Thursday, January 31, 2019

Voyages Liturgiques: An Important New Series from Canticum Salomonis

Our good friends over at Canticum Salomonis have recently begun work on a very useful and interesting series of translations from the Voyages Liturgiques of Jean-Baptiste Le Brun des Marettes (1651-1731), also known as the Sieur de Moléon. Published in 1718, this book gives a detailed account of the liturgical life of pre-Revolutionary France, based not only on what the author witnessed personally during his extensive travels, but also his consultation of ordinals and other liturgical books in the various churches which he visited. Here is their page of links to the various parts of the series: https://sicutincensum.wordpress.com/liturgical-voyages/; as of this writing, they have done 11 parts on the customs of Rouen, four on the cathedral of St Maurice in Vienne, and one on Chartres, with four parts on Angers forthcoming.

As explained in their introduction to the series, on reading these descriptions one immediately notes how important the cathedral and collegiate chapters were for maintaining the fullness of the Church’s liturgical life. Especially in the United States, which has never had a system of chapters, we perhaps forget that until the later part of the 18th century, Catholic lands were still full of such institutions, staffed by both secular and religious clergy; and furthermore, these institutions were provided with the material support necessary for them to dedicate a great deal of time to the regular solemn celebration of the Mass and Divine Office, along with all kinds of processions, devotions, preaching, etc. Des Marettes’ writings provide an amazing number of details about these ceremonies and the manner of their celebration; here for example is part of his description of the Rogation procession at Rouen.

“On Rogation Monday after Sext, says the Ordinal, they prepare the procession, which the clergy and the people of the city are obliged to attend and do attend, carrying their reliquaries, crosses, and banners. ... While the processions from the other churches are making their way (to the cathedral), the reliquaries of the Saints are taken from the church treasury and placed on the high altar one after the other by two chaplains of the Commune vested in albs. The relics are escorted to the sanctuary enclosure by two choir-boys carrying candles, the deacon and subdeacon with their usual vestments except the tunicle, the officiating hebdomadary or journeyeur also in an alb, stole, and purple maniple, who incenses each reliquary from the treasury until the entrance to the choir, while the cantors sing an antiphon proper to the Saint whose relics are borne. After the antiphon is done, the officiant stops with his ministers, and sings the versicle and collect proper to the saint whose relics are being carried, and places them on the high altar.

When all the reliquaries have been placed upon the altar, and the clergy of the city is assembled, the procession begins from the Cathedral church at about 9:30 in the morning, that is to say at the hour when Sext begins. ... First go the reliquaries of three or four parishes with their clergy under their banners, and three or four reliquaries of the Cathedral church with two torches or candles flanking each one. Then follow all the crosses and banners of all the other parishes. ... After (the various ranks of clergy and religious) come two great dragons which the common folk call Gargouilles (similar ones are carried in other churches of France, such as Paris, Lyon, etc.) and which follow the reliquaries (or fiertes, from the Latin feretrum) of Our Lady and St Romanus between players of various musical instruments.

After the procession enters the church, they have a sermon, which apparently used to take place after the Gospel of a dry Mass celebrated there, perhaps like in Metz in Lorraine, for the subdeacon, deacon, and celebrant vested as for saying a ferial Mass, except for the chasuble. ... After the end of the sermon, they say the preces kneeling (formerly everyone prostrated himself) in front of the altar. Then, three cantors or chaplains sing the Litany of the Saints until they go back into the choir of the Cathedral church, where they finish it.”
The Procession of the Dragon (Procession de la Gargouille) at Rouen, by Clement Boulanger, 1837. A similar custom was observed at Siena, as explained in this article, “How Medieval Christians Celebrated the Rogation Days (with a Dragon)”.
With the coming of the age of revolutions, an incalculably large number of these institutions were closed down so that their property could be stolen by the local or national government. In regard to this, in the preface to the series, CS gives a very useful quote from the Missarum solemnia of Fr Joseph Jungmann SJ, who cites the Voyages Liturgiques quite often. (What he says here about the solemn Mass is, sadly, all the more applicable to the regular choral celebration of the Office.)

“The real high Mass has again become rarer, the result of various con­curring forces. In the cities the collegiate chapters, whose first occupation was solemn divine service, have long since been dissolved. In cathedrals and to some extent also in the surviving monastic establishments, other activities have loomed larger. The independent life of clerical communi­ties, a cloistered and Godward life as it flourished in the later Middle Ages, is rarely possible since the secularization of the past few hundred years. Its outward expression in the daily high Mass has therefore disappeared with the disappearance of that life.”

It is always much easier to destroy something than to build it, and in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Church was still very much in a rebuilding phase. No serious person would deny that in many respects, its liturgical life was very lacking, and that the rebuilding of it was in many places going very slowly or not at all. The frustration which many people felt over this made it easy for the more revolutionary liturgists to claim that the problem lay not with the material and social conditions in which the Church found itself at the time, but in the liturgy itself, which therefore needed to be radically changed to accomodate the needs of their favorite imaginary creature, Modern Man™. Having thus diagnosed the problem incorrectly, it was then made much worse by the tremendous haste with which this project was executed.

Of course, we have in more recent years seen the widespread revival of many things which were supposedly formally abolished, or left to die from neglect: the traditional Mass for starters, but also black vestments, Corpus Christi processions, Passiontide veils, etc. Taking encouragement from this, the reading of the Voyages Liturgiques is not merely an occasion for nostalgia, but will hopefully also provide inspiration for the much-needed more general renewal of the Church’s liturgical life in all its fullness, and for this, we thank the diligent translators at Canticum Salomonis. “Let the splendor of the Lord our God be upon us: and direct thou the works of their hands; yea, the work of their hands do thou direct.”

Priestly Silver Jubilee in the Philippines

On the feast of St Andrew the Apostle, Fr Michell Zerrudo, chaplain and spiritual director of Societas Ecclesia Dei Sancti Ioseph - Una Voce Insularum Philippinarum, celebrated a solemn High Mass for his silver jubilee of priestly ordination at the parish of the Most Holy Redeemer in the Philippine diocese of Cubao. (This parish is a regular contributor to our photoposts.) Fr Zerrudo was ordained by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, and since then has offered the usus antiquior first under the Ecclesia Dei indult, granted by Cardinal Sin, and up to the present under the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. NLM is glad to offer our thanks and congratulations to him - ad multos annos!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Feast of St Martina

January 30th is the feast day of the Roman virgin and martyr St Martina. The Martyrology notes the day of her death as January 1st, and that it took place in the reign of the Emperor Alexander Severus (222-235). Although far less well-known than her fellow Romans Agnes and Cecilia, by the 7th century there was a church built in her honor at the base of the Capitoline Hill, close to the Mamertine prison and the Julian Senate-house. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V gave it to a confraternity of artists named for St Luke the Evangelist, and it has ever since been known as ‘San Luca e Martina’. Starting in 1634, a complete reconstruction of the church was guided by one of the great artists of the Italian Baroque, Pietro da Cortona, and after his death in 1669, brought to completion by his students.

At the very beginning of the works to clear away the previous structure, the relics of St Martina were rediscovered within the ruins; Pope Urban VIII then added her feast to the general calendar, giving her two proper hymns of his own composition. (With all due respect to both the Saint and the Pope, they may easily be counted among the worst Latin hymns ever written.) Since the acts of St Martina are considered at best highly unreliable, her feast was removed from the general calendar in the reform of 1969, but remains on that of the Extraordinary Form. The confraternity of San Luca also keeps her feast day each year with a solemn Mass, this year celebrated by His Eminence Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

A reliquary of St. Martina, who was beheaded after undergoing many torments, placed on the main altar of the church on the feast day.

Directly above the main altar is a statue of the saint by Luca Berrettini, nephew and student of Pietro da Cortona, made in 1635-9.
The main altarpiece of the church is a copy by Anteveduto Grammatica of a painting by Raphael, “St Luke Painting an Image of the Virgin Mary.”
The cupola
The counter-façade, with the dedicatory inscription and the crest of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, nephew of Urban VIII, who took great personal interest in Pietro da Cortona’s work, and was one of the principal sponsors of the rebuilding project.

Candlemas Announcements for California and Indiana

On Friday, February 1st, the St Ann Choir will sing a Latin Mass for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Purification of the Virgin Mary (anticipated, for logistical reason, with the permission of the local diocese), at the church of St Thomas Aquinas, located at 751 Waverly St (at Homer) in Palo Alto, California. The music will include the Missa Quarti Toni by Tomas Luis de Victoria, one of his motets, and the proper Gregorian chants; the Mass will begin at 8 p.m.


On Sunday, February 3rd, the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Belmont, California, will have a Mass of the external solemnity of Candlemas, beginning at 4:30 p.m. with the traditional blessing of candles and procession, and followed by the blessing of throats for the feast of St Blase. The church is located at 1040 Alameda de las Pulgas.

The Una Voce chapter of Lafayette, Indiana and the St Dunstand Schola are sponsoring two Masses in the next couple of days. Tomorrow, for the feast of St John Bosco, the group’s patron, a Mass will be sung at the church of St Charles Borrromeo in Peru, Indiana, starting at 7 pm, and featuring the music of Haydn, Palestrina, Gounod, the Gregorian propers, and an original composition by Charles Wyeth commisioned by Una Voce Lafayette. The church is located at 58 West 5th Street.

The following day, the feast of the Purification will be celebrated at the church of the Holy Family, located at 325 East North A Street in Gas City, Indiana, beginning at 7 pm. Before the Mass, the churching of women will be celebrated.

Announcement: February Events in the New York City Area

The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny is sponsoring two February events in the NYC area. The first is a lecture at St. Mary's in Norwalk by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski on Thursday, February 14th at 6:30 pm, preceded by Vespers and Benediction at 5:30 pm. The second is the Second Annual Lepanto Conference on Saturday, February 16th, opening with a Pontifical Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer's and continuing with lectures by Fr. Gerald Murray, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, and Fr. Richard Cipolla.

Full details may be found in the posters below.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Byzantine Hymn in the Ambrosian Rite

In the Ambrosian Rite, the Third Sunday after Epiphany presents a nice example, one among many, of a text borrowed from the Byzantine liturgy. The Ambrosian corpus of Mass antiphons is much smaller than the Roman one, and many pieces are used on several Sundays over the course of the liturgical year. These are arranged in the antiphonary in a Common of Sundays, and sung in rotation. On the Sundays after the octave of Epiphany, however, an exception is made for the Transitorium, the equivalent of the Roman Communion, of which there are proper ones used only in that period, with particularly beautiful texts.

On the Third Sunday, the transitorium is a Latin translation of a hymn sung on Christmas in the Byzantine Rite, composed by St Andrew of Crete, who was born in the mid-7th century; the year of his death is variously given as 712, 726 or 740. This is the first of a series of “stichera”, as they are called, texts sung between verses of the Laudate Psalms (148-149-150) towards the end of the longest (by far!) of the canonical Hours, Orthros.

Laetamini justi, caeli exultate, jucundate montes, Christo genito; Virgo sedebat, Cherubim imitans, in gremio portans Dei Verbum incarnatum. Pastores stellam mirantur; Magi Domino munera offerunt; Angeli Salvatorem adorantes clamant: Incomprehensibilis Domine, gloria tibi!  – Rejoice, ye just; exsult, ye heavens, be glad, ye mountains, at the birth of Christ. The Virgo sat, imitating the Cherubim, bearing in Her lap the Word of God Incarnate. The shepherds wonder at the star, the Magi offer their gifts to the Lord; the Angels, worshipping the Savior cry out, ‘O incomprehensible Lord, glory to Thee!’ (Video by Antonio Maria Abate; cantor Andrea di Martino)


The Greek original, which does not include the phrase “the shepherds wonder at the star” found in the Latin version.

This transitorium is also used on the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, which is very rarely celebrated, and also at the Mass of any feria occurring in the weeks following these Sundays. (As in the Roman Rite, the Ambrosian calendar of Saints is very full in January and the beginning of February, so this doesn’t happen very often.)

The texts of the other transitoria of the season after Epiphany are also very beautiful.

II after Epiphany Mysterium magnum factum est in Babylonia, ut caminus extingueretur. tribus pueris exsultatnibus, dicentibus, “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.” – A great mystery happened in Babylon, that the furnace should be extinguished, as the three children rejoiced, saying “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

IV after Epiphany Te laudamus, Domine omnipotens, qui sedes super Cherubim, et Seraphim, quem benedicunt Angeli, Archangeli, et laudant Prophetæ, et Apostoli. Te laudamus, Domine, orando, qui venisti peccata solvendo. Te deprecamur magnum Redemptorem, quem Pater misit ovium Pastorem. Tu es Christus Dominus Salvator, qui de Maria Virgine es natus. Hunc sacrosanctum Calicem sumentes, ab omni culpa libera nos semper. – We praise Thee, Lord Almighty, who sittest upon the Cherubim and Seraphim, whom the Angels and Archangels bless, and the Prophets and Apostles praise. We praise Thee, o Lord, in our prayer, who came to destroy (our) sins. We beseech the great Redeemer, whom the Faher sent as the shepherd of the sheep. Thou are Christ the Lord, the Savior, who wast born of the Virgin Mary. As we received this most holy Chalice, deliver us always from every sin.


The Mass of the “Sixth Sunday after Epiphany” is always said on the Sunday before Septuagesima, and the transitorium reflects the beginning of the passage to the penitential season of Fore-Lent.

VI after Epiphany Convertimini filii hominum, dum habetis tempus, dicit Dominus, et ego scribam nomina vestra in libro Patris mei, qui est in caelis. – Be converted, ye sons of men, while ye have time, saith the Lord, and I will write your names in the book of My Father who is in heaven.

As always, thanks to Nicola de’ Grandi, who provided part of the material for this post.

The Baroque: Tridentine Art for the Latin Mass

Is there a natural style of sacred art for the Latin Mass?


The Mass, at the heart of the liturgy as a whole and as it was celebrated after the Council of Trent, was the driving force for a cultural movement formed in response to the Protestant “reformers”, which is often called the Counter-Reformation. This is, to all intents and purposes, the Mass of the 1962 Missal. The Council of Trent was the impetus behind the development of an artistic style that was in harmony with it and eventually became what is today called the Baroque.

The art that developed after the Council closed in the mid-16th century did so as a result of some simple directives of the Council, so as to serve the worship of the faithful in the liturgy. While the liturgy itself was the most important influence, there were external influences as well. The tradition grew out of the style of the masters of the High Renaissance and other great painters of the 16th century, especially Titian. This was the Baroque style.

Caravaggio is credited with popularizing the style, beginning around 1600, but perhaps a better articulation of what became the Baroque style was done slightly earlier by another Italian, Federico Barocci (yes Federico, not Frederico!) Consider this painting of St Jerome from 1598.


I have never read any historical account that confirms this, but I have often wondered if the mysterious name for the style, Baroque, is in part a play on his name. Certainly, his work of this period bears all the hallmarks of the tradition and was pioneering. Notice certain features that are the hallmarks of Baroque art:
  • The figure of St Jerome is painted with the most naturalistic coloration and is most brightly lit, most detailed in its rendering, and most sharply focused. All of these are devices to attract the eye to the most important part of the composition.
  • He draws attention to the figure, further, by contrast with the background, for which he uses a limited palette, in this case, one color, sepia, which he only varies tonally. There is very little detail in the rendition of the background in comparison with, say, the face of St Jerome; notice how the brightest colors are in the cloth next to him. And the sharpest contrast in tone is between the line on the edge of his right elbow which traces its way along his shoulder to a sharp point under the right ear. This leads our eye to the face. See also how this contrast is sharpened by making the background very dark immediately adjacent to this edge.
  • The focus, that is the sharpness and clarity of expression, varies in different parts of the painting too. The least focussed parts are those on the periphery and the most focussed are those in the primary point of interest, the face and the hands of the saint. These are the primary points of interest within the Saint because the face and gesture communicate most powerfully the mood of the person. This is how the artist communicates to the viewer of the painting that this is not a sterile wax model, but a living being with a soul. Ordinarily, we would discern this by observing a person in real time.
Compare Barocci’s with a painting from nearly 50 years later of the same subject, painted in 1646 by José De Ribera, a Spanish artist who spent most of his professional life in Italy.


Here we see the same stylistic features, but now the face of St Jerome is not the main focus. De Ribera directs us instead to the Word of God as exemplified by the scroll, on which St Jerome has written some part of his Latin translation of the Bible, By directing our eye to this, Ribera is perhaps making the point that Catholics do take Scripture seriously, against to those Protestant reformers who alleged otherwise!

The contrast between light and dark that is so pronounced in Baroque art is intended to acknowledge the evil and suffering that is present in this fallen world, but to contrast it with the Light that overcomes the darkness. By this, Christian hope which transcends suffering is portrayed.

In only a few years, this form of idealized naturalism became the model for all sacred art for the Roman Rite. As with all authentic traditions, there is room for the artist to maneuver within the bounds that define the tradition, so that we get differing individual styles - some might use a lighter ochre or a number of pigments and not exclusively sepia for the tonal rendition, for example - but broadly speaking, they all stuck to it.

Tiepolo, for example, who was from Venice, developed a lightness of touch through his use of greys and orange ochres.

The Last Supper, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1745-47
The further development of the Baroque style was cut off at the end of the 18th century and early 19th century, when the neo-classical style replaced it in the academies.

In my opinion, if we want to inspire a powerful Counter-Modern or Counter-Postmodern Catholic culture today, we need to reconnect today’s worship with art so that people are engaged with it in the course of their worship, rather than having their noses buried in missals. We cannot influence contemporary culture constructively if our culture of faith is disconnected from our worship.

This would involve in part some legitimate development of the style of worship normally associated with the 1962 Missal, I think, but also we need a style of art that works in harmony with this. One suggestion would be to re-establish the Baroque tradition (note: not 19th-century realism of the sort that we see on the ARC website) in the way that the Eastern Churches reestablished the iconographic tradition.

We start with something that is a replication of the past style. If we stopped there, it would not work, because these works I have shown are of their time and place - they really are Tridentine, of the period following the Council of Trent. Once we are able to replicate, we then begin a process of allowing contemporary influences to be absorbed,  carefully examining them to ensure that no detrimental influences come in, so that it becomes a tradition that speaks to today’s Catholics.

An example of someone who did this in the 20th century, and might be a model, at least in part, for today, is the Italian artist Annigoni, whose work I have featured on this site before.

St Benedict

Monday, January 28, 2019

What Does the Suppression of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei Mean?

I agree with many who have written that, materially, this motu proprio (full translation here) delivers no gigantic shocks. It does not abolish the functions of the PCED but transfers them internally to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It does not suggest any limitation on Summorum Pontificum or on any of the religious orders and communities that make use of the usus antiquior. It does not hint at any further steps of limitation or ghettoizing of traditionalists. Above all, it does not transfer any of the former competencies of the PCED to other Roman dicasteries that would surely have made mincemeat of them. In that sense, the bullet some were fearing has been dodged.

Nevertheless, one might have some concerns about the implications of the step the Pope has taken.

When Pope Francis summarizes his conception of the function of the PCED, he uses terms that are more limited than the scope Pope Benedict XVI assigned to PCED in the wake of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. Francis speaks as if PCED existed to reconcile the SSPX and to regulate the life of other communities and orders that have chosen the usus antiquior. But as we all know, the Commission has spent a great deal of its time working patiently with bishops and clergy around the world who obstruct or deny the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. In this sense it is not quite true to say that the questions dealt with by the Commission “were of a primarily doctrinal nature.”

If the folding of the Commission into the CDF causes it to enjoy less independence and maneuverability for dealing with the refractory, this would be a narrowing of Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral program. We may hope that this does not occur; time will tell.

The motu proprio claims that “today the conditions which led the Holy Pontiff John Paul II to institute the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei have changed.” In many ways, this is true; but in other respects, the situation is still similar: there are many parishes desirous of the usus antiquior that have been denied it contra legem; there are groups of men and women religious who desire to incorporate it into their life and have faced stonewalling; and there are communities that have been suppressed because they too eagerly adopted the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

Admittedly, it is an advantage for the dialogue with the SSPX that they will be dealing solely with the CDF, since it is a higher and more authoritative body. One wonders, however, if this administrative restructuring might be to the disadvantage of Catholic clergy, religious, and laity who, already in full communion with the Church, are facing difficulties that were handled by the Commission under its own head, Archbishop Pozzo, who has now been dismissed. The CDF has, of course, authority of a much higher standing, but it must choose to bring that authority to bear on those who stubbornly oppose the rights of the clergy and the faithful attached to the usus antiquior.

Then one may inquire about the unwritten message this change may transmit. Until now, the matter of implementing Summorum Pontificum has been deemed important enough to require a Pontifical Commission headed by an Archbishop. Could the new motu proprio be meant to insinuate that the urgency of this issue has passed? Sometimes reorganization, especially in this pontificate, seems to mean downgrading. Does it telegraph that dialogue with the SSPX is a priority, while fielding other issues is not, or considerably less so?

An anonymous Vatican commentator cited by Chris Altieri at the (US) Catholic Herald says: “It makes sense to ‘fold’ Ecclesia Dei — its duties and competencies — into CDF.” It surely makes sense for the SSPX doctrinal talks to be conducted by the CDF; but why would the handling of traditional religious orders and communities, or rubrical and calendrical issues, or cases of pastoral non-compliance on the part of ordinaries and superiors, be confided to a congregation that monitors orthodoxy of faith and morals? As a counterpoint, though, we might recall that all aspects of the Anglican Ordinariates are already handled by the CDF, including questions of clerical discipline and liturgy. One may also point out the sober truth that the preponderance of work now confided to the CDF concerns clerical abuse. The Congregation, in other words, is a multi-disciplinary body, wielding a great deal of authority, and amply furbished with Consultors.

Some have optimistically read into the decision a recognition that the real issues at the heart of the traditionalist/mainstream divide are doctrinal in nature, rather than liturgical or canonical. Now, it is quite true that the real issues are doctrinal. But this motu proprio limits doctrinal difficulties to the SSPX and kindred groups. I am happy to be proved wrong, and to see the new arrangement as an upgrade for all adherents of liturgical and doctrinal tradition.

It is possible that the CDF will prove entirely friendly to the new special section and will see to it that the work already admirably done by the Commission over the past 30 years will continue energetically, albeit in a different setting. Perhaps the change will add up to little more than having a different letterhead for correspondence. In a best case scenario, the CDF may throw its muscle behind the issues with which PCED has dealt in the past, and make better headway. For this we must pray.

In the end, one thing is absolutely clear. It is not administrative structures or even their governing documents that make decisions or protect rights; people do. The ultimate effects of this change depend entirely on the officials who are in charge of the section and of the CDF itself. As Pope Leo XIII explains in his encyclical Au Milieu des Sollicitudes:
In so much does legislation differ from political power and its form, that under a system of government most excellent in form legislation could be detestable; while quite the opposite under a regime most imperfect in form, might be found excellent legislation. … Legislation is the work of men invested with power, and who, in fact, govern the nation; therefore it follows that, practically, the quality of the laws depends more upon the quality of these men than upon the power. The laws will be good or bad accordingly as the minds of the legislators are imbued with good or bad principles, and as they allow themselves to be guided by political prudence or by passion.
Whether we have a Commission or a Section; whether the substance of concern be portrayed as doctrinal or disciplinary and pastoral; whether separateness is better than incorporation, or vice versa — everything now hinges on the leadership of the CDF, the staffing decisions, and the marching orders that are officially or unofficially conveyed to the CDF by the Holy Father.

Dominican Rite Solemn Mass for Candlemas, Oakland CA


This is a reminder that that a Dominican Rite Mass for the First Saturday observance of the month of February will be celebrated on February 2 at St Albert the Great Priory in Oakland, California.  The Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m.

This Mass will be a Solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Candlemas). It will be preceded by the traditional Blessing of Candles and Procession with lighted candles through the cloister garden of the priory. The brothers will make the traditional Offering of Candles at the Offertory; lay people present may take the blessed candles home for devotional use.

The celebrant and preacher will be Fr Augustine Thompson, O.P., professor of history at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California, assisted by Fr. Christopher Wetzel, O.P. as deacon, and Bro. Joseph Selinger, O.P., as subdeacon. The music and servers will be provided by the student friars of the Western Dominican Province

The St. Albert the Great Priory Chapel is located at 6170 Chabot Road, in Oakland, with ample parking available on the street or the basketball-court parking lot.

The next Dominican Rite Mass will occur on March 2.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Liturgical Notes on the Conversion of St Paul

In light of the Church’s very ancient tradition of celebrating the Saints’ feasts on the day of their death, when they attain to their heavenly reward, the Conversion of St Paul is almost unique in specifically commemorating the beginning of a Saint’s career. I say “almost” because traditionally, many feasts of bishops are kept on the date of their episcopal ordination. However, this custom arose from cases like that of St Basil the Great, who died on January 1st, where another feast was already in place, or St Ambrose, who died on Holy Saturday of 397, April 4th, a date which frequently occurs in Holy Week or the Easter octave. (A more recent example is Pope St John Paul II, who died on April 2, and is kept on October 22, the day of his Papal inauguration.) There is no feast analogous to the Conversion of St Paul for the callings of the other Apostles, although the Gospel accounts thereof may be read on their feast days.

The Conversion of St Paul, from the Hours of Simon de Varie, 1455 (Public domain image from Wikimedia)
The reason for the choice of date for this feast is unknown. An early martyrology attributed to St Jerome refers to January 25 as the “translation” of St Paul. One would suppose that the feast must therefore be Roman in origin, since the only known major translation of St Paul’s relics took place within Rome. However, the feast actually originated in the Gallican Rite; it is absent from the oldest Roman lectionary, and the most ancient sacramentaries. At the beginning of the eighth century, the feast first appears with the title of “Conversio” on the calendar of St Willibrord, and by 750, in the second oldest lectionary of the Roman Rite.

With its classic liturgical conservatism, the church of Rome was slow to adopt new liturgical formulae even for some of the most venerated Saints. As I have noted in previous articles, it was almost the only place to have no proper Office for St Nicholas, and only a very partial one for St Mary Magdalene. Likewise, the Roman Mass and Office of St Paul’s Conversion are copied, with some adjustments, from the older and specifically Roman feast on June 30th, originally known as the “dies natalis – the birth (into heaven)” of St Paul, and later as the “Commemoration of St Paul”.

Among the Gregorian propers of the Mass, the Introit, Gradual, Offertory, and Communion are the same on both days, while only the Alleluia differs. Of the three prayers, the Collect of the Commemoration is partly rewritten for the Conversion, the Secret is the same, the Postcommunion differs, but the latter two make no reference to the feast. The Scriptural readings of the Conversion, Acts 9, 1-22 and Matthew 19, 27-29, were both originally used on the Commemoration, and then later changed on that day (since the liturgical conservatism of Rome was strong, but not absolute.) The Roman Office of the Conversion has only two musical propers distinct from those of the Commemoration, the Magnificat antiphon of first Vespers (which was suppressed in 1955) and the Invitatory.

The Introit Scio cui credidi

In his History of the Roman Breviary, Mons. Pierre Batiffol dedicates a large portion of the sixth chapter (almost 40 pages in the 1912 English edition) to a congregation appointed by Pope Benedict XIV (1740-58) in 1741 to make and study various proposals for a reform of the Breviary. The consultors agreed that the Commemoration of St Paul should be suppressed from the general calendar, since the Pope no longer went to the Apostle’s tomb on that day, which was the feast’s original purpose. On the other hand, there was no question that the Conversion of St Paul should be retained. This proposal for the secondary feasts of St Paul was implemented in the post-Conciliar reform, which often claimed to return to the original customs of the Roman Rite, but in this case, completely suppressed a feast which is indisputably Roman and ancient, and retained one which is indisputably not Roman and later.

Batiffol also notes that one of the consultors of the congregation, noticing that the musical propers in the Office of January 25th make no reference to the feast, composed a whole new Office for it based on the reading from Acts 9. The congregation, whose work was never implemented, and whose papers were not rediscovered and published until well over a century later, rejected the proposal. For all his trouble, the poor consultor might just as easily have proposed the adoption of the proper Office for the feast then used by the Dominicans, which contains a number of very beautiful texts, such as the third responsory for Matins.

R. A Christo de caelo vocátus, et in terra prostrátus, ex persecutóre effectus est vas electiónis: et plus ómnibus labórans, multo latius inter omnes verbi gratiam seminávit, * atque doctrínam evangélicam sua praedicatióne complévit. V. Inter Apóstolos vocatióne novíssimus, praedicatióne primus, nomen Christi multárum manifestávit gentium pópulis. Atque. Gloria Patri. Atque.
R. Called by Christ from heaven, and laid low upon the earth, from a persecutor, he became a chosen vessel, and laboring more than all others, sowed the grace of the word much more broadly among all, * and completed the teaching of the Gospel by his preaching. V. Last among the Apostles by vocation, but first in preaching, he made the name of Christ known to the people of the nations. And. Glory be. And.

The Preaching of St Paul at Ephesus, by Eustache Le Sueur, 1649 (Public domain image from Wikimedia.)
In this same Office, the Magnificat antiphon at Second Vespers is the only one taken from one of St Paul’s Epistles, Galatians 1, 15-16.

Aña Cum autem complacuit ei qui me segregavit ex utero matris meae, et vocavit per gratiam suam, ut revelaret in me Filium suum in gentibus, continuo non acquievi carni et sanguine. ~ But when it pleased Him, who set me apart me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal His Son in me among the Gentiles, immediately I condescended not to flesh and blood.

Russian Paintings at St Peter’s Basilica

As I wrote yesterday, St Peter’s Basilica is currently hosting a very nice show of Russian artworks, a combination of historic icons and more modern (i.e. 19th and early 20th century) paintings. Many of these works come from one of the largest and most important art collections in Russia, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, named for its founder Pavel Tretyakov. Prominent in his collection, which he donated to the city of Moscow in 1892, are the works of a Russian school of artists called “Передвижники (peredvizhniki) - ‘wanderers’, or ‘itinerants’ ”, realist painters who formed a kind of cooperative in rebellion against the methods and policies of the Imperial Academy of the Fine Arts. Their name derives from their traveling exhibitions, which they brought to many major cities of the Russian Empire; the acceptance of their style and preferred subjects was very much furthered by Tretyakov, who brought many of their pieces into his famous gallery. Here is a selection of just some of the paintings in the show, principally on religious subjects.

Christ’s Appearance to the People, by Alexander Ivanov. (Russian State Museum) This painting took the artist about 20 years to complete, from 1837-57; within this exhibition, Ivanov represents the neo-classical tradition of the Academy that the ‘wanderers’ were rebelling against.
“Quid est veritas?” - Christ and Pilate, by Nikholai Ge, 1890 (Tretyakov Gallery). Ge (whose non-Russian sounding family name derives from his French ancestry, originally “de Gay”) had several of his paintings on religious subjects, including this one, banned from public display and various exhibitions.
A Religious Procession in the Kursk Province, by Ilya Repin, 1884 (Tretyakov Gallery). Repin, an extremely productive painter, was one of the most successful of the ‘wanderers’, and very well-known outside Russia.
Before Confession, Ilya Repin, 1879-85 (Tretyakov Gallery)
Portrait of Fyodor Dostyevsky, by Vasily Perov, 1872, another major figure among the group. (Tretyakov Gallery. This famous portrait of the novelist has been used on the covers of countless editions of his works.)

Candlemas and St Blase in New York City

On Saturday, February 2nd, the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New York City will celebrate the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the traditional blessing and distribution of candles, procession and High Mass in Latin, starting at 9am. The faithful are most welcome to bring their own candles to be blessed. Following Mass, there will be exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, novena prayers to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, prayers for the beatification of Ven. Pierre Toussaint, and the recitation of the Holy Rosary. The rites will conclude with Benediction, and veneration of the icon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Confessions will be heard before Mass and during Adoration. The church is located at 448 East 116th St in Manhattan.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Russian Icons Displayed at St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica is currently hosting a really splendid show of artworks from Russia, entitled “Pilgrimage of Russian Art”, a combination of icons, including some fairly famous ones, and paintings from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. A large portion of the artworks, especially the icons, come from the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, founded by Pavel Tretyakov (1832-98), a Russian businessman, in the mid-1850s; having amassed a very sizeable collection, he donated it to the city in 1892. (It has now expanded to 130,000 pieces, housed in several different buildings. In the descriptions below, I will only note the current home of the item if it is not from the Tretyakov.) The icons are mostly from the 16th and 17th centuries, some even older, and are therefore displayed, of course, behind protective glass, which does not make for optimal photography; tomorrow, I will post some of the more recent paintings on religious subject matters. The show runs until February 16th, and is free of charge, in the Braccio Carlo Magno, next to the basilica. (Mon., Tues., Thurs. Fri. 9:30-5:30, Wed. 1:30-5:30, Sat. 10-5.)

“In Thee All Creation Rejoices”, second half of the 16th century. This icon is based on the hymn to the Virgin Mary sung during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St Basil: “In Thee rejoiceth all creation, that art full of grace, the host of Angels, and the race of men; o hallowed temple, and rational paradise, glory of virgins, from whom God was incarnate, and born as a child, who was our God before the ages; for He made Thy womb a throne, and Thy body broader than the heavens! In Thee rejoiceth all creation, that art full of grace.”
Mother of God of Vladimir, Moscow, first half of the 16th century. (The Byzantine prototype from which this is motif is taken, made in Constantinople ca. 1130, is one of the most revered icons in all of Russia, now also displayed at the Tretyakov Gallery.)
The Last Judgment, Novgorod, second half of the 16th century. The Gospel of the Last Judgment, Matthew 25, 31-46, is read on Meatfare Sunday, the second Sunday before the beginning of Lent (Sexagesima in the Roman Rite.)
St George Slaying the Dragon, 16th century
The Vision of Eulogius, 1565-96; from the Monastery of the Presentation in Solvychegodsk. Eulogius was priest who, according to a traditional story, during the all-night vigil in church beheld a vision of angels who distributed to each monk a reward that expressed his degree of perfection in the ascetic life; the purpose of the icon is to encourage the distracted and lazy. In the middle of the lower part, Ss Sergei of Radonezh and Cyril of Belozersk, two of the great monastic founders of northern Russia, adore the Body of Christ in a chalice on the altar. The three cupolas of the church symbolize the Trinity; on the left, a monk rings bells mounted in a tower; on the right, another knocks a block of wood called a semantron with a hammer to call the monks to prayer, which is still done in many Eastern monasteries to this day.
The reception of the icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir; Moscow, mid-late 17th century.

New Year Opens with EF Masses at West Point, St. Augustine's Cathedral

The opening weeks of 2019 have been an interesting time for those who work to bring the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to places where it hasn’t been seen in half a century. Two remarkable events of this sort took place recently, one at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and one in the cathedral church of the diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Due to the efforts of Captain Randy Shed, an officer stationed at West Point, a group of clergy, servers and singers trekked to the Catholic Chapel at the famous landmark to celebrate an Epiphanytide ferial Mass on January 11. 
The Rev. Donald Kloster, parochial vicar of St Mary’s Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, along with Fr Michael Novajosky as deacon, and Fr Tim Iannacone as sub-deacon, celebrated the Mass, accompanied by more than a dozen servers and masters of ceremonies. The Viri Galilaei of St Mary’s, a lay group of men who sing Mass and Vespers each Wednesday, was under their director, David Hughes, organist and choirmaster of the parish.
More than 120 people attended the mass, including cadets, officers and their families, and people from the surrounding communities.
Mass of a feria in Epiphanytide celebrated at West Point
(Photo by Jill Chessman)
The Rev. (Major) Sean Magnuson, rector of the chapel, gave permission for the Mass, followed by a reception in the parish hall; this was the first such event at the parish in more than a half-century, according to parishioners.
Eleven days later, Fr Novajosky, the rector of St Augustin’s Cathedral in Bridgeport and pastor of the cathedral parish (which includes St Patrick’s Church), celebrated a votive Missa pro Pace at the Cathedral, with more than 200 people attending.
The votive mass was celebrated on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and asked for peace in the diocese, the Church, and the world and an end to abortion. It was followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Votive Missa Pro Pace was celebrated at St Augustine’s Cathedral (Photo  by Jill Chessman)
Fr Novajosky has been celebrating regularly scheduled daily masses at St Patrick’s in the Extraordinary Form, and solemn celebrations at least monthly, such as Immaculate Conception and the Octave Day of Christmas.
With the approbation of Bishop Frank Caggiano, the Mass on January 22 was the first for the cathedral since the reforms following the Second Vatican Council. Ministers were the Revs. Greg Markey (deacon) and Richard Cipolla (sub-deacon). The parish CCD classes attended, as part of an effort to expose them to the older rites. Fr. Novajosky spent class time explaining the prayers and ceremonies of the rite prior to the celebration. The congregation included people from all over the diocese who heard about the event. Servers from St Patrick’s, the Cathedral and some from St. Mary’s aided in the rites. In the coming weeks Fr Novajosky has planned Candlemas at St Patrick’s on Febuary 2, and the Patronal Feast of the parish on March 17.

Stanford Gregorian Chant Workshop, Jan. 28 and Feb. 23

On January 28 and February 23, the Benedict XVI Institute’s Mary Ann Carr Wilson, an experienced teacher of chant and also a children’s chant specialist, will team up with eminent Stanford Prof. William Mahrt to offer workshops in Gregorian Chant on the Stanford campus. Everyone is welcome, space permitting; email mwilson@bxvi.org to apply, or register online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chant-workshop-at-stanford-tickets-55111358557! A donation of $10 to cover the cost of food and supplies is requested, payable at the door. Learn this ancient and moving language of the Church with fascinating friends, old and new, then pray together the ancient prayers of the Church: Compline or Night Prayer, part of the Liturgy of the Hours.The event will be held at the Braun Music Center, Room 103, located at 547 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, California.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Legend of St Ildephonsus of Toledo

The day after the feast of one of its most celebrated martyrs, St Vincent, the church in Spain commemorates one of its greatest bishops, St Ildephonsus, who succeeded his own uncle, St Eugenius, as archbishop of the primatial see of Toledo in 657, and reigned until his death about ten years later. Many Saints have been honored liturgically in one place or another, or within a particular religious order, as Doctors of the Church, without the title being officially proclaimed or recognized by the Holy See. In Spain, even before the expansion of the title’s use began in the Tridentine reform, Ildephonsus was called a Doctor, along with St Isidore of Seville, traditionally said to have been his teacher. (The latter, by the way, was officially granted the title by Pope Innocent XIII in 1722, and has more recently, in view of his work as an encyclopedist, become the informal Patron Saint of the internet.)

The calendar page for January of a Missal according to the Use of Toledo, Spain, printed in 1551, with the entry on the 23rd “Ildephonse, Archbishop of Toledo, Confessor and Doctor.” The term “vj cap(parum) - of six copes” refers to a system for grading feasts based on the number of copes used at Vespers, which was borrowed from the Mozarabic Rite. (This missal is not Mozarabic, but the Toledan Use of the Roman Rite.)
Among St Ildephonsus’ works is a treatise “On the Perpetual Virginity of St Mary” which came to be fairly well-known in the Middle Ages, a defense of the Church’s traditional teaching on that subject, and filled with praises of Her, always in reference to Her Son. To give just a sample:

“Behold, all the earth is filled with the glory of God through this Virgin. From the little to the great, all have come to know the living God through this Virgin. All have seen the salvation of God through this Virgin. All the ends of the earth have remembered and been converted through this Virgin. All the nations of the world worship before Her Son; for the kingdom belongeth to the Son, and God Himself shall rule over the nations. All these sing to the Lord, Her Son, the new song of their redemption, for by being born from this Virgin, He hath done great things. God hath made known His salvation through this Virgin, and revealed His justice in our sight. Through this Virgin they have found God, who could not find Him through the observance of the Law. Through this Virgin came God, and the nations and tongues being gathered, we have come and seen His, glory, as of the only-begotten of the Father. All the nations have been gathered in the name of this Lord, in the midst of Jerusalem, which is tehe vision of peace, that is, the universal church, and they will walk no longer after the wickedness of their heart. … And behold, all the nations bless Him that was born of such a Mother, and praise Him.”

This rhetorically effusive and repetitive style is very typical of the Mozarabic liturgy which was then used throughout Spain, and for which Ildephonse is believed to have written the Mass of the Ascension. The Mozarabic Mass has many more variable parts than the Roman; another example of the same style may be found in his introduction to the Lord’s Prayer.

“Who will speak of Thy mighty deeds, o Lord, or who shall be able to tell of all Thy praises? Thou camest down to the things of man, while leaving not those of heaven, and returned on high, leaving not the things of man behind; wholly omnipresent, everywhere wondrous, not cut off by the flesh, that Thou should not be in the Father, nor taken away by the Ascension in such wise that Thou should not be in man. Look upon the prayer of Thy people, o holy Lord, o merciful God, that on this day of Thy Ascension, just as glory was given to Thee on high, so grace may be given to us on earth.”

Sometime after St Ildephonsus’ death, a legend arose that once as he was praying before the tomb of St Leocadia, a virgin of Toledo martyred in the persecution of Diocletian, she rose from her grave in order to convey to him the thanks and praise of the Virgin for what he had written. Later on, the Virgin Herself appeared to him, sitting on his episcopal throne, and bestowed a chasuble upon him.

The Virgin Mary Appears to St Ildephonse, by Bartolomé Estaban Murillo (1617-82), ca. 1655. (Public domain image from Wikimedia).
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, collections of legends of the Virgin Mary became extremely popular, and a great many of them contain some version of this story, which, in fact circulated so widely that it was incorporated into the liturgy of the Ethiopian Church. In the Ethiopian synaxarium, the Eastern equivalent of the Martyrology, an entry for Tahisas 22 (December 31st), the feast of St Gabriel, reads “Salutation to Dekesius, Bishop of Telteya (Toledo), to whom Mary gave heavenly apparel, because he wrote the account of the miracle of her Annunciation.”

St “Dexius” offers his book about the Virgin Mary to Her (above), and receives a vestment from Her (below). This image comes from a translation of a late 14th century Ethiopian manuscript of legends of the Virgin Mary, published in Britain in 1900, with reproductions of the original illustrations.

Announcing the Seventh Annual Sacred Liturgy Conference, Spokane, Washington, May 28-31

Registration is now open for the 7th annual Sacred Liturgy Conference, hosted this year by the Diocese of Spokane.
Schola Cantus Angelorum is pleased to announce the seventh annual Sacred Liturgy Conference, to be held in Spokane, Washington, from May 28 to 31, 2019. It will take place at the state-of-the-art Hemmingson Center on the campus of Gonzaga University. The liturgies will be held at the beautiful nearby churches of St Aloysius and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. 
St Aloysius
Our Lady of Lourdes
Hemmingson Center
This year’s theme is “The Living Waters of the Eucharist” and will focus on the Eucharist as the preeminent source of supernatural grace in both our personal lives and the world.

Faculty will include Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop Thomas Daly, Bishop Robert Vasa, Msgr Andrew Wadsworth, Dr Peter Kwasniewski, Dr Nathan Schmiedicke, Msgr Richard Huneger, canon lawyer Magdalen Ross, Rev. Theodore Lange, Rev. Gabriel Mosher OP, Douglas Schneider, Alex Begin and Enzo Selvaggi. A special conference session will also include a pre-recorded interview with His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Zen from Hong Kong, China, on the current state of the liturgy in China.

There will be four beautiful Gregorian liturgies, including one celebrated in the ancient Dominican Rite. The highlight will be a Pontifical High Mass on the feast of the Ascension celebrated in the Extraordinary Form by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

From its modest beginnings in 2013, this conference has grown into the largest liturgical conference in North America, with participants coming from throughout the United States and beyond. The conference is organized by the director of Schola Cantus Angelorum, Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre MD, PhD, LGCHS, and is open to anyone interested in the treasures of the Catholic faith.

To find out more specifics about the schedule, accommodations, and how to register for the conference, go to SacredLiturgyConference.org. You may also call (503) 558-5123 or email sacredliturgyconference@gmail.com. Don’t delay, as space is limited and registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

An “Early Bird Special” rate is available through March 1, 2019.

Find out more in this video:

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: