Friday, December 2, 2011

Confirmation in south-east Charente: final part

Confirmation Names:
The baptismal names of the Confirmands were in small print at the top right hand corner of the service sheet. Bishop Dagens read them out at the end of his homily. There was no mention of Confirmation names, either at that point or during the Confirmation itself. Pehaps the French don't keep this custom as we do in the Anglophone world - at least I hope we still do.

Creed or Renewal of Baptismal vows?
Although the Service sheet indicated a 'Profession de Foi des Jeunes' followed by the Profession of Faith 'de l'assemblee' with the Apostles Creed being printed out for the purpose, in fact the Confirmands were taken through the renewals of Baptismal vows, as at the Easter Vigil. Many of the Congregation did not know whether to join in the responses or not. And in any case they were not printed in the provided sheet.

The Confirmation began with the singing of  'Veni Sancte Spiritus' in French with the Latin response 'Veni Sancte Spiritus' repeated at the end of each of the ten verses. It was a dreary and not at all memorable tune and I couldn't help longing for the Chant not merely to satisfy my own taste but to hand on to the young, an important  part of tradition, particularly at a rare opportunity provided by events such as the Montmoreau Confirmation...

Then according to the sheet we should have witnessed the laying on of hands. We did not. The bishop stood behind the altar,  versus populum, flanked by his two assistant priests and all in a straight row and the three of them raised their hands to just above shoulder level with palms toward the line of candidates assembled outside the sanctuary. . Later I realised that they had reminded me of a trio of Indian chiefs. .I'm glad not to have thought of it at the time or I should have been dangerously close to laughter. I don't know what justification there was for each confirmand not receiving the laying on of hands individually. When I was confirmed there were at least twenty  of us and we all went up separately and knelt before the Archbishop's chair to receive that part of the rite . Our sponsors handed him a card with our chosen Confirmation name written on it so he was able to address each one of us and announce the new name for all to hear.

Although  I gather that the annointing with Chrism is regarded as the central act of the Rite these days, and indeed it was carried out with proper dignity 'according to the book',  I was somewhat discomfited by the way the 'laying on of hands'  was, or should I say was not conducted on Sunday.

Two further incidents caused me quite a shock. At the Consecration during the Mass Bishop Dagens did something I've never seen before. He elevated the Host BEFORE consecrating it. And after the words of Consecration, lifted It even higher so that It was above his head.  Has anyone seen this done before?

Another thing happened later on at the sign of peace. I've read in several places that it is counted as a minor abuse if the priest leaves the altar and comes down among the congregation to exchange the sign with all and sundry. Bishop Dagens walked the length of the church giving the sign to the persons  at the nave end of each row. Is there a different rule for bishops?  Much as I was honoured to exchange the sign of Peace with my bishop, I really would have preferred it, had he earlier taken the time to 'lay hands' properly and not symbolically, on the those being confirmed.

I've already tried to make it clear that I went to this Mass with absolutely no intention of 'nit-picking', but the things I have mentioned took me by surprise and unsettled me..

Perhaps people will share their experiences of Confirmation both now and in the past.

btw Since Pere Marchand's arrival there has been almost a complete disappearence of EMHCs at our local Masses. I'm glad to say there was no sign of them at all at Montmoreau. .


1 comment:

Genty said...

You are not alone! At a church near me the priest doesn't bow for the Consecration but holds up the Host and the chalice at almost shoulder height and swings each of them to left and right at the "...take this, all of you......" The Elevation is hardly noticeable.
At the sign of peace he races off the sanctuary to shake hands with all parishioners in the front rows and is still at it as the choir (the saving grace, I might add) is on the second trope of the Agnus Dei.
It's pretty surreal.