Saturday, January 31, 2015

Farewell to the Alleluia

Today is Saturday before Septuagesima, and Roseanne Sullivan has an article on Dappled Things about the custom of bidding farewell to the Alleluia on this day:

I began thinking about Septuagesima yesterday because I was a little surprised that this pre-Lenten season is upon us already. Blogger Veronica Brandt drew my attention to this imminent change of seasons by posting a little video yesterday on “Farewell to Alleluia” on the Views from the Choir Loft blog, which showed some of her five children using puppets to sing Alleluias as a way to say “goodbye to the Alleluia.” She wrote, “In the Extraordinary Form tomorrow is Septuagesima, or (roughly) the 70th day before Easter, where all alleluias are suddenly taken away.” You may be wondering, “What does that mean, that all Alleluias are suddenly taken away? And what’s this about singing goodbye to the Alleluia?”

In 1969, the Septuagesima season was removed from the liturgical calendar and its three Sundays and two week days were absorbed into Ordinary time. Even though I was raised a Catholic and attended Mass for years before the liturgical calendar was changed, I only heard about Septuagesima maybe six years ago, and I’m still finding out what it means. For me, as I’m sure is true for others, writing about a subject is the best way to learn about it. It’s a rich topic, and I can just barely scratch the surface, but here goes with a little introduction to Septuagesima, for those who live in an ordinary time world or those who, like me, worship according to the traditional calendar, but just haven’t been paying attention.


Continue reading this article at Dappled Things. . .

A Beautiful New Altar in a Soon-to-be-Dedicated Church (Mary Help of Christians, in Aiken, SC)

As we reported last week, the church of St Mary, Help of Christians in Aiken, South Carolina, will be dedicated next Monday, the feast of Candlemas, by His Excellency Robert Guglielmone, Bishop of Charleston. The architectural firm that designed the church, McCrery Architects, and Fr Gregory Wilson, the pastor, both sent us photographs of various parts of the church building, the decorations and furnishings, which you can see by clicking here; the whole project is worth seeing as an example of a brand new church which is built in complete respect for the Catholic tradition of sacred art and architecture. McCrery has just sent me several photographs of the various phases of the project to design and build the altar, (a project which took about 11 months from initial idea to execution), which I am happy to be able to share with our readers.

The altar of the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral was chosen by Fr Wilson as the starting point for the project:

The final approved drawing for the altar design.

The seven species of marbles employed in the altar. The one on the upper left was later replaced with a much whiter specie that forms the body of the altar and mensa.

Color studies using color pencils, which are later sent to the fabricator’s shop.

Fabrication begins: small inlay pieces cut by computer-guided water-jet now ready for assembly.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A New Child Chorister Program at the San Francisco Oratory-in-Formation

A child chorister program will be starting this spring for boys and girls between 8 and 12 at the San Francisco Oratory-in-formation at Star of the Sea Church, San Francisco. The children admitted into this unique program will be taught the elements of music, modern musical theory and notation, as well as Gregorian Chant and its theory, modes and performance. Emphasis will be placed on learning solfege in order to perfect sight-singing, as well as rhythmic training. Special emphasis will be placed on voice production and training. The eventual goal of the Chorister Program will be to supply singers for one of the Sunday morning Masses at Star of the Sea Church. The program is under the pedagogical auspices of the Royal School of Church Music. This is a splendid opportunity for a musical education for your child which the parish offers free of charge. Homeschooling parents can receive music/arts credits for the class in most programs. Interested parents should call the parish office on 415.221.8558 or email at sfchoristers@yahoo.com, to make an appointment to meet the director, Jeffrey Morse, and for a very short audition, primarily to ascertain that your child is able to match pitch. Classes will begin in March, exact date to be announced once auditions have ended.

Gregorian Chant Meeting 2015 - London - March 14, 2014

For those in the London area who have a love of Gregorian Chant, or would like to learn more about it, I'd encourage you to check out this event which will be held in a little over a month.
The next meeting of the Gregorian Chant Network will take place on Saturday 14th March, 2015. For the first time it will be open to all. Directors of chant groups registered with the GCN will get a discount.

We will be addressed by Daniel Saulnier, former choirmaster at Solesmes, and Giovanni Varelli, Cambridge researcher who discovered the manuscript of the earliest written polyphonic music, which will be performed at the meeting.

The meeting includes lunch, for those who want it, and concludes with Vespers, followed by tea.

Programme (Subject to minor changes)
10.30 Registration
11.00 Talk by Daniel Saulnier
12noon Angelus and talk by Giovanni Varelli
1pm Lunch
2.30 Joseph Shaw on the GCN
2.45-4pm Rehearsal for Vespers with Daniel Saulnier
4.15 Vespers in the Little Oratory
5pm Tea

Prices: Directors of scholas and chant choirs which are members of the Gregorian Chant Network: £10 including lunch. Others: £10 without lunch; £25 including lunch.

The Latin Mass Society is hosting a booking page here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fostering Young Vocations (Part 2)

Yesterday I posted an old photograph of a young boy dressed as a priest and playing at saying Mass, with another boy acting as his server. I had originally thought to contrast it with the following video, as an example of how the practice of children “playing” at the liturgy is still, God willing, fostering vocations and devotion even in our own day. I had seen the video on facebook some time ago, but its title is in Russian, and I couldn’t track it down in time for yesterday’s post. I am therefore very grateful to reader James Badeaux for giving a link to it in the combox.


Note, by the way, that these children are not playing at celebrating the Eucharistic liturgy, but Matins, complete with incensations. (There is so much we Romans can learn from the East!) The “anointing” (with glue, it seems) is a part of the Byzantine Great Vigil service held on Saturday evenings and the day before the major feasts. The celebrating priest paints a cross of rose-scented oil on the foreheads of the laity, who each kiss his hand. However, the other priests present each take the brush from the celebrant, and paint the oil on their own foreheads; the celebrant and the priests kiss each others’ hands before and after. Also note, therefore, how at 1:53 the boy in the red hat correctly acknowledges his brother’s sacerdotal dignity by kissing his hand and giving him the brush. (Slightly missing the point, he later kisses his own hand.) At the end, the smaller one blesses the people and says, (as one does towards the end of every major Byzantine service) “Mir vsyem - Peace be with you!” And with thy spirit, little brother!

A Victoria Mass in Palo Alto, CA, for Candlemas

On Candlemas, the St. Ann Choir, directed by Stanford Musicology Professor, William Mahrt, (President of the Church Music Association of America, and Editor of the journal Sacred Music), will sing the Missa Quarti Toni by Tomás Luis de Victoria, along with the propers for the Feast. The Mass will be followed by the Blessing of the Candles and a Candlelight Procession. The Ordinary Form Mass will be sung in Latin at St Thomas Aquinas Church in Palo Alto, California, at the address and time in the poster below.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fostering Young Vocations


h/t MTK

Candlemas Photopost Request

Our next major photopost will be for the feast of Candlemas; please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to photopost@newliturgicalmovement.org for inclusion. We are also always glad to receive photographs of celebrations in the Eastern rites. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“Balance Instead of Harmony” : A Guest Article by Paweł Milcarek on the History of the Liturgical Reform (Part 1)

We are very pleased to offer to our readers this excellent article by Paweł Milcarek, an account of some important aspects of the Liturgical Reform before Vatican II. Dr. Milcarek is a Polish philosopher and historian, founder and director of the journal “Christianitas”, (published thrice annually; see also christianitas.org), the author of several studies about the liturgical reforms in the 20th-century, and the critical editions of Vatican II documents. He lives in Brwinów near Warsaw, with his wife and six children. This article will be published in two parts.

Balance instead of Harmony: Conditioning and Ideas of the Liturgical Movement on the eve of the Second Vatican Council
One hundred years have passed since the “Liturgical Movement” appeared in the Church: within some milieus – not very numerous, but fairly active – the desire arose to make the piety of the faithful as a whole more grounded within the communal prayer of the Church. This movement has always shown a certain longing for the Middle Ages, the period when liturgy was indeed a model for all prayer, and the liturgical year constituted the main calendar for Catholics. But the real motive behind the creation of this movement was not nostalgia, but an anxiety based on a rather sobering diagnosis: the divorce between the inherited liturgical forms and the piety of the masses of the faithful, a process characteristic of the late modern period, had caused this piety first to break away from its objective model within the Church, and then to break up into numerous particular services, and sometimes simply to degenerate or burn out.

The fact that personal piety was in practice narrowed down to private prayers and spiritual exercises made it easy to regard the social dimension of life as in a way neutral, no longer under the influence of religion, opening it to increasing “colonization” by secular ideologies of both the left and right.

Striving towards “liturgical participation”
Therefore, since the days of Dom Guéranger, the aim of the whole Liturgical Movement was to shape piety with the liturgy, the communal prayer of the Church, in order to make the traditional lex orandi, (rather than services secondary to it) a permanent source of and model for Catholic spirituality. At the beginning of the 20th century, this idea was explained as the desire to help the masses of the faithful actually take part in the liturgy, both the crowds that still attended church services, and those that had ceased to do so. This intention was expressed in the notion of participatio actuosa, which soon became the watchwords of the whole renewal. The idea was sanctioned and promoted in the documents by the three popes: St. Pius X , Pius XI and Pius XII. (cf. the motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini, 22 Nov. 1903; the Apostolic Constitution Divini cultus, 20 Dec. 1928; and the motu proprio Mediator Dei, 20 Nov. 1947)

The aim was not to create yet another elite with a specific spirituality, comparable to social activists, zealots for particular services, or clubs of people interested in theology. Promoters of the Liturgical Movement strongly felt themselves to be acting for the common good. One of its chief representatives, the Belgian monk Dom Lambert Beauduin, wrote in 1924:
Let’s be practical. Millions of Belgians (to mention only this small country) gather each Sunday only to attend a liturgical assembly headed by the priest, who can celebrate the liturgy due to the authority given to him by God and the people; the faithful gather in spacious buildings – located in the centers of human settlements, designed and consecrated for worship – willing to fulfill the work that according to Pius X... is the first and irreplaceable source of Christian life... May this fact – which we still take too little advantage of – become a life-giving act... Everything is in place, now all we need is to enrich the life of this organism. Can we even for a moment question the practical nature of such an undertaking? (Liturgy; the Life of the Church; transl. Virgil Michel, Farnborough, 2002)
In this statement – taken from a booklet that expands upon the theses of his famous paper given at the Malines Congress in 1909 – there is of course a tension between the announcement that “substantially nothing will change” and the call to “enrich the life of this organism.” This tension was the starting point for various proposals that oscillate between the desire to transform the liturgy fundamentally (in its human aspects), and a determination to transform the pastoral care of the faithful, so that it could adjust itself to liturgical tradition.

Tridentine order of the liturgy
The real context of the modern liturgical movement’s formation was of course the Church’s liturgical life, which for centuries had been determined by the Tridentine order of the liturgy.

However, when we speak of the Tridentine order of the liturgy, we are using a mental shortcut. The resolutions accepted at the Council of Trent did not lead to the creation of a new order of worship within the Catholic Church. The Popes who implemented the post-Tridentine liturgical reform, first among them St. Pius V, simply brought into general use an already-existing standard of Roman liturgy, with fairly small modifications. The Tridentine order of the liturgy is almost identical with the pre-Tridentine Roman liturgy, and preserved an incontestable and clearly visible continuity with its medieval and Gregorian form, and through them, with the very beginnings of the Roman Rite.

Among the elements of the Tridentine reform, one must note the far-reaching Romanization – or rather papalization – of the Latin liturgy, which permitting the whole Church of the Roman rite to use the Roman books, with exceptions in respect for acknowledged particular traditions; the centralization of power, which made the management of liturgical issues an exclusive prerogative of the Papal administration (1); and the precise legal codification of liturgical texts in typical editions.

We must also note the proclamation that this codified form of the Roman liturgy represents its “pristine” shape (2); an inaccuracy which, deriving from the Renaissance’s fascination with the “sources” of all things, can now be seen as the time-bomb that would explode into “archaeologism”, as the rationalistic cult of “the sources” intensified. Furthermore, alongside the inclination to “regulate” the development of liturgy exclusively through rubrics, propers and calendar, we see the growth of paraliturgical devotions that were supposed to make up for this “stiffening” of the liturgy.

Papal absolutism
As mentioned above, an important aspect of this Tridentine reform of the much older liturgical tradition was exclusive Papal authority in the field of liturgy. (3) This factor – introduced at the request of the Ecumenical Council – successfully protected the Roman rite from deformations that could have resulted from its adaptation to new and various “modern” trends.

However, has this protective factor itself not been subjected to some deformations, precisely under the influence of modern ideologies? Already at the time of St. Pius X, the Popes’ sovereign authority started to show a tendency towards liturgical absolutism, a tendency in contrast with the principle that authority consists in guardianship of what has been entrusted to it. This absolutist tendency prevailed in some cases of primary importance, such as the major reorganization of the Breviary by St. Pius X, or, to an even greater extent, the reforms of Pius XII to the text of the Psalter and the Holy Week services.

In The Spirit of the Liturgy, Card. Ratzinger states: “After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the Pope really could do anything in liturgical matters.” However, this idea is clearly much older than Vatican II, rooted in an absolutist interpretation of both the Popes’ supreme authority in liturgical matters, as articulated after Trent, and in the understanding of Papal supremacy in general. “In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the Pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The Pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not ‘manufactured’ by the authorities. Even the Pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity. . . . The authority of the Pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.” (transl. John Saward, pp. 165-66)

The principle of the Popes’ liturgical sovereignty was openly expressed in Pius XII’s 1947 encyclical on the liturgy Mediator Dei. This principle constitutes a “strong refrain” (4) of the encyclical, as the author repeatedly speaks of the absolute authority of the Holy See, and explicitly states that the Pope has the right to “recognize and establish”, “to introduce and approve new rites”, which can be modified by him if “he judges... [that they] require modification.” (5)

The paucity of references to liturgical tradition as such in Mediator Dei underlines the emphasis on the prerogatives of “authority” even more strongly, granting it the status of the first principle of the liturgical order. Of course, we must also bear in mind that this emphasis derived from a desire to tame some of the unrestrained experimentation of the liturgical movement.

Still, if we describe this as a kind of absolutism, we must also note that it strove to be an enlightened absolutism, exercised in consideration of the researchers’ achievements and the experts’ opinions; provided, of course, that the latter respect the Popes’ supreme authority.

A perfect illustration of these concepts is found in the speech by Card. Gaetano Cicognani, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites, given at the famous liturgical congress of Assisi:
The essential end of this congress is to pass in review the admirable initiatives of Pope Pius XII in the field of pastoral Liturgy, and to pass them in review with the spirit of loyalty and reverence which every one of the faithful ought to nourish toward the Supreme Shepherd who guides us. The Liturgy demands precisely the direction of the Supreme Shepherd... We have come together not to study problems or to propose reforms, but to put into relief ... the laws and ordinances emanating from Pope Pius XII in his untiring activity as father and master...
Looking over the documents which integrate this liturgical period, we have been able to notice that His Holiness welcomes with delicate courtesy what the students of the Liturgy present or indicate; but in virtue of the supreme power which belong only to him, it is the Pope who fixes the principles; giving secure and firm orientations to minds and spirits, he puts them on guard against opinions not in conformity with the aim of the spiritual life. (The Assisi Papers: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Pastoral Liturgy, p. 6-7, as cited in Alcuin Reid’s The Organic Development of the Liturgy, pp. 248-49)
Long before the Second Vatican Council, the promise of a general reform of the liturgy began to blossom in the encounter between the highest authority that “fixes the principles”, and the researchers who “present or indicate” the issues. To some extent, this was happening without regard for the context of Tradition, or the principles of the organic development of liturgy.

In search of a new balance
A document of special importance for the analysis of the reformers’ intentions is the Memoria sulla riforma liturgica, a text drawn up in 1948 by the Historical Section of the Congregation of Rites, then reviewed by the consultors, and further discussed by a special commission appointed by Pius XII to prepare a general reform of the liturgy (the so called Pian Commission). (6) The document was confidential, and indeed became a point of departure for the reforms undertaken by Pius XII. Later on, the members of the commission on the liturgy of the Second Vatican Council had access to it.

Giving a reason for the reform of the liturgy, the Memoria begins with a statement that the liturgy suffers from a number of problems, such as an overcrowded calendar, too many octaves, the complexity of the rubrics; and all this is said to diminish the love of the priests for the Liturgy. Hence there arises “a desire for a reform that would bring about a sensible simplification and a greater stabilization of the liturgy”. Fortunately, the development of liturgical studies allows “a solid revision of the Liturgy on a broad and secure basis in [liturgical] science”. Therefore, it is possible to fulfill the desire, reinforced by the Liturgical Movement, to free the liturgy “from certain accretions that obscure its beauty and diminish in a certain sense its efficacy”.

After briefly summarizing earlier projects to modify the liturgy, fundamental principles of future reform are presented in no. 15 of the Memoria. The first of these says, “The opposed claims of the conservative tendency and the innovative tendency must be balanced.” This first principle is later developed in no. 16, where so called archaelogism, (7) on the one hand, and innovativeness, (8) on the other, are indicated as two unacceptable extremes.

Then the document states:
Now, a wise reform of the Liturgy must balance the two tendencies: that is, conserve good and healthy traditions, verified on historico-critical bases, and take account of new elements, already opportunely introduced and needing to be introduced. Since the Liturgy is a living organism ... so the Liturgy, which is a continuous manifestation of ... religious vitality [of the Church], cannot be something set in stone; rather, it must develop, as in fact it has developed, in parallel line with all the other vital manifestations of the Church.
Hence, it is the task ... of the liturgical reform to balance ... the just demands of the opposed tendencies, in such a way as not to change through sheer itching for novelty and not to mummify through exaggerated archeological valuation. To renew therefore, courageously what is truly necessary and indispensable to renew and to conserve jealously what one can and must conserve.
It is easy to sense the appeal for some restraint and prudence behind these words – but it is the balance that seems to be a central notion here. And balance is always about allowing the opposing forces to act, in order to sustain some object, which would otherwise literally loose its balance. The authors of the Memoria are aware of the fact that there exist “opposing tendencies,” and their counsel is to balance them through a “wise reform”. Interestingly, the things to be balanced are the notions of change and of preservation – while pastoral care for “liturgical participation”, so significant within the Liturgical Movement, is not even mentioned here. The balance of “forces” seems to prevail over the harmony of the whole entity.

footnotes: 1) This principle derives from authorization delegated by the Council of Trent in the Decree on the Index of Books, on the Catechism, Breviary, and Missal, 4th December 1563.
    2) In the bull Quo primum issued on 14th July 1570, which promulgated the Roman Missal and was part of each edition of this Missal until the reform of 1969, St. Pius V spoke of restoring the Missal “to the pristine form and rite of the Holy Fathers” (ad pristinam sanctorum Patrum normam ac ritum)
    3) The principle itself was briefly and clearly described in the 1917 Code of the Canon Law, can. 1257. “Unius Apostolicae Sedis est tum sacram ordinare liturgiam, tum liturgicos approbare libros.”
    4) Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, p. 140
    5) “It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, and also to modify those he judges to require modification. Bishops, for their part, have the right and duty carefully to watch over the exact observance of the prescriptions of the sacred canons respecting divine worship.” (Pius XII, Mediator Dei 58, emphases added).
    6) Cf. Congregatio Sacrorum Rituum, Sectio Historica, Memoria sulla riforma liturgica, no. 71, Vatican 1948. Parts of the Memoria analyzed here are cited and commented in Reid, pp. 150-161
    7) “There are some liturgists and promoters of the Liturgical Movement who sin by archaelogism; for them the most archaic forms are always and of themselves the best; those later ones, even if of the High Middle Ages, are always to be set after those more ancient. They would like to take the entire Liturgy back to a state closest to its origins, excluding all successive developments, regarded as deteriorations and degenerations. In short, listening to them, the Liturgy would be reduced to a species of a precious mummy, to preserve jealously as in a museum.” (Memoria no. 16. s 15)
    8) “There are others, instead, of precisely the opposite tendency, who would actually like to create a new and modern Liturgy; we no longer understand, they say, the forms, gestures, chants, created in now distant ages; the Liturgy must be a manifestation of current religious life; hence, the language, pictorial and sculptured art, music, dramatic action, and so on, ought to be completely new, in conformity with modern culture and sentiments.” (ibid.)

Anthony Visco's Sacred Art Summer School in Florence, June 22nd to July 10th

In a juxtaposition between old and new, I heard of Anthony Visco’s summer school in Florence when I was invited to like the page on Facebook. So, via blog posting, I happily pass on the information to you.

The Facebook page is called “Sacred Art School, Florence/Summer  Courses 2015.“ ” It appears from this that the three week class is one of several things that he is doing in Florence over the summer. For more information email Anthony directly at viscosacredarts@gmail.com.

Here is the poster:

The website for Anthony Visco’s atelier is here

The Feast of St John Chrysostom, and Mozart’s Birthday

Although the Christian names most commonly used in reference to Mozart are “Wolfgang Amadeus”, he was actually baptized as “Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.” The first two of these names were chosen for the feast day on which he was born, that of St John Chrysostom, which was universally kept in the West on January 27th until the calendar reform of 1969. “Wolfgang” was the name of his maternal grandfather, while “Theophilus” was one of the names of his godfather, Johannes Theophilus Pergmayr, a name which is Germanized as “Gottlieb” and Latinized as “Amadeus.” He was baptized the day after his birth in 1756.

The Te Deum

St John Chrysostom died on September 14, 407, at the city of Comana in Pontus (in the north-central part of modern Turkey) while travelling into exile, banished at the behest of the Empress Eudoxia by her husband Arcadius. Over thirty years later, their son Theodosius II, as a gesture of penance for his parents’ injustices against the Saint, had John’s relics translated from their original burial site to the church of Hagia Irene (Holy Peace) in Constantinople. Since he died on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, his feast day was appointed for November 13th, and is still kept on that day in the Byzantine Rite; the Byzantine Calendar also marks the feast of the translation of the relics on January 27th, whence his traditional Roman day. I have a copy of the Hieratikon, a priestly service book for all the main functions of the Byzantine Rite, printed in 1977, an official publication of the Orthodox Church of Greece; in the Calendar, the feast of his Translation is marked as one of a fairly small number of  “red letter days,” but the November 13th feast is not.

The Byzantine Rite keeps on January 30th a feast with the imposing title (again, from my copy of the Hieratikon) “Our Fathers among the Saints, the Great Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian (i.e. Gregory of Nazianzus) and John Chrysostom.” This commemoration arose from a vivid dispute in the 11th century as to which of the three should be regarded as the Church’s greatest theologian and teacher, a dispute in which people formed parties that called themselves “Basilians” (not, of course, in reference to the religious order), “Gregorians,” or “Johannites”. It was resolved when all three Saints appeared to John, bishop of Euchaita (a city fairly close to where Chrysostom died), saying “There are no divisions among us, and no opposition to one another.” The Byzantine Calendar keeps the feasts of St Basil on January 1st, and Gregory Nazianzen on the 25th, the days of their respective deaths; therefore, the principle feasts of all three, as well as their joint commemoration, all occur within the same month. Along with St Athanasius, all three were declared Doctors of the Church by Pope St Pius V in 1568.

A 17th-century icon of the Three Holy Herarchs. (image from wikipedia)
St Basil shares his Byzantine feast day with the Circumcision; the structure of the Byzantine Rite permits the celebration of more than one feast on the same day, without really “reducing” any of them to a mere commemoration, as is historically done in the Roman Rite. This was clearly not an option in the West, which therefore assigned his feast to June 14th, the day of his episcopal ordination. January 25th is the Conversion of St Paul in the Latin Church, and so St Gregory was historically kept on May 9th, a week after St Athanasius, whose mantle he inherited as the greatest theological writer in the controversies over the Trinity and Incarnation. In the beautiful Byzantine custom of giving distinctive epithets to the more important Saints, he shares the title “the Theologian” with St John the Evangelist.

While the tradition of keeping the Saints’ feasts on the day of their death is certainly very ancient, and for that reason alone laudable, it was frequently applied with more zeal than wisdom to the Calendar reform of 1969. One could hardly keep St Basil as a mere commemoration on the newly-created Solemnity of the Mother of God, which replaced the Circumcision in the Roman Rite, even if commemorations still existed. He and Gregory were therefore given a joint feast on January 2nd. Chrysostom, on the other hand, was moved from January 27th to September 13th, the day before his death. It is perplexing, to say the least, why any of this was thought necessary, especially in an age purportedly so concerned with ecumenism. The final result of these changes is that none of these Saints keeps his traditional Western day, not even the one shared by the East; none of them moves to his Byzantine feast day; and none of them moves to his death day.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow Altars in the Grand Tetons

Each January, Wyoming Catholic College freshmen spend a week in the vicinity of the Grand Teton mountains near Jackson, learning how to live in the wintry outdoors, cross-country skiing with backpacks, building quigloos and quinzees, and generally getting comfortable (or as comfortable as possible) with the cold, quiet, and beautiful world of deep winter. I won't say much more about the winter trip or the outdoor program with its experiential leadership component; interested readers can find out more here and here.

What I'd like to post on today, instead, is an amazing "competition" that took place on this year's winter expedition. Because they knew the two College chaplains would be traveling from site to site to celebrate Mass, the students challenged one another's groups to build the ultimate snow altar for the occasion. (Credit for the initial idea goes to Mr. Rob Meeker, Assistant Director of the Outdoor Adventure Program.) And, as the photos show, they outdid themselves. Altars weren't enough; they built chairs, pews, altar rails, and other furnishings, and decorated them with Latin phrases. One of the photos shows Fr. Christopher Saliga's Byzantine altar cloth that he carried with him so that he could celebrate Mass upon the relics of saints.

Congratulations to the freshmen of the College for their creative adaptation of the plentiful God-given ice and snow, so that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass could be fittingly celebrate even in the remote wilderness. How can one not be reminded of the verse of the Benedicite: "Benedicite, rores et pruina, Domino; benedicite, gelu et frigus, Domino, laudemus et superexaltemus eum in saecula. O frost and cold, bless the Lord; O ice and snow, bless the Lord: praise Him, and exalt Him above all for ever."

I'll post the photos according to student groups -- there are five different Masses (and therefore five different "sanctuaries") shown here.

The sanctuary -- with altar, altar rail, chair, and ambo.

Getting ready for Mass. Where has the sun gone?

Celebrating ad orientem.

A new kind of monastic cowl?

There's even a statue of Our Lady.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fr Richard McBrien RIP

I have just seen a report that Fr Richard McBrien has died after a lengthy illness. (Also here, at the website of Notre Dame University, where he formerly taught.) Fr McBrien was a prominent presence in the American Catholic world from the 1970s on, often called upon by the media to comment on Catholic issues. He was also a prominent dissenter from the magisterial teachings of the Church, and promoter of other dissenters, such as Hans Kung and Charles Curran. Pray for the repose of his soul, in Latin.

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