The Tablet: Fr. Keith Pecklers, SJ, on Benedict XVI’s vestments

The probable ghost writer of the book with H.E. Piero Marini’s name on it A Challenging Reform, Fr. Keith Pecklers, SJ, has contributed a piece to the ultra-lefty The Tablet.  

My emphases and comments.

Vested with symbolism

Keith F. Pecklers

With reports circulating that the Pope has commissioned a set of vestments based on those worn by the first Medici pope, Leo X, a specialist in liturgy examines the significance of the sartorial choices of Benedict XVI, who is clearly keenly aware of the messages embedded in the garments’ use

A couple of years ago, when I was invited by the Serbian Orthodox Church to deliver several lectures at its Theological Institute in Belgrade, I had the occasion to meet privately with a small group of Serbian Orthodox bishops. During our discussion, one of the senior bishops who has been compared to Joseph Ratzinger both for his theological acumen and linguistic ability raised the subject of Pope Benedict’s return to the ancient form of the pallium: "You have no idea what that has meant for us in the Serbian Orthodox Church," he said. "As that form of the pallium comes from the first millennium before the tragic rupture of 1054, we interpret this as a strong symbolic affirmation on the part of the Holy Father of his deep desire for the reunification of Christendom between East and West."

Like other elements within the liturgy, vesture is itself symbolic and papal vesture, all the more so. Thus, the fact that Pope Benedict has shown a greater interest in what he wears than had his recent predecessors, raises questions not only about the particular style of vesture being donned, but also about the symbolic message that is communicated therein. [So far so good.  I have been contending that Benedict XVI’s choice of vestments does in fact mean something, and it is part of his objective to shore up Catholic identity.  Let’s see what Pecklers thinks.] In his non-liturgical dress during papal audiences and processions, the Holy Father has restored use of the papal cape, or mozzetta, with its origins in the thirteenth century and last worn by Paul VI, made of red velvet, trimmed in ermine and lined with silk. He has also restored usage of the matching red velvet papal winter hat or camauro which has its origins in the twelfth century but was last worn by Pope John XXIII.

Within the context of liturgical celebrations, Pope Benedict has presided in a [1] cope of Pope Pius IX, worn the [2] mitre of Pope Benedict XV (pope 1914-22) (also used by Pope Pius XII in the Holy Year of 1950 and last worn by John Paul I at the Mass to inaugurate his pontificate), and a [3] mitre of Pope Pius IX (pope 1846-78) worn for the opening of Vatican Council I. Pope Benedict has also used the elaborately carved wooden [4] papal throne of Pope Leo XIII (pope 1878-1903). On Ash Wednesday, the Pope presided at the Basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill, wearing a [5] chasuble which had been commissioned in the style of a vestment collection from the pontificate of the Borghese Pope Paul V (1605-21). During the French Revolution many papal vestments had been burned in order to retrieve the gold woven into them. But two dalmatics remained from that collection of Paul V, and it was possible to reconstruct the pattern of the chasuble from the design of the dalmatics. [Interesting!] In recent weeks, reports surfaced that a set of 30 new vestments had been commissioned for Palm Sunday, which would have found the Pope presiding in a chasuble whose design came from the pontificate of Pope Leo X (1513-21) but bearing Benedict XVI’s coat of arms. It now appears, however, that those vestments will be reserved for another occasion, perhaps the Feast of Pentecost.

The fundamental question, of course, is what do all of these sartorial innovations actually mean? Conservative blogs [I think he may be talking about us.] are rejoicing that these changes give a clear signal that the Pope is bent on rescuing the worship of the Roman Catholic Church from those of the past 40 years who nearly destroyed it. [Fr. Pecklers will always defend Archbp. Marini.] They point to the changes that have been registered since the [6] appointment last October of Mgr Guido Marini as the new Papal Master of Ceremonies: the [7] placement of the cross and six candles on the papal altar; the return to the use of [8] cardinal deacons who function in the role as liturgical deacons during papal celebrations vested in dalmatics and mitres; a return to the use of [9] lace in albs and surplices; the Holy Father’s celebrating [10] Mass in the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord "ad orientem" – toward the east. Critics of papal liturgies in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II lament the fact that the Pope was reduced to celebrating as if simply the bishop of any diocese – albeit on a grand scale – while the Bishop of Rome is really a monarch and thus, papal liturgical celebrations should better express this. [I think this may be unfair.  I don’t recall seeing people in the blogosphere arguing that the Pope should have older things or specifically "papal" thing because he is also a monarch. I have certainly never argued that. As a matter of fact, I suggested that the Pope should celebrate a TLM as a regular pontifical Mass without trying to do all the old stuff requiring the papal court, etc.]  By contrast, in his motu proprio of 21 June 1968, "Pontificalia Insignia", Pope Paul VI sought to simplify and clarify the use of pontifical insignia for all prelates linked to the Roman pontiff.

Conservative critics, then, see these changes in papal vesture as indicative of a wider papal liturgical reform under way. [This is correct.] Perhaps they are correct, [as I said] although the reality appears to be much more enigmatic and complex. [He we go…] First, there is the personal style and taste of the Pope himself. Those who knew him well as Archbishop of Munich-Freising and then at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith attest to his extraordinary attention to detail and his impeccable taste – both personally and in his official liturgical functioning. Like his brother Georg, Pope Benedict has a refined artistic sense which goes far beyond his talent as an accomplished pianist. His love of Gregorian chant, his nostalgia for the old liturgy – its artistic beauty and reverence – is clearly exhibited in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy and to a certain extent also in his motu proprio of last July, "Summorum Pontificum", which granted permission for wider usage of the Tridentine Rite. So the fact that we are seeing a return to the use of antique vestments and patterns or vestment styles of former centuries should not come as a complete surprise.  [So, Fr. Pecklers is suggesting that the Pope is a bit of an aesthete?]

In the eleventh century when the chasuble came to be reserved for the celebration of Mass, it was ample and bell-shaped in its design. But by the thirteenth century it had become a more restricted garment so as to use less material and also be less cumbersome for the celebrant. That vestment’s style and measure was further reduced in the post-Tridentine period and especially in the eighteenth century, cutting off the sides of the chasuble and creating what came to be popularly called the "fiddle-back". Thus, gradually, the Gothic penchant for the oval-shaped chasuble gave way to the less copious baroque vestment without sleeves which tended to be made with heavier, stiff brocades.  [Interesting material here, he is setting up something in the next paragraph.]

Clearly, Pope Benedict is well acquainted with the evolution of the chasuble and has particular reasons for choosing to adopt a liturgical style from one historical epoch as opposed to another. The vestments worn by the Pope on Ash Wednesday, along with the new set of vestments mentioned earlier, is a via media [indeed… as I said in my writing about that vestment, it is the first real organic development of vestments.  In a way, the very vestment seems like an icon of what Benedict is proposing: a hermeneutic of reform rather than of rupture.  Benedict is healing the rupture that occurred in liturgy.  On the other hand, the liturgical ] between the more ample Gothic chasuble of the medieval period and the more limited Roman chasuble in the latter part of the baroque period. It is much longer than the "fiddle-back" chasuble in the front, and its sides reach almost to the elbows. However, the vestment is similar to that later Roman model in its stole which widens at the bottom, and also in its elaborate decoration.

The Pope’s choice to adopt this particular style can also be interpreted as a via media on a symbolic level – between proponents of the Tridentine Rite who associate the "fiddle-back" Roman chasuble as the only fitting garment for the celebration of Mass, and those who prefer the more ample Gothic style with its association with a style of worship closer to the new rite. So there may be something more significant being communicated here on a symbolic level than a mere issue of liturgical style or taste, not unlike the strong symbolic message communicated by returning to a form of the pallium from the first millennium.  [There is a bit of a problem here.  I don’t think that most "proponents of the Tridentine Rite" see Roman style "fiddle-back" chasubles as the "only fitting garment" for Mass.  That just isn’t right.  There might be slight preference in that direction, but I don’t find many people insisting on this point.  They just want decent, beautiful vestments.  However, the so-called "gothic" style, was indeed the darling, nearly the obsession, of some of the progressivists during and after the Liturgical Movement.]

To what extent are these liturgical changes being proposed by the Pope himself or by his new Papal Master of Ceremonies? I would suspect that it is a combination of the two. Clearly, given his strong liturgical tastes, if the Holy Father were not in agreement with what Mgr Marini had proposed, he would not grant his approval for the changes to be made. The question, of course, is why return to one historical period and not another? Why, for example, choose styles and patterns from the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries rather than the older Gothic vestment styles of the medieval period? That remains an open question. Suffice it to say, however, that as this papacy proceeds we can expect further innovations in papal liturgical celebrations.

Remember… Pecklers is really defending the old Piero Marini style.  The real heroes for Fr. Pecklers are H.E. Piero Marini and Paul VI who issued Pontificalia insignia.

What is subtle here is Pecklers’s careful use of the rhetorical device accumulatio. Fr. Pecklers doesn’t say anything wrong.  He doesn’t go over the top in criticizing the Pope.   He is careful not to say anything too negative, but the slow accumulation of subtle comments leaves you with a final impression by the time you get to the end of the piece: this is really beyond the Pope’s personal taste ("He happens to lke baroque vestments."), it is about aestheticism

Critics of this Pope and of Summorum Pontificum will try to smear the whole issue with a sublte suggestion that this trad stuff is all rather precious, maybe not even manly. 

This was done, for example, by Fr. Mark Francis, in the same The TabletFrancis is also one of the three editors of the book that came out under Archbp. Piero Marini’s name, with Pecklers himself and John Page.

Still, Pecklers does point out that there may be something going on with these liturgical choices.  He raises the question, "why return to one historical period and not another"?

It may be because of the nature of the period Benedict seems to be going back to: the counter-reformation, a period of transition, a bridge between the medieval and modern times.

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37 Responses to The Tablet: Fr. Keith Pecklers, SJ, on Benedict XVI’s vestments

  1. Tom says:

    What is there to prevent the Pope’s successor from returing to the liturgical visions shared by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II?

  2. Tom: Nothing. But is it likely that this Pope would do that?

  3. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    Father, in criticising Fr Pecklers’s accumulatio are you not indulging in a bit of accumulatio yourself? And some paralipsis and exuscitatio at the same time?

    Why is it necessary in these posts repeatedly to smear The Tablet as “ultra-lefty”? You jib at being called a ‘traditionalist’, as in the 18 July 2007 entry about WDTPRS

    this is not a traditionalist site and I am not a traditionalist

    If Fr Pecklers in this article shows any explicit approbation for a Marini it is for Mgr Guido Marini. He also shows deep respect for the Holy Father, praising his intellect and taste. Do you really think Fr Pecklers meant “a refined artistic sense” as a slur? I don’t.

    Criticism of Fr Pecklers for errors in fact or logic is one thing, guilt by association something different and below your typically high standard of argument.

  4. Terth says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf: Could you post (or have you posted) some pictures to show the difference in the palliums (pallii?) used before and after the first century one referred to? That statement by the Serbian Orthodox bishop regarding a sense of unity with the Roman Church from the Holy Father’s use of a pre-schism version of the pallium was very interesting.

  5. cor: Father, in criticising Fr Pecklers’s accumulatio are you not indulging in a bit of accumulatio yourself? And some paralipsis and exuscitatio at the same time?

    Paralepsis?  I don’t think so.  I believe I was pretty direct.  Exuscitatio?  Of course! 

    Why is it necessary in these posts repeatedly to smear The Tablet as “ultra-lefty”? You jib at being called a ‘traditionalist’, as in the 18 July 2007 entry about WDTPRS

    this is not a traditionalist site and I am not a traditionalist

    I don’t think that calling The Tablet “ultra-lefty” is a “smear” at all.  It is “ultra-lefty”.  Just calling it as I see it. And this is not a traditionalist site, nor am I a traditionalist.

    If Fr Pecklers in this article shows any explicit approbation for a Marini it is for Mgr Guido Marini.

    Really?  Maybe that is so.

    He also shows deep respect for the Holy Father, praising his intellect and taste. Do you really think Fr Pecklers meant “a refined artistic sense” as a slur? I don’t.

    I believe that is why I pointed out the accumulatio.  There is no one thing Fr. Pecklers wrote that is out of place or over the top.  I think I made that point in my comments.  The cumulative effect of his word choices raised this interpretation in my mind.  That is only my opinion, of course.  But I would be pleased to hear from Fr. Pecklers or read more  about what he thinks if I am getting this completely wrong.

    Criticism of Fr Pecklers for errors in fact or logic is one thing, guilt by association something different and below your typically high standard of argument.

    I pointed out the connection as it occurred to me.  Make of it what you will.

    This clearly got under your skin!

  6. Tom: Here is Pope Benedict’s pallium:

    Hardly a coronation… since no “crown” was involved. Still..

    Here is the more modern pallium:

    Here is how the pallum developed into the modern form:

  7. Terth says:

    Thanks, Father. It’s amazing (but I’ll take it!) that something so small like the length, width, and color of the pallium could stir feelings of a desire for unity in our ancient and separated bretheren, the Eastern Orthodox.

  8. Terth: There are great power in these seemingly small things. Think of the psychological impact of the removal or reintroduction of statues and bells from churches.

  9. Gregor says:

    Terth:

    If you’re interested, I translated the entire passage from the book of Fr Braun (from which Fr Z took this illustration) in this post on the NLM: http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/2008/01/pallium-history-and-present-use.html I also offer some thoughts of my own why the new form is in fact a novelty and not a historic form.

  10. Basil Roberson says:

    Why the constant reference to ‘Pecklers’ rather than Fr. Pecklers or even Keith Pecklers? Would you like to be referred to as Zuhsldorf? The article in The Tablet is very good but IMHO should have included the possibility that Pope Benedict just likes dressing up.

  11. Carmine says:

    Dear Father Z:
    Your comments about that article seem a bit strong.
    It was well written and did not at all seem lefty…
    in fact his praise about the Holy Father was very nice.
    I guess you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

  12. Basil: I believe I also refer to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI simply as “Benedict” from time to time. And I believe I am fairly often referred to simply as “Zuhlsdorf”. But since this is a major focus of you (rather than the real substance of my comments), I’ll go back and edit in a few more “Fr.”s so we can all relax again.

  13. Carmine: I guess you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

    Hardly! I got up feeling happy and healthy! It is a beautiful sunny day, life is good, and life is great. I am filled with benevolence towards everyone!

  14. Brian Day says:

    His love of Gregorian chant, his nostalgia for the old liturgy…

    While Fr Pecklers says some very nice things about Pope Benedict’s choice/style of vestments, Fr Pecklers dismisses it all by using the party line of “nostalgia”. It can’t be genuine reform, it’s just nostalgia.

  15. Michael says:

    I do wonder whether Benedict’s new pallium was about ecumenism or archaeologism. Shortly after he adopted the new pallium, he dropped the title “patriarch of the west” which suggests that he isn’t interested in returning to a definition of papal authority that existed in the first millenium. This decision was very offensive to the East. The pallium was Marini’s idea anyway. There are plenty of symetrical designs from the first millenium that would have gone nicely with more traditional vestments. I find that it’s plain design, large size and assymetry clash with the new vestments the Pope’s been wearing, which have very detailed patterns with pronounced imagery. I’m not opposed to mixing styles, but the new pallium looks out of place in the same way a tall Barogue jeweled mitre would look out of place when worn with a plain twentieth century chasuble. Nevertheless, given the priorities of the Church in the 21st century, there’s no aesthetic argument in the world that could convince the pope to dispense with something the Orthodox are interpreting as gesture of ecumenism. Neither could it effectively be argued that the old pallium was more suitable because it was the received and traditional form, since any argument based on tradition with a small t doesn’t get you anywhere. I don’t imagine the Orthodox are ready to return to their pre-scism vestments, why do they expect the Pope to? Unless they expect the Pope to come to them.

  16. vexilla regis says:

    Father,
    Excellent post – thank you. Fr Peckler’s purpose (despite the subtlety of his approach)is obvious.His choice of publication only serves to confirm your view.

  17. dominic1962 says:

    First of all, isn’t the vestment style worn by the Pope on Ash Wednesday one of the competeing designs that eventually lost out to the “fiddleback”-more akin to the tastes of St. Charles Borromeo? Kind of a missing link-but an old one nonetheless. I personally like it, though I really have no beef with any chausible style. I think the reason some traditional minded Catholics loathe the “Gothic” chausible is because they’ve only seen the horrid post-Vatican II burlap horseblankets or similar cheesecloth rags with ugly designs, poor workmanship, and inferior material. I tend to like the fiddleback, but I wouldn’t sneeze at a well made Gothic chausible.

    I think there is a bit of reaction against the outright rejection of the fiddleback by certain liturgists, in that to counter the rejection, the other is asserted as the only legit chauseible. Wouldn’t the proper Roman attitude be one of acceptance of each and all legitimate expressions of liturgical design? Can’t we have fiddlebacks AND gothic chausibles? As long as they are made of suitable material (i.e. silk damasks) with nice designs, I don’t really see a problem. Same with surplices and albs-really, what is wrong with lace? I’ve heard it asserted that we (meaning the Church) are getting away from lace now. Now, there can be such a thing as too much lace or getting carried away with putting lace on anything and everything, but well-used lace gives some decoration and beauty and complements well made plain linen surplices and albs. They really need each other to set the other one off. There are just too many albs (surplices are rarely seen outside of the TLM anyway) that are horrid examples of assembly line banality and ease of use (perceived anyway) at the expense of decent liturgical presentation. Also, it would be nice if priests would wear amices and cinctures. The tab shirt sticking out of one of those bland zippered albs is really sloppy.

  18. tertullian says:

    At least Fr Peckler didn’t repeat the erroneous report of the Pope wearing red Prada shoes.

  19. VeritateOz says:

    The tenor of Fr Peckler’s is “damning with faint praise”. Simple as that. Father is spot onin detecting it.

  20. leo says:

    clearly everything that the holy father is wearing was worn at least once by pope john paul ii and frequently by paul vi at least up until the 1907 i think paul had quite a naturally austere taste which possibly set a good example for the time but if you think of the fashions of that decade , as someone with a lifelong love of the theatre john paul must have been aware of projecting a strong vivid image to a large crowd , fine detail would be wasted. Pope Benedict is showing not only good taste which in worldly eyes is to be admired but also a sense of office and which is very attractive , his appearance at the christmas urbi et orbi was right for the occasion

  21. Finola Graham says:

    It is fatuous to characterise The Tablet as ‘ultra-lefty’. It certainly is not so from most European perspectives (an over-concern with the soft middle-ground would be nearer the mark). The average Christian Democrat/Christian Conservative in Europe would not recognise your characterisation.

    American Catholics on the right need to be aware of the extent to which they are imbibing not from the well of Catholic culture, but from the heady and toxic brews of neo-conservatism. It is wrong to confuse a taste for authoritarianism and strong centralism with the authentic Christian message. There is a stream of Catholicism coming from your continent which does precisely that – and which is fundamentally tainted by a secular – and flawed – agenda. Because of our appalling history in the last century, most European Catholics firmly set their faces against any similar project over here.

  22. Henry Edwards says:

    Dear Finola Graham,
    If I interpret your remarks correctly, I believe you are mistaken, even though well-intentioned, in associating traditional Catholic leanings among U.S. Catholics with a secular or political agenda of a neo-conservative character (or any other). From my own perspective, such a correlation seems associated not with American Catholics but with continental European ones. At any rate, some accounts have suggested that the French episcopacy sees such a correlation there; whether or not their view is accurate, I do not know. In any event, I interpreted Father Z’s “ultra-lefty” characterization of The Tablet as a purely religious assessment, devoid of any political implication or judgment.

  23. Finola Graham says:

    Dear Henry Edwards

    I take your point. I was voicing an impression and it would be highly interesting to have some objective sociological data into the correlations between different expressions of Catholicism and social and political attitudes. Perhaps Fr Greely in Chicago has done some work in this area?

    And yes, you do have a point about France. The underlying concerns are well-documented, but it probably isn’t terribly helpful to delve into them here.

    Finola Graham

  24. joe says:

    I know not from where I’m imbibing — nor, come to mention it, do I care — but seeing as how whatever it is allows me to see things with due clarity, I believe I’ll have some more in a decently-sized tumbler with a bit of ice and soda.

    That said, this emphasizes why our European brethren find themselves in such dire straits and in such desperate need for our prayers.

    AMDG,

    -J.

  25. tertullian says:

    Finola Graham – your premise is flawed, as there is no such thing as a European.

  26. Tom says:

    I wrote: “What is there to prevent the Pope’s successor from returing to the liturgical visions shared by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II?”

    Father replied: “Nothing. But is it likely that this Pope would do that?”

    No.

    Father, what concerns me is now that Popes (Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II) are determined to initiate endless liturgical changes, even radical in nature, that the Roman Mass has become this or that Pope’s personal Mass, rather than the stable and venerable liturgy that had anchored the Church for centuries.

    The Popes need to make up their minds…either return to the Traditional Latin Mass and stability…or allow celebrations of the Roman Mass to differ radically from Pontificate to Pontificate.

    The situation is not good.

    We have gone from Pope John Paul II’s Masses (we know the nature of said Masses) to Pope Benedict XVI’s “traditional” Masses.

    Pope John Paul II signaled to the Church the type of liturgical style that he preferred.

    With Pope Benedict XVI, we are supposed to believe that a liturgical “Marshall Plan” is in place.

    The problem is that the Pope’s successor may very well hold Pope Paul VI’s (or John Paul II’s) liturgical vision…and down the drain goes Pope Benedict XVI’s personal desire to fuse a Novus Ordo/TLM “single” Rite.

    Today, “traditional” liturgy is in vogue….the liberals are supposedly on the run.

    Tomorrow, Pope Paul VI/John Paul II-style liturgy may return…and conservatives may be on the run.

    The lack of liturgical stability concerns me…and liturgical stability now rests upon the whims of Popes who have determined that endless tinkering with the Roman Liturgical tradition is in order.

    Summorum Pontificum isn’t even a year old…and at least one novel prayer has already replaced an ancient prayer from the Traditional Roman Liturgy.

    Sorry, I just don’t get it.

    I don’t understand why, beginning with the Holy Week reforms of Pope Pius XII, the recent Popes are unable to leave the Roman Liturgy alone (in the sense of radical liturgical reforms).

  27. Dr. Joe Hoelscher says:

    Ah, the pendulum swings. I believe that every Pope has personal preferences. B16 just happens to be a lightning rod…. whenever he does something or says something, boom… hey, he likes the old styles better, so be it. The next Pope might go in a different direction. One is not better than the other or more correct than the other. We just need to be concerned about B16 coming down the aisle on a device carried by 6-10 men…. but who knows, that may just happen as he gets older. I am not opposed to older style vestments or liturgy. Bring back Gregorian Chant. But, that does not mean the priest in the parish has to do the same unless his Bishop so directs or unless the priest really wants to do so. The Church has survived this long and will survive even longer if we do not get hung up on the trappings and place our emphasis where it truly belongs: spirituality and the salvation of souls.

  28. Dr. Joe H: The Church has survived this long and will survive even longer if we do not get hung up on the trappings and place our emphasis where it truly belongs: spirituality and the salvation of souls.

    They are connected.

  29. Dave Deavel says:

    Michael: If you have read any of Benedict’s pre-papal writings such as CALLED TO COMMMUNION, you will know that Papa Ratzinger has long thought the system of patriarchates was not part of capital T Tradition, whereas the ancient primacies are. He thinks the system of patriarchates was a Byzantine innovation.

  30. RBrown says:

    We just need to be concerned about B16 coming down the aisle on a device carried by 6-10 men…. but who knows, that may just happen as he gets older.

    Have you ever considered that when the pope is carried in the sedia gestatoria, it is possible for more people to see him?

    I am not opposed to older style vestments or liturgy. Bring back Gregorian Chant. But, that does not mean the priest in the parish has to do the same unless his Bishop so directs or unless the priest really wants to do so. The Church has survived this long and will survive even longer if we do not get hung up on the trappings and place our emphasis where it truly belongs: spirituality and the salvation of souls.
    Comment by Dr. Joe Hoelscher

    I think it\’s wise to realize that there is a direct connection between Latin liturgy/Gregorian Chant and the salvation of souls. It\’s no accident that the Church because to have serious problems after Latin liturgy was abandoned.

  31. Larry Brooks says:

    It would appear Fr. Z that you have touched a nerve. I have not seen so many negative posts to your opinion. I really don’t know anything about this Chasuable issue, or at least very little. Nor do I know the cast of characters “left” “right” etc. at least not the people below the Pope. I was and am happy to have a strong faithful Pope at the helm to at least give us a guide post in the midst of so many bishops who have led in less than healthy ways this Church over the last forty years (my current Bishop is a notable exception). I think you may have a point about Pope Ratzinger making some symbolic gestures in order to get the “reform of the reform” headed in the right direction. But it is also possible he is merely expressing his taste and style. Some have commented on their distaste for all the reforms from Pius XII on. I am reasonably certain that they have any clear recollcetion of pre Pius XII celebrations. Of course I could be wrong but it seems clear that if the Liturgy is “organic” as the Pope says then it is bound to grow and change. It has since the Last Supper on. Clearly the apostles did not see any problem in removing the basic form from the Passover motif to a meal setting celebrated at least weekly and on Sunday at that. So I think we have to admit that the Pope can change things in many ways and we should welcome his insights because while they are not part of the Extraordinary Magisterium they are to be obeyed. Pope Benedict has made it easier for you to satisfy your personal taste in Liturgy so rejoice and don’t be looking under every rock for problems. We have one Rush L. we don’t need a Liturgical one.

  32. Larry: We have one Rush L. we don’t need a Liturgical one.

    I have absolutely no idea what that means.

  33. Melody says:

    Father: I think Larry was comparing you to Rush Limbaugh. An unfair comparison that.

  34. Melody: Is that what that was? It wasn’t entirely clear.

    Also, I am not sure I shouldn’t be flattered.

    If nothing else, Rush is an effective communicator with a wide audience able to make an impact on contemporary issues while changes his listener’s perspectives.

    I’ll take that!

  35. Dove says:

    I think that many posters on this blog are actually agreeing with Pecklers in that they are apparently convinced by his rhetoric. Since, like him, they are unable to see why the Pope has selected these various vestments, they too chalk it up to something like whim or aestheticism.

    Is the Pope being arbitrary and random in his selection of various vestments? Are we in a position to judge the merits of the various styles that we have not seen in use, but only in mouldy samples in church museums?

    Perhaps the Pope wants us to see the glory of the vestments of the past, actually in use in the Mass. I hope he wants us to see them in use in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as well as the Ordinary Form.

    Perhaps our beloved Pope sees the development of vestments as parallel to the development (or devolution) of the two forms of the Roman rite (not to mention the eastern and other rites), which he sees as capable of development?

    Perhaps he doesn’t think that there is only one “right style” for our time.

    And let us always keep in mind that this Pope is above all a teacher (and I don’t mean he’s a professor, but that he sees himself as Pope as having a tremendous vocation and opportunity to teach the faithful and others), and let us try to understand what he is trying to teach us. So, let us not buy into Peckler’s point that the Pope’s decisions with regard to vestments are arbitrary, capricious, incomprehensible, “aesthetic”, and so on and so forth. Let us assume that Pope Benedict XVI knows what he is doing, and that if we keep an open mind, and wait, we will see just what he is teaching us.

  36. Melody says:

    Father Z: You are much more agreeable than Rush Limbaugh… The acid tones of his rhetoric tend to make me grit my teeth, despite the fact that I’m often in agreement with him on major issues. Maybe Stephen Colbert instead? ;)
    I was thinking of this in particular: http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/player.jhtml?ml_video=149094&is_large=true

    Dove: I think at least a small part of the Holy Father’s aim is to discourage the trend of disastrous iconoclasm by pulling out all these beautiful things and allowing people to find inspiration in them.

  37. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    Dove: Let us not buy into Peckler’s point that the Pope’s decisions with regard to vestments are arbitrary, capricious, incomprehensible, “aesthetic”, and so on and so forth.

    Indeed let us not “buy into” such a point, because Fr Pecklers never made it.

    The only sense I can make of Fr Z’s accusation of “aestheticism” (and the dogpile of yah-boo-sucks comments that followed) is that the article somehow asserts that the Holy Father changed his vestments purely out of artistic or antiquarian interest, or that Pecklers has no regard for any message that Pope Benedict is trying to convey by his turn to older rites and vestments.

    So let’s see WDTPRS — what does this priest really say? He writes (my emphases):

    there may be something more significant being communicated here on a symbolic level than a mere issue of liturgical style or taste, not unlike the strong symbolic message communicated by returning to a form of the pallium from the first millennium.

    Incidentally, if people are going to slam The Tablet as a heresy haven, they will have to go after Fr Alcuin Reid, who, a few months before the publication of Summorum Pontificum wrote a stirring essay on the value of liberalising the old rite. It is still worth reading: The Tablet, 10 March 2007. Here is the closing paragraph:

    And I trust our Pope. I trust him to bring the wisdom of the whole of the Catholic imagination to bear in the liturgical life of the Church of today. I trust that he understands well how creativity and genius are not enemies of the tradition but part of it, and that they are its lifeblood because in them the Spirit is active. For he is no reactionary traditionalist, nor is he a tangential liberal. Rather, he is a wise householder who knows when, creatively, ingenuously and led by the Spirit, to bring forth what is new and what is old.

    …which seems in the same generous spirit as Fr Pecklers’ article.