Sunday, 20 April 2014

Paschal Greetings

The joy of the Resurrection renews the whole world: to all readers of this Blog, a most Blessed Easter.

Adjacent is a photograph of a new set of vestments in the Borromeon style, which is the first in a series of vestments to be made for a Latin Mass Community in South America.

The vestments are of a brocade woven from silk and metallic thread and are ornamented in the Roman manner.


Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Mandatum Revisited

A 19th century engraving depicting the Pope, surrounded
by the Papal Court washing the feet of thirteen
poor men of Rome.
This rite took place in the Sistine Chapel on the
morning of Maundy Thursday.
On Maundy Thursday, the Pope's celebration of the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper will again not be held in the Vatican Basilica. This Pontiff has shewn that he will adapt liturgical Traditions in accordance with his own views.

Last year, the Pope's decision to wash the feet of girls (as well as boys) and non-Christians during the Mandatum attracted an enormous amount of disquiet on the one hand and rapture on the other.

Many other blogs have a coverage of this matter from a polemical perspective, but it is not our intention here to add to this. Rather, we wish to give an outline of the history of the Mandatum in order to present reasons why the significance of the Rite is open to different interpretations and philosophies.

The Catholic Encyclop√¶dia (1907-1914) has an article on the history of the Mandatum, written by Herbert Thurston SJ, of which the following is an extract.  Father Thurston had written previously about the Mandatum in his monograph Lent and Holy Week (1904):

This tradition, we may believe, has never been interrupted, though the evidence in the early centuries is scattered and fitful. For example the Council of Elvira (A.D. 300) in Canon 48 directs that the feet of those about to be baptized are not to be washed by priests but presumably by clerics or at least lay persons. This practice of washing the feet at baptism was long maintained in Gaul, Milan, and Ireland, but it was not apparently known in Rome or in the East. In Africa the nexus between this ceremony and baptism became so close that there seemed danger of its being mistaken for an integral part of the rite of baptism itself (Augustine, Ep. LV, Ad Jan., n. 33). Hence the washing of the feet was in many places assigned to another day than that on which the baptism took place. In the religious orders the ceremony found favour as a practice of charity and humility. The Rule of St. Benedict directs that it should be performed every Saturday for all the community by him who exercised the office of cook for the week; while it was also enjoined that the abbot and the brethren were to wash the feet of those who were received as guests. The act was a religious one and was to be accompanied by prayers and psalmody, "for in our guests Christ Himself is honoured and received". The liturgical washing of feet (if we can trust the negative evidence of our early records) seems only to have established itself in East and West at a comparatively late date. In 694 the Seventeenth Synod of Toledo commanded all bishops and priests in a position of superiority under pain of excommunication to wash the feet of those subject to them. The matter is also discussed by Amalarius and other liturgists of the ninth century. Whether the custom of holding this Maundy (from Mandatum novum do vobis, the first words of the initial Antiphon) on Maundy Thursday, developed out of the baptismal practice originally attached to that day does not seem quite clear, but it soon became a universal custom in cathedral and collegiate churches. In the latter half of the twelfth century the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum (1600) directs that the bishop is to wash the feet either of thirteen poor men or of thirteen of his canons. The bishop and his assistants are vested and the Gospel Ante diem festum paschae is ceremonially sung with incense and lights at the beginning of the function. Most of the sovereigns of Europe used also formerly to perform the Maundy. The custom is still retained at the Austrian and Spanish courts.
A number of points may be made here.  Although the origin of the Mandatum is a Divine Precept, which the Church has since earliest times considered binding, its expression and its symbolism are by no means clear in liturgical history. On the one hand, it is associated with the Catechumenate, on the other hand with the poor; yet again, a demonstration of the attitude of service which a bishop or religious superior ought to have towards his community.

The question of the Mandatum being linked to Ordination to the ministerial priesthood is somewhat less clear, although it is often spoken about.

What is quite clear, amongst various uncertainties, is that throughout its history, the Mandatum had no relationship with ordinary parish life: it was a rite which pertained to the Diocesan Cathedral or Church of a Religious Community.  Only since 1955, with the revisions of the Holy Week Liturgy approved by Pope Pius XII, has the Mandatum been included in the ceremonies of the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday and consequently, celebrated ordinarily in parishes. Perhaps this revision was not as laudable as was thought at the time.

In the last two decades, we have witnessed the spectacle of all sorts of curious and frightful additions to the Mandatum, advocated by tinpot liturgists. We will refrain from describing any of these accretions. And so, the symbolism of this ancient rite has become obscured again.  An unfortunate by-product of this trajectory is that the real focus of the Evening Mass of Maundy Thursday - the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist and Ministerial Priesthood - becomes obscured.

Happily, we note that in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite, the Mandatum is optional. Its being observed at a time other than during the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday is something, we might suggest, which might be given serious consideration (including by the Pope). Were that to happen, perhaps it would be of lesser consequence if the feet of those who are not men were also washed. 


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Saint Philip Neri-style Vestments

A Catholic Academy in Minnesota USA commissioned the Studio to make a set of red vestments after the style of Saint Philip Neri.  The completed vestments are shewn in the adjacent photograph.

These vestments are made from a beautiful English brocade in red and gold and are lined in red taffeta.


Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Ave Maris Stella vestments

We are pleased to return to web-logging with this post depicting a newly-made dalmatic.  This vestment has been made specifically for Festivals of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is called Ave Maris Stella. The decorative focus of this dalmatic is an orphrey braid which is based on the work of AWN Pugin.

This braid is produced in two shades of blue (lighter and darker) with figured ornament in gold. This braid was designed by the Studio and is only available through it. The braid can be used on fabrics either brighter white in colour, or ivory and can also be used to decorate dalmatics and copes.

The dalmatic matches a chasuble (shewn in the photograph below) which was produced last year for a priest of the Archdiocese of Galvaston-Houston USA. These vestments were made from a silk damask and lined in a vibrant blue dupion silk.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Suscipe Sancta Trinitas

One of the prayers which didn't survive the Missale Romanum final cut in 1970 was this one:

Accept, holy Trinity, this offering which we make to you in remembrance of the passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honour of blessed Mary ever Virgin, of blessed John the Baptist, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, of those whose relics rest here, and of all the Saints. To them may it bring honour, and to us salvation; and may they, whose memory we keep on earth, be pleased to intercede for us in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

This beautiful prayer, intended to be recited quietly after the washing of the hands during the Preparation of Gifts or Offertory, is a summary of the things a Catholic should keep in mind when praying the Mass. It reminds us firstly that all our worship is offered to the One God, who is a Trinity of Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Secondly, in reflecting the Anamnesis after the consecration, the prayer insists on the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery that is re-presented for us in sacramental form: His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Finally, it asserts that a secondary end of the Mass is the honour of the Saints (that is, the victory of Christ in His members is being praised), and accordingly it begs their intercession for us on Earth. 

One can only wonder at the mentality which saw fit to excise this prayer from the Mass. If there was one prayer that ought to have been retained at the Offertory, this was the one. After washing his hands and before inviting the people to prayer (Pray, brethren), the celebrant bowed before the altar and quietly prayed the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas.

If you are a priest reading this, you might consider praying this prayer at the Offertory when you offer the Ordinary Form of the Roman Mass. If you pray it according to the rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum, (namely bowed and silently) no one in the pews will be disturbed by hearing a prayer recited which is not contained in the New Order of Mass.  Be daring.

How beautiful it would be if once again this prayer were recited at every Mass!  The Angels would rejoice.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Revision of the Rites : 2

Solemn Mass at Le Barroux Benedictine Abbey
Everyone who is anyone - and others - is now writing about it: the Reform of the Reform.  Is it dead? Can it be revisited? A very helpful assessment is made by Father Christopher Smith over at The Chant Cafe. WARNING: those who hate the modern preoccupation with acronymns should be patient in reading Father Smith's fine essay.

We also note an article which has appeared this morning at The New Liturgical Movement by the Most Rev'd Peter Elliott, auxiliary bishop of Melbourne.  Most likely, you have already read these two articles.

As mentioned in previous posts, the Saint Bede Studio will be publishing a series of short articles during 2014 on the various Liturgical books which existed from 1964 - 1969.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Revision of the Rites: How can it happen?

Celebration of Mass according to
the 1965 Missale Romanum.
One of the lessons to be learned from the Revision of the Liturgical books, which took place (mainly) between the years 1965 - 1970 is that changes took place in stages.

The first stage - introducing vernacular into the Rite of Mass and the celebration of the Sacraments was very dramatic and very popular. Why it was so popular would bear a great deal of discussion, which perhaps might be the subject of another post. Changes to the ritual actions of the Mass took place by degrees and - except for the innovation of the celebration of Mass facing the people at freestanding altars, went by without a great deal of handwringing or even attention, except of course for the celebrant and his ministers. Ritually, so much was altered step-by-step in this period, that when the New Order of Mass came into effect on the First Sunday of Advent, 1969, it was seen quite clearly as just another revision amongst a continuum of revisions. That was the strategy.

For those who believe that the only way forward for substantial Liturgical reform ( according to the ideals expressed in Sacrosanctum Concilium ) is to return to the offering of the 1962 Missale Romanum, only disappointment lies ahead. Too many ecclesiastical careers have been built on a continuum of "reform" for that to occur in the next decades. It is not adequate, or even responsible, for the 1970 Missale simply to be declared "unsalvageable", as we have seen suggested on various Blogs over the last two weeks or so.

"It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness."

The situation is not hopeless. A more sacral and accurate translation of the 1970 Missal has been published in the English-speaking world and has been (mostly) well-received. A new translation of that Missal, of course, does not overcome the problem of its textual defects, which can only be addressed by the Holy See.  Furthermore, in so many places, the aesthetics of the Liturgy are being re-sacralised by the use of more fitting music; new churches are being built (and others renovated) which are more like a sacred space than a bunker; more attractive vestments are being used. All these things - which pertain to the externals of the Sacred Liturgy - and more, are taking effect gradually. 

Is there anything else that could be done "on the ground"? Yes, and probably it is not so difficult. The celebrants of our Masses (not presiders!) might consider if any ritual actions of the Extraordinary Form could be incorporated into their celebration of the New Mass in such a way as would not disturb the Faithful. This is already happening, of course, (for example, at the London Oratory it has been taking place for many years). Would this be so objectionable? For some, probably. Others might not even notice (just as the average catholic-in-the-pews didn't notice much in the period 1965 - 1970). Still others might welcome the enrichment of an other-worldly ritual dimension in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Prudence in all things.

An ongoing discussion of this notion will be the subject of other posts, alongside the discussion of the various revisions of the Roman Rite, 1965 - 1970.

"Mutual Enrichment", particularly pertaining to the use of the Roman Canon, has also recently been treated in the usual scholarly fashion by the redoubtable Father John Hunwicke (pronounced Hunnick) at his blog Father Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment. Father Hunwicke recommends that the First Eucharistic Prayer, being that Canon anciently and continuously associated with the Roman Rite, ought always be used, unvaryingly, to the exclusion of all recent compositions.