Friday, June 22, 2012

THIS FORM OF THE MASS CAPTURES THE IMAGINATION IN A WAY THAT THE ORDINARY FORM SIMPLY DOES NOT

UPDATE: St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken, SC is planning a new spectacular Church as the one in the video only seats about 200 people and they use their school's gym for Sunday Masses. It is a parish of almost 2000 families in downtown Aiken, a very lovely city with a very rich horse-racing community.
This are drawings of their new proposed Church. Impressive and ambitious to say the least:








This video only has images of the Extraordinary Form of the Solemn Sung Mass with a music overlay. It is well done, but I would have liked to hear it actually sung.

This Church is St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, South Carolina, about 16 miles from downtown Augusta. Many of their parishioners would come to the Church of the Most Holy Trinity for our monthly Latin Sung Mass on Saturdays. It along with Most Holy Trinity are wonderful parishes, although I must say that Most Holy Trinity is perfectly suited to the EF Mass as everything is intact for its celebration including its historic altar railing. The historic altar has always been used even after Vatican II as in 1966 the parish had the insight to simply separate the table part of the altar from the reredos to which it was attached so that the priest could get behind it, similar to the renovation of the chapel at the Vatican that Pope Benedict uses frequently.

In my day there, we further enhanced the historic altar and even in the late 1990's I celebrated some "concert" Latin Masses in the Ordinary Form ad orientem at it. I was ahead of my time even then!

You might notice that this Church in Aiken has a silly looking free-standing altar in front of its historic altar--there is absolutely no reason for it anymore and hopefully it will be removed and the EF and OF Masses celebrated on this historic altar seen in this video.

My former parish's interior, Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Augusta:


16 comments:

Henry Edwards said...

"... to simply separate the table part of the altar from the reredos to which it was attached so that the priest could get behind it, similar to the renovation of the chapel at the Vatican that Pope Benedict uses frequently."

Though I understand that Pope Benedict does not "get behind" the altar when he celebrates daily Mass in the papal chapel, rather, that he always celebrates his own Mass ad orientem.

In regard to superfluous tables, there was a statement in Notitiae--the official publication of the CDF--around 1993 that stated a principle of "unicity of altars" under which there should not be a second altar placed in front of historic altars. But, of course, this was totally ignored where it did not fit the party line.

Supertradmum said...

So beautiful..jealous. Thanks for all the photos. Truly meditations in themselves.

One priest here does ad orientem in a little chapel twice a week. I love it. Even the small congregation "acts" differently, I think

Marc said...

Henry, is your priest still avoiding the superfluous table altar there at Holy Ghost for your EF Masses? I remember being quite surprised when I saw them do so. I like how they basically re-arrange the entire Sanctuary prior to the EF Mass there by covering the priest's chair and everything. The table altar really seemed to be getting in the way during the Mass, though, particularly the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. I'm guessing it would really inconvenience a Solemn High Mass!

Father McDonald, did you consider using the old High Altar at St. Joseph for the EF Masses? If so, what made you settle for the table altar instead?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I may try it sometime, but since the free standing altar is on the same level as the table part of the old altar, it will look pretty odd as you won't see the full intended effect of ad orientem and the altar servers heads will look like they are on the free standing altar. From the congregation, our free standing altar looks flush to the old altar and as one unit.

Marc said...

I agree. It is a serious aesthetic problem.

I do think the length of the High Altar would make the movements of the priest from side to side a bit more "exagerrated" (in a good way). I am a little amazed that the High Altar appears to be so narrow - particularly considering there would have been altar cards in use. When looking at the surface area, it just looks too narrow for everything with the Missal stand and all...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The attached altar to a reredos is a Johnny-come-lately novelty in the history of the Church whereas the free standing altar is the most ancient. In fact St. Patrick Cathedral in New York had an attached altar similar to our own which was replaced with the free standing one under the Baldachinno that is there now (but unfortunately not used!). It was replaced by the free-standing altar in the 1940's I believe.
The depth of the old altar's table portion is somewhat standard. If it were any deeper, it would be impossible to reach into the tabernacle. Most attached altars are like this.

John Nolan said...

Strictly speaking the Aiken Mass should have been celebrated ad orientem at the forward altar, which appears to be a fixed altar with consecration crosses and an altar stone (in which case it should not have been stripped).

Had it been a temporary altar it could and should have been moved, preferably several miles away.

Marc said...

You know what? I hadn't consider the priest needing to be able to reach across the altar to get to the Tabernacle. Very interesting point!

That makes sense that the freestanding altar is more ancient (particularly as it is the continuous practice in the East as far as I know). Another good point about the baldachinno. There is probably some connection between the use of the attached altar and the baldachinno considering the attached altars typically have a "mini" baldachinno built in.

In the case of a Church with such a spectacular High Altar like we have at St. Joseph, it is a shame to see it used primarily as a very fancy backdrop for the table altar.

But, the table altar was well designed and matches quite well when use for versus populum (it will likely be a stepping stone for an eventual return to ad orientem, but maybe not). Now, back when the Eucharist was reserved at a side altar, the High Altar was really in disuse - so it's really great that you brought back the practice of using the High Altar's Tabernacle for reservation.

Henry Edwards said...

Yes, Marc, we use only the old high altar for the TLM, and ignore the table altar insofar as possible. Actually, most of us have probably gotten to the point that we're not so consciously aware of it. Maybe it serves like some odd kind of iconostasis.

No particular problem for solemn high Mass. For photos of a couple this year:

http://www.knoxlatinmass.net/gallery/Easter2012/Easter2012.htm

http://www.knoxlatinmass.net/gallery/Nuptial2012/Mass.htm

Marc said...

John, can you elaborate on what you mean? Are you saying that in all cases where there is a fixed, consecrated table altar it should be used?

John Nolan said...

Marc, GIRM 303 states that if there is another fixed altar "of artistic merit and duly dedicated" within the sanctuary, the sacred rites should be "celebrated on it alone". However, the GIRM relates to Editio Typica Tertia of the MR, and not to the 1962 MR. So an ad orientem OF Mass would have to be celebrated at the forward altar, whereas you could get away with celebrating the EF at the old high altar which makes the two forms too obviously different.

If a historic altar cannot be moved without compromising its artistic integrity, and its position (not its orientation, please note!) "makes the people's participation difficult" then another fixed altar should be erected. (GIRM 303)

ytc said...

I'm in SC as well, and I am elated to see St. Mary and Our Lady of the Rosary (Fr. Longenecker's parish) being built. Both are going to be absolutely gorgeous and will be architectural landmarks for the diocese, methinks.

The high altars at both, sadly, will be freestanding. However, both will have magnificent ciboria. Additionally, OLR will have several side altars! and I'm hoping St. Mary's will, too. It really looks stupid having bare, empty colonnades along the interior edges of churches. They need shrines, statues, altars, paintings, wall sconces, nooks and crannies, and candle carts; that is what colonnades are for inside churches.

John Nolan said...

ytc

I an broadly in agreement. I also love the baroque altar and its symbolism and cannot understand why anyone would want to turn his back on it. A plain freestanding altar with a ciborium magnum should be de rigueur in new churches, with slender and elegant crucifix and candlesticks placed upon it.

The sanctuary at Notre Dame de Paris boasts two entirely inappropriate altars - an 18th century monstrosity and an equally hideous 20th century cube. Bad taste and insensitivity to the building did not originate with Vatican II.

John Nolan said...

ytc

I an broadly in agreement. I also love the baroque altar and its symbolism and cannot understand why anyone would want to turn his back on it. A plain freestanding altar with a ciborium magnum should be de rigueur in new churches, with slender and elegant crucifix and candlesticks placed upon it.

The sanctuary at Notre Dame de Paris boasts two entirely inappropriate altars - an 18th century monstrosity and an equally hideous 20th century cube. Bad taste and insensitivity to the building did not originate with Vatican II.

Marc said...

Thank you for responding, John. I was not aware of that in the GIRM.

Anonymous said...

I really miss assisting at Fr. Wilson's Masses. One of these day I shall go to Aiken to join in the Mass once again.