Friday 23 June 2023

Vestments in the Season " Per Annum " : 2

In this Season  Per Annum  the Saint Bede Studio is pleased to present this lovely set of green vestments, recently completed for a returning customer.

The Saint Bede Studio
Figure 1. Chasuble back column
with maniple and burse.
This is in the style we call Saint Philip Neri and is our adaptation of the Roman chasuble of the 16th century, which is depicted in almost portraits of Saint Philip.  The chasuble is not wide - reaching only to elbows - but falls below the knees at the front and to the calves at the back.

The Studio has made many such chasubles, which have been found to very beautiful and easy to wear by our priestly customers.

The Saint Bede Studio
Figure 2.

This set is made from an English ecclesiastical brocade, lined in a very subtle shade of olive green taffeta.  The ornament, in the Roman manner, is formed from a beautiful silk brocade in colours of gold and old rose.  The ornament and the perimeter of the chasuble are outlined with a knot-work galloon in the colours of burgundy and gold.

Saint Philip Neri
Figure 3
Ornament at back neckline.

Click on the image for an enlarged view. 


The Saint Bede Studio
Figure 4
Perimeter galloon of chasuble and lining.

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Green vestments
Figure 5
Front ornament of chasuble
with maniple and burse.

Saturday 10 June 2023

Dalmatic for the Season << Per Annum>>

Green dalmatics

Featured in this post is a green dalmatic made for a customer from the United States.  

This dalmatic was made from dupion silk in a very beautiful shade of green and lined with dark red taffeta. 

This vestment is ornamented in a traditional manner with clavi and an apparel upon the chest, formed from one of the Studio's unique braids, named Gothic foliage

Click on the image for an enlarged view. 


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Thursday 8 June 2023

The Prayer < Suscipe Sancta Trinitas >

In this week following the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, let us consider one of the prayers which did not survive the Missale Romanum final cut in 1969:

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 Screens ! The Screens ! [re-posted]

Before the procession is formed, the deacon cries "The Screens !  The Screens"  whereupon the minister turns on the screens and monitors so that the assembly may more fully enter into the Sacred Mysteries.

General Instructions on the Roman Missal from the year 2040.

This naughty rubric is, of course, invented, but it has a semblance of possibility about how the liturgy of the modern Roman Rite could develop, as things are presently celebrated.

Forty years ago, those who were concerned more about the transcendent aspects of the Sacred Liturgy and less about Liturgy as communication would bemoan the over-arching importance of the sacred microphone and public address system.  Everything had to be clearly audible; everything had to be amplified ... or perhaps over-amplified.

Decades later, the Sacred Liturgy has moved beyond the imperative of the public address system to the imperative of the digital SCREEN : the ultimate liturgical accessory for the digital age.  I must qualify, this is the Catholic experience in Australia.

Where once was a shrine, now a SCREEN or monitor is placed.  Where once you could enter the church and try to recollect yourself before Mass, now - just like the movie theatres in the old days - a series of notices is put up on the SCREEN, advising people of the name of the Church they are in, where the fire-exits are, the names of ministers etc.  Finally, the fixation with the SCREEN large and small that dominates our lives has entered our places of worship.  Once content to use hymn books and missals, now everything is flashed up on the SCREEN : look away if you can.

Rather than direct our greater attention to the Sacred Mysteries, the SCREENS are now their own point of focus.  The casualty is recollection and prayer.  Instead of closing our eyes to pray, we look upon the SCREEN.  Gathered in a large and noble church, where we may look upon many beautiful works of sacred art, instead we are given close-ups of the celebrant and ministers, shewn on the SCREEN.  Look away if you can ... we are drawn to it.

Why must we hear everything, be it sung or spoken, over-amplified?  Is there not a more recollected way of worshipping God?  Why must we have close-up images of the Holy Place, as if we are at a concert watching every gesture and expression of the performers we are applauding?  It is the attitude which deems these new electronic phenomena essential to modern worship which is the enemy of transcendent celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy.  

You will be ever-hearing, but never understanding; you will be ever -seeing, but never perceiving.

The Septuagint text of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 6 : 10.

Purveyors of ecclesiastical digital equipment, please let the Faithful come into our churches and pray without worldly digital distractions.  

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Walking to Heaven Backward (reposted)

Figure 1.
The celebration of Mass "ad orientem" according to
the New Missal in a French Monastic Community.

Almost twenty years ago, a priest of the Toronto Oratory published a book titled The Mass and Modernity : Walking to Heaven Backward. It is an excellent philosophical study and profound in its discussion of the difficulties facing the Church because of the collapse of her Liturgical praxis. EN1   The author, Father Robinson, was inspired by a celebrated phrase in one of the Sermons of Saint JH Newman on the path we take to salvation.  Father Robinson observes that Saint Newman was writing about the individual who learns the truth about faith and right conduct through the experience of error : 
He [Newman] was reminding us that, in fact, we all make mistakes about the meaning of life and how it should be lived. But things do not stop there because we then go on to act out these mistaken ideas, and this is true even if or when we are not very clear as to what exactly the ideas are. Bad practice is based on confused and false principles, and it is by an often bitter experience that we finally see the truth a bit more clearly and so find ourselves a little nearer to the Promised Land.  EN2
Father Robinson suggests that this metaphor of the path to salvation is most applicable to the intense debates about the Church's Liturgy over almost 60 years.  It would be fair to conclude that these debates (some have termed them "wars") are but one manifestation of the increasingly polarised state of the Church.  In this little essay, we cannot plumb the philosophical depths of the arguments held by each side, nevertheless observing that these philosophical differences are the substance of the disagreement.  It would be regrettable to describe this debate as political, even though it manifests itself politically and in externals. 

The current phase of these debates presents irreconcilable differences - each side deems the other to be in an indefensible situation and harming the good of the Church.  This is debated continuously and often heatedly, on the wide-world of the Web.  The subject matter is so familiar to readers, that it is unnecessary to mention the small details, but merely to make some observations. 

There are two opposing positions (with many variations) in this particular battle of the Liturgy Wars.  

The first position is a rejection of the notion that the Roman Rite has two forms, Ordinary and Extraordinary, since this is deemed to be contrary to the decisions of the Second Vatican Council.   EN3  The notion is to be corrected by the suppression of that form which preceded the Council (the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite), regardless of the confusion or scandal that might be caused in the process.  

The opposing position is that the Rites which were promulgated after the conclusion of the Council (the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite) were an illegitimate and fraudulent exercise in ecclesiastical authority, which cast aside Tradition for misguided ideological ends; the remedy, therefore, is that those revised Rites be suppressed, regardless of the practical difficulty of doing so. 

There are loud voices making clear these two positions, but not everyone who takes an interest in these matters holds to one or the other of the two positions. Many are disturbed by the intensity in which these two positions are debated. 

The Catholic World is not divided into Defenders of Liturgical Tradition and its Opponents.  There are many debates in the Church and perhaps they are underpinned by the same divergent philosophies.  Defenders of a strict liturgical Tradition are not numerous in the sum of the Church's Faithful and they seem mainly to be voices of the Western World. The Churches of Africa, Asia and South America do not seem to be deeply involved in these liturgical debates and are largely content with the revised Rites which emerged after 1969.  We might be mindful that the Faithful in these continents comprise a large number of the world's Catholics. 

In his instruction Desiderio desideravi, the present Bishop of Rome wished to encourage a culture where the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated with sacrality and due decorum and that the Faithful be well-formed in what takes places when they gather to celebrate the Rites of the Church. This is an admirable aspiration, which aligns with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council on the Sacred Liturgy and, indeed, the teachings of previous Popes. But, unfortunately, the same vigour with which the Holy See acts to restrict the celebration of the former Missal is not also applied to the much more numerous and widespread abuses - worldwide - in the manner of celebrating the Revised Rites. The failure to act against these abuses - some of them sacrilegious - undermines what the Bishop of Rome claims he has "desired with a great longing". 

Also detracting from claims made in Traditionis Custodes and Desiderio desideravi is a vast body of reputable scholarship discussing the development of the Revised Rites and the ideology underpinning those revisions. It is no longer credible simply to assert that the New Order of Mass is the "unique" expression of the Roman Rite, nor to claim that it is completely consonant with the Tradition of the Church's liturgical prayer and ritual gestures. It is well that these objections be understood and not be dismissed out of hand as the ravings of agitators and arch-conservatives. 

It must also be remembered, on the other hand, that for the majority of Catholics, such scholarship is not relevant to their faith-lives. The majority of Catholics are content with the state of the Church's Liturgy as they experience it each week. Some, however, are more disposed to a re-sacralisation of the Rites than others.  Priests who celebrate both forms of the Roman Rite may not have the luxury to choose one to the exclusion of the other, nor think it desirable.

Those who are convinced that the Church is going to abandon the Revised Rites in favour of a more strict liturgical Tradition are going to be disappointed. And those who believe that they can stifle the aspirations of Faithful Catholics with authoritarian acts of ritual repression will also be disappointed. When insufficient magnanimity underpins both positions, neither can expect or deserve success. 

It is justly pointed out that the perilous speed in which the revision of the Church's principal rites was carried out in the period 1965 - 1969 was harmful to the Church. Pope Benedict, in criticising the Revisions, noted a mentality which produced a "banal product of the moment".  EN4  These insightful words have been conveniently ignored. 

In the fifty or so years since, there have been too many changes in the Liturgy for the Faithful adequately to accommodate.  A liturgical spirituality cannot be formed in a milieu of ongoing adaptations and the frequent introduction of new music and liturgical texts.  In the West, the results of this are all-too evident. Why then, would the solution be to introduce another raft of changes, aimed at reversing those revisions? Why would that be any more prudent and less disruptive? 

A stalemate is not quite the end of the matter, however, nor is that a Christian manner of resolving disagreements. We might hope for (but not expect soon), dialogue, rather than pronouncements from on high, whilst noting that this issue will not figure at all in the opaque discussions of the much-vaunted Synod on Synodality.  At this moment, Authority is interested in only certain debates.  

Everyone who takes the view that a "Reform of the Reform" is needed, has his or her own ideas on what form that should take. Might it not be best, however, that the future of liturgical reform be taken slowly, carefully and with greater charity on all sides? Those agitating for complete suppression of the Revised Rites might take a step backwards to reflect on wider realities within the Church.  Similarly, the Holy See should allow the more ancient Rites of the Church to be celebrated without paranoid restrictions and cease the unpastoral ostracisation and misrepresentation of its adherents.  The sanctification of the Church through its Sacred Liturgy is not well-served by ideological attempts to deny realities, even with the noble motives and aspirations. We should hope and pray for a ceasefire in these Liturgy Wars.  

Over a passage of years - not even the blink of an eye in God's time - it will become obvious, more acceptable, that aspects of the Revised Rites are a product of an era which is gone and no longer enriching to the Church, or providing what is needed to draw souls to Christ.  And those who have defended (should we write "imposed"?) those Revisions so emphatically will also be gone.  A reform of the Roman Rite is necessary and desirable, but can only be attempted at a moment free from rancour.  The process of Reform should not be limited to discussions between liturgical scholars, nor should the experiences of the last sixty years  - good and bad - simply be set aside, as if they never took place.  Learning from collective mistakes and setting aside imperfect premises, such a reform might be undertaken carefully, rooted in Tradition, but with pastoral sensitivity, one cautious step at a time, and backward. 

We advance to the truth by experience of error; we succeed through failures. We know not how to do right except by having done wrong. We call virtue a mean, that is, as considering it to lie between things that are wrong. We know what is right, not positively, but negatively; we do not see the truth at once and make towards it, but we fall upon and try error, and find it is not the truth. We grope about by touch, not by sight, and so by a miserable experience exhaust the possible modes of acting till naught is left, but truth, remaining. Such is the process by which we succeed; we walk to Heaven backward. 
 Saint J.H. Newman "Parochial and Plain Sermons" Vol. 5, no. 8. 


Figure 2.  A scene at the Second Vatican Council.


EN1  Robinson, Jonathon, The Mass and Modernity : Walking to Heaven Backward, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2005.

EN2  Robinson, op.cit., page 344.

EN3   The terms Ordinary and Extraordinary as applied to the Mass of the Roman Rite originated in 2007 with Pope Benedict's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.  In this essay, we will refer to the Ordinary form as The Revised Rites since we are also discussing the revised liturgical books of the Sacraments, Episcopal ceremonies &c.

EN4  The following article is an investigation of the words written by the then Cardinal Ratzinger :


Saturday 3 June 2023

The Most Holy Trinity

The Saint Bede StudioIt is truly fitting and just, right and profitable for our salvation, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Lord, holy Father, almighty, eternal God. With your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, you are one God, one Lord, not in the singleness of one Person, but in a Trinity of one substance. For, whatever we believe through your revelation about your glory, the same also we believe about your Son and about the Holy Spirit, without distinction or difference. So that in acknowledging the true and eternal Godhead, we adore each individual person and, at the same time, their one substance and their equal majesty: which the Angels, the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim all praise, never ceasing to cry out with one voice:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of mighty hosts! The heavens and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Bless'd is he who comes in the Lord's name. Hosanna in the highest.

This is the translation of the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity prepared by the Saint Bede Studio for the Order of Mass published by Ignatius Press in 2008.  Copies of this Mass book may be purchased at this link.

The translation and illustration may not be reproduced without prior approval.


Friday 2 June 2023

Vestments for Pentecost : 7

In this Pentecost Octave, we continue to present some of the red vestments made by the Saint Bede Studio.

Red Gothic Vestments

This distinctive set of vestments is in the style we call Saint Benet.  It is a stylised chasuble in the Gothic form as revived by AWN Pugin in the mid-nineteenth century.  The chasuble is long, but not wide.  As made by the Saint Bede Studio, this style of vestment is very comfortable to wear.

This particular set was made from ecclesiastical brocade in a bright shade of red, it was lined in a bronze shade of taffeta and ornamented with a one of the Studio's unique braids Lux Aeterna in the colour of platinum upon black. 

The stable of braids used by the Saint Bede Studio has been designed by us and manufactured for our sole use.  They are in various styles, particularly the Gothic Revival.  Each year, we add another braid or two to the stable, to increase the range available to our customers.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.


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