THE “RESTORED” HOLY WEEK
Msgr Léon Gromier, Papal Master of Ceremonies of Pius XII
Paris, July – 1960
Translated by Fr. Anthony Chadwick
Translators Note: Msgr Gromier uses the term pastoral in the substantive, or pastorals in the plural, meaning a person with pastoral ideals. In the context of this conference, the term denotes someone who wishes to modify the liturgy on a pastoral pretext. One may also speak of pastoralism, the notion according to which the liturgy is absolutely irrelevant to modern man and must therefore be reformed. It is a fact that a rite extremely similar to the Novus Ordo was already being discussed and marketed in 1948, the very year Fr. Bugnini was appointed to the Congregation of Rites. We can conclude that the reforms of Pius XII and John XXIII are a part of the Novus Ordo. Msgr Gromier immediately saw through the charade.
The “restored” Holy Week was to begin with a question of timetable. It was a question of restoring the use of the Paschal Vigil, based on the pastoral dogma of the Resurrection at precisely midnight. This dogma is not easily defended, for why insist on this when evening Masses, in practice, admit celebration at any time of the day or night, even after the singing of Vespers, when Conventual Mass is celebrated indifferently after Terce, Sext or None? Another problem, the rules of worship are governed not only by the movement of the earth, but also by the discipline of fasting that has been considerably slackened. It results from this that the restored edifice looks like a house of cards. Pastoral zeal extends from Saturday, the culminating point, to the whole Week from Palm Sunday.
The progressive anticipation of the three last days, then their relegation to the original evening opens for us a debate. The introductory general decree affirms that, towards the end of the Middle Ages, the above mentioned solemnities had been anticipated in the morning. Now, the bull of St Pius V, Ad cuius notitiam, of 29th March 1566, therefore 113 years after the end of the Middle Ages, prohibited what was still done, by permission or custom, in cathedral, collegial, conventual and other churches – to celebrate, the evening or towards the time of sunset, Holy Saturday and other solemnities. The goal is obvious: the Church’s pastoral office must restore, repair damage; the more they were serious, the more the restoration would be welcome; God alone knows if the restoration to be done, before any other, was not to abolish the bull of St Pius V leaving to Bishops the longed-for freedom, to choose the most advantageous afternoon time for the offices of Holy Week: also allowing, for those who desired it, to make their communion; something that had been abolished for fear that the fast was not kept during the hours of the afternoon – when the celebrant was still fasting.
Its terminology deserves attention; for an apologist maintains us in ignorance. Up to now we knew the Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday In Cæna Domini in Latin, Good Friday In Parasceve in Latin and Holy Saturday. Since we want to amplify the solemnity of the Procession of the Palms, why place this Sunday under the dependence of the Passion, instead of leaving its old name of Palm Sunday, that everyone understands, and that deceives no-one? If Holy Saturday is so-called, Good Friday can be called in just the same way [Vendredi Saint in French], by all the Christians of the world. We have called in in Parasceve (Preparation) for nearly two thousand years; the name alone shows the antiquity of this rite. So, why replace it by Passion and Death of the Lord; a useless renaming, non-traditional, unknown in the Canon of the Mass? In ecclesiastical style, passion means suffering until death inclusively. If the substantive death was so necessary, common sense would demand that it should be added to the word passion in the title of the Gospel: Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, now called history of the Passion.
The occasion presents itself to examine the juridical capacities of the pastorals. It is not enough to speak about a thing to create it. Office in choro means a liturgical place where ecclesiastics act according to liturgical rules. Office in communi designates neither a place nor a person. It is a group of people reunited without any mandate, without legal entity and who has the pleasure of saying the private Office collectively. The Breviary distinguishes in choro and extra chorum, there is no third term.
To omit Vespers of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday – that is the height of the arbitrary, above all when the reason is given: Mass takes the place of Vespers, taking first place! Now, between Mass and Vespers, there is no rivality: Vespers enjoy equal dignity with other liturgical services. According to times and places, Vespers have disappeared after the Mass of Holy Saturday, as after the Masses of Thursday and Friday. They were never intended to be abolished. The hour fixed by the pastorals fully agrees with the historical fact – fasting until Vespers, preceded by Mass and communion. Vespers of Holy Saturday are in the afternoon, before the nocturnal Mass – but there is no reason to abolish Vespers of Thursday and Friday, after the Mass that is nocturnal by definition. Holy Saturday without Compline is inexplicable. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with Compline and without Vespers defy reason, for even if we go to bed late, we still go to bed and need to say our prayers.
To qualify the Procession of Palms, the Good Friday service and the Paschal Vigil, the pastorals use the adjective solemn, whilst they do not for all the rest. Now, the solemnity of liturgical services is not an optional decoration; it is of the nature of the service – resulting from all these constitutive elements, not only from some of them. All the manuals explain which functions are solemn or not solemn. Outside of this, so-called solemnity is not an amplifying enticement, to impress and score the goal. It informs us that, by a recent habit, we made a prodigious use of the word solemn even for necessarily or intrinsically solemn acts. We use words, believing we can put more solemnity into the Procession of Palms than into that of Candlemas (Purification), more solemnity into the Procession of Maundy Thursday than that of Good Friday (abolished as we shall see). Always on the same slippery slope, we learn that the Passion of Good Friday is sung solemnly, as if it could be sung in another fashion.
Worthy of admiration and power, pastorals manifest themselves by the abolition of the sad and unfortunate canon 1252 §4, on the fasting of Holy Saturday.
On this day, it is said that, under the symbol of the Paschal Candle, representation is made of our Redeemer, light of the world, who by the grace of His light, chased away the darkness of our sins, etc. This was surrounded by a measure of mystery, without risk for teaching. Now, one insists on crossing all our t’s, causing no small incertitude. The various times and places gives us a kaleidoscope of rites, where we have to discern what they have in common. Like in primitive times, fire produces – whether hidden in a place where it is conserved, lit by rays of the sun and a magnifying glass or by a flint – a means of light for the Paschal night. This is the Paschal Candle, accompanied by the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The simultaneous and historical presence of two paschal candles does not go at all well with the thesis of the pastorals. The lighting of the Candle is the act of first necessity against darkness, and must evoke the living Christ – but excessively anticipates the announcement of the Resurrection. The amplification the Candle receives from the pastorals makes it resemble an end more than a means. Formerly incensed after its blessing, and even consecrated according to some authors, to-day simply blessed, the Paschal Candle becomes an object that occupies a place between a cross, a gospel book and a relic. All this will become clearer when we get to the day of Holy Saturday.
During the whole Holy Week, all the texts sung by the deacon, sub-deacon or singers are omitted by the celebrant, who has not to read them. It is of little importance how the celebrants sing (often badly), if they get themselves heard and understood through their loud-speakers. People must listen. What a victory! They revel in this as a return to antiquity, a pledge for the future, a foretaste of reforms to come. This can be of interest to faithful accustomed to using a book, who – with their faces buried in their missals – are isolated from the community, sic! Distinction is made between reading with the eyes or with the lips. It is not admissible, they say, to read with the lips something that someone else is singing. But, reading with the eye can be defended; it has a respectable age, began by necessity, continues by utility, is esteemed; it is part of the pontifical assistance of the Pope and the Bishop.
To forget nothing, we are told that the altar of repose of Maundy Thursday has a solemn character – something the Missal has never said, better written than certain rubrics. These express two prescriptions and one prohibition: the clergy holds lighted candles, to begin with during the singing of the Exsultet, then during a dialogue between the celebrant and the faithful before Mass. It is forbidden to hold the palms during the singing of the Passion. Overall, they pretend to create two obligations for two novelties; they abolish an ancient practice, that finds its explanation explication in Saint Augustine (homily at matins of Saturday before Palm Sunday) : “The leaves of palms are praises meaning victory; for the Lord was at the point of conquering death by dying, and triumphing over the devil by the trophy of His cross”.
The vigil of Pentecost is stripped of its baptismal character, and has become a day like any other, and makes the Missal tell a lie in the canon. This vigil was an annoying neighbour, a formidable rival! Instructed posterity will certainly be more severe than is opinion in regard to the pastorals.
Whether we like it or not, the communion of the clergy, desired at the Mass of Maundy Thursday, will always be in conflict with permissions given to celebrate Mass in private.
The pastorals call on Christ the King to give a strong meaning to their solemn procession of Palms; as if this was needed to perfect a situation to which the author of the Gloria, laus et honor wrote sufficiently, but not in the new fashion. Certain modifications of tradition, so well-known, are just as dishonest as they are daring.
The sprinkling of holy water is a paschal rite that is done every Sunday. Palm Sunday is no less a Sunday than any other. When Candlemas [ed. Feast of the Purification] falls on a Sunday, it does not impede the Asperges me. This has never involved sprinkling water onto a table placed somewhere with palms or other objects on it. It is a matter of sprinkling the altar, the clergy, the church and the faithful. Except for the Bishop, unless impossible, the proper place for blessings – as for consecrations – is the altar, or yet within a short distance, the credence table for example.
For centuries, the consecration of the oils is done at the altar, before it was done on a table as to-day, and not in conspectu populi. What have the pastorals to show the people here, those who have stripped the blessing of palms to the bone? A collect, sign of the cross, sprinkling of holy water and incensing; an uninteresting show. Those who abolish the Sunday Asperges, a real liturgical mistake, willingly admit that the celebrant should wander around the church to sprinkle the palms held by the faithful, then makes the same journey to incense them.
A pastoral, professor of a Swiss seminary, announced one day that red is the colour of triumph. He should have been answered by saying: you are very much mistaken, whilst white is the colour of Easter, Ascension, Corpus-Christi. But no, as soon as it is said, it is done; the colour of Palm Sunday will be red, violet remaining for Mass. Not everyone thinks like the professor. The Roman Rite has used violet since it appeared. The Parisian rite, et the uses of so many dioceses, used black until the middle of the 19th century. A few rites used red, for the blessing of Palms and Mass. Some insisted on mourning, others on the bloody sacrifice. Each kept the same colour: no-one had the idea of changing it. The whole office of Palm Sunday is a mixture of triumphal and passion hymns. From Matins to Vespers inclusive, including Mass, we find that the number of passion hymns goes beyond that of triumphal pieces. When these two things are thus mixed, no separation should be brought to bear. The Swiss professor thought he could take example from the reasonable change of colour for Candlemas; but its pastiche is a mere imitation of the modern feast of Christ the King.
The distribution of the Palms, as we read, is done according to custom. Whatever the pastorals think, there are rules to observe before custom. As the celebrant, if he is not the only priest, received the ashes and his candle at the hands of the highest cleric, he is to receive his palm in the same way. If he does not receive it, he will be without his palm at the procession. About this, rubricists have asked whether the pastorals wanted the celebrant not to carry a palm at the procession, because he would have represented Christ who did not carry one. Logically, the hypothesis would have the celebrant on the back of a donkey. Happily, the pastorals stopped there, allowing him to carry a palm.
The pastorals, who reduced the blessing of palms to its simplest expression, did not pass up the chance of extending the distribution, given the superabundance of chants intended for this action. Whilst the length of the blessing seems enormous, this added plethora seems not to satisfy needs.
The subdeacon normally carries the processional cross, each time the celebrant does not need him, carrying the Blessed Sacrament or for the Baptismal Font. An additional subdeacon for carrying the cross is necessary only when the subdeacon has something else to do, as above.
For two weeks, the altar cross remains veiled. Even veiled, it is incensed and revered by genuflection or profound bow. It is forbidden to unveil it for any reason. On the other hand, the processional cross – unlike the altar cross – is carried unveiled at the procession; from departure to return. Two crosses are seen, one veiled and the other unveiled. What do we gather from this?
The disorder augments from the end of the procession. Going before an important personality, accompanying him to the closed doors of the town, stopping to compliment and acclaim him, finally opening the doors with great pomp in his honour – all this has always been one of the greatest possible forms of homage; but it is not good enough for the creative genius of the pastorals.
We can only qualify as vandalism the fact of tearing the Gloria, laus et honor away from its place at the church door, to mix it up with the baggage of processional music that has nearly tripled in length. Stinginess and waste of time go hand in hand. Therefore, no stopping in front of the door, closed then open; the processional cross unveiled to magnify it, it is cheapened by refusing it the virtue of opening the door. All that despite ancient and modern ceremonial, and for what good? The pastoral rubrics make much ado of the expression, nothing impedes, nihil impedit quominus. Here they are used to unleash the faithful who can sing the hymn Christus vincit or something else in honour of Christ the King. This tolerance has naturally its consequences; the faithful make pawns of the clergy, they have a whole choice of chants à la carte. If they are for Christ the King, they like to sing to his Mother who is Queen. So many desires and eminently pastoral wishes.
The Roman rubric said: when the procession enters the church, Ingrediente Domino is sung; the pastoral rubric says: when the procession enters the church, when the celebrant goes through the door, Ingrediente Domino is sung. The door is ignored during the return from the procession – now we watch for the celebrant coming through the door, who seems to be identified with Christ entering Jerusalem.
Between the procession and Mass, they give us a final and recapitulary collect, with defectuous modalities; the celebrant has no need to go up to the altar, above all turning his back to it, just to sing a collect and come back down just after. Have we ever seen that apres Rogation processions? Finally, holding the book in front of the celebrant is proper to the deacon and subdeacon, not to a simple cleric.
Previously, we called the singing of the Gospel Passion the Passion, and the Gospel at the end of the sung Passion was sung in the usual manner of the Gospel. To-day, both parts put together are called the history of the Passion, or yet the Gospel of the Passion and death. Such pastoral progress is worth it! Folded chasubles are one of the oldest characteristics of the Roman Rite; they go back to the time when all the clergy wore chasubles, and were the expression of austere penance. Their abolition makes nonsense of the painting in the Catacombs – an immense loss and an outrage to history. The pastorals simply say the folded chasubles are not easy to find. To the contrary, violet chasubles are found everywhere – and can be folded – whilst violet dalmatics are not as widespread [ed. Violet dalmatics are used during the time of Septuagesima before the beginning of Lent]. It has always been allowed to serve in alb.
The pastorals like cutting something off the beginning or end of Mass. Their being cut off, apart from the few moments of time saved, are insignificant. What is more important is that they are used as “spring boards” for more important reforms. Thus, neither the psalm Judica me nor the confession are said before the Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday Masses, because some other ceremony takes place. The same goes for the Masses of Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, weddings, funerals and Masses preceded by Communion. On Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday, the undesirable Last Gospel is omitted; perfect, but in the name of what principle? On Maundy Thursday, the Blessing is omitted, because the ceremony is not finished – the same goes for Corpus-Christi and any Mass followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
When the usage of three extra deacons singing the Passion is introduced, in the form of a lesson rather than that of a Gospel, the end of the Passion is reserved for singing in Gospel form by the celebrant’s deacon – to avoid falling into the absurdity of the deacon not singing the Gospel. The three deacons begin and finish the Passion without ceremony, as for lessons; only the deacon does the habitual ceremonies for the Gospel. This was logical, coming from the Papal Chapel. Thus the deacon is eclipsed by the three of the Passion. He then recites the Munda cor meum and received the blessing before singing the Gospel, incensing of the book, kissing of the book and incensing of the celebrant. These three gestures succumb to the pastoral mentality; for the Passion is no longer the Gospel but only a history, history of the Passion. Lacking the Gospel, there is no Gospel book. Consequently, the book of history is not incensed or kissed – what is not kissed is not incensed.
To continue, the passion-gospel books are carried around in any old fashion; they are mentioned only on Good Friday. The pastorals have forgotten how to carry a Gospel book; why there must be three acolytes accompanying it instead of two, that the deacon kneeling to say Munda cor meum has not to bow. They repeat again and again that the passion-gospel is sung or read. Their rubrics are written to make us think that we can read at a sung office and sing in a read office as we like. Half the office can be read and the other half sung, mixing both. This is one of the scourges of the liturgy, as is the vernacular language. This is not new, and was recently encouraged [by Pius XII] in sung ordinations where the ordaining bishop interrupts the singing of the preface to say the essential words. It seems that singing harms the required attention!
The Passion according to the four Evangelists included the institution of the Eucharist, for it introduces the Gospel and takes its place in the Mass. The pastorals, in a hurry when they want, think differently – abolishing the institution of the Eucharist narrative. This is consequently excluded from the liturgy in the Roman Church, without doubt to give a better instruction to the faithful.
The omission of the Psalm Miserere at the end of the Hours relieves the poor clergy and unhappy faithful. This psalm could remain only after Lauds and Vespers or only in choir, or even optional. The pastorals would benefit by reading what Cardinal Wiseman, first Archbishop of Westminster, said about the singing of this psalm at the Office of Tenebræ in the Papal Chapel.
The Missa Chrismatis, a Pontifical Mass celebrated with 26 priests in chasuble remind us of concelebration, celebrated without any relation with fasting, in which is it forbidden to give Communion, forms a curious problem that is difficult to solve. Its proper preface, in the ferial tone, is found among other curiosities.
In the Roman Rite, the use of the stole is limited by rules; no-one can wear it without a reason. It is put on at the required moment, not before and not after. It is a sacred vestment, and has nothing to do with choir dress, either for individuals or the body of the clergy. Priests have no more the right to wear the stole during Mass where they will communicate than during an ordination Mass where they will impose hands. Saying the contrary, the pastorals abuse their unmerited latitude.
At the Maundy Thursday Mass, the celebrant solemnly begins the Gloria in excelsis. How would he do it differently? Here we find a transposition, perhaps not of great importance, but at least of great pastoral significance. Until now, after the singing of the Good Friday Passion, the liturgy allowed a sermon on the Passion. We had compassion for Christ who died on the Cross, before adoring both. Now, there is no longer any question of this, and it is no longer mentioned. On the other hand, after the Maundy Thursday Gospel, a homily is strongly recommended for us to marvel at Christ washing feet.
Ancient documents show that Mass was never the place or the time for the Mandatum. The washing of the feet was separated from Mass, generally followed by a clergy get-together. The king or emperor participated in the Mandatum, not at Mass. The Cæremoniale Episcoporum situates the Mandatum in a suitable place, in the chapter house or in church, but not in choir. The Missal specifies no place, supposing neither the choir nor the altar. From the moment of the reconciliation of penitents being done in the nave, common sense could not admit laymen into choir. The pastorals want the Mandatum within Mass, only tolerating it out of Mass. They hardly notice that we can wash the feet of clerics – real or considered as such.
A remark is necessary about the distribution of roles. The deacon and subdeacon are charged with introducing the twelve chosen men (no longer thirteen) into the choir, then to lead them back to their previous places. This job is that of a verger or sacristan. It expresses very well the pastoral mentality impregnated with a populist attitude, unfavourable to the clergy. There was a time when each candidate for having his feet washed was carried by force by worthy men before the sitting Pope to have his feet washed. The pastorals, not daring to push “fraternal charity” to this point, are content to use the deacon and subdeacon for introducing lay candidates into choir, then to lead them back afterwards. Some miss the ancient usage mentioned, for not only sport but also the social and pastoral activity of the clergy would have drawn benefit.
We find a big obstacle without any possible dissimulation. By decree of 4th December 1952 the Holy Congregation of Rites censured the incongruity of the fact that the Bishop puts on his shoes and takes them off in the church. Following this, it forbids such a use of liturgical shoes. This had always to be done outside the church, despite the former rules in force. This decree is excessively disputable, for it is based on ambiguity, attributing things that have never been said to the Cæremoniale Episcoporum. Let us not discuss them and be content with forbidding them. The Bishop, outside Mass, receives his shoes and buskins on legs and feet that are not bare, since they are covered with socks. These shoes are sacred vestments, just as much as the mitre and gloves, blessed, received with the episcopate, accompanied by a prayer and reverence. This practice has existed for centuries. On the other hand, 12 men in choir, during Mass, take their shoes off, strip their right feet bare, and put their shoes back on before going back to their places. In summary, twelve bare feet are less incongruous than the two of the Bishop with his shoes on, without counting other differences.
The concern for eliminating the word pax from the Maundy Thursday Mass, since the kiss of peace is not given, extends to a collect, to the Confiteor, etc., to the kissing of the Bishop’s hand, to the Ite missa est, the blessing and the Last Gospel. But we do not know if they tolerate other kisses, of the hand and the object; for they could not proscribe them as mechanically. The knowledge of the pastorals is still at the point of confusing the kissing of the hand and the kissing of the ring.
The sparing of the Confiteor at Communion of Maundy Thursday, an exchange that takes the unnoticed Confiteor said in private by the celebrant at the beginning of Mass, so that it takes the place of a collective Confiteor, sung by the deacon before Communion, is, we can say, far-fetched. The subtlety of bartering does not suffice to hide the enormous difference between the two uses of the Confiteor. Too much finesse can be harmful.
Setting out on the procession to the altar of repose and the return give patent proof of the ceremonial dexterity of the pastorals. At the beginning, the celebrant takes the ciborium helped by the deacon, and clumsily; arriving he puts it down with or without the deacon’s help, and just as badly. The reforms require from those who do it to be trained, and many are not. From Palm Sunday, we know nothing about the processional cross or the altar. Are they bare or veiled, and in which colour? No-one knows anything.
The Good Friday service takes the form of Mass in its main lines. This service received its early inspiration from the Orientals. The Mass of the Presanctified took its rightful place, above all if we observe that the Roman Rite had the “dry mass” for many centuries. Despite all, a cry of alarm broke out among the pastorals – it was the death warrant. The alarm was given by a Belgian Benedictine abbot crying out: “The Good Friday ceremony has taken on terrible appearances of a Mass”. No more was needed by the pastorals. With an effort worthy of a better goal, they have fulfilled this programme: get rid of the fundamentally Roman elements, adopt foreign elements, restore inferior and obsolete Roman elements, exclude everything that can in any way remind us of a Mass. On this point, their fixed idea was to sing the refrain Delenda est Carthago. The Mass of the Presanctified succumbed under misunderstanding, victim of a kabbal. The liturgical dictionary, in the Migne edition, said in 1844: “The Roman Rite seems to us, as for the adoration of the cross, more grave and edifying than the rite of various dioceses of France”. Advice to the pastorals for their entire construction, become a simple exercise of piety, under the name of “Singular and solemn liturgical action for the passion of death of the Lord”, an action which, despite its qualification, gives no nobility to its subject.
The Roman Pontifical teaches us that we do not greet a new altar before having placed its cross. The altar itself is not the object of veneration, but the cross that dominates it, and to which all prayers are addressed. There was a time when the cross and candles were brought to the altar on entering the sanctuary, and they were carried away after Mass. This leaving the altar always uncovered is not permitted to-day. This is why I address the pastorals: “On Palm Sunday, you have uncovered the processional cross by pretext of emphasising it. On Good Friday when it is covered, you take the cross from the altar, send it to the sacristy and then have it brought back. How do you explain such a contradiction?” No creative or organisational genius here! We finally note that the cross on the altar brings to mind a Mass.
The pastorals divide the solemn action into four sub-titled parts, of which the second and third are solemn, but not the first and fourth. These doses are just as intelligent and admirable as their authors.
Chasubles – no question of them; they smack of the Mass. Then the poor celebrant has to be happy to be in an alb, as in a country church, despite the ultra-proclaimed solemnity – a contradiction the Roman Rite spared him.
The altar without a cross, if it is worthy of being kissed, has no right to a bow or genuflection, and even less to be prayed to – for an altar is not invoked. In the Roman Rite, when we kneel or make a double genuflection, or a bow, the bow must be slight and not profound. This ancient rule has been confirmed about a half century ago. It is scary to see the liturgy caught between two powers mutually ignoring each other.
The pastorals enrich Good Friday with an introductory collect and three concluding prayers. They abolish with one hand and lengthen with the other. They fall between two stools and are caught in their own net. The celebrant sings the introductory collect at the foot of the altar, for he will go up to the altar only for the great prayers. At the altar, the celebrant does not spread his hands unless he is in a chasuble at Mass and that Delenda est Carthago, hands spread gives place to joined hands. The second lesson takes the place of an epistle sung by the subdeacon, since the name of Mass is rejected and the deacon does not sing the Gospel.
The pastorals have the three deacons say the Munda cor meum and bidding the blessing on Palm Sunday. On Good Friday, the three do not say Munda cor meum and do not bid the blessing, but they go before the celebrant who addresses them a wish in a clear voice. Until now, the Munda cor meum has always come before the Gospel, at all the four Passions. Even the pastorals kept it before their gospel-history of the Passion – but they have excluded it on Good Friday. Why? Perhaps on this day the Passion is less of a Gospel than a history. With the loss of Munda cor meum, the Gospel is not announced. As he gives the blessing, the celebrant speaks media voce, but saying the formula he speaks clara voce. The new formula is without doubt better than the old. Finally the three deacons of the Passion who kneel to bid and receive the blessing do not have a reason to bow to hear the celebrant – we do not bow to respond to Dominus vobiscum.
Now begins the second period with a change of vestments, followed by two others, four in all. This is the punishment by the puritans who blame the Roman Rite for changing vestments too often. The pastorals, mitigating their anti-Mass prejudice, have the celebrant vest to go up to the altar. But, they have him in a cope, at the middle of the altar instead of the epistle corner, with the ministers each side of him, not behind. They have the priest with hands apart despite being in a cope.
They are more concerned with the dimensions of the cross than with its characteristics – a reliquary cross, the wood of the cross is of no interest to them, despite the origin of the rite. They have little knowledge or understanding of the Roman Rite. They transfer the cross from the sacristy to the altar where it was missing, where it should have its fixed place whether or not Mass is celebrated. Keeping the cross veiled does not mean hiding it, relegating it to the sacristy, depriving the altar of it – where it should more than ever be in a place of honour on this Friday. The pastorals should know that the veil should cover the whole cross, not just the crucifix, for it is the cross that is shown.
Other novelties await us. The notion of the pastorals about processions: the deacon between two acolytes brings the exiled cross from the sacristy – a procession. The faithful queue up to adore the cross – a procession. The deacon brings the Blessed Sacrament from the altar of repose – this is not a procession. We are now completely confused. We did not use lighted candles before transporting the Blessed Sacrament, of which the cross is not jealous. Now the pastorals use lighted candles for the cross. It results, among other things, that the celebrant uncovering the cross finds himself among four persons, a lot of people for little space! The cross, brought by the deacon then uncovered by the celebrant, now remains delivered to the hands of two acolytes who should not have this role, above all at the altar – which is not their place.
For centuries and rightly, Catholics have adored not only the cross but also the crucified body of Christ on the floor of the church. This is why we spread a carpet, a cushion, a white and violet veil for a shroud. This goes beyond the ideas of the pastorals, who have the Crucified standing upright. They have thus discarded the showing-adoration of the cross – not an exaltation but bringing it to adorers who prostrate themselves. The adoration of the cross is no less misunderstood – it was done as for the Pope, three genuflections spaced out before kissing the cross or the Pope’s foot. But this Friday, the three genuflections are changed into three double genuflections of adoration. It is through this reverence to the Pope that the genuflection became part of the Roman Rite.
At the uncovering of the cross, after each of the Ecce lignum crucis, the action was together with the invitation – we kneeled and adored, responding Venite adoremus. The adoration in silence took place during the three double genuflections before the kissing. The pastorals move the silent adoration of the three destroyed double genuflections, they are associated with each Venite adoremus. In this way it wastes time rather than saving it – again, the pastorals have the adorers go one by one instead of two by two. They probably believe that singing is not good for adoration, attention and recollection.
The problem with the collective adoration of the cross was for a long time solved by the use of several crosses, presented to the faithful for kissing or exposed for adoration in several places. After the adoration, the altar cross is put in its normal place, from where it was taken to the sacristy. Its return gives place to a strange rubric.
Then they change colour. White and black are the original colours of the Roman Rite, but the pastorals prefer violet to black, the most recent colour. They reinforce the mourning of Good Friday by calling it the day of the Lord’s death, but reject the black colour of death. They, who exterminate the Mass of the Presanctified, who until now had the celebrant in a black cope, have him wear a violet chasuble. But not for the ministers – they are disguised in dalmatics. Can there be more of a contradiction? If the pastorals saw a clash between communion and black, they should have considered that the Requiem Mass is said in black, and communion is given there even with previously consecrated hosts given as communion just before or after the Mass in black.
I ask the pastorals: what need, what opportunity do you feel to put a chasuble on the celebrant just to give communion? The distribution of communion has never required a chasuble outside Mass. You exterminate the Mass of the Presanctified, you obstinately eliminate the least detail that smacks of this, then you dare to put a chasuble on the celebrant – that you refuse for the ministers. Nothing warrants the celebrant to be vested for Act IV of your production, for you leave him simply in alb for Act I. Your discretionary powers are vast, as are the abuses.
The procession of Maundy Thursday, definitively instituted by Sixtus IV (+ 1484), and that of Good Friday, instituted by John XXII (+1334), therefore by the same authority, have the same object, same purpose, same solemnity, except the festive character of the first and the mourning of the second. Why abolish one and keep the other? The arrival of the Blessed Sacrament is accompanied by singing of the three antiphons in honour of the cross, in the place of Vexilla Regis having the same purpose, but without doubt un-pastoral.
In the Roman Rite, the celebrant sings the Pater noster alone, entirely or at the beginning and end saying the middle part in a quiet voice. The best proof is that the congregation, having said nothing, responds sed libera nos. All the same, the pastorals had to reform this, and here is the result of their prowess: the Pater noster said and not sung, said by all, said in a sung service, a sad mixture of Latin and Oriental rites, recited solemnly (sic), but stripped of the solemnity of singing, said with joined hands, whilst the Libera nos is said with hands apart. The pitiful explanation given is that the Pater, since it is a prayer for communion, has to be recited by everyone. Two questions: is the Pater more for communion than the other days of the year? Is the Pater more for communion than the other prayers before communion?
The writing of the rubrics is naturally at the same level. Thus we read that the celebrant takes a host with the right hand – so does he strike his breast with the left hand? We don’t know if the left hand rests on the corporal or on the ciborium. We read that as he strikes his breast, instead of a medium bow, parum incinatus, the celebrant makes a profound bow – a posture impeded by the height of the altar.
It is disrespectful to the liturgy and the celebrant to abolish the chalice and the large host. A small people’s host is ridiculous. The chalice once served as a ciborium, and this could continue. There was a time and place when the Good Friday communion was taken in both kinds, having been reserved, therefore with the chalice. Of this we should be aware. The chalice served for the purification of the celebrant, and opened the way for the clergy. One did not eat without drinking. All this imitated the Mass, did not deceive anyone, did not even oppose general communion – but this is of little importance.
The pastorals introduced three postcommunions, sung by the celebrant with joined hands, at the middle of the altar, between his ministers, and during which all stand. Another curiosity: during Compline the candles are snuffed out. Therefore the cross, now uncovered, can do without light. Now, why were lighted candles needed before its uncovering and during the adoration? A game of compensation: they give the cross light it had not had, and they take away the incensing from the Blessed Sacrament, the cross and the altar.
The Church mourns and weeps during the three days during which the Lord remains in the Sepulchre. During this time of the obsequies of the dead Christ, all the Hours of the Office end with the collect Respice quæsumus, which is exactly the prayer super populum at the Mass of Holy Wednesday. The pastorals break this continuity and unity by a replacement – at the end of the Hours of Saturday they insert a prayer that gives the aspect of a banal vigil, clashing with the rest, above all with the ancient Christus factus est. If the pastorals were logical with themselves, they would see that this prayer, not being in the tone of the three days, had no longer to be said kneeling and with a silent conclusion. This was of finishing Vespers is no less strange.
As for Mass, finishing in the late evening, was the cause of doing away with Vespers, at another time Mass, finishing late into the night, did away with Matins of Easter. The three Nocturnes were reduced to a single one, and this for the whole Octave. With less cause, the pastorals went further by abolishing Easter Matins, but did not dare to extend this to the rest of the Octave. As for the Vigil of Pentecost, massacred, its Octave continues to enjoy a single nocturne.
As already seen, the pastorals continue the burial of folded chasubles with that of Christ. On the other hand, and with the same deftness, they resurrect some minimal ceremony that is less ancient and abandoned. Also, they answer a question that has never been resolved. The celebrant blessed the new fire to obtain blessed light, with which the deacon lit the paschal candle before which he sang the Præconium. This lighting and singing passed for the blessing of the Paschal Candle. Now there is no doubt, everything is clear – the deacon has only to carry it and sing. The candle brought from I don’t know where, under the watchful eyes of the congregation, is subjected to incisions and inscriptions, with explaining formulas, as well as pushing the five grains of incense into the five holes in the candle, which would represent the five wounds of Christ. This brings us back to the symbolism of William Durandus, whose ideas were once in fashion then fell into desuetude. The grains of incense are explained by the relation between fire and the resin of incense. The inscriptions had degenerated into a large tablet suspended on the candle and its candlestick, perhaps imitating the sign INRI of the cross, since the candle had to symbolise Christ.
Here, the Paschal Candle lit and blessed, the pastorals have the lights of the church put out. The Breviary had already done this at the end of Lauds of Maundy Thursday, but this concerned the lamps, electric lights, extinguished until Saturday. They probably want, without saying it clearly, to extinguish all the lights, have the church in darkness, which will be dissipated by the candles of the clergy and people. This brings out the Paschal Candle, something oriental, reminding us of a Candlemas around a big candle.
Whilst the light was given to light the candle already in place, now they carry the lighted candle to put it into place. One of the promoters of the Paschal Vigil was enthusiastic about the imposing proportions of the massive candle, and the majesty of paschal candlesticks. They did not suspect that their sectaries would have reduced everything to the proportions of a village church. When candle and candlestick took on a monumental development, and the candle was no longer transportable, it disappeared from the procession. Light had to be brought to it with the triple candle. Thus it happened that the hero of the triumphal cortege was not carried. We note that with the triple candle and reed, the light of Christ was no less adored.
In the hands of the pastorals, their solemn procession for the carrying of the candle became the negation of reasons principles, a liturgical monster. Their whim of having the deacon and the celebrant walk directly behind the subdeacon and the cross, at the head of the clergy, is the same thing as putting the cart before the horse. One of them excuses this with two stupidities. Firstly, in the proper order the clergy would turn their backs to the candle. Answer – in any procession where a relic or the Blessed Sacrament is carried, backs are turned as praises are sung. The contrary has never been done. The second: in the proper order, the clergy would sing the Lumen Christi turning their backs to the candle. Answer: there is no evil in this, for the genuflection is not made to the candle carried behind, but to Christ who is everywhere. We need to distinguish Christ as light and the light of Christ. Lumen Christi means that the light of Christ is in the lighted candle, not that Christ-light be there.
Reading the pastoral rubrics, we are led to believe that everybody – clergy and people – makes for the candle to light his own candle, which he holds during the singing of the Exultet. We remind ourselves with amazement of not being allowed to hold our palms during the singing of the Passion.
The right place for singing the Exultet and situating the Paschal Candle has always been where the Gospel is sung, the customary place in choir, or on the ambo or choir screen where the paschal candlestick is situated. The position of the candle in the middle of the choir, on a small support, is purely arbitrary. This give rise to fleeting and false interpretations, and does away with the majestic paschal candlestick.
The deacon, holding the book, bids the blessing, then incenses the book as for the Gospel. Why this? The reason is that the Exultet has always been in the Gospel book. Another reason is that the deacon incenses the book containing the praise of the candle that he is going to sing. The direct purpose is not to incense the candle, of less worth than the Gospel book. By incensing the book, the deacon incenses, per modum unius, the candle places against the reading desk. The pastorals could dispense with a new incensing, above all made by turning one’s back to the candle.
The pastorals have officiated before an altar without a cross on Friday, but on Saturday, the altar and its cross no longer suffice for them. They want a centre towards which they turn – the Paschal Candle – rivalling the altar. The place for the singing of the Gospel has its symbolism, once disputable. Their place for the Paschal Candle, at the centre of the choir, entirely lacks symbolism. The way the desk is turned, and the deacon singing the Exultet, the reader singing the lessons, with the altar to his right and the nave to his left, shows the charm of the profile position unlike that of the pastorals.
According to the pastorals, the celebrant vests in four ways on Friday, but on Saturday, he is spared from vesting. He remains in a cope instead of putting on a chasuble. Is eludes them that the Prophecies, Tracts and Collects are part of the Mass, and that the Pope once baptised in chasuble.
The baptistery was an edifice annexed to the church, a kind of hallway, neutral territory, where a person entered as a pagan and emerged as a Christian. Used in a particular way, it was not made to contain the whole congregation. The baptistery has been succeeded by the baptismal font, often badly situated and just as badly constructed, but by whose fault? These faults should never be a reason to abandon them. Baptismal fonts, baptismal water and Baptism go together as one. A spectacular innovation that deliberately separates them, installing substitutes for the font in the choir and baptising in them, then using this recipient for transferring the baptismal water to the font – is an insult to history, to discipline, to the liturgy and common sense. Thus people are baptised in the choir, the place for the clergy, a pagan with those accompanying him. Thus the baptismal water resembles the person brought in pomp to it, from where he was expelled. It was to preserve the baptismal water over the whole year that sumptuous baptisteries were constructed with artistic and majestic fonts. To-day, the pastorals make baptismal water and baptise in a basin, and in this container they carry it to the font, singing the song of a thirsty deer, which has already drunk, and which is going towards a dry font.
The Litany, once repeated so often, is an supplication for the catechumens, before or after their baptism. It is normally sung on the way to the font and coming back from it. As the pastorals introduced a substitute for the baptismal font into the choir, they have the first half of the Litany sung, then the blessing of the water, always under the protection of the Paschal Candle. This time the celebrant faces the people, no longer his profile. What subtlety! Not the return, but the transport of the water to his home raises a thorny question. Whose role is it to play the walking reservoir – the deacon, acolytes, and how many of them? Our task that can arouse jealousies, above all during the obsolete singing of Sicut cervus. Suppose our church has a separate baptistery, the pastorals still dare to give the choice between the liturgical method and their sad invention.
The renewal of baptismal vows, taken from the First Communion for children, is a massive para-liturgy, a purely pastoral creation and un-liturgical, an occasion to insert the vernacular into the liturgy. It is a boring repetition of what has just been done if there has been a baptism. They could go on to renew marriage vows for people at a wedding. Finally it causes an empty space between the transport of the water and the second half of the Litany, therefore a waste of time by returning in silence.
The Paschal Candle finishes by being taken off its little temporary support and put on its candlestick on the Gospel side, ignored until now. Flowers have never been prescribed for the altar. Now the pastorals need them to make it more pleasant.