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. 

Saturday 22 February 2014

Sacred Consistory for the Creation of the New Cardinals

This morning on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Pope Francis created 19 new Cardinals during a Sacred Consistory in Saint Peter's Basilica. A surprise guest was Pope Benedict: his first visit to the Basilica since his final Mass as Supreme Pontiff almost exactly one year ago.

In a kindly gesture, Pope Francis left the procession to approach and greet his predecessor, who was seated in a place of honour amongst College of Cardinals. Observing the proper mark of respect, Pope Benedict removed his zucchetto in the presence of the Bishop of Rome.

As the presence of Pope Benedict was announced at the beginning of the Consistory, the congregation erupted into applause (despite an earlier announced request that there was to be no applause during the Rites). Pope Benedict looked in excellent health: ad multos annos.

We are pleased to include these images from Getty Images and stills from the CTV telecast.

Pope Benedict greeting his Successor.

Cardinal Bertone greeting Pope Benedict.

Members of the Sacred College surround Pope Benedict
upon his unexpected arrival in the Basilica.

Pope Francis imposing the biretta on the Archbishop of Westminster.

Revision of the Rites: How did it happen?

Almost 50 years later, one of the most puzzling things for those considering the revision of the Liturgical books after the Second Vatican Council is how exactly such radical changes came to pass.

Over the next year or so, the Saint Bede Studio will be posting a series of articles about the stages crossed in this revision and how it all came to be accepted without much challenge.  The emphasis will be on a study of the liturgical books frequently described as being of The Interim Rite.

My insight is that the most dramatic change was the first one - the one that actually was mandated by the Council - namely, introducing vernacular language into the Rite of Mass. After that was accepted, everything else was relatively easy.

Next instalment: A revision of the Pauline rites? Could that come about?

Mutual Enrichment?

At the present, various Liturgical blogs are aflutter with declarations by several well-known priests (Father Thomas Kocik, Dom Mark Kirby OSB and Dom Hugh Somerville-Knapman) about the present liturgical books and the degree to which (if at all!) they can be reformed in line with Tradition.

Fr Tim Finigan, at his well-known blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity posted an article in 2011 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 liturgical 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.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Commissions with the Saint Bede Studio

A note to prospective customers: commissions are now being accepted for the last quarter of 2014. Please do not delay in contacting us if you are considering new vestments.


Friday 7 February 2014

Sacrosanctum Concilium

In December, 1963, the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium was promulgated.

Throughout 2014, the Saint Bede Studio will post a series of short articles pertaining
to this Anniversary.