Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Theology of the Offertory - Part 7.2 - The Missals of the Monastic Orders

The Cistercians, like the Premonstratensians, changed their Offertory in the middle of the 17th century, abandoning the traditional form of their Use and replacing it with that of the Missal of St Pius V. The vogue for Romanization was at the time so strong within the Order (and elsewhere) that the possibility was seriously considered of completely abandoning the Cistercian Use of the Office in favor of the Monastic Breviary of Paul V, a matter in which, fortunately, wiser heads prevailed. Here I shall describe the Cistercian Offertory ritual as it was before this change.

After saying the Offertory antiphon, the priest elevates the paten, host and chalice together, and says the Cistercian version of the standard Offertory prayer Suscipe Sancta Trinitas while kneeling.
Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus in memoriam beatæ passionis, resurrectionis et ascensionis Domini nostri Jesu Christi: et in honorem beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis genetricis ejusdem Domini nostri, et omnium Sanctorum et Sanctarum, caelestium virtutum et vivificae Crucis; ut eam acceptare digneris pro nobis peccatoribus, et pro animabus omnium fidelium defunctorum. Qui vivis et regnas Deus. Per omnia saecula saeculorum.
Receive, o holy Trinity, one God, this offering, which we offer to Thee in memory of the blessed Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of the blessed Mary ever-Virgin, and mother of the same Our Lord, of all holy men and women, of the heavenly powers, and of the life-giving Cross; they Thou may deign to receive it on behalf of us sinners, and for the souls of all the faithful departed. That livest and reignest, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Bowing profoundly before the altar, he then says the prayer In spiritu humilitatis, with the same variation found in the Dominican Use.
In a spirit of humility, and in contrite heart, may we be received by Thee, o Lord; and so may our sacrifice take place in Thy sight this day, that it may be received by Thee, and please Thee, o Lord.
The Cistercian version of the Orate fratres is “Orate, fratres, pro me peccatore: ut meum pariter ac vestrum in conspectu Domini acceptabile fiat sacrificium. – Pray brethren, for me, a sinner: that my sacrifice, which is also yours, may be made acceptable, in the sight of the Lord.” This is very similar to that of the Premonstratensian Use; the reply to it is identical between the two uses.
Dominus sit in corde tuo et in ore tuo; suscipiatque Dominus Deus de manibus tuis sacrificium istud, et orationes tuæ ascendant in memoriam ante Deum pro nostra et totius populi salute.
May the Lord be in thy heart and in thy mouth, and may the Lord God receive this sacrifice from thy hands, and may thy prayers ascend in remembrance before God, for our salvation and that of all the people.
Like many missals formed in the medieval period, printed Cistercian Missals before this reform have no Ritus servandus, the long rubric describing in detail the actual rite of Mass; this was written down in a separate book. Fr. Edmund Waldstein of Heiligenkreuz Monastery in Austria (a.k.a. Sancrucensis) very graciously provided me with the text of this rubric from a 12th-century Cistercian manuscript. This contains a description of the rite of incensing, which I include as something which may perhaps interest the reader. One should not assume, however, that this rite was still done in precisely the same manner in 1606, when the Missal out of which I have cited the Offertory above was printed.

When the priest has received the thurible from the acolyte, he passes it once around the chalice, then incenses the right side of the mensa, the left side, and the front of the altar. He passes the thurible to the deacon, and proceeds to wash his hands, assisted by the subdeacon, after which he bows low and says In spiritu humilitatis. Meanwhile, the deacon, standing slightly away from the altar, incenses the right side of the altar twice, then the cross twice; he then passes behind the altar over to the left side, incenses it twice, and the cross on the altar twice again. The thurible is then given back to the acolyte. No reference is made to incensing any of the persons present, as one might expect in the spirit of Cistercian austerity.

The Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny, one of the four eldest daughter houses of Cîteaux. In the Cisterican system of visitations, by which mother-houses would routinely visit their daughters to ensure adherence to the rules and customs of the Order, Pontigny took turns with the abbeys of Clairvaux, La Ferté and Morimond in visiting Cîteaux itself. It was here that St Thomas Becket took refuge when driven out of England by King Henry II in 1164. 
The Carthusian Use

No one will be surprised to know that the Carthusian Offertory is even simpler and more austere than that of the Cistericans; uniquely among the Uses of the religious orders, it contains no version of Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, even though that prayer was well established as a part of Offertory when the Carthusian Order was founded in 1084. Here I give the texts and basic rubrics from a Missal of 1627; a fuller account of the Carthusian Mass is given in this article from 2008.

When placing the water in the chalice, the priest says, “From the side of our Lord Jesus Christ came forth blood and water, unto the remission of sins. In the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”, making the sign of the Cross over the chalice at the place marked. As he washes his hands, he says the customary verse of Psalm 25, “I will wash my hands among the innocent,” and two or three other verses, according to the rubric. (The Dominicans also say only three verses.)

The prayer In spiritu humilitatis is the same as the Cistercian version noted above, but it is said “when he offers the chalice at the middle of the altar.” He then makes the sign of the Cross with the chalice, saying “In the name of the Father etc.”, and lays it down.

The Missal does include a simple rubric for the incensation at the Offertory. The priest begins by holding the thurible over the chalice, without moving it, and saying “Let my prayer, o Lord, be directed as incense in thy sight.”, but only this. He then makes a cross over the chalice with it once, saying “In the name of the Father etc.” He then swings the thurible once towards the cross, once over the right side of the mensa, once over the left side, and three times before the front. As in the Cistercian Use, the incensation of the altar is continued by the deacon, who walks around the altar in a full circle, stopping to incense the Blessed Sacament as he passes both behind and in front.  As the Priest turns and says the Orate fratres, the deacon raises the front of the chasuble with one hand and with the other incenses the priest with one swing of the thurible; only the priest is incensed.

The Orate fratres is much shorter than that of the other religious Uses of the same period, consisting only in the words “Orate, fratres, pro me peccatore, ad Dominum Deum nostrum. – Pray brethren, for me a sinner, to the Lord, our God.” No reply is made.

A Carthusian Missal of 1713, open to the Offertory prayers and the beginning of the Prefaces. (This photograph was originally published on NLM in 2009.)
This series was begun as a reply to the contention made elsewhere that the Offertory was invented in the Scholastic period to create a “second sacrifice” of bread and wine, apart from the Sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood. I have argued against this partly on the basis of the fact that the Roman version of the Offertory makes no reference to either bread or wine as objects of sacrifice. The Carthusian version does not even use the word “sacrifice”. If the Offertory were indeed an imposture of the Scholastic period, which succeeded in foisting itself on the entire Western Church, how were the Carthusians alone allowed to not adopt this putative new theology of sacrifice and priesthood? We must also note that unlike the Cistercians, Premonstratensians and Carmelites, their use of the Mass was never Romanized, and continued to have this particularly simple form of the Offertory ritual throughout the post-Tridentine period.

Latin Mass Society Day of Recollection at St Edmund's College, Ware, England

Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society has posted to his flickr account some great photographs from a day of Eucharistic Recollection held at St Edmund’s College in Ware, Hertfordshire, England, led by Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP, assisted by Mgr. Gordon Read and Fr. Patrick Hayward, with the schola led by Mr. Christopher Hodkinson. Fr de Malleray gave spiritual conferences, and the day concluded with Solemn Vespers, veneration of a relic of St. Edmund of Abingdon, and Benediction, officiated by Mgr Read.







Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A 21st Century Knight, a Model of Chivalry

As NLM readers will know, my friend Stratford Caldecott died very recently of cancer. I heard the news at a time that I was was reading his newly published book, Not as the World Gives: the Way of Creative Justice.
Contained within the book, which focusses for a large part on Catholic social teaching, especially in the light of Pope Benedict's Caritas in Veritate, he has a chapter on the evangelization of the culture. Within this, in turn, he makes a call for a new chivalry (p145):
'The Crusaders, with whom we associate the first Christendom - and who in fact represent one of its greatest failures - made the mistake of confusing and interior and spiritual struggle with an earthly and political one. The most important struggle is within. [This] suggests a way in which the ideal (if not the historical example) of medieval chivalry remains valid even today.'
He then quotes Hans Urs von Balthasar from his who felt that the West was built on the spirit of chivalry: 'Francis was a knight of Christ, as was Ignatius in turn while Newman's refinement resists every temptation to take things easy. Knighthood changes its form, but it does not change its soul...The glorification of the body of knights is no backward looking romanticism, no ancien régime that turns its face aside from the march of time, but the only effective equipment with which the Christian can meet the present day.' This body of knights, he says, 'is the fellowship under obligation to the King of Kings,' in which each strives for an inner peace, a personal transformation and then take that peace out to the world through his interactions with others; for 'how is the world to be healed, how are the peoples to be reconciled, if not through such a new body of knights which is nothing other than carrying out the will of Jesus Christ, here and now, in this time?'
It is from this body of knights that the economic social change, political change and cultural change in its broadest understanding will occur. For each person so transformed can contribute to the change of the world. 'In other words, the Evangelization of the culture takes place first in the encounter of one person with another before it affects governments or organisations.'
I think that few who have ever met Strat would deny he was one of those knights, brandishing the sword of the spirit and through each personal encounter transmitting the love of Christ. RIP
Afterword: the past two weeks I have been teaching art classes in which students learn the style of the English gothic illuminators from the period of the 13th century, especially Matthew Parris. Our classes had been discussing the relevance of painting a medieval knight today because our model for study was an image from the Westminster Psalter of a knight kneeling, see below. We discussed it and felt that the age of chivalry is not dead, or at least it shouldn't be; and assigned our knight the symbolism of the chivalrous Christian who is strong in virtue and who carries the light of Christ out into the world. For want of anything better, we called him the knight of the New Evangelization.
It was just yesterday that I discovered that in the psalter he is in fact portrayed kneeling before an unknown king.
Psalter.8-Kneeling-Knight-Westminster-Psalter

bd2448831693d213c356722a5b282686It was pure coincidence that this is the image that we were studying when I heard of Strat's death and then happened to read the above passage in his book.
The picture that I painted of this knight, below, is my Christian Knight. When I painted it I thought of him as accepting his call from God to take up his personal vocation in life. But now I see him paying homage, as Strat described in his book, to the King of Kings, seeking personal transformation in Christ and accepting his role as a walking icon of Christ in the world, drawing others to the Faith.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Conforming Our Secular Selves to Sacred Signs

In the movie Into Great Silence there is a great moment when a group of monks are talking and one of them mentions that another monastery has dropped a bunch of its practices in order to adapt to the times. An elderly monk says:
Our entire life, the whole liturgy, and everything ceremonial are symbols. If you abolish the symbols, then you tear down the walls of your own house. When we abolish the signs, we lose our orientation. Instead, we should search for their meaning … one should unfold the core of the symbols. … The signs are not to be questioned, we are.
That is monastic wisdom, pure and simple.

It furnishes us a lesson that may, in fact, be the most important lesson of all in our age of constant change, planned obsolescence, the myth of progress, the seductions of postmodern pluralism. The liturgy, like the divine revelation out of which it emerges and to which it ministers, is our lifeline to God, giving nourishment to our faith, oil to the fire of our charity. If we lose our hold on the sacred symbols that come to us from the cosmos and from revelation, we will indeed lose our orientation to God; we will tear down the walls that surround us, and will lose our faith, our charity, even ourselves. We must not adapt the signs to ourselves, for that will bring about nothing more than an echo chamber, a hall of mirrors that reflects only us. We must rather conform ourselves to the sacred signs, and be molded by them, for they are tools used by the potter’s hands.

For this reason, it is a sovereign, non-negotiable, utterly fixed principle that if a certain long-standing practice has (as people will say) “lost its meaning,” we do not get rid of it—we rediscover its meaning, and perhaps, as our ancestors often did, we even invest it with a new meaning. Under no circumstances do we abolish it. As Fr. Guido Rodheudt says, apropos the "gigantic purge of traditional treasures" in the 1960s:
Astonishingly, it never occurred to anyone to attempt to encounter what had been forgotten by remembering or to regain the lost understanding, or with the devotion of a child for his grandparents to have the past recounted anew so as to understand it or to learn to love it, because in the tales told by the elderly we have a guarantee that what once was must never sink into oblivion, because it is vitally necessary for today. Especially when—as with liturgical treasures—it is a question of forms that developed in this way and only in this way, so that they might timelessly unite man with the eternal, regardless of where and how he lives. (The Sacred Liturgy, ed. A. Reid, p. 279)
In reality, nothing “automatically means” this or that: human beings still have to learn the language of symbols, just as an infant has to learn how to breastfeed, then crawl, walk, speak words—even if all of this is natural to us and will usually happen in due course. Because we are aesthetic-linguistic creatures, the use and recognition of symbols together with a certain delight in them is certainly natural to us, but the sheer variety, subtlety, and density of symbols, together with supervenient meanings established by convention, requires a lengthy education, or better, initiation. It is for this reason, among others, that so much great literature of the past is becoming increasingly inaccessible to modern young people: they do not have the intellectual equipment, or sometimes the first-hand experiences, required for relating to the elements and connecting them into a coherent whole. They don’t “get it”; it doesn’t “speak to them.”

By the modern logic of cutting out symbols that no longer speak to our contemporaries, one might very well end up with nothing left. “Candles? Oh yes, those were important to people before electricity. But since we now have other sources of light, candles don’t really speak to us anymore.”

“An altar? Oh yes, that was fine when people still had primitive ideas about sacrificing to angry gods and that kind of thing, but now we know that Jesus just wants a family meal, we should really have a table in the center that people can gather around.”

“Incense? Oh yes, people used to imagine prayer rising up like smoke to God in the heavens, but that’s a naïve idea that modern astronomy has proved false. God is everywhere and he knows our hearts, so we don’t need to burn perfume to him.”

Listen to what William Durand, the great 13th-century commentator on the liturgy, says at the start of his magnum opus, the Rationale Divinorum:
Whatever belongs to the liturgical offices, objects, and furnishings of the Church is full of signs of the divine and the sacred mysteries, and each of them overflows with a celestial sweetness when it is encountered by a diligent observer who can extract honey from rock and oil from the stoniest ground (Deut 32:13). . . . I, William, bishop of the holy church of Mende, by the indulgence of God alone, knocking at the door, will continue to knock, until the key of David deigns to open it for me (Rev 3:20), so that the king might bring me into his cellar where he stores his wine (Song 2:4).
What Bishop William is saying (and goes on to say at some length) is that he knows the liturgy is a treasure trove of mystical meaning, a means of purification, illumination, and communion, and so he will knock continually at the door of the Lord, with all diligence and zeal, until he understands everything he can, turning it to his own advantage and that of the flock he shepherds. Now this is an attitude of true humility, of trust in the ways of Providence, of heartfelt surrender to the sacred liturgy so that it may shape us through and through, unto the image of the New Adam.

And this, too, is the reason why a full parish life is required to sustain the liturgy and to initiate generation after generation into this sacred inheritance. The formation of the New Adam is a formation of the whole person—the imagination as well as the intellect, the child as well as the man, the family as well as the individual, from cradle to tomb, before and beyond. As a gem shines more beautifully when set in gold or silver, the traditional Mass is but a part—the most important part—of a whole that surrounds it and endows it with maximal power to form the Christian.

The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter produced a lovely booklet for their silver jubilee, which contained several statements of just this point:
All the activity of the parish life are a preparation for the Holy Sacrifice, or a flowering of it. Because of the sacred nature of the Mass and Holy Eucharist, Catholics require a strong doctrinal and spiritual formation. … Within these [sodalities and confraternities], the faithful have a greater sense of the parish as the locus of their participation in the Mystical Body of Christ. … The parish life in a Fraternity apostolate may be characterized as imbuing Catholic families with a true Catholic identity. … The parish today must also be a bright beacon of light, a sign of contradiction, and a haven for hungry souls in an ever-secularizing world. This mission is carried out first and foremost by the outward expression of its worship of God.
Dom Alcuin Reid has often made a related point: the most curiously neglected passages of Sacrosanctum Concilium are those in which the Council Fathers indicate that the only way liturgical reform will be fruitful is if the clergy and the faithful are profoundly immersed in the spirit of the liturgy. Only by a true formation in and by the sacred liturgy in all its objectivity and splendor can there be authentic Christian renewal and, with it, prudent liturgical reform, as Guardini before the Council and Ratzinger after the Council recognized.

This is what the Liturgical Movement was all about; this is what the New Liturgical Movement is also about. We should never forget either our central aim or our primary means—the aim of glorifying the Triune God and saving souls, through the fullest, deepest participation of the faithful in the sacred liturgy. It seems only fitting to give St. Pius X the last word:
Filled as We are with a most ardent desire to see the true Christian spirit flourish in every respect and be preserved by all the faithful, We deem it necessary to provide before anything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable font, which is the active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church. And it is vain to hope that the blessing of heaven will descend abundantly upon us, when our homage to the Most High, instead of ascending in the odor of sweetness, puts into the hand of the Lord the scourges wherewith of old the Divine Redeemer drove the unworthy profaners from the Temple. (Motu proprio Tra le Sollecitudini)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Ordinariate: A Gift to be Shared from Benedict XVI - An Upcoming Talk in Portland, Oregon

On August 5th, at 7:30 PM, Holy Rosary Church in Portland, Oregon, 375 NE Clackamas St., (known to many for its use of the Dominican Rite for important feasts), will be hosting a Dominican Forum talk by the Reverend Carl Reid, titled, “The Ordinariate: A Gift to be Shared from Benedict XVI.”

On January 1, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI established the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for those groups of Anglicans in the United States who seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. This is the second Ordinariate created in light of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the first having been created for England and Wales on January 15, 2011. Pope Benedict’s gracious response represents an important and exciting new step along the difficult path toward Christian unity.

This will be followed the next evening at 7:30 PM by a Solemn High Mass according to the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite. This Mass will feature the group Cantores in Ecclesia singing the “Mass for Four Voices” by Thomas Tallis.

All are welcome who wish to understand and experience this great gift of our Pope Emeritus to our universal Church.

Advance notice for Solemn Mass (EF), Feast of the Assumption

Readers in Rhode Island and the surrounding area may want to mark their calendars now. Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form will begin at 7:00 pm on Friday, August 15th, at Holy Ghost Church in Tiverton, R.I. Under the leadership of its pastor and my friend Father Jay Finelli (the “iPadre”), Holy Ghost has become a showpiece of the new liturgical movement: ad orientem for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms, generous use of Latin and Gregorian chant, quality music, Communion at the altar rail, sacred vessels and vestments worthy of the divine Sacrifice, doctrinally meaty preaching and catechesis, etc. (see HERE and HERE).

St John XXIII Asks the Faithful Not to Applaud in Church


translation of the Italian:

The fourth Sunday of Lent, John XXIII was once again among the crowd, at Ostia. (about 15 miles to the south-west of Rome.) Thousands of people were waiting for him along the street, in the piazza, in the church. They wanted to see him, to applaud him. They did not know that afterwards, he would rebuke them, in a good-natured way, in his simple , spontaneous, familiar way of speaking.

“I am very glad to have come here. But if I must express a wish, it is that in church you not shout out, that you not clap your hands, and that you not greet even the Pope, because ‘templum Dei, templum Dei.’ (‘The temple of God is the temple of God.’)

Now, if you are pleased to be in this beautiful church, you must know that the Pope is also pleased to see his children. But as soon as he sees his good children, he certainly does not clap his hands in their faces. And the one who stands before you is the Successor of St. Peter.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Oratorians of Port Antonio in the Diocese of Kingston, Jamaica

Here is a small piece of news for any who were following the story of the Oratory in Formation in St Anthony's Parish in Port Antonio in Jamaica. Mgr Michael Palud has just informed me that their website is now up, here. If anyone wishes to contact them or support their work and community please contact them through this website. This is a nice little excuse to remind NLM readers of its establishment and to ask for prayers and support for them.

The Church and World War I - “Echoes of the Great War” by Catholic News Service


As I watched this excellent documentary from Catholic News Service, I was reminded particularly by the second half (from 9:00, discussing the aftermath of “The War to End All Wars”, and its impact on culture and society) of a very interesting paper given by Dr Alcuin Reid at the CIEL Conference in Rome several years ago. Dom Reid’s topic was the change that took place in the Liturgical Movement in the period between the World Wars. Before World War I, the major figures in the Liturgical Movement believed that instilling true devotion to the liturgy, and curing the neglect thereof, was principally a matter of education. The liturgy was seen as an inexhaustible treasure-trove for the spiritual life, and the goal of men such as Dom Guéranger and Fr Romano Guardini was to raise both the clergy and the laity up to a greater appreciation of it. In the period between the wars, the attitude shifted towards the idea that if the run of the clergy and faithful were disinterested in the liturgy, the problem lay not with them, but with the liturgy. The cure for this neglect would then become, not to educate the faithful up to the level of the liturgy, but to alter the liturgy to suit the needs of “modern” man. (This paper has not been published, so I am citing it from notes and memory, trusting to Dom Alcuin’s indulgence if I have misstated anything.)

It is a question for Church historians and social historians whether this shift in attitude was actually created by what the persons here interviewed describe as the aftermath of World War I, “a sense of brooding nihilism, (the belief that) nothing was effective”, (Dr. David Berlinski), a “shak(ing of) the faith that many Europeans had in their own elites ... (including) religious elites.” (Dr. Margaret MacMillan) The emergence of Modernism in the Church well before World War I suggests perhaps that it was already present, but strongly reinforced by the great catastrophe which Pope Benedict XV called “the suicide of Europe.” The shift itself, however, is unmistakable. It may best be seen, I think, in the difference between the writings of Dom Guéranger in the 19th century, and those of the Bl. Cardinal Schuster in the 20th. Every page of the former’s The Liturgical Year breathes a profound reverence for the texts and rites of the liturgy, be they those of great feast day, or an obscure sequence not used since the 14th century. Describing the liturgy of Palm Sunday, Dom Guéranger writes this of the Epistle which is sung before the blessing of palms in the Missal of St Pius V, Exodus 15, 27 - 16, 7.
After this prayer, the subdeacon chants a passage from the Book of Exodus, which relates how the people of God, after they had gone forth from Egypt, pitched their tents at Elim, beneath the shade of seventy palm-trees, where also were twelve fountains. While here, they were told by Moses that God was about to send them manna from heaven, and that, on the very next morning, their hunger would be appeased. These were figures of what is now given to the Christian people. The faithful, by a sincere conversion, have separated themselves from the Egypt of a sinful world. They are offering the palms of their loyalty and love to Jesus, their King. The fountains typify the Baptism, which, a few days hence, is to be administered to our catechumens. These fountains are twelve in number; the twelve articles of the symbol of our faith were preached to the world by the twelve apostles. And finally, on the morning of Easter day, Jesus, the Bread of life, the heavenly Manna, will arise from the tomb, and manifest His glory to us. (The Liturgical Year, vol. 6)
Writing of the same Epistle in 1919 in “The Sacramentary”, Cardinal Schuster says:
The lesson from Exodus… does not appear to be in keeping with today’s mystery. It was introduced by the Gallican liturgists of the Middle Ages, on account of the reference to the fountains of water and the seventy palm-trees… The two alternative Graduals which follow have no bearing whatever on the ceremony of the blessing of the palms, and have been inserted here merely to fill in the gaps and to separate the two Scriptural lessons. It is easy to see that the whole arrangement of today’s function, in spite of its apparent antiquity, is somewhat artificial; consisting, as it does, of various parts differing great both in inspiration and in origin, which have been joined together anyhow, without any real unity of design. (The Sacramentary, vol. 2) 
I write this not as an attack on Schuster, whose devotion to the liturgy was noted even by communist newspapers, and whose holiness has been officially recognized by the Church Herself. Nevertheless, there is a notable difference in his approach from that of Dom Guéranger; an air of judgment and skepticism has crept into what he himself describes in his preface as “whatever sentiments of faith and reverence Our Lord may have deigned to grant me, his unworthy servant, in the course of my daily meditation on the Roman Missal.” Does this perhaps result from a real sense permeating his era that the ancient ways of life, ancient customs and traditions, are losing or have indeed permanently lost their value, as Dr de Mattei notes in the CNS piece? And since all of the architects of the post-Conciliar reforms were formed as churchmen in the aftermath of the two World Wars, the question should also be asked: how much of their era’s way of looking at the world, how many of their attitudes and ideas, are as perennially valuable as those of, say, Ss Augustine, Benedict, and Gregory the Great? If they could ask the question “how much longer must we live according to the ideas of the preceding centuries?”, and answer “no longer, starting from today”; can we not also ask “how much longer must we live according to the ideas of the preceding century?” (These questions are pertinent not only to the liturgy, of course, but to all of the aspects in which the Church struggles through the aftermath of the post-Conciliar reforms.)

I would highly recommend to those who find the CNS piece of interest that they also watch this interview with Dr David Berlinski. Personally, I find everything that he says fascinating; after watching an earlier interview on the same program, I read his previous book, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, and enjoyed it immensely. Starting at 26:14, he discusses with Peter Robinson the 19th-century’s highly optimistic notions of the inevitable improvement and perfection of society, and the dashing of that optimism in the 20th.


Monday, July 28th, marks the 100th anniversary of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia, the official beginning of the First World War. Let us all take some time on that day to pray for peace in the world, and to remember the wisdom of the ancient Collect of the Mass for Peace, that “holy desires, right counsels and just works” come from God, and from Him alone, and that the true peace is one “which the world cannot give.”

Deus, a quo sancta desideria, recta consilia, et justa sunt opera: da servis tuis illam, quam mundus dare non potest, pacem; ut et corda nostra mandatis tuis dedita, et, hostium sublata formidine, tempora sint tua protectione tranquilla.

God, from whom are holy desires, right counsels and just works, give to thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be given over to Thy commandments, and, the fear of our enemies being taken away, our times be peaceful under Thy protection.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Lumen Christi Simple Gradual as a Component of a Parish Music Program

Today there is a veritable flood of outstanding sacred music publications. And they are coming not a moment too soon, as we see the desire for authentic Catholic liturgy growing, opportunities for learning multiplying, and a generational shift under way. Even if this shift is sometimes leading to a certain polarization among the faithful, nevertheless the need for reconnecting with our past heritage is widely recognized by many, including mainstream publishers.

As I discussed last week at Views from the Choir Loft, one of the most crucial things that must be done everywhere is the recovery of the Propers of the Mass. In this noble and necessary task, the Simple English Propers were a step in the right direction, but its author Adam Bartlett freely admits that it was an interim solution until something more complete could be put in its place. (That's not to say that the SEP can't continue to function well in places that are accustomed to using it, but only that musicians should be sure to check out the Lumen Christi Gradual and Fr. Weber's Proper of the Mass when these volumes appear, as each of them will contain all that the SEP has—and a great deal more.)

Most NLM readers are familiar with Bartlett’s company Illuminare Publications, which is bringing out the Lumen Christi line of books. By offering a panoply of English chant that accounts for all the inherent needs of the liturgy, the Lumen Christi series faciliates, for the first time—or at least, for the first time with any ease of execution—a fully chanted English Ordinary Form liturgy.

Not long ago I received review copies of both the LC Simple Gradual and the LC Simple Gradual Choir Edition, and I was quite impressed with the quality of their musical content, internal organization, crisp typesetting, and sturdy production. These should be no surprise to those who have already held in their hands the comprehensive and elegant Lumen Christi Missal.

The LC Simple Gradual is nothing but an excerpted version of the LC Missal—that is, it contains all the chants of the Missal but not the Lectionary readings and devotions. (The LC Simple Gradual Choir Edition adds pointed Psalm verses.) Some parishes don’t want Lectionary readings and are just looking for a sleek, inexpensive volume for the pew in order to begin singing the Mass as the Church desires. This is the niche that the LC Simple Gradual fills, and fills more economically due to its slender size. The LC Missal and LC Simple Gradual are therefore alternatives, based upon community needs and financial ability. The forthcoming LC Hymnal can function as a companion to either. The LC Gradual will complete the series by furnishing a more extensive selection of chants, including more elaborate melodies, for the choir’s use on Sundays and Holydays.

The series may seem a bit complex, but it’s actually quite simple:
  • Do you want the lectionary readings as well as congregational chant? Your book is the LC Missal.
  • Do you want just the congregational chant? Your book is the LC Simple Gradual, with a few copies of the Choir Edition for the cantors/choir.
  • Do you want to add a substantial collection of classic hymns? Add the LC Hymnal (once it’s available, which I hear is relatively soon).
  • Do you wish to have fuller or more complex chants for the cantors/choir? Add the LC Gradual (once it’s available).
The LC Simple Gradual Choir Edition comes with a masterful introduction that describes in detail what the guiding ideals are and how the books are intended to be used. Readers should keep in mind that this is indeed a Simple Gradual, with a full Gradual to follow it. The Simple Gradual provides a repertoire that is aimed at congregational singing through seasonal introduction of antiphons. The full Gradual will have every proper text set in a few different ways (including the Simple Gradual settings). Think of it this way: the Simple Gradual is a base repertoire for congregational singing, hence the seasonal options and sometimes abbreviated texts, whereas the Gradual is the book for the choir, which sets the full proper in its full integrity.

For now, the role of the LC Simple Gradual is clear, so long as it is understood for what it is: a selection of liturgical chant for parishes to help them begin “singing the Mass” rather than “singing at Mass.” One can imagine the book sitting alongside various hymnals, with parishes introducing a few new antiphons each season, leading the faithful beyond a total reliance upon hymnody. In time, a base repertoire is built up, the parish gets used to chant, and hymns begin to take a backseat. This is a very non-radical approach to the problem, but one that is more palatable for most parishes today.

As they watch the rise of newly composed vernacular chant, some traditionally-minded Catholics fear that the ancient and magnificent Gregorian repertoire will be forgotten in the midst of this mini-renaissance. The beautiful thing about the LC Simple Gradual, as with its parent publication the LC Missal, is that it doesn’t necessarily require the sacrificing of the authentic Gregorian repertoire; it can work in tandem with it. As Adam Bartlett explained to me, at the Cathedral in Phoenix there are three different Sunday Masses, all of which feature traditional sacred music—but in different proportions of Latin and English, chant and polyphony and hymns:

1. Saturday evening: LC Simple Gradual antiphons, with a few hymns.

2. Sunday at 9:00 am: Entrance hymn followed by LC Simple Gradual antiphon; English antiphon at Offertory or something more substantial on occasion; Gregorian Proper antiphon at Communion, at the beginning and end of the LC Simple Gradual antiphon, sung with English verses, and with congregation singing the English antiphon.

3. Sunday at 11:00 am: Gregorian Introit and Communion, Lumen Christi chants everywhere else, along with much polyphony.

All of this is done in the context of a fully sung Order of Mass and chanted Ordinaries in Latin and English, as a norm. Bartlett tells me that it has worked out beautifully.

Some parishes, relying more heavily on hymnody, may inch more slowly into the Lumen Christi material. Still, it has the great merit of being accessible to them, and has the potential to open the door to so much more when the time is ripe. Here, a policy of incrementalism in the Ordinary Form context would seem to be more prudent, more realistic about the habits that need to be inculcated, and ultimately more assured of success, as people grow to appreciate the musical and textual prayerfulness that chanted Propers and Ordinary bring to the celebration of the Mass.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Forgotten Art of Gerhard Lamers

We have encountered Gerhard Lamers' (1871-1964) work here before in relation to William Heyer's restoration and rehabilitation of the chapel at the Pontifical College Josephinum, but I was recently sent a photograph of a beautiful painting he undertook for a convent in Cincinnati sometime in the 1930s, and which now is in the possession of St. Mary's Church in Franklin, Kentucky (above). Lamers is one of those ubiquitous if sadly forgotten figures of early twentieth century Catholic art; like his contemporary Hildreth Meière, you may already be familiar with his work without even realizing it. Of German extraction, he traveled first to the United States in 1925 to paint the stunning neo-Byzantine murals that grace the interior of St. Joseph's Cathedral in Wheeling, West Virginia (a work by that other forgotten master, Edward J. Weber) and later returned in 1928, where he remained associated with Cincinnati's large German Catholic community. One of his best-known work is the large mural (now lost) behind the high altar at the Josephinum, but he also produced stunning work at the Monte Cassino shrine at St. Meinrad in Indiana and numerous other locations. Several other examples of his work follow below. Barring his work in Wheeling, his marvelous murals are depressingly under-documented; any further information or photographs would certainly be certainly appreciated.






(source)



There are also a host of images of the interior of St. Joseph's in Wheeling at this site.

Urgent Appeal -- August 1st Day of Prayer, Adoration, and Solidarity for Persecuted Christians

Friday, August 1, 2014 is the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East:
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter asks all of its apostolates around the world to dedicate Friday, August 1 to a day of prayer and penance for the Christians who are suffering terrible persecution in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
          August 1 is the First Friday of the month and the Feast of St. Peter in Chains, which is celebrated as a Third Class Feast in FSSP houses and apostolates. It is the feast in which we read of the great power of the persevering prayer of members of the Church: “Peter therefore was kept in Prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the Church unto God for him.” (Acts 12:5)
          This feast of our Patron should be an invitation to the faithful to join us in Holy Hours and other fitting prayers to beg the Most Holy Trinity that these members of the Mystical Body may persevere in the faith, and that, like St. Peter, they may be delivered from this terrible persecution. May such a day serve as a reminder to us of the stark contrast that stands between our days of vacation and ease, and their daily struggle for survival as they are killed or exiled from their homes. 
It is a day, we believe, chosen wisely by that Institute: we urge all our Catholic brethren, East and West, attached to the Ordinary Form (Mass of Paul VI) or to the Extraordinary Form (Ancient Mass), whatever their theological bent, to join this worldwide prayer day. Whether you consider yourself a more liberal, conservative, traditional, or just plain Catholic, let us join together in this worldwide Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, together with all the Angels and Saints.

It is also appropriately chosen because Pastors and Chaplains will have 10 days to prepare properly, to contact projects that help Christians in need and collect all kinds of contributions for the Christians of the Middle East (from Aid to the Church in Need to CNEWA, the Syrian and Chaldean Catholic Churches, and other organizations) and, in particular, to add to their bulletins and convey to their congregations how to participate next Sunday, July 27.

Please, spread this initiative around. Copy, paste, and just let this idea spread around throughout the world, through the web, through social networks, to your family and friends.

Bishops, Pastors, priests, join us. First Fridays are a special day of the month, and nothing better next First Friday, August 1, than for all Catholics around the world to join in Adoration before Our Lord to implore his mercy and kindness for our most neglected brethren in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Middle East.