Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reform of the Reform: Novus Ordo Altar Cards

Besides just working on that antependium for the chapel where I attend the Old Mass 6 days a week, I've also been working on some altar cards for the Latin Novus Ordo I attend on Tuesday evenings because I sing the in the Chant Schola there. The finished product, printed and framed, can be seen above. They are about 15 inches tall, to give some scale.

The priest is committed to the Reform of the Reform and has recently taken to celebrating that Mass ad orientem. However, the altar looks somewhat bare, so he is going to start "dressing it up" like a traditional altar with candle-sticks (instead of those floor-candle things), an altar crucifix, and altar cards.

However, altar cards for the Ordinary Form in Latin are a relatively new concept, and the ones I've seen offered out there have been relatively unsatisfying (especially given their price).

One set that has been pointed out on certain liturgical blogs has only the central card framed, and the information printed on it (like the different Memorial Acclamations and snippets from all the different Eucharistic Prayers) was not considered terribly helpful by my priest, besides emphasizing the inelegance of all the Novus Ordo "options". And for the right-hand side, they just a give you a laminated sheet with the lavabo and ablution prayers, but they dont even fill up the whole card, so a lot of the space is taken up with an image.

So, I decided to do a high resolution scan of the antique altar cards used at the Traditional Mass I attend, and edit my own "Ordinary Form" altar cards based on those.

It was hard to fill up a whole card, the Novus Ordo just has that much less substance. However, we decided to keep a Last Gospel card "ad libitum post missam"...which hopefully will encourage priests to introduce the Last Gospel as a "private devotion" after Mass. On the right, likewise, we included "ad libitum" the Placeat prayer as it was recommended for priests to recite it silently on their way back to the sacristy by the Appendix to the Missale Romanum of 1970. We also just kept the Credo on the card mainly to take up space. Apparently there is still an option for the Creed to be said standing at the altar instead of at the chair.

Of course, they are mainly going to be put out for "decoration," to adorn the altar during Mass, rather than for their text. The editing was tedious, and I pretty much just gave up on trying to justify all the text perfectly (perhaps a graphic designer out there can do a better editing job?) but for what they are, I think they turned out quite well. A friend and I went and got them framed, after some frustration at the craft store.

I have uploaded the files here for anyone who wants to examine them more closely. Feel free to toy around with the editing yourself or even print your own and have them framed for your church. The resolution is high enough to print quite big images:

Last Gospel Card
Center Card
Lavabo Card

If you find a typo, however, please don't tell me. It would break my heart now that they're framed...


Anonymous said...

FYI... Altar Cards were common between 72 and 74. I have editio typica ones from the Vatican

Anonymous said...

All altar cards (cheat notes) are ugly. No matter how nicely framed they are. I'm glad to see most priests saying the Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem don't use them. They simply clutter up the altar. I can stand seeing the large central card leaning up against the tabernacle. A sign or real disrespect for the Holy of Holies.

If you want to dress up the altar, better to place the Book of the
Gospels on a special stand or cushion and keep it there permanently. Just as the Byzantines do.