Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Grey as ash...

I am getting worried about Ash Wednesday. Since I took my ''Oath against '62,'' I have kept away from such liturgical abuses as Mass facing the people, evening Mass etc, which means that I have nowhere to go on Ash Wednesday. I shall be working in the morning, and even were I not working my guess is that only a ''private'' Mass at some ungodly hour would be on offer within 20 miles of my house. I wonder...since the liturgical day starts at sunset with the Evensong of the Church, does this mean that Traditionalists will be providing Liturgy after Vespers on Tuesday evening? Technically the evening of Ash Wednesday is the next liturgical day...

What do I do? I believe that the imposition of Ashes is a necessary part of one's preparation for the great Lenten fast (as the Hobbits Merry and Pippin believed that eating was a necessary part of breakfast). Do I burn my own Palms (which I kept from last year) and mark my own forehead before work (I wonder if my father keeps the necessary stuff in his shed?), reciting a paraphrase of the formula changing the verb forms? Surely before 1953 the Church got by without evening Mass? Or are we stuck with this liturgical abuse for ever and ever and ever until Tradition has been beaten down so low that none can foresee it's getting up again while this world lasts? The absolute worst thing you can do liturgically is face the wrong way...right next to this is to celebrate at a canonically inappropriate hour. Or does the Pope now have the authority to manipulate the lights of the firmament so that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is now sundered from the liturgical order of the day?

Evening Mass is an abomination. Anyone who disagrees with me is mentally sick and should be shot.

The above photo shows Papal Ash Wednesday last year, praised by certain people of unsound liturgical disposition (you know the sort - dress a pig up in a Roman cut chasuble and a lace alb, and behold! you have mutual enrichment, or reform of the reform, or the Benedictine Altar arrangement or some shite in evidence) as a return to the Traditional Liturgy, or something similar. Boob. If you look, not even very closely, you'll see that the Cardinals are wearing scarlet choir dress, and the assistant Deacons are wearing Dalmatics. Hmmmm...I was under the impression that the traditional choir dress of a Cardinal between Septuagesima and the Paschal Vigil was not scarlet, but penitential violet, and perhaps more fundamentally that the Ministers of the Mass wore Folded Chasubles on Ash Wednesday. Call me dim-witted, but...where does Tradition come into all of this? The short answer is, it doesn't. It just boils down to a bunch of idiots dressing up.


  1. There was a time when, much further from Catholicism than I am now, I used to offer myself my own Eucharist in the privacy of my little prayer closet. It was the absurdity of actions like this that led me to think a little bit differently about this Church that I then despised, this damn thing which had left an indelible mark upon my psychological constitution (and soul), so that I could not even seek a decent heretical or exotic spirituality without falling into humiliating mimicry.

    I think to burn your own ashes and apply them alone would be sad- as tragic as anything else that has happened to Catholic tradition. I had a wise professor who once told me "Catholics are not saved, it is the Church who is saved." I would suggest sucking it up. To do these alone is more pathetic (in my experience) than enduring poorly executed rites with fellow people.

  2. Well, round this lunatic up and shoot him. Cover it up as a mob hit.

    Evening Mass is necessary for workers that can't hear Mass at any other time. Nurses, doctors, police officers, shift workers -- all need the Mass just as much as anyone else. Even if it's a brisk 30 minute Low Mass, it's the Saving Victim. If I were a priest (canonically impeded, but hypothetically) I would offer Mass at 3 a.m. if necessary.

    As for ashes -- suck it up and go to whatever church you can find. Receive the blessing and be glad. I worship with the Ukrainian Byzantines now, but I'll find some whacked out Novus Ordo and receive the blessing anyway. Suffering through a bizarre liturgy will be your first penitential act of Lent.


  3. Did the 'workers' start their working day so early and finish so late they couldn't get to Mass unless it was offered in the evening then? Most working shifts, if ending late, tend to start work later in the morning... I've never understood why early morning Mass before work was such a problem!?!

  4. Good point Canon Jerome. Looking at a copy of the 'Catholic Directory' for 1898 in cities like Liverpool there were a dozen or so Masses at 5:00am (plus a lot more later) on holydays.

    The imposition of Ashes has its origins in the rite of Expulsion of the Public Penitents and later became the praxis for those who were not going to be excluded from church for Lent. Perhaps Patricius you could have the Gradual Psalms before Mattins and the Seven Penitential Psalms afterwards in lieu of the Expulsion rite?

    Alternatively, why not go to the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified?

  5. Forgive if I'm wrong as I'm not an expert on the historical liturgy, but were the ashes not traditionally sprinkled in the evening in monasteries in Europe? Again, I'm not 100% sure on this but I would love to know all the same.

  6. I hope that you manage to find a properly pre-1962 Mass before the evening. I did for last Ash Wednesday in London.Anyway, in common with really traditional Catholics you can observe the thoroughly traditional fast (i.e. no meat,dairy products,oil or wine) with one meal taken after sunset.I think it was the decadence of modern Rome in the 14th century (Pius XII-types) allowed it at midday collation and it wasn't long before,horror of horrors, an evening collation crept in.It was the brutes of the Ultramontane 19th c. who dictated that we should be softies and allowed a morning collation.In the absence of easily available solid liturgical observances I hope you will use the blog to encourage us to revive all these good and really traditional customs.Alan Robinson

  7. A Layman's Reactions, Seán Mac Réamoinn, The Furrow, Vol. 7, No. 6, The Restored Easter Liturgy (June, 1956), pp. 333-337

    "[...] Nor can we allow ourselves to indulge in a rarefied type of liturgical pietism compounded of incense, plainsong and the aesthetics of ritual. [...] The decree reforming the Easter Liturgy was then a document of the greatest importance to the ordinary Catholic. It was expressly designed for his benefit [...] To make this possible, the conventions and traditions of centuries were to be cast aside; the shape of the liturgical action was to be stripped of all anomalies and obscurities, and its meaning and purpose were to be explained to the people beforehand. This "pastoral" tone was well maintained in the Ordo itself: historical research and ceremonial innovation were clearly directed to one end, that the people should see and hear and understand and so take an active part in the corporate worship of the Church. Indeed, one felt immediately grateful for the very courtesy of the new approach: pastoral liturgy had been with us for some time, but pastoral rubrics were certainly something new! [...] I suppose even those of us who know next to nothing of the history of Christian worship were aware that this was something quite new. And it must be frankly admitted that, for many of us, it needed a rather painful re-adjustment of mind and heart to think with the Church on this matter. [...] The austerity of the first readings, the pathos of the Reproaches, the "gleam of triumph" in the Vexilla Regis, the very emptiness of the Mass of the pre-Sanctified with its solitary Communion, combined to form a perfect pattern of significant ritual. The changes that have now been made are regretted by many [...] Even on the aesthetic level one could argue that greater emphasis on "functional" ritual and the simpler, cleaner "line" of their design are more satisfying to contemporary taste than the highly-wrought forms of the baroque tradition. [...] Above all the great objective of participation presupposes a "nearness," an intimacy, almost, in the performance of the sacred rites, far removed from the somewhat remote grandeurs which the solemnisation of the liturgy has heretofore seemed to imply. This is very much in the spirit of the basic reforms of Pius the Tenth [...]"