What is Hidden Art? In The Hidden Art of Homemaking Edith Schaeffer writes:
Whatever it is, surely art involves creativity and originality. Whatever form art takes, it gives outward expression to what otherwise would remain locked in the mind, unshared. .
It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation.
I first read this book about eighteen years ago. Eighteen years! I can’t believe it was that long ago ..I was expecting son number five,. Had just prayed my very-first-ever-novena. This one to St Gerard Majella, asking for intercession for the gift of another child. I was on bed rest, in a difficult pregnancy healthwise, and although not yet Catholic, I knew the power of prayer.
And the power of beauty.
Into my life came the above book, inspiring one to find Hidden Art in daily life. To appreciate beauty in both work and prayer.
I found beauty in prayer in the Latin Mass, Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Eventually found my way , four years later, to being a Catholic.. as you all know.
Not only did I experience beauty and Truth in the mass, in the prayers, in the beliefs expressed by the words and actions of the mass. I also found beauty in the externals..My senses were filled…and I was drawn into Catholicism by God…my mind, my soul, my heart, my urge for beauty and little bit of the sacred were also satisifed…the candles on the altar, brightly polished candle stands; awe inspiring icons ; reflective art for Stations of the Cross; incense; marble altars with intricate altar cloths; priestly vestments, made with care and detail, colours changing to reflect the liturgical year, donned wth care and prayer..there was nothing ordinary, every day, nothing prosaic in the mass..Every detail was taken care of, to demonstrate and catechize Faith..to inspire..
Because, however, the celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire Liturgy, is carried out through perceptible signs that nourish, strengthen, and express faith, the utmost care must be taken to choose and to arrange those forms and elements set forth by the Church that, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will more effectively foster active and full participation and more properly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal (20)
I have been on a bit of a “liturgy kick ” recently. Reminding myself of what is important in liturgy; of why the Holy Mass and its rubrics and celebration is important.
And today I remembered The Hidden Art of Homemaking and its application to the beauty of externals in the Mass.
If we should be sensitive to beauty in daily life, how much more should we be sensitive to beauty in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To the beauty of the prayers and of the Eucharist. Christ truly being there, for us to receive.
Vestments? Those garments, worn by the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon during the celebration of the Eucharist.
These are rich with symbolism; part of their Hidden Art is to remind one of the liturgical year, of the role of the priest, of Christ, of the mass through the centuries, of the sacredness of the liturgy, of the sacredness of the Holy Sacrifice.
The symbolism customary among the liturgists from the ninth to the eleventh century is a moral symbolism, that is the liturgical vestments were made to symbolize the official and priestly virtues of their wearers. In the twelfth century there were added to this the typico-dogmatic symbolism, in which the vestments were expounded in reference to Christ Whose representative is the priest, and soon they symbolized Christ’s Incarnation, the two Natures of Christ, the unity and relation to each other of these natures before long, the virtues of Christ, His teaching, and soon, lately, His relations to the Church.
Curious to say the vestments were not made to symbolize Christ’s Passion and Death. This last symbolism, which may be called typico-representative, first appeared in the course of the thirteenth century, and quickly became very popular, because it was the most easily expressed and consequently most easily understood by the people. The people interpreted the vestments as symbolizing the instruments of Christ’s Passion, as the cloth with which Christ’s head was covered (amice), the robe put on him in mockery (alb), the fetters (cincture, maniple), etc., and the priest who was clothed with these was regarded as typifying the suffering Saviour.
The Catholic Encyclopedia
I wasn’t aware of any of this, when I, as a non Catholic, attended the Latin Mass. I just knew there was a sense of being apart from the world of every day, of entering into the mysteries of Faith and of Life and Death. I wanted to know more.
I was inspired by the beauty of the whole mass, having all my senses employed, my sense of beauty ignited in a spiritual and physical fashion. By prayers and sacred language.
And I was inspired not by unadorned tables or altars and polyster garments but by the richness of detail and the lavish care given to every detail..even to cloths..and candles..and vessels..and statues..and vestments.
Sunday November 8, was a time of farewell. Friars leaving our parish, to be replaced by new friars.
I have read and talked with friends about the Five Love Languages.
I can see where my husband and children have strong leanings towards different love languages – one likes the language of touch; another of affirming words..and so on.
Beginners in the service of God sometimes lose confidence when they fall into any fault. When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you, you must lift your heart to God and consider that all your faults, compared with divine goodness, are less than a bit of tattered thread thrown into a sea of fire.Suppose that the whole horizon, as far as you can see from this mountain, were a sea of fire; if we cast into it a bit of tattered thread, it will disappear in an instant. So, when you have committed a fault, humble yourself before God, and cast your fault into the infinite ocean of, charity, and at once it will be effaced from your soul; at the same time all distrust will disappear St Paul of the Cross
This Sunday I had the privilege of attending three different Sunday masses. A vigil. A morning mass. An evening mass.
Just because that is the way things worked out!
Three masses . Masses with liturgical differences.
All masses were valid. Two masses were celebrated with great care for rubrics and with reverence.
We Catholics express our faith, our beliefs, by actions and by words. Reverence in mass reminds us of Whom we are reverencing.
There is a difference between a mass where the priest follows rubrics carefully and a mass where a priest ad libs. Even a little.
a title, heading, direction, or the like, in a manuscript, book, statute, etc., written or printed in red or otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text.
a direction for the conduct of divine service or the administration of the sacraments, inserted in liturgical books.
3.any established mode of conduct or procedure; protocol.
The rubrics of the Mass form the directions, the guide, for the priest to follow. They serve as protocol for the mass; reminding us that mass is about worshipping God , that it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that Jesus is truly present at the altar..and that mass is not about the people and the personality of the priest.
It is not a feel good exercise.
From one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council – there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing(Sacrosanctum concilium ).
I am truly not being critical here. Not being that liturgical nazi that my family all hate, the one who decries any change post 1962.
I just know that we go to mass to adore God, to receive Jesus. Yes, within the community of believers and with communion with all the saints but also with a focus on Christ, on prayer, on eternity, not the here and now of laughter/clapping/jokes/priests wandering around giving a homily..( I am sorry, Fr, but it is impossible for me to listen well, to gather myself and my thoughts interiorly, with you wandering near my elbow, giving a homily, asking me and others to cry out Praise the Lord. Is PTL part of the rubrics? Can’t we participate more fully when we are not distracted?).
Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Pope Benedict the XVI, (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) The Spirit of the Liturgy
The richness of Catholic theology, the theology of the Mass, the ritual over the centuries, gradually unfolds in the mass. Forms our beliefs. How we worship really does have an effect on what we believe.
We demonstrate our beliefs by the rubrics of liturgy. We develop and understand these beliefs, we grow in grace and in love and understanding, by the way we worship, by familiarity with the liturgy, a familiarity that comes with repetition – with very careful observance of liturgical norms. If the norms are ignored, are played with, are altered in small ways, not necessarily via big liturgical differences or abuses but via little changes and injections of personality, then we lose an opportunity. We lose a powerful means of transmitting and re-inforcing the Church’s teaching about the meaning of the Mass, of the Eucharist, of what we as Catholics believe.
We lose an opportunity to lift ourselves out of the sometime quagmire of daily life, to think not of ourselves but to lift up our hearts and eyes and minds towards God.
When we change or add little things to the Mass, things that of themselves are not of great substance, that certainly do not mean liturgical abuse or an invalid mass yet are little people-centred innovations, well, when we do this, we not only lose a sense of awe and a sense of the sacred. We also lose a sense of unity, of praying the one and same mass with others.
We have liturgical legislation not to enforce what one writer calls “rigid rubricism” but instead to encourage reverence and unity in Catholic liturgy… in Catholic worship.
The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer..Pope Paul VI
That is, eating to cover up emotions, to deal with emotions.