Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas Greetings

To all friends, customers and readers of this Blog, my sincere wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

Monday 20 December 2010

Borromeon Form arrives in New Zealand

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a young priest from New Zealand and shewing him those styles of chasuble which have become known as the S' Philip Neri and Borromeon forms.  These are interpretations by the Saint Bede Studio of chasubles used in the 16th century, based on works of art and surviving chasubles from the period.

The young priest was quite enthusiastic about these styles, not least so because of their being so convenient to wear.  Adjacent is a photograph of the Borromeon chasuble chosen by the priest, which he now uses in his parish in New Zealand.  

We can't claim that it is the first chasuble of the revived Borromeon form in New Zealand, but it is certainly amongst the first, "for nothing is impossible to God".


Click on the image for an enlarged view.

A modern interpretation of the ancient chasuble

Shewn in the adjacent photograph is the Saint Bede Studio's alternative to the contemporary chasuble.  This vestment, which we call The Saint Martin chasuble is quite long and wide, reaching beyond the wrists of the wearer.  In developing this design, the Studio wished to present a more modern "feel" of chasuble but with the ancient decoration of the Tau, used in Rome for more than a millenium.

These vestments, prepared for an Australian priest presently studying in Rome, are made from dupion silk and ornamented with an ecclesiatical brocade in wine-red and gold.  The vestments are fully lined, yet not unduly heavy.


Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Rosa Mystica

A priest resident in Germany, commissioned the Studio to make a vestment for use on Gaudete Sunday.  The Rosa Mystica chasuble, shewn adjacent, will be used in the venerable Cathedral Parish of Frankfurt-am-Main.  The chasuble is made from a damask, ornamented with a Gothic foliage braid, and lined in grey cotton.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Monday 6 December 2010

On the Immaculate Conception BVM

A young priest in the United States commissioned the Studio to make a set of vestments in the "Borromeon" form, to be used for feasts of the Blessed Virgin. The result is shewn adjacent. This design we have named Regina Coeli.

These vestments are made from a white brocade which features a stylised fleur-de-lis in the form of a Cross. The ornament is formed from a blue and silver damask, outlined with a silver-coloured narrow galloon. The chasuble is lined in peacock-blue dupion silk.

The vestments will be used for the first time on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  Our priest-customer,  for whom we had made vestments previously, contacted us about this vestment:

I would like to take a moment to thank Michael for the truly amazing craftsmanship which goes into each of his vestments. I am currently in the process of trying to reinvigorate the Liturgy at my Parish, to bring back that sense of beauty and awe which many Catholics have unfortunately lost even when they stand in the presence of Jesus Christ Himself. Michael's vestments have added immensely to this undertaking. Comments on these pieces of liturgical art have been completely unexpected, with one parishioner actually stating that seeing the priest in such beautiful vestments allowed them for the first time to have an understanding of priest "in persona Christi" as Christ the King. This particular set of BVM vestments is truly resplendent. It was my honor to celebrate the Sacred Mass in them in honor of Mary our Mother. Make no mistake, beautiful vestments do not make the Mass! Nor should they just be done for "show" or "appearance." However, in my experience they benefit the People of God and allow them to better understand that they stand with the angels and Saints worshipping God every time they pray the Holy Mass.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.


Sunday 5 December 2010

What colour vestments should be worn during Advent?

I often read here and there vigorous assertions about the "correct" colour of vestments to be used during Lent and Advent.  Curious as to the history of these colours in Liturgical use,  I researched and posted an article a few years ago on this Blog about use of penitential colours for the Seasons of Advent, Lent &c.  If you have wondered what colour the Church recommends for these Seasons, you will find the article illuminating.  That post may be read here and here, so I don't intend to rehearse its findings. 

Instead, always most interesting, an historic work of art to illustrate the practice of our forebears. This work (adjacent) was painted by an artist known as the Master of Osservanza in the year 1440 and depicts a Low Mass being offered at a side chapel in the Siena Cathedral (Italy).

Some observations. The chasuble being worn by the celebrant is violet: in other words, much the same colour as the flower "violets". It is a blue-ish colour, not purple and it is not too dark either. The chasuble is the full conical shape and is ornamented with a simple column-orphrey of dark fabric (possibly even black). Most likely, the front of the chasuble would have been decorated with the familiar "tau". The celebrant is wearing decorative apparels on his alb and amice, which match the colour of the chasuble's ornament. That is a very typical practice of the Mediaeval period. Note, too, the very full folds of the alb.

We see, also, that the boy assisting the celebrant is wearing a full-length surplice, according to the style typically found in Renaissance Italy. Those who claim that such surplices are "Church of England" practice should note this well.

Lastly, the altar itself. It is clothed in a dark antependium or altar frontal, ornamented with scarlet red. On the altar is a Crucifix and a single candle. Although it may seem peculiar that there is but a single candle instead of a pair, it might be remarked that not until the 16th century was it a usual practice to have a pair of candlesticks on an altar.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Friday 5 November 2010

The ancient form of chasuble

Adjacent is a photograph of a conical chasuble recently completed by the Saint Bede Studio for a priest in the United States.   This chasuble is made from dupion silk and is ornamented with a very simple form of the "tau" Cross.  It is fully lined.

For readers who may be unfamiliar with this style, the shape of a conical chasuble is very similar to that of a bell. Consequently, in order for the wearer to use his arms, the conical chasuble must be pulled up at the sides and the fabric allowed to rest in the small of the arms. When this happens, the vestment folds upward from the bottom in a manner quite distinctive.  Many illustrations, statues and monuments from late Antiquity to the Middle Ages regularly show vestments with precisely these folds.

The conical chasuble is the most ancient form of Mass vestment, dating back to the earliest days of Christianity.  It continued to be the usual form for the chasuble until the late Middle Ages, when various modifications to the shape began to take place.

For a history of the chasuble, go here.

A conical chasuble is not for celebrants who like to wave their arms around a lot, but it is quite manageable if the arms always remain extended or joined. Unlike the more commonly-found chasubles, the conical chasuble must be tailored to the shape of the wearer's shoulders, otherwise it fits very ill.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Thursday 4 November 2010

Feast of S' Charles Borromeo

Coinciding with the Feast of S' Charles Borromeo (4th November), the Studio has completed a new set of vestments in the Borromeon style.  The vestments are made from crimson-red silk damask, ornamented with a brocade of dark burgundy and gold and outlined with a galloon in the Roman style.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.


Tuesday 26 October 2010

Redecoration of a Melbourne church

Recently we learned of the appointment of Father Anthony Denton as Rector of the new Domus Australiae in Rome. Father Denton, a Friend of the Saint Bede Studio, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and is undertaking doctoral studies in Rome.

Before commencing his studies, Father Denton had been Parish Priest of East Thornbury (Archdiocese of Melbourne) and had approached the Studio in January 2009 to design some modest improvements to the aesthetics and liturgical arrangements of the Parish Church, within the constraints of a very small budget.



Built in the 1960's, the East Thornbury church cannot be said to embrace any particular architectural style.  The building is rectangular, wide, the ceiling is rather low; the interior walls partly rendered and painted, partly exposed brick.  The sanctuary is part of the main structure, rather than a separate space, although well-elevated on steps.  Visually, the principal difficulty was that the sanctuary appeared a small and ill-defined area within a much larger space and not the focal point it might be.  The original timber High altar had been dismantled, but its components re-used.

The following is a list of the changes that were recommended and carried out in the redecoration:

Reconfiguration of reredos
A new treatment of the reredos was crucial to the success of the work to enhance the church visually.  A brick reredos, painted a subdued yellow, was located in a slightly-recessed wall.  The recessed wall was painted anew in a burgundy colour, whilst the reredos was changed from yellow to an ivory colour; this ivory colour was also used for the repainting of the sanctuary walls.   Flanking the recessed wall, decorative work was carried out along the full height of the sanctuary wall, and framed by a new structure of timber.  This work effectively expanded the width of the reredos and made it appear more three-dimensional.  A timber panelwork dado - a remnant of the removed High altar - was modified, reducing its ungainly width to correspond to the width of the altar.  Lastly, a peculiar arrangement whereby the tabernacle was embedded into the brick reredos at the foot of the prominent Crucifix was changed by lowering the tabernacle to be contiguous with the panelwork.

Creation of a predella and re-siting of altar
A partial reinstatement of the High altar timber predella (altar step) took place on which the altar was placed.  Carpet was removed from this section of the sanctuary floor and parquetry was installed.  The altar was re-sited to be directly beneath the tester or canopy which was part of the original High altar arrangements.  This allowed the altar to be illuminated by lights in the canopy.

Repainting of sanctuary walls
A feature wall running the full-length of the building was of untreated brick.  In association with the installation of timber posts to demark the sanctuary visually from the nave, the sanctuary section of that feature wall was painted ivory-white, along with the adjacent sanctuary walls.

In making recommendations for the redecoration of Holy Spirit Church, Thornbury East, the Saint Bede Studio made no attempt to impose a pseudo-Classical or pseudo-Gothic makeover.   Instead, a simple treatment which enhanced the liturgical appointments of the building was successfully carried outThe two photographs above, shewing before and after, illustrate everything described above.

Click on each photograph for an enlarged view.

Monday 25 October 2010

The "Borromeon" style of chasuble

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the directions set down by S' Charles Borromeo in the late 16th century for the seemly dimensions of the chasuble.

The Saint Bede Studio has been commissioned by a young priest of the Archdiocese of New York USA to make a Solemn Mass set in the "Borromeon" style. The attached photograph shews the completed chasuble, made from a silk damask of silver and straw colour and ornamented with a silk damask of rose and old gold. The photograph does not nearly convey the beauty of these fabrics.  The chasuble is quite long and reaches almost to the wrist, as S' Charles directed. The typical Roman arrangement of ornament for the chasuble was used for this vestment.


Click on the picture for a larger view.

Thursday 21 October 2010

The S' Philip Neri chasuble: for the Ordinary & Extraordinary Forms

It is not so often that I have an opportunity to present photographs of one of my chasubles being used, for the sacred purpose that was intended, as opposed to being "modelled".  I am pleased to attach some photographs taken today at S' Aloysius' Church, Caulfield North (Archdiocese of Melbourne).  They depict Fr Gerard Boyce, a visitor from the Diocese of Hamilton (New Zealand) on the occasion of his first offering Mass according to the Extraordinary Form.  Assisting him is the Rector of the church, Father Glen Tattersall.

The vestments being used by Father Boyce belong to the Caulfield church, and were made by the Saint Bede Studio in a very simple variant on the "S' Philip Neri" style,  for the convenience of a priest resident in the Parish.  The vestments are quite lightweight, although fully-lined. 

Click on each image for an enlarged view.


Photography by Dr Chris Steward.

Sunday 17 October 2010

A Moment of Great Joy

Today, Australia will receive her first saint.  On Sunday evening (Australian time),  Pope Benedict will canonise Mother Mary of the Cross (MacKillop) along with five others of the Blessed.  

This is a day of immense pride for the Australian Catholic Church.  We look to Mother Mary of the Cross at a time when the Church in Australia falters amidst secularism and atheism.

Read about the life of Mother Mary of the Cross here.

Saint Mary of the Cross, pray for us!

Tuesday 28 September 2010

The Lion and the Cardinal

I was very honoured to be asked by the US-based Catholic artist, Daniel Mitsui, to be interviewed for his well-known website The Lion and the Cardinal.

The interview can be read here.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Vestments for the Season "Per Annum"

Father Mitchell Beachey of Quebec, Canada, a returning customer, commissioned the Studio to prepare a set of green vestments for the Season Per Annum. Father Beachey chose to have the set prepared in the "Philip Neri" style. The vestments were made of a green damask, ornamented in the Roman style with a narrow braid forming the outline of the orphrey.


Click on the picture for an enlarged view.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Conical vestments

Recently, the Saint Bede Studio completed a conical chasuble for a priest at the Pontifical North American College.  Made from a green and black brocade, the chasuble is fully-lined in red cotton and ornamented with Puginesque braids.


Click on the picture for a larger view.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Puginesque vestments in Wallsend

This post features a chasuble and cope set, with matching antependium, which the Saint Bede Studio has made for the use of the Latin Mass Community in Newcastle (Australia). These vestments have already been used for a Missa Cantata at Saint Patrick's church Wallsend, which has been featured on The New Liturgical Movement and The Hermeneutic of Continuity.

Some photographs are included from the Mass, in addition to a studio image of the cope. A forest green damask was used for these vestments, ornamented with Puginesque braids in red and gold.


Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Monday 2 August 2010

Sundays after Pentecost - part II

A young priest from Louisiana (USA) commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to make a green chasuble in the Philip Neri style. The completed chasuble is pictured opposite.

These vestments are made from a magnificent damask of green and gold, ornamented simply with an outlining braid, and lined in green cotton.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.


Monday 26 July 2010

Ordination 2010 - Part V

The last in this small series of Ordination chasubles is a set of vestments prepared for Father Daniel O'Mullane from the United States who studied for the Sacred Priesthood at the Pontifical North American College, Rome.

Father O'Mullane asked for a Maria Regina chasuble, which has been featured on this blog several times before. Having had two chasubles prepared, Father O'Mullane wrote about his experiences with the Saint Bede Studio:

Working with the Saint Bede Studio has been a truly edifying experience. I am so happy to have found someone in Michael who cares deeply about the Sacred Liturgy, has a discerning eye for beauty in vestments and vesture, and can work well with me to bring my ideas to fruition. Not only are these the finest vestments I have ever worn, they are the finest I have seen in person. The fabrics are top quality, and the workmanship is perfect down to the minutest details. I have thoroughly enjoyed this prayerful process, and I look forward to our next project!

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Sunday 11 July 2010

Ordinations 2010 - part IV

The fourth in this small series of Ordination chasubles was prepared for Father Daniel O'Mullane from the United States who studied for the Sacred Priesthood at the Pontifical North American College, Rome.

The ordinand asked for a chasuble which corresponded to the specifications laid down in the 16th century by S' Charles Borromeo.

A magnificent silk damask in grey and straw was chosen for the chasuble, ornamented with a silk damask of rose-red and gold, outlined with a narrow galloon. The ornamentation is in the traditional Roman style of the TAU. The chasuble was fully lined.

The photograph below was taken by Jeff Pikor at the First Mass of Father O'Mullane.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Ordinations - part III

The third in this small series of Ordination chasubles was prepared for a young deacon from Canada, who was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in May.
The ordinand asked for a chasuble in the Philip Neri style, which has become increasingly popular amongst younger clergy, who are desirous of a distinctly "Roman" style of vestment, but yet do not wish to adopt the later style of chasuble of 18th century Rome, sometimes referred to as "fiddleback".

A renaissance-style ivory and gold silk damask was chosen for the chasuble, ornamented with a brocade of burgundy and gold, outlined with a narrow galloon. The ornamentation is in the traditional Roman style of the TAU. The chasuble was fully lined.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Father Jeff Oehring pictured after his First Mass.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Vestments for Ferial Days

A priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to make a set of vestments for use on ferial days per annum. This vestment is made from a forest-green taffeta and lined in cotton. It is ornamented with a magnificent silk braid, in first rate condition although 50 years old.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Monday 21 June 2010

Restorations at S' Aloysius' Church, Caulfield

The Latin Mass Community at Saint Aloysius' Caulfield commissioned some restoration of its church interior in time for Holy Week this year. This large church, constructed in 1923, has grown quite tired after a succession of unsympathetic redecorations. One of the sadder features was the High altar: an Omaru stone structure, but which was painted off-white some years ago. The apse wall behind the altar had been painted the same colour, effectively decreasing the altar's prominence. Although never an altar of great beauty, it was nevertheless felt that its appearance could be significantly improved.

The Melbourne firm of Mulholland Restoration and Decorating, which has restored many historic churches in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, was engaged to re-ornament the altar, in conjunction with the Saint Bede Studio. Because cost was a constraining factor, stripping the paint from the altar was deemed impossible. Parts of the stonework were also assessed as being in a quite deteriorated state. Instead, Mulhollands gave the altar a faux-stone treatment, giving it the appearance and texture of sandstone. This work having been carried out, the ornamental work of the altar was treated with a gold medium. To enhance the effect of this work, the apse wall behind the altar was painted white, whilst the string course separating the upper and lower levels of the sanctuary wall and the adjacent columns were also given the faux-stone treatment.

At the same time, the Saint Bede Studio prepared a number of altar frontals.

The results are seen in the photographs below (thanks to Dr Chris Steward). Note that some of the photographs may appear to slightly exaggerate the depth of the sandstone colour.

Click on each image for an enlarged view.

Beginning the stone treatment: the previous painted colour of the altar seen on the right.

Treating the bas-reliefs: David and Barry from Mulhollands.

Work on the column, apse wall and string course.

Goldwork to accentuate ornamental mouldings &c.

After the completion of the paintwork.

Altar frontal for Penitential Days.

Easter Morning, shewing festal altar frontal.

Father Diamond PP celebrating the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper in the Ordinary Form.

Friday 18 June 2010

Ordinations 2010 part II

The second in this small series of Ordination chasubles was prepared for a young Sydney man, who was ordained to the priesthood in S' Mary's Cathedral Sydney on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, along with five other men.

The ordinand asked for a chasuble in the Saint Martin design, but strictly in colours of white and gold. This design is extremely ample and is intended to be more contemporary in appearance, even though based in Catholic traditions.

A renaissance-style ivory damask was chosen for the chasuble, ornamented with a brocade of white and gold, outlined with a narrow galloon. The ornamentation is in the traditional Roman style of the TAU. The chasuble was fully lined.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Monday 14 June 2010

Sundays after Pentecost

The Saint Bede Studio has recently completed a commission from the Latin Mass Community of the Archdiocese of Adelaide for a green set of Solemn Mass vestments. The vestments were made from a green silk jacquard and ornamented with a silk braid of crimson, straw and green. Each of the vestments was fully lined. Pictured adjacent is the dalmatic from the set.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.


Saturday 12 June 2010

Ordinations 2010: part I

One of the great privileges of my work is to prepare vestments for those men preparing for ordination to the sacred priesthood. At this time of year, it seems common for ordinations to take place and I have just finished a number of commissions from deacons in Rome, Australia and the United States who have been or are about to be ordained.

The first featured here was made for a deacon who had a particular desire to have a semi-conical chasuble in the English style of the mediaeval period. The most notable characteristic of the conical and semi-conical chasubles is the way they gather in horizontal folds when the wearer holds up his arms. A picture of the completed vestments, which illustrates these folds, is adjacent.

This chasuble, which is fully lined, is made from a lightweight ivory-colour damask. The orphreys are formed from straw-coloured silk damask, outlined in a quatrefoil braid in red and gold. Rectangles of gold brocade break-up the run of the orphrey. A chasuble owned by an English priest resident in the Archdiocese of Adelaide, since deceased, was the inspiration for this design. I saw it many years ago when visiting him: it was his ordination chasuble.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.


Tuesday 4 May 2010

Michael Pearce 1947-2010

On 27th April, an old friend of mine died peacefully after a long struggle with cancer. I had the privilege of attending his funeral - a beautifully sung Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form celebrated on Monday 3rd May in St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney (see photograph at left). For 25 years, Michael Pearce has been a friend and a mentor to me. He taught me many things about the Sacred Liturgy and offered me hospitality at his Sydney home many times. He was a man of great learning, generosity, good humour and perseverance. He it was who first shewed me that remarkable book Vestments and Vesture by Dom Roulin OSB, which in many ways led me to the work I am now doing for the Church. Following the Mass, a splendid sermon was preached by Father Glen Tattersall of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, which I am pleased to publish here as a fitting tribute to Mr. Pearce. Requiescat in pace.

I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in Me, although he be dead, shall live; and every one that lives, and believes in Me, shall not die forever. Do you believe this?

This question with which Christ challenged Martha in the midst of her grief over the death of Lazarus, her brother, Our Lord poses – in some sense – to every man born into this world.

Michael Pearce’s answer, in life and in death, was a resounding "Yes! I do believe!"

We are not here to canonise Michael. We all know he would wince at the suggestion. But he was a humble and faithful disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ – and therefore, a faithful son of the Holy Catholic Church which the same Lord founded for our salvation. Michael had a keen awareness throughout his entire life that Christ and the Church are inseparable realities: and therefore, that Christ cannot be found outside the Church. He was not blind to the weaknesses, sins and follies of Catholics – he knew his own weaknesses too well for that – but when he looked at the Church he looked beyond the merely human element of its personnel: he saw instead the sublime supernatural reality of Christ’s mystical body. He saw the mysterious Lover of whom David prophesied: “The Lord pours gifts on His beloved while she slumbers.” Michael could never be scandalised by slumberers.

Foremost among those gifts of Christ to His beloved, the Church, was the Divine Liturgy: above all, Our Lord’s gift of His very self and the perpetuation of his redeeming Sacrifice in the Holy Eucharist; and then the other sacraments. Even the Church’s response to this lavish dowry, the Divine Office – a perpetual song of love and praise – was also God’s gift. An unerring Catholic instinct placed sacramental practice – and love of the Sacred Liturgy – at the centre of Michael’s life. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Michael recognised the Lord “in the breaking of the bread”, that is, the Holy Eucharist. He never missed Sunday Mass in his entire life, unless constrained by serious illness. He was frequently at weekday and festal Masses. And he loved the Divine Office, which he rightly understood as something not meant only for clergy and religious, but as truly the prayer of the Church – the whole Church.

Michael began to serve here at St Mary’s Cathedral in 1955, at the age of 8. He became a senior server here, and eventually Master of Ceremonies: a position he held for some 10 years during the 1970’s.

Great changes were abroad at that time. Michael’s boyhood had known peace and triumphalism – but also, in Australia, complacency - in the reign of Pius XII; then the heady optimism that corresponded with John XXIII’s brief reign and the years of the Council, quickly dissolved, and turned to confusion, and in some quarters, dissolution.

By the time he was a young adult Michael was well read in the history and theology of the liturgy. He applauded the general principles laid down by the Vatican Council in its decree on the liturgy. Although in many respects the subsequent liturgical changes went well beyond what the Council mandated, Michael’s expert and steady hand ensured, as much as possible, continuity with tradition and a sense of the sacred, wherever the liturgy was conducted under his direction.

Here, I must record my own particular debt of gratitude to Michael: for it was at the annual conferences of the John XXIII Fellowship – later the Campion Fellowship – that I had my first real experience of the solemnity of the liturgy in the early 1980’s. These conference liturgies were celebrated substantially under Michael’s inspiration and direction. For me, these liturgies – Mass, Office, Benediction - were a revelation of the beauty and majesty of God, and a truly life-changing experience.

Michael greeted the retrieval of the classical Latin liturgy – what we now call the Extraordinary Form or More Ancient Use of the Roman rite – with joy and enthusiasm. This began modestly in 1984 with Pope John Paul’s indult, and gathered force with the Ecclesia Dei decree of 1988. From this point, Michael increasingly devoted his talents and energies to the traditional liturgical forms. He rejoiced at the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (a renowned liturgist) to the Papacy. The new Pope, Benedict XVI, would move swiftly to ensure an unassailable place of honour for the traditional liturgy. This the Pope achieved in his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.

Together with many of us here today, Michael was a founding member of the Ecclesia Dei Society; he was also a key collaborator in the foundation of the community at the Maternal Heart Chapel, Lewisham, where he gave many years of selfless service. At the same time, Michael never lost touch with the wider Church, and he continued especially his lifelong association with the Cathedral. On the Sunday before he died, he attended Vespers here. Just six weeks ago, when I met him here one Wednesday afternoon for Vespers, he told me of his excitement about the re-introduction of regular choral office at St Mary’s: “Just like Westminster!” he exclaimed, with boyish glee.

None of this was about “mere externals”: it was actually all about love of Christ and His Church. Just as the Lord intended, the liturgy formed and fed Michael’s daily Christian life: he was remarkable for his kindness and generosity, and was always ready to see the best in others, including wherever necessary furnishing excuses for them (sometimes these were as improbable as they were charitable). May it be to his eternal credit that he never burnt bridges, but always built them. In his battle with cancer over the last two and a half years, one sensed in Michael a deepened intimacy with Christ and a child-like confidence in the Lord’s gracious and particular Providence for him.

As a good Jewess – not of the party of the Sadducees – Martha already believed in the resurrection of the dead: “I know that he shall rise again in the the resurrection at the last day.” But more was asked of her: “Ego sum resurrectio, et vita…”. “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. The Resurrection is not simply something God does for us from above, as it were, by His serene power issuing from Heaven. No. The Resurrection is a person. Christ has come down from heaven, died and risen again by His own power, for us. As his disciples, our own suffering and death are united to his – in order that the victory of His Resurrection might be extended in us, so that we too might share the joy of His own boundless Divine Life!

Having received and nurtured the gift of faith, the priceless pearl, Michael was able to say with Martha: “Yea Lord, I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the Living God, Who art come into this world.”

We grieve Michael’s death, for death was never part of God’s plan: we weep, as Christ wept for Lazarus, though he was about to raise him from the dead! But as St Paul reminds the Thessalonians, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope is true, for it is based on a sure faith. And so, aware of our common frailty and sinfulness, in faith, hope and love we pray for our dear friend, Michael, that he may be freed and purified of whatever may yet detain him entering into the full and perfect vision and possession of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we entrust him to the Maternal Heart of Mary, Help of Christians.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Photographs from Michael Pearce's funeral, taken by Miss Tien Nguyen.

Procession into the Cathedral:

At the Absolution:

Tuesday 20 April 2010

An Anniversary

A friend brought to my attention that it is two years since The Order of Mass book, written and edited by me, was launched.

Bishop Elliott had this (amongst other things) to say about the utility of the book at the launch:

I see this assistance being offered to the reader at several levels. At one level this book may be used as a guide to the Mass, providing a rich liturgical and theological commentary, deeply spiritual in tone, full of interesting but relevant details, presented with an originality which engages the reader. This work can serve as an introduction for those who may not be familiar with the “extraordinary” form. The explanatory material wisely assumes that the reader knows nothing about the classical rite, particularly celebrating towards the East, the use of Latin and the sacred setting. Yet this is not done in a patronising way. Those of us familiar with the rite will find original nuances in the explanations which invite us to deeper faith in the Divine Mysteries. The author writes in the best perspective - “faith seeking understanding”. So there is another level of Eucharistic catechesis offered to the reader.

Flushed with the honour of having the Ignatius Press approach me to publish my book and then having the liturgist-bishop Monsignor Peter Elliott launch the work in Melbourne with such high-praise, I thought my book would become a best-seller in Traditionally-oriented liturgical circles. How mistaken I was...

In these two years, there hasn't been a single review of the book, except that which I drew up myself. The various Catholic blogs, which will be well-known to those reading this post, have been completely uninterested in the work, as if it doesn't exist. Complimentary copies which I sent to a number of people were passed over without response. Two Catholic Blogs kindly put up some advertising posts about the book but the response in the Comment Boxes was disturbing: extreme hostility, particularly to the inclusion IN THE APPENDIX of a small number of Prefaces from the 1970 Missale Romanum (permitted by a decision of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, which I cited in the book).

This reaction from sectors of the Traditionalist Catholic movement was disappointing, to say the least. I am also of the view that my decision to make a translation which did not include the use of "thee", "thou" etc. was seen by Traditionalists as decidedly modern, and therefore suspect.

The truth is that my motivation in preparing this work was to lead people to the Extraordinary Form of Mass who knew nothing of it and approached it without pre-conceived notions of what it might - or should - be. It was to be as much a catechetical work as an Order of Mass. Well, from Ignatius Press data, I know that more 3000 copies of the book have been sold, which is most encouraging, but nothing like what I expected.

Do you have a copy of the booklet? If not, why not purchase a copy and then you can judge for yourself whether it has more merit than defect. In the right-hand column of this Blog is link to the Ignatius Press, from whom you might purchase a copy.

Thank you.

Monday 19 April 2010

Prayer for the Needs of the Church

Almighty, Eternal God, by ever giving strength to our weakness, you enable the Church to flourish even amidst its trials, so that when it appears to men to be utterly cast down, then rather does it gloriously prevail. Whilst, then, it accepts affliction as a proving of its faith, let it persevere, by your grace, in triumphant loyalty.

Missal of Robert of Jumieges - 11th century

Friday 16 April 2010

Mitres Part III

The Saint Bede Studio was commissioned by the Latin Mass Community of Caulfield (Archdiocese of Melbourne) to make four mitres for the use of His Lordship Bishop Meeking during the Liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. We are pleased to shew some photographs of the Bishop wearing the mitres, in addition to some other photographs giving further detail of the mitres.

Left and above:
Precious mitre worn during the Masses of Easter Night and Easter Day. The shape and ornament of this mitre is based on illustrations and examples found in 12th-13th century Italy and France. The mitre is made from cloth silver and ornamented with braids in varying shades of gold. The photographs also shew the conical chasuble designed by the Studio based on the famous chasuble of S' Thomas Becket kept at Sens Cathedral. This will be the subject of a separate post.

Click on each image for an enlarged view.

Cloth gold mitre worn on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, the Easter Vigil, Easter Day and Easter Monday.

Click on each of the pictures for an enlarged view.

Photographs of the Holy Week liturgies were taken by Dr Chris Steward


Precious mitre worn during the Procession of Palms on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Easter Monday. This mitre is a simplified form of the 14th century mitre found throughout Europe and UK. By that century the mitre had begun to be made taller, without the exaggerations which occurred from the late 15th century onward. This mitre is made from silk damask. Its ornament is derived from the designs of AWN Pugin.


Simplex mitre worn on Good Friday.