Friday, August 31, 2007


There are quite a few strange terminologies that are creeping in though liturgies that I have attended lately. Some people might be able to enlighten me on some of them.

The trend has been from "celebrating Mass" to "celebrating the Eucharist" to now "celebrating Eucharist". The idea of removing the term Mass was for a number of reasons:
  • the perception that the word Mass came from the word "Missa" whihc referrred to the dismissal at the end of Mass" and not really what happens in the Mass
  • a move away from Catholic terms to a more protestant friendly term.

Mind you this seems to be a term used only in the English speaking world, other places eg Italy only use Messa or Sancta Messa (or Holy Mass)

I cannot understand why "the" has now beeen dropped. I suspect it might have been to give a bigger emphasis on the community celebrating (like we have "lunch" not "the lunch"). I think this is an attempt to make the meal aspect of the whole liturgy a lot stronger. Not a good trend.

Gathering Song

I think this is traditionally called the introit or "entrance". Where did gathering come into it? I thought that the gathering happens before this when the people gather in the church prior to the commencement of the liturgy. The GIRM calls it the entrance and the the music accompanying it the "entrance chant". Again the use of the word "song" creeps into local usage. This has been condemned by the Congregation for Divine Worship, as this does not refer to a liturgical act, and the word song does not appear in GIRM.

Presentation of the Gifts

This is another way of saying offertory. However, the intent is that it emphasises the people presenting the gifts whihc has a sense of "horizontality" in it. Offertory is presumably avoided as it is a priest action and accentuates the "verticality" of the liturgy.


This is the real odd one. The term presiding has been used since the early church. However, it appears to be used now to emphasise that it is the congregation does the liturgy and the priest merely presides over or chairs the proceedings. The problem stems from the GIRM n30-33, whihc talks about the priest presiding over the assembly "in the name of Christ" and "as the one who presides, prays in the name of the Church and the assembled community". This of course points strongly to an orientation that he faces towards the people; quite different to the extraordinary form where the priest prays in the "name of the people" and is not presiding over anything that the community actually does.

Thesea re all terms which I feel uncomfortable about. However, the seeds of them are all there in the GIRM and have been used effectively by the people who would push us towards protestantism, where a priesthood is not present.

Monday, August 27, 2007

St Patrick's Goodies

As I mentioned St Patrick's Cathedral has a wide range of many liturgical "goodies"

First off we have a pontifical lavabo set. A Bishop gets the special privilege of having a nice large basin and jug in order to wash his hands, which in the extra ordinary form happens about 3 times!. Whilst a simple priest must content himself with a little dish and a cruet.
Here are the enclosed lanterns, they maybe used as torches, very handy if your outside in the wind! If anyone has a few of these lying around then, it would be greatly appreciated if you could send them to Marian Valley, or should i say Windy valley!
The Cathedral also had good looking cruets.
Ah the Cathedra, the seat of a bishop, this one looks amazing and has two seats for deacons, quite handy in a pontifical liturgy!
Here is the old Choir and high altar. I quite like the choir, I had to sit in it after all, being a torch bearer is quite a cool job. The High altar looks good, but with the "new" renovations and free standing altar , it really is quite cut off from the nave!.The gospel was said form this stand, I quite like the eagle design
The archbishop even wore his pontifical cassock! our bishops here in Queensland only, if ever simply wear incorrectly their house cassocks!
His grace wore a pair of fine pontifical gloves, which were apparently made by st bede's studio.
Well stay tuned, I hope to do a few more posts in the near future.
On a concluding note, here is a shot of the lunch that some of the servers and juventumtem members shared after the pontifical. Just for reference, yes that is my bottle of water!

More on Altars

On the subject of using sanctuaries for both the ordinary and extraordinary forms, I thought that I would share with you pictures of a church in southern Italy which re-adapted its sanctuary and removed the table Altar permanently. This is the "before" look:

and this is the "after look

Note that the priest's chair or sedilia is unobtrusively located at the side of the sanctuary, so that the "Liturgy of the Word" can be celebrated at it. If the extraordinary form is celebrated then it could be celebrated easily.

Clo0ser to home, the other church that I like a lot is the church at Unanderra. This is an excellent layout, with the tabernacle centrally located to give a sense of direction and focus in the church. The Altar again could easily be used for both versus populum and ad orientem celebrations, in either the Ordinary or Extraordinary forms.

Melbourne Trip

Well as Stephan has kindly mentioned , I was at the Solemn Pontifical in Melbourne. I took a few photos of preparation before and after mass, and a few shots of the Cathedral. The Juventutem Blog has a few more shots as well,
Here are a few of the servers. As you may notice that the Thurifer ( to the right) and the Acolytes are wearing Albs and Amices. This is very praise worthy in my opinion, these three roles, along with the crucifer, serve the mass. Thus Choir dress (cassock and surplice) is not appropriate. Many Catholics of good standing are of the opinion that the alb is only for girls, or just for sacred ministers, quite a improper thought. The ancient usage of the Roman rite, has the acolytes in albs (the Thurifer is basically the third acolyte), I believe in and am push a revival of the custom, we must be carefully not to get stuck in a 1950s mindset or a 1960s one for that matter!
Servers came from all over Melbourne, these two my fellow torch bearers are from Burke Hall, a chapel run by the FSSP.
Server vestingJohn Paul, the head MC at Caulfield, he directed the servers at the mass and I was luck enough to stay at his house and he's Polish as well!St Pat's has lot more Liturgical Gear then I could dream of, even our own Cathedral can not compare. A nice "Churchy" thurible.The Cathedral also enjoys, whole racks of torches!!A great processional cross to boot!
Here are the servers after mass, all in black cassocks!St Patrick's has a gigantic organ, and it is quite appropriately situated to the right of the sanctuary not behind it, as is the case with our Cathedral.During my stay I heard the Gong sound instead of a bell, my previous experiences with a gong were poor, but this one was rather good. The sound traveled nicely and produced a nice low pitch sound.Here is the Altar that the mass was said on, quite nice. I just loved the altar cross and candle sticks.

Well stay tunned a another post is in the works about the "goodies" the sacristy contained.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Biretta Tip to Roman

To use Fr Z's term the biretta tip this weekend needs to go to Roman who served at the thanksgiving Mass at St Patricks Cathedral in Melbourne yesterday. It was reported on Fr Z's blog so its good to see that some of our team's activities are making international news.

I am also excited that the Extraordinary form Mass is going to be part of the weekly timetable at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. The Mass will be celebrated in the Lady Chapel of the cathedral pictured here on Wednesdays at 4pm and on First Fridays. This pic was taken some years ago and the Altar has been cleaned since then. The table that you see in front has been replaced with a really bad looking smaller table and with a matching ambo. Hopefully they can be easily shifted each Wednesday.

The problem at St Stephens Cathedral in Brisbane is that the renovations in the 1980s have made it unrealistic to celebrate the Extraordinary form in this church and the adjoining chapel. The Altar in the chapel is too small, but the Altar in the main building a minimum size for celebration. The local clergy would probably be hostile to the idea of any celebration of the Extraordinary form.
Nearby churches such as St Patricks Church in Fortitude Valley (about 1.5km North of the city but still very accessible) would need renovation to reveal the High Altar in its glory. Thankfully the renovations of the 1970s were so cheaply and badly done, that it would only take a day to remove and dump them into an industrial skip. The urban renewal already in the area and proposed makes this a strategically important church in the future. I will take some photos in the near future so you can see what I mean.

Other churches in the inner city are St Brigids at Red Hill (a most imposing church) and Our Lady of Victories at Bowen Hills. They are both eminently suitable for celebration of the Extrordinary Form, but do suffer from lack of accessibility.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Where to now for the Reform of the Reform?

Now that the discussion on Summorum Pontificum has settled down somewhat, I thought that I would present some ideas of mine on the where the "reform of the reform" or the reform of the Missal of Paul VI might go.

To define the "reform of the reform" itself is difficult. The term was first coined by an American Priest Fr Thomas Kocik, in a book called "Reform of the Reform?" in 2003 in which he synthesised a number of ideas from major figures including Cardinal Ratzinger, Msgr. Klaus Gamber, Michael Davies, Fr. Brian Harrison and Fr. Aidan Nichols. Iam listening to a talk given by Fr Kocik whicy you can also listen to on

The reform of the reform seeks to use as its starting point Sacrosanctum Concilium Art 50. Against this, the movement critiques the actual Ordo Missae of 1970 and subsequent usages with what Sacrosanctum Concilium asked for.

The principal issues that the supporters of RoR as needing reform are:

  • the use of Latin

  • the location of the Altar and the direction of the Priest in prayer

  • the use of Extraodinary Ministers of Holy Communion

  • Communion in the hand

  • female Altar servers

  • appropriate music

There are other issues relate to other issues on the Kiss of Peace, the multitude of Eucharistic Prayers., whihc I will talk about at another time.

Supporters of the reform of the reform do support other aspects of the Novus Ordo Mass such as the greater range of readings, the Offertory Procession and the active participation of the people, so it is really a middle road option between the traditionalists and the radicals.

The reform of the reform suggests a critical reassessment of the above practices and " enrichment of the current missal so its relationship with continiuty with the past can be more easily shown".

My criticism of some aspects of the reform of the reform is that there is a tendency with trying to create a quasi-tridentine Mass particularly in the absence of permission to use the older form of Roman Rite. Now that Summorum Pontificum has been promulgated, the need to do this has disappeared as the Extraordinary Form Mass now delivers most of these desires.

I believe that now we have an Ordinary and Extraordinary forms, the Missal of Pope Paul VI needs to be seen for what it is; in its own beauty, when celebrated properly. In terms of the points above my views are:
The use of Latin
Latin has a number of advantages as it connects us to the rest of the universal church. However, the vernacular also has advantages. My view is that although most people DO NOT like the Latin Mass they DO like Latin in the Mass. The issue of language will soon be resolved so a key reform plank and the use of banal language will solve itself. In any case people do need to know some Latin.
The Location of the Altar and the Direction of the celebrating Priest
I believe that the location of the Altar in the ordinary form Mass is a bit of an intractable problem. The Mass of Paul VI simply does not lend itself to Ad orientem due to the nature of the prayers at the start of Mass and the notion of the Priest presiding over the liturgy introduced in the General instruction on the Roman Missal N30. However, it has led to bad church architecture with the Altar looking excessively like a table, and the priest presiding OVER the whole show.
Steps to correct this would be through mounting the Altar on steps the use of a "pradella" of footpiece for the priest and of course bigger candles and an Altar cross, and of course a ciborium over the Altar. A centrally located tabernacle adds greatly to that Ad Orientem direction. I found it particualrly helpful to focus on the tabernacle even during the opening prayers and the readings as the real focus of the liturgy.
The real challenge then is for churches who celebrate ordinary and extraordinary forms, particularly if there is a High Altar behind it. The solution is then to have a temporary peoples Altar or just simply use the High Altar for celebration of either form. I have seen this used successfully in Europe, and seems to work, even just as a second best option.
This is something that I have always felt uncomfortable with. I know they form a practical solution to excessive length of time for Holy Communion, in the absence of concelebrating priests or a deacon but I do feel uncomfortable with then standing around the Altar during the fraction and the Communion rite. The current arrangements are in violation of N162 of the GIRM so this is an area of reform than needs to be tackled. Again the liberal faction will fight this one.
Communion in the Hand
This is such established practice that I dont think it can be changed. Abuses are few and far between and are always monitored and addressed by myself and the priests.
Female Altar Servers
Again - established practice. I manage this through ensuring that a majority of servers at any Mass are male. My belief is that female servers might just phase out by themselves in the long term.
Appropriate Music
Like the proverbial light bulb it needs to want to change. I couldnt even think where to start of this one. Its not my field of expertise. The only comment to make is if you cant process easily to it, you probably should not use in Church. There should also be some more use of the Roman gradual, that missing third book (after the Sacramentary and the Lectionary) of the reformed Roman Rite.
The advantages of the Missal of Pope Paul VI can only be seen in the light of the shortcomings of the Missal of John XXIII, and vice versa. As Fr Kocik said, they are both imperfect copies of that heavenly liturgy that we will all one day enjoy.
However I do still believe that the reform of the Reform is a worthwhile objective, not as an attempt to re-rcreate the past, but to enhance the Ordinary form Mass and open up its real potential to lead people to God.
Like it or not the ordinary form of the Roman Rite is here to stay and I am glad. Without it we would never had these types of discussions and would not have the new appreciation for the "Mass of the Ages" as the older Missal is sometimes called, that we have today.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back at St Luke's

The Brisbane Extra Ordinary form community is back at St Luke's Burranda.
Back to a newly repainted and refurbished church, the community is at maximum capacity once again. But I lament going back to such a small sanctuary.The Holy sacrafice celebrated on "snowy white" linens sure is a good sign.
Once again , everyone's patience was tested with a group photo.

And in other good news, the altar server's guild of St Laurence has just been founded, with members from Melbourne and Brisbane, check out the blog, run by none other then myself

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pius XII

The other day Roman and I agreed that Pius XII is our favourite 20th century Pope. He is certainly a Pope who has been misunderstood. A great site that I found this afternoon is this:

This has an amazing range of newsreel footage of Pius XII. I have only seen a couple of videos. After my Masses today, I relaxed at home watching Pius going over to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva to preside at Mass in honour of St Francis of Assisi and St Catherine of Siena.
At the end of Mass he ascended the pulpit to preach a sermon - and what a sermon! This is the first time I had seen or heard him preach. My elementary Italian allowed me to understand about two-thirds of it, but I just love the drama with the hand gestures (very Italian) and by the look of it no microphones!!
Have a look - if you scroll down you will find "Pius XII: Mass". That is the one.
Personally, I did find Santa Maria Sopra Minerva itself a little disappointing. Like most Roman churches the "ironing board" (I like to call it the "picnic table") was out in front of the High Altar. However the advantage was that they allowed the public to ascend the steps of the High Altar to visit the shrine of St Catherine. It shows up in the video clip quite well. We lit a couple of light bulbs (votive candles apparently violate EEC fire regulations these days) and prayed to St Catherine.
On the opposite side of the square is THE pilgrimage site for ecclesiastical fashionistas; Gamarellis, Papal tailors since 1798. There is not much to see - it is obviously the sort of place where they come to you not you go to them, but you could see autographed photos of their previous clients on one wall: Pius XI, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. Pius XII did not use them - he used another tailor. I am not sure about Benedict.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

On-line tutorial

Unless you have seen it on the New Liturgical Movement website, the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius have released an on-line tutorial on the Extraordinary form Mass. Have a look. I am particularly interested in the "learning to serve at the Altar" which is yet to come.

The only odd thing is the pdf of the Missal which is not the 1962 edition but an earlier edition from the 1920s. I cant understand why they did that.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Attending Mass: instructions to parishioners

These extracts from Mediaeval manuals on the right attitude at Mass are as fresh as when they were written nearly 600 years ago, and just as revelant in the 21st century too.

Arrival at church
When thou comest to the holy place,
Cast holy water in thy face,
And pray to God that made us all,
Thy venial sins might from thee fall.
Then look to the high altar,
And pray to Him that hangeth there.

At the reading of the gospel etc.
Though ye understand it naught,
Ye may well wit that God it wrought,
And therefore wisdom were it
For to worship all God’s works
To lewd men that be none clerks . . .

To the priest hearken then,
If thou aught of the letter can,
The office, the orison and the epistle,
And answer him well with good will,
Or in the book thyself it read,
There to take thou well-good heed.
If thou cannot read, nor say,
Thy Pater Noster rehearse alway,
Till the Deacon or the priest the Gospel
There to take thou well-good heed.

Making an offering to the priest
A little before the priest wash,
Let him not his offering ask,
If thou think for to offer.
When he turneth anon tille [thereto],
Go up to him with full good will,
And thy penny him proffer.

At the ringing of the sacring bell / elevation of
the Host
And when he ringeth the cross bell,
Pray then for another skill,
That thou be worthy to see that sight,
That shall in his hands alight.
And when he resteth Him up on height,
Kneel adown with all thy might.
And if thou ask anything
Speak dreadfully [with awe] as to a king.
And look thou ask nothing of right,
But of His grace and of His might.
When he hath that Host in hand,
Look thou neither sit nor stand,
But do the reverence that thou can,
In token that He is both God and man.

Then is time nigh of sacring,
A little bell he will to us ring
Then is reason that we do reverence
To Jesus Christ’s presence,
That may loose of all baleful bonds;
Therefore kneeling, hold up thy hands,
And with inclination of thy body,
Behold the elevation reverently.

God’s flesh he raiseth aloft,
And His blood fair and soft
In the chalice within;
Then shall ye kneel adown,
And say a little orison [prayer],
For nothing that ye blynne [stop].

After the service
And after forsooth well thou may
In God’s name, go home thy way.

A year and forty days at least
For verbum caro factum est
To pardon have ye shall.
Man or woman shall have this,
That kneels down the earth to kiss,
For that [therefore] think on it, all.

God that made more and less,
Give us grace to hear Mass,
And so to #ght, and to pray,
That we be saved at dooms day.

All three sources are in T. F. Simmons, The Lay
Folks Mass Book, 1879. The spelling has been
modernised in the above extracts.
1. ‘A treatise of the manner and mede of the Mass’,
written in a late 14th-century hand.
2. Lydgate’s ‘Merita Missae’, by Dan John Lydgate,
priest and later monk of Bury who was active in
the #rst half of the 15th century.
3. Version F of ‘The lay folks Mass Book’, written
in a mid 15th-century hand.

Altar orientation 101 - Erratum

I note that in sentence 2 in paragraph 5 should read

This shows that versus populum Altars were definately NOT built to assist the participation of the laity.

Altar Orientation 101

this is an amended version of an article that I did on the website some time ago. I have updated it to reflect my personal observations travcellling through italy where I had the priveledge of visiting many mediaeval churches to get some ideas on positioning of Altars.

From what I have read, the practice of the priest facing east with the congregation started as early as soon after apostolic times. Like many liturgical practices, it began as a preferred orientation in the Eastern church. In the Western church it has been very much "either-or". However, it has always been generally believed that in the Roman catacombs, the priest would have celebrated over a tomb of a martyr which ws always in the niche in a wall, so that the priest would have celebrated in the same direction as the congregation. Whether in the East or in the West, the practice seems to have been known as far back as the 2nd century AD.

Both the orientation “ad orientem” (to the East) and “Versus populum” (facing the people) have existed in parallel throughout the centuries. My observation in Europe is that the orientation “ad orientem” seems to have been most popular in the Middle Ages across Northern Europe, but it is interesting that up to the 13th century in Italy, many churches were still being built for celebration “versus populum” (eg. St Clemente). This was not because of some idea to make the liturgy more inclusive, but because of the tradition of the particular church (often built on an earlier church) and the fact that the Altar had to be built over a particular Saint’s tomb. I have seen the original of this fresco which is in the lower church of San Clemente and is believed to date from the 11th century. I imagine that in painting it, the artist probably reflected contemporary practice. Note the separation of the clergy from the laity.

A later fresco can be seen here in the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi. This painting by Giotto was completed in in about 1295-1300, and in depicting St Francis creating the first nativity crib, shows the layout that Francis and Giotto would have been familiar with in the the church at Greccio.

Although it shows a versus Populum Altar to the right, it it worthy to note the presence of a ciborium over the Altar and the Rood Screen. This shows that versus populum Altars were definately to assist the participation of the laity, and depending upon their configuration, actually made the distance between clergy and laity greater. Note the high ambo above the rood screen. We saw many of these types, and we saw that some churches carried two; one for the Epistle and the other higher one for the Gospel.

The Church of San Miniato which is attached to the Benedictine Monastery above Florence has the same orientation. I did not take any pics inside as it was too dark, but the monastic part of the church did resemble the above picture (but no ciborium) The part for the laity has an "ad orientem" Altar (with ciborium) which I was very happy to see is used for the ordinary form Masses for the local residents.

My theory is that although southern European people in the Middle Ages appeared to have considered the orientation of Altars irrelevant (more important was the tradition), the change came with the return of the papacy from Avignon. At this point in time the return from the "Babylonian captivity" did bring with it French practice back to Rome (eg. the title of Monsignor). All the new churches that we saw built after this period strictly kept to an Ad orientem position for the Altar (eg. Santa Maria sopra Minerva). I would like to test this hypothesis with anyone who reads this blog.

With the Renaissance, some architects such as Alberti, oriented the altar for the celebration “versus populum”, to reflect a humanist philosophy. Later, some churches built in Italy, reflecting the enlightenment philosophies of their architects (and their patrons) also oriented their altars “versus populum”. The liturgies on these Altars was the Mass of Pius V or its immediate ancestors.

With liturgical reforms in the 19th century the "versus populum" practice died out totally. However as we well know, in the late 20th century the practice of “versus populum” became "preferred" with the issuance of the instruction Inter Oecumenici by the sacred Congregation of Rites in September 1964 (adopted in March 1965) The same policy was then repeated in the GIRM in 1970. During this period (1965-1970) all churches in Australia were reoriented. This is the first time in history (including the Tridentine period) that the church mandated one practice over another.

It is only in recent years that the idea of celebrating “versus populum” “because this is how the early Christians did it” was questioned seriously. It is based on faulty archaeology from the 1960s, and the realization that the practice of “versus Deum” does make theological sense. The best recent criticism of the mad rush to re-orient churches and a considered appraisal of the practice of “versus Deum” is in Benedict's excellent book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy”. In Chapter 3, titled, “The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer”, he gives a very convincing theological case.

The Congregation for Divine Worship came out in September 2000 saying that there is no rigid position on the altar orientation. CDW has also stated that if the priest is celebrating “versus populum” his spiritual attitude should be “versus Deum” as his first priority. This points to the fact that, although he is facing the people, his attitude in praying should be as if he is not facing them. The lineamenta for the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist addressed the orientation of prayer. The synod quotes “It is not a question, as is often claimed, of presiding at the celebration with the back to the people, but rather guiding the people in pilgrimage towards the Kingdom invoked in prayer until the return of the Lord”. I dont think that this language got to Sacramentum Caritas.

So I think that the tide is turning. In the next week I will discuss what this means for the ordinary form Mass.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Last mass at toowong

Today was the last day the Extra ordinary form community had their mass at Toowong. The Normative church of St Luke's buranda has just finished being re-painted.In honor of this being our last away mass, we had a missa cantata, as apposed to the usual low mass that we had at toowong.

It's quite sad, because st Ignatius Toowong is more suited to extra oridinary form then st Luke's, due to it's better acoustics and space.
Here is our chaplain Fr Gregory Jordan SJ, smiling away

This week we again took a photo of the whole community, this time with a better arrangement so we could fit them all in. The community is still growing! we soon just might and God willing out grow St Luke's church.Here are the servers and Father. These servers might soon be apart of the Altar servers guild of st Lawrence, so stay tuned. Finally notice the Gothic surplice the MC is wearing? this is the original and ancient form of the surplice, the surplice started getting shorter from the end of the medieval ages, it continued getting shorter. This surplice is a notable example of the "Lewisham style".

"In your light we see light"

Reading my breviary last week I came upon these words from Ps 35:

"in you is the source of life

and in your light we see light"

There is no better example of this than St Peters Basilica. Although the building is so huge, Michaelangelo in his brilliance kept the building light through the creation of large open spaces and the use of big windows without stained glass. This really puts the mood of the interior of the basilica directly relating to the outside environment, and provides natural lighting without much need for interior lighting.

I imagined it what it would have been like before the advent of electric lighting and I dont think it would have been much darker. A Papal High Mass would have been lit with 15 candles around the High Altar excluding the candles lit around the confessio (as you can see this photo of Pius XII). This would have been fine.

An interesting aside I find in this pic are the three big microphone stands along the Altar. ( Hey wait a minute you say - weren't we told that the older form of the Mass was supposed to be mumbled in in-comprehensible Latin with the priest's back to the people?)

Here is another pic of the Basilica.

One of the innovations of the renaissance was that architects used light much better. A comment on the old St Peters was that it was quite dark, and I can understand this as many of the older basilicas seemed to be dependent on artificial light for one to enjoy the treasures in them.