Thursday, February 07, 2008

At last!

Readers may already have seen the pictures of Pope Benedict`s Ash Wednesday Mass. I know some may think this is getting obsessed with details but I was very pleased to see that at last the `Benedictine reform` has reached the Pope`s chasubles. This is in keeping with his intention of stressing the continuity of the Catholic faith rather than any idea of a rupture and a beginning from scratch again. Liturgical continuity reiinforces doctrinal continuity. Thus I was pleased to see the Pope wearing this Roman style vestment for Mass yesterday for the first time since he became Pope. It was also encouraging to see the seven candles for a papal Mass now seem to be a constant feature althogh the arrangement here left something to be desired.

For more learned comments see the NLM blog. For a brief introduction to chasubles see Wikipedia


Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Thank you, Father, for this post.

At the celebration of the station Mass on Ash Wednesday, the Pope was clearly reconnecting the Church today with its rich liturgical past.

Not only its liturgical past, of course, but its saints, its martyrs, its witnesses, sung and unsung, its praying and its teaching, down all the centuries, its apostolicity, yes, the very Faith itself.

I still wonder about the motives of men in the Church who tried (and are still trying !) to disconnect with that past.

What are they up to ?

God bless the Pope.

gemoftheocean said...

Hi Father. Can you are someone please tell me why fiddleback chasubles are supposedly the be all and end all of all chasubles dear to the trad heart? [I happen to think they DO look nice ... but as one who has studied costume history and one who has obvserved the vestments done in mosaics of centuries ago....the fiddleback is CLEARLY a LATECOMER. One could argue the fiddle back is"discontinity."]


Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear Karen,it is true that the Roman chasuble is a cut away version of the original. I have nothing against `Gothic` vestments and wear them myself (and in fact did so today at the EF) but I do prefer the Roman style. I think it would be wrong to say that it is sign of discontinuity. The cut-away style evolved organically over the centuries until the Gothic revival of the 19th century. I can`t find the reference but I think it was at the beginning of the 20th century that the Vatican outlawed Gothic vestments. I know this because in the sacristy of the English college in Rome is the Pugin vestment which is a 19th century Gothic vestment by Pugin cut back to make it conform to the ruling on chasuble shape. This ruling may ony have been for the city of Rome: I`d have to check.

I do find the Roman shape more pleasing to look at. However I am quite picky about vestments and prefer if possible the Roman shape without figures or decorated orpheries but simply with beautiful material which may itself be ornamented. If I could work out how to do a hyperlink in a comments box I`d provide one.

I think another reason devotees of the EF often perfer the Roman shape is that it is as different as possible from the normal rather uninspiring vestments one sees at the OF. I was once rebuked for spending £300 on a chasuble from Gamerelli`s being told that a chasuble could easily be bought for £50. However I find a beautiful chasuble helps in the overall scheme of the liturgy( and I`ve spent a lot more than £300 on a chasuble since then!) Maybe also it could be because a Roman style chasuble indicates an enthusiasm for history and thus continuity which the average modern chasuble fails to evoke.

However I have been at Mass in some places where the sight of any chasuble was a wonder to behold.

Does this help?

Anonymous said...

Liturgical continuity? Come, come now. How ancient and continuous is the use of assistant deacons in dalmatic on Ash Wednesday?

The practice dates from 1961 when the truly ancient practice of deacons and subdeacons wearing folded chasubles during Lent and other penitential seasons was ruptured by its abolition.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Anonymous, I was asked about chasubles. I would like to see folded chasubles for deacons restored.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Anon's comment raises the interesting question : "What constitutes a rupture with the liturgical past ?"

We all know the liturgical movement was hijacked by the reformers in the later years of Pius XII.

It is usually recognised that the 1955 Holy Week reforms were the first symptom of the later liturgical revolution under the Consilium in the wake of Vatican II.

But do we distinguish between, say, the decline of the biretta, and the abandonment of the maniple ?

Is there a distinction between the suppression of the second Confiteor at the Communion, and the decline of the Leonine prayers after Mass ?

Where, in the scheme of things, do we place the abolition in 1961 of the folded chasuble in penitential seasons ?

Was its replacement with the dalmatic really an earth shaking event ?

Where should one stand on the change in 1962 from violet to white cope for the blessing of candles on the Feast of The Purification ?

An unnecessary change, yes. But scarcely revolutionary.

I ask the question not to fuel an argument, but because I at times find it difficult to know where to draw the line between organic development and revolutionary change.