Friday, April 16, 2021

Ambrosian Music for Eastertide

We continue our ongoing series on the Ambrosian liturgy of Eastertide with a musical interlude, three very nice pieces of Ambrosian chant for the Paschal season, sung by the Gruppo di Canto Ambrosiano (Ambrosian chant group) conducted by maestro Luigi Benedetti.

The first is the Confractorium of Low Sunday, the variable chant sung during the Fraction, which in the Ambrosian Mass takes place immediately after the Canon, before the Lord’s Prayer. “Rising, Jesus our Lord stood in the midst of His disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you, alleluia.’ The disciples rejoiced when they had seen the Lord, alleluia.”

The second and third pieces are both Transitoria, the equivalent of the Roman Communion antiphon, but generally rather longer, and very often not taken from the Scriptures. The former is one of a series of twelve sung in rotation on the Sundays after Pentecost; the latter is that of Easter Sunday, and has a particularly beautiful text very much reminiscent of the Eastern liturgies. “Let us love one another, for God is love, and he that loveth his brother, is born of God, and seeth God, and in this the love of God is made perfect; and he that doth the will of God abideth forever, alleluia.

“Come, o ye peoples: the sacred, immortal and pure mystery is to be treated with reverence and faith. Let us come forth with clean hands, let us share the gift of penance; for the Lamb of God has been set forth as a sacrifice to the Father for our sake. Let us adore Him alone, let us glorify Him, crying out with the Angels, Alleluia, alleluia.”

The Freefall Collect of Good Shepherd Sunday

Fresco of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, from the Catacombs of St Callixtus in Rome.
Lost in Translation #48

The Collect for the Second Sunday after Easter, also commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”, is brief but striking:

Deus, qui in Filii tui humilitáte jacentem mundum erexesti, fidélibus tuis perpétuam concéde laetitiam: ut, quos perpétuae mortis eripuisti cásibus, gaudiis facias pérfrui sempiternis. Per eundem Dóminum nostrum.
Which I translate as:
O God, who by the humility of Thy Son hast raised up a falling world, grant to Thy faithful perpetual gladness: that those whom Thou hast delivered from the dangers of perpetual death Thou mayest cause to thoroughly enjoy endless joys. Through the same.
Sr. Mary Haessley uses this Collect as an example of “antithetical chiasm,” that is a chiastic or V-like structure (ABC - CBA) marked by antitheses or contrasts. The statement of fact about God (“O God, who...”) is dominated by the language of descent: the world is not simply fallen but still falling, spiraling downward to Hell. God the Father responds by the humility of His Son, who, we can imagine, humbly races down from Heaven to catch us before we perish. The Son not only stops our fall, but He raises us up, lifting us higher. In the Latin, the verb “raised up – erexisti” is the last word in the phrase, keeping the focus on the sinful descent of man and the saving descent of God until the last moment. It is an apt summary of the Paschal mystery that we continue to celebrate during this season, for Holy Week likewise characterizes salvation in terms of Jesus Christ’s humility (see here).
The petition, on the other hand, is replete with references to eternity: we ask for perpetual gladness, thank God for deliverance from perpetual death, and ask to revel in sempiternal joys. The emphasis underscores why the Paschal mystery – that is, the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ – is so important. It is not just a matter of life and death; it is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. Mentioning the terrors of eternal death also sets into sharp relief, and helps us be all the more grateful for, the joys of eternal life.
More specifically, we thank God for deliverance from the dangers of perpetual death. It is a good reminder, especially in an age that values long life and physical health as much as ours does, that the greatest dangers that man faces on earth concern not temporal death but eternal. “And fear ye not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul,” Our Lord commands, “but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10, 28). Finally, the author has chosen the perfect word for “dangers,” for the Latin word “casus” also means a fall, and thus it chiastically echoes the “falling world” mentioned earlier.
Although the imagery of the Collect is not explicitly pastoral or bucolic, it nevertheless contributes to the theme of Good Shepherd Sunday. Christ is the Good Shepherd who strikes with lightning speed at the wolves, saving His flock from the dangers of ravenous predators who wish to drag us down to perpetual death. And Christ strikes with His humility and total self-offering, leaving us an example to follow, as the Epistle reading from 1 Peter 2 attests. We also suspect that humility is another difference between the Good Shepherd and the hireling mentioned in the Gospel (John 10, 11-16). The hireling “hath no care for the sheep,” probably because he cares only about his wages or position. In other words, he is filled with self-regard and self-interest rather than self-emptying humility. May Jesus Christ, the shepherd and bishop of our souls (1 Pet. 2, 25), dive down to save us from both wolves and hirelings and carry us up to eternal joys.

Note: [1] See Sr. Mary Gonzaga Haessly, Rhetoric in the Sunday Collects of the Roman Missal (Ursuline College for Women, 1938), 19.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Good Friday 2021 Photopost (Part 1)

Our Triduum photopost series continues with the ceremonies of Good Friday. There will be at least one more of these before we move on to the Easter vigil and Easter Sunday, and late submissions are always very weclome, so please feel free to send them in to, remembering to include the name and location of the church. Once again, our thanks to everyone who contributed!

Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento – Lisbon, Portugal
Photos by Fábio Azenha

Sacred Liturgy Conference, June 1-4, in Spokane, Washington

Schola Cantus Angelorum is pleased to announce the 9th annual Sacred Liturgy Conference, which will be held from June 1-4, in Spokane, Washington. This year’s theme, “The Incarnation in the Holy Eucharist”, will illuminate the Incarnation as inseparable from the Cross, Resurrection, and the Holy Eucharist. The lectures will take place in the conference center of the Ruby River Hotel; four beautiful Gregorian liturgies, including one in the ancient Dominican Rite, will be celebrated at St. Aloysius Catholic Church and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes.
This year His Excellency Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, the former apostolic nuncio to Switzerland, will deliver the keynote address and celebrate the Pontifical Mass of Corpus Christi in the Extraordinary Form, with Eucharistic Procession, and Benediction. Other distinguished faculty members will include: Bishop Thomas A. Daly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, OSB, Fr. Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD, Fr. Joseph Levine, Fr. Theodore Lange, Fr. Gabriel Mosher, OP, Fr. David Gaines, Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre, Dr. Anthony Clark, Dr. Kevin Clarke, Dr. Patrick M. Owens, Professor Ed Schaefer, Lucas Viar and Alex Begin.
An alternative to attending this year’s conference in person will be to watch a high-quality livestream of all lectures and selected workshops. Additionally, scholarships for virtual viewing of the conference are available at no cost to all enrolled seminarians.
From its modest beginnings in 2013, the Sacred Liturgy Conference has grown into the largest liturgical conference in North America, with participants coming from throughout the United States and beyond. The conference is open to anyone interested in the treasures of the Catholic Faith, and promises to be intellectually, liturgically, and spiritually enriching. To find out more specifics about the schedule, accommodations, and how to register for the conference go to You may also call (503) 558-5123, or email Space is limited due to current state regulations of in person events, so register today!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Ambrosian Liturgy of Easter Week - Part 3: the Masses of Tuesday and Wednesday

We continue with Nicola de’ Grandi’s notes on the Ambrosian liturgy of Easter week; previous parts of this series may be read at the following links: part 1; part 2.

We have previously noted that the Gospels of the Masses “for the baptized” during Easter week are attested in some of the very oldest sources of the Ambrosian Rite. Among these sources are the Capitulary and Evangeliary of Busto Arsizio, which give the order of readings before the major reform which the Ambrosian lectionary underwent in the Carolingian period. Here we shall give some indications of the historical traditions behind the choice of these readings, and their thematic connection to the other readings of the same Masses.
The Prophet Elijah Refuses the Gifts of Naaman, ca. 1655, by the Dutch painter Abraham van Dijck (1635-80); public domain image from Wikimedia Commons
The first reading of the Mass on Easter Tuesday is 4 Kings, 5, 1-15a, the miraculous healing of the leprosy of Naaman the Syrian, when the Prophet Elijah tells him to wash seven times in the river Jordan. St Ambrose cites and comments on this passage in his two mystagogical treatises, lectures delieved to the newly-baptized catechumens, the De Sacramentis and the De Mysteriis, and interprets it as a clear prefiguration of the Sacrament of Baptism.
“I can have no doubt that what happened to Naaman the Syrian cannot befall in your minds, because even though he was cleansed, yet beforehand, he doubted.” (De Sacr. 1, 3, 9). …
In the story of the Naaman the leper was signified that that water alone can heal, which has the grace of Christ, and that Christ wished to be baptized only for our sake. Wherefore the Holy Spirit, appearing in the likeness of a dove, did not come down upon Him before He Himself entered the water of the Jordan, and (thus it was also signified) how the whole Trinity was there present.” (De Sacr. 1, 5 passim).
In the De Mysteriis, he makes it clear that this reading was part of the day’s liturgy.
“Finally, let the reading lately gone through from the (books of) Kings teach you. Naaman was a Syrian, and suffered from leprosy, nor could he be cleansed by anyone. Then a maiden from among the captives said that there was a prophet in Israel, who could cleanse him from the defilement of the leprosy. And (the reading) said that, taking gold and silver, he went to the king of Israel, who, on hearing the reason for his coming, rent his clothes, saying that occasion was rather being sought against him, since things were asked of him which belonged not to the power of kings. But Elisha sent word to the king, that he should send the Syrian to him, that he might know there was a God in Israel. And when he had come, he bade him bathe himself seven times in the river Jordan.
The Baptism of Naaman, depicted in a stained-glass window in the cathedral of Cologne, Germany. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by GFreihalter, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Then he began to reason with himself that he had better waters in his own country, in which he had often bathed and never been cleansed of his leprosy; and so thinking back upon this, he did not obey the commands of the prophet. Yet on the advice and persuasion of his servants he yielded, and washed himself, and being immediately cleansed, he understood that it is not by the waters, but by grace that a man is cleansed.
Know now who is that young maid among the captives, to wit, the congregation gathered from among the gentiles, which is the Church of the Lord, held down of old in the captivity of sin, when it did not as yet possesse not the liberty of grace, by whose counsel that foolish people of the nations heard the word of prophecy about which it formerly doubted. But afterwards, when they believed that (that word) ought to be obeyed, it was washed from every defilement of sin. And he indeed doubted before he was healed; you are already healed, and therefore ought not to doubt. (De Myst. III, 16-18)
“So the Syrian washed himself seven times under the law, but you were baptized in the name of the Trinity, you confessed the Father. Remember what you did: you confessed the Son, you confessed the Holy Spirit. Mark well the order of things in this faith: you died to the world, and rose again to God. And as one buried to the world in that element (i.e. water), being dead to sin, you were raised again to eternal life. Believe, therefore, that these waters are not void of power.” (De Myst. IV, 21)
In the very brief Epistle of the same Mass, Romans 6, 3b-4, St Paul affirms that we have all been baptized in virtue of the death of Christ, and are buried and risen with Him. This is also cited in De Sacramentis as one of the liturgical readings to which his catechetical lecture refers.
“Therefore the Apostle cries out, as you have heard in the lesson just read, that whosoever is baptized, is baptized in the death of Jesus. What is in this death? It is that, as Christ died, so also you should taste death; as Christ died unto sin, and lives unto God, so also you should be dead unto the former enticements of sins through the sacrament of baptism, and rise again through the grace of Christ. It is a death, therefore, not in the reality of bodily death, but in its likeness. For when you wash, you take on the likeness of death and burial, you receive the sacrament of that cross, because Christ hung on the cross, and His body was pierced with nails. Therefore, when you are crucified, you adhere to Christ; you adhere to the nails of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the devil may not be able to tear you away. Let the nail of Christ hold you fast, whom the weakness of human nature seeks to call back (to sin).” (De Sacr. 2, 7, 23)
Christ Heals the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda, by the Flemish painter Artus Wolffort (1581-1641); public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
The Gospel is that of the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, John 5, 1-15, which is cited in the De Mysteriis (4, 22, 24), and the object of a fairly lengthy analysis in the De Sacramentis. Here again, St Ambrose affirms that the passage was read during the liturgical celebration, and interprets it as a figure of baptism.
“What was read yesterday? An angel, the readings says, went down at a certain time into the pool, and, so often as the angel descended, the water was moved: and he who first descended into it, was made whole of every disease whatsoever he had. Which signifies a figure of our Lord Jesus Christ who was to come….
But observe the mystical sense. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to the pool. … Consider where you were baptized. What source can there be for baptism, save the cross of Christ, the death of Christ? Herein is the whole mystery, in that He suffered for you. In Him you are redeemed, in Him you will be saved.”
While we cannot prove that these three readings were originally all read on the same day, we do know with certainty that St Ambrose based part of his mystagogical catecheses on liturgical readings which are exactly the same as those now read on Easter Tuesday in the traditional Ambrosian rite. This is further proof of the care which the church of Milan has taken to jealously guard some of its most ancient traditions, going back to the earliest days of the Church.

The purpose of the mystagogical catecheses was to explain in greater detail the significance of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, which the catechumens had received at the Easter vigil. The readings of the Mass “for the baptized” on Easter Wednesday touch on both of these sacraments, and again, bring us back to the writings of St Ambrose himself.

The Old Testament reading is also taken from the fourth book of Kings, chapter 6, 1-7, the story of the floating axe-head; in the Ambrosian Rite, this is also read at the First Vespers of the Epiphany.
Illustration from a Bible for children published in 1873; public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
“In those days: the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Behold the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. Let us go as far as the Jordan and take out of the wood every man a piece of timber, that we may build us there a place to dwell in.’ And he said, ‘Go.’ And one of them said, ‘But come thou also with thy servants.’ He answered, ‘I will come.’ So he went with them, and when they were come to the Jordan they cut down wood. And it happened, as one was felling some timber, that the head of the axe fell into the water, and he cried out, and said, ‘Alas, alas, alas, my lord, for this same was borrowed.’ And the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ and he shewed him the place. Then he cut off a piece of wood, and cast it in thither, and the iron swam. And he said, ‘Take it up.’ And he put out his hand and took it.”
St Ambrose comments on this passage in both of the works previously cited. In the De Sacramentis (2, 4, 9) he explains the miracle as a symbol of Baptism.
“Elisha called upon the name of the Lord, and the axe-head which had sunk came up out of the water. Here is another kind of baptism. Why? Because every man before baptism is weighed down like iron, and sinks: when he has been baptized, he is no longer like iron, but now rises like the fruit-bearing wood, which is a lighter kind of thing. Therefore here is another figure. It was an axe by which wood was cut down. The handle fell from the axe; that is, the iron sank. The son of the prophet knew not what to do; but this alone he knew, to ask the prophet Elisha for help. Then the latter cast wood (into the water), and the iron was raised. Do you see, therefore, how the weakness of all men is raised on the cross of Christ?”
In the De Mysteriis (9, 50-51), the same miracle is read as a figure of the Eucharist. Just as the axe-head changes its substance while preserving its form and accidents, so also in the Eucharist, the substance of the bread is changed into the body of Christ, without changing its form and accidents.
“Perhaps you may say, ‘I see something else; how do you assert to me that I receive the Body of Christ?’ And this remains for us to prove. What great examples then shall we use? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and that the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing, nature itself is changed. …
In the time of the prophet Elisha, one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank at once. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast a piece of wood into the water, and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of a heavier nature than water.”
The Crossing of the Red Sea, by Agnolo di Cosimo, known as Bronzino, 1540; from the Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.
In the second reading, 1 Corinthians 10, 1-4, St Paul teaches that certain events of the Exodus are to be read as prefigurations of Baptism.
“Brethren: I would not have you ignorant that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food. And all drank the same spiritual drink; and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.”
St Ambrose also cites this passage in two places, and again, in two complementary senses, corresponding to the two themes of the mystagogical catecheses; first as a symbol of baptism.
“There is also a third testimony, as the Apostle teaches us: For all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (1 Cor. 10, 1-2) And further, Moses himself says in his song, ‘You sent Your Spirit, and the sea covered them.’ (Ex. 15, 10) You observe that even then holy baptism was prefigured in that passage of the Hebrews, wherein the Egyptian perished, the Hebrew escaped. For what else are we daily taught in this sacrament but that guilt is swallowed up and error done away, but that virtue and innocence remain unharmed?” (De Myst. 3, 7; 12)
Secondly, once again, as a prefiguration of the Eucharist.
“In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ; it is therefore not bodily food, but spiritual. Whence also the Apostle says of its type, that ‘our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink (1 Cor. 10, 3), for the Body of God is a spiritual body; the Body of Christ is the Body of the Divine Spirit, for the Spirit is Christ, as we read, ‘The Spirit before our face is Christ the Lord.’ ” (Lam. 4, 20)
Here also, we may well suppose from St Ambrose’s use of these passages that they were already established in his time as a part of the liturgy of this week dedicated to the newly-baptized catechumens.

Easter Mass with Bishop Schneider in the Cathedral of His Diocese

On April 7, Easter Wednesday, His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider celebrated Mass in the usus antiquior at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan (formerly called Astana), the capital city of Kazakhstan, while His Excellency Tomash Peta, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Saint Mary in Astana, assisted in choir on his cathedra. This was the first time that a Mass was celebrated in the usus antiquior as a normal scheduled parish Mass in the presence of an Ordinary in central Asia. This day was also Bishop Schneider’s 60th birthday, and we offer him our best wishes and prayers for his continued ministry to the Church - ad multos annos!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Blessed Rolando Rivi

On this day in the year 1945, a 14-year old Italian seminarian named Rolando Rivi died as a martyr in a little town called Monchio, in the province of Modena. Rolando was born in 1931, and began serving Mass at the age of five; he made his first Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi, June 16, 1938. In 1942, at the age of 11, he entered the minor seminary at Marola, and was admired by his teachers as an exemplary student, and a boy of sincere and serious devotion. As was the custom in those days, he was clothed in the cassock, and wore the saturno as part of the regular clerical dress; already at that tender age, he expressed the desire to become a missionary. He was noted as both an excellent singer and musician, and participated enthusiastically in the seminary choir.

The young Rolando was the kind of fellow who shows himself to be a leader in every activity, and his grandmother is reported to have said, with the special wisdom of Italian grandmothers, that he would end up as “a saint or a scoundrel.” Many stories are told of him encouraging his friends to come to church for Mass or devotions after a soccer game. During his summer vacation, he continued to dress and live as a seminarian, with no remission from his devotional life of daily Mass, rosary, meditation and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Many times he said that the cassock was a sign “that I belong to Jesus.”

In the summer of 1944, the seminary at Marola was occupied by German troops, and Rolando was forced to return home; he was able, however, to continue his studies with the local parish priest. He continued to wear the cassock in public, despite his parents’ concerns that this would make him a target of the anticlerical violence then rampant in north-central Italy. And indeed, by the time Rolando returned home from the seminary, his former parish priest had been moved out of the area for safety’s sake. In the years immediately after the collapse of Italian fascism in July 1943, nearly 100 priests were murdered by Communist partisans in the part of the Emilia-Romagna known as the “red triangle.”

On April 10, 1945, a group of these partisans kidnapped Rolando as he was studying in a little grove near his home; his parents discovered both his books and a note from the partisans warning them not to look for him. He was taken to a farmhouse, beaten and tortured for three days, under the absurd accusation that he had been a spy for the Germans; he was then dragged into a woods, stripped of his cassock, and shot twice in the head. The partisans rolled his cassock up into a ball and used it to play soccer.

His father and parish priest discovered his body the following day. He was buried temporarily in the cemetery of the town where he was killed, but translated a month later to his native place, San Valentino. Since the day of his death often falls in Holy Week or Easter week, his liturgical feast is kept on the day of this translation, May 29th. The decree recognizing that his violent death was inflicted “in odium fidei” was signed by the Pope on March 28, 2013, and his beatification as a martyr was celebrated on October 5th of that year. His relics now repose in the church of San Valentino di Castellarano; on his tomb is written “Io sono di Gesù”, Italian for “I belong to Jesus.”

I make bold to suggest that Bl. Rolando is a good person to appeal to if you know any seminarians who need prayers, and especially those who are persecuted for their love of the Church’s traditions; and further, in preparation for next year’s symposium on the priesthood, that it would not be a bad idea to consider what it was about the Church that Rolando Rivi lived in that enabled him to face martyrdom so bravely at the age of only 14. Beate Rolande, ora pro nobis!

Tenebrae 2021 Photo & Audiopost (Part 2)

We continue our Holy Week photopost series with part 2 of Tenebrae, before we move on to Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. I am also including two videos from the Oxford Oratory, and three from our friends of the mighty Schola Sainte-Cécile. We have received a slow but steady stream of new contributions, and there is always room for more; if you have photos you would like to share, send them in to, remembering to include the name and location of the church. Evangelize through beauty!
St Patrick’s Church – Albury, New South Wales, Australia
Tradition will always be for the young.

The Red Cross as a Symbol of the Resurrection

As we move into the second week of Easter, here is a symbolic image of the Resurrection, embroidered onto a chalice pall which was recently commissioned by a priest.

As the patron wrote to the artist when he commissioned the pall:
It depicts the Blood the Lamb, but not into a chalice — which I think would be good for a pall. No reason to have an image of a chalice atop a chalice - that’s the sort of “multiplication of images” that detracts from the Sacred Liturgy. I like this image of the Lamb, the Blood, but no chalice.

The image of the shell and the water (of Baptism) at the top is very meaningful. “From the Savior’s side flowed blood and water, the fountain of the sacramental life of the Church.” We often forget the saving waters. And both wine and water are poured into the chalice. Good imagery for a pall.

The lamb is the sacrificial victim, “standing as if slain”, from chapter 5 of the Apocalypse, and the Resurrection is symbolized by the banner with a red cross on a white background. I am not clear as to precisely how the red cross became the symbol of the Resurrection. From what I can gather, the symbol of the cross in various colors became popular in northern Italian cities from about 1000AD, and people from that area would carry these banners with them on the crusades to the Holy Land that took place in the following centuries. It also became associated in the late middle ages with St George as he became a patron of the crusader knights. It was linked particularly with the Resurrection in the West around this time too.

Since the time of Constantine, who ordered an image of the Christian cross to be put on the Roman standard as he went into battle and was victorious, the Holy Cross has been a symbol of both spiritual and temporal battles against those who wish to destroy the Church in both East and West. An ancient hymn sung to commemorate the Holy Cross in the Eastern churches runs as follows:

Oh Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance, grant victory to our country over its enemies and preserve your community by the power of your Cross. 

When I was looking for other images of this symbol, I remembered that Fra Angelico used it in his portrayal of the Resurrection:

I was reminded in looking at both of these images that the halo of Christ contains a red cross too. There is no consistently used color for the cross of the halo in Christian symbolism. However, red is frequently used by Fra Angelico, so I am guessing that in each case, the artist deliberately placed these two symbolic representations close to each other so that we would see the connection. Here is Fra Angelico’s Transfiguration.

The artist who created the pall, incidentally is Kathryn Laffrey,, who is based in Michigan and is currently a student on the Master of Sacred Arts program at Pontifex University.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Patricentric Purism and the Elimination of Liturgical Prayer Addressed to Christ

Thomas answered and said to Him: ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus saith to him: ‘Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (John 20, 28–29).

These words from the Gospel of Low Sunday, the octave of Easter, present us with a paradox. Thomas confesses the divinity of Christ after having seen His wounds, not because wounds are divine (quite the contrary, the divine nature cannot be wounded), but because they testify that His claim to be God has been vindicated by His resurrection from the dead. In the same way, when Peter had confessed Christ to be the Son of the living God, Jesus said to him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16, 17). No flesh and blood can present to us directly the divinity of Christ. We must have faith in His word. But how can we have faith in the divinity of Christ unless this revealed truth is preached to us? And where will most Christians encounter the law of their faith, if not in the law of their worship? It is therefore evident that our public worship must present to us, in a clear and unambiguous way, that Christ is “my Lord and my God,” so that even those who have not seen the wounds of the risen One may yet believe.

Readers may remember the dust-up when Bishop Rick Stika tweeted “Mass is not the worship of Jesus.” As the surrounding context showed, he seemed to be saying — in a brusque phrase that could not fail to cause much confusion in the world of sound bites — that Christian prayer is normatively understood as being directed to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit, without of course denying the deity of all three Persons. Unfortunately, as with every half-truth, it’s only half true, and the Gospel of Low Sunday is here to remind us of that.

The Arian controversy, which called into question the true divinity of Jesus Christ, provoked orthodox Christians to pray liturgically to Christ, as well as to the Father. Even if prayer would be primarily subordinational in structure, it also needed to involve parallel or coordinating doxology: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. He who is true God and true man is worthy of the same worship, the same adoration, the same address, as His Father and their Spirit. We see this truth displayed above all in the liturgical rites of the East. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom offers abundant examples, of which I give only a few:

For You, O Christ, our God, are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies, and to You we render glory, together with Your eternal Father, and with Your all holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and always, and forever and ever.
     With bowed head, I approach You and implore You, turn not Your face away from me, nor exclude me from among Your children, but allow these gifts to be offered to You by me, Your sinful and unworthy servant; for it is You, O Christ, our God, Who offer and are offered, who receive and are received, and to You we render glory, with Your eternal Father, and Your all-holy, gracious and life-giving Spirit, now and always, and forever and ever. Amen.
     Look down, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, from Your holy dwelling place and from the throne of glory of Your kingdom, and come to sanctify us, You Who are seated on high with the Father, and dwell here invisibly among us, and deem it proper to impart to us, with Your mighty hand, Your most pure body and precious blood, and through us, to all Your people.
     Glory be to You, O Christ, our God, our Hope: Glory be to You.

Sketch of Arius at the First Council of Nicaea, by V. Surikov (1876)

Therefore, even if we may truthfully say that the primordial and fundamental mode of Christian liturgical prayer is offered ad Patrem, as extant anaphoras and orations of the first millennium show, and that, accordingly, the formula “per Christum Dominum nostrum” or any of its variations underlines Christ’s role as the Mediator between God and man, it remains no less true that Christ — indivisibly one with the Father and the Spirit — is the end as well as the means of our prayer.

The traditional Roman liturgy in its bimillenial heritage teaches this inseparable pair of truths by predominantly praying to the Father through Christ, while regularly praying to Christ as our God. The former mode should be normal, so that we internalize the Trinitarian “flow” or “rhythm” of the liturgy, which begins and ends with the Father, yet the latter mode should be frequent enough to inculcate in us a habit of worshiping Jesus and praying to Him, so that we do not lapse into some half-baked form of adoptionism or subordinationism, which appears to be rife in ecclesiastical circles: Jesus becomes the great moral teacher and example of loving your neighbor, a guru like Confucius or the Buddha, a godly man who shows us how to expend ourselves for others.

As I discuss in chapter 6 of my book Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, “Offspring of Arius in the Holy of Holies,” one sees an unmistakably disturbing trend in the Novus Ordo Missae: the severe reduction of prayers addressed to Christ, in favor of a unilateral and almost mechanistic Patricentrism. There is a monolithic redistribution and rewriting of prayer texts such that wherever Christ had been prayed to in the traditional liturgy, we now are made to pray to the Father through Christ. (A glowing exception is the Collect for Corpus Christi, which the Consilium did not dare to modify.) In the years since I wrote that chapter, I have noticed more and more examples of the phenomenon. In what follows, I will simply look at Collects, although a similar study could be done for the Secrets and Postcommunions.

In the Feast of the Holy Family, the usus antiquior postcommunion prayer runs as follows:

Make us, O Lord Jesus, whom Thou dost refresh with Thy heavenly sacraments, constantly to imitate the example of Thy holy family, that at the hour of our death the glorious Virgin Mother and blessed Joseph may be near us, and we may be found worthy to be received by Thee into Thy eternal dwellings. Who livest and reignest... [TLM]

Compare this with its replacement:

Bring those you refresh with this heavenly sacrament, most merciful Father, to imitate constantly the example of the holy family, so that, after the trials of this world, we may share their company for ever. Through Christ our Lord... [NOM]

The old prayer fittingly addresses Jesus, the God-man at the center of the holy family (it is, after all, His holy family — it subsists by Him and exists for Him), and the One whose sacrament we have just received, bringing us right into the midst, mystically, of that same family (“Thy family”). It then with Christian realism talks about the hour of death and asks that Mary and Joseph be by our side, at our deathbed, ready to receive us into their eternal dwelling, for which we ask to be found worthy.

A picture-perfect example of how a good idea can be diluted, the new prayer — in keeping with a mechanical insistence on always addressing the first person of the Trinity (because “it’s more ancient”) — comes across as awkward: we ask God the Father to bring us to imitate the example of the holy family so that we may share their company for ever. It’s less intimate, more procedural, and notably makes no explicit mention of death (too scary!), or of Joseph and Mary being by our side at that greatest moment of our life. The worthiness bit is also gone. Obviously have much in common, but the new one is like running the old one through a reverse osmosis filter and removing the tasty minerals.

Another comparison: February 22, the Chair of St. Peter (in olden days, the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch; the old missal uses the same collect for January 18 and February 22).

O God, who, upon blessed Peter, Thine Apostle, didst bestow the pontifical power of binding and loosing, and didst give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven: grant that his intercession may ensure our deliverance from the bondage of sin. Who livest and reignest with God the Father… [TLM]

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that no tempests may disturb us, for you have set us fast on the rock of the Apostle Peter’s confession of faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… [NOM] 

We could do a similar analysis of the interesting conceptual shift that has taken place here, but it would take us away from the main point we are illustrating, namely, whether the prayer is addressed to Christ when it is fitting to do so given the feast or the mystery, or whether it has been forcibly conformed to the subordinational model, even if this results in a prayer of considerably less theological impact or poetic quality.

June 22, St Paulinus of Nola:

O God, Who hast promised to those who leave all in this world for Thee a hundredfold in the world to come and life everlasting, mercifully grant that, following closely in the footsteps of the holy bishop, Paulinus, we may have the grace to despise earthly things and desire only those fromheaven. Who livest and reignest. [TLM]
O God, who made the Bishop Saint Paulinus of Nola outstanding for love of poverty and for pastoral care, graciously grant that, as we celebrate his merits, we may imitate the example of his charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… [NOM]

 September 15, the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

O God, at Whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of sorrow pierced the most sweet soul of the glorious Virgin and Mother Mary: mercifully grant, that we who with devotion honour her Sorrows, may obtain the happy fruit of Thy Passion: Who livest and reignest. [TLM]

O God, who willed that, when your Son was lifted high on the Cross, his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering, grant that your Church, participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ, may merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you… [NOM] 

October 3, St Thérèse of the Child Jesus:

O Lord, Who hast said: Unless ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven, grant unto us, we beseech Thee, so to follow the footsteps of Saint Teresa, the Virgin, in lowliness and simplicity of heart that we may gain everlasting rewards: Who livest and reignest. [TLM]
O God, who open your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… [NOM]

October 16, St Hedwig, Widow:

O God, Who didst teach blessed Hedwig to leave the pomp of the world for the humble following of Thy cross: grant that, through her merits and intercession, we may learn to trample under foot the perishable delights of the world and in the embrace of Thy cross to overcome all things that oppose us. Who livest and reignest… [TLM]

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the revered intercession of Saint Hedwig may bring us heavenly aid, just as her wonderful life is an example of humility for all. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… [NOM]

October 17, St Margaret Mary Alacoque:

Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst reveal the unsearchable riches of Thy Heart to blessed Margaret, the Virgin, grant us, by her merits and our imitation of her that, loving Thee in all things and above all things, we may deserve to have our continual abode in that same Heart of Thine. Who livest and reignest… [TLM]

Pour out on us, we pray, O Lord, the spirit with which you so remarkably endowed Saint Margaret Mary, so that we may come to know that love of Christ which surpasses all understanding and be utterly filled with your fullness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… [NOM]

An architectural metaphor: the new, uniform, and ugly covers up the old, irregular, and beautiful.

Then, we have a whole host of feasts with Christ-oriented orations that were simply abolished in the revision of the calendar in 1969, so their prayers were de facto lost to the lex orandi of the reformed liturgy, and thus whatever value they had in terms of the lex credendi was likewise lost. The overall result is a gaping hole in the reformed liturgy where once there had been a vital undercurrent of devotion — a hole of which no one becomes aware unless he plunges himself into the older liturgical tradition, which, on this matter as on so many others, is richer and more variegated, like a mineral water that has a more subtle flavor because it has passed through more layers of rock on its way to the spring. Here are several examples of Collects prayed in from Masses of the old sanctoral cycle but no longer existing in Paul VI’s calendar or missal:

February 12, Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order:

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, in order to renew the memory of the sorrows of Thy most holy Mother, hast through the seven blessed fathers enriched Thy Church with the new Order of Servites; mercifully grant that we may be so united in their sorrows as to share in their joys: Who livest and reignest.

February 27, St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows:

O God, Who didst teach blessed Gabriel diligently to ponder the sorrows of Thy most sweet Mother, and Who hast gloriously exalted him as a saint and worker of wonders: vouchsafe to be moved by his merits and prayers, and to grant unto us so to mourn with Mary Thy Mother, that her maternal care may ensure our salvation: Who livest and reignest.

March 24, St Gabriel Archangel:

O God, Who from among all the Angels, didst choose the Archangel Gabriel to announce the mystery of Thine Incarnation: grant in Thy mercy that celebrating his feast on earth we may reap the effect of his protection in Heaven. Who livest and reignest.

April 28, St Paul of the Cross:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst endow St. Paul with exceeding charity to preach the mystery of the Cross, and didst will that through him a new family should spring up in Thy Church, grant us, by his intercession, that, constantly venerating Thy passion on earth, we may be worthy to partake of its fruits in heaven. Who livest and reignest.

May 3, the Finding of the Holy Cross (pre-1962):

O God, who in the glorious Finding of the salutiferous Cross didst stir up anew the wonders of Thy Passion: grant us by the price of this living wood to win the palm of eternal life. Who livest...

September 17, the Impression of the Stigmata of St Francis:

Lord Jesus Christ, Who, when the world was growing cold, didst renew the sacred marks of Thy passion in the flesh of the most blessed Francis, to inflame our hearts with the fire of Thy love, graciously grant that by his merits and prayers we may continually bear the cross and bring forth fruits worthy of penance. Who livest and reignest.

October 10, St Francis Borgia:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who art the pattern of true humility and its reward, we beseech Thee, that, as Thou didst make blessed Francis Thy glorious imitator in contempt of earthly honours, so Thou wouldst grant us to share his imitation and his glory: Who livest and reignest.

There are a number of other Collects addressed to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity — e.g., March 19, St Joseph; the older feast of St Joseph on the third Wednesday after Easter; May 17, St Paschal Baylon; May 20, St Bernardine of Siena; July 6, the octave of SS Peter and Paul; July 16, Our Lady of Mount Carmel; July 22, St Mary Magdalen; August 14, the vigil of the Assumption; August 29, the beheading of John the Baptist; and several of the Collects for November 2, the Commemoration of All Souls.

Nevertheless, I would not wish to give the wrong impression. The vast majority of orations in the Missal of the usus antiquior are still addressed to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. The classical Patricentric orientation of prayer is never lost sight of, never marginalized or submerged. It is the familiar recurring norm. However, the Christocentric orations are sufficiently frequent — and striking in tone — to stave off the opposite problem, namely, a loss or marginalizing of liturgical prayer directed to Christ our God, which is much less common in the Western tradition than in the Eastern, and therefore deserves all the more protection. Such prayers create, as it were, a gentle cross-rhythm to the predominant accent, and this, indeed, is how prayer is enriched, diversified, and balanced on itself, so as to reflect the Father-Son polarity of the Trinitarian mystery. “The Father is greater than I” (John 14, 28); “I and the Father are one” (John 10, 30); “Unless you believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins” (John 8, 24).

To return to my opening paragraph, it seems obvious that if Catholics were accustomed to hearing or seeing prayers like the ones given above, they would imbibe the message that Christ is our God; after all, we pray to Him as such, just as we pray to the Father (and, it may be added, to the Holy Spirit from time to time: Veni, Creator Spiritus; Veni, Sancte Spiritus…). It is also likely that if Catholics never or only very rarely hear such a mode of praying in the liturgy, the semi-Arian miasma in which moderns have been groping since roughly the Enlightenment will have an easier time claiming them for its own.

Gebhard Fugel, Herz-Jesu-Darstellung, ca. 1930:
the angels are offering prayers to Christ as God

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Orations of Low Sunday

Caravaggio, The Incredulity of St. Thomas, ca. 1602
Lost in Translation #47

Nobody likes it when a good party is over, even when the party stretches out for a remarkable eight days. But all good things (this side of the grave) must come to an end, and so the orations for the Sunday after Easter, which concludes a glorious octave, beg for a way for the joys of the Resurrection to continue even though the main celebration has come to a close.

The Secret for Low Sunday is:
Súscipe múnera, Dómine, quáesumus, exsultantis Ecclesiae: et cui causam tanti gaudii praestitisti, perpétuae fructum concéde laetitiae. Per Dóminum.
Which I translate as:
Receive, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the offerings of Thy exultant Church, and grant to her, to whom Thou hast given cause for such great joy, the fruit of perpetual gladness. Through our Lord.
Similarly, the Postcommunion Prayer is:
Quáesumus, Dómine Deus noster: ut sacrosancta mysteria, quæ pro reparatiónis nostrae munímine contulisti; et praesens nobis remedium esse facias, et futúrum. Per Dóminum.
Which I translate as:
We beseech Thee, O Lord our God, to make the sacrosanct mysteries, which Thou hast bestowed as a fortification of our reparation, a remedy for us both now and in the future. Through our Lord.
“Sacrosanct” is the perfect word for the mysteries (i.e. sacraments) that God has bestowed upon us, for they are both “sacred” – set apart for divine use – and “holy” (sanctus) – infused with the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit. The sacrament of our reparation is, I suspect, Baptism, which repairs our relationship with God and which the neophytes received last week during the Easter Vigil. But the sacrament that fortifies our repaired life is the Eucharist, which we have just received at this point in the Mass.
It is the Collect that I find particularly fetching:
Praesta, quáesumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, qui paschalia festa perégimus; haec, te largiente, móribus et vita teneámus. Per Dóminum.
Which I translate as:
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who have finished the Paschal feasts may, by Thy bounty, hold onto them in our practices and in our life. Through our Lord.
“Ago” is the Latin verb for doing or making, and “per-ago” (which I have translated as “have finished”) is the verb for thoroughly doing, for carrying an action through to its end. We will, of course, continue to celebrate the Easter season all the way up to Pentecost, but on this Octave Sunday we complete the celebration of Easter Day.
The petition of the Collect subtly traces a movement from outer to inner. The external observance of ritual and ceremony (the “Paschal feasts”) condition our other “practices” or habits outside the liturgy. These habits, in turn, become so internalized that they reconstitute our very “life,” changing our character and our destiny. In some respects, the Collect reflects the moral anthropology of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics but with one key difference: the movement from outer observance to inner transformation cannot succeed without God's bounty. Te largiente literally means “with You giving lavishly.” God not only has to give, but He has to give lavishly, to make the joys of Easter stick to our being and change them forever. So please, God: give lavishly.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Tenebrae 2021 Photopost (Part 1)

One of the many enouraging signs of the slow-but-steady growth of interest in the recovery of our Catholic liturgical tradition is the increasing number of churches that do Tenebrae services during the Sacred Triduum. In 2015, the year I took over as managing editor of NLM, and in the three years after that, we had only one photopost for Tenebrae; in 2019, we got up to two, and after last year's interruption, we will have two again this year. There is always room for more, so feel free to send in photos of any part of the Triduum or Easter to, remembering to include the name and location of the church.

Notre Dame de Lourdes – Libreville, Gabon (ICRSP)
Nossa Senhora do Pilar – São João Del Rei, Minas Gerais, Brazil

The Easter Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes

Christ Appearing as a Gardener to Mary Magdalene, by Rembrandt (1638)
Lost in Translation #46

Today we take a detour from the Roman orations to bid a sweet farewell to one of the few surviving sequences in the 1962 and 1970 Roman Missals. Victimae Paschali Laudes has been recited or sung every day in Mass since Easter Sunday, but after tomorrow, we will have to wait another year to hear it in the liturgy.

This glorious composition of the eleventh century has been attributed to Notker Balbulus, King Robert II of France, and Adam of St Victor, but its most likely author is Wipo of Burgundy, a chaplain to the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II. The sequence appeared in various medieval Missals, where it was assigned to different days within the Octave of Easter. The 1570 Roman Missal requires its use from Easter Sunday through Easter Saturday.
I include a literal translation alongside the text, followed by my commentary.
Víctimae Pascháli laudes
ímmolent Christiáni.
Agnus redémit oves:
Christus ínnocens Patri
reconciliávit peccatóres.
Let Christians sacrifice praise
To the Paschal Victim.
The Lamb has redeemed the sheep!
Christ, who is innocent,
   has reconciled sinners
To the Father.
The first two stanzas abound in paradox, which is fitting for a season that celebrates Christ destroying our death by dying, and restoring our life by rising. (See the Preface for Easter). The first sentence is even stronger in the Latin: immolare also means to slay or to shed blood ritually. The verb connotes the Hebrew Passover’s bloody sacrifice of a lamb, and ties into the depiction of Christ as the Paschal (i.e., Passover) Victim and Lamb, which is the dominant theme of the Easter Sunday Mass; the statement “Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus – Christ our Pasch is sacrificed” appears in the Epistle, Alleluia, Preface, and Communion Verse. As the verse for the Alleluia, it creates a fitting transition to the Sequence: while the Alleluia proclaims that Christ our Pasch is sacrificed, the Sequence “answers” that Christians should [therefore] offer sacrifice to the Paschal Victim.
Mors et vita duello
conflixére mirando:
Dux vitae mórtuus
regnat vivus.
Death and Life clashed
In a spectacular battle:
The Commander of life, having died,
Reigns alive.
The second stanza summarizes a fortnight of violent imagery in the liturgy. Ever since Passion Sunday, the traditional Roman Rite has included readings and other propers recounting or alluding to the increasing hatred against Jesus Christ and the rising conflict between Him and His enemies. Yes, the Passion of the Christ is like that of a lamb who opened not his mouth as he was led to the slaughter, but Our Lord’s pacifism is also paradoxically portrayed as a fight freely waged on our behalf. St Luke (22, 43) calls the beginning of this fight in the Garden of Gethsemane an “agony” (ἀγωνία), which in ancient Greek referred to a contest in the Games. And like many of the Greeks’ violent sports, this contest in which Jesus was engaged drew blood long before the first soldier came to strike him (Luke 22, 44). It is thanks to Luke’s usage that “agony” eventually came to have the predominant meaning of “intense mental suffering” that it has today.
I translate duellum as “battle”, even though it can also mean “duel”, because the verse after it describes Jesus as a dux, which commonly refers to a military commander or head general. And I suspect that the author chose the militaristic dux rather than rex (king) because even though Jesus “reigns”, and is therefore a king, not all kings fight their own battles as ours does.
Dic nobis María,
quid vidisti in via?
Tell us, Mary,
What did you see on the way?
The third stanza has the narrator, or rather the chorus of narrators, turn to Saint Mary Magdalene and ask her a question. Although her response is sung by the same choir (as opposed to a single female vocalist), I must confess that the exchange reminds me of the campy dialogic songs of the big band era, in which the female singer and the band members hold a musical conversation (think Ella Fitzgerald’s “A Tisket, A Tasket” or Jo Stafford’s “Whatcha Know Joe?”).

The similarity is trivial and incidental, but it does recall how this humble sequence played a key role in rehabilitating the fine arts. The early Church had closed the theaters of Greece and Rome because they had grown too lewd, but the medieval Church brought them back through her liturgy. In the tenth century, a primitive liturgical drama emerged when tropes from the Introit of the Easter Sunday Mass began to be enacted by the clergy. The first medieval play consisted of only four lines comprising the conversation between the holy women and the angels at the tomb and was held after the Office of Matins in the sanctuary. Soon after other parts of the Easter liturgy, including Victimae Paschali Laudes, began to inspire similar theatrical productions. From there the idea expanded to Passion plays, miracle plays, and mystery plays.
“Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:
Angélicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecédet suos in Galilaeam.”
“I saw the tomb of Christ
And the glory of His rising,
Angelic witnesses,
The head napkin, and the linen cloths.
Christ my Hope is risen!
He will go before His own into Galilee.”
Mary Magdalene’s response is a combination of details from both Mark’s and John’s accounts of the Resurrection. In Saint Mark’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene enters Christ’s empty tomb “very early in the morning”, and sees an Angel who instructs her and the other women to tell the disciples that Jesus will go before them into Galilee. Mary and the other women, however, are afraid and say nothing to anyone. Later in the morning, after Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (is this when she sees “the glory of His rising”?), she gains the courage to tell the Apostles what she heard from the angel.
In John’s Gospel, Mary does not initially see the glory of the Rising One (another translation of gloria resurgentis); instead she mistakes Jesus for the gardener. Nor does she enter into the tomb but waits outside while Peter and John go in; it is they who see Christ’s burial linens (John 20, 11). She also sees two angelic witnesses outside the tomb, not one within.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mórtuis vere:
Tu nobis, victor Rex, miserére.
Amen. Allelúja.
We know that Christ is truly risen
From the dead:
Do Thou, O Christ the Victor,
   have mercy on us.
Amen. Alleluia.
The sequence ends nicely with an affirmation of Christ’s resurrection, which we know to be true based in large part on the testimony of St Mary Magdalene. (The use of the Latin scire is quite strong, since the verb can refer to the highest grade of human knowing.) The reference to Christ as Victor brings us full circle to the beginning, where He was described as a Victim. As Saint Augustine notes, Jesus Christ was “both Victor and Victim, and Victor because Victim,” and He was “both Priest and Sacrifice, and Priest because Sacrifice.” (Confessions, 10, 43, 69)
One stanza of the sequence, however, you won’t hear sung in Mass is the following:

Credendum est magis soli
Maríae veráci
quam Judaeórum turbae falláci.
Truthful Mary should be believed
All by herself rather than
The deceitful crowd of Jews.
This line was part of the original composition, and appeared after “Praecédet suos in Galilaeam,” but was removed in St Pius V’s 1570 edition of the Roman Missal. I am curious to know why, and I invite your own speculations in the combox below. The obvious answer is that it is pejorative towards the Jewish people, and yet the 1570 Missal retains another element that Jews find offensive, the Good Friday prayer that deems them “faithless”, with a Latin word that sounds like “perfidious.” I am not sure that sensitivity to other religions was high on the priority list at the time.
The stanza can also be criticized for inaccuracy. In Matthew’s Gospel, the chief priests bribe the Roman guards stationed at the tomb of Jesus to say that His disciples stole His body in the night, and the Jews believed them (Matt 28, 11-15). With the exception of the chief priests, then, the Jews are not deceitful but deceived.
The stanza can also give the impression that the Jews tried to silence or discredit Mary Magdalene’s testimony (like the two lecherous elders in Daniel 13, the story of Susanna), but there is no evidence for this in Scripture. While it is true that women were forbidden in Jewish society from testifying in court, the strongest attacks on the Magdalene’s credibility came from pagan philosophers like Celsus, who denounced her as an “hysterical woman.” (As quoted by Origen in his Contra Celsum 2, 59-60. Celsus puts these words in the mouth of a Jew, but this is a literary conceit.)
Perhaps the real reason for the deletion of this stanza is that it strikes a sour note which detracts from the joy of the sequence and of the occasion for which it is meant. Singling out death and rejoicing over its defeat leaves a good taste in one’s mouth, but mulling over a mob of liars who might still be out there badmouthing our dear sincere Saint does not. Resentment (not to mention fuel for scapegoating) does not belong in a celebration of the risen Savior who forgave His murderers. Whatever the reason, it is good that this stanza was left on the cutting room floor.

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