Thursday, March 27, 2008

Holy Week

I`m just beginning to recover from the exertions of Holy Week and a bad cold. I was very pleased with the turn out for the Maundy Thursday Mass here at St Mary`s considering it can be the least well attended of the three days. On Good Friday the church was not full I`m sorry to say. The Easter vigil attracted a slightly smaller congregation than a normal vigil Mass but on Easter Sunday morning the church was packed to standing room only with some people taking themselves upstairs to sit in the choir loft.

A highlight this year was having a full team of servers for all the Triduum who go from strength to strength. The serving team was really organised by Fr Mark Withoos who introduced me to the idea of a servers` evening which involved an hour`s practice including rigorous instruction in how to genuflect properly, to hold the hands joined and how to approach the altar, followed by pizzas and entertainment. After Fr Mark got things started we now carry on without him as he is no longer in the area. I am greatly helped by two of the mothers of the servers, Ann and Alison, who come to the training evenings and are in the sacristy on a Sunday morning to ensure everyone knows what they are doing. Although the sanctuary at St Mary`s is now very small and not really suited to having servers (there is no room for them to sit on the sanctuary so they have to sit in the front row of the church) their knowledge of what to do has grown and the latest thing we introduced was having torchbearers for the Eucharistic prayer which now happens every Sunday. I know they should not leave until after Communion but if they continued to kneel before the altar during Communion there would be no room so they go back to sacristy at the Our Father. This also has the benefit that the thurible stays there after this point as a number of parishioners appear to have problem with incense.

So Holy Week went very smoothly. I was also the celebrant at a 1962 Good Friday service at 5pm. Unfortunately while I had allocated half an hour for a rehearsal I found I had forgotten the ombrellino and part of the photocopied service sheet and so had to come back here to get it which meant there was almost no time for a rehearsal and the ceremonies were somewhat confused. However the large schola sang very well and I was very pleased to be able to hear the Reproaches and a shortened version of the Pange lingua. I was keen to use the new Good Friday prayer for the Jews as it showed the Pope taking an active interest in the 1962 missal and showing it is part of the mainstream liturgy of the Church. However parts of the 1962 liturgy are irritating: the said Our Father is very strange. Also the use of the black cope for the Solemn Prayers seems rather odd. However as I couldn`t see any other celebration of the 1962 Good Friday happening in this diocese or a neighbouring diocese I though it was important to offer it for those who asked.


Adulio said...

You have Bugnini to blame for those changes made to the Holy Week. The 1956 Holy Week "restoration" is all his doing and he takes credit for it in his memoirs (which you can obtain from St. Paul's Media, I think)

I've always thought the amount of dialogue in the 1962 Holy Week was strange too.

Anonymous said...

Regarding some of your parishoneers having a problem with incense, I have heard it said, and seen it demonstrated, as the best way to smoke out those with protestant convictions. I also know a lady of strong low church Anglican faith who on entering a Catholic church wrinkles her nose like a rabbit and gives a little shake of the head.

PeterHWright said...

I agree with Ottaviani.

The mischief began when the liturgical movement was hijacked by the modernisers.

We were better off before the 1955 reforms.

Nevertheless, very well done, Father, for celebrating the 1962 Good Friday liturgy.

At least it's better than the Novus Ordo version !

Pastor in Monte said...

I have a friend, an Anglican clergyman, who told me of a colleague of his who wanted to introduce incense into his little parish church. On the first Sunday the thurible appeared, there began a chorus of what they called the 'Protestant cough'. Finally after a celebration that sounded like a tuberculosis ward, the cleric called the thurifer to him in front of the congregation and simply tipped it upside down, showing it to have been empty throughout. That was the end of the Protestant cough.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Pastor in valle what a good story. I liked the phrase `Protestant cough`! It is remarkable how the coughing goes hand in hand with opposition to many of the other things I`ve introduced. One of the coughers was at a funeral yesterday at my other, much bigger, church and as soon as the incense appeared at the end of Mass the coughing started.

PeterHWright said...

I also was very taken by Fr. Sean's story.

I have noticed "the cough", accompanied by people shuffling and shifting in their seats, can be brought on by lengthy sermons and even by pastoral letters !

Anonymous said...

I must beg to differ with Dr. Wright as I believe the Paul VI Good Friday service is superior to that found in the 1962 missal.

In the Paul VI form the use of Eucharistic vestments has been restored (there is of course the anomoly of using the wrong colour red. The red used in many medieval usages was a very dark red indeed and nothing like the festal vestment worn by Benedict XVI this year); the curtailment of the Passion of St. John made in the 1956 reform had been abandoned; and oddities such as wearing a cope for the collects sung at the centre of the altar have also been dropped.

Some years ago a friend of mine who had been an MC at the London Oratory acted as such for the celebration of a 1962 Triduum at Ware. He was profoundly disappointed and considered the Paul VI form superior.

My own preference would be for the Tridentine form (i.e. pre-1956) although I have always thought even that could be improved by the inclusion of some of the non-Tridentine ceremonies of the Burial of the Cross and Easter Sepulchre.

Anonymous said...

I have the so-called "protestant cough"... however I am asthmatic and experience severe difficulties with excessive use of incense.... so not everyone is coughing through disapproval some people are genuinely distressed by it.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Anonymous, I think the `Protestant cough` is a reaction to even the suggestion of incense ( as in the empty thurible story) rather than an excessive amount. I hope I am not guilty of using excessive amounts and that a moderate amount, which must inevitably produce some smoke, is acceptable.