Monday, December 31, 2007

Yet another High Mass

With Fr Withoos and Nicholas Rynne still in Bris, we had the opportunity to have another high mass with in the octave of Christmas.

Being a Sunday, we had Asperges before Mass.
Here's a nice action shot of Fr Jordan whilst asperging. Fr Jordan, will makes sure everyone gets hit with the holy water.
The Subdeacon chants the epistle.
The offertory. If you notice the Gothic vestments worn by the Sacred ministers and the MC's Gothic Surplice, these are all made by a local vestment maker, a very nice job on them all.
To wrap it all off, we have a nice shot of the elevation.

The Missal of Paul VI - a historical analysis

Over the past few months, I have promised to undertake a further analysis of the Missal of Paul VI and the evolution of current practices. I note that I promised this in August! How time flies.

In that analysis I also referred to Summorum Pontificum and what its impact would be on any reform of the reform.

The key practices that I speak of which are of most controversy are:
  • the use of Extraodinary Ministers of Holy Communion
  • Communion in the hand
  • female Altar servers

I have in my book collection Vatican Council II - The Conciliar and post-Conciliar Documents ed. Austin Flannery OP; Liturgical Press 5th ed 1980.

To summarise the developments.

3 April 1969 - Paul VI issues the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Missal, highlighting that the revision encapsulates the decrees of the Second Vatican Council. The document highlights key changes such as 3 more Euchraistic Prayers to supplement the Roman Canon, a wider selection of readings and prefaces, the restoration of the homily and the prayers of the faithful. Interestingly it states that the Graduale Romanum remains unchanged, but that a responsorial psalm and antiphons for the Entrance and Communion have been revised.

29 May 1969 - the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship issues Memoriale Domini on the manner of distibuting Holy Communion. This document was issued in response to the growing practice in some parts of the world to place Holy Communion on the hand. The question had been put to the bishops around the world with the overwhelming response that "the present discipline should not be changed and that if it were, the change would be offensive to the sentiments and the spiritual culture of the bishops and many of the faithful". However, it makes further inconclusive statements about how bishops conferences allowing Communion in the hand can continue to do so but need to report back on the outcome etc.

29 June 1970 - SCDW issues Sacramentali Communione; instructions on the extension of the faculty to administer Holy Communion under both kinds, with a list of people who may receive under both species. Interestingly it lists every kind of special liturgy except for general Sunday church congregations. However, later editions of the GIRM such as the Australian version issued in May 2007 leave it up to the local ordinary to decide what other circumstances may be appropriate and implies general congregations in some limited circumstances.

25 January 1973 - Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments issues Immensae Caritatis; an instruction on facilitating sacramental eucharistic communion in particular circumstances. This document provides for the local ordinaries (or them to allow individual priests) to appoint suitable people as extraordinary ministers. This faculty may be used whenever:

  1. there is no priest deacon or acolyte;
  2. these are prevented from admistering Holy Communion because of another pastoral ministry or because of ill health or advanced age
  3. the number of fathful requesting Holy Communion is such that the celebration of Mass or the distribution of the Eucharist outside of Mass would be unduly prolonged.

The key reason for this is to ensure that "the faithful who are in a state of grace and who with an upright and pious disposition [who] wish to share in the Sacred Banquet, may not be deprived of this sacramental help and consolation".

It is interesting that originally the use of EMHCs was primarily for visitation of the sick rather than for use at Mass. This makes a lot of sense to me. However, I do note that distribution of Holy Communion under both species is extremely difficult without them.

15 March 1994 - a circular letter [1] from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to presidents of episcopal conferences on 15 March 1994, which announced a 30 June 1992 authentic interpretation (confirmed on 11 July 1992 by Pope John Paul II) from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. This authentic interpretation said that canon 230 §2 states that service at the altar is one of the liturgical functions that can be performed by both lay men and women. The circular letter, written by the cardinal-prefect of the Congregation, also clarified that canon 230 §2 has a permissive and not a preceptive character, that is, it allows, but does not require, the use of female altar servers. Thus it was for each diocesan bishop to decide whether to allow them in his diocese.

It should be noted that this instruction, based upon the new Code of Canon Law, overturns previous documents such as Inaestimabile Donum issued on 17 April 1980 and Liturgicae Instaurationes issued on 5 September 1970.

Where does this leave a sensible Reform of the Reform Agenda?

If anything, my interpretation of getting parish liturgies back to "best practice" is that:

  • Communion on the tongue is the best practice (whether kneeling or standing). This was one which unfortunately "got through the keeper". Years of solid Catholic teaching would be required to address the current "protestant"practice. This would also bring us back into line with our sister churches, instead of following protestant communions.
  • Really how many EMHCs do you need at a normal parish Mass?? The use needs to be a "fall-back"option at Mass only if it is logistically impossible to distribute Holy Communion under one or both species. However, a lot of prudent judgement is involved here, with a proper assessment of need rather than pandering to what some people think is a right.
  • Female Altar servers - yes they can be used in the Ordinary Form Mass but again I believe that good practice, which I adopt, is making sure that males form the majority. Having a majority of female servers in the sanctuary sends the wrong message on priesthood.

With respect to other issues:

The Altar - I believe that Benedict and Mons Marini have shown the correct way with Altars where celebration is carried out versus populum, with the arrangement of a central cross and candles on both sides. I think that there are some difficulties with the OF Mass being celebrated Ad Orientem similar to the EF, due to is greater "dialogue" emphasis between priest and people (I have not seen celebration of the OF in this form so I am willing to see if my opinion can be changed on this*). However the cross and candles do remove the priest as "talk show host" which is the biggest problem with the OF. The GIRM is correct in providing for a freestanding Altar so that the priest "can" celebrate facing the people, as in the OF "this is desirable where possible". However, it is good practice to allow for the other orientation to permit celebration of the EF.

* At the church of San Lorenzo in Florence the high Altar is used in normal celebration of the OF Mass. The priests chair is located where the traditional faldstool is located in an EF Mass, facing the congregation. In San Miniato in the same city, the chair is located on the Gospel side facing the congregation. At Monte Casino in italy and at the Valle de los Caidos in Spain the chair is located facing the sanctuary (viewed side-on from the congregation).

Music - we need to learn more about the Graduale Romanum as it appears in so many of the Concilar and Post-Conciliar documents as well as the GIRM.

I would be interested in finding out what other peoples opinions are in respect to reforming the OF, without turning it into a copy of the Tridentine form, (remember we have the EF Mass already). Comments on the OF only please.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Paul VI - The forgotten Pope (3)

Here is a further documentary on the last years of Paul VI's life, in whihc you certainly hear clearly his voice in the last months of his life.

Being produced by RAI3, it tends to be a bit more of a negative view on the last years of his pontificate.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Paul VI - The forgotten pope (2)


My attempt at embedding a video in my post did not work.

Here is the link.

Paul VI - The forgotten Pope

Paul VI was the Pope when I was born. When he died I remember that he was at that time the only Pope I had ever known; this dour product of the Milanese bourgeoisie was our spiritual Father at the time.

However history has not been kind to him. He has been reviled by the liberals for his last Encyclical Humanae Vitae, and has been reviled by ultra-conservatives for not reigning in the liberal elements of Vatican II and his lasting legacy, the Missal of Paul VI.

Overall his papacy has been painted as a disaster, and Paul VI completely unable to control the forces arising out of the Council.

However, I believe that unlike Pius XII, who had external forces to contend with, and John XXIII who died before the internal forces in the church swung out of control, Paul VI had the issues both of a church and a world spiralling out of control. He did his best in the circumstances.

In liturgy, he successfully reigned in the liturgical looneys who wanted to suppress everything that happened in liturgical development since the time of St Justin Martyr, and had something produced that was a synthesis of the ancient and modern liturgical thought. If there are some criticisms it may have been in the subsequent developments in liturgy of the 1970s (Holy Communion in the hand, excessive Eucharistic prayers, Extraordinary Ministers etc), that seemed to be able to get their own way in the general environment of chaos.

The most poignant parts of this video are Paul VI on his travels (the first Pope to do so on an international scale) and the last procession in the Basilica of St John Lateran after the funeral service for the assassinated politician Aldo Moro. In this final scene, you definitely see a broken man on the sedia gestatori - he does not bless or acknowledge anyone, but looks straight ahead. His sermon at the service saying "Eloi Eloi lama sabacthani!" is himself crying out to God. This is a Pope who wrote no encyclical for the last 9 years of his pontificate, and did not travelling for the last 8 years, but a person who became a recluse.

Let us pray for him, the Servant of God Paulus VI.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Joys of a High Christmas

Fours weeks of preparation, 3 ember days of fasting and a vigil, really get you in the right mood for the solemn Mass of Christmas day. The preceding night , I had the great grace to spend at the Marian Valley Shrine, for the Midnight Mass and Carol service before hand. Needless to say, it was a great night both spiritually and liturgically. The quite solitude of the shrine's chapel (that is before people started showing up) really does allow deep mental prayer and not to mention an unhurried recitation of Compline. Consulting with Fr Prior before the ceremonies kicked off, gave me not only the surprise of learning about a few traditions of Christmas such as the Christmas Candle and the Christmas Proclamation, but also the joy of seeing and organizing a quasi choro Carol service. Unfortunately I was unable to get any photos of it so your going to have to trust me. Fr Prior, Br Luke, Chris , Greg and myself processed in to the church, lead by the processional cross, genuflected, bowed to our partners and proceeded to the seats on the sanctuary (they're actually pews and Fr Prior's Sedilia was turned to face across the sanctuary). All of us where in choir dress (I wore my Gothic surplice) and even cooler, Fr Prior wore his Mantle and White Biretta!. Unfortunately, we had to do a simple exit and a mad dash to the sacristy to vest and prepare for Mass, the Carols went a bit over time. The amazing Christmas Midnight Mass finished, Candy was give to the Kids (and those young at heart), presents exchanged and we headed home.

The Next day was a struggle to get out of bed, but it was worth it.

Having two and half priest's allows us to celebrate a Full blown Solemn high Mass.
After two, two hour long practice sessions, we finally managed to pull it off, Deo gratias
Nicholas Rynne, a seminarian for the diocese of Sydney, has fortunately been given the job of Subdeacon. For his first time at chanting and epistle , he did an awesome Job.
The Gospel for the Mass is the last Gospel, it sure is nice to hear that prophetic prologue chanted.

The offertory , the Deacon hands the Subdeacon the paten. People, once you go to a high mass, everything starts to makes sense, the low mass, the sung mass and the Novus Ordo, it all falls into place.
That moment, the moment , where we can gaze upon the very God take flesh, that happened all those years ago in Bethlehem. Well my loyal readers, have a Merry, happy and Holy Christmas, May he whom took on flesh, fill you with Joy. Stay tuned, hopefully I'll have photos of New years at Marian Valley for you all soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Lord is close at Hand!

We've Entered the home stretch of Advent. Passing Gaudete Sunday, we await the coming of Christ, the Church now reminds us to " Come and Worship the Lord, for He is close at Hand". Traditionally Gaudete Sunday marks the start of the Christmas Novena. Here is a copy of one that I've found and I invite all my readers to pray it in preparation for the Birth of Our Lord.

December 16:
O Shepherd that rulest Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, come to guide and comfort us.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 17:
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 18:
O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 19:
O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 20:
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 21:
O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 22:
O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 23:
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 24:
O Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, God of hosts, come, show Thy face, and we shall be saved.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Science Vs God

"Let me explain the problem science has with religion." The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

"You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"

"Yes sir," the student says.

"So you believe in God?"


"Is God good?"

"Sure! God's good."

"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"


"Are you good or evil?"

"The Bible says I'm evil."

The professor grins knowingly. "Aha! The Bible!" He considers for a moment. "Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?"

"Yes sir, I would."

"So you're good...!"

"I wouldn't say that."

"But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't."

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. "He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?"

The student remains silent.

"No, you can't, can you?" the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

"Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?"

"Er...yes," the student says.

"Is Satan good?"

The student doesn't hesitate on this one. "No."

"Then where does Satan come from?"

The student falters. "From God"

"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?"

"Yes, sir."

"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?"


"So who created evil?" The professor continued, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

Again, the student has no answer. "Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?"

The student squirms on his feet. "Yes."

"So who created them?"

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. "Who created them?" There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. "Tell me," he continues onto another student. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"

The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor, I do."

The old man stops pacing. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?"

"No sir. I've never seen Him."

"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"

"No, sir, I have not."

"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."

"Yet you still believe in him?"


"According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?"

"Nothing," the student replies. "I only have my faith."

"Yes, faith," the professor repeats. "And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith."

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. "Professor, is there such thing as heat?"

"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."

"And is there such a thing as cold?"

"Yes, son, there's cold too."

"No sir, there isn't."

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. "You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees."

"Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

"What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?"

"Yes," the professor replies without hesitation. "What is night if it isn't darkness?"

"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word."

"In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?"

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. "So what point are you making, young man?"

"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed."

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. "Flawed? Can you explain how?"

"You are working on the premise of duality," the student explains. "You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought."

"It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it."

"Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?"

"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do."

"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

"Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?"

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

"To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean."

The student looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?" The class breaks out into laughter.

"Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir."

"So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?"

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. "I guess you'll have to take them on faith."

"Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life," the student continues. "Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?"

Now uncertain, the professor responds, "Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hospital Chaplincy reflections

Thursday last week I spent the whole day doing the rounds of the local hospital with the Chaplin there. I must say it defiantly is an experience. Father Chaplin is my spiritual director, so I can say that we are friends. He gave me a few pointers, but I really didn't do anything, just follow him around. I even got to see the last rites performed. Two things I will distinctly remember from the experience, one, washing hands is a pain, when you have to do it every time you enter and leave a ward (we did 12) and two, the Our Father, when said in unison is very consoling. Father said the most important thing to do, is not to dive in and ask what state are they with God, but rather to get them to pray. Once they start praying, the grace will follow and work on them, so hopefully they will be at peace with there maker when he calls.The Sacraments are all way there for the person, but the person is not all ways there for the sacrament.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Back to Blogging

Greetings all. After a long absence's from blogging, partly due to losing my internet connection and partly due to sloth, I hope to resume blogging this advent season. Now I'll get serious for a moment, Advent, everyday, especially due to me reciting the liturgy of the hours, the beauty of this season is becoming apparent to me.
"Come, Let us worship the Lord, The King who is to come"
Advent seems to me, as a time when the church prepares for the liturgical birth of Christ, but also the church prepares the faithful for Christ's coming at the end of time, as well as for the spiritual birth of Christ the hearts of the faithful. Advent really is a great time to prepare, to get our spiritual lives in order. Being a High school student, having two months off really gives you a lot of time on your hands. Most of my fellow students spend the holidays partying and being bored. I hope to recharged the spiritual life, having more time for God. Hopefully with my unrushed recitation of the office, daily Mass and more of a Monastic life, will help me, to be ready for next year, for my final year.

Pray for me my readers.

Serving for the first time in an EF Missa Cantata

Yesterday, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I was invited to be an acolyte at St Gregory's community in Brisbane, my first time serving in the Roman Rite in the Extraordinary Form.

Having been a server for many years in the OF Mass, my overall impression is that the two forms of the Roman Rite are more closely aligned with each other than I thought. One sat there thinking - what is all the fuss over differences when there is so much commonality? - two slightly different forms of worship - one source of grace emanating from them!

However, the thing that impressed me most with the EF is that it is better "packaged". Each element of the rite is specified, which allows us to get out of our own interpretations of things and concentrate on the sacred mysteries of salvation. This extends to the arrangements on the Altar, the sacred vessels etc. where everything is a lot tidier and more efficient than the OF form, and is intended to minimise the risk of profanation of the sacrament.

The biggest difference to me was actually the ablutions, which are done only by the priest (and under the GIRM in the new form of Mass are to be done by the priest), but to me the ritual made a lot of sense and has developed from the learnings of "good practice" and what "works" over 2000 years, and eventually codified. The absence of having to handle Holy Communion under both species and no extraordinary ministers, actually made things streamlined.

I liked that the servers play an important role as part of a team with the priest all though the liturgy. You real feel that you are being a junior or part-time cleric part of a team - for me, really motivating. In the OF you always tend to feel that you are the naughty children at the bottom of the stairs (and the result is that priests treat you like that), and an embarrassment for (progressive) liturgists.

Although I had learned the prayers at the foot of the Altar by heart I found that my colleagues recitation was too fast for me, and I spent my time looking through the Missal to locate where they were only to find that they were 2 pages ahead of me!

The only thought that I could say as a liturgist is that it is better for the faithful to receive Holy Communion using hosts consecrated at that Mass (Sacrosanctum Concilium n55), but this should not be intended as a criticism. I note in Masses celebrated by the FSSP in France is that they keep to this principle a lot more strictly. It is an element of the Mass in which SC speaks to both the new and older forms (something that I intend to elaborate on further).

It was good to go through all the readings and propers for the Mass, and reflect upon them before going to Mass, as it really aided my full, concious and actual participation in the liturgy. For those of you who attend the EF Mass on a regular or occasional basis, taking this time is far more important in the EF than the OF. One can then anticipate the readings and prayers as they are sung or recited, and not be flipping pages all the time to work out what the priest is saying.

Overall, it was a great experience and attending Mass in the EF left me tingling for the rest of the day. I have been thinking how often that happens in the OF??

Monday, December 03, 2007

St Patricks Church Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Yesterday I was priviledged to attend the Pontifical Mass (Ordinary Form) to celebrate the 125 year anniversary of one of the oldest churches in Brisbane, and an excellent example of Australian colonial gothic. Unfortunately I did not take any photographs inside as I did not have my camera with me. However, I will provide some in a later post, so you can see what I am talking about.
Sadly though it is in a bad state of repair, and has not survived the post Vatican II years very well. Thankfully the High Altar side Altars and sanctuary is in a complete state as the Vatican II "sanctuary" was built (in plywood) in front of it. The church plate is still in the sacristry (most of it heavily tarnished), but the High Altar candle sticks are missing.
Personally, I felt as people must have at the end of the protestant reformation, given a liturgy in the vernacular with a communion table in the centre of the nave. I said to Roman this afternoon to Roman that I felt more comfortable in the old sanctuary, and it was hard not to be drawn to genuflect towards the stripped High Altar (the tabernacle had been moved to a side Altar).
The archdiocese is seeking funds to restore the church
His Grace the Archbishop of Brisbane said at the end of Mass that if anybody had a spare $1 million, that the restoration of the church would be a good project to donate to. I thought thats a good idea but if I was a multi-millionaire I would be insistent that any renovations / restorations ensure that Mass can be easily celebrated in the Extraordinary Form as well as the OF before I would agree to funds being released. Not having that kind of money I would like to donate but send a letter with the donation that it should be restored for both usages.
I wonder how successful I will be? Please support the cause.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Continuity of Tradition

God bless our Holy Father Benedict XVI!!

As a final post for the week here is the Mass celebrated for the Feast of Christ the King and presentation of the cardinalitial ring to the new Cardinals. At the end of the Liturgical year the most absurd aspect of the "new liturgies" at St Peters has been corrected with the restoration of the six candles with Altar Cross in the middle of the Altar, and the restoration of the use of the Cardinal deacons.

AND note the similarities with the following pic of Pius XII celebrating at the same Altar.

- a living demonstration of the hermeneutic of continuity.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Queer Sights in Foreign Churches.

Often times we are told that there is excessive creativity in the OF Liturgy whilst in the EF, there are strict rubrics, which enforces strict uniformity.

This is an interesting article the I found on the Ecclesiological Society website. It is the account written by an English Parson in the 1930s on practices found in Catholic Churches throughout Europe. It is in no way anti-Catholic (which might be expected for those times) but more of surprise, at customs whihc looked sloppy or just plain disrespectful. Prepare to be surprised.

Ceremonial Curiosities and Queer Sights in Foreign Churches.
by Edward J. G. Forse
London: The Faith Press, 1938.

ON June 22nd, 1932, Reuter's agent in Rome telegraphed to the Morning Post, "An order forbidding the burning of candles before statues or sacred images in churches in the Diocese of Rome has been issued by Cardinal Marchetti Salvaggiani, Vicar-General of the Pope." I need hardly say that this "order," like the similar ones abolishing all music except Plainsong and all statues without historic interest, has not yet produced an effect visible to the ordinary traveller. I wish the Pope had elected to forbid the substitution of kerosene lamps for votive-candles and, still more, the burning of paraffin lamps before the Blessed Sacrament. I was horrified in August 1920 to find a paraffin lamp with a glass chimney doing duty as a Sanctuary Lamp at S. Marie, de Campan in the French Pyrenees: but in June 1932 I found a whole collection of "block-tin" kerosene lamps replacing votive candles all round the famous old church of S. Sernin at Toulouse. It was the faint but penetrating odour that drew my attention to them. The practice is nowadays common in the south of France, and in July 1932 I found such lamps hanging before the Blessed Sacrament also at Millau-sur-Tarn, at S. Michel in Limoges, and in the Cathedrals of Orleans and Blois: alas, I found one also on my return home (in the Church of England) at Bournemouth. It is a poor substitute for the old lamp with vegetable oil and a floating wick. In April 1929 I came across another substitute for votive candles in the Italian diocese of Monza, near Milan: an array of huge "night-lights" set in straight rows of blue, red and green glass vases: inodorous and picturesque at any rate, even if a defiance of long tradition.
During a journey across Russia in 1913, I observed that in every church the gardien, usually an ecclesiastic in a vestment of rich brocade, carefully watched the moment at which the donor of a votive candle left the church, and promptly removed the candle from its pricket to the box of candles exposed for sale. At Lourdes, as you may read in Zola's novel (p. 224, tr. Vizetelly) one buys one's votive candle and lays it in a huge box before the Grotto. When all the prickets have a candle each, the surplus are either wheeled away in barrows to the store-room for future issue or, as Mr. Gibbons delightfully describes in Tramping to Lourdes (p. 201), they are flung, some two hundred at a time, on a huge bonfire near the Grotto, by a man with a pitchfork. It was at Lourdes in 1903 that I first heard the sound of burning candles: hundreds of great candles as thick as my arm were set up in rows in a field by the river Gave, and as they burned peacefully in the open air they made a crackling sound like a little bonfire. But the tallest candle I have seen was the Paschal Candle at S. Etienne (the Abbaye-aux-Hommes) at Caen in Easter Week, 1926: the flame stood in the point of the Triforium Arch, and the candle cannot have been less than twenty-five feet long. During my journey across Russia I was often surprised to see what looked like six tall candles on the altar. It was really a seven-branched candlestick on the floor behind the altar, each socket carrying a tall china stock, with a cup of oil and a floating wick at its upper end.
Adrian Fortescue says cheerfully, "The High Altar of a church will normally have six larger candlesticks with candles" (Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, p. 7).
On July 17th, 1926, there were no candles at all on the High Altar, or any other altar, of the Cathedral of Huesca in Spain. On December 30th, 1913, there were no candles at all on the High Altar of the Cathedral of Chartres in France, but six fine candlesticks were arrayed, three north and three south of the altar, on the altar steps. At the famous Cathedral of Milan the High Altar is adorned with only two great lights, with a crucifix but no Tabernacle. At the noble church of San Petronio in Bologna you may find four candles on the High Altar, or you may find two: you will not find six. At the High Mass at the High Altar of Seville Cathedral on July 7th, 1912, there were only four lighted candles throughout the service. In the Cathedral of Huesca in Spain and in both the Cathedrals of Zaragoza you will find only two very small candles on any High Altar, and those set on the mensa at the extreme western edge. They are chained to the Table (as at S. Saviour's Cathedral in Southwark) and a lavabo towel is tied with tape to the Epistle Candle: but they are taken away directly after the Blessing and only replaced in time for the next Mass. But in both these dioceses the scarcity of candles is compensated for by the presence of a huge glazed circular recess, full of Sanctuary Lamps, high on the east wall above the altar: a thing I have found nowhere else in all Europe.
I am sorry to say that the six lights on many a French and Italian altar are nowadays often crowned with an electric light bulb instead of a wick, but there are usually two actual candles lighted as well for Mass, although I should not like to inquire too closely how much beeswax they contain. But the two candles always lighted for Mass are by no means always either upon or above the altar. For example, for the 9 o'clock Mass at Poitiers Cathedral on March I5th, 1908, the only two lights were placed in revolving brackets screwed to the east wall, north and south of the altar: and I have often found the same practice elsewhere. Candle practice is indeed vague and various. In Seville Cathedral on July 7th, 1912, processional candles were carried in the Sanctuary like maces, that is, slantwise across the shoulder: and the cascade of wax that flowed down the backs of the embroidered tunicles must have cost some hours of labour to remove after the service.
Mortuary candles are no less various. On September 8th, 1919, I saw twenty-four small candles standing round a coffin in the Cathedral of Sees in France: they were of white wax, with black bands painted round them. But on September 3rd, 1923, at Forli Cathedral in Italy, there were only four candles round the coffin. They were large white candles, and each of them had three separate wicks: which I have not seen elsewhere.
Lengthy preachers, like myself, will appreciate this: on July 28th, 1907, I attended the 9 a.m. Mass in the Liebfraukirche at Zurich, ready to start for a long tramp as soon as it ended. A Capuchin in a brown habit mounted the pulpit and when the three ministers descended to the banc d'oeuvre, the celebrant sent the server to put out the six lights on the altar, presumably for economy's sake. After thirty minutes of the Capuchin, the celebrant sent the server back to light the six candles once more, presumably as a gentle hint. The Capuchin waited in a stony silence until the sixth was lighted, and then he gave us another twenty minutes more! When I hear how preferable to a cast-iron uniformity is "diversity in unity" I sometimes wonder if the speaker is really intending to praise the practices of the Roman Catholic Church on the continent of Europe!

In England and Abroad

IF I tell you of churches filled with high-backed pews, with hinged and locked doors, of chancels blocked up with faculty pews and flanked with comfortable family pews complete with carpets, easy chairs, mirrors and a fireplace; of sanctuaries adorned with the Ten Commandments, displayed in golden letters on a black background; and of altar frontals decorated solely with Bible texts, each tagged with its own chapter and verse, you will surely think I am describing some of the unrestored eighteenth century English parish churches, of which plenty exist within twenty miles of my little home in Bournemouth. But you will be wrong. These things are quite as common in any Catholic country in Europe, if you only know where to look for them. And, if I give you details, please note the peculiar interest of the dates, as well as the places mentioned.
You will find the high-backed pews, with hinged and locked doors, in France at Arques-la-Bataille, near Dieppe; at Richelieu, near Chinon; at Troyes, Coudray, Coutances, Parthenay, Thouars, and a hundred other places. The "faculty pews" and family pews, with comfortable fittings, you will find in Italy at Piacenza, in Spain at Vitoria, in Germany at Goslar, in France at Beaugency and Libarreux; and superb examples at Ravenna, Turin, Berlin, Pisa and Handschuheim, near Heidelberg. The chancel of this last church is quite blocked up with faculty pews, some dated 1670, and adorned with the names of the owners of that year painted on the back. Here, too, is a lovely old family pew next to the pulpit, shut in with wainscoting, with doors and windows (with curtains and blinds to them) and with a nice looking-glass attached to the east wall. At Burgos in Spain, in the Church of S. Nicolas, next to the Cathedral, you should visit the east end of the south aisle. Here is a splendid "faculty pew," dated 1911. It is built of excellent carved stone, wood and iron, and contains two glorious and ostentatious gilded thrones, each surmounted by a golden crown. Here the Marquis and Marchioness of Murga assist at Mass, and over their heads you may read the delightful legend, "Decet nobilem Humilitas" The Ten Commandments in golden letters on a black background you will find in the Cathedral of Auch in southeastern France, by the superb choir stalls and panelling of 1529 (François Ier). But it should be noted that they are "balanced" by a similar panel on the other side, bearing the "Decalogue of the New Testament": Thou shalt hear Mass every Sunday; Thou shalt confess every Easter; Thou shalt always communicate fasting; and so forth! At Rodez, in the south of France (where you will also find the "Cafe de 1'Abattoir") you may visit the Church of S. Cyrice, which the populace call the "Sacre Coeur." It is a lofty and pleasant church, and under a nice baldacchino of marble at the east end stands the High Altar, with a new mosaic frontal, adorned with three Bible texts, and each followed by its chapter and its verse. I don't think even an Anglican Diocesan Advisory Committee would dare to do a thing like this: and it is comparatively recent --"post-war," I should think.
A small alabaster font at the entrance of the chancel is also usually considered a feature of eighteenth century Anglicanism: but you will find one in many a Roman Catholic church abroad, e.g. at Lugano, Alpnacht, Heidelberg, etc. Locked churches, of course, are common everywhere, particularly in Spain and in Belgium, as well as in the Adriatic cities. A credence table and sedilia on the north of the sanctuary are usually supposed to be due to our forefathers' misinterpretation of the Prayer Book rubric about beginning the Lord's Supper at the north end of the Holy Table. But you will find the credence on the north of the sanctuary in Italy at Pavia, and in France at Troyes. The sedilia on the north of the sanctuary you will find in Spain at Santander: do not ask me why--but I am quite sure it has nothing to do with the 1662 Book at all.
Anglican Bishops are often considered to be too ready to give dispensations from fasting. But in July 1924 I read many placards in Arcachon telling how all Catholics in that place, even if only temporarily resident there, are ipso facto dispensed from all fasting or abstinence throughout the year by the Archbishop of Bordeaux--"for the year of grace 1921 and for the future"--"for reasons of Health." It seemed to me a poor advertisement for a fashionable watering-place. I do not honestly know whether the habit of turning to the east for the Gloria at the end of every psalm can claim Catholic antiquity or merely Tractarian tradition; anyhow, it is done in the Cathedral of Marseilles. I should certainly protest to the bishop if I found an Anglican Incumbent always reserved the Blessed Sacrament over an altar at the west end of his church, so that the congregation had to sit with its backs to the Sanctissimum. But it is the practice at Ronda in Andalusia, as I discovered in 1933. Nor do I like to see women teaching in church; but I saw many noisy women holding classes and lecturing vigorously in the north transept of Milan Cathedral on April i4th, 1929, "in Septimo Aevo Lictorii," which I take to mean "The Seventh Year of Fascist Rule." They were wearing black mantillas and instructing large classes of women. A priest in a biretta lectured the men simultaneously from a green wooden pulpit in the south transept. It is indeed hard to say what is, and what is not, permitted in the Catholic Church. I always understood that Pope Zephyrinus (A.D. 199-217) forbade the use of glass chalices. But I saw a glass chalice and a glass paten at the Cathedral of Sens in May 1924: and five years later, in May 1929, I saw in the Tresor of the Cathedral at Monza a chalice carved from a single sapphire. I admit this does sound like a "traveller's tale," but it is literally true. Let me end up these remarks by drawing your attention to the Great Cathedral ("La Seo") at Zaragoza in Spain. Here, in July 1926, I found to my horror that many of the altars were in regular use as cupboards and "glory holes." The frontals were of painted wood, adorned with arabesques; they had a key-hole in the middle, and the whole front opened on hinges each side, as two doors. I went across at once to the other Cathedral of Zaragoza ("El Pilar"), but could not find the like use there. One may use all kinds of excellent adjectives to condemn practices one dislikes and abhors, but one has to be very careful before one says it is "not Catholic."
Rarities not absolutely unique!

THE enthusiastic native, displaying the local rarity as unique in all the world, is apt to be annoyed if the sophisticated traveller adduces chapter and verse for parallel examples. I have even heard the well in Durham Cathedral declared unique, and the twisted spire at Chesterfield, that you can see from the railway, as well as the hanging pyx in Amiens Cathedral, still in use, or at any rate still in working order. But deep wells in Cathedrals are comparatively common: you will find one, for example, at Coutances, and there are twisted spires at Blainville and at St. Come. Hanging pyxes much like that at Amiens exist also at Reims, at St. Pol de Leon and at Gournay-Ferrieres. The paper rosettes and wreaths at Abbots Ann I found paralleled in August 1919 at Montsoreau, near Saumur, and in July 1932 at La Malene on the river Tarn. The great vats of "Eau Benite pour les Maisons" which I saw at the Cathedral of Bourges in June 1928, I found again--only they were huge red tins with brass taps--at S. Sulpice in Paris in April 1934. The "Black Madonnas" that English folk find so queer and often unedifying are to be found all over Europe, notably at Dijon, Marseilles, Einsiedeln, Moulins, Toulouse, Ypres, Mende, Loreto and Le Puy-en-Velay. Fonts for the baptism of adults by immersion, like that at S. Mary's, Southampton, you may see in Italy at Lucca and Parma and in France in S. Jean's Church at Poitiers.
But neither the Quo Vadis footprint at Rome, nor the Pas de Roland at Itxassou in the Labourde, may fitly be compared with the Pas de Dieu shown at S. Rhadegund's in Poitiers. Nor do I know where else you will find such vesting tables as those in the sacristy of S. Ulrich's Church at Augsburg, where the bishop has to vest himself before the actual skeleton of one of his predecessors, clad in vestments of the same colour as those laid out on the table below for his own immediate use. It is conducive to a pious meditation on the transitory glories of the Episcopalia, and on weekdays the actual skeletons are hidden behind painted planks displaying a mere representation of what still stands unseen behind them. Altar rails made entirely of glass I have not seen except at Santander in Spain. Nor have I found the Blessed Sacrament (in a ciborium) reserved, without a light, in a vestry cupboard among surplices and choir books, except at Sisteron in the valley of the Durance. This was on July 7th, 1928, and I sent a postcard at once to Bishop Woods of Winchester, informing him of the fact, as it was a fortnight since I had assured him that in the Roman Catholic Church such things were never done!
The separation of sexes in church is by no means an uncommon custom, and goes back, I believe, to primitive ages of the Church: but I have not seen separate benitiers at the church door, labelled "For Men" and "For Women," except at Santiago de Compostela, nor do I quite see the reason for such a curious differentiation. I do not think any church in the world can rival the baptistery at Parma in the age of its church registers. They go back in an unbroken series to the baptisms of 1503--a marvellous great library of bound volumes. And I hope that no other Cathedral in the world utilizes its altars as cupboards, like "La Seo" at Zaragoza, mentioned previously. But surely nothing in the world is quite so unique as the Cathedral at Rimini, which even that very broad-minded Pope, Pius II, (Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini) said was more like a heathen temple than a Christian church. It is most delightfully adorned with paintings, bas-reliefs, marbles, statuary, bronzes and silver-work--objets d'art of all kinds: only from end to end of the building there is no notice nor mention of Jesus Christ at all! Even the sacred monogram IHS is not to be found: it is replaced everywhere by I and S intertwined, symbolizing Sigismundo Malatesta who built and adorned the place, regardless of expense, and Isotta degli Atti, his famous and admittedly wonderful mistress, whom he ultimately married. Her motto over her tomb fits the Cathedral as aptly as it does her own history: "Tempus loquendi: Tempus tacendi."
Most Cathedrals provide some opportunity for hearing Confessions in an alien tongue, but Meaux is, I fancy, the only one where they hang up a list of twenty languages in which you may tell your sins and provide a separate confessional for each. And Leyden in Holland is the only place where I have seen confessionals of which the priest's compartment is a small room containing a chair and a table, fitted up with pens and ink and paper: there is a slit under the grille on either side, through which either priest or penitent may pass papers and books to the other. It is a horribly serious and business-like arrangement and would not suit the Spaniards, where men do not kneel at a grille at all, but stalk straight up to the front of the confessional, lift the curtain before the priest's face, and tell their sins standing, face to face with the sitting priest*. So many lands, so many customs. It is good to walk about Europe at one's leisure, and learn the overwhelming variety of ways in which the Catholic religion is presented and practised! But it makes one smile at the simple folk in England who get distressed with Anglican aberrations, and are assured that the Roman Catholic Church is "always exactly the same wherever you go." I was myself taught better as long ago as 1901, when a priest of the Oratory took me to a convent near Rome where all the monks wore moustaches. Yet I still get little shocks at times when my fixed ideas of what is Catholic and what is not have to be suddenly rearranged--as on July 9th, 1919, at S. Gervaise de Corbeis, when I admired the statue of our Lady clad in red and black: "For Red and Black, they be the Foul Fiend's Colours" was the well-known medieval saying, as you may read in the Cloister and the Hearth. But if my memory serves me aright (for I cannot find my written note on the subject) I think you will also find a painting of our Lady clad in red and black in the Prado Gallery at Madrid.

*I must say that I saw in San Miguel in Madrid only a few months ago the same practice where someone was confessing their sins in front of the priest in a baroque confessional simply by lifting up the curtain in front of the priest and confessing standing (and in a loud voice too). My sister thought it looked hilarious as it reminded her of a McDonalds Drive-through!!

Pope Gregory's Street

To get to San Giovanni e Paulo, I walked up the Caelian Hill via an ancient Street called the Clivus Scauri. This was the street in which Pope Gregory the Great grew up in. His parents owned their town house here, which Gregory and his mother eventually turned into a monastery. The peacefullness of what looks like a country road in the middle of Rome, is probably very different to what would have been a very busy street in the 6th century AD.

One imagines that Gregory would have walked from this street towards the river past the Circus Maximus and into the Forum Borarium, where he saw the Saxon children being sold in the slave market and said non Angleli sed angeli! and got the idea of a mission to the island of Britannia. So really one could say that the English church started here.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Talk to any liberal Catholic about Rome and you will find that they will often go into raptures about the Basilica of Santa Sabina, home to the Dominican order. What is often cited is the simple early Christian architecture inside, and indeed that is true as seen by the pic that i took one early Monday morning in October.

As you can see, unusually for a basilica of this age (constructed in the mid 5th cent), it does not have a ciborium over the Altar. When the changes were made in the 1960s I am sure that this was used as an example of the early Christianity that we were to aspire, particularly by the benedictine liturgists over the road in the San Anselmo college.

Although people might think that this is a beautifully preserved early Christian basilica, this is not so.

Pope Honorius III (1216-27) gave the church and part of his palace to St Dominic for his new order. At that time it was a parish church and so St Dominic in his wisdom put a dividing wall in the nave, with the parish to use the end near the front door, and reserving the sanctuary end for his community. In addition a cloister was added, and it was in this cloister that St Thomas Aquinas wrote part of the Summa Theologica.

In 1312 Henry of Luxembourg sequestered the property and threw the Dominicans out (Obviously he wanted it for the fine views - in Imperial times this was the equivalent of Hamilton, Bellevue Hill or Toorak in Australia). In renaissance times it was was further used as a Papal palace, and St Pius V retreated here during Carnivale time to avoid the noise and revelry, and to avoid seeing the licentious behaviour in the City below.

Domenico Fontana, architect to Pope Sixtus V, did an extreme makeover, to modernise it to the style of the time (late mannerism - early baroque). It probably looked something like San Giovanni e Paulo which I visited later in the morning (there was a wedding going on at the time)

In 1882 Santa Sabina was confiscated by the Italian Government, and opened as a museum. It was at this time that the archaeologist Professor Muñoz, restored it to its present state, using the best information available. Eventually the Church purchased it off Benito Mussolini (who would only sell at market price).
So the Vatican II generation saw this as an ideal template for the new liturgy, without taking into account that, like all older churches in Rome it had a very tortuous history, and what they are seeing is not an authentic early Christian Basilica but a reconstructed one based on a number of archaelogical assumptions.
Santa Sabina stands as an achitectural testament to the fascinating history of our church, but also as a metaphor for the archeological reconstruction of the liturgy that happened in the 1960s, based upon a number of assumptions which were later found to be incorrect.
The most startling aspect of the sanctuary of Santa Sabina is that the Altar is more of a rectangular shape and that the ciborium is missing. Modern freestanding Altars often look bare because they are totally devoid of architectural superstructures, which sets it off as the place; the mystical "tent" where God meets man.
Personally being more passionate about Baroque, I liked San Giovanno e Paulo. Here it is from outside, in the carpark, where you can see its original 11th century front facade, although the superstructure behind it is much older (ignore the 19th century dome to the right). Interestingly the front porch was commissioned by Pope Adrian IV, the only English Pope.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Fourth Way

Recently Marian Valley's Prior gave me loan of one of his philosophy books from seminary days to read. It's called "Christian Philosophy" by Joseph M de Torre. Needless to say it is a solid book.

The unique characteristic of this book that most stood out to me was its presentation of Aquinas' "fourth way" for arguing for the existence of God. It is quite simply and without qualification the best presentation of this particular argument I have ever read and something I have been searching for quite some time.

After reading it one can see what a complete travesty Richard Dawkins makes of it in his book "The God Delusion" covered in some earlier posts. Unfortunately for a person without much training in philosophy Dawkins argument can leave one stumped. It's the kind of objection where you know he's messed things up and that it's just "weird" as they say, but to try to explicate exactly why his objection is wrong can leave one tongue tied especially with the amount of ignorance around (I've tried it on people). Unfortunately this is the only source I have read (it was published in 1980) which anticipates and obliterates Dawkin's specific objection. That includes Thomas Aquinas who more or less assumes that his reader is cognizant of the relevant distinctions.

For those not familiar with the argument, the fourth way is taken from the gradation of perfections in beings, of truth beauty and goodness and argues that this implies a maximally good, beautiful etc being which we call God.

Dawkin's juvenile counterpunch is that if Thomas' logic holds good then because there are beings in the world with degrees of smelliness there must a preeminently peerless stinker. Essentially it is an attempt to make a mockery of the argument.

Where the argument goes wrong, and what the book "Christian Philosophy" does so well to point out is that there are two types of perfection of being. The first is called "predicamental perfections" the other "transcendental perfections". The argument is based upon the latter while Dawkin's example (assuming that smelliness can be called a perfection) is of the former type. Hence Dawkin's whole argument falls due to an equivocal use of terms in the premise (he is not using perfection in the sense meant by the argument). Of course I will now explain why the distinction is important and why it works for (or is only applicable to) one set of perfections and not the other type. But what one can know is that the argument has not been answered (or even interacted with) in the "God Delusion" as its author has found a straw man version of it to shoot down.

But perhaps we can have some sympathy for Dawkin's weak attempt. The first line that de Torre writes is "This is the most difficult of the five [ways]."

Here I will present a slightly simplified version of what de Torre says that will hopefully flesh it out.

So firstly there are predicamental perfections. What is a predicamental perfection? It is a perfection of the essence of something which is founded on what's called the "formal act" (form is is what determines the essence to be what it is). So it is a perfection of essence as essence not a perfection of essence as being. So in the example de Torre gives it is the perfection "of dogs as dogs not as this actually existing dog (with the act of being), but of dog as an essence, in the abstract." He then covers what perfections such an essence has. He says formal perfections such as, and he lists, "materiality, substantiality, life, sensitivity. All of these are are perfections of the dog as essence "without considering the act of being."

He then comes to a crucial question that people are probably asking "Do these perfections have a 'more' and a 'less.' Yes. But do they imply a subsistent maximum? Can a maximum, say, of sensitive life exist by itself. No, sensitive life exists in the dog, but not by itself. In predicamental perfections there is no subsistent maximum. Their maximum would only be in the field of ideas: we can conceive a maximum life and a maximum of dogness, but that is just a pure idea, which does not imply actuality of being." (de Torre p 141).

So why are transcendental or pure perfections different? Because says de Torre they are "founded directly on the act of being, and therefore to be found only in actually existing substances, not in ideas, or abstractions or essences."

To follow the argument further one must understand the interrelationship of goodness beauty and truth. A being is more perfect as a being the more actual it is and the more something is the better it is, the truer it is and the more beautiful it is. The are all different sides of the same coin.

Now beings have these perfections in varying degrees. They have these perfections by participation. And these perfections do imply a subsistent maximum.

They participate in these perfections and so must have them from another. Why can't they have these perfections by themselves? Because if they did then they would have to have them in their fullness because being as such implies no limitation. They must have a cause for those perfections which is those perfections in their fullness. Or as de Torre puts it "being itself, unity itself, truth itself, goodness itself, and cause of all these perfections as well as of the predicamental perfections, in all participated beings."

And this what we call God.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rememberance Day

I was going to publish a particular note about the latest Liturgy Lines in the Catholic Leader but since the Warden at Cooees from the Cloister has done this so eloquently I will desist.

The only thing I can say is that this is a regurgitation of another article written in February 2000. Read this:

In Australia, this way of looking at liturgical celebrations began to emerge during the Second World War. Amongst the many things that the Second World War taught us about liturgy, it made us look at liturgical laws a little differently. At this time we were trying to celebrate good liturgy by following the rules. But in extraordinary circumstances like the battlefront, it was not always possible to follow all the rubrics. There was no sanctuary, no altar, no candles, no vestments. Yet the experience of worship in the eucharist was often more powerful and therefore more fruitful than many a "correct" parish liturgy.

In this sense, Australia was well prepared for the liturgical reform of the 1960s. Although we appear to have had little contact with the Liturgical Movement and the liturgical scholarship of Belgium, France and Germany, we have had long experience of adapting the Roman liturgy to the extraordinary conditions of the Australian setting – since the days when our pioneer priests travelled overland on pastoral visitation, celebrating the Mass with what they could carry in a saddle bag. Even today, remote rural churches do not have the facilities of every European or city parish church as presumed by the liturgical books.

The full reference is here.

The whole tone of the article is bizarre. It says that because we were faced with the pioneering days and two world wars we have the ability to make liturgies creative. Not only that, liturgy on the Kokoda trail and Gallipoli seems to form a lesson for liturgy today; no rubrics, no vestments, no churches. The horrors of the World Wars apparently prepared us for Vatican II,as they liberated us from rubrics! This is simply not true. The photographs show the Usus Antiquor celebrated with such reverence and dignity in the most appalling conditions, that is so incredibly moving. Why is it that even with the Classical Mass being celebrated in the mud on a makeshift Altar consisting of basically a plank, that it still has this inspiring beauty? These photographs have a timeless quality that this is the Mass of the Ages, celebrated in particular contexts of world history. And whats more that these Masses were celebrated in a style that EH detests, and yet she says that they were powerful and fruitful.

Frankly the woman has no idea on what she really wants, and she wasnt there. In fact she is insulting the priests who celebrated according to the rubrics in these condtions.

Btw. A story that comes down through our family comes from an ancestor who served at the Altar in one of the field Masses on the Somme in the winter of 1917-18. It was so cold during Mass that the wine and water froze in the cruets. I remind our servers of this when they complain on a winter Sunday morning in Brisbane!

Thats all for tonight. Soon my computer will be back to normal, and pictures will return. St Isidore, Patron of the internet, Pray for us!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What is right with this picture??

Yes it has actually happened! It was only a 3 weeks ago that I posted "What is wrong with this picture?" in which I wondered how the new Papal Master of Ceremonies Mgr Guido Marini (not to be confused with the Vatican II dinosaur Piero) would fix Altar arrangements. Well after a couple of weeks in the job here is the result.

Lewisham and Sydney trip

Whilst in Sydney I did have the pleasure of attending the Fssp Chapel of Lewisham. Their Liturgy is simply awesome, but they don't deserve all the credit, from what I'm told by all my reibale sources is that Fr Naugten the wonderful Franciscan started such an Liturgical delight there. Above is a photo of the side altar to St Michael, it is here were I prayed and obtained the graces I needed to overcome certain vices, Thank you St Michael!
Ah one of the Young Fssp Seminarians, looking cool with my sunnies. I bet he can't wait for the day that he is finally tonsured.
I also had the delight to consume many a great food whilst staying in Sydney. The best I'd say was this desert here, so good I just had to take a photo of it.
Here is a photo of some of us, we had a very good lunch along with an interesting discussion.
To rap this post up I'll leave with a photo that I'm quite proud of that I took. A nice scenic train station. I'd like to apologies about my lack of posts, but School has been getting a bit demanding with study, assignments and exams, Pray that I may get good results. Be sure to expect some more after I'm finished the year.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pontifcal backstage

As all would have know, I traveled down to Sydney for the pontifical High mass said by the Cardinal. It was an awesome experience to serve for such a historic event. I was but a humble torch bearer, but still I got one of the best seats in the house, I got to sit (for most of the Mass) directly in front of the Cathedra !Here are the few photos I personally took of the servers before Mass.
Here everyone is going thought the trouble of finding an alb that fits them, along with an amice and cinture.
A few of the servers relax having found their vestments well before hand.
Here Is a nice shot of the sacristy walk way to the church

Here we have the Cross that was used as the metropolitan cross

Be sure to stay tuned for more posts from the trip.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More on Altars and Crucifixes

Apart from annoyances such as the poor location of the Altar Cross at St John Lateran, there are other issues with versus populum facing Altars constructed in the post Vat II years. In many existing churches of the time, the new table Altar was placed at the bottom of the Altar steps, in front of the existing High Altar. In some places, the High Altar was completely removed and the priests chair put in its place, and the tabernacle located elsewhere. In other places, the old high Altar was adapted into a modern table Altar.

This of course makes:
  1. the church look lopsided, as it was designed for ad-orientem celebration

  2. the Altar look like a minor furnishing in the sanctuary rather than the total centre of worship (ie just a table).

One of the less disturbing examples is shown here.

Altars facing versus populum in the the Roman basilicas were designed with a different purpose to "making the contact with the people easier".

Here is a pic that I took of Santa Maria in Trastavere. This church was first constructed by Pope Julius I (reigned 337-352) and enlarged by Pope Gregory IV (828-844). The current building that I visited is a rebuild by Pope Innocent II (1130-43). As you can see building in the basilica form with the bishop's throne at the end of the apse, and a versus populum Altar under a ciborium was the orthodox manner of church arrangment well into the high Middle Ages.

Lets take a walk into the sanctuary and look at the proper arrangement of the Altar.

The sanctuary is separated from the nave by a substantial arrangement of stairs and walls, which reminded me of the arrangement of the Old St Peters. the Altar itself is surmounted on two steps with a timber third step (or pradella) being that on which the priest celebrates upon. The whole Altar is framed by the ciborium.

When versus populum Altars came back into fashion in the last half of the 20th century, the architectural setting to make it look truly the Altar of sacrifice was totally forgotten. For instance the first thing that I notice upon return to Australia is that the Altars are too low and look too much like tables. I am sure that this is deliberate intent, in view of the mistaken theologies which run rampant in the local church.

I am not opposed to versus populum Altars per-se, but they need to be constructed with dignity worthy of the Holy Sacrifice. Most churches in Rome seem to see the Altar cross as a distraction , but here is the view of one (St Nicholas in Carcere), which has done it correctly with four candles and the cross in the middle (click on pic for a better look). Also here is a close up of the Altar and ciborium which shows the step arrangment.

Of course these churches would have had the celebration of Mass in the evolving classical form until 40 years ago. There was no problem with celebrating the Tridentine Mass versus populum so I cannot see what the problem is with the Ordniary form (Novus Ordo) Mass being celebrated ad orientem.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More on the "Reform of the Reform"

As I predicted earlier in the year on this blog, Summorum Pontificam has begun to raise questions about the Reform-of-the-Reform and where it will go next. Over at the New Liturgical Movement there is an interesting discussion of the "Reform-of-the-Reform" movement and what its real agenda is.

There are a number streams of thought in the article:
Stream #1 is that the RofR movement is seeking a return to organic growth and an interpretation of Sacrosanctum Concilium that focusses on its Vatican II's desire for organic growth and a mild amount of mofification of the Roman Missal and questions the direction of the liturgical reform from 1962 to 1970 and beyond.

Stream #2 is that the RofR movement simply accepts what is done with the 1970 edition of the Missal (and the 2002 update) and apply it as accurately as practicable (ie. Say the Black - Do the Red or as NLM terms it the STBDTR movement).

Leading from this are the assertions that Stream 1 is the authentic RofR. The chief criticism made by the author of the Shrine of the Holy Wapping is that the RofR is becoming more narrow focussed and hitching its wagon to the "classically tradtionalist" agenda and being excessively restorationist. The author claims that this has led to certain parishes being labelled as "flagship parishes" that reflect what certain RofR proponents want rather than what the "movement" set out to achieve.

Confused? You are not the only one.

This is my take on all of this. I agree that SP has completely changed the RofR agenda. I believe that one of the original driving forces of the RofR was the assumption that the TLM was gone and would never be a viable force, had problems, and that the RofR was an alternative way that would be acceptable to the church hierarchy. I think that this was probabaly some of the driving force behind St Agnes in St Paul Minnesota and the Brompton Oratory. Under this agenda, Stream #1 was more dominant than stream #2.

SP has "pulled the rug" from the stream #1 thought. I believe that the Ordinary Form is what it is. It cannot be "tridentinised" as it is a child of its particular time in church history. Therefore stream #2 should be driving the RofR agenda, and personally I am of the STBDTR persuasion.

If I want to tridentinise the Mass I go to an Extraordinary Form Mass and do it properly. If I want to go to an Ordinary Form Mass because I want a greater range of scripture readings, hear and participate in the Mass in English, I will do so. The fact that Holy Communion is in the hand, the Mass is celebrated versus populum, there may be lay ministers of Holy Communion, is part of that package. The thing that I am concerned about is that the liturgical books are followed accurately and with maturity. What I do not like is "pick and choose" approaches to the GIRM. It is in these areas that the RofR needs to focus.

Incidently in Brisbane we have no parishes that could be seen as RofR flagships. The liturgy is in disarray to varying degrees in all of them.

Divine Liturgy at Marian Valley