Saturday, January 08, 2011

On Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form

On New Years Eve I attended a Low Mass in the EF. Although I have attended and served at a number of Masses in the Extradordinary Form of the Roma Rite (or using the Missal of Bl John XXIII as I prefer to call it) this was the first time that I had attended a Low Mass since I was in Rome in 2007!

Personally I think that the Low Mass is a bit of an abberation in our tradition as it has been the form that had been taken completely from its original context and many of the liturgical problems in our day stem from the fact that this was the normal Mass in parishes before Vatican II.

Firstly its origin was as a Missa Privata when more monks became priests and needed to say a daily Mass outside a Conventual Mass. By the time this had happened the concept of concelebration had obviously fallen completely out of favour. Its use expanded with the need to say increasing numbers of the Masses for the Dead or "stipend Masses". With the missionary activity after the 16th century its use became more the norm in areas of the world where the conditions and resources made these types of Masses the only feasible option. They also allowed the Mass to be "inculturated" into non-European areas through allowing locally produced hymns and songs to be played and sung and even parts of the Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular.

More locally, the style of Mass that was seen in Australia was imported by Irish priests. Ireland came from a persecuted background where Low Masses were the only feasible Mass option. Therefore in all areas in Australia apart from Cathedrals and some larger churches, the Low Mass accompanied by the "4 hymn sandwich" was the norm.

I have a copy of the St Stephens Cathedral Sunday Mass schedule (issued after evening Masses were permitted):

Sundays 6,7,8,9,10am and 11am (Solemn Mass) 6.30pm and 7.45pm.

You can see that logistically 7 of those Masses were Low Masses.

Brisbane through most of the 20th century was blessed with a multiplicty of churches on the basis of (before cars) nobody should have to walk more than 5 minutes to a church. Of course there was a multiplicity of priests to cater for all the Low Masses celebrated at these suburban churches. This would be completely unsustainable today.

A related problem that is being encountered with the revival of the Missal of Bl John XXIII is that these churches were built for Low Masses, and are very difficult to celebrate a Solemn Mass or even a Missa Cantata in, due to lack of room in the sanctuaries.

When the Missal of Paul VI was introduced in stages from 1965 to 1970 the Mass was converted into English and the 4 hymn sandwich stayed. The introduction of readers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (which are more of an ordinary sight than an extraordinary sight for the last 30 years) did nothing to change this state of affairs.

The beauty of the Mass comes out when it is sung. Is a work that is supposed to be sung (Traditionally with a capital T) and so in some ways the Low Mass brings out the worst features of the EF and OF Masses.

For us with an interest in the Missal of Bl John XXIII, it is not a journey back to the 1950s and the vast majority dont want to go back there (I was never there in the first place). A proliferation of Low Masses would be a journey back to the 1950s and opens up the accusation that the Latin Mass revival is a nostalgia trip. It would also lead to a proliferation of bad liturgical practices both by celebrant and servers simply because when the normative Mass (ie the Solemn Mass) is celebrated, there is no experience and Low Mass abberations (such as kneeling until the Epistle) would propogate.

For a sensible way forward and for the traditional Mass revival to have the greatest amount of success, I believe that the Low Mass should fall into disuse. If a smaller kind of ceremonial is required, a Low Mass form of the Missal of Paul VI could be used. This would of course be celebrated at a High Altar ad orientem and no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

I know this posting will upset some people. I am not advocating that this form of Mass be banned, its just that I think that this is a form of Mass that has really has no future except as a Missa Privata, for priests who do not concelebrate, and is totally unsuitable as a congregational Mass. The Solemn and Sung Masses have far more opportunities for the congregation to participate in the Mass according to the vision for "actual participation" as envisioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium, and therefore need to be encouraged a lot more.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

OOps she has done it again

The latest rubbish to come from the desk of Elizabeth Harrington self styled theologian was seen in the website Liturgy News last week.

Entitled "Do we really know what we are doing?" it launches into a critique of things it considers heretical; firstly the separation of bread and wine from the Body and Blood of Christ and secondly the separation of the Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament.

There are a series of three propositions that she

(a) At the celebration of Eucharist, the past events of the paschal mystery – Christ’s life, death and resurrection – are made present so that we become part of the story and participate in it.

That is correct although put in the language of primary school children.

b) I have seen processions of gifts accompanied by lighted candles, smoking thurible and grand music, giving the clear impression that it is about something more than simply bringing forward bread and wine and our gifts for the poor.

I am curious where she had seen such a procession as I have not ween such an event happening. The GIRM states that it is "appropriate" to have an Offertory Procession but not mandatory (GIRM 140) so I dont know why some parish has put rituals into this procession elements that are in the rubrics.

then it gets into some really silly stuff, and this is about the Eucharistic Prayer itself. She contrasts the theology of the Middle Ages (and remember this is a mentality where "Middle Ages" is code for bad or deficient) with "current theological understanding is that the whole of the Eucharistic Prayer consecrates the gifts. During the Eucharistic Prayer we pray that the Holy Spirit will make our offerings holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord." If there is something that angers these liturgists its the "consecration".

However there is no teaching within Church documents which says that the whole of the Eucharistic Prayer is consecratory. This is merely PERSONAL OPINION. If you think that the whole of the Eucharistic Prayer is consecratory then why hasnt the Church abolished the elevations and the Memorial Acclamation and go back the rubrics during Pope Gregory the Great's time where the Eucharistic Prayer was said silently from beginning to end and then the gifts were elevated and the celebrant sang "per ommina saecula saeculorum, Amen".

The it really gets sillier, "Continued calls from some quarters for the tabernacle to be put (back) on the altar or immediately behind it demonstrate the confusion that exists between the sacrifice of the Mass and adoration of the reserved Sacrament."

Yes putting back the tabernacle to a central point makes a lot of sense as Pope Paul VI said "to make it the living heart of our churches" Then she selectively quotes Pius XII to get the trad minded on side where he is supposed to have said that

“The altar surpasses the tabernacle because on it is offered the sacrifice of the Lord. In the tabernacle, on the other hand, Christ is present as long as the consecrated species remain, without, however, offering himself perpetually.”

But he also said that:

"one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; (Mediator Dei n 62)

In his address to the International Congress on Pastoral Liturgy on the Liturgical Movement, Pius argued against the separation of Altar and tabernacle arguing for unity.

Again Ms Harrington resorts to twisting the truth to get her ideology across. I need to find out what her age is (im sure she is a Vatican II feminist) to get an idea of when she retires and people will no longer be misinformed by this drivel.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Excellent example of Reform Liturgy

There is an excellent and beautiful example of reform liturgy that I found on the New Liturgical movement website. The priest seems to be very excited during the sermon.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ad Orientem - keeping the liturgy cosmic

On Fr Hunwicke's Liturgical Notes there is a very good posting on what we may do with Ad orientem celebration. Ad orientem is a practice that I fully support.

The question has come up in a few places that I have served at.

For the feast Day of San Josemaria we celebrated in a church in Brisbane which has a fine High Altar and a stone freestanding table Altar in front of it. However, the congregation faces directly westward. The last 2 solemn Masses I MC'd there we had the Liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated on the freestanding Altar, with this Altar decorated with an Altar Cross and 4 candles, with the High Altar having the full six tall candles lit. It looked very nice.

A friend suggested that we should celebrate Ad Orientem. Fine I say, but the priest is then NOT looking East towards the rising sun streaming in through the East doors but a wall facing West. The other thing is that if the priest celebrates facing West (oriented towards a liturgical "East") does he celebrate at the freestandig table or the old High Altar? My thinking is that he should celebrate at the High Altar.,as celebrating at a table at the foot of the High Altar would look silly. This presents another problem. In the Modern Roman Rite, the Offertory prayers and the Eucharistic Prayer are celebrated aloud to be intelligible to the congregation so rightfully the High Altar should be miked which it isnt. Therefore until the technological barriers are overcome, the best solution is to continue to celebrate at the table Altar (properly decorated with a central cross) facing East.

I have a similar problem at another church. This one is of a traditional Roman Basilica plan and with the front door facing North East and the apse facing South West. It has a freestanding stone Altar only, but with a giant wooden crucifix at the centre of the apse. As much as I would like to get the priest to celebrate Ad Orientem, this also present difficulties. Should I arrange the Altar to have the priest facing the cross, but keeping him facing SouthWest, or having him face towards the East but with the cross behind him? The Altar is decorated with four candlesticks and a central Altar Cross (I used to have 6 but I find on many Altars they are simply too small and the Altar then gets crowded by candles which take away from the central aspect of the Altar as the resting place for the Body and Blood of Christ - 4 is often a good balance).

For the moment I have kept it to having the priest facing East (actually North East), and I am of an open mind to get him to face the other way (if a priest is indeed amenable and sufficiently educated liturgically to understand what he is doing), but I am keen to have a Modern rite Mass to see what the feel of an oriented liturgy with the priest and congregation face the same direction actually is like.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

New Friends

I have placed a link on the blog to another blog of a priest of the Cistercian Abbey of Heilgenkreuz Abbey in Austria. This is an Abbey that could be rightly considered Reform-of-the-Reform. You can get some ideas of their liturgies here and here. Check out on this site also the link to Sub Tuum, the blog of Br Stephen at the Cistercian Abbey of Spring Bank.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New title picture

After travelling through Latin America where most of the liturgies made things in Australia look good, I happened to be in Medellin in Colombia (drug and fashion capital of Latin America) where the Mass was totally Reform of the Reform. The 12 Noon Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Medellin Arzobispo SeƱor Ricardo Antonio Tobo'n Restrepo, assisted by two deacons in Roman Dalmatics, one assistant presbyter, and servers. Unlike most liturgies in Colombia which are all happy-clappy Hillsong style, this had a single cantor in the Choir singing in a vernacular chant (in Spanish of course). There was a Confirmation with one single boy who sat in choir.

Although the Eucharistic prayer was celebrated versus populum, the other parts of the liturgy pertaining to the Altar were celebrated ad-orientem, and if there was the desire to celebrate that way it certainly could be done. Other key things to note were:

  • the Ciborium Magnum over the High Altar

  • the Archbishop's throne in its original position

  • the original High Altar, which for this Mass was adorned by 7 candlesticks, being for this Mass celebrated by the ordinary, placed at the back of it

  • Deacons proclaiming the Word (no lay people reading)

  • the ringing of the bells; not only the bells within the sanctuary being rung 4 times at each elevation (three at the elevation and once at the genuflection) but also the outside bells in the bell towers to proclaim to the city that the sacrifice had been made

  • male only servers

  • no communion in the hand (with some members of the congregation kneeling at the Communion rails to receive)

You can see what the outside of the church looks like here.

I have therefore made the interior shot the master pic to be more symbolic of the reform-of-the-reform ideal.

St Augustine and the Confessions

One of my favourite books is "The Confessions" by St Augustine. It is particularly relevant as it speaks to our own age as late Roman societiy was heavily urbanised, family structures were breaking down and co-habitation was commonplace as it is in our own day.

For the feast of St Augustine (28 August) someone in Italy has put together a comic-book deptiction of his life which you can find here. I found it interesting that Fr Finigan wanted some edits to some pages that he obviously thought were too racy such as here. Well I reckon why not? This shows more truly the struggle we have between pagan sensuality that we are so addicted to and the real deal with our souls, that is to live lives of holiness and oriented to God - our origin and destination.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Holy Communion

One of the things that have been considered as one of the abuses or degeneration in the Roman Rite has been the re-introduction of receiving Holy Communion in the hand rather than the tongue in the early 1970s after being out of use for 1600 years (at least in the diocese of Rome).

I always had a problem with Communion in the hand as it was introduced by the protestant reformers in the 16th century to push people away from a belief in the Real Presence. Then why did it get introduced into the Catholic Church 400 years later? Was it also to signify a rejection of belief in the 1970s?

The story of how a disobedient and illegal practice became the norm has been well documented on other websites. But what is done is done and I do not see Bishops trying to put the genie back in the bottle for a very long time.

Recently I was MC at a Solemn Mass to celebrate the Feast Day of St Josemaria Escriva and ended up assisting the celebrant at the distribution of Holy Communion. People received on the tongue kneeling, on the tongue standing and in the hand standing. I really did not see any difference in outward disposition and reverence between the various ways of receiving, so that any prejudices that I had about the available styles of receiving in the Roman Church faded.

The important things are that the Communicant is in a State of grace and that the rubrics of the Church are followed ie. that before receiving standing, whether in the hand or on the tongue, a bow or a genuflection is done to honour the Real Presence.

Now you might say dear reader "this is all wrong" Communion in the hand leads to abuses and people taking the hosts away etc. This is true, which means all the more that Communion needs to be more tightly policed where it is offered in the hand. However, I recall a scene from the movie "El Crimen de Padre Amaro" where one of the communicants receives (in many places in Latin America Communion on the tongue is still the norm), then spits out the host into her Missal and takes it home to feed the cats!!!

So what is good practice? Well I think that best practice would be that you still have servers standing with Communion Plates for people who wish to receive on the tongue but need to be there to make sure that people consume the host there. Secondly, you need to minimise the number of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. I know of cases of sacrilege that occurs in a major city Cathedral due to poor training or poor catechism of these people. One wonders whether some of them hold heretical beliefs about the Holy Eucharist.

Finally it is important to point out that no priest has the right to forbid a practice that has been authorised by the church. At the same cathedral it is official policy to refuse Holy Communion to people kneeling. I do know of one priest who not only did that but also threatened the communicant on the spot with legal action if she complained to the authorities.

One final comment, there has been attempts by various "liturgists" to get people to sing a hymn at Holy Communion in going up to receive. As well in some American parishes "liturgists" make the congregation stand through the whole part of this liturgy, so kneeling down at the end for thanksgiving is simply not allowed. We have seen the first practice to emerge but I notice that people see the futility of the exersize, but I havent (thankfully) seen the latter emerge in Australia.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Reform of the Reform what is it?

This blog will be now devoted to the Reform of the Reform as 1. I most commonly serve the solemn form of the ordinary form (OF) of the Roman Rite and 2. there are enough blogs focussing on the Extraordinary Form.

There is a good article on the New Liturgical Movement describing the various forms of the Reform-of-the-Reform movement. There are 2 main camps 1. those that see the 1962 Missal as the starting point and 2. those who see the 1970 Missal as the starting point.

3 years after Summorum Pontificum, we see more flexibility in the EF and opportunities to be celebrated but it has not exactly caught on like wildfire. Locally it simply has meant that pre-existing traditionalist communities now have the opportunity to attend weekday Masses as well as a Sunday Mass in the older form, but the movement has certainly not spread to other parishes. This is a due to largely to an attitude that the OF is "good enough for us" and the lack of priests with the skills and interest in serving the older form. With the church being controlled by people who were around at Vatican II, there is a lot of hostility towards this form. This will die off as that generation dies off but it will take a long time.

I follow the second school of thought - of the Mass of 1970 being the starting point. As Bishop Elliot remarked at the Altar Server Conference in Melbourne in January 2008 it is about "reconnecting the reform with the tradition". There is nothing doctrinally unsound in the OF Mass; some elements may be submerged in it but that is the same as the EF Mass. Although there was a certain amount of "Modern thinking" rather than Modernism (Elliot: Jan 2008) in the Novus Ordo Missae, it reflects the faith expressed in the Catechism.

So we start from what is the problem and then how do we re-align it so that it reflects better our real relationship to God.

The first issue is that society has lost all sense of liturgy. You just see how people behave at Weddings and Baptisms, they really have no idea. - and these are "Catholics"!

This has been exacerbated by the idea of liturgy being defined as the "work of the people" when liturgia is actually public work ie. a type of public service undertaken by a certain individual ot individuals to provide a service to the community such as repairing the city walls or rebuilding a road. Much of the modern "liturgists" are to blame for this. Therefore if it is a work of the people it means that the liturgy reflects their preoccupations and can be changed to suit their needs.

Modern Man sees himself as the "measure of all things" and so unfortunately modern liturgy reflects this. You see that the altar in many Catholic churches has been reduced to a table that is on the same level as the people so that they can "gather" around it.

All of this speaks of a God who is "not great" and who is only as good as us.
The OF Liturgy ought to be a simplification of its father the EF Liturgy in the rites and length of prayers as well as be more easily understandable. and in many ways the intentions failed, in that it provides for a different set of complications. It needs to reflect the sobriety and gravitas of the Roman Liturgy.
In short it needs not revision , but simply re-orientation back towards God and not to the people.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


AS part of my break away I note that there are a number of fresh comments that I have only published today.

In response to Fr Ronan Kilgannon I respond that I do not disparage the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in fact that is the form that I ordinarily assist. The post does show the extreme sensitivity in which these matters are dealt with - not through logic but through emotion.

The reality is that many of the liturgies in our parishes have degenerated into mutual admiration "eulogies" within a closed group of people, with God being a presence from the sidelines.

There is no desire to institute the 1962 form of the Mass in every parish. It was always seen that the post Summorum Pontificum period would see some growth in the use of 1962 Roman Missal, but this is off a small base and it would always serve a small constituency. But given this freedom, and the principle of the Hermeneutic of Continuity the Ordinary Form of the Roman Missal needs to be critically examined in the FORMS of its practice and its return to a form of worship that it was intended to be.

I am back!!!


Following an intensive 6 months away it is time I started blogging again.

I have a number of fresh ideas that I need to communicate plus after the last 6 months experience I want this blog to focus on the reform-of-the-reform.

I have realised that there are enough blogs that focus on the Exraordinary Form of the Roman Rite but very few that focus on the ordinary form. I think that there is a gap to be filled.

In addition there needs to be blog that refutes the misinformation that some commentators such as Ms Elizabeth Harrington of the Brisbane Archdiocese puts on the Liturgical Commissin website and publishes in the Catholic Leader.

So here goes - a fully refreshed blog.

Friday, December 04, 2009

More Comments on the 40th anniversary of the Novus Ordo Mass

To continue on the dicussion, we move on further with content.

We posted before on the key changes desired by Sancrosanctum Concilium, namely:
  • a wider range of readings
  • restoration of prayers of the faithful
  • greater importance of the homily
  • simplification of the rites
  • more opportunities to use the vernacular (but emphasising the importance of Latin)
  • Potential for concelebration
  • Potential for Communion under both kinds.

All of these aspects have been achieved, although I think that it has failed on the rites being simplified as these have been supplanted by a muktiplicity of prayer options. To go from one Eucharistic Prayer to 12 in my view is a simplification. Possibly the symbolism of concelebration and Communion under both kinds has been overplayed.

Other aspects that are the bane of many commentators such as removal of Communion rails, Communion standing, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and female Altar servers simply were not contemplated by the Council fathers and came in much later, and spasmodically.

On reading the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, and comparing it to the Tridentine Missae Rubricae, and the Anglican Book of Commoin Prayer, there is one large difference: the reorientation of the priest from one who leads the church's prayer (as seen in both the documents of the reformers of bother the Protestant and Catholic Reformations) to the idea of the priest "presiding over the community" and acting as some sort of chairman or MC. This is the fundamental flaw in the Novus Ordo Missae. It is from this aspect that we have problems with the liturgy serving the priest's ego, and the discussion on proper or improper orientation of Altars, and other aspects whihc have been liturgical problems over the years.

Where did this come from? The origins come from a "restoration" based upon achaeology in the 1960's whihc has since been debunked (ie. Mass "facing the people"), and an attempt to remove the differences between a Pontifical Solemn Mass from the Throne and other types of Mass. This was done by emphasising the idea that the priest is deputising for the bishop and therefore needs his own "throne".

The best way of course to remove this is to have the priests chair not face the people, and be restored to its more natural place on the Epistle side of the Altar facing North. This is made more effective by having an eastward oriented Altar.

Facing each other in a closed circle to talk to each other is not the essential thing that makes participation by the faithful effective. This simple reorientation is probably more effective than having a crucifix on the Altar or what is beginning to be fashionable in some cirlces of loading the Altar with heaps of candles in the attempt of reorientation.

Reflections on the 40th anniversary of the "Novus Ordo" Mass

On the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass there have been a few comments around the blogosphere. fr Z at WDTPRS has done a set of 3 podcasts which are well worth listening to.

Aftyer listening to these podcasts there are a number of things which come up in my mind. The first and which is more stark is that Paul VI did not seem to be confident about the reforms. This comes through in the addresses. It seems that he shares the annoyance and sadness of the changes with his audience, but is willing to accept the sacrifice as this was the will of the church as guided by the Holy Spirit through the Second Vatican Council.

The second aspect is the acceptance that the changes appear to be irreversable. This is an experiment to deepen the spiritual life of the church but there is no going back. There seems to be an acceptance that the older forms of the Roman Rite have gone forever (whihc of course they havent). He knows that he is moving into high risk territory here but is confident that the Holy Spirit will work things out.

Some of the comments are interesting in the light of 40 years. He suggests in his general audience speech that maybe people lost their appreciation of the Mass, and changes would break them out of their lethargy. In hindsight this was true - people got a new appreciation of aspects of the Mass, but also led to aspects which led to some extreme views on both sides of the debate. However, the great gift is that without these changes we would never have had the discussion and research into both forms of the Mass now that the 1962 Missal has been liberated by Benedict XVI.

There has been also discussions on the motivations for Bugnini et al with the changes. From what I read was that there were some positions held in the Consilium which were protestant in origin but that the Pope actaully reined in the Consilium so that the end product was at least catholic, and had moved from its earlier draft (which apparently wanted to remove the Kyrie and Gloria and the Orate fratres). Like everything done by a committee whihc then gets signed off by the CEO, there are a lot of changes along the way. This is something that hard-core traditionalists and conspiracy theorists dont get.

So in the light of the last 40 years truly the spirit moves in mysterious ways. People just want it to move in the way that they want - immediately.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Returning to blogging

Sorry for the silence but I have felt unable to blog for some time, due to work and general exhaustion.

I found some interesting comments from the New Liturgical Movement about celebrating using the Missal of Bl John XXIII for the first time.

As a "usus utroque" server I found the following points particularly relevant seems that it is both a reminder and an aid which helps to foster, inculcate or re-emphasize a sense of our Roman liturgical culture -- and that is a thing of broad value.

I asked Fr. Johnson about his own experience of this moment and the training leading up to it; "I believe I'm hooked for life" was his response. Digging a little deeper, he noted the great deal of prayer and preparation which he made for taking this step, burying himself within the liturgical texts and ceremonies. He continued, "what the study of the EF [Extraordinary Form] of the Holy Roman Liturgy accomplished, was to help me develop a deeper understanding of the traditions of the Roman Liturgy, in general, and to understand more clearly where the Ordinary Form received its development."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ACSA Conference 2009

The Australian Catholic Students Association had their annual conference in Brisbane last weekend. Here is a video of their concluding Mass on Sunday held at St Ignatius Church Toowong, which was a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form. Its good that the reform-of-the-reform Mass is making its appearance in some places in Brisbane.

It was good that the real Altar was used not the communion table used for the ACCC conference. When I asked about the communion table being used at the time I was told that the congregation would get upset if it was removed. Things are changing.

I managed to make it to the Friday night Mass at Duchesne College chapel at University of Queensland which was a Missa cantata in the Extradordinary Form - and what a beautiful Mass it was. The strong participation by the congregation in the chants and responses showed that the myth that there was no participation in the pre-Vatican II Mass exactly that - a myth. In fact I think that I particiapated in the sacred mysteries more fully than in many ordinary form Masses in English.

Friday, June 26, 2009

St Josemaria

Today is the feast day of St Josemaria. We had a great solemn Mass in Brisbane for his feastday last night.

A recommendation to those of you who have long working hours like myself, should remember that "this is your sanctification". Im sure that that this is something that St Josemaria would have said in reply to a disciple saying "my boss is so demanding and I need to put in absurd hours".

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Corpus Christi - from Toledo, Spain

When I was in Toledo, the primatial see within Spain, a couple of years ago I visited the Cathedral, which is one of the larger in Europe. Here is the sanctuary, with its large rood screen. Note also the two pulpits, characteristic of Spanish churches: one for the Epistle and one of the Gospel. I assume that the Epistle and Gospel were read facing outwards. I would not say towards the congregation because where the congregation would have stood and knelt would have been outside the choir. The rest of the choir is actually behind those people you see sitting in the foreground. It is a closed off area protected by a similar iron screen. This is where the archbishops throne and the stalls for the Cathedral canons are located. The Archbishops throne directly faces the Sanctuary in line with the High Altar.

Here is the High Altar with its reredos, over 10 metres high. Similar to other Cathedrals in Spain, the Altar has been moved away from the reredos, and an archbishops throne placed in the middle facing where someone thought that the people should be. This results in the ridiculous situation where there are two thrones in the Choir facing each other. Hopefully this can be corrected someday.

The Monstrance that we saw in the Cathedral Sacristry, was over 3 metres high and is either lifted by a team of 8 to 10 men or wheeled around on a trolley.
Anyway I was please to discover a couple of You-tubes of last week's procession, which brings the feel of the bulilding all to life. With the applause (which has a different meaning to the English speaking world), the rose petals from the roof, the bells, and the general exuburance - how different to our boring minimalist approach in Australia where Corpus Christi is basically ignored, at least in my part of the country.

Here the monstrance is borne into the Cathedral. It looks as if they came through the South transept door, whihc is actually the main entrance off the street.
And the monstrance being carried into the sanctuary.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Ordines Romani

Often we hear arguments about what was the authentic form of the Mass taken from hsistory and tradition. Is it the Extraordinary Form (the Roman Rite according to the books used at the Second Vatican Council) as celebrated in some areas, or the Ordinary Form developed following the Council (sometimes called the Novus Ordo?).

Like everything its about going back to the sources. Most "liturgists" hang onto St Justin Martyr's account of Mass being celebrated in the second century AD. However, we know that the Mass in both the Eastern and Western parts of the Roman Empire went through a considerable state of flux subsequent to this. Justins account is very brief so it does not give very much of a flavour of what went on.

This is why a series of documents called the Ordines Romani become important because they not only outline what was said in liturgies but also what people did in the liturgy. The Ordines Romani were a series of documents with the first ordo (Ordo I) believed to have been written before the end of the seventh century AD, and final set written by the 15th century. We will focus on Ordo I with some reference to a 9th century AD ordo - Ordo III. The purpose of these ordo's seem to be as a guide to what was done in at a Solemn Pontifical Mass in Rome for people who wanted to learn liturgy but could not travel there.

What I intend to do in the next few weeks (God willing) is briefly go through the various elements of the Ordo Romanus, because I do not think that a comparison with both of the modern forms (1962 and 1970 missals) have been done. What it shows clearly, is that the Ordo of the original Roman Rite contains elements of both and truly is the father of both. Conversely neither can lay claim to be doing "what the early Christians did", which often is an obsession of liturgists these days.

The other thing with the Ordo is that it shows up the reason for some obscure practices in our modern liturgies, so this little study should inform the tradition. Some pics from visits of actual churches and basilicas where these ceremonies were enacted give a bit of the flavour.