Wednesday 30 March 2011

Vestments for Lent: IV

A priest from Trenton, New Jersey (USA) commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to prepare a Solemn Mass set for the season of Lent, comprising several chasubles and dalmatics.  The principal chasuble was prepared in that style referred to as semi-conical: a modified cut of the ancient shape of the chasuble.  The photograph above shews the particular way in which a conical or semi-conical chasuble folds up from the lower edge of the vestment when the arms are raised: a very beautiful effect.

These vestments were made from a Roman purple brocade, ornamented with another brocade in silver and black and outlined with a narrow galloon.  To increase the sombre visual effect, a chevron in black silk was added to the chasuble.

One of the dalmatics is also shewn, ornamented more simply, but with the same scheme.


Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Saint Andrew's Abbey-Church, Bruges II

Photograph: Dirk Vde 2007

Well, here it is.  The Abbey-Church (subject of a previous post) is still intact and more glorious than I had imagined.  Thank you to several very kind readers who wrote to me about the Abbey.

A more detailed description of the Church, with photographs, will be the subject of further posts.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Please note: This copyrighted image may not be reproduced in any circumstances.

Friday 25 March 2011

Vestments for Lent: III

This vestment (and a red one of similar design, which will be the subject of another post) was made for the use of a Parish in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.  It is in the Saint Philip Neri style now familiar to readers of this Blog.

The vestments are made of Roman purple dupion silk and ornamented with a silk brocade featuring the ChiRo emblem.  Braids in burgundy and straw colour outline the orphrey according to the Roman style.

To subdue the appearance of the chasuble,  a dark coloured lining was employed: wine-red. 

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Tuesday 15 March 2011

Vestment for Lent: II

The vestments pictured adjacent, commissioned by a priest in the United States, is to a design of the Saint Bede Studio titled Vezelay.  It is loosely based on the style and ornament of vestments found throughout the early mediaeval period in Northern Europe and England. 

The priest wished to have a Lenten vestment of a dark-coloured fabric.  These vestments are made from a Indigo-violet English brocade and lined in crimson red taffeta.

Click on the image for a larger view.


Wednesday 9 March 2011

As Lent Begins

The Saint Bede Studio recently completed the vestments shewn in the adjacent photograph for a priest resident at the Pontifical North American College, Rome.  This chasuble is in the style  known now as Saint Philip Neri, common in the 16th century, although less ample than the measurements set down by S' Charles Borromeo. 

Although there are many different shades used for Lenten vestments (none of which has a claim to being the correct colour), nevertheless, this particular shade of violet is closer to what was used during the mediaeval period and through until the 19th century.  It is a subdued colour, but not dark, closer to the shade of the flowers Violets. 

Instead of the ubiquitous treatment of gold ornament, these vestments are ornamented with galloons of a silver-grey and are lined in the same colour. The vestments are ornamented in the Roman manner.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Wednesday 2 March 2011

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 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 1 March 2011

Saint Andrew's Abbey Church, Bruges

This beautiful photograph was taken in the Abbey Church of Saint Andrew in Bruges, Belgium around 1960.  A Benedictine monk is pictured at the beginning of Mass, attended by two servers.  The monastic practice of having servers vested in amice, alb and cincture is in evidence here.

The altar rests beneath a magnificent civory or ciborium, the vault of which is covered with golden mosaic tiles.

The lighting of the apse is dim, which does not allow us to completely see the happy blend of mosaic and marblework, nor the images of the saints at the upper level.

Equally magnificent is the cosmati-work floor of the sanctuary.

Is this Abbey Church still in use?  I don't know.  If someone reading this does know, I would be very pleased if you would contact me.

Click on the photograph for an enlarged view. 

UPDATE: A number of kind readers have written to me, some with photographs.  The good news is that the Abbey-Church is alive and well and living in Bruges.


Saint Catherine of Siena

On the website of the J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles) we find a description of this beautiful work of art by Domenico Beccafumi painted in the second decade of the 16th century:
This small panel depicts an episode from the life of the Dominican tertiary and mystic, Saint Catherine of Siena. Upon arriving at church late one day because of her difficulty walking, Saint Catherine was dissuaded by her companions from taking communion because they knew her ensuing ecstasy would last for several hours. She concurred but prayed for God's help in receiving the Eucharist. Miraculously, an angel took a piece of the consecrated host and gave it to the saint. Celebrating Mass at a side altar, her confessor looked around with concern for the missing piece of the host. Neither he nor the others could see the miracle, so their expressions reflect bewilderment.

This panel and its companion, Saint Catherine of Siena Receiving the Stigmata, were probably made for the predella of an altarpiece dedicated to the saint.
We find the celebrant vested in a flowing linen alb ornamented with apparels to the skirt and cuffs.  He is wearing a cloth gold chasuble of very sparing ornament.  The shape of the chasuble is typical of this period, according to the specifications of S' Charles Borromeo, being very long (and pointed) but reaching only just beyond the elbows.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Options, Footnotes and altogether too much talking

I suppose regular readers of this Blog would have formed the view that Michael Sternbeck is "Old Mass".  Quite true.  Over many years, I have read widely on the history of the Sacred Liturgy, with a critical eye for the difference between propaganda and scholarship.  I continue to try to do this.  The findings of scholarly research can sometimes prove very challenging to accepted theories about the nature of the Liturgy in the Early Church.  Take, for example, the more recent debunking of claims made in the 1960's and 1970's about the antiquity of Mass versus populum.  Or, the disputed authenticity of the so-called Canon of Hippolytus, now partly used as the Second Eucharist Prayer in the New Order of Mass.

By most measures, the New Mass has not been the success that propagandists have tried to persuade us of.  Liturgical scholars and others, including Josef Ratzinger, put this down to its being the construct of a committee of scholars and liturgists, rather than an organic development from the Church's Tradition.    You've read all this type of thing before, so I need not reiterate it here.

There is too much talking in the New Mass, with not enough space for quiet prayer.  Too many options, leading priests to believe that they can create their own options.  Despite the propaganda put about from the 1970's onward that the Old Mass was centred on the Priest (to the exclusion of the "Assembly"), it is the New Mass which places the priest in the position of celebrant-entertainer or emcee to a captive audience.  Did Voltaire have this phenomenon in mind when he wrote: "God is a comedian playing to an audience which is afraid to laugh"?  All sorts of frightfulness can and has resulted from this change in ritualistic emphasis.  Most celebrants, however, don't seek to be entertainers.  Then there are some who know no better and have been taught to offer Mass in this manner, for all sorts of reasons.  It's not all bad, of course. 

Many Ecclesiastical careers have been based on the New Mass being an unrivalled success-story.  The truth of the matter is otherwise.  My generation and the generation older than me (who implemented the Changes) will all have to die out before a substantial renewal of the Liturgy can take place.  What we now name the New Order of Mass or Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite will, I would say, be gradually changed so it resembles more and more the so-called Interim Rite of 1965, partly Latin, partly vernacular and whose rituals still largely resembled those of the Extraordinary Form.  This is the actual form of the Mass which the Council Fathers envisaged, the Mass of Vatican II.

One thing, however, is clear: the Extraordinary Form (the Old Mass, the Missal of 1962), should be left untouched.  This Rite is not perfect.  I don't buy into the argument that it was codified by the Holy Spirit himself, or other extreme claims put around about it.  Its rituals should be left just as they are, as a counterpoint to the New Order.  Perhaps this is why Pope Benedict has asked that the Old Mass be readily available, preferably in every Parish (Summorum Pontificum).  Perhaps he wishes us to recognise that not everyone prays in the same way and alternatives should be available. Liberality please.

This opinion-piece, inspired by the writings of Father Hunwicke, has been prepared in response to an article I received from a well-meaning priest who, somewhat sadly, believes that the Extraordinary Form can be improved by incorporating more elements of the New Order of Mass into it.  This grotesque concept fits perfectly the scriptural maxim, warning of the dangers of pouring New wine into Old wineskins.