Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Basilica of Ss Cosmas and Damian

For today’s feast of the martyrs Ss Cosmas and Damian, our friend Jordan Hainsey sent in some photographs which he took of the Roman basilica dedicated to them, which is one of the oldest in the city. In 2007, he did some work with the art conservator who was restoring the church’s high altar, which he describes as “an amazing opportunity to see decades of dirt and soot removed from precious marble, and see precious frescos regain their brilliance and clarity.” In the first photo, he is standing on the high altar helping to lift up and place the 75 pound gold candlesticks. Of special interest, the candlesticks had fascinating 19th century extenders which allowed for smaller candles while giving the illusion of a tall candle. The descriptions which follow are all by Jordan.

The Basilica of Ss Cosmas and Damian is located in the very heart of ancient and modern Rome. The building was originally a Roman structure that belonged to Vespasian’s Forum of Peace, and may have been one of the libraries of that forum. It was rebuilt and consecrated as a church by Pope St Felix IV in 527. The circular structure known as the Temple of Romulus in the Roman Forum is incorporated into the church. The basilica was entrusted to the Franciscan Friars T.O.R. in 1503 and remains in their care. Over the past decade, it has been extensively restored, starting with the high altar in 2007. Since then, the side chapels have been cleaned and restored, along with the choir in the apse behind the altar.

The high altar was designed by Domenico Castelli at the order of Fr. Ludovico Ciotti, and constructed in 1638. The four black and white marble columns formerly supported the baldachino above an ancient altar in the crypt. In the 18th century, the tabernacle was fashioned from ebony and stone, mixed marble, and bronze.


This cosmatesque ambry was donated by Cardinal Guido Pisano in 1150. It is of white marble, with a mosaic of patterned glass set into the wall; the wooden doors are painted in gold leaf.


The apse mosaic dates from 527-530 A.D. Christ the Judge stands above the dramatically colored clouds; this is the first time in Western art that Christ is depicted as an Easterner, like the Saints to whom the church is dedicated, who were from Arabia. The Apostle Peter presents Cosmas and the Apostle Paul presents Damian so that they may receive the crown of their martyrdom. At the far left, Pope Felix IV presents the model of the basilica, and to the far right stands the soldier St Theodore; the latter is dressed as a Byzantine official in a cloak with a square purple cloth sewn on it, one of the insignia of a magistrate in the court of Justinian. A procession of sheep make up the lower band, moving from Bethlehem and Jerusalem towards the Divine Lamb from Whom spring up the rivers of life: the Geon, Phison, Tigris and Euphrates.




Two Items of Interest from Newman House Press

Speaking of prayers in preparation for Mass, Newman House Press wrote to let us know that they have available a prayer written for that purpose by the Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, addressed to the Virgin Mary.

This can be ordered on a printed card for $5 plus $1 shipping and handling through their webpage noted above; just mention the item in an email to the address given under the link Contact.

They are also offering a special discount on a treatise by Fr Peter Stravinskas on “The Rubrics of the Mass”, a useful explanation of why rubrics ought to be followed, which then goes through the Mass and explains the basic rules. The special offer price is 100 copies for $10 plus shipping and handling. Here is the first page (click to enlarge).

EF Solemn Mass in Manhattan for St Michael

On Thursday, September 29th, the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, a Solemn High Traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m. in the historic Church of the Most Precious Blood, located in New York City’s Little Italy. The intention of the Mass will be for the spiritual and physical well being of all police and law-enforcement officers. This Mass and the Mass at Holy Innocents at 6:00 p.m. will make for two Solemn Traditional Latin Masses being celebrated almost simultaneously a few short miles from each other in Manhattan; such an occurrence, just a few short years ago, would have seemed impossible.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Perfect Prayers for Before and After the Liturgy

Those who are familiar with the traditional Roman missal will know that it features quite a number of prayers of priestly preparation before Mass and of thanksgiving after Mass. Often a sampling of these orations, antiphons, psalms, veriscles, etc., were (and still are) printed in Daily Missals intended for the use of the laity.

It would be interesting, apart from anything else, to know how many of the clergy and laity actually employ these prayers. It must be admitted that some of them are quite long, and for some while before Mass, the priest is occupied with putting on vestments (using the appropriate vesting prayers), holding quiet parleys with MCs, servers, choir or schola directors, and well-meaning folks seeking "a word or two with Father." And while the post-Mass period is usually less chaotic, it still requires at times a heroic effort to withdraw, like Our Lord in the Gospels, into the wilderness where heartfelt thanksgiving becomes possible. (For a more in-depth treatment, see my article "Priestly Preparation Before Mass and Thanksgiving After Mass.")

Given all of these things, it has often seemed to me that it would help to have a short, well-made prayer for before liturgy and another one for afterwards -- something that could be recited in the midst of any circumstances and still wonderfully focus the mind on what is about to transpire or what has transpired.

This past summer, I finally found these prayers, and found them as the result of a happy accident. My son and I were in Chicago for a retreat, and on the way back I decided to swing by St. John Cantius, a legendary place that I had never visited. After Sunday Vespers, I bumped into one of the canons, a very affable priest whom I had met at Sacra Liturgia in Rome a few years ago, who offered to give me a tour of the hidden rooms of the immense church. One of these rooms is a Gothic side chapel with a life-size reproduction of a famous carved altar from Krakow [update: a reader has pointed out that this is a scale model]:
The chapel is beautifully appointed with Gothic furnishings:
And it was at a Gothic side altar that I spotted the two prayer cards.
The priest giving me the tour said that this was his favorite place to offer a morning private Mass and that he and other canons often used the prayers on either side of the altar:
Here is a transcription of the texts:
BEFORE DIVINE SERVICES
Let us pray:
Almighty and Merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Thou hast invited us to participate in this worship with Thy beloved Son, our High Priest and King. Grant us the grace to fulfill our sacred duty with faith, reverence, and love, so that we may please Thee, edify Thy people, and deserve to obtain the fruits of this holy service, through Christ our Lord.
We adore Thee and bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world. Amen.
AFTER DIVINE SERVICES
Let us pray:
We give thanks, heavenly Father, for the honor bestowed upon us by assisting at this holy service. Accept, we beseech Thee, our most humble ministry and forgive us whatever failings we have committed before Thy Divine Majesty. Enlighten and strengthen us, Lord, so that we may always render Thee praiseworthy homage through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end. Amen.
These really do seem to fit the need of the moment, and therefore I gladly share them with the readers of NLM, in case others may find them suited to their needs.

But now that I am writing about my visit to St. John Cantius, I have to share a few more photos of the back rooms. What a treasure trove of relics they have!

Monstances galore, all of them (I believe) gifts to the canons -- and they use them regularly:

 A rare set of Italian papier mâché Nativity dolls:

And -- why not? -- the last pair of papal shoes worn by Pope Pius XII:


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Early-Modern Reforms of the Dominican Liturgy

I recently posted the following item at Dominican Liturgy, but it has been suggested that readers here might also find it interesting.
The Dominican Rite, both for the Mass and Office is famous for its stability and resistance to liturgical changes. And, at least for the text of the Mass, this is certainly true. The Office, however, after resisting many changes affecting
Elevation at the Solemn Mass (Star of the Sea Church, SF 2015)
other Latin rites, such as the adoption of the reformed hymnal of Pope Urban VIII, did conform to the new Psalter arrangement of the Psalms in 1923.
My recent historical work on the history of the Dominican lay brothers (today called “cooperator brothers”), included reading through the nine volumes of Acta of the Dominican General Chapters from 1220 to 1843. As I was doing this, I noted the legislation that reformed or modified the liturgy. Here are the major reforms.
For me, the most interesting piece of legislation was not directly liturgical, but involved the preparation of priests. In 1345, the General Chapter at Manresa, required that the prior of the local priory (priestly formation was the responsibility of each priory in those days) make sure that any friar to be ordained “understand the Canon of the Mass from the Te igitur to the Pater noster.” Ignorance of the meaning of the Latin was such a problem that neither subpriors or vicars were allowed to make this decision. But now on to liturgical changes.
Today some of the most controversial issues for Catholics in church involve how to show respect to the altar, cross, and Blessed Sacrament. In the Middle Ages, the profound bow was the usual way of showing respect. The Dominican Rite only slowly adopted genuflection that became the Roman practice in the later Middle Ages.

Dominicans added the Elevation of the Chalice in about 1300
The General Chapter of Rome 1569 (Acta Capitulorum Generalium S.O.P., 5: 90) explicitly required that the priest bow (“inclinet”) after each of the Consecrations, a clear sign that some Dominican priests were imitating the Roman practice of genuflecting. This chapter also strictly forbade the priest to say the Words of Institution in the Canon out loud, “which certain priests are doing contrary to many chapters and the decree of the Council.” It was only some forty years later, at the Paris General Chapter of 1611 (ACG 6:145) that the Dominican Rite finally suppressed the use of bows at the Consecration and Elevation, replacing them with the modern four genuflections. This was also the point that the rite adopted the use of a genuflection before and after touching the Sacred Species, a practice often considered traditionally Dominican.
Introduction of genuflections where the medieval Dominican Rite prescribed bows had actually begun earlier than that. For example, the General Chapter of Rome 1569 (ACG 5: 90) instructed the priest to simply bow while all others present knelt at the words Incarnatus est in the Creed. Rome 1580 (ACG 5: 192) then introduced kneeling at the word “procedentes” in the Epiphany Gospel, during the Te Deum, and at the word “vereremur” in the hymn Tantum Ergo, “following Papal Chapel’s example.”  And finally the chapter of Lisbon in 1618 (ACG 6:300) confirms for general use the “pious custom” in Spsnish provinces of kneeling at the words “Eia ergo” in the Salve Regina.
A Dominican Deacon Sings the Gospel (ca. 1950)
Early modern chapters also changed the texts of the medieval liturgy and modified rubrics to conform to Roman practice or developed theology. For example, the Rome Chapter of 1569 (ACG 5: 102) changed the collect of Pope St. Gregory the Great from “ex poenis aeternis” to “ex poenis purgatorii,” to reflect the developed doctrine of Purgatory. Famously, and against considerable resistance, the Chapter of Rome in 1589 (ACG 5: 281) mandated the reading of the Last Gospel at the end of Mass, as in the Roman Rite. Later, the chapter of Rome, 1656 (ACG 7: 390) required that the priest at Solemn Mass read the Gospel quietly before deacon chanted it, duplication finally made optional by rubrical reforms in 1960. I find nothing about the priest’s reading the Epistle quietly at sung Mass. Probably introduced by custom about this time like the Gospel. Another change in practice, that of Rome 1656 (ACG 7: 394), which required the priest to say the Sign of the Cross and the verse “Confitemini Domino” in a loud voice at Low Mass, which explains this practice during the use of the “moderate” voice during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, something I have often wondered about.

The early modern period also so introduced ritual changes that friars often think of as dating back to the
Salve Procession after Vestition, St. Dominic Church, SF, 2012
days of Humbert of Romans in the thirteenth century.  Take, for example, the lighting of the Sanctus Candle during the Canon at Low Mass.  This was not made obligatory until the Rome Chapter of 1580 (ACG 5: 169), although it does seem to have been a custom at Solemn Mass already. This introduction was again approved at Lisbon in 1618 (ACG 6: 296). Bologna 1625 (ACG 6: 241) introduced the wearing of the cope and stole when incensing the Sacrament during Benediction, as well as requiring the singing of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin during the procession after Compline on Saturdays. Finally, in 1622, the Chapter of Milan (ACG 6: 325) introduced the “Dominican” practice of moving to center of the altar for the Dominus vobiscum when Mass is before the tabernacle so that the priest’s back not be turned to the Sacrament. This is a clear sign that Dominicans were adopting the modern practice of reservation of the Sacrament on the main altar. This chapter also introduced the practice of  priests wearing the stole over their cappas when receiving Communion on Holy Thursday, as well as placing over the cappa of a deceased friar prior to interment.
I had always wondered about the origin of the idea that medieval friars broke sleep to rise for “Midnight Matin” and then returned to their cells for a couple hours rest before Lauds. This was not the case. In the Middle Ages, the friars rose early, usually around 3 a.m., to sing both Matins and Lauds together, finishing before dawn. I now know that the first example of breaking sleep is only witnessed at the Chapter of Valencia in 1647. It was then confirmed at Rome in 1650 (ACG 7: 282), where the usus of rising for Midnight Matins is required of all priories in the order, “according to the custom of the provinces as to when midnight is.” This is the first time Matins is separated from Lauds as a “midnight” office. But small houses, at least, could rise before dawn for the traditional single office of Matins-Lauds. In the north the combined office of Matins-Lauds should be at 4 am in winter and 3 am in summer, as it was usually in all the middle ages.
Finally, I now know when the Order finally adopted a ritual for distributing Communion to the laity present
at conventual Masses, something not done in the Middle Ages. The Chapter of Rome, 1583 (ACG 5: 239) provided as follows: First, the Confiteor was recited by the laity with the priest giving the two absolutions. Then he asked each communicant, “Credis hunc esse verum Christum Deum et Hominem?” as he displayed the Host. The recipient responded “Credo” and then recited the formula “Domine non sum dignus, etc.” three  times. The priest then gave Communion using the usual formula, “Corpus Domini nostri Iesu Christi etc.”

I have also found some interesting legislation on music and the use of the organ, but will save that for another post.

As I cannot, for some reason unclear to me, post or reply to comments in the NLM combox, you may post your comments here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Façade of Assisi Cathedral: Guest Article by Julian Kwasniewski

The Cathedral of St Rufino in Assisi, the third church to be built on the same site, was begun in 1140 A.D., about 40 years before St Francis was born. It is perhaps less visited than the major Franciscan sites in the city, but it was certainly very important in the early history of the Order. It was while hearing Francis preach in the church (where they both had been baptized as children, along with many of their early followers) that Clare decided to follow him in his life of poverty. We are very glad to share with our readers these marvelous photographs of the church’s façade, along with the accompanying commentary, both by Julian Kwasniewski, Peter’s son; I think that the use of black and white really conveys very well how intricate these carved decorations really are. You can see some more of his excellent work recently publish on the website OnePeterFive (here and here).

The Façade of the Cathedral of Assisi: A Personal Discovery
Introduction: Where and How
“Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven; and it shall be called the court of God.” (Genesis 28, 17, the Introit for the Dedication of a Church.) 
This past July, I was blessed to be able to visit Assisi, the magnificent city of St. Francis, and of medieval Christendom. Although we saw many famous places of beauty and majesty, here I wish to share my thoughts about an obscure place of wonder, that of San Ruffino, the Cathedral of Assisi. At this church I found a beauty which, after reflecting on it later, filled me with delight and fear at the truth shown therein.


Having glanced briefly at the interior and exterior and said the usual sort of thing that you say about another great edifice, my group of family and friends prepared to move on, hoping for some lunch and gelato! However, I was about to have the scales lifted from my oblivious eyes. Some of our group ended up taking a look at the crypt–treasury, and my father and I were left to wait in the square in front of the church. Then I discovered the real beauty and complexity of this court of God.


This is what I wrote in my journal: “July 16th 2016 …The Façade of the Cathedral of Assisi is exquisite: not awe-inspiring like the façade of Chartres, but in the way that one must ‘get to know it.’ It took me a good half hour to appreciate its workmanship. Going over the façade again and again, each time bringing to my eyes new details: heads, faces, people, and animals, all secretly hidden only for the attentive. The idea of a church that is so extensive in its decoration that no one man can appreciate it is a lost principle—and only God can really understand and value the offerings that these churches make. Also, in Christendom there is no sense of ‘we have built some great churches, now we can do something else.’ No, rather: ‘nothing we do can satisfy God—but a little bit more makes a little bit more…’ ”





New Spanish Video on Veiling (with English Subtitles)

Recently I reviewed the new book Mantilla: The Veil of the Bride of Christ. I was pleasantly surprised by the popularity of this post and by the many positive comments I received about it. Clearly, we are living at a time when it is not only possible to discuss such things with great openness and a spirit of calm, but also where one sees a deep hunger for the rediscovery of Catholic traditions.

A reader informed me about the appearance of a new video, almost half an hour in length, entitled El Velo: Respeto ante Dios y Honor para la mujer [The Veil: Respect before God and Honor for Women], from AGNUS DEI PROD in Spain. I am glad that the producers decided to include English subtitles, which will earn for their work a much wider diffusion. There is much food for thought and prayer in the running commentary. I encourage you to watch it and then consider whom you might share it with.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Great New Recording of the Requiem Chants

For some years, Massachusetts-based hymn expert Peter Meggison has been working to keep classic devotional hymns alive by commissioning new recordings of them. Having made over a dozen sessions with choirs and small ensembles, he distributes the songs on CDs and on the web. Most of the music on the site is from the era 1850-1950, and represents popular hymns sung at Catholic Masses and devotions in America and England.

This summer he collaborated with conductor and organist Michael Olbash to offer something different. Instead of late-Victorian hymns in English, the aim was to present a once-familiar sound from the traditional Mass itself: the sound of the Latin chants of the Requiem Mass, sung with organ accompaniment. A choir of 11 met for an afternoon in St. John Church in Clinton, Massachusetts in June to perform the music, and it is now available on the project’s website.

http://www.catholicdevotionalhymns.com/recordings/2016-requiem-mass/


The recording begins with the Subvenite, which is sung as the body is brought into the church, and concludes with the Libera me, the ninth responsory of the Office of the Dead, which is sung as the coffin is sprinkled with holy water and incensed before being taken to the cemetery, the ceremony known as the Absolution. Between them are all of the Gregorian parts of the Mass, the regular antiphons, plus the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus dei. The choir is a strong group of men’s voices, really giving a very nice example of how Gregorian chant can and should be done, with a sober organ accompaniment (written by Achille Bragers) that works very nicely with, and never overpowers, the choir. (Cross-posted from Chant Café.)

Eucharistic Procession in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 8

The Holy Name Society of St. Antoninus Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio, together with the Community-in-Formation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in Cincinnati and Old St. Mary’s Church will hold a men’s Eucharistic Procession on October 8th from 9 am to 11 am. It will begin at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral on West 8th Street, and process to Old St. Mary’s Church at 13th and Main Streets.

The first local Holy Name Society group began in Newport in the year 1900, while the Holy Name procession recorded in Cincinnati was in 1907 in Mt. Adams. By 1913 the march became so large that they ended the parade at Redland Field (later renamed Crosley) to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament. It was estimated that 35,000 men marched that day. These parades were indeed a mark of the hearty heritage of Catholics in Cincinnati.

Today the Holy Name Society Men’s group of St. Antoninus realizes that the world needs strong men to stand up in faith to honor the Holy Name of Jesus. In a world that constantly deals with brokenness and fatherlessness, the group stands as one of courage and faith. These few men seek to build up fellow men to be strong leaders, faithful fathers who will promote peace and unity in our beloved city. This Group wishes to renew the Catholic heritage of the Holy Name processions of the past and encourages all men to prayerfully join this year’s Eucharistic Procession.

From last year’s procession, courtesy of Joshua Mincher. (Also see this story about it here.)






Thomas Merton on the Liturgical Reform

The Religion and Ethics section of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website has posted a very interesting article by Gregory K Hillis, an Associate Professor of Theology at Bellarmine Univ., about the famous Trappist monk and writer Fr Thomas Merton, and his attitude to the reform of the liturgy. No one who knows anything at all about Merton will be surprised to learn that he was rather ambivalent about the post-Conciliar liturgical reforms. As was the case with so many people, the initial enthusiasm with which he greeted the publication of Sacrosanctum Concilium was very much tempered by some of the results he saw in the following years, results which he himself predicted while the ink on the Council’s document was still drying.

Prof. Hillis cites Merton’s journal, in which he writes immediately upon reading SC, ‘There is no question that great things have been done by the Bishops,’ and then notes that “(a)s novice master, Merton devoted three sessions to it in the days following its release.” And yet, only five days after the document was officially promulgated, he wrote to a friend at the Grand Chartreuse, with astonishing prescience, “Our great danger is to throw away things that are excellent, which we do not understand, and replace them with mediocre forms which seem to us to be more meaningful and which in fact are only trite. I am very much afraid that when all the dust clears we will be left with no better than we deserve, a rather silly, flashy, seemingly up-to-date series of liturgical forms that have lost the dignity and the meaning of the old ones.” Likewise, in 1966, he describes the English liturgy at Gethsemane Abbey as “very open, simple, even casual, but very moving and real,” while writing a year before that in a letter to an Anglican friend “As I tell all my Anglican friends, ‘I hope you will have the sense to maintain traditions that we are now eagerly throwing overboard.’ ”

Merton died in December of 1968, just under a year before the Novus Ordo Missae came into use. One can only wonder what his reaction would have been to the explosion of abuses that attended the coming of the New Rite, the disintegration of Catholic liturgical music, already well-under way by the later ’60s, and whether he would have seen in these things a cause of the collapse of his order, now at 40% of the membership it had in 1971.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ambrosian Solemn Mass for the Exaltation of the Cross

Last Wednesday, the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Milan welcomed Mons. Luigi Magnanini, emeritus Archpriest of the Cathedral Chapter, for a Solemn Mass in the traditional Ambrosian Rite on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Monsignor was assisted by Fr Alberto Fiorini as deacon, Fr Michele Somaschini as subdeacon, and our own Nicola de’ Grandi as master of ceremonies. These photographs give us a nice idea of some of the typical ceremonies of the Ambrosian Mass.

The celebrant and ministers enter the church to the chanting of a Psallendum, an antiphon repeated from the end of Lauds. The processional cross halts at the entrance to the sanctuary, and is turned towards the celebrant, who stands facing it in the nave, with the ministers in two rows facing each other on either side. There are then sung 12 Kyrie eleisons and a hymn, followed by a second Psallendum; at Gloria Patri, all bow to the Cross, at Sicut erat, the ministers bow to the celebrant. The Psallendum is then repeated as they enter the sanctuary.


Many of the dignitaries of the Ambrosian clergy. including the canons of the cathedral, may use a staff called a ferula as a symbol of their authority.


At the Gloria Patri of the Psallendum. 


If the Blessed Sacrament is present in a tabernacle on the altar, it is incensed by the celebrant while kneeling, before he begins to incense the altar.


The reader who sings the Prophetic lesson, and the subdeacon when he sings the Epistle, are both blessed by the celebrant, as is the deacon before the Gospel. The celebrant gives the blessing after the reader has sung the lesson’s title, bowed to him, and said “Jube, domne, benedicere.”


Historical Recreation of a 15th Century Mass

Ben stumbled across this very interesting video which was published a bit less than two weeks ago, an historical reenactment of Mass as would it have been celebrated in a parish church in Sweden on Sunday, October 4, 1450. On the Youtube channel it is described as the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, but the video itself correctly notes it as “Dominica XVIII post Trinitatis (festum) - the 18th Sunday after (the feast of the) Trinity,” according to the system widely used in the north of Europe in the later Middle Ages.

Some of the differences from the Tridentine Mass as celebrated today which you may note here can be attributed to the many variants and vagaries of medieval liturgical custom. The most obvious is the the use of a red vestment instead of green; this was common enough in the Middle Ages, and continues in use to this day in the Ambrosian Rite for the season after Pentecost.


Someone posted in the comments on Youtube an English translation of the introduction, which occupies the first 3:45 of the video; I will post part of it below. However, I feel that there is one very significant problem here which ought to be addressed, namely, the fact that throughout the service, the congregation remains completely silent. Obviously, one cannot exclude absolutely the notion that such Masses happened in the Middle Ages. However, common experience would strongly indicate that this was not typical, and that a sufficient number of people would have known at least the Ordinary, and perhaps rather more than that, well enough to join in with the cantor.

While there are many EF Masses celebrated today where only the schola sings, there are also many where the congregations does join in for at least the Ordinary and things like the hymns sung at the Offertory or Communion. Surely this must have been all the more common when attendance at the regularly Sunday liturgy was so much more the focus of peoples lives, when did not depend anywhere near as much as we do on printing, and when most of them lived their whole lives in the same church, hearing the same chants year in and year out.

To this day, if one attends a Divine Liturgy celebrated in Old Church Slavonic for a Ukrainian or Slovak congregation, people still sing along with the invariable parts such as the Creed and the Cherubic hymn, and very often with a great deal more besides. One may argue that the language of a modern Ukrainian is nowhere as far from Old Church Slavonic as medieval Swedish is from Latin; to this I answer that my own regular attendance at the liturgy in Old Church Slavonic has enabled me to learn a great deal of it without any particular effort, despite no knowledge at all of any Slavic language. Earlier this year, I attended the first part of the Easter vigil on Julian Holy Saturday in a Russian Orthodox church, and heard several people single along with the Cherubic hymn “Let all mortal flesh keep silent”, which is only sung once a year, at that service.

I say this, not to run down the creators of the video, who clearly put a great deal of effort into it. Nevertheless, we as Catholics ought to always keep a clear and accurate understanding of what the religion, the prayer, and the liturgical life of people really was in the Age of the Faith, as the historian Will Durant rightly proposed to rename the “Middle Ages.” Modern scholarship such as Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars and Fr Augustine Thompson’s Cities of God have shown that medieval people knew and understood, and lived participated in the liturgy, far more than they and their culture are generally given credit for.

Translation of the Swedish introduction:

“Five hundred years ago, the universe seemed much more understandable than it does for us. All of existence was framed by a number of ceremonies and behavioral patterns which were a matter of course for people at the time. And the most important of them was the Holy Mass - that ring of charged words and actions which surround the central mystery in the Christian faith: That Jesus becomes man anew in the creatures of bread and wine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Guadalupe Chasuble Ex Voto

In thanksgiving to God on the fifth anniversary of my Ordination to the Priesthood, I celebrated a Low Mass in the Dominican rite. 
The vestment worn for the first time on this occasion, at a Saturday Mass of Our Lady, was a gift commissioned in memory of my grandparents, and it was made by a talented young seamstress based in England, Geneviève Gomi who has had years of experience in vestment restoration and embroidery.
Six years ago on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom I have a special devotion, I had been involved in a serious bus accident in Oxfordshire. As I emerged unscathed from the wreckage of the bus, I attributed this miracle to the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A motet by Sir James MacMillan CBE was subsequently written for my Ordination in 2011, and it was offered to Our Lady in thanksgiving (see video below, which has scenes from the Ordination).
This new vestment set has been, likewise, offered in thanksgiving to Our Lady of Guadalupe for her protection. I have often felt dissatisfied with embroidered images of Our Lady of Guadalupe – they just do not look like the image on the sacred tilma in Mexico City. So, after consultation with Miss Gomi, it seemed that a printed photograph of the Virgin would be the best way to render the face of Our Lady of Guadalupe as faithfully as possible. Moreover, as the miraculous image is itself some kind of celestial photograph, this seemed most apt. The image is thus printed on fine Habotai silk and certain details have been emphasised with gold and coloured silk embroidery. The chasuble itself is made from a bespoke embroidered dupion silk fabric from Marseilles, but it is relatively simple so that it does not distract from the image of Our Lady. Moreover, as one finds with many old Marian chasubles, it is lined in fabric of a dusky rose colour.
In a homily given to priests at the Chrism Mass in Rome in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said that "liturgical vestments must make it clearly visible to those present that we are there 'in the person of an Other'", and then, citing Pope St Gregory the Great, he said the Priest has to wear "clothes of love... which alone can make us beautiful". Accordingly, this chasuble was made with love by a devoted Catholic seamstress, and they were worn with love for Our Lord and his Blessed Mother. In our attention to beautiful Liturgy that is worthy of God we should not neglect the vestments that are worn at the Altar, and whenever possible, we should encourage new talent and commission from them works of sacred art that can stir us to greater devotion; let us offer to God the very best we can muster. To this end, do visit the site of Geneviève Gomi, and please offer her your prayers and encouragement; she can be contacted at: g.gomi@hotmail.com.

Upcoming TLM Events in Seoul, South Korea

The Traditional Latin Mass Community in Seoul, South Korea, has asked us to announce that on the weekend of October 1-2, they will host a special series of events with a visiting priest, including a visit to the Catholic Martyrs’ Shrine at Jeoldusan, “the beheading mountain,” in the Mapo-gu district. Over a period of just under a century, 1791-1888, more than 10,000 people were killed for the Faith in Korea; the shrine houses over 3,000 relics. (Today, September 20th, the Church celebrates the feast of Ss Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions, a group of 103 martyrs canonized by Pope St John Paul II in 1984 during a visit to Korea.) See their website here: http://cafe.naver.com/ecclesia/

Statue of St Andrew Kim Taegon, the first native Korean Catholic priest and Patron Saint of Korea, at the Martyrs’ Shrine at Jeoldusan. St Andrew was born in 1821; he entered seminary when he was only 15, was ordained a priest at 23, and martyred by beheading at the age of 25. (Image from Wikipedia by Swiss James.)
The schedule of events is as follows:

Saturday October 1
1:20 p.m. - Introduction and greeting (location: front of education centre of Jeoldusan Catholic Martyrs' Shrine)
1:40 p.m. - Pilgrimage to Jeoldusan Catholic Martyrs' Shrine and Rosary

The Jeoldusan Catholic Martyrs Shrine in Seoul (Image from Wikipedia by Matthew Smith.)
3:30 p.m. - Move to Oratory of the St. John’s House (915-15, Dang-dong, Gunpo City, Gyeongi-do Province. The Oratory’s website (in French and Korean) http://kunpohome.com/; telephone 031-393-3569)


4:30p.m. - Welcoming ceremony
5:00 p.m. - Confession and imformation about Mass
5:20 p.m. - Prayer before Mass
5:25 p.m. - First Saturday Low Mass
6:00 p.m. - Prayer after mass, Traditional blessing of sacred objects and clothing with the Brown Scapular

Sunday October 2
1:30 p.m. - Introduction and greeting (location: Oratory of the St. John’s House)
1:40 p.m. - Open lecture about liturgy
3:30 p.m. - Rest time and Confession
3:55 p.m. - Prayer before Mass
4:00 p.m. - Sung Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
6:00 p.m. - Prayer after mass, Traditional blessing of sacred objects and clothing with the Brown Scapular

How an Artist Creates the Illusion of Depth with Paint Alone

In good sacred art, even the look of the negative space around the figures is carefully controlled by the artist.

The iconographic tradition portrays the heavenly realm, which is outside time, and crucially in this context, outside space. In order to convey a sense of the heavenly order in an earthly image, all sense of depth beyond the plane of the painting is deliberately eliminated. There is no superfluous background in an icon, and the negative space around a figure is meant to appear flat.

This first icon was painted in the 20th century by Gregory Kroug, a Russian ex-patriot living in Paris.


The naturalistic tradition, in contrast, seeks to do precisely the opposite, as we see here in a 15th century painting by the Venetian Giovanni Bellini.


It is portraying Historical man, that is man after the Fall, but not yet redeemed; this is the world of time and space that we live in. When painting in this tradition, the artist deliberately sets out, therefore, to create the illusion of space, which he can do in a number of ways. One is to draw a scene with conventional perspective (and the icon painter can do the converse by using inverse perspective). However, in order to use either form of perspective, there must be a background scene painted in the area around the main figures onto which the artist would apply them. If there is no background scene, the artist must use other means to control our sense of how the negative space appears, either as a three-dimensional space or as a flat surround in the plane of the painting.

This is done by the choice of medium or media used in the painting; one option is to gild, which always looks flat, as you can see this 12th century Greek icon of Moses at the burning bush.


If the background is painted rather than gilded, then egg tempera, fresco and mosaic always tend to look flat too, whereas oil paint, especially when used for painting shadow, always creates a strong sense of space beyond the plane of the painting.

Just to illustrate, compare the icon above by Gregory Kroug with another work by Bellini, his Sacred Conversation painted in 1490. Neither has scenery around the figures, yet first has a white background that is designed to eliminate as far as possible any sense of space beyond the plane of the painting. Bellini, on the other hand, has painted a dark background that plunges into the depths, and gives a sense of almost infinite space – there is a gaping chasm beyond the figures.

The next painting, done just 4 years before Bellini’s by Carlo Crivelli in 1486, demonstrates why the standard choice of medium became oil rather than egg tempera. In this image of the Annunciation, Crivelli uses single point perspective to create a sense that the pathway on the left is receding far into the distance. The draughtsmanship is fine, but for me the painting just doesn’t work. I have seen the original many times in the National Gallery in London, and every time I am struck by the fact that although the size of the figures in the background and all the perspective lines pointing to them tell me that they are in the distance, they simply don’t look distant, they look small. The reason, I feel, is the medium that Crivelli is using is egg tempera.


Even beyond the choice of medium, there are also ways of manipulating the paint so that it can enhance or reduce the natural look of the paint in this respect. These are called “glazes” and “scumbles.” I do not know for certain, but as far as one can tell from the reproductions, my guess is that this is what Kroug and Bellini were using. Certainly, if I was trying to create the same effect, this is what I would do.

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