Jubé (7): Getting rid of tradition is a scandal to heretics

Chapter XXXIII
Destroying the jubés causes scandal to Catholics and Heretics.

The [architectural and ceremonial] order of the Church is something so beautiful, so wisely disposed, so edifying, that every true Christian is obliged to love it, and to contribute, as far as possible, to its preservation.

Missel de Mantes

But the ambonoclasts have taken no regard for this order. For in the end jubés  are part of the Church’s order, because they are part of our churches; because without them our churches become imperfect and mutilated; and because they have always been found wherever their constructions has been possible or necessary. Thus destroying the jubés is to act contrary to the Church’s order.

It is also part of the Church’s [order] to chant the Gospel in the jubés. It has been chanted there in every century. Tradition bears testimony to this. The authors who wrote on the divine offices speak of it as as a custom observed constantly and by everyone, they have commented on the ceremonies attached to it, expounded on its mysteries, and explained its reasons. Finally, the author of the Micrologus (Ch. 4), where he claims that the Church does not assign priests the office of chanting the Gospel in the jubés as she has the deacons, necessarily assumes that the deacons chant it there: “Nor does the priestly ordo demand that they ascend into the ambo to read the Gospel like a deacon.”

But how can we chant the Gospel in the jubés if they have been knocked down? Thus, destroying jubés is to go against the Church’s order.

Further, disturbing the church’s order is another way to act against it, and one certainly disturbs it when one obliges deacons to chant the Gospel somewhere else than in the jubés where they are accustomed to sing it. And St. Augustine’s rule applies very well here: “Changing a custom, no matter how much advantage it might bring, always causes trouble on account of its newness.”

Now it simply isn’t possible that a change of this nature and importance has had the approval of people who have zeal for good discipline, are concerned for the Church’s honor, and have respect for sacred tradition. At least I am certain that Raoul de Breda, who argued that there should be no novelty whatsoever in the divine offices, would want to repeat: “In divino officio est a novitatibus omnimodo abstinendum.”

And I make bold to say that Nicholas de Clémenge, Archdeacon of Bayeux, would decry it with all his power, because he has said on a similar occasion that “there is nothing more capricious, more unreliable, more shameful, more ridiculous than to change one’s order continually, to abrogate its uses, to abolish its customs, to exchange its rules for new ones, or rather, for new irregularities.”

This change can only scandalize the true faithful when they see that it is directly contrary to the wise maxim of St. Ambrose, who said that we must defend the customs of the Church wherever we find them, if we want to avoid scandalizing anyone or being scandalized ourselves.

It can only scandalize them when they see it is the work of a few individual, unenlightened men poorly versed in their duties, and that the divine offices and customs of the churches should not be governed by the caprice of individuals but by the authority of the ancients, as Raoul claims once again: “Officium divinum majorum auctoritate non diversorum arbitrio regi debet.”

It can only scandalize them when they see ceremonies full of great mystery abolished, such holy ceremonies that were formerly practiced in churches that had jubés, and are practiced no more today because there are no more jubés.

Finally, when they see this one change becomes a pretence for making considerable innovations in the Missals and Ceremonials, where it is necessary to erase ancient rubrics and substitute new ones in their place: this is another example of the disorder Nicholas of Clémenge complained about: “The ancient practices of the churches is being destroyed, their ancient customs and ancient government violated. Their customary books are being ruined and every day new erasures, subtractions, and additions are made.”

Finally, this change can only scandalize the heretics who are already poorly informed about the Church’s ceremonies, giving them excuse to believe and to say: “Our Fathers were ignorant and mistaken about ceremonies of reading the Gospel on the jubés; they were inappropriate, baseless, pointless, and completely useless, or at least indifferent, since they were abolished so easily and without any scruple. No, everyone considered it a brave deed!

The Son of God pronounced terrible curses on the authors of scandal: “Woe to him by whom scandal comes.” And the holy Apostle Paul expressly forbids Christians “Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God.”

Chapter XXXIV
The damage is not irreparable. Three ways to restore the jubés.

Even so, we desire to enter into good relations with the ambonoclasts. For the interest of the Church and their own honor, I think there is no better way to do this than by assuring them that their fault, however great, is not irreparable, and by proposing to them the means of making up for it. Nevertheless, the only thing is to rebuild the jubés where they have been destroyed, and they can do this in several ways.

I do not know whether there have been ambonoclasts in the East, but I am sure they have never destroyed their jubés out of a desire to make their churches more clear and orderly. On the contrary, I find that Simeon of Thessalonica and other Greeks who have written since the fall of the eastern empire, presuppose the existence of jubés in their churches. Arcudius of Corfou, M. Allatio of Chios, also assume it, though M. Allatio claims they have fallen into disuse in nearly all of Greek, probably because, as we have remarked, the Turks do not permit the Greeks to restore their churches to their former condition.


But without lingering any longer over the jubés of the eastern churches, we dedicate ourselves solely to what can be done for the re-establishment of the jubés of the western churches.

The portable and rolling jubés like the one used at St. John Lateran to chant the Exultet or the blessing of the Paschal candle; at St. Calixtus of Cysoing, and a few other churches of Flanders for chanting the Epistle and Gospel, besides being cumbersome, since they have to be moved for the various readings that they are used for, and since this transition always involves some disturbance of the divine offices, they do not seem very serviceable for carrying out the ceremonies of the Gospel reading with dignity and convenience. Therefore I do not think the ambonoclasts would sufficiently repair the damage they have done to the churches whose jubés they have demolished if they erect new ones of this type.

The jubés in the eastern style, in front of the sanctuary door, are as unsuitable for us as for the ambonoclasts, because we are not used to them, they are not from our tradition, and they block the view of everyone behind them so that they cannot see the choir and altar.

Since the ambonoclasts are particularly set against the jubés that cross the whole width of the choir, a proposal to restore them to their previous state would certainly not be well received. Their own vanity would be opposed, preventing them from making a public admission of their fault. Nevertheless, since this is a very ancient form of the jubé, found in nearly all the great ancient churches cathedral, parish, or collegial, and are admirably suited to house with pomp and majesty and in good order all the ceremonies for which they have always been intended, it would be desirable to preserve their memory. The ambonoclasts could restore them in such a manner that the lower levels are open, supported only by columns of proportionate size, and so that the cloister abutting it is merely a balustrade, as in the cathedral churches of Reims and Noyon. They should place open double stairways on the two extremities, with one entrance from the nave and the other from the choir, as in each of the two tribunes of the metropolitan church of Sens. This architecture would go a long way to remedy, I think, the small inconveniences the ambonoclasts have pointed out in this type of jubé. Then the churches would never have an obstructed view, and people in the nave would be able to see what is going on in the choir and at the altar.

If this compromise solution doesn’t suit the ambonoclasts, they can build small tribunes between the choir and the nave on the two corners of the choir, crossing only a part of the choir’s width, and similar to the ones found in Rome in the churches of San Clemente, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, San Cesareo and San Nereo ; in Milan in the cathedral church; in San Miniato of Florence; in Sens in the metropolitan church and the parish church of St. Hilary; and in Paris in the parish churches of St. John en Grève, St. Gervais, and St. Nicolas-des-Champs. […]

Finally, if even these jubés do not please the ambonoclasts, they may build ones bigger than our largest preaching pulpits, in which one may chant at least the Lessons of Matins, the Epistle and Gospel with convenience and decency. They can place them between the choir and the nave, in the middle of the enclosure between the two doors of the choir, as at the parish church of Ste Cérotte near St. Calais in Maine, or near the middle of the nave on the Gospel side as at San Pancrazio  in Rome, or on the Epistle side as at Sant’Ambrogio of Milan and San Salvatore in Ravenna.

However they rebuild the jubés, we will be content if they do, and we will stop criticizing them for their lack of respect for the ancient ceremonies of the Church, for their double temerity, for rendering our churches imperfect and even mutilated, for sinning against the prescribed rules, the holy Fathers, and the Council of Trent, for destroying the memory of the mysteries that the jubés embody in the thought of the holy Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers, for abolishing important ceremonies and so diminishing the worship of God, for destroying the reasons for the ceremonies that take place in the jubés, for overthrowing the order of the Church and scandalizing Catholics and heretics alike. We can even promise them that the Church will be edified, that truly enlightened and genuinely pious people will laud them for their humble submission that they will render to the truth after being apprised of it.

2 thoughts on “Jubé (7): Getting rid of tradition is a scandal to heretics

  1. “It can only scandalize them when they see ceremonies full of great mystery abolished, such holy ceremonies that were formerly practiced in churches that had jubés, and are practiced no more today because there are no more jubés.

    Finally, when they see this one change becomes a pretence for making considerable innovations in the Missals and Ceremonials, where it is necessary to erase ancient rubrics and substitute new ones in their place […]”

    If only he knew what the 20th century had in store…

    Liked by 2 people

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