Saturday 31 August 2019

Mutual Enrichment

Remember some years ago, we used frequently to hear on Blogdom about mutual enrichment between the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite?  Pope Benedict advocated this in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.  Perhaps you have noticed that this has not been discussed so much for a few years.  One might go so far that there is now hostility to the concept.  Such a Reaction seems unnecessary and unhelpful.

In this post, let us discuss this from the perspective 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, let us consider 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.

The Benedictine Abbey of Le Barroux: 
Contemporary vestments intended 
for the Extraordinary Form.
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.  Just as frequently, we see Extraordinary Form Masses being celebrated with brand new Baroque vestmentsWell, 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 Reaction or Re-Creation; that 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 became fashionable to do this, adopting what people referred 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?  If they do, they don't have enough to do with their time. It is an ancient practice to cross the stole and it reinforces the distinction between the threefold Orders of deacon, priest and bishop.  Give it a try.

Saturday 17 August 2019

Priestly Ordinations 2019 : 4

The Saint Bede StudioEach year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, 2019 has been no exception.

This post features a set of vestments made for an ordinand from the Diocese of Orange (California USA), who commissioned a set of vestments from the Studio in the Saint Philip Neri form.

The vestments were made from a brocade with a large woven design and in a shade of off-white.  The ornament, in the Roman manner, was formed from an attractive silk damask in rust-red and gold, outlined with golden galloons.  The vestments were lined in a red-coloured taffeta.

Please pray for for all newly-ordained priests.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

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The Saint Bede Studio

The Saint Bede Studio

The Saint Bede Studio

Friday 16 August 2019

To what purpose 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 a protestant) 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 during the Sacred Liturgy should not essentially be about his own preferences and personality. Might the celebrant ask of himself :

Is what I am wearing worthy of my ministry standing between God and man to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy?

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 - for various reasons - to the Faithful attending Mass?

Monday 12 August 2019

Australian Readers

A special edition of the Studio's newsletter has been released describing our special work within Australia.  Any reader wishing to obtain a copy of this pdf-file newsletter may send us an e-mail headed :

Saturday 10 August 2019

A few words from a Saint Bede Studio customer

After a year of ups and downs for the Saint Bede Studio, this Appreciation, offered by one of our American customers, we are pleased to share again with our readers :

Up until recently, it seems that major producers of liturgical vesture were more intent on recreating the Catholic aesthetic rather than reverencing it: catering to fads and novelty, rather than appealing to beauty and tradition.  Now, however, we can be grateful that truly dignified vesture is becoming more readily available to those concerned with cultivating authentic Catholic worship. The Saint Bede Studio has firmly established its place within this renewal, through the intelligently researched and carefully executed efforts of the Studio's proprietor, Michael Sternbeck. His workmanship and professionalism is to be highly commended, and customers will discover all those qualities to be expected in any true art: attention to detail, expert knowledge of methods, and quality materials.  Not unimportantly, in the Saint Bede Studio we have Catholic artisans working only for the Catholic Church.

A further word about materials is needed, however.  One of Saint Bede's most treasured assets must be its wide range of orphrey braids. These are designed by the Studio for the Studio's vestment-making use.  Few other producers of worthy Catholic vesture have access to materials made only for themselves. Without exaggeration, then, these unique braids thereby distinguish the Saint Bede Studio from every other producer of liturgical vesture. Certainly anyone in search of exceptional quality vesture of the Gothic Revival need look no further than the Saint Bede Studio. Still, as customers have come to understand, the work of the Studio hardly limits itself to this one style alone.

In the end, we can only be hopeful that renewal of Catholic worship will continue in many places. Quite simply, the Saint Bede Studio is to be highly, highly recommended. May God continue to bless and sustain its work: ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.

Monday 5 August 2019

Our Newsletter

The Saint Bede Studio newsletter, illustrating the range of our work over the last year or so, has now been published.

If you would you like to receive a copy of the newsletter, please send an e-mail titled NEWSLETTER to our address :