Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Painting the Nude: The Theology of the Body and Representation of Man in Christian Art

I am delighted to announce that Pontifex University Press is publishing my new book on the place of the nude in Christian art. With a foreword written by Dr Christopher Blum (of the Augustine Institute), Painting the Nude: The Theology of the Body and Representation of Man in Christian Art will be of interest to artists and non-artists alike. It contains a discussion on the place of the nude in the Christian tradition historically and what its place ought to be today.

In his writing on the human person and art, St John Paul II created a renewed interest among Catholics in the nude in art generally, and particularly in sacred art. His call for artists to represent the human form ‘naked without shame’ has given many artists the inspiration to paint nude figures in service of the Church, with varied results and, frankly, not all of them good.

The 10,000-word essay contained in this booklet compares his writings on the representation of the human form with the traditions of the Church in order to assess how artists and patrons ought to respond. I conclude that far from representing a new Catholic permissiveness (as some have interpreted), John Paul II is reaffirming a very traditional line.

The book is broken down into three sections:

REMOVING THE FIG LEAVES uses the case of the recent renovations of the Sistine Chapel, completed in 1994, as a starting point to examine how Christian art should portray nudity so as to avoid licentiousness on the one hand and to reveal the full beauty of a creature made by God on the other.

THE THREE TRADITIONS OF FIGURATIVE LITURGICAL ART looks at the ways in which the authentic liturgical traditions in Christian art, the iconographic style, the Gothic and the Baroque, have dealt with the dilemma in the past. These traditions each deviate from perfect realism and stylistically depict essential truths that are not always visible to the naked eye. It is the invisible truths that the artist chooses to reveal that distinguish one style from another. Given this, as I demonstrate, they are not all equally appropriate for portraying the nude.

THE PROBLEM OF THE NUDE MODEL guides Christian artists towards an understanding of their responsibility to avoid the occasion of sin while producing the art and learning to draw and paint in the studio.

Some people that Pope St John Paul II’s work shifted the balance from an outdated “prudishness” toward a genuine openness to the beauty of the human body. This is certainly true to some degree, but I argue this aspect has been exaggerated. His writings can not be understood apart from a deep awareness of the Christian artistic traditions of sacred art. In truth, his ideas are a fresh presentation of deeply a conservative approach — far from being radical and new, they reconnect us to centuries of authentic Christian anthropology and tradition, and breathe new life into the contemporary conversation around body, soul, and spirit.

In his foreword, Dr. Christopher Blum (Academic Dean and Professor of History and Philosophy at the Augustine Institute) writes:
In addressing the topic of the nude in sacred art, David Clayton has performed an act requiring considerable courage. The temper of our spirituality today is highly emotional, to say the least. We are quick to accuse earlier ages of Jansenism and slow to admit that the mortification of the senses has a permanent place in the Christian way of life. Moreover, our tastes have been permanently affected by more than one artistic revolution. Clayton’s reminder that Christian art has always had a much higher purpose, then, is a call that asks us to swim against a very strong tide. 
Clayton takes us on a journey of rediscovery, anchored in a careful reading of St. John Paul II. With his help, we can newly appreciate the essentially iconic nature of Christian sacred art. 
Deacon Keith Fournier, General Counsel Director of Diaconal Formation for the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, wrote the following review of this book: 
Between September 5, 1979 and November 28, 1984, Pope St. John Paul II delivered a series of 129 catechetical instructions called “Human Love in the Divine Plan”. It is popularly referred to as a “Theology of the Body”, a phrase the late Pope called a “working term.” The term has led to a minimization of the depth of the theological anthropology of the integrated human person as gift which the late Pope presented. The thought of the late Pope was not new; it is rooted in the Patristic Tradition and must be seen in a hermeneutic of continuity.

One of the problems arises from an oversimplification of this body of teaching in some popular presentations, and which presents the work as a break with the teaching of the Church on modesty, purity, chastity and the virtuous life – particularly as it relates to the depiction of the human body in art. This is incorrect and in this respect a disservice to the four years of teaching of this great Saint.

David Clayton has demonstrated a deep knowledge and understanding of Christian sacred art, and of the writings of John Paul II on both anthropology and art. In this book, Clayton provides us with a synthesis that places all within the context of the greater tradition of Catholic thinking on these topics and shows how, far from being a radical departure from it, the Theology of the Body is reinforcing a traditionally Christian and conservative approach to the nude in art.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The National Catholic Reporter’s New Resolve to Promote the Traditional Latin Mass

Which bespeaketh clericalism?
As many readers no doubt have seen or caught word of, Zita Ballinger Fletcher’s article at the National Catholic Reporter, “The Latin Mass becomes a cult of toxic tradition” — the title really captures her entire message about how terrible-awful-no good the TLM is, which she develops ad nauseam and with impressive though unintentional poetic license — has opened up a fountain of responses, both sober and humorous. It seems that the Reporter, not content to ignore usus antiquior enthusiasts, has decided to take the new editorial tack of promoting the cause of Summorum Pontificum.

To my knowledge, there have been five earnest replies and two satirical ones. I have enjoyed all of them. In the first category:
And in the second category:
In light of all this discussion (which, in general, seems to me a good thing: there are common misconceptions to be dismantled and now decades-old arguments that still need to be addressed for the ever-growing number who are awakening to the questions), I found myself thinking again about Fletcher’s claim that the old liturgy is clericalist, which was repeated as a mantra in the 60s and 70s, and is now being warmed up again in the microwave.

It seems to me really obvious, having attending both the NO and the TLM for decades, that the old Mass is far less clerico-centric, precisely because it is so ritualistic, formal, dictated, and prayerful. There is very little room at all for the “personality” of the priest.

Then I saw, while working on a book by Michael Fiedrowicz, a beautiful passage in Fr. Engelbert Recktenwald, FSSP. Now, Fr. Recktenwald and I have exchanged a few jabs on another aspect of the liturgy (namely, the use of the vernacular for readings and the postures to be observed in giving the readings at Mass), but here we are absolutely of one mind. He writes:
This retreat [into the ritual] serves to visualize the divine reality that comes from God—the earthly liturgy is the image of the heavenly liturgy—and to make way for the action of the main celebrant, namely, Christ himself—the priest acts in persona Christi. The celebrating priest becomes the more unimportant in his individual personality the more priestly his action is. In the heart of the Holy Mass, during the Canon, in which the transubstantiation and thus the descent of the one eternal High Priest occurs, the priest no longer has a face: he stands—yes!—with his back to the people, he speaks what every other priest speaks at this point, he becomes in his person completely unimportant and replaceable, because he makes room for the One for whose sake alone the believer takes part in the sacred liturgy. To emphasize eye contact with the priest at this point therefore means the utmost misunderstanding of the priestly function in its proper sense. In the highest priestly act, the priest is pure instrument and perviousness for the One.
Let’s have a look at a few contrasting photos and ask ourselves how the necessarily unique and irreducible function of the priest in Catholic worship (for there will never be a Mass without a priest) translates phenomenologically into a perception of his role within the Mystical Body.

In the following photos of the traditional High Mass, one sees, on the one hand, a certain separation of the priest from the people and a surrounding of his office with great solemnity and decorum, but on the other hand, the overall impression given is that of a whole community united in prayer, intently focused on worshiping God, each in his or her own way.

If I had to give a name to what I see in the foregoing photos, I would call it “hierarchically differentiated co-participation.”

In the following photos of the Novus Ordo Mass as celebrated nearly universally, one sees, in conjunction with the separate standing of the priest (which, as I mentioned, is unavoidable in any case), a sense of the clergy being over-against the people, in charge of their act of worship, and lording it over the faithful as if the faithful did not enjoy their own equal dignity versus Deum.

I regret to say that in this next photo of a Mass concelebrated by a bishop, newly-ordained priests, and presbyterate, the overwhelming impression is one of a bunch of concessionaires in the limelight, saying grace over the snackbar. If that last cluster of metaphors is jarring, I submit it’s no more jarring than the aesthetic reality we are dealing with. (I say this with no disrespect intended to individual persons, who may interiorly hold the Catholic faith in its integrity, but who are compelled to use ritual forms that do not express this faith.)

Due to the virtually obligatory versus populum stance and other ceremonial elements and lacunae, the overall impression given is that of a clerical caste intent on doing something in sight of the people and to them, while the people are focused on the clerical caste, because it catches the eye. The personal interaction has become the rite. If I had to give it a name, I would call it “hierarchically confrontational codependency.”

Thus there is a confused sense of what exactly the common action is or where it is directed: is it primarily to God? Or to one another? Or maybe we don’t know? In any case, there is a serious ambivalence and ambiguity about what exactly is being done, by whom, for whom, and why. This, of course, plays into the whole question of understanding the Mass as being primarily a sacrifice or primarily a meal (and, since it is both, how they relate to one another). A sacrifice can also be a meal, by way of the sacrificial victim being shared in by the ones offering; it is much harder to see how a meal, as such, would also be a sacrifice, except in the very generic sense that it costs something to put on a meal.

I’m perfectly well aware that a Novus Ordo Mass can be celebrated to look somewhat like the solemn Mass, as in this fine photo from a past CMAA Colloquium:

But three points must be made.

(1) This happens about as often as it snows in Jamaica, and every possible factor in the Church is against it at this time.

(2) If the new Mass can, due to its flexi-rubrics, be made to look somewhat like the old Mass, the old Mass, for its part, can never be celebrated to look like the jamboree version of the new Mass. This is the same objection that has been made many times to the ROTR at this blog and elsewhere: a liturgy that need not be celebrated properly, with the correct orientation and priorities, is a liturgy defective at its core. It is no surprise that the moral and institutional evil of clericalism, by which individual personalities abuse their offices, would find its corresponding lex orandi and external image in just such a liturgy. It is no surprise that the traditional lex orandi, though it cannot prevent moral and institutional evils, runs decisively against clericalism in the exacting humility, precision, and anonymity of its ritual form.

(3) The differences between the two are not only on the surface, as important as surface beauty is; they run much deeper. As a result, even if a new pope came along who suddenly declared that all Novus Ordo Masses had to be offered ad orientem, in Latin, with chant, starting the first Sunday of Advent, it would solve only the external problems — not the internal ones. It would be like repairing the face of a crash victim with plastic surgery while neglecting the more harmful damage to the internal organs.

Needless to say, this article is not the place to go further. We can, at least, be grateful to the National Catholic Reporter for stirring up such important discussions.

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Conference on the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church, Toronto, November 15-16

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, creating personal ordinariates for Catholics of the Anglican patrimony, the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is pleased to present its 2019 Conference on the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church, taking place in Toronto, Canada.

Sessions will be hosted at St Michael’s Choir School, and will feature multiple speakers on the Anglican patrimonial tradition and community in the Catholic Church, including Bishop Steven Lopes of the Ordinariate, writer and former Anglican David Warren, Fr Jack Barker, and Fr Derek Cross of the Oratory. These talks will focus on the history of the community, what Pope Benedict XVI did for us a decade ago, and what the future holds in store.

​The conference will be anchored by three solemn choral liturgies, taking place at St Michael’s Cathedral Basilica of the Archdiocese of Toronto: a Solemn Mass & Te Deum, Choral Mattins, and Evensong & Benediction. At the close of the weekend, we will join Toronto’s Ordinariate parish, St Thomas More, for their 12:30pm Sunday Mass. (Those who need to leave earlier to make it back home by Sunday morning will want to do so after the conclusion of Evensong & Benediction at 5 pm on Saturday.)

This is a historic occasion to meet and reconnect with fellow Catholics and Anglicans and to celebrate what God has given us through Anglicanorum Coetibus. Register now at anglicantradition2019.eventbrite.com.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Dedication of St John in the Lateran

In honor of the dedication feast of the cathedral of Rome, the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior, popularly known as St John in the Lateran, here are some interesting thoughts from the medieval liturgical commentator William Durandus on the Office and Mass of the dedication of a church. (Rationale Divinorum Officiorum 7, 48) The version of the Office which Durandus knows is slightly different from the version in the Breviary of St Pius V, as will be noted in the text itself.
The high altar of St John in the Lateran. (Photo by Fr Kevin Kimtis.)
The feast (of a church’s dedication) is solemnly celebrated by the Church, concerning which it is written in John’s Gospel (10, 22 and 23) “It was the ‘renewal’ ”, that is, the feast of the dedication in Jerusalem, “and Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch” in order to confirm that festival. It is called Solomon’s porch, because He was wont to pray there, and did so on the day of the dedication. (In many medieval Uses, such as that of Sarum, this Gospel, John 10, 22-38, was read on the octave of a dedication.)

This feast also took place in the Old Testament, whence we read in the book of Maccabees (1 Macc. 4, 42-43), “Judah Maccabee chose priests without blemish, and they cleansed the holy places.” Now the Church Militant can be cleansed, but not the Church Triumphant… * the Church on earth is built in baptism (i.e. washing), and in teaching, and in penance; here are heard (the noise of) the axe and every sort of metal tool, which are the many kinds of penances and disciplines in the Church Militant, … but the temple of Solomon signifies the Church Triumphant, in which these things are not heard.

The Jews celebrated the dedication for eight days, whence it seems that we likewise ought to solemnly keep the feast of the dedication for eight days. But it is strange that they celebrated it for eight days, when they kept Passover and Pentecost for only seven. The reason for this is that this festivity especially signifies the eternal dedication, in which the Church, that is, the holy soul, will be dedicated to God, that is, will be so joined to him that it cannot be transferred to other uses. And this will take place on the octave of resurrection, and therefore, in the New Testament, this feast has an octave. (In Durandus’ original text, this paragraph is actually where the red star is marked above, interrupting his allegorical passage about cleansing the Church.)

In the Office of Matins are said those Psalms in which there is a mention of doors, which represent fear and love, as in the Psalm “The earth is the Lord’s”, where it says “Lift up your gates, o ye princes” (23); those in which there is mention of an altar, as in the Psalm, “Judge me, o God, etc.” (42, not in the Roman Use); those in which there is mention of a city, such as “Our God is a refuge” and “Great is the Lord” (45 and 47); those in which there is mention of atria and gates, such as “How lovely are thy tabernacles” and “Her foundations are in the holy mountains.” (83 and 86)

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz during the consecration of the seminary chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the FSSP Seminary in Denton, Nebraska. After sprinkling the outside of the church with holy water, the bishop knocks on the door three times with his crozier, saying the words of Psalm 23, “Lift up your gates, o ye princes, and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in.” From within, the deacon answers from the same psalm, “Who is this king of glory?”, and the bishop replies “the Lord of hosts, he is the king of Glory!” A porter then opens the door, and the bishop blesses the threshold, saying “Behold the sign of the Cross, let all phantasms flee,” then, as he enters, “Peace to this house” to which the deacon replies “Upon thy entrance. Amen.”
But the question arises, why is the Psalm “O Lord, God of my salvation” (87) is said? To this, some say that it because burials are mentioned in it, but this reason is not correct, because the Psalm does not speak of such burials as those in which the bodies of the faithful dwell, or are buried in a church, but rather of the burials of the wicked. Wherefore, we say that that Psalm is said because it is a penitential Psalm, and treats especially of prayer, which is to take place in a church; whence it is said therein, “Let my prayer come in before thee.” And the Lord says of the Church, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

But the eighth Psalm (seventh in the Roman Use) is “He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High” (90), that is, in the Church, in which it is said, “thou hast made the most High thy refuge,” because the Church is founded above all, on the height of the mountains.

The last antiphon, that of the Magnificat at Vespers, is “Eternal peace,” since the dedication is celebrated for this reason, that we may dedicated, and have that eternal peace.

(This antiphon, incorrectly labelled in the video as the Salve regina, is found in the Dedication Office in most medieval Uses, with a number of minor textual variations. Note the long melisma on the O of the last ‘domui.’ “Pax aeterna ab Aeterno huic domui; pax perennis Verbum Patris sit pax huic domui; pacem pius Consolator praestet huic domui. - Eternal peace this house from the Eternal One; may the Word of the Father be everlasting peace to this house; may the Holy Comforter grant peace to this house.”)

  … To this feast certainly belongs Jacob’s vision of the ladder, and the angels ascending and descending, which is to say, he saw the whole Church in one vision, and raised up a stone, that is, Christ, who is the cap-stone, and the corner-stone, and foundation, who supports all the rest. He raised it up as a title of proclamation, of memory, of triumph, pouring oil upon it. For Jacob, who signifies the bishop, poured oil upon the stone, that is, on Christ, to show forth His anointings, and prophesied the same, saying, “How terrible is this place! this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven. Indeed the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.” (Gen. 28, 17 and 16)

For the Church is terrible to demons, because of the likeness which it has to God, and therefore this is the Introit at the Mass, “Terrible is this place.” There follows “and it will be called the court of God.” The blessed Gregory added these words of his own initiative, since God is ready to hear us therein, as the Lord said to Solomon, “I have heard thy prayer etc.” But why it is terrible is shown in the verse, “The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty,” that is, in His members, and therefore the Church is terrible to demons. …

The Gradual “This place”, that is, the material church, “is holy”, because it is sanctified for this purpose, that the Lord may hear payers in it, and therefore it gives holiness to those praying. For Solomon prayed that the Lord might hear those who pray there, and the Lord said to him, “Thy prayer is heard.”

Blessing of the First American Foundation of the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus [UPDATED]

At this time in the life of the Church, we can all use a strong dose of good news now and again.

Last week, on November 1, the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, His Excellency William P. Callahan, came to Wausau to bless the new Convent of the Nativity of Our Lady, the first foundation in the New World of the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus, the female branch of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The convent is located just a few blocks from St. Mary’s Oratory, the church operated by the Institute in the diocese.

Present for the occasion were the Institute’s Prior General Msgr. Gilles Wach and the Provincial Superior of the USA, Canon Matthew Talarico, as well as the two canons assigned to the Oratory, Aaron Huberfeld and Heitor Matheus.

On the next morning, November 1, Canon Tallarico offered the first Mass in their chapel. Later that day there was a Solemn High Mass with choir and chamber orchestra at St. Mary’s Oratory for the feast, followed by a gala reception for the sisters and parishioners.

Many beautiful photos from these events may be found at St. Mary’s Facebook page or at their website; here we share a sample. Let us give thanks to God for all the great work being done by the Institute and ask His abundant blessings on this new foundation!

UPDATE: The Sisters Adorers need to raise funds for the clothing needs of their growing order in Europe: they have 8 new postulants and are expecting 10 more to arrive later this year. I’m sure many who rejoice in the news of this new foundation in America will be happy to assist the Sisters in this regard! Donations may be made directly to the Sisters (here).

The Blessing of the Convent and Chapel

Friday, November 08, 2019

All Saints and All Souls Photopost 2019 (Part 2)

Continuing with your photos of All Saints, All Souls and Christ the King liturgies, today we have a bit more than usual of All Saints, and some pictures of the Ordinariate Rite, and of course once again, it is great to see so many churches using black vestments. There will definitely be at least one more post in this series, so we’ll be happy to receive any late submissions - evangelize through beauty!

San Francisco Javier de las Colinas – Guadalajara, Mexico (FSSP)
Memento mori!

The Ambrosian Absolution at the Catafalque

On All Souls’ Day last week, I posted a description of the Ambrosian Requiem Mass; as a follow-up, here is a description of the Ambrosian Absolution at the catafalque.

When the Mass is over, the celebrant and major ministers go to the Epistle side and remove their maniples; the celebrant removes his chausble and dons a black cope. They then process out to the catafalque and stand at the head of it, preceded by two acolytes, one carrying the thurible and boat, and the other the holy water vessel and aspergil. In the meantime, the following antiphons are sung; the ninth, “In paradisum”, is sung only for the funeral of a bishop, priest or deacon. The music for these is quite simple, much of it with only one note per syllable, and the total length by note-count is less than that of the responsory Libera me which is sung at the Roman Absolution. (There are a number of other rites in the Ambrosian liturgy at which several antiphons are sung in a row without psalmody in this fashion, e.g. the Rogation days.)

Usque in vita mea laudavi te,
Domine: da requiem mihi cum
Sanctis tuis in regione vivorum,
et salva me.
In my life I have always praised
Thee, o Lord; grant me rest with
Thy Saints in the land of the living,
and save me.
Memorare, Domine, quae sit
mea substantia; quis est homo
qui vivit, et non videbit mor-
Remember, O Lord, what I am
made of; what man liveth, and
shall not see death?
Adhaesit pavimento anima mea:
vivifica me, Domine, secundum
verbum tuum.
My soul hath cleaved to the pave-
ment: quicken Thou me according
to thy word. Ps. 118, 25
Portio mea in terra viventium:
me expectant justi, donec retri-
buas mihi.
My portion in the land of the living;
the just wait for me, until Thou re-
ward me. Ps. 141, 6 & 8
Vide, Domine, humilitatem me-
am, et dimitte omnia peccata
See, o Lord, my abjection, and for-
give all my sins. Ps. 24, 18
Tu jussisti nasci me, Domine;
repromisisti, ut resurgerem.
Jussione tua venio, Sanctissime;
ne derelinquas me, quia pius es.
Thou didst command me to be born,
o Lord, that I might rise again. At
Thy command I come, o most
Holy one; abandon me not, for
Thou art gracious.
Credo, quod Dominus non me
derelinquet, nec condemnabit
me, cum venerit ad judicandum,
sed miserebitur mei Redemptor
meus, pius Deus.
I believe that the Lord will not
abandon me, nor condemn me,
when He shall come to judge, but
my Redeemer, the gracious God,
will have mercy on me.
Etenim pauci fuerunt dies mei;
da mihi requiem cum Sanctis
tuis, Domine.
And indeed my days have been few;
give me rest with Thy Saints, o
In paradisum deducant te An-
geli, et cum gaudio suscipiant
te sancti Martyres Dei.
May the Angels lead thee into Para-
dise, and may the holy Martyrs of
God receive thee with joy.
Tu es, Domine, protector meus;
in manus tuas, Domine, com-
mendo spiritum meum.
Thou art my protector, o Lord; into
Thy hands, o Lord, I commend my
spirit. Ps. 30, 5-6

In the following video, the antiphons are sung (from 0:36 to 4:43) alternating between the women’s and men’s sections of the choir; In paradisum is included, with the object “te” changed to the plural “vos”.

Once the antiphons are finished, the deacon intones another: “Redemptor meus vivit, * et in novissimo me renovabit. V. Renovabuntur denuo ossa mea, et in carne mea videbo Dominum Deum. – My Redeemer liveth, and at the end he shall renew me. V. My bones shall be renewed again, and in my flesh I shall see the Lord my God.” (Job 19, 25-26) This is a rare example of an “antiphona duplex”, an antiphon which is sung in full both before and after the psalm; the two parts (before and after the V.) are sung by two groups within the choir. The choir then begins Psalm 50, and the celebrant imposes incense in the thruible without blessing it.

At the verse “Asperges me hyssopo”, the celebrant takes the aspergil, and accompanied by the acolytes, who hold up the ends of the cope, he makes a circuit around the catafalque as in the Roman Rite, sprinkling each side of it with holy water three times. At the same time, the deacon takes the thurible and, walking immediately behind him, incenses the catafalque three times on each side. They return together to their place at the head of the catafalque. When the psalm is finished (without Gloria Patri or Requiem aeternam, neither of which is said with the psalms and canticles in the Office of the Dead), and the antiphon repeated, the celebrant says “Dominus vobiscum”, and a prayer appropriate to the occasion.

The deacon incensing the catafalque.
There follows a responsory from the Office of the Dead, which is also sung at the Requiem Mass as the Psalmellus, the Ambrosian equivalent of the Gradual. The rubric lectoris indicates that the chant is to be led by a lector; there are many parts of the Ambrosian liturgy which are assigned to specific members of the clergy or choir in this way.

Responsorium lectoris Qui suscitasti Lazarum quatriduanum foetidum, tu dona eis requiem, et locum indulgentiae. V. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Dómine: et lux perpétua lúceat eis. Tu dona eis requiem, et locum indulgentiae. – Thou who raised Lazarus that stank on the fourth day, grant to them rest, and a place of indulgence. Eternal rest grant to them, o Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. Grant to them rest, and a place of indulgence.

However, on All Souls’ Day, and at the Requiem of bishops, including the Pope, and on their anniversaries, the following is sung instead.

Responsorium diaconi Rogamus te, Domine Deus, quia peccavimus tibi: veniam petimus quam non meremur. * Manum tuam porrige lapsis, qui latroni confitenti paradisi januas aperuisti  V. Vita nostra in dolore suspirat, et in opere non emendat: si expectas, non corripimur, et si vindicas, non duramus. Manum tuam... – We ask Thee, Lord God, because we have sinned against Thee: we seek forgiveness, which we do not deserve. * Stretch out Thy hand to the fallen, Who didst open the gates of Paradise to the thief that confessed. V. Our life sigheth in sorrow, and emendeth not in deed; if Thou forbear, we are not reproved, and if Thou avenge, we cannot endure. Stretch out ...

The celebrant and servers standing at the head of the catafalque. This absolution was celebrated at the end of a Requiem Mass for our departed friend Mons. Angelo Amodeo, with our own Nicola dei Grandi serving as the master of ceremonies.
After the responsory, a special form of the Litany of the Saints is said, with all present kneeling. Two cantors begin with “Domine, miserere – Lord, have mercy” three times, each repeated by the choir, then “Christe, libera nos - Christ, deliver us” three times, to which the choir answers “Salvator, libera nos – o Savior, deliver us.” The names of the Saints are then sung by the cantors, to which all others answer “intercede pro eo (ea, eis).” In the Roman Rite, the list of the Saints in the litany is always the same, although other names may be added by immemorial custom; in the Ambrosian Rite, the Saints named in the litany change from one occasion to another. At the Absolution, after the Virgin Mary, the three Archangels are named, followed by Ss John the Baptist and Joseph, and the Apostles Peter, Paul, and Andrew; the martyrs Stephen, Lawrence, Vincent, Nazarius, Celsus, Protasius, Gervasius, George and Sebastian; the Virgin Martyrs Thecla, Catherine, Lucy, Apollonia, Agnes, Euphemia, Cecilia and Ursula; then Martha, Mary Magdalene, and Anne; the bishops Dionysius, Simplician, Eustorgius, Pope Gregory the Great and Augustine; the confessors Jerome, Anthony, and Martin; then Galdinus, Charles Borromeo, and Ambrose, who always conclude the litanies in the Ambrosian Rite, and lastly, “All ye Saints.” The litany ends with three repetitions of “Exaudi, Christe. R. Voces nostras. Exaudi, Deus. R. Et miserere nobis.”, (Hear, o Christ, our voices. Hear o God, and have mercy on us.), and three Kyrie eleisons. (In the first video, it runs from 10:07 to 13:17, sung in an abreviated form.)

As in the Roman Rite, the celebrant makes the sign of the Cross over the catafalque, saying “Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis) Domine. R. Et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis).” He adds “Anima istius, et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace. R. Amen.” The celebrant and ministers then all return in procession to the sacristy.

The Octave of All Saints 2019: The Confessors

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the conclusion of the sermon for the third day in the Octave of All Saints.

After the most unconquered witnesses of Christ follows the venerable chosen company of pontiffs and priests, and the blessed perfection of the most holy confessors, illuminated by the light of truth, and resolute in the confession of the apostolic faith. They pleased the one God, because they showed forth the faith of the holy Trinity in the perfection of their works. Although they did not pass from the light of this world by the sword or any other sort of torment, they were taught in the school of the virtues under the discipline of the Gospel, and by the wonderful patience of the Cross; they fought against the beasts of heretical depravity with the sword of the spirit (which is the word of God) and so nevertheless merited the glory of martyrdom. And although some of the holy confessors never attained the dignity of the priesthood, they were yet in no wise inferior in holiness and justice, in the virtues and the examples of their lives. These then are the men who while they were clothed in the garment of mortal flesh, could say in the spirit of truth with Paul, “our conversation is in heaven.”

The Charity of St Martin, by Jacob van Oost the Elder (1603-71); now in the Groeinge Museum in the painter’s native city of Bruges in Belgium. Martin was one of the very first Confessors to be venerated as a Saint.
A reading from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. (Chapter 11, 33-39, the epistle of the feast of the Four Crowned Martyrs, who share their feast day with the Octave of All Saints.)

The Saints by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, recovered strength from weakness, became valiant in battle, put to flight the armies of foreigners: women received their dead raised to life again. But others were racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection. And others had trial of mockeries and stripes, moreover also of bands and prisons. They were stoned, they were cut asunder, they were tempted, they were put to death by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted: Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth. And all these being approved by the testimony of faith, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
The tabernacle of the Four Crowned Martyrs, on the outside of the Orsanmichele in Florence; commissioned from the sculptor Nanni di Banco by the guild of wood- and stone cutters, 1408. Notice on right side of the lower panel the clever image of two sculptors making a statue.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

All Saints and All Souls 2019 Photopost (Part 1)

As is usually the case, we received many more photographs of All Souls liturgies than All Saints, and once again, it’s great to see that all of them have black vestments. We begin with a nice variety of things from six different countries, including a Pontifical Mass; we also include some photos of celebrations the feast of Christ the King on its date. A real bumper crop of submissions has come in, so there will be at least two more posts of them. Thanks to all those who sent these in - evangelize through beauty!

Chapel of Christ the King –  Zagreb, Croatia
(Photos courtesy of Hrvoje Abraham Miličević)
Procession to the nearby cemetery for the Absolution

The Feast of All Saints 2012: The Martyrs

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the third day in the Octave of All Saints.

After the aforementioned princes of the Church and standard bearers of her spiritual combat comes most readily the troop of the most elite soldiers, that is, the triumphant army of the holy martyrs, patient in their suffering, clothed in white in the contest of their passion, crowned with their precious blood. The ancient dragon, like a most fierce and roaring lion, found a new device for his deceptions; for he that once ordered men to worship the just as gods (as is read concerning the body of Moses), afterwards attacked those who worshipped the true God become man, the Lord Jesus Christ, with due honor. But because the holy martyrs fought manfully for the faith in the stadium of war, they were given a happy reward, and rightly crowned with glory and honor.

The central panel of an altarpiece dedicated to the Virgin Martyr St Margaret of Antioch, made in either Hamburg or Lüneburg, German, ca. 1520 now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Her legend says that she was swallowed by a dragon (seen here at her feet, and also in the lower panel immediately to the right of her), and destroyed it by bursting out of its side; this of course represents her spiritual triumph over the forces of darkness.
“As is read concerning the body of Moses.” These words refer to an episode in a Jewish apocryphal work, the Assumption of Moses, which is mentioned by St Jude in his Catholic Epistle (verse 9): “When Michael the Archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech, but said, ‘The Lord command thee.’ ” (The last words of this verse are quoted in Pope Leo XIII’s famous prayer to St Michael.) The Assumption of Moses is only partially preserved, and the episode in question is not in the part that survives, but ancient scholars such as Origen, who had the complete text to hand, claim it as the work cited by St Jude. The anonymous author of our sermon refers to a tradition going back to Tertullian that idolatry was taught to mankind by the devil, and here claims that in the story cited by St Jude, the devil’s purpose in trying to get the body of Moses was to have the Jews worship it as an idol.
The Dispute between St. Michael and the Devil over the Body of Moses, by Matteo da Lecce, ca. 1575. This painting is on the back wall of the Sistine Chapel, and for reasons which should be obvious, has been entirely overshadowed by the rather more impressive works of Michelangelo on the ceiling above.

EF Pontifical Mass in DC, November 16th, with Frank La Rocca’s Mass of the Americas

Next Saturday, November 16th, His Eminence Salvatore Cordilone, Archbishop of San Francisco, will celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. This will be the first Mass in the traditional rite at which Frank La Rocca’s Mass of the Americas will be performed; we recently published an interview with Mr La Rocca by Roseanne Sullivan, which includes several videos of its various parts during an OF Pontifical Mass. The Mass will begin at 10 am; the church is located at 400 Michigan Ave NE.

For more information, see the following page at the website of the Benedict XVI Institute: https://www.benedictinstitute.org/mass-of-the-americas/. The organizers of the Mass have asked people to help them plan for numbers by RSVPing at this Eventbrite page http://massoftheamericas.com/

Following the Mass, there will be an afternoon conference cosponsored by the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship and The Catholic University of America’s Rome School of Music, Drama and Art, starting at 2pm. The first address on “The Making of the Mass of the Americas” will be given by Abp. Cordileone, Mr La Rocca, and conductor Richard Sparks. The conference is free, and will take place at CUA, 620 Michigan Avenue NE. For more information, see the following EventBrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-of-the-americas-the-after-conference-tickets-73447019011. Registration for the conference automatically includes registration for the Mass as well.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

New English Hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours

We recently received the following information from the Internantional Commission on English in the Liturgy, regarding some new versions of the hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours.

“In the Liturgia Horarum, hymns are an integral part of the celebration of the Hours, marking the sanctification of time. Each hymn is proper to a liturgical hour, observing the progression of the day and frequently drawing the mind to the creation of the world, the redemption of humanity, the struggle to overcome evil, and the glory that awaits the faithful. Spanning over 1600 years, the 294 hymns represent a recovery of a corpus of poetry of theological intensity that has yet to appear in its entirety in the official liturgical book in English. From Saint Ambrose (4th c.) and Prudentius (5th c.), to the twentieth century, this treasure trove of poetic genius of the Western Church is now being made available to the English-speaking world.

Effort has been made to capture as much of the meaning and theological content of the Latin hymns, while at the same time, respecting both natural English idiom of expression and the meter of the Latin original. In rendering the fullest sense of the Latin text, rhyme has been avoided. This is because inversion of syntax, often necessary to maintain the rhyme, creates a text that is complex. There has also been a consideration of the fact that many who pray the hours alone will be reading rather than singing the hymns.

By following the meter of the Latin hymn, these English translations permit the use of the chant melodies proper to each hymn in its Latin version. The hymns can equally be sung to metrical hymn tunes. In these videos, we present a small selection of the hymns, sung to both chant and metrical melodies, some in unison and others in harmony.”

Since the dedication of the Lateran Basilica will be celebrated at the end of this week, here one sample of the project, an English version of the hymn “Urbs Jerusalem Beata” for the dedication of a church.

The following link goes to a YouTube playlist with 10 of the new hymns: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW0AH11wR5Zvav2-vLR1fGnPUVI31_KUO

The Feast of All Saints 2019: The Apostles

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the third day in the Octave of All Saints.

Thus far, we have mentioned the most holy fathers of the Old Testament, like the stars of night, who awaited the sun of justice, Christ the Savior. And at His coming, the darkness of ignorance and of prophecy unfulfilled was driven away, the night of sin began to shine with the light of truth, and in the knowledge of it, the errors of earlier times became like noon itself. But let us look upon the rays of this true sun, brethren, and consider what sort of guardians our fathers had when the time of the synagogue was coming to its end, and the Church was beginning: fishermen and princes, that is, the most holy Apostles and Evangelists, and other disciples of Christ. By their zeal and skill, the net of preaching drew a great multitude of the nations into the ship of the Church; and by their saving teaching, in wondrous manner the Church militant shines forth, and in her triumph, rejoices in their glorious merits.

The Calling of the Apostles, one of the panels from the reverse of the large altarpiece of the Cathedral of Siena known as the Maestà, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-11; now in the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell’ Opera Metropolitana del Duomo)

Solemn Dominican Requiem in NYC, November 13th

A Solemn Requiem in the Dominican Rite, followed by Absolution at the catafalque, will be offered at the church of St Vincent Ferrer in New York City on Wednesday, November 13th at 7 p.m., with a reception afterwards in the parish hall. Fr Sebastian White O.P. will be the celebrant and homilist; the parish’s Schola Cantorum, directed by James Wetzel, will sing the Missa pro defunctis by Italian Baroque composer Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676). The church is located at 869 Lexington Avenue at 66th Street.

A Missa Cantata in the Dominican Rite will also be offered on Friday, November 15th, at 7 p.m. for the feast of St Albert the Great, with the Missa Sancti Wilhelmi devotio by John Taverner (c. 1490-1545).

In the traditional Dominican liturgical calendar, November 13th is the anniversary of All Deceased Friars and Sisters of the Order. This Requiem is sponsored by the Catholic Artists Society, the New York Purgatorial Society, and the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny, and is part of the monthly schedule of Requiem Masses at St. Vincent’s offered by the NYPS.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The Feast of All Saints 2019: The Patriarchs and Prophets

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the third day in the Octave of All Saints.

Having invited the orders of the heavenly army and accompanied them with due honors, let us hasten to recite the merits of those who, being of like origin with us, of the earth and upon it, through the grace of God and their own merit, much greater than our own, obtain blessedness in Heaven. Among those chosen by the divine goodness before the Law and under the Law stands the praiseworthy company of the holy Fathers, Patriarchs and Prophets. And the greatest among them all, John the Baptist, holds the first place, who was conceived at the message of the same angel as Christ. At the beginning of his preaching and baptism for the forgiveness of sins, he recognized Him that takes away the crimes of the world on sight, and with his own finger pointed him out. Rightly is he called the precursor of the Lord, the herald of the Judge, and prophet of the most High, since when not yet born, he preceded Christ into this world with wondrous exultation, and in his glorious passion went before Him as He descended into the next.

The Virgin and Child with Ss John the Baptist and Stephen, by Michelangelo Anselmi, ca. 1530

Christ Writ Large

Here is a fascinating video of my friend Dr. Stephane Rene drawing and painting an enormous Pantocrator - the Blessing Christ. Stephan is Coptic Orthodox and is one of the foremost exponents of the neo-Coptic style pioneered by his mentor, Isaac Fanous. The medium used is egg tempera of silicate ground. Note how fluently and easily he creates those perfect smooth parabolic lines!
His blog is copticonography.org

Monday, November 04, 2019

Upcoming Events with Dom Alcuin Reid and Peter Kwasniewski in Houston, TX

Prince of Peace Catholic Community in Houston, Texas, is hosting Dom Alcuin Reid, OSB, and Dr. Peter Kwasniewski for a Liturgical Conference on Saturday, November 23. Dr. Kwasniewski will also be speaking on Sunday, November 24, at the FSSP parish Regina Caeli.

The schedule for Saturday’s event, An Encounter with the Latin Mass: Exploring Tradition,” is as follows:

9 am – Dom Alcuin Reid, “Praying the Sacred Liturgy”      
10:30 – Dom Alcuin Reid, “Treasures Old and New: Enriching Parish Liturgy Today” (with Q&A)
12 pm – Sung High Mass: Pope St. Clement I
1 pm – Lunch for participants
2 pm – Peter Kwasniewski, “Why the Return of the Latin Mass is Good News”
3 pm – Peter Kwasniewski, “What We Can Learn from Tradition about Active Participation” (with Q&A)
(4:45 – Break for dinner or parish Mass)
6 pm – Panel discussion with Dom Alcuin Reid and Peter Kwasniewski
7 pm – Blessing and Conclusion

The conference will take place at:

Prince of Peace Catholic Community
St Andrew Discipleship Center
19222 Tomball Pkwy
Houston, TX 77070

Dr. Kwasniewski’s lecture on Sunday, November 24, “A Theological Review of the Amazon Synod,” will be held at 12:30 pm at Regina Caeli Parish, 8121 Breen Rd, Houston, TX 77064. This talk will delve into questions of true and false inculturation and the dangers of syncretism and idolatry, the Catholic case for preserving the discipline of mandatory clerical celibacy, and the linguistic equivocations and feminist pressure politics involved in promoting a female “diaconate.” The Q&A promises to be lively.

Posters below for both events.

A New Online Resource for Researching and Preparing a Latin Mass Wedding

A young, enterprising, very organized and well-informed lady named Sharon Kabel has put together a fantastic website dedicated to “the Latin Mass Wedding.” This is a resource that has long been urgently needed, with the growing number of “Benedict XVI” and “Francis Effect” Catholics who are interested in tying the knot with a ceremony and Nuptial Mass in the usus antiquior or Extraordinary Form. Years ago (as when my wife and I got married with a Missa Cantata on the feast of St. John, December 27, 1998), this was still fairly far-out, in the misty fringes of possibility, but nowadays one reads about it happening pretty often, and pictures and videos are abundant. Nevertheless, it should be much more frequent than it is, and I wonder if the lack of easily accessible information is part of the problem.

After all, there are a LOT of differences between the Novus Ordo approach and the traditional approach. In the Novus Ordo, the vows are sandwiched into the Mass between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in a pattern that Nicola Bux complains about as depriving both the Mass of its integrity and the inserted item [sacrament, commissioning, exercise, etc.] of its own dignity. In the old way of doing things, in contrast, the bride and bridegroom exchange their vows at the foot of the altar prior to the start of Mass — almost, you might say, their own version of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar — and then they assist at Mass for the first time as husband and wife. (I remember how special it was at my own wedding to kneel with a ring newly on my finger, with my wife next to me, and hear the priest say: “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. Introibo ad altare Dei...,” knowing that we were going unto the altar of God, united by the God of Israel about whom the schola was singing: “Deus Israel conjungat vos.” As always, the timing of things in the traditional liturgy is magnificent.)

This preceding matrimonial ceremony is usually more elaborate, with some very beautiful prayers (though these have varied and still vary a great deal from country to country, and from century to century); for its part, the ancient Nuptial Mass is extremely rich in its antiphons, readings, and prayers — all of which are required, none optional.

The Nuptial Mass, especially in the form of a Missa Cantata or a Solemn Mass, can be a particularly splendid and festive way to introduce family and friends to the traditional Roman liturgy, a real opportunity for “evangelizing through beauty.” If a young man and woman are serious Catholics, they will already seem strange to many of their relatives and acquaintances, so they might as well go all out rather than trimming the liturgy down to the imagined expectations or tolerance threshold of attendees. You can count on there being many more guests who afterwards say they were moved by the beauty and solemnity of it than there will be grumblers and complainers. No matter what your congregation will be like, it is helpful to provide a missallette or a handout that helps those in attendance to have some clue about what is unfolding before their eyes and ears.

Sharon understands all these things, and she is thorough in providing resources and references. The page “Rite of Marriage” talks about the history of the ceremony and furnishes a full text of the rite found in the 1962 Rituale Romanum for the region of the United States. The page “Wedding Mass” gives in full the English texts of the Missa pro sponso et sponsa. Then comes the page “Resources,” which is fun to explore:

Note that Sharon provides ample information about and links to the text of the traditional Rite of Betrothal, which is also happily returning to the Catholic world after a long period of desuetude. (Just recently, NLM published a piece on it, with photos: check it out.) Betrothal can best be understood as a solemn promise to marry, made before God and His minister, and asking of the Lord the grace of a chaste engagement blessed by His favor. It is really worth doing; my fiancée and I, and many of our friends, and now the children of our friends, have done it. It fits into the general pattern of the Church wishing to bless all created realities: homes, fields, animals, equipment, wine, throats, candles, and the rest. In addition, it serves as a countercultural witness in our times of a serious intent to lead a life in accord with the commandments and virtues. (The U.S. bishops not long ago cobbled together and published a “blessing of an engagement,” but, like all postconciliar liturgical rites, its lameness beggars belief. It will deserve a proper dressing-down someday, not right now.)

Sharon provides a page of FAQs that assume no prior knowledge, so if you are new to all of this, you have found a good place to go.

The website will also be valuable to priests; among other things, Sharon has included Haydock and Catena aurea commentaries on the Scriptural texts of the antiphons and readings of the Nuptial Mass, which could be mined for homilies.

On the website Sharon says she wants feedback about any ways to improve her site, or any further resources to include. Please take her at her word! Let’s make this the single best go-to place on the web for traditional Roman-rite weddings.

(Other wedding-related articles that may be of interest to NLM readers:

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: