liturgy


Hats

I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonours her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)  Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognise no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

St Paul, First Letter to the Corinthians

My understanding of the reason for this law is that it is twofold. Head covering signifies social function given from above. The default social function of woman indicated by her physiology is to bear, nurture and educate children. This is why all women should be educated but not all men need be. If women marry in their late teens and are fertile and do not avoid bearing children they will usually have their last children in their early forties and so the last child will reach majority when his parents are around sixty. The default social function of women is natural and uniform. The default social function of men, on the other hand,  seems to be artificial. They function outside the home and have specialised tasks in the organic social hierarchy. Thus, men wear artificial and distinct head covering while women wear long hair, a natural and uniform covering. It should be born in mind that (as in a synagogue) historically and according to canon law until 1983 men and women sit separately in Church rather than together. “It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church” (Canon 1262 CIC 1917). The basic unit of temporal society is the family but the basic unit of ecclesiastical society is the individual.

The first reason, therefore, for the requirement that men remove their head covering in Church and women adopt an artificial head covering is that man symbolises Christ who is the head of the Church and woman symbolises the Church His body and bride. Christ does not receive his headship from a higher human authority and so man removes his artificial head covering to show Christ’s headship as of right. The Church does indeed receive its dignity from Christ and not on account of nature and is body and bride not head. Accordingly women adopt an artificial head covering in church.

The second reason for the requirement that men remove their head covering in Church and women adopt an artificial head covering is that human beings must efface their own glory in the presence of the Divine Glory. Man’s glory comes from his delegated function in the organic social hierarchy – symbolised by his head covering. Accordingly, he removes his glory upon entering the church by taking off his hat. Woman’s glory comes from her natural and uniform task of bearing, nurturing and educating children – symbolised by her long hair. As it would be shameful (and impractical) to shave off her hair every time she goes to church she veils it instead (which conveniently also accomplishes the first symbolism just mentioned).

Because traditionally men and women sit separately in church the first symbolism, while accentuating the sacramental significance of the sexual difference does not accentuate the particular authority of this husband over this wife. This is helpful as the second symbolism is designed precisely to emphasise that “there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28) by removing the things which differentiate the sexes in temporal society.

The law concerning the wearing and removal of head covering therefore both accentuates the reason for the authority of husbands as head of the family in temporal matters and it’s symbolism while emphasising the this-world and provisional nature of that authority.

We must consider why man should not veil his head, but the woman. This can be taken in two ways: first, because a veil put on the head designates the power of another over the head of a person existing in the order of nature. Therefore, the man existing under God should not have a covering over his head to show that he is immediately subject to God; but the woman should wear a covering to show that besides God she is naturally subject to another … Secondly, to show that the glory of God should not be concealed but revealed; but man’s glory is to be concealed. Hence it says in Ps 115 (v. 1): “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give the glory.”

– St Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Corinthians

Who (really) believes in God

I find these statistics very mysterious. Ignoring Bosnia which is a special case from which few inferences can be drawn, all 50%+ countries are non-Slav Eastern-Rite, all 25-50% countries are Slav Byzantine and all 25%- countries are Latin. What is the explanation? It can’t just be Vatican II because that doesn’t explain the inferior performance of the Slav Byzantines compared to the Non-Slav Easterners .

From A Popular Guide to the New Mass, written by the Master of Ceremonies at Westminster Cathedral, and published in 1970:

On arriving at the altar the priest kisses it and goes straight to his chair where he does something he has never done before. He greets the people: says ‘hello” in a liturgical way. When you think about it, the priest has never acted like a gentleman at the beginning of Mass because, without a word to the people (many of whom he probably knows well), he turns his back on them and gets on with his own preparation for Mass. . .  Now that has been put right. The priest has become a gentleman, so he faces the people . . . [In the new Entrance Rite] the priest and his people have been ‘introduced’.

(I particularly like ‘many of whom he probably knows well’.)

Quoted in The Banished Heart, a very good read by Geoffrey Hull.


“Let the hour of Prime be suppressed”. So decreed the bishops gathered in Rome in the winter of 1963, at the dead time of the year. Of the 2,147 prelates who voted to suppress, not some local abuse or the apocryphal Acta of an obscure saint, but one of the 8 hours of the divine office, did any, I wonder, feel some slight misgivings?

Like our Lord Jesus Christ, Prime was born in Bethlehem. Perhaps that is why the devil pursues it with a special hatred. St John Cassian tells us that it was the elders of his first monastery who instituted it, to prevent sleepy monks who had got through the long night-office from staying in bed until Terce. “This canonical office was first instituted in our monastery and in our time”, he writes. The learned think that this would have happened around the year of our Lord 380. The Church was still emerging from the long Arian nightmare, and already Prime was sung. It survived the fall of the empire in the West. St Benedict takes its existence for granted when he comes to distribute the psalter for the opus Dei. In the Roman basilicas it marked each day the beginning of the recitation of Psalm 118, the loving praise of the law of God; which, is, St Thomas tells us, a praise by appropriation of the eternal Son.

Matins is the hour of the dead of night. Those who sing the divine office of Matins stand like sentinels on the walls of the Church, repelling the diabolical incursions. Lauds is the hour of vanquished darkness and the return of dawn; it is the hour of victory and relief. Yet the thin shadows are still seen in Lauds, though fleeing; nor has man yet forgotten the passivity and endurance of the night, nor resumed his proper place as master of the world.

Prime is the first hour of true day. The sun now holds the heavens, undisputed. He has made all things new. Man also is himself again, ready to choose and act, not only to endure. It is that first hour, so a mediaeval writer tells us, when the Householder first goes out to call who will to labour for the Penny, the one thing needful, the image of the King.

For well over a thousand years, no one knows how long, the Church has sung the Athanasian Creed at Prime. Perhaps that is another reason why the devil hates it. This creed is said now only once a year, on the Sunday of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, and then only by a few. One tiny foothold in the sacred liturgy, like Pelayo in his cave when all Spain was lost, waiting for the Reconquista to begin…

If you have ever, good Christian reader, as I have, heard the bells ring for Prime, and walked to church some bright Septembral morning, seen the sheep grazing and the distant ocean tranquil, then maybe you too will have perceived that there are, as in nature so in grace, things unchangeable; you also may have glimpsed something of the iota unum, and the non praevalebunt. Or maybe you will do and understand these things some centuries hence. For Prime is the hour that would not die.

 

A fascinating window into the ecclesiastical landscape of nearly forty years ago. It is striking that when the establishment spokesman’s claims about ad orientem are refuted by Michael Davies Fr Champlin puts up no resistance. He knew his claims were misleading and once exposed he sees no need to resist. The denial of any causal connection between the post-conciliar apostasy and the direction taken by the council seems bizarre from the vantage point afforded by time.

The good Cardinal Sarah has been in the news recently for saying that the two kinds of Mass should eventually merge into a ‘common, reformed rite’. Joseph Shaw observes: ‘It seems that the most trad-friendly Prelates of the Church actually want the Traditional Mass to disappear.’ He has some other sensible things to say about the problem with a general adoption of the revised lectionary and calendar.

An even more basic problem is that the framers of the Pauline missal envisaged the Mass as different sort of thing from what it had been up till then. The late Fr Brian Houghton said in one of his books that the reformers wish to personalise the Mass, and that their opponents wish it to be anonymous, and concluded logically enough: ‘The two aims are not compatible’ (I quote from memory).

(Incidentally, I hear a rumour that Fr. Houghton’s two novels and his autobiography may be republished. Buy them, if they are.)

Putting it in another way: the reformers envisaged the Mass as something done by everyone there, clergy and laity. I don’t mean that they would have rejected the doctrine about the essential difference between the priesthood of the ordained and that of all the baptised. Perhaps some of them would have done, but I know of no reason to think so (except for reasons for thinking that one or more of them rejected all Christian doctrines, e.g. evidence that Bugnini was a freemason).

I mean that what they wanted the Mass to feel like, was something done by everyone, as a good host at a dinner-party wants everyone to talk, so that the thing will be a success. The Mass was to feel like a sacred dinner-party, and the priest’s job would be to bring everyone out. Isn’t this implied by the famous article 7 of the GIRM? “The Lord’s Supper, or Mass, is the sacred meeting or congregation of the people of God assembled, the priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord.” Rorate suggests that these may have been ‘most influential liturgical words written in the 20th century’.

What the traditional Mass feels like, on the other hand, is something done by the clergy in the sanctuary, to which those in the nave unite themselves.

Now, in the latter case, the feeling corresponds to the reality. The Mass is something done by those in the sanctuary (litanies, readings, prayers, offertory, consecration, priest’s communion). Those in the nave unite themselves to this reality. This is sufficiently  proved by the fact that the Mass can be done with no one in the nave, but not with no one in the sanctuary.

Cardinal Sarah says that the ‘theologies’ of the two Masses are compatible. I am not sure if I know what this means. But I am confident that the wishes of the framers of the Pauline missal were not compatible with the reality of the Sacrifice which Christ left us.

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The Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar are a monastic family serving the Holy and Undivided Trinity under the sixth-century Rule of Saint Benedict. They are established at Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, Co. Meath, Ireland, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Meath. They are traditional benedictines led by Prior Dom Mark Daniel Kirby.

It is many years since I have lived in Ireland, therefore I am not aware of all the developments in restoring the faith to this fair land. I was pleased to hear that the priory’s constitution and canonical norms were approved by the Holy See earlier this month.

“Bishop Michael Smith signed a Decree on 25 February “erecting the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar as a monastic Institute of Consecrated Life of diocesan right in the Diocese of Meath”.

This Decree is believed to mark the first formal establishment of a monastic community in the Diocese of Meath since the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536.”

Holy mass is offered according to the 1962 missal  daily at 11am and on 10am on Sundays and Holy days.

I was also surprised that the monks of Silverstream came from the diocese of Tulsa Oklahoma, which is home to another traditional benedictine priory – Clear Creek Abbey. This abbey, a daughter of Fontgombault was erected at the invitation of Bishop Dr Edward James Slattery in 1999.

It seems Dr Michael Smith asked for the Bishop of Tulsa to play nice and share some of this water with Ireland.

I must say I was personally very encouraged by the erection of this priory in Co Meath. I don’t really know much about the Bishop of Meath, other than that he was ordained in 1963 and attended the whole of the second vatican council. However I think this bodes well, given my overall impression of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

I hope to get the chance to visit Silverstream in the near future.

P.S I was rather disappointed that on my first blog post in a long time, Fr Z has written on the same topic an hour later – How rude!

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