Thursday, October 27, 2016

Byzantine Diaconal Ordination in Sicily

St Demetrius the Great Martyr, whose feast day we noted yesterday, is also the titular Saint of the Byzantine Catholic cathedral of Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily. The Byzantine churches in southern Italy descend partly from the Greek communities which were formerly very numerous in that region, and partly from Albanians who fled from the Turkish invasion of their lands into Italy in the 15th century. (Hence the distinction “degli Albanesi - of the Albanians”; Albano and Albanese are both fairly common last names in Italy.) Their liturgy is therefore celebrated in a mix of Greek and Arberesh, a literary form of Albanian from about 400 years ago.

Their patronal feast yesterday was also the occasion of a diaconal ordination; congratulations to the new deacon, Giuseppe Miceli. (From the Facebook page of the Friends of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi.)

Newly Republished: The Little Flowers of Saint Francis with Antique Illustrations

Years ago in Austria, I found a small rare book, called on its cover Franz von Assisi, and on its title page Legenden vom Heiligen Franz. The pocket-sized book, only 106 pages, contains selections from The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, translated by Karl Toth and illustrated by Maximilian Liebenwein. It appeared as part of the Kleine Amalthea-Bücherei from the Amalthea Verlag, Zürich-Wien-Leipzig, in 1921.

The illustrations are vigorous, clear, and dramatic, with the strong graphic design of their time period. Of particular note are the eight full-color plates, which were printed with gold, blue, and red, and then colored in with pencils.
From the 1921 edition in German
That was more than 15 years ago. Every once in a while, I would take the book down from my shelf and wonder anew at its artistry. After deciding that a simple facsimile, though doubtless intriguing to a German speaker, would do little for those of Anglophonic readership, my son and I set to work scanning the images and compiling the stories from an elegant English translation of The Little Flowers in the public domain, so that we could bring out a new edition and share this wonderful artwork with others.

We began with the stories that were already in the German volume, but as we went along, the charm of other stories worked on us irresistibly, and so we added them, too — hence the larger size of our volume. It is not the complete Little Flowers, but it delivers a respectable portion of classic stories about St. Francis and his early companions. These stories bring us face-to-face and heart-to-heart with the real St. Francis and with his genuine followers: radical Catholics; ascetics, holy fools, and mystics of the Mass; enthralling in their colorfulness, yet a challenge to our modern assumptions and an antidote to our contemporary poisons. There is much in these pages that Catholics have forgotten and need to recover. But I digress . . .

The book is available in two versions — a hardcover from Lulu (on the left in the photo below) and a paperback from CreateSpace (on the right; also available at Amazon). Both of these are 6" x 9", that is, much larger than the original volume.

Although the cover designs are different, the interior content is identical: 114 pages, with eight full-page color illustrations and 19 black and white drawings. Decorative red capitals are liberally spread throughout the book. (Note that the previews at Lulu and Amazon do not include any of the full-color pages — a good reason to share some more photos here.) The size of the print and the fine illustrations make it an ideal book for older children or for reading aloud. This is something I tested with my own family; the book was a great success.

Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage Information: First Day in Norcia Cancelled

We have been asked by the organizers of the Populus Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to help spread the following news: due to the earthquake activity which took place yesterday evening in central Italy, the events scheduled for today in Norcia have been cancelled. The city is still recovering from the earthquake back in August, and the long series of aftershocks. This evening, the pilgrimage events will begin at 6 pm at the FSSP church in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, with a Rosary at 6 pm, followed by Low Mass at 6:30 celebrated by the pilgrimag chaplain, Fr Claude Barthe.

Abp Alexander Sample, who will celebrate the main Mass of the pilgrimage on Saturday at St Peter’s, is in Norcia, where he celebrated Mass this morning for the Benedictine Monks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

St Demetrius the Great-Martyr

On October 26, Byzantine Christians celebrate with great solemnity the feast of St Demetrius of Thessalonica, a soldier and martyr of the early 4th century, whose popularity is almost as great as that of another warrior, St George. The traditional story of his life is that he succeeded his father as military commander at Thessalonica, but was imprisoned by the Emperor Maximian (286-305) for not only refusing his orders to persecute the Christians, but openly preaching the Gospel.

Maximian had a favorite gladiator, a very large German named Lyaeus, who, at his behest, challenged any Christian to wrestle him on a platform surrounded by spears. A Christian named Nestor, brave, but very small of stature, visited Demetrius in prison and received his blessing, after which he wrestled and beat Lyaeus, hurling him down onto the spears. In his anger at losing his favorite gladiator, Maximian sent his soldiers to the prison, where they speared Demetrius him though the chest, while Nestor was killed the following day.

This story forms the tropar of St Demetrius’ feast day.

The world has found you to be a great defense against tribulation, and a vanquisher of heathens, O Passion-bearer. As you bolstered the courage of Nestor, who then humbled the arrogance of Lyaios in battle, Holy Demetrius, entreat Christ God to grant us great mercy.
Kontakion God, who has given you invincible might, has tinged the Church with streams of your blood, Demetrius! He preserves your city from harm, for you are its foundation! Devotion to St

Demetrius has always been very strong among the Slavs, particularly as a patron of soldiers, as witnessed by the popularity of the name Dmitry. Attempts have even been made to claim him as a Slav, since he was supposed to be originally from the city of Sirmium, (now called Mitrovica, in Serbia), in the area of the Balkan peninsula where the Slavs first settled in Europe, but only in the 6th century. His patronage of soldiers was reaffirmed in modern times during the First Balkan War (Oct. 1912 – May 1913), when Thesssalonica was liberated from Ottoman control and united to Greece on his feast day in 1912. He is also honored with the titles “Great-Martyr”, as one who suffered much for the Faith, “Myrrh-gusher” from the tradition that streams of scented oil came forth from his relics, and “Wonderworker” many miracles attributed to him.

Icon of St Demetrius by Andrei Rublev (and follower), ca. 1425, from the Trinity Cathedral in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.
The Byzantine Synaxarion, (equivalent to the Martyrology) also still notes on this day a terrible earthquake which took place in Constantinople in the year 740, which killed thousands of people and did terrible damage to the city and its walls. This was the year before the death of the first iconoclast Emperor, Leo the Isaurian, and it was generally believed that the earthquake was a divine punishment for the iconoclast heresy. By an interesting coincidence, there has been some significant earthquake activity in central Italy today, in the same area where two months ago a major earthquake which did so much damage in Norcia and some of the nearby towns. Thus far, the damage appears to be minimal, and no fatalities have been reported, but please remember to pray for the safety of the people in that area.

EF Solemn Mass for Christ the King in Toronto

This coming Sunday, the EF feast of Christ the King, the St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto, Canada, will host a Solemn High Mass to mark the tenth anniversary of the founding of St. Patrick’s Gregorian Choir, directed by Surinder S. Mundra. The Mass begins at 2:00 p.m; the church is located at  65 Bond Street in Toronto. His Eminence Thomas Card. Collins will deliver the homily.

For more information, see the Facebook page of the St Patrick’s Gregorian Choir, and the cathedral’s bulletin page. Besides being the 10th anniversary Mass of the choir’s formation, this is also the first Mass in the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated in the cathedral of Toronto, since the promulgation of the post-Conciiar reforms. Following a beautiful restoration, St Michael's Cathedral has recently been declared a basilica.

“Reverence Is Not Enough: On the Importance of Tradition”

The text of the lecture I gave in Prague for the launch of the Czech translation of Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis is now available at Rorate. A few excerpts:

Prior to all arguments about which practice is better or worse is the overarching principle of the primacy of tradition, meaning the inherent claim that our religious inheritance, handed down from our forefathers, makes on us. We do not “own” this gift, much less “produce” it. Tradition comes to us from above, from God who providentially designed us as social animals who inherit our language, our culture, and our religion; it comes to us from our ancestors, who are called antecessores in Latin—literally, the ones who have gone before. They are ahead of us, not behind us; they have finished running the race, and we stand to benefit from their collective wisdom. St. Paul states the principle in 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.”
The rejection of tradition and the cult of change embodies a peculiarly modern attitude of “mastery over tradition,” which is the social equivalent of Baconian and Cartesian “mastery over nature.” The combination of capitalism and technology has allowed us to abuse the natural world, treating it as raw material for exploitation, in pursuit of the satisfaction of our selfish desires. In a similar way, the influence of rationalism and individualism has tempted us to treat Catholic tradition as if it were a collection of isolated facts from which we, who are autonomous and superior, can make whatever selection pleases us. In adopting this arrogant stance, we fail to recognize, with creaturely humility, that our rationality is socially constituted and tradition-dependent. By failing to honor our antecessores, we fail to live according to our political nature and our Christian dignity as recipients of a concrete historical revelation that endures and develops organically over time and space.[4] The Psalm verse comes to mind: “Know ye that the Lord, he is God: he made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps 99[100]:3). Ipse fecit nos et non ipsi nos. We do not make ourselves, nor do we make our religion or our liturgies; we receive our existence, we receive our faith, we receive our worship. Tradition comes to us from outside ourselves, before and beyond us. It unambiguously expresses our dependence on God—as creatures, as Christians, as coheirs with the saints. An heir is one who inherits, not the “self-made man” of capitalism. 
St. Paul states to the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). Massively changing the liturgy to make it apparently more suited to “modern man” was, in fact, a form of yielding and conforming to the world rather than standing all the more firmly over against it with a supernatural alternative, holding fast what was already known to be “good and acceptable and perfect.”[8] While earlier ages of the Church witnessed the enrichment of the liturgy with elements from the cultures through which it passed, there had never been, prior to the twentieth century, a systematic attempt to reconfigure the liturgy according to the pattern of a certain epoch or worldview. There had been pruning and adjustment, but never wholesale reconstruction and whole-cloth invention. The very ambition to attempt such an audacious feat could have arisen only in an age bedazzled by the Myth of Progress—a myth that played upon the well-known gullibility of rationalists and romantics alike. The liturgical reformers for the most part surrendered to the temptation without resistance, like springtime lovers in Paris. We could adapt what St. Paul says elsewhere in the Epistle to the Romans: “they became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:21).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Iconostasis, Rood Screen, Communion Rail...or Shag-Pile Carpeted Step?

The nature of the dividing line between sanctuary and nave in a church has been a hot topic over the years. I raise the subject today not to spill yet more ink in complaining about the removal of altar rails in churches over the last 50 years or so, although it is something I do feel strongly about. Rather, I am interested in trying to establish how, with due regard for tradition, we might encourage in the Roman Rite a renewed engagement with art in the liturgy, in the such a way that it deepens our participation, rather than distracts from it.

One thing that always strikes me when I go to an Eastern Rite Catholic Church, (recently I have been attending St Elias Melkite Church in Los Gatos, California,) is how much more naturally priest, deacon, cantor and congregation engage with the icons during the liturgy. In contrast, in the Roman Rite, even in traditional congregations, apart from perhaps the crucifix and altarpiece, the choice of art seems to be governed more by the priest’s personal devotion than liturgical considerations, and there appears to be very little engagement with it during the liturgy itself. At best, sacred art provides a decorative backdrop that helps set an appropriate mood for the worship of God with direct engagement in the liturgy itself, which is largely a hands-clasped and eyes-closed activity.

First a quick presentation of different options available to us.

According to my research, the original division in both East and West was more like today’s altar rail, with gaps or doors for processing. The typical “transenna” might have looked as this one at Sant’ Apollinarre in Ravenna, which I understand was restored in the 20th century.

Another example from the 12th century, at San Clemente in Rome, which seems to follow the early traditional style.
In time, from perhaps the 9th century onwards, the transenna grew upwards into a screen, as in this 9th century example from Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome.
Gradually, we see images being added, as in the Byzantine-Venetian Torcello Cathedral, built in the 7th century, but restored in the 9th and 11th centuries.
This then developed into the Western rood screen, “rood” being an old English word for the cross. The example below is a 15th century screen from Cornwall in England.
The lower portion would originally have had images in it, as in this example below from Norfolk. (The cross is now missing.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Missals from Silverstream Priory (3): Augustinian Missal of 1716

One of the oldest missals, if not the oldest, that the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration at Silverstream Priory have in their possession is this lavish volume from 1716, the title page of which clearly proclaims that it is a Roman Missal with all the feasts proper to the order of Augustinian hermits.

As is typical with books of this period, the artwork is monochromatic, while the text features red rubrics (that’s a redundancy of course!) and red capitals. The book is in excellent shape given that it is exactly 300 years old.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Relics of St Boethius

As we mentioned earlier this month, the church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in the Italian city of Pavia, which houses the relics of St Augustine, also has those of another Saint, the philosopher and theologian Boethius, whose feast is kept today.

The first page of a later 14th-century manuscript of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, showing him as a teacher of philosophy above, and in prison below. 
His full name was Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius; the gens Anicia were a very prominent family in ancient Rome, and there is reason to believe that St Gregory the Great was also descended from it. Boethius was born about 480 A.D., and orphaned in youth; his guardian was a member of another very ancient family, one Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, whose daughter Rusticiana he eventually married. (The Vesper hymn of Ss Peter and Paul was long falsely attributed to a non-existent second wife of his called Elpis.) His life was dedicated to the study of both philosophy and theology, and it was largely through his work as a translator that the early Middle Ages knew what it knew of the writings of Plato and Aristotle, as well as Euclid, Archimedes and others. Several of his theological treatises also survive; there is also a famous letter to him from the writer Cassiodorus in which he asks Boethius to make a sundial and waterclock for the king of the Burgundians.

In the great tradition of the ancient families to which they belonged, Boethius, like his father and father-in-law before him, took an active part in the public life of Italy. By the end of the 5th century, the last Roman Emperor in the West had been removed, and the peninsula was nominally ruled by the Eastern Emperor in Byzantium, but in fact, by the Ostrogothic king Theoderic. Boethius served under Theoderic as the Roman consul in the year 510 A.D., and saw the same ancient honor vested upon his two sons twelve years later. (The fact that they were in their teens shows what the office had been reduced to in reality, but the prestige of it was still very great.) More importantly, he also held the position of the “magister officiorum – the master of the offices,” one of the greatest significance and responsibility.

Shortly thereafter, Theodoric had come to believe that members of the senate in Rome were plotting with the Emperor to overthrow his kingdom and restore direct control of Italy to Byzantium. When one of their number was charged with this conspiracy, Boethius defended him in court, for which he was also accused of the conspiracy, arrested, imprisoned at Pavia, and condemned to death. During his imprisonment of about nine months, he wrote his most famous work, The Consolation of Philosophy, a lengthy dialogue between himself and Philosophy, in which she consoles him for his misfortunates, and teaches him to regard them with what, largely because of this work, we would now call a “philophical approach.” This exhortation to regard all earthly things as transitory, to value the eternal things which only the mind can apprehend, and to see the world governed by divine wisdom which is always just, was one of the most popular books in the Middle Ages, and many vernacular translation were made of it.

Boethius was murdered in prison in 524, his death preceded by torture, according to the common tradition. His relics were at first buried in the cathedral of Pavia, but later move to the crypt of St Pietro in Ciel d’Oro. Although his death was essentially a political matter and not inflicted for the Faith, he was popularly venerated as a martyr, since he was unjustly put to death by an Arian heretic. In this sense, he is very similar to the 11th century Princes of the Rus’ Saints Boris and Gleb, also killed for political reasons, but immediately venerated as Saints for their Christ-like acceptance of the injustice inflicted upon them.

The devotion to Boethius as a saint and martyr is still kept in the city of Pavia, and also in the Roman church of Santa Maria in Campitelli, which was founded by his sister-in-law, St Galla. This devotion was confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in 1883. These photos were also taken by Nicola de’ Grandi during a recent visit to Pavia.

The entrance to the crypt, under the main sanctuary.
“The body of St Severinus Boethius, Martyr”
Next to his relics and altar in the crypt is this well whose water is said to have healing properties. 

This poetic inscription reads as follows:

Hoc in sarcophago iacet ecce Boetius arto,
Magnus et omnimodo mirificandus homo.
Huncque Sophia suis prae cunctis compsit alumpnis.
Quam sibi grande decus contulit ipse Deus!
Consul enim factus cum natis ipse duobus,
Romae conspicuum et habitus speculum;
Sparsa per Europam vulgant sua dogmata totam.
Quam fuit et merito clarus et ingenio
Nam nobis logicen de graeco transtulit artem,
Commenti gemino quam reserat radio
Catholicae verum fidei dedit et documentum
Et nos informat musica quae resonat.
Qui Theodorico regi delatus iniquo
Papiae senium duxit in exilium
In quo se maestum solans dedit inde libellum
Post ictus gladio exiit e medio.

In this narrow sarcophagus lies Boethius,
A great man, in every way to be marvelled at.
Wisdom adorned him more than all her students;
How great a glory did God Himself bestow (upon him).
For he was made consol, along with his two sons,
Prominent in Rome, an example of decorum.
His teachings are shred through all of Europe;
How famous he was in merit and in genius
For he translated for us the art of logic from the Greek,
Which he clearly explained in two commentaries.
He also gave true proof of the Catholic Faith,
And teaches us how to play music.
Accused before the wicked King Theoderic
He passed his old age in exile at Pavia,
Where he consoled himself in his sadness by writing a book;
Afterwards, the blow of a sword took him away.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sermon and Photos from Cardinal Burke's Pontifical Mass in Strahov Abbey, Prague

The country of the Czech Republic and the city of Prague was much blessed by the visit last week of His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. His Eminence visited several places, giving public lectures in defense of Catholic doctrine on marriage and the family and celebrating pontifical liturgies in the usus antiquior. In this post, I will simply share photos from the Mass on Saturday, October 15, at Strahov Abbey, a house founded in 1143 as part of the Premonstratensian order and well known for housing the relics of St. Norbert himself.

This Mass was one of the most splendid I have ever had the privilege of attending. The capacious Baroque church was packed with faithful of all ages, including quite a few little children, which was heartening to see. A large number of clergy, including the abbot, the prior, and many of the Norbertine canons, assisted in choro. Ministers were provided by the Institute of Christ the King, whose founder and head, Msgr. Gilles Wach, was also present. The liturgy, for the feast of St. Teresa of Jesus, was conducted with the utmost beauty and reverence. The choir sang with great finesse Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli and a number of other Renaissance motets; the organist, for his part, was simply outstanding as an improviser. The final 10-minute improvisation on the popular hymn tune that had just been sung by the congregation was positively Brucknerian in scope.

His Eminence has graciously given NLM permission to publish his sermon for the feast of St. Teresa. It is a most beautiful meditation on this great Carmelite saint. A gallery of photos may be found at the end.


Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin
Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Premonstratensian Abbey of Strahov
15 October 2016

2 Cor 10, 17-18; 11, 1-2
Mt 25, 1-13

Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and for ever.

It brings me profound joy to offer the Pontifical Mass in this most beautiful church dedicated to Our Savior and to His Immaculate Mother under her title of the Assumption. I am grateful to almighty God Who has granted me to make pilgrimage to the historic Premonstratensian Abbey of Strahov and to pray at the tomb of Saint Norbert. I thank Father Abbot and all of the canons of the Abbey for their most warm hospitality, and I thank all who have prepared so well the celebration of the Pontifical Mass. In a particular way, I thank the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest for providing the assistance for the Pontifical Mass, even as I am deeply grateful for the presence of Monsignor Gilles Wach, the Founder of the Institute. With deepest esteem and gratitude, I acknowledge the presence of Knights and Dames of the Grand Priory of Bohemia of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, of which I am privileged to be the Cardinal Patron. I take the occasion to express once again my gratitude to Lucie Cekotova and to all who have worked with her to organize my visit to your beloved homeland, the Czech Republic. In deepest gratitude, I offer the Holy Mass for the intentions of the Church in the Czech Republic and the intentions of Strahov Abbey.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin and Doctor of the Church. We recall the heroic sanctity of her life and its many fruits, including the reform of the Carmelite Order, which she carried out together with Saint John of the Cross, and her spiritual writings which continue to inspire and strengthen many souls to seek more perfect union with God. The life and death of Saint Teresa open our eyes to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s love, which is daily at work in our souls. Dom Prosper Guéranger, commenting on today’s feast, extolled the great gift of her spiritual writings:
Having arrived at the mountain of God, she described the road by which she had come, without any pretension but to obey him who commanded her in the name of the Lord. With exquisite simplicity and unconsciousness of self, she related the works accomplished for her Spouse; made over to her daughters the lessons of her own experience; and described the many mansions of that castle of the human soul, in the centre of which, he that can reach it will find the holy Trinity residing as in an anticipated heaven. No more was needed: withdrawn from speculative abstractions and restored to its sublime simplicity, Christian mysticism again attracted every mind; light reawakened love; the virtues flourished in the Church; and the baneful effects of heresy and its pretended reform were counteracted.[1]
Christ called Saint Teresa to give herself totally – in every fiber of her being – to Him, in order that she might bring His light and love to her brothers and sisters. From His glorious pierced Heart, Christ poured forth the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit into the heart of Saint Teresa, so that, she, as His bride through religious profession, could be the effective sign and instrument of His pure and selfless love.

Reflecting upon her life in Christ, we come to understand the words of Saint Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians. Addressing the members of the Church at Corinth, who had come to life in Christ through Saint Paul’s sacred ministry, Saint Paul declares: “[F]or I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God. For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11, 2). The grace of the Holy Spirit, which came into the life of Saint Teresa of Avila and comes into our lives through the Apostolic ministry, espouses the Church as His Bride to Christ, her one and only Bridegroom. The jealousy of Saint Paul for the members of the Church is the jealousy of Christ Who does not want anyone who has become one with Him through faith and baptism to stray from Him and, thus, lose the gift of eternal salvation in Him.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins helps us to understand the mystery of Christ’s life at work in the life of Saint Teresa and in each of our lives, producing a rich harvest of holiness of life (cf Mt 15, 1-13). At the same time, it makes clear that Christ’s life in us depends upon our free response, our response of love to His immeasurable and ceaseless love of us in the Church. The wise virgins treasure, most of all, their consecration to the bridegroom and, therefore, they take care that their lamps always burn brightly to receive the bridegroom at his coming. So, too, we who belong totally to Christ, by the works of His love, keep ourselves ready to meet Christ at His Coming, both in the circumstances of our daily Christian life but also on the Last Day, when He will return in glory to restore all creation to the Father. Like the wise virgins, we know that there is nothing more important than to be vigilant, at all times, in waiting for Christ and in welcoming Him into our lives. Our Lord speaks to us at the conclusion of the Parable of the Virgins: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Mt 25, 13).

The foolish virgins grow careless about the gift of their bond with the bridegroom. His coming, therefore, takes them by surprise, and they are not ready to welcome him. So, too, we are tempted to lose the sense of wonder at the great mystery of God’s love which rescues us from the snares of Satan and fills us with divine love. In little and big ways, we are tempted to be inattentive to daily communion with Christ through prayer, devotion, participation in the Holy Eucharist, the daily examination of conscience and act of contrition, and the regular meeting with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance. Instead of giving our hearts totally to Christ, as we are called to do, we begin to live more and more for ourselves and for certain earthly goods and pleasures which, at any given moment, can distract us from the true source of our freedom and joy, Christ, our one and only Bridegroom.

Saint Teresa is a powerful example of the heroic virginal love of Christ, to which we are all called. From her first intimation of Christ’s call to the religious life, she responded with all her heart. No matter how much resistance she encountered on the way of following Christ in the religious life, especially in the reform of the Carmelite Order, whether it came from her family, from her fellow religious in the Order, or from the society in which she was living, Christ was always first in her life. In a most wonderful way, her joy in spending hours in prayer, especially before the Most Blessed Sacrament, was a sign of her wisdom and fidelity as a bride of her Eucharistic Lord. As a wise virgin, she, through prayer and the life of the Sacraments, kept an abundance of oil for the lamp of her daily Christian living, so that she was always ready to meet our Lord, at His coming.

May Saint Teresa of Jesus teach us to persevere in trust, as she did in the face of much opposition and many trials. May she assist us in accepting with joy our suffering with Christ, so that we may enjoy with Him the unending joy of His Resurrection. Referring to Saint Teresa’s motto, “To suffer or to die,”[2] Dom Prosper Guéranger, citing the great preacher Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, reminds us of the timeliness of the spiritual doctrine of Saint Teresa, embodied in her life and death:
If we are true Christians, we must desire to be ever with Jesus Christ. Now, where are we to find this loving Saviour of our souls? In what place may we embrace Him? He is found in two places: in His glory and in His sufferings; on His throne and on His cross. We must, then, in order to be with Him, either embrace Him on His throne, which death enables us to do; or else share in His cross, and this we do by suffering; hence we must either suffer or die, if we would never be separated from our Lord. Let us suffer then, O Christians; let us suffer what it pleases God to send us: afflictions, sicknesses, the miseries of poverty, injuries, calumnies; let us try to carry, with steadfast courage, that portion of His cross, with which He is pleased to honour us.[3]
With Saint Teresa, we are certain that, if only we give our hearts to Christ, our one and only Bridegroom, the evils we encounter in our personal lives and in society will be overcome by the immeasurable and enduring truth, goodness and beauty of Christ, which is made visible to us in the Sacred Liturgy, above all, in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. May Saint Teresa teach us to imitate her in fidelity to prayer and devotion, and to the life of the Sacraments, above all the Holy Eucharist and Penance, so that Christ may transform us and our world, in accord with His unceasing desire that all men be one with Him, that all men be saved for eternal life.

Let us now lift up our hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus through His Eucharistic Sacrifice. Resting our hearts in His Most Sacred Heart, we will find the healing of our sins and the strength of divine love, in order to do God’s will in all things. Let us, with Mary Immaculate and Saint Teresa of Jesus, be confident that, from His Sacred Heart, there flows unceasingly and without measure the grace of the Holy Spirit, which overcomes sin in our lives and in the world, and prepares us and the world to welcome our Lord, at all times and at His Final Coming, with our lamps burning brightly.

Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Foster-Father of Jesus and true Husband of the Virgin Mary, pray for us.
Saint Norbert, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Jesus, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

+ Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[1] “Arrivée donc à la montagne de Dieu, elle fit le relevé des étapes de la route qu’elle avait parcourue, sans autre prétention que d’obéir à qui lui commandait au nom du Seigneur ; d’une plume exquise de limpidité, d’abandon, elle raconta les œuvres accomplies pour l’Époux ; avec non moins de charmes, elle consigna pour ses filles les leçons de son expérience, décrivit les multiples demeures de ce château de l’âme humaine au centre duquel, pour qui sait l’y trouver, réside en un ciel anticipé la Trinité sainte. Il n’en fallait pas plus ; soustraite aux abstractions spéculatives, rendue à sa sublime simplicité, la Mystique chrétienne attirait de nouveau toute intelligence ; la lumière réveillait l’amour ; et les plus suaves parfums s’exhalaient de toutes parts au jardin de la sainte Église, assainissant la terre, refoulant les miasmes souls lesquels l’hérésie d’alors et sa réforme prétendue menaçaient d’étouffer le monde.” Prosper Guéranger, L’année liturgique, Le temps après la Pentecôte, Tome V, 12ème éd. (Tours: Maison Alfred Mame et Fils, 1925), p. 457. [Guéranger]. English translation: Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Time after Pentecost, Book V (Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2000), pp. 396-397. [GuérangerEng].
[2] “Souffrir ou mourir!” Guéranger, p. 462. English translation : GuérangerEng, p. 401.
[3] “Si nous sommes de vrais chrétiens, nous devons désirer d’être toujours avec Jésus-Christ. Or, où le trouve-t-on, cet aimable Sauveur de nos âmes ? En quel lieu peut-on l’embrasser ? On ne le trouve qu’en ces deux lieux : dans sa gloire ou dans ses supplices, sur son trône ou bien sur sa croix. Nous devons donc, pour être avec lui, ou bien l’embrasser dans son trône, et c’est ce que nous donne la mort, ou bien nous unir à sa croix, et c’est ce que nous avons par les souffrances ; tellement qu’il faut souffrir ou mourir, afin de ne quitter jamais le Sauveur. Souffrons donc, souffrons, chrétiens, ce qu’il plaît à Dieu de nous envoyer : les afflictions et les maladies, les misères et la pauvreté, les injures et les calomnies ; tâchons de porter d’un courage ferme telle partie de sa croix dont il lui plaira de nous honorer.” Guéranger, pp. 468-469; GuérangerEng, pp. 406-407.

Solemn Requiem Mass in the Dominican Rite in NYC, November 7th

The Catholic Artists Society will have its annual Solemn Requiem Mass for deceased family members, friends, and fellow artists, on Monday, November 7th, at the beautiful church of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City. The Mass is co-sponsored with the New York Purgatorial Society and the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny. The Schola Cantorum of St. Vincent Ferrer, accompanied by period instruments and conducted by James Wetzel, will sing Manuel Cardoso’s Missa Pro Defunctis a 6. A reception will follow in the parish hall. Detailed information in the poster.

Once again, it is a very encouraging thing to see not only the continual and growing interest in the Dominican liturgy, but also the cultivation of the rite in company with such excellent music.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Arranging the End of the Liturgical Year in the Extraordinary Form

One of the changes made to the Breviary in the revision of 1960 regards the arrangement of the months from August to November. One of the oddest effects of the new system will take place this year in regard to the readings in November.

On the first Sunday of each of these months, the Church begins to a new set of scriptural books at Matins, with their accompanying antiphons and responsories; their arrangement is part of a system which goes back to the sixth century. In August, the books of Wisdom are read; in September, Job, Tobias, Judith and Esther; in October the books of the Macchabees; in November, Ezechiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor Prophets. (September is actually divided into two sets of readings, Job having a different set of responsories from the other three books.)

The “first Sunday” of each of these months is traditionally that which occurs closest to the first calendar day of the month, even if that day occurs within the end of the previous month. This year, for example, the first Sunday “of August” was actually July 31st, the closest Sunday to the first day of August.

In the 1960 revision, however, the first Sunday of the months from August to November is always that which occurs first within the calendar month. Therefore, the first Sunday of August was August 7th. This change also accounts for one of the peculiarities of the 1960 Breviary, the fact that November has four weeks, which are called the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth.

According to the traditional calculation, November has five weeks when the 5th of the month falls on a Sunday; otherwise, it has four. In those years when it has four (most of them) the second week is omitted. Ezechiel is read on the first week, and the second, if there is one; Daniel in the third, and the the Twelve Prophets in the fourth. The system is designed to maintain the tradition that at least a bit of each of the Prophets would always be read in the Breviary.

According to the newer calculation, November may have three or four weeks, but never five; the second week was removed from the Breviary, since it is never used. However, the older nomenclature was retained; it is hard to imagine why this was thought either necessary or useful, since a great many other terms were changed, such as the entire system of classification of liturgical days. Therefore, the four weeks are called First, Third, Fourth and Fifth.

In the older system, November would have four weeks this year, the first Sunday “of November” being October 30, since it is closer to the first day of that month. In the new system, the first Sunday “of November” will be the first within the calendar month, November 6th.

However, the last Sunday of the month, the 27th, is the first Sunday of Advent this year, and so November only has three weeks. Therefore, this year Ezechiel is dropped entirely; the readings from Daniel begin on November 6th, Hosea on November 13th, and Micah on November 20th.

Things are slightly complicated by the fact that in 1960, a Sunday is completely omitted when it is impeded by a feast of the Lord. (Previously, Sundays were always commemorated if they were impeded.) Thus, all of the liturgical texts assigned to Sunday, October 30th, are dropped this year in favor of the feast of Christ the King.

The calculation of the Sundays after Pentecost also calls for a note here. (The discrepancies between the Missals of St Pius V and St John XXIII are very slight in this regards, and have no bearing on the end of this year.)

The number of Sundays “after Pentecost” assigned to the Missal is 24, but the actual number varies between 23 and 28. The “24th” is always celebrated on the last Sunday before Advent. If there are more than 24, the gap between the 23rd and 24th is filled with the Sundays after Epiphany that had no place at the beginning of the year. The prayers and readings of those Sundays are inserted into the Mass of the 23rd Sunday (i.e., the set of Gregorian propers.) The Breviary homily on the Sunday Gospel and the concomitant antiphons of the Benedictus and Magnificat also carry over in the Office.

The remaining Sunday of the year are therefore as follows in 1960:
Oct 23 - 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (4th week of October in the Breviary)
Oct 30 - Christ the King (5th week of October in the Breviary)
Nov. 6 - 5th Sunday after Epiphany (3rd week of November)
Nov. 13 - 6th Sunday after Epiphany (4th week of November)
Nov. 20 - 24th Sunday after Pentecost (5rd week of November)
Nov. 27 - First Advent

In the Breviary and Missal of St Pius V, they are as follows (with the addition of Christ the King.)
Oct 23 - 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (4th week of October in the Breviary)
Oct 30 - Christ the King (1st week of November in the Breviary, commemoration of the 4th Sunday after Epiphany.)
Nov. 6 - 5th Sunday after Epiphany (3rd week of November)
Nov. 13 - 6th Sunday after Epiphany (4th week of November)
Nov. 20 - 24th Sunday after Pentecost (5rd week of November)
Nov. 27 - First Advent

If this all seems a little complicated, bear in mind that the oldest arrangement of the Mass lectionary that we know of was even more so. The oldest lectionary of the Roman Rite, a manuscript now in Wurzburg, Germany, dates to ca. 750, and represents the system used at Rome about 100 years earlier. It has a very disorganized and incomplete set of readings for the period after Pentecost; the Sundays are counted as 2 after Pentecost, 7 after Ss Peter and Paul, 5 after S. Lawrence, and 6 after S. Cyprian, a total of only 20. There also ten Sundays after Epiphany, even though Septuagesima is also noted in the manuscript, and the largest number of Sundays that can occur between Epiphany and Septuagesima is only six.

Noble Beauty As Seen in Recent Gothic and Baroque Inspired Vestment Work

eremonial wear, whether sacred or secular, is meant to communicate symbols and deeper meanings; to inspire and to engage, drawing people into the underpinning realities which they seek to symbolize. In this regard, vestments, not unlike the ceremonial garb of the state or military, is not mere "fashion" and should not be reduced to such pedestrian levels. There may indeed be different styles and periods of origination which can be traced within them, but that these things have a symbolic, even allegorical quality, in part explains why, unlike fashion, they develop and change so very slowly in the course of centuries. Symbols aren't to be too readily trifled with lest they be upset.

This short preface really just intends to say that these things matter; they have meaning and because of that it is important that they be done well. Vestments, when executed well, have what I can only describe as a certain effortless quality about them -- no matter how simple or how ornate. This quality is attained, I believe, through their visual interest, as well as the unity and complementarity of the parts in relation to the whole. What's more, the particular cut of the vestments (including how neatly and nobly it wears) are also a part of this formula, as are the nature and quality of the materials used. In terms of the colour and ormamentation, these should complement the whole and be proportionate to the whole.

It is a fine balance to strike and not doing so can result, on the minimlalist end of the spectrum, in lack-lustre vestments of little engaging power, or on the other end of the spectrum, gaudy, distracting clutter; the result in both instances is something lacking in the qualities of nobility and beauty, thereby also distracting from them as symbols and potentially engaging people in a negative rather than fruitful way.

I wished to share a couple of recent examples of vestment work that I think precisely fit the bill and can serve as models. I have purposely chosen examples from both the gothic and baroque traditions.

On the gothic revival side of the coin, the famed Watts & Co. recently have been releasing sets of AWN Pugin inspired vestments -- something I think long overdue and I am glad that Watts has picked this up. Here are two examples from this excellent new line:

From the baroque stream, I recently came across a Spanish vestment maker that I cannot recall having run into before, Pluri Arte. Their site shows a number of excellent examples of well-executed vestments in the baroque tradition. Accomplishing the balance I have noted in the baroque tradition takes quite a bit of skill because that tradition's use of highly coloured, patterned textiles could more easily lead to a garish result. (Whereas on the gothic side of things, it is easier to end up with rather lack-lustre results.) Here are a few examples of their excellent work:

Each of these examples, from both makers, strike me as very successfully executed vestments that are tasteful, noble and beautiful, lending themselves well to both their practical as well as symbolic purposes. Well done.

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