A Mass of Thanksgiving was recently offered by Archbishop Vincent Nichols in Westminster Cathedral.
The vestments worn were designed by A.W.N. Pugin
Photo: Copyright Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
Nero fastened the guilt [for the great fire of Rome] and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but
to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.
(Annals, 15, 44)
VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2010 ( VIS ) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada, as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America . He succeeds Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, whose resignation from the same office the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
I am currently involved or looking into a number of interior or church furnishing design projects, which are becoming more prevalent these days as parishes attempt to bring a sense of tradition and beauty to their chancels and naves without having to break the bank by resorting to the wrecking ball. There are two paralell issues here: one is re-renovating churches that had their furniture disarranged or their paintwork dulled-down in the sixties and seventies, while the other involves trying to add a traditional element to a more modern interior. While there may be lavish budgets in places, often this has to be done on a shoestring. Here are five suggestions that can be done with a modest budget:
1. Rearrange the Furniture. The rather Zen-like, insubstantial quality of most modern church furnishings--except when they are Flinstones-style neo-primitive monstrosities--may actually be to your advantage here. Moving the freestanding portable altar in a few feet, shifting the clergy seating so they face inward rather than at an angle, and moving the tabernacle stand back to the center may be enough, at least initially, to restore order to a seriously compromised sanctuary. Such items can be slowly replaced by more dignified furnishings over time, or augmented with new additions such as a tester, altarpiece, or new paraments and hangings. The main issue here is ensuring that the new arrangement confirms to sound liturgical principles, such as highlighting the tabernacle and altar, as well as allowing for easy circulation of the sacred ministers. This is particularly important in older churches which were not designed with freestanding altars in mind.
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Vestment Treasury of Niedermünster
The findings' worth is in the millions of Euros, yet priceless: 500 pieces of liturgical vestments from four centuries!
By HELMUT WANNER, MZ
REGENSBURG. To the glory of God, generations of women from Stift Niedermünster embroidered the most precious chasubles of Lyonnaise silk with threads of silver and gold. After the liturgical reforms these precious garments fell into oblivion. They were stored away in cabinets and forgotten. Now the new pastor of the cathedral parish, Fr. Harald Scharf, called an aspiring art historian for an inventory. The findings from Niedermünster caused the raising of heads among the specialists. The German "silk papess" Barbara Beaucamp and art historians of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg showed interest in these findings. Now an inventory is made of them together with exact descriptions. On high feasts the pastor may use them again at the altar. There are planned a little exposition and a publication.
Photo: Art Historian Dr. Matthias Mayerhofer with historic vestments of Niedermünster church. Foto: altrofoto.de
Source: Der Paramentenschatz vom Stift Niedermünster
The acoustic created by the stone, wood and marble is especially conducive to the Gregorian Chant provided by the Gregorian Schola. This was evidenced at the Dedication Ceremonies in September 2008, which were solemnly accompanied by the ageless strains of the chant.
At Ferdinand Stuflesser 1875 we have a history of 5 generations. In our long history we have been casting altars, bronze statuary and bronze doors for cathedrals, churches and chapels throughout the world, always modeled to our customer’s wishes and cast with the finest bronze with the ancient system of lost wax.
Bronze is ideal for casting art work; it flows into all crevices of an artistic mould, thus perfectly reproducing every detail of the most delicately modeled sculpture. Bronze is used to designate alloys of copper with zinc, pewter and sometimes other smaller components. The Egyptians used bronze, cast and hammered, for utensils, armour, and statuary far in advance of the Bronze Age in Europe. The Greeks were un-excelled in bronze sculpture. The Romans took quantities of bronze statues from Greece and made thousands themselves. They employed bronze for doors and for furniture and candelabra, using the same procedure as we still use at our Stuflesser workshops now, more than 2000 years later.
The system of lost wax is the sculptural process of metal casting. As always, we start out with a small clay model, modeled to the clients wish. As we get the clients okay to proceed, our sculptors and artists create a solid and light structure in polystyrene. On top of this structure the actual art work is done, the sculpture is formed in soft clay, based on the small clay model in scale. A “negative” of this clay sculpture is taken in order to remake a “positive” in pure wax. This wax sculpture is then covered with a perforated clay mould. While heated in a giant oven for 10 days, the mould will “lose” the wax (hence the name of the method) as it runs out of the holes. Molten lead (bronze) is then poured into the space formerly occupied by the wax. After cooling of the work, the sculptor breaks the mould, removes the core, and polishes the metal art work. All that remains of this 4 to five month time procedure is the Sculpture in bronze, a metal layer only ¼ inch thick. Different types of patina can be applied. The most important advantage of the lost-wax method is that it eases the casting of a sculpture with elaborate curves and it definitely underlines the art work itself through its antique and noble procedure.
Newman calls us to leave behind stale arguments
by Dominic Scarborough
On Wednesday, June 9, the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, addressed 4,000 priests from around the world. They were gathered at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome for the conclusion of The Year for Priests.
He told them that nothing is more important for a priest than conversion of heart because only this will enable them to fulfil their mission to bring Christ to others. He went on to say that making “corrections” to ecclesial structures is not sufficient to evangelise priests, but rather a change of heart must occur because “the greatest obstacle to the transmission of Christ is sin”.
The cardinal’s words echo those of the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris who once said that the necessity and aim of the Second Vatican Council was to recognise that the Catholic world as it existed then had been catechised but not evangelised. However justified the late cardinal’s remarks about the pre-conciliar Church might be (one suspects he was not the only one, then or now, to take the battleship-grey paintbrush of modernity to the delicate fresco of Catholic tradition, devotion and praxis of the previous two millennia), the subsequent experience of the post-conciliar era did not achieve Cardinal Lustiger’s dream.
My own experience of growing up in that era was that we were neither catechised nor evangelised, but more frequently jeopardised.
Perhaps what lies at the root of this failure is the point now being made by Cardinal Meisner, that Catholicism is dead if it is only about externals and not about a lived experience of faith which must be internalised. Perhaps the mistake in the post-conciliar era has been to attempt merely to replace one set of externals – that of devotions, catechism, the ancient liturgy and all the other associated practices – with another comprising activism in the social arena, lay ministries and other acts of “doing” or “being Church”, which still lack any significant development of what used to be called “the interior life” (often now called “the life of the spirit”).
The most vociferous critics of the revival of the Traditional Latin Mass and the apparent traditionalism of many young priests always point to the externals – the splendid vestments, the cassocks and Roman collars and the ritual – as though this is all they can themselves see is at stake and it tends to say more of their own activist agenda than accurately critique the return of tradition as a source of spiritual nourishment.
This is where the figure of Cardinal John Henry Newman is so important for the life of the Church not just in this country but throughout the world. Newman understood that religion can never be imposed on someone from without, nor can it ever truly consist only in externals of either variety.
For him, ritualists were “gilt-gingerbread men”. But equally he rejected mere activism and social improvement as being equivalent to authentic religion. For Newman, to attempt to heal the soul by an activism aimed only at bodily and social needs was a confusion of the physical and spiritual which was equivalent to “recommending a canonry as a cure for the gout”. Rather, true religion must come from within and be a transformative experience. It is a process of conversion of the heart arising from the gradual realisation from within the person that God exists which impels the soul towards seeking out this hidden God. For Newman, the proof of God’s existence did not come from learned books or even from the Intelligent Design arguments of the physical universe.
Rather, this proof came from the undeniable reality of the human conscience and not because this conscience divinised Man to be his own arbiter of truth but because its existence revealed the existence of the objective moral law. This starting point provided the only sound foundation from which the whole person could move towards a faith enlightened and informed by the truths of Revelation as entrusted to the Catholic Church.
In short, then, true religion must begin and end as a supernatural experience of the reality of the soul, of God and of sin. Everything else flows from this or all that is left is a hollow institution standing on its own power and prestige or else a hollow activism that cannot compete with a well-organised and efficient welfare state.
Those priests who have been revealed as sexual abusers have all too often failed to internalise their faith, to make it a truly transformative experience. Instead, they have allowed the externals either of the traditional trappings of clerical power (or the more subtle modern narcissistic ones of egocentric personality-based ministry) to act as a mask concealing the weak, unreconstructed and unconverted sinner beneath, too often protected by the institution concerned with power and reputation.
It is time for the Church to move beyond arguments over ritualism versus activism. These arguments belong to an era in the Church which has failed to see the inner spiritual reality of which Newman speaks. The Church must look again at her roots and her raison d’être to discover again true faith in God. If the Year for Priests was about anything it was about a call to dispense with the mask and live the priesthood as a reality from within.
If the return of the traditional liturgy to our parishes is not to be empty ritualism it is about this liturgy offering us a different way to participate actively in Christ’s self-offering, by internalising what we see in front of us in the rich signs and symbols of hallowed stylised ritual to communicate an inner reality to our spiritual selves.
If activism and “being Church” is not to be mere secular social activity it must be about an activism motivated by love of God and our neighbour as an act of the will and not by simply the need to belong to a group or assuage guilty sentiments. Only if we all, clergy and laity alike, look inside ourselves can we truly pray the words of the Psalmist: “A clean heart create for me O God.”
Source: Catholic Herald Online
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2010
I have thought about other ways to try to sell my work in today’s marketplace. It had occurred to me that perhaps a way to make it pay would be through high quality reproductions. I could aim for a lower priced product and a higher volume of sales. With the quality of photographic reproductive techniques nowadays, it could be a way of making good art affordable to many.
Assuming that reproductions will sell, however, it does raise another issue. Is the sacramental nature of a reproduction of sacred art less than an original? Instinctively one feels so. But reading the theology of St Theodore the Studite, it would seem not. For Theodore, the great theologian whose work closed the iconoclastic period of AD853 says that what gives an icon its sacramental power is the captured likeness of the individual portrayed. If the likeness goes, then does the icon. It is reduced to wood, gold, paint and has no value beyond the price of the materials from which it is composed. This seems to imply that provided the reproduction is good and the characteristics of the saint in question are passed on from original to reproduction then, other things being equal , then it is legitimate to pray with reproduced, even mass reproduced, images.
In fact, I think there is no need for a defensive attitude to reproductions. Rather than assuming that we should aim to have as little change as possible between original and its copy, I think it would be an idea to consider reproduction as an authentic part of the creative process. It is conceivable that it could be manipulated to enhance the beauty of the original. One could even envisage the best artists would be able to understand the visual changes that take place during the reproduction process and paint so that the final reproduction corresponds to his idea, rather than the ‘original’.
I have worked recently on two illustrated books for children and, out of respect for me I think, the publishers were very keen to have an accurate reproduction that deviated as little as possible from my original. However, my attitude was that no one who reads the book is going to see the originals, and it really doesn’t matter if there is a difference. Provided that the final version is beautiful and does the job required of it on the page, then I will be happy.
The archbishop said Chicago priest Fr. Robert Barron is one of the few to have wrestled with such issues. For him, the liturgy is not to be shaped according to modern suppositions; rather, the liturgy should “question and shape the suppositions of any age.” While modern man is probably incapable of the liturgical act, this is no grounds for despair. Instead, we should “let the liturgy be itself,” the priest has said.
Archbishop Chaput agreed with Fr. Barron that in recent decades the “professional liturgical establishment” chose to shape the liturgy according to the world, which has proven to be “a dead end.” Seeking relevance through “a kind of relentless cult of novelty” has only resulted in confusion and division between the faithful and the true spirit of the liturgy, continued the archbishop.
To this end, the Archbishop of Denver offered several suggestions: the need to recover the “intrinsic and inseparable connection” between liturgy and evangelization; the need to see the liturgy as a participation in the “liturgy of heaven” where Christians worship “in Spirit and truth” with the Church and the communion of the saints; and the need to recover and live the early Christians’ “vibrant liturgical and evangelical spirituality.”
“Liturgy is both the source of the Church’s mission and its goal,” explained the prelate. “The reason we evangelize is in order to bring people into communion with the living God in the Eucharistic liturgy. And this experience of communion with God, in turn, impels us to evangelize.”
Source: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Vatican City, Jun 24, 2010 / 05:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The annual celebration of the feast of the First Martyrs, or "Promartyrs," of the Church of Rome will be observed in a special way in the Vatican next week. The ceremony for the feast day will be carried out on the very ground where the martyrs, lost their lives at the bidding of Emperor Nero in the year 64 A.D.
The Eucharistic celebration will take place in the church of St. Maria della Pietà in Camposanto, which is adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica. The procession will begin in the church and end in the Square of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome just outside. In the square a headstone commemorates Nero's persecution and martyrdom of the first Christians in Rome.
Source: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
U.S. Pilgrims to Attend Newman Beatification with Pope Benedict
A group of American Catholics are preparing to attend the Beatification of the 19th century convert John Henry Cardinal Newman in September at a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
“The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory, which was founded by Newman, have graciously invited us to attend the Beatification Mass and visit Newman’s own room and library,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society, which is sponsoring the pilgrimage. “It will be an extraordinary experience, especially given Newman’s relevance for our times and Mass with the Holy Father.”
The pilgrimage, dubbed “official” because of the endorsement of the Cause for Newman’s Canonization and guaranteed seats at the Beatification Mass, is mostly full but still accepting late registrations. Details and registration information can be found here.
Father Michael Barber, S.J., a Newman scholar and friend of the Birmingham Oratory, will be a spiritual guide on the pilgrimage.
“Cardinal Newman’s teachings and example have extraordinary influence on the Church today,” Father Barber said. “Three popes, including Benedict XVI, have predicted he will be declared a Doctor of the Church.”
Participants will visit Catholic sites in Oxford and London and will hear lectures from Father Ian Ker, the leading biographer of Newman, and Deacon Jack Sullivan, whose back was healed miraculously by Newman’s intercession.
The pilgrimage is part of the Newman Legacy Project, an effort by The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) to help preserve and promote Newman’s legacy in the United States. Newman is patron to the work of CNS in Catholic higher education, because of his famous book The Idea of a University and his lifelong campaign to warn against the dangers of relativism and secularism.
CNS is working with the Birmingham Oratory to identify donors to help preserve more than 10,000 of Newman’s original, handwritten sermons, letters and other texts that remain in the care of the Oratory. Plans include building a permanent archive and a museum and visitor’s center in Birmingham, England. For more information, contact CNS at NewmanLegacy@CardinalNewmanSociety.org.
Source: Cardinal Newman Society
[Awhile ago, one of our readers in Italy took these to share with NLM readers. Enjoy. I particularly would make note of the details of the facade as well as the beautiful detail, colour and patternwork within and around the dome.]
by Nick Gale, Director of Music, Southwark Cathedral
Posted Wednesday, June 23, 2010