Wednesday, March 14
Stamford Pontifical Mass
The site: St. Mary's, Stamford, a magnificent early twentieth-century Gothic structure.
The High Altar.
The bishop at the throne.
At the Offertory. To those unfamiliar with the rite, the subdeacon is the one on the left, wearing a humeral veil to muffle his hands while touching the sacred vessels, while the deacon stands on the right. With the bishop or priest they constitute a ritual triad familiar throughout a great part of Church history.
The Elevation of the Host. The custom of raising the chausible is a memory of the ancient practice of decorating a priest's vestments with rich gems and brocade; such heavy robes were often difficult to move about in. Now, it is not a practical matter but a noble gesture of ritual courtesy.
The Elevation of the Precious Blood. Note the torchbearers, who are permitted in both the most solemn forms of the old and new rites.
At the Peace. The equivalent of the modern sign of peace, the Pax was restricted to the most solemn occasions, and only among the clergy. It was a graceful ceremonial embrace which could easily be introduced into the more familiar 1970 missal form of mass without contravening a single rubric, and would be much more preferable and affecting than the scrum of handshakes that usually breaks out at this point.
At the Post-Communion. The three sacred ministers, bishop, deacon and subdeacon, stand in line as the celebrant sings the final collect; here we see most clearly illustrated the principle of ceremonial hierarchy.