Friday, September 21, 2012

An Excommunication this weekend

Gosh! A friend of mine from distant parts has to read a decree of Excommunication in his church this Sunday. It is terrible affair, all to do with blood feuds and murder, so pray for the conversion of the subjects of the decree.

In fact it is really a short pastoral letter but I couldn't help thinking of liturgical theatre that could possibly accompany it, even the most liberal I think should wear a birretta, what else?
black vestments,
unbleached candles
singing it in the Lamentation tone
the use of a clapper
muffled kettledrums
tolling bells
riders on black horses reading copies of it in all public places and cross roads
public scratching of names from the readers list
ending with Dies Irae
sulphur burnt in the thurible
The Penitential Psalms

 It begins,  "We, the three Bishops of the North, do declare and decree that ...". I suppose there must guidelines from the Diocesan Liturgy Office, I couldn't find an Inwood "ungathering" song for such an occasion, no "Excommunicamus, che, che".

I heard of an old parish priest who died years ago, would read parts of the funeral rite in people's front  gardens if they refused his successive invitations to return to practice, but that was in the 1950s, and I suspect he was just a little mad.


Sadie Vacantist said...

Montgomery Clift, who played the priest in Hitchcock's "I Confess", had a low opinion of Richard Burton's skills as a thespian. He thought he recited rather than acted his lines. I can see what he means.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I do not think it helpful to identify the location, so forgive me for not publishing your comment, the background is as you say truly tragic.
I pray that medicine will be effective and change hearts.

Tony Flavin said...

Nice little ad hom at Inwood there. His music might not be everyone's taste, mine included, but he's enhance the liturgy for many.

Or do we not respect those whose tastes aren't our own? Is that in the catechism?

gemoftheocean said...

You missed a calling in the theatre, Father B.

Wish I knew where it was -- it would almost be fun to go to. I could have fun imagining the recipients to be so-called 'Catholic' politicians in the US who would richly deserve this.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I do not think anyone has contributed so much to English Catholic music as Mr Inwood. He above all has put into the shade not merely the music and musicians of the past but also of the future.
Even more than the chants of the Missal itself and of the other liturgical books he above all has marked our liturgical practice. In truth I couldn't think of another contemporary musician, who carriers such weight.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...we do, here and now, separate him from the precious body and blood of Christ, and from the society of all Christians. We exclude him from our Holy Mother Church and all her sacraments, in heaven, or on Earth.

We declare him excommunicate and anathema. We cast him into the outer darkness. We judge him damned with the devil and his fallen angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire and everlasting pain!..."

This should not be wished upon anyone.


If we have had thoughts of others having this befall them, we must repent and beg God's mercy and forgiveness.

Contemplate the words of Excommunication.

And, God's mercy.

Rituale Romanum


1. If a priest is empowered by his superior to absolve from the sentence of excommunication and if the delegation prescribes a specified form, this form is to be observed in every instance. However, if the document of delegation states: "He is to absolve according to the usual form of the Church," then the form given below is to be observed.

2. In the first place the excommunicate should if possible make satisfaction beforehand for the offense for which he incurred excommunication. If this is not possible for the time being, he must give sufficient guarantee that he will make satisfaction at first opportunity; or if this is questionable, he must take an oath that he will do so.

3. Second, if the offense for which he incurred excommunication is a grievous one, an oath must be exacted from him that he will obey the Church's laws applicable to him in this matter, especially that he will not offend henceforth against the canon or decree, the violation of which was responsible for the excommunication.

4. Lastly, the following ceremony must be observed in absolving him:
The penitent kneels before the priest, and, if a male, his shoulders are uncovered down to his shirt. The priest, who is seated, lightly strikes the penitent with a rod or cord, reciting the following psalm:
Psalm 50: "Have mercy on me, O God," etc. (see Psalm 50).

5. The priest rises and with head uncovered says:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until):
P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.
P: Lord, save your servant.
All: Who trusts in you, my God.
P: Let the enemy have no power over him (her).
All: And the son of iniquity be powerless to harm him (her).
P: Let him (her) find in you, Lord, a fortified tower.
All: In the face of the enemy.
P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

God, whose nature is ever merciful and forgiving, accept our prayer that your servant who is bound by the sentence of excommunication may be released by your loving kindness; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

6. Then he sits down, and with head covered says:

May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you, and I by His authority and that of the Holy Father (or that of the Most Reverend Bishop, N., or of the respective superior), release you from the bond of excommunication incurred (or pronounced against you) because of...(the offense or reason is mentioned); and I restore you to communion and union with the faithful, as well as to the holy sacraments of the Church; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R.: Amen.

7. If the priest has had no specified form prescribed by his superior, nor is ordered to absolve according to the general and customary form of the Church, he is to observe, nevertheless, the ceremony and prayers given above, provided the offense was of a serious nature.

But if the case is not especially serious, he may absolve
with the following words:

"May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you," etc., as given above.

8. In a sacramental confession the confessor who has the faculty to absolve an excommunicate does so, using the common form prescribed above in sacramental absolution.


Tony Flavin said...

While I wouldn't choose Inwood's style as my own, I've never found anyone else who feels he might effect the future, what a commission the Lord has handed to him.
But really, I wouldn't worry about the future, put your trust in the Holy Spirit. I do, it works you know.

You might, like me, find you have more to sing about.

Fr Ray Blake said...

You are a deacon aren't you?
One's personal tastes should count for little, the style of the Church's music is presented adequately in its official books of music in the Graduale and those examples in the Missal.

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