Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rila Monastery in Bulgaria

I recently had the joy of visiting the Holy Monastery of Rila, Bulgaria, founded by St. John the Wonderworker and Hermit (876-946). I have no pictures of the monastic church’s interior, which was glorious, because the Orthodox do not permit photography inside their churches. Parts of the structure date from the 10th century; however most of the monastery was built in the early 19th century after a fire destroyed the earlier structure. Bulgaria was at that time ruled by Ottoman Turks, but the people nonetheless contributed generously to build this glorious and holy house of prayer. Enjoy!

The Monastery Chapel lies within a high-walled enclosure.
Inside and out, detailed frescoes told stories of saints and figures in the Bible. 
The monastery has eight monks at this time, but room for nearly 250.
The medieval clock tower and bells did not burn in the 1800s fire.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Duncan Stroik Wins the Arthur Ross Award for Classical Architecture

NLM has covered the work of classical architect Duncan Stroik on several occasions, and we are happy to offer him him our congratulations for winning the Arthur Ross Award.

The Arthur Ross Award is the oldest award for classical architecture in the United States. It “recognizes and celebrates excellence in the classical tradition.” This year, Duncan Stroik, practicing architect and professor at the University of Notre Dame, received the Arthur Ross Award in McKim, Mead & White’s historic University Club in New York City.

Stroik received his architectural education from the University of Virginia and Yale University. In 1990, after serving as a project designer for Allan Greenberg, he was invited to help implement a new curriculum in classical architecture at the University of Notre Dame. His work utilizes hand drawing, full-scale details, and watercolor renderings, as well as close collaboration with painters, sculptors, and other craftsmen. Learning from the great tradition has led him to visit and study buildings in situ throughout Europe, including the opportunity to measure the work of Andrea Palladio in the Veneto.

Stroik’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in California was the first classical chapel to be built on a college campus in sixty years. His Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is the grandest classical church built in decades. He is also known for the “creative restoration” of Saint Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which brought back the glory the cathedral never had. Presently, Stroik is working on a $28 million, 1300-seat chapel complete with a masonry dome, interior limestone columns, and two world-class organs for a college in Michigan.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. 
The New York Times called Stroik a “Young Old Fogey” in 1994. The Wall Street Journal has said that, “Stroik has labored long and hard to reconnect Catholic artistic patronage with its ancient heritage.”

Stroik’s efforts to bring beauty back to churches led to the founding of the Institute for Sacred Architecture and its journal, Sacred Architecture. He is the author of The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence and the Eternal. His work is animated by the conviction that beautiful and durable architecture ennobles mankind and honors the Creator.

Latin Vespers for the Dedication of a Church

A reader in the Netherlands, Mr Sander Zwezerijnen, has posted on his Youtube channel this nice video of Vespers, sung in Latin and Gregorian chant in the Ordinary Form, for the feast of the Dedication of St Joseph’s Cathedral in Groningen, on May 25th. The hymn Urbs Jerusalem Beata, is followed by the Psalmody, (Psalms 45, 121 and the Alleluia canticle from Apocalypse 19), and the short reading from Apocalypse 21, at which point the battery of his recording device died. The clergy and choir of the cathedral are very much to be commended not only for cultivating the Church’s tradition and Her preferred form of liturgical music, both also for solemnly celebrating a feast which is too often neglected.

New FSSP Parish in Nashua, New Hampshire

I have just heard that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter have been invited by the bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, His Excellency Peter Libasci, to staff a parish in Nashua, starting at the end of the summer.

I heard of this through my friends at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, who live just a stone’s throw away, and I anticipate that many of the students will attend regularly. By all accounts, the church will need little renovation to make it appropriate for the Latin Mass. Here is an article in the Nashua Telegraph from 2011 with photographs, in which the writer talks of the beauty of the church; at time, it was being used as a chapel for perpetual Adoration, which continues to this day.

The press release from the Diocese of Manchester, dated May 20th, read as follows:
(MANCHESTER, NH) – The Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, announced today that the Diocese of Manchester will soon be blessed with the opening of a new parish dedicated to the celebration of the Tridentine Rite Mass, when the former Saint Stanislaus church in Nashua will reopen. The new parish will be entrusted to the members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP). While a pastor for the new parish has not yet been named, current plans call for the celebration of the first Mass in early August.
“Since coming here in 2011, I have heard from many Catholics who have a deep affection for the traditional liturgical forms of the pre-Vatican II era,” said Bishop Libasci. “Consistent with that desire I am happy to announce the opening of this parish, dedicated to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, as suggested by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, issued Motu Proprio in 2007.” Saint Stanislaus parish, established in 1908 to serve the Polish community of Nashua, was unified with Saint Aloysius of Gonzaga Parish in 2002. The church has remained in use since then as a Eucharistic adoration chapel. Since 1999 it has also been the home of the Corpus Christi Food Pantry. The pantry, with its many dedicated volunteers, will continue to offer its valuable services and programs that serve those who are in need in the greater Nashua area.
The Diocese of Manchester is the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire, serving the needs of more than 264,000 Catholics. For more information, please visit

Thursday, May 26, 2016

St Philip’s Day at the London Oratory Celebrated by Cardinal George Pell

Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by Cardinal George Pell at the London Oratory this evening for the Feast of St Philip Neri. The Choir and Orchestra of the London Oratory sang the Theresienmesse by Haydn and Pangamus Nerio by Wingham. Happy Feast to all Oratorians!

Corpus Christi 2016

Truly it is fitting and just, right and profitable to salvation, that we give Thee thanks always, here and in every place, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God. Through Christ our Lord. Who under the appearance of bread and wine, declared to us and showed forth the wondrous Sacrament; and by words wondrously spoken forth, transubstantiated the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, which He willed to be received unto life by the worthy, unto judgment by the unworthy. O how great the sweetness and life to the blessed! O how great the death and punishment to the condemned! Let us therefore avoid judgment, by receiving the Sacrament worthily, that we may merit to obtain the eternal kingdom. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise, the Archangels venerate Thy majesty, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Principalities and Powers adore. Whom the Cherubim and Seraphim celebrated with one rejoicing. To whom we pray that Thou command our voices also be joined, as we say with humble confession: Holy... (The Preface of Corpus Christi in the Ambrosian Missal.)
The first page of the Mass of Corpus Christi from an Ambrosian Missal printed in 1522. In the illustration after the rubrics (next to the Ingressa, the equivalent of the Introit), a bishop is carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession. Notice that the monstrance is cylindrical, rather than flat, and he is still wearing his miter; both of these customs are still observed to this day. - The traditional Ambrosian Mass of Corpus Christ is that composed for the Roman Rite by St Thomas Aquinas, with the necessary adjustments to the form of the rite, including a Prophetic reading (3 Kings 19, 3-8) and the proper Preface given here; the Lauda Sion is not said, since the Sequence was never adopted in the Ambrosian Rite.
Vere quia dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, hic et ubique gratias agere, Domine, Sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Qui sub specie panis et vini mirabile Sacramentum nobis declarando monstravit: et per verba mirabiliter prolata, panem et vinum transubstantiavit in Corpus et Sanguinem suum: quod sumendo dignis ad vitam, indignis esse voluit ad iudicium. O quanta dulcedo, et vita beatis! O quanta mortalitas, et poena damnatis! Vitemus ergo iudicium, digne sumendo Sacramentum; ut Regnum mereamur consequi sempiternum. Per eundem Christum, Dominum nostrum. Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant Angeli, venerantur Archangeli, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Principates, et Potestates adorant. Quem Cherubim et Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: Sanctus...

The main sanctuary of the Duomo of Milan, decorated for Corpus Christi in 1963. From the Facebook page of the Ambrosian Rite traditional Latin Mass community.

Talk and Workshop on Gregorian Chant on Long Island

The Church of Our Holy Redeemer in Freeport, New York, is hosting me for a talk and a chant workshop. If you're in the area, I hope you'll be able to join us.

Sacred Music and the New Evangelization
Thursday, June 2, 2016

6:30 p.m. Dinner (Hosted by Discovering Christ)
7:30 p.m. Presentation by Dr. Jennifer Donelson
Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church
37 South Ocean Avenue, Freeport, NY
Lower Church
Free will offering
RSVP to the rectory at (516) 378-0665 or if you plan to attend the dinner.

“Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new!” These words of Saint Augustine capture the longing of every heart for Christ, whether one is a practicing Catholic or living a life far from God. As a reflection of the beauty of Christ, sacred music draws minds and hearts to God and can serve as a tool to open even the hardest hearts to the graces that God desires to give them. Sacred music, which the Second Vatican Council calls a “treasure of inestimable value,” is effective in preaching the Gospel in an authentic and attractive way, and it aids those who hear it in being more readily able to perceive the presence of Christ at the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Director of Sacred Music at Saint Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in Yonkers, will address how Catholics can learn to pray through sacred music, and how truly beautiful sacred music is an essential means for drawing fallen-away Catholics back to the Church, as well as sharing the faith with those who are not yet members of the Church.

Building up the Church through Sacred Music
Saturday, June 11, 2016

12:00 p.m. Sacred Music Workshop
5:00 p.m. Sung Mass
Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church
37 South Ocean Avenue, Freeport, NY

Join Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Director of Sacred Music at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie), for an afternoon learning the melodies that are the basis for all Western music. We’ll cover the basics of reading Gregorian chant notation, as well as beautifully shaping musical lines. Practical sessions in singing will be supplemented by short talks on how Gregorian chant has served as a means for building up the life of the Church in times past, and how chant can revitalize the life of the Church in the present day. The afternoon will culminate in a sung Mass for the Commemoration of the 105th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of Our Holy Redeemer in Freeport, New York.
RSVP to Fr. Alessandro da Luz at (516) 378-0665 or if you will be participating in the workshop and plan to sing at the 5:00 p.m. Mass.

Event to Promote the Latin Mass in Los Angeles, May 31, Supported by Archbishop Gomez

This coming Tuesday, May 31st, the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an event to give worthy veneration to Our Lady and to promote the Latin Mass in the area will take place at the FSSP parish, Saint Victor Church, located at 8634 Holloway Drive, in West Hollywood, California.

The program is:
 4:30pm - Solemn High Mass  — with FSSP District Superior
 7:00pm - Confirmation and Benediction — with Archbishop José H. Gomez
 8:15pm - Dinner — free to all who attend

There will be a choir of sixty people directed by Jeff Ostrowski. For more details go here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Photopost Request: Corpus Christi

Our next major photopost will be for Corpus Christi, which is celebrated either tomorrow, Thursday, May 26, or this coming Sunday, May 29; please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to for inclusion. Of course, we are especially glad to include pictures of Eucharistic Processions, one of the major staples of this feast, but also those of celebrations in the Eastern rites, as well as Vespers and other parts of the Office. Last year and the year before, we received enough submissions to make three separate posts - let’s see if we can keep this tradition going! Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!

The Corpus Christi procession of the church of Saint Eugène in Paris, from the second of last year’s three posts.

May Issue of Adoremus Bulletin Now Out

The May issue of the Adoremus Bulletin is now available to be read online. It’s another strong issue, with a tribute to Mother Angelica by Fr Jerry Pokorski, and great articles by Denis McNamara of the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein, Adam Bartlett of Illuminare Publications and the editorial team of Chris Carstens and Joe O'Brien. Joe’s article is an interesting piece on works of sacred art recently completed in Phoenix, which are painted in the Bueronese style. 

A May Procession in Ireland

Thanks to Mr John Briody for sending in these photographs of a May Procession (followed by Benediction) held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Kevin’s Church in Dublin, Ireland, home of the Latin Mass chaplaincy for the Dublin Archdiocese.

Corpus Christi in Berlin, New Jersey

For the 16th consecutive year, at Mater Ecclesiae, where the Extraordinary Form is celebrated exclusively every day, there will be a Solemn Mass and Procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi on Thursday, May 26 at 7:30 PM. There is plenty of parking. Come join us for this "Feast of God."

Choral Vespers and Benediction This Sunday in Houston

Annunciation Catholic Church in Houston, Texas, will celebrate Vespers and Benediction in the Extraordinary Form this coming Sunday, May 29th, starting at 7 p.m., with choral works of Messiaen, Bairstow, Josquin, Victoria, Hassler, and more. The professional choir-in-residence, Sola Stella, will lead the singing; the service will be accompanied by Annunciation’s vintage 1924 Pilcher organ, the only organ from that era left in the city that retains its original voicing. The oldest house of worship in continued use in Houston, Annunciation has been offering Vespers services like this in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms for about two years now. The church is located at 1618 Texas Avenue.

EF Corpus Christi in Philadelphia

The Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul, located at 1732 Race St. in Philadelphia, will have an EF Mass tomorrow for the feast of Corpus Christ, starting at 7 pm, and followed by a Eucharist Procession and Benediction.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pontifical Vespers in Copenhagen, Denmark

On May 7, Solemn Pontifical Vespers in the usus antiquior were celebrated for the first time in Scandinavia since the liturgical reforms. Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of Copenhagen celebrated First Vespers for Sunday after the Ascension in the Catholic cathedral of St. Ansgar. The Gregorian proper chants were sung together with a polyphonic setting of the Magnificat by Tomas Luis de Victoria. Clergy from the diocese assisted together with visiting priests.

Remarkably, the Vespers were part of the religious and cultural festival “Danish Ecclesial Days,” held every third year. Originally an event of the Danish Lutheran State Church, this year other denominations have been involved. It was the Catholic representative to the organizing committee, a permanent deacon, who asked the St. Charles Borromeo Group (which organizes the TLM in Copenhagen) to arrange for this celebration of Vespers; he himself served as Assistant Deacon. The cathedral was open for prayer and Eucharistic adoration throughout the three-day event.

Mgr. Kozon has been very supportive of the older liturgical use and will celebrate an EF Solemn Pontifical Mass and confer Confirmation in St. Augustine’s Church, Copenhagen, on June 25. Thank you, Your Excellency!

A Pattern for Catholic Education that Places the Liturgy at Its Heart

When I decided I wanted to be an artist, I started to investigate the training that was traditionally given to artists in the past. This involved the study of a number of things: how the skills of arts such as painting and drawing were transmitted; the great works of Catholic culture from which the artist understands the tradition in which he is working; and a formation of the person, by which he can be open to inspiration, and can apprehend beauty and work beautifully.

This article is an attempt to articulate concisely what I discovered (and describe in greater length in the book the Way of Beauty) - that a formation in beauty was not only part of a general Catholic education, but in fact was identical with what a general Catholic education ought to be, and so rarely is.

The only difference between an artist’s education and any good general education was the vocational element, in this case painting. It occurred to me that this could change according to the particular calling of each person. Then the rest would benefit every person, regardless of his precise calling in life, and could complement all other study and human activity.

I believe also, incidentally, that this is a program that can also form people as evangelists who can contribute to the New Evangelization, shining with the Light of Christ as they go about their daily business.

The content of the syllabus, which I do not describe in detail here, is superficially similar to many humanities and liberal arts educations. However, in contrast to many of these existing programs (the ones that I have looked at, at least), its pedagogical method emphasizes more strongly what I see as an essential element, that of praxis - putting into practice what is learned, and thus developing the faculty of creativity by creating beautiful things.

The other key element - perhaps the most important - is that of consciously ordering of everything to man’s ultimate end and relating it to the highest form of praxis - the worship of God.

Teachers and students alike should be able to make the connection between any element of study and our purpose in life. When this is so, teachers know the answer to the question “Why teach?”, and students know the answer to the question “Why learn?” Teacher and student will thus be motivated all the more to fulfill their role.

I will outline the pedagogical method first, and then articulate my understanding of what a Catholic education is. Finally, I will list some quotations from Church documents that emphasize the points that I am making in regard to the goal of a Catholic education.

Pedagogical method

1. Wonder - the appreciation of divine beauty. The first stage is to inspire in the student a natural and personal response to the divine beauty which is present in creation and in the beautiful works of man in both the culture of faith and the wider culture. This response should be a natural and joyful experience.

2. Intellectual Illumination - imparting knowledge and understanding. This aspect examines how the good, the true and the beautiful participate in all that exists and are personified in God. The goal of this is just as much to communicate the subjects taught - e.g. the liberal arts, philosophy and theology - as it is to train people to think both analytically and synthetically, so that we set them on a path of lifelong learning which they can direct themselves. By thinking “analytically”, I mean the examination of the parts of the subject; by “synthetically”, I mean understanding the whole in the light of what we know about the parts. The broadest synthetic thought is that which places all that we know in the context of our whole human life and its purpose.

3. Praxis 1 - creating a culture of beauty, first by imitating the most beautiful parts of the culture - e.g. the works of masters, with understanding, second, by creating original works in art, music, literature etc. and so contributing to the culture.

4. Praxis 2 - participatio actuosa - active participation in the sacred liturgy: the realization of “liturgical man,” teaching people the practice of the worship of God and all it entails. When students take these lessons to heart, participation in the liturgy becomes the ultimate act of creativity, by which they enter into the mystery of the Trinity and by grace participate in the creative love of God.

What is a Catholic education?

The aim of all Catholic education is to offer students a formation that might lead to supernatural transformation in Christ, so that each may be capable, by God’s grace, of moving towards their ultimate end, and of contributing to the good of society.

All other stated ends in education, for example, the re-ordering of society’s culture, of bearing witness to Christ in their surroundings, and the training in skills which enable the student to earn a living, while necessary, are nevertheless ordered to this ultimate end and achieved in their fullest measure by this supernatural transformation.

It is common in the field of Catholic education to cite the creation of the virtuous person as a goal. This is true, and it is in effect another way of saying the same thing, for the highest virtue is a cardinal virtue, the virtue of religion. According to St Thomas (ST II-II, Q.lxxxi) it is a virtue whose purpose is to render to God the worship due to Him as the source of all being and the principle of all government of things. It is a distinct virtue, not merely an aspect of another.

This supernatural transformation, made possible by baptism, is made real by an encounter with the living God. This encounter can happen in many ways, but occurs most profoundly and most powerfully in the Eucharist; by it we are made capable in a new way, through God’s grace, of loving Him and our fellow man. Love of our fellow man in all its forms is inseparably bound up with love of God; the encounter with God in the Eucharist renews our capacity for love of neighbor, and love of neighbor tends to deepen our participation in the worship of God in the Eucharist.

So profound is this connection between love of God and love of neighbor that there is no authentically human activity - thought or deed, sacred or mundane - that cannot be formed by and ordered to the Eucharist for the better of each person, society and the Church. In this sense, the Eucharist is the form (as in guiding principle) of every aspect of the Christian life, including all those pertaining to a Catholic school.

Any school or educational institution therefore should ensure that all that goes on is in accord with the end of all education. Accordingly, it should ensure that students are aware that their capacity to be educated, and every aspect of their lives as Christians, whatever their personal goals, will be enhanced when they participate actively in the Eucharist and live a liturgically-formed life. This knowledge will help to motivate students in their studies and order all their activities to their personal goals in life, which in turn are ordered to their ultimate end.

Each student should be clearly aware of the profound desirability of a supernatural Christian transformation and, therefore, the need for grace in their education, as in all human activity; and that the Sacred Liturgy is the optimal encounter with Christ in this life that provides for this need. There are many ways that Christ can be encountered, and every activity of a school should be such an encounter in one form or another. However, each encounter, if it is real, points to and is derived from that optimal encounter in the Sacred Liturgy. Students should be aware that the fruits of such a transformed Christian life, which are promised to us, are precisely those that a Christian education aims to provide in the ideal.

In addition to imparting an understanding of the primary importance of the Sacred Liturgy as the form of their everyday lives and in their education, students need to be given religious instruction so that each, in accordance with his personal situation, might develop a sacramental life that will make the transformation possible. This religious instruction includes principles by which they can develop a harmonious balance of liturgical prayer, both the Mass and the Divine Office, devotional and personal prayer, in which the non-liturgical elements are derived from and point to participation in Sacred Liturgy. By this instruction they should know, in theory at least, what is necessary to continually deepen their participation in the sacramental life, with the Eucharist at its heart; and to continually renew and increase their capacity for love of neighbor.

While it may be appropriate for the instruction of what is just described to be given to all in the classroom, the actual participation in the liturgically centered sacramental life must always be one that is voluntary. We must respect each person’s God-given free will. Transformation itself can neither be taught nor enforced: it is derived from a personal and free response to God’s love for us. Such participation therefore, should be encouraged. Accordingly, the role of the school is to increase the freedom of each person to choose well by enhancing their knowledge of what is good in this regard, and giving them, where humanly possible, the power and opportunity to do so. In accord with this, it should always be a priority of the college to make beautiful and appropriately celebrated Sacred Liturgy available to the students in a beautiful place of worship. Ideally, the faculty will lead by example, so that their actions speak of the centrality of the Eucharist in a life well lived.

All subjects included in the curriculum, while not all relating directly to the subject of the Sacred Liturgy, must nevertheless be consistent with these twofold and inter-connected aims of love of God and love of man, consummated in a freely chosen, liturgically-oriented piety. Each faculty member should be able to explain the reason for the inclusion of the subject taught in the light of these principles, and willingly direct the students to its liturgical end.

Moreover, beyond the classroom the college should strive to encourage a culture in which any aspect of community life is in accord with and reinforces its ultimate goals for the students.

Quotations from Church documents on education
“A school is a privileged place in which, through a living encounter with a cultural inheritance, integral formation occurs.” (The Catholic School, 26; pub. The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1977)

“The proper and immediate end of Christian education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian, that is, to form Christ Himself in those regenerated by Baptism...For precisely this reason, Christian education takes in the whole aggregate of human life, physical and spiritual, intellectual and moral, individual, domestic and social, not with a view of reducing it in any way, but in order to elevate, regulate and perfect it, in accordance with the example and teaching of Christ. Hence the true Christian, product of Christian education, is the supernatural man who thinks, judges and acts constantly and consistently in accordance with right reason illumined by the supernatural light of the example and teaching of Christ; in other words, to use the current term, the true and finished man of character.” (Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri, 60; Encyclical on Christian Education, 1929, 94, 95, 96)

Upcoming Lecture and Solemn Mass in NYC: “Musical Life of English Catholics under Elizabeth”

The Society of St Hugh of Cluny is sponsoring an event in New York City, (details in poster below), which will explore the riches of English Catholic musical and religious culture under the Tudors. The lecture by Dr. Samuel Schmitt will describe the musical life of recusant Catholics in the time of Elizabeth, with live examples provided by Grant and Priscilla Herreid and Charles Weaver.

The Mass which follows, in the traditional Dominican rite, features the Missa Regali of Robert Fayrfax, essentially in its original liturgical context, in the English Gothic Revival setting of the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer. The contrast in musical styles will serve to highlight what was lost and what was gained in sacred music in the tumultuous passing from the age of Fayrfax to that of Byrd.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Worthily Celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Outdoors

Now that we (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) are on the verge of summer and all the outdoor activities and traveling it makes possible, it seems worthwhile to discuss the phenomenon of outdoor Masses, which, if anything, seems to be growing in popularity as time goes on.

To state the obvious, there may not always be a good reason for having an outdoor Mass. As we know, Canon Law specifies that the normative place for worship is a consecrated church or chapel. On the other hand, if you are a group of Catholics who are going on a fairly long-term wilderness trek and you will be many miles (and even mountains) away from civilization, or if you are undertaking a multi-day pilgrimage from one shrine to another, then packing the Mass along with you may be exactly the right thing to do.

But it still must be done correctly — that is, reverently, with all essentials for the rite, and with no danger of profanation. In short, if one is going to have Mass outdoors, it must be done well; and if, for whatever reason, this is not possible, it would be better not to do it. Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801–1873), a true apostle of the American West, once said that one of the hardest things about being a missionary was how many times he couldn’t celebrate Mass because conditions were too hard.

I became interested in the question of outdoor Masses initially because of my involvement with Wyoming Catholic College, which features an intensive Outdoor Leadership Program that sends out all the freshmen on a three-week backpacking trip in the wilderness, with chaplains accompanying them for the first two weeks. Other outdoor trips, such as the freshmen’s week-long winter trip, have also been blessed by the presence and ministrations of our resident chaplains. I myself was fortunate to participate in a 12-day backpacking trip a few summers ago that was graced by the companionship of a Fraternity of St. Peter priest who offered the traditional Mass daily in the midst of some of the most breathtaking country I had ever seen. We even sang a High Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration (I had packed a photocopy of the propers and ordinary).

My purpose here is to gather in a single article a sizeable number of photographs and pointers about outdoor Masses. In my opinion, someday a priest of traditional sensibilities who is at the same time highly experienced in backpacking trips and other outdoor events should write a comprehensive and amply illustrated book on the subject. While we await that publication, however, at least we have some wonderful photos to look to for inspiration and guidance, as well as ten pieces of advice that Fr. Antony Sumich, FSSP, shared with me as I was drafting this article.

Two Distinct Scenarios

When celebrating Mass outdoors, there are two distinct scenarios:
  1. the “no holds barred” scenario, where, either due to the use of vehicles or a large number of people who can carry objects and don’t have to stay outdoors for a long period, one can set up the Mass with a certain fullness, including the use of tents, a portable altar, tall candlesticks, statues, chairs, and so forth, resulting in what might be called a temporary chapel; 
  2. the “pack as lightly as you can” scenario, where fewness and lightness of objects is key, because the priest and his companions will be backpacking a long distance and carrying on their backs all their own food and gear. 
Of course, these two scenarios are not separated by a sharp line, and, in practice, one sees a variety of approaches and levels. The usus antiquior requires more items than the Novus Ordo, but, as the photos demonstrate, portable versions of everything have been developed with great ingenuity. (I suggest checking out St. Joseph's Apprentice, a company that offers many models, including the "Wilderness Altar." OnePeterFive ran a fascinating article by the carpenter who founded it.)

(1) Scenario 1: A Temporary Outdoor Chapel

Over the years, NLM has featured photos from many outdoor Masses that fit the description of the first scenario. Most notable, of course, are the Masses from the annual Chartres pilgrimage.

Another great example is the Mass celebrated by Fr. Sumich on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent. Again, Father was assisted by lay Catholics who served as porters to carry up the table and other items seen in the photos.

Corpus Christi at Holy Innocents in New York City

The Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City will hold a Solemn Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi, followed by an outdoor procession in midtown Manhattan on Thursday, May 26, 2016, starting at 6 p.m.

Since 2009, the traditional Mass community at the Church of Holy Innocents has celebrated Corpus Christi on its traditional date — the Thursday after Trinity Sunday — with a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. In 2009, the Mass was the first of a novena of Masses in the Extraordinary Form that concluded with a Pontifical Mass at the Throne for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The inaugural procession with the Blessed Sacrament took place inside the church followed by Solemn Benediction. Since 2010, every procession following the Solemn Mass has been outdoors.

In the words of a Holy Innocents parishioner, “It is such a great act of faith to go in procession with the Blessed Sacrament through midtown Manhattan near Macy’s, Herald Square, and Penn Station.” Since 2010, the faithful members of the traditional Mass community at Holy Innocents feel tremendous joy at the occasion to make a very public expression of their Catholic faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

For many years, Holy Innocents was the only parish in midtown Manhattan to have a procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Mr. Eddy Toribio, one of the regular servers at Holy Innocents, says, “Every year, this particular procession draws hundreds of faithful parishioners and visitors in solemn procession singing hymns in Latin, English, Spanish, and Italian. It is truly a splendid sight, which reminds the city that never sleeps that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Eucharist remains the same.”

Before the 6 p.m. Solemn Mass, the parishioners will recite the Holy Rosary at 5:20. The Choirmaster and organist, Mr. Pedro d’Aquino, will direct the music (Messa a tre voci by Saverio Mercadante, 1795-1870). After the Mass and the outdoors procession, there will be a festive reception in the parish hall.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pentecost Photopost 2016 - Part 2

Here is the second part of our Pentecost photopost, as always, with our thanks to the readers who sent them in.

Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary - Legnano, Italy
Mass in the Ambrosian Rite; as a side note, the Ambrosian Rite uses red as the liturgical color of the season after Pentecost, (even including the feast of Corpus Christi), as did many medieval Uses of the Roman Rite. (From the website

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