Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Comburg Abbey

Our Ambrosian writer Nicola de’ Grandi, tireless traveler and photographer that he is, recently visited several churches and Benedictine abbeys in German; here are some pictures from the abbey of Grosscomburg near the town of Hall in Swabia. Particularly interesting is the large medieval chandelier, which is made to represent the heavenly Jerusalem as it is described in the Apocalypse; this is one of only three that survive of the dozens made in the Middle Ages. Most of Comburg’s moveable metallic objects were melted down during Germany’s gigantic theft of church property known as the Sekularisation, and innumerable artistic treasures lost in the process. (In a recent post, you can see a chandelier broadly similar to this in one of the monasteries on Mt Athos, starting at about 1:13:00 in the video.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Photo Post: Dominican Rite Mass of St. Dominic, Aug. 4, Eagle Rock CA

I am pleased to post the following photographs of the Dominican Rite Missa Cantata celebrated at St Dominic’s Church, in Eagle Rock, California, on Sunday, August 4, the traditional feast day of St Dominic. The celebrant was Fr. Paul Raftery, O.P., chaplain of St Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula; music was provided by the St Hildegarde Schola. The local chapter of the Dominican Laity (Third Order) were instrumental in preparing this celebration.

St Dominic’s Church is staffed by the priests of the Western Dominican Province

Gone on Pilgrimage 2019

It’s that time of year again, so I just wanted to let our readers know that things will be a little slower than usual this week on NLM. I am currrently in England on a pilgrimage organized by the Schola Sainte Cécile from Paris, visiting a series of major churches and shrines, and attending Masses and Vespers sung by one of the best choirs in the world. The schedule is pretty full, so I won’t have a lot of time to post here, but there will be a lot of beautiful photos, and hopefully some videos, to share with you in the coming days and weeks. (I am for the moment also in a place with very bad internet servic.) Yesterday, we celebrated Vespers and Benediction at the Oxford Oratory...
where I also bumped into an old and dear friend.
“The Oratory... where Cardinal Newman preached, Gerard Manley Hopkins was a priest, and JRR Tolkien worshipped.”

J. Kirk Richards: Sacred Art in the Naturalistic Style

One heartening trend today is the growing number of young artists who are rejecting the ethos of our mainstream art schools, and choosing instead to learn to draw and paint in the classical naturalistic styles. We have moved from a situation 50 years ago in which there was barely anywhere still teaching traditional methods, to one today where there are many. In US cities today there are dozens - perhaps hundreds - of small independent ateliers offering training in what is called the academic method, which originated in the art academies of the High Renaissance period.

For Christians who are interested in contributing to an improvement in sacred art, the ability to draw and paint naturalistically with great skill is not enough. Christians must strike a balance between naturalism and idealism. They must modify naturalistic appearances by partial abstraction to reveal invisible truths. The Baroque masters, for example, used stylistic elements with great skill to suggest that a person has a soul, or that the beauty of creation points to a Creator.

Pope Pius XII summed up the necessary balance of naturalism and idealism in his 1947 encyclical, Mediator Dei (195). He uses the words “realism” and “symbolism” to denote what I refer to as naturalism and idealism, respectively.
Recent works of art which lend themselves to the materials of modern composition, should not be universally despised and rejected through prejudice. Modern art should be given free scope in the due and reverent service of the church and the sacred rites, provided that they preserve a correct balance between styles tending neither to extreme realism nor to excessive “symbolism,” and that the needs of the Christian community are taken into consideration rather than the particular taste or talent of the individual artist. Thus modern art will be able to join its voice to that wonderful choir of praise to which have contributed, in honor of the Catholic faith, the greatest artists throughout the centuries. 
It is not an easy task for artists to do this, even assuming they have the necessary drawing and painting skill. The tendency of those who try is to make the art too naturalistic on the one hand - which lacks a sense of the sacred; or to make it too abstract on the other - which creates bad expressionistic art.

Here is the approach to striking that balance taken by one contemporary art called J. Kirk Richards (h/t to reader Kathryn Cardenas, who is a highly skilled artist herself, for bringing his work to my notice).

First, here are examples of mundane art by the artist. His style in these reminds me of the work of Gustav Klimpt of the Vienna Successionist school from the turn of the last century.

Here are examples of his sacred art.
The Resurrection
The woman at the well
The commissioning of the women

The Nativity
Suffer the Children
Interestingly, Kirk is a Mormon. I do not know anything about the tradition of art in the Church of Latter-Day Saints and so cannot say if this is typical. Certainly, I think that Catholics should consider, at least, his approach. I am not suggesting necessarily that you adopt an identical form of idealization (I happen to like it very much), but I would say that you need some coherent departure from natural appearances if you are serious about creating sacred art for the Church today. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Liturgical Wisdom

The son honoureth the father, and the servant his master.
If then I be a father, where is my honour?
And if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts.
To you, O priests, that despise my name, and have said:
Wherein have we despised thy name?
You offer polluted bread upon my altar, and you say:
Wherein have we polluted thee?
In that you say: The table of the Lord is contemptible.
(Mal 1:6–7)
As St. John teaches, if our charity reaches perfection, we no longer stand in a slavish fear of God as our master and judge (1 Jn 4:18). Rather, we love Him as “all good and deserving of all our love.” In this way we do still fear Him, but with the fear of sons who reverence their Father and are afraid of offending Him or of doing less for Him than they ought. This is what the Catholic tradition refers to as “filial fear” or “reverential fear.” Perfect love does not cast out virtuous fear, but rather intensifies it.

The Introit for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost combines explicit joy and implicit fear in a striking juxtaposition: “Clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of joy. Ps. For the Lord is most high, He is terrible; He is a great King over all the earth.” The Church is teaching us that our joy is rooted in the Lord’s sovereignty, our exaltation in His aweful might. The nations clap their hands because God is a great King over all the earth; otherwise they would cower in fear of their enemies, visible and invisible. The Psalmist never lets us forget this fundamental truth of creaturehood: Servite Domino in timore, et exsultate ei cum tremore. “Serve ye the Lord in fear, and exult in Him with trembling” (Ps 2:11). “In your fear I will worship toward your holy temple” (Ps 5:8).

It is therefore cause for spiritual concern that the note of holy fear is minimal in the reformed liturgical books, considering how enormous a role it plays in the Bible — in both Testaments! — and in the traditional Latin liturgy that transmits the pure spirit of Christian worship to us. Evidently it was decided that “modern man” had transcended the relationship of subordinate to superior, of son to father, and consequently had outgrown the need for that “fear of the Lord” so often emphasized in Scripture. (Just to have a rough sense of it, the phrase “fear of the Lord” appears 52 times in the Douay-Rheims translation.)

The most poignant symbol of the universal loss of reverential fear was the abandonment of the practice of kneeling before the Holy One of Israel, really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and of receiving Him on the tongue from an ordained minister. This old custom, which happily survives here and there, literally embodies man’s dependency on God, his lowliness and unworthiness, his desire to give to God who reigns in heaven the adoration due to Him alone, and his desire for healing and elevation. One must first be low in order to be raised up on high, as the Magnificat proclaims. In this practice is contained the humility of willing to be fed like a baby bird by its parent or a child still too small to feed itself. In the supernatural domain, we are all children who need to be fed by the Father, fed with the bread that is His Son.

The great Advent hymn Conditor alme siderum contains this marvelous stanza:
Cuius forti potentiae
genu curvantur omnia;
caelestia, terrestria
nutu fatentur subdita.

At whose dread Name, majestic now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
And things celestial Thee shall own,
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.
The modified Creator alme siderum conveys the same message in a more classical form:
Cuius potestas gloriae,
Nomenque cum primum sonat,
et caelites et inferi
tremente curvantur genu.

Thy glorious power, Thy saving Name
No sooner any voice can frame,
But heaven and earth and hell agree
To honor them with trembling knee.
“Heaven and earth and hell agree / To honor them with trembling knee.” But we of the modern West are too arrogant to do so anymore. “Live Free or Die,” proclaims the motto of New Hampshire; our knees will not tremble before tyrants. When we worship the god of liberty, we “sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play” (cf. Ex 32:6), no bowing and scraping, no genuflecting. Our collective head must be big indeed, a microcosm without a God, like the world of the Pharisee in the Gospel of the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost. We’re not even good enough for hell, since, as Scripture says, “the demons believe — and tremble” (Jas 2:19), while we prance right up to the table of plenty and take the wafer like a chip at a snackbar. “Wherein have we polluted thee? In that you say: The table of the Lord is contemptible.”

As time goes on, we see ever more clearly that the reasons that were invoked to justify changing the liturgy for the supposed benefit of “modern man” are either the same as or analogous to the reasons that have been and will be invoked for redacting or suppressing Sacred Scripture as well. The message of the Bible must be carefully filtered so that the fear of the Lord, His wrath, His justice, His punishments, His uncompromising demands, will not invade and annoy the minds of modern sophisticates, long since graduated from the savage anthropomorphism of the patriarchs and matriarchs. In reality, we are more like mentally challenged Kindergarteners who have not even reached the threshold of the medieval mind that imagined and executed the transcendent judgment scenes carved across the tympana of Romanesque and Gothic churches.

The Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, made news a couple of years ago when he said we can’t know for sure what Jesus taught because we didn’t have a tape recorder to capture His exact words. According to this Jesuit, we have received Christ’s teaching through the lens of people who may not be entirely trustworthy, so today we must reinterpret Christ’s message through the lens of our own discernment and the voice of our conscience. In other words, we have to grow up, stand on our own two feet, stop depending on what we have been given already, and update Jesus for our times.

Don’t we see the same dynamic at play in the past half-century of liturgical reform? We can’t know for sure what the Eucharistic Sacrifice was supposed to be because we don’t have a tape recorder of the Last Supper or the post-resurrection discourses. We have received our liturgy from people who may not be entirely trustworthy, particularly if they lived in the allegory-addicted Middle Ages or the lavish courts of the Counter-Reformation. Today we have to reinterpret liturgy through the lens of our own “hopes” and “dreams.” Let’s stand on our own two feet as we queue up for the token of belonging.

Evidently, this is what the Eucharist has become to a great number of Catholics: the much-discussed recent Pew Research Center survey shows that huge numbers of Catholics, even those who regularly go to Mass, either do not know the teaching of the Church on transubstantiation or, knowing it, do not believe it. Catechesis is good, but it is not enough; what is needed is a form of liturgy that cries out Real Presence and humbles itself to the dust in adoration. What is needed, in short, is reverential fear.

Back in the 1960s, kneeling for communion and receiving it on the tongue was scoffed at as childish. In our own day, believing that marriage is really indissoluble for life, or that the death penalty is a legitimate response to some crimes, is considered naïve, immature, unrealistic, cruel. The basic move is the same: what the Bible says, what Catholic tradition says, what the liturgy says in words and signs, has to be reinterpreted and adapted for our contemporary situation. If this means outright contradiction, so be it. The thesis demands its antithesis, which will lead us to a new and better synthesis — right?

The line linking Hegel and Feuerbach to Jungmann and Teilhard to Kasper and Bergoglio may not always be obvious, but it is nonetheless intrinsic and profound. The traditional liturgy is absolutely incompatible with this line and is its only remedy.

When Our Lord was praying Psalm 22 upon the altar of the Cross, letting go of His lifeblood for us sinners, He would have prayed these verses:
You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
all you seed of Jacob, glorify Him;
and stand in awe of Him, all you the seed of Israel.
A triple imperative: praise Him, glorify Him, stand in awe of Him . . . you who fear the Lord. May this be the mind we put on (cf. Phil 2:5) when we assist at the same sacrifice.
Visit for articles, sacred music, and classics reprinted by Os Justi Press (e.g., Benson, Scheeben, Parsch, Guardini, Chaignon, Leen).

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The St Gregory Institute’s Chant and Polyphony Workshop

From July 22 and 24, the newly founded St Gregory Institute of Sacred Music held its Chant and Polyphony Workshop for Parish Musicians at two different churches in suburban Pittsburgh. The workshop, attended by fifteen music directors, choristers, and students from various parts of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, culminated in an Extraordinary Form Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost at Mary, Help of Christians Church in McKees Rocks. The Mass, offered by Fr. Alek Schrenk on the occasion of the founding of the Institute, was attended by over 100 people and featured Gregorian propers, Hassler’s Missa Secunda, and motets by Pitoni and Croce. (Our readers may remember Fr Schrenk from his contributions to our annual series on the Lenten stations in 2018.)

Here are some audio files from the concluding Mass, and below, Father’s homily.
Gradual Beata gens.

Offertory motet Cantate Domino by Giuseppe Pitoni

The Sanctus of Hassler’s Missa Secunda

The Benedictus

The Agnus Dei

The Communio Factus est repente

Today concludes the first three-day workshop offered by the newly founded St. Gregory Institute of Sacred Music. With this Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost offered in the ancient form of the Roman Rite, we implore God to send down abundant graces upon this noble project. Music is integral to our worship; it is, in fact, an act of worship itself.

Saint John Paul II, speaking on the topic of sacred music in 1988, affirmed that music in the sacred liturgy “performs a function which is noble, unique, and irreplaceable. When it is truly beautiful and inspired, it speaks to us more than all the other arts of goodness, virtue, peace; of matters holy and divine.”

If you will permit me to wax poetic for a moment, the sacred music of the Church — and especially the venerable treasury of Gregorian chant, which is the unique and organic expression of the Church’s voice at prayer — reveals to us something of the very Spirit of God. At the very beginning of time, Genesis tells us that “the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved over the waters.”

The word “spirit”, Latin “spiritus”, is also the word for “breath.” And so when Christ appears to his Apostles after the Resurrection there is an echo — or perhaps, a fulfillment — of that primal Spirit of Genesis. The Gospel of Saint John tells us that “he breathed on them; and he said to them: ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ ” Risen from the dead, Christ comes to impart this new life into his Body, the Church; and through that breath, he is creating the world anew. Just as the Spirit of God moved upon the waters, that same Spirit moves within the Church, moving her to speak “in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles.” When we speak in the Church’s language and sing in the voice of her own song, it is truly the Holy Ghost who speaks through us; it is truly the Holy Ghost in whose voice we sing.

“The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name; he will teach you all things.” The sacred music of the Church has much to teach us. In the psalms, we find expressions of joy, sorrow, hope, and trust; and in time, as we sing these words and meditate upon them, they became our own voice of prayer. Like a child learning how speak, there is a certain effort involved in this process. The sober restraint, flowing cadence, and occasional exuberant and melismatic expressions of the Church’s chant are not the native musical language of anyone living today; but then again, these songs sounded just as alien to the ears of Mozart as they do to us. Perhaps they have always been so.

And I so I would like to commend the effort of those who have participated in the Institute’s workshops for the past three days. Their efforts find a fitting culmination and fulfillment here in the sacred liturgy, where all the arts and all our human efforts are crowned by the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Upon this altar, we offer to God the best of what we have, grateful that these sincere efforts are accepted and perfected by God for his glory and for our salvation.

On my own account, I would like to thank Mr. Nicholas Will for the invitation to celebrate this Mass and to be present for the inauguration of this important initiative. May the experience of these past three days bear much fruit for all who have participated in them, and through the intercession of Saint Gregory the Great, may the future of this institute be richly blessed.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Abbey of St Augustine in Żagań, Poland

Our friend Dom Jakobus, a canon of Herzogenburg Abbey in Austria, administers a Facebook page about the various orders of canons regular, and recently posted pictures of the former church of the Augustinian Canons Regular in Żagań, Poland. I say “former” because the religious communites that founded the vast majority of such churches were turfed out of them during the various waves of revolutions that destroyed so much of Catholic Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the church is now a parish. However, it retains many beautiful signs and memories of its earlier history, including many images of the great Saints among the various families of Canons Regular. Thanks to Dom Jakobus for his permission to share these photos with our readers.

A statue of St Augustine, whose very simple Rule was taken as the basis of canonical life for many different kinds of  religious communities, while leaving ample room for individual congregations to develop their own particular traditions.
The main altar seen from the gallery.
Very nice choir stalls, each decorated with a painting of a different episode of the life of St Augustine.

Brian Holdsworth on Unbelief in the Real Presence

The Catholic internet has seen a good number of articles in the last several days about a recent Pew Research Center Poll, which shows that only a quarter of Catholics under the age of 40 believe in Transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As is his wont, Brian Holdsworth has come up with (for my money) the best commentary on the matter thus far. He very rightly points that this is not primarily a problem of catechesis, and this is not the kind of problem that one resolves intellectually, because the reality of Christ’s presence in the Mass is not something which we experience primarily in an intellectual way. The greatest obstacle to presenting what the Church teaches about the Mass and the Eucharist is our low standards for the celebration of the liturgy, in which we actually experience these realities. If you surround the Real Presence with ugly, banal and commonplace architecture, decorations and especially music, you are sending the message, whether you mean to or not, that this is not really God Himself present in our midst. Watch the whole thing, it is well worth your time, and if you have the opportunity, share it with your pastor, bishop, youth ministry coordinator etc. Kudos once again, Mr Holdsworth!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Blessing of Flowers and Herbs on the Assumption

According to a fairly ancient tradition, which St John Damascene (among others) attests in the 8th century, when it came time for the Virgin Mary’s earthly life to end, all of the Apostles, then scattered over the earth to preach the Gospel, were miraculously brought to Jerusalem in an instant to be present for Her death. St Thomas, however, was late in arriving, as he had been late to witness the Lord’s Resurrection. When the Virgin had died, they laid Her body to rest in a tomb in the garden of Gethsemani, outside the city; three days later, when Thomas arrived in Jerusalem, he wished to venerate it. The Apostles went as a group to the tomb, but on opening it, discovered that Her body was no longer there, and a sweet odor came forth, confirming that (as Damascene writes) “Whom once it pleased to take the flesh from the Virgin Mary, and become a man, and be born (of Her)… and who after birth preserved Her virginity incorrupt, it also pleased, after Her passing, to honor Her immaculate body … by translating (it to Heaven) before the common and universal resurrection.”

The Oddi Altarpiece, by Raphael Sanzio, painted in 1502-3, when the artist was only 19 years old; now in the Painting Gallery of the Vatican Museums. Above, the Virgin is crowned by Christ, and surrounded by angels, four of whom are playing musical instruments; below, the Apostles are gathered around Her tomb, with some of them looking upwards and listening to the music. St Thomas is in the middle of the group, with his head tilted back, and has received from the Virgin Her belt; this relic is now, according to tradition, preserved in the cathedral of Prato, Italy. Her tomb is filled with flowers growing out of the stone; Raphael himself appears on the far right as one of the Apostles, wearing black and looking straight out at the viewer.
According to one version of this legend, the other eleven Apostles believed in the Assumption because angelic music played in the air over the tomb on the day of the burial, and for three days after; St Thomas, arriving after the music had ceased, refused to believe them until the tomb was opened and the absence of the body confirmed. According to another version, Thomas already knew and believed in the Assumption before coming to Jerusalem, and brought the others to the tomb to show them that the Virgin’s body was gone, after which they heard all the music together. A further addition to the story says that flowers were growing out of the stone sarcophagus in which She had been laid, and were the source of the sweet odor coming out of the tomb, confirming the Apostles’ faith in Her Assumption.

A stained glass window from Siena Cathedral by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1288. The central panels represent the death of the Virgin (below), the Assumption (middle) and Coronation (above.) The corners show the Four Evangelists, the middle panels on the left and right the patron Saints of the city.
In honor of this last part of the story, the Church instituted the custom of blessing wild herbs and flowers on the feast of the Assumption. The blessing originated in Germany, and is first attested in the 10th century; one version of it or another is found in a great many of the liturgical books which contain blessings of this sort. In the 1614 Roman Ritual of Pope Paul V, it consists of a psalm, a series of versicles and responses, three prayers, and the blessing, after which the flowers are sprinkled with holy water; the blessing is supposed to be done before the principal Mass of the day.

I here give the blessing in English translation; the Latin text is found in the Rituale among the blessings not reserved to bishops, shortly after the Sunday blessing of holy water and the Asperges. Various versions of the Rituale can be downloaded from Google Books; it also available on SanctaMissa.org

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 64 is said in full.

V. The Lord will give goodness.
R. And our earth shall yield her fruit. (Ps. 84)
V. Thou waterest the hills from Thy upper rooms.
R. The earth shall be filled with the fruit of Thy works.
V. Bringing forth grass for cattle.
R. And herbs for the service of men.
V. That Thou may bring bread out of the earth.
R. And that wine may cheer the heart of man.
V. That he may make the face cheerful with oil.
R. And that bread may strengthen man’s heart. (Ps. 103)
V. He sent his word, and healed them.
R. And delivered them from their destructions. (Ps. 106)

V. Lord, heed my prayer.
R. And let my cry be heard by you.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, who by Thy word created from nothing the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things visible and invisible, and commanded the earth to bring forth plants and trees for the use of men and beasts, and each one to have fruit in itself according to its seed; and in Thy ineffable goodness granted not only that the plants might serve as the food of living creatures, but also that they might profit ailing bodies as medicine; with mind and word we humbly pray Thee that in Thy clemency Thou may bless + these herbs and fruits of various kinds, and pour upon them the grace of Thy renewed blessing, above the natural power which Thou gavest them; so that, when used by men and beasts in Thy name, they may become a defense against every disease and adversity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy son etc. R. Amen.

Let us pray. O God, who through Moses, Thy servant, commanded the children of Israel to bear sheaves of new fruits to the priests to be blessed, and to take the fruits of the finest trees, and rejoice before Thee, the Lord their God; in Thy mercy be present to our supplications, and pour forth the abundance of Thy bless+ing upon us and upon these bundles of new fruits, new herbs, and upon the gathering of fruits which we bring before Thee with thanksgiving, and on this solemn feast we bless in Thy name. And grant that they may give to men, cattle, flocks, and beasts of burden a remedy against sickness, pestilence, sores, curses, spells, against the poison of serpents and bites of other venomous animals. And may they bring protection against the devil’s illusions, and devisings and cunning, wherever they or any portion of them are kept and carried, or otherwise used; so that, with the sheaves of good works, by the merits of the blessed Virgin Mary, the feast of whose Assumption we keep, we may merit to be taken up to that place whither She was assumed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy son etc. R. Amen.

Let us pray. O God, who on this day raised up to the heights of heaven the rod of Jesse, the Mother of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that by Her prayers and patronage Thou might communicate to our mortal nature the fruit of Her womb, the same Thy Son; we humbly implore Thee, that by His power, and by the glorious patronage of His Mother, with the help of these fruits of the earth, we may be guided through temporal welfare unto everlasting salvation. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy son etc. R. Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, the Son, + and Holy Spirit, come upon these creatures and remain always. R. Amen.

Abp Chaput Visits FSSP Parish

This past Sunday, His Excellency Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, visited the FSSP parish of St Mary in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, which he established last year as a quasi-parish for those attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The Archbishop confirmed several members of the parish, and then attended the solemn Mass in choir. Our thanks once again to Mrs Allison Girone for sharing with us some of her photos of the event.

The famous Confirmation slap!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Music for First Vespers of the Assumption

In the Roman Rite, there are traditionally only three hymns generally used on feasts of the Virgin Mary. These are Ave, Maris Stella, which is sung at Vespers, Quem terra at Matins, and O gloriosa Domina at Lauds; the second and third of these were originally two parts of the same hymn, divided for liturgical use. Among the many other hymns composed in the Middle Ages in honor of the Virgin, a standout is O quam glorifica, an anonymous composition of the ninth century, possibly earlier, which was adopted by several churches for use on the Assumption. At Sarum, it was sung at First Vespers of the feast, while the Parisian Use placed it at Matins, and from these extended it to the Little Office of the Virgin. It was incorporated into the Latin version of the Liturgy of the Hours, although it was not assigned to the Assumption, but to Lauds of Our Lady’s Queenship on August 22, which is now the de facto octave of the Assumption. This is a piece whose complex Latin meter makes for a rather odd word order, and a prime example of a work to which translation perhaps does more than a little injustice. It is here sung by the Trappist monks of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, in a recording from 1958; the Cistercian tradition also places it at first Vespers of the feast.

quam glorifica luce coruscas,
Stirpis Davidicae regia proles!
Sublimis residens, Virgo Maria,
Supra caeligenas aetheris omnes.
O with how glorious light thou shinest,
royal offspring of David’s race!
dwelling on high, O Virgin Mary,
Above all the regions of heaven.
Tu cum virgineo mater honore,
Caelorum Domino pectoris aulam
Sacris visceribus casta parasti;
Natus hinc Deus est corpore Christus.
Thou, chaste mother with virginal honor,
prepared in thy holy womb
a dwelling place for the Lord of heaven;
hence God, Christ, was born in a body.
Quem cunctus venerans orbis adorat,
Cui nunc rite genuflectitur omne;
A quo te, petimus, subveniente,
Abjectis tenebris, gaudia lucis.
Whom all the word adores in veneration,
before whom every knee rightfully bends,
From whom we ask, as thou comest to help,
the joys of light, and the casting away
   of darkness.
Hoc largire Pater luminis omnis,
Natum per proprium, Flamine sacro,
Qui tecum nitida vivit in aethra
Regnans, ac moderans saecula cuncta.
Grant this, Father of all light,
Through thine own Son, by the Holy Spirit,
who with liveth in the bright heaven,
ruling and governing all the ages.

The Sarum and Dominican Uses also have a special Magnificat antiphon for First Vespers of the Assumption, much longer than those typically found in the Roman Use.

Aña Ascendit Christus super caelos, et praeparavit suae castissimae Matri immortalitatis locum: et haec est illa praeclara festivitas, omnium Sanctorum festivitatibus incomparabilis, in qua gloriosa et felix, mirantibus caelestis curiae ordinibus, ad aethereum pervenit thalamum: quo pia sui memorum immemor nequaquam exsistat. – Christ ascended above the heavens, and prepared for His most chaste Mother the place of immortality; and this is the splendid festivity, beyond comparison with the feasts of all the Saints, in which She in glory and rejoicing, as the orders of the heavely courts beheld in wonder, came to the heavenly bridal chamber; that She in her benevolence may ever be mindful of those that remember her.

TLM Altar Boy Camp in Slovakia

Our thanks to Fr Radovan Rajčák, a priest from Slovakia, for sharing with us this account of a camp held earlier this summer to teach altar boys about the traditional Mass. It seems like this is a kind of initiative that could easily be reproduced elsewhere, and be very useful for introducing the young to the beauty of our Catholic liturgical tradition.

From July 1-6, the first traditional camp for altar boys took place in the village of Motyčky, which is located near the Marian pilgrimage shrine of Staré Hory in Slovakia. The whole camp was accompanied by an intensive liturgical course on the traditional Latin Mass, meditations, prayer of the Holy Rosary, catechesis about the Mass, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The camp was attended by 20 altar boys and 5 priests who coordinated the whole program, and also added some trips, sporting activities and games to the spiritual program, helping to build and strengthen friendships between the boys.

The main idea for the camp was based built on the Catholic altar boys organization Legio Angelica, which was founded before World War II in Bohemia (1929); because of its popularity, German and Slovak branches were also established. The main goals were to encourage the boys to grow in virtue, knowledge of Catholic doctrine and practice of the liturgy; a lot of “legionists” (as they called themselves) became priests. In Slovakia, the organization brought together about 1,500 boys, but in 1948, the whole project was shut down by the Communist authorities.

This new camp took over the basic idea of the Legio Angelica, so that altar boys could become acquainted with the grandeur and importance of their ministry, as many of their predecessors had done, during the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. Every single boy was deeply affected and, as they themselves attested, captivated by the beauty of tradition.

Photopost Request: Assumption 2019

Our next major photopost will be for tomorrow’s feast of the Assumption; please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to for inclusion. As always, we are very glad to include photographs of celebrations in the Eastern rites and the Ordinariate rite, as well as Vespers and other parts of the Divine Office, blessings, processions, the vigil Mass etc. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!

From our first Assumption photopost of last year, the blessing of herbs and wildflowers at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors, South Carolina.
From the second post, Marian blue vestments at St John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Card. Burke Celebrates Traditional Priestly Ordination

This past Saturday, the feast of St Lawrence, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke ordained Brother Thomas Mary of Jesus, Er. Carm., in the Extraordinary Form at the cathedral of St Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The local ordinary, Bishop Ronald Gainer, and the Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh, William Waltersheid, were both present for the ceremony, as well Fr Mario Esposito, the Prior Provincial of the North American province of the Carmelite Order. Fr Thomas Mary is a member of the Hermits of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, a religious community which observes the eremitical charism of the first hermits on Mount Carmel and the primitive Carmelite Rule of St Albert of Jerusalem. Here is the complete video of the ceremony; another was made of his First Mass, and should be available in a few days. Mr Patrick Torsell, music director at Mater Dei, the local FSSP church, conducted the schola, and was kind enough to provide us with some photos of the ceremony taken from the choir loft, which we include below the video. Our congratulations to the new priest, to his family and friends, and to his religious community – ad multos annos!

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