Thursday, December 12, 2013
Posted Thursday, December 12, 2013
It always encourages me to see the EF being celebrated more widely at new parishes who have not previously experienced it, and not just kept to individual "traditional parishes." This allows more people to experience it, which is always a positive, and also stops it from being too strongly associated with one specific location or group, to the liturgical detriment of the rest of the area (as I have seen happen in the past).
Here are several pictures from the Mass:
|Procession to the altar|
|Incensation of the altar during the Kyrie|
|Quite a good turnout|
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The short answer is “yes”, but with a few very large caveats.
The first caveat is that the new lectionary does what Sacrosanctum Concilium asks for, if what it says about the Scriptures is considered in total isolation from the rest of the document, and from the context in which it was written and promulgated. As with sacred music and the use of a sacred language, Sacrosanctum Concilium called for a reform, and a fairly mild one at that; what came after was a revolution.
The decree gives two instructions concerned the readings in the liturgy. The first is in paragraph 35.1, in the first chapter (paragraphs 5-46), ‘On General Principles for the Renewal and Fostering of the Sacred Liturgy.’ “In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.” As is so often the case with Church documents these days, this translation from the Vatican website is not quite exact; the verb in the official Latin version of this sentence is “instauretur – let there be restored.” This indicates at least ad litteram that something which was done once before is to be done again, not that something wholly new was to be created.
The three words here translated as “more … more varied and suitable” are in the Latin original “abundantior, varior et aptior,” modifying a singular collective noun “lectio - reading”, not “readings” in the plural. A more literal translation would be “In sacred celebrations, let a more abundant, varied and suitable reading of Sacred Scripture be restored.” This would seem, therefore, to be a reference to restoring what the then-standard liturgical scholarship thought (wrongly) was the original tradition of the Roman Rite: a Mass with three readings like the Ambrosian Rite. “Restore” would also refer to the long-disused corpus of readings for the ferias outside of Lent, as found in the ancient Roman lectionaries.
The problem is of course that while this sounds like a great idea, it is sufficiently vague that almost any reform could have fulfilled at least the first two terms. The Council asks for the reading of the Scriptures to be “more abundant”, without saying how much more abundant. Ought we to have three readings at Mass like the Ambrosians? Four like the Syro-Malabars? At every Mass, or at some? It asks for it to be “more varied” without saying how much more varied. Is all repetition to be avoided, or only some? And most importantly, it asks for it to be “more suitable”, without giving any indication of where, if at all, the traditional lectionary then in use for well over a millenium in the majority of its parts was not suitable. All of it? Some of it? If so, how much?
The second indication for reform of the lectionary is paragraph 51, “The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.” Here again, a more literal translation is needed. “That a richer table of the word of God may be provided for the faithful, let the treasures of the Bible be opened up more plentifully, so that, within the (or ‘a’) prescribed period of years, the praestantior part of the Sacred Scriptures may be read to the people.”
The Latin word “praesto”, the participle of which is “praestans”, means, “to stand out, to excel, to be superior”. “Praestantior pars” therefore is not “the better part” in the sense of the larger part, but the better part in the sense of the better passages. It does not mean “more representative”. Fundamentally, paragraph 51 says specifically in the section on the Mass (paragraphs 47-58) what paragraph 35 already says about the liturgy in general, and with the same vagueness. No indication is given as to the length of the presumed multi-year cycle, an innovation which Alfonse Cardinal Stickler deemed a “crime against nature”, nor as to which parts of the Bible constitute the “more excellent parts.” It is not too much of a stretch to imagine the great reformers of the Tridentine period, such as Borromeo and Bellarmine, defending the Roman Missal against Luther, Calvin and Cranmer as containing precisely “the reading of the better part of the Scripture for the faithful.” It is also noteworthy that no recipes are given for the laying out of the richer table. Will it be the ancient lectionaries of the Roman Rite (as most of the scholars of the Liturgical Movement would probably have assumed)? The modern lectionary of the Byzantine or Ambrosian Rite? The Book of Common Prayer?
Under these terms, any reform of the lectionary would achieve what the Council asked for, as long as the mere number of readings in the Mass was bigger. But there is no reason to believe that what the Council Fathers thought they were asking for was the almost complete replacement of the traditional lectionary in use for about 12 centuries (and in parts, even longer than that) with something totally new. There is no indication that they thought the lectionary would be expanded mostly without reference to any of the historical sources that the scholarship of their time associated with the Roman Rite (whether rightly or wrongly).
If, on the other hand, we attempt to understand Sacrosanctum Concilium as a whole, the new lectionary does not to fulfill the precept of paragraph 23, “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” (my emphasis) The new lectionary is not an outgrowth or modification of the traditional one, but a wholly new creation.
He said therefore to the multitudes that went forth to be baptized by him: Ye offspring of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance; and do not begin to say, We have Abraham for our father. For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire.Censorship of this type abounds in the new lectionary, and is often, as here, a reflection of the false irenicism that reigned supreme in so much of the Church in the 1960s. In other cases, it is no more than a sop to the lazy. Three of the most important Gospels of St. John traditionally read in Lent, those of the Samaritan Woman, the Blind Man and the Raising of Lazarus, and the three Synoptics Passions all appear in the new lectionary with optional shorter forms. (The Passion of St. Mark, the longest in proportion to its Gospel as a whole, may be reduced to a mere 39 verses, and the Gospel of the Blind Man to 15!) It is very much to be hoped that a future reform of the lectionary will treat the Scriptures with greater respect.
And then there is the matter of the translations, a problem which has plagued the post-Conciliar liturgical reform in all of its aspects from the beginning. Simply put, they are awful. In many of the major languages in which the Roman Rite is celebrated today, the faithful do not hear the Bible itself in the readings, but a paraphrase so badly done as to substantially distort it. In the United States, the New American Bible is the only one currently authorized for use in the lectionary. It is full of inaccuracies, (“Hail, favored one!”) and completely devoid of literary merit (“Hail, favored one!”). No passage of it stands up well before either the King James Bible or the Douay, even where the latter are incorrect as translations. (I commend to our readers this very good essay from First Things by a brilliant scholar and literary critic, Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island, for a witty excoriation of the language of the NAB, which he calls “Nabbish” to distinguish it from English.)
If the Church truly wishes to open up the treasure of the Scriptures to the faithful, it is time to do for the Bible what has now been successfully done for the rest of the Mass: eliminate the “colorless, odorless, gaseous paraphrase,” as Dr. Esolen rightly calls it, and make a new translation, or choose an older one, that genuinely conveys the truth and majesty of the Word of God.
Readers of NLM will definitely want to have a look at the latest of the Position Papers commissioned by the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce. The new Positio -- number 17 in this already classic series -- is entitled "The Reception of Communion Under the Species of Bread Alone in the Extraordinary Form." Far more than a treatment of the issue as it pertains solely to the usus antiquior, it manages to pack a short history of the communion under both kinds, a summary of the benefits of communicating under one kind, an analysis of problems connected with distributing the chalice, and even, in three appendices, a consideration of how sacred vessels should be handled, hygienic problems, and the implications of celiac disease in the EF context.
Here is the abstract of the paper:
The Reception of Communion Under the Species of Bread Alone in the Extraordinary Form
Under the liturgical laws pertaining to the Extraordinary Form, the Faithful may not receive the Precious Blood, but only the Host, by contrast with the widespread practice, at least in Europe and North America, in the Ordinary Form. Historically, the Faithful received the Precious Blood in the West through a tube or fistula, until this died out in about the 12th century, with certain exceptions. Sacrosanctum Concilium proposed a revival of this exceptional reception of the Precious Blood, although permission soon became more general. The practice of the Extraordinary Form has certain advantages. It underlines the sacrificial nature of the Mass, for which the Priest’s reception from the Chalice is ritually necessary, but the Faithful’s is not. It safeguards the respect for the Sacred Vessels characteristic of the Extraordinary Form, which is incompatible with the usual practice of the Ordinary Form. It avoids a number of practical difficulties and liturgical abuses which have sometimes arisen in the Ordinary Form. And it guards against certain dangers to public health.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
No doubt about it: Pope Paul VI is a complex and difficult figure. It is one thing to cling to righteousness and suffer rejection and opprobrium, as did Our Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate “sign of contradiction”—and as his Vicar, Paul VI, did at certain times as well. Humanae Vitae is the most shining example, even though its teaching is rejected, say the polls, by the vast majority of Catholics today. It is another thing, however, to have taken revolutionary steps that led, by an avalanche effect, to confusion, dismay, abuse, amnesia, rupture, and infidelity. He himself intended no such effects—and yet they came, came in abundance, occasioned and even abetted by some of his actions.
We can see the problem at work in two quotations. In an address of October 29, 1964, to the Consilium (the group entrusted with the renewal and revision of the liturgy), Paul VI said:
The proper implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy [Sacrosanctum Concilium] requires of you that the “new” and the “old” be brought together in a bond that is both suitable and beautiful. What must be avoided at all costs in this matter is that eagerness for the “new” exceed due measure, resulting in insufficient regard for, or entirely disregarding, the patrimony of the liturgy handed on. Such a defective course of action should not be called renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, but an overturning of it. The liturgy, in fact, displays a similarity to a hardy tree, the beauty of which shows a continual renewal of leaves, but whose fruitfulness of life bears witness to the long existence of the trunk, which acts through its deep and stable roots. In liturgical matters, therefore, no real opposition should occur between the present age and previous ages; but all should be done so that, whatever be the innovation, it be made to cohere and to concord with the sound tradition that precedes it, and so that from existing forms new forms grow, as through spontaneously blossoming from it.This sounds balanced and principled, emphasizing what we would call today the hermeneutic of continuity, and even gently warning against any course of action that would compromise or dilute the patrimony of the liturgy handed down to us, or appear to create novelties and disruptions. Then there is the same Pope, speaking these words right before the promulgation of the new Missale Romanum, the Novus Ordo Missae, just three years later, on November 30, 1969:
We may notice that pious persons will be the ones most disturbed [by the changes], because, having their respectable way of listening to Mass, they will feel distracted from their customary thoughts and forced to follow those of others. Not Latin, but the spoken [vernacular] language, will be the main language of the Mass. To those who know the beauty, the power, the expressive sacrality of Latin, its replacement by the vulgar language is a great sacrifice: we lose the discourse of the Christian centuries, we become almost intruders and desecrators in the literary space of sacred expression, and we will thus lose a great portion of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual fact that is the Gregorian Chant. We will thus have, indeed, reason for being sad, and almost for feeling lost: with what will we replace this angelic language? It is a sacrifice of inestimable price.
A pope of contradictions. He praised Latin and urged its preservation in many speeches—but he also approved and defended its virtual abolition. He defended the inseparable connection of the unitive and procreative meanings of the marital act—but he also paved the way to an increasing acceptance of secularity and secularism in relations with modern governments and the United Nations, institutions that have turned violently against marriage and children. He wept at the opening of the first abortion mill in Rome, yet inasmuch as he did not violently resist modernity and all its pomps and works, he contributed to an environment in which an abortion mill was not, for the people of Rome, an unthinkable abomination but rather a sign of Modern Progress. He famously lamented that the smoke of Satan had somehow entered into the temple of God—but he had thrown open so many windows of that temple to a profane, anti-Christian worldview that he should hardly have been surprised when some of Satan’s smoke came drifting in.
What we saw in the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI was an heroic effort to shut and bolt many of those windows, to restore much of what had been rejected or forgotten, to reorient the faithful towards the Good with unambiguous moral teaching, to lead us into the Truth with profound and precise theological doctrine, and to enrapture our hearts towards the Beautiful by the renewal of the sacred liturgy and the fine arts. The shallow innovation and rude experimentation that characterized the 1960s and 1970s began to crumble as the Catholic identity of the faithful was kindled anew.
We are at a decisive crossroads: the proponents of the legacy of rupture are still numerous and strong, and although the momentum of young and educated Catholics is no longer with them, there are structures that perpetuate the errors and missteps of the past, and there is also a combination of widespread ignorance and indifference that helps the status quo remain the status quo.
Never have the patient teaching of orthodox Catholic doctrine and the fervent practice of traditional Catholic worship been more important than they are now, when the very transmission of doctrine and the very essence of worship are at stake—things that could once be taken, in a way, for granted. We cannot undo the errors of earlier shepherds, but we can and must spread the good doctrine and sound model given to us by our tradition and by our best shepherds. This is our decisive and irreplaceable work at this moment of trial, in this season of grace.
Monday, December 09, 2013
|The Immaculate Conception, by José Antolínez, 1650|
However, before the 1911 reform, these six Sundays (and also the Second, Third and Fourth of Lent) could only be impeded by the feasts of patron and titular Saints, or the feast of a Dedication. Of course, the Virgin Mary was honored as the patron Saint of innumerable churches, dioceses and religious orders under the title of the Immaculate Conception; elsewhere, however, the feast would normally be translated off the Sunday. And so, in a Roman Breviary printed in 1884, we find the rubric, “If this feast falls on the Second Sunday of Advent, it is transferred to the following Monday.” This is a full 30 years after Blessed Pope Pius IX made the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and more than 20 after the promulgation of a new Office and Mass for the feast in 1863. (S.R.C. 3119) In this regard, the practice of the post-Conciliar reform represents a return to a custom which was still in use even in the first decade of the 20th century. (Going further back, the original rubrics of the reform of St. Pius V admitted no impediment to the Sundays of Advent whatsoever.)
In the liturgical books of the Tridentine reform, the feast has no proper Office or Mass; the texts were those of the Nativity of the Virgin, with the word “Nativity” changed to “Conception” wherever it occurs. Apart from that, the only difference is the proper readings of the first and second nocturns of Matins, from the Book of Ecclesiasticus and St. Ambrose’s treatise “On the Virgins.”
Among the Franciscans, however, a proper Office for the feast was kept well before the decree of 1863, even though in most respects they had from the very beginning followed the liturgical use of the Roman Curia, and hence also the Missal and Breviary of St. Pius V. The Order, and famously among them, the Blessed Duns Scotus, had been the great champions of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and kept the feast as that of the “Principal Patron and Protectress of the Order.”
The Office in question was originally composed by Leonardo Nogarolo, a notary in the court of Pope Sixtus IV, who formally approved it in the year 1480. Sixtus IV had been the Minister General of the Franciscans until two years before his election in 1471; and as Pope, he issued two important decrees on the subject of the Immaculate Conception. The first of these, Cum praeexcelsa of 1477, gave formal permission and encouragement to celebrate the feast, which was still not kept in many places. The second, Grave nimis, was issued in 1483, condemning the “preachers of certain orders” who had dared to assert that belief in the Immaculate Conception, and the celebration of the feast, was heresy, while likewise imposing silence on those who asserted the contrary, that denial of the dogma was heresy. “Preachers” refers quite obviously to the Dominicans, who were at the time largely opposed to the idea of the Immaculate Conception as taught by the Franciscans, and particularly Duns Scotus’ explanation of it. In their liturgical books of the later 15th century, the feast on December 8 is usually called the “Sanctification of the Virgin Mary”, reflecting a theory that the Virgin was sanctified in the womb like John the Baptist.
|The Calendar page for December of a Dominican Missal of 1484, (the last year of Sixtus IV’s reign), showing the feast as the “Sanctification of the Virgin Mary”.|
The text of most of the other antiphons and responsories is taken from the Bible, and predominantly from the Books of Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus and the Song of Songs. At Second Vespers, however, a rather unique set of antiphons was composed for the Psalms, consisting of quotations from the Church Fathers; some of the texts cited are also read at in the lessons of Matins in Nogarolo’s original version of the Office. In the pre-Tridentine liturgical books, the name of each Father is printed before the antiphon.
Jerome Nihil est candoris, nihil est splendoris, nihil est numinis quod non resplendeat in Virgine gloriosa. - There is no part of brightness, no part of glory, no part of the godhead, such that it does not shine forth in the glorious Virgin. (In the post-Tridentine use, “godhead” was evidently felt to be a bit of an exaggeration, and changed to “virtutis – virtue.”)A similar custom is still observed by the Premonstratensians, who sing the following antiphon for the Nunc dimittis on the Immaculate Conception, with the annotation at the end, “the words of our father Saint Norbert.” (St. Norbert and the Premonstratensian Order were, of course, champions of the dogma even before the Franciscans, and had an entirely different proper Office of their own for the feast in the Middle Ages.)
Origen Quæ neque serpentis persuasione decepta, nec ejus venenosis afflatibus infecta est. - Who was not deceived by the coaxing of the serpent, nor infected by his poisonous breath.
Augustine (speaking in the person of Christ.) Hanc, quam tu despicis, Manichaee, mater mea est, et de manu mea fabricata. - This woman whom you despise, Manichean, is my mother, made by my own hand.
Anselm Decuit Virginem ea puritate nitere, qua major sub Deo nequit intelligi. - It was becoming that the Virgin shine with that purity, than which no greater can be understood beneath God.
Ambrose Hæc est virga, in qua nec nodus originalis nec cortex actualis culpæ fuit. - This is the rod, on which there was no knot of original guilt, nor the bark of any actual guilt. (referring to the rod of Jesse in Isaiah 11, 1)
Ant. Ave Virgo, quæ Spiritu sancto præservante, de tanto primi parentis peccato triumphasti innoxia. - Hail, o Virgin, who by the preservation of the Holy Spirit, didst triumph unhurt over the sin so great of our first father.If I remember correctly, I once read somewhere that “Sicut lilium” was also musically very beautiful, and back in the days when attendance at solemn Vespers was the norm on major feasts, people would flock to Franciscan churches to hear it. If any of our readers can confirm or deny this, I would be interested to hear from you in the combox.
The decree that promulgated the new Office and Mass in 1863 required all religious orders to accept them, and those who preserved their own proper uses to adapt it to their own particular customs, subject to the approval of the Sacred Congregation for Rites. Since the Franciscans (unlike the Dominicans or Premonstratensians) had always used the Roman Breviary, “Sicut lilium” then ceased to be used; a few parts of it were taken into the new Office, most notably the prayer, which reflects Duns Scotus’ insight on how the Immaculate Conception is possible.
O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, prepared a worthy dwelling place for thy Son; we beseech thee, that, as by the foreseen death of Thy same Son, Thou preserved Her from every stain, so Thou may grant us also, through Her intercession, to come to thee with pure hearts.One of the most notable features of the 1863 Office is the readings at Matins for the feast and its octave. In the third nocturn, the readings (with one exception) are taken from Eastern Saints whose writings had never, to the best of my knowledge, appeared in any form of the Breviary hitherto. These are two patriarchs of Constantinople, Ss. Germanus (715-30) and Tarasius (784-806); St Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, (634-38), the great enemy of the Monothelite heresy, and St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (died 403), a great enemy of heresies generally. (The exception is a passage from St. Bernard on the 10th of December.) These passages are unusually long, and rhetorically effusive in the manner of their age, but were clearly chosen to witness the belief of the Universal Church in the Immaculate Conception. The reading of St. Germanus on the feast itself begins thus: “Hail Mary, full of grace, holier than the Saints, more exalted than the heavens, more glorious than the Cherubim, more honorable than the Seraphim, and venerable above every creature.” This is a clear reference to the hymn Axion esti, which is sung in the Liturgy of Saint Chrysostom.
It is truly right to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever most blessed, and wholly pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word, the true Theotokos, we magnify thee.Likewise, the litanies of the Divine Liturgy refer repeatedly to the Virgin Mary as “immaculate” at the conclusion, “Having made memory of our all-holy, immaculate, (“ ἄχραντος ”) blessed above all and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and all our life to Christ our God.”
The original version of “Sicut lilium” makes only one brief mention of the Virgin Mary’s mother St. Anne, in whose womb the Immaculate Conception took place. As mentioned before, however, the Byzantine Rite calls the feast itself “the Conception of St. Anne.” In the icon below, the upper left shows St. Joachim in the desert, where he has gone to mourn his and Anne’s barrenness, for the sake of which his offering in the temple had been refused. An angel has come to tell him to return to Anne, and that God will grant them a child who will become the Mother of the Redeemer. In the upper right, the same message is delivered to Anne herself.
The legend on which this image is based goes on to say that Joachim and Anne then went to find each other, meeting at the gate of Jerusalem called “the Golden Gate.” The depiction of their embrace and kiss is often used not only to decently represent the act of Anne’s conception, but to distinguish the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin from that of the Virginal Conception of Christ. This legend is referred to in a prayer found in some pre-Tridentine missals and breviaries, such as that of Herford in England; it also commonly depicted in Western art, as seen below in Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.
O God, who by an angelic prophecy foretold the Conception of the Virgin Mary to her parents; grant to this Thy family gathered here, to be protected by Her assistance, whose Conception we happily venerate in this great solemnity.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Saturday, December 07, 2013
I also remind readers that the Dominican Rite Calendar for 2014 is also available for download (free) on the left sidebar of Dominican Liturgy. This calendar has been recently corrected and expanded.