Tuesday 23 April 2019

The Bidding Prayers or General Intercessions

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council Sacrosanctum Concilium laid down the desire of the Fathers for the restoration of intercessions:

53. The “common prayer” or “prayer of the faithful” is to be restored after the gospel and homily, especially on Sundays and holidays of obligation. By this prayer - in which the people are to take part - intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world.

This paragraph made reference to Saint Paul’s admonition at 1 Tim. 2:1-2. This paragraph is found – with only slight alterations – in the General Instructions on the Roman Missal.

Such intercessions are, therefore, of Apostolic origin, and were everywhere known by the time of Saint Augustine. The Solemn Orations of the Good Friday Afternoon Liturgy were the only survival of such intercessions in the Roman Missal for centuries. In the East, however, they were preserved in the unvarying Litanies, or Ektenia that are prayed throughout the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. From the East, such intercessions made their way during the first millennium into the various Rites in England and, centuries later, were incorporated into the Services of the Church of England, long after they had ceased being a usual feature of the Roman Rite.

Anciently, the intercessions formed part of non-Eucharistic prayer service (sometimes called a Synaxis). But when such services came to be usually celebrated immediately before the Eucharistic Liturgy, the intercessions gradually fell into disuse. This was because intercessions made during the Eucharistic Liturgy often repeated those found in the Synaxis. Such was the origin of the Roman Mass being described in two parts: the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful.

What is found in almost all the ancient examples of these intercessions are common intentions, which were summarised and made explicit by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

It was never envisaged by the Council - nor was it part of the ancient practice - that such intercessions vary on a daily basis, nor that there be any inclusion of extemporaneous prayer. It might easily be argued that the Council Fathers wished that these intercessions would become fixed in people’s consciousness, by being prayed week after week.  Such is the practice with our Eastern brethren.

Upon this simple concept outlined by the Council Fathers, there have been many accretions over the last 50 years. Not uncommonly, we find intercessions anaemic in their theological content and not specifically Christian in their outlook. We commonly find the intercessions to be linked to the Propers of the Mass, and the lections of the Mass of the Day, as if “theme” were all-important. But this was never intended by the Council Fathers. Furthermore, a new and more noble translation of the Roman Missal for the English-speaking world has highlighted the often unsacral, even trite expression of these intercessions. But even the formulae found in the Roman Missal are so terse as easily to be described as bland.

A further post will examine some forms of Intercession drawn-up immediately after the first liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Paschal Greetings 2019

To all readers of this blog and to customers and friends of the Saint Bede Studio,  may many Graces be yours on the Day of our Lord's Resurrection.

In a world full of strife, violence, persecutions, hatred, abuse, etc. - all wrought by man - we look again to the optimistic Christian message that God has overcome Death - and all the awfulness, frailties, discord and disappointments of this earthly life - and loves each and every poor sinner.

Christ is Risen !

Thursday 18 April 2019

The Mandatum - Revisited

A 19th century engraving depicting the Pope, surrounded
by the Papal Court washing the feet of thirteen
poor men of Rome.
This rite took place in the Sistine Chapel on the
morning of Maundy Thursday.
The practice of the present Bishop of Rome to celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper outside of the chapels and basilicas of the Vatican and in places which are not churches, but prisons or hospices, continues to catch the attention of the world. The Pope's decision to wash the feet of girls (as well as boys) and non-Christians during the Mandatum has variously attracted perplexity and rapture.

An analysis of the merits of this Pope's initiatives is not the purpose of this post. Rather, we wish to give an outline of the history of the Mandatum in order to present reasons why the significance of the Rite is open to different interpretations and philosophies.

The Catholic Encyclop√¶dia (1907-1914) has an article on the history of the Mandatum, written by Herbert Thurston SJ, of which the following is an extract.  Father Thurston had written previously about the Mandatum in his monograph Lent and Holy Week (1904):

This tradition, we may believe, has never been interrupted, though the evidence in the early centuries is scattered and fitful. For example the Council of Elvira (A.D. 300) in Canon 48 directs that the feet of those about to be baptised are not to be washed by priests but presumably by clerics or at least lay persons. This practice of washing the feet at baptism was long maintained in Gaul, Milan, and Ireland, but it was not apparently known in Rome or in the East. In Africa the nexus between this ceremony and baptism became so close that there seemed danger of its being mistaken for an integral part of the rite of baptism itself (Augustine, Ep. LV, Ad Jan., n. 33). Hence the washing of the feet was in many places assigned to another day than that on which the baptism took place. In the religious orders the ceremony found favour as a practice of charity and humility. The Rule of St. Benedict directs that it should be performed every Saturday for all the community by him who exercised the office of cook for the week; while it was also enjoined that the abbot and the brethren were to wash the feet of those who were received as guests. The act was a religious one and was to be accompanied by prayers and psalmody, "for in our guests Christ Himself is honoured and received". The liturgical washing of feet (if we can trust the negative evidence of our early records) seems only to have established itself in East and West at a comparatively late date. In 694 the Seventeenth Synod of Toledo commanded all bishops and priests in a position of superiority under pain of excommunication to wash the feet of those subject to them. The matter is also discussed by Amalarius and other liturgists of the ninth century. Whether the custom of holding this Maundy (from Mandatum novum do vobis, the first words of the initial Antiphon) on Maundy Thursday, developed out of the baptismal practice originally attached to that day does not seem quite clear, but it soon became a universal custom in cathedral and collegiate churches. In the latter half of the twelfth century the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum (1600) directs that the bishop is to wash the feet either of thirteen poor men or of thirteen of his canons. The bishop and his assistants are vested and the Gospel Ante diem festum paschae is ceremonially sung with incense and lights at the beginning of the function. Most of the sovereigns of Europe used also formerly to perform the Maundy. The custom is still retained at the Austrian and Spanish courts.
A number of points may be made here.  Although the origin of the Mandatum is a Divine Precept, which the Church has since earliest times considered binding, its expression and its symbolism are by no means clear in liturgical history. On the one hand, it is associated with the Catechumenate, on the other hand with the poor; yet again, a demonstration of the attitude of service which a bishop or religious superior ought to have towards his community.

The question of the Mandatum being linked to Ordination to the ministerial priesthood is somewhat less clear, although it is often spoken about.

What is quite clear, amongst various uncertainties, is that throughout its history, the Mandatum had no relationship with ordinary parish life: it was a rite which pertained to the Diocesan Cathedral or Church of a Religious Community.  Only since 1955, with the revisions of the Holy Week Liturgy approved by Pope Pius XII, has the Mandatum been included in the ceremonies of the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday and consequently, celebrated ordinarily in parishes. Perhaps this revision was not as laudable as was thought at the time.

In the last two decades, we have witnessed the spectacle of all sorts of curious and frightful additions to the Mandatum, advocated by tinpot liturgists (we will refrain from describing any of these dismal accretions).  And so, the symbolism of this ancient rite has become obscured again.  An unfortunate by-product of this trajectory is that the real focus of the Evening Mass of Maundy Thursday - the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist and Ministerial Priesthood - becomes obscured.

Happily, we note that in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite, the Mandatum is OPTIONAL. Its being observed at a time other than during the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday is something which, we might suggest, might be given serious consideration. Were that to happen, perhaps it would be of lesser consequence if the feet of women were also washed. 

Monday 15 April 2019

Notre Dame de Paris

On this grim day, when the hallowed Cathedral of Notre Dame has been devastated by fire, we offer our prayers in union with Catholics of France and those worldwide who lament this tragedy.  In a short space of time, so much that was beautiful, sacred, treasured, historic, has been destroyed.  The Cathedral can be restored, although much of its ancientness is forever gone.

Ut in omnibus Deus glorificetur.

Image : The Associated Press.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Contrasts : 9

Two images of Solemn Mass both celebrated in Gothic Revival Churches. 

An inventive use of an imposing tapestry fabric is shewn in the "gothic" vestments (above);
whilst an anaemic colour palette, prissy design and awkward construction is demonstrated
in the other, in the manner of the Spanish Baroque.


Monday 8 April 2019

Solemn Mass Vestments for the Penitential Seasons

Solemn Mass
Figure 1.
Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.
Recently, the Studio completed a set of Solemn Mass vestments for the Penitential Seasons.  Our customer kindly sent us some photographs taken when the new vestments were used on Thursday of the Second Week of Lent.  This was in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul, being attached to the Cathedral of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas (USA).

Our customer, Father Joshua Neu, very kindly wrote this appreciation of the work of the Saint Bede Studio :
I have had the pleasure of keeping an eye on the photographs you post for the past few years and of seeing first hand multiple sets of vestments you have created. What I appreciate most about your work is the insistence on maintaining truly traditional forms and styles while simultaneously integrating unique braids, colour schemes, and ornamentation. I believe you have a unique ability to integrate tradition and creativity that results in pieces that are steadfastly traditional and still have a modern feel. Traditionalism without antiquarianism.

These vestments, more of which can be seen here and here, are very ample and were made from a very deep shade of purple (not violet) dupion silk.  They were lined in crimson-red taffeta and ornamented with the Studio's Saint Austin braid, being a replica of two braids by AWN Pugin.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Solemn Mass
Figure 2.
Subdeacon chanting the Lesson.

Solemn Mass
Figure 3.
At the Tract.

Solemn Mass
Figure 4.
At the Incensation of the Gifts

Purple vestments
Figure 5.
At the Orate Fratres.

Sunday 7 April 2019

Contrasts : 8

Celebrations of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.


Friday 5 April 2019

Contrasts : 7

Image : www.lepetitplacide.org
Processions to Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form 
(above) a French Monastery,  (below) an English parish. 

Click on the images for enlarged views.

Image : www.clerus.org