Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Apostolic Constitutions

I have managed to find an online copy of the Apostolic Constitutions a document believed to have been compiled largely in Syria in the 4th century although there are a few distinctly Roman features in it. It is worth a read particularly the sections on the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. The salient excerpt is follows (with my highlights)


LVII. But be thou, O bishop, holy, unblameable, no striker, not soon angry, not cruel; but a builder up, a converter, apt to teach, forbear-ing of evil, of a gentle mind, meek, long-suffering, ready to exhort, ready to comfort, as a man of God. When thou callest an assembly of the Church as one that is the commander of a great ship, appoint the assemblies to be made with all possible skill, charging the deacons as mariners to prepare places for the brethren as for passengers, with all due care and decency.

And first, let the building be long, with its head to the east, with its vestries on both sides at the east end, and so it will be like a ship. In the middle let the bishop's throne be placed,
and on each side of him let the presbytery sit down; and let the deacons stand near at hand, in close and small girt garments, for they are like the mariners and managers of the ship: with regard to these,

let the laity sit on the other side, with all quietness and good order.
And let the women sit by themselves, they also keeping silence.

And further on after a description of the liturgy of the Word:

After this, let all rise up with one consent, and looking towards the east, after the catechumens and penitents are gone out, pray to God eastward, who ascended up to the heaven of heavens to the east; remembering also the ancient situation of paradise in the east, from whence the first man, when he had yielded to the persuasion of the serpent, and disobeyed the command of God, was expelled.

Now that our large liturgical celebrations are over, it being time to think of other things like getting out on the water and getting some sailing in.
Skandia is now in the lead in the Sydney to Hobart as I write.

As servers we are deputising for the deacons. So we are like the crew of the ship, with the Bishop as its helmsman.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 08

Four weeks ago we began the advent season, a time for prayer and reflection in preparation for Christmas. Advent was a time for us; in the words of St John the Baptist to prepare a way for the Lord. Advent has an important eschatological theme, Christ will return, he will come again as he once did, no longer as the infant, but rather as the pantocrator, the just judge. Now at last Christmas has arrived. Did Christmas spring up on us like the thief in the night, or did we come prepared to welcome the joyful feast?

The liturgical cycle, is to show us the history of salvation so that we learn our history, but it is also a tool to prepare us to those last hours of our lives and the hour of our judgement. The Christmas story is filled with multiple messages, one of such is if there is room, just as the holy family were seeking a room to spend the night on the first Christmas eve, so too now does Christ look to see if there is any room in the inn of our Hearts. The Lord of all creation somehow does not take up much room, just a little manger, but somehow he is too big for even the weekends of our lives….

“Today Christ is born, today the saviour has appeared; today the angels sing on earth, the archangels rejoice; today upright men shout out for joy: Glory be to God on high, alleluia.” Magnificat ant of Vespers II of Christmas

To all my dear readers, I wish to pass on my warmest Christmas wishes, Merry Christmas and a happy new year, I look back fondly on our many blogging adventures. I invite all my readers to share with us in the comment section just a little about who they are and why they read this blog .(I have a suspicion that people read this blog).

Felix Nativitas!!

Felix Nativitas et pax vobis!! to all our readers of this blog.

We will have more pics and comment in the new year for you to enjoy and comment on.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Here is a dying Church

On Cathnews there is an article on the Parish of Caloundra on Queensland's Sunshine Coast cancelling Midnight Mass. Now for those of you around the world, Caloundra parish is the next closest thing to St Mary's in South Brisbane. When I last attended Mass there a few years ago the Roman Rite was almost unrecognisable, and I felt incredibly alienated by a liturgy that I did not understand. To top it off my sister accused me of being "un-christian" when I refused to talk to the person next to me before Mass when instructed to do so by the whoever that was at the ambo.

For those of you not familiar to the area Caloundra, (or rather Catholic Caloundra) is basically God's waiting room. The congregation is very elderly. They are ministered to by elderly priests, who are very much locked into a revolutionary post Vatican II mindset, and see any other opposing opinion as evil. This flows right through into the arrangement of the church and the liturgy. Actually you see here what Pope Benedict calls the "desintegration of liturgy". I will not bore you with details, you can go into the St Marys website to see that, the only difference here is that the liturgy is mainly done by 70 to 90 year old women.

After internal desintegration, here we see the first signs of a parish's corporate worship starting to disintegrate on the outside. The parish community is too old to attend a midnight Mass. The priests are too old to celebrate midnight Mass. The community feels isolated and at risk because of the drunks (pretty all of whom would have no religious belief), and the neighbours. As the community ages further it will reduce in numbers (there is really nothing attractive about the style of liturgies), and the priests will retire. The liturgies will reduce in number. It is then likely to fade away with a small "rump" left of Vatican II hippies living in the past.

The question is then what replaces it? Will the local church regenerate into a small strong church that is attractive young and welcoming??

Incidently at our local Cathedral there is one pub very close by. (There used to be two before one burnt down). We have not have any problem with drunks at all. Maybe because that the odd few drunks have to contend with a crowd of over 1,000 worshippers, and the incense chases them away. A verse comes to mind:

"There was 2 against 2000, and when the smoke finally settled we had beaten the shit out of both of them"

The Propers of the Season (Anglican chant)

Here is a good one from the Hermeneutic of Continuity blogspot. I just love Anglican chant!

The Cassock and Surplice

"The Priory is wondering how business is going. Do you think you should share your gothic surplice or is it special? What is the market like? Do you have much competition from those who offer training services with appareled alb ? Is the financial crisis having an adverse effect? Is it still bringing home the bacon?"

Well, I have two Gothic Surplices, one I frequently loan out to others, the other I reserve for myself, expect for a few occasions such as for a priest for his first blessing and for the use of the mad Franciscan during the ACCC conference. The Market is almost non-existent, Modern parishes find my services too traditional, or too far beyond what there used to. As for competition, my services also extent to appareled albs... but alas it is far to difficult to organizes three matching apparaled albs, as well as being far to prentcious to be the only one on the altar in apparales (tend to look better then most celebrants). In regards to the crisis, perhaps if business was booming, the effect might be felt, but jobs are far and few between.

As I mentioned at the priory, just in case someone wants to be a stick in the mud... (I'm looking at a partuclar Benedictine oblate as well as a few self rightous Latin Massers) I am not serving for money or financial benefit, that's sinful, stupid and down right non profitable, just pointing out the obvious to some. (Cough, Cough)

"And finally, any pre-Mass superstitions? Like pouring the wine into the cruets before the water?"

A few, such as if the Indian is late, then all hell will break loose, Don't work with animmals and Children and make sure you put out a lavabo towel, otherwise the celebrant will use the slevee of your alb to dry his hands. Post Mass superstitions would involve not letting certain servers leave too early, they undoubtly will try to flirt with women using the pickup line "Did you see up there, I was the thurifer smoking the place out, you should come next week, I'll be the MC then"...

Finally just a word of advice to parishes, priests and to Catholic education. Servers are great, not only do they promote vocations (if they are male), but they do serve practical purposes (such as helping out at benediction) and they tend to look better then draftee laybodys who want to be involved (or are rather forced)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Advertising

Our friends at the priory have quite laudably and quite unexpectedly done our post about a humble little blog here. Quite surprisingly they have written praises that I fear we do not deserve, or at least I do not, perhaps I should post a few more times before I retire to my hermitage.

Our friends join the ranks of the many who have noticed my permanent add about the server for hire. Perhaps a brief history lesson is in order about it's origins. Not to long ago, Rev Albert Speer and I were discussing my blog before his Weekly low Mass at a secret location...... needless to say I was wearing my appareled alb..... and he was wearing mountains of lace, a cardboard sandwich and a funny hat. Rev Albert suggested I do an Australian version of Traditio, I kindly declined the offer saying that it was already done by the learnared Coo ees. Having shot down his previous idea, Rev Albert then suggest I do an advertisment say "Have cassock and surplice will travel". I agreed and decided to put one up on the blog....

Where has it got me so far? Well unfortunatly business is slow. A kind hearted Dominican, who belives me to be a little version of himself has requested me to serve his ordination.... unfortunatly he only agreed to pay my bus fare to it. This has been the only case of business that the blog has generated. Closer to home a local Jesuit requested that I sever the ACCC confrerence in Brisbane, a few fun adventures were had, but the yeild was only a grand total of $50.... which was promply divided with my sidekick... and spent on sun glasses and a fabric belt.
Finally the local parish and the Charismatic mother of my school captain, offered to have my serve the 13th Fatmia devotions in the local parish. After 3hrs of offkey music, praying in tounges, forgetting the lavabo towel and discussing laity with the parish priest, I had $35 dollars thrust into my hand....

I do belive I have come a long way from my former days at the Polish Church.. being paid a megar $10 a year.

I'll leave the twenty question till the next post. Must run I have a potential client to meet with.... Sharpey !

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some Recent Comments on Celebration Ad-orientem

Over at the New Litugical Movement, there have been some interesting comments by priests and bishops introducing ad-orientem celebration.

This ancient practice also avoids giving the impression that the priest and the congregation are engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. The third reason was that it reduces the temptation to regard the celebrant as an actor on a liturgical stage. When he and the congregation together face forward to Christ, it makes it easier to visualize that the priest is offering the Mass in the person of Christ. Bp Edward Slattery Dioces of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Why? To restore a healthy sense of the sacred, the transcendent. So that this is not perceived as a social hour or “Entertainment Tonight”, but the Church’s worship of the triune God. Fr. Peter Stravinskas

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thomas Merton

Since high school I have been interested in the spirituality of Thomas Merton. I was reminded today that it is the 40th anniversary of his death.

Books that I have of his are A Thomas Merton Reader (an anthology), The Sign of Jonas, and The Monastic Journey and The Way of Lao Tzu. They have all been of use in my own spiritual journey, particualrly through my teenage years. It was he who was my spiritual guide through discerning my own vocation (which I found was not the cistercian one), in getting into the habit of reading the Office daily, and in getting in touch with who I really am. He introduced me to the desert fathers, and the great cistercian writers such as St Aelred of Rievaulx and Isaac of Stella, all of whom I still enjoy.

My main criticism of his writings is that they sometimes got too introspective about techniques of contemplation. Some of the traditionals/conservatives dont like him because he dabbled in eastern religions, and went all hippy in his hermitage. This is not correct. He kept to his catholic faith and was very orthodox but made the effort to reach out to others. In that he actually found that in terms of spiritual discipline, other religions have a lot in common with ours. Some of them like Zen are a lot more strict. He found echoes of Zen running through strands of Catholicism particularly in the spitituality of St John of the Cross. I actually find St John of the Cross and the great Zen master Dogen as equally obscure.

Here is a good short doco that I found through Whispers in the Loggia which gives a good overview of his life.