Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Evangelizing Through Beauty - Follow-Ups on Some Recent Articles

Last Thursday, we published the last of our four Corpus Christi photoposts for this year, which all together included over 220 photos! (This is after the painful process of going through each submission and making a selection of the better photos.) The first set within that post came from the recent celebrations for the reopening of the church of Corpus Christi in Maiden Lane, London, which His Eminence Card. Vincent Nichols officially established as a diocesan shrine dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, after an major restoration. At the Catholic Herald, columnist Tim Stanley writes about the event as follows:

“...the English church has been through two iconoclastic periods: the 16th-century Protestant one and the liberal revolution of the Seventies, which did just as much to strip our altars and degrade our churches. The latter reforms were sadder because the Catholics inflicted them on themselves. There was no glorious martyrdom this time around. Just self-harm.

Today, however, a new spirit is stirring. Popular devotions are back; confessions are on the up; and a new generation of priests is reviving beauty and the Old Rite. It’s a restoration. In 10 years’ time, the Corpus Christi procession will be a feature of many local churches – and the English unbelievers will watch and think, ‘Ooo, that looks interesting. How do I join in?’ That’s the way you convert. With magnificence.

We also had a special post for the particularly outstanding celebration of Corpus Christi in Rome by the FSSP parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. Pursuant to that, and to our recent post of a video by Brian Holdsworth on why good music is essential to Catholic worship, here is a brief but very powerful reflection from a blog called The Classical Contrarians on one young man’s experience of the beauty of the traditional Mass, which he first encountered there. (Our thanks to the author, Mr Nicholas Bonds.)

“On a study abroad trip, a professor took us to a Latin Mass ... It was, I feel no shame in saying, magnificent. I cried as the smoky incense rose in the domed pilgrim church in downtown Rome, just blocks away from the Vatican and Piazza Navona. Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini would forever become my spiritual parish church. It was a surreal moment for me. The faith I feigned for so long had become solidified and real. I felt the pangs of regret I am sure my uncle must have felt, finally understanding the time spent away from such beauty. I felt love and devotion that I had never known. The frustration and sorrow I carried since my uncle’s passing began, although I did not know it, to heal. The Latin prayers offered to God gave a glimpse of the eternal. The parishioners, offering their gratitude in prayer, sang in a homogenous union. As I wept on my knees, I, too, was grateful.”

Biblical Typology For Children: Three Books From Emmaus Road Publishing

Building the Way to Heaven: The Tower of Babel and Pentecost 
The End of the Fiery Sword: Adam and Eve and Jesus and Mary 
Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus

These are the first in the Old and New Series, all written by Maura Roan McKeegan and illustrated by T. Schluenderfritz. Their goal is to introduce to children to the principle of biblical typology, that is, how the Old Testament people, symbols, and events foreshadow those in the New Testament. I do not know of any other children’s books that approach these topics in this way. It’s a great idea and it has been executed well.

There are attractive illustrations which use some of the visual vocabulary of Christian tradition (e.g. halos, and a mandorla) and the two streams of narrative are placed side by side so that the parallels cannot be missed.

I would certainly recommend all of these as part of Scriptural education for all children. Thank you to all involved for this project!

Reading through them, it seems to me that they would work best for those children who have a prior knowledge of the Biblical passages, and sufficient intellectual formation to be able to understand the concept of literary symbolism. The publisher recommends 7 years old; I wonder if for most it might be a little older than that. You can order them on the publisher’s website, here. Thanks to Peter K. for bringing these books to my attention, by the way, (Peter recently featured a wonderful book that does the same for grown-ups, Jean Danielou’s From Shadows to Reality)

There are so many reasons which the study of Scripture is
important, but here are some that relate to the value of biblical typology in particular, which these books address.

The first is that the themes in salvation history are a pattern of events that relate to each of us in our personal pilgrimage of salvation. Once we grasp the idea of the interrelatedness of all things, by understanding how particular and significant episodes in Scripture are related to each other, it facilitates a mode of thinking by which we more naturally place our own story, and hence ourselves, into that picture. So, for example, the crossing of the Red Sea relates to the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan and the descent of the Spirit, and then also to our own sacramental Baptism and Confirmation, by which each of us dies and rises spiritually and receives the Spirit (1 Cor, 10, 1-5). Our foretaste of eternal life to come, like Israel eating manna in the desert on the way to the promised land, is our reception of Holy Communion, the pledge of our own future life and resurrection (John 6, 54). Each of us has a story by which we die with Christ, and as Christians are raised up with him too. I am reminded that this applies to me every time I walk into a church and cross myself with the holy water - ‘Jordan water’.

The second is that this can be the basis of a formation that is, in my estimation, more likely to help children retain their faith when they get older, and see them through the teenage years. This goes further than simply teaching the truths of the Faith, which is, of course, vitally important too. Those that develop this way of thinking will then be more inclined to read the Book of Nature and those aspects of the culture, including the natural hierarchies in society, allegorically, and take delight in it. For such people, all that they see points to the unseen, and all that is good points to God. They will perceive a pattern in the world around them and be able to fill in the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle, so to speak. Except that this piece is not missing exactly; rather, it is real and present, but invisible. I wrote about this mode of thinking in greater depth in an earlier article, here: The Good the Better and the Sunday Best: Using St Thomas’s Fourth Way to Evangelize and Retain Faith in the Young.

The place where all of this comes to together and is illuminated most powerfully for us in the liturgy. The actions of the liturgy are powerfully symbolic. These books, therefore, will help to enrich participation in the liturgy, both through the content learned and the stimulation of this mode of thought by which we start to read what is happening, even relating to those aspects not directly taught in the books. I need hardly describe to readers of this website how beneficial this will be, in turn, to all aspects of human life if realized.

In a matter relating to my own particular focus of interest, in my opinion, the study of Biblical typology is something that should be mandatory for all people who wish to paint sacred art. Danielou’s book is more likely to be appropriate for the training of the artist, but all artists should be able to create art, intended for children or adults, which reflects such a training and communicates the truth of the Faith through beautiful art. In the Roman Church, we are at the early stages of re-establishing this as a living tradition, but once done (and I remain hopeful that it will be done), then a book could connect the themes described even more directly to the traditional liturgical art of the Church. I look forward to the day when a seven-year-old could walk into the Baptistry in Florence and instantly understand what he or she is seeing, because it not only reflects the lessons learned in a book such as this, but also the images they see in their recently built hometown parish church!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Incomparable Perfection and Beauty of (Traditional) Catholic Worship

Not too long ago, I brought back into print an old catechetical textbook, The Life of Worship: Grace, Prayer, Sacraments, and the Sacred Liturgy [original title: Exposition of Christian Doctrine, Part III: Worship], written by an anonymous seminary professor of the Christian Brothers in France in the late nineteenth century, and published in English in the early twentieth.

It is a classic of its genre. Although written in a question-and-answer format, the well-formulated, wide-ranging questions and thorough answers — including frequent references to Scripture, Church Fathers, and scholastic doctors — puts to shame any of the catechetical materials produced in the past half-century, the supposed new springtime of the Church. I would wager to say, on the contrary, that a new springtime will only start blooming if we take up materials like this textbook and humbly put them to good use again, building on the truly substantial accomplishments of our predecessors.

In any case, there is a particular section of this book that I would like to share with NLM’s readers, both for its inherent interest, and because it gives a sense of the confidence and clarity typical of Catholic writers of the past. It could serve as a model for us today, who are at last finding our way out of self-doubt, ecumenical relativism, aesthetic brutalism, and millimeter-thin religious content. The author is speaking about why Catholic worship is “of incomparable perfection and beauty.” May it once again become so! May it remain so where tradition has been retained or recovered; may it spread across the world and reclaim it for Christ, on whom aggiornamental churchmen have turned their backs.
The worship rendered to God outside the true religion, consists for the most part either of puerile ceremonies, gross rites, cruel and obscene practices, as among the pagans of old, and the followers of Brahmanism [Hinduism] and Buddhism of to-day; or of innumerable prescriptions and prohibitions, many of which are totally wanting in religious character, as among the Mahometans [Moslems]. Even within the Christian fold, the sects that took private judgment for their rule of faith have so mutilated dogma that they have ended by impoverishing worship and drying up its sources, to such an extent that nothing in their temples and their ceremonies recalls the infinite greatness and the unspeakable goodness of God.
          In the Catholic Church alone, the worship given is of incomparable perfection and beauty. Now these qualities manifestly indicate the presence of divine revelation in its essential elements, and when they are found in the work proper to the Church, they give testimony also to the assistance of the Holy Ghost.
          The first perfection of Catholic worship is to be at one and the same time a means both of honoring God and of obtaining His grace. In it the glory of God and the salvation of man are inseparable. God wills to place all His glory in saving us, and we shall be saved only by glorifying God. All the practices of worship, prayers, the sacraments, the celebration of Sundays and festivals, correspond to this double end. They are so many acts of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving, and at the same time, so many appeals for God’s mercy, that He may forgive us our sins and grant us the spiritual or temporal favors of which we stand in need in our short and painful journey to our heavenly country.
          Another perfection of Catholic worship is its intimate union with dogma and morals. There is not a ceremony, not a word, not all outward sign, that does not embody the idea of a mystery or a precept of our religion. Thence comes that admirable unity, that harmony of parts, which is the seal of God’s works. To illustrate: prayer supposes the dogmas of the existence of God, of His providence, of grace, and of free will; and at the same time, it implies the command to adore Him, and indeed all the rules of morality. The celebration of feasts lifts our hearts above the perishable things of this life and attaches them to the blessings of life everlasting. Here too faith teaches that we were created by God for a life that will never end, and the moral law forbids us to make the miserable pleasures of this world the last end of our actions. The holy sacrifice of the Mass, the representation and renewal of that of the cross, is founded on the very dogma of redemption and on the law of atonement. The sacrament of baptism is inseparable from the dogma of original sin and from the precept which God imposed on the first man after his fall, of earning his bread by the sweat of his brow. The sacrament of penance supposes a transgression of the moral law, and consequently it implies the dogma of reparation. Indeed, in all the sacraments without exception, in all the sacred rites of Catholic worship, may be found the like intimate relation with both dogma and moral; for there is neither rite nor sacrament that does not remind us of some truth to believe and some duty to fulfill.
          A third perfection of worship is its admirable unity. Every thing in it converges to the one centre, the adorable sacrament of the altar. The Eucharist contains the Very Author of divine grace, who is communicated to us through prayer and the sacraments. Moreover, this sacrament is the end for which all the others exist, it is the very motive of sacred orders, the principal object of all feasts, the most excellent means of fulfilling all our duties to God and of obtaining His graces and blessings.
          It is to honor the holy Eucharist and to give sensible testimony to its adoration and gratitude, that Christian genius has created those magnificent temples, in which architecture, sculpture, and painting have rivaled one another in their efforts to reproduce, in the most brilliant and most touching forms, all that is majestic and ravishing in this august mystery. It is to celebrate the God of the Eucharist that so many masterpieces of poetry and eloquence have been composed, and so many melodies have been written, now joyous, now sad, according as the Church contemplates, on the one hand, the glory and the triumph of her divine Spouse, or, on the other, His sufferings and death. The altars and their ornaments, the vestments and the sacred vessels, the ceremonies of the holy sacrifice with their symbolic signification, the divine office, processions and pilgrimages, the whole liturgical year with its feasts for every day—everything in worship has for its object Jesus Christ reigning in heaven and residing among us; and, through Jesus Christ, the most holy and adorable Trinity. (pp. 809–11)

Link to this book at Amazon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

“We Need Better Music for Mass”

This video really needs to be shared around as widely as possible. “Think about what we are asking people to believe, and then we present it to them like this, and then we ask ourselves why they don’t believe, and why the Faith is in such dramatic decline in places where this is common practice.” Bravo, Mr Holdsworth!

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Good Article on the TLM in Commonweal

The website of Commonweal published a very nice piece on the traditional Mass a few days ago; as a friend observed on Facebook, this may be a sign that “the end is near”, so go to Confession. (This is always good advice.) I don’t know if the author, Mr Michael Wright, chose the title “Silent Grace” himself, but it sums up his theme very well.

“I watched these strange ways of doing familiar things. The priest faced away from us. We knelt to take communion on the tongue. All the altar servers were male. I bowed at the priest during the recessional, incense still in my nostrils. Then I did something I’d never done after Mass. I sat in a pew, and I felt it: peace. Since then, much in my life has tried to upset this peace. ... But when I go to Mass at St Mary’s (the cathedral of Austin, Texas) with my daughter, I leave with a sense of peace. ”

I know that this fits well with the experience of many people who, like the author, did not grow up with the TLM, myself included. If I had to identify a theme that sums up what younger people say to me about the Latin Mass, it would precisely this, that it is peaceful, and instills peace within them. The quiet and regularity of the traditional rite, the fruit of centuries of pastoral experience, gives us all necessary room to pray the Mass peacefully, and live our life of faith peacefully.

Likewise, he makes a good observation that “(t)he English Mass is too easy; the unfamiliarity of the Latin Mass requires me to quiet my mind, to focus, to attend to my faith in a way that Mass in English does not.” Twenty-five years ago, when the one Latin Novus Ordo in my hometown was switched over to the traditional rite, a much larger portion of the congregation remembered the old Mass from their youth than is now the case. I was present for the very first such Mass, and remember two ladies talking about it afterwards, with one saying to the other, “But the young people don’t understand it!”; I remember thinking, “That is precisely why we will like it and keep coming back.” The Hebrew word for “holy” (qadosh) is derived from a verbal root that means “to separate, set apart”; that which is set apart from ordinary life captures and holds our interest, that which no different from ordinary life is easily ignored. This is why the default position of all religions is to worship God in a manner that is separate from ordinary life, in ritual, language and music.

Mr Wright briefly quotes a piece published on the same site back in February, one much more in keeping with the usual tenor of Commonweal, called “Extraordinary Divisions”, by Prof. Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University, to the effect that “disputes (over liturgy) have wounded the sense of communion between Catholics”, and then says “He may have a point.” I make bold to assure and reassure Mr Wright that he does not.

In the cited article, Prof. Faggioli refers several times to the “bi-ritualism” which he says is now a “fait accompli” in the Roman Rite, and which, he worries, fragments the Church and leads to further polarization among the different groups within it. “There can be no reconciliation between Catholics that does not involve some kind of liturgical reconciliation, given the liturgy’s primary position in the life of the (C)hurch.” By all means. However, no such reconciliation can possibly take place if we cannot even admit to ourselves that the liturgical reform went far beyond both the letter and spirit of what Vatican II asked for, something which its own creators admitted repeatedly and unapologetically. No such reconciliation can take place if we cannot admit to ourselves that, granting for the sake of argument that all the changes were made for the better, they have nevertheless failed catastrophically to evangelize the modern world for whose benefit they were made.

The Roman Rite was not made “biritual” by Summorum Pontificum; it was made kilo-ritual by Missale Romanum, the Apostolic Constitution which promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae. It was the post-Conciliar liturgical reform, and not the old rite, that gave the celebrant of each individual Mass (and his chosen collaborators) a broader degree of liberty than had ever previously existed to decide what shall be said or sung, how it shall be said or sung, whether it shall be said or sung, with what rituals accompanying, and in which language. The people who created the liturgical reform were convinced that this liberty (which extends to the whole of it, not just the Mass) was a feature, not a bug. If Summorum Pontificum were to be withdrawn tomorrow, there would still be within the Roman Rite a vast number of licit liturgical options, from which countless fractures would continue to arise from one parish to the next, and even from one Mass to the next within the same parish.

Not very long before the TLM which I mentioned above was instituted, a young cleric on pastoral assignment in my other church went up to the pulpit before Mass on the first Sunday of Advent, to explain to the congregation that we were going to be doing something new for Advent that year. Before he could say a word of what it was, the elderly woman in the pew behind me said, with evident disgust, “Oh, not another g****mn new thing!” (The result of this particular innovation was, by the way, actually quite nice, but something which I have never seen or heard of since.) It was not Pope Benedict’s action in the liturgical field that wounded that woman’s communion with the earnest young cleric and her fellow-parishioners, but that of Pope Paul VI.

Orchestral Mass and Concert at St John Cantius in Chicago, June 24

The 2018 Summer Sacred Music Colloquium in Chicago will get off to a flying start with two amazing musical opportunities on June 24th. Starting at 12:30 pm, St John Cantius Church will celebrate the Nativity of St John the Baptist with the St Cecilia Choir and Orchestra. This is sure to be a particularly impressive liturgy, featuring Mozart’s Missa Brevis in F, Scande caeli limina, Alma Dei Creatoris, and Inter natos mulierum.

Following the Mass, at 3:00 pm, St John’s will host the Gargoyle Brass in a special “French Reverence” concert. The concert program includes two of its own commissioned arrangements, Alexandre Guilmant'’s Symphony No. 1, Op. 42, and Maurce Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess,” both arranged for brass and organ by Craig Garner. Also on offer are Marcel Dupré’s “Poème héroïque” for brass, organ, and field drum, and “Symphony-Passion” for solo organ. Here is an excerpt from St John Cantius’ website about the performance:

“Organists Corrado Cavalli and Jonathan Rudy will perform on the church’s Casavant Frères Organ Opus 1130, nicknamed ‘Tina Mae.’ The Romantic-style four-manual organ comprises 3,800 wood and metal pipes, the largest 16-feet tall, the smallest a few inches high. The unaltered 85-year-old instrument, relocated from an abandoned Chicago church where it had fallen into disuse, was restored and installed at St John Cantius in 2013.”

Cavalli, a native of Turin, Italy, joined St John Cantius as organist in 2015. He received Master’s degrees in organ, choral conducting and choral composition from National Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi” in Turin. Prior to taking the post at the Chicago church, he served as a church organist, music theory professor, and member of the Commission for Sacred Music for the Archdiocese in Turin. His awards include the 12th National Organ Competition’s Pinchi Prize and the Brownson Fellowship for his doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has recorded for Sony Classical, among other labels.

Rudy, Director of Musical Arts and Administration at St John Cantius, has performed across the U.S., including an appearance at the 2016 American Guild of Organists National Convention in Houston, Tex. He has recorded for the Pro Organo and Sony Classical labels. Among his other credits, he won First Prize and Audience Prize at the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. He holds degrees from Indiana and Valparaiso Universities and is currently pursuing a doctorate in organ and sacred music at Indiana.

There will be a special lunch at 2:00 PM available for $10.00. Tickets for the concert are $15.00 for adults, $10.00 for seniors/students, and $5.00 for children. Tickets can be purchased online at www.cantius.org.

More information can be found at www.cantius.org, or call 1-800-838-3006.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Corpus Christi 2018 Photopost (Part 4)

In addition to a lot of beautiful images (the selection of which among so many is the most difficult part of preparing these,) we have a few special items in our final Corpus Christi photopost: celebrations in London for a new diocesan shrine, two first Masses, and a Missa coram Sanctissimo. As always, our thanks to all those who sent these in, participating in the good work of evangelizing through beauty!

Corpus Christi - London, England
The church had a week-long series of events to mark its official reopening, culminating in a Pontifical High Mass on Corpus Christi, celebrated by His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who officially established it as a Diocesan Shrine dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. First Vespers and the vigil Mass were celebrated by His Excellency Robert Byrne, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.

First Vespers

 Vigil Mass

Procession in Covent Garden celebrated by Cardinal Nichols

A 15th-Century Critic of the Franciscan Liturgy

We are grateful to our friends at Canticum Salomonis for their kind permission to publish here on NLM their recent translation, the first ever in English, of part of an important 15th-century liturgical treatise. This treatise offers an interesting critique of the Franciscan influence on the liturgy of the Roman Church, particularly in regards to the Missal and Breviary of the Roman Curia which they adopted, and which are the principal late-medieval source of the Missal and Breviary of St Pius V. 

Radulphus of Rivo (d. 1403) was a Dutch jurist, liturgist, historian, and dean of the chapter of Tongres cathedral, whose several works on the liturgy are of primary importance for understanding the development of the Missal and Breviary.

His work De Canonum Observantia examines the sources of liturgical authority – Scripture, tradition, canons, papal decretals, etc. – and describes how the Mass and Office should be celebrated in accordance with them.

In Proposition XXII, which appears here in English for the first time, he harshly criticises the Franciscan breviary compiled by Haymo of Faversham for departing from the traditional Roman order while claiming to be its only true representative. The piece raises interesting questions about the nature of Rome’s liturgical primacy.

The frontispiece of a Roman Missal printed in Venice in 1520. Although it is not stated here explicitly that it was made for the Franciscans, this is clearly indicated by the fact that some of the Order’s canonized Saints are listed with octaves in the calendar.
Proposition XXII [1]

The Ordo of the Holy Roman Church is to be gathered not from the practices of the Friars Minor but from the canons, the authentic Scriptures, our ancient books, and the general practice of each particular church.

(1) Introduction

So glorious and famous was the Roman Church of old, that living waters gushed up from beneath her feet, and from her rose, as from the source of a stream, examples for the doing of all things, and sure rules of ecclesiastical government. Hence it is that all the Scriptures enjoin us to follow her authority and hold fast to her order (ordinem). As the most blessed Pope Innocent says to the Bishop Decentius (in his letter to the church of Maguelone, cited earlier in Proposition VII, dist. xi):

“For there is no man who does not know and acknowledge that what has been handed down to the Roman Church from Peter the Prince of the Apostles and is conserved there faithfully even now is something that must be observed by everyone, and that nothing should be added or introduced that does not have its authority from her or seems to take its example from elsewhere. This is all the more obvious since throughout all of Italy, the Gauls, the Spains, Africa, and Sicily, and the islands lying in between, no church has been founded that was not established by the venerable Apostle Peter or his priestly successors. Let them read, and let them tell me whether they find that another Apostle has been their founder in these provinces. But if they have not read it, because indeed it is nowhere to be found, then they are obliged to obey what the Roman Church has conserved, from whom it is certain that they have taken their beginnings: lest while they lend too eager an ear to foreign ideas, they might forget the instruction of their head.”

Consider also the material under the third proposition above.

But in what pertains to the Divine Office, today there is a widespread belief and opinion that the Friars Minor are the only ones who observe the order of the Holy Roman Church, which (they claim) is contained in none other but in their own Breviaries and books. Why? Because in their Rule Bl. Francis prescribed that the clergy should perform the Divine Office according to the Roman order wherever they are able to obtain the Breviaries.

During my stay in Rome, I learned that the truth is quite to the contrary. In fact, when the Roman Pontiffs resided at the Lateran, they observed a less complete form of the Roman Office than what was observed in the other collegiate churches of the city. Moreover, the chapel clergy, whether by papal mandate or on their own authority, always abbreviated the Roman Office and often altered it, according as it suited the Lord Pope and the Cardinals to observe it. [2] I also had the opportunity to study an Ordinary of this Office compiled during the time of Innocent III. [3] It is this abbreviated office that the Friars Minor follow. This is the reason why they give their breviaries and office books the sub-title “following the custom of the Roman Curia” (secundum consuetudinem Romanae Curiae), but they have taken no pains to receive and observe the customs of the other churches of the city of Rome. Now if the Chapel Office in question really can be called the ORDO of the Holy Roman Church, then they have done what the rule prescribed. If not, they have not.

Several nations of the Roman world have their books and office directly from the Roman churches and not from the Papal Chapel. This can be easily inferred from the books and treatises of Amalarius, Walafrid, Micrologus, Gemma Animae, and other writers on the Divine Office. [4]

Having said all of this by way of introduction, let us proceed to examine who is closer in their Divine Office to the order of the Holy Roman Church: whether the Friars in question, who keep a rather singular liturgical use along with their rather singular rule, or the other nations and religious orders. Either truly or falsely, I claim that the use of the Friars Minor is further from the true Roman order when it follows the chapel office in question, as may be deduced in the following way:

(2) Thesis

According to St Augustine (De Civitate Dei 19, 13), an ordo is the disposition of equal and unequal things each in their proper place; and in De Ordine Rerum, II, he says that ordo is that by which all the things ordained by God are done; and in the second book of the same, Ordo is that by which God moves all things that are; and on the Epistle to the Galatians: confusion is the opposite of order. With regard to the Divine Office, therefore, whenever everything is done just as the Roman Church has ordained, and each thing assigned its place as a right judgment deems proper, then we have the ordo prescribed by the Roman Church. And where the contrary subsists, this is confusion. But the other nations and religious orders observe these things more exactly than the Franciscans. Therefore, etc.

I will speak only briefly about a few things that come to mind, and (God willing) it will be more amply discussed in the writings coming from the City. [5]

(3) Argument

(a) General Observations: Sermons, Passions, and Propers

First, with regard to things that are read and things that are sung, the Lateran and the other Roman churches have sermons and homilies, the Passions of the saints, and other such things in very great number. Likewise the ancient Roman antiphonaries contain [proper] chants for Saints Nicholas, Sebastian, and Maurice; and long responsories for Terce, Sext, and None in Lent; the Sunday Psalms divided for the Vigil [i.e Matins] in Easter Week, Easter Vespers ordered by Kyrie eleison [6], and several antiphons for the Sunday Benedicite, [7] and in several places variant antiphons and responsories.

(b) Propers of the Saints

(i) Omission of the Legenda and other ancient customs [8]

Likewise in the proper Masses of the saints, we find their proper offices listed on their days, and many other things that are observed throughout the whole world in imitation of the Roman churches. But the Friars, for the sake of brevity and in imitation of the Papal chapel, have omitted or altered this custom. In their abbreviated use they usually read the Chronicles of Damasus on the saints, or something from the Pontificale. [9]

(ii) Difficulties caused by the transfer of feasts. [10]

Likewise, the Apostolic See assigns universal feasts of nine lessons, [11] and for local feasts permits the diocese to make additions, as in the proposition XVII above. And hence among all religious congregations and nations, there are few local feasts of nine lessons added beyond the universal ones, and many feasts of three lessons. [13]

But today the friars observe the feast days of all their saints and the major octaves with nine readings, and none with three. As a result of this observance there is continuous disorder in their use and a great confusion caused by the feasts transferred from Sundays and during Octaves. [14] For out of any six places or persons that observe their use, hardly two observe the same nine-reading feast on the same day. [15] Therefore, they rarely say Matins. [16] They rarely observe the Seven (Penitential) Psalms [17] and other ferial practices, they entirely neglect Sacred Scripture in their office, [18] and they often omit the Office of the Dead. [19]

From a Book of Hours written in 1533, the Resurrection of Lazarus at the beginning of Vespers of the Dead. (Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Ms-640 réserve)
(c) Confusion of the local and universal calendars: Adoption of local Roman feasts outside Rome.

Further, the Apostolic See desires proportion (between local and universal feasts). Rome observes the (feasts of the) holy Roman Pontiffs and other local feasts of the Holy City; in the same way, others should observe their own local saints in their own local uses. Just as in Rome they are not held to observe our local saints, so neither are we held to observe theirs. But the Friars, contrary to this general custom, which is tacitly approved by this See, have added local Roman saints to their rite, such as Hyginius, Anicetus, Soter, Pius, Cletus, Marcellus, Eleutherius, John, Felix, Silverius, Anacletus, Victor, Innocent, Evaristus, Pontianus, and Melchiades, all Roman pontiffs; the same for Anastasius the martyr on St. Vincent’s day, whose monastery is situated beyond St. Paul’s; Gilbert the Confessor from England, and the Forty Holy Martyrs of Armenia, who have their church near the Colosseum; the Apparition of St. Michael of Apulia; the Martyr Elmo of Gaieta; Rufina and Secunda, virgins and martyrs of the Lateran; Nabor and Felix of Milan; Symphorosa with her seven sons, martyrs from Tivoli; Pastor, priest and confessor, who was a companion of Praxedes and Pudentiana, Roman virgins; Susanna, virgin and martyr, who has a church near the Baths (of Diocletian); the twelve brothers martyrs on St. Giles’ day, where Urban IV ordered that Giles be celebrated as a nine-lesson feast; Cerbonius, bishop of Populonia; Tryphon and Respicius, martyrs, whose church is held by the Augustinians; the feast of (Our Lady of) the Snows; the dedication of the three major basilicas; and Sabas the Abbot, whose abbey is located beyond the church of St. Alexis. It is remarkable that none of the aforesaid Roman feasts have propers in the Gregorian Office, which may be evidence that generally they were not celebrated.

Besides what we have just mentioned, in various other calendars of the churches of the city, I have seen other Roman Pontiffs and saints celebrated in many places, as feasts of nine or three lessons, whom the Friars have omitted. In the ancient calendars of the city, moreover, though many local saints are assigned feasts of nine lessons, I have seen very many saints assigned only three lessons. In this, the books of the Friars Minor have been deficient from the beginning, for they did not note which saints are assigned nine lessons, so that they could observe all the others under three lessons. [20] Some of their books, which they admittedly do not use today, assign at most four or six saints’ feasts of three lessons, so that all the others are kept as feasts of nine lessons. And in this regard they oppose all other religious congregations and nations. But about this confusion regarding feasts of nine lessons I have written sufficiently in Proposition XVII above.

The Apostolic See has ordered local custom to be observed on feast days of saints, but the Friars observe the contrary in the feasts of the aforementioned saints, as we noted in Proposition XVII.

Further, if the Friars observe the feasts of their own order’s saints with major octaves, such as Francis, Anthony of Padua, and St. Clare, who are not found in the Roman office, when do they not leave the Romans some of their own local saints that the Franciscans are not bound to celebrate?

(d) Invention of a “Common of Saints.”

For the saints who have proper masses, Blessed Gregory wrote down in the Liber Gradualis and the Missal [21] the proper chants, epistles, and gospels to be observed on their days. Whenever these are repeated, he referred users to other pages, as the seculars’ books often do. The Friars’ books, however, contain a sort of mish-mash Common the Saints, composed from scratch by collecting all the introits by themselves, then the other parts by themselves. [22] Further, they have omitted the temporal and ferial Epistles and Gospels that are contained in Roman books. [23] They have also neglected to include genuflexions and many other ancient ceremonies, perhaps because they are not observed in the pope’s chapel. [24]

(f) Imposition of the Franciscan Office in Rome. [25]

Another point to be considered is the fact that Pope Nicholas III, a Roman from the family of the Orsini, who began his reign in the year of our Lord 1277 and constructed a palace at St. Peter’s, ordered the Antiphonaries, Graduals, Missals, and 50 other ancient office books to be removed from the churches of the city, and ordered that henceforth the same churches would use the Books and Breviaries of the Friars Minor, whose rule he also confirmed. This is why all the books in Rome today are new and Franciscan.

(g) Disappearance of the ancient chant notation.

Likewise, the ancient form of chant notation that is used by the Ambrosians and Germans, along with many other ecclesiastical observances, has been banished from the City. [26]

(4) Conclusion

Therefore, with regard to the Divine Office, we will observe the order of the Holy Roman Church if, disregarding the use of the Friars, we follow the sacred canons, authentic Scriptures, and the more universal local customs (consuetudines locorum generales) and, in points of doubt, the more ancient ones. And in other particulars let us follow the proportion mentioned above in the section on local saints.


[1] Translation from the edition printed in Magna Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum, vol. 10, 1149A–1151D (Paris, 1654).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

St Anthony’s Eucharistic Miracle

English-speaking Catholics today perhaps think of Anthony of Padua principally as the Saint to call upon when something is lost, for which there is a well-known rhyme, “St Anthony, St Anthony, please come down: something is lost and cannot be found.” In his own lifetime, however, and for centuries after, he was principally known for his extraordinary learning and skill as a preacher; he was the first Franciscan to study at a university and teach.

Ss Anthony and Francis, depicted by Simone Martini in the Chapel of St Martini in the lower basilica of St Francis in Assisi, 1322-26. Note that in this earlier stage of Franiscan iconography, St Anthony’s charactistic feature is the book of a scholar. (Public domain image from Wikpedia.)
He was also known for a variety of highly spectacular miracles. The 39th chapter of The Little Flowers of St Francis tells the story of how he preached before the Pope and cardinals in consistory, and was understood by them all,
Greeks, Italians, French, Germans, Slavs and English, and other languages… as if he had spoken in their own languages … and it seemed that that ancient miracle of the Apostles at the time of Pentecost was renewed, when they spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit in every tongue. And they said to each other with admiration, “Is this man who preaches not a Spaniard? And how do we all hear our own language as he speaks?”
By an interesting coincidence, his feast day is also the last day on which Pentecost can occur. He was canonized within a year of his death by the Pope in whose presence this miracle took place, Gregory IX (1227-41), who also referred to him publicly as “the ark of the covenant, and the treasure-chest of the Divine Scriptures.” At the ceremony of his canonization, Pope Gregory intoned in his honor the Magnificat antiphon for Doctors of the Church, “O Doctor Optime”, a title which was formally confirmed in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.

The common representation of Anthony as a young man tenderly holding the Christ Child perhaps makes it easy to forget that he was also called “the hammer of the heretics”, who were many in his time. Like his contemporary St Dominic, he preached in a wide field in northern Italy and southern France against the bizarre heresy of the Cathars. When he was still a young canon regular in Coimbra, Portugal, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) had called the Fourth Council of the Lateran, which also had a good deal to say on the subject of heresy. This was famously the first ecumenical council to enshrine the use of the term “transubstantiation” as a way of describing the change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in the Mass, a response to a variety of erroneous teachings on the Eucharist.

“There is indeed one universal church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ Himself is both priest and sacrifice. His body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been changed (transsubstantiatis) in substance, by God’s power, into his body and blood, … And indeed, nobody can confect this sacrament except a priest who has been properly ordained according to the (power of the) Church’s keys, which Jesus Christ himself gave to the Apostles and their successors.” (Canon 1 ‘on the Catholic Faith’)

The Miracle of the Mule, by Joseph Heintz the Younger (1600-78), from the Chapel of St Pius V in the Domincan Order’s basilica of Ss John and Paul in Venice.
When St Anthony was in Rimini in the year 1223, a heretic named Bonovillo challenged him to prove the doctrine of the Real Presence in the following manner. The man would lock his mule in its stall for three days without giving it any food, then bring it into a public square where there would plenty of hay be ready for it. At the same time, St Anthony would show the consecrated Host to the mule; if it would then ignore the hay and kneel, its owner would convert to the Catholic Faith. On the appointed day, St Anthony celebrated Mass, then brought the Host in procession to the piazza. On arriving, he said to the mule “By the power and in the name of the Creator, Whom I, for all that I am unworthy, truly hold in my hands, I say to thee, animal, and order thee to come near at once in humility, and show Him proper veneration.” At this, the mule immediately left the hay, approached and knelt, for the sake of which miracle the heretic Bonovillo did indeed convert. In Rimini, in the Piazza of the Three Martyrs, there is a small chapel known as the “Tempietto – little temple”, which marks the place where this miracle happened.

The event has also been represented in art many times, such as the painting above. From 1446-53, the sculptor Donatello was in Padua to do a new high altar for the great basilica which houses St Anthony’s relics, with four relief panels of his miracles, and seven free-standing bronze sculpture of Saints. The miracle of the mule is one of the four. (Click to enlarge.)

EF Mass for the Birth of John the Baptist in the Bronx

The church of the Holy Rosary in the Bronx, New York, will have an EF Mass on Sunday, June 24th, the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, with music by Gounod and Victoria; the celebrant will be His Excellency James Massa, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn. The Mass will begin at 1 pm; the church is located 1510 Adee Avenue. See https://holyrosarybronx.org/ for more information.

Solemn Vows in Norcia

This past Friday, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, Br Augustine Wilmeth, who hails from South Carolina, made his solemn vows as a member of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, promising to live as a monk until the day of his death. Family and friends from the United States and Italy were present for the ceremony, which took place while a thunderstorm added its voice to the chants and ritual. (Photos reproduced with permission from the monks’ most recent newsletter; click here to subscribe though their website.)
Here we see a beautiful custom which formed part of the rite of religious profession among many different religious orders: the newly professed prostrates himself before the altar, and a black funeral pall is laid over him, symbolizing his death to the world, that he may rise in Christ.

After the ceremony, despite the rain, students from the juggling troupe of St Gregory the Great Academy, who had stopped in Norcia during their annual pilgrimage to Rome, performed for the monks and their guests.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Corpus Christi 2018 Photopost (Part 3)

Our Corpus Christi photopost series continues with pictures from England, France and the United States, a video from Norway, and two churches of the Ordinariate Use, inter alia. Thank you once again to everyone who sent these in. (I am back from my trip, and should be able to finish up the series within the week.) Evanglize through beauty!

Collegiate Church of St Just - Lyon, France (FSSP)
Tradition will always be for the young!

Universalis.com Now Offers the Divine Office with Pointed Psalms

Now a community can chant the Office in unison from their smartphones!

I was excited recently to hear that the website Universalis.com now has an option to have the psalms of the Divine Office pointed for chanting. This allows people to chant them in community or congregation in unison. The psalm tones which can be applied to these are those that are given on this site, thewayofbeauty.org on the Psalm Tones page; they are adapted from the traditional Gregorian tones.

The points (the marks over certain syllables) coincide with the naturally emphasized syllables of speech, and so are intuitive and natural to use.

The psalm tones on my website make use of the final two points in each line and are simple to use. Scores for the tones can be downloaded, and there is an instructional video along with materials explaining how to use them. All the materials on this site are free, but for those who would like greater help, I have created an online course teaching you how to sing them from the traditional chant notation at www.Pontifex.University, which costs $95 for several hours of tuition.

The pointed psalms are available on the app, which can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play.

When you get it on your smartphone, the screen will look like this:
Martin Kochanski, the editor of Universalis, explained the procedure to me. “When you use Universalis.com with the app, there ought to be a grey box mentioning the pointing just below the first psalm on this page: in that case, just tap on it and say Yes, you want the pointing. If for any reason the box isn’t there, then
  1. Tap on the screen to get the toolbar to appear.
  2. Tap on the cogwheel to open the Settings screen.
  3. In the Liturgy of the Hours section of that screen, turn on the option ‘Show chant marks.’

The tones I have created conform to the pattern of language, rather than imposing their own rhythm on the words. This means that once you understand how the system works, which is pretty simple, they flow naturally, and it frees you to contemplate the text more deeply.

Also, with this system, any psalm tone can be sung to any psalm, so once you know even just one, you can sing the whole psalter.

These tones are arranged so that any tone can be applied to any text, and they always follow the natural rhythm of the words of the text. The system is so simple that you don’t need a deep musical training - if you can sing it, you can teach others to sing it. This means that in just a few minutes, you could have a completely fresh group able to learn a tone and sing a whole Office together.

Furthermore, because the system of matching tone to text is so natural, it makes it easy to compose new tones. I was motivated to create these because I was struggling to find any that I was happy with, and realized that there was no reason that I couldn’t do it at least as badly as anyone else. So, if you don’t like mine, compose your own. I would love to see someone doing better than me and the more people composing the better, for the best will rise to the surface, so to speak, and catch on. This way we will have a living, organic tradition!

I would love to see the Coverdale Psalms of the Anglican Ordinariate Psalter pointed in this way too. I am currently going through a Google Doc file of all 150 psalms and pointing them, and I hope to have that available later this year (it is quite time-consuming to do it, as you can imagine). If so, I may publish it myself with Way of Beauty press (which published my latest book The Vision for You - How to Discover the Life You Were Made For).

In the meantime, perhaps prayer.covert.org or another site that offers the Anglican Use Office might consider doing the same. I understand that the simple reason that Mr. Kochanski did this on Universalis was that someone wrote and asked!
St Benedict of Nursia introduces an early medieval mechanical smartphone to the community at Norcia

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: