Saturday 26 February 2011

As Lent Approaches

This is the first of a number of posts featuring vestments recently made for the Season of Lent.  The chasuble shewn on the left is a basic version of the Borromeon form (shape, dimensions and ornament).  This chasuble, fully lined, is made from Roman purple dupion silk, ornamented in silver and black.  It is extremely lightweight.

A priest from a New Jersey diocese, for whom these vestments were made, very kindly wrote this:

I had viewed the Saint Bede Studio website on several occasions and had been interested in their vestments. Then, I spoke to one of our newly-ordained priests from Rome who was able to show me two of the vestments from Saint Bede which assured me of the quality of the product and the experience. Whatever hesitation I might have had about ordering vestments long distance was assuaged, not only by the high quality of my new Lenten vestments, but also by the good experience of engaging in their design, size, and material. I found dealing with Michael Sternbeck and Saint Bede Studio by e-mail a pleasant and educational experience, and I have been happy to share my new vestments with other priests here in my diocese and in the seminary which I teach.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Friday 25 February 2011

E-mail problems

Dear Readers:

There have been recent problems brought to my attention about the e-mail account attached to this Blog.  If you have written to me in the last few days and not received a reply, it is likely that your message was not received.  So please send it to me again.

As far as I am aware, my account has not been the origin of what is termed TROJAN HORSES.  If, however, a reader should received an e-mail from me which doesn't relate to the business of the Saint Bede Studio, please delete it without opening.

Nasty things can happen online, which a splash of Holy Water can't quite fix.

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.

Monday 14 February 2011

Mutual Enrichment

Recently, Fr Finigan, at his well-known blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity posted an article about mutual enrichment between the two forms - Ordinary and Extraordinary - of the Roman Rite.  It is a well thought-out article, prompted by the point made by Pope Benedict in Summorum Pontificum.  I would recommend your reading Father's article.

Perhaps I may be allowed my two-pence worth about this subject?  I choose to do so, briefly, by taking the angle of mutually enriching the aesthetics of the two Forms for, although the external appearances are of a lesser degree of importance than the prayers and rituals of the Mass, these external forms do, nevertheless, make a strong impression upon those who look at them, namely the congregation.

For the purposes of this discussion, I am considering the scenario where both Forms of the Roman Rite are offered in the same Church or Parish, using the same sanctuary or altar and by the same priest and community.

Le Barroux: Contemporary vestments intended for the EF.
Whilst it is true that there are in use worldwide tasteful vestments and tasteless vestments, there is no stipulation that a particular style of vestments is appropriate to one Form of the Roman Rite more than another.  Readers of blogs might be excused for thinking this is not the case: they might be forgiven for thinking that the only appropriate style of vestments for the Extraordinary Form is the Baroque chasuble (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the "Roman" chasuble, or, more derisively, the fiddleback).  They might be forgiven this, because every day we see photographs appear on numerous Blogs of celebrations of the Extraordinary Form with Baroque vestments.  Sometimes, we even see Extraordinary Form Masses being celebrated with brand new Baroque vestments.  Well, the equation of Baroque vestments with Catholic Tradition simply is a non-sequitur

When the approach is taken that Baroque vestments must be used for the Extraordinary Form, we risk moving away from Tradition into the Re-Creation of bygone eras.  Tradition isn't about that, nor is the Hermeneutic of Continuity, which we hear so much about these days.  This is a very shallow interpretation of Tradition and Continuity.  Read more about that here.

In short, one obvious sort of mutual enrichment of the two Forms of the Roman Rite is when people observe that the same styles of vestments are appropriate for both and there is no required disjunct between the two.

Another is the manner in which altars are set up.  Leaving aside the question of the Orientation of the Extraordinary Form, an altar may be set up for Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form simply with two candlesticks and a Crucifix, resting on the mensa of the altar.  Tragically, some have now implemented the practice that, for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, a timber shelf is placed on an altar, sometimes with a faux-tabernacle built into it, in order to make the altar seem more like "a Traditional High altar".  This frightful practice is not only nonsense, it is also unliturgical.  Is it not disrespectful of the dignity of a consecrated altar to place portable shelves on it?

Processional Cross as the altar Cross.
Vest the altar in worthy antependia (altar frontals) and with cloths of white linen.  If you find altar cloths (the cloths that cover the mensa of the altar) in your church which are made in the liturgical colours (another frightful practice) instead of pure white, dispose of these with a just penalty.

You don't have to place six candlesticks on your altar for the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.  It is fashionable to do this now, adopting what people are referring to as the Benedictine Arrangement.  Two good-sized, worthy candlesticks will do, particularly if the altar is a small one.  If you do use a set of six candlesticks, make sure they are a matching set and proportionate to the altar.

Here is another suggestion: if you have a free-standing altar, locate the Processional Cross in the very centre of the altar (at the front of the altar for the Ordinary Form and at the back of the altar for the Extraordinary Form).  Anciently, the Processional Cross was used this way before there was ever a thought of placing a Cross on the altar.  A processional Cross so located can serve for both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms.

Secondly, then, ornament the altar for both Forms of the Roman Rite in much the same manner, even if the Orientation of the celebration is different.

Priestly crossing of the stole.
Thirdly, for priest readers: start crossing your stole when you vest for Mass in the Ordinary Form.  It might be immediately objected that this is forbidden by the GIRM (a debatable point),  but if you crossed your stole, would anyone mind that much?  It is an ancient practice and it reinforces the distinction between the threefold Orders of deacon, priest and bishop.  Give it a try.

Saturday 12 February 2011

The Saint Giles chasuble

Pictured at left is one of the vestments which the Saint Bede Studio makes from time to time, called The Saint Giles chasuble.  This chasuble is based on simpler designs of the 19th century English architect and designer of all things ecclesiastical, AWN Pugin (1812-1852).

The vestments, which can be made from either brocade or silk damask, are available in the liturgical colours of white, red, green (pictured), black and violet and are ornamented with braids designed by and especially made for the Studio.


Click on the image for an enlarged view.