Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Pssst.... Credo in...

When I was planning our wedding, and hanging out a bit on wedding planning blogs and boards, one of my (numerous.... and you thought I didn't like animals!) betes noires was a fad, (happily short-lived,) of celebrants insisting the couple memorize their vows.

I suggested young people so beset tell the priest they'd try to do it if he would also commit to say the entire Mass without a Missal.

It was just a stupid idea.

We were professional actors yet neither Himself nor I would have dreamt of such a thing. With the nerves and heightened distractions of a wedding day, why give yourself the additional worry? especially since memorizing something to say in public is torture for the average person.

In fact, the prosepct of even reading in public alarms many, many people.

The ritual would not suffer one whit for being read, or, if need be, prompted silently by the one officiating.

In a funny synchronicity, the NY Times has run an article on the scandal or necessity, (depending on your point of view,) of mnemonic cheats and prompters in the theater, only a few days before The New Liturgical Movement informs us of the availability of "altar cards" for the Ordinary Form.

I had never thought much about them, before I knew that there were such things as canon laws and liturgical legislation about Missals, upon seeing such relics of the old Mass I assumed they were a substitute for a large, heavy, expensive book; or perhaps in larger print than the book which might be read from in the perfect world where we all have perfect eyesight.

It seems from the comment box, though, that some object to the use of these cards, at least in the OF, as being a violation of the rubrics.

But since the Vatican Press itself offers an altar card for the Novus Ordo, I think we can say that in some instances the cards are, in effect, the "Missal" that is among the items that "may be placed on the mensa of the altar."

I know in my parish there are pick-a-little-talk-a-little moments from time to time over the use of looseleaf notebook or, horrors! single sheets of paper at the ambo.
Often these are ostentatiously drawn from a groom's man's pocket, or laborioulsy unfolded and smoothed after being clutched in a second-grader's grimy hands.

But people unused to serving in liturgical ministries need to practice, and often write notes, pronunciations, or accent marks in the actual text from which they will proclaim, and surely we don't want them taking red crayons to the itcostsHOWmuch lectionary.

And that's not even getting into what the psalmist needs to be looking at to proclaim his assignment from scripture.... but I digress.

Since it seems that altar cards are indeed "permitted" in the Ordinary Form, my question is, can they be made by anyone?
Are they like the liturgical books, and ought to be produced only by publishing concerns with some sort of explicit commission, or at least permission, from TPTB?

It seems to me that creating altar cards would be a worthy project for an artist, and a wonderful gift, especially for a priest whose eye sight was ... well, doing what all our eyesight does.

Of course, the multiple Eucharistic Prayers, choices of acclamation, etc -- those could be an issue.

In the Era of Bad Liturgy and Bad Liturgical Art from which we are emerging such a suggestion would have been dangerous -- would we really have wanted the people responsible for tie-dyed vestments and bus station-worthy altar furniture to have been turned loose on altar cards?

But I believe object of great beauty might be made now -- I would love to commission a Daniel Mitsui, or a Matthew Alderman to design Altar Cards. (Yeah, when I win the lottery...)

Ooooh, but now that I think of it, though, what would prevent those with a ... well, let's say, "Hello Kitty aesthetic" from attempting the same endeavor?

Remembering those Precious Moments figurines, (I won't tell you where, even those with execrable taste are entitled to their good names, and that goes double for holy religious, I suppose,) I now see my idea needs a little more deliberation.

Incidentally, the reason for the title of this post? A priest I know, at his first Mass told the deacon to be sure to hand him a missallette at the presider's chair, so that he could read the Creed, he didn't trust his memory on a day so fraught with emotion.
He should have just asked for a whispered prompt -- when the moment came, missallette in hand but so filled with confidence that he felt no need to glance down at it, he boomed out, "I confess to Almighty God, and to you...."

1 comment:

Myriad Creative Concepts said...

What a great post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts about our new Ordinary Form Latin Altar Card. You certainly raise some great points, some of which I've been agonizing over for a long time. First, is my company, Myriad Creative Concepts, even ALLOWED to design an altar card for the Ordinary Form. I got a request to design this and naively assumed it was OK to do so. But, a priest friend who helped me design this card stated there might be a problem with Vatican permission. But, how in the world does one get permission from the Vatican? Who knows, maybe I'll get a summons to appear in Rome one of these days. And, I won't have a clue as to what to say. And, a prepared statement wouldn't do me any good because, like people you mention, I would freeze up if trying to read something in public. You also raise the question whether just anyone can design altar cards. Well, I am certainly no authority on altar cards and have sweated bullets trying to do this. I am really trying to be accurate in the texts and certainly don't want to inject my own art very much into the designs. "Precious Memories" and "Home Interiors" art look much better than mine. That's why I try to take pieces of very, very old vintage altar cards and digitally manipulate them into new hybrid designs. That way, I don't actually ever have to try to draw an angel or something. Recently, I have been asked to design a set for the Dominican Order. They have no idea how tall an order that is for me. But, I will somehow stumble through the process. Yes sir, this vocation has its downside of scrutiny and unknowns. But, I do really like providing priests with what they want and need. And, it feels really good to know that my work will outlive me. Your comments, suggestions, and criticisms are always welcome. I love feedback no matter what the stance. So, please feel free to email me any time: myriadcreativeconcepts@yahoo.com. Thanks for the post and for allowing me to comment. Best wishes.