Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Catholic Kenesiology - How We Can Evangelize Through Sports Psychology

Last month I spoke at the annual conference of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, which took place at Montreal in Canada. While there I met Dr David Cutton, who teaches in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University, Kingsville.

Kinesiology is the study of the mechanics of body movements, and it incorporates not only the purely physical aspects, but also the related psychological aspects, especially in relation to improving performance through motivation.

This is not a Catholic university, and the field is not taught from a particularly Catholic perspective, but David has been telling me how his study of Christian anthropology has given him deeper insights into what is taught there, and why certain aspects of it work so well. I wanted to know more about this. I have a growing conviction that greater recognition of the unity of body, the soul and the spirit in the human person, especially in relation to people’s general health and happiness, could be the driving force for the evangelization of the West. We have to see it more clearly first ourselves, I think, before we can articulate it to others. My hope is to see the development of a Body, Soul, Spirit movement founded in Christian principles that supplants the neo-pagan Mind, Body, Spirit movement that began the 1970s that has driven much of what passes for spirituality in the West today. I wrote about this recently here. So much “wellness” and yoga-inspired meditation, for example, comes out of this. People are searching for God - even if they don’t know it - in order to escape the dullness, and the fear, anxiety, even dread, that goes with an atheist materialist worldview. We can give them what they truly desire if we can communicate the Good News to them in a way that can understand.

When I asked David for some examples from his experience, he directed me to a paper he had written for the winter 2019 edition of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly entitled Interior Dialogue, or Self-Talk: Psychological and Theological Foundations. He describes how sports psychologists recognize that we dialogue with ourselves. The dialogue takes place because there are thoughts that occur to us first, and then there is part of us that observes those thoughts and responds to them. “Self-talk” is the name given to this interior dialogue. In a book to which he refers in the paper, Charles Fernyhough’s The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves (New York: Teachers College Press, 2016), the author even describes how so many people attribute the source of this natural process of inner dialogue to divine inspiration.

In the context of sports psychology, this dialogue is then directed so as to help the motivation of the sportsman and enhance performance, perhaps, or to aid in the motivation to complete rehabilitation. In very simple terms, this method teaches the person to distinguish good thoughts from bad thoughts, and then to reinforce the good while discarding the bad. In this context, good is a thought that will help a weightlifter, for example, to lift more weight - perhaps a strong internal affirmation that it is possible for him to do it. A bad thought might be a doubt that it is possible. It is broadly accepted that these techniques have measurable effects on the performances of sportsmen and women.

Cutton then goes on to point out that some traditional methods of Christian contemplative prayer are techniques whereby we do just this, and it can help us to strive for virtue.

As I read the paper, I could immediately see possibilities for engagement with the secular world through this. It occurs to me that we could offer the sportsman techniques in Christian contemplative prayer (perhaps without even letting them know initially that they are Christian, if this is likely to arouse prejudice) as a technique for developing within us that faculty of good self-talk.

If we get this far, we are already making great progress, for this is introducing what will be very likely to be perceived as just another meditation technique, but one that is crucially different from the usual techniques that come from Eastern non-Christian religions and philosophies. This is not a process of no-thought, or even one of indifference to thought; rather, it is one that recognizes a distinction between good and bad thoughts. This is opening the door in their hearts to the recognition of objective truth and leading them away from the relativism that New Age movements encourage. Even if there is no discussion beyond this as to what the good is, or no explicit introduction of the Christian message, it is still good; it is sowing mustard seeds that might germinate and grow into trees of faith in time.

A mustard tree
Furthermore, the recognition of this internal dialogue is consistent with the person who is not just aware, but aware that he is aware. The faculty of this self-observation is the spirit of man, as it is understood in Christian anthropology. So when we explain to the person why it works, we can start to talk of a Christian and scriptural anthropology of body, soul, and spirit.

Where it goes from there will depend on the situation. But I could envisage, for example, a situation in which the sports psychologist or coach could go on to introduce discerningly and by degrees a steadily deeper description of the authentic spiritual life. We might gradually introduce the idea, for example, that this is not exclusively a conversation within ourselves; some of those thoughts, especially the good ones, are the result of openness to inspiration from beyond. As they are spiritual in nature, the source, it might be argued, is a spiritual being that is good and divine. If the research referred to is correct, the seeds of such ideas are likely to be occurring to them intuitively already.

Going further, one can imagine that we could get to the point where we say that the most powerful encounter with that source of inspiration and which will encourage the most beneficial “self-talk” is the worship of that being, God, whereby the whole person - body, soul, and spirit - is engaged in the greatest conformity to an attitude of receptivity... “And would you like to come to Vespers with me this evening?”

What will make non-Christians take notice is a positive experience of this prayer. The reason that people immerse themselves in yoga is that they feel better for doing it, and they are curious as why. While wanting to do well at sport is not the noblest goal in life, it need not be a bad one, and it might be the first step that leads to the best end in life, God.

I see no reason why such techniques might not just aid in their physical performance but simultaneously lead to a greater and more general sense of well-being. It is this that will stimulate their yearning for something nobler also.

This is the pattern of my own story of conversion. As described in my book The Vision for You, I was offered a series of generic “spiritual” exercises in order to help me to be an artist. I had no interest in God whatsoever. Even as I noticed that these exercises were helping me in my goals, and began to see that some sort of Loving Power was in my life, I first thought of this newly found God as a means, not an end. This changed in time, however, as I started to desire more the happiness that it gave me. Ultimately, this led to my conversion and reception into the Catholic Church. However, while my reason for doing so might have changed over the 30 years since I started this journey, I have never stopped wanting to be an artist.

Monday, October 21, 2019

St. John Henry Newman, the Traditionalist — Part 2: Quotations

Newman wearing a saturno and a winter cappa
Last week I spoke about Newman’s anti-liberal, anti-progressive, anti-modernist side, against those of his fairweather friends and misguided enemies who paint him as a proto-Congar or a proto-De Lubac, as one who practically sketched out the Second Vatican Council and left his notes to Papa Roncalli. The truly Catholic Newman was faithfully expounded in seven books written by Fr Stanley Jaki and still in print, albeit nearly ignored, as they do not flatter modern readers. In a timely manner, Bishop Edward O’Dwyer’s 1908 essay Cardinal Newman and the Encyclical ‘Pascendi Dominici Gregis’ has also just been republished.

Today I would like to make good on my claim that Newman would oppose just about every trend in the Church today, except for the active role taken on by laity — I mean, by conservative and traditional laity who pass on and defend the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in spite of the resistance or indifference of their shepherds, a situation that echoes the fidelity of the laity during the Arian crisis, as Newman carefully documented. I shall quote particularly sparkling passages from his writings. Some of these will be found in the book that I announced on Monday, Newman on Worship, Reverence, and Ritual: A Selection of Texts (US | UK), but most are from other places in his writings. I am not putting these in any particular order, nor am I attempting to canvas his entire career or cherrypick the “best.” Like most great authors, Newman wrote an astonishing amount, and wherever one dips in, one is apt to find treasure.

Ancient Israel as a Model and Warning

In my opinion, one of Newman’s greatest strengths as a biblical exegete is his keen sense, indebted to the Church Fathers, that the Old Testament is not just a record of a particular ancient people or nation, but a mirror we hold up to our faces to see our own image. The virtues of Israel are the virtues of Christians, and their vices our vices.

A splendid example of his approach is the following passage, in which he explains that it would make no difference to have miracles, if we have not faith and love, illustrating the more general (and uncomfortable) truth that Christianity does not somehow automatically make us better than the ancient Israelites. It gives us more access to truth and grace — that is all. We can still imitate their disbelief, even as the best of them foreshadowed our saints and indeed are counted among our saints.
What is the real reason why we do not seek God with all our hearts, and devote ourselves to His service, if the absence of miracles be not the reason, as most assuredly it is not?
       What was it that made the Israelites disobedient, who had miracles? St. Paul informs us, and exhorts us in consequence. “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness ... take heed ... lest there be in any of you” (as there was among the Jews) “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the Living God.” Moses had been commissioned to say the same thing at the very time; “Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep My Commandments always!”
       We cannot serve God, because we want the will and the heart to serve Him. We like any thing better than religion, as the Jews before us. The Jews liked this world; they liked mirth and feasting. “The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play;” so do we. They liked glitter and show, and the world’s fashions. “Give us a king like the nations,” they said to Samuel; so do we. They wished to be let alone; they liked ease; they liked their own way; they disliked to make war against the natural impulses and leanings of their own minds; they disliked to attend to the state of their souls, to have to treat themselves as spiritually sick and infirm, to watch, and rule, and chasten, and refrain, and change themselves; and so do we. They disliked to think of God, and to observe and attend His ordinances, and to reverence Him; they called it a weariness to frequent His courts; and they found this or that false worship more pleasant, satisfactory, congenial to their feelings, than the service of the Judge of quick and dead; and so do we: and therefore we disobey God as they did, — not that we have not miracles; for they actually had them, and it made no difference.
       We act as they did, though they had miracles, and we have not; because there is one cause of it common both to them and us — heartlessness in religious matters, an evil heart of unbelief; both they and we disobey and disbelieve, because we do not love.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, sermon 6, Miracles no Remedy for Unbelief)
In a similar vein, Newman speaks of how even the incarnate Christ remains the “hidden Savior” of Israel, one whose presence calls for reverential fear and faith in things unseen. We can quarrel and commit blasphemy towards Christ just as the Jews of His day did:
If He is still on earth, yet is not visible (which cannot be denied), it is plain that He keeps Himself still in the condition which He chose in the days of His flesh. I mean, He is a hidden Saviour, and may be approached (unless we are careful) without due reverence and fear. I say, wherever He is (for that is a further question), still He is here, and again He is secret; and whatever be the tokens of His Presence, still they must be of a nature to admit of persons doubting where it is; and if they will argue, and be sharpwitted and subtle, they may perplex themselves and others, as the Jews did even in the days of His flesh, till He seems to them nowhere present on earth now. And when they come to think him far away, of course they feel it to be impossible so to insult Him as the Jews did of old; and if nevertheless He is here, they are perchance approaching and insulting Him, though they so feel. And this was just the case of the Jews, for they too were ignorant what they were doing. It is probable, then, that we can now commit at least as great blasphemy towards Him as the Jews did first, because we are under the dispensation of that Holy Spirit, against whom even more heinous sins can be committed; next, because His presence now as little witnesses of itself, or is impressive to the many, as His bodily presence formerly.”  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 4, sermon 16, Christ Hidden from the World)
One of very few pictures we have of Newman in liturgical garb

Church Services Too Long and In Need of Modification?

Newman sees the liturgical services (or “ordinances”) of the Church as an opportunity to test our actual resolve to be holy, to attend in faith and love to God’s presence. If we cannot bring ourselves to go to church at a set time to meet the Lord and to concentrate our minds on Him when the means are provided to us, why should we presume that we will succeed in putting our minds on Him elsewhere, when no consistent means are given? Back in Newman’s day, proposals were afoot for shortening and simplifying the Church’s public worship, and he opposed them staunchly. As we know, one of the principal goals of twentieth-century liturgical reform in the Catholic Church was to abbreviate all the ceremonies, because they were considered too long for Modern Man.Ô This tendency was at work in Pius XII’s Holy Week deformation before the epitome of exiguity was achieved in the hieratic haiku of the rites of Paul VI. Newman has something helpful to say to this self-sabotaging reformism:
If any one alleges the length of the Church prayers as a reason for his not keeping his mind fixed upon them, I would beg him to ask his conscience whether he sincerely believes this to be at bottom the real cause of his inattention? Does he think he should attend better if the prayers were shorter? This is the question he has to consider. If he answers that he believes he should attend more closely in that case, then I go on to ask, whether he attends more closely (as it is) to the first part of the service than to the last; whether his mind is his own, regularly fixed on what he is engaged in, for any time in any part of the service? Now, if he is obliged to own that this is not the case, that his thoughts are wandering in all parts of the service, and that even during the Confession, or the Lord’s Prayer, which come first, they are not his own, it is quite clear that it is not the length of the service which is the real cause of his inattention, but his being deficient in the habit of being attentive. If, on the other hand, he answers that he can fix his thoughts for a time, and during the early part of the service, I would have him reflect that even this degree of attention was not always his own, that it has been the work of time and practice; and, if by trying he has got so far, by trying he may go on and learn to attend for a still longer time, till at length he is able to keep up his attention through the whole service.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, sermon 11, Profession without Hypocrisy)
Newman makes mention of the Lord’s Prayer, which for him exemplifies the value of simple, clear, unemotional, formal prayer — as long as it remains true to its type:
Christ gave us a prayer to guide us in praying to the Father; and upon this model our own Liturgy is strictly formed. You will look in vain in the Prayer Book for long or vehement Prayers; for it is only upon occasions that agitation of mind is right, but there is ever a call upon us for seriousness, gravity, simplicity, deliberate trust, deep-seated humility. Many persons, doubtless, think the Church prayers, for this very reason, cold and formal. They do not discern their high perfection, and they think they could easily write better prayers. When such opinions are advanced, it is quite sufficient to turn our thoughts to our Saviour’s precept and example. It cannot be denied that those who thus speak, ought to consider our Lord’s prayer defective; and sometimes they are profane enough to think so, and to confess they think so.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, sermon Sermon 14, Religious Emotion)
One wonders what Newman would have said about a pope twisting the last line of the Lord’s Prayer to say something that the Greek New Testament doesn’t say, and then to enforce his “new and improved” version on segments of the Church. We know what he would say about a pope abandoning the Latin language for Catholic worship:
The Mass must not be said without a Missal under the priest’s eye; nor in any language but that in which it has come down to us from the early hierarchs of the Western Church. (Idea of a University, Part II, ch. 6: “University Preaching,” 1855) 
Along similar lines, Newman preached on the quality of zeal that befits the confessor of Christ, and complained quite movingly of coreligionists who dared to suggest purging verses from the Psalter because they were no longer fitting to recite. We pick up the thread where he is telling us how much we are supposed to keep learning from the Old Testament. Watch where he goes with the Psalter:
A certain fire of zeal, showing itself, not by force and blood, but as really and certainly as if it did — cutting through natural feelings, neglecting self, preferring God’s glory to all things, firmly resisting sin, protesting against sinners, and steadily contemplating their punishment, is a duty belonging to all creatures of God, a duty of Christians, in the midst of all that excellent overflowing charity which is the highest Gospel grace, and the fulfilling of the second table of the Law.
       And such, in fact, has ever been the temper of the Christian Church; in evidence of which I need but appeal to the impressive fact that the Jewish Psalter has been the standard book of Christian devotion from the first down to this day. I wish we thought more of this circumstance. Can any one doubt that, supposing that blessed manual of faith and love had never been in use among us, great numbers of the present generation would have clamoured against it as unsuitable to express Christian feelings, as deficient in charity and kindness?
       Nay, do we not know, though I dare say it may surprise many a sober Christian to hear that it is so, that there are men at this moment who (I hardly like to mention it) wish parts of the Psalms left out of the Service as ungentle and harsh? Alas! that men of this day should rashly put their own judgment in competition with that of all the Saints of every age hitherto since Christ came — should virtually say, “Either they have been wrong or we are,” thus forcing us to decide between the two. Alas! that they should dare to criticise the words of inspiration! Alas! that they should follow the steps of the backsliding Israelites, and shrink from siding with the Truth in its struggle with the world, instead of saying with Deborah, “So let all Thine enemies perish, O Lord!”  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 3, sermon 13. Jewish Zeal, a Pattern for Christians)
Yet Paul VI did exactly what Newman railed against: he had “parts of the Psalms left out of the Service” (that is, the Liturgy of the Hours of 1970), following the steps of the backsliding Israelites. See this link for a full listing of the omitted verses.

I would go further and say that Newman, of all modern theologians, is the one whose thought stands most opposed, as a matter of principle, to the postconciliar liturgical reform.
There never was a time since the apostles’ day when the Church was not; and there never was a time but men were to be found who preferred some other way of worship to the Church’s way. These two kinds of professed Christians ever have been — Church Christians and Christians not of the Church; and it is remarkable, I say, that while, on the one hand, reverence for sacred things has been a characteristic of Church Christians on the whole, so, want of reverence has been the characteristic on the whole of Christians not of the Church.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, sermon 1, Reverence in Worship)
Did those who radically altered the inherited liturgy, with its profound spirit of reverence exhibited and inculcated in a thousand turns of phrase, bows of the head, kisses of the altar, bending of the knees — did they “prefer some other way of worship” to what had been, for so many centuries, “the Church’s way”? Did they show “reverence for sacred things” or rather an appalling “want [lack] of reverence”? As if continuing his train of thought, Newman says in a different sermon:
It is scarcely too much to say that awe and fear are at the present day all but discarded from religion. Whole societies called Christian make it almost a first principle to disown the duty of reverence; and we ourselves, to whom as children of the Church reverence is as a special inheritance, have very little of it, and do not feel the want of it.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 5, sermon 2, Reverence, a Belief in God’s Presence)

A Church is Like Heaven — or Should Be

Newman’s vision of what heaven will be like is all the more challenging to read in the postconciliar period, when his comparison of it to services in church seems to apply to nearly no Catholic parish except those that have resolutely returned to tradition:
Heaven then is not like this world; I will say what it is much more like, — a church. For in a place of public worship no language of this world is heard; there are no schemes brought forward for temporal objects, great or small; no information how to strengthen our worldly interests, extend our influence, or establish our credit. These things indeed may be right in their way, so that we do not set our hearts upon them; still (I repeat), it is certain that we hear nothing of them in a church. Here we hear solely and entirely of God. We praise Him, worship Him, sing to Him, thank Him, confess to Him, give ourselves up to Him, and ask His blessing. And therefore, a church is like heaven; viz. because both in the one and the other, there is one single sovereign subject — religion — brought before us.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, sermon 1. Holiness Necessary for Future Blessedness)
Such views about the afterlife and the way in which a church service should emulate the state of beatitude would probably be written off today by many as “romantic” or “romanticized,” as much as would be Guéranger’s reconstruction of medieval monasticism, Mocquereau’s reinterpretation of plainchant, or Pugin’s and Viollet-le-Duc’s reclamation of Gothic architecture. Yet what all of these 19th-century geniuses had in common is their strong artistic intuition and lively religious imagination. In short, they were not rationalists and historicists, but believers and emulators.

Newman was concerned about the worldliness that ever threatened to creep into the Church, as he complains about “the American Church,” i.e., the Episcopalians.
If this view of things is allowed a footing, a sleek gentlemanlike religion will grow up within the sacred pale, with well-warmed chapels, softly cushioned pews, and eloquent preachers. The poor and needy, the jewels of the Church, will dwindle away; the clergy will sink in honour, and rich laymen will culminate. Already, Mr. Caswall informs us, “there are churches which rather resemble splendid drawing-rooms than houses of worship, and in which the poor man could hardly feel himself at home. Handsome carpets cover every part of the floor,” and “the pews are luxuriously cushioned in a manner calculated to invite repose.” (Essays Critical & Historical, Volume 1, VIII. The Anglo-American Church)
We are not far here from the utterly non-transcendent comfortable religion that Bishop Barron years ago, before he busied himself with the more urgent business of evacuating hell, memorably dubbed “beige Catholicism.” Not heaven on earth, but a second-rate country club.

Carpeted and cushioned churches: Newman is not amused

Refraining From or Approaching Holy Communion

The question of who may or may not, who should or should not approach to receive the true Body of Christ in the most holy sacrament of the altar has always been and will always be a pressing one in the Church, as it is a matter of spiritual life or death: those who receive worthily grow in God’s friendship, while those who receive unworthily, that is, in a sinful condition offensive to God, heap damnation on themselves, until and unless they repent. When Newman speaks about the receiption of communion, even in the Anglican context, he is dreadfully serious about what he believes is at stake for souls (and indeed, as any Thomist would say, if an Anglican believes his Eucharist is truly Christ, he would commit a further grave sin by receiving it with grave sin on his conscience):
The true reason why people will not come to this Holy Communion is this, — they do not wish to lead religious lives; they do not like to promise to lead religious lives; and they think that that blessed Sacrament does bind them to do so, bind them to live very much more strictly and thoughtfully than they do at present. Allow as much as we will for proper distrust of themselves, reasonable awe, the burden of past sin, imperfect knowledge, and other causes, still after all there is in most cases a reluctance to bear, or at least to pledge themselves to bear, Christ’s yoke; a reluctance to give up the service of sin once for all; a lingering love of their own ease, of their own will, of indolence, of carnal habits, of the good opinion of men whom they do not respect; a distrust of their perseverance in holy resolves, grounded on a misgiving about their present sincerity. This is why men will not come to Christ for life; they know that He will not impart Himself to them, unless they consent to devote themselves to Him.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 7, sermon 11. Attendance on Holy Communion)
Would that we had a mere fraction of this sense of self-awareness among us today, when the vast majority of those present at any Mass walk up to receive, without heeding St. Paul’s instruction to examine their consciences for impediments! If one had to choose between this pervasive laxity and the bad old days when few received, the latter situation was far better, as simply being more honest. Christian love builds on truth, not on free lollipops for all comers. Mortal sinners used to refrain from committing an act of sacrilege. Today, they get what has been called the “Sin-nod.”

Newman understood sacramental logic better than all the bishops at the various modern synods that have wasted the time, money, and patrimony of the Catholic Church:
If the dead bodies of Christians are honourable, so doubtless are the living; because they have had their blessedness when living, therefore have they in their sleep. He who does not honour his own body as something holy unto the Lord, may indeed revere the dead, but it is then a mere superstition, not an act of piety. To reverence holy places (right as it is) will not profit a man unless he reverences himself. Consider what it is to be partaker of the Body and Blood of Christ. We pray God, in our Church’s language, that “our sinful bodies may become clean through His body;” and we are promised in Scripture, that our bodies shall be temples of the Holy Ghost. How should we study, then, to cleanse them from all sin, that they may be true members of Christ! We are told that the peril of disease and death attends the unworthy partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Is this wonderful, considering the strange sin of receiving it into a body disgraced by wilful disobedience? All that defiles it, intemperance or other vice, all that is unbecoming, all that is disrespectful to Him who has bought our bodies with a price, must be put aside.  (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, sermon 21, The Resurrection of the Body)
I take it as a peculiar virtue in Newman that he uncompromisingly sizes up sin for the gross disorder it is, and sees the entire work of the Church to consist in freeing man from sin so that the divine life may take root in him. In a famous passage, our author articulates a view that is not just worlds apart from the currently reigning moral theology, but, one might say, its direct and categorical opposite.
The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.” I think the principle here enunciated to be the mere preamble in the formal credentials of the Catholic Church, as an Act of Parliament might begin with a “Whereas.” It is because of the intensity of the evil which has possession of mankind, that a suitable antagonist has been provided against it; and the initial act of that divinely-commissioned power is of course to deliver her challenge and to defy the enemy. Such a preamble then gives a meaning to her position in the world, and an interpretation to her whole course of teaching and action.  (Apologia Pro Vita Sua, ch. 5, quoting internally from Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, Volume 1, Lecture 8)
It cannot be denied that “the Catholic Church” about which Newman spoke so majestically and with such certitude in the preceding passage is in mortal danger today, fifty years after the last Council, languishing in a sickness that, from all appearances, is unto death, and will require a divine Physician to heal. From time to time, Newman could wax apocalyptic, as in this Anglican sermon where he is reflecting on the internal schisms of his own community, in words that tragically apply today to the Catholic Church he recognized by her notes and praised for her unity:
Alas! I cannot deny that the outward notes of the Church are partly gone from us, and partly going; and a most fearful judgment it is. “Behold ... the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” “I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day. And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation.” “All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over them, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.” This in good measure has fallen upon us. The Church of God is under eclipse among us. Where is our unity, for which Christ prayed? where our charity, which He enjoined? where the faith once delivered, when each has his own doctrine? where our visibility, which was to be a light to the world? where that awful worship, which struck fear into every soul? And what is the consequence? “We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.”  (Sermons on Subjects of the Day, Sermon 22. Outward and Inward Notes of the Church, citing Isa. xiii. 10; Amos viii. 9, 10; Ezek. xxxii. 8; Isa. lix. 10)
Yes, these passages are stern and sobering. They are not the happy-clappy stuff of BunnyLuv liturgy. Newman could see the developing secularism of England, Europe, America, the deepening shadow of infidelity that threatened to suffocate the entire West. He knew that there was only one answer: absolute faithfulness to Jesus Christ and His revelation, without compromise, without shame, without cowardice, and with the joy that comes from resting in the truth of God’s love, which is too intense to leave us, Grand Inquisitor-style, in our self-absorbed mediocrity. For Newman there is not, nor could there be, a “new paradigm” for Christianity; there is the one and only paradigm, already given, given once and for ever. Our work is to conform to it, not to transform it; to apply it, not to subvert it.

A Lighter Interlude

There is plenty of humor, especially of a satirical kind, in Newman’s work. I shall offer just one example, especially pertinent to readers of NLM. How often do we bump into people who insist on repeating their liturgical mistakes, because “that’s the way we’ve always done it (or: the way it’s always been done)”?
It is related by the learned Dr. Bentley . . . [that] his opponent happened to spell wrongly the name of a Greek town; and when he was set right, he made answer that it was the custom of our English writers so to spell it, and he proceeded to quote as many as five of them in proof of his assertion. On this Bentley observes, “An admirable reason, and worthy to be his own; as if the most palpable error, that shall happen to obtain and meet with reception, must therefore never be mended.” After this, the slashing critic goes on to allude to the instance of an unlearned English priest, truly or not I know not, “who for thirty years together” (perhaps it was on taking the first ablution in the Mass) “had always said, ‘Quod ore mumpsimus,’ instead of ‘Quod ore sumpsimus,’ and when, says Bentley, “a learned man told him of his blunder, ‘I’ll not change,’ says he, ‘my old Mumpsimus for your new Sumpsimus.’”  (Present Position of Catholics in England, Lecture 3, Fable the Basis of the Protestant View)
A contemporary parallel: “I’ll not change my old Missa murmurata for your new Missa lecta,” or, “I’ll not change my rubricae personales for your rubricae generales.”


I would like to close with a well-known meditation in which Newman reminds us that God has made us and placed us here, right now, for a reason, whether we grasp it or not, and that each of us has our role in the great scheme of things — in the working out of His plan for the salvation of men and the triumph of the Cross:
God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission — I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his — if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
       Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me — still He knows what He is about.
       O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I — more loving to me than I myself. Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be — work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see — I ask not to know — I ask simply to be used.  (Meditations and Devotions, Part III, I. Hope in God — Creator, n. 2)
How moving is this meditation, when we think of Newman’s own heroic fidelity, often under very trying circumstances, to the “definite service and mission” God entrusted to him! And how moving for us today, when so many Catholics feel themselves to be “in sickness, in perplexity, in sorrow,” at the spirit of worldliness that has swept through and conquered the human side of the Church!

What a marvel to behold the sublime realism, the integrity and honesty, the unbending trust in Providence disclosed in this meditation and prayer. Christ will conquer. Truth and righteousness will have the final word. We are not likely to see it or know it in this life, but we still beg the Lord to use us for His glory, to work in and through us during our pilgrimage of faith. “I do not ask to see / The distant scene — one step enough for me.”

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us.
Newman's private chapel, where he offered the Tridentine Mass
(photo courtesy of Liturgical Arts Journal)
Visit www.peterkwasniewski.com for articles, sacred music, and classics reprinted by Os Justi Press (e.g., Benson, Scheeben, Parsch, Guardini, Chaignon, Leen).

Friday, October 18, 2019

Liturgical Notes on the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist

Although Ss Mark and Luke are given the title “Evangelist” in the liturgy, but are not called “Apostles”, the former is really a subcategory of the latter, and the liturgical texts of their feasts do not differ significantly from those of the other Apostles. One distinguishing feature of St Luke’s feast is that it is not kept with a vigil on the day before, since vigils were reserved for martyrs. The tradition accepted in the West is that he did not die as a martyr; his Preface in the Ambrosian Missal specifically calls him a “confessor”, and the liturgical commentator Sicard of Cremona says in the later 12th century that “he did not end his life by martyrdom.” (Mitrale 9.47) (The only other Apostles who have no vigil are Barnabas, who was not one of the Twelve, and the three whose feasts occur in Eastertide, from which penitential observances are excluded: St Mark on April 25th, and Ss Philip and James on May 1st.)

The Vision of Ezekiel, by Raphael, 1518
Already towards the end of the second century, St Irenaeus of Lyon identified the four animals (or “living beings”) seen by Ezechiel in the vision at the beginning of his book as prophetic symbols of the four Evangelists. These are a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle, the same four which later appear to St John in Apocalypse 4. This tradition was followed by Ss Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, although they differ from Irenaeus as to which animal symbolizes which Evangelist. (Jerome’s explanation, confirmed by Gregory, eventually prevailed.) They all agree, however, that the ox, an animal commonly used in temple sacrifices in the ancient world, including those of the Jews, is the symbol of St Luke, who begins his Gospel with the story of St John the Baptist’s father, the priest Zachariah. This interpretation is also strongly suggested by Ezechiel’s words, “the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four: and the face of an ox, on the left side of all the four: and the face of an eagle over all the four.” (1, 10) The man and the lion, who represent Matthew and Mark respectively, are both on the right, since their Gospels are very similar to each other; Luke records many stories that are not in the other two Synoptics or John, hence the ox which represents him is on the left; while John says the most about the divinity of Christ, and hence his eagle is placed above the others.

The traditional Gospel of St Luke’s feast is taken from his tenth chapter, verses 1-9, Christ’s instructions to the seventy-two whom He sent out in pairs to preach “in every city and place where He himself was to come.” It is also read on St Mark’s day, and was later extended to the feasts of various Confessors.

The revised liturgies which held sway in most of France from the mid-17th to the later 19th centuries, (now often called “Neo-Gallican,”) contain a great many lapses in taste and judgment which almost beggar belief. Like most people who put their hand to changing historical liturgies, the Neo-Gallican revisers were painfully obsessed with making everything “more Scriptural,” but in the process of expanding the Missal’s corpus of readings, they did manage to make a number of rather clever choices. One of these was to read St Luke’s prologue as the Gospel on his feast, as in the 1738 Parisian Missal.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us; according as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word: it seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou may know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed. (Luke 1, 1-4)
In the original Greek, this passage is written in a notably higher style than the rest of the Gospel, perhaps a signal that the author is indeed a man of education, and hence suitable to the writing of such an important work. It is likely that he received his education while training as a doctor in his native city of Antioch, one of the most important cities in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time, which he mentions several times in the Acts.

St Luke writing his Gospel, and the beginning of the Gospel, from the 9th century Evangeliary of Ebon (folios 90v and 91r. Bibliothèque nationale de France  
A tradition attested since the sixth century states that St Luke once (or more than once) painted an image of the Virgin Mary, for which he has long been honored as a patron Saint of artists as well as doctors. This tradition may have arisen as a metaphorical way of describing the “portrait” of the Virgin which he gives in his Infancy Narrative; the first two chapters of his Gospel recount the events of Christ’s conception and birth from Her point of view, as it were, where St Matthew speaks more about St Joseph’s role. It is also he who records most of the actual words spoken by the Virgin, far more than the other three combined. However the story arose, there are a number of ancient icons which are said to be the original painted by St Luke himself, or a faithful early copy thereof, and “St Luke Painting the Virgin and Child” has been a popular subject for artists in both East and West.

On the other hand, the Byzantine Office makes only one glancing reference to this tradition, in the following text from Matins.
Luke, apostle of Christ, revealer of ineffable things, and teacher of the nations, with the divine Paul, and the holy Mother of God, about whose divine image thou didst inquire, pray for us who bless thee, and honor thy holy falling-asleep, o beholder of God, and all-wise revealer of the divine mysteries. 
The vagueness of “about whose divine image thou didst inquire” is significant, because the Canon with which this is sung was written by one Theophanes, who, together with his brother Theodore, is honored as a Saint for his defense of the holy images in the days of the iconoclast heresy. (They are called “the written-upon ones”, since the iconoclast emperor Theophilus had lines of verse cut into their skin.) Arguments from silence vary in force according to circumstance. However, it seems likely that if the tradition that St Luke made an image of the Virgin rested on a solid historical foundation, a defender of the holy icons would make much of that fact when writing a Canon in honor of him.

St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child, by Rogier van der Weyden 1435-40
The Byzantine Office also refers explicitly to an Eastern tradition that St Luke was one of the two disciples who met Christ on the way to Emmaus, the one not named in the Gospel itself. This would be in accord with the common ancient practice of authorial anonymity; for the same reason, it was sometimes supposed that St Mark was the anonymous follower of Christ who escaped arrest in the garden of Gethsemani by running out of his clothes, an episode which is mentioned only in his Gospel. (14, 51-52) However, this story was completely unknown in the West; St Ambrose, for example, says that Cleophas’ companion was called Ammonas.
From thy writings we know, as thou said, the verity of the words which thou set forth and revealed under divine inspiration; since thou didst put thy hand to write for us of the matters of which thou were fully informed, and as the eye-witnesses handed on to thee. And thou becamest their equal, and a servant of the incarnation of the Word, whom thou didst see at Emmaus after the Resurrection; and with burning heart, thou ate together with Cleophas. Fill also our souls with His divine fervor as we honor thee.
Another text from Vespers admirably sums up the whole career of St Luke as follows.
Rejoice, thou who alone in joy did write for us “Rejoice!” (Χαῖρε, Ave), the Gospel of the Holy (Virgin), and of her giving birth to the Lord, of the Baptist speaking from the womb, of his conception, and the Incarnation of the Word, His temptations and miracles, His discourses and sufferings, the Cross and Death, and the Resurrection, which thou saw, and the Ascension, and the descent of the Spirit, and the deeds of the heralds, especially of Paul, whose companion thou wert, healer, revealer of the mysteries, and enlightener of the Church, which do thou ever guard!
Christ Appears to Cleophas and Luke on the road to Emmaus; the Supper at Emmaus; Cleophas and Luke report the Resurrection to the Apostles (Luke 24, 13-35). Fresco of the 15th century in the nave of the Gračanica Monastery in Kosovo; St Luke is named in each of the captions. (Click to enlarge.)

Celebration in Honor of St John Henry Newman in Trumbull, CT, This Weekend

In thanksgiving for the canonization of St John Henry Newman, the parish of St Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, Connecicut will hold a weekend-long celebration on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20. The homily at each Mass will consider the life, thought, and relevance of the Catholic Church’s newest Saint; the music sung at Mass will feature hymns written by him: Firmly I Believe and Truly, Lead, Kindly Light, and Praise to the Holiest, which was also sung at the Church’s dedication in March. An authenticated first-class relic of St. John Henry Newman will be available for veneration. Masses will be held on Saturday, at 4:00 pm and 7:15 pm, and on Sunday at 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am, and 12:00 pm. For information, please contact the parish office at (203) 377-3133; the church is located at 220 Shelton Road.

When St Catherine of Siena Church was consecrated by Bishop Caggiano in March, a relic of St John Henry Newman was deposited and sealed inside the new altar. At the same time, frames were added around the fourteen Stations of the Cross which feature his Meditations on the Stations of the Cross, so that visitors to the church can pray with the new Saint in contemplating our Lord’s journey to Calvary.

Bible Vigils: Guest Article by Sharon Kabel

Last month, we published two items (here and here) about the paraliturgical “Bible vigils” which are mentioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium, and were fashionable to one degree or another during the fairly brief period when the letter of that document was still taken seriously. Writer Sharon Kabel has done some more extensive research on them, and we thank her very much for sharing the results with NLM. She has also an extensively bibliography on the subject available for consultation here.

“Include New Vigil in Family Weekend.” The Catholic Advocate, Sept. 27, 1962
Bible vigils were a Catholic phenomenon of the 1960s. They were called by a variety of names, “Bible vigil” being the most common but also “Bible” or “Biblical” “ritual, service, devotion”, “celebration of the Word”, and most confusingly, sometimes used synonymously with Vespers. The most generous timeline for their use spans 1959-1978, but their most active period was about 1963-1967 (see graphic below). While the service may have originated in Germany, they were popular around the world, popping up in Brazil, Hong Kong, Korea, and East Germany. Cardinals Bea and Döpfner celebrated one in 1964; Thomas Merton discussed them; Paulist Press and Liturgical Press both published books on them; Worship, The Bible Today, The Furrow, and Review for Religious all published numerous articles on them; at least half a dozen twentieth century archival search aids mention them; and Pope St Paul VI closed the Second Vatican Council with an interfaith Bible vigil, at perhaps the peak of their popularity.

Two men commonly associated with the development of Bible vigils were Fathers Clifford Howell and Lawrence Dannemiller. Fr Howell’s obituary notes his famous progressive positions, liturgical innovations during his World War II chaplaincy, and his relief at having four options for the Eucharistic Prayer. Most notably, he was a peritus for an Australian bishop at the Second Vatican Council, and had a significant hand in the writing of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the document that was the justification for Bible vigils. Fr Dannemiller wrote Reading the Word of God, a work frequently referenced by those who wished to construct Bible vigils. (In 1970, he married a woman without requesting formal laicization.)

Liturgy and Laity, a handbook for Bible vigils published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, said of Bible vigils:
Essentially, this is a prayer book for personal and liturgical use. The first part, a series of reflections followed by discussion questions, treats the fundamental truths that underlie the liturgical outlook and spirit… Personal prayer and discussion, however, are not enough. We must actually pray together if we are to be truly the family of God, His people on pilgrimage to Heaven united in His Perfect Son, Jesus. The Bible Vigils, which constitute the second part, were selected and designed to foster a continual renewal of the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the Church. Prayed together in our homes, study groups, parishes, they will be a source of true Christian spirit. [emphases added]
Liturgy and Laity provided Bible vigils (and explanations, in a separate section) for 31 feasts or topics - including Septuagesima, a season which would be suppressed shortly afterward.

Sample Bible vigils

But what was a Bible vigil? Its exact structure and order varied, but it was explicitly modeled after the Liturgy of the Word, including Bible readings, a homily/sermon, prayer, silence, and music. They were usually celebrated on an important feast or liturgical season, and seem to have dovetailed neatly with the desire for Catholics to have greater exposure to Scripture, and for more use of the vernacular. They were frequently described as paraliturgical or quasi-liturgical, and the fluid format allowed for both instruction, commentary, and meditation on Scripture.

Two outlines of Bible vigils can be found here:
● Father Gerard Dubois, O.C.S.O., “Celebrations of the Word.“ Liturgy 2, no. 3 (October 1967): 1-8. This source is quite valuable, because it is open about the significant overlap between the Liturgy, the Divine Office, and Bible vigils.
● Hiley H. Ward, Documents of Dialogue. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966. Book.

Two examples of complete Bible vigils can be found here:
● Kevin Nies O.C.S.O., “Holy Cross Abbey: A Short English Vigil.“ Liturgy 2, no. 3 (October 1967): 12-23.
● Carl J. Pfeifer S.J., “An Evening Service for Thanksgiving Day.” Review for Religious 20, no. 6 (1961): 397-407.

In all four of those resources, one can see a substantial degree of customization and flexibility allowed. Some parts are fixed, such as the reading of a specific psalm, but very often, several options for prayers, readings, and songs are provided.

Below is the Bible vigil for marriage from Liturgy and Laity: The vigil begins with an announcement from the leader, a silent prayer, a reading of Tobias 8, 1-10, a silent prayer, and an antiphon that borrows from the Nuptial Blessing. (The Introit for the Misso pro Sponso et Sponsa is Tobias 7, 15; 8, 19.)
After the antiphon, a reader reads Ephesians 5, 22-33, the Epistle for the Missa pro Sponso, followed by a silent prayer, and an antiphon from Psalm 70.
After the antiphon, all stand for the reading of John 2, 1-12, the Wedding at Cana, a pericope not used in the Missa pro Sponso, but thematically relevant.
The Gospel reading is followed by a homily or a silent prayer, a renewal of vows where appropriate, an antiphon, or prayers of the faithful, and the leader reading the Collect of the Missa pro sponso (the words “what is administered by our service” are changed to “what is performed by our ministry”), and closing with a prayer said by all.

This is basically the same format as the Liturgy of the Word, with both Old and New Testament readings, a homily, silence, communal prayer, and, in this instance, occasional mirroring of the actual nuptial liturgy. And indeed, the introduction of this book refers to Bible vigils as “liturgical events”.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cardinal Newman’s Church in Oxford

Since the Church has just celebrated the canonization of St John Henry Newman, I thought I would share some pictures I took of the famous university church of Oxford, St Mary’s, while I was there in August. Newman was appointed vicar of this church in 1828, and became very popular as a preacher; it was also here that John Keeble, on July 14, 1833, preached the famous sermon titled “National Apostasy”, an event which Newman himself considered to be the formal beginning of the Oxford Movement. There was a church on this site before the Norman Conquest, which became Oxford’s very first building, used for lectures, for the meeting of senior members known as “congregation”, and for the awarding of degrees; however, only one part of the building as we see it today dates from the 13th century, its very beautiful spire, constructed in 1270, with pinnacles added ca. 1320.

The side of the church on High Street has a Baroque porch added in 1637 by Nicholas Stone, the master-mason of King Charles I; the twisted columns to either side of the door were clearly designed in reference to the ancient columns of similar design at St Peter’s in Rome. Four years earlier, Gian Lorenzo Bernini had just finished the magnificant bronze canopy over the main altar of St Peter’s, which copies the same ancient model. During the trial of William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1641, which would lead to his execution under the Puritans, this portico with its statue of the Virgin Mary was adduced as evidence of his “Popish” leanings; bullet holes made by Cromwell’s soldiers can still be seen in the statue.
The nave of the church, seen here from the loft at the back of the building, was completely rebuilt in 1510. There was a rood screen that separated the chancel from the nave, which was taken out at the Reformation; the current one, which is much smaller, was installed in 1827. The organ mounted on it is modern, from 1986.
The chancel was completely remodelled in 1453, and is obviously now much less decorated than it would have been originally. The stalls, however, are originals of the late 15th century; the altarpiece of the Virgin and Child is by the Venetian painter Francesco Bassano the Younger.

Season 2 of Square Notes - Two-Part Interview with Cardinal Sarah

Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast is back for season two! We begin this season with a two-part interview with His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Take a listen here:

We’ve got a great lineup for the upcoming weeks, too.
  • Episode 2 - Directing all to God: The Sacred Liturgy at the Heart of the Mission of the Church - part 2 with His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah
  • Episode 3 - All about Saint Cecilia, Or: When in Rome - with Gregory DiPippo
  • Episode 4 - The Spiritual Fruits of Singing the Mass for Both Priests and the Laity - with Fr. Nathan Cromly, CSJ
  • Episode 5 - Musical Treasures of the Mozarabic (Hispanic) Rite - with Jim Monti
  • Episode 6 - Beauty, Happiness, and Whether It’s All in the Eye of the Beholder - with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand
  • Episode 7 - St. Elizabeth of the Trinity as Musician and Spiritual Friend - with Dr. Anthony Lilles
  • Episode 8 - The Catholic Traditions of Hymn Singing - with Jeffrey Ostrowski
  • Episode 9 - The Pipe Organ: King of the Instruments, and Splendor in the Roman Rite - with Dr. Nathan Knutson
  • Episode 10 - William Byrd: English Catholic Composer and Recusant - with Dr. Kerry McCarthy
  • Episode 11 - The Hows and Whys of Illuminated Chant Manuscripts - with Elizabeth Lemme
  • Episode 12 - Pope Pius X’s Motu Proprio on Sacred Music - with Dr. Susan Treacy
  • Episode 13 - From Ragas to Responsories: A Hindu Becomes a Catholic Priest - with Fr. Gaurav Shroff
  • Episode 14 - A Catholic Portrait of Abbé Franz Liszt - with Dr. Jay Hershberger
  • Episode 15 - Sacred Music, Liturgy, and Church Authority - with Dom Alcuin Reid, OSB
  • Episode 16 - Lectio Divina and Biblical Exegesis of Gregorian Chant - with Dom Mark Kirby, OSB
  • Episode 17 - Sacred Music as a Vital Part of Parish Life and Fellowship - roundtable with MaryAnn Carr Wilson, Charles Cole, and Fr. Robert Pasley
  • Episode 18 - Swimming the Thames and the Tiber - with Dr. Jay Hershberger
You can catch us on our website, YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. Please note that we have discontinued publishing on SoundCloud.

Book Announcement: Christus Vincit by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Readers may have already picked up the buzz about the book-length interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider done by American journalist Diane Montagna, which has just appeared from Angelico Press with the title Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age (US | UK). Having read it twice, I can vouch that it’s as good as people are saying it is, and then some. . . and then some more. In fact, I haven’t enjoyed an interview this much since I read The Ratzinger Report back in high school, which was part of my turning to embrace a more serious Catholicism. This book by Schneider will, I believe, have a similar effect on many who read it.

I’ve published a review at Rorate Caeli, with copious quotations; here, for the announcement, I will simply reproduce the publisher’s description and the blurbs, which are more noteworthy than usual. However, it should be pointed out especially for readers of NLM that Christus Vincit contains considerable material on the liturgy and kindred matters.
  • Chapter 14, “The Eucharist and Holy Communion,” features lengthy and profound treatments of the Real Presence, transubstantiation, the crucial pedagogical and spiritual role played by external gestures of reverence, worthy and unworthy communions, the Protestant rejection of sacramental realism, the aberration of extraordinary ministers of communion (here, Bishop Schneider gives, and refutes, all of the arguments used in favor of them), and the tension between lay initiatives and episcopal approval. 
  • Chapter 15, “Reform of the Reform,” addresses the vexed question of the intentions of Vatican II, the rupture of the Consilium’s product, the impossibility of leaving the Ordinary Form as it stands, liturgical orientation (ad orientem and versus populum), the fears of lower clergy as they consider taking the right steps, anthropocentrism and clericocentrism, the new and old lectionaries, the Offertory prayers, the sign of peace, the liturgical calendar, Latin, active and passive participation, and the return of the traditional Roman rite. 
  • Chapter 16, “Reform of the Clergy,” speaks at length about priestly celibacy, seminary formation, clerical abuse and homosexuality, and asceticism.


In this absorbing interview, Bishop Athanasius Schneider offers a candid, incisive examination of controversies raging in the Church and the most pressing issues of our times, providing clarity and hope for beleaguered Catholics. He addresses such topics as widespread doctrinal confusion, the limits of papal authority, the documents of Vatican II, the Society of St. Pius X, anti-Christian ideologies and political threats, the third secret of Fatima, the traditional Roman rite, and the Amazon Synod, among many others. Like his fourth-century patron, St. Athanasius the Great, Bishop Schneider says things that others won’t, fearlessly following St. Paul’s advice: “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Tim 4:2). His insights into the challenges facing Christ’s flock today are essential reading for those who are, or wish to be, alert to the signs of the times. Reminiscent of The Ratzinger Report of 1985, Christus Vincit will be a key point of reference for years to come.

“At this critical moment in the life of the Church we must reflect carefully on all that confronts us and discern what is true, good, and beautiful from what is evil. We cannot but be grateful to a faithful apostle such as Bishop Athanasius Schneider for his clear and courageous analysis of the state of the Church in our day. May this book assist all who read it in living their particular vocation with greater fidelity and zeal, for the glory of Almighty God and the salvation of souls.” — ROBERT CARDINAL SARAH

“No other bishop in recent memory has so tirelessly given of himself in the service of the truths of the Catholic Faith. In this wide-ranging interview, Bishop Schneider, through the account of his life and ministry and through his responses to the crucial questions of the day, gives powerful witness to his profound love of Our Lord and of His Mystical Body, the Church. This book will be of great help to the faithful, and to all people of good will, in navigating the grave confusion, division, and error prevalent in our times. It reveals the heart of a true shepherd of souls, after the Heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd.” — RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE

“St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus (‘the Little Flower’) said that humility is courage for the truth, and courage to serve. Bishop Schneider is a humble and heroic witness to the truth, and a courageous servant. His love for Christ and the Church is strong and deep and heartfelt, like St. Paul’s (Gal. 2:11–20). To the various questions regarding the crises we face (relativism, secularism, modernism, indifferentism), he responds as a faithful pastor and a perspicacious theologian. I found myself inspired and challenged.” — SCOTT HAHN

“A product of the persecuted Church in the Soviet Union, Bishop Athanasius Schneider powerfully appeals in this interview for a return to the classical doctrine, worship, and devotion of the Roman Church. Not all readers will agree with everything in his analyses, but they will find it difficult to dissent from his fundamental perception: the Church requires a radical re-supernaturalization that will save it from internal secularization, free it from the domination of all-too-human agendas, and inspire it with new ardor for its divinizing mission.” — FR. AIDAN NICHOLS, O.P.

“Reading this wide-ranging interview with one of the most outstanding bishops in the Church today is an experience of profound joy and gratitude. Bishop Schneider explains and defends Catholic truth with deep insight and total conviction. He reminds us that fidelity to Christ — the full embrace of His truth as taught by the Catholic Church — is the purpose of our existence and the only source of our salvation.” — FR. GERALD E. MURRAY


Athanasius Schneider was born in 1961 in Kyrgyzstan to a German family and baptized with the name Antonius. In 1973 the family emigrated to Germany. He joined the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross in Austria in 1982 and received the religious name Athanasius; he was ordained a priest in Brazil in 1990. Having earned a doctorate in Patrology at the Augustinianum in Rome, he has taught since 1999 at the seminary in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. In 2006 he was ordained bishop in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome and appointed titular bishop of Celerina and auxiliary bishop of Karaganda. From 2011 to the present he has been auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Chairman of the Liturgical Commission, and Secretary General of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Kazakhstan. Bishop Schneider is the author of two books on the Holy Eucharist: Dominus Est—It Is the Lord and Corpus Christi: Holy Communion and the Renewal of the Church.

Diane Montagna is an American journalist based in Rome.

The links again: US & UK. (Also available at Amazon sites in other countries.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Two Franco-Flemish Polyphonic Masses

Here are a couple of more wins for YouTube’s suggestions algorithm, two very nice Masses of the late Franco-Flemish school of Renaissance polyphony. The first is by Philippe Rogier, who was born ca. 1561 at Arras in the Spanish Netherlands (now in France); the kings of Spain recruited so many musicians and singers from that area that they maintained a full choir of them, known as the Flemish chapel (“capilla flamenca”), in addition to the native choir, the “capilla española.” Rogier became the assistant director of the Flemish chapel in 1584, and director of all the music at the court of Philip II of Spain two years later. He was ordained a priest at an uncertain date, but died in Madrid in 1596 at the age of only 35. He was a prolific composer, with well over two hundred compositions, the majority of them sacred works, listed in the 1649 catalog of the library of King John IV of Portugal where they were kept. This library was destroyed by the terrible Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and the corpus of Rogier’s surviving works counts fewer than 60 pieces, over half of which are motets. Here is one of his seven surviving Masses, the Mass Domine, Dominus noster for three choirs.

Rogier’s contemporary and fellow Netherlander, Géry de Ghersem, was born at Tournai ca. 1574, and as a boy, sang in the capilla flamenca under his direction. In 1604, he returned north, and found a position in Brussels as the director of music for the court of Albert VII, archduke of Austria and sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands; he was also ordained a priest, and worked in several different positions until his death in 1630. He apparently did most of his composing while he was in Spain, and almost all of his corpus, which was very large (perhaps even larger than that of his friend and teacher Rogier), was also destroyed in the library of John IV. In his will, Rogier had asked Ghersem to publish a group of six of his Masses and dedicate them to the King of Spain; Ghersem did this, while adding one of his own to the collection, the only work of his that survives complete, based on a motet by Francesco Guerrero, Ave Virgo Sanctissima.

More on the Greek Mass of St Denis

As I noted in an article last week, the Abbey of St Denis near Paris had the custom of celebrating Mass in Greek on the octave day of its patron Saint, a custom which was maintained until the French Revolution. This was not the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, but the Mass of the Roman Rite translated into Greek, although the Canon and other silent parts of the Mass remained in Latin. The website of the Schola Sainte-Cécile has just made available in pdf the complete text of a work published in 1779, which gives an historical introduction to this tradition, followed by the ordinary of the Mass in Latin and French, and then the liturgical texts of the Greek Mass, including the chant. All of the following, which explains the orgins of this custom in much greater detail, comes from the article which accompanies it, written by Henri de Villiers.

As an example of the chant, here is the introit of the Greek Mass from the 1779 edition:

Compare this with the original:

The parts of the Latin Mass have been translated into Greek, and set to the same chant, with some adjustments for the change in accent.

The whole Mass of the octave was chanted in Greek; however, on the octave, the Epistle and Gospel were repeated in Latin, while on the feast day, they were sung first in Latin, and then repeated in Greek. This custom of doing the readings twice goes back to the Carolingian era, and was also done on Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, the feast of St Matthias, and that of the abbey’s dedication on February 24th. (Mercure de France, 1728).

The work linked above is the second edition, after a first issued in 1777, and was clearly made to help the faithful to follow the Mass. Various witnesses of the 17th and 18th centuries attest that this unusual celebration, which was done with great magnificence and a large number of ministers in sacred vestments, was attended by large numbers of pilgrims, especially since, for the entire octave, the abbey would solemnly expose the relic of St Denis’ head, and the silver reliquary which contained his body and that of his companions, Ss Rusticus and Eleutherius, for the veneration of the faithful.

The origin of the Greek Mass of St Denis

The oldest surviving liturgical book from the royal abbey of Saint-Denis is a sacramentary of the second half of the ninth century, (BnF Latin 2290), at the beginning of which we find the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in the Greek language, but written with Latin letters, and with the Latin text added between the lines.

There is also a fragment of the Gloria written in the same fashion in a sacramentary (Laon 118 f° 145v°) which the monks of Saint-Denis made in the later part of the 9th century or beginning of the 10th, and gave to the chapter of Laon as a gesture of thanksgiving for taking them in during a Norman invasion.

The second book which we have from St Denis is a missal written between 1041 and 1060 (BnF Latin 9436), which at the beginning has several parts of the ordinary in Greek and Latin, and also their musical notation in campo aperto (i.e., with notes, but no staff): three Kyries, a Gloria in Greek, followed by three others in Latin, and the Credo in Greek (but not in Latin!), then three each of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin only.

Another very notable rarity is the Cherubic hymn, one of the most famous pieces of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, translated into Latin to be used as a second Offertory at the Mass of the Trinity (f° 58v°).

“Qui cherubin mystice imitamur et vivifice Trinitatis ter sanctum hymnum offerimus, omnem nunc mundanam deponamus sollicitudinem sicuti regem omnium suscepturi cui ab angelicis invisibiliter ministratur ordinibus, alleluia. – We, who mystically represent the Cherubim, and chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity, let us set aside the cares of life, that we may receive the King of all, Who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine Hosts.”

The following is a reconstruction of it, since there is no manuscript which gives this version on staff notation.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: