and chaplain of the CMAA, parent organization of NLM
Thursday, March 31, 2016
and chaplain of the CMAA, parent organization of NLM
During his episcopacy, St Ambrose had discovered the relics of two Milanese martyrs, the brothers Ss Gervase and Protase, and constructed a basilica to house their remains. He himself was buried in this church; in the 9th century, his relics and those of the two martyrs were placed in a large porphyry sarcophagus in a crypt beneath the main altar. The sarcophagus itself was actually lost for a time, after sinking partly beneath the water-table, (porphyry is an incredibly heavy kind of Egyptian granite), and rediscovered only in the 1880s; another feast on the Ambrosian Calendar commemorates this rediscovery on May 14th.
To mark the day, here are some recent pictures of the Basilica from our Ambrosian correspondent, Nicola de’ Grandi.
|The marble throne in the apse, believed to be at least old enough to be very one used by St Ambrose himself when celebrating in this basilica.|
|The altar was made between 825 and 859 by a sculptor named Vuolvino; the side facing the people is gold, that facing the apse is silver.|
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2016
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Over the past decade, the choirmaster and prior, Peter Funk O.S.B., a University of Chicago-trained choral conductor and composer, has taught the monks to chant all the Ordinaries and Propers of the Mass and all the antiphons, hymns and responsories of the Office. The culmination of these labors is a new Solemn Choral Vespers series, which offers perhaps the richest expression of their founding charism, to evangelize through the liturgy.
In the autumn of 2012, a generous benefactor provided the resources to found the choral group Schola Laudis, under the direction of Kevin Allen, a local conductor and composer whose name is likely familiar to many of our readers. The goal of the Schola is two-fold: to enrich the liturgical life of the Monastery and the Archdiocese of Chicago by the incorporation of the masterworks of the Renaissance composers, and more generally, to introduce a broad range of people to the beauty of the Catholic liturgical tradition. The Schola always performs the glorious music of Palestrina, Byrd, Victoria, Josquin Desprez and others in its intended liturgical setting, alternating their polyphony with the monks’ Gregorian chant.
Over the past four years, Solemn Choral Vespers with Schola Laudis has become a regular part of their liturgy. As the monks write, “We believe that this in itself can serve as a powerful witness to the wider Church. Regular liturgical prayer outside the Mass is not only possible, but desirable and beautiful, especially when offered in a rich variety of settings by some of the greatest Catholic composers. Through your website, we hope to make contact with a larger network of individuals and communities in the Northern Illinois area who are already committed to traditional Catholic liturgy but do not yet know about our Monastery or the Solemn Vespers series.” NLM is of course very glad to promote such an initiative.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
“During Vespers four clerics, chosen according to dignity, go to the sacristy to prepare a bier/coffin, covered with a black cloth, where four black cloths will be placed which will receive: the books of the Old and New Testament, or the Missal; a small cross; a bell; empty jars and the keys to the church. The priest removes the chalice from on top of the altar, the ministers remove themselves to the Gospel side, and the four clerics place the bier upon the altar. The deacon then closes the bier and places the keys, hung by a silk cord, around the priest’s neck, who then imposes incense without the blessing and incenses the Blessed Sacrament while kneeling.
Once Vespers are over, there immediately follows something particular to the Bragan Rite on this day – a Theophoric Procession.
Immediately after Vespers the priest imposes, without blessing, incense in two thuribles, and incenses the Blessed Sacrament while kneeling. Two torchbearers then head the procession, followed by all the members of the clergy, vested in black, with their amices upon their heads as a sign of mourning. The clergy processes in pairs, with candles, with the younger members in the front. Four priests then transport the bier on their shoulders, beneath a black baldachin. When the two torchbearers being the procession, two clerics sing the verse Heu, heu, Domine: heu, heu, Salvator noster (Alas, alas, O Lord: alas, alas, O our Saviour); the choir responding Pupilli facti sumums absque Patre: Mater nostra vidua (We have been made orphans without a Father: our mother [has been made] a widow). The procession advances to the verse Heu, heu, stopping when the choir answers.
This goes on until the procession arrives at the place where the Blessed Sacrament will be put to rest. A veil or curtain is put up and the priest with his ministers go into the place where the bier is placed. The bier having been placed on the altar and the Blessed Sacrament having been incensed, the priest alternates with the choir (a series of versicles) ... the veil is taken away and the choir sings another responsory, Sepulto Domino, (in a form which) which varies somewhat from the third responsory of the third nocturn of Tenebrae for Holy Saturday. After a brief genuflection in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, all return with their heads covered to the sacristy. ...”
You can read the complete description of Good Friday over there.
Here are some of their other Holy Week posts:
Palm Sunday part 1 and part 2
Holy Monday to Spy Wednesday
The latest edition of the Adoremus Bulletin is now out; you can read it online here.
This is a particular rich and attractively designed issue. The Adoremus Bulletin does really seem to have new vibrancy to it under the leadership of the new editorial team of Chris Carstens and Joe O'Brien. Highlights include an article about the mystagogy of the Lamb of God by editor Chris Carstens, supporting another article which analyses the Ghent altarpiece, also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, as liturgical art; that is, how do its form and content work in the context of the liturgy? The Ghent altarpiece is the second most viewed painting in history, and the article has been prompted by the release of a book about the painting, a 15th century by the Van Eyck brothers, published by Magnificat.
Monday, March 28, 2016
|St. Albert the Great Chapel|
The Mass will be at Saint Albert the Great Priory, 6172 Chabot Road, Oakland CA, 94618, at 10:00 a.m. Recitation of the Marian Rosary will follow immediately. Visitors and guests are welcome; pew booklets with the text of Mass in Latin and English will be provided. There is ample parking on the street and in the priory parking lot next to the chapel.
Posted Monday, March 28, 2016
The Parish of St. Mary in Norwalk, Connecticut, marked Good Friday with the renewal of a long-standing tradition, the procession of the dead Christ through the streets with Our Lady of Sorrows following. This procession is similar to those done throughout southern Europe and Latin America, and is reminiscent of Eastern Rite liturgical uses on the night of Good Friday.
Posted Monday, March 28, 2016
Unction from Above or Reasoning from Below? A Small Illustration of the Importance of Critical TextsPeter Kwasniewski
|A youthful Aquinas looking for unction from above|
In one of the saint’s earlier works, the commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences (or, in its Latin title, Scriptum super libros Sententiarum), Book IV, d. 15, q. 2, a. 4, qa. 1, we find Thomas talking about how to make good judgments with respect to giving alms, since there are so many particular circumstances that escape our knowledge. It’s not a bad question to ask in Lent, when we are continually reminded of the three great works of self-denial: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. There is a modern mentality that discourages the kind of almsgiving our forefathers in the faith practiced, on the grounds that “we don’t know whether a poor man will use the money well.” While admittedly there are cases where one can judge from signs that a potential recipient of largesse is a fraud or an addict and that it would be prudent to buy him food rather than handing over money, it also has to be said that we can rarely, if ever, know for certain whether any alms we give will be well used, and that, if comprehensive evaluation of circumstances were a precondition for charitable works, none would ever get done. Still, our modern position at its best is likely to be that the almsgiver must be a man of solid good sense who, consulting his native reason, analyzes the situation in terms of probable human causes and effects, forms a rational judgment, and follows it — the very model of a modern major domo.
Coming back to St. Thomas, many editions print the following line in his response: Et hoc quidem sermone determinari non potest, quia de singularibus non est judicium; sed statur in hoc prudentiae arbitrio, et DISCRETIONIS, quae docet de omnibus. “And this can certainly not be determined in a word [i.e., a simple rule], for a [universal] judgment cannot be made about particulars; but the judgment to be relied upon in this is that of prudence, and of DISCRETION, which teaches about all things.” Ah, good old Whig Thomism!
But wait . . . according to the best manuscripts, what Thomas really wrote was: UNCTIONIS — that is, “the judgment to be relied upon is that of prudence and of the UNCTION that teaches about all things.” Now this is to say something quite different. Thomas is referring to 1 John 2:20 and 27: “But you have the unction from the Holy One . . . And you have no need that any man teach you; but as his unction teacheth you of all things.”
Later in the same passage he writes (in the faulty editions): singulares conditiones, quae attendendae sunt, sunt infinitae, et non cadunt sub arte. De his autem RATIO docet et prudentiae consilium. “Particular conditions that need to be attended to are infinite, and they do not fall within our scope. But REASON and the counsel of prudence teach us about these.” Sounds like classic Thomas, right? Always turning to reason. He might as well be the precursor of rationalism.
Yet, matching the earlier text, what he actually wrote was UNCTIO: “But the unction [of the Holy Spirit] and the counsel of prudence teach us about these.” For those who know St. Thomas’s writings, it comes as no surprise that he appeals here both to the natural faculty — the counsel and judgment of prudence, which is the virtue that perfects man's practical reason — and to the supernatural gift, the anointing of the Holy Spirit that distinguishes the Christian fully alive from the potential Christian or the fallen-away Christian. Nature and grace are united in the guidance of our actions: Thomas says et, not vel or aut. These two sentences are significant if only as a reminder to us that we are meant to be supple and mobile in the hands of God, able to be prompted, motivated, steered by Him in our acts of charity, and not, as it were, slaves to our sometimes narrow rationally-constructed criteria.
I think the same is true, mutatis mutandis, in the realm of liturgy. By our own lights there is plenty and more than enough we can learn about, evaluate, compare, critique, and propose, but in the end there is also the hidden influence of the Holy Spirit who, exercising at times a severe mercy, opens our myopic minds and our too easily satisfied hearts to the riches of the Church’s tradition, and leads us into them in ways we did not choose ahead of time — ways that surpass our understanding then and maybe even now, ways that continually challenge our reason to catch up and find some rational threads to weave together.
Looking back in my life, I can see decisive moments when my encounters with the beauty of authentic Catholic worship were an unction from above rather than results of prudential decisions — times when I was not expecting to be somewhere or to do some particular thing, and yet there I was, and the gift to see with new eyes or hear with new ears was given to one unworthy of it, by the hand of God’s mysterious mercy. Times when I was blindsided, knocked over, woken up, thanks to a certain person, event, book, piece of music that had gone through my soul like a sword and had left me feeling spent and refreshed, almost as if blood-letting had occurred and had worked.
Re-reading Thomas’s actual statements —
And this can certainly not be determined in a word, for a judgment cannot be made about particulars; but the judgment to be relied upon in this is that of prudence, and of the unction that teaches about all things. … Particular conditions that need to be attended to are infinite, and they do not fall within our scope. But unction and the counsel of prudence teach us about these.
This, then, is a little example of how careful one must be in selecting an edition of a medieval text, for different readings, especially when not carefully controlled by the editors and explained in adequate notes, can give us a very different doctrine and impression. Surely, Thomas is better for his unction, and we stand to gain a new appreciation of the intimate union between God and man that is necessary for perfectly moral behavior.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
|The Resurrection , by Jacopo di Cione, 1370|
Therefore, come, all families of men, you who have been befouled with sins, and receive forgiveness for your sins. I am your forgiveness, I am the passover of your salvation, I am the lamb which was sacrificed for you, I am your ransom, I am your light, I am your Savior, I am your resurrection, I am your king. I am leading you up to the heights of heaven, I will show you the eternal Father, I will raise you up by My right hand.”
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and who in the beginning created man, who was proclaimed through the law and prophets, who became a man through the Virgin, who was hanged upon a tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from the dead, and who ascended to the heights of heaven, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who has authority to judge and to save everything, through whom the Father created everything from the beginning of the world to the end of the age.
This is the alpha and the omega. This is the beginning and the end – an indescribable beginning and an incomprehensible end. This is the Christ. This is the king. This is Jesus. This is the leader. This is the Lord. This is the one who rose up from the dead. This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father, to whom be the glory and the power forever. Amen. (The conclusion of the Paschal Homily of St Melito of Sardis, ca. 165 A.D.)
TO all our readers, to your friends and families, we wish you an Easter filled with every joy and blessing in the Risen Lord - He is truly risen!
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and in itself consider nothing of earth; for the King of kings and Lord of lords cometh forth to be sacrificed, and given as food to the believers; and there go before Him the choirs of Angels, with every dominion and power, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, covering their faces, and crying out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
This text became familiar in the English-speaking world through the work of a mid-19th century Anglican cleric named Gerard Moultrie, whose hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” is in large measure based upon it. The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, a great collector and scholar of folk songs, set Moultrie’s version to a French carol tune known from its place of original simply as “Picardy.” It is here sung by the choir of Somerville College, Oxford.
Friday, March 25, 2016
For me, this prompted a couple of heartening reflections. The first is simply that our Holy Mother Church gives us so many incredibly beautiful resources for entering into the mystery of Our Lord Jesus Christ -- if only we would use them! Yes, it takes time and effort and planning, as a 2 1/2 hour service of chant is not something one can create at the drop of a hat. But it is worth it in the end. The singers themselves feel that the Lord has worked in and through them. The people are edified, their hearts immersed in the Passion. The inherent sacredness and sanctifying power of these services draws in the faithful who are seeking for ways to observe the Triduum with great devotion. In short: we do not need to invent new things; we need to rediscover old things that always worked and will always work, wherever men and women are hungering for God.
The second is that the best and deepest things take time to assimilate, to understand, to perfect. When it comes to liturgy in particular, we have to fight tooth and nail against the modern spirit of immediate gratification and quick results. When we first did Tenebrae in 2012, we could barely chant the chants, let alone follow all the texts. The people stumbled over the psalms. It was not exactly elegant. But we did it anyhow because we saw it as a mountain worth climbing, no matter how many bruises along the way. The next year it was a little easier; one felt oriented and clued in. The year after, the psalm tones came more naturally and the responsories felt like old acquaintances. A year later, more fellows were volunteering to sing the nine readings. This year, for the first time, I was not worrying about the music and found myself drawn deeply into the meaning of the psalms and readings. It took me five years to get to that point. It's like a treasure chest containing the most exquisite treasure, but locked with formidable locks. You work at it patiently because you know that the yield is worthwhile.
Nothing valuable comes cheaply. Many people, maybe even most people, value a challenge that corresponds to their dignity, calls upon all their powers, rewards their efforts. People see this in comparing Tridentine altar serving with non-Tridentine. The former is much more demanding, takes an investment of time, requires precision, thoughtfulness, and obedience to commands -- but the boys and young men go in for that, thrive on it. The latter is easy by comparison, but it can be harder to fill the ranks. If we pay attention to the way human beings are made and what calls forth their greatest potential, we will see anew the wisdom of the Church in placing at our disposal such hard-won treasures.
Below are photos from successive years. (One will notice the unsightly green carpet in 2012; the pastor shortly thereafter replaced it with marble tiles -- for the "brick by brick" file.)
|From the Rabula Gospel book, 6th century|
Thursday, March 24, 2016
|The Institution of the Holy Eucharist, by Federico Barocci, from the Aldobrandini Chapel of St Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome; 1603-8|