Friday, November 27, 2015

Carmelite Chapel and Choir Renovated in Loretto, PA

The Carmelite Monastery of Saint Thérèse in Loretto, Pennsylvania, in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, recently received beautiful renovations to their public chapel and nun’s choir. Among the renovations which were carried out under the patronage of Saint Joseph were a new altar, altar rail, and tabernacle. The monastery of Discalced Carmelite Nuns was founded in 1929 by Mother Marie Joseph from Bordeaux. Mr. Charles Schwab, the great steel magnate, provided many of the resources for it’s construction. Pauline, Mr. Schwab’s mother, had a great devotion to St. Thérèse and when Mother Marie Joseph, with her sense of humor, sent one of the community’s small statues of the Saint, via taxi to the Schwab’s estate with the note “I need a new home,” Pauline was completely captivated. Her son, Charles, soon oversaw the building of the new Carmel on land offered by the Franciscan T.O.R. Fathers. The Monastery in Lisieux served as inspiration during the building of the Loretto Monastery. Loretto was founded in 1799 by the Russian Prince, (Servant of God) Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin (1770-1840). (This description and the accompanying photographs were sent to us by Mr Jordan Hainsey, with our thanks!)

The chapel before the renovation...
...and after. 
The nuns’ choir before renovation... 
...and after.

Denis McNamara on Church Architecture, part 7 - Sacred Images

Here is the seventh in the series of short videos by Prof. Denis McNamara, a member of the faculty of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein; his book is Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy. As usual, it is an excellent presentation.
In this one he focuses on sacred images. He describes how sacred images are a necessary part of the environment for the worship of God because they manifest those aspects of the liturgy that are present but not ordinarily visible. They are there to remind us that the angels and saints in heaven participate with us in the heavenly liturgy. 
In this video, the stylistic features of art that he describes are those of the iconographic tradition, which portrays man fully redeemed. One point that he doesn’t address in this short presentation is how the other authentic liturgical traditions, the Gothic and the Baroque, fulfill this function. I would argue that they do exactly what the iconographic style does, but in a subtly different way. They are stylistically different and do not reveal man fully redeemed, but rather justified and at various stages on the path to heaven. By revealing the path they direct our attention, via the imagination, to the destination at the end of that path, which is our heavenly destiny. (If you are interested in a fuller discussion of this last point, I direct you to section three of my book, the Way of Beauty.) 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

NLM Quiz no. 17: What Is This, and Why Is It On a Church?

Here’s something to ponder about as you slip into a turkey-induced slumber. Our last quiz was back in January, so as a reminder of the procedure: Please give your answer in the combox, along with any and all details you think pertinent to it. To keep it more interesting, please leave your answer before reading the other comments. We are always pleased to hear humorous answers as well. The photograph does show the item out of context, as I have done before, but I will say that it is part of the decoration of a church’s façade.

Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed - New Website for Dutch Shrine and Hermitage

We have included in several of our photoposts images from the shrine of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed in the village of Warfhuizen in the Netherlands. This shrine was formerly a protestant church, but was transformed in 2001 into a Catholic shrine, which has both a public church and a hermitage; the hermit was ordained a priest this past September. A reader has just brought to my attention that the shrine now has a website, which is available in English, as well as Dutch, German and French. According to the Horarium, Mass is celebrated in both forms of the Roman Rite, with the EF as the regular Sunday Mass, and along with this the full Office, Rosary and Benediction. (I note with amusement that google translate turns the Dutch word for “Horarium” into “Circadian rhythm.”) The Virgin Mary is honored at the shrine as the Mother of Sorrows, and there is a beautiful image of Her kept to the right of the main altar. We look forward to seeing more of the liturgical life of this beautiful little outpost of the Catholic Faith! (Images from our second Assumption photopost this year.)

Nine Lessons & Carols at St John the Evangelist, Calgary, Canada

Saint John the Evangelist, Calgary, Canada, a parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, will celebrate its annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 20, 2015, at 7pm. The service, which consists of traditional carols, seasonal pieces of sacred choral music, and nine lessons (readings) from Holy Scripture, was first devised by Eric Milner-White shortly after his appointment as Dean of King’s College, Cambridge in 1918. The service is now a firm fixture on the English cathedral calendar, and is a cherished part of the Anglican patrimony brought into the Personal Ordinariates.

Restoring a Healthy Appetite for Beauty

A former mentor of mine, Dr. John Patrick, spent the better part of his career in the third world developing a protocol to rehabilitate starving children. Children would come to his clinic for treatment in advanced stages of starvation, with skin loose on bones and internal organs shutting down. Dr. Patrick developed a rehabilitation protocol which resulted in over 95% success, and it wasn’t complex, though it confounded the basic instincts of other doctors until that time. The principle is simple; instead of immediately stuffing these children full of nutrient rich solutions, feed them watery broth first. As the child regains appetite, add substance to the broth, but always allow the appetite to come first. When the appetite is fully engaged, then let the child eat as much as he wishes. Today Dr. John Patrick’s method is used throughout the world to save countless children’s lives.

As sacred musicians with a healthy appetite for tradition, high-quality music, and glorious liturgies, it is easy to see the situation in many parishes and fall into despair. As Dante wrote in the Inferno, canto 1, “I found myself obscured in a great forest, bewildered, and I knew [we] had lost the way.” How do we get back on track? How do we build great choirs again and bring back beauty into our liturgies?

It would be foolish to discount the support of a good pastor, the investment of a few key families and musicians, and even the beautiful buildings and legacies left by past generations. Hard work, too, has its place. Perhaps, however, we can take a lesson from Dr. Patrick’s method; the appetite does indeed matter. I do not mean to discourage you from singing complex chant or difficult sacred polyphony, however prudence may call for intermediate steps, for some education and guidance, before your parish has an appetite to take on the more musically difficult aspects of our tradition. Numerous resources are available through CMAA for all different levels of capability; we don't have to make stuff up on our own. The point is to do everything well, to follow the most authentic expression of the liturgy possible in our parishes, and meanwhile to enjoy doing it. Simplicity, elegance, confidence, and consistency are the best path forward, and engagement from the entire parish is key.

Even when a parish has achieved a high level of liturgy, musicians can burn out, relationships come unglued, and people get tired and age out. And so we must keep setting the hook, casting our nets, and setting out into the deep, using the richness of our tradition to reach into the depths of the human experience. The sacred liturgy makes present the Gospel, that good news which makes our souls new again. “I shall go in to the altar of God; to God, the joy of my youth.” Personal renewal, forgiveness, cleansing of the crud of the week, a renewed sense of purpose and Christian joy, and the real presence of Christ himself: these gifts of grace all provide a personal connection that keeps us coming back. Where there is perennial need due to the very terms of the human experience, there also is perennial appetite for God’s grace and renewal. This is a healthy appetite that we can foster and restore through beautiful liturgy and sacred music. Then the music is elevated and becomes a means to prayer, not an end in itself.

So I encourage you: keep your tools sharpened, keep teaching and encouraging, and always turn to the richest sources if you want renewal. Set high goals and achieve them together with as many people in your parish community as possible. And meanwhile, while you’re preparing the “feast,” don’t forget to pause for a few moments and eat!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Edward Pugin’s Tomb of Cardinal Wiseman

This article about the tomb of Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman, a work of Edward Pugin, was first published in the November 2015 issue of the magazine of Westminster Cathedral Oremus. The author, Mr Roderick O’Donnell, very kindly submitted it to NLM for republication; it is here reproduced by permission of Oremus, and the editor, Mr Dylan Parry, with our thanks.

Cardinal Wiseman’s tomb is one of the least known works of art in Westminster Cathedral. It was designed by the architect EW Pugin. Since 1907 it has been housed in the crypt of the cathedral, and is placed directly under the high altar.

This is a so-called ‘altar tomb’, set on a plinth and supporting a ‘table’ or mensa, with its recumbent effigy, with narrative panels round the sides. It was clearly meant to be free-standing, and its inscription and sculpture are meant to be read. It can be attributed to the sculptor was RL Boulton, a craftsman much employed by EW Pugin in the 1860s. Pugin would have provided the drawings for the figurative and the architectural sculpture, the sculptor and his workshop being the executors of Pugin’s scheme. As such the work not signed. Wiseman’s figure and other relief sculptures are worked in statuary marble. But the moulding with the inscription and the base plinth are in a red-orange marble, probably Cork Red, with black marble colonettes at the angles, perhaps a Kilkenny black. The framing of the sculpted panels, the projecting niches and the deeply-cut frieze and capitals are in alabaster. Colour contrasts were therefore intended, although the colouring of the carving, such as would have occurred in the Middle Ages, is not attempted.

Around the Mensa top of the tomb is the inscription: ‘Hic in pace Christi requiescit Nicolaus titulo S[anc]tae Pudentianae S.[acrae] R.[omanae] Ecc.[lesiae] presbyter Cardinalis Wiseman/Primus Eccles[iae] Westmonasteriensis archie[piscopus] Natus die 3 Augusti/1802 Defunctus die 15 Februarii 1865 E[pisoco]patus sui anno Vigesimo quinto omnia pro Xto in vita agens omnia per Xtum/in morte sperans cujus animae propitietur Deus’ which translated is ‘Here in the peace of Christ lies Nicholas, under the title of [the church of] St Pudentiana, Cardinal-priest of the Holy Roman Church, Wiseman/ First archbishop of Westminster. Born 3 August 1802, died 15 February 1865 in the twenty-eighth year of his episcopacy in life doing all things for Christ [and] in death hoping all things through Christ, on whose soul may God be merciful.’

The slightly over life–size recumbent figure of the archbishop is vested for Mass with a chasuble worn over a dalmatic and both over an alb ‘apparelled’ with fleurs-de-lys. The vestments are strikingly of the full Gothic form championed by Augustus Welby Pugin and already under the ban of those like Manning who wished to re-introduce the so-called Roman chasuble. He is mitred, gloved and slippered, the tip of his metropolitan cross clasped by a dragon at his feet, with angels at his pillowed head. (EW Pugin particularly complimented Boulton on his angels.) Wiseman also wears the pallium.

On the short return under a cardinal’s much tasselled hat is Wiseman’s coat of arms, with his motto as archbishop, ‘Omnia pro Christo’ (All things for Christ). The other one has a seated, mitred and coped St Nicholas of Myra, his patron, with the three boys he saved (from boiling) in a vat, with a large classical wreath behind. Both are set within quatrefoils.

Narrative panels on either side of seated saints or patrons are found on the long sides. These have a particular point to make, both about Wiseman and about the role of a metropolitan bishop and its relationship to the Holy See. A late source describes them as scenes from lives of the two saints, but the iconography should perhaps be read with a double meaning, with the life of the saint prefiguring or anticipating that of Wiseman.

Chronologically they begin with young cleric in academic dress or religious habit kneeling before a seated and ceremonially hatted cardinal, or perhaps a pope on an X-framed chair; or it might be the student Wiseman. Then, under a projecting niche is seated the Cardinal in alabaster, with the same features of the bishop or pope in the previous panel. It may be St Edmund of Canterbury, to whom Wiseman had a devotion; in 1853 he procured some of his relics from his burial place at Pontigny in France. The next quatrefoil has a kneeling and vested bishop, now evidently a portrait of Wiseman, being receiving a pallium from the pope, as Wiseman did from Pope Pius IX did on 3 October 1850.

The answering long side has the seated bishop as Metropolitan presiding over the bishops seated around, all vested in copes and mitres; or it might be Wiseman presiding at the Synod of Oscott (1852). The niched panel shows the enthroned St Thomas-à-Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, vested for Mass, grasping the sword of his martyrdom, and wearing the so called ‘Becket mitre’ from the Cathedral Treasury, now on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.The next quatrefoil has the death of a bishop, clearly not Becket’s death, but Wiseman’s. He lies on a bed with book of the Gospels on his knees. He is dressed with pectoral cross and chain fully looped over his shoulders, attended by his canons and by an acolyte holding his metropolitan cross. The details follow the record of his death made by Canon Morris, his secretary.

The tomb was conceived to stand inside a cathedral to be built in Wiseman’s memory. The Dublin Builder said the architect was to be Edward Pugin. £16000 was subscribed to this end at the first public meeting. However the new archbishop, Manning, had pastoral priorities quite other than cathedral-building, and he allowed the project to stall. Wiseman’s burial took place at St Mary’s Cemetery Kensal Green, where this monument was housed in what the decorous language of the day called ‘a chamber of glass.’

Edward Welby Pugin (1834-1875) was a brilliant designer in the small scale, such as altars and tombs, beginning with his father’s at Ramsgate (1853). He would have been aware of his father’s difficult relationship with Wiseman as President of Oscott College and as Vicar Apostolic in the Midlands, and then in London, where Wiseman triumphantly opened Pugin’s St George’s Cathedral Southwark in 1848. In 1852 AW Pugin died, leaving his eighteen-year old son to continue the practice. The young architect might have thought his star ascendant when in 1858 Wiseman invested him with his regalia as Knight of St Sylvester, after winning the competition to build the Junior Seminary at Ushaw. He attended the Cardinal’s soiree receptions and even entertained him at his house St Augustine’s Grange, Ramsgate in 1863. But he wrote candidly to Wiseman in 1862 to complain of lack of work in the new Westminster archdiocese, which he ascribed to ‘the unjust animosity of Dr Manning and the Bayswater clique.’ As Manning was by that time more than Wiseman’s right-hand-man, this was unfortunate. Indeed as Manning’s biographer was to put it, ‘Gothic architecture, together with the Pugins and their traditions, was exiled from the diocese of Westminster.’

Dr Roderick O’Donnell is an Architectural Historian and a member of Westminster Cathedral’s Art and Architecture Committee.

The following images were not included in the original article; they are here reproduced from Oremus’ flickr account, again, with their kind permission and our gratitude.

Card. Wiseman receiving his pallium from Bl. Pope Pius IX 
Card. Wiseman’s arms

Lumen Gentium - a new CD of music for Advent and Christmas

Lumen Gentium is a new CD by the Choir at Mater Dei FSSP Parish in Irving, Texas. The recording of music for Advent and Christmas is sung by the volunteer amateur singers of the choir, conducted by Kimberly Walters. Included in the recording is Victoria's Missa O Magnum mysterium along with some Chant Propers and motets by Guerrero, Scarlatti and Nanino among others. Their last recording was featured on NLM here. The recording is available now from CD Baby as a download or CD and there is a 1-cent shipping promotion available from Nov 30 - Dec 4.

Here is the full track listing:

1) Veni Veni Emmanuel (Traditional Chant)
2) Alma Redemptoris Mater (Palestrina)
3) Rorate Coeli (Introit: 4th Sun of Advent)
4) Creator Alme Siderum (Anonymous; 9th century)
5) Veni O Sapientia (J. Singenberger)
6) O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
7) Sancta et Immaculata (Guerrero)
8) Flos de Radice (Harm. by Praetorius)
9) Dominus Dixit (Introit - Christmas midnight mass)
10) - 14) Missa O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
15) Puer Natus est (Introit: Christmas Day mass)
16) Gaudete (traditional, anonymous)
17) Jesu Redemptor Omnium (Ravanello & 6th cent. chant)
18) Hodie Christus Natus est (Nanino)
19) Lumen ad Revelationem (Gregorian chant)
20) Omnes de Saba (Gradual of Epiphany; gregorian chant)
21) Omnes de Saba Venient (Asula)
22) Senex Puerum Portabat (Victoria)
23) Exultate Deo (Scarlatti)

St Catherine of Alexandria

Praesens dies expendatur in ejus praeconium, cujus virtus dilatatur in ore laudantium, si gestorum teneatur finis et initium.

Imminente passione Virgo haec interserit: Assequatur, Jesu bone, quod a te petierit suo quisque in agone memor mei fuerit.

In hoc caput amputatur, fluit lac pro sanguine: Angelorum sublevatur corpus multitudine, et Sinai collocatur in supremo culmine.

Gloria et honor Deo usquequaque altissimo, una Patri Filioque, inclyto Paraclito, cui laus est et potestas per aeterna sæcula. Amen. (The hymn for Lauds of the Office of St Catherine of Alexandria.)

The Martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria, by Guercino (Francesco Barbieri), 1653; now in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.  
Let this day be spent in proclaiming her whose virtue is enlarged by those who praise her, if the sum of her deeds be kept in mind.

With her passion imminent, the virgin adds this words: “Good Jesus, let each man who remembers me in his own suffering obtain whatever he may ask of Thee.”

At this, her head was cut off, milk floweth instead of blood; her body was taken by a multitude of Angels, and placed at the height of Sinai.

Glory and honor in everyplace to God most high, and with Him to the Son, and the glorious Paraclete, to Whom are praise and might for eternal ages. Amen.

A Call to Men in Parishes from Cardinal Burke - Join the Holy League

A friend in New Hampshire named Tom contacted me to tell me that he and another are establishing a Holy League in response to this call from Cardinal Burke.

This is intended to create a network of parish based men’s groups that meet monthly in a structured Holy Hour. The Holy League was first formed as part of the call to holiness and fortitude that occurred when Europe was under threat from Islamic forces and prior to the battle of Lepanto in 1571. The aim is to reestablish this in every Catholic parish.

The website tells us that the Holy League:
  • Provides a Holy Hour format which incorporates Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, short spiritual reflections, the availability of the Sacrament of Confession, Benediction and fraternity.
  • Encourages consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Purest Heart of Joseph.
  • Promotes the Precepts and Sacraments of the Church, especially through devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and the praying of the Most Holy Rosary.
  • Creates a unified front, made up of members of the Church Militant, for spiritual combat.
In addition to this, Tom told me that they intend to sing Compline during this hour as well.
You can read more about it here and below see a short description of it by the Cardinal.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Advent & Christmas Carol Services at the London Oratory, and a Concert

The Advent Musical Oratory is always held on the first Sunday of Advent at the Little Oratory in London and will take place this Sunday at 4.30pm. It is a service of Readings, Advent Hymns and Choral Music sung by the London Oratory Junior Choir, with medieval bells played by Dr Mary Remnant. The London Oratory Carol Service takes place on Tuesday 22 December at 7.30pm featuring both the Junior and Senior Choirs of the Oratory. Doors open at 7pm and admission is free. The Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School will be giving a concert this Friday 27 November of music by Rheinberger, Bruckner and J.S. Bach, and will also be singing a Carol Service for Aid to the Church in Need on 3 December at St Mary’s Cadogan Street, London. See the posters below for details.

My Book of the Church’s Year — A Children’s Classic, Back in Print

Ever since I discovered Enid M. Chadwick’s absolutely delightful, one-of-a-kind My Book of the Church’s Year, I have been upset at the fact that it has long been out of print. The rare original copies still floating around fetch exorbitant prices on the internet. I decided that it was time to do something about it, and have created a new paperback edition available here.

But why get so excited about this book? Quite simply, it’s the loveliest, most charming, and in many ways most clever introduction to the liturgical calendar I've ever come across. It is informed by such a deep Catholic love for the seasons of the year, the feasting and fasting, the great holy days, the pageantry of the saints and their stories, the underlying rhythm that connects nature, culture, and sanctity. If you take a few minutes to explore the pages (some examples are found below; the Amazon product page offers access to more), you will see what I’m talking about.

As one who believes that the Catholic imagination has utterly withered and is in desperate need of revitalization, and that we must begin in earnest with our children, what I especially appreciate is Chadwick’s compelling sense of beauty, order, and mystery. She is captivated by the fullness of the Church’s year and conveys a sense of it to the viewer in bright images without the need for excess verbiage. She sees that the calendar follows a comforting logic, traces out a pattern of its own, into which we are privileged to insert ourselves. Her careful planning of the illustrations and her equally intelligent choice of texts reveal a profound grasp of the fundamental dogmas of the Faith.

Let me give just a few examples of the accessible richness of doctrine we find in these pages. In her Advent bifold, Chadwick introduces the Patristic and medieval doctrine of the threefold coming of Christ: in the flesh at Christmas, in the sacrament at Mass, and on the last day at the Judgment. In her pages on December, she provides the classic perspective on the three feasts following Christmas: St. Stephen is a martyr in will and deed; St. John is a martyr in will but not in deed; the Holy Innocents are martyrs in deed but not in will. Her page for Pentecost shows the Spirit pouring forth the seven sacraments of the Church. One of the pages for Lent speaks of prayer as our weapon against the devil, fasting as our weapon against the flesh, and almsgiving as our weapon against the world. It’s so well done! Why are books like this so rare?

There is here a sensibility for beauty, a love for the mysteries of Christ and the Church, which goes vastly beyond almost anything we can see in today’s Catholic or Christian children’s books. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It makes a fine catechetical tool for teaching children about the liturgical year and the feasts of each month, and beyond that, offers a plethora of eye-catching details that would suffice to keep many a child contentedly occupied during Mass or family Rosary (Enid Chadwick obviously knew what little children like in books: lots and lots of details to fascinate the eye and exercise the mind).

Well... I can make a confession, too. I'm not a wee lad anymore, but I find My Book of the Church’s Year comforting and inspiring. It reminds me that our Faith, however it may strain to the fullest the greatest intellectual gifts of the most towering intellectuals like St. Thomas Aquinas, is, at root, a gathering of earthly and heavenly friends, a colorful tapestry of their stories, and a fragrant garden of mysteries in which we are free to play. Enid Chadwick captured this universally childlike freshness in My Book of the Church's Year, and I hope you will take advantage of it for yourself, your children, or your parishioners.

Some notes: As mentioned above, the book corresponds to the traditional Western calendar, as indicated in such features as the page on Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays. Chadwick was a High Church Anglican (frankly, this book is more obviously Catholic than most Roman Catholic publications nowadays), so there are a few features in the book that need to be adapted for the Roman Catholic calendar — e.g., she speaks of “Sundays after Trinity” when we would speak of “Sundays after Pentecost,” and gives March 8th as the date of St. Thomas Aquinas's feast, when it is March 7th on our traditional calendar. And “Charles the White King,” listed as a martyr on January 30th, the day he was executed under Cromwell, is going to take a little explaining, although it would make an interesting subject of conversation. Also, Chadwick was writing for a British audience, so a few of her saints are chosen with a view to the British Isles. She calls Pentecost “Whit Sunday,” which will require an explanation for Americans who have never heard this expression before.

Fourth Video on the Mass from the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein

Here is the fourth in the series called The Elements of the Catholic Mass, produced by the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein and presented by its director, Fr Douglas Martis.

This one is about the church building. As Fr Martis describes, the Catholic Church is a sacramental Church, using the word sacramental as an adjective here, not as a noun. Invisible and deeper realities are revealed through perceptible signs, and the church building itself, not just what is contained within it, has a sacramental role. This is an echo of themes explored in greater depth by Denis McNamara, also of the Liturgical Institute, in his videos on church architecture.

You can find the previous two and the accompanying study guides for each video at:

Introducing USUARIUM, A Massive New Database of Liturgical Books

We are very pleased to share with our readers news of the publication of an new electronic database of liturgical books, USUARIUM. I have already had occasion to peruse the database, and examine some of its contents; it is an absolutely invaluable resource, providing access to many rare texts which would otherwise be very difficult to get a hold of. I would also particular call attention to the fact that Prof. Miklós Földváry and his collaborators have made the fruits of their extensive research available for free. Anyone who is interested in medieval liturgy will want to make sure to bookmark this page!

USUARIUM is probably the largest and most well-organised digital collection and database for the research of western liturgical sources from the Middle Ages and the early modern period, initiated, designed, and edited by Miklós István Földváry and his Research Group of Liturgical History (ELTE University of Budapest, Hungary). Its principles are detailed on the frontpage. (This is the  At its present stage, USUARIUM consists of a catalogue of more than 800 books that can be filtered according to liturgical uses and downloaded by registered users (no payment required), an index of every kind of liturgical ceremonies that has ever been performed, cross referencing the various types of sources, and an inventory of liturgical texts which lead to the single occurrences in each source. Both the ceremonies and the texts have already been uploaded from about 200 Missals of documented and central origins, mostly printed. Indices of Rituals and Pontificals are coming soon and databases for Calendars and Breviaries are also forthcoming.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Normativity of Ad Orientem Worship According to the Ordinary Form’s Rubrics

Ordinary Form Mass in Salt Lake City (Sacred Music Colloquium 2013)
Today, most people who take a serious interest in liturgy know that celebrating Mass “facing the people” or versus populum was never mentioned even once in the documents of Vatican II, that it was never mandated by any law or instruction of the Church, that the Vatican said historic high altars should continue to be used and not supplanted by table altars, and that it remains perfectly lawful for any priest at any time to celebrate Mass “facing east” or ad orientem. (For more reading on these points, see last week’s post.)

What is still not known nearly as well as it should be is the simple fact that the very rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite demonstrate the normativity of the traditional orientation of prayer at Mass. Every edition of the Novus Ordo Missae, from the earliest down to the latest revised translation, contains rubrics that clearly presuppose that the priest is facing the altar or “liturgical east” and that he will need to turn around to address the people at various points.

For some readers this will be familiar territory, but for others, it may be one of those obvious points that has nevertheless managed to escape notice until now. Below, I will simply reproduce the texts that contain instructions pertinent to the priest’s position vis-à-vis the people.

From “The Order of Mass” (MR 2002/2008 in the current English translation)

(Numbers below refer to the internal numbers in the Missal. The quoted texts are taken verbatim from the current Missal.)
       1. When the people are gathered, the Priest approaches the altar with the ministers while the Entrance Chant is sung. When he has arrived at the altar, after making a profound bow with the ministers, the Priest venerates the altar with a kiss and, if appropriate, incenses the cross and the altar. Then, with the ministers, he goes to the chair. When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the Priest and the faithful, standing, sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, while the Priest, facing the people, says: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The people reply: “Amen.”
       23. The Priest, standing at the altar, takes the paten with the bread and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.” Then he places the paten with the bread on the corporal. If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim: “Blessed be God for ever.”
       (24. Water and wine. 25. The prayer over the chalice. 26. “With humble spirit…” 27. Incensations.)
       28. Then the Priest, standing at the side of the altar, washes his hands, saying quietly: “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
       29. Standing at the middle of the altar, facing the people, extending and then joining his hands, he says: “Pray, brethren…”
If the priest were assumed to be always or normatively facing the people throughout the offertory, there would be no need for the rubric to specify that at the “Pray, brethren” he should now be “facing the people.” This phrase is to be taken in contraposition to “standing at the altar,” i.e., in the ad orientem position.

After the Preface, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer, we come to the giving of peace:
       127. The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds: “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” The people reply: “And with your spirit.”
Again, if during the Eucharistic Prayer and ensuing Communion Rite the priest had already been facing the people throughout, the boldfaced rubric would be superfluous. There is no reason to specify that the peace should be given “turned towards the people” unless he has been turned away from them until this point.

Summarizing the next few paragraphs: 128. If appropriate, the sign of peace. 129. Fracture. (Note that if the priest is celebrating ad orientem, he will be turning towards the Lord again at this point — which will make sense out of the upcoming n. 132, as we shall see below.) 130. Agnus Dei. 131. Prayer before communion.
       132. The Priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud: “Behold the Lamb of God…”
Here and in the following number, the rubrical presupposition of eastward celebration is particularly obvious. If we imagine that the priest is celebrating versus populum, it would be strangely inconsequential for the rubrics to say that he should be turned towards the people at the giving of peace (n. 127) and then to note again, a mere matter of moments later, that he should be “facing the people” for the “Behold the Lamb of God” (n. 132). The obvious implication is that between these two moments, he must have turned eastwards to face the Lord present upon the altar of sacrifice. Once he picks up the host and paten or host and chalice, he then needs to turn around again to address the people. This reading is confirmed by n. 133.
       133. The Priest, facing the altar, says quietly: “May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life. And he reverently consumes the Body of Christ.”…
Again, if “facing the altar” and “facing the people” mean one and the same thing, as they do in a versus populum scenario, this phrase is meaningless. But once we re-envision the rubrics in the context of an ad orientem celebration, it all clicks into place. The pattern goes like this:
  • From the Prayer over the Gifts to the giving of peace, the priest has been facing ad orientem.
  • At the giving of peace, he turns around to address the congregation (n. 127).
  • He turns again to the altar for the fraction, Agnus Dei, and prayer before communion.
  • He turns to the people to say “Behold the Lamb of God…” (n. 132).
  • He faces the altar again to consume the precious Body and Blood of Christ (n. 133).
This may sound like a lot of turning back and forth, but as clergy and faithful know who have attended Ordinary Form Masses celebrated in perfect accord with these rubrics, the actions flow smoothly and, what is far more important, they make sense. When addressing primarily the people, the priest faces them; when addressing primarily God, he remains in the normative position of facing Him, symbolized by the east and, after the consecration, truly present upon the altar of sacrifice.
       139. Then, standing at the altar or at the chair and facing the people, with hands joined, the Priest says: “Let us pray.” All pray in silence with the Priest for a while, unless silence has just been observed. Then the Priest, with hands extended, says the Prayer after Communion, at the end of which the people acclaim: “Amen.”
It should not be necessary by now to point out that if there exists a need to specify that the priest ought to be facing the people for the Prayer after Communion, it is because he cleansed the vessels in his usual posture for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, viz., standing at the western side of the altar, facing eastwards.
       140. If they are necessary, any brief announcements to the people follow here.
       141. Then the dismissal takes place. The Priest, facing the people and extending his hands, says: “The Lord be with you…”
The phrase “facing the people” would seem superfluous here, but the possibility of an interruption by announcements might prompt a question about the stance the priest should take up afterwards. In any case, this rubric falls into the pattern of the priest being told to face the people when saying “The Lord be with you,” with some notable exceptions: see n. 31 and all the Preface dialogues, where the priest is never told to be facing the people.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2011, 2nd ed.) matches the foregoing rubrics in every respect, with the same implications as above.[1] One may consult GIRM 124, 146, 154, 157, 158, and 165; cf. 181, 185, 243, 244, 257, 268. The controversy over the egregious mistranslation of GIRM 299 is not our concern at present; see here to read more. I will limit myself to the observation that one who clings to the mistranslation of n. 299 effectively consigns over a dozen other paragraphs of the GIRM, namely those listed above, to incoherence or total superfluity.

Particularly striking, in any case, is this passage from GIRM 2:
[T]he doctrine which stands out in the following sentence, already notable and concisely expressed in the ancient Sacramentary commonly called the Leonine — “for whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption is accomplished” — is aptly and exactly expounded in the Eucharistic Prayers; for as in these the Priest enacts the anamnesis, while turned towards God likewise in the name of all the people, he renders thanks and offers the living and holy sacrifice, that is, the Church’s oblation and the sacrificial Victim by whose death God himself willed to reconcile us to himself; and the Priest also prays that the Body and Blood of Christ may be a sacrifice which is acceptable to the Father and which brings salvation to the whole world.
Part of the new liturgical movement is surely rediscovering how just and right it is when the priest is "turned towards God in the name of all the people" -- and when the people, facing east together with him, offer up the sacrifice of praise.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Liturgical Notes on the Presentation of the Virgin Mary

The story of the Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple comes to us not from Sacred Scripture, of course, but from some of the apocryphal Gospels. Although these are never read in the liturgy, some of what is written in them has been accepted by the Church’s tradition, both liturgical and artistic; they have given us not only today’s feast, but also influenced the depiction of Christ’s Nativity and the Assumption. It should always be born in mind that the Apocrypha (which exist in all the New Testament’s literary categories, gospels, acts, epistles and apocalypses), are not all of a piece. Some are clearly written to lend credit to one heresy or another, but others are simply harmless (or mostly harmless) tales about the Holy Family during the years of which the real Gospels say very little.

The Presentation of the Virgin, by Tintoretto, 1553-56, from the church of the Madonna dell’Orto in Venice.
One of the very oldest, the mid-2nd century Proto-evangelium of James, recounts the Virgin’s presentation in the Temple as follows.
And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her. And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel.” (chapter 7 and beginning of chapter 8)
This story is told in similar terms in the “History of Joseph the Carpenter”, written about the year 400, which goes on to tell how the temple priests chose Joseph to be Mary’s husband. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, of the same period, adds that “Joachim, and Anna his wife, went together to the temple of the Lord to offer sacrifices to God, and placed the infant, Mary by name, in the community of virgins, in which the virgins remained day and night praising God. And when she was put down before the doors of the temple, she went up the fifteen steps so swiftly, that she did not look back at all; nor did she, as children are wont to do, seek for her parents.” (chapter 4) It then describes the Virgin’s life of prayer and work in the temple, showing Her to be a perfect model of religious life.

A feast in honor of this event appears in an English manuscript known as the Canterbury Benedictional, written about 1030, and in a number of English calendars after that. It seems, however, to have died off; in the last editions of the Sarum Missal, from the mid-16th century, it is missing from the Calendar, and the Mass is included only in the appendix. Elsewhere, it appears sporadically in liturgical books printed in the century before the Council of Trent; the Mass and Office were often simply those of the Virgin’s Nativity, with the word “Nativity” changed to “Presentation” wherever it occurred. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84), who was the Minister General of the Franciscans until two year before his election, brought his order’s traditional zeal for new Marian feasts to the Use of Rome by adding the Presentation to the Roman Missal and Breviary, as he also did for the Immaculate Conception. The unusually elaborate rhyming Office seems to refer to the novelty of the feast in the Magnificat antiphon of First Vespers.

Novae laudis adest festivitas,
grata mundo ac caeli civibus,
qua Beatae Mariae sanctitas
templo data est a parentibus,
ut olivae pinguis suavitas
uberibus redundet fructibus.
(A feast of new praise is nigh, pleasing to the world and the citizens of heaven, in which the holiness of Blessed Mary is given to the temple by Her parents, that the sweetness of this rich olive tree may redound with rich fruits.)

A page of a Roman Missal of 1515, with the rubric in the upper part of the right-hand column, “On the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, the Mass is said of (Her) Nativity, with the name ‘Nativity’ changed to ‘Presentation.’ ”
In St Pius V’s reform of the Roman liturgical books, the feast of the Presentation is suppressed, along with those of Ss Joachim and Anne, precisely because they all derive from an apocryphal gospel. This went far too strongly against the grain of traditional piety, and all three feasts were swiftly restored, St Anne’s by Pius’ own successor, Gregory XIII, in 1584, the Presentation by Sixtus V the following year, and St Joachim by Gregory XV in 1622. The liturgical texts of the feast are the common Mass and Office of the Virgin Mary, with proper readings only for the second nocturn of Matins, and a proper Collect.

The Byzantine Rite knows no such reserve or restraint in regard to the feast, which is properly called “The Entrance of the Our All-Holy Lady, the Mother of God, into the Temple.” It is ranked as one of the Twelve Great Feasts, most of which are kept with both a Forefeast and Afterfeast, broadly the equivalent of a Vigil and Octave in the traditional Roman Rite. Afterfeasts vary in length, however, and those of the Virgin’s Presentation and Nativity are the shortest, only four days, the final day being known as the Leave-taking.

As such, it has a great many proper texts to be sung in the Office, of which here I can only give a very small selection.

At Vespers: Today, let us dance, O faithful, singing to the Lord in psalms and hymns and honoring His sanctified Tabernacle, the living Ark, that contained the Word Who cannot be contained; for in wondrous fashion she is offered to the Lord as a young child in the flesh, and Zachariah, the great High Priest, joyfully receives her as the dwelling place of God.

Here and elsewhere, the liturgy assumes that the High Priest who received Mary into the Temple was Zachariah, the father of John Baptist.

Anna the all-praised cried out rejoicing, “Receive, O Zachariah, her whom God’s prophets proclaimed in the Spirit, and bring her into the holy Temple, there to be brought up in reverence, that she may become the divine throne of the Master of all, His palace and resting place and dwelling filled with light!”

At the Divine Liturgy, the usual hymn to the Mother of God “It is truly meet’ is replaced by the following:

The angels beheld the entrance of the Pure One and were amazed. How has the Virgin entered into the Holy of Holies? Since she is a living Ark of God, let no profane hand touch the Theotokos. But let the lips of believers unceasingly sing to her, praising her in joy with the angel’s song: Truly, thou art more exalted than all, O pure Virgin!

The Apocryphal Gospels have also helped to establish the traditional manner of representing the Entrance of the Mother of God in icons. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew states in chapter six that “when (Mary) was three years old, she walked with a step so mature, she spoke so perfectly, and spent her time so assiduously in the praises of God, that all were astonished at her, and wondered; and she was not reckoned a young infant, but as it were a grown-up person of thirty years old.” For this reason, She is represented in this icon, not as a child, but as a miniature adult, to indicate that the fullness of grace and virtue already resides within Her. The lamp-bearing virgins who accompany Her to the temple at Joachim’s request, as stated above in the Protoevanglium of James, are also shown. Note how The Virgin Mary approaches the high priest with Her hands open, to symbolize that She is offering Herself to God.

Laying A Few More Bricks in Switzerland

Fr Zuhlsdorf likes to use the phrase “brick by brick” to describe the slow and often painstaking process of building back up the Church’s liturgical life after decades of widespread neglect and abuse. So here is another example of a few more bricks being laid for the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy, sent in by a group of students at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Let us offer a small prayer or two that their initiative continue and succeed.

“Since last September, with a small bunch of students, we organize every Wednesday a Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. The main particularities are the offering of the Sacrifice in Latin, with the Gregorian chant, ad orientem, and with the traditional way to receive the Holy Eucharist. The chaplain of the University, since his arrival in September, is a supporter of the initiative. These pictures were taken this week on the occasion of St Martin’s feast, celebrated by our chaplain.

We want to associate this student project with the Reform of the Reform and especially with the new liturgical movement that actually spreads throughout the world. ... We hope this still small project will grow and that the Christ through his holy liturgy will touch many people in Fribourg and elsewhere.”

Victoria Mass for OF Christ the King in Palo Alto

Friday, November 20, 2015

Denis McNamara on Sacred Architecture, Part 6 - Columns

Here is the sixth in the series of short videos by Denis McNamara, Professor on the faculty of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein; his book is Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy.
I found this one particularly fascinating; he describes here how columns are a vital part of the design of the church building, which is meant to be the sacramental image of the Church, the mystical body of Christ. Historically, the building was so clearly identified as an image of the Church that it came to be called a “church” itself.

The columns represent important people within the Church who, metaphorically, support it, chief among them the Twelve Apostles. Before the Christian era, in Jewish architecture the columns represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Even within the classical, pre-Christian tradition, columns were identified with people, and different designs were ascribed to men, women and young girls. Building on both the Jewish and classical traditions that preceded them, we can see why it made great sense for the early Christians to incorporate the same symbolism into the design of their churches.

Because they are symbolic images of people, columns have particular aspects of design, again, incorporated into the tradition, and should not be just straight vertical lines that are pure structural support, as a modern architect might wish to do. This does not mean that every column should per force correspond precisely to the Doric, Corinthian and Ionic orders of classical architecture, but it does indicate the importance of columns of as symbolic images of people, and as decoration that visibly performs a structural purpose.

The question one might have after considering this is: even if we acknowledge that properly formed columns are right for a church building, do we need to have them in secular buildings as well, such as libraries, town halls, houses, theaters, and so on?

I would say that the church should be the symbolic heart of the community. Therefore, just as all human activity is formed by and leads us to the worship of God, so the design of all buildings, whatever their purpose, should be derived from and point to what should be the focal point within a town plan, the church, and so we ought to see columns in secular buildings too. All of this should be modified so that each building is appropriate to its particular purpose: a government building would have a design that corresponds more directly to that of a church, I would suggest, than the design of a cow shed or a public convenience.

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