Wednesday 29 May 2019

For our American Customers

A special note to American customers of the Saint Bede Studio.

At present the Australian dollar's value is decreased against the value of the American dollar.  This means that a commission with the Studio from American customers is significantly less expensive than it was over the last year.  Please keep this in mind if you are considering placing an order for vestments with the Studio.

Enquiries :

Saturday 11 May 2019

Dearly Beloved : 1

Figure 1
Introduction to the Renewal of Baptismal Promises
as it appeared in the 1953
Ordo Sabbati Sancti.
During the celebration of the Paschal Vigil in most parts of the world in April 1953, (1) something quite different happened, something new in the Roman Rite.  The celebrant spoke to the congregation as follows :

On this most sacred night, dearly beloved brethren, holy Mother Church. meditating on the death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ, again lovingly keeps a vigil for Him; and while waiting for His glorious resurrection she rejoices exceedingly.

But since, as the Apostle teaches, we are buried with Christ by baptism unto death, it behooves us so to walk in newness of life, knowing that our old man has been crucified along with Christ so that we are truly dead through sin but alive in God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wherefore, dearly beloved brethren, now the Lenten period of good works is completed, let us renew the promises of holy baptism, wherein we once renounced Satan and his works, as also the world, which is God's enemy, promising to serve God faithfully in the holy Catholic Church. (2) 

Figure 2
The bishop's admonition to candidates
in the Rite of Priestly Ordination.
From a 19th century edition of the
Pontificale Romanum.
Mind you, the different-ness of those words would have been softened by their being said in Latin, and - since the reformulated Paschal Vigil was required to be celebrated just before Midnight (or even later)  - they were not likely heard by many.  But why was this introduction so remarkable?  Because it wasn't a prayer addressed to God; nor was it a ritual invitation to prayer (such as the Sursum corda and Orate Fratres), which have been marked by conciseness.  This was different : a description and an exhortation.  Completely without precedent in the Roman Rite?  Not quite.  For centuries the Rites of Ordination, as found in the Pontificale Romanum, included an Admonition addressed to the ordinands by the bishop.  Those Admonitions, however, were also intended as a substitute for the homily, and they were not addressed to the entire congregation.

This insertion into the Paschal Vigil, however, was not intended as a substitute homily, but an introduction to the Renewal of Baptismal Promises.  This Renewal itself was an innovation into the Paschal Vigil.  The Renewal, of course, was derived directly from the Rite of Baptism in the Rituale Romanum ; nevertheless, there was no introductory admonition in that liturgical book.  No, the Introduction under discussion was written by someone, probably in 1950, for inclusion in the Paschal Vigil.

Father Annibale Bugnini CM in his apologia The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 described this obliquely as follows:

On 28th May, 1948 a commission for liturgical reform was appointed.  Its president was Cardinal Clemente Micara, prefect of the Congregation of Sacred Rites (3) ...  
In the twelve years of its existence ... the commission held eighty-two meetings and worked in absolute secrecy.  So, secret, in fact, was their work that the publication of the Ordi Sabbati Sancti instaurati at the beginning of March 1951 caught even the officials of the Congregation of Sacred Rites by surprise.  The commission enjoyed the full confidence of the Pope, who was kept abreast of its work by Monsignor Montini and ... by Father Bea, confessor of Pius XII ... 
The first fruit of the commission's work was the restoration of the Easter Vigil (1951), which elicited an explosion of joy throughout the Church.  It was a signal that the liturgy was at last launched decisively on a pastoral course. (4)

Figure 3
Title page of the 1953 edition of
the Order of Holy Saturday.
The Paschal Vigil introduction was the first iteration of a number of such formulae which appeared again in 1964 after the publication of the Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium.  We find them in the formulae for General Intercessions or Bidding Prayers, introduced into the Order of Mass in 1964.  The Missale Romanum of 1969, however, raised these Introductions to a new level.  During the Proper of the Seasons, such Introductions are found on The Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas), Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, The Mass of the Holy Oils and throughout the Paschal Triduum.  They are also found in all the revised rites of the Sacraments and in other rites found in the revised Roman Pontifical and various other liturgical books.  Most regularly, however, they are found in the Order of Mass.  All of these Introductions were not restorations from ancient sacramentaries, they are not part of the early structure of the Eucharist, but entirely new compositions.

But these Introductions do indeed have a precedent in Western Christian rites and that is Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's 1549 The booke of common prayer and administracion of the sacramentes, and other rites and ceremonies of the Churche : after the use of the Church of England.  And, yes,  there is something strikingly "Prayerbook" about that Paschal Vigil introduction.

To be continued in a further post.


1. A re-formulation of the Rites of the Paschal Vigil had been completed and circulated in March 1951.  The following year, Pope Pius XII granted permission to the bishops of the world for this reformulated Vigil to be celebrated (according to their discretion) for a period of three years ad experimentum.   A discrete liturgical book for use on Holy Saturday 1953, was thereafter published.

2.  From 1952 onward, a number of anglophone translations of the entire Paschal Vigil were available for congregational use, intended to replace the text of existing hand-missals. Around 1955, some type of permission had been given for this introductory formula and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises itself to be recited in the vernacular.  It is not clear, however, how general this permission was before the publication of the so-called Interim Rite altar Missals from 1964 onward.  Unfortunately, the availability of translations into other language groups is beyond the research material used for this article.

3. This is a list of the original members of the Commission for Liturgical Reform as described by Father Bugnini :  Cardinal Micara, Chairman of the Commission and Prefect of the Congregation of Sacred Rites; Archbishop Alfonso Carinci, secretary of the same Congregation; Father Ferdinand Antonelli OFM and Father Joseph Low CSsR, of the same Congregation; Father Anselmo Albareda OSB, prefect of the Vatican Library; Father Augustin Bea SJ, rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute; Father Annibale Bugnini CM Secretary of the Commission.  A few were added over a period of years, not least of which, Monsignor Enrico Dante, Prefect of Pontifical Ceremonies.

4.  The Reform of the Liturgy 1948 - 1975 by Annibale Bugnini CM, published in translation by the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, USA, 1990, pp. 8-11. Forty years after Father Bugnini wrote this Apologia, his description of events leading to the revision of the Sacred Rites makes for essential and unsettling reading.  His version of that program is no longer accepted at face value as more and more research into the ideology and politics of that period emerges, often being quite disedifying.

Friday 10 May 2019

Adrian Fortescue comments on the Eighteenth Century

Father Adrian Fortescue
"In the eighteenth century a desolating wave of bad taste passed over Europe.  It gave us Baroc churches, tawdry gilding, vulgarities of gaudy ornament instead of fine construction.  It passed over clothes and gave us our mean, tight modern garments.  And it passed, alas! over vestments too, and gave us skimped, flat vestments of bad colour, outlined in that most impossible material, gold braid, instead of the ample, stately forms which had lasted until then....For these curtailed shapes are not the historic ones which came down hardly modified for so many centuries. They are a quite modern example of Baroc taste...Skimped chasubles, gold braid and lace are not Roman; they are eighteenth century bad taste."

So wrote one of the most illustrious ecclesiastical scholars of the early twentieth century, the Rev'd Dr Adrian Fortescue. This is an extract from a lecture which he gave to the Altar Society of Westminster Cathedral in 1912. Dr Fortescue's name is, somewhat regrettably, better known for the ceremonial manual which he prepared in order to raise money for the building of his Parish church : The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, which has run into many editions, over an entire century.

Dr Fortescue made these counter-cultural comments a century ago, but each new generation of Catholics, believing it has the true interpretation of Tradition, has to be reminded of them afresh.

Saturday 4 May 2019

Too Many Words

Pope S. Paul VI at the Yankee Stadium NY 1965.
One of the characteristics of the Roman Rite until the Introduction of the Pauline Missal in 1970, was the balance it achieved between silence, singing, the spoken word and ritual action. Even the so-called Interim Rite, which had various iterations between 1964 and 1968, still preserved much of this balance.  The Roman Rite "spoke" to people on a number of levels, not just the cerebral level. Its silences spoke, its aesthetics spoke, its unique and unworldly music spoke.

On the other hand, one of the great flaws of the Pauline Missal is that it is far too cerebral. Everything has to be comprehensible intellectually. The Council Fathers decreed that the Church's Rites had to be "intelligible", but unhappily, the Pauline Missal took this injunction too far.

The typical celebration of the New Mass, Ordinary Form - call it what you will - is very wordy. If the texts in the Missal itself weren't more than enough, we are also subjected to little commentaries, entertainments, even ferverini during the Mass. Words, words, words. Too many words.

At the same time, ritual action in the New Mass has been reduced to a minimum. Silence is imposed by the celebrant, rather than being organic to the Rite. One strange example of this, which we experience too often, is the celebrant - having preached his homily - goes and sits down and a period of silence is endured. Presumably we are to meditate on his spoken wisdom: but does anyone remember more than two sentences that he said?

Let us be very careful to avoid an overly-cerebral approach to the Sacred Liturgy (New or Old).  Might we not aim, rather, to recapture and preserve that old balance of the Roman Rite: silence and song supporting the Ritual actions?