Monday, June 9, 2003

Mass last Sunday was pretty interesting in that post-Conciliar Diversity kind of way.

It was a new church a little south of here, in the little community where Michael lived when he first moved here and where I haul Katie on Wednesdays at 4:30 so she can do her best Ann Miller imitation.

New, but fairly traditional in style - I guess it's sort of Romanesque, if you had to pin it down. As usual, though, the exterior is more attractive than the interior, but we'll give it time. Chartres didn't spring from the ground fully adorned, so why should we expect those of the 21st century to do so? And this church seems to have possibilities - let's hope so, at least, so those vast expanses of white walls can get covered up with some paint. Or something.

(And that, I remarked to Michael, is the one consistent and important difference, it seems to me, between older and newer churches: the use of color in the interior. There is room for all kinds of styles within Catholic interiors and architectures, from monastic simplicty to Baroque. But never in new churches, even those built in a more traditional style, do you find border painting, murals, and so on, as you do in even the smallest rural churches that survive from the 19th century around here.)

But the building isn't my interest today. I don't know the youngish priest whose domain this is, but he was clearly determined to be the soul of proper rubrics. Sort of.

The congregation had been thoroughly GIRMed, every soul there bowing in reverence before receiving Eucharist, which was impressive. No extemporaneous outbursts, everything done with great efficiency and no offense (that is, somewhere between obvious authentic reverence and sincere devotion to mechanics, as far as one can tell these things). But there were just a couple of points that didn't give me pause, but cried out to be brought to you to see if you'd ever seen anything comparable.

First, the altar server vestments. There were four servers, and three different vestments. One wore the traditional white cassock over black. (or whatever - it's late, and the proper terminology escapes me). Two others wore those monk-like white vestments with hoods. The fourth wore a scapular draped over her white vestment, looking rather like a Benedictine. Is this customary now? Are the different vestments tied to different roles during Mass?

Secondly, the Eucharistic Prayer was I - the Roman Canon - and at three points where the prayer has a "through Christ our Lord, Amen" the choir responded with a sung "Amen" Again - is this the style? Is this the new thing?

Let me know.