6 January 2011

Noveritis, fratres carissimi ...

... as I proclaimed after the Gospel at Mass this morning. Then, after the Last Gospel, I blessed chalk. It was the first year I have done this; Wikipedia says that it is a central European custom. I have been wondering whether its spread in recent years to England is related to immigration by groups from EU member countries. I have wondered the same thing about the Rorate Mass. OR were both these things taken by immigrant groups to North America, from where they have now drifted across on the Gulf Stream? Are further such goodies on their way by whatever route?

I have also been wondering about a Responsio ad dubium which the Ecclestone Square Liturgy Office secured from PCED and which they represented as ordering that even in celebrations of the EF the Epiphany should be transferred to a Sunday. My recollection is that Ecclestone Square refused to disclose the actual text of the Responsio they had received, so that the LMS then submitted its own dubium which elicited a rather different reply. Has the Ecclestone Square Responsio ever been published, or is it still covered by some sort of Official Secrets Act?

I hasten to add that at S Thomas's we did keep last Sunday as an External Solemnity of the Epiphany. We are terribly mainstream.


Father Anonymous said...

Interesting. Although the blessing of chalk does not appear in our (North American Lutheran) formularies, it was taught to me by my seminary worship instructor, and I have done it in receptive parishes..

I currently live in Romania, and haven't observed the practice to be any more widespread than in the US. But I haven't probed deeply.

But a few days ago, I stumbled -- literally -- over a related custom. A church member had invited me to bless her home, and as I entered the dark, bare concrete hallway of her Communist-era apartment building, I saw small white crosses chalked in front of nearly every apartment.

Apparently, A Romanian Orthodox priest came to perform New Year's house blessings, and sent a boy ahead of him, to knock on doors and ask who desired his service. The boy then marked the threshold, so that the priest -- performing hundreds of these rites in a day -- could move quickly from home to home.

No word on what rituals, if any, had been used to prepare the chalk itself.

Anonymous said...

The then Reverend Brian Dominic Frederick Titus Leo Brindley of bless├Ęd memory was the first to teach me this practice when he was Vicar of the Most Holy Trinity, Oxford Road, Reading [fast trains from Paddington....] in the early 1970s when I was assistant priest in a neighbouring parish.

Fr William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr William said...

As an aside, Baz: not, at that time, Leo. He took that name upon his reception (at which I was present) into the RC Church, in honour of the papal author of a certain notorious document which I forbear to name here.

Maureen Lash said...

It originates in Silesia where it was a mark to distinguish Catholic homes from Jewish and Lutheran ones, thus saving the clergy from making the faux pas of knocking on the wrong doors for their New Year schnapps. So a German custom, really, though of course the Poles now claim it.