I have been asked several times to give a full list of all the books I mentioned in rapid random fire during my talk on Liturgical Theology: Are We Just Now Beginning?So, here goes the full list:Romano Guardini, The Church of the LordSt John Paul II, E…
As we celebrated the Ember Days for Lent, I started doing a little bit more research on Ember and Rogation Days, with a view to wondering how I might be able to explain to my faithful, especially my school kids, what these are all about. As I con…
For my parish I have been busy preparing a Guide for Lent, Holy Week and Easter, principally for the children in my School and Religious Education programs. I have added that to the Advent/Christmastide one in my Dropbox. It is a rather lar…
The oldest honor for clerical church musicians is the office of canon which arose out of the group of clerics in the see city who gathered around the bishop to sing the daily solemn Mass and the liturgy of the hours. These became the cathedral canons and, where centers for the solemn liturgy developed outside the cathedral, these centers came to be known as collegiate churches, because such churches were staffed by a college of canons or team of priest colleagues.
Because of their proximity to the bishop, canons became his closest advisors and administrative assistants and, by the beginning of the second millennium, when the Roman cardinals were winning the right to elect the bishop of Rome, cathedral canons got the right to elect the diocesan bishop and to administer his vacant or impeded see. The upshot was that the erstwhile church musicians became leading figures in the local church administration, the canons’ manifold administrative duties soon got in the way of their musical and liturgical duties and the latter suffered.
In order to fulfill their liturgical and musical duties in greater comfort canons had developed certain distinctive vestments to be worn during the long offices in choir in unheated stone churches. In time, these came to be distinctive insignia of canons and part of their distinctive privileges of dress. In some cases the granting of these distinctive vestments would become part of the papal system of clerical honors and provide the precedent for the honors of dress bestowed on papal prelates.
In the twentieth cantury Rome began creating honorary chapters of canons. There had long been honorary or supernumerary canons in chapters of canons. Franz Xaver Witt (1834-1888), who founded in 1868 and lead for many years the German Caecilia Society and revived interest in renaissance polyphonic sacred music, was made an honorary canon of the suburbicarian cathedral of Palestrina. Likewise, his successor Franz Xaver Haberl (1840-1910) had ad honorem his canon’s stall in choir there. Honorary canons have a stall in choir and the title and dress of a canon, but they cannot participate in chapter nor in the revenues of the chapter nor have they liturgical duties. But now entire chapters were constituted as honorary. An example is the parochial Church of San Sosio Martyr in Fractamaiore in the Diocese of Aversa, Italy, made a collegiate church ad honorem in 1923. The pastor was to become the archpriest and sole dignitary of the new collegiate church and its ten curates would be the canons. The archpriest was conceded the use of a cap-pa magna in choir equipped with a muskrat (muris pontici pellibus) cape in winter and a red silk one in summer; the canons got for choir dress a red mozzetta and all could wear the rochet with red lining under the lace of the sleeves. Their choir duties were attenuated and the curate-canons were removable at the will of the bishop and so lacked the life tenure normal to canons.
The tradition of Roman involvement in the erection of collegiate churches reached
its apogee when the Holy See began in 1783 bestowing the title of minor basilica on certain distinguished churches. The title and its associated privilege arose among the distinguished collegiate churches of Rome and came to be a sort of papal “ennoblement” of a church. For the church’s canons the title brought the privilege of wearing the prelate’s rochet and the cappa magna in choir. The basilica in limine was a purely Roman type of collegiate church with purely Roman privileges. It was now being inserted into the local church and today minor basilicas with special links to the Roman pontiff are to be found throughout the Catholic world.
The canonry had begun as a local liturgical and musical function and had later become a local clerical honor. By the nineteenth century and with its culmination, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the creation of chapters of canons under Canon 392 had become entirely co-opted by Rome, and the conferral of chapter dignities by Canon 396 had been reserved to the Holy See.
“The most ancient college of domestic prelate was the protonotaries apostolic. Descended from the scribes who wrote down the confessions of the martyrs in the early church, these papal notaries came by the reign of Pope Gregory the Great (590- 604) to form a scola notariorum or college of notaries headed by a primicerius or precentor. Not only did this papal corps have the function in the apostolic chancery of authenticating curial documents, but notaries also served as papal nuncios and papal judges delegate.”
At the turn of this century Pius X effected notable reforms in the papal household through his 1905 reform of the papal household, Inter multiplices, and his 1908 reform of the Roman curia, Sapienti consilio. These measures aimed at structuring the Holy See on more functional lines and at codifying and simplifying the privileges of the clerics of the papal court. In his reform Pius X placed the protonotaries apostolic at the apex of the minor prelates of the papal household. While his 1905 motu proprio pruned some of their extensive privileges, Pius X, nevertheless, left the protonotaries apostolic with many privileges. Like cardinals and bishops, they were by law privileged to maintain a private chapel where Mass could be offered. Before Vatican II, Mass could only be celebrated in a sacred place (such as a church or private chapel) and the erection of a private chapel required an apostolic indult. Hence, the right to such a chapel was a coveted privilege.
Although the origins of many of the offices of the pontifical household are very ancient, it will be seen that the current mass of monsignors is largely a phenomenon of the nineteenth-century when the centralization of the Roman Church reached its apogee. Clerics and laity alike were transformed into supplicants for papal honors and all grace and favor, all perquisites and precedence, were seen as deriving from the pope and were fitted into a Roman honors system. The pope became the sole fons honorum in the western church and all honors were seen as in his gift.
Purple silk became the tangible mark of Roman favor, and taking purple silk ever more copiously came visibly to mark the progress of a clerical career. It signaled the success of the young upwardly-mobile ecclesiastic much as a progression of post- nominal initials marks the advance of a British civil servant.
In the first paragraph of Inter multiplices Pius X explained that the reason for reforming and codifying the privileges of minor papal prelates was to protect the episcopal dignity. He noted that bishops were successors of the apostles and, even given the primacy of honor and jurisdiction due the successor of Peter, bishops were sacramentally his peer. Nevertheless, over time, concessions of privileges to minor prelates and extravagant interpretations of them had encroached on the episcopal dignity. His aim was to prune such excesses.
Over the centruies papal indults had conceded the use of the miter and of other pontificals and of increasingly splendid choir dress to minor prelates, to abbesses, and to the canons of cathedrals and other distinguished collegiate churches. Sometimes, as in the case of canons of minor basilicas, this splendid dress was the use of the violet cappa magna or of a rochet or of a violet mozzetta or of the mantelletta or even of a purple prelatial cassock with train. All of the papal concessions to canons and other ecclesiastics had the effect of making bishops look bland by contrast with these minor prelates, for as yet bishops, like simple priests, wore but black birettas and black skullcaps.
Earlier papal initiates had likewise attempted to redress this situation. In 1867, by his brief, Ecclesiarum omnium, Pius IX granted to all bishops the privilege of wearing the purple skullcap. Two decades later in 1888 by the motu proprio, Praedaro divinae gratiae, Leo XIII permitted all bishops the exclusive privilege of wearing a purple biretta in order that there might be a well-marked difference between the appearance of bishops and of simple priests. These two pieces of legislation set the tone that Pius X and Vatican II would follow and, in particular, established a policy of assigning specially colored headgear to particular sacramental orders. With bishops now wearing purple skullcaps and purple birettas, purple came to seem the color of the episcopal order and not merely of the papal court. This nineteenth century pro- episcopal and color-coding policy, Paul VI would extend more rigorously in his post- Vatican II reform.
The deepened ecclesiology of Vatican II implied that ecclesiastical honors, like church life, would be restructured on the conciliar model. The church marches forward in time on her pilgrimage to her heavenly end and so the post-conciliar perestroika could not be merely a return to the status quo ante of the early period. Thus, all honors would not be local. There would be roles for both the local Church and the universal pastor.
While the principles of subsidiarity and collegiality demanded that locally-based initiatives and honors be respected, lamentably, most of the reform thus far has been at the center. Little had been done in the local church except as a sort of revanche against the age of papal monarchy. Today there appears in many places to be a distaste for papal honors, whether for musicians or others. Nor has there been much effort to create an honors system within the local church — except that in some places the order of deacon is now conferred on the sort of laymen who thirty years ago would have received the Order of Saint Gregory.
Since the coming into effect of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the Latin Church has permitted the restoration of the system of musical honors which flourished during the early period. The new Code places entirely within the power of diocesan bishops the erection of collegiate churches and the creation of chapters of canons within them. Three years ago in these pages I published a canonical map showing how this might be done entirely without resort to Rome. To canonical clients faced with the suppression of their parish church I have suggested the transformation of parochial churches into collegiate churches. These would be centers for the solemn liturgy and for the preservation and cultivation of sacred music and they might be staffed on a part-time basis by retired or semi-retired priests and so not exacerbate the shortage of priests. While becoming burgeoning centers for the preservation and cultivation of the treasury of sacred music, such collegiate churches and their chapters of canons would be the creation solely of the local bishop. The recourse to Rome in vogue for at least the last five hundred years has been rendered unnecessary by the 1983 Code. Once again the local church can honor its senior clerical musicians by making them canons (or honorary canons) of a collegiate church of its own creation.
If the reform of the honors system at the local Church level lagged, that on the papal level was accomplished almost at once. Basically the Pian structure of 1905 was maintained, but the obsolete elements were removed or updated in accordance with Vatican II principles. Though radical, the reform respected acquired rights and hewed to precedents, while at the same time excising necrotic matter with the deftness characteristic of a skilled surgeon. For few reforms are cut from whole cloth.
Protonotaries apostolic created before the reform retained their privileges, but they were also permitted to abandon the use of the mitre, which henceforth would become an exclusively episcopal ensign among the secular clergy. This permission was necessary, for canon law does not allow someone who enjoys privileges by virtue of his membership in a class individually to give up the right to those privileges. Were a member of a group free to surrender such rights, the rights of the whole group would be harmed. Thus, the reform was careful to retain the rights of the group while permitting individual members of it to renounce their right to the mitre. Pontificalia insignia did provide that protonotaries apostolic created after the reform should not have the use of the mitre and so its use was abolished prospectively. From such prelates the reform took no vested right.
After the reform there were but two grades of protonotaries, numerary and supernumerary. The former were the old participating protonotaries while the latter were the old protonotaries ad instar. The canons of the Roman major basilicas, who in the 1905 legislation had been called supernumerary protonotaries, now lost that designation, although they continued ex officio to enjoy the privileges of supernumerary protonotaries in their own rich store of privileges. At the same time they expressly remained part of the pontifical household, even if it is no longer seen as necessary to create for them some special rank within the papal prelature of grace.
The class of titular or “black” protonotaries, which Pius X had merely reformed, was now sub silentio abolished. By 1968 this group was composed largely of episcopal vicars general. In the Vatican II ecclesiology, which sees the Church as a communion of communions, it was no longer necessary to fit episcopal vicars general, vicars capitular, and diocesan administrators into a papal cursus honorum. Like the diocesan bishop, they derive their rank from the local Church they serve. Their bishop is the head of that local Church and they are his vicar or locum tenens. No longer is the Church seen as the ecclesiastical analog of a unitary state in which bishops are but heads of prefectures.
At the same time, with the advent after Vatican II of the episcopal vicar to the list of local ordinaries (cf. canon 134), the suppression of this class of “black” protonotary exhibited great good sense. But for this reform many of the clerics in today’s episcopal curias would have had a just claim to be ranked as titular protonotaries and this grade of prelate would have become quite glutted.
The Pauline reform insisted on calling domestic prelates what they had in fact by and large become in the nineteenth century, honorary prelates of His Holiness. Moreover, their old Latin name, antistites urbani, was de trop after Vatican II had placed the accent on sacramental orders, especially the episcopal order. It is, after all, as antistite nostro that one prays for the diocesan bishop in the Latin original of the Roman canon of the Mass. No wonder the reform speedily decreed that new honorary prelates of His Holiness should never bear this quasi-episcopal title nor use the rochet (episcopal surplice).
The mantelletta and mantellone were also prospectively suppressed, for, henceforth, the reform would ground privileges to ecclesiastical attire in the sacramental order of the wearer rather than in the jurisdiction he held. This reform aimed at ending the divorce between theology and canon law, orders and jurisdiction. Thus before the reform, as choir dress, a cardinal outside Rome, a primate in his region, a metropolitan in his province, and a residential bishop in his diocese wore a mozzetta over his rochet and cassock. In other places (and in all places in the case of an auxiliary bishop) the mantelletta replaced the mozzetta. After the reform, like a cardinal, any bishop — auxiliary or diocesan — could wear his mozzetta anywhere in the world, for now it was a badge of his episcopal consecration rather than of ordinary jurisdiction. In short after the reform garments ceased to be emblems of jurisdiction. Given the new sacramental principle, the mantelletta and mantellone were now rendered obsolete and so they were no longer appropriate dress for clerics of the pontifical household.
Like so many other reforms after Vatican II, it was more a culmination of earlier reforms than a new departure in itself. With great care it followed principles of reform laid down by Vatican II and these themselves were often only further developments on earlier papal reforms. But the Pauline reform of 1968 and 1969 is notable in that it followed these principles systematically and with determination at the highest level in the church.
Some may cavil at the Pauline reform for its relative colorlessness. But Sacrosanctum concilium, article 124, set forth the relevant aesthetic canon: “noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display.” Perhaps this aesthetic has not worn well after a quarter of a century when Bauhaus has become passe and when the post- modern style cultivates the baroque fancy for the boldly curvilinear and the brightly colored. But to blame the reform for the vagaries of fashion is unjust. With speed, precision and theological clarity the Pauline reform incorporated the reform principles of Vatican II into its reformed system of honors for clerics.
This, then, is the post-conciliar reform of the honors system for clerical church musicians. It remains to be seen if bishops will exercise their faculty to erect collegiate churches and create canons (and canonesses) to encourage the cultivation and preservation of the solemn liturgy and the treasury of sacred music. These have now languished for three decades in the American Catholic Church, but with encouragement they may once again be cultivated, preserved and honored in a manner hallowed — as we have seen — by the most venerable traditions of the local Church.
Galles also published in the Summer 1985 issue of Sacred Music an article called “Papal Musical Knights” (pp. 13-20).
It would seem from here, then, that, the whole complicated system of clerical honors was an organic outgrowth of a rich liturgical life, which also had its counterpart in the administration of the local church. Secular canonical life at the diocesan level and the papal court over time
became conflated. St Pius X and Paul VI both effected reforms based on ecclesiological and practical principles. But neither succeeded in decentralizing the whole system. Perhaps bishops who can no longer candidate priests for the capella papale under the present rules have another option. If the present desire for decentralization is real, then what is to prevent diocesan ordinaries from establishing their own forms of clerical honorifics? What would prevent them from breathing life into an often defunct, but ancient, tradition of collegiate chapters of canons, which would lead an exemplary liturgical and common life, and also bring back some of the color and diversity of the Roman Church? Considering that paonazzo is the color of episcopal livery, and not just cappella papale, could it not also be integrated into the clerical vesture of local chapters of canons, whose constitution would not be subject to Roman interference? Just a thought…
One of the greatest challenges in pastoral ministry is how to explain as much of the riches of the sacred liturgy as we can to the faithful. Here in my parish, we are putting together a series of guides for our school and RE families to introduce…
avoided falling into the trap of writing an article about What did Pope Francis Really Say?
That doesn’t mean that I haven’t read article after article trying
to propose the authentic interpretation of the Holy Father’s words or his
intentions. In these pages I have always
argued against a papal maximalism based on a new ultramontanism, even as I
often wrote glowingly of Pope Benedict’s liturgical theology. I focused on that theology, not because the
man who wrote them was the Bishop of Rome, but because there is something perennially
valid, relevant and beautiful in his writings.
The New Liturgical Movement will continue, regardless of who occupies
the Throne of the Fisherman. Having a
Pope who understood the Movement, and was a mighty contributor to it, was a
great boon, and we are all the better for it.
Now is the time to boldly proclaim and work for that vision, not because
a Pope likes it, but because it is beautiful!
interesting time for us to be working towards that vision within the
Church. There are calls for Reform on
every side, and I must say that this increasing clamor for it leaves me
cold. I have on the same bookshelf books
by Kung, Lefebvre and Weigel, people who arguably would not want to have been associated
with each other, but who for me represent human attempts to diagnose problems
and come up with solutions. Lots of
people are putting their hope in Pope Francis and Co. to reform the Church
according to the way they think the Church should be run. They assure us that if these structural
reforms are carried out, the Church would look a lot more like Jesus, and that
would be a good thing.
nobody who is actually involved in these discussions cares one jot or tittle
what a parish priest from Carolina has to say about the subject, but I keep
coming back to the same thought: Shouldn’t we start from Jesus, and then these
things would take care of themselves? If
as individuals and as a Church we came alive in Christ in holiness, then it
seems to me that the support structure of the Church’s work would be renewed by
that very fact. To do it the other way
around seems to be putting the cart before the horse. But then again, that is all above my
lot of optimism that Church reform would be successful if just X, Y, or Z
happened. There are loud voices that
assure us that if the Church had a more democratic operating system, then all
would be well. But as I look at what is
happening in the American Republic today, I have few reasons to hope that will
go well. People seem to think that the
Church either has to be a totalitarian dictatorship swathed in the trappings of
monarchy or a well-oiled business-like representative democracy. Political categories seem to be driving the
discussion. But theology teaches us that
the Church is unlike any other kind of organization. She is a communion, and so the way she looks,
functions and governs is entirely different than any other kind of model. Shoehorning reform proposals into political
categories risks forgetting that it is not democracy or monarchy that shape the
Church, but communion. And that does not
look like any political model.
lot of talk against clericalism, careerism and triumphalism, but there are as
many conceptions of what all that means as there are people who assure us that
they are all evils. There is a lot of
talk about people who are reactionaries, nostalgic and Pelagians, but these are fast becoming convenient labels people
are using against their adversaries, no matter what they actually believe.
there is a lot of talk about externals.
What should the Church look like?
There is an obsessive concern with the image of the Body of Christ. If we do X, Y, and Z, then maybe people will
view the Church in a different light.
And so yet again Catholics become divided over what we should look
like. Laypeople and clerics who are
usually mild-mannered, law-abiding citizens of Church and State see a picture
of a cardinal in lace and silk and start frothing at the mouth like it’s the
end of the world, and launch hateful attacks against people they have never met
from the safety of their computer screens.
Other laypeople and clerics watch a video of a cardinal in chasalb and
peace signs and the same dynamic ensues.
We are told bowing and scraping to priests and bishops is medieval, but in
order to be modern we must bow and scrape to the opinion of the world.
there is a lot of talk about freedom.
Everyone thinks they have a right to be heard, and everyone is entirely
sure they are the ones with all the answers.
But at the same time, they insist on excluding those with whom they
disagree from the discussion. The more
people clamor for dialogue, the less they seem to actually want to listen and engage,
the less they want to go down the arduous path of working together towards a
claim the charism of infallibility, but I am confident that these are all adventures
in missing the point. Clericalism,
careerism and triumphalism do not exist because there also exist certain
titles, privileges or vesture. They
exist because original sin has wounded human nature and we are not fully
converted to Christ. Men do not become
monsters because they are named monsignors, and sinners do not become saints
because they are simpletons. A new
iconoclasm may succeed in replacing all of the vestigial Baroque panoply of the Counter
Reformation Papal Court we are told is evil with modernist minimalism, but we
will have just exchanged one form of externalism, formalism, for another. We will have gone from a war over image and
externals to the dictatorship of polyester, and we will wake up after the smoke
clears and realize that nothing has really changed, because men will always
find a way to sin.
doubt in my mind that there are sincere people who are intent on razing the
bastions to end the Church as we know it because they are confident that a
kindler, gentler Church will rise from its ashes. One of the fascinating things is that
everyone from sedevacantists to secularists think Francis will be the catalyst
for this. Will he do this at all? Will he do this by sanitizing conciliarism by
collegiality, ignoring Ottaviani’s warning that the first collegial act of the
Apostles was to abandon their Savior?
Will he do this by imposing it by papal fiat? These are the questions that are turning in
people’s minds today. I confess that I
have stopped looking for answers to those questions, and sought refuge in
Jesus, in prayer and hope.
that there are young people out there, clergy, seminarians and lay faithful,
who have bought into Pope Benedict’s vision for a New Liturgical Movement and
the admirable exchange that can happen between the Ordinary and Extraordinary
Forms of the one Roman Rite. Those same
people also have the same desire to reach out to the “existential peripheries”,
get the Church out of the sacristies into the streets, and proclaim the Mercy
of God to the world. Pope Francis’
actions resound in their hearts as Pope Benedict’s resound in their intellect. They don’t want to have to choose between the
Reform of the Church starts from exchanging one set of externals for another, and
not from Jesus, then they will feel themselves as orphans. Any new found freedom in the Church will
exclude their voice, and thus compromise any contention that all are truly
welcome in the Church. Not that there
are not other visions within the Church that are good and noble and holy, but
to eviscerate by words or deeds what has gone before, is to risk alienating
from the center, from the heart of the Church, a great source of energy and
life these young people bring to the world.
The National Catholic Register has published an article on the parish I have the great grace to serve, Prince of Peace. It is written by a parishioner, Brian Mershon, who has been a tireless supporter of the Extraordinary Form in Upstate South Carolina. He has sung in the Latin Mass schola, his sons serve at the altar and his daughters sing at both Ordinary and Extraordinary Form Masses. The article focuses, as you will read, on the link between liturgy and evangelization.
Read the rest here.
Read the rest here.
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