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.


Anonymous said...

I don't have any specific suggestions, but I do think it's wonderful what you have done even in spite of being broke.

It's also worth remembering that the most splendid worship of God was the product of ages and societies where poverty was the rule.

The cult of cheap ugliness was the product of the richest societies that had ever existed in the history of the world.

What did someone say about camels and needles?

The Hymn Selector said...

Ok, since you guys have no TLM yet, how about reorienting the altar according to how it's done by Msgr. Marini nowadays? Candlesticks on the altar instead of on the floor perhaps?

M@rK said...

i will be back in less than a year... am not sure if it is good or bad news to you... hope that that will be an improvement in itself... the parish has changed tremendously since I left, I am quite surprised and delighted.

well, the people could strike their breasts and bow at the appropriate times. we could also introduce the antiphons (the introit, the communion antiphon). We could also encourage more frequent confessions etc, less communion ministers ( talk to my dad about that)

M@rK said...

oh yeah, we could try getting the priests to concelebrate mass instead of sitting in the pews and also to wear chasubles when they do and not only stoles... but then again, those are changes for the priests. how are preparations for confirmation coming along?

Augustine said...

I'm not a big fan of concelebration. I understand its impact at a very large-scale mass, when large numbers of the presbyterate are present, but in day to day parish life a single celebrant shows the presence of Christ in the priestood, acting himself as celebrant. Can any of the clergy serve as deacons at mass?

Secondly, candles are largely aesthetic, but I do think that there should be a crucifix on the altar for the priest to pray to. I liked our old Anglican church where the priest faced (ad orientem) the large crucifix as he prayed...

Anonymous said...

You've been tagged...

Rita said...


I find what you (I presume with the backing of your parish community) are doing inspirational. You haven't got stroppy and tried to steamroller these changes in against the wishes of the clergy, indeed that would be wrong.

It shows what can be done if your priests are true liberals. Yours is not a traddy parish and never will be. It shows how the priesthood and laity can work together for the greater glory of God. Both the "horizontal" and "vertical" dimensions of the Liturgy and worship are manifest.

justin said...

Andrew -

I just wanted to say thank you for your efforts on behalf of instilling greater reverence in the liturgical proceedings in your parish. I'm not a member, nor have I ever been to Mass there - but I appreciate all that you do for the greater glory of God and the edification of his faithful people.

You asked for some suggestions and I'm trying to think of it from the perspective of just the altar servers/choir which in the grand scheme of things do not have much temporal authority in a parish. Here are a few I can think of:

1. I know that it might be difficult to immediately adopt the 'Benedictine' altar arrangement of candles + crucifix in the centre. I suppose a good half-way measure would be the use of the processional cross. Could the processional cross not be placed of to the side off the altar during the Mass tilting it at a slight horizontal angle such that the corpus is facing the celebrant who is in the centre of the altar (see for example the location and alignment of the processional cross in Westminster Cathedral).

2. Acolytes - could the acolytes not be encouraged to properly raise the torches during procession such that the 'light' itself is nearly level with the bottom tip of the processional cross e.g. see the images of the procession with acolytes at the Papal Masses. The powerful image of raising the candles to dignify the cross of Christ is not just visually appealing, it also has great theological symbolism, and is in keeping with the tradition of the patriarchal basilicas in Rome.

3. The dress of those carrying out a specific function in the procession can enhance the solemnity of it. I notice, for example in your photograph of the Marian procession, the people who assist in carrying the processional are in street clothes. Could they be persuaded to wear the albs (now no longer used by the altar servers), when engaging in this service to the Church?

4. I'm not sure how the servers are at your parish. It's good to note that their hands are always joined in the 'praying' postition with palms together when not in use. If they don't already do - they could also 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. To see young men, bowing in unison at the mention of the name of our Lord, is an uplifting sight for any in the congregation and it can surely be an example to the rest of the congregation (and also has the added incentive of making sure that servers do not fall asleep during the homily!). To that the servers can also add the traditional 'beating of the breast' at the Confiteor, the Domine non sum dignus, and if there are public recitations of the Angelus (perhaps at Novenas to the BVM, etc) the traditional bow or genuflection at 'the word was made flesh' bit. (Of course you may already do all this - it's difficult to know from the pictures). Ensuring that they all do it, and complete the action in unison is key though.

5. 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!).

6. Do you use the communion plate/paten in your parish? 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.

7. The altar servers (and again, this could already be done) could make a genuflection before reception of communion.

Sorry for this long list of suggestions. I hope I come across as supportive. I don't mean to be cynical or disrespectful in any way. There are some other suggestions I could make - though this could involve some small amounts of money. You can e-mail me at justinyy.wong (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested.

I'm in very much the same position as yourself. I live in London now, have spent a few years as a server at Westminster Cathedral, and now attend Mass at the London Oratory. I'll attend the annual Paris - Chartres pilgrimage for the first time this year. And about 18 months I'll go back to my home parish in Brunei for good. The people in my parish are for the most part pious and devout, though the liturgical practice is far from ideal. I do want to bring the parish more in line with the Holy Father's liturgical vision - what Fr Z calls his Marshall plan - but it will have to be a softly, softly approach. Your achievements so far are really quite inspirational.

Anonymous said...

first, i want to say hello. i am from the philippines, and i just discovered your blog recently. i am an appointed master of ceremonies of a parish here.
let me tell about some things.
1. why do you use canopies for your marian procession? i dont 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.
2. 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)
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.
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.
5. i suggest you have a general assembly of liturical ministries of your parish (clergy, servers, lectors, etc.) to synchronize your liturgy.
always remember that the liturgy should not look like a TV show. there should be a participation from the people.
thanks and God bless!