Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gaudete Sunday Photopost Request 2017

We have already received a fair number of photos of Rorate Masses, and we will shortly do a photopost which will include them along with those of Gaudete Sunday Masses, featuring your rose-colored vestments, in either Form of the Roman Rite. We will be very glad to include anything else from your Advent celebrations as well, such as Vespers, Masses of Our Lady of Guadalupe etc. Let’s see if we can match last year, when we received enough to make three separate posts! Please send photos to: for inclusion; be sure to include the name and location of the church, and any other information you consider relevant. Thanks as always - Evangelize though Beauty!

Rorate Mass at St Joan of Arc in Oberlin, LA, from last year’s second Gaudete and Rorate photopost.
Gaudete Sunday at Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, New Jersey, from last year’s first Gaudete and Rorate post.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Other Major Antiphons for the End of Advent

The best known feature of the Office in Advent is of course the O Antiphons, which will be upon us on Sunday, said with the Magnificat from December 17-23. Their prominence has perhaps overshadowed some of the other riches of the season, which has an unusually large number of proper texts. In addition to the daily antiphons of the Benedictus and Magnificat, the psalms at Sunday Matins also have their own antiphons, which is not true of either Lent or Passiontide, and each individual Sunday has another set of five antiphons for the psalms of Lauds and Vespers, also used at the minor Hours of the day.

The last six ferias before the vigil of Christmas also each have a proper set of antiphons to be sung with the psalms of Lauds, and repeated at the minor Hours, though not at Vespers; they are one of the most beautiful parts of the Gregorian repertoire. If December 17 is a Sunday, as it is this year, these begin on Monday the 18th; otherwise, on the 17th, along with the Os.

A folio of the winter volume of the Hartker Antiphonary, end of the 10th century, beginning with the 3rd antiphon for Monday. San Gallen Stiftsbibliothek. Cod. Sang. 390. 
I have here set them out in tables, with the Latin on one side and an English translation on the other. With the Latin, I have indicated the psalms and canticles with which they are currently sung according to the Breviary of St Pius X. Prior to his reform in 1911, the third psalm of Lauds each day was Psalms 62 and 66 said together as a single psalm, and the fifth was Psalms 148, 149 and 150, also said together as a single psalm.

On the English side, I have noted the Biblical citations in the text; “vs.” stands for “verse”, indicating that the antiphon is a verse of the psalm or canticle with which it is sung. Many of them are not Scriptural at all, and some of them, such as the very first one, Ecce veniet Dominus, are either vaguely or only partially taken from the Bible. The traditional corpus of Breviary antiphons is very ancient, and some of the Biblical citations come from the Old Latin version of the Bible used before St Jerome’s Vulgate translation, such as the antiphon Deus a Libano which is said with the canticle of Habacuc.

Aña 1 Ecce veniet Dominus,
princeps regum terræ: beati
qui parati sunt occurrere illi.
Psalm 50
Behold the Lord shall come, the
Prince of the kings of the earth:
blessed are they that are pre-
pared to meet him. (Apoc. 1, 5)
Cum venerit Filius hominis,
putas inveniet fidem super
terram? Psalm 5
When the Son of Man shall
come, thinkest thou that He
shall find faith upon the earth?
(Luke 18, 8)
Ecce jam venit plenitudo
temporis, in quo misit Deus
Filium suum in terras.
Psalm 28
Behold, the fullness of time hath
already come, in which God
hath sent His Son upon the
lands. (Galatians 4, 4)
Haurietis aquas in gaudio
de fontibus Salvatoris.
Canticle of Isaiah, chapter
12, 1-6 
Ye shall draw waters in joy from
the fountains of the Savior.
(vs. 3)
Egredietur Dominus de lo-
co sancto suo: veniet ut sal-
vet populum suum. Ps. 116
The Lord will go forth from His
holy place, He will come to save
his people.

Aña 1 Rorate, caeli, desuper,
et nubes pluant justum; ape-
riatur terra, et germinet Sal-
vatorem. Psalm 50
Drop down dew, ye heavens,
from above, and let the clouds
rain the Just One; let the earth be
opened, and bud forth a Savior.
(Isaiah 45, 8)
Emitte Agnum, Domine,
Dominatorem terræ, de Petra
deserti, ad montem filiae
Sion. Psalm 42
Send forth the lamb, O Lord,
the ruler of the earth, from Petra
of the desert, to the mount of the
daughter of Sion. (Isaiah 16, 1)
Ut cognoscamus, Domine,
in terra viam tuam, in omni-
bus gentibus salutare tuum.
Psalm 66
May we know, o Lord, Thy way
upon the earth, Thy salvation in
all nations. (vs. 3)
Da mercedem, Domine,
sustinentibus te, ut Prophe-
tae tui fideles inveniantur.
Canticle of King Ezechiah,
Isaiah, 38, 10-20 
Reward them, o Lord, that
patiently wait for Thee, that
Thy prophets may be found
faithful. (Sir. 36, 18)
Lex per Moysen data est;
gratia et veritas per Jesum
Christum facta est.
Psalm 134
The law was given by Moses;
grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ. (John 1, 17)

In many medieval Uses, the first antiphon of the following set, Prophetae praedicaverunt, was said with the Psalms of either Lauds or Vespers, or both, in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary during Advent.
The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-11. (From the website of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; click to see in high resolution.)
Aña 1 Prophetae praedica-
verunt nasci Salvatorem de
Virgine Maria. Psalm 50
The prophets foretold that the
Savior would be born of the
Virgin Mary.
Spiritus Domini super
me, evangelizare pauperi-
bus misit me.
Psalm 64
The Spirit of the Lord is upon
me, He hath sent me to preach
good tidings to the poor. (Isa.
61, 1, as cited in Luke 4, 18)
Propter Sion non tacebo,
donec egrediatur ut splen-
dor justus ejus.
Psalm 100
For Sion’s sake I will not hold
my peace, till her just one come
forth as brightness. (Isa. 62, 1)
Ecce veniet Dominus, ut
sedeat cum principibus, et
solium gloriae teneat.
Canticle of Anna, I Kings
2, 1-10 
Behold, the Lord shall come to
sit with princes, and hold the
throne of glory. (vs. 8)
Annuntiate populis et di-
cite: Ecce Deus Salvator
noster veniet. Psalm 145
Proclaim ye to the peoples, and
say: Behold, God our Savior
shall come.

Aña 1 De Sion veniet Domi-
nus omnipotens, ut salvum
faciat populum suum. Ps. 50
From Sion shall come the Lord
Almighty to save His people.
Convertere, Domine, ali-
quantulum, et ne tardes ve-
nire ad servos tuos.
Psalms 89
Return, o Lord, a little while, and
delay not to come to Thy ser-
De Sion veniet, qui regna-
turus est Dominus, Emma-
nuel magnum nomen ejus.
Psalm 35
From Sion shall come the Lord
who is to rule, Emmanuel is
His great name.
Ecce Deus meus, et hono-
rabo eum: Deus patris mei,
et exaltabo eum. Canticle of
Moses, Exodus 15, 1-19 
Behold my God, and I will honor
Him, the God of my father, and
I will exalt Him. (vs. 2)
Dominus legifer noster,
Dominus Rex noster, ipse
veniet, et salvabit nos.
Psalm 146
The Lord is our law-giver, the
Lord is our king, He will come
and save us. (Isaiah 33, 22)

Aña 1 Constantes estote, vi-
debitis auxilium Domini su-
per vos. Psalm 50
Be ye steady, ye shall see the
help of the Lord upon you.
(I Chronicles 20, 17)
Ad te, Domine, levavi
animam meam: veni, et eri-
pe me, Domine, ad te con-
fugi? Psalm 142
To Thee, o Lord, I have lifted up
my soul: come and deliver me,
o Lord, to thee have I fled.
(vss 8-9)
Veni, Domine, et noli tar-
dare: relaxa facinora plebi
tuae Israël. Psalm 84
Come, o Lord, delay Thou not;
forgive the crimes of Thy
people Israel.
Deus a Libano veniet, et
splendor ejus sicut lumen
erit. Canticle of Habakkuk,
chapter 3, 1-19 
God will come from the Leba-
non, and His brightness shall be
as the light. (vss. 8 and 9)
Ego autem ad Dominum
aspiciam, et exspectabo
Deum, Salvatorem meum.
Psalm 147
But I will look towards the
Lord, I will wait for God
my Saviour. (Micah 7, 7) 

The Testament of Moses, by Luca Signorelli and Bartolomeo della Gatta, 1482, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.
The Breviary of St Pius V has no special set of antiphons for Saturday, on which the ones impeded by the feast of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21st are used. (Obviously, this is not done if Saturday itself is the 21st.) However, the antiphon for the Old Testament canticle from the impeded set is replaced by a proper antiphon Exspectetur, which corresponds to the Canticle of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. When the vigil of Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, the Thursday set is impeded by St Thomas, and omitted that year; the antiphons from the Fourth Sunday of Advent are anticipated to Saturday, with Exspectetur for the canticle.

This custom was changed in the Breviary reform of St Pius X; Saturday is given its own antiphons, and those impeded by St Thomas’ day are simply omitted. Of the four new antiphons, the first and fifth (Intuemini and Paratus esto) are found in several very old chant manuscripts, and were widely used in the Middle Ages; the second and third (Multiplicabitur and Ego Dominus) appear to be new compositions made specifically for this reform.

Aña 1 Intuemini, quantus sit
gloriosus iste, qui ingreditur
ad salvandos populos.
Psalm 50
Behold ye how glorious is this
one, that cometh in to save the
Multiplicabitur ejus im-
perium, et pacis non erit
finis. Psalm 91
His empire shall be multiplied,
and there shall be no end of
peace. (Isaiah 9, 7)
Ego Dominus prope feci
justitiam meam, non elon-
gabitur, et salus mea non
morabitur. Psalm 63
I the Lord have brought my jus-
tice near, it shall not be afar
off, and my salvation shall not
tarry. (Isaiah 46, 12)
Exspectetur, sicut pluvia,
eloquium Domini: et de-
scendat, sicut ros, super nos
Deus noster. Canticle of
Moses, Deut. 32, 1-43 
Let the word of the Lord be
awaited, like the rain, and let
our God descend upon us like
the dew. (vs. 2)
Paratus esto, Israel, in oc-
cursum Domini, quoniam
venit. Psalm 150
But I will look towards the
Lord, I will wait for God my
Saviour. (Amos 4, 12)

Finally, on December 21st and 23rd, there are special antiphons to be said with the Benedictus, the last of these an especially fitting final word of the season, before the special office of the vigil of the Nativity. (Nolite timere is used for the commemoration of Advent on the feast of St Thomas, unless the feast is transferred off the 4th Sunday of Advent.)

Aña Nolite timere: quinta
enim die veniet ad vos Do-
minus noster.
Fear ye not, for on the fifth day
our God will come to you.
Ana Ecce completa sunt
omnia, quae dicta sunt per
Angelum de Virgine
Behold, all things are fulfilled
which were said by the Angel
about the Virgin Mary?

FSSP Mission Trips in 2018

We are very glad to share with our readers this information from the Fraternity of St Peter about their important initiatives in Latin America, a series of mission trips in Mexico, Perú and the Dominican Republic, and their Spanish language school for the clergy.

Registration is now open for the 2018 St Francis Xavier Missions of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Our Blessed Lord commanded us to preach the gospel to all nations and also assured us that what we do to the least of His brethren we do unto Him. For this reason, the St Francis Xavier Mission Trips combine the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and provide young people with an extraordinary opportunity to put their faith in action and experience first hand the Catholicity of the Church. Missionaries are challenged to deepen their own faith because, without a doubt, growth in holiness is the most essential element of an effective apostolate. The missions are directed by priests of the FSSP, and are therefore centered on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered daily in the Extraordinary Form. This year four trips are being offered: two in Mexico, one in Perú, and one in the Dominican Republic. Please visit the website for more information or to register. We also invite those who are unable to go to join this great effort by means of their donations and, most importantly, their prayers.

The Saint Junipero Serra Spanish Institute

Mission Tradition of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is pleased to announce that the St Junipero Serra Spanish Institute is now accepting applications for the summer of 2018. This is a Spanish immersion program for priests and seminarians in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico under the direction of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. There is no doubt that the need for Spanish speaking priests is urgent, considering that statistics say that only about 30% of Catholic Latino immigrants to the United States remain Catholic upon their arrival.

The St Junipero Serra Institute is unique among language immersion programs because it is specifically tailored to priests and seminarians. This year we will be publishing our new textbook series, Habla Cristiano, in which the themes, vocabulary, and exercises are chosen with an eye to the future priests´ ministerial needs. The Institute provides students with an atmosphere of prayer and pastoral experience. Students attend daily Mass and the Divine Office in the Extraordinary Form and are provided with a wide array of pastoral and cultural opportunities. Service in hospitals and orphanages, dinners with families, and first-hand encounters with the richness and beauty of Mexican Catholic tradition, all serve to enrich not only their immersion experience, but also their priestly formation. The program concludes with a mission trip that involves door to door evangelization and catechesis. Please visit the website for more information; here is the first in a series of new promotional videos.

Discounts are available to those who register before Christmas. Space is limited! The Saint Junipero Serra Institute is also looking for benefactors interested in supporting this very important work.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Immaculate Conception Photopost 2017

As always, we are very grateful to everyone who sent in their photographs of liturgies celebrated on the Immaculate Conception. We have a good variety in this one, with several different countries represented, blue vestments being used in the Philippines and in a Byzantine liturgy, the Ambrosian Rite, and a Pontifical Mass. I also include here the Mass celebrated by our good friends of the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe; although they are based in France, most of the members of the order are Chilean, and celebrate it as a patronal feast.

A note about Rorate Masses: we have already received several sets of photos of Rorate Masses. We will do at least one photopost of them next week, possibly two, which will also include photos of Gaudete Sunday liturgies and anything else that might come up for Advent. If you have already sent some in, know that we will definitely be glad to use them. Evangelize thoguh beauty!

San Paolo Maggiore (Chapel of St Cajetan) - Naples, Italy (IBP)
Organized by the Coetus Fidelium of St Cajetan and St Andrew Avellino and the Royal Circle Francesco II of Bourbon; celebrated by Don Giorgio Lenzi, IBP, Chaplain of Merit of the Sovereign Constantinian Military Order of St George, and secretary of the Order’s Grand Prior, Card. Castrillon Hoyos. Several members of the Constantinian Order were present for the celebration, and some very nice floral decoration were set up in front of the church, in one of the city’s most crowded and chaotic piazzas.

Mary, Mother of the Church Chapel - Maleizen, Belgium (Servants of Jesus and Mary)

Guest Article: Dom Mark Kirby on Infirmity and Stability in Marriage and Monasticism

NLM is pleased once again to publish a reflection by Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B., Prior of the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland, this time comparing marriage and the monastic vocation from the vantage of the sacrificial commitment to lifelong fidelity, come what may — an urgent matter in an age that finds it difficult to accept either indissoluble marriage or total commitment to religious life.

“Your Bodies a Living Sacrifice”:

Infirmity and Stability in the Rule of Saint Benedict

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B.
Silverstream Priory

Of Matrimony and Monasticism
The marriage vow, such as it has been passed down in the Christian liturgical tradition, takes into account the eventuality, I should even say, the inevitability, of sickness. As early as the fourteenth century, bridegrooms were saying to their brides: I take you to be my wife and my spouse and I pledge to you the faith of my body, that I will be faithful to you and loyal with my body and my goods and that I will keep you in sickness and in health and in whatever condition it will please the Lord to place you, and that I shall not exchange you for better or worse until the end.

Professions: Matrimonial and Monastic

There is a striking similarity between the monastic vow of stability and the marriage vow. The difference lies in the consequences of both commitments: for the life of the monk on the one hand, and for the life of the husband on the other. Monastic profession is made to God in the presence of witnesses:
Let him who is to be received make before all, in the Oratory, a promise of stability, conversion of life, and obedience, in the presence of God and of His saints, so that, if he should ever act otherwise, he may know that he will be condemned by Him Whom he mocketh. Let him draw up this promise in writing, in the name of the saints whose relics are in the altar, and of the Abbot there present. (Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 58)
Matrimonial profession is also made in the presence of witnesses, but unlike monastic profession, it is addressed to one’s spouse rather than to God. Whereas a husband gives Himself to God through the mediation of his wife, and a wife through the mediation her husband, the monk gives Himself directly to God. Matrimony is a sacrament because it signifies the union of Christ with the Church; monastic profession is a sacrifice, that is, a consecration, because by it the monk becomes a whole burnt offering to God, a victim laid upon the altar.

Sacrament and Sacrifice

This is not to argue that the sacrificial dimension is absent from holy matrimony, nor that the sacramental dimension is absent from monastic profession. In marriage the sacrificial offering of self is mediated through one’s spouse, just as the offering of Christ and of the Church are interdependent in the sacred liturgy: Christ offering through the Church, and the Church offering through Christ. In the monastic life, Christ’s self-offering — His victimhood — is made visible in the humble fidelity of the monk who, having once placed himself mystically upon the altar, remains there until the consummation of his sacrifice. While marriage is a sacrament bearing within itself a sacrificial quality; the monastic state is a sacrifice — a consecration — bearing within itself a sacramental quality.

In both instances there is the gift of one’s body and goods. In marriage one pledges the faith of one’s body and goods to one’s spouse; this is a sacrament of Christ giving Himself, together will all the merits of His Blessed Passion, to the Church. In monastic profession a man pledges the faith of his body and goods to God; in this way, he unites himself to the sacrifice of Christ, offering Himself to the Father upon the altar of the Cross, for the sake of His Bride, the Church. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich he became poor, for your sakes; that through his poverty you might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). The word of the Apostle finds a mystic fulfillment in what Saint Benedict writes: “Whatever property he hath let him first bestow upon the poor, or by a solemn deed of gift make over to the monastery, keeping nothing of it all for himself, as knowing that from that day forward he will have no power even over his own body” (Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 58). For Saint Benedict, then, the monk is a man offered, an oblation, a victim made over to God in sacrifice. By monastic profession, a man places himself upon the altar together with the oblations of bread and wine. Doing this, he becomes, according to the teaching of Saint Augustine a sacrificium.
A true sacrifice is every work which is done that we may be united to God in holy fellowship, and which has a reference to that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed. And therefore even the mercy we show to men, if it is not shown for God’s sake, is not a sacrifice. For, though made or offered by man, sacrifice is a divine thing, as those who called it sacrifice meant to indicate. Thus man himself, consecrated in the name of God, and vowed to God, is a sacrifice in so far as he dies to the world that he may live to God. (The City of God, Book X, Chapter VI)

The Gift of One’s Body

Just as the husband gives his body to his wife, and the wife, her body to her husband, saying, in effect, Suscipe me (Receive me, take me unto thyself), so too does the monk make the offering of his body to God, saying Suscipe me, according to the word of Saint Paul, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Saint Paul’s injunction is addressed, it is true, to all the baptized. In the case of one married, however, the offering of one’s body to one’s spouse, making of the two one flesh, cannot be dissociated from the offering made to God; the husband does not make his offering to God apart from his wife, nor the wife apart from her husband.

In the case of one consecrated in monastic profession, it is by virtue of sacramental union with Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, that the offering of one’s body is made, symbolically and really, from the altar, directly to God. This is why Saint Benedict enjoins the monk making profession to place the legal instrument of his self-offering upon the altar. The legal instrument, a document written out by the hand of the novice himself, represents his body and all his goods; it is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of himself.
Let him write it with his own hand; or at least, if he knoweth not how, let another write it at his request, and let the novice put his mark to it, and place it with his own hand upon the altar. When he hath done this, let the novice himself immediately begin this verse: “Receive me, O Lord, according to Thy Word, and I shall live: and let me not be confounded in my expectation. (Rule, ch. 58)

In Sickness and in Health

The marriage vow says explicitly that the reciprocal gift of self in matrimony is irrevocable “in sickness and in health”. Sickness is no less a reality in the monastic state than it is in marriage. Monks fall ill. Monks are, like anyone else, susceptible to suffering every manner of infirmity and sickness of mind and body. Infirmity and sickness do not diminish or dissolve the sacred bond of monastic profession, any more than they do the bond of holy matrimony. Infirmity and sickness are, rather, consecrated by monastic profession; the very suffering by which a monk is brought low becomes part of the offering lifted high above the altar in union with the sacrifice of Christ renewed in Holy Mass. One catches a glimpse of this in the Supplices te rogamus of the Roman Canon:
We humbly beseech thee, almighty God: command these offerings to be brought by the hands of thy holy Angel to thine altar on high, in sight of thy divine majesty: that all we who at this partaking of the altar shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of thy Son, may be fulfilled with all heavenly benediction and grace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
A monk brought low by sickness enters into an intimate identification with the suffering Christ. Although he may not feel this, he believes it, repeating as often as necessary the words of the Apostle: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24) and, again, “And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me. And that I live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

For Saint Benedict, the sick brethren are a real presence of Christ in the monastery:
Before all things and above all things care is to be had of the sick, that they be served in very deed as Christ Himself, for He hath said: “I was sick, and ye visited Me.” And, “What ye have done unto one of these little ones, ye have done unto Me.” And let the sick themselves remember that they are served for the honour of God, and not grieve the brethren who serve them by unnecessary demands. Yet must they be patiently borne with, because from such as these is gained a more abundant reward. Let it be, therefore, the Abbot’s greatest care that they suffer no neglect. And let a cell be set apart by itself for the sick brethren, and one who is God-fearing, diligent and careful, be appointed to serve them (Rule, ch. 36).
The Declarations on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict of Silverstream Priory are particularly compelling on this point:
The community, for their part, will show their sick brethren the most tender compassion in both word and deed. Believing that, save in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, Our Lord is nowhere more present in the monastery than in the person of a monk brought low by infirmity, the monks will treat him with the greatest charity, making allowance for his weaknesses and bearing his burdens.
Infirmity and sickness are not impediments to fulfilling the monastic vocation, any more than they would be impediments to a married couple’s growth in holiness. Infirmity and sickness can be, in the monastic life as in marriage, the occasion for an exponential growth in charity, that is, in self-sacrificing love.

In Whatever Condition It Will Please the Lord to Place You

To fidelity “in sickness and in health”, the marriage vow adds (in the words of an old French formula) “and in whatever condition it will please the Lord to place you, and that I shall not exchange you for better or worse until the end”. The monk, by vowing stability in a particular monastic family, binds himself in the same way to the community that receives him. He vows to remain faithful to his monastic family “in whatever condition it will please the Lord to place it”, promising that he “shall not exchange it for better or worse until the end”. This means, not only, in sickness, infirmity, and poverty, but also in persecution, exile, war, and famine. The annals of monastic history attest repeatedly to acts of heroic fidelity to the vow of stability. The community, for its part, pledges loyalty to each monk “in whatever condition it will please the Lord to place him”, promising not to exchange him for better or worse until the end”.

Just are there are romantic notions of marriage in which neither spouse never grows sick, or weak, or old, and never loses his or her attractive looks, hearing, memory, and mobility, so too are there romantic notions of monastic life in which the community is fixed in an immutable physical and moral perfection, untouched by illness, weakness, poverty, and persecution. Such romantic notions fail to withstand the message of the verbum Crucis, the message of the Cross. “The word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

In the end, as a monk is confronted with the vicissitudes of life, with his own weaknesses, and with those of his brethren in hac lacrimarum valle, he takes comfort in the words of Christ to the Apostle and makes them, in every way, his own: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Chastened and humbled by the experience of his own infirmity, he begins to say in truth, “By the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me hath not been void” (1 Corinthians 15:10), and again, “Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).

Spiritual Fatherhood

The monk, by abiding in the stability of the monastic family, like the husband and wife, abiding in the stability of matrimony, transcends himself and opens himself to the gift of a supernatural generativity. The journey into a mystic — that is, a hidden — fatherhood is rendered possible by the monk’s fidelity to the grace of monastic consecration “in sickness and in health and in whatever condition it will please the Lord to place him”, and this until death, and even into eternity.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Traditional Ambrosian Mass for the Feast of St Ambrose

Here is a great set of photographs taken on the feast of St Ambrose at the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, the home of the traditional Ambrosian rite. This was a Missa cantata; these photos very nicely illustrate some of the particular customs of the ancient and venerable liturgical Rite named for the Patron Saint of the city of Milan. Our thanks once again to Nicola de’ Grandi, who also served as the MC of this Mass.

Before the Mass proper begins, the celebrant and ministers enter to the singing of a chant called a Psallendum, which is repeated from the end of Lauds. This is followed by a hymn, 12 Kyrie eleisons (6 low and 6 high), and another Psallendum, Gloria Patri, Sicut erat, and the repetition of the second Psallendum. At Gloria Patri, all bow to the Cross, at Sicut erat, to the celebrant, and the procession enters the sanctuary as the Psallendum is repeated.
The thurible has no cover, and is swung in a pattern of circles which keep the coals from flying out!

On a limited number of feast days, including that of St Ambrose, a brief account of the Saint’s life and death, called the Depositio, is read in place of the lesson from the Old Testament. The reader is accompanied by two acolytes, as are the subdeacon and deacon in a solemn Mass.

Rorate Mass This Saturday in Santa Rosa, California

The Cathedral of St Eugene in Santa Rosa, California, will have a candlelit Rorate Mass in the traditional rite on Saturday, December 16th, starting at 6 a.m. The church is located at 2323 Montgomery Drive.

St Lucy - A Saint of the Roman Canon and Caravaggio's Greatest Painting

St Lucy is a Saint of the 3rd century, a virgin martyr who was venerated from the moment of her death and whose feast is celebrated on December 13th in both East and West. An account of her life can be found here.

As with all worthy images intended for use in worship, we see in this portrayal of her by the great 18th century Venetian Tiepolo an account of her story and the characteristics that identify her uniquely. She is shown receiving her final Holy Communion; the instrument of her impending death, the dagger by which she was stabbed in the throat, is placed at the bottom right of the composition, along with her eyes on a plate. This latter symbol is the one most commonly associated with her, although it developed relatively late in the Middle Ages, linked to her name, which is derived from the Latin word for light. (Tiepolo, incidentally is the painter of what in my estimation is the best Immaculate Conception ever painted!)

Other attributes we will see are a palm branch - which is appropriate to all martyrs - as seen in this famous Renaissance period painting by Francesco della Cossa, ca. 1473.
During her passion, the consul Paschasius ordered that she be removed to a brothel and abused until she died. However, teams of men tried but failed to move her. We see this in the painting below in this 15th-century depiction, in which teams of oxen are being used. This is referred to in the Magnificat antiphon for her Second Vespers: “With such great weight did the Holy Spirit set her, that the Virgin of Christ remained unmoved.” (Master of the St Lucy Legend, 1480. Click to enlarge.)
A tradition iconographic image has the saint holding a cross as a sign of martyrdom as in the beautiful fresco.
I finish with Caravaggio and his Burial of St Lucy. This is a late painting done when he was in exile, so to speak, from Rome and living in Sicily, the home of St Lucy. It is an altarpiece, and in my opinion, one of his most brilliant paintings. I do not know if the stylistic development is by accident or design, but regardless, I like the result, which reflects the developing baroque style better than his early work. It is shrouded in more mystery, with disappearing edges, far more numinous monochrome rendering and less colouration than he might have painted in his youth. The composition is brilliant; the arcs formed by the limbs of the two figures in the foreground create a mandorla, which frames the figure of St Lucy. The only bright color is the red robe of a bystander that vertically bisects the mandorla shape, striking to the heart of the martyr.
This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches, and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. (Read it here.) In these, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon - Eucharistic Prayer I - and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate. For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master’s of Sacred Arts, www.Pontifex.University.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Photopost: December 9th Rorate Mass at St Stephen’s Church in Portland, Oregon

Thank you to Daniel Page, the Director of Sacred Music at St Stephen’s Catholic Church in Portland Oregon. The celebrant is Fr Eric Andersen

Substance and Symbol, and Why Life Depends on Such Abstract Ideas

What do you see here?

I’m guessing most of you thought something like this: a clear stream with a rocky bottom and grassy banks, with ripples on the surface revealed by shimmering reflections of the sunlight. Perhaps some of you might have said, “It is a painting of a clear stream...etc.” (The painting, incidentally, is a watercolor by John Singer Sargent.)
How many of you, I wonder, had a first thought like this: I am looking H₂O molecules, silica compounds and carbon compounds?
The scientific analysis of this scene would describe in this way. Science has its place. In fact, scientific analysis, which in its broadest sense means the study of discrete parts of the whole body of Truth, is natural for man; without it, there would be very little knowledge of anything. But the analysis is only useful if we subsequently synthesize, that is, understand it in relation to everything else that we know. We are as inclined to synthesize as we are to analyse, but faculties can be either developed or stifled. I’m guessing that even the most scientifically inclined would, unless specifically asked to give a scientific analysis, look at this scene and describe rocks and stream and grass. 
Put one thing in relation to another, and something new, a relationship, is created out of nothing. Put many things in relation to each other, and we have a network of relationships, which, together with its constituent elements become a community of beings. In this case “a rock.” Philosophically, we call the created entity a “substance” and, for the Christian at least, it is a real thing. Mountains, skies, plants, animals and people are more than simply atoms obeying the laws of physics and chemistry. 
If we see a rock in this picture, this indicates that, whether we are aware of it or not, we recognize the whole to be more than the aggregate of its individual parts. When you put all the silica compounds in that rock in relation to each other, the result is a new entity, something that exists in its own right, something that previously did not exist and is brought into being by virtue of the reality of the relationships between its parts. 
This applies to society as well by the way. It is often said (particularly by Catholic critics) that the American Constitution is flawed because it views man as an individual, and hence wrongly envisions society as the sum of individual actions. I would say that it is not wrong to see society as the sum of its individual parts, rather, that it is an incomplete description. Whether that incompleteness is crucial to the validity of the American Constitution is a discussion for another time and probably another place (I can hear my editor sighing with relief at this point), but my point here is that all beings are simultaneously both individual entities and beings in relation. 
Does it matter what we think we are looking at in such a situation? Not always, but in one crucial way, I would say yes. For without substance, there is no symbolism. And without relation, we have no sense of the symbolic, and our capacity to be in relation to God is eroded, at the very least, and in some cases eradicated.
Here’s why. Take a look at this traditional font:
It is eight-sided to symbolise the Eighth Day of Creation, the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The number 8, communicated through the shape of the font, connects the font to Christ. In so doing, through the symbol of the font, and the baptisms that take place in it, our minds solidify and deepen something that is already true but more dimly perceived, that we are in relation to Christ Himself. 
None of this would be possible if we did not think the number 8, the font, baptism and were real things, and not simply a collection of ideas or random groupings of molecules fluctuating in time, and which are interconnected only in my imagination. If we perceive the font as something real, then we are more like to think the same of what it points to, namely, Christ and all the spiritual realities connected to the font.
Similarly, all of creation, and all the works of man in the culture (depending on how well he makes them) point to God, through their natural relation to Him as Creator and author of inspiration. Without a sense of symbolism, we cannot read the book of Nature. All created things, through their beauty, draw us into and then beyond themselves to the source of all beauty, God. It is natural to us to see this, but this instinct can be both stimulated or dulled by our formation as people.
So what makes us read the world symbolically? I would say that it is not the study of philosophy per se. It is important to understand the philosophical principles that make this so, especially if you want to be a good artist who must know how to make an image that points to a reality. (That is why there are mandatory philosophy classes in the Master’s of Sacred Arts program at Pontifex University.) But I suggest that only rarely will the study of it in a classroom convince the student to take it as a truth to live by. Faith comes first, and philosophy imparts understanding to what is already believed.
It is interesting, for example, how modern physics - natural philosophy - now seems to support the ideas of a traditional philosophy of nature. Fr Norris Clarke, in his wonderful little book The One and the Many, explains how developments in astrophysics (he was writing in the 1980s) seem to support the idea that the universe is not a huge empty space occupied by atoms. First of all, in fact, it looks as though there even less than nothing in a vacuum! Secondly, the universe consists of bodies - substances - interacting at long or short range via relationships between them, and in accordance with the pattern of physical laws. This was fascinating for me because it harmonized even more with my beliefs about physical and spiritual realities. If I had not been a believer, however, I don’t think I would have changed my mind. Instead, I would very likely have done what most non-believing scientists do when faced with anomalies, namely, come up with an alternative hypothesis that is consistent with my atheistic worldview.
I would say instead that is the example of our lives to others, and most powerfully, the worship of God that forms us, so that we are open to believing the truth of this. This is certainly my experience. Long before I had even heard the word “transubstantiation”, I knew there was something special about that wafer of bread because of one trip to Mass. It was the actions of the people at the Brompton Oratory which communicated to me the reverence with which they held it. Later, when I started to participate myself, the same actions reinforced in me the belief with which they are consistent.
The truth of the interrelatedness of all things to each other and God was articulated centuries before Fr Clarke was alive, in Scripture. For example, the Canticle of the Three Children describes how all aspects of Creation give praise to the Lord: “O Let the Earth bless the Lord, praise him and magnify him forever.” At first, this might seem strange. The earth is an inanimate being and cannot praise Him. But it can direct our praise, provided we see it as glorious, and connect that glory to God. The language of the canticle arises from an assumed acceptance of the ideas of symbol and substance on the part of the writer.
By singing this canticle, therefore, in harmony with the three companions of Daniel in the furnace, that we are so formed so as to accept the truths it articulates. In fact, we can go further: we are not only formed, but transformed, purified by the Spirit like precious metal in a crucible. We partake of the divine nature, and through our personal relationship with Christ, enter into the mystery of the Trinity, in relation to the Father in the Spirit.

The theological symbol of the principle that establishes the relatedness of all things to each other, and ultimately to God, is light. Light flows across the divide between beings and communicates to each what it is.
To know something fully, we need more than sunlight can give us, however bright. But the uncreated light, the divine light of heaven, can impart to those who are supernaturally transformed and purified things which are otherwise not knowable. It is by this that we can know God, and see what the world around us reveals of Him.
The Doxology which is sung at Orthros in the Byzantine Rite opens with the phrase “Glory to You, O Giver of Light”, and as part of its conclusion says, “For with You is the Fountain of life, and in Your Light, we shall see light.”
The faithful are seers of light. For them, everything speaks of God, emanating from Him and directing us back to Him. And they participate in this radiance of God themselves shining with the Light of Christ which in turn draws others to Him.
This is why, in my opinion, the core aim of the process of initiation into the Catholic Church must be to make us such “seers.” This requires, therefore, first of all a liturgical catechesis that brings the symbolism and the realities they point to alive. It presupposes, of course, a form of ritual, art, music,  and architecture that speaks symbolically and sacramentally too (a big assumption, I know.)
Once we have this, then it seems to me that all other things come easily for people thus formed. Their faith will deepen every time they go to Mass and their openness to and ability to grasp all other teachings of the Church will be greater. This would involve less work than nearly all Catholic formations that do not operate on this principle, whether RCIA or Catholic high school or college, and it would be more effective.
What I describe would be the stuff of futuristic fantasy...

were it not for the fact that not only is it true,
but it offers us something greater, right here, right now! We can be the seers, ourselves shining with the Light.

New Book on Dominican Lay Brothers, Including their Liturgical Life

Although it might seem that my newly published book on Dominican lay brothers (now called “cooperator brothers”) would have little to do with liturgy, it, like my book on the religious life of the medieval Italian cities, Cities of God, actually has a large liturgical component.

In Dominican Brothers: Conversi, Lay, and Cooperator Friars (Chicago: New Priory Press, 2017), I discuss the pre-Vatican-II “Office” of the brothers, that is, their recitation of differing numbers of Pater nosters during their attendance at the clerics’ choral office, the forms of their suffrages for the dead. and their sacramental and ritual life. In addition, I trace their work as the architects of churches, most famously of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, and as sacristans.  For the early modern period, I trace the central role of the brothers in introducing the common recitation of the Holy Rosary by all the friars in choir.

The book also includes behind-the-scenes descriptions of the debates on the transition from the Latin Divine Office to the nearly universal use of the vernacular, in which the desire to involve the brothers more directly in the liturgical life of the Order played an important role. For this part of the history I draw on unpublished documents in the General Archives of the Order in Rome.

In addition to liturgy, the book describes many other activities of the brothers in social service, the missions, maintaining our houses, and teaching, as well as their countless martyrs in Asia, Eastern Europe, and during the Spanish Civil War. The image on the cover shows the two most famous Dominican brother Saints, Martin de Porres on the left and Juan Macias on the right.

This book would make a very suitable Christmas gift for any Dominican priest or brother. Dominican Brothers can be ordered here.

Rorate Mass This Saturday in Jersey City, NJ

The church of St Anthony of Padua in Jersey City, New Jersey, will have a Rorate Mass in the traditional rite celebrated by candlelight this coming Saturday, December 16th, starting at 6am. The church is located on Monmouth Street between 6th and 7th St.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hand-drawn Altar Cards by Daniel Mitsui

Daniel Mitsui is an artist quite well known to readers of NLM for his exquisite work in calligraphy and iconography. He was recently commissioned to produce a set of altar cards and went at it with his customary thoroughness, ingenuity, love of detail, and delight in the Gothic aesthetic. I received a set of these cards to examine, and I must say that they are simply stunning. The overall design is harmonious and pleasing to the eye; the font comes across as strong, slightly ornate, and yet highly legible; the illuminated initials add considerable interest; and the iconographic program followed in the ample margins is a microcosm of the entire liturgical year and indeed the history of salvation. As a teacher, I found myself thinking, “I could teach a catechism course just using these altar cards.” More to the point, they embody the entire Catholic theology of the sacred liturgy.

Here are some photos; afterwards I shall quote the artist’s explanation of the iconographic program.

The central altar card (16" x 20"), with my hand for the sake of scale:

(A straight-up JPG of this card may be accessed here.)

The Gospel card and Lavabo card (each 9" × 12").

(Again, JPGs of the above two cards may be found here and here.)

The Lavabo card with my hand, for scale:

Some details of the central card:

Two details from the Gospel card:

The artist’s website offers a full explanation of the choice and arrangement of scenes, which evince a deep grasp of liturgical symbolism and patristic commentary.
The Gospel side card contains the beginning of the Gospel of St. John (In principio erat Verbum), and the pictures on it reflect the themes of Creation and Incarnation. Running down the left border and across the bottom, a series of eight small scenes illustrate the six days of Creation, with the Creation of Adam and the Creation of Eve depicted individually. Following the older iconographic tradition, and the words of the Gospel itself (Omnia per ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipse factum est nihil, quod factum est), the Creator depicted in these miniatures is God the Son. The preaching of John the Baptist appears in the historiated initial.
          In the bottom corners I drew the Annunciation and the Nativity of Jesus Christ, which begin a sequence of events in the life of Christ that runs across the bottoms of all three cards.
          It continues on the Epistle side card, with the Adoration of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ. The historiated initial and the eight small scenes depict nine of the prophecies read at the ancient ceremonies of the Easter Vigil: the Deluge and Noah’s Ark, Pharaoh’s army drowned in the Red Sea, a prophecy of Isaiah, a prophecy of Baruch, Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, another prophecy of Isaiah, the repentance of Nineveh, the Canticle of Moses and Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego in the furnace. These prophecies are associated with Baptism, and thus fitting to the psalm on the card (Lavabo inter innocentes).
          On the central card, in each of the four corners is the scene of an Old Testament prefigurement of the Eucharistic sacrifice: the Sacrifice of Abel, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the Sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb and the Sacrifice of Melchizedek. Three of these are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass; two of them, together with the Creation depicted on the Gospel cards and the nine prophecies depicted on the Epistle card, complete the twelve prophecies of the Easter Vigil.
          Running along the bas-de-page are six scenes from the life of Christ: the Temptation in the desert, the Transfiguration, the Last Supper, His washing St. Peter’s feet, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The historiated initials that begin the Gloria and Credo contain, respectively, pictures of the Annunciation to the Shepherds and the Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. I drew a large picture of the Crucifixion at the top of the central column of text.
          The arrangement of scenes summarizes the liturgical year: the Gospel card represents Advent, as the Preaching of John the Baptist is the subject of the Gospel reading for the 3rd and 4th Sundays, and the Annunciation Gospel is read on the Ember Wednesday. Advent of course concludes with the Nativity, which begins the Christmas season.
          Continuing in chronological order to the Epistle side card, the Adoration of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ represent Epiphany; both are manifestations of Jesus Christ’s divinity. The two scenes below the left column on the central card have a longstanding iconographic association, being recounted in the Gospel readings for the first two Sundays of Lent. In the central column of the central card, the Last Supper, the washing of feet, an the large Crucifixion together represent the Holy Triduum, the center of the liturgical year. The images in the next column (Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost) represent the Easter and Pentecost seasons.
          On the left and right borders of the central card I drew standing figures of six saints. On the left are the first three mentioned in the Confiteor: the Blessed Virgin Mary, Michael the Archangel and John the Baptist. On the right are three more mentioned in the Libera nos: the Apostles Peter, Paul and Andrew. 
You have to see these cards to believe them. I am looking forward to framing this set for local liturgical use. I would certainly recommend these altar cards to priests, deacons, and any laity who are looking for a special Christmas gift for your TLM-celebrating clergy.

The commissioned set was drawn in ink on calfskin vellum with gold and palladium leaf details, and hand lettering. What I have photographed here is an open-edition giclée print on Lexjet archival matte paper, with a custom typeface, Benedict, utilized instead of handwritten letters, to improve readability.

The cards may be ordered directly from the artist.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: