Saturday, 11 May 2019

Dearly Beloved : 1

Figure 1
Introduction to the Renewal of Baptismal Promises
as it appeared in the 1953
Ordo Sabbati Sancti.
During the celebration of the Paschal Vigil in most parts of the world in April 1953, (1) something quite different happened, something new in the Roman Rite.  The celebrant spoke to the congregation as follows :

On this most sacred night, dearly beloved brethren, holy Mother Church. meditating on the death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ, again lovingly keeps a vigil for Him; and while waiting for His glorious resurrection she rejoices exceedingly.

But since, as the Apostle teaches, we are buried with Christ by baptism unto death, it behooves us so to walk in newness of life, knowing that our old man has been crucified along with Christ so that we are truly dead through sin but alive in God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wherefore, dearly beloved brethren, now the Lenten period of good works is completed, let us renew the promises of holy baptism, wherein we once renounced Satan and his works, as also the world, which is God's enemy, promising to serve God faithfully in the holy Catholic Church. (2) 

Figure 2
The bishop's admonition to candidates
in the Rite of Priestly Ordination.
From a 19th century edition of the
Pontificale Romanum.
Mind you, the different-ness of those words would have been softened by their being said in Latin, and - since the reformulated Paschal Vigil was required to be celebrated just before Midnight (or even later)  - they were not likely heard by many.  But why was this introduction so remarkable?  Because it wasn't a prayer addressed to God; nor was it a ritual invitation to prayer (such as the Sursum corda and Orate Fratres), which have been marked by conciseness.  This was different : a description and an exhortation.  Completely without precedent in the Roman Rite?  Not quite.  For centuries the Rites of Ordination, as found in the Pontificale Romanum, included an Admonition addressed to the ordinands by the bishop.  Those Admonitions, however, were also intended as a substitute for the homily, and they were not addressed to the entire congregation.

This insertion into the Paschal Vigil, however, was not intended as a substitute homily, but an introduction to the Renewal of Baptismal Promises.  This Renewal itself was an innovation into the Paschal Vigil.  The Renewal, of course, was derived directly from the Rite of Baptism in the Rituale Romanum ; nevertheless, there was no introductory admonition in that liturgical book.  No, the Introduction under discussion was written by someone, probably in 1950, for inclusion in the Paschal Vigil.

Father Annibale Bugnini CM in his apologia The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 described this obliquely as follows:

On 28th May, 1948 a commission for liturgical reform was appointed.  Its president was Cardinal Clemente Micara, prefect of the Congregation of Sacred Rites (3) ...  
In the twelve years of its existence ... the commission held eighty-two meetings and worked in absolute secrecy.  So, secret, in fact, was their work that the publication of the Ordi Sabbati Sancti instaurati at the beginning of March 1951 caught even the officials of the Congregation of Sacred Rites by surprise.  The commission enjoyed the full confidence of the Pope, who was kept abreast of its work by Monsignor Montini and ... by Father Bea, confessor of Pius XII ... 
The first fruit of the commission's work was the restoration of the Easter Vigil (1951), which elicited an explosion of joy throughout the Church.  It was a signal that the liturgy was at last launched decisively on a pastoral course. (4)

Figure 3
Title page of the 1953 edition of
the Order of Holy Saturday.
The Paschal Vigil introduction was the first iteration of a number of such formulae which appeared again in 1964 after the publication of the Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium.  We find them in the formulae for General Intercessions or Bidding Prayers, introduced into the Order of Mass in 1964.  The Missale Romanum of 1969, however, raised these Introductions to a new level.  During the Proper of the Seasons, such Introductions are found on The Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas), Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, The Mass of the Holy Oils and throughout the Paschal Triduum.  They are also found in all the revised rites of the Sacraments and in other rites found in the revised Roman Pontifical and various other liturgical books.  Most regularly, however, they are found in the Order of Mass.  All of these Introductions were not restorations from ancient sacramentaries, they are not part of the early structure of the Eucharist, but entirely new compositions.

But these Introductions do indeed have a precedent in Western Christian rites and that is Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's 1549 The booke of common prayer and administracion of the sacramentes, and other rites and ceremonies of the Churche : after the use of the Church of England.  And, yes,  there is something strikingly "Prayerbook" about that Paschal Vigil introduction.

To be continued in a further post.


1. A re-formulation of the Rites of the Paschal Vigil had been completed and circulated in March 1951.  The following year, Pope Pius XII granted permission to the bishops of the world for this reformulated Vigil to be celebrated (according to their discretion) for a period of three years ad experimentum.   A discrete liturgical book for use on Holy Saturday 1953, was thereafter published.

2.  From 1952 onward, a number of anglophone translations of the entire Paschal Vigil were available for congregational use, intended to replace the text of existing hand-missals. Around 1955, some type of permission had been given for this introductory formula and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises itself to be recited in the vernacular.  It is not clear, however, how general this permission was before the publication of the so-called Interim Rite altar Missals from 1964 onward.  Unfortunately, the availability of translations into other language groups is beyond the research material used for this article.

3. This is a list of the original members of the Commission for Liturgical Reform as described by Father Bugnini :  Cardinal Micara, Chairman of the Commission and Prefect of the Congregation of Sacred Rites; Archbishop Alfonso Carinci, secretary of the same Congregation; Father Ferdinand Antonelli OFM and Father Joseph Low CSsR, of the same Congregation; Father Anselmo Albareda OSB, prefect of the Vatican Library; Father Augustin Bea SJ, rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute; Father Annibale Bugnini CM Secretary of the Commission.  A few were added over a period of years, not least of which, Monsignor Enrico Dante, Prefect of Pontifical Ceremonies.

4.  The Reform of the Liturgy 1948 - 1975 by Annibale Bugnini CM, published in translation by the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, USA, 1990, pp. 8-11. Forty years after Father Bugnini wrote this Apologia, his description of events leading to the revision of the Sacred Rites makes for essential and unsettling reading.  His version of that program is no longer accepted at face value as more and more research into the ideology and politics of that period emerges, often being quite disedifying.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Adrian Fortescue comments on the Eighteenth Century

Father Adrian Fortescue
"In the eighteenth century a desolating wave of bad taste passed over Europe.  It gave us Baroc churches, tawdry gilding, vulgarities of gaudy ornament instead of fine construction.  It passed over clothes and gave us our mean, tight modern garments.  And it passed, alas! over vestments too, and gave us skimped, flat vestments of bad colour, outlined in that most impossible material, gold braid, instead of the ample, stately forms which had lasted until then....For these curtailed shapes are not the historic ones which came down hardly modified for so many centuries. They are a quite modern example of Baroc taste...Skimped chasubles, gold braid and lace are not Roman; they are eighteenth century bad taste."

So wrote one of the most illustrious ecclesiastical scholars of the early twentieth century, the Rev'd Dr Adrian Fortescue. This is an extract from a lecture which he gave to the Altar Society of Westminster Cathedral in 1912. Dr Fortescue's name is, somewhat regrettably, better known for the ceremonial manual which he prepared in order to raise money for the building of his Parish church : The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, which has run into many editions, over an entire century.

Dr Fortescue made these counter-cultural comments a century ago, but each new generation of Catholics, believing it has the true interpretation of Tradition, has to be reminded of them afresh.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Too Many Words

Pope S. Paul VI at the Yankee Stadium NY 1965.
One of the characteristics of the Roman Rite until the Introduction of the Pauline Missal in 1970, was the balance it achieved between silence, singing, the spoken word and ritual action. Even the so-called Interim Rite, which had various iterations between 1964 and 1968, still preserved much of this balance.  The Roman Rite "spoke" to people on a number of levels, not just the cerebral level. Its silences spoke, its aesthetics spoke, its unique and unworldly music spoke.

On the other hand, one of the great flaws of the Pauline Missal is that it is far too cerebral. Everything has to be comprehensible intellectually. The Council Fathers decreed that the Church's Rites had to be "intelligible", but unhappily, the Pauline Missal took this injunction too far.

The typical celebration of the New Mass, Ordinary Form - call it what you will - is very wordy. If the texts in the Missal itself weren't more than enough, we are also subjected to little commentaries, entertainments, even ferverini during the Mass. Words, words, words. Too many words.

At the same time, ritual action in the New Mass has been reduced to a minimum. Silence is imposed by the celebrant, rather than being organic to the Rite. One strange example of this, which we experience too often, is the celebrant - having preached his homily - goes and sits down and a period of silence is endured. Presumably we are to meditate on his spoken wisdom: but does anyone remember more than two sentences that he said?

Let us be very careful to avoid an overly-cerebral approach to the Sacred Liturgy (New or Old).  Might we not aim, rather, to recapture and preserve that old balance of the Roman Rite: silence and song supporting the Ritual actions?

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Bidding Prayers or General Intercessions

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council Sacrosanctum Concilium laid down the desire of the Fathers for the restoration of intercessions:

53. The “common prayer” or “prayer of the faithful” is to be restored after the gospel and homily, especially on Sundays and holidays of obligation. By this prayer - in which the people are to take part - intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world.

This paragraph made reference to Saint Paul’s admonition at 1 Tim. 2:1-2. This paragraph is found – with only slight alterations – in the General Instructions on the Roman Missal.

Such intercessions are, therefore, of Apostolic origin, and were everywhere known by the time of Saint Augustine. The Solemn Orations of the Good Friday Afternoon Liturgy were the only survival of such intercessions in the Roman Missal for centuries. In the East, however, they were preserved in the unvarying Litanies, or Ektenia that are prayed throughout the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. From the East, such intercessions made their way during the first millennium into the various Rites in England and, centuries later, were incorporated into the Services of the Church of England, long after they had ceased being a usual feature of the Roman Rite.

Anciently, the intercessions formed part of non-Eucharistic prayer service (sometimes called a Synaxis). But when such services came to be usually celebrated immediately before the Eucharistic Liturgy, the intercessions gradually fell into disuse. This was because intercessions made during the Eucharistic Liturgy often repeated those found in the Synaxis. Such was the origin of the Roman Mass being described in two parts: the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful.

What is found in almost all the ancient examples of these intercessions are common intentions, which were summarised and made explicit by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

It was never envisaged by the Council - nor was it part of the ancient practice - that such intercessions vary on a daily basis, nor that there be any inclusion of extemporaneous prayer. It might easily be argued that the Council Fathers wished that these intercessions would become fixed in people’s consciousness, by being prayed week after week.  Such is the practice with our Eastern brethren.

Upon this simple concept outlined by the Council Fathers, there have been many accretions over the last 50 years. Not uncommonly, we find intercessions anaemic in their theological content and not specifically Christian in their outlook. We commonly find the intercessions to be linked to the Propers of the Mass, and the lections of the Mass of the Day, as if “theme” were all-important. But this was never intended by the Council Fathers. Furthermore, a new and more noble translation of the Roman Missal for the English-speaking world has highlighted the often unsacral, even trite expression of these intercessions. But even the formulae found in the Roman Missal are so terse as easily to be described as bland.

A further post will examine some forms of Intercession drawn-up immediately after the first liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Paschal Greetings 2019

To all readers of this blog and to customers and friends of the Saint Bede Studio,  may many Graces be yours on the Day of our Lord's Resurrection.

In a world full of strife, violence, persecutions, hatred, abuse, etc. - all wrought by man - we look again to the optimistic Christian message that God has overcome Death - and all the awfulness, frailties, discord and disappointments of this earthly life - and loves each and every poor sinner.

Christ is Risen !

Thursday, 18 April 2019

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.
The practice of the present Bishop of Rome to celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper outside of the chapels and basilicas of the Vatican and in places which are not churches, but prisons or hospices, continues to catch the attention of the world. The Pope's decision to wash the feet of girls (as well as boys) and non-Christians during the Mandatum has variously attracted perplexity and rapture.

An analysis of the merits of this Pope's initiatives is not the purpose of this post. 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 baptised 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 dismal 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 which, we might suggest, might be given serious consideration. Were that to happen, perhaps it would be of lesser consequence if the feet of women were also washed. 

Monday, 15 April 2019

Notre Dame de Paris

On this grim day, when the hallowed Cathedral of Notre Dame has been devastated by fire, we offer our prayers in union with Catholics of France and those worldwide who lament this tragedy.  In a short space of time, so much that was beautiful, sacred, treasured, historic, has been destroyed.  The Cathedral can be restored, although much of its ancientness is forever gone.

Ut in omnibus Deus glorificetur.

Image : The Associated Press.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Contrasts : 9

Two images of Solemn Mass both celebrated in Gothic Revival Churches. 

An inventive use of an imposing tapestry fabric is shewn in the "gothic" vestments (above);
whilst an anaemic colour palette, prissy design and awkward construction is demonstrated
in the other, in the manner of the Spanish Baroque.


Monday, 8 April 2019

Solemn Mass Vestments for the Penitential Seasons

Solemn Mass
Figure 1.
Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.
Recently, the Studio completed a set of Solemn Mass vestments for the Penitential Seasons.  Our customer kindly sent us some photographs taken when the new vestments were used on Thursday of the Second Week of Lent.  This was in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul, being attached to the Cathedral of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas (USA).

Our customer, Father Joshua Neu, very kindly wrote this appreciation of the work of the Saint Bede Studio :
I have had the pleasure of keeping an eye on the photographs you post for the past few years and of seeing first hand multiple sets of vestments you have created. What I appreciate most about your work is the insistence on maintaining truly traditional forms and styles while simultaneously integrating unique braids, colour schemes, and ornamentation. I believe you have a unique ability to integrate tradition and creativity that results in pieces that are steadfastly traditional and still have a modern feel. Traditionalism without antiquarianism.

These vestments, more of which can be seen here and here, are very ample and were made from a very deep shade of purple (not violet) dupion silk.  They were lined in crimson-red taffeta and ornamented with the Studio's Saint Austin braid, being a replica of two braids by AWN Pugin.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Solemn Mass
Figure 2.
Subdeacon chanting the Lesson.

Solemn Mass
Figure 3.
At the Tract.

Solemn Mass
Figure 4.
At the Incensation of the Gifts

Purple vestments
Figure 5.
At the Orate Fratres.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Contrasts : 8

Celebrations of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.