Sunday, 24 April 2011

Christos anesti...

I wish you all a very happy Easter! I am just back from assisting at a quiet Triduum in the back of beyond - all according to the rites of the Church as they were before 1956, and at the correct times. I went up with a friend on Wednesday evening and came back today after Mass of the Lord's Resurrection. We tried to do as much as we could as resources and only four people (including Celebrant) would allow. On Maundy Thursday we chanted None before Mass of the Lord's Supper (at 9:00am...yes that's right - in the morning!), essentially a ''low'' Mass with two servers (MC and thurifer), incense and the Proper prayers and Ordinary sung, either according to the plainsong melodies in the Gradual or monotoned where this was impractical. No Mandatum of course (for practical reasons, and even if we had thirteen poor men none of us would be so impertinent as to insert the Mandatum into the rite of the Mass, as only an aliturgical Modernist with no intelligence would). Afterwards we watched at the Altar of Repose and then went to break our fast with Thai food (whilst poor Traddies were still fasting I expect! Oh no wait, Pius XII did away with the Midnight Eucharistic fast to better accomodate the aberration that is evening Mass!) At 5:00pm we chanted Tenebrae of Good Friday, using the pre-Peasant psalmody and we did not, unlike so-called ''traditionalists,'' omit the Miserere. We did not have a hearse (or even candelabrae) and so it was my counsel that we use a table, veiled in violet, and use fourteen tea lights and a central candlestick. Not ideal but we only had enough unbleached candles for the High Altar and certainly not enough ordinary candles or candlesticks to go around. I'm sure the Almighty thought more of our effort at liturgical orthodoxy than anything aesthetically ''impressive'' provided by most churches and cathedrals though.

Yours truly vested in cassock, surplice and biretta about to chant Tenebrae of Good Friday. Some people accuse me of ''extremism'' for ranting about the surplice and evening Mass - the way I see it, I simply go to church expecting the real thing and, well, if nobody else gets it right you have to do it yourself.

Good Friday morning came (if I'm honest, I hate Good Friday) and we made our way to the church. Our Celebrant was late, due to public transport, and so we had not the time to chant None as we had planned and so just got on with the Mass of the Pre-Hallowed Gifts. My plan for the Passion according to St John was to be Chronista (although I must confess I only know the Mattins tone for the post-Peasant version - something to work on for next year) let the Celebrant do Christus and the others to provide the Synagoga/Turba parts but it was the desire of the Celebrant to simply read the Passion at the Epistle corner, as per the directions of the Memoriale Rituum - although the latter part, beginning at Post haec autem rogavit, was chanted according to the ancient tone, ironically restored (I think) by Pius X. Again, ''low'' ceremonial, with two servers, but sung for the most part (by us and the Celebrant), and with incense where it was required. Nobody communicated of course. I had thought of composing a long tract of maledictions or anathemas against '62ists and have the Celebrant interpolate these into the Litanical Prayers, but I had not the time - perhaps next year. Dry toast and water was my plan for Good Friday although we were constrained to march in procession with a host of other Protestants in some sort of ''act of witness,'' and feign interest in their religion afterwards over tea and hot cross buns, scraped over with some sort of ''spread.'' One of the lady ministers present (priest-women send shivers down my spine - they're like nuns in a way, only much worse), from a Protestant sect, looked like a man from afar, though I was wearing my old prescription sunglasses and only realised my mistake when she came to speak with us. I was told in advance to keep my mouth shut and was pretty successful I reckon, though apparently I was seen giving some priest-woman a sideways look. I would say that my contribution to the ecumenical movement was my having been present at all though. As a general rule I do not pray with Protestants (and I'm thinking of extending this rule to RC traditionalists).

At 3:00pm, as Traddieland began their nonsensical and untraditional ''solemn liturgical action,'' we returned to the church to pray the Stations of the Cross, according to the form of St Alphonsus. We sang a verse of the Stabat Mater (in Latin) between each station (my idea) and chanted Tenebrae of Holy Saturday afterwards (wonderfully, or woefully, short).

Holy Saturday morning came, warm and with omens of joy. Holy Saturday is the hardest of the three days, but the most interesting of the Triduum; one of only two ''penitential'' days left in the liturgical year where the Mass begins with a Litany, as many did of old. Pictured here is the Reed, adorned with flowers from the Altar of Repose. We were fortunate to be joined on this day by a man who was wont to go to Durham years ago for Dr Glover's Triduum, and so we had the beautiful Tracts of the twelve (not four, as in the appalling '62 rite) Prophecies sung according to the melodies of the Gradual rather than monotoned - I can read plainsong notation, but not very well. We had no font (again, resources...) and so we went straight into the Litany and the first Mass of Easter. It is unspeakably moving to hear the Great Alleluia for the first time in weeks; it reminds me in a strange way of Túrin's silence after the death of Beleg and how his tears were loosed after partaking of the waters of Eithel Ivrin, hallowed by Ulmo in ancient days. After Vespers we went to break our fast and drink lots of wine and gin (I had pink gin, the most civilised of all drinks in my humble opinion). We had planned on chanting Paschal Mattins and Lauds but we were too tired in the end - the Triduum is that much harder with scanty resources and a serious lack of people and so I think we can hardly be blamed. My friend and I recited it when we got in after lunch anyway.

Easter Sunday is upon us and below is the High Altar vested for the greatest of all feasts. The Celebrant intoned and I sang the Vidi Aquam before Mass - again ''low'' in ceremonial (well not really, we didn't really do much kneeling - at any rate kneeling is inappropriate during Paschaltide and on Sundays) but with incense and the proper prayers chanted from the Gradual. After Mass we sang the seasonal Marian anthem and joined the Protestants again for coffee, tea and cakes.

I am very tired now, though I can go to bed tonight safe in the knowledge that what our small church did was right and proper and the rest of the Roman Church (which we anathematize) was wrong - in the Novus Ordo, liturgical books of 1962 and even among the more ''sensible'' ones who tried to get it right by doing ''old'' Holy Week but at the incorrect times - thereby rendering their efforts void of all Grace and propriety. What we did was ''low'' (we can probably manage High Mass next year), due to circumstances, but we sang the lessons, prophecies, tracts, psalms etc and made use of incense - in a sense trying to make the Liturgy as much like it should be done as we possibly could within our means with two servers, a Celebrant and priest in choro. Now I am off to drink more gin and enjoy my Easter supper - I believe I have earned it.


  1. I see the Big Six on the altar. Is that no longer anathema?

  2. Well, brick-by-brick as a fat American says all too much. Next year we may do Sarum, if we can perhaps get Fr Anthony Chadwick interested. What we did was far more worthy than any other church in the West...

  3. I should like to be there for it. Sarum is technically allowable, after all. As the Tridentine uniformity has broken down, I'd love to see a more prominent place for Sarum in the English Catholic Church.

    To date my favorite pure liturgical experience was Solemn Palm Sunday in the unreformed Rite of Braga a couple of years ago.

    This year's Triduum I did '62, as such was available to me. Surrexit Christus, I wish you every blessing this Eastertide.

  4. Patricius,

    What would you say to the common critique of the pre-1955 rites of celebrating the vigil early Saturday rather than Saturday evening. The equivalent liturgy in the East is celebrated in the late afternoon, with Easter Mattins traditionally at midnight. Further, the Exsultet specifically says "Haec nox est" and does not seem to imply that it is speaking of the night to come.

    While some timing is undoubtedly aliturgical (evening Mass for the day is definitely wrong), is there not some room for perhaps righting certain accretions to the Latin rite, such as moving the Easter vigil so far from Sunday that it basically becomes a commemoration of Saturday rather than a vigil for Easter? Perhaps some other traditional vigils should also be replaced, allowing vesperal Masses as the east has vesperal liturgies.

    Thank you very much for sharing this.

  5. " I had thought of composing a long tract of maledictions or anathemas against '62ists and have the Celebrant interpolate these into the Litanical Prayers, but I had not the time - perhaps next year."
    This really does take the biscuit! So the addition of the name of St Joseph, nutritor Domini, a saint with a historic cult dating back to around 800 (and you traduce as "Joe the Worker"), into the historic Canon of the Roman Church by that Church's Patriarch is an incorrigible abuse, yet it is perfectly acceptable and just for you to insert a laundry-list of attacks against people you don't like into the liturgy at whim?

  6. To be fair, the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil on Holy Saturday is not equivalent to the Easter Vigil Mass. I would say it has no equivalent in the Western Liturgies. Also, Orthodox practice, at least here in America, is to celebrate that Divine Liturgy in the morning.

    The service equivalent to the Vigil Mass of the Roman rite is Paschal Orthros and Divine Liturgy which most Orthodox parishes do at 10 or 11 o clock at night and which ends early the next morning around 1 or 2. This is the service with the candles and the procession and the first proclamation of the Paschal greeting.

  7. Vincent,

    May I beg to differ with you. The Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil is very much the same service, with a significant difference, to the Old Roman Holy Saturday liturgy. One only has to see the extensive readings, the same Gospel percopes and, above all the bapstismal references. At one time there was a migration of the Lucernarium from Vespers to Mattins (see Bertoniere G., 'The Historical Development of the Easter Vigil and Related Services in the Greek Church', Rome, 1972).

    Rome used to celebrate the equivalent of Paschal Orthros (though less spectacularly) but that Mattins, which in Medieval times had been the high point of the Liturgical Year, was suppressed with Pius XII's mutilations in the 1950s. The Byzantine Paschal Eucharist on the Holy Night is the equivalent to the Roman Resurrexi Mass of Easter morning.

  8. Tomas, it is admittedly incongruous to sing "haec nox" in the morning in broad daylight...but certainly no more so than singing Lauds at 1am according to the Pacelli rite! Damned if you do and damned if you don't...

    Your Triduum sounds wonderful and glorious, Patricius, and it surely gave meet and right worship to Almighty God and preferable to the rite of Gricigliano which I endured (it was an odd mixture of Roman and Pacellian; mostly the latter but with the ceremonial of the former). Please keep us informed about the ceremonies for next year and if it will be Sarum. How fortunate you are to be able to arrange such glorious celebrations.

  9. Ben, why is your profile blocked?

  10. Patricius, I think it shows up as blocked because I have never created one. If I can be of service, you can reach me at bencarlson followed immediately by the digits 123 ... I use (sorry for the cryptic code, just trying to avoid spam bots).

  11. In fact, the rubric says that the Vigil starts "dicto nono in choro",and it ends with Vespers. so I uggest that the "proper time" is late afternoon, not early morning of Saturday. zThis gives the Lucernarium its proper meaning - one lights lamps at dusk, not when it is fully dark. Calling the morning (for the Vigil, or 5pm for Tenebrae) the "proper time" is to canonise the later Medieval practice, which was itself a concession to clerical laxity - the clergy couldn't be expected to wait till dusk to break their fast (poor poppets).

  12. I would like to make a comment here. I can’t say that I know all aspects or liturgical history, or how a perfect liturgical Mass should be said during Easter when it can be so complicated.

    I am only a humble “Tradie” Priest.

    All I can say is that I will try and offer the Triduum in the most perfect way that I can and that means using the rubrics of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass before the changes of 1955 at the very least. I can’t sing a Mass for the simple reason that I can read music, but I can offer a fine low Mass. I hope that one day I will learn how to offer a sung Mass and will strive for that.

    There seems to be aspects of inverse elitism or snobbery in my view, where a person of lesser age or rank can’t give his opinion even if he has studied and knows better.

    I for one, as an ordained Priest have no qualms in acquiescing to the greater knowledge of somebody else, especially if I know that that person has the greater knowledge whether ordained or not and can be an asset.

    We are all called to perform our duties and to be Saints for that matter! I for one can handle a drunken or drugged so and so that walks into church and sit him down and have a good chat with him and he will walk out feeling that there is something he can strive for; all you have to do is listen to his or her woes and they will feel better and maybe, just maybe will come back, but that is me.

    I know, for example, that just by reading the Introit I can’t give a wonderful sermon off the top of my head like some of my brother clergy can. I for one have to write down a sermon and study over and over again from my cue cards and envy the ability of my brethren that can give a sermon off the tops of there heads. But then again we are all called to the best of our abilities.

    All in all, some of us are scholars, some pastoral; each to their own abilities.

    I have met and quite categorically say God bless you Patricius, you will be an asset wherever you go. You are a gentlemen and a scholar and your output over Easter, in my eyes anyway has been invaluable.

  13. Fr. Paul,

    All ferial Masses de Tempore from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday take place after None, any festal Mass that are celebrated and Masses on the Sundays are sung after Terce.

    I could at least respect an argument for having these celebrations consistently in the afternoon but find it bizarre that people will attack the old Roman Triduum on the basis of putatively being 'at the wrong times' yet have morning, lunchtime and evenging Masses on the other days of Lent and not celebrate None, or any other Hour, throughout the period anyway.

    My understanding is that at the celebration Patricius assisted at None was indeed said and Vespers sung at the end of the service precisely as the rubric you quote directs.

    How many other people did that - poor poppets - it would have been so hard for them.

  14. I am old, so I must admit to shock in hearing that an ordained priest, a traditionalist as well, did not learn the fundamentals of chanting the simple music of the Mass in seminary! I can only suspect that things in seminary have changed greatly from my days when daily office and mass were chanted, albeit often badly, by all seminarians. I can still remember the glares from our choir director when I hit wrong notes or confused tone 8 for tone my defense, they can be very similar!

  15. Its worth remembering, Dale, that these days not all "traditionalist" priests are able to be trained in a conventional "traditional" seminary anymore... ;o)

  16. Patricius: sounds like a very glorious Triduum.
    I say that with no "tongue in cheek". None.

    Wish it could be so for the rest of us.
    I mean it.

    But for now, I'm a horrible "Papist" Roman priest who offers the '62 Mass, as given, hoping for a "better day".

    I mean it.

  17. Dear Nazareth Priest,

    It could be worse! You could be a horrible Tzaropapist Byzantine priest!

  18. We should correspond. Are you serious about Sarum? If there are only 3 or 4 of you for ceremonies, come in a car over to France and we can can Mass and Office in my chapel. There is also the question of my "pedigree" as a priest. I belong to the TAC and it remains to be seen whether Rome will ever accept me in an ordinariate. I just wanted to be honest with you. I'm validly ordained, and will help in any way I can.

  19. Rubricari
    what you write concerns conventual masses as far as my understanding goes. "Private" or low masses have historically been separated from the cursus of the hours - even in churches where the latter were celebrated. You may decry this; you may indeed decry the very existence of such masses, and if you do I am inclined to agree with you. But I suspect that this development is at least as old as the shifting of the times of the public offices to make life easier for the clergy. If you can provide any light on this I will be grateful.

  20. Fr. Paul,

    Your understanding is almost correct. RG XV, 2 applies to Conventual and Solemn Masses. Private Masses being exempted from the cursus by #1 of the same section.

    As private Masses are forbidden (except by indult or to confect the Viaticum) during the Triduum my point remains.

    The so-called 'restoration' of Holy Week in 1956 entailed moving services out of their natural emplotment in the cursus of the Hours. Traditionally these services took place between None and Vespers (or, where the Ordinary celebrated between Sext, None and Vespers). There was a strong correlation between the Lucernarium and Vespers on the days of the Triduum that continued in some European local rites right up through the eighteenth century. Holy Saturday remained, in the Roman rite, as the only day when the Lucernarium was retained.

    With the innovations of 1956 Maundy Thursday and Good Friday lost Vespers in choir; on Holy Saturday a new Vespers was produced (based on the form that had been used on the Thursday and Friday but with the creation of a new antiphon and new collect) yet Compline and Mattins were omitted.

    In the old rite nothing is omitted everything flows. Likewise if one examines the Byzantine rite, nothing is omitted (except in parish praxis) the services of the Triduum being incorporated into Vespers and Mattins.

  21. Hmmm.....

    I am sure that impersonating a clerk in Holy Orders is a criminal offence.