Monday, 17 October 2011

A Reading List...

I always do this, but I just can't help myself. I am planning on doing some earnest research into the period of early to mid 19th century Liturgy in English and Irish Roman Catholic (and possibly Anglican) cathedral and collegiate churches and seminaries. Can anybody recommend a reading list?


  1. Research on seminaries! Run, run! Seminaries are horrid bloody twisted institutions created by Fortress Trent in response to the unregulated apprenticeship system of the medieval secular clergy. Now they're just breeding grounds for neuroses -- sexual, interpersonal, and shantay. Better to move to the Protestant theological school model and let priests live "off campus", to say. I hope soon that the seminarians will live off campus with their lawfully wedded wives! :-))) Actually, I could care less if the seminarians lived with their not-lawful boyfriends or girlfriends. Adult, consensual, legal -- ain't none of my business really.

    I was in Rome over the summer. I heard private Mass in St. Peter's every day for one week. There I was, at kneeler, rosary at hand, burnt dark red after days at the Ostian digs, scars, bumps, uncombed hair. The two priests who (usually) said EF Mass were pearlescent white, immaculately clean, and without blemish. Take it two ways. Either they're fragile creatures of the cloiser, akin to Elizabethan maidens who live days without sunlight like white asparagus. Perhaps, their spider-like fingers' deft movements reminded me of a Franco-Anglo-Irish take on kathoey at a late-late cabaret in Bangkok. Altogether, the experience was surreal, creepy, and very unattractive.

    Read up on Victorian seminaries only if you're willing to tear down the monstrous system that erected these towers of torture.

  2. JM, I never said I agreed with the seminary system, but I do think that there was a decline in the standard of liturgical celebration in seminaries, cathedrals and collegiate churches with a simultaneous surge in Ultramontanism in the course of the 19th century. St Peter's in Rome stopped even their daily high Mass in 1948, just in time for the mutilations that were to follow.

  3. Patricius, I am fond of hyperbole, as you have probably figured out by now. My "praise" of the American declining and rotting "empire" was meant as a self-critical reflection of the non-critical praise some heap on the Commonwealth realm monarchies.

    Realistically, St. Peter's is a hermetically-sealed Catholic Disneyland. It is an entirely artificial environment manipulated to provide an "experience". Sadly, nowadays most of the basilica is closed to pilgrims. It is not possible to even circumambulate the Papal Altar after 11 am or so. Quite sad. Now under BXVI it's much easier to get a seat on the Dumbo ride in Anaheim than to view the Bernini altar from the perspective of the Altar of the Chair. Given the mirror show, why even bother analyzing the Petrine basilical liturgy? The liturgy of the Roman patriarchal church was never designed to model anything but its own narcissistic reflection. Analyzing St. Pete's is a dead end for macro-liturgical studies.

    Rarely are there linear relationships in scholarship. I strongly doubt that a bright red line can be drawn through "ultramontanism" (itself a hopelessly tangled and almost meaningless term) and a perceived decline in liturgical standards. Sure, many fathers of the 19th and 20th centuries mumbled through their daily votives in twenty or less. And so? That was their prerogative. What would this have to do with the fantastic showcase on the Vatican hill? Rather, consider macro-liturgical studies as a scatterplot or webbed interlace of phenomena.

  4. [You may insert tedious, self-important bitching about St Peter's, the Vicar of Christ, the Holy Roman Church, other bloggers, Mabel Jones from No. 34, etc., here, and at your leisure.]

    I think the more interesting point is: St Peter's is the wrong basilica. The Pope has had the freedom to go where he pleases in the City for - what - 80 years? And yet still the Papacy continues in self-exile in St Peter's rather than preaching from its proper cathedra.