Friday, September 21, 2018

Orcagna's St Matthew Triptych

In 1367, the Florentine money-changers’ guild commissioned the painter Andrea di Cione, generally known by the nickname Orcagna, to make a triptych of their patron Saint, the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Orcagna, who was then running one of the busiest artistic workshops in the city, fell ill in the course of the work, and left it to be finished by his brother Jacopo when he died the following year. The emblem of the guild is seen at the top of the two side panels above the pinnacles.
Public domain images from Wikipedia; click to see in high resolution.
Its peculiar shape is owed to the fact that it was originally hung on one of the octagonal pillars of the famous church and guildhall known as the Orsanmichele. The central panel, which is mostly Orcagna’s own work, shows St Matthew with a pen and the Gospel book in his hands, the latter identified as his by the opening words “The Book of the Generation of Jesus Christ…” In accordance with the convention of the times, the beautiful decorative carpet on which he is standing is vertical, so that it can be seen; this was probably done by Jacopo. In the pinnacles above him, angels hold the crown and palms of martyrdom.

The side panels show four stories from the Saint’s life, running clockwise from the lower left. In the first one, Christ calls him away from the tollhouse, as described by Matthew himself chapter 9 of his own Gospel. The Lord is accompanied by the four Apostles, Peter, Andrew, James and John, whose calling has already been described before this point, but the rest, who are named in chapter 10, are not yet with him.
The remaining panels show stories from the life of St Matthew as recounted in the Golden Legend. In the second one, when he had gone to Ethiopia to preach the Gospel, he came to a place where two magicians had gained control of the populace, and were worshipped as gods. At Matthew’s preaching, the people were converted to the faith; the magicians therefore planned to punish them by turning two dragons loose on them. Signing himself with the cross, the Apostle went out to confront them, at which the dragons lay down asleep at his feet.
In the third panel, he raises the son of a king named Hegippus from the dead, which the magicians were unable to do. This leads to the conversion of the king; furthermore, at St Matthew’s exhortation, his daughter embraces the state of consecrated virginity, a proposal in which she is followed by many other young women.
Hegippus is then succeeded by his brother Hirtacus, who turns against Christianity, and has St Matthew killed at the altar when he had just finished celebrating Mass, as seen in the fourth panel. Iphigenia, who is seen at the lower right, is still named to this day in the traditional Martyrology of the Roman Rite.
The story goes on that the people wished to avenge the Apostle’s murder by burning down the royal palace, but were restrained from doing so by the clergy, who rather celebrated his martyrdom. Since Iphigenia and the other virgins would not abandon their consecration, Hirtacus set her house on fire, but the Apostle turned the fire back on his house, which was destroyed. Hirtacus, afflicted with incurable leprosy, then kills himself, and is succeeded by Hegippus’s, who effects the complete conversion of Ethiopia to Christianity, filling it with churches.

Ordinariate Rite Masses for Our Lady of Walsingham, September 24

Tampa, Florida
On Monday, September 24th, Fr Edwin Palka of Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church in St Petersburg, Florida, will offer Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal for the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, in pastoral response to some canonical members of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. This will be the first Mass of its kind in the Diocese of St Petersburg. While Epiphany of Our Lord was designated as the center for the Traditional Latin Mass by Bishop Emeritus Robert N. Lynch in 2015, the celebration of the Mass according to the rite used in the Ordinariate is in absolute continuity with the mission statement of the parish, which is (in part) “to encourage all men to be fully, faithfully, joyfully and unapologetically Catholic in all aspects of life; and to bring about, through the mercy of God and the intercession of the Blessed Mother and all the Saints, the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls.” It is our hope that this Mass will contribute to the sanctification of our parish and diocese, and whose grace will lead the Church Universal to greater unity. The church is located at 2510 East Hanna Avenue; the Mass will begin at 7 pm.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
On the same day, September 24, the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia will host a solemn Mass offered according to Divine Worship: The Missal for the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. Fr David Ousley, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Bridgeport, the Ordinariate parish in the Philadelphia area, will celebrate the Mass, with the assistance of Fr Eric Bergman as deacon and homilist, and Fr Albert Scharbach as subdeacon. The faithful will be able to hear sacred music from the Anglican tradition, including Oldroyd’s Mass of the Quiet Hour, motets by Elgar and Stainer, Anglican chant, and a chancel choir rendering English adaptations of the Gregorian Proper antiphons. Clergy and seminarians are most welcome to attend in-choir. The Mass will begin at 7pm, and be followed by a reception; the basilica is located at 1723 Race Street.

Ottawa, Ontario
St Therea’s Catholic Church in Ottawa, Ontario, will keep the same celebration in the Ordinariate Rite, also starting at 7 pm. The church is located at 95 Somerset Street West.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Exaltation of the Cross Photopost 2018

As always, our thanks to everyone who sent these photos of their liturgies celebrated last weekend on the Exaltation of the Cross and the feast of the Seven Sorrows. This year’s submissions include a pilgrimage to one of the oldest centers of Christianity in Italy, the traditional Mass celebrated for the first time in an American parish, and the first school Mass of the new chapel of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Floria, which we featured last month. Evangelize through beauty!

Old St Mary’s - The Oratory of Cincinnati, Ohio
Solemn Mass in the traditional rite for the Exaltation of the Cross was followed by a procession with a relic of the True Cross and a statue of the recumbent Christ; the church then held Adoration though the night in reparation for the sins of the clergy and hierarchy, for the victims of abuse worldwide, and for healing within the Church.





The Gellone Sacramentary

One of my favorite manuscripts for illustrating articles on liturgical history is the Gellone Sacramentary, a work of the end of the 8th century; its precise origin is unknown, but many scholars think it was copied out in a monastery in the vicinity of Meaux in northern France. The title “Gellone“ comes from St William of Gellone, who may have received the manuscript from his cousin Charlemagne, and later donated to an abbey which he founded, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. From there it passed to the abbey of St Germain-des-Prés in Paris, and is now in the Bibliothèque National de France, (Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048); it can be seen and downloaded for free from their website. The first half of the manuscript has an enormous number of decorations, which show an extraordinary degree of variety and inventiveness; there are far fewer in the second half. Here is just a selection of some of the more interesting ones.

The title page (folio 1v): “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, here begins the Sacramentary. O the vigil of Christmas, at the hour of None, the station at St Mary Major,” followed by the collect of the vigil of Christmas. In this period, Christmas Eve was considered the beginning of the liturgical year, and Advent comes at the end of the book. The Virgin Mary is shown holding a cross and a thurible.
The prayers of the feasts of St Stephan and St John (folio 6v). Very often, there is no obvious connection between the decorations and the liturgical text.
Most of the Mass of the Purification, and that of St Agatha, who is shown at the lower left. (folio 17v)
The prayers of Ash Wednsday and the following Thursday; the station of the latter is at the church of St George, whose name is spelled as “Iorgium” (folio 23v).
Tuesday and Wednesday of the First Week of Lent. (folio 26v)
Prayers over the catechumens during the baptismal scutinies of Lent. (folio 34r)

EF Michaelmas in Knoxville, Tennessee

Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, will celebrate a sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Dedication of St Michael the Archangel, also known as Michaelmas, on September 29th, starting at 5 pm. Following Mass there will be a traditional Michaelmas goose dinner. The church is located at 1041 N. Central Street; ample parking is available.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A New Hymn in Honor of St Januarius

We received the following message from Michael Schultz, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Louisville. “I serve as the organist and director of sacred music at Bishop Brute Seminary in Indianapolis. This year, I have tried to implement a wider variety of hymnody, specifically the restoration of breviary hymns and devotional hymns for Saints’ feast days. I could not find a hymn in honor of St Januarius, so I composed this one. It is written in a more medieval style with allusions to his life, imprisionment, and the miracle of his blood. The suggested tune would be Winchester New L.M. or Jesu Dulcis Memoria, with optional ‘Amen.’ ” Our thanks to Mr Schultz for sharing his work with our readers.

The Martyrdom of St Januarius in the Amphitheatre at Pozzuoli, by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1636-7. Very often during the passions of the martyrs, Nature itself would refuse to cooperate with their persecutors, a fact already noted in the early 2nd century by St Ignatius of Antioch. This painting shows an episode of the Passion of St Januarius to which the hymn also refers, in which the wild beasts in the gladiatorial arena simply came up to him and lay down at his feet. (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)
What joy is greater than to know
your mighty courage, Gennaro?
You shed your blood for Him who died
the dark of sin to nullify.

Your light shone bright to all your flock,
you were their anchor and their rock;
And when to prision you were sent,
your faith, like chains, could not be bent.

In peace you gave your very life,
thrown to the beasts, you took the strife;
But they to you, refused attack,
no prayer, blest Martyr, did you lack.

And when the time for death drew near,
you offered your life without fear,
your blood gushed forth in liquid streams,
and still today, it flows serene.

All praise to You, whom Martyrs sing,
to you be praise, the Martyrs’ King,
and to the Spirit, one in love,
let this our hymn, transcend above. Amen.

By Nothing But Prayer and Fasting

Because of the movable date of Easter, and of everything that depends on it, the Ember Days of September can occur within any of the weeks after Pentecost from the 13th to the 19th inclusive. This year, they occur within the 17th week, which is where they are traditionally placed in the Roman Missal [1], but next year, for example, they will fall within the 14th week. This placement in the text reflects a very ancient theme which permeates the Masses of this set of Ember Days, and which seems to be particularly appropriate for our current annus horribilis.

The Collect of the 17th Sunday after Pentecost is a very ancient one, found in different places in the various versions of the Gelasian Sacramentary, but already fixed to the 17th Sunday in the Gregorian Sacramentary by the end of the 8th century. “Da quaesumus, Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia, et te solum Deum pura mente sectari. - Grant to Thy people, o Lord, to shun (or ‘avoid, escape from’) diabolical contamination, and to follow Thee, who alone art God, with a pure mind.” [2] This is the only Mass Collect of the ecclesiastical year that refers directly to diabolical influence, but the Secret of the 15th Sunday has a similar theme: “May Thy sacraments preserve us, o Lord, and always protect us against diabolical incursions.”

Folio 115r of the Gellone Sacramentary, a sacramentary of the Gelasian type dated 780-800, with the prayer “Da quaesumus...” assigned to the 20th week after Pentecost. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048)
On the Ember Wednesday of September, the Gospel is St Mark’s account of the healing of a possessed child, chapter 9, 16-28. Apart from Easter and the Ascension, the Roman lectionary traditionally makes very little of use of St Mark, notwithstanding the tradition that the Evangelist was a disciple of St Peter and composed the Gospel while he was with him in Rome. Here, his version was surely chosen for the moving account of the exchange between Christ and the child’s father, which is less detailed in St Matthew’s version.

“And He asked his father, ‘How long time is it since this hath happened unto him?’ But he said, ‘From his infancy, and oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if thou canst do any thing, help us, having compassion on us.’ And Jesus saith to him, ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’ And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said, ‘I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief.’ ”

The lower half of Raphael’s Transfiguration, the story which precedes the Gospel of Ember Wednesday. The possessed child’s father, on the right side in green, presents him to the Apostles; in his expression, Raphael beautifully captures the pleading in his facial expression. The brightness of the figure symbolizes his faith, as it does likewise in that of the possessed child, for devils, as St James says, have no doubts about God. (“Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” 2, 19). The brightest figure, the woman kneeling next to the boy and pointing at him, is an allegorical figure of Faith itself; where the light on these figures expresses their belief, the nine Apostles on the left are wrapped in shadow to symbolize the lack of faith that prevented them from casting out the devil.
At the end of the passage, the disciples ask Christ why they could not expel the devil, to which He replies, “This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” In the Office, these words are sung at Lauds as the antiphon of the Benedictus.

On Ember Friday, the Gospel is that of the woman who anoints the Lord’s feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee, St Luke 7, 36-50. This is one of the very few examples of a Gospel which is repeated from another part of the temporal cycle; it is also read on the Thursday of Passion week, and again on the feast of St Mary Magdalene, with whom the woman is traditionally identified in the West. This identification is partly reinforced by the words of St Luke which come immediately after it (chapter 8, 1-3), although they are not read in the liturgy.

“And it came to pass afterwards, that He travelled through the cities and towns, preaching and evangelizing the kingdom of God; and the twelve with him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth, and Joanna the wife of Chusa, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who ministered unto him of their substance.”

On Saturday, the Gospel is two stories from St Luke, chapter 13, 6-17, the parable of the fig tree, and the healing of the woman “who had a spirit of infirmity… and was bowed together, (nor) could she look upwards at all.” The choice of this Gospel for the Saturday is a very deliberate one, since it takes place in a synagogue, the ruler of which, “being angry that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, answering, said to the multitude, ‘Six days there are wherein you ought to work. In them therefore come, and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” To this Christ answers, “Ye hypocrites, doth not every one of you, on the Sabbath day, loose his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead them to water? And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”

An ancient Christian sarcophagus known as the Sarcophagus of the Two Brothers, made in the second quarter of the 4th century, now in the Vatican Museums. The healing of the crippled woman is depicted in the upper left.
Each of these Gospels, therefore, refers to the same theme as the Collect of the 17th Sunday, the Church’s prayer to the Lord to protect Her and Her individual members from the malign influence of the devil.

It is a well-known fact that the Ember Days are one of the very oldest features of the Roman Rite. Pope St Leo I (444-61) preached numerous sermons on them, and believed them to be of apostolic origin, as he says, for example, in his second sermon on Pentecost. “To the present solemnity, most beloved, we must also add such devotion, that we keep the fast which follows it, according to the Apostolic tradition. For this must also be counted among the great gifts of the Holy Spirit, that fasting has been given to us as a defense against the enticements of the flesh and the snares of the devil, by which we may overcome all temptations, with the help of God.” (Sermon 76, PL 54, 411B)

Likewise, in his second sermon on the Ember Days of September, he refers to Christ’s words about fasting which are read on Wednesday. [3] “In every contest of the Christian’s struggle, temperance is of the greatest value and utility, to such a degree that the most savage demonic spirits, who are not put to flight from the bodies of the possessed by the commands of any exorcist, are driven out just by the force of fasts and prayers, as the Lord sayeth, ‘This kind of demons is not cast out except by fasting and prayer.’ The prayer of one who fasteth, therefore, is pleasing to God, and terrible to the devil…” (Sermon 87, ibid. 439b)

The collect of the 17th Sunday after Pentecost is one of the more obvious cases of a prayer deemed unsuitable by the post-Conciliar reformers for the ears of Modern Man™, who must never be confronted with any “negative” ideas while at prayer. Despite its antiquity and the universality of its place within the Roman Rite, it was removed altogether from the Missal, along with the Ember Days, most references to fasting, and all references to the devil. In a similar vein, when the pseudo-anaphora of pseudo-Hippolytus was adapted as the Second Eucharistic Prayer, the original version of the section that parallels the Qui pridie, “Who, when he was delivered to voluntary suffering, in order to dissolve death, and break the chains of the devil, and tread down hell, and bring the just to the light, and set the limit, and manifest the resurrection,” was reduced to “At the time He was betrayed and entered willingly into His Passion…”

However, as Fr Zuhlsdorf noted a few days ago, the 2002 revised edition of the Missal contains certain hints of an awareness that the post-Conciliar reform wantonly threw out far too much of the traditional Roman Rite. Among the things which it restored is the traditional prayer of the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, which now appears as an optional collect among the Masses “for any necessity”, raising the total number of references to the devil in the Missal to one.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal contains an exhortation (and no more than that) to the effect that Rogation Days and Ember Days “should be indicated” (“indicentur”, not “indicandae sunt – must be indicated”) on the local calendars, and a rubric (I.45) that it is the duty (“oportet”) of episcopal conferences to establish both the time and manner of their celebration. Unsurprisingly, this rubric has mostly been ignored. In recent days, however, it has become impossible to ignore the hideous consequences of the almost total abandonment of any kind of ascetic discipline in the life of the Church, and the free reign which this seems to have given to the devil. As a result, some bishops have called for the faithful to fast on the Ember Days this year, among them Robert Morlino of Madison and David Zubik of Pittsburgh, along with a number of Catholic commentators. If the Church does not wish this annus horribilis to become a lasting feature of its life, a permanent and universal restoration of the traditional discipline of fasting, including the Ember Days, would be a small but important step in that direction.

[1] In many medieval liturgical books, they are placed after the last Mass of the season after Pentecost, as for example in the Sarum Missal.

[2] The earliest manuscripts read “dominum” instead of “Deum”; the change would have been made since “Domine” is already said at the beginning. Many manuscripts read “puro corde – with a pure heart” instead of “pura mente.”

[3] It is tempting to think of this as proof that the Roman lectionary tradition, which is first attested in the lectionary of Wurzburg ca. 700 AD, was already set down 250 years earlier in Pope Leo’s time. This is quite possible, of course, but it is equally possible that the unknown compiler of the lectionary was inspired to choose this Gospel by reading Pope Leo’s sermon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

First Ordinariate Mass to be Celebrated in Connecticut on Sept. 29

Our thanks to Sarah Rodeo, music director at St Francis Catholic in New Britain, Connecticut, and a member of the Ordinariate Fellowship of Connecticut, for sharing with us this information about the upcoming first Ordinariate Mass in her state.

For the first time, the Divine Worship (Ordinariate) Form of the Roman Rite will be celebrated in the state of Connecticut, on Saturday, September 29th at 6:30 pm, at St Joseph’s Church in New Haven. This Mass is the culmination of the efforts of the Ordinariate Fellowship of Connecticut, a group looking to form a mission of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the state of Connecticut.


A professional SATB quartet and organist will sing and play William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus), and his Ave Verum Corpus as a communion motet; four traditional English hymns (processional, offertory, communion and recessional - all verses will be sung, of course!); the psalm rendered in four-part Anglican chant; David Burtt’s English plainsong propers (psalm-tone based settings of the introit, gradual, offertory and communion antiphons), and an English translation of Credo III.

The Mass will be fully sung, including the responses, lessons, collects, etc., be celebrated ad orientem, with Communion received kneeling and on the tongue, the Sprinkling Rite at the beginning and the Last Gospel at the end. Of course, there will be no lay Eucharistic ministers, and the altar servers, crucifer and thurifer will all be men. We love these and other Tridentine inflections, especially the Ordinariate’s requirement of the use of the Roman Canon at all High Masses.

The liturgy must be good, true and beautiful, because the God we worship is good, true and beautiful; our Fellowship greatly appreciates the Elizabethan style of the Divine Worship Missal, in which the beauty of the English language is on full display. The King James Bible is one of the great English masterpieces, and together with the Book of Common Prayer, contributed enormously to the development of our literary tradition. We believe that this “heightened” form of English, which is different from our everyday vernacular, provides us with a sacral language (Latin still being our official sacred language) that is appropriate and fitting for the worship of God.

Before the Council of Trent and the promulgation of the Roman Missal of 1570, the Mass took numerous forms; one of these was the English Use of Sarum, which, along with other pre-Reformation English liturgical elements, informs much of the Divine Worship Missal. In our post-Summorum Pontificum age, the Roman Rite takes on various forms, through the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, and now through the Divine Worship Form. Thus, we see the Divine Worship Mass as yet another local “use” of the same standardized Roman Rite of the universal One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In Anglicanorum Coetibus, Pope Benedict XVI called the “liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion... a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” with the rest of the Church. We plan to do exactly this.

We can be reached at OrdinariateCT@gmail.com, and our Facebook group can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1782111635137581/. Please keep us in your prayers, and may God bless you.


Faith and Freedom: the Antidotes to the Plastic Culture and Brutalist Despair

People care about culture, and many feel that there is something wrong with that of our contemporary society. In my assessment, the reasons can vary. We live in a culture that is mixed, and people who are critical of it may be responding to different aspects of it. The cultural Marxists, who dominate the media, our educational institutions, and Hollywood, seem driven to eliminate all aspects of what remains of traditional Western culture, which is Judeo-Christian; while many Christians dislike what is replacing the traditional Western culture. And yet, both of these groups who seem to hate so much of what they see around them will label what they dislike a capitalist culture. I suggest that what is good in the world come from the influence of a traditionally Catholic culture, and is consistent with it. I too see a lot about the evolving culture around us that seems to me to be bad and ugly...


...but I don’t blame capitalism, industrialization or mass production for any of it. I see them as forces that amplify and propagate powerfully the underlying forms of the existing culture, for good or ill. In my view, the ugliness of culture - which shuts out the beauty of the Faith and the beauty of God - arises from any force that restricts faith and freedom. First amongst these are our own failures to be faithful, and to be examples that encourage others to be faithful too, followed by any ideologies that stand against these principles, of which cultural Marxism is one of the most strident today.

What is culture?

A culture is the emergent pattern of activity associated with a society of people that manifests and in turn sustains and nurtures the core beliefs, values and priorities of that society.

We can apply it to a society or nation, or to subgroups within in a society: cafe culture, drug culture, youth culture, Christian culture, Western culture, secular culture.

Here are two cafes with very different cultures, the one you would rather have a cup of coffee at says something about you and the culture it represents.



Why do people care about culture?
People care about the culture because they see instinctively that it reflects and influences a worldview. We naturally desire a culture that reflects our own views, and when we see one, we see it as something pleasing, it reassures us, for we feel at home in the world. When, on the other hand, we see a culture that speaks of a worldview that is different from ours, we feel alienated. For the believer, when a culture reflects a pattern of activity that is consistent, generally, with a faith in God, we see it as beautiful.

Culture both reflects and influences a worldview
Culture not only reflects attitudes, it tends to influence people at a deep level too. The more we see it, the more we like it. So when the culture reflects my values, I am reassured not only because it affirms my own beliefs by telling me that others believe it too, it also reassures me that it will be like this in the future, for it reinforces those values in society as a whole.

This is why culture is a battleground - or it ought to be. I say that because although the cultural Marxists are fighting for it, and seem to have successfully occupied the powerful institutions of our country - education, the news media, and especially entertainment - those interested in Faith and Freedom seem to abstain from the fight and have handed the open field over to them.

Culture comes before the law
Political and legal battles are won long before issues get to elections or the courts. Beauty is our secret weapon. It has the potential to sidestep prejudice that would exist if we used reason alone; its tendency, which can be resisted, is to draw people to the Good, those values that we associate with a free and fair society, and ultimately to God. If we want to win the battle against the culture of death, we must fight as well as the battle for the culture of beauty.

More about culture - it is a pattern that emerges as we see the whole, and which might not be apparent in the parts.
Emergence is the principle by which we see a pattern only, or at least most clearly, by looking at the whole, at the wider horizon, which is not apparent when we look at its details or parts. It a paradox that the pattern of the behavior of individuals is not a microcosm of the pattern of the whole society.

To illustrate the point, take a look at the Mona Lisa. Regarding the whole, we discern an image of a lady. However, each microscopic element of pigment in the paint that makes it what it is, is not in and of itself a mini-Mona Lisa. In fact, Leonardo could not begin to tell you anything about the mathematical function that describes the relationships between one particle of pigment and another. Rather, he looks at the whole and manipulates his impression of the whole, and as long as the whole has the desired result, he doesn’t care what’s going on at the level of the particular. In fact, we would probably find that nobody could describe the structure of the Mona Lisa that way.

And when we look at the individual particles and the relationships with the other particles around them, we simply cannot say what sort of picture it is part of. The relationship between the two is not apparent.

Look at this arrangement of Lego bricks, can you tell what it is? Notice how every piece is distinct and if you consider the relationships each one has with the surrounding pieces, each one is unique.


Yet when we step back and take a look at the whole, we see the following:

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Stigmata of Saint Francis, Appearing and Disappearing in the Liturgy

Saints following in the wake of the Cross...
In the traditional calendar of the Roman Rite, we find a marvelous “octave” of feasts beginning with the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14 (commemorating the dedication of Constantine’s basilica of Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre on September 14, 335 A.D.) and ending on September 21 with the Apostle and Evangelist St. Matthew, the tax collector whose sudden summoning by Christ (Matt. 9, 9) so perfectly illustrates the central rule of Christian conversion: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16, 24).

As is always the case with the slowly matured calendar of the Church, over the centuries feasts came to occupy the days in between, with a fittingness guided by Divine Providence.
  • In the 17th century, the Servites introduced as the patronal feast of their order the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, originally kept on the Third Sunday of September, and extended by Pius VII to the whole Church in 1817. It was raised in rank by St Pius X in 1908, and fixed to September 15 in 1911. The same day sees the commemoration of the martyr St. Nicomedes, who said to his persecutors: “I sacrifice only to the all-powerful God who reigns in heaven.” 
  • September 16 is the feast of SS. Cornelius and Cyprian. The former opposed the first anti-pope in Church history over, in essence, whether the power of the Cross is strong enough to erase even apostasy, and who translated the relics of SS. Peter and Paul to their places of martyrdom; the latter was an eminent bishop of whose writings St. Jerome says: “It is superfluous to speak of his greatness, for his works are more luminous than the sun.” Both were martyred on September 14. Joining these two (as a commemoration) are SS. Euphemia, Lucy, and Geminianus, for a total of five martyrs, in honor of the five wounds of Christ.
  • September 17 is the Impression of the Stigmata upon St. Francis, which occurred on September 14, 1224. Of this I shall speak more anon.
  • September 18 celebrates St. Joseph of Cupertino (d. 1663), a Franciscan who emulated his master in being attached to the Cross; indeed, he was given to participate in its exaltation through the gift of levitation (a connection explicitly made in the Collect). The Offertory antiphon of the Mass alludes to his having been misunderstood and calumniated, as well as to his response, which was to embrace further penances.
  • September 19 is the feast of St. Januarius and his six companion martyrs. The name Januarius is derived from janus, “gateway,” which reminds us that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross opened the gates of heaven to sinful mankind, and, moreover, that the Eucharist, which makes really present this same sacrifice, is in a way the font and apex of the other six sacraments.
  • September 20 is the feast of SS. Eustace and his three companion martyrs (wife and two children). St. Eustace, one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, bears a double connection with the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross. First, when St. Eustace was hunting a huge stag, it turned towards him and a crucifix was seen between its antlers; this precipitated his conversion and that of his family. Second, when returning from a military triumph under Trajan, he refused to thank the pagan gods for his victory, and for this, he and his family were arrested, thrown to the lions, and finally sealed in a red-hot brazen bull. On this day, too, in the unexpurgated old calendar, we find the Vigil of St. Matthew, which has for its Gospel St. Luke’s relation of the calling of Levi the publican.
  • Finally, September 21 is the Feast of St. Matthew, with his own narration of his conversion as the Gospel.
One may note, in passing, that the pattern of liturgical colors for these feasts as they settled into this week — red, white, red, white, white, red, red, red — gives us red five times (the number of the holy and bloody wounds of Our Lord) and white three times (in honor of the Most Holy Trinity whose grace is poured out to us through these wounds). Moreover, in this octave, a total of 21 saints are commemorated in a period that ends on the 21st of the month, which is 3 x 7, the numerological significance of which need hardly be dwelt upon.

In this way, as Michael Foley explains so well in his Sacra Liturgia paper “The Reform of the Calendar and the Reduction of Liturgical Recapitulation” [1],  the Church lingers over and deeply enters into the mystery of the Cross throughout this “octave,” allowing its light to play over us and pierce our flesh with its fear through a sequence of great witnesses of the power of this same Cross to convert, cleanse and burn, lift up and save. As is frequently the case with the old calendar, there is a sort of repeating echo of the main feast, as well as a crescendo to the next. One may grant a theoretical appropriateness to such a rhyming and reinforcing order, but when one experiences it by attending daily Mass throughout any of the numerous “octaves” of this kind found in the old calendar, one’s appreciation swells at how powerful a spiritual formation the old liturgy provides to the faithful.

I wish now, in honor of today’s feast, to turn my attention to one of the greatest miracles of the Middle Ages: the stigmatization of St. Francis of Assisi. Here is how the Fioretti or Little Flowers narrates the event:
The day before the Feast of the Most Holy Cross, as St. Francis was praying secretly in his cell, an angel of God appeared to him, and spake to him thus from God: “I am come to admonish and encourage thee, that thou prepare thyself to receive in all patience and humility that which God will give and do to thee.”
       St. Francis replied: “I am ready to bear patiently whatsoever my Lord shall be pleased to do to me”;  and so the angel departed.
       On the following day—being the Feast of the Holy Cross—St. Francis was praying before daybreak at the entrance of his cell, and turning his face towards the east, he prayed in these words: “O Lord Jesus Christ, two graces do I ask of Thee before I die; the first, that in my lifetime I may feel, as far as possible, both in my soul and body, that pain which Thou, sweet Lord, didst endure in the hour of Thy most bitter Passion; the second, that I may feel in my heart as much as possible of that excess of love by which Thou, O Son of God, wast inflamed to suffer so cruel a Passion for us sinners.” And continuing a long time in that prayer, he understood that God had heard him, and that, so far as is possible for a mere creature, he should be permitted to feel these things.
       Having then received this promise, St. Francis began to contemplate most devoutly the Passion of Jesus Christ and His infinite charity; and so greatly did the fervor of devotion increase within him, that he was all transformed into Jesus by love and compassion. And being thus inflamed in that contemplation, on that same morning he beheld a seraph descending from heaven with six fiery and resplendent wings; and this seraph with rapid flight drew nigh unto St. Francis, so that he could plainly discern Him, and perceive that He bore the image of one crucified; and the wings were so disposed, that two were spread over the head, two were outstretched in flight, and the other two covered the whole body.
       And when St. Francis beheld it, he was much afraid, and filled at once with joy and grief and wonder. He felt great joy at the gracious presence of Christ, who appeared to him thus familiarly, and looked upon him thus lovingly, but, on the other hand, beholding Him thus crucified, he felt exceeding grief and compassion. He marveled much at so stupendous and unwonted a vision, knowing well that the infirmity of the Passion accorded ill with the immortality of the seraphic spirit. And in that perplexity of mind it was revealed to him by Him who thus appeared, that by divine providence this vision had been thus shown to him that he might understand that, not by martyrdom of the body, but by a consuming fire of the soul, he was to be transformed into the express image of Christ crucified in that wonderful apparition.
       Then did all of Mount Alvernia appear wrapped in intense fire, which illumined all the mountains and valleys around, as it were the sun shining in his strength upon the earth, for which cause the shepherds who were watching their flocks in that country were filled with fear, as they themselves afterwards told the brethren, affirming that this light had been visible on Mount Alvernia for upwards of an hour. And because of the brightness of that light, which shone through the windows of the inn where they were tarrying, some muleteers who were travelling in Romagna arose in haste, supposing that the sun had risen, and saddled and loaded their beasts; but as they journeyed on, they saw that light disappear, and the visible sun arise.
       In this seraphical apparition, Christ, who appeared under that form to St. Francis, spoke to him certain high and secret things, which in his lifetime he would never reveal to any person, but after his death he made them known to one of the brethren, and the words were these: “Knowest thou,” said Christ, “what I have done to thee? I have given thee the stigmata which are the insignia of My Passion, that thou mayest be My standard-bearer; and as on the day of My death I descended into limbo, and by virtue of these My stigmata delivered thence all the souls whom I found there, so do I grant to thee that every year on the anniversary of thy death thou mayst go to purgatory, and take with thee to the glory of paradise all the souls of thy three Orders, the Friars Minor, the Sisters, and the Penitents, and likewise all others whom thou shalt find there, who have been especially devout to thee; that so thou mayst be conformed to Me in death, as thou hast been like to Me in life.”
       Then, after long and secret conference together, that marvelous vision disappeared, leaving in the heart of St. Francis an excessive fire and ardor of divine love, and on his flesh a wonderful trace and image of the Passion of Christ. For upon his hands and feet began immediately to appear the figures of the nails, as he had seen them on the Body of Christ crucified, who had appeared to him in the likeness of a seraph. And thus the hands and feet appeared pierced through the midst by the nails, the heads whereof were seen outside the flesh in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, and the points of the nails stood out at the back of the hands and the feet in such wise that they appeared to be twisted and bent back upon themselves, and the portion thereof that was bent back or twisted stood out free from the flesh, so that one could put a finger through the same as through a ring; and the heads of the nails were round and black. In like manner, on the right side appeared the image of an unhealed wound, as if made by a lance, and still red and bleeding, from which drops of blood often flowed from the holy breast of St. Francis, staining his tunic and his drawers.
       And because of this his companions, before they knew the truth from himself, perceiving that he would not uncover his hands and his feet, and that he could not set the soles of his feet upon the ground, and finding traces of blood upon his tunic when they washed it, understood of a certainty that he bore in his hands and feet and side the image and similitude of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified. 
       And although he labored hard to conceal these sacred stigmata holy and glorious, thus clearly impressed upon his flesh, yet finding that he could with difficulty hide them from his familiar companions, and fearing at the same time to reveal the secrets of God, he was in great doubt and trouble of mind whether or not he should make known the seraphical vision and the impression of the sacred, holy stigmata. At last, being pricked in conscience, he called together certain of the brethren, in whom he placed the greatest confidence, and proposing to them his doubt in general terms, asked their counsel on the matter.
       Now among these friars there was one of great sanctity, called Brother Illuminato; and he, being truly illuminated by God, understood that St. Francis must have seen something miraculous, and said thus to him: “Know, Brother Francis, that not for thyself alone, but for others, doth God reveal to thee His secrets, and therefore thou hast cause for fear lest thou be worthy of censure if thou conceal that which, for the good of others, has been made known to thee.”[2]
Holy Mother Church took this advice of Brother Illuminato very much to heart, and decided to make known to all of her children the glory of the stigmata of St. Francis by impressing it upon the liturgical calendar, so that whosoever attended Mass on September 17, within the “octave” of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, would be reminded of this singular grace, this revelation of the secret hidden in God, that makes visible the invisible reality of Christian baptism, self-sacrifice, and configuration to Christ: “With Christ I am nailed to the Cross, and I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:19–20).

Here is how my trusty old Saint Andrew Daily Missal of 1945 introduces the feast to the laity. This may safely be taken as typical of the simultaneously liturgical and hagiographical piety that the Liturgical Movement in its healthier phase sought to inculcate in the people:
Two years before his death, St. Francis retired to mount Alverno where he began a fast of 40 days in honour of St. Michael the archangel. And lo! in the midst of his meditation he saw a figure like a seraphim with six wings dazzling and burning, whose feet and hands were nailed to a cross. Aware that suffering is incompatible with the immortality of a seraphic spirit, he understood this to mean that he would become more like Jesus and bear his cross after Him, not by physical martyrdom, but by a mystical kindling of divine love. And in order that this crucified love might become an example to us all, five wounds resembling those of Jesus on the cross appeared on his feet, hands, and side. From the latter blood flowed abundantly. The facts were so fully authenticated later, that Benedict XI [re. 1303–1304] ordered them to be commemorated every year, and Paul V [r. 1605–1621] to kindle in the faithful the love of Jesus crucified, extended the feast to the whole Church.  (p. 1457)
Why was this feast removed from the general calendar during the Liturgical Reform in the late 1960s?

We know the official answers always given by professional reformers: it is an unnecessary duplication, since there is already a feast of St. Francis on October 4; it should be celebrated only by Franciscans as part of their internal calendar, and not by everyone; there are other stigmatists, so why should we privilege this one?; the calendar is too crowded already and needs breathing space; et cetera.

But as a friend of mine likes to say, “the explanation isn’t the explanation.” There is something more fundamental going on here. I can describe it in three related phrases: contempt for ecclesiastical tradition (in this case, a feast present in the annual liturgical calendar for about 350 years); contempt for devotion (in this case, the popular devotion to the Passion, the Five Wounds, and St. Francis himself); contempt for the supernatural and the miraculous (this is obvious throughout the reform).

Yes, of course there was a time when the calendar did not have this feast. But once the unheard-of miracle had taken place — the miracle that, in a sense, defines the Middle Ages, a miracle that is almost a second Incarnation, or a reduplication of Calvary in our midst — the Church could not react to it with calm indifference or bemused curiosity. This thing had to be recognized, accepted, celebrated, commemorated, permanently etched into her liturgical calendar as the very wounds of Christ had been burned into the flesh of Francis. And while there have been other stigmatists since the time of St. Francis, he was the first stigmatist of “later ages,” that is, long after the Apostle who had mysteriously said: “I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body” (Gal. 6, 17).

There is a tremendous difference between simply lacking a feast and getting rid of a feast that already exists. The kind of skeptical, rationalistic “reformers” who could strike the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis from the universal calendar once it had found an honorable place therein are enemies of the Catholic Faith, whose machinations must be fought with all our strength. It is hard to escape the conclusion that such reformers do not really believe in the power and mystery and holiness of the liturgy of the Church; for them it has become a sandbox in which to play around, not a Mount Calvary or a Mount Alverno we climb in humility and awe, bearing our cross, and uniting ourselves to His.

This is the sort of change that shows the infinite abyss separating the sensibility of the traditional liturgy from the “reformed” liturgy — a liturgy that with better reason should be called deformed, because it has been denuded of its richness, purged as much as possible of the scandal of the particular. The saints are still there, but they are reduced by the hundreds and pushed into the background by the artificial lectionary that marches on deafly, mechanically, heedless of the bright glory of the saints whose holy death and immortal life is worth more than all the paper of all the lectionaries in the world. It would be no exaggeration to apply to the difference between old and new the words that Abraham speaks to Dives: “between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Luke 16, 26).

NOTES

[1] Liturgy in the Twenty-First Centuryed. Alcuin Reid (New York/London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), 321–41.

[2] Quoted from Selections from The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi, ed. Peter Kwasniewski (Os Justi Press, 2016). This edition, available in paperback here and in hardcover here, contains reproductions of rare color and monochrome German illustrations from 1921, of which the images displayed above in this article are examples.

Friday, September 14, 2018

From the Archives - “Summorum Pontificum: An Act of Extraordinary Humility”, by Jeffrey Tucker

On September 14, 2007, the day that the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum became legally active, Jeffrey Tucker, a long-time contributor to NLM and my predecessor as editor, published this brief essay. I make bold to suggest that it is worth a second read, and holds up quite well after the period of more than a decade that has subsequently passed.

At the beginning of the new millennium, Pope John Paul II prayed a prayer that sought forgiveness for many errors of the past, times when leaders and members of the Church have not lived up to Christian ideals. “We humbly ask for forgiveness for the part that each of us with his or her behaviors has played in such evils, thus contributing to disrupting the face of the Church. At the same time, as we confess our sins, let us forgive the faults committed by others towards us.”

In some ways, Summorum Pontificum extends this model of humility to address what will surely go down in history as one of the most imprudent and ill-conceived actions to follow any Church Council: the suppression of the traditional Roman Missal and the imposition of a new Missal that, in many respects, had not developed from the old, but rather, in crucial ways, represented a new creation entirely. This was most striking in its externals: Latin to the vernacular, strict rubrics to only vague guidelines, required prayers to more options than most people can keep up with. It was imposed without the proper preparations concerning music, rubrics, and other matters.

It came at a time of incredible cultural upheaval, so the dramatic change flung open the doors of sacred space to admit a blizzard of profane actions, words, and music. It was not entirely the fault of the new form, but the conditions under which it came about led millions of Catholics the world over to believe that the Faith had somehow undergone a kind of extreme makeover, and so every old doctrine and moral teaching came into question, unleashing a kind of chaos that persisted for decades. Orders of priests and nuns collapsed. Publishers went bankrupt. Mass attendance plummeted. Confessions fell. Traditional and beautiful churches were gutted to make way for the new. Treasures were thrown out. New forms of architectural outrages were given free reign.

And what of those who long for the Mass of old? In the new sociological environment following the Council, they were made to believe that they were inferior members of the Church, not with the times, rebellious to authority, and hopelessly outdated. They were ridiculed and caricatured, psychologically tormented merely for believing what they had been taught to believe. They were told that there was only one choice: conform to the new or leave. Many left, demoralized and confused. Those who persisted in saying and attending the old Mass occupied a confusing status within the law of the Church, most famously the order of St Pius X. There developed an atmosphere resembling a witch hunt for “traditionalists,” who were told that they must learn to loathe the old and praise the new. Pastors and bishops treated regular Catholics who ask for the old usage as unworthy of serious consideration.

This environment, so clearly untenable and unsustainable in retrospect, lasted nearly forty years, if you date its beginning to the promulgation of the new Mass. Finally this year, Pope Benedict XVI intervened with the only real answer to the problem: not half measures, or vague permissions, but the complete liberalization of the old usage. He gave all priests in the Roman Rite permission to use the old Missal in public and private, with very few qualifiers, and went a step further to clarify that that the ordinary form of the Mass should not be regarded as something wholly new, but part of the same Roman Rite of the ages. The decision concerning the form resides at the parish level, consistent with the idea of subsidiarity. This action ended, in one fell swoop, the wholly misconceived error of the suppression of old forms. It was an act of extraordinary humility for a Pope, an admission of error in judgment. In many ways, then, this Pope has picked up on a theme from the last Pope; for this he deserves our deepest gratitude. It is a model we should all follow in our lives.

The Exaltation of the Cross 2018

Prótege, Dómine, plebem tuam per signum sanctae Crucis ab ómnibus insidiis inimicórum omnium: ut tibi gratam exhibeámus servitútem, et acceptábile fiat sacrifícium nostrum, allelúja. (The Offertory of the Mass of the Holy Cross.)


Protect Thy people, o Lord, by the sign of the Holy Cross from all the snares of all enemies, that we may offer Thee a pleasing service, and our sacrifice be acceptable, alleluja.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Fearlessness of St John Chrysostom

On the calendar of the Ordinary Form, (and, as I have noted previously, nowhere else) today is the feast of St John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople [1] from 397 until 404, when he was unlawfully deposed from his see. He was one of the first four Eastern Fathers to be officially recognized in the West as a Doctor of the Church, along with Ss Athanasius, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzen. The epithet “Chrysostom” means “golden-mouthed”, since he has always been honored as one of the greatest preachers in the Church’s history. In 1908, Pope St Pius X declared him the Patron Saint of orators and public speakers, a role in which he is needed now as perhaps only very rarely before in the Church’s life; I attended a Mass on this day many years ago, the celebrant of which repeatedly called him, both while reading the prayers and in the sermon, “St John Christendom.”
Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s great cathedra in St Peter’s Basilica, in which the throne of Peter is supported by two Latin Doctors, Ambrose and Augustine (with miters), and two Greek Doctors, Athanasius and John Chrysostom.
There is a popular notion that with the coming of Constantine and the end of persecution, the Church somehow sold its soul in part or whole to the Roman Empire. The falsity of this was demonstrated long ago by GK Chesterton, who was a convert from Anglicanism, and knew a state-owned church when he saw one. In the chapter of The Everlasting Man called “The Five Deaths of the Faith”, he rightly pointed out that the Creed of most of the early Christian Emperors was not Christianity, but a version of it far more in keeping with the spirit of the age, that which we now call Arianism. Caesar did not usually appreciate the Church’s resistance to his dogmatic meddling, and persecuted the orthodox Fathers such as St Athanasius. St Eusebius of Vercelli, one of the great Western opponents of Arianism, is even honored as martyr, although he did not die a violent death, because he was hounded into exile by an Arian Emperor.

The same might well have been applied to John, who unlike Eusebius, died in his exile, both from the rigors of the journey and the terrible ill-treatment meted out to him; the date of his death was September 14, 407. In his case, Caesar’s wrath was provoked against him not by dogmatic issues, but by moral ones. The Empress Eudoxia was the wife of the famously useless Emperor Arcadius, a man wholly under the control of his ministers and court sycophants. Taking personal offense at John’s words against the immorality and extravagances of the nobility, she had already arranged once before for John to be exiled. He was swiftly recalled, partly because of the popular uprising in his favor, partly because a small earthquake in the city was seen as a sign of divine displeasure, especially by the highly superstitious Empress. However, when a silver statue of her was erected on a pillar in front of Hagia Sophia [2], the dedication of it was celebrated with a series of “games”, as the Romans called them, an immoral spectacle which also disturbed the liturgy. St John had often preached against public license of this very sort, even when a simple priest in Antioch, and did not hesitate to do so on this occasion well.

A mosaic of St John Chrysostom in Hagia Sophia, ca. 1000. (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)
His sermon began with the words “Herodias is again become furious; again she is troubled, again she dances; and again desires to receive John’s head on a plate.” [3] A synod full of bishops hostile to him and in the Empress’ control was convoked, and deposed him on a canonically invalid pretext, but he refused to relinquish his see. A particularly ugly episode followed in which soldiers were sent to drive the people out of the churches on Holy Saturday, resulting in no little bloodshed in the sacred places themselves. The order for the Saint’s banishment was finally and definitively issued during Pentecost week.

The Facebook page of the Bollandist Society, who have been publishing the Acts of the Saints since the early 17th century (with a notable interruption), today highlighted two paintings of St John preaching before the Empress Eudoxia. Both were done by French artists of the later 19th century, Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921) and Joseph Wencker (1848-1919). The commentary referred them both specifically to one of the most important events of the era, the conquest of the Papal State, and the subsequent “exile” of Pope Pius IX, who refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Kingdom of Italy by setting foot on land which it illegally occupied. This is surely true, but broadly speaking, they may also be referred to the general situation of the Church in that period. Italy’s was not the only government hostile to the Church and seeking to reduce or destroy its influence by diminishing or destroying its institutions; this was also era of the German Kulturkampf, and the infamous French law of Separation of Church and State was soon to follow in 1905.

Laurens’ painting is the smaller of the two, but the more forceful. (See a higher resolution version here.) The Empress looks down with an expressionless face at the Saint, confident in her eventual triumph over him, but at the same time, she is almost lost in the trappings of her position, less distinct than St John in his white robes. (John also appears to be rather older than he should; historically, he was only about 55 at the time.) Both artists seem to accept the idea, common in their time, that churches in this period were “still” very austere; note that all of the decoration in both paintings is centered around the Empress, while the pulpits and the walls are very plain.
Jean Paul Laurens, 1872
Wencker’s version, on the other hand, is much larger (almost 14½ feet by 20), and he fills the space by showing the crowd in the church, the clergy, the nobility and the poor, and their varied reaction to his words. John is on eye level with the Empress, so that she has to look up in order to pretend not to notice him as he points directly at her.
Joseph Wencker, ca. 1880
[1] It was not until well after St John’s death that the title “Patriarch” was given to the archbishops of Constantinople, at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Even to this day, in the blessing at the end of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy which bears his name, he is referred to as “John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople”, as also in the liturgical calendar, whereas his Sainted successors after 451 are called “Patriarch.”

[2] Not the church which is seen in Constantinople today, a construction of the 6th century, but the original built by Constantine in the 4th century. At the news of John’s second exile, the city was wracked with riots, during which the first Hagia Sophia was burnt down; nothing now remains of it. Its replacement, dedicated in 415, was also destroyed by riots, a very popular pastime in Constantinople, in 532; the present structure was built very shortly thereafter, by the Emperor Justinian.

[3] In the original edition of his Lives of the Saints, Alban Butler wrote that “Montfaucon refutes this slander, trumped up by his enemies. The sermon extant under that title is a manifest forgery.” Modern writers, including Butler’s revisers, all seem to accept its authenticity.

Solemn Votive Mass for the Forgiveness of Sins in Patton, PA, Sept. 24

Queen of Peace Church in Patton, Pennsylvania, will have a solemn Mass in the traditional Rite on Monday, September 24th, a Votive Mass for the Forgiveness of Sins, preceded by a penitential procession, and followed by Benediction. The church is located at 607 Sixth Avenue; the first part, the procession, will begin at 7pm.

New Database Monitors Episcopal Fidelity, Including Support for Right Liturgy

LifeSiteNews, for which I am a daily columnist, has just launched an initiative called Faithful Shepherds. It is an idea that I have heard people speculate about for years and wish would come true, without having the organizational resources to make it happen. Needless to say, it is welcome at this critical moment in the life of the Church. From the official announcement:
Faithful Shepherds helps hold American bishops accountable by providing years, sometimes decades, of past tweets, public speeches, sermons, actions, pastoral letters, and diocesan guidelines. Faithful Shepherds currently gives evidence of where U.S. bishops stand on ten issues: Archbishop Vigano’s testimony, Amoris Laetitia, pro-life leadership, homosexuality, abortion politics, contraception, “LGBT” ideology, liturgy, marriage and family life, and education. More will be added as new evidence is gathered.
Like many other initiatives in our days, it depends on user-submitted documentation, as there would be no other way for a small organization like LifeSite to collect the data necessary to make this database really useful and comprehensive.

Readers of NLM will be interested in particular in the category of Liturgy:
A return to reverence in the liturgy has been called for by Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. The harm of liturgical abuse has destroyed much of the Church. Since liturgy is the primary means of prayer it of primary importance to get it right. A return to Gregorian chant, communion on the tongue while kneeling, and ad orientem Masses are needed. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a document titled Summorum Pontificum, which allowed for a much wider use of the Traditional Latin Liturgy.
In these sentences, we see some of the most important issues on the basis of which any Catholic bishop's fidelity and reverence for the Real Presence of Our Lord must be assessed: true sacred music, proper reception of holy communion, eastward orientation, and generous provision of and for the traditional Latin liturgy.

I would urge NLM readers to submit evidence, particularly in the area of Liturgy [1], to help categorize the American bishops, as there are still very many who, in this new database, are marked “unknown,” yet are very well known, for good or for ill, by their flocks. If there is any lesson we are learning or should be learning, it is this: the lay faithful have two and only two recourses, earnest prayer and pushing very very hard for reform and accountability. Both are necessary; neither is superfluous. Even if the Lord relents and gives us a good pope someday, the active, continual, relentless contribution of the lay faithful will still be necessary for decades to come, due to the deep institutional corruption we are facing.

So, please, check out this website and submit such evidence as you can, in the form of tweets, speeches, sermons, actions, pastoral letters, or diocesan guidelines.

NOTE
[1] To give an example: Blaise Cupich, when bishop in Rapid City, locked traditional Catholics out of their church so that they would be unable to celebrate Triduum services, which they ended up celebrating outdoors.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: