I was recently sent this interesting article in the Catholic Business Journal. Tomorrow evening, a Vespers will be sung by professional choir, The Sixteen. and attended by both Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and the Anglican Bishop of London, Richard Chartres
As the CBJ article tells us, “On the evening of February 9, 2016, Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Vespers and the Bishop of London, Dean of the Chapel Royal will preach in Henry VIII’s chapel- the first Catholic service held in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace since the 1550s...” [see full article here]
Monday, February 08, 2016
I was recently sent this interesting article in the Catholic Business Journal. Tomorrow evening, a Vespers will be sung by professional choir, The Sixteen. and attended by both Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and the Anglican Bishop of London, Richard Chartres
As the great spiritual masters remind us, mortal sin rarely arises suddenly, with no habitual dispositions favoring it. True, our disordered concupiscence can indeed catch us by surprise and we fall into grave sin without an obvious path to it, but most of the time, the way to mortal sin is paved with lots of venial sins, which make us accustomed to a little bit of this or that bad behavior, weaken our resistance, lead us astray. If one tells a lot of small lies, one is greasing the axle for the big lies. If one eats and drinks a little too much again and again, one is laying a foundation for gluttony. And so on, with all the deadly sins. It’s spiritual common sense.
This being so, it seems a sort of enlightened self-love (so to speak) that we should strive to discover how best to avoid venial sins; how best to rid ourselves of them and their bad effects; if habituated to them, how to break the habit.
Fortunately, Holy Mother Church in her age-old treasure chest has gathered for us many means by which our venial sins can be remitted and prevented, and our charity enkindled. Some of these means were tossed aside after the Council, when even the basic elements of the doctrine of sin and grace were being called into question. Happily, such practices are still cherished in traditional enclaves, and their frequent and consistent use is one among many reasons to prefer such enclaves. It goes without saying that these practices ought to be taken up everywhere, whether in connection with the traditional Latin Mass or not, but there is no question that their use is easier to revive or continue in the setting of the TLM.
The Angelic Doctor observes:
[T]here are many remedies against venial sins; for example, beating of the breast, sprinkling with holy water, extreme unction, and every sacramental anointing; a bishop’s blessing, blessed bread, general confession, compassion, the forgiveness of another’s faults, the Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer, and other sorts of light penance.This is a very interesting list of examples, and prompts a number of thoughts.
1. The beating of the breast (tunsio pectoris) is the first example that comes to St. Thomas’s mind. That’s not to say it’s the most important, but there is something rather obvious about it as a sign of repentance. Thomas is reminding us here that, done with devotion, the beating of the breast actually remits or prevents venial sins. As I noted here, a Catholic attending the TLM will beat his or her breast as many as 15 times during the liturgy.
2. When we read of the "sprinkling with holy water" (aspersio aquae benedictate), the importance of the Asperges comes to mind immediately (or the Vidi aquam in Paschaltide). Why did this ritual ever pass out of use? In any case, TLM communities should be aspiring to a Sunday High Mass preceded by the Asperges. It is a beautiful blessing, a reminder of our baptism, and a perfect preparation for the sacrifice of the Mass — a symbolic bath before the banquet, one might say. Everyone washes (or should wash) before partaking of a meal, and our approach to the passover Lamb should be no different spiritually.
3. Extreme unction, sometimes called anointing of the sick, obviously remits venial sins, because it remits repented mortal sins as well, and, to invoke a scholastic axiom, that which can do the greater can do the lesser. The "sacramental anointings" that go along with baptism, confirmation, and holy orders are also efficacious against venial sins.
4. "A bishop's blessing." When a bishop processes down the aisle making the sign of the cross over the gathered faithful, this isn't simply a formal way of saying hello or of establishing episcopal credibility. He is imparting his blessing, which, as Thomas points out, has the same sort of effect as the beating of the breast or the sprinkling with holy water.
5. It's fascinating that St. Thomas mentions "blessed bread," a custom long since lost among Roman Catholics but still preserved among the Eastern Orthodox and the Byzantine Catholics, who share out, after liturgy, bread baked for the liturgy that was not consecrated in the anaphora. For Eastern Christians who may be reading this, the partaking of the antidoron remits your venial sins.
|Confiteor Deo omnipotenti...|
7. "Compassion, the forgiveness of another's faults." Here we are reminded by St. Thomas that our interior attitude towards our suffering brethren or those guilty of having injured us is itself a potent factor in the remission and prevention of venial sins.
8. "The Lord's Prayer." It should come as no surprise to find Thomas listing this sovereign prayer among the various means given to us to combat venial sin. What bears noting is the manner in which the Divine Office in its pre-1960 form utilized the Lord's Prayer frequently throughout the day, whereas later reforms to the Divine Office tended to minimize its use, presumably in deference to "ancient practice" and with the theory that repetition kills devotion. While the ancient practice may have been as they say, the theory that undergirds the anachronistic attempt to revive it is highly questionable, to say the least. Those who pray the Divine Office in its organically developed form come to appreciate the many times a day it places the Lord's sublime prayer on our lips.
Looking back over this list, we then ask the question: "Why is it that all these things are effective against venial sin?" St. Thomas provides a clear answer:
To the fourth question it should be said that, as has been said, venial sin is forgiven through the fervor of charity, which explicitly or implicitly contains contrition; and so those things that are in themselves of a nature to excite the fervor of charity are said to remit venial sins. Of this sort are the things that confer grace, like all the sacraments, and things by which impediments to fervor and grace are removed, like holy water, which represses the power of the Enemy, and a bishop’s blessing, or another exercise of humility on our part, like beating the breast, or the Lord’s Prayer, and the like.And again:
Our act is required for the remission of venial sin, but these acts are said to remit venial sin as acts that excite our fervor.For more thoughts on all of these topics, see my article "St. Thomas on the Asperges."
So, Reverend Fathers, get ready to douse your people this Lent with holy water before the Sunday High Mass! With this simple but potent means, you are driving back Satan's kingdom. Faithful Christian souls, get ready to take advantage of the plethora of tools Holy Mother Church offers you for combating the world, the flesh, and the devil.
 In IV Sent. d. 16, q. 2, a. 2, qa. 4, sc 1: "Sed contra est quod communiter dicitur, quod multa sunt remedia contra venialia peccata; scilicet tunsio pectoris, aspersio aquae benedictae, unctio extrema, et omnis sacramentalis unctio; benedictio episcopi, panis benedictus, generalis confessio, compassio, alieni delicti dimissio, Eucharistia, oratio dominica, et alia quaecumque levis poenitentia."
 See "Beat Your Own Breast" for further thoughts on this custom.
 See Fr. Kocik on how to incorporate the Asperges into the Ordinary Form.
 In IV Sent. d. 16, q. 2, a. 2, qa. 4, resp.: "Ad quartam quaestionem dicendum, quod, sicut dictum est, veniale peccatum dimittitur per fervorem caritatis, qui explicite vel implicite contritionem contineat; et ideo illa quae nata sunt de se excitare fervorem caritatis, peccata venialia dimittere dicuntur: hujusmodi autem sunt quae gratiam conferunt, sicut omnia sacramenta, et quibus impedimenta fervoris et gratiae auferuntur, sicut aqua benedicta, quae virtutem inimici reprimit, et episcopalis benedictio, vel etiam exercitium humilitatis ex parte nostra; sicut tunsio pectoris, et oratio dominicalis, et hujusmodi."
 Ibid., ad 1: "Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod actus noster requiritur ad dimissionem venialis; sed ista dicuntur peccatum veniale remittere, inquantum in actum, nostrum fervorem excitant."
Sunday, February 07, 2016
The Burial of the ‘Alleluia’ is a beautiful custom repeated each year at St. John Cantius Parish. On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, we bid this sacred word a fond farewell for the duration of Lent.
At the end of Mass, a placard with the ‘Alleluia’ in ornate gold letters is taken from the Sanctuary and processed to Mary’s Altar where it is “buried”—placed under the altar cloth. The ‘Alleluia’ will only emerge again at the Easter Vigil after the 40 days of Lent, we hear the Church proclaim the Resurrection of Our Lord.
|The Alleluia will only resound again with the ‘Light of Christ’ on Easter Night|
Pope Alexander II decreed that the dismissal of the Alleluia be solemnly marked on the eve of Septuagesima Sunday (i.e., three Sundays before Ash Wednesday) in the chanting of the Divine Office by inserting Alleluias in the sacred text. This custom also inspired the creation of new hymns sung at Vespers honouring the Alleluia. The best-known of these hymns is Alleluia, dulce carmen (i.e., “Alleluia, Song of Gladness”), composed by an unknown author of the tenth century:
Alleluia, song of gladness, voice of joy that cannot die;
Alleluia is the anthem ever dear to choirs on high;
In the house of God abiding thus they sing eternally.
Alleluia thou resoundest, true Jerusalem and free;
Alleluia, joyful mother, all thy children sing with thee;
But by Babylon’s sad waters mourning exiles now are we.
Alleluia we deserve not here to chant forevermore;
Alleluia our transgressions make us for a while give o’er;
For the holy time is coming bidding us our sins deplore.
Therefore in our hymns we pray Thee, grant us, blessèd Trinity,
At the last to keep Thine Easter in our home beyond the sky;
There to Thee forever singing Allelúia joyfully.
During the Middle Ages, the practice of “burying the Alleluia” on the eve of Septuagesima Sunday was enhanced by a popular ritual guided by the choir boys. We find a description of it in the fifteenth-century statute book of the church of Toul, France:
“On Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday all choir boys gather in the sacristy during the prayer of the None, to prepare for the burial of the Alleluia. After the last Benedicamus Domino [i.e., at the end of the Vespers service] they march in procession, with crosses, tapers, holy water and censers; and they carry a coffin, as in a funeral. Thus they proceed through the aisle, moaning and mourning, until they reach the cloister. There they bury the coffin; they sprinkle it with holy water and incense it; whereupon they return to the sacristy by the same way.”
This burial of the Alleluia was nicknamed the deposition (i.e., “the giving on deposit”). Curiously enough, gravestones in Catholic cemeteries traditionally had the inscription Depositus, or simply “D,” to indicate a Christian’s burial. When this term indicates the burial of the Alleluia or of the faithful departed, the Christian belief in resurrection is clear. As we bury those who have been “marked with the sign of faith,” (Roman Canon), and as we enter into the fasting of Lent, we do not silence our tongues because of despair or permanent loss. Rather, we do so with confidence that what has been deposited into the earth—our dead, our Alleluia—will rise again.
Yet in this period of preparation, we remain keenly aware of the mystery of sin and of our exile from the place where Alleluia abounds. So until we return to the New Jerusalem, let us not forget the sin that continues to devastate our world and our mission to heal what has been broken.
“We desist from saying Alleluia, the song chanted by angels, because we have been excluded from the company of the angels on account of Adam’s sin. In the Babylon of our earthly life we sit by the streams, weeping as we remember Sion. For as the children of Israel in an alien land hung their harps upon the willows, so we too must forget the Alleluia song in the season of sadness, of penance, and bitterness of heart.”
Chicago’s St. John Cantius Parish has adopted the noble custom of the Burial of the Alleluia for use in the Modern Roman Rite (i.e., Ordinary Form). On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday after Holy Mass, as the choir and congregation sings the traditional Alleluia, dulce carmen, an altar boy holds a large ornate board on which is inscribed Alleluia in golden letters. He leads the joyous procession to the Lady Altar where the board is solemnly buried underneath the altar cloth until the Alleluia is resurrected at the Easter Vigil, as the great moment arrives when the deacon approaches the Bishop with the words, “I announce to you a great joy: it is the Alleluia.” And the priest sings it in three different keys before the gospel of the Holy Saturday Mass, the choir repeats it jubilantly, and we all rejoice again: Alleluia!
Rev. Scott A. Haynes SJC
Saturday, February 06, 2016
|Scenes from the Lives of the Desert Fathers, or “Thebaid”, by Blessed Fra Angelico, 1420; now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.|
On the Saturday before Great Lent begins, the Byzantine Rite commemorates “All of the God-bearing Fathers and Mother Who Shone Forth in the Ascetic Life.” This text, from Vespers of the preceding day, beautifully recalls the origins of monasticism and the ascetic life in the deserts of Egypt and north Africa. The “Thebaid” to which it refers is one of the provinces into which Egypt was divided by the reforms of the Emperor Diocletian in the later 3rd century; this province had its capital at Thebes, the impressive ruins of which are now within the city of Luxor, including some of the most famous ancient temples. Likewise, the first Ode of Matins for this day begins with the words “Let us all sing together in spiritual songs, of those who shone forth in asceticism, our godly Fathers, whom Egypt, Libya and the Thebaid bore, and every place and city and land.”
One of the most influential writings on Western monasticism is John Cassian’s Institutes, which refer very frequently to the Egyptians as the models of monastic life, as, for example, at the beginning of the third book, in which he speaks of “the perfection and inimitable rigor of the discipline of the Egyptians.” Likewise, when St Benedict’s Rule commands that the entire Psalter should be said in the Office within a week, since “we read that our holy forefathers promptly fulfilled (this recitation) in one day,” he is referring to the common practice of the early ascetics. As the Fra Angelico painting above, and various others like it show, the Western Church never forgot the origin of the ascetic and monastic life; and the motif of the “Thebaid” serves to recall all religious of whatever sort to the ideal expressed by the words of Christ, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”
Pope St Leo the Great writes in his fourth sermon on Lent that very few have the strength to remain continually in a spiritual condition such as the feast of Easter ought to find them in, and with the relaxation of the more strict observance of Lent, and the general cares of this life, “even religious hearts must grow dirty with the dust of this world.” Therefore, the forty days exercise of Lent was instituted by Divine Providence, so that the devotions and fasts of Lent might purify us of the sins which we have committed in the rest of the year. The Byzantine Rite therefore concludes its Fore-Lent with a commemoration of those Saints who did have such strength, and by embracing the ascetic life, lived as it were a continual Lent, invoking their intercession on behalf of the whole Church on the eve of the Great Fast.
I will describes the theology of icons, what precisely makes them worthy of veneration, and where and when this theology was developed. Also, I will address the myths and the mystique that are associated with icons and consider their place in the Roman Rite. In doing so, I will compare and contrast beliefs about icons held by members of the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. I will address some commonly asked questions such as: Is the icon superior to traditional Western forms of liturgical art such as the Baroque or the Gothic? Is the person depicted present in the icon in a way analogous to the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? Does the artist “write” icons or does he “paint” them, or both? And, does the artist have to be a monk or have to fast and pray before working?
This is part of a series of lectures called In the Beauty of Holiness - Art, Architecture and the Transcendant, organized by the International Institute for Culture.
Hope to see some of you there.
For more information about this and other events organized by the IIC, visit their website at iiculture.org.
Friday, February 05, 2016
“I was pleased to see your recent mention of the Visigoths in Spain in relation to the little church of Nuestra Señora de las Viñas. They were so important in Spanish and European history yet are little remembered nowadays. Precisely for this reason an association, Urbs Regia, has been established in the Visigothic capital, Toledo, to examine what remains of their culture in Spain and other countries (a previous capital was Bordeaux).
We have recently visited the ruins of the palatine city of Recopolis (in the modern province of Guadalajara), and the Visigothic section of the National Archaeological Museum here in Madrid. A few photos are attached.
Above all, I would suggest that the Visigoths were in no real sense ‘barbarians’ when they came into Hispania as allies of Rome to try to prop up Roman civilisation in this peninsula. Originally Arian heretics, they accepted full Christianity in its Catholic form as a result of the conversion of King Recaredus I, formalised at the 3rd Council of Toledo in 589. They included such glorious figures of European culture as Saint Isidore, Archbishop of Seville. They united Hispania for the first time by overcoming the Suevians in the north-west, and expelling the Byzantine or Eastern Roman forces from the south-east. Always a small proportion of the total population, they allowed the long-established Hispano-Roman cities to continue under Roman Law, while their own affairs were governed by Germanic Common or Customary Law.
The two remaining arms of a processional cross (third photo) are of such high quality that they were probably saved from Toledo Cathedral during the Islamic invasion of 711 and hidden with the remainder of the Guarrazar Hoard. The fourth photo shows votive crowns from the same hoard, probably also from the Cathedral; the fifth shows the votive crown of King Recesvintus.”
|Kind Recaredus speaks to the bishops at the Third Council of Toledo|
|Remains of a basilica at Recopolis|
|The Martyrdom of St Agatha, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, ca 1756.|
I undertook the hazard of translating this highly rhetorical piece of Latin because it refers at the end to one of my favorite hagiographic legends. The story is that when the Christians of St Agatha’s city, Catania in Sicilia, had brought her body to her burial place, “there came a young man dressed in silken garments, followed by more than one hundred children in white garments; and he entered the place where the holy virgin’s body was being laid, and set there a small marble plaque on which it was written, ‘A holy mind, willing, honor to God, and the liberation of the fatherland.’ And he stood there until the sepulcher was diligently closed, and then departing was seen no more in all the province of Sicily; whence there is no doubt that he was and Angel of God.” (From an edition of the Roman Breviary printed in 1529.)
In the Ambrosian Mass, the Fraction is done immediately after the Canon, before the Lord’s Prayer, and accompanied by an antiphon called the Confractorium, which on the feast of St Agatha reads as follows:
An Angel of the Lord came and laid down a small plaque of marble, on which was written: A holy mind, willing, honor to God, and the liberation of the fatherland. - Veniens Angelus Domini. posuit tabulam brevem ex marmore, in qua scriptum erat: Mentem sanctam, spontaneam, honorem Deo, et patriae liberationem.
Thursday, February 04, 2016
|Romanesque capitals in the crypt|
|Polyptych of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, with Ss. Nicholas, Christopher, Geminianus and Anthony the Abbot, by Serafino de’ Serafini, 1385. This chapel is at the very top of the large staircase that leads to the highly elevated main sanctuary.|
|The decorative slab on the front of this altar was carved in the 9th century.|
|Modern work in the main apse of the church.|
The Catholic Artists’ Society series of talks entitled The Art of the Beautiful continues this Saturday in New York City, with a presentation from architectural historian Denis McNamara entitled Incarnation and Transfiguration: Rediscovering the Iconic Nature of Church Buildings.
Today I would like to showcase a new video produced by Saint Bernard’s Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. A chant maestro and a friend of NLM suggested that we share this video with our readers, as it offers a hopeful glimpse into the lives of Benedictine monks who, while not completely traditional in orientation, are striving to live their monastic life within a hermeneutic of continuity. The video shows them, among other things, using real chant books (they do most of their office in English plainchant, following the psalter of the Rule of St. Benedict), using incense and better vestments than one might find elsewhere, giving communion on the tongue, and other ROTR-type things. (One might say: “This should all be non-negotiable!”, but anyone who has visited Benedictine monasteries knows that it’s far from being the norm.)
The community is growing and attracting new vocations. Judging from what they are showing about themselves, it would seem to me that they will keep moving more and more in the direction of the monastic tradition. One may hope to see in the future a place for the usus antiquior, so beautifully attuned to the contemplative religious life.
For high-definition: https://vimeo.com/152912688
 Please don’t write in the combox that “Pope Benedict didn’t say ‘hermeneutic of continuity,’ he said ‘hermeneutic of reform in continuity...’ ”, blah blah blah. This Rhonheimer canard -- a partial truth, at best -- has been thoroughly deconstructed (see here) and yet it never seems to die the death.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
The Abbey’s website also overs a nice virtual tour of the complex, which dates back to the very beginning of the Premonstratensian order; it was founded in 1129, within St Norbert’s lifetime.
Led by Fr. Innocent Smith, o.p., the workshops will take place on three successive Sundays, February 7, 14, and 21, from 3:00–3:50 pm in the Parish Hall of the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer (in the undercroft the Church, accessible from Lexington Ave. to the right of the front steps of the Church). On February 14 and 21 the workshop will be followed by Vespers at 4:00 pm in the Church, giving participants a chance to sing some of the chants they have studied in the workshop.
To RSVP for the workshops, please email email@example.com.
|A leaf of a Missal decorated by Saint Fra Angelico, the famous Dominican painter, from the museum of the Dominican church of San Marco in Florence, ca. 1430.|
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
The celebrant of the Mass also has a blog called Aspicientes in Jesum (the url is based on its former name, Valle Adurni); on the right sidebar there are links under the heading “Sarum Things” which give a good deal of useful information about how the Sarum Use was done.
If you are in charge of a library, or if you can make recommendations of books to libraries, or most of all, if you are a serious scholar of the liturgy, you should make a point of getting and studying this book, whose table of contents reads like a "who's who" of the most thoughtful and penetrating writers on the liturgy. Obviously a volume of 581 pages (xx + 561) cannot include every name, but its breadth and ambition can be seen from the list of authors who contributed chapters: +László Dobszay, +Anscar Chupungco, Uwe Michael Lang, Thomas Kocik, Paul Gunter, Bruce Harbert, Daniel Van Slyke, David Fagerberg, James Monti, Susan Treacy, Timothy McDonnell, Thomas Gordon Smith, Robert Hayward, Yitzhak Hen, Anthony Chadwick, Benjamin Gordon-Taylor, and, of course, Alcuin Reid himself (who is represented by five fine chapters: on participation, on the Liturgical Movement, on the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, on the concept of "pastoral liturgy," and on the usus antiquior's restoration). Indeed, Reid's contributions, taken together, constitute a mini-treatise on some of the most important liturgical topics of our time.
Although the book does present a variety of perspectives, not all of them sympathetic to the hermeneutic of continuity or the recovery of tradition, most of the authors represent the new wave of liturgical scholarship that is highly respectful of and dedicated to the Catholic tradition and, accordingly, skeptical about the rapid and ideologically-motivated changes that befell the Roman Catholic liturgy before and particularly after the Second Vatican Council. In this way, the book exemplifies a noble seriousness of purpose, a depth of intellectual engagement, and a pastoral concern with the health of the Western liturgy that makes it an essential reference work for consultation on the host of topics taken up in its pages.
I would like to draw special attention to an unusual and very helpful feature of this book, one that I had not been expecting: Part V, "A-Z of the Study of Catholic Liturgy," pp. 499-551. Here we have a detailed glossary of liturgical terms, be they rites, ceremonies, books, documents, persons, or concepts, from which any reader can learn a great deal, whether a beginner to the study of liturgy, or one who has been at it a long time.
Here is the table of contents:
Introduction - Alcuin Reid
Once again, for the month of February, the book is available at 35% off of the list price ($172), which brings the price down to $111.80.
|The Meeting of Christ and Simeon in the Temple depicted in a mosaic under the dome of Katholikon (principal church) of the monastery of St Luke, on Mt Helicon in the Boeotia region of Greece; early 11th century. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Hans A. Rosbach.)|