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Monday, 7 June 2010

Why the Biretta will never die....

Baby biretta for Corpus Christi


Anonymous said...

Yes, but what of the masks in the background?

The Sibyl said...

The centuries old head dress of public penitents is for grown-ups hopefully that will never die either.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I really can't see the purpose in covering one's face if its meant to be public. I have been looking for some historical matter on the masks - can't find. Do you have a link? I just can't understand what you appreciate in the masks - am I missing something?

The Sibyl said...

To be honest I have not researched the matter - and like most people I was struck by similarity of the costume with that of the Klu Klux Klan - which made it all seem rather scary.

However, upon consideration and a little investigation it became clear that the outfits date back at least to the middle ages.

Their pupose, seems to me, to be principally one of conceiling the identity of the penitent, this makes sense, when you consider that sins were confessed in the public square and general absolution bestowed along with public penances (usually collectively and on the same day.

I have come in incontact (In the South of France) with two orders Les Penitents Gris (The Grey Pentitents) and Les Penitents Noir (the Back Penitents - SSPX)both follow the Usus Antiquior calendar and liturgy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks I will follow that up.

Still can't for the life of me see how that, nor public penance for that matte, relates to Jesus' attitude to sinners. Did He not put the pharisees in their place when they intended to stone Mary M? Just one more example of how we (I'm referring to the Church here) have imposed burdens on people - which I don't believe Jesus ever imposed.

The Sibyl said...

MMMMM - No it doesn't relate to Jesus attitude to sinners, but rather a sinners attitude to Jesus.

Put simply if you have sinned publicy then why too should not you penance be public? Public figures are regualarly caught in compromising situations for which they appologise publicly - a penance might show the truth or otherwise of the repentance.

Ash Wednesday is a day of public penance (when people walk around with a wopping great ashen cross on their foreheads - an act of public witness to the faith) , as indeed are abstinence on Fridays and the other days of fast and abstinence depending on what calendar you follow.

To follow Jesus is noble, however the only way that this is possible is through the Church which he establish with his authority - it's interpretation of scripture and it's interpretation of tradition - it is a question of conformity to the mind of the church.

You may not be called to public penance but some are. You may not like the idea of public penance or even understand it, but some do. To my mind the fact the church has allowed this practice for over 500 years gives me some idea of how the church views these extraordinary pratices (usually during lent and passiontide)with a permissive will.

No it is not required for salvation, but it will do you no moral harm.