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.

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