Friday, November 17, 2017

Lectio brevior and the Parable of the Talents

The General Introduction to the Lectionary (GIL) has this to say about lectio brevior, or short forms of readings:
In the case of certain rather long texts, longer and shorter versions are provided to suit different situations. The editing of the shorter version has been carried out with great caution. (GIL 75)
This would seem to imply that short forms of readings are a rarity in the reformed lectionary, as there are not that many “rather long texts”. The Gospel readings for the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent in Year A spring to mind, as do the Passion narratives for each year in the Sunday cycle on Palm Sunday. [1] To take the Gospel reading on the 3rd Sunday of Lent in Year A as an example (Jn. 4:5-42), the short form of the reading (Jn. 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42) does preserve the main elements of the narrative.

However, across the three-year cycle, there are a total of 49 occasions where at least one short form of a reading exists. [2] In general, between 20-28% of Masses on Sundays and Solemnities in any given liturgical year will have optional short forms. (The range exists primarily because certain Sundays year to year will be supplanted by Trinity Sunday, Pentecost, etc.). On the majority of these occasions (over two-thirds), it is the Gospel reading that can be shortened, and the rest of the time it is nearly always the second reading from the NT; outside of the Easter Vigil, there is only one short form of a first OT reading (3rd Sunday of Lent [B]).

Given what the GIL says, this figure is a lot more than one would expect, and is not consistent with the magna cautela (“great caution”) claimed by the GIL. Indeed, it is true to say that in the case of certain rather short readings, even shorter forms are provided. The Gospel for the 17th Sunday per annum in Year A (Mt. 13:44-52) is not exactly long, yet a shorter form (vv. 44-46) is provided by the reformed lectionary! And, on occasion, the shortening of the reading has compromised the pericope to such an extent that one wonders how on earth the short form wasn’t eliminated by the 1981 second typical edition of the lectionary, let alone nearly 50 years later.

At the time of writing, one such occasion is coming up this Sunday, the 33rd per annum in Year A. The Gospel reading is the Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14-30). It is a little longer than average, but the first and second readings are fairly short, and the Parable itself surely couldn’t be shortened without doing damage to it. Could it? Well, inexplicably there is an optional short form (Mt. 25:14-15, 19-21). Here is the pericope, with the verses that can be omitted in bold:
At that time: Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: “A man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ” (RSV2CE)
The above ought to speak for itself, but I will point out a couple of things.

First, whereas other short forms of the Gospel readings in Year A omit other parables, or the explanation of parables, [3] this short form omits large parts of the parable itself. We have previously seen this happen a few weeks ago, on the 28th Sunday per annum (A), where the end of the Parable of the Marriage Feast can be omitted, but not quite to this extent. If the short form of the Parable of the Talents is used, the parable itself barely makes any sense! It is emptied of a huge portion of its meaning, and the violence done to this text in its short form is almost without precedent in the reformed lectionary. [4]

Secondly, thanks to the generosity of Blackfriars Library in Oxford, UK, and Rev Fr Luke Melcher at the ICEL Secretariat in Washington, DC, I have been able to establish that there was no short form of this Gospel pericope on this Sunday in any of the Consilium’s draft lectionaries before the final version submitted to Pope Paul VI in May 1969. Indeed, if one compares Group XI’s 1967 draft Ordo lectionum pro dominicis, feriis, et festis sanctorum [5] with the promulgated 1969 Ordo lectionum Missae, there are far fewer short forms in the draft: in tempus per annum, for example, there is only one short form, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost in Year A (Mt. 15:1, 7-20 à 15:1, 7-11, 15-20). Something happened between 1967 and 1969 that resulted in an immense multiplication of optional short forms. I would submit that, if there is to be a third edition of the Ordo lectionum Missae in the future, any rationale for these lectiones breviores needs to be examined in detail, and preferably eliminated in line with the desire of the Council Fathers for the “treasures of the Bible to be opened up more lavishly” to the faithful (SC 51).

* * * * *

I end with a plea to Bishops and Priests celebrating Ordinary Form Masses this weekend. Fathers, please ensure the long form of this Gospel is read! Do not rob the faithful of the words and teaching of Our Lord in order to save barely a minute of time! There can “be no justification for depriving the faithful of the spiritual riches of certain texts on the grounds of difficulty if its source is the inadequacy either of the religious education that every Christian should have or of the biblical formation that every pastor should have” (GIL 76).


* * * * *

NOTES

[1] Please note that, for the purposes of this article, whether such shorter forms (particularly for the Passion narratives) should exist in the first place for these “rather long texts” is an entirely separate question.

[2] This figure counts the Easter Vigil, the Vigil of Christmas, Christmas Day (Mass during the Day), 2nd Sunday after Christmas, and Palm Sunday three times (as they will occur each year); the days that have more than one optional short form (Easter Vigil, 19th Sunday per annum [B]) are counted only once. The two occasions (Holy Family [ABC], 2nd reading; 21st Sunday per annum [B], 2nd reading) where short forms of readings exist in the English language lectionaries but not in the 1981 Latin editio typica altera are not counted here.

[3] E.g. 16th Sunday per annum (Mt. 13:24-43 à 13:24-30); 17th Sunday per annum (Mt. 13:44-52 à Mt. 13:44-46).

[4] However, the short forms of the Gospel reading for the feast of the Holy Family in Year B (Lk. 2:22-40 à 2:39-40) and the second reading for the 3rd Sunday per annum in Year C (1 Cor. 12:12-30 à 12:12-14, 27) are other examples of highly egregious short forms.

[5] Schemata 233 (De Missali 39). This was published pro manuscripto and a copy sent for consultation to each Bishops’ Conference, every participant in the first Synod of Bishops (1967) and around 800 periti nominated by the conferences of Bishops: cf. A. Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990), pp. 419-420. Bugnini mentions that 460 responses were received.

St Gregory the Wonderworker

On the calendar of the Extraordinary Form, today is the feast of St Gregory the Wonderworker, bishop of Neo-Caesarea in Pontus, his native city, the modern Niksar in north-central Turkey. Born around 215 AD, he and his brother Athenodorus, who also later became a bishop, intended to study law at a famous school in Beirut. Their brother-in-law was appointed as an official of the Roman government of Palestine; the brothers therefore accompanied their sister to the city of Caesarea in that province. (Many cities in the East were called “Caesarea”; the one in Palestine is different from the city where St Basil the Great later served as bishop, also in Turkey.) At the time, the famous scholar Origen had taken up residence in Caesarea; on meeting and conversing with him, the two brothers gave up their plans to study law, and devoted themselves to studying with the great master.

A 14th century Greek icon of St Gregory the Wonderworker. (public domain image from Wikipedia.)
Among St Gregory’s surviving works is a Panegyric to Origen, preached upon the completion of his studies, before taking leave of his teacher and departing for home. In it, he states that Origen led and encouraged his students to virtue by personal example no less than by exhortation and teaching. Most importantly, he describes how he taught them to distinguish what was true and useful in pagan philosophy and poetry for knowledge of the true God from what was erroneous. A letter of Origen to Gregory also survives, in which he describes how the Christian may make use of what he learns from the pagan world.

“I am anxious that you should devote all the strength of your natural good parts to Christianity for your end; and in order to this, I wish to ask you to extract from the philosophy of the Greeks what may serve as a course of study or a preparation for Christianity, and from geometry and astronomy what will serve to explain the sacred Scriptures, in order that all that the sons of the philosophers are wont to say about geometry and music, grammar, rhetoric, and astronomy, as fellow-helpers to philosophy, we may say about philosophy itself, in relation to Christianity.

Perhaps something of this kind is foreshadowed in what is written in Exodus from the mouth of God, that the children of Israel were commanded to ask from their neighbors, and those who dwelt with them, vessels of silver and gold, and raiment, in order that, by spoiling the Egyptians, they might have material for the preparation of the things which pertained to the service of God.”

Shortly after returning to Neo-Caesarea, St Gregory was appointed bishop of the tiny Christian community there, said to have only seventeen members at the time. His conversion of the city began with his very first sermon, preached in the house of an important fellow-citizen who hosted him, and followed immediately by numerous miraculous cures of the sick. This was the beginning of a long career of impressive miracles, many of which are recounted by St Basil the Great and his younger brother, St Gregory of Nyssa; by these, he converted so many people that on his deathbed, when he asked how many pagans were left in the city, the answer was “seventeen.” The most famous of these was the moving of a mountain in order to make a convenient space for the building of a church, which had become necessary with the rapid growth of the community, in fulfillment of the Lord’s words which are read in the Gospel for his feast day.

“Have the faith of God. Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain, ‘Be thou lifted up and cast into the sea’, and shall not hesitate in his heart, but believe, that whatsoever he saith shall be done, it shall be done unto him. Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you.” (St Mark, 11, 22-24)

Ss Basil and Gregory of Nyssa learned what they knew of St Gregory the Wonderworker from one of his personal disciples, their grandmother, St Macrina the Elder. (St Macrina the Younger is their older sister.) It is through her and her spiritual father that much of Origen’s theological teaching was transmitted to the Cappadocian Fathers, and through them, enters the great tradition of Eastern theology. It is also recounted that before his episcopal consecration, Gregory went on a retreat in the wilderness, during which he was vouchsafed an apparition of the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist, who dictated a creed to him. The text of this survives, and the original manuscript of it was still preserved at Neocaesarea in St Basil’s day. The Canon for his feast in the Byzantine Rite refers to the story as follows: “Guided by God, as one who had sought for Him with longing, you obtained as your teachers Mary, the pure Mother of God, and the son of thunder, who taught you the splendor of the Trinity, as one who spoke from God.” Of particular interest is the last article of this short Creed, which speaks of a fully orthodox doctrine of the Trinity more than half a century before the Council of Nicea.

“There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abideth ever.”

The Apparition of the Virgin Mary and St John to St Gregory the Wonderworker, by the Giuseppe Cesari (1568-1640), more commonly known as the Cavaliere d’Arpino. From the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, ca. 1612.
Prior to the Tridentine reform, there does not appear to be any devotion to St Gregory in the West. His feast appears, however, in the very first edition of the very first liturgical book of that reform, the Roman Breviary issued by St Pius V in 1568, two years before the Tridentine Missal; it is assigned to November 17, his day in the Byzantine Rite. This is a very unusual change for a reform which is in almost every respect extremely conservative, and which changed the calendar of Saints mostly by removing or downgrading those whose lives were thought to be historically unreliable.

This change, like several others, should be seen as part of the Church’s response to the novelties of the Protestant reformers.

Five hundred years after the 95 Theses, it is perhaps hard for us to properly grasp how radical a break with the whole of Christianity’s first millennium and a half was set in motion by Luther, and how much of the Church’s universally received tradition was lightly set aside as thing of little or no value. In regards to the study of philosophy, there have always been heretics and cranks who rejected it as worthless. One of the very first and most notable of these in antiquity was a Syrian disciple of St Justin Martyr called Tatian (ca. 120-180), who turned heretic, and wrote a very funny, but ultimately absurd, attack on the pagan philosophers and the whole intellectual tradition of the classical world. The vast bulk of Christian tradition, however, stands squarely with Origen in this regard, and with his disciple, St Gregory the Wonderworker, receiving philosophy as the “handmaid of theology”; this is the teaching which they then passed on to the Cappadocian Fathers, whose influence in the Byzantine East can never be overcalculated.

This tradition is fundamental to the writings of the great majority of the Fathers, including those in whom the reformers claimed to find justification for their teachings. And yet, after Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Thomas and countless others, and particularly after the great scholastic conquest of the writings of Aristotle, Luther, with his usual lack of temperance and decorum, sought to cast philosophy, and indeed reason itself, out of the Church as “the Devil’s greatest whore… who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom…” And likewise, “Aristotle is the godless bulwark of the papists. He is to theology what darkness is to light. His ethics is the worst enemy of grace. He is a rank philosopher, … the most artful corrupter of minds. If he had not lived in flesh and bones, I should not scruple to take him for a devil.” As for St. Thomas, “he never understood a chapter of the Gospel or Aristotle … In short, it is impossible to reform the Church if Scholastic theology and philosophy are not torn out by the roots with Canon Law.”

St Gregory the Wonderworker therefore serves as an example of the Church’s true tradition, which makes good uses philosophy as a necessary tool for the properly understanding of the Faith. He further witnesses, through his association with the Cappadocian Fathers, to the universality of that tradition in both East and West.
St Gregory the Wonderworker, from Menologion of Basil II (11th century - public domain image from Wikipedia.)
In the post-Conciliar reform, St Gregory was removed from the general calendar as “not of truly universal importance,” a decision which does not speak particularly well of the reformers’ ability to determine which Saints were of truly universal importance. A similar mistake was made with St Catherine of Alexandria, whose life also bears witness to the importance of philosophy in the Christian intellectual tradition. This mistake was happily corrected by yet another Saint who also took a good deal of interest in philosophy, Pope John Paul II, and we may hope that a similar correction will someday take place with St Gregory.

In 1738, Pope Clement XII Corsini (1730-40) decided to add the feast of St Gertrude the Great, who died on November 17, ca. 1302, to the general calendar. Believing that a Saint who moved a mountain should not himself be moved, even by a Pope, her feast was assigned to the 15th. Almost two centuries later, however, she was moved to the 16th, to make way for another giant in the tradition of Christian philosophers, St Albert the Great.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

More from the Lorenzetti Show in Siena

Following up on a post from yesterday, here is some more of the splendid work of the painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti (ca. 1290-1348), currently being shown at an exhibition in his native city of Siena.
Altarpiece with Madonna and Child, Angels, Saints and Prophets (often called in Italian a ‘Maestà - Majesty’), from the church of San Pietro in Orto, Massa Maritima; ca. 1335. Here the Sienese love for detail and decoration is particularly evident.
Detail of the Virgin Mary’s throne, the base of which is formed from the three Theological virtues (in ascending order), Faith, Hope and Charity.
Altarpiece of St Michael the Archangel, also known as the Rofena Abbey Polyptych, with the Madonna and Child above; on the left, St Bartholomew, with St John the Evangelist in the pinnacle; on the right, St Benedict, with St Louis of Toulouse in the pinnacle. ca 1337. 
Madonna and Child, from the parish of San Lorenzo alle Serre di Rapolano, ca. 1342-44 
Dismembered altarpiece with the Virgin and Child, Ss Martha and Mary Magdalene, Ss John the Evangelist and Baptist; below, the Lamentation over the Dead Christ, with Ss Augustine and Anthony Abbot.
Detail of St John the Evangelist

Bishop Serratelli’s Recent Pontifical Mass

On October 14th, His Excellency Arthur Serratelli, bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, celebrated a solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the cathedral of St John the Baptist. I must confess that these photos were sent to me a while ago, and slipped through the cracks in the midst of a rather busy month; for the delay in posting them. Our thanks to Bishop Serratelli for his support of the traditional rite in his diocese!





Tradition is for the young!

EF Solemn Mass to be Offered at National Catholic Youth Conference on Friday

Every two years, over 25,000 young people attend the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), which for the past three years has been held in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Convention Center. This year there will be a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form offered at NCYC. Two years ago, a Missa Cantata was celebrated at the conference, and it drew such a large crowd that there were more people overflowing outside of the small chapel than inside the chapel itself.

The Mass has been moved to a larger room this year, and a portable reredos and communion rail are being built for the chapel. Please spread the word to those you know who might be attending NCYC; this will be a great opportunity for young people to experience the Traditional Rite of the Mass at such a large gathering. The Mass will be held in the NCYC Adoration Chapel in the Indianapolis Convention Center on Friday, November 17th at 11:30am.

Missa cantata at the previous NCYC

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ambrogio Lorenzetti Exhibition in Siena

The Italian city of Siena is currently hosting a wonderful show of works by one of her great native sons, the painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti (ca. 1290-1348). The younger brother of another very talented painter, Pietro, we know fairly little about Ambrogio’s life. Active from around 1319 until his death, he spent a fair amount of time in Florence, then a bitter rival of Siena for prominence among the independent cities of Tuscany. His style blends the best of the Florentine interest in realism with the Sienese taste for extremely fine and beautiful decoration; in this sense, he develops what is best about the works of earlier Sienese painters like Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, and his brother. His most famous and important work by far is the fresco cycle in the Palazzo Pubblico (city hall) of Siena, known as the Allegory of Good and Bad Government. It is generally believed that he died in the great outbreak of the black plague which devastated the city in 1348.

The current show makes it possible to see several of his large body of work in various forms, gathered together from many different places and displayed in the large complex of Santa Maria della Scala, right across the street from the cathedral. Other works are included as part of the same show at the churches of St Francis and St Augustine.

Here is just a selection of some of the pieces included at Santa Maria della Scala; the exhibition continues until January 28th. A second part will be posted tomorrow.

A detached piece of a fresco showing a group of Poor Clares, from the chapter hall of the church of St Francis in Siena, 1320-25 ca.
King Solomon, detached fresco, some provenance as above.
Painted Crucifix, from the parish of St Lucy at Montenero d’Orcia. 1320-25 ca.
Painted crucifix, 1324-7.
A detail of the background; this is the kind of highly elaborate and elegant work for which Sienese painters were so much admired and sought after in the 14th century.
Altarpiece of the church of St Proculus in Florence, 1332, with the Madonna and Child, St Nicholas and St Proculus; in the pinnacles, Christ, St John the Evangelist (left) and St John the Baptist (right.)

A Beautiful Church Rebuilding in Madison, Wisconsin

From Matthew Alderman come these very nice photos of the Catholic Student Center at the Univ. of Madison, Wisconsin. Matthew himself designed the exterior at the aesthetic level (i.e. surface, not structure), the chapel architecture, the altarpiece surround, altar, and ambo; the interior decoration and color scheme were developed from his initial concept. Some specific elements of the final design, like the stencil work in the apse are also his; the renderings given below, which we reproduce with his permission via his studio’s Facebook page, give a good sense of his contributions. (The Architect of Record is RDG Planning and Design, and the church interior decoration is by EverGreene Architectural Arts.)

The former structure, now happily reduced to landfill, looked like this, hair clipper on the outside, cylon basestar on the inside. Made in 1968 to replace an earlier chapel from 1909, it proved as well as anything the adage that nothing ages as rapidly as modernity.

The new facility which has replaced it, and was just dedicated this past Sunday, looks like this. The mosaic on the façade by Dony McManus copies the central circle of one of the most famous mosaics in Rome, in the apse of Santa Maria Maggiore.
Views of the new chapel.


Beautiful stencilling work in the sanctuary; the peacock, symbol of immortality, and the book and sword, the symbols of St Paul the Apostle, to whom the center is dedicated.

EF Solemn Mass of the Presentation in New York City

On Tuesday, November 21st at 7:30 p.m., there will be sung a Solemn Traditional Latin Mass for the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Pontifical Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem, New York. The sermon and readings from the pulpit will be in Spanish. After Mass there will be devotions to Our Lady of Divine Providence, Patroness of Puerto Rico, whose feast falls on November 19th. The Puerto Rican community has a long and deep history in East Harlem, and is of course praying especially for the island in the wake of the terrible damage from hurricane Maria last month. The shrine is located at 448 East 116th Street.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Relics of St Josaphat in the Vatican

St Josaphat Kuntsevych, né John, was martyred in the year 1623 for his ardent championship of union with Rome among the Byzantine Rite Christians of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A member of the Basilian Order, he was made bishop of Vitebsk in 1617, at the age of only 37, and archbishop of Polotsk the following year. (Both cities are now in Belarus.) In a period of great tension between Catholics and Orthodox, he went to preach at Vitebsk; on the steps of his co-cathedral he was struck in the head with an ax, and then shot by fanatical opponents of the union with Rome, on the sixth anniversary of his episcopal consecration. They then tore off his clothes, and for a moment thought they had killed the wrong man, since he was wearing a hairshirt underneath; the body was thrown into the river, but recovered three days later. The Roman Breviary states that the first beneficiaries of his martyrdom were his own assassins, who were all reconciled to Rome, as was his principal opponent among the Orthodox clergy, Bishop Meleti Smotrytsky. Beatified only 20 years after his death, he was canonized by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1867; originally assigned to November 14th, his feast was moved to the day of his death in the Calendar revision of 1969.

The relics of St Josaphat have a remarkable history. At the time of his beatification, they were enshrined in a silver casket at the behest of the Prince Leo Casimir Sapieha. In 1706, they were brought to the castle of Prince Karol Radzwill in the city of Bila Pidlaska, and then moved to the Basilian church in the same city. In 1873, during Tsarist persecution of the Greek-Catholic Church, the relics were removed from the altar of the church to the crypt, hidden in a wall, and apparently forgotten. However, when Bila Pidlaska was occupied by the German army in 1916, a priest of the Basilian order, Fr Pavlo Demchuk, was sent by Fr Platonid Filas, the General Superior of the Basilians, to recover them. Their location in the wall of the crypt was revealed to him by a man who had seen them being immured more than four decades earlier.

Fr Demchuk transferred them to Vienna, where they were kept at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St Barbara. At the end of World War II, on the eve of the Soviet occupation of Vienna, the relics were moved again, smuggled away to Rome for safekeeping. Originally, the Basilians had planned to enshrine them in their monastery on the Aventine Hill; the street from which the church is entered was even renamed “Via San Giosafat” in his honor, and retains the name to this day. However, Pope Paul VI decreed that this “outstanding champion of Catholic communion should not be separated from blessed Peter, to whose See he remained unshakably faithful, nor from his father, lawgiver and master in the monastic life of the East. (St Basil)” The relics were therefore exposed for the veneration of the faithful in the altar of St Basil in St Peter’s Basilica.

The relics of St. Josaphat in the altar of St. Basil, after their re-vesting.
In 1982, the reliquary was re-opened and cleaned, and the relics revested. The hands and face of St Josaphat were covered by bronze masks donated by the Basilian Fathers of Canada, new vestments were donated by the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, and a Byzantine mitre was donated by the late Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn, Secretary of the Congregation of the Oriental Churches from 1982 to 2001. The late Father Raphael Melnyk, Provincial Superior of the Canadian Basilians, testified that the body was intact and the limbs could still be lifted, despite the fact that the Saint had lain at the bottom of the river for three days in 1623, and had been in a humid crypt in Bila for 43 years.

My thanks  to the Rev. Dr. Athanasius McVay, a priest of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Edmonton, for the information on the history of St Josaphat’s relics, the photograph of the icon, and the two photographs of the relics taken during the re-vesting in 1982.

The reliquary of St. Josaphat opened during the process of cleaning and re-vesting in 1982.

Dominican Mass for St Albert in Columbus, Ohio

This Wednesday, November 15th, the Dominican Friars at St Patrick’s Church in Columbus, Ohio, will celebrating a Missa Cantata in the Dominican Rite for the feast of St Albert the Great. Mass begins at 7:00 p.m., followed by light refreshments in Patrick Hall. The plainchant of the Mass will be sung by the Choir of St Patrick’s. The church is located at 280 N. Grant Avenue.


Photos of Pontifical Requiem with Bishop Morlino

Our recent photoposts for All Saints and All Souls were prepared in a bit of a rush while I was getting ready for a trip, and I overlooked these pictures of a Pontifical Requiem celebrated by His Excellency Robert Morlino, Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin. They are reproduced here from Fr Z’s blog, with our thanks; our thanks also to Bishop Morlino, who has strongly encouraged the traditional Rite both by word and his personal example.

The Mass was celebrated especially for the deceased priests and bishops of the diocese, hence the episcopal and priestly birettas set on the bier.
Tradition is for the young!



Monday, November 13, 2017

A Tale of Two Collects: Different Worldviews in Old and New Prayers

Every year, as we come to the feast of St. Albert the Great on November 15, I am struck again by the enormous difference in theology between the traditional Collect for his feast (as found in MR 1962) and the rewritten Collect published in the Missal of Paul VI. One can see this particular pair as emblematic of a shift from one understanding of Christianity to another.

The old collect, translated literally, reads thus:
O God, who didst make blessed Albert, Thy bishop and Doctor, great by his bringing human wisdom into captivity to divine faith: grant us, we beseech Thee, so to adhere to the footsteps of his magisterium, that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven.[1]
The new collect, as given in the current edition of the modern Roman Rite, reads:
O God, who made the Bishop Saint Albert great by his joining of human wisdom to divine faith, grant, we pray, that we may so adhere to the truths he taught, that through progress in learning, we may come to a deeper knowledge and love of you.[2]
In the former prayer, God makes Albert great because he brought human wisdom into captivity to divine faith (in humana sapientia divinae fidei subjicienda). The prayer echoes St. Paul writing to the Corinthians about the destruction of worldly wisdom: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels, and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:4–5). It is also reminiscent of the verse from the Psalms: “Thou didst ascend the high mount, leading captives in thy train, and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there” (Psa 67:19 [68:18]).

The perspective is not that human wisdom is bad, but that it is likely to be rebellious if not subordinated to divine faith, and that it will “come into its own” when the pride with which it is pursued is crushed and the knowledge is made, to so speak, obedient unto death, as was Christ in His humanity. There has to be a certain mortification and re-alignment of human wisdom if it is to be in harmony with the ineffable mysteries of God and a tool of sanctification. This is why the collect concludes on a note of ascension, with the enjoyment of perfect light in heaven: that is where the very font of truth and all wisdom is perfectly found, and it must be the measure of all we do in this earthly pilgrimage. We ask to be guided by Albert’s teaching because “our conversation is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). We cannot seek earthly knowledge for its own sake: “If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above” (Col 3:1). In this collect, the notes of asceticism and mysticism are strongly sounded.

In the latter prayer, however, all of these elements have been deliberately muted. Here, God is said to have made Albert great because he joined human wisdom to divine faith (componenda). The two are placed parallel to each other, as if two links in a chain, or two peas in a pod, or two doughty comrades in arms. No hierarchy, no dependency, no subordination is expressed; no mistrust of wayward human thought, no necessity of bringing the worldly into subjection to the heavenly, no implicit asceticism. Here, reason is not governed by faith and destined to a goal beyond itself, but the two are like Church and State according to modern liberalism.

Not surprisingly, what we are said to gain through adhering to the truths he taught is not the ascetical-mystical ascent to heavenly light which casts all earthly knowledge into the right (finite) perspective, but “a deeper knowledge and love of you”—the kind of inspiring sentiment one will find on the higher-priced Hallmark cards. Shifting the focus away from Albertus Magnus as a great philosopher and theologian of the conquest of knowledge for celestial beatitude, the prayer turns platitudinous by invoking “love” in the pairing “knowledge and love.” No one would doubt that a canonized saint lived a life of heroic charity; but that is generic and beside the point when commemorating this particular saint. What he exemplifies in the Mystical Body is exactly what the old prayer conveyed and the new one nearly contradicts.

To underline the this-worldliness of the paradigm at play, we note that the means suggested to us for arriving at this deeper knowledge and love is none other than — you guessed it! — “progress in learning” (scientiarum progressus). Homage is thus paid to the modern ideal par excellence, that of Progress, which we might interpret as evolution, the leitmotif of all modern thought. Might this be the progress by which we modern Christians have learned to set aside the sixth commandment, which we now understand to be more than ordinary people can reasonably bear? Or the progress by which we have become so superior to our bloodthirsty ancestors that we must give an utterly novel interpretation to the fifth commandment?

The contrast between the two collects is extremely telling. It tells of a deliberate shift from a hierarchical worldview rooted in faith and aspiring to the beatific vision, to a humanistic worldview of scientific progress through diverse “sources” of knowledge that is meant, in an unspecified way, to deepen our knowledge and love of God.

As Lauren Pristas and others have shown, this shift in attitude towards or evaluation of worldly realities is programmatically present in the heavily-redacted Collects of the Missal of Paul VI when compared with their predecessors in the Missal of the usus antiquior. The number of examples is vast; in order to limit myself, I have chosen to look at a one-month (!) period of the liturgical year, namely, September 18 to October 19. The biblical, patristic, and medieval Christian assessment of terrena or earthly things as we find it in the old collect of St. Albert appears again and again.

For the traditional feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino on September 18 — suppressed in the Novus Ordo calendar — the Church prays, with a lovely reference to the saint’s famous levitations:
O God, who hast ordained that Thine only-begotten Son when lifted up from the earth should draw all things to Himself: mercifully grant through the merits and example of Thy seraphic Confessor Joseph, that we may be lifted up above all earthly desires and be found worth to come unto Him: Who liveth and reigneth…
Or, for St. Francis of Assisi on October 4:
O God, who, through the merits of blessed Francis, didst give increase to Thy Church by enriching her with new offspring: grant us that following his example we may despise earthly goods and ever be glad to partake of Thy heavenly gifts.[3]
(Here, for comparison’s sake, is how the new Collect for Francis reads: “O God, by whose gift Saint Francis was conformed to Christ in poverty and humility, grant that, by walking in Francis’ footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity, come to be united with you.”)

Or, for the commemoration on October 9 of the martyrs SS. Denis, Rusticus, and Eleutherius — likewise suppressed on the new calendar:
O God, who this day didst strengthen blessed Denis Thy martyr and Bishop with fortitude in suffering, and didst associate Rusticus and Eleutherius with him in preaching Thy glory to the heathen: grant, we beseech Thee, that following their example we may for love of Thee despise worldly success and may not fear worldly misfortune [pro amore tuo prospera mundi despicere, et nulla ejus adversa formidare].
On October 10, the feast of St. Francis Borgia, also suppressed in the Novus Ordo, the traditional liturgy prays:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who art the model of true humility and its reward: we beseech Thee, that as blessed Francis took Thee as model in contemning worldly honors and Thou hast glorified him, so Thou wouldst associate us with him both in the contempt and in the glory: Who livest and reignest…
On October 16, the feast of St. Hedwig — a saint who miraculously stayed on the modern calendar — we find this potent Collect in the usus antiquior:
O God, who didst teach blessed Hedwig to renounce the pomps of this world, that, with her whole heart, she might follow the humble way of Thy cross: grant that, through her merits and example, we may learn to trample under foot the perishable delights of this world, and by cleaving to Thy cross, surmount all obstacles: Who livest and reignest…
(The new missal’s collect for St. Hedwig is thin gruel: “Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the revered intercession of Saint Hedwig may bring us heavenly aid, just as her wonderful life is an example of humility for all.”)

The special postcommunion for St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s feast in the usus antiquior (October 17) includes the petition: “make us renounce the proud vanities of the world.” Nothing like this is found in the new Missal. (In fact, the word “vanity” or “vanities” never appears in the current altar missal.)

The old collect for St. Luke (October 18) focuses on mortification:
Let holy Luke, Thine Evangelist, we beseech Thee, O Lord, intercede for us, who for the glory of Thy name ever bore in his body the mortification of the Cross.
The new collect, although more customized to St. Luke,[3] drops all reference to asceticism, in keeping with the prevailing bias Pristas and others have documented.

Lastly, on October 19, in celebrating the triumph of St. Peter of Alcantara (also removed from the new calendar), the Church in her traditional liturgy prays:
O God, who didst vouchsafe to ennoble blessed Peter, Thy Confessor, by gifts of marvellous penance and highest contemplation: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits pleading for us, we may so mortify the flesh as the more easily to take hold of the things of heaven.
All of the above, mind you, are Collects from a one-month period, namely, September 18 to October 19. Do we detect a pattern? Yes, without a doubt. The dogmatic and disciplinary freight of the lex orandi is unmistakable. The liturgy is asking the Lord for a specific attitude of contemptus mundi, which St. Albert all the more impressively illustrates precisely because he is a scholar, author, scientist, naturalist, and man of affairs who has nevertheless held firm to the primacy of the kingdom of heaven. Century after century, collect after collect, the liturgy lucidly expressed and tirelessly inculcated this lofty vision of man’s vocation, the finality of the celestial fatherland, and the relativity of earthly affairs — until the 1960s, when Progress built a home for itself in a Church that had once anathematized the statement: “The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization.”[4]

“How’s that dangerous liaison with Progress been working out for you?,” asks Historical Consciousness.

St. Albert the Great — great because you subordinated the human to the divine, the temporal to the eternal, the natural to the supernatural, the secular to the sacred, the earthly to the heavenly — pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


NOTES

[1] Deus, qui beatum Albertum Pontificem tuum atque Doctorem, in humana sapientia divinae fidei subjicienda magnum effecisti: da nobis, quaesumus, ita ejus magisterii inhaerere vestigiis, ut luce perfecta fruamur in coelis.
[2] Deus, qui beátum Albértum epíscopum in humána sapiéntia cum divína fide componénda magnum effecísti, da nobis, quǽsumus, ita eius magistérii inhærére doctrínis, ut per scientiárum progréssus ad profundiórem tui cognitiónem et amórem perveniámus.
[3] Lord God, who chose Saint Luke to reveal by his preaching and writings the mystery of your love for the poor, grant that those who already glory in your name may persevere as one heart and one soul and that all nations may merit to see your salvation.
[4] Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, n. 80, promulgated with the encyclical Quanta Cura on December 8, 1864.

Photos courtesy of Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Friends of the Tridentine Mass in Jupiter, Florida

NLM was asked to post the following announcement for our readers in Florida.

If you are near the North Palm Beach county area, join us for Mass on Mondays at 12 pm in the chapel at the Saint Peter Church in Jupiter. Also consider signing up with our mailing list by sending an email to join@latinmassjupiter.org. We are seeking a regular weekly Sunday Mass in the Jupiter/Tequesta area to build our community centered in the Tridentine Mass and we appreciate your support. Join us and bring your friends! More information is available at our website LatinMassJupiter.org.

A few photos of our location:




Friday, November 10, 2017

All Saints and All Souls Photopost 2017 (Part 2) - Black is the New Black

We continue with your photos of All Saints and All Souls liturgies. We have a couple of videos in this post, one of the full Requiem Mass, another of just the Dies Irae, another very vivid memento mori, and of course once again, we are happy to note the many churches using black vestments. Evangelize through beauty!
Mater Ecclesiae - Berlin, New Jersey
All Saints




All Souls

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: