Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Two photos, two kinds of Liturgy...

Decadence, tastelessness...I honestly don't know how to describe this exactly. Their attempt at Liturgy seems at best a revival of 1950s Catholicism, a ''let's pick up where Pius XII left off''' kind of approach, with the abundance of lace, children, the ''big six'', grotesque Roman style vestments (the Chasuble here, up close, looks like sandpaper), and wooden mock-gradines, as if the Altar itself isn't good enough (and don't let us forget such incidents as Joe the Communist and Signum Magnum - both innovations from the 1950s). You would have thought that at a solemn feast such as the Nativity there'd have been more of an effort with the ceremonial, and ''colour'' (i.e, tunicled Acolytes perhaps, Crucifer etc; there was a Deacon but because Fr So-and-so the Priest didn't turn up, he was relegated to the choir, along with potential Subdeacon), but in Traddieland the only thing to distinguish a feast from a day of simple rite is the extra lace. How unedifying it truly was. Indeed, to put it one way, this photo looks less like real Liturgy as a theatrical performance (as I said before, children's Nativity play)!

Now this photo by contrast is quite pleasing. Note the tunicled assistants to the Celebrant in cope, pluvialistae (possibly rectores chori, if so most likely laymen), etc. This seems more in keeping with the ''noble simplicity'' of the Roman Rite to me than the inordinate use of lace ornamentation, and a million kids in cottas.


  1. Dear Fr. Quentin, R.I.P!

    I never actually met Fr. Quentin but did exchange a couple of letters. There are more photographs somewhere - a famous one of a celebration with 'gold' vestments showing tunicled acolytes and crucifer and cantors in copes at Mass etc. Alas now Chamblac is deserted and locked up - all gone.

    A generation earlier Fr. Clement Russel of St. George's Sudbury had a similar understanding of liturgical celebration. Fr. Clement, for great feasts, had tunicled acolytes, cantors in cope etc so that two people who had worshipped there told me Fr. Clement's Sung Mass was far better than Brompton's High Mass on the great days.

  2. If it was so distasteful, why did you take part in it (as evidenced by the photo)? It's not as if anybody forced you?

  3. The only reason you found it so distasteful was that you were not permitted to be subdeacon, otherwise, no doubt, we wouldn't have heard any complaints.

  4. Rubricarius, is it too much to ask for good taste and propriety in the celebration of the Liturgy?! I sometimes think that some people don't fully understand the importance of Liturgy, so much so that they err in their attempts at providing all that they have within their means. To Traditionalists this seems to be add extra candles and lace, rather than distinguish the actual solemnity of the Mass from the rest of the year by having High Mass.

    The Oratory? The tambourine-waving yokels in your local Catholic church could provide better Liturgy than that place!

  5. In our church, an official RC church using the ''EF'' exclusively, we have pluvialistae, both clerical and lay, in processions.

  6. Mac,

    Why do you think the standard of liturgical celebration is better in the top picture than the bottom one (leaving aside that you know Fr. Finigan and didn't know the late Fr. Quentin Montgomery-Wright)?

  7. Well Patricius? Is Mac right in saying that because you weren't permitted to dress up, you found the liturgy all of a sudden to your dislike?

    I see you are also wearing lace in the first photo.

  8. Explain, if you will, how the Sarum Use and the BCP can both be Good Things. And why you prefer the latter to the 1962 LU. Who declared Ultramontanism a heresy? Where do you go for your "authentic" liturgy - some Anglo-Catholic historically reconstructed "mass"? How come you know enough about 1950s Catholicism to pontificate patronizingly about it?

    On second thoughts, don't bother. Lay off the Tolkien - it's hobbit-forming. Get a girlfriend (if you're that way inclined). Don a Roman cotta and serve a few Low Masses. Get a life.

  9. John Nolan,

    Thank you for your comment, clearly a constructive contribution to this post. But I must ask, do you personally have either a ''life'' or a girlfriend?

    In answer to your questions, I don't have a girlfriend because I don't care for women, and I think I have a fulfilling life unconnected with this blog, work and my parish.

  10. Was the 2nd photo taken when Fr Quentin was still an Anglican? Because if so - then the first will always trump the 2nd. Because the first is a valid Mass and the 2nd would be play acting at Mass.

    And who declared ultramontanism a sin exactly? I'm an ultramontanist and don't see the need to confess it to my confessor.

    Pride on the other hand - i.e. pride at not being able to be sub-deacon (quite rightly), pride in believing you are a better liturgist than the Pope etc...that is clearly a sin.

    I do wish people like you would just leave the Catholic church (eventhough that desire is in itself sinful I accept). You would be so much happier playing dress up with the Anglicans and their make believe liturgy or even better the Orthodox for that matter - at least they have the apostolic succession.

  11. Justin,

    The photograph of Fr. Quentin is from Chamblac and taken many years after he was ordained by the Bishop of Bayeux. I do not know what his praxis was when an Anglican.

    Roman clergy are just not what they were...

  12. justin, the photographs were carefully chosen to illustrate a point. As Rubricarius says the second photo illusrtates a valid Mass by Roman standards. Indeed I wouldn't have chosen it otherwise - not wanting to have to defend Trad arguments of bare Sacramental validity in matters liturgical.

    As to why I am still in the Roman Church, do you marvel at this? I have no intention of ever becoming an Anglican, though I go sometimes to a prominent Anglo-Catholic church. It just so happens that very few Catholics, and least of all of the Traditionalist kind, know anything about liturgy - which is a shame considering the wealth in the Roman liturgical patrimony. One of many thoughts I had when witnessing the solemn blessing of Palms in the Old Rite for the first time - ''pearls before swine'', and I could think of a host of other people who would have appreciated the Liturgy more than most who were present...

    Ultramontanism is another issue, a canker which eats away at the Church. I may address this in a future post, though for now may it suffice for me to say that I see in the Ultramontane Papacy the primary cause of the present ills of the Roman Church.

  13. Justin he has a right to question the direction of the Church if he believe it is somehow deviated from the faith, not only a right but a responsibility. While popes may not fall into heresy, Popes can be weak willed in their teaching and allow others to fall into heresy. Does Patrick need to work on who he speaks about "traddies" and tone done his arrogance, yes. He makes sound arguments, as far as I can tell but I am not that smart on matters liturgical. Patrick you have a chance to teach but why do you display such an attitude, as aside no one cares why you developed a bad attitude. Take the attitude of Christ on the cross, teach but show humility. It may take a hundred years before sound liturgical practices take hold. You care what people think about you (you really do), or you would not be writing this blog. So write with charity and love, cajoling the horses to water not dragging.

  14. Here is another snippet on Fr. Quentin from Fr. Chadwick's personal experience:

    "Fr. Montgomery was an amazing fellow. He had stacks and stacks of vestments, and did the liturgy the old Norman way, like Sarum. There were little blue dalmatics for altar boys, and I often sang as a coped Ruler at Sunday Mass at Le Chamblac. He vested on the Lady chapel altar (the church's south transept). The Judica me psalm was said at the Lady altar and in procession. He likewise said the Prologue of St John on the way from the high altar back to the Lady chapel. At the time, I though he was just being odd, but this was the medieval and pre-Tridentine way of celebrating."

    I will ask a friend if he has any photographs of Fr. Quentin and of Fr. Clement Russell. However, that will have to wait as I need to deal with the Christmass Tree.