Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Predecessors Rite

I love old photographs of liturgical events NLM had these three of Solemn Mass in the Premonstratensian rite from the Norbertine Abbey of Frigolet near Avignon. The photographs date to around the mid 1950's.

Now my immediate predecessors were Premonstatensian Canons, their liturgy here wasn't anything out of the ordinary, and certainly didn't reflect the past glory of their own Rite. One of the ancient features that would have filled any "liturgist" of the present day with horror was celebrating solemn Mass in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. On the Feast of Corpus Christi for example Benediction took place three times; before the collect, at the offertory and before the post communion.
Their Rite apparently closely resembled that of Cluny, and was perhaps one of the most exotic of Western Liturgical Rites.

I would like to claim that my people were so attached to this particular Rite, and to deprive them would be a grave pastoral disservice, therefore I should be given permission to celebrate it but I can't see anyone wearing that, but their Rite is illustrative of the rich diversity of the liturgies of the past.


Dominic said...

What no bongoes or zither?

Gretel Kung said...

When you read of excesses like these you can understand why the liturgical reforms were necessary in the first place. What nonsense the represent.

dominic said...

Gretel, You might well be right that they were an exotic aberration but not too long ago they were a recognised part of a venerable tradition that stretched back to ancient times.

We cannot dismiss such things as being "nonsense", patently they were not at the time. One of the important things that Benedict, and his school, is trying to do is restore the idea of "Sacred History", a sense of God being in time and guiding his Church. I think Fr Blake has spoken about the importance of reconciliation with our past.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

My goodness !
WHITE birettas !
Mass AND Exposition at the same time !

I can remember as a boy the annual Quarant' Ore in parish churches.
(This was years before the liturgical reforms.)

There was uninterrupted Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the high altar, following (I suppose) the meticulously detailed rubrics of the Instructio Clementina.

Mass during Exposition could not be celebrated at the high altar, but was permitted at side altars.

I very much like Fr. Ray's suggestion that perhaps the old Premonstratention tradition could be reintroduced for pastoral reasons.
But I'm not sure this argument would hold water.

However, since the publication of "Summorum Pontificum", I wonder if a priest could now celebrate the Extraordinary Form at a side altar during Exposition as in the old days.

After all, "all things to the contrary notwithstanding" presumably means what it says.

By the way, there are some very nice photos of Quarant' Ore at the Oxford Oratory posted at flickr.

(I tried to create a link text using the html anchor tag as advised by Fr. Tim, but it didn't work.
Anyone interested in the photos will have to google for Quarant' Ore and go to
Sorry ! )

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Gretel :

Sorry, I don't agree.

After forty years of banal liturgy, I'm all for a bit of exoticism.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes it is one of the themes I bang on about in private, and I suppose a bit on this blog.
As far as this post is concerned, the liturgy is an expression of our theology, if it was valid in the past it is still valid in the present, there might be cultural reasons now for dropping things, because their meaning has been lost, or simply because now they give the wrong impression. I mean things like Popes being carried on chairs or tiaras, but the liturgical expression of our faith is something which should be treated with a certain reverence, because it expresses belief.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

You mention the tiara and sedia gestatoria.

I can understand that there are good reasons for abandoning the latter. For a start, it's not bullet-proof, which matters a lot in this day and age.

But, given Pope Benedict's love of traditional papal headgear in all its various manifestations, I am at a loss to understand why he did away with the tiara on his coat-of-arms and chose a simple mitre instead. Was an explanation ever given?

I would very much like to see the Popes wearing the tiara again - it is a very potent symbol of papal authority.

gemoftheocean said...

Keep the pics coming, they're great.

I'm a little confused re: the birettas though. I know the Norbertines had white birettas, but why are they four cornered? I thought they were only 4 cornered for academic functions, if one had a degree from a pontifical university ... and they were not liturgical celebrations. Or did the norbertines always use 4 cornered ones, even at a celebration of a liturgy?

Hebdomadary said...

Methinks Gretel Kung is either pulling your leg right out of its hip socket, or that she is meerly a rabble-rousing nincompoop. As "she" well knows, zealotry in the cause of God's worship is no vice. Or perhaps she just thinks she should be the one to regulate the spirit of every human being. Oh boy, maybe "she" will become my new parish life fascilitator!!!!

Father, the question is not whether anyone would "wear" such reasoning, but whether objectively it should be done whether anyone approves, likes it, thinks it's a good idea, or wants it. It's not for them to decide the value of the worship of God.

White Stone Name Seeker said...

After seeing a certain Scottish Cardinal sitting between two thorns (one of which may have been a woman) in vestments that were...umm...well...tasteless, seems the politest word-this is a breath of fresh air.
Lets bring it all back. Procession anyone?

Benfan said...

Father, I'm not very literate on liturgical matters. I have been taught that the mass is a living sacrifice. That Christ is alive and that time is subject to him. Why would people be squirming with benediction during mass? I do not understand the logic of objection. While it is not ideal, it does not appear to contradict the mass in any way to me. I would be grateful for some illumination?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Good point, in most Eastern Liturgies, there is normally at least one solemn "Benediction" with the consecrated elements. It is modern Liturgists that have problems with it, maybe there is a problem, esp with Mass in the presence of the SS exposed, if we see the Mass as merely being a confecting of the Eucharist, or even a sacrificing of Christ, rather than a participating in the Heavenly Liturgy.

Anonymous said...

The papal tiara looked silly to my modern eyes. I have heard that Paul VI said it was very uncomfortable to wear. Much nicer are the tiaras (?) worn by the Eastern Orthodox.

With popes not being able to scratch their noses without the world's media commenting on it can you imagine the field day they would have with the fans and the sedia?

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Regarding the comment by Anonymous on the tiara, Pope Paul VI disliked his own specially-made tiara which I understand he found ugly and uncomfortable. But surely ways can be found to address both objections. The best photo of Blessed John XXIII, in my opinion, is the one of him sporting the tiara.

I think the revival of the papal coronation ceremony just after the election of a new Pope would be excellent -- more free media coverage and (for Catholics) a reminder of who's the Vicar of Christ and the successor to St. Peter.

Of course, reviving the tiara would now be problematic. Any Pope who brought it back into use would be accused of pompousness, authoritarianism, ultramontanism, political incorrectness, etc. etc.

Which just goes to show that the Church has to be extremely careful whenever it tampers with ancient traditions...

Essayez said...

Immediately after having spoken to you this morning,re Premonstatensians etc., I checked the Telegraph blogs. In there was one posted by Christopher Howse entitled 'Blanchlands hidden beauty'. As this is close to where I was born I checked it out, only to discover that blanchland is the site of a former Premonstatensian abbey!