25 March 2016

Are you sure it's Red today?

                                 BLACK OR RED?

In 2009, Professor Richard Parish of this University delivered a quite brilliant series of Bampton Lectures (you can't get more prestigious than that) on seventeenth century French Catholicism. In the course of one of them, quite obiter, he mentioned the effect that seeing the liturgical colour Red on Good Friday must have had on people's devotion. It got me thinking ...

 ... in fact, thinking so much that, called by God as I am to be a pedant, I went to Queen's College library and looked at their Missale Parisiense to check.

You've guessed: the colour was indeed Black. An example, perhaps, of how even the very clever and very learned can instinctively assume that what they have come to see as normative may in fact be a fashion of yesterday. It is a suggestive instance of the rupture which attacked Catholic worship during the changes sponsored by Pius XII and subsequent pontiffs. Although it has to be said that when Hannibal Bugnini began the alteration of Holy Week in the 1950s, even he did not then dare to give this Day its modern liturgical colour of Red. That was to come later. [Bugnini did at that time order Violet for the Communion Service which concludes today's Liturgy; the Ordinariate Missal - see below - does not follow him in this.]

Perhaps you may be wondering whether, on the Day of the Lord's Passion, the history of liturgical colours ought to be the subject uppermost in my mind. You have a point. But I think there is a real question here. Red is an obvious colour because the Lord Today shed his Precious Blood. But is there not a degree of superficiality involved in therefore using Red? Dom Gueranger explains that we use Black because of our own feeling of immense grief on this day of all days. It might be added that Black makes this day almost unique ... because it is almost unique. My own instinct is that in a liturgical culture in which Black is used for Requiems and funerals, there is a lot to be said for using it for Good Friday too: it makes the point that our Lord dies as truly as Aunt Mildred died last December; that His Death is the real Death into which we each died at our Baptism; the real Death by which all may be saved. I think therefore that there is a good case for the option afforded by the Ordinariate Missal, to return to the tradition of Black vestments on Good Friday.

                                     HOLY COMMUNION?

It is recorded that King George V could never understand why his ecclesiastical household did not allow him to receive Holy Communion on Good Friday. Perhaps, in an age of frequent Communion, restraint from the Sacrament on the Day of the Lord's Death marks its uniqueness. The distinctly intelligent Anglican manual Liturgy and Worship (1932; p 738) writes "The act of Communion at the end of the service is perhaps the most moving ceremony of the whole liturgical year. No one who has not experienced it can realise what a climax it makes to the observance of Good Friday, or how near we are brought in spirit to the Divine Victim of the Cross. In theory perhaps we ought to wish for a restoration of the general Communion of Good Friday, but in practice the very fact of abstinence from Communion is felt by many to enhance the essential feeling of the day, that the Bridegroom is taken away from us."
[That particular chapter of Liturgy and Worship was written by Kenneth Donald Mackenzie, Bishop of Brechin, who was much involved in the Anglo-Catholic Congresses.]


Patrick Sheridan said...

I'd much rather see red than violet to-day, I have to say. At least dull red has mediaeval precedent. When was violet dalmatic and tunicle ever used?

The last time I attended a Good Friday service (at the wrong time, that is 3pm) in a Roman Catholic church, Holy Communion was given out and it was astounding to see the large numbers of people queuing up. I wondered if they were either ignorant or insincere? Did they queue up out of habit? Why was Communion even offered? If the celebrant had just carried on I'm sure he could have dealt with any complaints in his own time. Is it such a cruel deprivation to omit the distribution of Communion on this day?

Sadie Vacantist said...

Cardinal Heenan records an intervention at VII by a Japanese bishop who made the point that white is the colour of mourning in Japan and the final scene of the Seven Samurai confirms this and is no less moving because of it.

Given that white vestments are normative at Catholic funerals where does that now leave the Catholic Church in Japan theologically?

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Just heard the sermon in St Peter's delivered by Fr. Cantalmessa.

As ABS watched him walking towards the Ambo, he wondered what heretical statements would issue; well, it didn't take long.

Christ because sin for us. (This was asserted by the Papal preacher repeatedly)


When did the Church stop teaching theology?

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Cornelius a Lapide (2 Corinth 5)

Ver. 21.—Him who knew no sin. Experimentally, says S. Thomas, Christ knew no sin, though by simple knowledge He did, for He did no sin.

Hath made Him to be sin for us.

For us, says Illyricus, who were sin; because, he says, sin is the substance and form of our soul. But to say this of ourselves is folly, of Christ blasphemy. (1.) The meaning is that God made Christ to be the victim offered for our sin, to prevent us from atoning for our sins by eternal death and fire. The Apostle plays on the word sin, for when he says, “Him who knew no sin,” he means sin strictly speaking; but when he says, “He made Him to be sin for us,” he employs a metonymy. So Ambrose, Theophylact, and Anselm. In Ps. xl. 12, Christ calls our sins His. (2.) Sin here denotes, says S. Thomas, the likeness of sinful flesh which He took, that He might be passible, just as sinners who are descended from Adam are liable to suffering. (3.) Sin, in the sense of being regarded by men as a noteworthy sinner, and being crucified as a malefactor. So the Greek Fathers.
Of these three interpretations the first is the more full, significant, and vigorous, and the one more consonant with the usage of Scripture, which frequently speaks of an expiatory victim as sin. Cf. Hosea iv. 8; Lev. iv. 24 and 21; Ezek. xliv. 29. The reason of this metonymy is that all the punishment and guilt of the sin were transferred to the expiatory victim, and so the sin itself might seem to be also transferred to it. In token of this the priest was accustomed to lay his hands on the victim, and call down on it the sins of the people; for by the hands are signified sinful actions, which are for the most part executed by the hands, as Theodoret says in his notes on Leviticus i. Therefore the laying of hands on the victim was both a symbol of oblation and a testimony of the transference of guilt to the victim, showing that it was expiatory, and that it bore the sin itself, with all its burden of guilt and punishment. In this way the high-priest on the great Day of Atonement turned a goat into the wilderness, having imprecated on it the sins of the whole people. Cf. Lev. xvi. 20.

Matthew said...

" ABS -- When did you stop reading Scripture?

Adrian said...

Perhaps Amateur Brain Surgeon ought to have a look at II Corinthians 5.21.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

This may be helpful to counter the modern blasphemous heresy that Jesus became sin and counter the temptation to understand scripture differently than did the early Church Fathers and Drs of the Church (Not very word is literal, especially "He became sin" or "He was made a curse"

Aquinas on Galatians 3:13

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree)

Having explained the curse brought on by the Law, as well as the Law’s incapacity to deliver from sin, he now shows forth Christ’s power to set one free from this curse.

First, he shows how through Christ we are set free of that curse;


As to the first, he does three things:

First, he presents the author of the liberation;

Secondly, the manner of liberation (v. 13): being made a curse for us;

Thirdly, the testimony of the prophets (v. 13): for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.

He says therefore first: All who observed the works of the Law were under a curse, as has been said, and they could not be delivered by the Law. Hence it was necessary to have someone who should set us free, and that one was Christ. Hence he says, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin, hath condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3). He redeemed, I say, us, namely, the Jews, with His own Precious Blood: “Thou hast redeemed us in thy blood” (Rev 5:9); “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee” (Is 43:1), from the curse of the law, i.e., from guilt and penalty: that he might redeem them who were under the law (4:5); 1 will redeem them from death” (Hos 13:14).

Then when he says, being made a curse for us, he sets forth the manner of the deliverance. Here it should be noted that a curse is that which is said as an evil. Now it is according to two kinds of evil that there can be two kinds of curse, namely, the curse of guilt and the curse of punishment. And with respect to each this passage can be read, namely, He was made a curse for us.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

First of all with respect to the evil of guilt, for Christ redeemed us from the evil of guilt. Hence, just as in dying He redeemed us from death, so He redeemed us from the evil of guilt by being made a curse, i.e., of guilt: not that there was really any sin in Him—for “He did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” as is said in 1 Peter (2:22) —but only according to the opinion of men and particularly the Jews who regarded him as a sinner: “If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee” (Jn 18:30). Hence it is said of Him, “Him who knew no sin He hath made sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21). But he says, a curse, and not “accursed,” to show that the Jews regarded Him as the worst type of criminal. Hence it is said, “This man is not of God who keepeth not the sabbath,” (Jn 9:16) and “For a good work we stone thee not, but for sin and for blasphemy” (Jn 10:33). Therefore he says, being made for us a curse in the abstract. As though to say: He was made “curse” itself.

Secondly, it is explained with respect to the evil of punishment. For Christ freed us from punishment by enduring our punishment and our death which came upon us from the very curse of sin. Therefore, inasmuch as He endured this curse of sin by dying for us, He is said to have been made a curse for us. This is similar to what is said in Romans (8:3): “God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin,” i.e., of mortal sin; “Him who knew no sin,” namely, Christ, Who committed no sin, God (namely, the Father) “had made sin for us,” i.e., made Him suffer the punishment of sin, when, namely, He was offered for our sins (2 Cor 5:21).

Then He gives the testimony of Scripture when he says, for it is written: “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” This is from Deuteronomy (21:23). Here it should be noted, according to a Gloss, that in Deuteronomy, from which this passage is taken, our version as well as the Hebrew version has: “Cursed by God is everyone that hangs on a tree.” However, the phrase “by God” is not found in the ancient Hebrew volumes. Hence it is believed to have been added by the Jews after the passion of Christ in order to defame Him.

But it is possible to expound this authority both with respect to the evil of punishment and the evil of guilt. Of the evil of punishment thus: Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree, not precisely because he hangs on a tree, but because of the guilt for which he hangs. And in this way Christ was thought to be cursed, when He hung on the cross, because He was being punished with an extraordinary punishment. And according to this explanation, there is a continuity with the preceding. For the Lord commanded in Deuteronomy that anyone who had been hanged should be taken down in the evening; the reason being that this punishment was more disgraceful and ignominious than any other. He is saying, therefore: Truly was He made a curse for us, because the death of the cross which He endured is tantamount to a curse—thus explaining the evil of guilt, although it was only in the minds of the Jews—because it is written: Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree. But with respect to the evil of punishment, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree is explained thus: The punishment itself is a curse, namely, that He should die in this way. Explained in this way, He was truly cursed by God, because God decreed that He endure this punishment in order to set us free.

Gregory DiPippo said...

Optime Pater,

In the 1738 Missale Parisiense, the last paragraph of the rubric on liturgical colors says that black vestments with red orphreys (nigra cum orifrygiis rubris) may be used by those who have them, for the whole of Passiontide.

Red in the Roman Rite on Good Friday today is borrowed from the Ambrosian Rite, following the widespread and wholly erroneous conviction, endlessly useful to the liturgical bien pensants, that the Ambrosian Rite is an archaic version of the Roman, and hence "more original." (I know how much you admire and respect that kind of thinking...) But in point of fact, my very knowledgeable Ambrosian friend once explained to me that they use red for the whole of Holy Week because it was anciently considered a color of mourning. Conversely, the Ambrosian custom of using black for the ferias of Lent was NOT adopted in the Novus Ordo, not even as an option.

Banshee said...

ABS, don't feel too bad. Bad preaching and teaching, when common, does create an assumption of distrust among the faithful. The trick is to discern good while rejecting bad.

Jacobi said...

It be appropriate if absence were also considered on other occasions,

“ not, out of routine, or vain glory, or human respect, but for the purpose of pleasing God”