Saturday, July 20, 2019

Dominican Rite Missa Cantata, August 4, Eagle Rock CA

I am pleased to announce that a Dominican Rite Missa Cantata will be celebrated at St Dominic’s Church in Eagle Rock, California, on Sunday, August 4, at 3:00 p.m. Here is the flyer announcing the Mass.

The church is located at 2002 Merton Ave. in Los Angeles. The celebrant will be Fr Paul Raftery, O.P., chaplain of St Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula. Music will be provided by the St Hildegarde Schola and guest organist David Gallivan.

St Dominic’s Church is staffed by the priests of the Western Dominican Province.

The Feast of the Prophet Elijah 2019

It came to pass, when the Lord would take Elijah up into heaven by a whirlwind, * Elisha cried out, saying: My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and driver thereof. V. And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them asunder: and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha cried out... (The twelfth reponsory from the books of Kings in the Roman Breviary.)

Folio 54r of the Hours of King Henry II of France, ca. 1550 (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits. Latin 1429)
R. Factum est, dum tólleret Dóminus Elíam per túrbinem in caelum, * Eliséus clamábat, dicens: Pater mi, pater mi, currus Israël, et auríga ejus. V. Cumque pérgerent, et incedentes sermocinarentur, ecce currus ígneus et equi ígnei divisérunt utrumque, et ascendit Elías per túrbinem in caelum. Eliséus clamábat...

Friday, July 19, 2019

Audio from the Sacred Music Colloquium: July 2

The opening Mass of the CMAA Colloquium in Philadelphia took place July 2 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, a votive Mass of the Holy Angels, celebrated by Fr David Friel. The first Mass of the Colloquium is always sung in English, with English music settings; the Propers were by Fr Samuel Weber OSB, and the Mass Ordinary was the Mass in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea by Michael Olbash, who was also organist. The choirs also sang two motets, Call to Remembrance by Richard Farrant and Richard de Castre’s Prayer to Jesus by R.R. Terry.

Here are a few excerpts (please note that these are my amateur recordings, so there is incidental noise). The directors of the choirs heard below are, respectively, Jeffrey Morse, Timothy McDonnell, Mary Ann Carr Wilson, David Hughes, and Charles Cole.

Procession (improvisation by Michael Olbash, organ):

Introit: Bless the Lord, all you his angels (plainchant by Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB):

Responsorial Psalm: In the sight of the angels (George Elvey, arr. William Mahrt):

Communion: All you angels of the Lord (plainchant by Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB):

Motet (Richard Farrant: Call to Remembrance):

Motet (Richard Terry: Richard de Castre's Prayer to Jesus):

Postlude (Bach: "Fantasia in G", BWV 572)

Photos of the Mass were posted here a few days ago by Charles Cole.

More audio from the week's Masses will be coming as CMAA's volunteers gather and edit them.

Historical Photo of St Dominic’s Cell in Rome

In the year 1220, Pope Honorius III invited St Dominic to take up residence at the ancient Roman basilica of St Sabina on the Aventine hill; the church was officially transferred to the Order of Preachers two years later, and has been run by them ever since. Within the convent next to the church is the cell of St Dominic, long since converted into a chapel; Fr Lawrence Lew recently discovered this postcard, which shows what it looked like in 1934.

The inscription on the marble banderole reads as follows: “Give heed, visitor; in this place the most holy men Dominic, Francis and Angelus the Carmelite pass the night in watching and divine conversations.” (The historical accuracy of this is debatable.)

Here is a recent photograph of the chapel by Father Lew himself; the roofbeams seen above the altar are original to St Dominic’s time.

Solemn Pontifical Mass in Australia on Summorum Pontificum Anniversary

On Sunday, July 7th, the Australian Catholic Students Association concluded its annual conference with a Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Lordship Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop Emeritus of Lismore, at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia. Providentially, this grand occasion coincided with the 12th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s historic document Summorum Pontificum. Over 500 faithful were present to pray and to witness the majestic and ancient beauty of the Pontifical liturgy; for some students, this was their first experience of such a liturgy. (Thanks to Mr Ronan Reilly and photographer Will Mannering for sharing this with NLM.)

Apparelled albs - tradition will always be for the young!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Young Priest Explains Why He Loves the Traditional Mass

Fr Iannacone celebrated hisfirst Mass in the EF in 2017.

Fr Timothy Iannacone, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport and parochial vicar at St Pius X Church in Fairfield, Connecticut, was asked recently to explain his love of the Traditional Mass to parishioners in the parish bulletin. While the Rev Samuel Kachuba, the pastor, was away, the curate gave a poignant explanation why the ancient rites are not only attractive, but spiritually uplifting. His story is a common one not only for those in Holy Orders, but for a growing number who never knew the Church prior to Vatican II.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fr. Sam is away with our youth group this week for the annual mission trip, and he’s asked me to take on the weekly bulletin column. I’d like to share with you a bit about the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Traditional Latin Mass. Typically, the Latin Mass is offered here on Holy Days of Obligation and certain feast days throughout the year. As this form of the Mass is not commonly celebrated, I want to explain some of the reasons behind its use in our parish.

One of the primary reasons for my affinity for the Mass is deeply personal: I grew up with it! I get a good chuckle when older parishioners tell me that they served the Latin Mass when they were children and try to explain to me what it was like. What is more humorous is the look of shock on their faces when I tell them that I too served that Mass as a youngster. Invariably, they question how I could have served a Mass that went out of vogue nearly sixty years ago. The story is as simple as it is profound. My grandparents, one of whom was baptized there, returned to St. Mary’s Parish in Norwalk after it was announced the parish would be offering the Mass in Latin. They invited me to attend this Mass with them one day, and my first interaction with it might not be what you would expect. I found the ceremonial, the language, and the music bizarre at best, detestable at worst. I totally dismissed it as something that was not spiritually good for me. Time would show me just how wrong I was! Just because I didn’t understand something initially didn’t mean it was not good for me.

As I continued to attend this Mass each week, I noticed two things that stood out: beauty and youth. I began to hear the music as absolutely gorgeous, and understand the ornate vestments as befitting a God who created all things. Furthermore, the priests and deacons exuded reverence and awe, truly understanding the love of God poured out on the cross for you and me without reservation. Additionally, never in my life had I attended Mass where young people outnumbered any other age demographic. What was even more shocking was that many of my friends from school were serving this Mass. They invited me to serve with them. You will see quite a few of these “misfits” hanging around Pius from time to time. Some of them perform the music or serve with great compassion and diligence at our Masses. These friendships continue to blossom because of the Mass we love so much. I have never looked back after discovering the beauty of the Extraordinary Form. The Roman Catholic Church underwent a series of changes in the mid-1960s after the Second Vatican Council. For the ordinary individual, the most noticeable aspects were the changes in the celebration of the Mass. However, Pope Benedict XVI, through his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum (2007), recognized the desire of many people to attend and celebrate the Mass in the traditional Latin form, and so has made it possible for the laity to attend the celebration of the Roman Rite according to the Missal of 1962 without restriction. It is our right as Catholics to have a well-prayed Mass, and it is the duty of priests to offer Mass worthily and well. We must never forget, the Mass is an invaluable gift given by Christ to His Church.

Through the Extraordinary Form, Catholics can come to see the beauty and love of Christ in the Holy Mass, which has organically developed over centuries. If more Catholics come to understand the Church, and more importantly the Traditional Mass, we will undoubtedly see the laity and clergy become champions of Truth; a Truth that ultimately is Jesus Christ. No longer ought we be discouraged by statistics showing decline in the practice of the faith, but instead we can be encouraged by this solid liturgical grounding to further conform our lives to Christ, Who offers Himself without reserve in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Fr. Sam has begun learning how to offer the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Fr. Sam, like myself, has experienced the beauty of this Mass and realizes that this Form is not a detriment to the priest or the faithful, but another Form that mutually enriches our lives as Roman Catholics. History proves this point well; most of the Church’s Saints attended this Form of the Mass daily. I will never forget the look on Fr. Sam’s face when he attended my first Mass as a priest. The awe that he exhibited at this Mass could only mean one thing for me, that he didn’t quite understand what was going on, but that he loved it. The master of ceremonies leaned over to me after my first Mass and whispered, your pastor has been awakened. I am blessed that Fr. Sam has asked me to offer this Mass here at St. Pius and to share with you my story, because this Mass is a part of who I am.

I would like to invite and encourage you to attend a Mass in the Extraordinary Form if you see that one is on the schedule. It would be my joy to have you experience the beauty and love of God the way I have experienced it throughout my life because of this Mass. To quote C.S. Lewis, “You never know what you can do until you try, and very few try unless they have to.” Together, we can revive and promote the sense of the sacred in the Holy Mass through the aid of tradition and understand the Catholic faith in all its richness, diversity, and spiritual fruitfulness. Finally, persevere and pray earnestly for the faithful to embrace the liturgical traditions of our Church, as they ultimately offer us a freedom the world cannot give.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Tim

Gregorian Chant Workshop at Univ. of Dallas, September 7

On Saturday, September 7, a Gregorian Chant workshop will be held on the campus of the University of Dallas in Irving Texas, an introduction to chant notation, the proper and ordinary chants, and the musical structure of the Mass. There will be a separate track available to priests and seminarians who desire to chant the Mass according to the Roman Missal. This workshop is being facilitated by the Schola Cantorum Stellae Solae; see the poster below for more information.

The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Book Review by Charles Coulombe

Our thanks to writer Charles Coulombe for sharing with NLM his review of The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Studies on the Traditional Latin Mass; edited by Joseph Shaw, preface by Raymond Cardinal Burke. (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2019. 428 pp. Paper $19.95; cloth $30.00. See Angelico’s website to order. Table of contents given below.)

These are hard times for the Catholic Church, to be sure. Scandals of all sorts are daily reported, often rising up to the highest levels. In return, the leadership often seem arbitrary and tone-deaf – unsure of the Faith, but exacting in demands for blind obedience. This phenomenon repeats itself on many fronts – moral, liturgical, and doctrinal. The great temptation is to respond with exasperation and hysteria.

In the midst of that atmosphere appears this book. It is a collection of papers on various aspects of the so-called “Extraordinary Form” of the Roman Rite, which (save for calendar details) had remained essentially unchanged for centuries. Over a decade and half, commencing in 1955, it was subjected to various piecemeal changes and the abandonment of Latin, culminating in the promulgation of the so-called “Ordinary Form” of the Mass. In the interests of full disclosure, my own early life was lived against the background of the chaos unleashed by those changes, and like countless Catholics world-wide, I was marked by it.

But those looking for violent polemics against the New Mass would be well advised to look elsewhere. What we have instead are a series of anonymous position papers on different aspects of the usus antiquior. The tone is measured and scholarly, but the motivation both clear and something rarely considered by anyone in to-day’s Church: the salvation of souls. The very first sentence of the Preface is indicative of the approach taken by the whole: “God the Son Incarnate, Our Lord Jesus Christ, is ever alive and at work in the Church for the glory of God and the salvation of men.” A simple statement on the one hand; but in a day such as ours, so filled with darkness and confusion, a clarion call to contemplate the Truth.

The papers never argue – they rather explain the rationale behind every aspect of the Mass that might cause questions in the modern Catholic mind. The first major part (pp. 1–168) attempts to explain “Why the Ancient Mass Is as It Is.” This focuses primarily on areas wherein the rite differs from that of 1969 – in other words, what would immediately hit the practicing Catholic who had never experienced such a Mass before. The priest facing ad orientem, the head coverings on the ladies, communion in one kind, the periods of silence, lack of altar girls, and much else besides are examined in detail. But all this is done very much on its own terms; in other words, the point of the book is not to say expressly that these things are better than what is done in the Novus Ordo, but simply why they are done in this manner in the usus antiquior.

Had the authors gone no further, they would still have performed a signal service. But the second major part of the book (pp. 169–297) is a truly powerful and extraordinarily important contribution to liturgical literature: “The Ancient Mass and Evangelization.” The first portion of that section deals with what might be called “internal evangelization” – how things like the Eucharistic fast and Holy Days of Obligation reinforce the Faith among the faithful in a world that constantly denies it. The second is devoted to the utility of the “old Mass” as a means of external evangelization – or to be clear, drawing souls to Christ. This is handled both in a general way, against the backdrop of modern culture, and as regards bringing the Gospel to specific groups: children and youths, New Agers, Chinese, Africans, Jews, Muslims, etc. – all of whom have immortal souls that Christ died to redeem and bring to Himself for eternity. Again – simple home truths that we are often too sophisticated to remember.

One of the features I found particularly enlightening is the examination of the new (1955) rites of Holy Week. Having for many years followed along during that period with my old pre-1955 Missal, I was very much aware of the differences – and since St. Vitus in Los Angeles is one of the FSSP parishes that are now using the older version ad experimentum, I have at long last experienced it. The book makes use of Evelyn Waugh’s critique of the new version, which was fascinating. It was amusing to think my first experience of the rite Waugh preferred was in the city where he set one of his darkest satires, The Loved One!

In any case, the book is a refreshing antidote, and a reminder that – pace certain elderly persons – attachment to the traditional Mass is not about guarding ashes of the past. Nor is it about aesthetics or personal preferences. It is about using the best means we have available for the glorification of God and the salvation of souls. That, and that alone. In that sense, this book has something in common with Mary Queen of Scots’ motto and a line from Eliot: in its end is very truly its beginning.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Christ on the Flat Screen: The Renovation of the Crystal Cathedral, Orange, California

Today, the Catholic Diocese of Orange, California, celebrates the dedication of its new cathedral. Built by televangelist Robert Schuler and opened in 1980, it was orginally called the Crystal Cathedral; after massive renovations aimed at transforming it into a Catholic church, it has now been renamed “Christ Cathedral.” Our readers may find this article about the project interesting; it was originally published in October of 2014.

Some time ago, as part of the media buzz surrounding the purchase of the Crystal Cathedral, the Catholic Diocese of Orange opened the floor to online suggestions as to what the new church should be named. I offered that it should be titled the Cathedral of the Transfiguration; after all, the feast of the Transfiguration is traditionally the patronal festival for churches dedicated to Our Lord, and its suggestions of illumination, splendor, and above all, a glimpse of Heaven afforded through physical change, seemed perfectly suited to the project, even not without a bit of reverent wit. The name chosen, of course, was the blunter Christ Cathedral, direct but falling rather oddly on the ear--the Anglophile in me senses it is missing a Church in between Christ and Cathedral--and lacking the elusive specificity of the incandescent mystery of Mount Tabor.

One name conjures up Moses and Elijah, and a foolish, sprawling Peter, the painter Raphael, the siege of Belgrade and Calixtus III; an entire stained glass window filled with little colored scenes, all purple and scarlet, ranged round an explosive and nuclear bloom of gold and white. The visual image presented by Christ Cathedral, by comparison, seems rather transparent, and oddly incomplete: not particularly specific, and universal only in its vagueness. I couldn't help returning to this contrast when I began to review the designs for the renovated church by Johnson Fain and Ross Clementi Hale Studios released at the end of last month. One longs for a bit of color, or even a speck of good Christian dirt in the glacial interior.

As I commented in an article written for The Living Church some years ago (which, I understand, the renovation committee read with great interest), the project of Catholicizing the Crystal Cathedral is a daunting and perhaps even quixotic one. For the amount of money going into the project, one could have probably built a cathedral in a more traditional style, without much difficulty. The structure, with its all-glass walls, combines both a postmodern skepticism about man’s ability to describe the Divine, barring vague appeals to colorless light and nature, with TV-studio televangelist glitz and a lingering bit of Calvinist iconophobia. Rocky ground, indeed. While adding the life and vigor of a true Cathedral to this space would have been difficult, it would not have been impossible; indeed, while the building would never be a Chartres or a Beauvais, it could have easily been a brighter, more luminous Coventry, its enormous glass walls shielded by translucent banners and curtains, the entire interior focusing on an immense mosaic (modern in style, but traditional in content) of Christ in majesty--or better yet, a stained-glass window. Room could have been found in the various vestibules and balconies for those dark chapeled crannies where prayer comes so easily, and which might have, in time, become the seats of confraternities and Catholic guilds. Perhaps even the strange lack of boundaries between outside and inside that so characterize the space could have been an asset, transforming the interior into a sort of liturgical Field of the Cloth of Gold. All this could have been accomplished without even necessarily going much against the grain of the modern interior.

However, the result is more of the same, in the end. The design lacks the aggressive ugliness of the churches of the ’60s and ’70s, but this is replaced with the chill, uninviting perfection of an Apple Store. It is curious today that, despite living in an almost aggressively visual age--and one which has taken interconnectivity to new levels via hypertext--that our church buildings seem so afraid of imagery, and instead settle for a crisp lowest common denominator. The chaos of the Internet, with its mixed-bag garden of Earthly Delights, would suggest that only an interior of Baroque physicality or Gothic majesty could counterweight such enticements. Instead, we have only a surpassing coldness in spaces such as the baptistery, with its cruciform immersion font, or the low-ceilinged Eucharistic Chapel. There are a few interesting moments here--the suggestion of a mosaic dome in the baptistery, the translucent stone walls in both spaces--but on balance, the effect is institutional and rather impersonal. The curious tabernacle, in particular, is utterly divorced from any liturgical context--no altar, possibly no steps, and set in the midst of diagonal pews. The effect is a bit like a gallery installation. It is almost as if we question whether matter, the physical, can convey even the most rudimentary spiritual ideas. Christ, the God made man, who used even mud and spittle to work miracles, challenges us to think otherwise.

The principal space of the interior is also not without its idiosyncrasies. The interior is airy and open, but it is also not a little agoraphobic: is there a ‘there’ there, as was famously said of Oakland? Seen from the galleries, the effect is even more disorienting, and the altar and congregation seem sunken in a sort of arena. The one bit of warmth and color, the wood grain of the enormous organ case, has been painted out, lest it distract the faithful from the altar--though the logical solution to that would have been to emphasize the altar with a more elaborate canopy or even a proper altarpiece. And where are the icons? One sees a cross hung over the altar, some timid monochrome reliefs in the nave (if one may call it that), and a decontextualized copy of a Byzantine mosaic of Christ in the narthex, cropped and mounted on the wall in such a way one cannot help think of a flat screen TV; but, like the tabernacle, they seem almost like artifacts rather than objects of devotion. The altar itself, for a church that is more-or-less in the round, is elevated, of a distinguished size, and, while lacking the baldachin that would really set it apart, the large standard candlestands and hanging tester do give it a sense of presence largely lacking in most modern sanctuary layouts. The actual details and form are, once again, a bit too sharp-edged modern for my taste, but the basic layout is, all things considered, fairly sound. However, the altar has been placed on a curious catwalk-like bema that apparently runs the entire length of the interior, with the congregation seated antiphonally on either side, and the large elevated ambo balancing it at the other end. The ambo is itself rather fine in terms of height and proportion, if not location, and I was pleased to see what appears to be an Easter Candle stand to one side of it, as one sees at San Clemente in Rome.

Nonetheless, this is all admittedly a rather outré adaptation of the traditional monastic layout, which, for one thing, never envisioned the Mass lessons being read from anything other than their traditional position. Furthermore, antiphonal seating works best for the Office, and not very well at all for Mass. It is, I suppose, a great improvement on the faddish placement of the ambo behind the altar, as seen at the renovated Milwaukee Cathedral, and perhaps will put to rest in at least one cathedral the contemporary preoccupation with the celebrant being able to make eye contact with everyone all the time. It may be a bit more distracting for the laity looking at each other across the thrust of the sanctuary, and one wonders what complicated and lengthy treks altar boys, deacons and other ministers may need to make during a solemn liturgy if they need to go recover something from the sacristy.

One looks at all the renderings with a certain weariness. As has been pointed out by a number of commentators, quite justly, the design could have been far more objectionable. But surely we can do better than this. Modern man, on those few occasions when he is still confronted by the Divine, seems now perpetually stunned and speechless. Rather than joining him in mute incomprehension, let us give him the words, and the Word-Made-Flesh.

The Sunday Epistles after Pentecost

Following up on a recent post about the Sunday Gospels after Pentecost, this table shows the Epistles of the Sundays after Pentecost as they are arranged in the lectionary of Murbach, the second oldest of the Roman Rite (ca. 800 AD), and how they correspond to those in the Missal of St Pius V. A more detailed explanation is given below. (Click to enlarge.)

The relationship between Murbach and the Roman Missal requires little commentary. The Murbach system has 25 Sundays after Pentecost, the Roman 24; in the former, the first Sunday after Pentecost is treated as a true octave day, a custom which continued in northern Europe well into the 16th century, whereas at Rome, it was the first of the Sundays after Pentecost, not part of the octave (what we now call a “green Sunday”.) Murbach therefore has a proper Epistle for the octave day of Pentecost at the beginning of the series, which displaces all the other readings forward by one week. In the Murbach column, each reading is marked with a red Roman numeral that shows which Sunday it is on in the Roman Missal, always one Sunday earlier. The only other discrepancy is the Epistle for the Roman 23rd Sunday, which is 3 verses longer than its counterpart in Murbach.

The relationship between Murbach and the earlier Roman tradition is more complex. Here the point of reference is not the lectionary of Wurzburg, which dates to about a century earlier, and has no system of Epistles for the period after Pentecost. There is a block of forty readings from the epistles of St Paul, many of which appear in later lectionaries in the series after Pentecost; however, none of them is assigned to any specific day, and it seems clear that they were simply read as needed on the Sundays or ferias.

Instead, the point of comparison is an epistolary incorrectly attributed to Alcuin, one of the great scholars of the Carolingian era. This survives in two manuscripts, one at the Bibliothèque Municipale de Cambrai (cod. 553), and another at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (cod. lat. 9452). Although these are both of the 9th century, they represent the Roman lectionary tradition as it stood in the reign of Pope Honorius I, who reigned two centuries earlier (625-38). The manuscript in Paris has a supplement of 65 readings, added by Helisachar, abbot of St Richier; Alcuin himself did also make some minor adjustments to the tradition represented by these two manuscripts. (A. Chupungco, Handbook for Liturgical Studies; the Eucharist, pp. 177-78)

In the lectionary of Alcuin, these Sundays are counted as 4 after Pentecost, 5 after the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, 5 after that of St Lawrence, 2 “of September“”, and 6 after the feast of St Michael, a total of only 22. There is also a series of nine “daily” readings, to which the supplement in the Parisian manuscript adds 34 more. This is the tradition which Murbach systematizes into a series of 25 Sundays after Pentecost.

In the table above, therefore, the first column indicates where each reading in Murbach appears in Alcuin. Fifteen of the twenty-five epistles in Murbach are taken from the Sundays after Pentecost in Alcuin, three from the older daily series, five from the newer daily series in the supplement, and two have no correspondent, one of these being the reading for the Octave day of Pentecost. Several epistles of the oldest series attested in Alcuin have been omitted in Murbach, and others reordered; nevertheless, there is still a discernible continuity between Alcuin and the Missal of St Pius V.

Folio 77r of the so-called Lectionary of Alcuin (Bibliothèque nationale de France Département des Manuscrits. Latin 9452, cropped); the Epistle of the Octave of Pentecost, 1 Cor. 12, 2-11, which is moved by Murbach to the 11th Sunday after Pentecost.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Carmelite Prayer to the Virgin

In the Breviary of the Carmelite Order, which keeps its patronal feast today, the following antiphon is appointed to be said every day after Vespers or Compline. (The English translation is taken partly from this post on Vultus Christi, the blog of Silverstream Priory, with several alterations of my own.)

Ave, Stella matutina,
Peccatorum medicina,
Mundi princeps et Regina.

Virgo sola digna dici,
Contra tela inimici
Clypeum pone salutis
Tuae titulum virtutis.

Tu es enim virga Jesse,
In qua Deus fecit esse
Aaron amygdalum,
Mundi tollens scandalum.

Tu es area compluta,
Caelesti rore imbuta,
Sicco tamen vellere.

Tu nos in hoc carcere
Solare propitia,
Dei plena gratia.

O Sponsa Dei electa,
Esto nobis via recta
Ad aeterna gaudia,

Ubi pax est et gloria.
Tu nos semper aure pia,
Dulcis, exaudi, Maria
Hail, morning star,
Medicine of sinners,
Ruler and Queen of the world,

Alone worthy to be called a virgin,
Against the spears of the enemy
Set the shield of salvation,
The sign of Thy virtue.

For you are the rod of Jesse,
In whom God made to be
Aaron’s almond, taking away
the scandal of the world.

Thou are the ground rained upon,
Imbued by heaven’s dew,
Though the fleece stayed dry.

In this prison do thou console us ,
Mercifully console us,
Who art full of God’s grace

O chosen spouse of God
Be for us the straight road
To eternal joys

Where peace and glory are.
Do Thou ever hear us
With devoted ear, sweet Mary.

In the following recording of it, note that the cantor has taken the common medieval habit of pronouncing Latin more or less like the vernacular to extremes, exaggerating the U of modern French. (The ensemble who recorded this, Diabolus in Musica, takes its name from a common term for the tritone, a dissonance which was generally disliked and avoided in medieval music theory, hence the name “the devil in the music.”)

According to Archdale King in his book The Liturgies of the Religious Orders, Fr Benedict Zimmerman O.Carm., a great scholar of his order’s liturgy, claimed that this antiphon was “without any doubt” composed by St Simon Stock himself, the English Carmelite and general of the Order to whom the Virgin revealed the brown scapular. However, Guido Dreves, the author of the 48th volume of the Analecta hymnica, attributed it to Peter the Venerable, an abbot of Cluny who died a century before St Simon’s time. The words “Aaron’s almond” refer to the episode of the flourishing of Aaron’s staff in Numbers 17, generally understood in the Middle Ages as a prophetic symbol of the Mother of God’s virginity, as was the episode of Gideon’s fleece in Judges 6, 36-40.

The antiphon is then followed by a versicle and prayer.
V. Pray for us, Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Defend, we ask, o Lord, by the intercession of the Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, this Thy family, from every adversity, and in Thy great mercy protect it, that boweth before Thee with all its heart, from the snares of all enemies. Through Christ, our Lord. R. Amen. (Defende, quaesumus, Domine, beata Maria semper Virgine intercedente, istam ab omni adversitate familiam tuam, et toto corde tibi prostratam, ab hostium proitius tuere clementer insidiis. Per Christum...)

Then the following invocation is said.
V. In omni tribulatione et angustia, sucurrat nobis pia Virgo Maria. R. Amen.
(In every tribulation and anguish, may the Holy Virgin Mary come to our aid.)

And a final prayer, which mentioned several of the more important Carmelite Saints.

Oremus. Omnipotens, et clementissime Deus, qui Montis Carmeli Ordinem gloriosissimae Virginis Mariae Genitricis Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi, sacrato titulo insignitum, Sanctorum tuorum Patris nostri Eliae, et Elisaei Prophetarum, Angeli et Anastasii Martyrum, Cyrilli et Alberti Confessorum, Euphrasiae, Teresiae et Mariae Magdalenae Virginum, et aliorum plurimorum meritis decorasti: tribue nobis quaesumus, ut per eorum suffragia ab instantibus malis animae et corporis liberati, ad te verum Carmeli verticem gaudentes pervenire valeamus. Per eundem... (Almighty and most merciful God, who hast adorned the order of Mount Carmel, that is distinguished by the sacred title of the most glorious Virgin Mary, the Mother of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the merits of Thy Saints, the prophets Elijah, our father, and Elisha, the martyrs Angelus and Anastasius, the confessors Cyril and Albert, the virgins Euphrasia, Theresa and Mary Magdalene, and very many others; grant us, we ask, that, being delivered by their prayers from present evils of soul and body, we may be able to come rejoicing to Thee, the true height of Carmel. Through the same...)

The Virgin Mary and Carmelite Saints, by Pietro Novelli, 1641; from the Carmelite church of Palermo, Siciliy.
I have written previously about the Carmelite tradition by which the order regards the Prophets Elijah and Elisha as its founders. The martyr Angelus named here was a converted Jew from Sicily, who was murdered by a man of notoriously evil life whom he had publically rebuked ca. 1220; his feast is kept on May 5th. The martyr Anastasius is the same traditionally celebrated on January 22nd together with St Vincent of Saragossa; he was a Persian who died in the 7th century, and whom the Carmelites claim as one of their own. This is part of a rather dubious hagiographical tradition by which the Order expropriated a number of Saints of the distant past (among them the 8th Pope, St Telesphorus, who reigned ca. 125-136) to establish its antiquity among the mendicant orders that emerged in the early 13th century. Of the two Confessors named here, St Albert was the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (1205-14) who gave them the earliest written form of their rule; St Cyril was an early prior general of the Order in the Holy Land, to whom an extravagant hagiographical legend was later attached. St Euphrasia, a kinswoman of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, was one of the most famous of the ascetic Saints of the Egyptian desert, and died in 420 AD; her life is well and reliably attested, and was also later expropriated by the Carmelites. The Theresa named here is she of Avila, who died before the formal separation of the Order into two branches; the Mary Magdelene is a Florentine nun surnamed de’ Pazzi, who died in 1607.

Book Review: Reason, Faith and the Struggle for Western Civilization, by Samuel Gregg

Over the years, I have engaged with many Christians who despair at the situation in the West today. The ugliness of modern culture, the decline in the numbers of Christians, especially those who are part of the Church, and the erosion of traditional values that arise from it are a legitimate cause of concern - I am certainly not happy about much of what we see in the contemporary culture either - but we do not always agree on how we might change the situation.

A large proportion of these generally conservative, orthodox and pious Christians (and I use these adjectives positively) consider the leading cause of our troubles today to be the Enlightenment of the 18th century, which set in motion all the errors we see in the philosophical conglomerate that governs the pattern of modern living.

It is to these conservative critics of the Enlightenment that Gregg speaks, and he offers an alternative to the conventional narrative of those Catholics who are unreasonably critical of the Enlightenment on the one hand, and have a misplaced romantic nostalgia of the medieval period in the West on the other.

If one were to characterize simply the conservative critique of the Enlightenment which I have in mind, it relates to a false understanding of three fundamental concepts that, they believe, arose in this period, namely, the human person, personal freedom, and the nature of the society that emerges when free people interact. Identifying the American constitution and free-market capitalism as arising from political and economic thought rooted in these errors, and which are therefore part of the problem, they can be almost as critical of the right as they are of the socialism and big government.

In this small volume, Samuel Gregg has written a sober analysis of the streams of thought that have arisen in the last 400 years, and placed them in the context of all Christian thought. Without ever ignoring what has gone wrong in the recent period, Gregg paints a different picture. Written in his characteristically clear and engaging prose, it is concise, but immensely rich in its content. His is a thesis that looks at the historical evidence, at the words of the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment writers themselves, and the assessment of them by respected modern commentators, such as Pope Benedict XVI.

It is clear from this that it is as wrong to blame the Enlightenment for all that has gone wrong in the world today, as it is wrong to paint a picture of our medieval past as the only source of what is right. Even critics of the Enlightenment would concede that there is some good, at least, in the development of modern science and modern medicine, and the increased material prosperity that began in the “Age of Reason.” However, fewer of those who occupy the conservative Christian world would say, with Gregg, that Enlightenment thought has enriched orthodox Catholic teaching, and has brought great cultural as well as material benefits that society enjoys today.

Gregg’s thesis is that the philosophical roots of modernity are in the medieval period, and that it is not helpful to consider the period that we call the Enlightenment today to be distinct from this. Instead, it is better looked upon as a development of ideas, some good and some very bad, that for the most part originated in the pre-Enlightenment period.

For Gregg, the source of all that is good in the West is a unique synthesis of faith and reason which arises directly from the Jewish and Christian faiths. It is where faith and reason work together that human freedom, just society, and prosperity occur. As he points out, many modern commentators ignore the fact that most of the Enlightenment thinkers, even if not explicitly Christian, worked within the philosophical and theological paradigm that arose from it. Adam Smith, for example, and many of the figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, as well as Edmund Burke and the framers of the US constitution, come into this category. While their language is not necessarily that used by someone who has a Catholic scholastic formation, the underlying concepts are often consistent with it.

Building on this, Gregg makes a case for the market economy and the American constitution as absolutely consistent with the Catholic social teaching and the writings of Benedict XVI. These contributors to the modern age might talk of the individual, but they clearly do not understand those individuals as isolated, autonomous beings, but as persons who are by nature in relation with each other and the world around them. Similarly, their concept of human freedom is not limited to the simple idea of a lack of constraint or compulsion, but includes the additional and necessary component of a firm grasp of how to exercise it well. Moreover, they understand that society is not defined simply by the vector sum of individual actions, but also incorporates the effects of a complex network of personal relationships and interactions.

Make no mistake: there were, and still are, problems. Gregg does not gloss over any of these, or hesitate to analyze the catastrophic effect on the world of the thought of figures such as Rousseau, Marx, Mill, and Nietzsche. He also explains the reasons why so much Islamic thought is incompatible with Western society. Anyone who wants to understand why we see growing intolerance and sometimes violent and bloody opposition to freedom today from the left and radical Islam should read this book for this reason alone.

Overall, this book offers cause for hope, and a way forward that does not involve a retreat from modernity. It is unlikely to be an easy road, but at least there is one. If you are pessimistic about the direction of Western Civilization today, then perhaps you might take a look at this book too.

Samuel Gregg is Director of Research of the Acton Institute. You can buy his book here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dom Alcuin Reid on “Liturgical Integrity”

In a recent address to the Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America (CMAA), liturgical scholar and author Dom Alcuin Reid proposed what he terms “liturgical integrity” as a working principle or, perhaps better, a “higher law” that should inform and govern the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in both uses of the Roman rite and in all other rites of the Church. It is a good and important essay, and a tad provocative, so I encourage you to read it in its entirety with the care that it deserves and to share it on social media. Available at Catholic World Report HERE.

How the Seven Sacraments “Christianize” Us

Rogier van der Weyden's Seven Sacraments Altarpiece (c. 1450)
In this month of July, dedicated to the mystery of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, I wish to reflect on sacramental realism. For indeed the sacraments are as real, as tangible, as powerful, as cleansing, as the very lifeblood of the Savior pouring forth from His body, nailed to the Cross and opened with a lance.

For Aquinas the most basic function of the sacraments is to place man in vital contact with the crucified and risen Lord [1]; they are, in the words of Romanus Cessario, “graced instruments for restoring the image of God” [2] through assimilation to God’s Son, who is the Father’s perfect image and man’s formative exemplar. By virtue of the God-man’s sacrifice, each sacrament has power to originate, deepen, or repair a direct relationship between man and God, a communion of like-minded friends having a shared beatitude for its goal.

Each sacrament configures one to Christ in a specific way, according to a certain grace in the soul of Christ, connected with His deeds and sufferings on earth. This reference to the past may be seen in the sacraments as follows:
  • The Eucharist brings us into contact with Christ in the state of bloody immolation, though the mode is unbloody. [3]
  • Baptism unites us with Christ dying and rising.
  • Confirmation unites us with Christ as descended upon by the Holy Spirit.
  • Holy Orders fuses the candidate with Christ offering sacrifice.
  • Matrimony conjoins spouses to Christ in the act of uniting to himself mankind and the Church.
  • When the sick are anointed, it is Christ strengthening those who are struggling, he is the angel who visits them in their Gethsemane.
  • The penitent sinner is made one with Christ efficaciously making satisfaction for us — the sinner is nailed to an invisible Cross where the Savior meets him, and breathes out peace upon him. [4]
In every case, it is Christ Himself, in His sacred humanity, in His eternal divinity, who acts directly upon the recipient; it is He who bestows the healing and elevating effects of grace through the sacramental signs administered by others. “The man who baptizes provides only exterior ministry,” writes Thomas, “but it is Christ who baptizes interiorly, who is able to use all men for whatever He wills” (ST III, q. 67, a. 5, ad 1). In another text the point is made quite forcefully:
It is evident that Christ Himself accomplishes all the Church’s sacraments: He it is who baptizes; He it is who forgives sins; He is the true priest, who offered Himself on the altar of the Cross, and by whose power His own Body is consecrated daily on the altar. And yet, because he was not to remain bodily present to all the faithful, He chose ministers, that through them He might give that same Body to the faithful. (SCG IV, ch. 76)
Thus, in and through the seven sacraments, Christians re-live mystically the life Christ lived when He dwelt among us full of grace and truth, and the risen life He is now living forever: we enter into His earthly ministry, His passion and death, His resurrection and ascension.

The sacraments derive their efficacy from the Word-made-flesh; each has its power and operation immediately from Jesus Christ, whose glorified humanity is the inseparable instrument, the predestined channel, through which the divine Word pours out grace into souls. When a human being, properly disposed, receives one of the seven sacraments, he is at that moment in mystical contact with the Person of the Savior, who pours out as much grace as the soul is ready to receive.

This mystical contact attains an incomparable fullness and immediacy in the Eucharist, which both symbolizes and accomplishes the intimate communion of the Savior with the members of his body. Here the sacramental encounter is no mere contact, but the context for an unreserved, mutual gift of self that can attain a unity and fecundity only distantly hinted at in human marriage.

Thomas’s uncompromising sacramental realism is in many ways astonishing. Without denying that they are social, symbolic celebrations for calling to mind important truths, Aquinas holds the sacraments to be, first and foremost, a real participation in Christ’s own actions, sufferings, and glory, for the sake of receiving into one’s being the effect of those actions, the fruit of those sufferings, the vision of that glory. As Gilles Emery phrases it: “They bear the historical event of the Passion of Jesus, whence they procure the fruit of grace in the present moment, while announcing the fulfillment whose seed they possess.” [5] For example, when asking whether a man is freed from all guilt through baptism, Aquinas responds:
Through baptism one is incorporated into Christ’s passion and death, according to Romans 6:8, “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with Christ.” From which it is clear that Christ’s passion is communicated to every baptized person as a remedy, as though he himself had suffered and had died. Now Christ’s passion . . . is sufficient satisfaction for all the sins of all men. And so the one who is baptized is freed from the debt of all the punishment due to him for sins, as though he himself had sufficiently satisfied for his own sins. (ST III, q. 69, a. 2, emphasis added)
In baptism the death and resurrection of Christ becomes ours; it becomes our paschal mystery, the origin of a new life with Him. The effect is the same as if we, become unblemished victims, had hung on the Cross; as if we had suffered and died, though guiltless of all crime; as if we had risen again, forever beyond the reach of death and decay.

So much is this the case, believes Thomas, that it even dissolves the obligation of rendering the marriage debt in a certain case:
Now he who goes over to the religious life dies only a spiritual death, not a bodily death; and so, if the marriage be consummated, the husband cannot go over to religious life without his wife’s consent (whereas he can do so prior to there being a carnal joining, when there is only a spiritual joining).  But the one who undergoes baptism is even corporeally buried with Christ in death; and therefore he is freed from paying the marriage debt even after the marriage has been consummated. (In IV Sent. d. 39, q. 1, a. 4, ad 2)
This “as if” is not the als ob of Kantian philosophy — we must behave as if there is a God; we must view nature as if there is teleology; we must approach the beautiful as if beauty is an objective trait.  It is the mystical “as if” that means: we have really done and suffered these things because we have been joined, even identified, with the One who really did and suffered them. Being true man, Christ could act and undergo as a creature acts and undergoes; being true God, he can, in the power of the Spirit, make his accomplishments ours.  The phrase “as if” merely preserves the reverent distance of participant to source.

This “incorporation,” begun at baptism, is perfected by a man’s being united in the power of the Spirit to the Body of Christ — engrafted into His Mystical Body by way of His glorified Body shared in the Eucharist — that we may no longer live for ourselves, but for Him. The Eucharist is “the consummation of spiritual life, and the end of all the sacraments” (ST III, q. 73, a. 3), containing substantially the common spiritual good of the whole Church. It is “the sacrament of Christ’s passion in so far as a man is perfected in union with the Christ-who-suffered” (ST III, q. 73, a. 3, ad 3). [6]

The sacraments in fact simply Christianize us. Contrary to the heresy of Karl Rahner, no soul is “naturally” or “anonymously” Christian, as if one could be a Christian and not even know it. We need to receive, in faith, the gift of Christ’s life, His grace, His charity. The sacraments find us more or less pagan, more or less self-centered, and they evangelize and convert us to be centered on Christ, to have our center in Him. This means that a sacramental life, so far as the recipient’s experience is concerned, will not consist of satisfying (one might say, flattering) encounters between a well-defined self or subject and a securely-apprehended object. [7] Rather, it will be a mirror, at times bright, at times blurry, in which I am able to glimpse the Face of the One who seeks me out in love, and the unfolding of my life in relation to Him, in union with Him. “Sacraments are proportionate to faith, through which the truth is seen in a mirror and in an enigma” (ST III, q. 80, a. 2, ad 2).

When we come before the Lord at the end of our lives, may He recognize in us the beauty of His own features.

Johannes Hopffe, Distribution of Divine Graces by Means of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments (before 1615)


[1] See Joseph J. Sikora, S.J., “Sacraments and Encounter,” in Theological Reflections of a Christian Philosopher (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970), 213–33.

[2] From his essay “Aquinas on Christian Salvation,” in Aquinas on Doctrine: A Critical Introduction, ed. T. Weinandy, D. Keating, and J. Yocum (London: T&T Clark, 2004), 129. See also the same author’s “The Sacramental Mediation of Divine Friendship and Communion,” Faith & Reason 27 (2002): 7–41.

[3] The Eucharist occupies so unique a place and enjoys such a primacy among the seven sacraments of the New Law that even the very term “sacrament” has to be regarded as analogous, with the Eucharist being the very locus of divinization and communion with the Savior, and the other sacraments streaming out from it and leading back to it.

[4] The phrases in quotation marks are taken from André-Charles Gigon, O.P., De Sacramentis in communi (Fribourg: Typographia Canisiana, 1945).

[5] Gilles Emery, O.P., “The Ecclesial Fruit of the Eucharist,” Nova et Vetera [English] 2 (2004): 43–60.

[6] For more on the Eucharist as containing Christus passus, see my article last week: “‘The Application of the Lord’s Passion to Us’: St Thomas on the Blessed Sacrament.”

[7] The experience, as such, may be empty and dry, or overfull and beyond words — like bodily intimacy, like evanescent recollection. But this is not the crux of the matter. The desire to equate faith or love with a subjective “experience” of God, and the consequent tendency to spurn a God who eludes experience, is one of the chief temptations a Christian has to overcome if he is to get beyond “self-cultivationism” into the maturity of spiritual marriage.

Visit for events, articles, sacred music, and classics reprinted by Os Justi Press (e.g., Benson, Scheeben, Parsch, Guardini, Chaignon, Leen).

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Patronal Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in NYC

The Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in New York City will have a special series of events for its Patronal feast, which is this coming Tuesday, July 16th.

On Monday, July 15th:
  • 5:30 p.m. - Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form
  • 7:30 p.m. - Solemn First Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Benediction
  • 9:00 p.m. - Outdoor Candlelight Procession with Our Lady
  • 11:00 p.m. - Recitation of the Holy Rosary and Chanting of the Litany of Loreto
On Tuesday, July 16th:
  • 12:00 a.m. - Solemn Midnight Mass in the Extraordinary Form, after which the church will remain open all night
  • Starting in the morning, Mass will be offered every hour from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.; Confessions will also be heard, and brown scapulars and holy cards available will be available. The first two Masses (6 and 7 am will be Low Masses in the Extraordinary Form)
  • 10:00 a.m. - Principal Mass of the Day in the Extraordinary Form (Missa Cantata, Solemn if Subdeacon is available)
  • 11:15 a.m. - Grand Procession with Our Lady, (usually returns to the church at approximately 1:30 p.m.)
For more information, see the Facebook event page; the church is located at 448 E. 116th St. in Manhattan.

On Saturday, July 20th, the shrine will hold its 8th Annual Traditional Latin Mass Pilgrimage, with the following schedule.
  • 10:15 a.m. - Invesiture with the Brown Scapular
  • 10:45 a.m. - Entrance of Pilgrims on hand and knees, discalced
  • 11:00 a.m. - Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form
  • 12:00 p.m. - Procession with and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Veneration of the Relics of the Saints
  • 3:00 p.m. - Recitation of the Holy Rosary

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: