The launch of the Liturgical Arts Journal is very good news indeed. It was set up by a young Roman Catholic layman, Shawn Tribe, who set up the New Liturgical Movement in 2005 and withdrew from active contribution. He explains everything here in his introduction. Unlike the NLM, this blog concentrates on the artistic and cultural dimensions of the liturgy and in particular an authentic understanding of the expression noble simplicity in the Vatican II Constitution on the liturgy.
LAJ will seek out noble beauty, being interested neither in pious clutter and overly-sentimentalist liturgical art on the one hand, nor modernist minimalism and brutalism on the other. Instead it will seek out manifestations that are characterized by beauty, nobility, Romanitas, gravitas and so on.
This theme is close to my own thoughts and feelings with my love of the Arts & Crafts movement and the English liturgical revival. I am quite interested in the “other modern” Shawn Tribe has promoted, meaning churches built in the 1920’s and 1950’s during those two post-war periods as mankind sought to soar above the devastation he had suffered, both to human life and cultural monuments. I remember being particularly impressed by the chapel of Charterhouse school, built by Gilbert-Scott in 1927 and the 1962 restoration of St Alban’s Holborn, and not least the Anglican Cathedral of Guildford from the same era. Modern does not always mean ugly.
Myself, I have followed the simplification of vestments and linen, both for the altar and the clergy. I quite went off lace, and took to preferring plain albs and surplices. An article recently appeared on this subject, showing the late Fr Frank Quoëx wearing a sober Roman surplice – A ‘Via Media’ for Lace as Liturgical Ornament. It left me with memories of Grigliano, where there best lace surplices and albs were limited to a couple of inches of the stuff at the bottoms and sleeves. I am no longer Roman or baroque in my tastes, even though I sympathise with monastic sobriety!
Noble Simplicity and Noble Beauty gives another perspective, which I find more germane, going from the particulars to general principles. There are objective standards of beauty, such as symmetry and harmony, aspects that are eschewed by deconstructionism and post-modernism.
All in all, I recommend this site and its being bookmarked for regular reference.