I'd like to address some of those suggestions now and let you know how things stand currently and how we can move forward and what the obstacles are.
Reorienting the altar. Not going to happen with the current climate and leadership in the local Church, the diocese and the parish. It would create a riot. Battles have to be chosen carefully and there's really no point in getting slaughtered (which is what is going to happen if we proposed such a thing.)
Candlesticks on the altar. When we're not celebrating some major (and I mean major, as in Easter, Christmas, etc) feast, we use these funny candles in a pineapple shaped bottle. So... Basically, during feast days, it already a tough battle to get the good ones out on the floor. And the antependium has actually deteriorated, as you can see in the photo below. It's now an all white affair.
The nice antependiums and ambo fall.
Concelebration. Our PP is not a fan.
Regarding the priest facing the crucifix, there's a crucifix on the altar. And facing the priest is the large wooded crucifix which we use for the veneration. It's placed in the belfry, facing him. I need a photo of that.
Here are some of Justin's suggestions.
A half way measure to a full blown Benedictine Altar arrangement. We used to have the processional cross up there, but it faced the people. It was later removed to avoid a confusion of signs as we already have a huge and prominent altar cross.
The old processional crucifix on the altar
The current processional crosses don't have stands. Besides, the priest can see the small crucifix on the altar itself or the other huge one in front of him in the belfry. (Need to get a photo of that, but it's the same cross we used for the Veneration on Good Friday)
Raising the processional torches. That's a great idea. Thanks. We'll try to propose that. But some logistical problems in the form of short servers might crop up!
Uniformity in dress for ministers (processional canopy bearers). The people carrying out this ministry happen to be members of the society of St. Vincent de Paul. So they wear their distinctive uniforms. Those not in uniform were those roped in to help the mostly elderly members of the society so the statue isn't dropped. The helpers were in white shirts and black pants.
Examples of servers. Their hands are always joined in the 'praying' postition with palms together when not in use. They do bow the head at the tradtional places - such as when the schola sings the Gloria Patri, at the mention of the Holy Name of Jesus, of the BVM, and of the Saint of the Day. A profound bow of course should be done by the servers at the Incarnatus section in the Creed. (Done!)
To that the servers can also add the traditional 'beating of the breast' at the Confiteor (Done!)
The other gestures, while commendable (and is something I and some others do personally) unfortunately are not in the rubrics and doing so would get us all in trouble by giving ammo to the people to shoot us with. I must say however, that the servers' examples are undone by the priests' non-example (as above) and the refusal to include the rubrics in the projected slides.
Positioning of the altar servers - I wondered if maybe you could position them such that the servers do not necessarily have to flank the priest (and consequently face the congregation) at all. The current placement where some servers flank the priest and actually face the congregation adopts the posture of concelebrants/deacons. Perhaps all of the servers could stand at the sides and only approach the priest when necessary. This would be more in keeping with an 'in choir' arrangement, and further would prepare the way for when the priest offers Mass ad orientem (jokes!). - I will pass on this suggestion although in the current climate, this might be perceived as an effort by the servers to distance themselves from the priest and appear confrontational =)
Do you use the communion plate/paten in your parish? Yup.
Just a thought - I don't think they're that difficult and would certain enhance the solemnity. On the subject of communion, the torch bearers could use their torches and flank the Blessed Sacrament when the priest descends from the sanctuary and one stand on each side of the priest in the distribution of communion, or alternatively, they could remain in the position they adopt during the Canon. - Unfortunately, we have 12 EXTRA-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, so the servers are stretched with communion plate duties and there are none to spare. BTW, we have a server limit restriction of 7 per Mass as imposed by the PP.
The altar servers (and again, this could already be done) could make a genuflection before reception of communion. Please read this for further clarification. A very touchy and sore subject for some of us here.
The suggestions above were from Justin and are very very much appreciated!!! Thanks for taking the trouble!
What follows are suggestion from Deejay from the Philippines. Thanks!!
Why do you use canopies for your marian procession? I don't think we practice it here. i guess it would be better if the people can have a clearer view of the image--that is without the canopy. - Our previous practice was processing the image without a canopy. But we decided that greater solemnity was evident with a beautifully designed canopy which enhanced the environment of the procession. Although most statues are processed without, as in Fatima and Lourdes, it's not without precedent. Anyway, as the photos below show, it's still pretty visible, I think.
Regarding the photo about the celebration of he Lord's passion (the photo under surplice/cassock combo) i can say that form 1 and form 2 of the showing of the cross was used. and i think that is not allowed. (see the roman missal)
You're right. It's a combination of the First (unveiling at the sanctuary) and 2nd (procession from the back) forms of showing the cross. However, in our defence, it's been done that way since time immemorial [ie as far back as I can remember =)]. Anyway, this one aspect falls under the authority of the parish priest as no priest (we've had 10 in the past 10 years) have chosen to do otherwise. Although it's venerable usage could grant it the status of a local tradition, it does not strictly contradict the rubrics because the rubrics are silent on this when detailing form 2. There's just no mention of the unveiling.
3. i suggest that you have a master of ceremonies (as suggested by the GIRM 2002 (no. 106)and caeremoniale episcoporum (no. 34-36) who is knowleagable of the liturgy.
We used to have one, but he wasn't that knowledgeable and the current PP abolished the role. Unfortunately, a new appointment would fall under the jurisdiction of the PP and is his prerogative. I assure you that we do know what we're doing and we do give the correct advice, but it's subject to the PP's approval and sometimes our advice is not always taken. Further 'suggestion' from our part is branded being rigid =( So, in the current climate, having an MC would do no good because there's no point having one if no one listens anyway.
4. i suggest you complete your liturgical books so you won't get lost if you need something. if you want, i can give you a check list for that.
Currently, my liturgical library includes the following volumes pertinent to the modern Roman Rite.
Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite
Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year
The Rites of the Catholic Church Vols I and II (which cover all the rites and provides the text for such ceremonies as the celebration of the Sacraments, Abbatial Blessings, Dedication of Churches, Ordinations and the like)
The Book of Blessings (The Rituale as published by the USCCB)
The Ceremonial of Bishops
How Not to Say Mass (lousy book)
Liturgical Question Box: Answers to Common Questions About the Modern Liturgy
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 1969-2002: A Commentary
The Ministry of Servers
Order for the Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist
Order of Christian Funerals
Fortesque's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described
The Spirit of the Liturgy (both Cardinal Ratzinger's and Romano Guardini's)
Fr. Anscar Chupungco OSB's series:
Handbook for Liturgical Studies: Introduction to the Liturgy
Handbook for Liturgical Studies: Liturgical Time and Space
Handbook for Liturgical Studies: The Eucharist
Handbook for Liturgical Studies: Fundamental Liturgy
Handbook for Liturgical Studies: Sacraments and Sacramentals
Charles E Miller CM's series
Volume I: Foundations of Vatican II Liturgy
Volume II: The Celebration of the Eucharist
Volume III: Sacraments and Other Matters Liturgical
Jungmann's The Mass Of The Roman Rite : Its Origins and Development
Alcuin Reid's The Organic Development of the Liturgy
Uwe Lang's Turning Towards the Lord
Aidan Nichols's Looking at the Liturgy
Michael Davies' The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council
Cardinal Ratzinger's Feast of Faith, A New Song for the Lord and God Is Near Us
Klaus Gamber's Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background
Responses to 101 Questions on the Mass
If you have any other suggestions on how to improve my library, do please drop a comment. Many thanks for taking the time to review this!
i suggest you have a general assembly of liturical ministries of your parish (clergy, servers, lectors, etc.) to synchronize your liturgy.
We have what is known as the Liturgical Committee which meets once a month. This groups representatives from the various liturgical ministries such as the servers, sacristan, lectors, commentators, EHMC's and the Parish Priest. However, these people are not experts on the liturgy. And in reality, what the parish priest says often goes, despite what the committee might think, but yes, we have an 'assembly' of the various people connected with the liturgy.
Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. Do keep them coming if there's anything you want to add. Thanks again.