Monday, March 31, 2008

Points taken

Firstly, I would like to thank all of you who commented and gave some really great suggestions for improvement. Thank you! The response was great.
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.)

One of the side altars in the seminary. Not going to happen (in our parish).

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!)

Et incarnatus est

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

As reference:

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.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Through these pages, many of you have seen the liturgies as carried out in our parish. Although things are not ideal, we are moving towards recovering the sense of the sacred that should underpin our theology of worship.

Among the things we have done.

New processional canopy for our Marian processions.



New Advent Wreath



Restoring the use of the ombrellino.


Cassock/surplice combo.




Forming our own schola and reintroducing plainchant, polyphony and 4 part hymns that is part of the patrimony of our Church. We've also pushed for more processions with longer routes. Efforts are also being made to push for the current 1970's metal contraptions to be replaced with wooden pews.

Several things you don't see, such as ensuring that the incense used is of the finest quality as befitting the worship of God. You wouldn't believe the crap I've smelled in some parishes.

We do what we can.

Now, here's where I need your help. Having seen the way things are carried out, do feel free to give constructive suggestions on how we might best improve.

Things to remember. We're broke. This is important. Secondly, do suggest things that does not require the parish priest to do anything. Something the laity or servers could do would be good.

Aside from that, fire away. Your suggestions on how to better worship God will help us in our mission of serving Him.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Surrexit Dominus vere, Alleluia, Alleluia

The Lord is Risen indeed, alleluia, alleluia!

This year, the Easter Vigil started when it was actually dark, at nine, as opposed to eight last year. Last year, when we started the fire, it was still light out.


The first part of the Easter Vigil, the Service of Light, started out in the open area in front of the Church. The people were invited to gather to take part in this ancient Rite, but of course, fearing to lose their seats, many just stayed inside.



Fr. Mark inscribes the Paschal Candle with the current year and the alpha and omega indicating the Lordship of Jesus over time, now and forever. He also inserts the 5 grains of incense symbolizing the 5 wounds of Christ.



Mark lighting the paschal candle. And yes, I am very well aware of who's supposed to light the candle.


Lumen Christi! The Light of Christ! I like this photos, showing the Light of Christ which has come into the world, dispelling the darkness of sin and death.


The people lighting their candles from the Paschal Candle as the Light of Christ spreads and illumines the whole Church.


The Exultet was then sung, the Easter Proclamation. The readings, from Genesis, Exodus and Ezekiel deal with God's Creation of the World, the Fall of Man, the Flight from Egypt where God parted the Red Sea and God's promise to gather His people in the Promised Land constituted the first part of the liturgy. Basically a course in Salvation History.



As Father intones the Gloria, the lights were turned on and the bells pealed.


Fr. Ross then read the Gospel of the Resurrection. Resurrexit sicut dixit!


The Litany of the Saints.


As we have catechumens to be baptized, the solemn blessing of the water was done. In the photo above, Fr. puts blessed salt into the water. The Paschal Candle is then dipped into it 3 times, recalling Christ's baptism in the Jordan.



The Rite of Baptism, bringing these people into God's family.



Above, clothing with the white baptismal garment which they're supposed to bring unstained to the judgement seat of Christ. Yeah... good luck on that! =)


The Light of Christ was then passed on by the sponsors of the newly baptized.



The Rite of Confirmation followed with the Laying of Hands.



Anointing with the Sacred Chrism.






The people were then sprinkled with the newly blessed water to remind us all of our baptism. This happened after we renewed our Profession of Faith.





Receiving Jesus for the first time. Communion by intinction.


Some donkey, I won't name names (ok, I will, it's Matthew Andrews), dripped the wax from his candle all over the pew. Come on, man.


I also attended the Easter Day mass. If you're astute enough, perhaps you'll notice something different on the sanctuary?



And check out the new cassocks! Cool.



Father forgot the sprinkling during the Mass, so the people approached after the final blessing to be sprinkled with Holy Water.



In you're interested in making black cassocks for your parish, kindly contact me and I'll make the arrangements. Each set costs about 150 Malaysian dollars (2/3 of which goes to the tailoring cost), which is about 40 US dollars, inclusive of surplice, 33 buttoned cassock with double cuffs and a cincture. =)

I hope you've enjoyed out Easter celebrations. Comments are welcomed!