Thursday, September 14, 2017

EWTN tonight

The ongoing Pontificalia series is spurred largely by the grand pontifical Mass with Bishop Perry which will take place at the Cathedral Basilica tonight to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. The Modern Medievalist, yours truly, is honored to serve as the bishop's book-bearer this evening. I hope all who see this will tune in or check the website so we can join together in thanksgiving for such a wonderful gift.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pontificalia III: the pontifical vestments

Thomas Becket, following his consecration as archbishop of Canterbury, gives the final blessing (Becket, 1964). Under his chasuble, you can see the pontifical dalmatic.

Previously in this series....

Pontificalia I: what is pontifical Mass?

Pontificalia II: the Mitre and crozier

Today, we look at the special vestments that a bishop wears for Mass. What's the thing that a bishop wears under the chasuble? Why don't bishops wear gloves anymore? What are "buskins"? Does a bishop put his vestments on differently than a priest?

What's the thing that a bishop wears under the chasuble?

Cardinal Burke with pontifical dalmatic and tunicle under a Gothic chasuble
Sometimes, you might notice another vestment peeking out from underneath the bishop's chasuble. We all know that the chasuble is the outer vestment that all priests wear for Mass--not so well known is the fact that, at a pontifical Mass, bishops traditionally wore not just the chasuble, but even the deacon's dalmatic and the subdeacon's tunicle underneath. By wearing all the vestments, cumbersome as they may be, the bishop teaches the faithful that he alone possesses the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, with the authority to confer the various degrees of ordained ministry upon others. The Extraordinary Form still requires the bishop to wear the under-dalmatic and tunicle for pontifical Mass. If he's conferring holy orders, he must wear them even if it's in the middle of a low Mass. The modern Ceremonial of Bishops no longer mentions the tunicle, but still recommends the pontifical dalmatic on major feasts. I've never seen a photo of Pope Benedict XVI celebrating a major Mass without one.

The prayer when vesting with the tunicle: "May the Lord cloth me in the tunicle of delight, and the garment of rejoicing."

For the dalmatic: "Cloth me, Lord, with the garment of salvation, and the raiment of joy; and ever place upon me the dalmatic of justice."

Both the above prayers may, of course, also be used by deacons and subdeacons when vesting.

By the way, the first time I ever noticed that the under-dalmatic was a "thing" was by watching the film Becket, which I've featured in the top photo and elsewhere in this series. Notice that the dalmatic in that scene is richly detailed enough to be worn on its own! I actually did a search for this very garment online, and it appears to have been sold by auction, together with the chasuble, in 2011 (as a "tunic, cape, and collar" set) for $5,500.



The clip above should start at the blessing scene. You'll even see the tunicle under the dalmatic. 

Why don't bishops wear gloves anymore?

Pontifical gloves of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg: 1588
From about the 10th century on, bishops, starting in France, wore gloves in the color of the day at pontifical Mass. The practice soon spread to Rome, then to bishops everywhere, and then to even the mitred abbots. Later, the openings were enlarged to appear like the cuffs of a gauntlet (similar, in my imagination, to the epimanikia--the bracers worn by the Eastern rite clergy).

In the old Mass, the bishop wore the gloves until the Offertory. The ring was worn over them, and so whenever he took the gloves off (such as to wash his hands), it was the job of the assistant-priest to hold on to the ring. The perceived fussiness of taking the gloves off and putting them back on is undoubtedly part of the reason why they're not mentioned in the post-conciliar Ceremonial of Bishops. For 99% of the world's bishops, it would seem that once the gloves disappeared from the rubrics, they also disappeared from the sacristies. Force of custom held no argument, save perhaps your London Oratory types. That said, there was an awkward period spanning over a decade (1970-1984) when the mainstream Latin Church was using the new Mass but the old Caeremoniale Episcoporum, with all its "Carolingian court ritual", was still in force. I wonder if any of you experts out there could comment on just how much of the pontificalia was actually retained at the average cathedral during these years.

The vesting prayer for the gloves is a long one: "Place upon my hands, Lord, the cleanliness of the new man, that came down from heaven; that, just as Jacob Thy beloved, covering his hands with the skins of goats, and offering to his father most pleasing food and drink, obtained his father’s blessing, so also may the saving victim offered by our hands, merit the blessing of Thy grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who in the likeness of sinful flesh offered Himself for us."

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger wearing a pontifical dalmatic and even gloves at what I assume is an Ordinary Form Mass.
(Edited to add: after I posted this article, I was informed by several readers that this photo was actually at an FSSP ordination in 1990, and thus an EF Mass. Well, never mind, then!)
Abbess Benedicta von Spiegel with crozier and gloves. I mentioned the mitred abbesses in a previous entry.

What are "buskins"?

Buskins for every occasion except black. The old rite omitted them for Requiems.
I often get these mixed up with another thing: the pontifical sandals. The buskins are liturgical stockings in the color of the day which, indeed, have their own prayer to accompany them. Mercifully for both the bishop and his MC's, the usual practice at a pontifical Mass (and only Mass--like the maniple, these aren't worn at Vespers, for instance) in the old rite is for the bishop to vest with them on his own even before arriving at the church.These days, they're just worn over his regular socks.

The buskins, in turn, go under pontifical sandals. Yes, the bishop even had to wear liturgical shoes in the old days. In the first millennium, even ordinary priests and deacons wore special shoes at Mass, but by the 10th century, this became restricted to bishops and other prelates with pontifical privileges. The original form of the sandals appears to have been just what you might imagine from ancient Roman times... but by the time the Baroque era got its hands on them, they had morphed into something more like court slippers, complete with a heel and even a bow on some. 

Pontifical sandals
It probably goes without saying that the buskins and sandals are basically never seen anywhere except in the Extraordinary Form, where they remain a requirement for pontifical Mass (excepting Requiems).

The prayer for the buskins: "Shod my feet, Lord, unto the preparation of the gospel of peace, and protect me under the cover of thy wings."

The Archbishop of Cebu (Philippines) vesting with the buskins. One of my friends, a former FSSP seminarian, fondly recalled his service in pontifical Masses by comparing the vesting of the bishop to "assembling Voltron".

Does a bishop put his vestments on differently than a priest?

Yes, he does! Or at least, he has the option. While a bishop has the right to process to the altar already vested like an ordinary priest, the ancient tradition runs the bishop through a gauntlet of ceremonies from the moment he darkens the front door.

First, the bishop arrives in his choir dress (the purple cassock, rochet, mozzetta or mantelletta, and perhaps the cappa magna) and is greeted by the canons or senior clergy at the door. The rector or pastor of the church, wearing a cope, offers the bishop a crucifix to kiss and holy water to sprinkle everyone in the area. The bishop then walks at the head of the procession down the church as the choir sings the responsory Ecce Sacerdos Magnus. He's taken to the altar where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved to pray for a moment. A lot of traditional Catholics are perplexed and even a little scandalized when I say that cathedrals weren't supposed to reserve the Blessed Sacrament over the high altar; and that if a bishop was celebrating Mass at a parish, the pastor was supposed to move the Sacrament to a side chapel.

Solemn reception of Bishop Lopes at the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter's cathedral in Houston
After praying, the bishop may go to the sacristy to vest in private, or he may go to his faldstool in the sanctuary and vest ceremonially in view of the faithful. The vestments are laid atop the high altar and brought to him one by one, while his ministers assist him in putting on each item. Finally, if the bishop is celebrating from the throne, the full rite supposes that he vests in a special side chapel prepared for him, called the secretarium. Here, surrounded by his clergy, the bishop vests while leading the minor hour of Terce. Then he returns in procession to the sanctuary. This format can be seen to some extent in the recording of the grand pontifical Mass with Bishop Slattery at the National Shrine in DC in 2010.


The video above should skip right to when the bishop enters the secretarium.

The prayer for removing the cappa before vesting is potent with meaning: "Take off of me, Lord, the old man with his manners and deeds: and put on me the new man, who according to God is created in justice, and the holiness of truth."

Surprisingly, with the exception of Terce, pretty much everything mentioned above is still explicitly mentioned as options for the bishop in the Ordinary Form. The modern Ceremonial of Bishops also still directs the Blessed Sacrament to be moved away from the high altar if normally reserved there, though this is routinely ignored.


I hope my readers have enjoyed this series so far. By the time I post the next one, I'll probably be able to incorporate some photos from a very special Mass that I'll be assisting (and had a hand in organizing): a gargantuan celebration of the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum on September 14, 2017 at the Cathedral Basilica in Philadelphia. By permission of the archbishop of Philadelphia, our visiting bishop, +Joseph Perry, will celebrate from the throne.

If you're local, I hope to see you there! Otherwise, please tune in to EWTN, where it'll be broadcast live, or check their Facebook page around 7pm eastern time for the livestream (no account needed).


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pontificalia II: the mitre and crozier

A mitre made by Augustus Welby Pugin for Cardinal Wiseman, 1848. The blog of Westminster Cathedral described it as, "by far the most splendid thing of its kind that had been made by English craftsmen since the Reformation".

"We, O Lord, place on the head of this Thy bishop and champion, the helmet of protection and salvation, so that his face being adorned and his head armed with the horns of both testaments, he may seem terrible to the opponents of truth, and through the indulgence of Thy grace may be their sturdy adversary, Thou Who didst mark with the brightest rays of Thy splendor and truth the countenance of Moses Thy servant, ornamented from his fellowship with Thy word : and didst order the tiara to be placed on the head of Aaron thy high priest. Through Christ Our Lord.
R. Amen."
(The bestowal of the mitre, according to the old Roman Pontifical's Rite of Consecration of a Bishop)




I'd like to believe that if more people had been familiar with this beautiful prayer as dramatized to great effect in the movie Becket, they would never have consented to its vandalism by the revisions of Bugnini. The reform of the rites of ordination and consecration of bishops, and especially of priests, been written about to death, so there's no need for me to rehash the arguments here. I'll just instead point out that the bestowal of the mitre, once a prominent part of the ceremonies culminating in the enthronement of the bishop in the old rite of consecration, was one of many casualties of the year 1968. The investiture of the bishop with the ring and mitre was moved from its former place after the end of Mass to before the Offertory. Strangely, it called for the mitre to be placed on the new bishop's head saying nothing at all! 

This awkward moment of silence is, thankfully, faintly remembered as it was reversed by the 1989 tweaks to the Pontifical under Pope John Paul II. The new wording, though it pales in compare to the old, at least ascribes symbolic significance to the mitre beyond some ostentatious headgear which the "experts" deigned to retain solely to appease the simple layfolk. The current formula has the consecrator say:
"Receive the mitre, and may the splendor of holiness shine forth in you, so that when the chief shepherd appears you may deserve to receive from him an unfading crown of glory."
What does the mitre signify? When did bishops start wearing them? Why are there different kinds and shapes of mitres? Why are some Anglicans objecting to the mitre today?


Raymond Cardinal Burke wearing a precious mitre

What does the mitre signify?

The mitre is, of course, the "tall pointy hat" worn by bishops and certain other prelates in the liturgy. Every bishop has a right to wear it by virtue of his order. Today, two kinds of priests are also allowed their use: abbots of religious houses, and the monsignori of the "Anglican" Personal Ordinariates (who, though merely in the presbyterate, previously served as bishops of Anglican bodies and now enjoy Ordinary status in the Catholic Church). Both these types of priests can only wear the mitre within their jurisdiction. So, while a bishop might wear his mitre anywhere he celebrates Mass, a Benedictine abbot would only wear it within his own monastery. Before Vatican II, certain other classes of monsignori were also allowed to wear the mitre, and there were complex distinctions between mitred and non-mitred abbots. Of course, any cardinal could wear one even if he isn't a bishop, but this is extremely rare today.

It's commonly held today that the mitre symbolizes the flaming tongues of the Holy Ghost, as they were seen above the heads of the Apostles at Pentecost. It's certainly fitting since the bishops are the successors of the Apostles, from whose hands flow the gift of Holy Orders. For the historian's sake, though, we must admit that this wasn't always what the mitre signified. 


When did bishops start wearing them?

Mitres as we know them today originated in Rome. Their first recorded use was by the Pope and cardinals in the 10th century, though of course they might be older. They were first a soft cap over a diadem with two lappets (strips of fabric hanging down the back), worn only for processions. Later, the Popes started to wear them even during the liturgy. Bishops of the 10th century were quick to imitate the Roman practice, so by the 1100's, they were in standard use throughout the western Church. 

As I said before, it's important to note that the mitre didn't always signify episcopal or even mere priestly authority because the privilege to wear one was granted, on rare occasion, to kings and abbesses. A king was, after all, anointed to a certain type of priesthood and, like it or not, had a say in the nomination of bishops and various other ecclesiastical affairs. An abbess could command vast tracts of land and resources, and even the obedience of the lesser clergy in her domain. The distinction between clergy and laity was well understood, but their roles in the governance of the Church were blurred by today's standards.

Some illustrations by Pugin



Why are there different kinds and shapes of mitres?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen lived
 during the age of ultra-tall mitres.
The height of the mitre roughly corresponds with the style of the age it was made. What began as squat, short points in the Gothic age grew taller by the centuries until they reached their apex in the years immediately before Vatican II. There was a sharp reaction against the 2-foot tall mitres of Pius XII's day, so the heights came down by half everywhere outside of Rome.

Unlike the height and shape, which are governed more by fashion, the color and material are actually governed by rubric and occasion. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum of the Tridentine age had settled on three kinds:

-Simple mitre (simplex): plain white linen or silk. The simple mitre was worn on penitential days, or at any gathering in the presence of the Pope.

-Golden mitre (auriphrygiata): gold fabric with some decorative trim. This was the mitre most commonly in use; specifically, on all days when the Gloria in excelsis was to be said at Mass or Te Deum at the Office.

-Precious mitre (pretiosa): like the golden mitre, but further embellished with precious stones or plates of gold and silver. These are the ones that tend to survive from the Middle Ages to the present as works of art. 

On days when the precious mitre was used, the Caeremoniale actually had the bishop switch between the precious and golden mitres during the same Mass. The precious mitre was worn for the procession, then replaced with the golden mitre for the Mass of the Catechumens. The bishop then resumed the precious mitre for the end of Mass and recession. Perhaps the rationale was that by the time the bishop was in the sanctuary, the faithful in the cathedral couldn't see the embellishments of the precious mitre from such a distance anyway, so the bishop would use a less valuable mitre in the middle of Mass to reduce wear-and-tear. The modern Ceremonial of Bishops only allows one mitre to be used by the bishop per Mass in the Ordinary Form, though.

Important: the dominant color of the mitre is always either gold or white. It was never the tradition to wear a mitre that matched the liturgical color of the day. Red, green, or purple mitres are all of very recent invention and still against the rubrics of the Ordinary Form liturgy!

The Anglican archbishops of Canterbury and York. Note York's incorrect (by Roman standards) green mitre.

Why are some Anglicans objecting to the mitre today?

There've been a few op-eds, of late, from members of the Anglican Communion calling on their bishops to put away their mitres. See Ian Paul's article, "Why bishops should throw away their mitres", or the Anglican Bishop of Croydon saying things like, “The mitre, as a symbol of power and authority, emphasises exactly the wrong things about ministry.” 

It might be a low blow to throw my Anglo-Catholic friends still in the Episcopal Church under the bus here, but the nay-sayers aren't entirely wrong. While Paul's article has some historical whoppers, it's true that the Church of England abandoned the mitre, and most other vestments, as trappings of popery. While it may be true that the first Episcopal bishop in the US, Samuel Seabury, wore a mitre, they weren't mainstream headgear for Anglican bishops until the 20th century, generations after the pioneers of the Oxford Movement. If their successors today are uncomfortable with wearing a piece of regalia that suggests being a "prince of the Church", they're right to do so. The mitre is a manifestation of Christendom: even if they don't sit in the king's council anymore, the bishops are still major landlords and, effectively, the overlords of the lower clergy. Pontificalia is the only thing visually separating the bishops from looking like the CEO's of a clerical corporation. If their idea of adapting to modernity is by taking on the dress of mainstream culture, then they deserve the ridicule and ruination that's sure to follow.


And now, a brief word on the second most distinct piece of pontificalia....

A superb example of medieval craftsmanship in this crozier's head.

What is the crozier? What does it signify?

The crozier as a symbol of the Good Shepherd, or of Moses, is too obvious to elaborate upon. But beyond that, the crozier is a symbol of jurisdiction. While a bishop can wear his mitre anywhere, he can only carry the crozier within his own diocese. Auxiliary and visiting bishops still need permission from the Ordinary to use it, although most Ordinaries give it freely, especially on major occasions. One exception is if an auxiliary or visiting bishop is giving confirmations or clerical ordinations. In this case, he's officially representing the Ordinary in the latter's absence and bears the crozier by right. Further, if multiple bishops are attending the same Mass, usually only the (principal) celebrant carries the crozier. The Church has long determined it to be gauche for many bishops to all process with the croziers at once.

An abbess's crozier at Saint Walburga's Abbey, Colorado.
As with the mitre, which is now a standard part of the rite for the blessing of abbots, the crozier is now given to all abbots as well; like before, the abbot who is merely a priest may only use mitre and crozier within his own abbey. The crozier was also formerly given to abbesses on rare occasions. This is no longer done as a matter of rite, but some abbesses may still carry the crozier on account of long-standing tradition. 

In the eastern churches, croziers take the shape not of the shepherd's crook, but either of a tau-shaped cross or something akin to the bronze serpent of the Exodus, with twin serpents surrounding a cross.


What about the Pope's staff? Is that a crozier, or something else?

You'll notice that the Pope is never seen with a crozier in the shape of a shepherd's crook. With a handful of exceptions, the popes haven't used croziers in nearly a thousand years. Because croziers imply a limited jurisdiction, popes since at least the time of Innocent III have been using a ferula instead: a staff surmounted with a cross. Medieval and Renaissance illustrations of the papal staff will usually show a cross with three bars--three being the number of completion and ranking above the mere two of an archbishop's cross. The ugly ferula with the low-hanging arms so often seen in our current day was, predictably, a product of the 1960's for Pope Paul VI. I had hoped that we would see the end of it after Pope Benedict XVI put it away in favor of an older staff used by Pius IX, but the ugly ferula has come back into vogue with the current pontiff.

A medieval pope's ferula with three bars.


Next time, we'll look at the uniquely pontifical vestments: the under-dalmatic and tunicle, gloves, stockings, and slippers.

Pontificalia III: the pontifical vestments

Friday, August 18, 2017

Recent thoughts


I'm still working on the next post in my latest series, but some friends have asked about my thoughts on current events like the violence in Charlottesville. Here's my current train which I pose to you not as a full-fledged article, but a musing in the company of friends. Let's hope I'm far more pessimistic than the situation actually warrants....



If there's an upside to the recent tensions, it would be that my leftist friends can now fully understand the medievals' abhorrence of heresy. In those days, heresy was never considered a set of private beliefs which could be held and practiced without disturbing the peace. Unlike simply being born into a minority religion like Judaism, or even just being a witch (contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of medieval inquisitors didn't think folk magicians were worth their time) converting to a Christian offshoot like Albigensianism or Lollardy was considered, with good reason, an attack on the seven sacraments and, therefore, the entire fabric upon which medieval Christendom was built. If we suppose, for the sake of argument, that the sacraments are indeed necessary for salvation, then anyone who seeks to abolish or destroy the path to eternal life must be infinitely worse than any mere foreign invader or unjust lord. The latter might take away your goods or even your earthly life--but heretics would take your immortal soul. Albigensians, Lollards, Hussites, et al were reckoned as the hate groups of their day. If they could not be converted by preaching and learned discourse, then they had to be purged by fire; cut away from the body of Christ and the civil fabric like a surgeon would cut away a cancerous limb before it overtook the whole system.

If America is a religion, then neo-Nazism is certainly a heresy. It's why antifa postings, whether or not they believe in souls, consistently adopt the language of a struggle for the soul of America. Perhaps, when the soul of America is at stake, the normal rules of civil discourse established by our "Enlightenment" forebears no longer apply. Did some of these philosophers, in denying original sin as a fable, make men more like angels than they really were? Are freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, and voting actually protections against tyranny, or do they merely ensure a tyranny of the majority?

No, I don't really believe that.... but I can see why some would, and why, as it was for Rome, authoritarianism is the next logical step in the course of our civilization. There had to be a civil war back then because Octavian didn't have the advantage of Netflix. This time, there will be no battle of Actium--or if there is, it'll just play out between a few key players on our television screens. Who will you root for: an Alaric the Goth, who will righteously avenge the blood of his tribe by sacking the eternal city and all her idols? Or a new Augustus, who will keep the appearances of the old republic alive but rule as a strongman and remold the state in his image by degrees? There is, regretfully, no Charlemagne in this scenario.

By the way, neo-Nazism is certainly not the only "heresy" that will be extinguished in the aftermath of the new regime. That's simply the lowest-hanging fruit of many more, subtler and more socially acceptable evils which future generations will judge us for.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Pontificalia I: what is pontifical Mass?


John Ruskin, the eminent art critic of the Victorian age and contemporary Gothicist to Augustus Welby Pugin, allegedly wrote once that, 

the apex of western civilization was pontifical high Mass in a Gothic cathedral. 

Having spent the past weeks with my eyes affixed on upcoming events (I'll be assisting a major pontifical Mass at my hometown parish for the Assumption in the Ordinariate Use, followed by an historic pontifical EF celebration of the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum at the Cathedral Basilica in Philadelphia on the feast of the Holy Cross) I can see where Ruskin was coming from! The rites of Mass involving a bishop in his cathedral are so painstakingly detailed, with layer upon layer grown over like bark on a thousand-year old tree, that one can be forgiven for imagining that pontifical Mass was the axis around which the entire epoch of the Middle Ages and all it stood for revolved.... because, frankly, that's not far from the truth.

Today I start a new mini-series of posts which I'll call Pontificalia. I'll dedicate a post every few days or so on one or two miscellaneous items of pontificalia: starting with the obvious ones like the mitre and crozier and then working our way down to obscure details like the bugia (the hand-candle) and the praegustatio (the "pre-tasting" ceremony for spoiled bread and wine or, perhaps, poison).

But first, what is this all really about? What are "pontificals"? What exactly does it mean for a Mass to be "pontifical"? What did pontifical Mass look like in the Middle Ages? Why weren't bishops allowed to say Mass like an ordinary priest? And, is there even such a thing as pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form?


What are "pontificals"?

Pontificals are things related to a pontifex. If you're lucky enough to even find someone who's familiar with that word, they tend to think that refers specifically to the Pope. Of course, the Pope is a pontifex (pontifex maximus, often translated as "Supreme Pontiff"), but the word more literally translates from Latin to "bridge-builder" and can refer to any bishop, or even some priests who have been granted pontifical privileges (more on that later). 

The two most iconic pontificals throughout the ages in the western Church are the mitre and crozier. These, thank God, are held onto dearly by even the most snake-belly-low church bishops in the present-day Church. Most bishops are also still comfortable with retaining the episcopal "bling": the ring and pectoral cross. Less known are the pontifical dalmatic and tunicle, gloves, and slippers; as well as smaller instruments like the bugia, the bishop's hand-candle. More broadly, pontificals can also refer to furnishings like the cathedra (throne) and faldstool or ceremonial privileges like being attended by two deacons at the throne, or an assistant-priest in cope. We'll go into detail about some of these later on.


What exactly does it mean for a Mass to be "pontifical"?

Most people would call any Mass said by a bishop to be a "pontifical Mass", but I don't think this is quite accurate. Traditionally, a pontifical Mass is really one that's celebrated by a bishop with all of the symbols or "trappings" of his office.... or a priest who has the privilege of using pontificals, like a mitred abbot or monsignor. In this understanding, phrases like "pontifical solemn Mass" or "pontifical high Mass", while descriptive for the average layman, are redundant because all pontifical Masses are solemn. Conversely, there's not really any such thing as "pontifical low Mass". Fortescue actually calls the latter "low Mass said by a bishop" since it's mostly the same as how a priest says Mass, with a few distinctions tacked on.

The Roman Rite prior to Vatican II had developed two kinds of pontifical Mass: "Mass at the Faldstool" and "Mass at the Throne". Any bishop could celebrate from the faldstool (a special folding-chair placed in the sanctuary), but only the Ordinary of the diocese could preside from a throne when within his own territory--unless he gave that permission to a visiting bishop. Cardinals alone had the right to celebrate from the throne anywhere outside of Rome without asking for permission. 

Pontifical Mass at the Throne was the supreme model from which all other forms of Mass were derived, but it was the hardest to organize because it assumed the Ordinary of the diocese was at his cathedral with all his canons and attendants: 2 deacons-of-honor at the throne, plus 4 chaplain-bearers in copes, train-bearer, and of course, his valet in addition to the assistant-priest, deacon and subdeacon of the Mass that were expected as a minimum for Mass at the Faldstool. The stringest requirements for Mass at the Throne meant that the diocesan bishop rarely pontificated at parish churches, and didn't even pontificate in his own cathedral all that often. If the bishop was making his annual rounds at the local parish for confirmations, he would have more likely just attended the pastor's Mass in choir dress or given confirmation as a standalone ceremony. A typical Sunday Mass at the cathedral, meanwhile, was celebrated by the dean or rector even if the bishop was around.


What did pontifical Mass look like in the Middle Ages?


We have abundant evidence for what pontifical Mass was supposed to look like in the "Tridentine" centuries because the ceremonial books after the Council of Trent (the Pontificale Romanum and Caeremoniale Episcoporum) were standardized and upheld even beyond Vatican II... but what about the "pre-Tridentine" Mass? 

Nearly all descriptions of the liturgy in the earliest centuries of the Church referred to pontifical Mass because that was the norm in practice as well as on paper. At first, the bishop was the usual celebrant of a single Mass for all the Christians in each city. As numbers grew, bishops then ordained priests to serve the needs of satellite communities outside of his own reach. The bishop's Mass, however, remained normative for written accounts of the liturgy. They must have been large affairs even at the time of the Council of Nicaea because canon 18 is spent ruling on the seating of deacons and priests in the church. The deacons had gotten so uppity that, according to the text, they were receiving Communion even before the bishops in some places. 

The oldest surviving books for pontifical ceremonies that I know of are the Ordines Romani (plural of Ordo Romanus, of which there are 15 in all), a series of texts going back to the age of Charlemagne and beyond, dealing with ceremonies for the church of the city of Rome. The model is naturally the papal Mass at the Throne, with the next level down being the Mass of an ordinary bishop at the Faldstool (where, in Rome, he would never dare preside at the Throne), then Masses for ordinary priests. So we can see that the basic distinctions for different kinds of Mass are hardly the elaborations of a decadent Baroque age, but go back to the early Middle Ages, when everyone from lord to peasant was struggling to survive.

The 10th-13th centuries gave rise to several major books, culminating in the Pontifical by Guillaume Durand, Bishop of Mende (d. 1296), aka Durandus. Durand's Pontifical drew from earlier works like the Germano-Roman Pontifical and the Pontifical of Innocent III's court, but was divided neatly into 3 sections, uncluttered by anything that didn't pertain directly to bishops or was exclusive to the Pope. It was a successful formula that became the basis for the first typical Pontificale Romanum in 1485, which was adapted by Burckhard (a famous papal MC) for the Roman Curia... and then, at last, the Pontifical of the Council of Trent (1595), which went further than Quo Primum by suppressing all other local pontificals throughout the Latin Rite, with no grandfather clauses for ancient rites. That means even if you could make a case for celebrating a Sarum Mass in England according to the exceptions of Quo Primum, you couldn't do the same for a Sarum ordination rite. 

The traditional Pontificale Romanum was last edited in 1961, during the pontificate of John XXIII. Still, since even at this time, the Pontificale was substantially the same as Burckhard's, which was likewise the same as Durand's, we can safely say that a pontifical Mass in the year 1960 was carried out more-or-less the same way as a pontifical Mass in the year 1260--allowing for differences in styles of vestments and church architecture, of course. This staggering continuity is as impressive for all of my dear readers as it was horrifyingly in need of a total makeover in the eyes of Bugnini and company.


Why weren't bishops allowed to say Mass like an ordinary priest?

Quite simply, because he isn't one. A bishop, upon his elevation to the episcopacy, was held to have surrendered his former identity and, in some sense, his ability to have a private life. (To this day, eastern bishops show this by ceasing entirely to use their family surnames.) This problem came up last week when the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei confirmed that a bishop isn't allowed to celebrate a "pontifical missa cantata" because the option just wasn't there in 1962. At that time, a bishop could celebrate Mass pontifically according to his station, or say a low Mass as though he were in his private chapel. That was it! The old restrictions proved to be the only things capable of preserving the medieval pontifical Mass into the 20th century. Once they were gone, the casual approach to liturgy in general did the rest.



Is there even such a thing as pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form?

Ordinary Form Mass with Cardinal Sarah at the London Oratory, complete with assistant-priest in cope
I know it doesn't feel like there is! I can count on one hand the number of OF Masses I've been to which were ever billed as "pontifical". The phrase "pontifical Mass" appears just once, I believe, in the entire new Missal (para. 143, in reference to the pontifical blessing at the end of Mass). Ever since the new Ceremonial of Bishops came out in 1984, the preferred expression became the "Stational Mass of the Bishop". The phrase "Stational Mass" was pulled from the Church of late antiquity in reference to the church of Rome, when the Pope celebrated Mass at one of the great basilicas or shrines of the martyrs.

A Stational Mass, in the Ordinary Form, surprisingly still calls for two deacons at the throne in addition to the deacon of the Mass (though, as with most things, not an absolute requirement). You'll notice I didn't say anything about Mass at the Faldstool; all Stational Masses are now "Throne Masses" because even ordinary priests usually celebrate the fore-Mass from thrones (or "presidential chairs"). I assume the only time a distinction is made is that, perhaps, an auxiliary bishop might use a different chair other than the Ordinary's cathedra when celebrating at the cathedral.

There is, of course, no subdeacon, but there can be two deacons of the Mass to divide roles amongst each other. Oddly, a deacon who serves as MC is permitted to wear the dalmatic. Priests are forbidden from serving in the role of deacon or wearing the dalmatic, though, even in the absence of any deacons. They are instead to either concelebrate, attend in-choir, or serve as MC only. The rule against priests "dressing down" as deacons (in imitation of the eastern churches' prohibitions) seems to have only applied only to pontifical Mass at first, but is now a given for all Masses in the Ordinary Form these days.

The new Ceremonial of Bishops still explicitly mentions the pontifical dalmatic and even the cappa magna (for the solemn entrance) as options, but most of the other pontificalia are no longer mentioned. While a rare few communities like the London Oratory have preserved the use of the pontifical gloves and so on as a matter of custom, their omission in the new books has been interpreted by the Church at large to mean that they're practically abolished. Still, the new Ceremonial only gives one strict prohibition regarding pontificalia here, namely that a bishop is only allowed to wear one kind of mitre per Mass. (The old rite usually has him switch between two types at various points in the liturgy: precious and golden.)


Next time, we'll look more closely at the bishop's most distinctive apparel: the mitre, how it developed into its current shape, and why a bishop used different types even at the same Mass.

Pontificalia II: the mitre and crozier

Pontificalia III: the pontifical vestments

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lauda Sion Salvatorem: photos from Corpus Christi 2017

At the beginning of the month, I posted a short history of the feast of Corpus Christi. Now I can share with you some photos from our celebration of that great day in the Philadelphia area. We had a solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul, followed by a procession around the church and Benediction. Neither the killer traffic into the city nor the inconvenient Thursday date deterred clergy/seminarians, altar servers, and choristers from all around--Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Diocese of Wilmington, and Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter--from giving glory to God. The pastor of my parish was among those in-choir.

Many thanks to Mrs. Allison Girone, whom I met last month at the diocesan TLM community in Wilmington, Delaware, for taking these images below. You can view her blog here.

Leading deacon and celebrant from the sacristy to the high altar
Incensations at the Offertory
The elevation
Holy Communion

Preparing for the procession
The priests in the procession wear chasubles not because they're concelebrating, but to represent their order in the major clergy
Only the Lord in the Eucharist has the honor of being preceded by two thurifers in the Roman Rite
Pange lingua gloriosi...

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
Recession

The exterior of the Cathedral at night, after the liturgy


It may also be worth sharing these photos taken by another friend with my own camera.

Vesting with the amice
Blurry, but this is me giving the kiss of peace to my pastor in-choir, after the Agnus Dei

Family together after Mass

A collection of short video clips....


Monday, June 19, 2017

Evangelization through beauty: the Saint Bede Studio

Sacred vestments can be odd to the desacralized imagination. Especially in their traditional forms, vestments are cumbersome, utterly impractical, even garish to those who are more used to seeing ministers in coat and tie. The spirit that moves contemporary Christians to ridicule the use of vestments--that the clergy must "conform to the times"--is the very opposite of why the Church mandates their use! For vestments, properly made, take the priest and his ministers out of the ordinary world and into sacred space, sacred time. From the amice ("the helmet of salvation") to the "tunicle of delight" and the "dalmatic of justice", each garment further hides the minister wearing it to allow him to be the servant of the liturgy--not its master.

I'd like to highlight the work of a vestment-maker I've been following for more than five years: the Saint Bede Studio. Based out of Australia, the Studio's stated aim is to produce sacred vestments in a range of styles inspired by Benedictine spirituality: all hand-made, not out of a catalog but according to custom designs. I also appreciate that (like my traveling schola of Gregorian chanters) the Studio undertakes their work as part of a spiritual apostolate.


The Saint Austin design

Since we observed Pentecost earlier this month, it's fitting to start by looking at this recently made red chasuble below, made for a priest in the Diocese of Arlington (Virginia).


They call this the "Saint Austin" design, after the apostle of the English so greatly revered by Augustus Welby Pugin: Saint Augustine of Canterbury. Pugin was, of course, not only an architect, but a master of all fields of liturgical design. The braiding used by Saint Bede is based directly upon Pugin's designs, like the chasuble below, which the father of the Gothic revival designed for Saint Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate.

This original Pugin chasuble was eventually given by the monks of Saint Augustine's, Ramsgate to the Victoria & Albert Museum. See here for more info.

The semi-conical design

One of my favorite designs is the most ancient: the voluminous conical chasuble. This is the style most clearly descended from the paenula: the ancient Roman "poncho", or outer garment adopted by the clergy for sacral use. An old black-and-white photo from the era of its revival in monastic communities can be seen below.


By the 13th century, perhaps spurred on by the rise of private low Masses and the attending lack of assistance from the deacon and subdeacon to help hold the excess fabric around the arms, this cut had gradually been reduced. The first stage was what we might call the "semi-conical" chasuble, as worn by Saint Thomas Becket and depicted here. One of the more striking examples of the semi-conical style might be this Lenten chasuble below made for a priest in Trenton, New Jersey (not far from me) several years ago. The purple is accented with black and a grey which suggests the famous ash of Ash Wednesday. Not strictly a replica of a medieval design, but with a contemporary touch appreciated by a self-dubbed "Modern Medievalist" like myself.



Here's a tunicle from the same set.

The Saint Martin design

Another chasuble in the line of ample cuts, the Saint Martin style is named after Saint Martin of Tours. While the word "Roman" when applied to vestments usually summons to mind the fiddeback, its use by the Saint Bede Studio is meant to draw from much older inspirations of Roman vestments in art. Below is a photo submitted by Father Samuel Fontana: a then-newly ordained priest. Note the decoration, like the semi-conical shown above, relies upon the Tau cross.

The Borromeon design

Not to be concerned exclusively with medieval designs, the Studio also offers vestments in the so-called "Borromeon" style, after Saint Charles Borromeo: a famous leader of the Counter-Reformation period. The fathers of the Council of Trent still would not have known anything like the vestments we call Baroque today. The Borromeon chasuble is an interim cut which isn't as ample as the Gothic, but still extends partway down the priest's arm. Here's a nice "action photo" from, once again, a priest's first Mass, this time in Brooklyn.

Father Carlos Velasquez incensing the altar at St Joseph's church, Brooklyn. More info here.
Dalmatic from the same set.

The papal set

At last, it's worth mentioning that the Saint Bede Studio had the tremendous honor of supplying a vestment set for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI during his 2008 visit to Sydney, Australia. Click here for a detailed blog post on some of the inspirations and design details of that project. Below is a photo of His Holiness wearing the Studio's chasuble and mitre.



If anything you've seen here or on the Studio's website inspires you to commission a set for yourself or a priest (or deacon) in your life, be sure to send an inquiry to their email address as given on their blog. I'm told their commissions for 2018 are filling up quickly, so the time to place an order is now!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Making Whitsuntide great again

Illuminated initial from the Ranworth Antiphonal
The Modern Medievalist was busy as the bees sung of during the Exsultet last weekend! Saturday evening, I assisted Mater Ecclesiae Chapel once again as a singing lector for the prophecies of the vigil of Pentecost (as it was known prior to the reforms of Pius XII). Then the following morning, I hauled my schola of plainchanters out for a guest appearance at a Latin Mass community in Wilmington, Delaware for Pentecost Sunday. In my absence, my own parish celebrated the feast by confirming and receiving some new members into full communion with Rome. Everywhere in the region, churches have done their best to mark Pentecost (or, as I like to say, Whitsunday) as one of the greatest feasts of the liturgical cycle.

What is "Whitsunday?"

The more familiar name for the feast, Pentecost, is explained easily enough by references to Pentekostos: the Greek word for 50. It's the fiftieth day after Easter, celebrating the descent of the Holy Ghost over the Apostles and, some may say, the birthday of the Church. "Whitsunday" is an expression of the medieval English church, the origins of which are lost to time. Some say it's because of the white albs worn by those baptized on this day, or because the Sarum Missal called for the clergy in England to wear white vestments instead of the red we're now accustomed to. A rival theory is that the "whit" is not short for "white", but a reference to "wit", i.e. the gift of wisdom given to the Apostles.

Whitsun Eve

Today, the two greatest feasts of the liturgical cycle are widely reckoned to be Easter and Christmas. In the earliest ages of Christianity, though, the second place of honor was not Christmas, but Pentecost: a feast known even in the Old Covenant and observed as a Christian feast almost since apostolic times. Knowing its preeminence can help us understand why the Church saw it fit to prepare for Pentecost with its own Easter-like vigil all the way up to 1955.

The ancient Roman rite, as it was observed at Mater Ecclesiae last Saturday evening, begins with six prophecies from the Old Testament. All the readings, with their tracts, are "reruns" from the Easter Vigil--although the collects after each reading are unique to Pentecost. The baptismal font is blessed again with the chant Sicut cervus and all the same ceremonies as used at the Easter Vigil. Once that's done, the ministers return to the foot of the altar and lay prostrate while everyone kneels and sings the Litany of Saints (all petitions "doubled" by cantor and congregation, again like the Easter Vigil). After the Litany, the Mass begins. As at the Vigil, the Introit is omitted, and no candles are carried at the Gospel reading. The latter suggests that the Pentecost "event" is watched for, but not celebrated in advance.



To the average Catholic; and perhaps even the average priest; this would seem like the most redundant ceremony ever devised by the medieval Church. Why repeat all these solemn ceremonies involving baptism so soon after Easter? Other than restating the obvious (that Peter baptized three thousand souls at Pentecost), I would remark that in those early centuries of Christianization, there were always a few catechumens who weren't quite ready to accept baptism by the time the Easter Vigil rolled around. They perhaps needed special attention, which the ancient Church provided them, and prepared the stragglers for reception at the vigil of Pentecost.

By the High Middle Ages, though the catechumenate virtually ceased to exist in the west, the association of Whitsun Eve with baptism yet lingered on. The Sarum Use of England before the Reformation held that infants born in the normal course of the year were to be baptized shortly thereafter... but if they were born within eight days prior to Easter or Whitsunday, they were to be reserved for baptism during the vigils of either feast so long as they were deemed healthy.

The hierarchy seems to now be reaching the understanding that demolishing the vigil of Pentecost wasn't a good idea. The latest edition of the Ordinary Form Missal now includes the option of an extended Vigil in its appendix, which more and more churches are adopting.... including the Cathedral-Basilica in Philadelphia, where we also frequently celebrate the traditional Latin Mass. The Cathedral's rector, Father Dennis Gill, recently wrote a thorough article on the extended Pentecost Vigil here on Adoremus. In short, while the new rite still doesn't reclaim the baptismal character of the old, there's still an allowance for four Old Testament prophecies, each followed by a tract (or responsorial psalm, most likely) and a collect.

The Divine Worship Missal of the "Anglican" Ordinariates goes a bit further. It takes the OF's extended vigil with the four added prophecies as a starting point and then expands it further by adding the Litany of Saints. The baptismal character of the Vigil is restored insofar as that the rite envisions baptisms to take place here (or else, the renewal of baptismal promises) but there is no blessing of the font, as in the pre-1955 Latin rite. A fuller description was recently given by Mr. DiPippo in the New Liturgical Movement here.

Whitsunday

Our schola circled up for the Mass of Whitsunday
Whitsunday was such a momentous feast even in the later Middle Ages that it marks the day when, according to Malory's L'Morte de Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table saw a vision of the Holy Grail, inspiring them to undergo their famous quest!

The pastor of Saint Patrick's church in Wilmington, Delaware, following a wedding I assisted him for last month, kindly invited me to bring my schola of chanters out to his parish to add something special to the city's Sunday Latin Mass. The community only has sung Mass the first Sunday of each month, and are by no means accustomed to a Gregorian schola using full minor Propers out of the Liber Usualis, so our appearance was perhaps an out-of-this-world experience for them! I opted, as I usually do, to place the schola as near the sanctuary as possible rather than the organ loft to emphasize its role as a liturgical choir--the "choir of Levites". Since I was told the congregation isn't used to singing the Ordinary of the Mass, we did a mix of some of the lesser-used Ordinary chants from the Kyriale for the sake of variety (mostly in mode I, like the sequence of Pentecost). 

For me, the"high water mark" of the sacred chants for Whitsunday has long been the second Alleluia. In the old rite (and now the Ordinariate Use as well), all kneel while the verse is sung:
"Come, Holy Ghost, and fill the hearts of thy faithful people: and kindle in them the fire of thy love."



I cantored this verse, which ends with one of my favorite melismas in the whole cycle of chant.... a melody which I've always found strikingly beautiful, and not a little "eastern" in flavor. After the verse, the schola rose and continued not by repeating the Alleluia, but going straight into the golden sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus. I think I might like this sequence even more than the Dies Irae, and start singing along whenever I re-watch the 1964 film Becket (the one with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole) because of the sequence's integration into the opening overture.

We also added to the tour-de-force of chants with two of the melismatic verses from the Offertoriale Triplex for the Offertory. After Mass was over, quite a few people came up to thank us for for joining them. There was about double the usual size of the congregation, probably over 200, in attendance. While the acoustics were sub-optimal at best, this was undoubtedly the schola's best turnout since I established it last year. Fr Klein treated us to an excellent luncheon afterward. My own parish, meanwhile, confirmed and received a number of folks into the Church. It's easy to get demoralized by all the news emanating from the world and even from wayward prelates, so I describe all these glad tidings to remind my readers that the work of evangelization still continues apace.

Whitsuntide

One of the most infamous stories of the chaos following Vatican II is the one Father Z first told on his blog years ago:
You probably know that in the traditional Roman liturgical calendar the mighty feast of Pentecost had its own Octave.  Pentecost was/is a grand affair indeed, liturgically speaking.  It has a proper Communicantes and Hanc igitur, an Octave, a Sequence, etc. In some places in the world such as Germany and Austria Pentecost Monday, Whit Monday as the English call it, was a reason to have a civil holiday, as well as a religious observance. 
The Novus Ordo went into force with Advent in 1969. 
The Monday after Pentecost in 1970, His Holiness Pope Paul VI went to the chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red vestments, for the Octave everyone knows follows Pentecost, there were laid out for him vestments of green. 
Paul queried the MC assigned for that day, “What on earth are these for?  This is the Octave of Pentecost!  Where are the red vestments?” 
SantitĂ ,” quoth the MC, “this is now Tempus ‘per annum’.  It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost was abolished.” 
“Green? That cannot be!”, said the Pope, “Who did that?” 
“Holiness, you did.” 
And Paul VI wept.
The "feast of the Lacrimation of Paul VI" is renewed annually when diocesan priests who celebrate the traditional Latin Mass on Sundays return to their regular parish duties the next day to don green vestments for "Ordinary Time" in the Ordinary Form. Until the great restoration takes place, the best advice I can give to priests celebrating the Ordinary Form is to trade those greens for red by offering a votive Mass of the Holy Ghost every weekday of Whitsun Week.

Thankfully, the Ordinariate's Missal has restored the octave of Pentecost, so every day at my parish this week has been red. The Ordinariate likewise observes the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week as "ember days": one of the four times of the year which the Church, since medieval times, reserved for fasting, prayer, and (on Saturday) the ordination of clergy. We then reckon the Sundays for the rest of the year as Sundays after Trinity, aka Trinitytide.

I hope all my readers are inspired to continue the celebration of Whitsun through the octave!