorways to show they were no longer Jews or Muslims. I suspect the sausages are a way of saying 'we are not Jews'.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Nicholas,
They were not the same crowd. The Gospels imply that Jesus enters Jerusalem, with the 12 Apostles, the disciples - from whom the 72 were chosen, those wealthy women who supported Jesus and the disciples, and presumably other supportive Galilean and Judeans who had collected with Jesus. The entry procession into Jerusalem was an 'away team' event. Remember Passover was the focus of a huge annual pilgrimage.
Those who cry 'crucify Him' are definitely the 'home team'.
+++
The sausages are interesting - in Spain the Inquisition made conversi hang hams in their doorways to show they were no longer Jews or Muslims. I suspect the sausages are a way of saying 'we are not Jews'.

Savonarola said...

Many thanks for this post. The penultimate paragraph says it exactly.

Sue Sims said...

For once, I beg leave to disagree. Evangelicals don't read the Passion story all through in Holy Week services (or, indeed, generally use the term 'Holy Week') so it wasn't until I became a Catholic some years ago that I actually heard the Passion narrative read aloud and participated as part of the 'Crowd'. I find it horrifying, certainly, to cry 'Crucify Him!', but it serves to remind me that it was indeed my sins, part of peccata mundi , which led our Lord to the cross.

vetusta ecclesia said...

Jacobi has a good point - the NO is so wordy. The average Sunday Mass is 2/3 "word" and 1/3 hieratic liturgical action.

RJ said...

I participated in the badly read muttering I'm afraid. Slightly embarrassing as you say Father. On the subject of which crowd we belong to: we are reminded in some older devotional literature that it is our sins which have crucified the Lord, so perhaps it is not so 'inappropriate' for us to say the words "Crucify Him".

terry prest said...

"I too hate the primary-schoolisation of adults, I really loathe that classroom thing some old priests have"

Spot on. Bulls eye
Could not agree more

Simon Reilly said...

Cardinal Archbishop, "Your eminence"; Archbishop, "Your grace", Bishop, "My lord".

richardhj said...

And I thought it was just me. I have always felt like that about it too.

polycarped said...

I was about to say that, even as a young child, I remember feeling very uncomfortable, indeed very sad, at being put in the position of having to shout 'crucify him, crucify him'. I see that Fr Simon has said pretty much the same thing.

I wonder if there is a case to be made however for this, in that we do indeed 'crucify' him daily through our unfaithfulness and transgressions. So, whilst I share exactly the same 'hates' that you do Fr, perhaps this feeing of great discomfort also has some role to play in making us aware of how easily we can become like the crowd. It would be interesting to know the theological rationale (dodgy or otherwise) behind the congregation being assigned this part (if indeed there was any).

Sister Lynn Marie said...

We started our Palm Sunday liturgy with, "It's a beautiful day today, isn't it?" We always have the long form with the congregation doing the mob part. Never have liked it and never will but I don't see it changing anytime soon. Also, as soon as the parts for Jesus are finished out priest sits down and starts getting his things ready for the next bit. He is an "older" priest but not infirm, just very laid back liturgically.

code monkey said...

I remember being a very young child in pre-Vatican days and having to participate in this rite. I didn't. It was too horrifying to me. Later, however, my mother took me aside and explained that it was necessary to cry "crucify him", because it was for our sins, that he was crucified. She said that there was a certain presumption in refusing to participate. It was a denial of the role that sinfulness played in my own life. I still think that what she said was a hard but necessary lesson.

gemoftheocean said...

Actually, in my limited observation, the English shouldn't bother at all. For what GOOD actors they generally are, they do a really half-***ed rendering. And it it isn't even "crucify Him, Crucify Him" but the pathetically passive "let Him be crucified." But this is in keeping with the English despising anyone doing even the SIMPLEST of Latin responses at the TLM. So I can't really say I'm surprised. As far as them being "different crowds" I wouldn't be all that confident, Fr. Blake, with all due respect. Judas had gone off to top himself, John had guts to stay with Mary, but what were the 10 "loser" apostles doing other than cowering and hiding? So, yeah, it WAS their sins too that killed Jesus. In other words ALL of our sins. So, sorry, but thinking we personally wouldn't have yelled "crucify him" simply belies the fact that in essence we DID yell it and do when we sin. I think the English, in their natural reticence are simply reluctant to admit it outloud. In public.


As regards the food business. Don't forget that Eastern Rite Catholics often a basket to the church on Holy Saturday for the priest to bless, which contains some of the food to be eaten Easter Sunday. So it isn't necessarily just a Spanish deal having to do with remant customs from the inquisition. Although, I must admit that I've often wondered why ham, in particular, seem is a favorite at Easter. Was it to show that "ham, is a-okay now." So I've alway meant to do some research as to when that became customary.

gemoftheocean said...

Sister, I'd cut your priest some slack. IF your parish is like, I suspect many, the priest LIKELY doesn't give much of a sermon. Which means for elderly/infirm priests, the priest is going to be on his feet for a LONNNNGGGGG time with virtually no break. Don't forget there might well be the blessing of the palms (with procession) or he's got to trudge up and down the aisles with Holy Water, also do the proper Gospel reading before the 1st reading. The ONLY chance he has to "kick it" would be during the 1st through 2nd readings.. I'd prefer, that if necessary, the priest SAT down, before he FELL down...because it's going to be long week too, and priests with bad knees have got to watch it. They're not getting any younger. There's a practical reason the High Mass in Latin gave priests their brief kick back moments during the Gloria and Creed.

John Nolan said...

I wonder how people coped with the pre-1955 Ordo, which was virtually two Masses back-to-back! At the London Oratory they sing the Passion in Latin (I don't object to its being sung in English, although it requires a more elevated translation than the JB) and although they allow a generous 1hr45 for the Mass certain things have to be sacrificed (1st reading and Tract, homily).

In 1955 the St Matthew Passion was shortened, not beginning until v.36 of ch.26 (omitting the Last Supper) and leaving out vv.61-66 of ch.27 which were traditionally sung in the Gospel Tone. Happily the Novus Ordo has restored these passages, at least in the longer form.

Rather than have the Mass over-run, why not schedule it to stsrt earlier, even if it means displacing one of the preceding Masses?

Incidentally, one way of dealing with 'Good Morning, everybody' is to reply, magna voce, ET CUM SPIRITU TUO!

Matthew Celestis said...

Hi, Father. As an Evangelical Protestant who has started going to mass at a Catholic parish, I am relieved to know I am not the only one who thinks the "Good morning/ evening, Father" sounds a bit naff.