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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tantra and prasaṅga in a Catholic Mass


During a Mass, the hosts are not severally consecrated. Their consecration is valid once for all. Using the terminology of the Indian ritualistics, one could say that it happens once for all, through tantra. Each host is part of the same rite and hence shares all the benefits of any act performed within the rite.

By contrast, imagine the case of two different rituals, like the Sunday Mass and the special Mass celebrated on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Both Masses have to be attended compulsory by Catholic believers, but one can attend any of the Masses celebrated on that day or on the evening before. In other words, one is allowed to attend either one of the Sunday Masses celebrated during the whole Sunday or the "Sunday Mass" celebrated on Saturday evening. What happens if the day of the Assumption occurs on a Saturday (as it happens every seven years)? Is one allowed to go to the Saturday evening Mass and fulfil through the same act both duties? If yes, one could say that the function of the Mass celebrated on the Saturday evening as a "Sunday Mass" helps one fulfilling both duties. It fulfills directly the duty to attend the Sunday Mass and indirectly the duty to attend the Mass on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. This kind of double effect which was not intended could be called prasaṅga.
However, I am inclined to think that a Catholic believer should go to the Mass twice, once on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (in the present example, on the Saturday) and once on the Sunday (or on the Saturday evening), because the liturgy has a specific prescription about the fact that one has to attend the first and the second one. And, when there is a specific restriction, prasaṅga cannot apply (prasaṅgād apavādo balīyaḥ or prasaṅgo na, niyamaśabdāt).

On tantra, see here. On prasaṅga, see here.

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