31 December 2010

Te Deum Laudamus

Well, here we are about to enter the year of our Lord 2011.

One recent correspondent asked why the Pimpernel bothers pursuing insignificant bloggers who perpetrate pomposity in their public carry-on about the liturgy. The answer is in the question. But the chap has a point. Lancing boils is not always the most pleasant of pastimes. Necessary perhaps, lest they fester. But far more pleasant to promote good practice. Possibly a good new year's resolution.

And so, on this traditional day of thanksgiving, let's do just that for some of those who give exemplary daily faithful service to Christ and His Church, for whom fidelity to the sacred liturgy is a matter of honour. Let us also thank God for the many, many more people who know not how to blog nor have the slightest desire so to do and yet who do their bit, large or small, in honour of the sacred liturgy.

Amongst the more visible fruits of this devotion in 2010 one thinks of the new FSSP seminary chapel consecrated this year in Denton, Nebraska, and of the support given them by Bishop Bruskewitz. We give thanks for the daily life of the monks of Clear Creek and the grace of the election of their new Abbot, and for the support they enjoy from their splendid Bishop Slattery. We thank God for the daily perseverance in Catholic unity of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer over in Scotland, and for the conscious efforts of so many pastors, like Fr Ray Blake and Fr Tim Finigan, who care for parishes and place the liturgy at the top of their priorities.

We thank God for the good efforts being made in the study of the sacred liturgy in places such as the Liturgical Institute in Chicago, and for all the efforts of the internet's Liturgical Apostle, Shawn Tribe and of its Apostle of Sacred Music, Jeffrey Tucker.

With great hope we render thanks for the elevation of two Princes of the Sacred Liturgy, Raymond Cardinal Burke and Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, for a Prince of Sacred Music, Domenico Cardinal Bartolucci, and for the liturgical leadership of Antonio Cardinal Llovera, as well as for that of many fine bishops throughout the world. We thank God for the example of Monsignor Guido Marini.

And we give thanks for His Holines, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope of the Sacred Liturgy. May Almighty God grant him health, long life, protection from his enemies and wisdom and strength to govern the Church.

For these, and the many other blessings of 2010, we sing our Te Deum. 

30 December 2010


Well blow me down with a feather. Good old Patricius has lifted the lid. Some Pillars of Tradidom are DIY merchants, if not rampant cafteteria traditionalists.

A Subdeacon
 In an entirely inconsistent moan about “Why can’t I play subdeacon too?” he has prompted revelations that stand to undermine pillars of traddidom this side of the pond and over there.

Where to begin? Perhaps with Patricius himself, though no pillar he. Consistency aside, his post bites the sacerdotal hand that feeds him, which the Pimpernel thinks is a jolly knavish thing to do.

Then there are his comments. His words “I could potentially be a member of the '62 police - you just have to piss me off enough” say a lot. More than enough in fact.

Besides this startling self-revelation he has opened a pandora’s box. First, he states that “since I have taken an oath never to attend, support or ratify any celebration of the Liturgy according to the liturgical books of 1962 I wouldn't still be going there if that were the case.” “There” happens to be the parish of a good, hardworking priest who doesn’t need the publicity, Patricius. You are not helping. Do you want him apprehended by the forces of the Revolution?

Then we find that he has published comments by others, impugning none other than the great Father "x" for celebrating midnight Mass at which the second [sic] confiteor was sung, and rejoicing at his saying over cheese and Chianti that "he is not a big fan of the '62 Missal, that if he had his way, he would have set things back to before the Pian reforms of 1955." Father "x" is entitled to say what he wants over cheese and Chianti and not to have it reported, the Pimpernel thinks. But he has published and relentlessly promoted the "1962" line on his blog about translations. A priest celebrant is responsible for the Masses he celebrates: no excuses there. Sounds like a bit of a 'pick-and-choose' aprroach to the rubrics to me. "Make up the red and say whatever you think should be in the black" as the coffee-mugs say.

But that is not all. The infamous "not-a-minute-before-1962" MC of the English Latin Mass Society is reliably reported to have subdeaconed the Easter Vigil in London two years ago. There are plenty of pictures, including some of him seated in a biretta. Did the Archdiocese of Westminster agree to this? Is this the sort of example the Latin Mass Society holds up as good practice? Did he obtain an indult for this in 1962?

Rubricarius assures us, though, that the offender "is one of the kindest, most Christian and the very best of men". We must put such gratuitous ad hominem remarks aside. Is he an acolyte in the Roman Church? Is he in any way a cleric or in religious vows? If not, what is he doing parading as a subdeacon? Sorry Patricius (et. al.), whilst the praxis of other Churches and ecclesial communites may be of interest, and may even teach us about what we should do, there were and are rules about this in the Latin rite, and just any layman won't do.

This pick-and-choose cafeteria traditionalism does no honour to the sacred liturgy. There are rules of engagement, at least for gentlemen. It may be too much to ask that some blogging individuals show deference to the Church's liturgical legislation and to exercise some discretion in their reporting of its infractions, as opposed to legitimately discussing its value and making proper submissions about possible changes. But is it too much to ask our pastors and MC's simply to do what the Church allows? In that, the Pimpernel believes, lies honour. Or has Traddigate already gone too far?

What in heaven or on earth is this? The Answer

Thanks to all those who took part in our little Christmas Octave competition.

The Pimpernel can now reveal that the object under consideration is in fact the Christmas Crib for 2010 at the church of Le Madeleine over there in Paris.

Congratulations to those who spotted this. The Pimpernel had no idea what it was when he was first sent the report.

The Pastor of the parish had this to say:

"Drawing upon a contemporary artist, this crib retrieves a tradition of the thirteenth century from St. Francis of Assisi, who for the first time, reproduced in Greccio (Italy), the manger of Bethlehem. This project will enable this historic monument [church] which receives over 600,000 visitors per year, to provide many visitors at Christmas time, a moment of quiet contemplation."

Well, it may give the tourists something. Pity that it won't speak to them of Christ or His Incarnation, or even look like the manger of Bethlehem. Would Saint Francis regonise it? Still, the tourists can listen to the Aramaic playing at the crib as they contemplate it. It is tempting to ask what Sunday Mass is like in this church, but that might be going too far.

28 December 2010

What in heaven or on earth is this?

It's on earth actually. This is a brand new item of ecclesiastical art.
Its has been designed for a Catholic Church of the Roman Rite, where it now is.

What is it?

Answers in a comment please.

Genuine guesses only please. 
Those who already know what this is are asked not to spoil the competiton.
The Pimpernel will reveal its origin in a day or so.

Cafeteria Traditionalism

Protestant Traditionalists posting?
The Italian blogger Andrea Tornelli seems to have caused quite a stir by talking about the “Protestantism of the Traditionalists” and by mentioning  the old chestnut of Gallicanism to boot.
From his post it seems that Tornelli doesn’t much care for the details of the liturgical crisis and may have been just as happy had Summorum Pontificum never appeared, so long as everyone was obeying authority. He may not understand the importance of the liturgical question, but he may also be on to something.
The Pimpernel has flagged the issue of the unsatisfactory “1962 line” and that ultramontanism and centralism are dangerous for the sacred liturgy. Paul VI couldn’t have gotten away with his missal without them, and yes, before certain bloggers shout, neither could Pius XII or John XXIII. The Pimpernel would add St Pius X, and could even add St Pius V (he did rather savage the sequences, you know).
The Pimpernel is only too aware that before the official thaw in favour of the traditional liturgy which began drip by drip in 1984 one had to choose between obedience to the Church and the traditional liturgy. It was an impossible choice. In conscience many people remained faithful to the traditional liturgy and suffered the consequences. Those were horrible years without much hope visible on the horizon.
With Summorum Pontificum that crisis of conscience should not now arise. OK there are a lot of Bishops who still need to sit, let alone pass, “Summorum Pontificum 101”, but post-2007 it is another ball game entirely. Today we have the irony of central authority asserting that Catholics have the right to the old liturgy and pronouncing such words as "decernimus" and "numquam abrogatam". Slowly, much too slowly in some places, bishops are coming to undersand their meaning.
But we have a new type of Traddy these days. We hear things like “I can’t in conscience go to that 1962 Mass because they abolished the Octave of Corpus Christi in 1955” or “Everything that Pope 'X' did to the liturgy was wrong” and so on [insert your pope and a liturgical reform you don't like, and mix according to taste]. The “line” is drawn by the individual. What the Church has done is loudly accepted or rejected by private persons.

Is this Protestant Traditionalism, or a mutant form of Gallicanism? Perhaps. Perhaps Tornelli has a point.
The Pimpernel calls it “Cafeteria Traditionalism”. With all that we know about liturgical reform and with our technological ability to pontificate about it at the press of a button, we now have those who will put onto their tray only those pieces of tradition that they like (the ‘more-recent-older’ the better, seemingly) and happily sit and eat alone whilst explaining all the more loudly, just in case anyone is listening, how everyone else should have made the same choices they did.
Well, we know that Cafeteria Catholicism is Protestantism in thin disguise, so what about this?
Yes, in 1977 people used similar arguments against those who rejected what Paul VI did. But they were truly exceptional times. Now we were post-2007. There is no going back. The old menu is here to stay, and people like it. Yes, lots of what happened before (and after) 1962 needs to be studied and debated and hopefully corrected, and we’re free to do that in the proper places (but it helps if we talk when the right people are in fact listening, and we don't just shout eccentricly from the corner).
When it comes to how we worship now, are some of us missing the wood for the trees? Unless we are Protestants, we live and worship in the Church as she is, and work with legitimate authority, not storm off because the fanon remains folded in the papal sacristy drawer. Like semi-doubles or the triple candle as I may, if I take my tray elsewhere because they’re not on the menu at the moment, I risk eating alone. No-one will listen to me then, even if I do have something worthwhile to say.
As the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer over in Scotland have demonstrated, post-2007 there's no honour in that sort of thing. It's just not Catholic. And there's no need for it. It won't help change anything for the better either.

26 December 2010

What a difference a new Marini makes

There have been some rumblings in the Washington Post in recent days, rapidly relayed by Pray Tell (curiously, with closed comments), on the difference to papal liturgies under Monsignor Guido Marini since he was given responsibility for them by Pope Benedict in 2007, after twenty years of Archbishop Piero Marini's rule. The article is interesting, especially the grumpy remarks of the Archbishop.

Well, what a difference Mgr Marini has made! God bless him, and Pope Benedict! Pictures, as they say, are worth 1,000 words:

Pope John Paul II
24 December 1999

Austria, September 2007 

Austria, September 2007

Epiphany 2009

Easter 2010

Christmas 2010

25 December 2010

Adrian Fortescue's 1909 Christmas

About fifteen years ago, the late Michael Davies sent a Christmas card across the pond which contained the text of a letter by Adrian Fortescue describing his Christmas in 1909. If ever a man loved and lived the sacred liturgy Fortescue was one. How fortunate his people were. Thank God that today many priests emulate that same liturgical spirit. Enjoy.

A Christmas entry from Fortescue's diary.
This Christmas was perfectly glorious and heavenly to me... I think that perhaps the best time of all is just before it begins always - the end of Christmas eve and the beginning of the holy night. The grey twilight drew in, and all day (we) were busy decking the church and preparing, and I had lots of confessions to hear; and we ate our fasting supper very late... I stood in my room at my desk with the light of the green lamp on my books and white walls and did nothing but think and look out of window.

It was a heavenly night. Cold with a glimmer of frost on the grass and paths, and a bright moon sailing across the dark sky, and making strange shadows from trees, black and sharp across the silver; all black and silver underneath, and above the white quiet stars. I waited for matins alone and looked out over the silent night across the great field (over my fence) - stille Nacht, heilige Nacht.

And I saw again the long white twisting road that goes out from the Jaffa gate of Jerusalem, past Rachael’s tomb, to Bethlehem; and the market place, and there the Nativity church and the huddled roofs, and the quiet fields outside where they were keeping the watches of the night by their sheep.

It was very quiet and beautiful, and I thought of other years too and could hear the bells ringing for matins across the sea and mountains in the cold night air at Innsbruck.

And I said the prayers before Mass - strange to be saying them in the evening. At eleven the Church was lit up and warm and we began matins. All the singing was quite beautiful: the Invitatorium - Christus natus est nobis: venite adoremus - twined and curved and twisted like garlands of beautiful strange sound, in the IVth mode, across the church. Then the glorious Christmas hymn - Iesu redemptor omnium; we sang... the first nocturn lessons to the old German chant with wonderful neums... You know - the Isaias lessons: Puer natus est nobis & filius datus est nobis... & consurge, consurge Hierusalem... & ecce virgo concipiet et pariet filium et vocabitur nomen eius Emmanuel... And the second and third nocturn lessons, beautiful homilies of the old Fathers, Leo and Ambrose and Augustine and the Christmas psalms and the responsories to beautiful tunes I had made myself, and then just before midnight the Te Deum.

Then we went to the sacristy and I vested and we came round through the garden and in at the big doors. In the garden I saw the blue cloud of the incense against the moonlight sky and the tall cross black outline against the stars and the pale flames of the acolytes’ candles burning clear in the cold still air.

And we came up the church as they sang - quite beautifully - the Introit of midnight Mass, while the smoke of the incense and the black and silver cross slowly moved along. Then all that wonderful and strange Mass in the middle of the dark night. I sang the gospel about the shepherds and the crowd of the heavenly army, and the Christmas preface, under the dark garlands of holly and bay, while the thin white candles held up their flames among the lilies and chrysanthema and shone on the white corporal and silver chalice.

And the choir’s sanctus rang out across the silent night, and from the windows the light shone out into the dark outside. Then the silence and the bell and the Canon: “Communicating and remembering the most sacred night when the unspotted mother gave birth to the saviour of the world, and honouring the memory first of that same glorious virgin Mary, mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, and of thy blessed Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James,....” And the long rows of my nice little people kneeling at the altar rails while I gave them Communion....

And at half past one I went to bed and did not sleep for excitement and saw it all again, and our dear Lady laying him in the manger - haec sacratissima nox.

I said the dawn Mass at eight, as the grey winter light shone in the east, and the third Mass at ten; and then was utterly done and tired, but frightfully happy as I ate my tea and toast. I did remember you too...and everyone I love, when I stood before my altar all white and gold and gleaming under the tall candles in the holy night...

23 December 2010

Ownership of the Liturgy in the Roman Church

"Rubricarius" is a prolific commentator on liturgical blogs. He has even displayed his knowledge on the Liturgical Pimpernel. His name "Rubricarius" is misleading though, for he is concerned about more than rubrics.

On Patricius' latest post at Liturgiae Causa (a post possibly prompted by the Pimperel's previous 'impertinence' in calling Patricius to order) Rubricarius has made several comments, here. One such comment includes the assertation that "Ownership of the liturgy in the Roman Church belongs to the reigning pope."

The Pimpernel would agree that some popes have certainly behaved as proprietors in the past (from the twentieth century St Pius X, Pius XII and Paul VI figure prominently on any list). This proprietorial behaviour has contributed to our present liturgical malaise. He would also agree that centralism and ultramontanism have done damage.

But the currently reigning pope disagrees that such liturgical proprietorship should be or is in fact the case. His opinion of this as Cardinal is well known.

"The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the Liturgy. It is not “manufactured” by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity...The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition." (The Spirit of the Liturgy, 166).

What may not be so well known is Pope Benedict's homily on the occasion of his taking possession of St John Lateran in May 2005. Here he applies what he said as Cardinal to all of the Pope's activity.

"The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope's ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God's Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism."

Some parts of Summorum Pontificum are relevant also.

God grant our Holy Father health and long life! But even in the coming pontificates, it will be very difficult if not impossibe, especially with modern information technology, for a pope to behave towards the sacred liturgy as have some in the past or to undo the liturgical momentum fostered in this pontificate.

Now is the God-given time, with and under the Holy Father, to consider past errors and to work for their correction. It is not time to wallow in despair over the past and to look backwards, but to look and work hard towards the future in hope. Pope Benedict XVI is a providential gift of God to the Church, especially regarding the sacred liturgy. At least, that's what the Pimpernel thinks.

22 December 2010

Putting the best foot forward?

Sometimes those around our Fathers in God just don't take good enough care of them when they are celebrating the sacred liturgy. What did Saint Augustine say? Quod minimum, minimum est. Sed in minimo fidelem esse, magnum est.

No criticism of any prelate concerned is being made here. Perhaps this shows how hard-working and well-intentioned prelates can be let down by those around them. Perhaps it is also a reminder to dot our liturgical i's and cross liturgical t's lest we appear amateur when we should be at our very best. Ad honorem sacræ liturgiæ!

In Marseille the Archbishop doesn't get a cope for Benediction.

In Nottingham, four out of seven candlesis got lit.
The new Archbishop of Oaklahoma City could at least have been given an alb.

Might someone have helped the Holy Father to get the red hats on right?

The Archbishop of New York could have done with a purple cope for vespers.

Thank God (and the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend)
that this is not anything liturgical. Or is it?

The Bishop of Versailles in mozzetta and cope.

19 December 2010

The Christmas "Family Mass"

All manner of liturgical evils are regularly perpetrated under the banner of  "a Family Mass" from Children's Eucharistic Prayers used on Sundays (which just aint allowed) to amateur dramatics during the gospel reading, and the 'decorating' of churches with 'art' and symbols that make them look more like a temporary schoolroom, and more. Sorry, folks, there is no justification for a "Family Mass" 'cause every Sunday Mass is one, celebrated by the whole family of God, the Church. Focussing on the children is just not right on Sunday. It excludes people and infantises Mass in children's eyes. Sunday Masses can't be turned into Masses for special groups, let alone be celebrated under the rules for Masses with children (though they often are). If you really must to do something childish with the kids during Mass, they can have their own 'Liturgy of the Word' separately. At least that saves the rest of us (sometimes only until they return).

At Christmas the "Family Mass" has become the institution.Well not at Christmas really, but on Christmas-eve. Churches are packed on the evening before Christmas. The crib receives its infant (for the first time, though where there is a midnight Mass He ususally leaves afterwards for a break, only to arrive again later). Children from the elementary school (no older child or teenager would allow themselves to be seen dead doing such things) are 'organised' into nativity re-enactments, readings with special effects, prayers, offertory processions with symbols and other bric-a-brac, and any other activity some well-meaning adult thinks up to 'involve' them. The congregation is stimulated and entertained. It makes for a nice feeling. It is all very, very nice.

Before the Pimpernel receives protests about how important all this is for the children let him say that Christmas pageants and nativity plays and whatever is truly creative and involivng are, yes, very important for children. Let them have them all and not only just at Christmas. Let popular religious expression thirve. When people knew what the liturgy was, they called this sort of thing paraliturgy.

These well-motivated and enthusiasticly organised additions are not, however, part of the Mass. The simple solution that no-one seems to have thought of is to have them before the celebration of Mass, as a preparation. Not a bad idea that. You can even applaud your grandchildren after such things with enthusiasm without anyone taking offence.

Attending the Christmas "Family Mass" has the added benefit of having 'done Christmas Mass' nice and early too. The family, or anyone else who pops along on Christmas eve, can have a relaxed evening afterwards and a Christmas day without the burden of having to get to Mass on Christmas day, especially with the family.

What have we done to Christmas day? Kiddy-antics aside, even a solemn Latin Mass on Christmas eve is a bit of a problem. It doesn't break any rules, but the Pimpernel believes that allowing a vigil Mass of Christmas is one real mistake of the new missal. It has more or less destroyed what was liturgically special about Christmas day itself: midnight Mass.

Staying up that late can be a real treat for children, and teach them a lot, without any need to get up to childish antics. "Mom, why are we going to Mass so late?" "Because this is the night on which our Saviour was born, my dear." Not bad that. Or on the morning of Christmas, the sacrifice of going to a Mass as a family, of waiting until afterwards for all the family rituals, presents, etc. to begin, says very clearly that Christ himself is put first at Christmas. "Dad, do we have to wait 'till after Mass?" "Yes, son, first we must thank Jesus and celebrate his birth, and worthily receive him in Holy Communion, because he is the reason why we give presents and celebrate today." That sounds like a true family Mass, and a true family Christmas, to me.

The Pimpernel may be wrong, but which Mass is the 'greatest' Christmas Mass in your parish? Is everyone there the evening before, leaving the few faithful to midnight Mass, if it happens nowadays at all? Are Christmas morning Masses smaller too? Have a look this year.

There is an Archbishop over in England who has very bravely raised the problem of the vigil Mass of Christmas. Read about his stance here with one of his Pastor's comments. Even the folk over at America are asking this question.

A Pastor who changed the Christmas schedule for 2010 at this late stage may not be very wise. But it's never too early to start thinking about how we can celebrate Christmas better in 2011.

15 December 2010

The "1962 line"

"The liturgical books of 1962". That is what Catholics of the Roman Rite are to use if they wish to worship according to the ancient liturgical forms. But, as we hear a little bit too often from some, these books contain the results of the various questionable reforms enacted under Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII in the previous decade or so.

Some of these reforms seem sensible though, such as restoring the time of the celebration of the Easter Vigil to the night before Easter Sunday rather than it being celebrated early on the Saturday morning. So too, directing that the priest listen to the Epistle and Gospel at Solemn Mass, and not read them audibly to himself, seems like the correction of an anomaly. But others are certainly questionable, most prominently the reform of Holy Week decreed in November 1955.

This is not the place to rehearse the details. Suffice to say that some maintain, and not without good reason, that the liturgical books of 1962 enshrine reforms that have jettisoned venerable elements of the liturgical Tradition of the Western Church.

So why "1962"? The fact is that it was a convenient line, hastily drawn in the sand during and after the failed negotiations of 1988 between the Vatican and the Society of Saint Pius  X. It was acceptable to Archbishop Lefebvre (who had already adopted a 1962 policy) and to Rome, without at least the latter thinking very much about it. It is a line which some have blindly idolised since.

But it is true and increasingly clear from the amount of material being published about the reforms that good and bad decisions were made on either side of that line. Few, however, know what to do about it. What are Catholics who love the traditional liturgy to do?

Should we mentally retreat to the liturgical books of a "satisfactory" year and hope that one day the Church will follow our private judgement? In reality, no such year exists, for there have been liturgical reforms throughought history (though none on the scale as took place after Vatican II, the forerunners of which one can find before), and one can always prefer that a given reform did not do something.

No. Our first response ought to be one of obdeience, a traditional hallmark of Catholics to the rulings of competent authority in all things but sin. We may like the third confiteor or folded chasubles and the broad stole, and even rightly argue that they are elements of the Tradition which should not be lost, but it is not a matter of sin not to use them.

For the Pope has liturgical jurisdiction in the Latin Rite. St Pius V's Bull Quo Primum had authority in its day, as does Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum today. So too does Paul VI's 1969 Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum. We may regret the decisions they legally enshrine, but they are valid legal acts of the competent authority.

As the Pope has legislated in Summorum Pontificum that those who wish to make use of the older form of the Roman Rite are to use the Missal and Breviary in use in 1962, and may use the "earlier" Ritual, they are what we are to use. Unless we can successfully argue using classical moral theology that to do so is a matter of formal sin (certainly many did this in respect of the Missal of Paul VI, though very few if any did this in 1962/3, and it is somewhat churlish to try to do so now, based on hindsight), we are obliged in obedience to use the liturgical books of 1962. Otherwise we become 'DIY' liturgists, just as bad as those who do the same with the Missal of Paul VI. We may argue that our motivation is more noble, but we would be wise to recall the words placed by T.S. Eliot on St Thomas Becket's lips in Murder in the Cathedral; "The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason."

So what are we to do? If we steadfastly refuse to have anything to do with the liturgy celebrated according to the books of 1962, and stand aloof, we risk our ecclesial position and our spiritual wellbeing.

But we may, and by all means should, present our case to the competent authority, for a widening or even a rescinding of this ruling, for legitimate deregulation, for a reexamination of the "1962 line", for a recuperation of some things and for the relinquishing of others, for permission to use the unreformed Holy Week, etc.

What better time or pontificate than this, for calm, clear, reasoned and scholarly petitions to be put by manifestly obedient sons to the Holy Father, asking that those unfortunate, even bad, decisions made between 1950-1962 be corrected, or at least as a first step that those communities who wished could use the pre-1962 liturgical books?

What a gift to the Church it would be for a new edition of the Missale Romanum to appear that left behind the dross, recovered the lost treasures, and which also included new saints, the 'Gallican' prefaces, and perhaps one or two other real advances. We may not end up with all that we would personally prefer. In 1570 there were probably those who lamented some of the things abolished in the Missal of St Pius V. But we are not our own pope, and we must accept the authority of the Pope in all things but in sin.

This will take patience and charity, and many of us are not at all good at practicing these virtues, nor nowadays that of obedience. But in reality, if we are to do more than whine and opine in our own insular circles, there is no other way that the path of obedience and patient work duly submitted to the competent authorities.

The "1962 line" is historically and liturgically artificial. But it is a juridical reality. The honourable course of action is to work with this reality as faithful Catholics and to persuade the competent authority that its amelioration is for the good of the Church. To arms!

13 December 2010

Demned impudence!

We live in curious liturgical times in the West. Perhaps never have stances towards the sacred liturgy been so publicly diverse or divided, and certainly never has technology enabled practically anyone to pontificate on it according to their prejudices by means of a click without thought or responsibility. Once it was that one had to work to earn money to buy one's quill, ink and paper, and then successfully beseech a publisher, and then face the courts if one really wanted to libel someone. Now, well, we click and are not dammed.

The Liturgical Pimpernel is an admirer of the erudition of Fr Hunwick's Liturgical Notes and was impressed by his critique of the somewhat ubiquitous Diarmud McCulloch last week. One of his commentators, a certain Patricius, took the opportunity to impugn the reputation of another scholar. A quick investigation of the evidence he advanced revealed that he had got the matter horribly wrong, and we said so, stating our case. The topic piqued our interest, and the more we searched the clearer it became how erroneous the charge was, and how gratuitous. Patricius had drawn his sword rashly. You can read the sorry details in the comments here.

What is demned impudent, however, is that when fairly challenged, the man retreats into silence. He advances no evidence to support his charges. He refutes no evidence proffered against him. He offers no manly apology or retraction. Silence.

Young sir, a man who slinks away from a defeat so of his own making cannot do so with honour!

Patricius' mettle may be gauged through his blog, Liturgiae Causa. His published statements include silly errors of fact such as "folded chasubles...were abolished by the Pope in 1956" (28 Nov.). They were in fact abolished by the rubrical reform of 1960, though in 1955 they were dropped from Holy Week. A comment on his post, correcting his mistake, has not yet appeared.

His blog contains graver material. Try: "I cannot, in conscience, accept or approve of what Pius XII did to the Sacred Liturgy. I just cannot. I am supremely confident that those reforms were both deeply pernicious and wrought great evil in the Church (you can see the signs today)" (27 Nov). Then there is his "Oath against '62"  which culminates in the declaration "It is a fact that the ''liturgical'' books of 1962 are an aberration, and have no intrinsic value, whether in terms of Liturgy or even aesthetics - they will be an example, in the eyes of posterity, of the dangers of magisterial reform of the Sacred Liturgy" (15 Nov.).

The "1962 line" is artificial, and there is much to be said about it (more on that in a later post). But one wonders what would please him? 1950, before Pius XII's reforms? 1910, before Pius X's reforms? Earlier? And one has to ask: did nothing at all good happen after whatever date it is that you prefer?

Whilst Patricius decides on his ideal date, and then seeks its liturgical reincarnation in the twenty-first century, perhaps we should pray rather earnestly for him, for whilst his stances appear a-historical, and make silly mistakes (and impugn Popes and others with abandon), reading his posts also makes it clear that too much blogging and reading of blogs on liturgy is not always good for the health of a young man: "I am tired and bitter now, finding little consolation in that which of old gave me comfort. Even Tolkien, that kindly intercessor who has kept me in the Roman Church beyond all hope, said that the Church more often felt like a trap than a refuge in the 1960s. Though where could he go? Where can I go? I feel homeless, orphaned and utterly bereft" (27 Nov).

Perhaps we were better off when we had to save up for a quill, ink and paper? The honour of the sacred liturgy is not served by this sort of behaviour.

10 December 2010

Liturgical stocking fillers

What better to give at Christmas than a 'taste' of the sacred liturgy, as it were?

Most of us find it hard enough to be at a Sunday Mass that is liturgcaly optimal, let alone to live each day liturgically. The days are long gone when you could pop into the chapel of your local convent or friary or priory confident of catching Vespers, let alone a Conventual Mass. Only a priveledged few live near those monastic houses of men and women, and near those other communities, for whom the daily public celebration of the sacred liturgy is their lifeblood.

So the rest of us make do as best we can. We probably pray some of the Divine Office. We may look almost too often at encouraging liturgical things on-line. And we struggle on.

Well, as the time for giving gifts approaches, why not give some thing that touch the heart of the meaning of the coming season, and that promote and supports all good things liturgical?

The monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation, Clear Creek, Tulsa, Oaklahoma, are building a monastery and need our help. They live the Benedictine monastic life heroically and the sacred liturgy is their lifeblood. Their webiste has several CDs of Gregorian Chant available, which are recordings from their mother-house, the Abbey of Notre-Dame, Fontgombault, France. If you have not heard a recording of the monks of Fontgombault, you have not heard heaven sing.

The Abbeys of Clear Creek and Fontgombault both belong to the Solesmes Benedictine Congregation. Another Abbey of their family, Notre-Dame de Triors, France, offer this CD of Gregorian Chant, which records the propers of four main Masses in Christmastide.

When the realities of local liturgical life are grim, thanks be to God for giving us these monks and these recordings. Why not share them as gifts in the season of Christmas?

Oh, and for the seriously liturgically addicted, the Benedictine Monastery of Norcia, Italy, offer MP3 files of daily Mass and Vespers.

9 December 2010

A poll. Which Eucharistic Prayer is used most on Sundays?

Which Eucharistic Prayer is used most in the modern rite? Where I go to Mass it is a mixture of numbers 2 and 3. We never use the great Roman Canon. In most places that seems to have been abolished in practice. Dastardly!

What is your experience? On the sidebar you will find a poll, asking what Eucharistic Prayer was used at the Mass you attended last Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation.

Over time the results of this poll could be very interesting, but please keep the responses to Sundays and Holy Days.

If you attend the older rite, with only the Roman Canon, count your blessings, and sorry, this poll is not for you.

If you are interested in the history of the new Eucharistic Prayers:

In 1968 Pope Paul VI introduced three extra Eucharistic prayers into the Mass (now known as Eucharistic Prayers 2, 3 & 4). In 1974 Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation and for also Children were introduced as an experiment, which was confirmed in 1977. There are also some authorised texts of other Eucharistic Prayers.

In 1968, Rome issued “Norms on the Eucharistic Prayers”. Some highlights:
Eucharistic Prayer 1, that is, the Roman Canon, may always be used; its use is particularly suited to days assigned a proper In union with the whole Church or a proper Bless and approve; to feasts of the apostles and saints mentioned in this Prayer; also to Sundays...Because of its distinctive features Eucharistic Prayer 2 is better suited to weekdays or to special occasions...Eucharistic Prayer 3 may be used with any of the prefaces; like the Roman Canon, it is to have precedence on Sundays and holydays...Eucharistic Prayer 4 has an unchangeable preface and presents a more complete summary of the history of salvation. It may be used whenever a Mass does not have a proper preface; its use is particularly suited to a congregation of people with a more developed knowledge of Scripture...

The full text of these Norms is here.

In 1977 Rome spoke about the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation and for Children:

Use of any Eucharistic Prayer for Masses with children is restricted to those Masses celebrated with them alone or at which they make up the majority of those participating...Eucharistic Prayers for Masses of Reconciliation may be used when there are special celebrations on the themes of reconciliation and penance, especially during Lent, and on the occasion of a pilgrimage or a religious meeting.

There are others. In the English-speaking world the most common is called the “Swiss Eucharistic Prayer”. More about that here.

There is a good article that appeared in the Adoremus Bulletin some time ago discussing the history in more detail here.

8 December 2010

Spot the affectation?

The Saint Bede Studio produces some truly beautiful vestments for liturgical worship.
Since their triumph in creating some of the most noble vestments Pope Benedict XVI has worn as pope outside of Rome for the consecration of the the new altar in Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, in July 2008 (pictured right: more pictures here and here), they have seemingly gone from strength to strength. They rightly deserve praise for their excellent work.

But something is horribly wrong with the modelling of the noble and worthy marian vestments, perfect for today's splendid feast, in these pictures.

Jolly amateur if you ask me. Slightly tatty too. Takes away from all the good work. Setting altogether a bad example. Young clergy could easily be led astray. They should do better, what!

It's not the rather scary model himself, but something else. Answers on a postcard (all right, in a comment) please.

7 December 2010

Whatever you do, don't tell your grandparents!

It seems that the ageing liturgical establishement can't really cope with the ongoing outbreak of celebrations of the older liturgy. Yesterday saw the Pray Tell blog trot out a dubious and old report from the London Tablet insisting that there is no growing interest in the old rites. Really? Well, it is probably comforting for them to tell themselves that, but today pilgrimages and publications, blogs and businesses all thrive on the growng interest in the older ways, and more Masses and the other sacraments celebrated according to them pop up here, there, indeed almost everywhere. Neither the Tablet or Pray Tell will stop such progress.

How are sales these days Paul?

It's jolly knavish of these chaps to pretend otherwise though, unfortunately, it is quite to be expected. The edlerly must be allowed their illusions. Those who still teach the lie that "Vatican II changed all that" in their seminars, courses and paperbacks all built on the desirability of discontinuity do need to reassure themselves these days.

Go over and have a look at the article here, and especially at the comments: poor old Paul Inwood is in quite a state. It will give anyone with liturgical and historical perspective a good laugh. If you're actually interested in the reality of the matter, you might care to look at this response to the article from The Tablet.

6 December 2010

Signs of the times

Those folks down at the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Chicago are doing good things for the sacred liturgy. Sure, some will say it's all too modern, but hey, this is Chicago where, under a previous Archbishop, what's happening there today could not even have been dreamt of. It is truly a sign of the times that with and under their shepherd, Francis Cardinal George OMI, they are promoting good liturgical theology and practice. Their courses even include modules on the older Roman liturgy. Check out their website here and don't miss their new informational video and the videos of students talking about their experiences of the Institute. It's great that there is an institute of higher learning such as this dedicated to the sacred liturgy in the USA. We need more sound liturgical institutes throughout the world.