Friday, March 28, 2008


I've been lately reflecting on serving at the altar and doing some research in this regards.
A wise man once said "The two highest things you can do on earth is serve at the Altar and sing in choir", wise words. Our lives a filled with mundane things, we have Jobs; we have studies and have common mundane temporal works to do. These things produce something tangible, something we can see, and something we can use. The liturgy, has other effects, it is veiled, hidden. What effects the Mass has, along with prayer in general is frequently intangible, something we can't use in the ordinary sense. The priest, or the persons does not see in a physical manner the effects of his prayers, unless of coarse God grants him such a grace (i.e. sees the miracle, someone informs him). So is the work of the server or the chorister, there work, in the form of singing or duty is frequent veil, unseen.

These spiritual realities that we produce, the grace we receive and our prayers, are veiled and will be revealed to us in the beatific vision. This being said, such works, that have no visible effects, do happen. The server who servers Mass attentively, the Priest who offers Mass or the ordinary Mother who prayers her rosary, will reap a good fruit from their work. Like the carpenter who builds a table, they too produce something, unlike the table, it is of no worldly value, and rather it has value in the spiritual life.

The useful will be useless and the useless will be useful, at judgment day. All the money we earn, all the things we achieve, unless they are transformed by Christ, will be useless.

Although prayer and the Liturgy are the most perfect and primary means of worshipping God, in the economy of salvation we have the ability, of being a royal Priesthood, to offer up our ordinary to God. God takes this ordinary, mundane existence and transforms it. Like the priest taking the ordinary Bread and Wine and transforming it, into the Body and Blood of Christ. Everyone has this ability, we are a priestly people, but Christ gave us something more, the ministerial Priesthood.

The Priest unites his mundane with his spiritual. His ordinary works are on a higher plain. The greatest work of a Priest is the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which does mean the little things are of no importance. Our Lord told us “"if you can be trusted in little things, you can be trusted in great"” (I apologies if my bible quote is imperfect, my memory is a bit lacking here). So the little things that a priest does are by no means unimportant, the hospital visits, the counseling, the social justice work he does, they are important and necessary. A Priest told me that “the liturgy is only a small part of my day”, that is true, but it is the well spring of the priest’s life. All things flow from it, all things flow back to it.

The server, although not in the same way as a priest, receives such a high privilege of being able to serve the Priest, to assist at the liturgy. The priest makes the ultimate sacrifice to have such a life, it’s not all glamour, he lays down his life, the dies to himself and lives totally for others, due to his works having a great ripple effect then our mundane acts and even our participation in prayer and liturgy. The server, frequent has not cost for serving. He is given a free ride, he does not have to be as pious as the priest, as holy as a priest, he does not have to be celibate nor does he die to himself completely. It is sad; the church expects servers and everyone for that matter to foster a pious life. To be holy, the universal call to holiness. So it fills me with sorrow when ever I see a distracted server, one who gets a so called free ride. My idea of a server is someone who not only answers the universal call to holiness, but one who has the potential for the presbyterial call to holiness. A server who’s life is orientated to the liturgy. His whole life is an express of what happens at the Mass, the ordinary becoming the divine. The server should be a man of faith, to known to be pious. The server should not get a free ride, his participation in the liturgy, has a cost, a great cost then the universal call to holiness. He should be a man of prayer; he should not be attached to possessions or to women. He too on a small level makes the sacrifice of a priest, of levity.

To finish on a concluding note, there is one thing that would fill me with utter sorrow. For a girl, who I happen to quite fancy, to don on an alb and serve the Mass. There is no question as to whether she’d do a good job or not, but underlying spirituality and theology of it would be none existent, she’d get a free ride, she’d chalk something up to her many talents. The Liturgy has a spiritual reality, something that is not tangible, many people forget about this fact. They pounce around taking miles, altar girls, female lectors, “creative masses”, they are the ones who get the free ride, and they make no sacrifice. The gravity the liturgy has is neglected and trampled on. These are not empty ceremonies that the server participates in, this is the heavenly liturgy. How dare they say they are being discriminated, not being allowed to participate? The modern mentality is to have it all, to trample down the spiritual significant of serving, of the liturgy and of prayer. They man to tell God we can do better, they write there own liturgies, compose there own prayers (not evil in it’s self,)

The server, is given the chance of being allowed to participate in the liturgy, but he too, like the priest, must pay a cost. Are many of Today’s servers, paying this cost? God will judge them. When God gives a lot, he expects a lot.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Noble simplicity

The Second Vatican Council called for noble simplicity in vestments. These terms are frequently, re-translated into English as “$5 Crazy Clark’s materials in abstract patterns”. Of corse what the Councils Father’s were intending was not what most people understood it as. During the period after the reformations, when Religious Art was divorced from the secular world (Spirit of the Liturgy, Ratzinger), it found refuge in the so called “Baroque” style. This style was renowned for its grandeur and triumphal nature. Vestments started to be cut down, notably the Chasuble (from being a “little house” to being an over sized scapular) and the surplice (from the flowing majestic vestment, to an imitation shirt). Clear what the church fathers indented was to move away from such a style, as was the trend in the western church, not to completely ban it or destroy it, as was done by the so called “spirit of Vatican II”.

Medieval Vestments, commonly referred to as Gothic vestments, were generally both noble and simple, Finding their beauty not in golden decoration, but rather in their very forms themselves. Such vestment styles were kept alive in Western Christianity, by the monastic orders (Benedictines), Friars (Dominicans) and surprisingly even the Anglicans.

Australia, being in a curios spot, originally was intended to be a Benedictine country, one that’s Catholism sprung from the Benedictine order, such as England. So in a cretin way Gothic vestments, display a certain Australianism of the Church, whilst on the other hand Baroque vestments were brought to Australia with the Irish Clergy, thus associating them with a certain Irishness characteristic. So it seem quite fitting, that the Australian Church, is remarkably less Irish then what it once was, has moved away from the Baroque Style and adopted for the most part the Gothic form.

Intending to follow noble simplicity, most of the western church has moved to a poor modernised version of Gothic, whilst completely neglecting the Baroque style.

On a personal note, I prefer Gothic vestments; I don’t have a purging attitude to Baroque. What most parishes try to pass off as Gothic Vestment is complete rubbish, my motto is, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly.

The western Church, is obviously reviving certain Medieval Practices such as vesting servers in albs. The Grim mentions that the common vestment of all ministers is the alb. Thus servers are supposed to be vested in albs. This logically follows that servers, such as the thurifer, the taper bearers (Acolytes), the crucifer and the torch bearers are vested in albs, whilst the MC and the Schola (Liturgical Choir) are vested in Choir dress, aka Cassock and surplice.

The ancient usage in Australia is for the most part, not remaining in a time warp and having everything as in the good old days (1950s), but keeping pace with the church at large. The Latin Mass chapels in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra vest their servers in albs.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Follow up

Dear Friends,

Further to my circular e-mail of yesterday, detailing just how often the post-conciliar Catholic liturgy has all along been praying for the conversion of the Jews, the information below, received from a friend who knows the traditional Divine Office better than I do. indicates that, believe it or not, the Novus Ordo liturgy prays for the conversion of the Jews more frequently thsan the old liturgy: seven times a year as opposed to just once a year Good Friday! (I've deleted my friend's name and email address to guard his privacy.)
Easter blessings (as the Church prays for the conversion of Israel to Christ at Vespers on Easter Sunday - and throughout the Easter season!)

Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.

Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 16:18:25 -0700

Subject: RE: Pope and all bishops, priests and nuns will pray for conversion of Jews this Easter Sunday.

Dear Brian,

My copy of the Byzantine Liturgy is in English. My polygotism does not extend to slavonic!
As to Lauds & Vespers. They have no intercessions in the traditional rite. Prime and Compline do in certain seasons, but these are fixed 'preces' and mostly scriptural. So it's only in the New Office that the prayers for the Jews occur. In fact in the traditional rite it is only in the one prayer on Good Friday that the Jews are prayed for.
I saw the Papal ceremonies on EWTN. They are getting better and better. What a difference a pontiff can make.

Gaudia Paschalia,


Brian Harrison wrote:

Dear N.
Interesting. I had thought of the Eastern rites, but have no ready access to their liturgical books - which I probably couldn't understahd anyway.
Incidentally, does the (traditional) Roman Breviary have intercessions at Lauds and/or Vespers like the N.O. does? (I don't think it does, but as you may remember, I have v. little knowledge of it.) If not, it would seem ironic that the N.O. actually prays for the conversion of Jews more than does the traditional liturgy. (Enough to send Abe Foxman apoplectic?)

Easter Vigil

Friday, March 21, 2008

We have always been praying for the Jews!

Dear Friends,

You've probably all heard about the controversy surrounding the Pope's new Good Friday intercession for the conversion of the Jews (as well as reports that the prayer will soon be "explained" to the indignant Jewish community by the Vatican Secretary of State). But that will be recited tomorrow by only a miniscule proportion of the Catholic clergy, namely those who use the Traditional Missal and who have decided to obey the Pope's instruction to use this prayer. (Many SSPX, 'independent' and of course, sedevacantist, priests won't be doing that.)

So why have the media been totally silent about the fact that all the million-plus Latin-rite Catholic clergy and religious who use the new (Novus Ordo) liturgy, from the Pope on down, will pray explicitly for the conversion of the Jews on the afternoon or evening of this coming Easter Sunday?

As they have been doing, in fact, for the last 37 years on this principal feast of the Church's calendar. And on at least half a dozen other days every year.

I am referring to the Divine Office (now also called the "Liturgy of the Hours") which supplements the Mass in the Chuch's official daily worship. Most lay Catholics know little about it, but its daily prayers are obligatory for all clergy, nuns, and religious brothers. For instance, on the last day of every year (December 31 at Lauds or "Morning Prayer"), the Church prays: "O Christ, God and man, you fulfil the prophecies as David's Lord as well as his son: we beseech you that Israel may recognize you as Messiah (te rogamus, ut Israel te Messiam agnoscat)".

Second only to the Mass in importance for Catholic worship is Vespers ("Evening Prayer"), and throughout the whole 7-week Easter season the Novus Ordo has an evening prayer for the conversion of the Jews almost every week. Sometimes this is only implied, as for instance, at Vespers on the vigil of the final (7th) Sunday of the season, wherein the Church addresses the following prayer to Jesus: "May all the peoples praise you as King and God, and may Israel become your possession (et Israel fiat possessio tua)". (That is, may the sons and daughters of Israel come under Christ's dominion as members of his Church.) And for Vespers on Wednesday of the second and fourth weeks of Easter we find this prayer: "[O God], who chose your Son's first disciples from among the Jewish people, reveal to the children of Israel the reciprocal promise (repromissio) made to their fathers." (This is a reference to the promise announced to their fellow-Jews by Peter and the other apostles at Pentecost, that they would receive the Holy Spirit and salvation in return for believing in Christ and accepting baptism.)

Very explicit, on the other hand, is the Vespers prayer for Easter Sunday - the most important of all the annual Catholic feasts. It addresses Jesus in these words: "May Israel recognize in you her longed-for Christ (Israel in te Christum spei suae agnoscat), and may the whole earth be filled with the knowledge of your glory." This prayer is then repeated on the evenings of the third and fifth Sundays of the Easter season.

In short, the Holy Father's recently promulgated Good Friday prayer simply repeats the same perennial doctrine that the Novus Ordo liturgy has already been making explicit for nearly four decades.

Please pass on this piece of "censored" news to those on your e-mail list who could be interested. Especially if they happen to be Jewish. (Those "progressive" Catholic bishops and priests and bishops who have been dialoguing with our Jewish brethren for many years have apparently not let them in on this little "secret" to be found in our official prayer-book. Don't they have a right to know?)

Wishing you all every blessing for Easter,

Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.

St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.