Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Carmelite Prayer to the Virgin

In the Breviary of the Carmelite Order, which keeps its patronal feast today, the following antiphon is appointed to be said every day after Vespers or Compline. (The English translation is taken partly from this post on Vultus Christi, the blog of Silverstream Priory, with several alterations of my own.)

Ave, Stella matutina,
Peccatorum medicina,
Mundi princeps et Regina.

Virgo sola digna dici,
Contra tela inimici
Clypeum pone salutis
Tuae titulum virtutis.

Tu es enim virga Jesse,
In qua Deus fecit esse
Aaron amygdalum,
Mundi tollens scandalum.

Tu es area compluta,
Caelesti rore imbuta,
Sicco tamen vellere.

Tu nos in hoc carcere
Solare propitia,
Dei plena gratia.

O Sponsa Dei electa,
Esto nobis via recta
Ad aeterna gaudia,

Ubi pax est et gloria.
Tu nos semper aure pia,
Dulcis, exaudi, Maria
Hail, morning star,
Medicine of sinners,
Ruler and Queen of the world,

Alone worthy to be called a virgin,
Against the spears of the enemy
Set the shield of salvation,
The sign of Thy virtue.

For you are the rod of Jesse,
In whom God made to be
Aaron’s almond, taking away
the scandal of the world.

Thou are the ground rained upon,
Imbued by heaven’s dew,
Though the fleece stayed dry.

In this prison do thou console us ,
Mercifully console us,
Who art full of God’s grace

O chosen spouse of God
Be for us the straight road
To eternal joys

Where peace and glory are.
Do Thou ever hear us
With devoted ear, sweet Mary.

In the following recording of it, note that the cantor has taken the common medieval habit of pronouncing Latin more or less like the vernacular to extremes, exaggerating the U of modern French. (The ensemble who recorded this, Diabolus in Musica, takes its name from a common term for the tritone, a dissonance which was generally disliked and avoided in medieval music theory, hence the name “the devil in the music.”)


According to Archdale King in his book The Liturgies of the Religious Orders, the great scholar of the Carmelite liturgy, Fr Benedict Zimmerman, claimed that this antiphon was “without any doubt” composed by St Simon Stock himself, the English Carmelite and general of the Order to whom the Virgin revealed the brown scapular. However, Guido Dreves, the author of the 48th volume of the Analecta hymnica, attributed it to Peter the Venerable, an abbot of Cluny who died a century before St Simon’s time. The words “Aaron’s almond” refer to the episode of the flourishing of Aaron’s staff in Numbers 17, generally understood in the Middle Ages as a prophetic symbol of the Mother of God’s virginity, as was the episode of Gideon’s fleece in Judges 6, 36-40.

The antiphon is then followed by a versicle and prayer.
V. Pray for us, Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Defend, we ask o Lord, by the intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, this Thy family, from every adversity, and in Thy great mercy protect it, that boweth before Thee with all its heart, from the snares of all enemies. Through Christ, our Lord. (Defende, quaesumus, Domine, beata Maria semper Virgine intercedente, istam ab omni adversitate familiam tuam, et toto corde tibi prostratam, ab hostium proitius tuere clementer insidiis. Per.)

Then the following invocation is said.
V. In omni tribulatione et angustia, sucurrat nobis pia Virgo Maria. R. Amen.
(In every tribulation and anguish, may the Holy Virgin Mary come to our aid.

And a final prayer, which mentioned several of the more Carmelite Saints.
Oremus. Omnipotens, et clementissime Deus, qui Montis Carmeli Ordinem gloriosissimae Virginis Mariae Genitricis Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi, sacrato titulo insignitum, Sanctorum tuorum Patris nostri Eliae, et Elisaei Prophetarum, Angeli et Anastasii Martyrum, Cyrilli et Alberti Confessorum, Euphrasiae, Teresiae et Mariae Magdalenae Virginum, et aliorum plurimorum meritis decorasti: tribue nobis quaesumus, ut per eorum suffragia ab instantibus malis animae et corporis liberati, ad te verum Carmeli verticem gaudentes pervenire valeamus. Per. (Almighty and most merciful God, who has adorned the order or Mount Carmel, that is distinguished by the sacred title of the most glorious Virgin Mary, the Mother of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the merits of Thy Saints, the prophets Elijah, our father, and Elisha, the martyrs Angelus and Anastasius, the confessors Cyril and Albert, the virgins Euphrasia, Theresa and Mary Magdalene, and very many others; grant us, we ask, that being delivered by their prayers from present evils of soul and body, we may be able to come rejoicing to Thee, the true height of Carmel. Through the same...)

The Virgin Mary and Carmelite Saints, by Pietro Novelli, 1641; from the Carmelite church of Palermo, Siciliy.

Book Review: Reason, Faith and the Struggle for Western Civilization, by Samuel Gregg

Over the years, I have engaged with many Christians who despair at the situation in the West today. The ugliness of modern culture, the decline in the numbers of Christians, especially those who are part of the Church, and the erosion of traditional values that arise from it are a legitimate cause of concern - I am certainly not happy about much of what we see in the contemporary culture either - but we do not always agree on how we might change the situation.

A large proportion of these generally conservative, orthodox and pious Christians (and I use these adjectives positively) consider the leading cause of our troubles today to be the Enlightenment of the 18th century, which set in motion all the errors we see in the philosophical conglomerate that governs the pattern of modern living.

It is to these conservative critics of the Enlightenment that Gregg speaks, and he offers an alternative to the conventional narrative of those Catholics who are unreasonably critical of the Enlightenment on the one hand, and have a misplaced romantic nostalgia of the medieval period in the West on the other.


If one were to characterize simply the conservative critique of the Enlightenment which I have in mind, it relates to a false understanding of three fundamental concepts that, they believe, arose in this period, namely, the human person, personal freedom, and the nature of the society that emerges when free people interact. Identifying the American constitution and free-market capitalism as arising from political and economic thought rooted in these errors, and which are therefore part of the problem, they can be almost as critical of the right as they are of the socialism and big government.

In this small volume, Samuel Gregg has written a sober analysis of the streams of thought that have arisen in the last 400 years, and placed them in the context of all Christian thought. Without ever ignoring what has gone wrong in the recent period, Gregg paints a different picture. Written in his characteristically clear and engaging prose, it is concise, but immensely rich in its content. His is a thesis that looks at the historical evidence, at the words of the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment writers themselves, and the assessment of them by respected modern commentators, such as Pope Benedict XVI.

It is clear from this that it is as wrong to blame the Enlightenment for all that has gone wrong in the world today, as it is wrong to paint a picture of our medieval past as the only source of what is right. Even critics of the Enlightenment would concede that there is some good, at least, in the development of modern science and modern medicine, and the increased material prosperity that began in the “Age of Reason.” However, fewer of those who occupy the conservative Christian world would say, with Gregg, that Enlightenment thought has enriched orthodox Catholic teaching, and has brought great cultural as well as material benefits that society enjoys today.

Gregg’s thesis is that the philosophical roots of modernity are in the medieval period, and that it is not helpful to consider the period that we call the Enlightenment today to be distinct from this. Instead, it is better looked upon as a development of ideas, some good and some very bad, that for the most part originated in the pre-Enlightenment period.

For Gregg, the source of all that is good in the West is a unique synthesis of faith and reason which arises directly from the Jewish and Christian faiths. It is where faith and reason work together that human freedom, just society, and prosperity occur. As he points out, many modern commentators ignore the fact that most of the Enlightenment thinkers, even if not explicitly Christian, worked within the philosophical and theological paradigm that arose from it. Adam Smith, for example, and many of the figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, as well as Edmund Burke and the framers of the US constitution, come into this category. While their language is not necessarily that used by someone who has a Catholic scholastic formation, the underlying concepts are often consistent with it.

Building on this, Gregg makes a case for the market economy and the American constitution as absolutely consistent with the Catholic social teaching and the writings of Benedict XVI. These contributors to the modern age might talk of the individual, but they clearly do not understand those individuals as isolated, autonomous beings, but as persons who are by nature in relation with each other and the world around them. Similarly, their concept of human freedom is not limited to the simple idea of a lack of constraint or compulsion, but includes the additional and necessary component of a firm grasp of how to exercise it well. Moreover, they understand that society is not defined simply by the vector sum of individual actions, but also incorporates the effects of a complex network of personal relationships and interactions.

Make no mistake: there were, and still are, problems. Gregg does not gloss over any of these, or hesitate to analyze the catastrophic effect on the world of the thought of figures such as Rousseau, Marx, Mill, and Nietzsche. He also explains the reasons why so much Islamic thought is incompatible with Western society. Anyone who wants to understand why we see growing intolerance and sometimes violent and bloody opposition to freedom today from the left and radical Islam should read this book for this reason alone.

Overall, this book offers cause for hope, and a way forward that does not involve a retreat from modernity. It is unlikely to be an easy road, but at least there is one. If you are pessimistic about the direction of Western Civilization today, then perhaps you might take a look at this book too.

Samuel Gregg is Director of Research of the Acton Institute. You can buy his book here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dom Alcuin Reid on “Liturgical Integrity”


In a recent address to the Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America (CMAA), liturgical scholar and author Dom Alcuin Reid proposed what he terms “liturgical integrity” as a working principle or, perhaps better, a “higher law” that should inform and govern the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in both uses of the Roman rite and in all other rites of the Church. It is a good and important essay, and a tad provocative, so I encourage you to read it in its entirety with the care that it deserves and to share it on social media. Available at Catholic World Report HERE.

How the Seven Sacraments “Christianize” Us

Rogier van der Weyden's Seven Sacraments Altarpiece (c. 1450)
In this month of July, dedicated to the mystery of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, I wish to reflect on sacramental realism. For indeed the sacraments are as real, as tangible, as powerful, as cleansing, as the very lifeblood of the Savior pouring forth from His body, nailed to the Cross and opened with a lance.

For Aquinas the most basic function of the sacraments is to place man in vital contact with the crucified and risen Lord [1]; they are, in the words of Romanus Cessario, “graced instruments for restoring the image of God” [2] through assimilation to God’s Son, who is the Father’s perfect image and man’s formative exemplar. By virtue of the God-man’s sacrifice, each sacrament has power to originate, deepen, or repair a direct relationship between man and God, a communion of like-minded friends having a shared beatitude for its goal.

Each sacrament configures one to Christ in a specific way, according to a certain grace in the soul of Christ, connected with His deeds and sufferings on earth. This reference to the past may be seen in the sacraments as follows:
  • The Eucharist brings us into contact with Christ in the state of bloody immolation, though the mode is unbloody. [3]
  • Baptism unites us with Christ dying and rising.
  • Confirmation unites us with Christ as descended upon by the Holy Spirit.
  • Holy Orders fuses the candidate with Christ offering sacrifice.
  • Matrimony conjoins spouses to Christ in the act of uniting to himself mankind and the Church.
  • When the sick are anointed, it is Christ strengthening those who are struggling, he is the angel who visits them in their Gethsemane.
  • The penitent sinner is made one with Christ efficaciously making satisfaction for us — the sinner is nailed to an invisible Cross where the Savior meets him, and breathes out peace upon him. [4]
In every case, it is Christ Himself, in His sacred humanity, in His eternal divinity, who acts directly upon the recipient; it is He who bestows the healing and elevating effects of grace through the sacramental signs administered by others. “The man who baptizes provides only exterior ministry,” writes Thomas, “but it is Christ who baptizes interiorly, who is able to use all men for whatever He wills” (ST III, q. 67, a. 5, ad 1). In another text the point is made quite forcefully:
It is evident that Christ Himself accomplishes all the Church’s sacraments: He it is who baptizes; He it is who forgives sins; He is the true priest, who offered Himself on the altar of the Cross, and by whose power His own Body is consecrated daily on the altar. And yet, because he was not to remain bodily present to all the faithful, He chose ministers, that through them He might give that same Body to the faithful. (SCG IV, ch. 76)
Thus, in and through the seven sacraments, Christians re-live mystically the life Christ lived when He dwelt among us full of grace and truth, and the risen life He is now living forever: we enter into His earthly ministry, His passion and death, His resurrection and ascension.

The sacraments derive their efficacy from the Word-made-flesh; each has its power and operation immediately from Jesus Christ, whose glorified humanity is the inseparable instrument, the predestined channel, through which the divine Word pours out grace into souls. When a human being, properly disposed, receives one of the seven sacraments, he is at that moment in mystical contact with the Person of the Savior, who pours out as much grace as the soul is ready to receive.

This mystical contact attains an incomparable fullness and immediacy in the Eucharist, which both symbolizes and accomplishes the intimate communion of the Savior with the members of his body. Here the sacramental encounter is no mere contact, but the context for an unreserved, mutual gift of self that can attain a unity and fecundity only distantly hinted at in human marriage.

Thomas’s uncompromising sacramental realism is in many ways astonishing. Without denying that they are social, symbolic celebrations for calling to mind important truths, Aquinas holds the sacraments to be, first and foremost, a real participation in Christ’s own actions, sufferings, and glory, for the sake of receiving into one’s being the effect of those actions, the fruit of those sufferings, the vision of that glory. As Gilles Emery phrases it: “They bear the historical event of the Passion of Jesus, whence they procure the fruit of grace in the present moment, while announcing the fulfillment whose seed they possess.” [5] For example, when asking whether a man is freed from all guilt through baptism, Aquinas responds:
Through baptism one is incorporated into Christ’s passion and death, according to Romans 6:8, “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with Christ.” From which it is clear that Christ’s passion is communicated to every baptized person as a remedy, as though he himself had suffered and had died. Now Christ’s passion . . . is sufficient satisfaction for all the sins of all men. And so the one who is baptized is freed from the debt of all the punishment due to him for sins, as though he himself had sufficiently satisfied for his own sins. (ST III, q. 69, a. 2, emphasis added)
In baptism the death and resurrection of Christ becomes ours; it becomes our paschal mystery, the origin of a new life with Him. The effect is the same as if we, become unblemished victims, had hung on the Cross; as if we had suffered and died, though guiltless of all crime; as if we had risen again, forever beyond the reach of death and decay.

So much is this the case, believes Thomas, that it even dissolves the obligation of rendering the marriage debt in a certain case:
Now he who goes over to the religious life dies only a spiritual death, not a bodily death; and so, if the marriage be consummated, the husband cannot go over to religious life without his wife’s consent (whereas he can do so prior to there being a carnal joining, when there is only a spiritual joining).  But the one who undergoes baptism is even corporeally buried with Christ in death; and therefore he is freed from paying the marriage debt even after the marriage has been consummated. (In IV Sent. d. 39, q. 1, a. 4, ad 2)
This “as if” is not the als ob of Kantian philosophy — we must behave as if there is a God; we must view nature as if there is teleology; we must approach the beautiful as if beauty is an objective trait.  It is the mystical “as if” that means: we have really done and suffered these things because we have been joined, even identified, with the One who really did and suffered them. Being true man, Christ could act and undergo as a creature acts and undergoes; being true God, he can, in the power of the Spirit, make his accomplishments ours.  The phrase “as if” merely preserves the reverent distance of participant to source.

This “incorporation,” begun at baptism, is perfected by a man’s being united in the power of the Spirit to the Body of Christ — engrafted into His Mystical Body by way of His glorified Body shared in the Eucharist — that we may no longer live for ourselves, but for Him. The Eucharist is “the consummation of spiritual life, and the end of all the sacraments” (ST III, q. 73, a. 3), containing substantially the common spiritual good of the whole Church. It is “the sacrament of Christ’s passion in so far as a man is perfected in union with the Christ-who-suffered” (ST III, q. 73, a. 3, ad 3). [6]

The sacraments in fact simply Christianize us. Contrary to the heresy of Karl Rahner, no soul is “naturally” or “anonymously” Christian, as if one could be a Christian and not even know it. We need to receive, in faith, the gift of Christ’s life, His grace, His charity. The sacraments find us more or less pagan, more or less self-centered, and they evangelize and convert us to be centered on Christ, to have our center in Him. This means that a sacramental life, so far as the recipient’s experience is concerned, will not consist of satisfying (one might say, flattering) encounters between a well-defined self or subject and a securely-apprehended object. [7] Rather, it will be a mirror, at times bright, at times blurry, in which I am able to glimpse the Face of the One who seeks me out in love, and the unfolding of my life in relation to Him, in union with Him. “Sacraments are proportionate to faith, through which the truth is seen in a mirror and in an enigma” (ST III, q. 80, a. 2, ad 2).

When we come before the Lord at the end of our lives, may He recognize in us the beauty of His own features.

Johannes Hopffe, Distribution of Divine Graces by Means of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments (before 1615)

NOTES

[1] See Joseph J. Sikora, S.J., “Sacraments and Encounter,” in Theological Reflections of a Christian Philosopher (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970), 213–33.

[2] From his essay “Aquinas on Christian Salvation,” in Aquinas on Doctrine: A Critical Introduction, ed. T. Weinandy, D. Keating, and J. Yocum (London: T&T Clark, 2004), 129. See also the same author’s “The Sacramental Mediation of Divine Friendship and Communion,” Faith & Reason 27 (2002): 7–41.

[3] The Eucharist occupies so unique a place and enjoys such a primacy among the seven sacraments of the New Law that even the very term “sacrament” has to be regarded as analogous, with the Eucharist being the very locus of divinization and communion with the Savior, and the other sacraments streaming out from it and leading back to it.

[4] The phrases in quotation marks are taken from André-Charles Gigon, O.P., De Sacramentis in communi (Fribourg: Typographia Canisiana, 1945).

[5] Gilles Emery, O.P., “The Ecclesial Fruit of the Eucharist,” Nova et Vetera [English] 2 (2004): 43–60.

[6] For more on the Eucharist as containing Christus passus, see my article last week: “‘The Application of the Lord’s Passion to Us’: St Thomas on the Blessed Sacrament.”

[7] The experience, as such, may be empty and dry, or overfull and beyond words — like bodily intimacy, like evanescent recollection. But this is not the crux of the matter. The desire to equate faith or love with a subjective “experience” of God, and the consequent tendency to spurn a God who eludes experience, is one of the chief temptations a Christian has to overcome if he is to get beyond “self-cultivationism” into the maturity of spiritual marriage.

Visit www.peterkwasniewski.com for events, articles, sacred music, and classics reprinted by Os Justi Press (e.g., Benson, Scheeben, Parsch, Guardini, Chaignon, Leen).

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Patronal Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in NYC

The Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in New York City will have a special series of events for its Patronal feast, which is this coming Tuesday, July 16th.

On Monday, July 15th:
  • 5:30 p.m. - Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form
  • 7:30 p.m. - Solemn First Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Benediction
  • 9:00 p.m. - Outdoor Candlelight Procession with Our Lady
  • 11:00 p.m. - Recitation of the Holy Rosary and Chanting of the Litany of Loreto
On Tuesday, July 16th:
  • 12:00 a.m. - Solemn Midnight Mass in the Extraordinary Form, after which the church will remain open all night
  • Starting in the morning, Mass will be offered every hour from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.; Confessions will also be heard, and brown scapulars and holy cards available will be available. The first two Masses (6 and 7 am will be Low Masses in the Extraordinary Form)
  • 10:00 a.m. - Principal Mass of the Day in the Extraordinary Form (Missa Cantata, Solemn if Subdeacon is available)
  • 11:15 a.m. - Grand Procession with Our Lady, (usually returns to the church at approximately 1:30 p.m.)
For more information, see the Facebook event page; the church is located at 448 E. 116th St. in Manhattan.

On Saturday, July 20th, the shrine will hold its 8th Annual Traditional Latin Mass Pilgrimage, with the following schedule.
  • 10:15 a.m. - Invesiture with the Brown Scapular
  • 10:45 a.m. - Entrance of Pilgrims on hand and knees, discalced
  • 11:00 a.m. - Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form
  • 12:00 p.m. - Procession with and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Veneration of the Relics of the Saints
  • 3:00 p.m. - Recitation of the Holy Rosary

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Sunday Gospels after Pentecost

Here is a resource which I prepared to help Peter with something he is researching, which you may find useful or interesting. This table shows the Gospels of the Sundays after Pentecost as they are arranged in the lectionary of Murbach, the second oldest of the Roman Rite (ca. 800 AD), and how they correspond to those in the Missal of St Pius V. A more detailed explanation is given below. (Click to enlarge.)

The oldest lectionary of the Roman Rite, a manuscript now in Wurzburg, Germany, dates to ca. 700 AD, and represents the system used at Rome about 50 years earlier. It has a very disorganized and incomplete set of readings for the period after Pentecost; the Sundays are counted as 2 after Pentecost, 7 after the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, 5 after that of St Lawrence, and 6 after St Cyprian, a total of only 20. (This predates the institution of the Exaltation of the Cross in the West, so the feast of St Cyprian was kept on the day of his death, September 14th; it is now on the 16th.)

The Murbach lectionary dates to about 100 years later, and represents the Roman Rite as used in Gaul after Charlemagne had introduced it to replace the Gallican Rite. It is much better organized and more complete than the Wurzburg manuscript, with 25 Sundays “after Pentecost.” The order of Sunday Gospels after Pentecost is similar to that of Wurzburg, but obviously several adjustments had to be made.

Rome itself also took the older tradition represented by the Wurzburg ms., re-organized it, and completed it, but not in exactly the same way as had been done in Carolingian Gaul; the order of the pericopes is also similar to that of the Wurzburg ms. This is the order which will be carried into the Missal of the Roman Curia, as attested in the Ordinal of Innocent III (1198-1216), and from there to the Missal of St Pius V.

In the table above, the second column lists the Sundays after Pentecost, the third lists the Gospels for those Sundays in Murbach, and the fourth those in the Missal of St Pius V. Each Gospel in the Murbach column has a red Roman numeral next to it, which shows which Sunday it is assigned to in the Missal of St Pius V. The exceptions are those of the 1st, 2nd and 19th Sundays, whose Gospels have no correspondent in the Roman Missal in the season after Pentecost. The first of these is the Gospel of Nicodemus, about which I have written previously. The second is the Gospel of Dives and Lazarus; in the Missal of St Pius V, this is read on the Thursday of the second week of Lent. The tradition represented by Murbach continued in use throughout the Middle Ages, and corresponds quite closely to the order of readings found in the Use of Sarum, among others.

The first column indicates where the Murbach Gospels are found in Wurzburg; a blank space means that the Murbach Gospel for that Sunday is not found in Wurzburg at all. A peculiarity of the Wurzburg system is that the Gospel of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10, 23-37) is assigned to both the sixth Sunday after Ss Peter and Paul, and the second after St Lawrence. The revision of the tradition in Murbach kept it in a position which corresponds to the second of these two, necessitating the choice of another pericope to fill the gap among those formerly counted after Ss Peter and Paul.

All in all, what the table shows is that, with certain adjustments, the Gospels found in the Missal of St Pius V correspond quite closely, both in selection and order, with those found in the two oldest lectionaries of the Roman Rite.

The Epistle series for the same period requires the tabulation of a slightly different body of material; I plan on posting this fairly soon.

A First Look at the Restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris

From the YouTube channel of the Financial Times, an interesting look at the beginning of the project to restore the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris after the fire of April 15, including some explanation of the technlogies being used by the restorers. This was the first time a media outlet was allowed to enter the church and shown around the site.

Chant and Polyphonic Masses in the Pittsburgh Area, July 22-24

The Saint Gregory Institute of Sacred Music, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, invites the public to attend three Masses which constitute the culmination of its Chant & Polyphony for Parish Musicians course, on July 22-24.


The first Mass will be held on Monday, July 22, the feast of St Mary Magdalene, at 6:30 pm at Holy Trinity Church, with English propers and chants from the Roman Missal. The church is located at 5718 Steubenville Pike in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania.

The second Mass will be on Tuesday, July 23, the Memorial of Saint Bridget, also at 6:30 pm at Holy Trinity, featuring English propers, the Missa de Angelis, and a motet by Thomas Tallis.

The third Mass on Wednesday, July 24, at 5:00 pm, will be a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at St John of God Parish (St Mary Church), with the Gregorian propers in Latin, the Missa Secunda of Hans Leo Hassler, and polyphonic motets. The church is located at 1011 Church Avenue in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.


The choir will be under the direction of Prof. Nicholas Will, the founder and director of the St Gregory Institute of Sacred Music, Director of Liturgical Music at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and Coordinator of the Sacred Music Program (in absentia) at Franciscan University of Steubenville. More information can be found at saintgregoryinstitute.org or by contacting saintgregoryinstitute@gmail.com.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Feast of St Benedict 2019

Vir Domini Benedictus ferrum de profundo resiliens Gotho reddidit, dicens: * Ecce, labora, et noli contristari. V. Vix enim manubrium misit ad lacum, ferrum de profundo rediit, quod reddens dixit: Ecce. Gloria Patri. (The 4th responsory of the Solemnity of St Benedict in the Monastic Breviary.)

The episode referred to in the responsory above, depicted by Spinello Aretino, 1388, in the sacristy of the church of San Miniato in Florence.
R. Benedict, the man of God, returned to the Goth the iron that leapt up from the deep, saying, * Behold, work on, and do not be sad. V. For scarcely did he put the handle near the lake, and the iron returned from the deep; and giving it back, he said, Behold... Glory be... Behold.
In the Second Book of St Gregory the Great’s Dialogues, dedicated to the life and miracles of St Benedict, this episode of a miracle also performed by the Prophet Elisha (4 Kings 6, 1-7) is recounted thus in chapter six:
(A) certain Goth, poor of spirit, came to conversion (i.e., became a monk) whom the man of God Benedict most gladly; and one day, commanded him to take ... a sickle, and cut away the briars from a certain plot of ground, so that a garden might be made there. Now this place, which the Goth had undertaken to clear, was by the side of a lake, and while he was cutting away the cluster of briars with all his strength, the head of the sickle flew off the handle and fell into the water, in a place where it was so deep that there was no hope of getting it back. The Goth, in great fear, ran to the monk Maurus, and told him what he had lost, confessing his own fault, and Maurus went to the servant of God Benedict and told him. Therefore, the man of God Benedict went to the lake, took the handle from the Goth’s hand, and put it into the water, and soon the iron head came up from the deep, and entered again into the handle (of the sickle), which he returned at once to the Goth, saying, ‘Behold, work on, and be sad no more.’
St Benedict died on March 21 in the year 543 or 547, and this was the date on which his principal feast was traditionally kept, and is still kept by Benedictines; it is sometimes referred to on the liturgical calendars of Benedictine liturgical books as the “Transitus - Passing” There was also a second feast to honor the translation of his relics, which was kept on July 11. The location to which the relics were translated is still a matter of dispute, with the Abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy, founded by the Saint himself, and the French Abbey of Fleury, also known as Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, both claiming to possess them. This second feast is found in many medieval missals and breviaries, even in places not served by monastic communities. (It was not, however, observed by either the Cistercians or Carthusians.). The second feast was in a certain sense the more solemn in the traditional use of the Benedictines; March 21 always falls in Lent, and the celebration of octaves in Lent was prohibited, but most monastic missals have the July 11 feast with an octave. In the post-Conciliar reform of the Calendar, many Saints, including St Benedict, were moved out of Lent; in his case, to the day of this second feast in the Benedictine Calendar.

New Dominican Propers for the Liturgy of the Hours

Title Page of the New Collectarium
I recently published a summary of the changes in the Dominican Calendar for Mass and Office that will come into effect on the First Sunday of Advent of this year. At that time, I promised that Dominican Liturgy Publications would be producing new editions of the books we have published for use at the Liturgy of the Hours by those taking various roles in choir.

The first and most important is the Propers of the Office for the Order of Preachers, which contains the full propers for all Dominican Saints and Blesseds on our general calendar. This book would be used by the cantors, lectors, and, if desired by the hebdomadarian, that is, the friar leading prayers that week. This book has been updated to include the two new feasts, that of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati and of Bl. Bonaventure García Paredes and Companions, Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. Those feasts with changed ranks or dates are now noted as such. The propers are also available in pocket-book size.

Feasts that have been dropped from the Dominican General Calendar have been removed and included in Dominican Blesseds Celebrated Locally, a companion volume that has the short biographies and collects for the many Dominican Saints and Blesseds who are only celebrated in particular provinces. None of these are celebrated in the provinces of the United States, but many use this volume devotionally. The entire propers of those Saints previously in the Propers of the Office for the Order of Preachers are now represented in this volume. It also includes the full propers for St. Bartholomew of the Martyrs, O.P., who was just canonized by Pope Francis on July 5.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that we have also produced a new edition of our Collectarium: A Manual for Hebdomadarians, which contains all the texts, in particular the collects, needed by the hedomadarian, not only for Dominican Saints, but for every day of the year. Included in this volume are the collects for Saints recently added to the Roman Calendar (John XXIII, Paul V, and John Paul II), as well as one blessed, Francis Xavier Seelos, added to the Calendar of the United States. This volume also has the particular feasts celebrated in the Western Dominican Province, but this does not prevent its use by other provinces.

Eucharistic Procession by Boat in Louisiana on the Assumption

On August 15th, the fifth annual Eucharistic Procession by boat down Bayou Teche, Louisiana, will take place as part of the celebration of the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Acadian people and of the Acadiana region. It is also a day that marks the 254th anniversary of the arrival of French-Canadian immigrants who brought the Catholic faith to Acadiana after enduring great trials and suffering. (The procession was first held in this manner in 2015 for the 250th anniversary.) See the following website for more information, including the full program of events, as well as links to videos and pictures of the event, which is very well attended, from previous years: http://www.fetedieuduteche.org/ (Our thanks to Fr Michael Champagne of the Community of Jesus Crucified, organizer of the event, for bringing this to our attention; more information is also available on their Facebook page.)


From the website: His Excellency John Douglas Deshotel, a native son of Acadiana and bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, will begin this year’s event by celebrating the Mass of the Assumption in French at St Leo the Great Church in Leonville at 8 am. The Blessed Sacrament will then be fixed on an altar on the lead boat under a canopy, with a pair of adorers in adoration between the towns visited. Another boat will carry the statue of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Eucharistic Procession will stop and disembark at makeshift altars along the Bayou Teche for recitation of the Rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. For those who are unable to participate by boat, all are invited to join for Mass at St Leo the Great in Leonville at 8 am and then to drive and gather at any of the planned stops along the banks behind the various churches along Bayou Teche. Priests will be available at each stop for Confessions.

The Sacrament arrives at one of the stations during the first procession in 2015.

Dominican Mass of Ss Peter and Paul in Taiwan

On the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, Una Voce Taiwan welcomed Fr James Dominic Rooney of the Order of Preachers for the celebration of a Missa cantata in the Dominican Rite. These photographs by Mr Gregory Chen are reproduced by his kind permission from the Facebook page of the Communitas Missae Latinae – Una Voce Taiwan.

The Gospel
Incensation of the Altar at the Offertory
Incensation of the Priest

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A 15th-Century Illustrated Breviary

While searching for an image to illustrate a recent post, I came across something added relatively recently (in February) to one of my favorite websites, that of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. As I have noted on other occasions, this site has an enormous number of digitized manuscripts of various kinds, including many liturgical books of all different periods. Here are the illustrated pages from a breviary which belonged to René of the house of Anjou (1409-80), who held an extraordinary complicated series of noble titles at various points in his life (King of Naples, Count of Piedmont, Duke of Bar, of Lorraine, of Anjou, etc.) The illustrations are few, but of extremely high quality, and very cleverly chosen to match the liturgical texts they acompany. (Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal. Ms-601 réserve.)

Folio 1v, the frontispiece. A group of people, both male and female, are shown writing and playing instruments; the inscription at the bottom reads “Ycy sont ceulx et celles qui ont fait le psaultier – here are those who made the Psalter.” King David is depicted in the middle as an older man with a green crown, and his son Solomon, the author of two of the Psalms, to the left; the man at the desk to the right is probably Asaph, who is named as the author of several others. The rest of the company would be the other personages named in the titles, such as the sons of Core; this is a very unusual motif for a liturgical psalter.

Folio 5r, the first page of the Psalter. Throughout the manuscript, each line of the Psalms begins with a block letter in gold, alternating between red and blue for the background, but very few of the pages have an illuminated border like this one.
Folio 14r, the ferial Office of Monday. On the upper left side, the suicide of King Saul (1 Samuel 31); on the lower left, the election of David as king; on the right, his anointing and coronation (2 Samuel 5). This image was chosen in reference to Psalm 26, the first of the day, which is titled “a psalm of David, before he was anointed.”
Folio 20v, the ferial Office of Tuesday. King David weeps as he leaves the city of Jerusalem, driven into exile by the rebellious Absalom, who is seen entering the city in the middle. On the lower right, Shimei throws a stone at David; on the upper right, David and his men pray before an altar. (2 Samuel 16 et seq.) This episode is referred to in the titles of two of the Psalms, 3 and 142, but neither of these is said on this day; it was perhaps chosen in reference to the words of Psalm 43 “Thou hast afflicted Thy people and cast them out”, and that of David kneeling before the altar in reference to Psalm 42, “I will go unto the altar of God.”
Folio 27v, the ferial Office of Wednesday. David (not yet king) sneaks into the camp of Saul and steals his spear (1 Samuel 26); this episode took place at night, but is here shown as if it were in the day. Several of the Psalms in the portion of the Psalter assigned to this day (from 52-67) are referred by their titles to the events of David’s exile and persecution by Saul in the last ten chapters of 1 Samuel.

Fota XII Conference, Day 3: Summary of the Lectures

Our thanks once again to Prof William A Thomas for his report on the final day of the Fota liturgical conference, which took place this past week in Cork, Ireland.

On the final day of the 12th Fota International Liturgical Conference, the first speaker was Fr Manfred Hauke, Professor at the Univ. of Lugano in Switzerland, who delivered a paper titled “What is an exorcism, a critical assessment of terminology”

Cardinal Burke introduces Prof. Hauke.
Fr Hauke began by clarifying the etymologies of the terms he would use to describe the language employed in the rite of exorcism, and further that only an ordained minister with the authority of Christ can perform an exorcism. In 1985, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith admonished “prayer groups in the Church (which) aimed at seeking deliverance from the influence of demons, while not actually engaging in real exorcisms.” Here the imperative form is the determinative sign for liturgical exorcism; Jesus commands that unclean spirits depart and they obey. If we are to clarify the definition of “exorcism” from a linguistic point of view in a ritual context even before Christianity, the technical term seems to imply addressing oneself to the evil spirit in a direct way.

The new ritual of exorcism, however, does not compel the exorcist to use any imperative against the evil spirits. It is possible to choose between a “deprecatory” or “supplicating” formula and an “imprecatory” or “imperative” formula. The imperative formula can be used only when the deprecatory formula has been recited before. Is this deprecatory text a real exorcism, or is it only a “prayer for deliverance”?

The decisive factor for Jewish exorcism is the invocation of the name of God. The exorcisms performed by Jesus are not “prayers for deliverance”, but commands made in force of His being the Son of God. His practice manifests itself in the mission of the apostles, as for example in the exorcism performed by St Paul, who also commanded demons (Acts 16, 16-19). Exorcism, in Christian understanding, is a command in the name of Jesus Christ to a demon to leave his victim.

In the Rituale Romanum of 1614 we find an alternation between “exorcismi” and “orationes”. The latter are prayers, the former are commands given with imperatives to demons. The orationes have a conclusive role, whereas in the rite of 2004 similar prayers appear as “deprecatory formula” of exorcism and are located at the beginning.

The decisive point for liturgical praxis is the expulsion of demons, which cannot be separated from the prayer of the Church. But the use of the imperative form witnesses in a clearer way the authority given by Christ to his ministers to liberate vexed persons from the evil spirits. In the liturgy of exorcism, we find the invocation of the name of God or Christ (epiclesis), the direct address to the devil, who is menaced in the name of God (increpatio), and the command to leave the afflicted person. It would be fitting that the definition of “exorcism” matches this liturgical description, which implies the invocation of the divine name and the direct address to the devil. It is not enough to define “exorcism” as “expulsion of evil spirits” in the name of Christ; “exorcism” in a strict sense implies also the command to the demons to leave.

Solemn Mass at the church of Ss Peter and Paul, Monday, July 8th

The second paper of the day followed a Solemn High Mass in the church of Ss Peter and Paul’s, celebrated by Fr Jerome Buecker FSSP, and was presented by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, entitled “The Juridical Structures for the Rite of Exorcism.” Highlighting the differences between the 1917 Code of Canon Law and the 1983 Code in use today, he said that many priests are turning back to the Rituale Romanum of 1614 because the new rite of 1999, amended in 2004, is lacking, in that it does not require that the sign of the Cross be made over the person or objects to be blessed, and likewise, does not have the proper blessing and exorcism of water and salt for the making of holy water.

Speaking further on sacramentals and blessings, he mentioned the orations, of which there were six types: prayer, touch (with water and oil), blessed foods, penance and the Confiteor, almsgiving and showing mercy, and blessings. A blessing is the invocation of the Divine Name, Jesus. Demonic possession might also manifest itself in vexations, temptations, even to places and objects, but there were established procedures on how to deal with them, assigned to competent and duly authorized clerics, and not the laity.

In the final paper of the conference, Fr Sven Conrad FSSP spoke on “The Apotropaic Effect of the Sacred Liturgy”, i.e. of the liturgy as such, beyond its formal exorcisms. The Church continues Christ’s mission through the Liturgy; this understanding not only comes from the writings of Pope Pius XII but also from the Second Vatican Council. The scholastic doctrine of sacramentals, which effect what the Church intends them to do, traditionally identifies the fight against Satan as one of their main effects. In this context, Fr Conrad briefly examines the Divine Office and Holy Mass and emphasizes their apotropaic effect (the warding off of evil), critically naming some principles of the reform of the rite of blessings and some deficiencies of contemporary theology of liturgy.

Sacramentals are not the conduit for sanctifying grace, in the way the Sacraments are; the Rite of Exorcism is not a sacrament like baptism or Confession, but rather a sacramental, whose apotropaic effects are healing and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. The first effect of the sacramentals used in exorcism to expel demons is through the power of the Cross and in the Holy Name of Jesus.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

The Martyrs of Gorkum

The Roman Martyrology notes today as the feast of a group of Saints known as the Martyrs of Gorkum. Their feast has never been on the general calendar, but is celebrated in many places, and by the various religious orders to which they belonged, the Franciscans, who were the majority of the group, the Dominicans, Premonstratensians and Augustinian Canons. They were solemnly canonized in 1867 by Bl. Pius IX, as part of a year-long series of celebrations to commemorate the 18th centenary of the martyrdom of Ss Peter and Paul, then generally held to have taken place in 67 AD.

The Glorification of the Martyrs of Gorkum; engraving of the year 1675 after a painting by Johan Zieneels. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
In 1572, Dutch Calvinists in rebellion against the Spanish Catholic rulers of the Hapsburg Netherlands, as they were then called, seized control of the town of Gorkum. Eleven members of the local Franciscan friary, three secular priests, including the local parish priest, and an Augustianian canon were taken by the soldiers; when a member of the local Dominican community came to administer the Sacraments to them, he was also taken and imprisoned with them. Shortly thereafter, two Premonstratensians and another secular priest were added to their number, a total of nineteen. Over the course of several days, beginning on June 26, the soldiers subjected them to terrible cruelties, partly out of hatred for the Catholic religion, partly in the hopes of getting hold of precious vessels from the church which they believed the religious had hidden. On the morning of July 7th, they were transferred to another town, called Briel, and in the presence of the Calvinist commander, the Baron de la Marck, and several Calvinist ministers, told they would be set free if they would abjure the Catholic doctrine on the Blessed Sacrament, which they refused to do.

The baron then received a letter from the leader of the rebellion, the Prince of Orange known as William the Silent, ordering that they all be released. He agreed to this on the new condition that they publically repudiate the primacy of the Pope, which they also refused to do. On the morning of July 9th, they were taken to an abandoned monastery in the countryside near Briel and hanged from the beams of one of the outbuildings, with the nooses places in their mouths. Even this incredibly slow and painful death did not satisfy the barbarity of the Calvinists, who also mutilated the bodies, some of them while they were still alive. One of the Franciscans, a Dane named Willehad, was 90 years old; three others were in their seventies. When the bodies had been taken down, their remains were left in a ditch, and not recovered until 1616, during a truce in the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Netherlands; they are now kept in the Franciscan church of St Nicholas in Brussels. There is also a pilgrimage church dedicated to them at the place of their martyrdom in Briel.

The Martyrs of Gorkum, by Cesare Fracassini; this painting was made specifically for the canonization ceremony of 1867. One of the traditional customs of the canonization ritual was that images of the Saints were hung within decorative frames from the balconies in the central rotunda of St Peter’s Basilica, but covered with plain pieces of burlap, which were then allowed to drop to the floor, exposing the image for the first time, once the Pope had finished reading the bull of canonization. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
Perhaps the most appalling of Calvin’s many appalling doctrines was that of double predestination, the belief that we are all pre-destined to eternal salvation or damnation. (Calvin also taught that perhaps 100 souls would be saved from among the entire human race, although there was still enough human left in him at least to recognize that this was a “horrible conclusion.”) Inevitably, this drives people to search through their lives for signs that they are among pre-saved; hence the idea that material prosperity in this life is a sign of pre-election in the next, a doctrine which has, with equal inevitability, now degenerated to truly parodic levels. But, as Catholic apologists immediately noted, this doctrine is pastorally disastrous, since it encourages not just the sinful, but also those who have repented of a sinful life, to see their past or present sins as a sign that they are among the pre-damned, and thus despair of their own correction and salvation. (A friend of mine who grew up in a Calvinist church and is now a Catholic priest once expressed the attitude that results as follows: “If I’m going to hell anyway, I might as well take the champagne flight.”)

Against this, we may adduce as particularly notable witnesses, the first meaning of the Greek word “martyr”, the lives and deaths of two among the company of Gorkum, which demonstrate that the door of conversion is not closed to anyone in this life, not even to the most obdurate sinner.

One of the two Premonstratensians, James Lacops, had formerly renounced both his vows and the Catholic Faith, after being reproved by his superiors for a very irregular life, and declared contumacious. Having been reconciled to the Church, he and St Adrian Jansen were captured in Gorkum when they opened the door of their presbytery to a man claiming that he wished to receive the Last Rites. Although the town was under occupation, and they knew that it might be a trick (as indeed it was), they would not risk letting someone die without the ministrations of a priest, and so they were taken to torture and death. It is, of course, especially appropriate that a son of St Norbert, who was himself rather a lax cleric in his youth (though nowhere near so egregiously) should die for the Catholic teaching on the Blessed Sacrament.

Even more interesting is the case of one of the secular priests, St Andrew Wouters, who was well-known as a womanizer and the father of more than one illegitimate child; despite being in disgrace, he joined the company of the others voluntarily. The Calvinist soldiers mocked him on account of the sins for which he was so notorious, and, in accordance with the logical conclusions of their creed, fully expected such a bad-living priest to apostatize and save his skin. This he did not do, and his last recorded words were, “Fornicator I always was, but heretic I never was; I will go to my death with the others.” As the article about them in the revised Butler’s Lives of the Saints wisely states, “it is a significant warning against judging the character of our neighbor, or pretending to read his heart, that, while a priest of blameless life recanted in a moment of weakness, the two who had been an occasion of scandal gave their lives without a tremor.”

Despite their disdain for religious vows and priestly celibacy, Calvinists did not of course believe that fornication was not sinful, and thus they would have seen in the sinful life of Andrew Wouters a clear sign of his eternal predestination to hell. To Catholics, his death as a martyr and canonization as a Saint are a reminder that we should never look on any sinful life, including our own, as anything other than a call to pray for conversion, which can happen even at the very last moments of life.

The reliquary of the Martyrs of Gorkum at the Franciscan church of St Nicholas in Brussels.
The full names of the martyrs are as follows.

The secular priests: Leonard van Veghel, pastor of Gorkum, Nicholas Poppel, Godfried van Duynen, and Andrew Wouters.
The eleven Franciscans: Fathers Nicholas Pieck, (who is listed first on the Franciscan liturgical calendar, since he was the guardian of the friary at Gorkum), Jerome of Weert (the vicar), Theodore van der Eem, Nicasius Jansen, Willehad of Denmark, Godfried of Mervel, Antony of Weert, Antony of Hoornaer, and Francis de Roye; the two lay brothers, Peter of Assche and Cornelius of Wyk near Duurstede.
The Premonstratensians: Adrian Jansen van Hilvarenbeek and James Lacops.
The Dominican: John of Cologne.
The Augustinian canon: Jan Lenartz of Oosterwyk, chaplain of the beguinage in Gorkum.

Fota XII Conference, Day 2: Summary of the Lectures and Card. Burke’s Homily

Our thanks once again to Prof. William A. Thomas for sharing with NLM his reports froms the Fota Liturgical Conference.

The second day of the Fota Liturgical Conference began at the church of Ss Peter and Paul, where His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke celebrated Pontifical High Mass for the fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The Mass was preceded by Terce; the Mass propers were taken from the Choralis Constantinus of Heinrich Isaacs, while the ordinary was Orlando de Lassus’ Missa Domine Dominus Noster, all beautifully sung by the Lassus Scholars under the direction of Doctor Ite O’Donovan.

The Introit of the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Dominus illuminatio mea.
The Gloria in excelsis

In the homily Cardinal Burke appealed to all of humanity to turn to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness, asking that “we give Him our hearts where they will be cleansed in Love.” Noting that we live in a world wrought about by the fall of our first parents whose Original Sin was disobedience, he said that likewise “today’s society rebels against Christ and shows hostility to His laws... We see in society today the attack on human life right from the moment of conception, we see the attack on the family. Society pretends to offer security without God, but this is folly. Satan seeks to destroy us, but Christ will never abandon us. Sometimes forces within us and outside of us will draw us away from Christ; to counter this we have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which we can learn about the beauty and love of God and about the beauty of ourselves. Sometimes we have to endure suffering as it may be necessary to overcome evil as we await His final coming in glory.”

His Eminence then went on to quote from the day’s Gospel, Luke 5, 1-11 saying that union with God is offered to the world and that we must pray at every moment of our lives, even when we encounter hardship. We must never give up, but “bring these sufferings to Mass and united these sufferings with the sufferings of Christ”, quoting from the writings of Dom Prosper Gueranger. Noting that in the Gospel, Jesus told Simon Peter “Do not be afraid”, His Eminence said that today many are tempted to give up the struggle, but Jesus, recognizing this moment of disappointment in His disciples, tells them to “launch out into the deep” and as the Gospel passage concludes, so likewise does the Cardinal: “do not be afraid, henceforth you will be fishers of men”

The afternoon session of the conference began with a paper presented by Fr Anthony Ward SM, titled “Aspects of the Psalm Prayers in the de Exorcismis of Pope St John Paul II”

Fr Ward made an exhaustive study of the Psalm Prayers used in exorcisms from earliest times, which was called the “Corpus Orationum”, quoting from Psalms 90, 2 (psalm prayers directed to God in tribulation, asking for protection from the devil) psalms 10, 34, and 53, which is still used in the new rite of exorcism. The paper made an exhaustive study of 10 Psalms that were used as prayers of deliverance.

Like its predecessor, the Rite of Exorcisms promulgated in 1999 by order of Pope St John Paul II, foresees that the priest will recite certain traditional Psalms. However, the research into ancient Latin liturgies conducted by scholars such as St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi (1649-1713) had highlighted the existence in ancient times of so-called “psalm prayers”, that is, prayers used in a liturgical celebration after the recitation of one or more Psalms, partly echoing some of their phrasing and themes, linking them to the mystery of Christ or to the struggles of the Christian life. The study examined prayers of this type which are now part of the Rite of Exorcisms, and traces their likely source.

The second paper of the afternoon was delivered by Fr Ryan Ruiz on “Mutual Enrichment and de Benedictionibus; Revisiting the Scriptural Euchologies of the Usus Antiquior and their possible application in the Ordinary Form-Rites of Blessings.”

The paper explored the importance of Biblical typology and themes in the Church’s rites of blessing from the standpoint of the euchological content of the orations themselves. While many of the ancient prayers of blessing found in Title IX (De benedictionibus) of the Rituale Romanum of 1952 contain Scriptural images that make a connection between divine revelation and sacramental realities, the new euchologies of the De Benedictionibus of 1984 generally lack such Biblical themes, arguably to the detriment of the communicative value of the blessing formulae.

The paper compared the euchological structures of a sample number of ordines from three extant liturgical books: Title IX (De benedictionibus) of the Rituale Romanum of 1952, the De Benedictionibus of 1984, and the edition thereof approved for use in the dioceses of the United States, the Book of Blessings.

The intent of the study is to propose a relatively simple means to bring greater clarity to the Church’s overall theology of blessing by a kind of euchological ressourcement, if not back to the earliest sources, then at least to the de Benedictionibus of 1952. This proposal is rooted in the principles of Sacrosanctum Concilium that sought to highlight the importance of the word of God in the liturgical life of the Church, not merely in terms of an expanded corpus of readings in the various liturgical offices of the Church year, but also by emphasizing the foundational role of Scripture in the euchological tradition of the Church. The goal of such analysis is to assist our appreciation of the euchological patterns found in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, to assist our appreciation of the important role that the sacred text plays in the liturgical text, and to assist our appreciation of the possibilities that might present themselves in the future for further enrichment of the Ordinary Form’s rites of blessings, based on the retrieval of scriptural themes from the usus antiquior.

Monastic Experience Weekend at Pluscarden Abbey in Elgin, Scotland, Aug. 2-5

The monks of Pluscarden Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in northern Scotland, are offering an exceptional opportunity to experience first-hand what monastic life is about. It takes place during the weekend of Friday, August 2nd to Monday, August 5th. (Pluscarden Abbey is featured by this site in the Vocations column, bottom left.)

There will be no charge. The invitation is extended to single young men, Catholics who practice their faith, aged 18-35 years. Anyone interested is invited to contact Fr Benedict Hardy OSB by email, novicemaster@pluscardenabbey.org. You can find out more about the abbey and the event itself at www.pluscardenabbey.org.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Love of a Suppressed Language: What Maori and Western Catholics Have in Common

A reader in New Zealand, prompted by articles like this and this, sent me the following thoughtful email. It is certainly worth sharing with NLM readers.

* * *
Dear Dr. Kwasniewski,

I have often thought that my relationship (as a Catholic) to Latin is like that of a person of Maori descent to Te Reo — the Maori language. Many, if not most Maori people don’t speak it, but they love it, they know some things from memory, they sing in it and it is theirs and not foreign. The Maori language experienced a sharp decline in the mid-20th century but by 2015 the evidence of a notable revival was no longer disputable.

I am not Maori, but I couldn’t help being reminded of some of the stories in the book Growing Up Maori. The revival of the language was fought for here, and now has serious State backing. Maori went from being neglected and even despised to being declared an official language of New Zealand. I looked online for a better expression of the Maori identification with the language. I found, and was blown away by, the passionate experience of the writer Nadine Hura in “Arohatia Te Reo – Love the Language.”

This Maori analogy resonated with two of my sons and their families when I shared it with them. Then this piece turned up online at Crisis: “First Reactions of Teenage Boys to the Traditional Latin Mass.” It basically seconded all that I was saying.

For me, there is no way that Latin is foreign because it connects us to the sacred — to the universal and even to belonging with early Christians in the West and the traditions of 1,600 years (at least). Of course, I am part of a small minority which thinks like this, but one which has youth on its side. As with Te Reo, so with Latin as a liturgical language: by 2015 no one would be able to question the reappearance, in worship, of a language which was thought not only dead, but buried with a stake driven through its heart.

It occurred to me that you may find this powerful too. There is not only the love parallel, there is also the suppression parallel, including the decades of assimilation policy in New Zealand during which children were punished for speaking Maori to each other in class. How can we fail to remember the decades in which seminarians were dismissed for being interested in Latin, or priests were disciplined for using Latin in Mass? The decades in which love of the thousand-year-old Latin liturgy was equivalent to treachery and a sin against the Holy Ghost? The decades in which we acted as if an entire history and culture were a black mark of shame, instead of a glory to boast of and pass on?

Yours truly in Christ,
N. 
* * *
I have only a few thoughts to add to this moving letter. For starters, it brought back memories of the week I spent in New Zealand as a ten-year-old, traveling with my parents in a rented car from the top of the north island to the bottom of the south island. I remember the bubbling mudpools of Rotorua, the ferry across the channel, and our attendance at a performance of a Maori war dance, complete with rhythmic chanting and protruded tongues.

Language is as deep in us as our thoughts; indeed, we cannot think without language, nor do we belong to a family, a culture, or a society, apart from language. When people have an ethnic heritage, even if it is somewhat remote, it still “speaks to them,” as the poignant idiom has it. Healthy Catholics react with similar feelings of loyalty and comfort to the sound of Latin. Those who are opposed to it are somewhat like races that have been taught to hate their origins in order to blend in and get along with the people in power. A sad business, really, and one that cannot but backfire.

As Jesus once said, “the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light” (Lk 16:8). Secular governments have reestablished the rights of indigenous peoples and their languages, but in the Catholic Church — supposedly run by those who have the best interests of the faithful at heart — we have yet to see any equivalent restoration of the right of the laity to their own tradition or any appropriate recognition and revitalization of her mother tongue. Moreover, native peoples have labored mightily to retain and reintroduce their own languages, even when these have fallen on hard times and seemed threatened with extinction. An entire modern nation, Israel, has taught itself to speak a formerly “dead” language, Hebrew. Classes in Latin and classical Greek conversation are being taught around the world. Does the Latin-rite Church have any excuse whatsoever for not retaining and reintroducing its own language on a global scale, beginning with serious Latin immersion courses in seminaries?

Nor can anyone point to Vatican II and say that the Council Fathers desired the abolition of the Latin language or the heritage, culture, and identity bound up with it, so that we must swallow this decision “out of obedience” to the will of the episcopate. As I demonstrated in this article, availing myself of the eye-opening diaries of Henri de Lubac, large numbers of bishops at the Council pleaded, with sound arguments and a spirit of urgency, for the retention and bolstering of Latin.

In reality, I believe it is as simple as this: in addition to its stupendous linguistic qualities, Latin invariably and viscerally reminds us of the venerable antiquity, solidity, stability, and coherence of the Catholic Faith. Therefore, it is intrinsically, one might say sacramentally, opposed to the project of the Modernists. Yet theirs was the project that prevailed during and after the Council, and the People of God, in whose name the memoricide was committed, have borne the burden of disorientation and deracination.

Maori with traditional face painting

(In the charged atmosphere leading up to the Amazon Synod, I feel it necessary to add that, unlike the Synod working document that wishes to “inculturate” liturgy within a pagan or semi-Christian milieu, I would not be in favor of incorporating Maori dancing, chanting, or face painting into the Catholic liturgy. At the same time, I am absolutely in favor of efforts to preserve native languages and art forms, purged of problematic elements. One could, however, imagine Maori decorative art having a tastefully subtle influence on furnishings, vessels, vestments, and icons, much as occurred in the Chinese context: see here and here. I could readily imagine Daniel Mitsui doing amazing things with Maori patterns: New Zealand Tridentine Mass cards, perhaps? For my own thoughts on true and false inculturation, see here.)

UPDATE: A priest in New Zealand sent me this photo of a Catholic church with Maori decoration:


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