Sunday, April 23, 2017

1909 Dominican Rite Breviary Available for Download

I am happy to announce that, through the kindness of the author of Breviarium S.O.P. and Mr. Richard Chonak, I am now able to make available for download pdf versions of the edition of the Breviarium juxta Ritum S. Ordinis Praedicatorum published at the direction of Bl. Hyacinth Cornier, Master of the Order, in 1909.  The download links for the two volumes are found on the left sidebar of Dominican Liturgy.

This edition was the last printing of the Dominican Breviary in its medieval format with the original Psalter.  Later editions of the Breviary reflect the new Psalm arrangement mandated by Pope St. Pius X and have other modifications.  This edition is especially useful because the layout of the text parallels that in modern Pre-Vatican-II Breviaries, something that makes it much easier to consult than the earlier versions.  In his History of the Dominican Liturgy Fr. William Bonniwell, O.P. described this edition as "the finest edition of the Dominican breviary ever published."

When you go to download this file, do also check out our new offerings at Dominican Liturgy Publications.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tenebrae at Wyoming Catholic College

For the past seven years, the Wyoming Catholic College community has participated in the traditional Tenebrae service for Maundy Thursday on Wednesday of Holy Week. This year, with the enthusiastic agreement of the Schola, we added the Tenebrae service on Friday night for Holy Saturday. Both were well attended. It was for me a profound experience to get to know the Holy Saturday Tenebrae -- what an incredible example of lex orandi, lex credendi! The Faith would be far better known and loved if such liturgies as Tenebrae were a consistent part of the experience of the faithful.

Here are some photos, from both nights.

Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Readings and Solemn Prayers of the Novus Ordo Good Friday Liturgy

Previous articles in this series:
On the Mass of the Presanctified.
On the 1955 “Solemn Liturgical Action” of Good Friday.
On the ceremonial aspects of the Novus Ordo Good Friday Ritual.

The Gelasian Sacramentary has two prayers for the Mass of the Catechumens on Good Friday; the first of these is the one found in the Missal of St Pius V, “Deus a quo Judas…”, also said at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. (The use of the same Collect on both Holy Thursday and Good Friday emphasizes once again an important theme of the ceremony, the union between the Last Supper and the Sacrifice of the Cross.) The second prayer, “Deus qui peccati veteris”, had mostly dropped out of use by the time of the Tridentine reform, although it was still included in a small number of local missals even at the beginning of the 16th century. It was added to the beginning of the rite in 1955, but with a ritual different from that of the Mass, and different from what is attested in the ancient sacramentaries and later missals.

In the Novus Ordo, the ancient prayer “Deus a quo Judas…” is entirely suppressed from both days, and “Deus qui peccati veteris” is given as the second of two options on Good Friday. The first option, “Reminiscere miserationum tuarum…”, is in the Gelasian Sacramentary as the Collect of Holy Monday. The 1955 Holy Week had incorporated it as one of the three Post-communion prayers of the Solemn Liturgical Action of Good Friday; when the decision was made to return to a ceremonial order more in keeping with that of the Mass, the prayer “Reminiscere” was moved to the beginning. By some miracle, the text of both of these as given in the Missal is very close to that actually found in the Gelasian. The post-Conciliar reform specifically suppresses the word “Oremus” before the opening prayer, whichever one is said, and ends it with the minor conclusion, an unfortunate carry-over from the 1955 reform.
Folio 47r of the Gellone Sacramentary, of the Gelasian type, ca. 780-800. The prayer “Reminiscere” is here given as the Oratio super Populum of Spy Wednesday. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048)
The ancient lectionaries of the Roman Rite are uniform in assigning two readings, Hosea 6, 1-6 and Exodus 12, 1-11, before the Passion of St John on Good Friday. It is supremely ironic that the two readings on this day, together with those of the Wednesdays of the Embertides, of the fourth week of Lent, and of Holy Week, were routinely cited as evidence for the incorrect theory that the Roman Rite anciently had three readings at every Mass; ironic, because not a single one of them was left in its traditional place in the new lectionary.

St Jerome begins his commentary on the Prophet Hosea by saying “If we need the Holy Spirit to come to us when explaining any of the prophets, … how much more must we pray the Lord (to help us) in explaining Hosea… especially since he himself attests to the obscurity of his book at the end, where he writes, ‘Who is wise and shall understand these things, intelligent and shall know them?’ ” Such a mysterious book is eminently appropriate for a day of such ineffable mysteries, when the Church stands present at the death of the Creator Himself.

“... He will revive us after two days: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. We shall know, and we shall follow on, that we may know the Lord. … For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice: and the knowledge of God more than holocausts.” This is explained by the words of the Tract which follows, taken from Habakkuk 3 according to the Old Latin translation of the Septuagint: “O Lord, I heard Thy report, and was afraid: I considered thy works, and was amazed. Between two living creatures Thou shalt be known”; the “two living creatures” were first understood by St Augustine to be the two thieves crucified alongside the Lord. Thus the Tract shows us that we attain to “the knowledge of God” in beholding the Crucified Lord. And likewise, as Hosea says “For I desired mercy…”, the Tract says, “in wrath Thou shalt remember mercy,” an expression of the idea, “a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the gentiles,” that God’s supreme act of mercy was to undergo His Passion, in the very midst of which He prayed for the forgiveness of those who inflicted it upon Him.

The Prophet Habakkuk, by Girolamo Romanino, from the Sacrament Chapel of the church of St John the Evangelist in Brescia, Italy. (1521-4) The quotation on the banderole, of the opening words of the canticle, follows the Old Latin text, which was translated from the Septuagint, rather than the Vulgate version of St. Jerome.
All of this is, of course, far too subtle for the taste of the modern reformers, who very much preferred a blunt-force approach to redesigning the lectionary, taking it for granted that Modern Man™ is incapable of grasping such weighty matters. The reading from Hosea and the Tract from Habakkuk were therefore replaced by the prophecy of Isaiah 53, the famous poem of the Suffering Servant, and the Tract from Psalm 101 “Domine, exaudi orationem meam”, both recovered from the wreckage of the Mass of Spy Wednesday. The responsorial Psalm said virtually everywhere in place of the tract proposes the refrain “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” with verses of Psalm 30 (31), from which it was taken by the Lord Himself. (Hosea 6 is removed to a rather obscure corner of Lent, accompanying the Gospel of the Publican and the Pharisee on the 3rd Saturday.)

The second reading from Exodus 12 describes the slaying of the Paschal Lamb under the Old Law, which was of course taking place in Jerusalem even as Christ was undergoing His Passion. This choice is grounded in the Christian understanding of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, of whom St Paul writes, “Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed”; but also in the very nature of the ancient Good Friday ceremony, the vivid representation of the death of Lord, for which we are truly present. In the new lectionary, this passage is removed to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, an expression of the equally important point that the Lamb was sacrificed not merely to be sacrificed, but to be consumed. It is replaced on Good Friday by a passage from Hebrews, 4, 14-16 and 5, 7-9, on the priestly offering which Christ makes of Himself in His Passion. The first part of this is read at Tenebrae of Good Friday; per se, it is a perfectly reasonable choice as an Epistle, though also a very obvious one.

Traditionally, the reading from Exodus is followed by a Tract from Psalm 139, a text long associated with the Passion of Christ. In the official Ordo Cantus Missae, it is replaced by the famous Gradual Christus factus est, formerly sung on Holy Thursday and at all the Hours of the Triduum, another very obvious choice. The fact that the new order of the chants, tract before gradual, is completely contrary to the tradition, is mostly beside the point. It is impossible to escape the impression that the reformers felt a strong need to make everything as obvious as possible for the “benefit” of a Catholic laity which they saw as otherwise completely uneducable, unable to endure anything mysterious, complex or lengthy, even when celebrating the deepest and holiest mysteries of our redemption.

The Passion of St John is left undisturbed; blessedly, an alternative shorter form of it is NOT given, as was done for the Synoptic Passions read in the three-year rotation on Palm Sunday.

In regard to the Solemn Prayers of Good Friday, no less a figure than Abp Bugnini himself expressed in his memoire trepidation at the idea of altering such an ancient and venerable series of prayers (La Riforma Liturgica, 1948-75, p. 130), although this did not in the least stay his hand from altering them; they are simply too laden with ideas that Modern Man™ finds unpalatable. A single example may suffice to demonstrate the tenor of the changes. The first invocation traditionally reads in the Missal of St Pius V, “Let us pray, beloved unto us, for the Holy Church of God, that our God and Lord may deign to grant Her peace, unity and protection throughout the world, subjecting to Her principalities and powers, and grant us, as we live a quiet and peaceful life, to glorify God the Almighty Father.” (These texts are substantially the same in all the ancient sacramentaries.) In the 1970 revision, the words “subjecting to Her principalities and powers” are of course suppressed. All of the prayers now end with the short conclusion.

Two very peculiar and wholly unnecessary ritual changes are also introduced. The invocations, which were always sung by the celebrating priest, are now to be said by a deacon or layman. This is contrary to the universally attested tradition of how the prayers were done, but wholly in keeping with the modern rite of Mass. Where each invocation was traditionally followed by “Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.”, “Oremus” is now suppressed, and “Flectamus genua. Levate” are made optional. The blight of optionitis must cover all things, and this rubric is followed by another which gives local episcopal conferences the possibility of adding their own intercessions, while another permits the same “in case of grave public necessity” (undefined) to individual bishops.

The tedious subject of the prayer for the Jews has been rendered all the more tedious by the bad-faith efforts to use it as a weapon against Pope Benedict XVI and the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, and I have no intention of addressing the matter here.

Holy Thursday Photopost 2017

A blessed Easter week to all our readers! We now begin our annual Holy Week photoposts. Look forward to the rest in the next few days!

St Peter - Steubenville, Ohio

Brotherhood of the Blessed Sacrament

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Theology of the Novus Ordo Good Friday Liturgy

This article continues an ongoing series on the theology of the various Good Friday rites, covering that of the Novus Ordo. I have decided to break it into two parts, this one on the ceremonial aspects of the rite; the next part will discuss the textual changes. The previous articles discussed the rites in the Missal of St Pius V, and the revised Holy Week of Pius XII; I would suggest reading at least the latter before reading this one.

In a few important respects, the Good Friday ceremony of the post-Conciliar Missal returns to the historical practice of the Church, and corrects some of the serious problems of the 1955 “Solemn Liturgical Action”, while getting rid of its clumsy title as well. The celebrant wears a chasuble for the whole ceremony, restoring an important sign of the link between the Mass and the Death of Christ on the Cross; the rubrics make this connection explicit by prescribing that the priest and deacon be dressed “as if for Mass.” (sicut ad Missam induti) The three complete changes of vestments introduced in the 1955 reform are removed, to everyone’s relief.

Several of the ritual peculiarities that separate the Solemn Liturgical Action from the rite of Mass are removed. The first two readings are said in the usual manner of the 1969 Mass. The solemn prayers are usually said from the same place that the general intercessions are usually said. At the end of the rite, the prayers have returned to an order which is the same as that of the Mass, with a single Postcommunion and blessing of the people.

Reading on Good Friday at the London Oratory
Some of the new practices of the Pius XII reform which separate the rite from that of the Mass have been retained, most notably, beginning the ceremony with the altar completely bare of cross, candles and cloths. These all find their way to the altar as they do in the 1955 rite, and the fundamental arrangement of the ceremony remains the same as well: the readings, the solemn prayers, the adoration of the Cross, very much reduced in solemnity, and the distribution of Communion, without the Mass of the Presanctified.

The Cross may be brought into the church from the sacristy, as in 1955, and unveiled in three stages, as in both 1955 and 1570. A second option is also provided, that it be carried in from the door, and raised at the words “Behold the wood of the Cross…” at three stations, the door, the middle of the nave, and before the sanctuary. In this latter case, the Cross is not veiled and uncovered in three stages, an entirely pointless innovation. In either case, the rite may be also be done by the deacon or “another suitable minister”; the “suitability” of the latter is not defined, and no specific circumstances given when this may be done. It is therefore always licit (but never required) for the Cross to be presented to the faithful by someone other than the celebrant of Mass, diminishing the priestly nature of the rite.

The adoration of the Cross itself is done in the simplified manner of the 1955 ritual, by a simple genuflexion “or another appropriate sign according to local use, e.g. by kissing it.” Of course, one might just as well decide that the “local use” be the one that all localities were using before the 1955 reform, namely, a triple genuflexion, kiss, and single genuflexion before moving away.

One of the very worst features of the 1955 reform, by which it is permitted to merely hold up the Cross for the faithful to see and briefly adore at a distance, without coming forward to kiss it, is somewhat improved in 1970. The 1955 version foresaw this if the congregation were too large, and only for them; the new version says that at least “part of the clergy and the faithful” (my emphasis) do the adoration first. Again, we can only hope that no one has ever actually put this deplorable idea into practice. The Communion rite is fundamentally identical to that of the 1955 reform; as noted above, the conclusion of the ceremony is the same as that of an ordinary Mass of the new rite.

There are a number of textual changes to the very ancient readings, chants and prayers of the ceremony; I will discuss these in a separate post. They are not insignificant, but strange as it may seem to say, the most important theological change is the abandonment of black vestments in favor of red.

The reading of the Gospel in the Ambrosian Rite Good Friday ceremony.
Here an historical note is in order first. The use of black vestments on Good Friday is attested by William Durandus at the end of the 13th century, in the Rationale 3.18, where he describes a four-fold color scheme of white, red, black, and green. (parag. 6) Violet was treated as an appropriate alternative to black for Advent, Septuagesima and Lent (as “scarlet – coccineus” was an alternative to red: parag. 7-8), but not for Good Friday, and he explicitly states that this was the custom of the Roman church. It is true that what Durandus says was not followed everywhere, and that red vestments were worn on Good Friday in some places in the Middle Ages, e.g. in the Sarum Use. (It is also true that we know far less about the late medieval use of liturgical colors than we would like to.)

However, the post-Conciliar reformers had very little interest in the medieval Uses, and if they had a specific source in mind for changing the vestments on Good Friday to red, it was almost certainly the Ambrosian Rite. None of the many things putatively borrowed from other rites came into the Novus Ordo in their integrity, i.e. as they were actually done or said; at Milan, from very ancient times, red was a color of mourning, and thus used for the whole of Holy Week, including Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. (Marco Navoni, Dizionario di Liturgia Ambrosiana.) No suggestion seems to have been made to borrow the Ambrosian custom of using black on the ferias of Lent, even this is also attested by Durandus for the Roman Rite.

It should hardly need saying, therefore, that the change from black to red must be understood within the context of the Roman Rite as it was when the change took place, and not in reference to any putative source, or putative return to an earlier custom.

Why then is it important?

The liturgical celebration of the events of Our Lord’s life is not a series of commemorations of events in the dead past. We live though these events as things for which we are really present, and in which we really participate. In Advent, we repeatedly invite Him to come to us; we do not thank Him for having come 2000 years ago. The first Invitatory of the season is “Come, let us worship the King who is to come”, not “the King who was going to come.” At Christmas, we sing “For unto us a Child is born”, not “was born”, at Epiphany, “Behold, the Lord has come to rule.” At Easter, we join our Byzantine brethren in saying “Christ is risen”, not “Christ rose.” (This last is particularly significant because in the original Greek, the verb “anesti” is an aorist, and should technically be translated as “rose”; nevertheless, in all languages that distinguish between the perfect tense and the simple past, it has been received as “Christ is risen”, and rightly so.) Dozens more examples might be adduced to the point.

St Francis Institutes the Manger Scene at Greccio (from which derives the English word “creche”), painted by Giotto in the upper basilica of St Francis at Assisi, 1297-1300. The living representation of Christ’s Birth in expressed in the fact that what St Francis holds is clearly the Child Himself, and not just a doll.
It is surely not a coincidence that this idea of the Christian liturgical year is so strongly present in the writings of a Church Father who is particularly important as a Doctor of the Incarnation, Pope St Leo the Great (444-61). In his sermons, he loves to begin with a reminder that the mystery of the day is something which should always be present to us, but is especially so on the feast itself. A classic example of this idea may be found in one of his sermons on the Passion.

“All seasons, most beloved, engage the minds of Christians with the mystery of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection; nor is there any service of our religion in which the reconciliation of the world and the taking-on of human nature in Christ are not celebrated. But now, the whole Church must be instructed with greater understanding, and enkindled with more fervent hope, when the very greatness of the matters is expressed by the recurrence of these holy days, and in the pages of the Gospel; so that the Lord’s Pasch should be not so much remembered as a thing past, but rather honored as a thing present.” (non tam praeteritum recoli quam praesens debeat honorari. Sermon 64, 13th on the Lord’s Passion)

In the same vein:

“Therefore, all things which the Son of God did and taught for the reconciliation of the world, we know not only in the history of deeds in the past, but we also feel in virtue of the present works.” (Sermon 63, 12th on the Lord’s Passion. See also Sermons 42 (8th on Lent), 36 (6th on Epiphany), 26 (6th on Christmas) etc.)

This may very rightly be seen as a development from the central rite which the liturgical year enshrines, the celebration of the Eucharist, and the historical understanding of it; at every Mass, the Sacrifice of the Cross is not remembered as a thing past, but honored as a thing present.

With this idea of the liturgy as the living representation of the events of Christ’s life, Good Friday is not simply a day to remember His Passion, but to mourn over it as if we ourselves were present for it, no less than His Mother and St John. It was therefore quite natural that the Roman church’s liturgical color scheme should evolve in such a way as to restrict black to Good Friday and the other principal occasion of mourning, the Requiem Mass.

As I explained in the first article in this series, this is very much the animating spirit behind all the rites of the historical Good Friday ceremony. The “communion” which we receive on that day is the kissing of the Cross; the Mass of the Presanctified imitates the rite of Mass to express the union of the first Mass, the Lord’s Supper, with the Sacrifice of the Cross, and therefore of every Mass with the Sacrifice of the Cross. At a normal Mass, the Fraction rite, the reunion of Christ’s Body with the Blood shed for our redemption, represents the Resurrection; on Good Friday, the Resurrection is not made manifest, because the Body is broken, but not reunited with the Blood.

All of this is very much attenuated in 1955 by the simplification of the adoration of the Cross, the elimination of the Mass of the Presanctified, and the restoration of Eucharistic communion to the faithful. This attenuation carries over into the Missal of 1970, and is exacerbated by the removal of black vestments, the vestments of mourning which are worn when a dead body is present. While violet for the day would have been less in keeping with the historical tradition, in the context of the modern rite, it would have been a far more appropriate choice, as the normal color for a funeral. The use of a color principally associated with the deaths of the Apostles and Martyrs does not emphasize the fact that Christ shed His blood for us on Good Friday, but rather deemphasizes what makes the shedding of it unique and uniquely important.

Yale Conference on Medieval Rites This Weekend

This weekend, the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University will host a conference which promises to be very interesting, entitled “Medieval Rites: Reading the Writing.” The subject is the actual use of liturgical manuscripts within rituals, apart from what the mere text says. As described on theirwebsite, “When we study these centuries-old documents, it is easy to assume that each text is a straightforward prescription of what was said and done. But liturgical books and texts have served many purposes; those who used them had many reasons. A ritual is, after all, an action or performance—the textual dimension is only one among many. Written texts could explain, record, order, and nuance; they could permit reflection, study, and emendation; they could give substance to otherwise intangible concepts, actions, and traditions, permitting the exchange and replication of practices; they could aid learning and memory; books could be physically carried and used within the rituals they describe; and they could communicate authority, correctness, entitlement, and power. Of course, medieval liturgical texts continued to be read in many ways long after the Middle Ages ended. We too, working in different modern fields, have a wide range of reasons for reading these texts.

Moving beyond the notion that writing was simply a means of coordinating ritual activity, or an alternative to oral transmission, Medieval Rites: Reading the Writing will explore the breadth of possible literate interactions with Christian liturgy during the Middle Ages, in both Eastern and Western traditions. ”

The complete schedule of the talks is given on the Institute’s website:

The Friday sessions of the conference will be held at the famous Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, located at 121 Wall St., in New Haven; those of Saturday and Sunday in Stoeckel Hall Room 106, at 96 Wall St. The conference is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Inculturation Through Tradition - Guest Article by Claudio Salvucci

Our thanks to Mr Claudio Salvucci for sharing this article with NLM.

One sometimes meets with the notion that “traditional Catholicism”, as understood today, is wholly unsuited to the non-European mind. One prominent professor and musician has even boldly stated that:

“…pastors must take care to introduce current liturgical reforms in a manner conducive to the cultural expression of worshiping communities as mandated by Vatican II. African American culturally based worship models are forward looking, progressive, creative and universal in nature and will never fit into a pre-Vatican II mold.”

In this thinking, Vatican II represents a kind of cultural zero point. The Novus Ordo Missae is granted a lofty status as a de-Romanized, de-Europeanized, culturally “neutral” Catholicism—as the only truly primeval base from which true authentic inculturation can then properly begin.

The sentiment is very typical of the last half century: that the classical Roman Missal has little or nothing to contribute to the liturgical and devotional life of modern Catholics. That attitude is not restricted to liturgical inculturation proponents, of course, but among them it seems particularly pronounced.

Whether that thesis is historically defensible we’ll come to in a minute.

From the canonization ceremony of the Martyrs of Uganda in St Peter’s Basilica, October 18, 1964.
But first, it’s important to point out that such a total repudiation of tradition is a Faustian bargain: its promise of a glorious liberated future subtly hides a ruthless eradication of the past. It tempts us with immense wealth we can bestow on our grandchildren, if only we agree to forge them from the melted-down remnants of our grandparents’ heirlooms. The etymological connection between “culture” and “cultivation” is not accidental—and every gardener knows that the difference between pruning limbs and sawing into the trunk is the difference between life and death.

There is a plain fact about the Novus Ordo Missae that we must finally acknowledge. And that is that the radical break in 1970 was not solely a single rupture with a wider, general patrimony of the Western Church. It was also a thousand ruptures with local, national, and cultural patrimonies—many of them non-European and hundreds of years old. In my book The Roman Rite in the Algonquian and Iroquoian Missions (2008), I discussed how just such a break played out in the Indian Missions of Eastern Canada and the U.S. In the 1940s, priests who visited the town of Kahnawake, the site of St. Kateri’s shrine, marveled at the sheer wealth of local liturgical tradition they found there—including plainchant and polyphony in the Mohawk language. This tradition was broken with the introduction of the English Mass at Kahnawake—and there and elsewhere, many American Indians felt betrayed by the loss of what they themselves called, tellingly, “the Indian Mass.”

Whatever we want to argue about the Novus Ordo Missae, there is one thing we can never say about it: that it was the Mass of our ancestors. And that is universally true no matter who our ancestors were. St. Kateri and the Kahnawakeronnon who hunted in the forests of Quebec did not know it. The Servant of God Augustus Tolton and other former slaves who battled racial prejudice did not know it. The English recusants who sailed to Maryland on the Ark and the Dove did not know it. My great-grandparents who labored under the Italian sun did not know it. No one anywhere in the world knew it.

This is not a mere rhetorical point; it is a glaring unacknowledged contradiction at the heart of our liturgical life. How can we assert the inviolate nature of non-Catholic customs and demand their preservation in the Church, while simultaneously discarding our native Catholic customs and culture in the process? A case has been made by Monsignor Pope for gospel music in predominately black churches, and no doubt many self-declared progressives would heartily agree with his arguments. But Monsignor also offers his parishioners the Traditional Latin Mass. After all, it would hardly make sense to promote the music of black Protestantism as the ne plus ultra of black religious culture while rejecting the liturgy and music that defined black Catholicism for centuries. Inculturation may make use of cultural norms that are Protestant in origin (Advent wreaths and the Ordinariates are good examples). But it must give priority to that culture’s Catholic heritage wherever it can, or it is intrinsically self-defeating.

Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago is among those successfully realizing this principle. His Excellency is a notable proponent of the traditional Roman Mass. He has also served as chairman of the USCCB committee on African American Catholics, vice-president of the National Black Catholic Congress, and postulator for the sainthood cause of Father Tolton. In a discussion of inculturation he argued:

“It occurs to me that what is black and Catholic is not wholly the same as what is black and Protestant. Although black Christians hold membership in greatest numbers in the Protestant traditions and have fine-tuned a black Protestant style, what is black and Catholic carries its own genius. We must explore what is uniquely ours and enrich it. We must steer clear of adapting wholesale Protestant modes in order to impress African Americans with our brand of religion.”
Putting those ideas into practice, Bishop Perry offered a Solemn High Pontifical Mass last year in honor of Father Tolton that featured motets by Afro-Brazilian composer José Maurício Nunes Garcia. It would be hard to argue that this Mass failed the standards of inculturation. The traditional Mass all by itself provided an essential liturgical connection to Father Tolton—it being the only Mass he ever knew or offered. And by linking Tolton to Nunes Garcia’s sacred music, the Mass was implicitly creating a distinct African tradition within the classical Roman liturgy.

I’d like to pause on that verb “creating” for a bit.

Can we not see from His Excellency’s good example that there is no loss of cultural creativity and progress in promoting the traditional Mass? There is no room to talk of fossilization, of stagnation, of repressively stifling traditionalism in an environment where black Catholics delve ever deeper into their own pre-Vatican II historical material, discover lost treasures mostly forgotten by other liturgists and scholars, and reintroduce them to new generations. I do not know whether “good Father Gus” ever had the time or resources to deliberately bring composers like Nunes Garcia into the schola of St. Monica’s. But with the resources we have, we can now do that. And so much more besides.

No matter what our ethnicity, the Church’s long, long tradition is like a treasure trove in the attic, most of which has just been collecting dust and is ever in need of enterprising scholars to sift through, analyze, and bring into the present.

Old St. Joseph’s church in Philadelphia had a community of black parishioners since the late 1700s—the French diplomat François Rene de Chateaubriand wrote a hymn specially for them that was then translated into English and was regularly sung into the turn of the century. A special Sunday Mass was offered for black Catholics, as well a Sunday Vespers service known as “Evening Hymn”. The band of celebrated black composer Francis Johnson (1792–1844) and the black vocalist Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (1809?–1876) were featured, attracting crowds of all colors with music that was “sweet and silvery beyond description“. And that all from one single black Catholic community! Most of the great orders and organizations that form the pillars of black Catholicism today—the Black Catholic Congresses, the Society of St. Joseph, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the Knights of St. Peter Claver—arose in the pre-Vatican II period, and their archives no doubt contain many, many more fruitful avenues for research.

Old St Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia (image from Wikipedia)
Even secular scholars of the African diaspora are providing us with some fascinating information that can prove immensely valuable to the goal of inculturation. The Kongo Kingdom, once assumed to be only superficially converted by the Portuguese, is now increasingly seen as a self-defining Catholic nation where the faith had a profound impact on its folklore and culture. A fifth to a quarter of the Africans brought to America as slaves came from this region, of whom many were likely baptized Catholics. In much of the southern U.S. they were mostly subsumed into Protestant denominations, though some rebelled. When brought to Catholic nations, on the other hand, they quickly organized confraternities under saints such as St. Benedict the Moor. Processions in his honor were performed “with such devotion, majesty and pomp” that in 1619 they were attended by the King of Spain. In French Louisiana, the “Mardi Gras Indians,” often dismissed as a somewhat tawdry imitation of Indians or Wild West shows, have been connected by recent studies to Afro-Iberian Catholic ceremonies throughout the diaspora.

We should also remember the degree to which, from the very beginning, black Catholics consciously repatriated the heritage of Roman Africa, already present within the Latin Church but long since uprooted by the Islamic invasion. By repeatedly naming churches after St. Augustine, St. Monica, and St. Cyprian, black churches were not merely selecting heavenly patrons. They were also locally modifying the Roman liturgical calendar in an African direction, because the patronal feast of a parish church was automatically raised to the highest rank and given an octave for all the clergy attached to it. (Here perhaps we realize what damage was done with the 1955 decimation of liturgical octaves!)

Moreover, we have already seen how St. Benedict the Moor’s feast was kept with great festivity by members of the African diaspora. But this feast is not found in the general Roman or American calendars either pre- or post-Vatican II; it is a peculiarity of their own tradition, long shared only with local calendars in the Franciscan order and Sicily, and now spread to African nations like Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. There is certainly ample opportunity for more additions along these same lines, as the Roman Martyrology lists dozens of African saints that are not found in the general calendar.

If we wish to make use of all this history, the way forward should now be clear. Creative inculturation ought to come not at the expense of tradition, but through tradition. It must continue to build on any new information that comes to light and revive old practices that have been allowed to lapse, while respecting the integral character of the rituals already used, expected, and cherished by the people over generations.

Cutting ourselves off from traditional Catholicism does not keep us from being contaminated by excessive European influence. It just keeps us from discovering the fascinating ways over the centuries that non-European communities and cultures interacted with the faith, enriched it, and made it their own.

Claudio Salvucci is the founder of Ancilla Press and the author of The American Martyrology (Arx Publishing, 2015). His current projects include a traditional Roman Missal for Afro-American communities.

Catching Up With the Artists in the Sacristy

Back in January, we ran a post of photos sent by Fr Jeffrey Keyes, who serves as chaplain to the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa at the Regina Pacis Convent in Santa Rosa, California. They show a nice thing which their sacristans do each morning when laying out the Mass vestments, namely, making designs out of the ties of the amice. Just a small thing, but, as Father writes on his blog, “the essence of the Sacred Liturgy is Sacred, Universal and Beautiful,” and every beautiful thing, however small (and in this case, temporary) contributes to an atmosphere of prayer and reverence. The post was extremely popular, as was the follow-up in February, and since you seem to really like them, here are several more from the last two months. The last one  was sent to Fr Keyes from a church in Missouri which picked up the idea from the sisters.

St Peter’s Chair
St Polycarp (poly = many, carp = fish... get it?) 
St Joseph
Just a regular Lenten feria

Bethlehem Icon Centre Featured in Daily Mail, Times of Israel, Yahoo News and...Drudge!

It was with pleasure and surprise that I noticed that an article about the Bethlehem Icon Centre, its founder and director, Ian Knowles, and its patron, the Melkite Byzantine Catholic Bishop of Jerusalem, has caught the imagination during Holy Week.

The same piece has appeared in the Daily Mail and the Times of Israel; it was then picked up by Yahoo News, and from there by the Drudge Report, of all things, where, where, among the political headlines, the link appears with the title “Ancient sacred art resurrected in city of Jesus’ birth”.

Beauty will save the world!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Resurrection Concert Series of Ukrainian Sacred Music

This April 19th-22nd, over 50 singers from Canada, the United States, and Ukraine will be presenting Resurrection: Music from the Ukrainian Sacred Choral Tradition in Toronto, Rochester, Philadelphia, and New York. This concert series will showcase the new composition for a setting of a Resurrectional Divine Liturgy by Ukrainian Catholic priest Fr. John Sembrat OSBM, including masterpieces specific to the Paschal services from renowned Ukrainian composers such as Dmytro Bortniansky, Artem Vedel, and Roman Hurko. The choir will be led by one of the leading choral directors in North America, Michael Zaugg of Pro Coro Canada. This combined male choir features fourteen members from the following renowned professional choirs in Ukraine: the Boyan Ensemble of Kyiv, the Chorus of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the National Philharmonic of Ukraine, the Homin Municipal Choir of Lviv and Vydubychi Church Choir of Kyiv. The 50-plus member ensemble will also include members of Edmonton’s professional ensemble Pro Coro Canada, the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of Detroit, the Axios Men’s Ensemble, and the Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton.

The organizers write, “We firmly believe this music can act as a primary vehicle for evangelization, reaching people in an intimate and direct manner. This is true not merely for those who have elementary or no knowledge of the Church and its Sacred Traditions, but for those surrounded by it from birth. It is our intention that the beauty and transcendence of this music will move the faithful to greater devotion and be better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the Most Holy Mysteries. It is our aim is that this music will help stimulate a renewal in Eastern sacred music; to advance the pursuit of excellence in sacred music in conformity with truth, goodness, and beauty; and, most importantly, for the glory of God, the life of His Church, and the transformation of society.”

For more information about the recording and concert series, including video and audio highlights, see the website

Mass in Honor of Msgr Schuler At St Agnes This Sunday

This Thursday, April 20th, marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Monsignor Richard Schuler. The church of St Agnes in Minneapolis-St Paul, where he served as pastor from 1969-2001, will have a Mass this coming Sunday, the Octave of Easter, in his memory, and of course in honor of his incomparable legacy in preserving and promoting the Catholic tradition of sacred music in the liturgy. The Twins Cities Catholic Chorale and orchestra, directed by Dr Robert Peterson, will sing Franz Schubert’s Mass in B-flat at the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass. The church is located at 548 Lafond Avenue in St Paul. (See link at the church’s website here.)
With this poster we also received a flyer with some information about Mons. Schuler which is worth quoting.

“Latin High Mass had never been discontinued at Saint Agnes in spite of an erroneous interpretation of Vatican II which abolished Latin Masses in favor of Masses in English and congregational singing throughout the United States. To quote Monsignor Schuler, as he wrote about the Mass and the music at Saint Agnes, ‘The Council established clearly that music is an integral part (pars integrans) of liturgy; it is liturgy. Two requirements were demanded; music for the liturgy must be sacred and it must be art.’ Soon Saint Agnes attracted more and more worshippers who wanted to attend a reverent and solemn Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, with a liturgy graced by Gregorian chant and traditional artistic music. Monsignor Schuler said, ‘It is through art that man comes to God. Music, architecture, painting, sculpture…all can be means of grace and prayer provided that they are worthy of the Creator of all art and holy as He is.’ There were 18 Chorale Masses with orchestra in the first season along with 4 Masses in Renaissance polyphony. The project from the beginning was funded by the Friends of the Chorale and was never intended to be funded by the parish. The music of the Chorale and orchestra continues to this day. In 2016-2017, its 43rd season, the Chorale will present 29 Masses for the liturgy at Saint Agnes.

In 1976 Monsignor Schuler became the editor of Sacred Music magazine, a publication of the Church Music Association of America and the oldest church music journal in the United States, a position he held for over 20 years. The journal became his forum for combatting the direction that church music had taken. He is credited by its current editors and the officers of CMAA for keeping the rich heritage of Catholic sacred music alive and for promoting a sacred and reverent liturgy directed toward God.

When Monsignor Schuler became pastor at Saint Agnes, he established the practice of praying for vocations at Sunday Mass. He also encouraged vocations to the priesthood by meeting on a regular basis with seminarians who sought him out and by inviting these seminarians to experience the liturgy at Saint Agnes by singing in the Chorale. There are 38 priests who were influenced by Monsignor Schuler on the recently established list printed in this document. Two of these priests are now Bishops and one is an Archbishop. Five permanent Deacons were also ordained for Saint Agnes.

Monsignor Schuler was often accused of being behind the times, but he always said he was forty years ahead of the times, and, in this, he is being proven correct. ...

We pray for Monsignor Richard J. Schuler and the work to which he dedicated his life.”

Medieval Paschal Candle Holder

I was pleased to hear recently that as a result of an article last January, Gina Switzer received orders from around the country for just over 30 paschal candles. When she was telling me about this, she also mentioned that she had seen pictures of medieval paschal candle holders, and it had occurred to her that this would be a good option for parishes as well.

At the risk of reducing Gina’s commissions, I thought I would pass this idea on to you. This would be something that parishes might consider commissioning from an artist. It would require a carpenter to create the wooden frame into which a series of panel paintings in egg tempera could be laid. Once installed, it would allow for a greatly reduced candle budget, at least, since the candle that goes in it is relatively small and plain.

The only example I could find was this one which is at the Cloisters Museum in New York City, from the 14th century. I would love to know if readers can provide us with any other examples - perhaps even some contemporary examples - that might inspire further 21st century artistic activity in service of the Church!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Easter Vigil at the London Oratory.

Photos by Charles Cole

A Tour of the Bernardikapelle in Vienna

In my recent visit to Vienna for a liturgical study day sponsored by Una Voce Austria, I spent a morning walking around the center of the city with an old friend, Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., whose name will be known to some from his blog Sancrucensis. At a certain point, Pater Edmund mentioned that Heiligenkreuz Abbey owns a large building in the center of Vienna that it now rents out as a series of apartments to support the monastery. He said it housed a beautiful little chapel in honor of St. Bernard and asked if I'd like to see it. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued, and we made our way to it: the Bernardikapelle in the Heiligenkreuzerhof. The chapel is in the care of a monk who celebrates Mass there from time to time.

Although I am not generally a huge fan of southern German and Austrian Baroque, I found this intimate Baroque chapel quite a lovely, harmonious space, with a number of interesting features. The high altar has been preserved and is still used for both forms of the Roman Rite (always in Latin):

The ceiling is decorated with typical Baroque exuberance:

There is a little balcony at the back of the chapel that opens on to the abbot's private Viennese apartment. Business or politics would bring the abbot to Vienna, and he needed a place to stay. What could be better than to be able to pray his office looking upon the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel below?

The main altar was draped for Passiontide. Over the altar is a painting of the famous scene where St. Bernard mystically received milk from the Virgin Mary. Pater Edmund told me that a later generation found the literal representation too distracting and painted over the stream of milk and the uncovered breast:

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