Friday, December 14, 2018

Gaudete and Rorate Photopost Request 2018

Our next major photopost will be for Masses on Gaudete Sunday, featuring your rose-colored vestments, as well as Rorate Masses, in either Form of the Roman Rite or the Ordinariate Rite. We will be very glad to include anything else from your Advent celebrations, such as Vespers, Masses of Our Lady of Guadalupe etc. Let’s see if we can match the last two years, 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!

From our first Gaudete and Rorate photopost last year, the altar set up for a Rorate Mass at the church of St Gianna Beretta Molla in Northfield, New Jersey.
From the second post, the altar set up for Gaudate Sunday at the church of St Paul in Birkirkara, Malta.
From the third post, a newly ordained priest celebrates his first Mass on Gaudete Sunday at the FSSP’s Roman parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Station Churches of Advent

In the penitential season of Advent, the church of Rome traditionally kept stations at various churches, where the Pope himself would celebrate the principal Mass, as in the other major penitential season of Lent. The Advent stations, however, were created later than those of Lent, (which are extremely ancient), and differ from them in some key respects. Seven stations are kept at only four churches, namely, St Mary Major, Holy Cross ‘in Jerusalem’, St Peter’s, and the church of the Twelve Apostles; such repetitions are few and far between in Lent. Apart from the three Ember Days, the ferias of Advent have no proper Mass or station, whereas every day of Lent has both a proper Mass and a station. The churches of Roman martyrs, which predominate on the list of Lenten stations, are not included at all in Advent. Most particularly, the connections between the actual texts of the liturgy and the choice of station are far more oblique in Advent, and in some cases, more evident in the Divine Office of the season than they are in the Mass.
The choice of station for the first Sunday is an obvious one, the basilica of St Mary Major, Rome’s principal and oldest church of the Mother of God. This is also the station for the Mass of Christmas Eve, and the first Mass of Christmas itself; at a later period, the third Mass was transferred here from its original station at St Peter’s. The liturgy of Advent looks forward not only to the first coming of Christ as Savior, but also to His Second Coming at the end of the world as Judge. Therefore, the first Gospel of the liturgical year, St Luke 21, 25-33, in which Christ speaks of the signs that will precede the Second Coming, is read in the same place where the Church will later proclaim His Birth “in the fullness of time.” The Introit of this Mass begins with the words of Psalm 24 “To Thee have I lifted up my soul,” and may perhaps be chosen in reference to the words of the Virgin Mary herself which are said every day at Vespers, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” It should also be noted that the Post-communion prayer of this Mass begins with a citation of Psalm 47, the same words that begin the final Mass of the Christmas season as the Introit of the feast of Our Lady’s Purification: “May we receive Thy mercy, o Lord, in the midst of Thy temple.” (They are also sung as the fourth antiphon of Matins on Christmas Day.)
The Annunciation, by Jacopo Torriti, ca. 1295, from the apse of Santa Maria Maggiore.
As I have described in another article, in the traditional lectionary of the Roman Rite, around which much of the stational observance is constructed, the Gospel of the Annunciation is not read until Advent is more than half over. In the Divine Office, on the other hand, there are several citations of it on the very first day, among them, the antiphons of the Benedictus and Magnificat. On the great majority of Sundays, these antiphons are taken from the day’s Gospel; the station at the Virgin Mary’s most important church may be reason why for those of the first Sunday are taken from St Luke’s account of the Annunciation. This Gospel is also cited in several of the Matins responsories and various antiphons of the first Sunday and week of Advent.
We might expect the station to be held at Holy Cross in Jerusalem on the third Sunday of Advent, since Gaudete Sunday, as it often called, is the Advent parallel of Laetare Sunday in Lent; on the latter, the station is indeed kept there. Instead, the church of Rome visits the relics of the True Cross already on the second Sunday; perhaps, as the Blessed Ildephonse Schuster writes, to remind us that Christ came as man so that He might die as a man for our salvation. (The Sacramentary, vol. 1, p. 323) In many Roman churches, this union of the two holy cities, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, is depicted in the apsidal mosaics, where they are placed on opposite sides at the lowest part, a traditional begun in the mosaics of St. Mary Major.
The Finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, apsidal fresco of Holy Cross ‘in Jerusalem’, variously attributed to Antoniazzo Romano or Marco Palmezzano, later 15th century. Notice that the artist has kept to the very ancient Roman tradition of showing the two holy cities on either side of the work; the same motif can be seen in the fifth-century mosaics of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the twelfth-century mosaics of San Clemente.
The station is referred to in the Introit of the Mass, “O people of Sion, behold the Lord will come to save the nations”, Sion being of course another name for Jerusalem; and likewise in the communion antiphon, a rare citation of the prophet Baruch, “Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high, and behold the joy that shall come to thee from thy God.” At Matins of this same Sunday, five of the nine responsories refer to the holy city of Our Lord’s Passion, three of them speaking to it as a person, such as this, the first: “Jerusalem, thy salvation shall swiftly come, why art thou consumed with grief? Hast thou no counselor, that thy sorrow is renewed in thee? I will save thee and deliver thee, fear thou not. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.”
The choice of station for Gaudete Sunday may also seem rather counterintuitive; on the only Sunday whose Introit is taken from the epistles of St Paul, we might expect it to be kept at the church which guards his tomb, St Paul’s outside-the-Walls. Instead, the station is kept at St Peter’s, formerly the station for the principal Mass of Christmas Day; as the church of Rome proclaims “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men, for the Lord is nigh”, it anticipates the joy of the Savior’s birth in the place where it will be most solemnly celebrated in less than two weeks’ time.
Saint Paul, holding the sword of his martyrdom, and Saint Peter handing the keys to Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47). These are the central panels of a set of doors made for the old Saint Peter’s Basilica by the Florentine sculptor Antonio di Pietro Averlino, usually referred to as “Filarete”, Greek for “one who loves excellence.” Commissioned by Pope Eugenius, and completed in 1445, they were saved from the demolition of the ancient church in the 16th century, and eventually placed in a new frame as the central doors of the new church. Beneath these panels are depicted the deaths of the two Apostles.
In a certain sense, however, the basilica of St Peter in the Vatican is also dedicated to St Paul. The liturgy of Rome always remembers the two Apostles together, not only in their joint feast on June 29th, but also by adding to feasts such as that of Peter’s Chains or the Conversion of Paul a commemoration of the other Apostolic founder of the church in the Eternal City. This tradition was reflected in the art of the old St Peter’s Basilica, in which nearly every image of St Peter was accompanied by one of St Paul. In the modern basilica, on the other hand, there are many images of its titular Saint, but hardly any of St Paul; its decorative program, conceived in the Counter-Reformation, answers the Protestant rejection of the Pope’s authority by laying much greater emphasis on Peter alone.
The ninth responsory of this Sunday, taken from the beginning of the second chapter of Isaiah, may also be an oblique reference to the station at St Peter’s. “The Lord will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Come, let us go up to the mountain (ad montem) of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob.” The modern buildings around St Peter’s, and the massive new basilica itself, largely hide the fact that the Vatican is really a hill; in antiquity, the hills in and around Rome were usually called “mons – mountain” rather than “collis – hill.” The “ways” and “paths” may be a reference to the three ancient roads, Cornelia, Aurelia Nova and Triumphalis, which ran close to the place of St Peter’s death in the Circus of Nero, and the nearby Vatican Necropolis where he was buried. “The Lord will teach us” and “the law will come forth” would then refer to St Peter’s God-given role as the first Pope and teacher of the Apostolic faith.
A section of the Forma Urbis Romae by Rodolfo Lanciani (1893-1901), showing the ancient basilica of St Peter and its conjectured relationship to ancient constructions nearby. The Circus of Nero, where St Peter was crucified, is shown on the south side of the basilica; its precise size and location are unknown. Modern structures, including the current basilica, are shown in red.
The stations of the Ember Days are the same in all four seasons of the year, being held on Wednesday at St Mary Major, Friday at the church of the Twelve Apostles, and on Saturday at St Peter’s. The Mass of Ember Wednesday commemorates the Incarnation in preparation for the Lord’s Nativity, joining to the Gospel of the Annunciation the famous prophecy of Isaiah that a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son; the station is therefore most appropriately held at St Mary Major. The station of Ember Friday at the church of the Twelve Apostles, on the other hand, has no obvious connection to any part of the day’s liturgy; the 12th century liturgical commentator Rupert of Deutz, after noting that the reason behind the choice of station is “quite obscure”, ingeniously finds a reference to it in the Communion of the Mass, “Behold the Lord will come, and all his Saints with Him, and there will be on that day a great light.” “This clearly refers to the glorification of these same Apostles, who will come with Him in the Second Coming unto judgment.” (De Divinis Officiis III, 9)
The Embertides were originally the privileged season for ordinations, and those of Advent, being the oldest, were once the only season in which Holy Orders were conferred. On Ember Wednesday, a procession of all the clergy and people was held, similar to those which took place every day of Lent, from St Peter in Chains to St Mary Major, where the formal announcement was made of those who would be ordained to the priesthood. On Ember Saturdays, five prophecies are read before the Epistle and the Gospel, a total of seven readings. Tonsure was conferred after the Kyrie, and minor orders each after one of the first four readings, porters first, then lectors, exorcists and acolytes. Subdeacons were ordained after the fifth reading, (which is the same on each of the four Ember Saturdays), and deacons after the epistle; priestly ordination was then given after the next-to-last verse of the tract, so that nothing, not even the solemn rites of Holy Orders, might detract from the singing of the Gospel as the culmination of the Mass of the Catechumens. In this case, then, it is not the texts of the Mass or Office that determines the station, nor the station that determines the texts. The station is held at the tomb of the Apostle Peter to express the union of every member of the Roman clergy, from the lowliest porter to the archpriest of the cathedral, with Peter’s successor, the Pope. (pictured right - St. Peter ordains St. Stephen a Deacon, detail; from the Chapel of Nicolas V by Fra Angelico, 1447-9)
In Rupert of Deutz’s time, no station had been assigned to the fourth Sunday of Advent, a fact which he explains by saying that the mystery of the Incarnation, with which this Sunday is principally occupied, is too great to be entrusted to any one of Christ’s Saints. (ibid., cap. 12). The later addition of a station at the church of the Twelve Apostles, where one had just been held two days before, seems also to be connected to the previous day’s ordinations. In this church, Peter is also honored, but as one of the company of Christ’s closest disciples; their head, to be sure, but as Pope St Leo the Great writes, the power of the keys “passed also to the other Apostles, and to all the princes of the Church.” (sermon 4, 3) As the Apostles, and those ordained by them, all collaborated in the same mission under the leadership of St Peter, so do the clergy of Rome, ordained by the Pope, all collaborate with him as their head. Hence also the epistle of this Sunday begins, “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God.” These ministers and dispensers of the mysteries are the Apostles, and their successors in the clergy; once upon a time, these words were the very first sentence of the Sacred Scriptures to be read at every priest’s first Sunday Mass, at least according to the liturgical use of Rome.
The Tomb of the Apostles Ss Philip and James, in the crypt of the church of the Twelve Apostles. The church was originally dedicated to just Ss Philip and James, and later to all Twelve, perhaps in imitation of the Apostoleion of Constantinople. Photograph by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.
This reading is the beginning of the fourth chapter of I Corinthians, in which St Paul goes on say “For I think that God hath set forth us Apostles, the last, as it were, men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake … Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode; and we labor, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer.” On various feasts of the Apostles, parts of this chapter are read as the epistle; it was later chosen as the Scriptual lesson for the common of Apostles in the Breviary of St Pius V.

Immaculate Conception Photopost 2018

Once again, we are very grateful to everyone who sent in their photographs of liturgies celebrated on the Immaculate Conception. We begin with two of the most recently established American apostolates of the FSSP, in Providence, Rhode Island and the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken; both churches are dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Our next photopost will be of both Gaudete Sunday and Rorate Masses; a reminder will be posted on Friday. (Last year, we got up to three; let’s see if we can match or beat that!)

St Mary’s - Providence, Rhode Island (FSSP)

St Mary’s - Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (FSSP, Archdiocese of Philadelphia)
The Mass of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated like a Rorate Mass, early in the morning, and by candlelight. (Photos courtesy of Alison Girone.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A High School Choir Sings Two Pontifical Liturgies in One Day

We are very glad to share this article about a high school choir which recently sang both an EF Pontifical Mass and a Byzantine hierarchical liturgy in a single day. The choir in question is that of The Lyceuma college preparatory school in South Euclid, Ohio, which follows a traditional classical curriculum, and, as you can read below, has a strong music program. We can all be grateful to see such examples of young people giving their best and working very hard indeed for the worthy celebration of the liturgy. Our thanks to headmaster Luke Macik and academic dean Mark Langley, the author of this piece, for permission to reproduce it; it was originally published on Mr Langley’s blog The Lion and the Ox.

In what might be a new world record, or perhaps simply a first of its kind choral accomplishment, the fifty-five voice Lyceum Choir sang back to back liturgies – one in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, celebrated by Cardinal Raymond Burke, and the other in a Hierarchical Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite, celebrated by Bishop Milan Lach, S.J.!

Now I have been a choir director for about thirty years and have had numerous occasions where I have been asked to prepare choirs for this or that solemn liturgy, at which this or that Bishop would be celebrating. Every such occasion is exciting for a choir, and of course these opportunities are events for which ordinarily a choir will attempt to do its very best. Of course cathedral and basilica choirs are habituated to such events. That is why many of them consist of both volunteer and professional choristers among their ranks.

The students of The Lyceum Choir know that they are primarily singing ad maiorem Dei gloriam, but it’s not every day that one gets to sing with a Cardinal in the morning and a Bishop in the afternoon!
As it was the feast of The Immaculate Conception, and as Cardinal Burke had been invited to celebrate the Mass at the gorgeous Immaculate Conception Church in Cleveland, we knew we had to meet such an occasion with every ounce of preparation we could muster. After all, this was a visit by the highest ranking Church prelate to the church since its cornerstone was laid in 1878!
The students arrived an hour early to warm up for the 10 AM Mass in high spirits. Although the church itself is fairly large, its architect did not envision both a pipe organ and a fifty-five voice choir in the loft. Consequently we made the decision to locate the choir in the last four rows at the back of the church. Given that the church was packed, this was no easy feat.

Ordinariate Events in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania and Louisville, Kentucky

The church of St John the Baptist in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, (in the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area), a church of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, will have choral Evensong and Benediction this Friday evening, starting at 7:30 p.m. The church is located at 502 Ford St.

On Saturday, December 15th, at 6:30 p.m. Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Louisville Kentucky, and the Ordinariate Community of Our Lady of Saint John, will co-host a Christmas Lessons & Carols service, featuring the Choir of Saint Martin’s singing works by Palestrina, Rheinberger, Victoria, Bruckner, and Poulenc, as well as many favorite Christmas carols. This event is free and open to all ages. A light reception will follow in the parish hall; the church is located at 639 South Shelby St.

Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Byzantine Rite

The churches of the Byzantine Rite are, unsurprisingly, as almost as cautious about adding new feasts (very rarely) as they are about suppressing old ones (never.) Nevertheless, after Pope St John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas in 1999, the Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church added Her feast to its liturgical calendar. This represents a wonderful opportunity for the Byzantine churches to share the riches of their liturgical tradition with their fellow Catholics of Hispanic descent, all of whom are of course of the Roman Rite.

An icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, painted by Christine Uveges of Eikona Studios of Cleveland, for St Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Churh in Whiting, Indiana, a church of the Eparchy of Parma, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Laura Ieraci. Notice that the Greek letters ΜΡ ΘΥ have been added to either side of the Virgin’s head; these are the abbreviations of the Greek words for Mother of God.
The Byzantine Rite does not have Advent as a formally delineated liturgical season, but it does traditonally keep a fast in preparation for Christmas, which begins after the feast of St Philip the Apostle on November 14. (This is very close to the beginning of Advent in the Ambrosian and Mozarabic Rites.) However, there are many liturgical texts used in the period which refer to the approach of Christmas, and the troparion of the feast, the first of the two proper hymns sung at the Divine Liturgy, refers to this tradition. (From the website of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh; h/t to Fr James Rooney OP.)

Tropar When you appeared in the New World, O Theotokos, you fixed your image on Juan Diego’s rose-laden tilma. All the poor, hungry, and oppressed seek you, Lady of Guadalupe. We gaze upon your miraculous icon and find hope, crying out to your Son concealed in your womb: Hear our plea for justice, O most merciful Lord.

The second hymn, the Kontakion, speaks of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s role in the evangelization of the New World and the victory of Christianity over the native pagan religions. (The cathedral of Mexico City, which is also dedicated to Our Lady, is built over the site of the principal temple of the Aztecs’ capital, in which they practiced human sacrifice on an unimaginable scale.)

Kontakion No longer shall the New World lie wounded in useless blood-sacrifice, for she who is clothed with the sun has revealed the Son to us. O Mother of the Americas, imprint his name upon our hearts, just as you wove your image into the cactus cloth. Teach your children to cry out: O Christ God, our hope, glory to you!

The website linked above also provides a complete set of proper texts for the celebration of Vespers. The last of these beautifully unites the words spoken by the Virgin to St Juan Diego in the original apparition on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531 to some of the classic rhetorical phrases of the Byzantine tradition.

Aposticha “Listen, my most beloved children; the things that afflict you are nothing! For I have given birth to the Conqueror of Hades, the Lord who removes the sting of Death. Let not your faces be abashed, let not your hearts be disturbed. Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Then return to the Lord and He will make all things new!”

Rorate Masses This Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama and Tampa, Florida

The cathedral of St Paul in Birmingham, Alabama, will hold a Rorate Mass in the traditional Rite on Saturday, December 15th, beginning at 6:15 a.m. The church is locates at 2120 3rd Ave North.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross, located at the Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida, (4701 North Himes Avenue,) will hold a Rorate Mass in the traditional Rite on December 15, starting at 6:30 a.m. The men of the St Dunstan Schola will sing the Mass chants, and the boys of the Archconfraternity of St Stephen and Jesuit High School will serve at the Altar. The chapel will be open at 5am for private prayer and devotions; pamphlets with the texts of the Mass will be available at the door. Jesuit High School is happy to collaborate with the community and clergy of Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church and the Latin Mass Society of Tampa Bay to host this beautiful liturgy in our newly dedicated Chapel.

The high altar of the chapel of Holy Cross; from our post in August about the chapel’s dedication.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Book Announcement: Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy by Yves Chiron

A proper review of this book will be coming along shortly at NLM from our contributor Matthew Hazell, but it seemed a good idea, especially in the Christmas season, to let our readers know about one of the great publishing events of the decade: the first full-length "scientific" biography of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini. Until now, the only biographies available have been short (usually hagiographical) accounts by Bugnini's disciples and friends, or the lengthy (and definitely hagiographical) writings left by Bugnini himself. No professional historian has tackled this important and intricate figure until Yves Chiron did so in Annibale Bugnini (1912-1982): Réformateur de la liturgie, which appeared at the beginning of 2016. Thanks to the diligence of John Pepino and Angelico Press, an English edition has now been released. Below is the publisher's announcement.
*          *          *
Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy
Yves Chiron
Foreword by Alcuin Reid
214 pages, 5.5 × 8.5 in
978-1-62138-411-3 (paper) $17.95
978-1-62138-412-0 (cloth) $26.00

In this book, French historian Yves Chiron turns his attention to one of the most influential figures of 20th-century Catholicism: Annibale Bugnini, guiding spirit of liturgical reform in the period surrounding the Second Vatican Council. Highly controversial in his day, and down to the present, Bugnini has attracted high praise from his disciples and vilification from his detractors—but all agree that without his energetic organizational skills and access to the levers of power, the most extensive overhaul of the Roman Catholic liturgy in the history of the Church would not have taken place as it did.

Yet who was Bugnini, really? What were his formative experiences, personal ideals, intellectual assumptions, practical aims? How did he accomplish so much in so short a time? Why, after such a singular collaboration with Pope Paul VI, did he suddenly fall from grace and suffer exile? Should he be remembered as liturgiae amator et cultor, lover and servant of the liturgy (his epitaph), or as the éminence grise of an unscrupulous reinvention of Catholic worship? Can we cut through the legendary, the polemical, and the partisan, to arrive at a clear portrait of the man and his work?

Until now, there has been no biography that makes extensive use of all available documentary sources, including Bugnini’s own memoirs, Vatican publications, private correspondence, interviews, articles, and lectures. The present book has filled this lacuna with the scholarly care and dispassionate analysis for which the author’s books are praised at all points on the ecclesiastical spectrum.

“Yves Chiron’s incredible work reads like a novel and is one of the best introductions to the detailed history of the reform of the Latin rite.” — FR. MATTHEW S. C. OLVER, Nashotah House Theological Seminary

“A perceptive portrait of the personalities, ideas, and events that remain central to questions surrounding the sacred liturgy even now, decades after the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missæ.” — JENNIFER DONELSON, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie

“Chiron’s study is invaluable for anyone interested in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council and the history of the liturgical reform.” — THOMAS CATTOI, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

“As the reform of the Roman Rite continues to be a part of the ordinary life of the Church, Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy provides an important and necessary perspective.” — REV. GERALD DENNIS GILL, Rector, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

“An important contribution to English-speaking students of modern liturgical history.” — TIMOTHY P. O’MALLEY, University of Notre Dame

“Yves Chiron’s biography is an enlightening and fair treatment of a significant and interesting personality.” — WILLIAM P. MAHRT, Stanford University

“A dependable summary of the Consilium’s work that will be useful to any scholar in the field.” — REV. CHRISTIAAN KAPPES, Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius

About the Author
Yves Chiron, born in the Gard (Southern France) in 1960, obtained his degree in advanced studies in the History of Religions and Religious Anthropology at the University of Paris IV. After writing an authoritative biography of Edmund Burke, he turned his attention to modern Church history and has written biographies of Pius IX, Pius X, Pius XI, and Paul VI as well as works on the process of beatification and canonization. He lives in a small village in the Vendée.

A Beautiful Contemporary Anglo-Byzantine (Romanesque) Style Icon

Here is a recently completed icon of the Harrowing of Hell, by Peter Murphy. Peter is an English iconographer who paints in a neo-Romanesque style reminiscent of the illuminated manuscripts of that period. He also teaches, and for those who are on the left-hand side of the pond, he has been making regular trips to teach summer workshops for the Sacred Arts Guild of Alberta in Calgary.

This is based upon an image in the St Albans Psalter from about 1130 AD.
I think I prefer Peter’s version. The subtle depiction of the rotation of the head, shoulders, and hips relative to each other in each figure reads particularly well. It is anatomically accurate while still remaining within the stylistic constraints of the tradition.

There is one modification of the image that caught my eye, in the upper section where the flames of hell shoot out from holes in the canopy that contains it. The original had four flames, where Peter’s has three. I spoke to Peter about it, and he modified the number for artistic reasons; it created a better balance within his composition. I think this was a good choice. However, inadvertently, it created a connection for me as I was meditating upon it, which, now that I have seen this, I would choose to make more explicit if I was to paint this image in the future.

It struck me that through Christ, the flames that burn in the hell of the damned are the purging flames of the Holy Spirit prior to the bodily resurrection for the saved. This would be the case regardless of how many flames there are, but I made the connection in my mind because I thought of the image of the three figures in the fiery furnacem which I wrote about here. The three figures sang the canticle of praise that is used at Lauds on feast days.

If we were to emphasize this connection, we might choose to have four flames too. In the original narrative in the Book of Daniel, a fourth figure appears whose identity is not given and who is sometimes identified as an angel, or as John the Baptist (who can be referred to as an angel) or even as a pre-incarnational appearance of Christ. Here is the fresco in the Catacombs in Rome which appears in reproduction in the Catechism.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Consecrated Buildings and Their Officially Sponsored Profanation

The back of the monastery chapel in Norcia
The Rule of St. Benedict has as one of its many virtues the ability to capture an entire vision of things in one lapidary phrase. There is not a single wasted word; what Benedict means to say, he says with vigor, brevity, and clarity. A splendid example is chapter 52, “Of the Oratory of the Monastery,” where the Patriarch writes:
Let the oratory be what its name implies, and let nothing else be done or kept there. When the Work of God is finished, let all go out in deep silence, and let reverence for God be observed, so that any brother who may wish to pray privately be not hindered by another’s misbehavior. And at other times also, if anyone wish to pray secretly, let him just go in and pray: not in a loud voice, but with tears and fervor of heart. He, therefore, who does not behave so, shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory when the Work of God is ended, lest he should, as we have said, be a hindrance to another. [1]
I have often wished that this text would be carved into wood or stone and mounted at the door of every Catholic church throughout the world, printed in every bulletin, and preached from every pulpit, with such unfailing regularity that the pervasive anteliturgical and postliturgical chitchat by which the reverent silence of the temple of God is globally snatched away Sunday after Sunday might begin to be suppressed and reduced to naught. I don’t know if it would work, but I’ve often wondered why so few pastors ever make the attempt to restore “deep silence” to our churches. It may have to do with a sinking feeling that the good habits of preconciliar days are gone forever and will not return among the cellphone barbarians in the pews; it may have to do with a simple loss of belief in the church as a sacred place. Considering that many suburban churches fall somewhere along the spectrum between a Jet Propulson Laboratory and a beige-carpeted athletics facility, it may not be surprising that the sense of sacrality is absent, even eradicated.

Earlier in the Rule, in chapter 19, “On the Discipline of Psalmody,” St. Benedict bears witness to the dignity of the church and of the opus Dei that takes place in it, deducing thence what our inner and outer attitudes should be:
We believe that God is present everywhere and that the eyes of the Lord in every place behold the good and the evil (Prov. 15, 3); but let us especially believe this without any doubting when we are performing the Divine Office. Therefore, let us ever remember the words of the prophet: Serve ye the Lord in fear (Ps. 2, 11); and again, Sing ye wisely (Ps. 46, 8); and, In the sight of the angels will I sing to thee (Ps. 137, 2). Let us then consider how we ought to behave ourselves in the presence of God and his angels, and so sing the psalms that mind and voice may be in harmony. [2] 
This text helps us to grasp two lessons: the sacred liturgy is the time when, by God’s own design and good pleasure, we are most of all held to be standing in His divine Presence, yielding up our minds and hearts to Him; and the oratory or church in which we are doing this “Work of God” is a place like no other, a place consecrated for the sole purpose of worshiping God. In a well-known passage, Augustus Welby Pugin conveys this point with Victorian lavishness:
[The church] is, indeed, a sacred place; the modulated light, the gleaming tapers, the tombs of the faithful, the various altars, the venerable images of the just, — all conspire to fill the mind with veneration, and to impress it with the sublimity of Christian worship. And when the deep intonations of the bells from the lofty campaniles, which summon the people to the house of prayer, have ceased, and the solemn chant of the choir swells through the vast edifice — cold, indeed, must be the heart of that man who does not cry out with the Psalmist, Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae, et locum habitationis gloriae tuae. [3]
Drawing on the insights of Benedict and Pugin, we might state this principle: The church building is the most sacred space we have; as a result, it is there that we will learn — or not learn — the meaning of the very distinction between sacred and profane. If there is not a strong sense, upon entering a church, of passing from one domain to another, of leaving the world (to some extent) and entering a different realm, of going from an earth-bound atmosphere in which we are at ease to a celestial temple that calls forth reverential fear, I am afraid there will usually be nothing else that offers an equally powerful communication of the distinction. There are, to be sure, other ways to evoke the distinction, such as the sound of Gregorian chant even in a Mass celebrated outdoors or in a humble tent; but the sacred space, the “oratory,” is normally the most obvious, impressive, durable, stable, all-encompassing sign of the sacred that we have. It either says to you: “This is God’s house, where you will meet Him in a special way — tread quietly, watch and pray”; or it says “This is just a building, where you can amble around, talk, text, take selfies, joke, sleep, or eat a snack.”

Selfie in a church
Eminent liturgical theologian Msgr. Nicola Bux writes in his book No Trifling Matter: Taking the Sacraments Seriously Again (a book I highly recommend):
Jacob understood, once awakened from sleep: “Indeed, the Lord is in this place.” He became conscious of the fact, he was afraid, and said: “How awe-inspiring is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven.” [4] The divine presence pushes the patriarch to fashion the stone, on which he had slept and received the dream, into a stele, the primitive altar, and to anoint it on top. We would say: to consecrate it. God, in fact, had established his abode, his house; for this reason he changed the name and called that place Bethel, in Hebrew, house of God. That stone founded the house of God.
          Consecration renders the Lord always present in a place made by human hands, and increases reverent fear and devotion for the abode and house of God. Consecration changes the designated use of the place: it cannot be used for profane purposes.
          But unfortunately today things are not always like that! And so God leaves us, is not with us, does not protect and accompany us in the journey of life, does not feed us, does not make us return safe and sound to our home. [5]
Later on, Bux speaks at greater length of the grave significance of the consecration of a church — something that changes it objectively and permanently. His words are worth quoting in full:
Though much emphasized as regards the effects and the changes it calls forth in the place that has been chosen for the purpose, the dedication of a building to Christian worship is very quickly forgotten these days: in fact, one is frequently present at the profanation of everything that was offered to the Lord with such a rite.
          In the Ordinary Form of 1977, the Mass of dedication underlines the will of the ecclesial community to dedicate the new building to divine worship, in an exclusive and perpetual way. In particular, the presence of the sacrament and the altar do not permit any other use; in fact they are there to recall to us that the church is the sign of the heavenly sanctuary where Jesus Christ has penetrated, in order to appear before the sight of God on our behalf (Heb. 9, 24).
          Liturgists would say that for the sake of the truth of the sign, a church cannot be employed for purposes other than worship, on pain of gravely offending the Lord to whom it has been offered. Besides, its dedication is rightly commemorated every year on the anniversary day, especially within the church that was consecrated. It is therefore a grave error that, in practice, the consecration we have just described is emptied of meaning in our day by the actions of priests themselves, with the holding of events incompatible with the sacred place: concerts, performances, ballets, meetings of every type, which at one time were done outside or “in front of the temple,” as the Latin word pro-fanum recalls; the phenomenon of using churches for concerts of not only sacred but also profane music seems unstoppable. Acts that are not sacred, and normally done elsewhere, bring with them a profanation of the church.
          Welcome cannot be given to profane actions of this type, or to any others, in the place where the divine mysteries are celebrated. How is it possible that bishops and priests have forgotten that such a place as that, so often built with sacrifice by the faithful, has been “dedicated” — a word that recalls the act with which something very personal is offered to someone who is loved. To dedicate something means that it is no longer mine, but his. If I were to take it back, that would be a betrayal. It is a grave matter, because we take from God that which is his, what we ourselves had sworn we would give him. The rite itself of dedication shows that it is a kind of oath or vow, that is, a sacred act. What need is there for such solemnity, if afterwards the sacred place is employed for profane uses?
          Liturgists exalt the rite of dedication, but in contradiction with that, they go silent and speak not a word in the face of the transformation of churches into multi-purpose halls. This is worse than what was done by totalitarian atheist regimes, which had transformed these places into theaters, gymnasiums, and stores. It is a very serious phenomenon, because it means, first, that the sense of the church as a place offered to God, for the worship owed him, has been lost; we have consecrated something, and then we take it back in order to do purely human things there. In the second place, we favor in this way the eclipse of the divine presence, because in the church we practice activities proper to a theater or an auditorium, such as speaking, eating, applauding, and other attitudes typical of places of entertainment. When a church becomes a theater where people laugh, applaud, and shout, it then becomes difficult to demand, for the same place, the proper attitudes for worship: listening, recollection, silence, adoration, because the conviction that one is standing in a versatile locale has taken root. That conviction leads to obscuring the principal and characteristic function of a church, which is adoration, and to prohibiting kneeling for prayer, either when the liturgy is being celebrated in the church, or outside the liturgy. But in reality, the church remains a place of presence and prayer, and of silence, even when there is no liturgy being celebrated. [6]

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Notices for New York and Chicago

Annunciation Church in Crestwood, New York, will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th with a Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form, at which Victoria’s Missa O quam gloriosa will be sung. The Mass begins at 7 pm; the church is located at 470 Westchester Avenue.

The Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago, Illinois, an apostolate of the Institute of Christ the King, will have a Mass in the traditional rite for Our Lady of Guadalupe with sacred music by various Mexican composers, ranging from the 16th-18th centuries (Juan de Rivera, Francisco Capillas, Francisco de Quirós, and Hernando Franco). After the fire of October 2015, the community is currently celebrating its Masses at the church of St Thomas the Apostle, located at 5472 S. Kimbark Avenue; the Mass will begin at 6:30 pm.

On Tuesday, December 11, the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Manhattan will hold a vigil for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with Confessions and the Rosary at 7:00 p.m., and a sung Mass in the traditional rite at 7:30. On the feast day itself, a procession will be held at 7:00 p.m., followed by a Solemn Mass in Spanish at 8:00. The church is located at 448 East 116th Street.

The Second Sunday of Advent

People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard, in the joy of your heart. Ps 79 Thou who rulest, hearken, who leadest the flock of Joseph! Glory be. As it was in the beginning. People of Sion... (The Introit of the Second Sunday of Advent.)

Pópulus Sion, ecce, Dóminus veniet ad salvandas gentes: et audítam faciet Dóminus gloriam vocis suae in laetitia cordis vestri. Ps. 79 Qui regis Israël, intende: qui dedúcis, velut ovem, Ioseph. Gloria Patri. Sicut erat. Pópulus Sion...

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2018

Truly is is fitting and just, right and profitable to salvation, that we should give Thee thanks always and everywhere, o Lord, Holy Father, almighty and everlasting God; for we recall the day of the most honorable Conception, on which the most glorious Mother of God, the pure Virgin Mary, the bright and wondrous star, was conceived unto the world; who opened for us the door of eternal life, which Eve had closed in paradise, and called us back from darkness to the joys of the ancient light. Through the same Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise, the Archangels venerate, the Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Principalities, Powers adore Thy majesty, whom also the Cherubim and Seraphim, praise with voices united; among whom we beseech that Thou also command our voices to be admitted, saying with humble confession. Holy... (The Ambrosian Preface for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.)

The Trinity and the Immaculate Conception, by Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo, 1528-36. Prominent among the Doctors of the Church to either side of the Virgin Mary are Ss Augustine and Bernard on the left, Ss Ambrose and Jerome on the right.
Vere quia dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi sempre et ubique gratias agere, Domine, Sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus. Recensemus enim praeclarissimae Conceptionis diem, quo gloriosissima Dei Genitrix, intemerata Virgo Maria, stella corusca et admirabilis, mundo concepta est. Quae nobis perennis vitae ianuam, quam Eva in Paradiso clauserat, reseravit: nosque de tenebris ad lucis antiquae gaudia revocavit. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant Angeli, venerantur Archangeli, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Principates, et Potestates adorant. Quem Cherubim et Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: Sanctus...

Pontifical Mass in Ottawa Cathedral for St Clement’s Parish Jubilee

St Clement’s Parish in Ottawa, Ontario, has been celebrating its 50th anniversary this year; as we noted in an article earlier this year, St Clement’s, which is now run by the Fraternity of St Peter, was one of the few churches that held on to the celebration of the traditional rite after the promulgation of the post-Conciliar reform. For a ten-year period, it was constrained to use the new rite, and did so according to the mind of the Council, with Latin, chant and worship ad orientem; in 1984, the traditional rite was restored, and has continued ever since.

On the evening of November 22, Fr Joseph Bisig, one of the founding members of the FSSP, and the first Superior General, celebrated solemn First Vespers of St Clement in the parish.

For the feast day itself, His Excellency Terrence Prendergast, the Archbishop of Ottawa, celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the cathedral of Notre Dame, the first such Mass to be celebrated in Ottawa cathedral since 1998. The church was packed with parishioners and non-parishioners; a relic of St Clement was displayed in the sanctuary for veneration. In attendance were Fr Bisig, the recently elected Superior General, Fr Andrzej Komorowski, Fr Michael Stinson, the North American District Superior, and the clergy of St Clement. The gold vestments used for the Mass were the same ones used at a Pontifical Mass in Ottawa in 1947, during the landmark Marian Congress, that drew 200,000 people. (Video here.)

Friday, December 07, 2018

Photopost Request: Immaculate Conception 2018

Our next major photopost will be for tomorrow’s feast of the Immaculate Conception. Please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form, the Ordinariate Rite, etc.) to for inclusion. We are always very glad to receive photographs of celebrations of vigil Masses, Vespers and other parts of the Office, and particularly of any ceremonies celebrated with blue vestments, in accordance with the famous Spanish indult, as well as those of the Conception of St Anne in any of the Eastern Rites. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!

Cardinal Slipyi on the Need for Beauty in the Liturgy

If you want to talk about the poor, in this place only I can speak, because I spent twenty-five years in the misery of a communist jail. You also want to take from the poor, who have little to eat, all expression of art, of music, or beauty? That too? Do you really not know that they need those things more than those who are well off?” – Yosyf Cardinal Slipyi (1892-1984), Major Archbishop of Lviv and head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, speaking to the Synod of Bishops in 1971. (h/t Luca Pava Bresciano)

A New Catholic Hymnal from Corpus Christ Watershed - Review by Fr Christopher Smith

Our thanks to Fr Christopher Smith, one of our colleagues at Chant Café, for sharing with us his review of this exciting new project from Corpus Christi Watershed, the St John de Brébeuf Hymnal, a truly Catholic collection of hymns which can be used with both Forms of the Roman Rite.

The celebration of the Mass that best corresponds to its true nature, and to the Church’s magisterial teaching, is a fully sung liturgy, with pride of place given to Gregorian chant, and the Ordinary and Propers sung according to their proper texts. The all-too-common “Four Hymn Sandwich” is a curious holdover from a Low Mass culture in which people sang pieces unrelated to the liturgical texts, often in the vernacular, while the Mass was in Latin. It is a curious blindspot of the liturgical influence-makers of a certain age that they would keep this disconnect only to advance another part of their agenda, but this is the world we inhabit.

There are voices crying in the wilderness that the propers must be restored to their pride of place, and they are being heard. The melodies of the Graduale Romanum with their Latin texts are being heard in more and more places; vernacular adaptations of them, and new compositions, metrical and more chant-like, are coming forth and being used. This is creating a desire for better liturgy and better music, but we all know that sometimes we have to make baby steps towards our ideals.

Hymns have become such a part of Catholics’ expectation of their Mass experience that calls for their removal and replacement with antiphons alone are often met with suspicion or anger. And so they remain. But the question about the hymns is then reduced to, “What texts, what melodies, what styles are appropriate?” The unseemly battles in liturgy committee meetings over whether young people want Isaac Watts, Marty Haugen or Matt Maher at Mass all miss the point: the relative merits of those varied styles are all paltry in comparison with the treasury of hymnody which the Church already has, still, unfortunately, largely untapped.

How then do the discerning musician and pastor mine the tradition for hymns to introduce to Catholics? How can we unlock the treasury and unleash the riches?

Enter the Saint John de Brébeuf Hymnal for Both Forms of the Roman Rite, published by the John Paul II Institute for Liturgical Renewal in 2018. Those familiar with the other projects which Corpus Christi Watershed has assisted with, will note a familiar design. But this is not the ordinary run of the mill “collection of hymns that people know with a few they don’t know.” This hymnal is a work of incredible scholarship, and one which puts the fruit of that scholarship to work in a practical vehicle for opening the treasures of Catholic hymnody to the people.

The first part of the book, entitled, “Ancient Hymns of the Catholic Church,” contains many of the hymns of the breviary. But these are presented in such a way as to provide several tunes and several texts in English, often taken or adapted from a wealth of English translations from centuries past, some of them even taken from English Catholic primers of the Renaissance and Baroque era. But they are not just borrowed from these sources wholesale. Discerning editors have given great thought to how a large swath of people in our pews would take to singing certain words or turns of phrase, and carefully adapting to what people might actually get their mouths around in singing!

(A version of the communion hymn Sancti, venite, from the 7th century Bangor antiphonary, in a translation by Adrian Fortescue.)

The second part of the book, entitled “Additional Hymns”, will be attractive to those who are open to introducing these “old but new for most” hymns, but want a resource that also contains appropriate hymns for the liturgical year, as well as general use hymns more familiar to English-speaking congregations.

An interesting feature of the book is that the index is placed not at the back, but in the middle of the book, after an attractive set of color plates exploring hymnals. The indices are quite well thought out. They provide the ability to search for name, hymn tune, and occasion in an admirable way, and their placement in the middle makes looking for them easier than wrangling the book at the end. There is also a section at the end with several versions of the Stations of the Cross, which is useful to have, in the same volumes as the hymns for many parishes, text and hymns without the multiplication of more little booklets.

A good choir program will of course contain many pieces of complexity, whether by Palestrina, Bach, or Duruflé. But the mature choirmaster knows well that simple pieces—such as the magnificent hymn tunes in the Brébeuf Hymnal—can be utterly sublime. Moreover, these simple melodies can always be enhanced by new harmonizations, descants, counter-melodies, and SATB arrangements.

This volume is useful to have in any music library or pastor’s office for reference, but is also the kind of volume which can be profitably sought out for choirs and for congregations. As a hymnal without the readings in it, which provides ample resources both old and new, it can truly be said to mark a new and exciting phase in the recovery of ancient liturgical texts for the use of the faithful in a practical way for all involved!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

1959 Documentary on the Carmelite Nuns

Here is a really marvelous documentary filmed inside a Carmelite women’s house in Presteigne, Wales, in 1959, and originally broadcast on a program on BBC Wales called Out of This World. The Mother Superior and one of the novices have some very wise words to offer about the importance of the contemplative vocation for the Church and the world as a whole. There is a common caricature, sadly believed even by some Catholics, that the austerity of the strict contemplative orders turned them into sour and unpleasant people, but the women interviewed here seem to be very the models of both joy and wisdom.

When this was filmed, the Carmel itself was fairly new, and the house had not yet been completed; there are several shots of the nuns doing the construction work themselves, with their full habits on, no less! The sisters were sleeping in temporary huts on the convent lawn, with only a brick taken from the oven to keep them warm in the winter, but when the presenter says to the Superior “You’ll be quite happy to leave them, I suppose?”, she answers, “Oh no!” There is no footage of either Mass or Office, but there is a bit of the rite of the clothing of a new member of the community, in which she enters the church dressed as a bride. At the end, the sisters since the Salve Regina, albeit recto tono, in keeping with the extreme austerity of the Discalced Carmelites. This Carmel was closed in 1988, but the chapel is still used. (Hat tip to Mr Jeffrey Morse.)

Immaculate Conception Events in California

On Friday, December 7, at 8:00 p.m., the St. Ann Choir will sing an Ordinary Form Latin Mass (Anticipated) for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, with the Gregorian Chants for the feast and Mass for Three Voices by William Byrd, at St Thomas Aquinas Church in Palo Alto, California. The church is located at 751 Waverly St. at Homer. December 8 is a holy day of obligation and the Patronal Feast of the United States.

The parish of Ss Peter and Paul in Wilmington, California, which is administered by the Norbertine Fathers of St Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, will have a Solemn Mass in the traditional Roman Rite for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass will begin at noon; the church is located at 1015 Lagoon Avenue. The Mass is also part of the Consecrate California event, ( praying to defeat the culture of death, for the sick, elderly, and unwanted, and for an end to the violence caused by substance abuse, human trafficking, etc.

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