Thursday, 3 February 2011

Evening Mass...

Part of my ''oath against '62'' was that evening Mass is an abomination which wrecks the order of the liturgical day - an innovation of Pius XII (though Bugnini says that there were private indults for evening Mass going back as far as the 18th century), and a sin crying to Heaven for vengeance. Yesterday was Candlemas, that most dear twofold festival of Our Lord and Lady, and I boycotted evening Mass on this day - the first time I had missed Candlemas in three years - out of principle. Indeed my only contact with Liturgy that day was my translation of a few Lessons and Responsaries from Mattins. Some may think this is my loss and not their error, but who cares?

I work Monday to Friday mornings, which means that I cannot go to Mass on weekdays. I am sure that this is the same for most people who read this blog; or if they do not work they have other cares and commitments. The reason for having evening Mass is at least intelligible in this respect. But, fundamentally, it is aliturgical and an innovation repugnant to the Tradition of the Church. If you cannot get to Mass in the morning, too bad. Were I Pius XII I would have simply removed the ''obligation'' to attend Mass on Holydays rather than invented something alien to the Sacred Liturgy. In fact, given the choice of two evils, I prefer the transference of feasts to the concept of evening Mass. If people want evening liturgy, then why not anticipate Mattins or have first Vespers instead?

It just makes my accusation against Traddies, that they simply endeavour to resurrect 1950s Catholicism, that much more substantial. Signum Magnum, Joe the Communist, evening Mass, a liturgically and Scripturally inappropriate Mandatum after the Gospel on Maundy Thursday etc...all innovations from the Golden Age of the Church before the wicked Council ruined everything and invented such awful, untraditional, things as permanent Deacons and reversed the Tridentine abuse of forbidding the Chalice to the laity!

It's not about all or nothing. I appreciate that some things are transient, serve as means to the ultimate end, but where innovation becomes the end in itself, and immutable (lace cottas, evening Mass, three Fathers for Ministers of the lovely evening Mass on the feast of the Sacred Heart etc), this is where I get rather angry...

Of course some bloggers may accuse me of hauteur and separatism; turning my back on my fellow Traddies, and therefore the Ark of Salvation, over trivial things. Well that is ''a point of view,'' as a friend of mine said to a Sedevacantist who believed that Paul VI is still living, in Brazil actually, and will return in time to consecrate new Cardinals...


  1. Well, as you just wrote about that other chap, who cares what you think?


    For Tomas - the Latin text of Pastor Aeternus.

    Good to remember that the Pope, and general councils, are infallible, not inspired (which is not to deny that there is a grace of office).

  2. berenike, thank you for your comment, so full, as is your wont, of charity. Unfortunately since Tomas no longer appears to be following this blog I marvel that you took the trouble to post that...

  3. If Mass is celebrated in the evening at what times does one have the Hours? Sext at 21:00 followed by None and Vespers - and the 1962ists make so much about the Holy Week service being at the, putatively, wrong time - pul-ee-ze!

    It seems the Traddies want to have things both ways - Evening Mass when it suits them except on Saturday evenings when that has to be liturgically Saturday morning even though we all know the liturgical day starts at sunset (with the exception of Lent). A logical, and profoundly liturgical, consequence of having evening Mass is the Saturday evening Vigil service which the Traddies squeal about - strange that as having looked at the Latin Mass Society website they are having their "Easter Vigil" first Mass of Easter at 17:00pm on the Saturday - not what old Pius XII said is it!

    I understood Paul VI was actually living in the south of France - lucky man. The wife of a friend has rented a villa at Antibes for three months - lucky lady - I shall send her a card and ask her to look out for 107 year-olds wearing a tiara.

  4. Rubricarius, why bother having Hours when you can have twenty minute Low Mass followed by devotions and Benediction at a side altar instead? This seems the typically Trad Catholic approach to God - the more obscene and minimalist it is, the better.

  5. I was teasing, quoting your own words back at you - note the smiley :)

    Perhaps Tomas will pass by, perhaps someone else will find it useful. It's a very useful site.

  6. He'd be 114 now actually...

    Ah, but in that wondrous place the years would drop off one! The pleasant sunshine, the soothing warmth, the sweet scent of the Mimosa, a tipple of Ch. Petrus on the great days and Ch. La Mission Haut Brion, Ch. La Fleur Petrus or Ch. Domain d'Eglise on the lesser days...

  7. I doubt there'll be any Liturgy for me to go to for Candlemass at all and I may well simply pray Vespers at home privately the evening before. :-(

  8. Don't forget that the Orthodox and Eastern Rite do Vesperal Liturgies.

  9. Ah Patricius, how good it is to have such strong and well founded principles.
    Poor old Pope Pius XII should have known better than to offer an evening Mass for those ignorant peasants (nurses, shift workers, firefighters and the like). They do not deserve such consideration but, at least, a Low Mass is all they merited :)
    Your brave abstention from attennding a Low Mass on the feast of Candlemas must have been especially pleasing to Almighty God.

  10. Richard Collins, and sarcasm is like a second language to me, so I'm right there with you ;-)

    Actually I had the choice of a Sung Mass in my parish or a High Mass elsewhere. I chose neither.

  11. Let us not forget parish Vesperal liturgies in the Orthodox Church tend to take place in the morning anyway e.g. Vigil of the Epiphany.

    In the Western rites the Lenten Masses were intimately connected with Vespers (one only has to compare the post-communion orations with the collect of Vespers of the Lenten feriae. In many medieval uses Mass and Vespers were one service, remants of such a practice surviving in some of the rites of the Religious to modern times for the Triduum and in the Roman rite Holy Saturday.

  12. The morning celebration of the Vesperal Liturgy is something I find to be bizarre in the extreme and which I oppose for I think the same reasons Patrick opposes evening Masses. It is a thwarting of the natural order of the liturgical day and makes absolutely no sense. It is still the previous liturgical day when the Vesperal Liturgy is being served.

    The only reason I can think of for this custom in some places, (my parish decidedly does not allow this but follows the ustav more closely), is the romantic obsession among some Russian people with night-time worship by candlelight, to the point that, in some parts of Russia still, despite efforts to instill a proper sense of the place of the Eucharist, churches will be full during the Vigil for a feast while considerably fewer people will be present for the Liturgy. The result is that, on feasts for which a Vesperal Liturgy is appointed, we have inherited a culture of the Vigil being given top priority, and where a church only has the one priest, it is often seen as a more pressing matter to preserve his strength to serve the Vigil, with the Vesperal Liturgy being relegated to the morning so as not to wear out the clergy. This is nonsense. Surely it is more edifying to give the Vesperal Liturgy top priority and, if resources are limited in smaller parishes, simply to forgo the Vigil.

    At my parish, our Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Saturday usually between 2 and 3 o' clock in the afternoon. The ustav calls for it at 4 o' clock, so why do most parishes serve it at half past nine in the morning? This is Vespers and the First Eucharist of Pascha. It makes no sense.

  13. Sacrificium vespertinum?

    Interesting site here:

  14. For once I find myself opposed to the views of the good Subdeacon Michael.

    The practice of having Vespers in the morning - and I must say when I first discovered the practice for the Roman rite in 1987 I was awestruck by wonderful it was - is not a random praxis but something closely linked to penitential days. The Byzantine rite extends the practice beyond Lent to where it is confined in the old Roman rite.

    Of course this was all ridiculed and derided by the twentieth century Liturgical Movement. Now of course there are emerging theologies of the Liturgy of the Hours, two outstanding contributions being by the late Fr. Gregory Woolfenden (VP) and Dr. Laurence Hemming. There is more to the Office than a mere sanctification of time and theology about life and death, light and darkness inherent in structure and sequence of the hours of Vespers, Mattins and Lauds distinct to what is happening at the other hours. As we don’t fully understand these things I believe only fools rush in to change received praxis – as we saw in the reform of the Roman liturgy the past 100 years.

    If getting times putatively correct is so important do I conclude that Vigil services should omit the (token) Lauds and the First Hour at their conclusion in parish praxis. No doubt petitions such as ‘Let us completed our morning prayer to the Lord’ should be excised from the service?

  15. Rubricarii!

    I see in the Rubrics of a Little Office I bought recently the following:

    "8 Vespers are said before midday, from the first Saturday in Lent till Easter, except on Sundays"

    Mechliniae, die 17 Augusti 1950
    L Suenens Vic. Gen

    Published by H Dessain

  16. With gratitude for your respect and with what I should hope is an understood reciprocation, I'm not entirely sure that widespread morning Vesperal Liturgies are received custom. One hears of the Russian rural practice of sending the children outside at sundown on Christmas eve, and them running into church to announce that the first star had appeared, at which point the Vesperal Liturgy would commence. While this is seldom if ever observed in the cities and perhaps, with the advancement of electric lighting, has likely waned in the villages as well, such a tradition would not have developed at all had the Vesperal Liturgy been routinely served in the morning. My suspicion is that this is a relatively late development for the sake of ease and convenience, and that meaning attached to this peculiarity came after the fact, although I am happy to be corrected.

    There seems to be a spirit of liturgical reform in the air in Orthodox circles as well but a priest made an observation in conversation with me once and it seems to be borne out in my experience; and it is that the basis of liturgical reform in Orthodoxy seems to be the ustav. The approach of stripping away layers and accretions to reveal the "pure" rite, which seems to have been the foundational principle of the liturgical movement in the west, is something that seems alien to the Orthodox way of thinking, where the meaning and place of the rite has been clouded not by accretions (we love those!) but rather by concessions to convenience and human weakness, which I'm sorry to say have served to encourage slovenliness, manifested in numerous abbreviations to an almost scandalous degree, along with altered service times. When Great Vespers lasts for no more than half an hour, something is terriby wrong. I love going to the pan-Orthodox pilgrimages but the concluding service of the ones I have been to organised by the Greeks and Antiochians can only be referred to as turbo-Vespers.

    I am told time and time again that, outside of the monasteries and some cathedrals, one would be hard-pressed to find parishes doing all three stases of the kathisma at Vespers on Saturday evenings, psalm 33 at the Liturgy, the troparia on the Beatitudes, the Ninth Hour before Great Vespers, and a host of other things that I myself have witnessed being done in tiny parishes with scant resources, and my experience, being limited to one country and a few short years, is hardly what one might consider extensive. These things are slowly returning to the consciousness of the parishes through a renewed zeal for faithfulness to the ustav. Perhaps there is only so far that this will go, but I welcome it nonetheless, and consider the Vesperal Liturgy served in the evening to be part of this. Aside from anything else, at the Svete Tikhi, I would miss terribly the effect of the lighting of the candles before the icons. It is beautiful. :-)

  17. Subdeacon Michael,

    One would certainly hope that the Orthodox would look at what happened in the West and indeed carefully consider the consequences of the Nikonian reform in the seventeenth century before undertaking any sytematic process of deconstruction and reform of the liturgy.

    Most of the reformers in the West had the idea of restoring things to a 'golden period' and removing 'medieval' accretions but the end result of that process... Liturgy was never really considered as anything but an extension of Canon Law and no one considered the aspects of how liturgy and people were entwined in a complex matrix that could not be radically altered without serious effects. Of course, there is a fundamental difference in that at least Orthodox Christians celebrate liturgy whilst in the West only a tiny number of places in the world ever made the effort to even attempt it - as Patricius reminds us often the rest was a succession of speedily said Masses one after another.

    I share your view about missing kathisma etc but at least in Orthodoxy you have the services, albeit often abbreviated, in the West most people cannot be even bothered to have them.

    Looking at the schedule of services for your own Cathedral I see Hours, Vespers and Pre-Sanctified are scheduled for 9:00am during the first week of Great Lent and note that in the second week Wednesday's celebration of the same is in the evening - presumably so people who work can attend the service. My own experience of the other Russian Cathedral in London is that a similar arrangement pertains. (One sad aspect of the Sourozh Saga, for me at least, was the departure of Fr. Michael Fortunato as he had two memorable settings of да исправится.) The years I was unable to attend a Western Triduum I would visit the Russians for nearly all but would go to the Greeks on Great Friday for the Royal Hours and Vespers of the Un-nailing in the morning and return to the Russians for Mattins in the evening.

    Having been influenced by departed friends who knew Westminster Cathedral very well in its peak I use that as a model for Western rite services. Westminster had Prime at 10:00 (when two High Masses were served) followed by the other Hours and respective Liturgies; Vespers (outside of Lent) at 15:15 and Compline with Mattins and Lauds at 18:00.

    It would certainly be interesting to compare country and city praxis but I would suspect a strong influence was the availability, and cost, of means of artificial light. Then there was always a difference between Monastic and Secular praxis – monks rose in the middle of the night for Vigils (=Mattins) but in Rome even when real double office was celebrated (i.e. ferial and festal nocturns) these appear to have been sung by midnight.

    Again, why don’t you remove Lauds from the Vigil service has to be a logical question if you don’t like anticipated Vespers?

    I am looking forward to the Saturday before the first Sunday in Lent. People may not like it or agree – I’m not asking them to – but I will very much enjoy Vespers before lunch and look forward to wine and figs a few weeks later on Holy Saturday!