I was tagged in this photo on Facebook the other day. It shows us all lined during the singing of Adeste Fidelis after Midnight Mass. Note all the lace and the surplus children (also the '62 Missal on the Altar - used purely because it contained the notation for the Tonus Solemnior of the Preface). Two hours before Mass started I was informed that one of the Ministers couldn't make it, so I offered my services as either Subdeacon, or if not as Tunicled Crucifer. Both were rejected and I, with two others, formed the liturgical choir - alongside a Deacon. Everyone except me seemed to think that the Mass was ''beautiful.'' That's not exactly the word I'd pick. ''Sweet'', perhaps, if you come to Liturgy at Christmas expecting a child's Nativity play, where they all get to dress up in their lace cottas, look pretty and each hold a candle. I don't. I come expecting something solemn and decorous, not puerile.
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Let's play spot the Chasuble!
''It does not add to the dignity of a rite that a crowd of useless boys stand about the sanctuary doing nothing. Nor is it in accordance with the tradition of the Roman rite to add useless ornamental attendance.'' (Adrian Fortescue, The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, Burns Oates, 1943).
Something important has been grating on my nerves for a few days. Can anybody furnish me with a theological argument as to why I, as a young layman, cannot substitute for a Subdeacon at High Mass in the absence of a tonsured cleric whereas it's perfectly all right for 8 and 9 year old boys to substitute for the Acolytes? The liturgical books suppose that the servers and members of the liturgical choir be at least tonsured clerics. Acolytes are supposed to have been so ordained, in the same way that the Celebrant of Mass is to be an ordained Priest, the Deacon of the Mass to be an ordained Deacon. According to the Ceremonial of Bishops the Master of Ceremonies is to be an ordained priest too (or at least be in Holy Orders)! What of the Subdeacon though? The Subdiaconate is not now nor has it ever been part of the threefold Major Orders of Bishop, Priest and Deacon instituted by God and the Roman Church is ancestrally wrong to have supposed this (though it can be argued that the Subdiaconate has not been treated consistently as a Major Order in the West). In which case I see no lawful impediment as to why, on great feasts, I cannot be Subdeacon - if it is lawful for children to be Acolytes.
I was venting my frustration upon a good friend of mine, who says that the reason Traddies don't think it is ''appropriate'' for laymen to be Subdeacon is because they cannot stand the sight of laymen wearing vestments - in order to be Subdeacon you have to be Fr So-and-so, who in actual fact was probably never ordained Subdeacon in the first place! I think quite the opposite. It is highly inappropriate for a Priest to be Subdeacon. Plus I don't see why spending any amount of time in seminary makes me more ''qualified'' to wear a Tunicle...and are not the cassock and surplice ecclesiastical vestments!? It's things like this which make me go elsewhither for better Liturgy.
I sometimes think that I am wasting my time writing these posts though...