You can also see excellent photos of the Solemn Pontifical Vespers on the Latin Mass Melbourne website.
My key reasons for going was to:
- learn more about the Classical form of the Roman Rite
- to meet new people with a similar passion for liturgy and to share our journeys of faith; and
- to get to know the Fraternity of St Peter priests (important as I am in the Confraternity of St Peter)
I achieved all these objectives beyond expectations!!
Here is a summary of my notes to give you an idea ofDay 1 - Thursday 10 Jan
Learning about the minor orders and their evolution and roles. Clarifications of orders and ministries by Paul VI (which unfortunately led to the suppression of minor orders).
The role of the Altar Server as a stand-in cleric, therefore the standard dress for a server is the cassock. The difference between serving as an Acolyte vs simply being in choir, whihc requires two sets of vesture nb. server as acolyte wears the alb, whilst server in choir wears the surplice.
Theory and practicum in genuflecting and processing.
Lunch (nice sandwiches)
Gregorian chant workshop (struggling to concentrate after nice lunch). The history of chant and understanding how the notation evolved and how to read it.
Then practice on thurible work, and carrying candles correctly.
I was in the congregation (because choir was too small). As I said to a colleague - sacked but cool! in reference to the 40+ degree heat that day.
Finally drive home.
Day 2 - Friday 11 Jan
Learned about the traditional books of the liturgy: Sacramentary, the Canon Missae, Episolarium, and the Evangelarium, the Graduale Romanum, as well as the Ordines Romani from which the Ceremoniale Episcoporum developed.
The liturgical cycle and table of concurrences.
The structure of the Altar, its theological meaning.
Some renovations of the St Aloysius church to install "new choir stalls" by taking pews out of the back of the church, and carrying them into the sanctuary. This made for some interesting server processions (Roman where was your camera) but we omitted the genuflection at the foot of the Altar due to the pew on our backs.
Practicum in Low Mass (for me) while the big kids (Roman) did practicum in MC.
Fish and chips - bulk yum! I love Friday "fasting".
Gregorian chant workshop and getting into some harder chants in readiness for Solemn Vespers the following day. Me wanting to sleep, after fish and chips.
In choir in the back stalls. The schola members in the front row omitted passing on the pax to us, so I thought "no peace for the guys in the back row".
On way home. At the tram stop near the church in my server back and whites, got mistaken for a fellow Lubavitch in this orthodox jewish neighbourhood, but got a nice magazine to take home.
Day 3 - Saturday 12 Jan
Slept in and woke up to an sms from Roman telling me that I was to be an Acolyte that afternoon. Arrived a bit late and had some further instruction on Latin, then it was across to the church for Low Mass celebrated by Fr Glen Tattersall assisted by John Paul. Following this there was a practice run through Solemn vespers. After about 15 minutes I was completely confused as to what I was supposed to be doing. I have only done a Solemn Pontifical Vespers in the ordinary form, and this was more complex. Benediction, was more straightforward, as I serve for that regularly.
Running through the last part of the afternoon's service.
Afternoon tea with Bp Elliot, who I was able to chat briefly to. Then an excellent talk from Bp Elliot on the liturgy, and a very good question and answer session.
Solemn Vespers. I thought that the parts of the liturgy which went the most smoothly were the parts that I did not have an involvement in!
Finally got home at about 8pm and had thai takeway and chatted with relatives that I had not seen for a while up to the very late hours.
Day 4 - Sunday 13 Jan
After a struggle with the tram system enjoyed Solemn Mass for the feast of the Holy Family being in choir. Then went across the road for the parish barbeque which closed the conference. I would have like to have stayed around but I had to rush into town to meet up with and have a few beers with one of the esteemed former servers from our Cathedral, who is now working in Melbourne.
Highlights of the Conference
- meeting a great bunch of guys esp John Paul, Ignatius, Nicholas, Jeremy....
- the great sense of humour and fun that Fraternity priests have, and their immense love for the liturgy. Fr Tattersall's liturgical arrangements with "Thing" (adapted from the Addams Family for Solemn Vespers) was an exellent demonstration of organic growth in the liturgy.
- the afternoon Solemn Masses in the church - I really felt that I was in paradise; the closest to heaven that one could get whilst still in this mortal life
- learning what liturgy is really all about.
The next thing is to adapt the learnings to my own parish environment, so that (although I assist in the ordinary form Mass) the reform of the reform can spread little by little.
Thanks to the FSSP and may God shower his abundant blessings upon them!!!