Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stunted liturgical vocabulary

It would seem that the signs we use in liturgy have been impoverished by the inheritance of the 'reform' (i.e. what happened from 1965 onwards in 'The Spirit of V2'). If liturgical colours, for example, are thought of as expressive of the emotions or intention of the worshipping Church, then it would seem that limiting the range of liturgical colour has in practice led to a diminished liturgical vocabulary. If, for example, you lose roughly a third of the liturgical colours of the year, then there is necessarily an impoverishment of the liturgical language we use when we come before Almighty God (language isn't always verbal, despite what the professional laity, the chattering classes and weak clerics who ushered in a wordy liturgy that paradoxically uses the blandest of mid-Atlantic English would have us believe). Going to another extreme of post-Conciliar use of colour one ends up with this monstrosity that is positively dysphasic or at least incoherent.

Which liturgical season are we celebrating, Father?

Take the obvious example of liturgical black. I understand that since we wait in joyful hope, it might be liturgically apposite to use the colour we use at Easter, white, to symbolise this at funerals. It was certainly the case that white vestments were used before the changes of the Second Vatican Council for the burial of children before the age of reason. However, the removal of black - even for All Souls Day - meant that the Church effectively joined in society's denial of death and in doing so lost a signifier - thus subverting the signified. End result - liturgical and emotional confusion for the mourners with no effective language to grieve beyond the maudlin, Dianified mess of football shirts and teddy bears.

Similarly, if all we have are minimalist, undecorated vestments, then again, this speaks not of the noble simplicity beloved of the post concilar professional laity (although one is never quite sure what they mean) but of a marked poverty (not of the desirable kind, necessary for salvation) but a poverty of imagination.

Likewise, if there is merely one form to the chasuble (baggy, vaguely Gothic) rather than a range (Roman, Gothic, Pugin) then another dimension is lost to the liturgy. Thus the baggy worsted, modern chasuble in the context of, say, a baroque church creates a dissonance.

Thus was the unspoken pre-Concilar set of signs diminished by the post-Conciliar wreckers. In the name of diversity is diversity wrecked - diversity of shape, colour and decoration. In the process the finely honed, organically grown language of liturgy in non-verbal signs, becomes a chilidish babble.

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Blogger Mark said...

Completely off-topic: Thank you for my Christmas present. I'm so touched; it arrived today. What a lovely surprise! :-D

12:30 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

No problem. Enjoy. It'll make up for the "You're a big man" comment
PS get well soon

1:42 PM  
Blogger Fr Ray Blake said...

Ah! My red Pugin. Glad it is recognised as one of the "Great Vestments of the world".

You might be interested inb this site:

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Mark Johnson said...

Well done! I enjoy your blog very much. There, I've said it. : )

12:26 AM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Mark J

Thank you. (I wasn't really in a huff but don't tell the folk on Laodicea that. It'll keep them on their toes)

10:14 AM  
Anonymous marcella said...

Ha ha
a priest friend of mine refers to the dull chasubles available in his sacristy as 'diocesan duvet covers'. He wears his own Puginesque and rather lovely chasubles in preference to the polyester.
When I die I want the priest to wear black. And I want everyone else to wear black. And cry a lot.
And I want so much incense that those who aren't actually sad will have their eyes streaming anyway just to teach them a lesson for not being sad.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

And I want everyone else to wear black. And cry a lot.

Me too. Mrs P thinks I'm morbid.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Ah! My red Pugin. Glad it is recognised as one of the "Great Vestments of the world".

It's more the dashingly handsome model used for he photo, Father.....;-)

2:33 PM  
Blogger Agellius said...

Mr. P: I knew the huff was fake. :)

I thought the "Dianified mess" part was especially apt. It might even sum up the whole post-V2 attitude towards church decoration, with banners and children's drawings, and priests using visual aids during homilies; and analogously to the music as well. A childish hodge-podge requiring no skill or effort, and not questioned or criticized, the way you don’t tell a child that his drawing of a giraffe fails to even remotely resemble its intended subject for fear of discouraging him.

6:48 PM  
OpenID raising3saints said...

Very well said indeed. I'm a professional tailor who is trying, slowly, to bring some of the majesty of beautiful vesture back into regular use. I shall link to you at my blog (where there are photos of a recent liturgical project I just finished)

6:49 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Raising 3 saints - may God bless the work of your hands.

Argelllius - revealed!

9:43 PM  
Blogger Ttony said...

It would be nice to know how to see raising3saints blog - I know a priest in dire need of vestments.

7:41 PM  

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