6 September 2009


I am glad that Alcuin Reid has given new life to The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, and, moreover, that a new edition is called for. But that highly valuable book is not the only thing O'Connell did. I have before me the 1942 edition of his three volume The Celebration of Mass. I very much hope that somebody might do a facsimile reprint of this; or perhaps - someone can inform me - it is available for reading on-line.

It contains a wealth of information about how traditional Western Liturgy was done. It brings back to me memories of Mass-practices in 1967 at S Stephen's House under Derek Allen ... the gentle way he checked whether we really had learned off by heart the texts you need to do from memory; the moment when, doing my best not to trip over my new cassock (fresh from Wolverhampton; what was the name of that man there who had the Staggers trade?) I said Oremus at the foot of the Altar and set off towards it saying the Aufer a nobis only to be stopped dead in my tracks with "No; you start off with your right foot". I don't suppose much of that sort of tuition survives nowadays except in the SSPX and the canonical EF seminaries and at S Stephen's House, God bless it.

TCOM has extensive sections on the role of custom in liturgical law; Votive Masses, Requiem Masses, Missa pro populo ... you name it . Anything that you need to know. Of course, it refers to the EF. But those whose way-ahead is the Reform of the Reform can only benefit by referring to an authoritative book which distilled the experience of centuries of priests developing the ars celebrandi they had received, and then in turn passing it on.

In recent weeks I have drawn attention to gross misstatements of rubrical law relating to the EF both on NLM and Fr Zed. I do not blame them; they were not given a seminary training on the EF before the post-conciliar changes. I was; and that makes mistakes on my part all the more reprehensible. And I would not be in the least surprised if I have given misinformation. Don't trust NLM, don't trust Fr Zed, don't even trust me. Trust O'Connell.


Gengulphus said...

Wolverhampton; what was the name of that man there…?

Noel Vasey. So unfortunate that there was never an obituary in the CT to this monumental source of ecclesiastical gossip.

Paul Goings said...


The 1962 edition (in one volume) has already been reprinted:


Independent said...

At SSH when Arthur was Principal, with Derek Allen as Chaplain, Derek Walser as Vice Principal, and Coggins as Tutor, it used to be said that there were there three parsons and one God.

cb said...

When I was at SSH (69-72) Fr Cobb was my instructor. As I had grown up at S.Magnus-the-Martyr and had drunk in Ritual Notes as a foretaste of the heaven of Fortescue, this was rather a grandmother and eggs situation. However, one thing sticks out in my mind. Since we were no longer taught to keep our fingers conjoined after the Consecration, we kept them open for the Paternoster and embolism, I always stuck my thumbs out and Fr C always shouted out "thumbs" in a loud voice. Indeed, to this day I think of it every time I say Holy Mass. The other thing, always keep your hands off the corporal until after the Consecration and then always upon it afterwards.
Con brio, safely aboard Peter's Barque now, but still putting on the amice as taught by DWA.
Fr Christopher Back

Father TE Jones said...

Vasey was still making Cassocks into the late 90s, I have one, still in use, that he made. I also have other less often worn garments from his hand and a collection of six button capes (they last longer than the cassocks), his spirit lives on!

Carlos Antonio Palad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Trust O'Connell..."

That is a good rule to follow, but doing so will get you into trouble with the "Let's-Do-Things-The-SSPX-Way" (a.k.a probably the vast majority of Traditionalist Catholics -- you know, don't cense a freestanding altar all around, etc.)

Rubricarius said...

From my knowledge of former SSPX clergy there was precious little liturgical training at Econe.

O'Connell was rather a sad case I suspect. I have a letter in my collection from a former Abbot of Prinknash who related that JBO'C in his old age would still go to Prinknash in the 1970s (where the photos of Low Mass etc were taken in 'The Grange') and attend the Capitular Mass. Instead of 'actively participating' JBO'C would kneel in his stall and tell his beads.

As to taking 'Fr.' Zed seriously he may know something about cooking but liturgy and rubrics...?

rev'd up said...

Rubricarius, I'm intrigued by the *"Fr."* Zed. Is it in line with the likes of "Fr." Malachi Martin or "Fr." Rama Coomaraswamy or "Bishop" TD Jakes? What's your take?

I it possible Z studied cooking with the Frugal Gormet?

Rubricarius said...

Rev'd Up,

My take on the Zee is with a suitably large grain of salt.

As I have opined before our esteemed blog host knows more about liturgy and rubrics in his little finger than some who spend their days writing in red and black rather than actually doing liturgy.

Back on O'Connell it is interesting to compare O'Connell with O'Connell i.e. good old JBO'C with his American namesake Laurence O'Connell. I have always much preferred the former.

Paul Goings said...

I do think that someone should put in a good word for Laurence O'Connell's little work on the Holy Week ceremonies, which I have always found to be quite useful.

Hestor said...

That is a good rule to follow, but doing so will get you into trouble with the "Let's-Do-Things-The-SSPX-Way" (a.k.a probably the vast majority of Traditionalist Catholics -- you know, don't cense a freestanding altar all around, etc.)

The same could easily be applied to certain traditional orders of priests (in communion with Rome), who have a hodge-podge of a 1962 liturgy with pre-62 rubrics.

As Rev. Hunwicke has observed the SSPX has precious little training in liturgy and this is hardly surprising as they do not see the liturgy as part of the the primary questions that have to be answered by Rome.