Friday 29 July 2016

Lord to whom shall we turn?
Part Five : of Postures and Prayers

Figure 1
Benedictine Abbey-Church of Brugges.
The principle of the intelligibility of the Church's rites is the liturgical philosophy which underpins the 1970 Missale Romanum and was enunciated in the Vatican II constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium.  But one of the great mistakes made by the Reformers in the 1960's was their conviction that the most important way during Mass for us to communicate with God and for God to communicate with us is by the spoken word.  Happily, this presupposition is being challenged more and more.

The New Mass or Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is very wordy. This is not to say that the Extraordinary Form has fewer words, but it certainly has fewer words which are to be prayed aloud and intended as a form of communication. Whatever about more recent developments in the manner of celebrating the Ordinary Form, it was devised with the intention that it be for the most part and usually spoken, not sung.

Nowhere is the principle of communication more prominent in the Ordinary Form than in what is termed The Liturgy of the Word, in which the predominance of dialogue between the "presider" and the "community" lays. It is for this reason precisely that the incorporation of ad orientem posture is desirable from the very beginning of the Order and not simply during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as some have suggested. It is desirable because it would have the effect of lessening the prevailing tendency that the Mass is a dialogue (which in degrees of formality, varies from place to place) between those physically present in a particular church, rather than being the worship of the entire Church, visible and invisible.

Figure 2
Benedictine Abbey-Church of Fontgombault.
The mistakes made during the late 1960's and early 1970's should act as a lesson for the new generation : the Reformers of the Reform.  The ecclesiastical explosion which was the whole impetus for this series of posts (and very much more elsewhere) indicates that the spiritual sons of the 1960's reformers are not going to abandon their prized achievements so readily.  For this reason, we wonder about the prudence of a suggestion to introduce the practice of ad orientem celebrations of the Ordinary Form by the First Sunday of Advent.  But perhaps for those who have not been frightened off by the reproof of Father Lombardi SJ* or for those who even have been emboldened by it, a subtle introduction of ad orientem celebrations might be possible.

Already, some pastors through the catechesis of their flocks, have introduced the celebration of the Ordinary Form ad orientem and have been doing so for some time. But not every pastor of souls is in a position to do this. Leaving aside the issue of prudence, the sanctuaries of some churches are not readily suited to this arrangement, namely that the celebrant offer the Liturgy of the Eucharist at the altar facing towards the apse. But for these two reasons, suppose we focus not on the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but a partly ad orientem Liturgy of the Word?

Figure 3
Benedictine Abbey-Church
of Le Barroux
What might be done, to recapture the Church's tradition at this point in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass? In many places, this has begun already to happen, where priests have felt uncomfortable with the prominence of their (often elevated) chairs, and have opted to place the chair at the side of the sanctuary in front of the altar, in the manner of sedilia. We have also read where some priests with chairs in the position just described, have turned slightly toward the altar (rather than toward the congregation) for the Penitential riteGloria and Collect. All of this would seem to be able to take place within the current framework of the Ordinary Form. It also does not exclude the celebrant giving a brief introduction to the Mass, but it might be hoped that this is quite distinct from the prayers of the Rite itself.

Perhaps, under the far-sighted guidance of Cardinal Sarah, a reform to re-instate the tradition might be introduced initially as an option for celebrants. Might it be something like the following? 

The celebrant might conduct the Penitential Rite ad orientem "at the foot of the altar", then go up to stand at the altar for the KyrieGloria and Collect

Then he could go to the sedilia and sit down for the reading of the Scripture. He would bless the deacon (and incense, if it used) at the altar, not the sedilia. 

After the Gospel, he might return to the altar for the Creed and General Intercessions (both ad orientem). 

Note that these ceremonial adjustments might be used even if the Liturgy of the Eucharist continued to be celebrated versus populum (especially if the arrangement of central altar Cross and flanking candlesticks is observed). Might this be a gradual and pastorally-considerate way of re-introducing ad orientem to the entire Ordinary Form Roman Mass?

But the suggestions above might be too radical for some and not desirable for practical or political reasons at present.  Perhaps the time is not yet here for such modifications. Suppose, then, JUST ONE moment ad orientem were considered now as opportune for the Liturgy of the Word.  Just one, which doesn't cause much consternation or uncertainty. Just one ...

If the CREED were sung or recited by the celebrant and the congregation together, the celebrant standing ad orientem at the centre of the altar or at the base of the steps leading to the altar : suppose that were to be introduced? It would surely not be so very controversial, in addition to being a powerful symbol.

There will be an Epilogue to these considerations, summarising the posts and discussing the newly-published Order of Mass for the Personal Ordinariates Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Figure 4
A Conventual Mass according to the New Missal
in the Abbey-Church of Sant'Antimo, Tuscany.

* The retirement of Father Lombardi SJ on 31st July has been noted with satisfaction.

Thursday 28 July 2016

Priestly Ordinations 2016 : 4

Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father Paul Clark of the Archdiocese of New Orleans USA.  Father Clark was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral of Saint Louis on 4th June by the Most Rev'd Gregory Aymond, together with five other candidates (including another customer of the Saint Bede Studio).

Father Clark commissioned a Borromeon set of vestments from the Studio in honour of the Blessed Virgin.  This design we have named Regina Coeli.

The chasuble was made from an ecclesiastical brocade, white in colour. The chasuble was ornamented in the Roman manner in colours of blue and silver and was lined in an attractive shade of blue dupion silk.

Please pray for Father Clark and for all newly-ordained priests.

Figure 2.
The six ordinands giving their Blessing with the Archbishop
of New Orleans during the Mass of Ordination.
Father Clark is second from the right;
Father Ducote, third from the right.

Figure 3.
The Cathedral of Saint Louis, New Orleans.


Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

Saturday 23 July 2016

Lord to whom shall we turn?
Part Four

When the New Order of Mass was introduced on the First Sunday of Advent in November 1969, the experience was not one of massive disruption and radical change, but of continuity with what had been experienced over the five years previous (1964-69). Most celebrants at that time had been ordained to offer what is now referred to as The Extraordinary Form and the manner in which they celebrated this New Order gave evidence of continuity. This was not the experience everywhere, of course. During the later 1970's and 1980's gradually the manner of celebrating the New Mass came less and less to resemble the Old. The invasion of the sanctuary by various lay ministers in that period further made those differences stark.

The divide is so profound today that to celebrate the New Order of Mass with any trace of Extraordinary Form rituals often raises opprobrium. Entire ecclesiastical careers and ecclesiological thinking have been based on the rejection of what was celebrated before 1969, as so many learned authors have observed. One wonders whether this is in large measure the reason for the knee-jerk reaction to Cardinal Sarah's recent remarks. For a comprehensive discussion of such issues, this post on the blog Foolishness to the World may be read with profit.

The Sacred Liturgy celebrated at the
Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham
Houston Texas.
Younger priests, however, who never knew the 1960s and 1970s, are much more interested in recapturing a reverent and transcendent atmosphere during Mass by the manner in which they celebrate it. Those who have sneered at such priests as "neo-Tridentinists" (an absurd and hysterical remark) haven't grasped that these are tomorrow's leaders of the Church, who will not be constrained by the various Liturgical Gurus and agents of Political Correctness who presently hold sway. Instead, they will be increasingly focussed on Tradition.

Tradition does not equate with the universal restoration of the Extraordinary Form as the normative Mass of the Roman Rite, nor does it concern re-creating the 1950's (or 1750's). Tradition turns away from facile novelty and the search for contemporary "relevance" and looks instead to continuity with the Church's ancient practices - both Eastern and Western Christendom.

In addition to these young men, who are both secular priests and those in Religious Life, there is another charism now enriching the Church, namely the Ordinariates which were established by Pope Benedict's Anglicanorum Coetibus as an outstretched hand to those Anglicans who wished to embrace the fullness of Catholicism. The celebration of Mass ad orientem is normative for the Liturgy of these Ordinariates.

The final part of this series of posts will include some practical suggestions as to how the celebration of the New Mass can – gradually – reintegrate ad orientem.

Thursday 21 July 2016

For the Season "Per Annum" 2016 : 3

The vestments shewn in the adjacent photograph were prepared by the Saint Bede Studio for a returning customer in the Archdiocese of Salzburg, Austria.

This chasuble, in the Saint Bede Studio's Saint Austin design, is made from an English ecclesiastical brocade and is lined in taffeta. The vestments are ornamented with an orphrey braid of the Studio's own design in colours of green and gold upon red. The braid is directly based on a design by AWN Pugin.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Monday 18 July 2016

Lord to whom shall we turn?
Part Three :
Some thoughts on “presidency” and posture for prayer

Although there is a great deal of discussion now and a body of scholarship concerning the revival of the celebration of the Roman Rite Mass ad orientem, it is found that this discussion is almost entirely limited to the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Yet, the principle concerns the orientation of Liturgical prayer throughout the entirety of the Mass. Amongst the many innovations introduced after the Council was a provision (Ritus Servandus 1965, no. 23) for the celebrant to pray the Kyrie, Gloria, Collect and Creed at a sedilia, rather than at the altar (as had previously obtained). This provision, of course, is derived from the practice where a bishop celebrates Mass solemnly, either at the faldstool or at the throne. The 1965 provision was taken a step further with the introduction of the new Missal in 1970.

The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Sarah spoke about this very matter in a 2015 interview reproduced in the L'Osservatore Romano and translated here. He has said :

Contrary to what has at times been sustained, and in conformity with the Conciliar Constitution , it is absolutely fitting that during the Penitential Rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations and Eucharistic Prayer, for everyone – the priest and the congregation alike – to face ad orientem together, expressing their will to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ. This way of doing things could be fittingly carried out in the cathedrals where the liturgical life must be exemplary (n. 4).

As is well known, the Cardinal has recently raised this matter again, offering a suggestion to priests attending a Liturgical Conference in London. The pitiful reaction to His Eminence's remarks has been written about extensively elsewhere and is a cause for concern on many levels.  Consequently, it is timely to republish here this article (with one or two modifications) which appeared on the blog The New Liturgical Movement in 2009, as follows.

Dom Emmanuel of the Benedictine Abbey of Le Barroux gave a paper to the 1997 CIEL Conference about this topic. In a comprehensive analysis, which discusses firstly the position of the celebrant during the Kyrie, Gloria, Collect and Creed and secondly, the celebrant during the readings from the Scripture, he reached this conclusion:
Do we find that the law in force until 1962 is universally attested in the history of the Roman Mass, or do we find that there are exceptions? Having finished our enquiry we may now answer this question: as far we can judge from the texts currently available, the Roman Mass, both according to the use of the [Roman] Curia and those of the dioceses and religious orders, show us that the simple priest is at the altar for the Gloria, the Collect and the Creed, and that this is the case until 1962. So the Ordo Missae of 1965 departs from the common (and almost universal) practice up to that point when it prescribes that the simple priest may carry out these functions at his seat. For the readings the celebrant goes to his chair near the altar. By having the celebrant positioned at the sedilia for the readings, the Ordo Missae of 1965 (and then that of 1970) do not depart from what we know of Roman usage (taken as a whole) through the centuries.
Dom Emmanuel's study and of course many other works on liturgical history, reveal that in the early church (and we know that from archaeological evidence as well the ancient churches which still exist) the Cathedra of the bishop was mostly placed in the apse, behind the altar, with benches for the presbyters on either side. This was a position, as Dom Emmanuel concludes, which emphasised the jurisdiction of the Bishop. He argues, however, that it never was customary in the Western liturgy for the priest-celebrant to occupy such a position, because he did not have jurisdiction.

Instead, as Dom Emmanuel discusses, the priest celebrant recited the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect at or near to the altar ad orientem. Similarly, a bishop who did not have jurisdiction occupied a seat on the right of the altar, but read those prayers from that position ad orientem (for example, the rites of Pontifical Mass at the faldstool according to the Extraordinary Form).

Leaving aside the issue of the priest-celebrant facing the people at the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist (for which there is some precedent in liturgical history which was used as the basis for the introduction of "Mass facing the people"), what we would like to identify is that an entirely new concept has been introduced into the 1970 Mass, namely, the priest-celebrant as Presider. 

This seems nowhere more prominent in the New Order of Mass than in the Introductory Rite: the structure of which is an innovation in the history of the Western liturgy. Furthermore, this role of Presider is codified by the instruction on where the chair of the celebrant is to be placed within the sanctuary: namely at the head of the sanctuary in an apse; in short behind the altar (GIRM 271):
The chair of the celebrant should indicate his role of presiding over the assembly and of leading the prayers. Hence the most suitable position is at the head of the sanctuary facing the people, unless the construction of the building or other circumstances prevents this; for instance, if communication between the priest and the assembly of the faithful is made difficult because of too great a distance.
Both the position of the chair of the priest-celebrant (which emphasises "presidence") and the offering of prayers (facing the congregation) from that chair, instead of before the altar, represent a break with Liturgical Tradition. We would like to suggest that this particular break with Tradition has largely facilitated the widespread distortion where right from the beginning of the Liturgy the priest becomes more of a compere or emcee, rather than a celebrant.  

Ongoing discussions that the celebration of the Ordinary Form of Mass may be divided into being partly ad orientem (the Liturgy of the Eucharist) and partly versus populum (the Liturgy of the Word) are not an adequate solution or compromise.

Part Four follows, continuing these observations.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Priestly Ordinations 2016 : 3

Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father James McClellan of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul (Minnesota) USA.  Father McClellan was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral of Saint Paul on 28th May by the Most Rev'd Bernard Hebda, together with eight other candidates.

Father McClellan commissioned a Puginesque set of vestments from the Studio for the celebration of his First Holy Mass.

The chasuble, in the Studio's Saint Austin style, was made from an ecclesiastical brocade, ivory in colour. The chasuble was ornamented with braids of the Studio's own design in colours of red and gold.  The great beauty of this chasuble lies in its simplicity and harmonious balance of colours.

Please pray for Father McClellan and for all newly-ordained priests.


Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

Father McClellan incensing the Offerings
during his First Holy Mass in the
Church of the Divine Mercy
Faribault, Minnesota.

Image kindly supplied by Father McClellan.

During the Ordination Mass in the Cathedral of the city of
Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Image kindly supplied by Father McClellan.

The Cathedral of the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota.
This vast cruciform building is tremendously imposing.

Thursday 14 July 2016

Lord to whom shall we turn?
Part Two : The Primacy of the Altar

The Conventual Mass at the Abbey
of S' Madeleine, Le Barroux.
In discussing the concept and merits of the celebration of Mass ad orientem, it is essential to recall something most important :

The ALTAR is the earthly focus of the Mass.

On our other blog Where Heaven and Earth Meet, there is a post discussing this, which may be read here .

Further posts in this series will follow.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Lord to whom shall we turn?
Revisited : Part One

Well, what a kerfuffle! An Eminent Lord of the English Church publicly contradicting an Eminent Lord of the Roman Curia on what direction the celebrant should (or might) face when offering the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

An interesting, but not particularly edifying debate ensues on the precise meaning of the General Instructions of the Roman Missal in order to prove (or disprove) the point that the "normative direction" is ad orientem and versus populum is the "exception". Despite little victories of textual meaning, the reality is that - so far as the practice of the Church is concerned - the "normative" direction is versus populum. It had been so increasingly in Papal Rome from the moment Pope Paul VI offered Mass versus populum on the occasion of his Coronation in Saint Peter's Square on 29th June 1963. Throughout the rest of the 1960's leading up to the publication of the new Roman Missal in 1970 * Pope Paul increasingly offered Mass versus populum, signifying that he wished to establish this as the normative practice for the Roman Church.

Pope Paul VI offering Low Mass
Saint Peter's Square in 1963.
Versus populum celebrations increasingly 
the usual form of Papal Mass during his reign.

Throughout the Latin Church, very few resisted this new direction, and the rest is history.

We might regard the introduction of this practice as being the product of a particular (dated) liturgical philosophy, or as being based on imperfect scholarship. We might object to the notion that the practice of the Papal Liturgy defines how Mass is to be celebrated throughout the Latin Church. We might regard the introduction of versus populum as a Grand Mistake which has been productive of a loss of the Sacred. We might think many things about it. But it did happen and to argue fifty years later that versus populum is now "exceptional" based on an exegesis of the General Instructions is just silly and not helpful. The fact remains that the majority of celebrants and the Faithful are quite comfortable with versus populum celebrations of the Mass and do not see any reason to change.

Cardinal Sarah - and many others - obviously wishes that the Church becomes increasingly aware of an alternative :  the merits of offering the Mass ad orientem. Equally obvious is that there are some well-placed in the Church who do not wish such an alternative even to be discussed. Some further considerations will follow in the second part of these musings.

* Leaving aside that the traditional usage at the Patriarchal Roman basilicas was "versus populum" because of their ancient orientation.

Sunday 10 July 2016

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.

The Latin:
Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus ob memoriam passionis, resurrectionis, et ascensionis Jesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honorem beatae Mariae semper Virginis et beati Joannis Baptistae, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium Sanctorum: ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in caelis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 

Thursday 7 July 2016

Priestly Ordinations 2016 : 2

Figure 1. 
Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father David Ducote of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, USA.  Father Ducote was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral of Saint Louis on 4th June by the Most Rev'd Gregory Aymond, together with five other candidates.

Father Ducote commissioned two vestments from the Studio for the celebration of his First Holy Mass.

A chasuble in the Saint Philip Neri style was made from a muted-gold shade of damask. The chasuble was ornamented in the Roman style, with a TAU formed from a brocade in colours of burgundy and gold and trimmed with a galloon in burgundy and gold. The galloon is of the Saint Bede Studio's exclusive suite of braids and galloons.

Figure 2.  Father Ducote during the Offertory at his First
Holy Mass.  The photograph shews both the chasuble
and cope made by the Studio.

Image courtesy of Father Ducote. 

Complementing the chasuble was a cope and humeral veil (see Figure 1).  All the vestments were lined in a subdued shade of orange taffeta.

Please pray for Father Ducote and for all newly-ordained priests.

Figure 3. The Archbishop of New Orleans praying the
Prayer of Consecration over the Ordinands
in Saint Louis' Cathedral.

Figure 4. Cathedral of Saint Louis
New Orleans, USA.
Adjacent is an old engraving shewing the facade of the Cathedral of Saint Louis, New Orleans, which was commenced in 1794 but largely reconstructed in 1850.  It has the distinction of being the earliest Cathedral in what is now the United States.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.


Wednesday 6 July 2016

Affording Better-Quality Vestments

Good-quality vestments, especially if they are handmade and use silk fabrics, are quite costly.  Indeed, they always have been.  Some years ago on a website was a strategy for being able to afford a vestment which seems too expensive.  It may be useful for readers.  It goes something like this...

Father had his heart set on a particular set of vestments, but didn't have the money to purchase them. The Parish had many commitments and could not justify making such a purchase. But the Parish did buy them and then they were put on display in the Church, with this sign:

"These new vestments were recently purchased. When we have raised enough money to cover their cost, they will be used at the Altar. Until then, they are only for display."

It didn't take too long for the money to be raised for the vestments to be used for Mass and more besides; in fact, enough for another set to be purchased! The Parish loves the vestments and loves to see Father wearing them for Mass.

There is another facet of this story which many priests will be familiar with : the Faithful appreciate being asked to contribute to the beautification of their Parish church and its Sacred Liturgy.

Saturday 2 July 2016

What is the Purpose of Sacred Vestments?

Solemn Mass at the Abbey of 
Saint Madeleine, Le Barroux.
If we were to accept the notion that a priest is the "president of the christian assembly" then what he wears to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy would be merely an expression of his personality or tastes. The notion of presider is an entirely modern (and an execrable) concept. A priest, bishop or Pope celebrates the Sacred Mysteries. In the East, the term used is to serve.

Because the celebrant is least of all a "presider", what he wears should not essentially be about his own preferences and personality. A priest should ask of himself :

Is what I am wearing worthy of my ministry standing between God and man to offer the Holy Sacrifice?

Will what I am wearing draw those who look upon me during Mass into a closer appreciation of the Sacred Mysteries, in other words, will it raise their hearts and minds to God?

Or will it act as a distraction to the Faithful attending Mass?