Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Dr Scott Hahn on the TLM: An Assessment by Mr Matthew Roth

I am sure that many of our readers have already seen this interview with Dr Scott Hahn, published a few days ago by Cameron O’Hearn as part of his Mass of the Ages documentary project. A long time reader and Steubenville alumnus, Matthew Roth, was inspired to share with us his thoughts about what Dr Hahn says here, for which we thank him. Mr Roth is experienced in assisting with the celebration of the traditional Roman liturgy, and is especially interested in the history of the traditionalist movement in France, where he currently lives.

What Dr. Scott Hahn’s Public Support for the Traditional Liturgy Means
By Matthew Roth
Virtually all students of the Franciscan University of Steubenville are asked by practicing Catholics among their friends and family if they have ever taken a class with Scott Hahn, or if we have at least read his books. Sometimes, the answer is in fact negative. When I was an undergraduate, Dr. Hahn and I were only on the same campus for three semesters in the three years on the Hill in the post-industrial gem which is Steubenville, Ohio, and as a history major, I did not take any biblical theology classes with him, preferring theology electives that fit neatly into my interests.

Surprisingly, I have never even read his books beyond the footnotes of A Father Who Keeps His Promises (written for an academic audience, whereas the book was more popular, I found). But Dr. Hahn was of course a prominent figure on campus, as a mentor in prayer and faith, and is one of the most prominent Catholic biblical scholars and apologists in the English-speaking world. Therefore, when he speaks, he has my attention.

Dr. Hahn’s attendance at the traditional Mass at St. Peter’s in downtown Steubenville was consistent, so his preference is unsurprising. That he gave an interview on the subject is a surprising but a welcome development. Without diving into internal Franciscan University politics, that Dr. Hahn is able to say this reflects that the traditional Mass is popularly entrenched among Catholics, thirteen years after Summorum Pontificum. Incoming freshmen are now young enough to have spent all of their formative years attending only the traditional Latin liturgy, between the haphazard indult chapels and Masses which began after the motu proprio.

Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke at the church of St Peter in Steubenville.
Second, Dr. Hahn is generally correct in his dispositions. The Church’s worship is fundamentally prayer and sacrifice, giving God that which he is owed. We must never forget that religion is primarily about the virtue of justice, not a series of beliefs with which we agree, and faith is by grace anyways, not pure reason. It is necessary to argue for the traditional Latin liturgy–– how else can we convince our pastors to celebrate it and our friends to attend?–– but polemic ought to be as measured as possible, as only “being all things to all people” will attract souls to the traditional Mass, and more broadly, to Christ.

We have a duty to nourish our souls, and it is hard to argue against going to great lengths to attend the traditional liturgy, but if we have no choice when fulfilling our Sunday obligation, then the Mass is the Mass. This is all the more reason to attend the traditional Mass frequently in order to increase in divine life while reducing the obstacles that impede growing in charity.

A little game of pretend is helpful here. A priest of a traditional community, and very dear to me, explained to me and my family that he and his confrères generally do not talk about the “new Mass” from the pulpit. To do so is an easy temptation, because most of us seek out the traditional Mass on purpose; few discover it by accident and stay without also going to the Novus Ordo.

But that the church of Rome herself has two liturgies in common and in widespread official usage is an anomaly; they are not analogous to the variant usages of the various papal basilicas, because the Novus Ordo was expected to totally displace the traditional liturgy. When this didn’t happen, Pope Benedict XVI created a unique legal status, which allowed as many priests as possible to celebrate the traditional liturgy without the interference of the bishops.

A traditional Mass at the chapel of Christ the King on the Steubeville campus.
So what does this mean for the priest? It means that in preaching, he should treat the traditional Mass and Office as normative, with limited qualifiers. Then the flock will come to believe that this is the faith, and eventually, the traditional liturgy will return in its plenitude. We have already seen this at work with the traditional ceremonies of Holy Week and slowly but surely with the pre-Pius XII rite of the Mass; perhaps one day, the breviary will be prayed as it was prayed from time immemorial.

This said, American Catholics tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater. French Catholics attached to the traditional liturgy are second to none in their efforts to preserve the liturgy of our fathers, but still sing the Laudate Dominum omnes gentes of the Taizé community and the Je vous salue, Marie, comblée de grâces made popular by the Communauté de l’Emmanuel, a charismatic community to which Mgr Dominique Rey belongs. The bishop of Fréjus-Toulon is the most traditional bishop in France, celebrating traditional ordinations for his diocese and traditionally-oriented communities alike, and is a self-described “tradismatique,” a portmanteau of “traditional” and “charismatic” that works equally as well in English. There is something to be said for integrating such prayers and songs into our life of prayer, without falling into the trap of the four-hymn sandwich or the necessity of the vernacular, which Dr. Hahn nimbly argues against in discussing participation.

It might be true that France was rural for so long into the twentieth century that these songs are more organically connected to traditional music and ways of life, or that Americans and other English speakers are broadly cut off from our past in such a way that renders these melodies cheap or saccharine, but to embrace this possibility is to open up another way of being spiritually healthy, without constantly seeking to mark oneself as different from other Catholics. In short, pick your battles. By way of conclusion, I offer this periphrasis, again borrowed from the French. Catholic Scouting today shows us that we are not made for this world, as the Scouting movement revolves around the liturgy, to which all activities ––pilgrimages, spectacles and variety shows, camping–– are anchored. However, while we are in this world, we ought to strive for a society which reflects divine and natural law, one which promotes peace, supports families, and most importantly, provides for the right worship of God. To this end, the Roman liturgy is the means for most baptized Catholics, as well as being an end in itself, and it provides the nourishment that lifts the reason of the most intellectual and orders the senses of the most sentimental, so that we might be filled with the grace of the Spirit in every moment; something to consider in this sublime season after Pentecost when such themes predominate in the propers of the Mass.

If you take no other lesson away from Dr. Hahn’s conversation and my reflection, then take this one, in order to weather the storm and emerge in triumph behind the royal banner of Jesus Christ the King.

The 450th Anniversary of Quo Primum

Just a brief note that today is the 450th anniversary of the Missal of St Pius V; the bull Quo primum by which it was promulgated was issued on July 14th, 1570. Te Deum laudamus...

The frontispiece of a Roman Missal “restored by decree of the Most Sacred Council of Trent, and pubished by order of Pope Pius V”, printed at Cologne, Germany, in 1573. (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Res/4 Liturg. 432 m.)

Which Evangelist is Which? The Answers

Last week I posted images of four stained-glass windows, and asked “Can you identify the four Evangelists?” Well, as a result of readers’ contributions, I think we have the answers. First, here are the original images, with the Evangelists unnamed; they date from 1915 and were made in Chicago by German artists.

Counter-clockwise from the top right: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

A number of people used a deep knowledge of sacred art to deduce the answer. Here is one example from Alex P:
I am most certain about John. It is not uncommon to see him younger than the others, simply because he was younger, and the image of John resting of Christ’s breast indicates a degree of immaturity. The other sign is the red hair, another frequent trait in Western art. Leonardo has him beardless and red-headed. Yes, that is John. The Deacon is right that St. John is typically old and bald in icons, but exceptions exist, e.g. by Dionisius, no mean iconographer. 
I am fairly certain about Matthew because of the evident old age; the parted and very long beard is often a sign of wisdom. That is consistent with iconographic tradition. Mark is often younger and square-faced. Remember him running away naked? This thought adds agility to his image. The image on the stained glass also shows square, strong face. That is Mark. 
Of Luke I am less certain, but he is now identifiable by default. He is shown in contemplative mood: the book is closed. Might that point to an artist observing the features of Mary? Another hint is that he looks less Jewish; the window-maker gave him outright Nordic look, which of course wouldn’t match his Greek ethnicity, but indicates some ethnic distinction.
The clincher comes from another reader, Susan, who sent me the following photos of windows in Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Central City, Kentucky, in which the Evangelists are named.
St Mark, left; and St Matthew, right.
St Luke, left; and St John, right.
Q.E.D. – Thank you for your contributions!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Roundup on the CDF Decrees on New Saints and New Prefaces for the TLM

St Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn (martyred 1845); St Charles Lwanga (martyred 1886)
The decrees from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cum Sanctissima and Quo Magis — the former opening up the possibility of celebrating saints canonized post-1960 with the traditional Roman Missal, the latter introducing into that missal seven prefaces, of varying degrees of authenticity — have generated a fair amount of discussion.

For the convenience of NLM readers, here is a roundup of all of the articles I have noticed, with an attempt to categorize them across the spectrum of opinion. If I have missed anything at other blogs, please let me know in the comments.

Decrees and Official Commentaries

Decree Cum Sanctissima [Latin] (February 22, 2020; released March 25)
Decree Quo Magis [Latin] (February 22, 2020; released March 25)
Vatican Presentation of Cum Sanctissima [English]
Vatican Presentation of Quo Magis [English]
(Curiously, there seems to be no English translation yet of either decree.)

Texts of the New Prefaces

These may be found in various places; Rorate’s post is probably the most useful.

(Unfortunately, I have not yet seen the Prefaces set to chant notation. If there is an enterprising Gregorio programmer out there who has mastery of how the Preface tones work, it would be immensely helpful to produce sheets with at least the common and solemn tones, in a format that would allow their ready insertion into altar missals. Please send PDF and JPG to Gregory DiPippo or me, and we will post them at NLM.)


Christopher Wells, “Recent Saints and new Prefaces added to 1962 Roman Missal
Hannah Brockhaus, “CDF issues new Eucharistic prefaces, optional saint feasts for extraordinary form of Roman rite

(There are other news reports, but they all say basically the same things.)

Canonical Commentary

Fr. Albert P. Marcello, III, “Canonical Commentary on the New Pontifical Decrees On Saints’ Days and New Prefaces in the Traditional Missal

Enthusiasm for the Decrees

Fr. John Hunwicke, “‘New’ Saints in the Old Calendar
Idem, “Old Mass: New Decrees: Prefaces (1)
Idem, “Old Mass: New Decrees: Prefaces (2)
Idem, “Old Mass: New Decrees: (3) The Calendar

Acceptance with “let’s wait and see”

Peter Kwasniewski, “Vatican Issues Two Decrees: More Prefaces and Recent Saints in the TLM
Dom Alcuin Reid, “The older form of the Roman rite is alive and well
Anonymous (FSSP), “Bede, Augustine, and Gregory on 21st Century Liturgy

Concern / skepticism

The International Federation “Una Voce” Press Release


Brian McCall, “Vatican’s New Attack on the Old Mass: Take Your Hands Off Our Liturgical Lifeboat
Andrea Grillo, “Open Letter on the ‘State of Liturgical Exception’
Concerning Grillo: Peter Kwasniewski, “‘Cancel the Decrees!’: High Dudgeon from Progressive Liturgists”; idem, “Limericks on Liberal Liturgists

Analysis of Seven Prefaces

NLM’s editor Gregory DiPippo has recently completed a series of in-depth analyses of the seven new prefaces:

The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 1: The Preface of the Angels
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 2: The Preface of St John the Baptist
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 3: The Preface of the Martyrs
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 4: The Preface of the Nuptial Mass
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 5: The Preface of the Blessed Sacrament
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 6: The Preface of All Saints and Patron Saints
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 7: The Preface of the Dedication of a Church

See also Sharon Kabel, “How New Is the New Traditional Wedding Preface?

Tentative Judgments

I think it is fair to say that the decree allowing the celebration of saints canonized after 1960 has been widely accepted in the traditional world as rectifying a truly strange situation where it was not possible to celebrate Mass in honor of many saints who spent their entire lives worshiping with the old Roman rite or some analogous traditional use or rite, and, if priests, celebrated it themselves — and I include in this category not just saints who lived more recently, such as Padre Pio, but also those from centuries ago whose canonizations were not completed until recently.

There is, needless to say, anxiety that either a well-intentioned but clueless celebrant or a clever and subversive cleric might try to use this provision as a “Trojan Horse” by which to force upon traditional congregations the veneration of putatively canonized individuals whose sanctity is surrounded by controversy and scandal. Only time will tell whether or not this is a real threat and how it will be dealt with “in the wild.”

Reception of the decree allowing seven more prefaces has been decidedly more ambivalent. While no one questions the legitimacy of adding a preface from time to time, in practice the Roman rite has been characterized for many centuries by a limited number of prefaces and an extremely conservative mind when it comes to expanding the repertoire. Adding seven at once is an upward bump with no historical parallel. Moreover, the sources of the texts have been tampered with, as compared with their actual ancient precedents — some more so than others, as Gregory DiPippo demonstrates in his article series.

It seems to me that the use of the prefaces will have to be a matter of ongoing theological and pastoral discernment. In any case, the utmost caution may be recommended: it would not do to take all of the prefaces on board at once, and whenever any such preface is to be used, it seems advisable to make the Latin text with a translation available as a handout, incorporate it into a worship aid, or print it in the bulletin.

A more refined objection to the two decrees concerns their “ad libitum” status. It is often said, and indeed I have said it frequently, that the old Mass is characterized by a stability, fixity, and objectivity that leaves no room for sacerdotal arbitrariness or subjectivism. This is quite true, but we should not forget that there is a tightly-defined sphere within which choices are allowed and indeed required. The old liturgy is a foe to creativity or spontaneity, but not a foe to ordered liberty. As this matter is of some importance, I will be dedicating next Monday’s article to it.

Visit Dr. Kwasniewski’s website, SoundCloud page, and YouTube channel.

Pontifical Mass of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Newark, New Jersey

On Thursday, July 16th, the feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, His Excellency Arthur Serratelli, bishop emeritus of Patterson, New Jersey, will celebrate a solemn Pontifical Mass in the traditional rite at the parish of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Newark, New Jersey, beginning at 7pm. The church is located at 259 Oliver Street. Tickets are available for free via Eventbrite; seating for those over that number will be available in the piazza in front of the church, which will be set up with outdoor speakers.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Solemnity of St Benedict 2020

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating the solemnity of our holy father Benedict, * whom God blessed with every spiritual blessing, and through whom many shall possess a blessing as their inheritance. V. For he will shine forever like the sun with the just, both now in the Church, and then in the kingdom of their Father. Whom God... (The 7th Responsory of the Solemnity of St Benedict in the Benedictine Office.)
The Triumphal Way of St Benedict, by Johann Michael Rottmayr, 1722; fresco on the ceiling of Melk Abbey in Austria. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Uoaei1; click to enlarge.) - The pomp of the world is represented on the left side by a book full of alchemical symbols, two demons, one of which holds a censer, and a figure with a theatrical mask, being speared in the throat by an angel. (The censer refers to the pagan sacrifices which St Benedict found still happening on Monte Cassino when he moved there, and to which he put an end.) On the right, a figure with a Cross and a whip drives away two other female figures, one bare-chested, the other holding rich clothing and a crown; below them, a figure with thorny branches drives away another demon, a reference to St Benedict’s conquest of the vice of lust by rolling around in a bramble. Underneath St Benedict are angels holding a miter and crook, used by the abbot of Melk, a book with the opening words of the Rule, and a glass with serpent emerging from it; the last refers to an attempt by some very bad monks to poison St Benedict, who made the sign of the Cross over the glass, “which broke as if he had thrown a stone.”
R. Gaudeámus omnes in Dómino, Solemnitátem celebrantes sancti Patri nostri Benedicti, * quem Deus benedixit benedictióne spirituáli, et per quem multi benedictiónem hereditáte possidébunt. V. Ipse enim perpétuo fulgébit sicut sol cum justis, et nunc in Ecclesia, et tunc in regno Patri eorum. Quem Deus...

St Benedict died on March 21 in the year 543 or 547, and this was the date on which his principal feast was traditionally kept, and is still kept by Benedictines; it is sometimes referred to on the calendars of Benedictine liturgical books as the “Transitus - Passing.” There was also a second feast to honor the translation of his relics, which was kept on July 11. The location to which the relics were translated is still a matter of dispute, with the Abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy, founded by the Saint himself, and the French Abbey of Fleury, also known as Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, both claiming to possess them. This second feast is found in many medieval missals and breviaries, even in places not served by monastic communities. (It was not, however, observed by either the Cistercians or Carthusians.). The second feast was in a certain sense the more solemn in the traditional use of the Benedictines; March 21 always falls in Lent, and the celebration of octaves in Lent was prohibited, but most monastic missals have the July 11 feast with an octave. In the post-Conciliar reform of the Calendar, many Saints, including St Benedict, were moved out of Lent; in his case, to the day of this second feast in the Benedictine Calendar.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Reflections on Liturgical Language

Lost in Translation #7

Cicero Denounces Catiline, by Caesare Maccari, 1889

The other day I stumbled upon an old article by a priest critiquing the 2011 English edition of the Roman Missal. He used three criteria: exclusion, catechesis, and poor theology. (In case you were wondering, the orations of the Roman Rite “border on the heretical” because with their talk of merit they regularly contradict “our fully signed up [1999] agreement with the World Lutheran Federation on justification by faith and grace”!)

But it was the author’s argument about “exclusion” that caught my eye:
Only people of a certain background and a relatively high level of education can make any sense of [the new translation]. In your ordinary congregation, many are excluded: the young, people whose first language is not English, people whose education stopped after primary school or early in secondary school. Also excluded, as far as the responses go, are people who attend church only for baptisms, weddings and funerals. It has pushed some people finally to stop attending Mass at all.
I would love to see the good father’s empirical evidence of his final claim, and I hardly think that the entire worship of the Catholic Church should be specifically tailored to those who “attend church only for baptisms, weddings and funerals.” But what struck me most of all by the argument is the implicit assumption that elevated language is exclusive. Is it so?

In her 1938 study Rhetoric in the Sunday Collects of the Roman Missal, Mary Haessley writes that the three purposes of classical rhetoric--teaching, delighting, and persuading--are on full display in the Church’s liturgical prayer:
…all these devices of the art of language are necessary for us, for they enable us: (1) to grasp clearly the lessons embodied in the Prayers (docere); (2) to make these lessons more acceptable to us through the charm of diction and structure, in a word, through their appeal to our aesthetic sense (delectare); (3) to persuade us (movere) to mold our conduct in accordance with the principles of faith set forth in the Prayers. This explains why rhetoric is, and must be, found in the liturgy: it is to dispose us to pray “ut oportet,” as we ought to pray. (5)
And it is often through making diction and structure somewhat complex that that “charm” is produced. The complexity may, of course, engender some initial frustration, but that is intentional, for a little frustration goads the reader or listener to push on and figure it out. And when it is figured out, there is an “Aha!” moment that brings a delight greater than that which comes from understanding something easy. If adults only used baby talk, it might be effective, but it would not be delightful. “What is sought with some difficulty,” St. Augustine writes in On Christian Doctrine, “is attained with more pleasure.” And what is attained with more pleasure, we might add, has a deeper impact on our souls. The rhetorical goal of delighting is intimately bound up with the goal of persuading, of “molding our conduct.” And since one of the purposes of sacred liturgy is the formation of souls, liturgical composers are wise not to neglect this connection.

Used properly, then, elevated language does not exclude but extends to all an invitation to understanding, just as the dense imagery of poetry is not meant to rebuff but to awaken in the reader a deeper meaning. And just as poetry is not for the few (even if few today, alas, pay it any attention), neither is liturgical prayer, which by its very nature is solemn, public, rhetorical. There is something condescending about thinking of either poetry or sonorous public discourse as the purview of the elite.

Of course, if the entire liturgy were nothing but fancy rhetoric, it could become overwhelming. But the beauty of the Roman Rite (and the other apostolic liturgies) is its linguistic diversity. The Scriptural passages that comprise the Propers tend to be simple in diction and structure--with the possible exception of the Epistles of the rhetorically-gift Saint Paul. The Offertory Prayers, composed in the Middle Ages, betray a medieval love of elegant precision. And the Canon and Orations (Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion) are examples of courtly rhetoric at its finest. The Church employs an array of linguistic tools in an effort to catch and form souls.

But to follow a “lowest common denominator” approach and flatten all language during the most important and solemn act that man can make is both mystagogical suicide and a sin against the great gift of the tongue with which God has endowed us. It is also to deny the so-called uneducated an experience of beauty on the grounds that they are “too dumb” to appreciate it. That, to me, is the ultimate exclusion.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

A Digital Reconstruction of the Shrine of St Thomas Becket

Two days ago was the 800th anniversary of the translation of the relics of St Thomas Becket from the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral to a splendid new shrine in the main body of the church. This was one of the major religious events of the era, celebrated in the presence of King Henry III and many leading churchmen; in the Use of Sarum, it was commemorated by its own feast on July 7th, with the feast of the Holy Relics assigned to the following Sunday. It was of course the presence of St Thomas’ relics that made Canterbury such an important place of pilgrimage in medieval England, famously noted in the prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales:“And specially from every shire’s ende / Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende (went), / The hooly blisful martir for to seke (seek), / That (t)hem hath holpen (helped) whan that they were seeke (sick).”

Because Thomas had given his life to defend the independence of the Church from undue interference by the civil power, King Henry VIII had the shrine destroyed in 1538, and forbade all devotion to him, even requiring that every church and chapel named for him had to be rededicated to the Apostle Thomas. The place within Canterbury Cathedral where the shrine formerly stood has been empty ever since. In the last couple of days, a number of articles have popped up noting this very nice digital recreation of the shrine, which was originally posted to YouTube in February. Like the nearly contemporary shrine of St Peter Martyr and several others, the casket with the relics rests on top of an open arched structure so that pilgrims can reach up and touch or kiss it from beneath, without damaging the metal reliquary itself.

The same source provides another video which shows sick persons praying at the original burial site in the crypt, which continued to attract pilgrims even after the relics themselves had been moved to the upper church. (The same is true of the church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in Pavia, where the original sarcophagus which held the relics of St Augustine is kept, although the relics were long ago moved to the main sanctuary.)

Organum Arrangements of the Salve Regina by Mark Emerson Donnelly

About two months ago, we shared a Renaissance polyphonic version of the Regina caeli arranged by composer Mark Emerson Donnelly, director of music at Holy Family, the FSSP parish in Vancouver, British Columbia. Now that we are in the last and longest part of the liturgical year, the time after Pentecost, the daily Marian antiphon has switched to the Salve Regina, and we thank Mr Donnelly once again, this time for sharing with us his two arrangements of it.

(Tenor/Bass & full choir, sung by OFFERTORIUM; for a PDF of the score, click here. Performance notes in the description on YouTube.)

From his recent newsletter: “After the Ave Maria, the most famous and well-beloved prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Salve Regina. As with the Ave, the Salve is both recited by Catholics in their native tongues and also sung in Latin to medieval Gregorian melodies. Though beautifully set to some very ornate, solemn and monastic tunes, the Simple Tone of the Salve Regina is, by far, the most popular.

The Salve Regina is the last of the four seasonal Marian antiphons sung over the liturgical year, prescribed for the Time after Pentecost. In that respect, it is kind of the perennial Marian antiphon, as we live in a perpetual time after that first Pentecost.

Although the Simple Tones of the four Marian Antiphons tend to be syllabic (one note per syllable of text), the ‘O dulcis’ at the end of the Salve provides a rare opportunity to employ a bit of polyphony in my Organum Novi Mundi style.

Since the Salve is the longest of the four, I chose to alternate two-part organum with four-part sections. My original thought was to alternate tenor & bass with full choir. However, if some ensembles wish to sing SATB throughout, I have doubled the tenor & bass parts in the soprano & alto. It is also possible to sing alternating SA with SATB, as below.

(Soprano/Alto & full choir, sung by OFFERTORIUM; for a PDF of the score, click here. Performance notes in the description on YouTube.)

On a curious note, it wasn’t until I was writing this newsletter that I realized I wrote the Organum Novi Mundi for two of the Marian antiphons, Ave Regina Coelorum & Regina Caeli, in the same year, 2001, and the remaining two, Salve Regina & Alma Redemptoris Mater, also in the same year, fifteen years later in 2016.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

The Hymns of St Elizabeth of Portugal

On the calendar of the Extraordinary Form, today is the feast of St Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, who died on July 4th, 1336. When she was canonized in 1625, her feast was assigned ad libitum to the general calendar on the day of her death. Pope Innocent XII then made it obligatory in 1694, and reassigned it to July 8th so as not to perpetually impede a day within the octave of Ss Peter and Paul. The octave having been suppressed in 1955, the post-Conciliar reform returned her to July 4th.

St Elizabeth of Portugal, by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), ca. 1635. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
Elizabeth was born into the royal house of Aragon in 1271, and named for her great-aunt, St Elizabeth of Hungary. At the age of 10, she was married by proxy to Denis, the King of Portugal; the official ceremony was held in 1288, when she was 17 and her husband 26. Although Denis was a wise and capable ruler who achieved many good things for his country during his reign of nearly half a century (1279-1325), his personal life was dissolute, as witnessed by the six illegitimate children he fathered with five different mistresses. He was often neglectful of his wife, but did not interfere with either her devotional life, which was very strongly centered on the liturgy (she recited the Office and attended solemn Mass daily), or her many charities, which are celebrated in the proper invitatory of her feast, “Let us praise our God in the holy works of the blessed Elizabeth.” Elizabeth herself prayed constantly for his conversion, which was achieved on his deathbed through a long and painful illness; she also cared for his other children, and worked to bring peace between him and their son, the future king Afonso IV, since Denis’ favor lay rather with his bastard Afonso Sanches.

After her husband’s death, she was professed as a member of the Franciscan Third Order, and retired into a private home near a convent of Poor Clares that she herself had founded at Coimbra. However, in 1336, she was called upon to intervene in a war between her son and his son-in-law, King Alfonso XI of Castile. Although the matter was settled peaceably, the effort of traveling in the summer heat led to her death; her remains were transferred to the Poor Clares’ church in Coimbra, where they rest to this day. She was beatified in 1526, and canonized in 1625.

The Pope who canonized her, Urban VIII (1623-44), is well-known to scholars of the liturgy for promulgating the famous (or infamous) reform by which the hymns of the breviary were mostly recast according to the meters and diction of classical Latin. This reform has been subjected to endless, and for the most part well-deserved, criticism, most succinctly in the famous dictum “accessit Latinitas, recessit pietas – Latinity (meaning, “good”, classical Latinity) came in, and piety went out.”

As Pope, Urban personally composed the hymns of three Saints whose feasts he extended to the general calendar, those of the Visigothic prince and martyr Hermenegild, the early Roman martyr Martina, and Elizabeth of Portugal. The two for the latter are, in my estimation, by far his most successful efforts, and indeed, rather better than the revision of the traditional hymns would lead one to expect. Although their meters are unusual, and therefore require new melodies to be sung, their vocabulary is mostly within the established usage of Christian Latinity, and devoid of the precious citations of classical poems that make the hymns of St Martina especially difficult to pray.

The hymn of Vespers and Matins, with a rather free translation by Fr Edward Caswall.
Domáre cordis ímpetus
Fortis, inopsque Deo
Servíre, regno práetulit.
Pure, meek, with soul serene,
Sweeter to her it was to serve
Her God, than reign a queen.
En fúlgidis recepta caeli
Sidereáeque domus
Ditáta sanctis gaudiis.
Now far above our sight,
Enthroned upon the star-paved
   azure height,
She reigns in realms of light;
Nunc regnat inter cáelites
Et premit astra, docens
Quae vera sint regni bona.
So long as time shall flow,
Teaching to all who sit
   on thrones below,
The good that power can do.
Patri potestas, Filióque
Perpetuumque decus
Tibi sit, alme Spíritus.
To God, the Father and Son
And Paraclete, be glory,
   Three in One,
While endless ages run.
A very nice setting in alternating polyphony and chant by the composer Matías García Benayas (†1737), without the 3rd stanza.

The hymn for Lauds includes a reference to a miracle which is also atttributed to several other Saints, including, more famously, her great-aunt and namesake of Hungary. The story goes that Elizabeth was surprised by her husband while carrying food to the poor in her skirts. Challenged to show that she was not once again exhausting the royal treasury by excessive charities, she opened the folds of her skirt, at which the king saw in them not food, but roses, and this in the middle of the winter, and so allowed her to go on her way. This story is very much out of keeping with what we know of King Denis’ character, and in this case is generally regarded as apocryphal. (English translation also by Fr Caswall.)

Opus decusque regium relí-
Elísabeth, Dei dicáta númi-
Recepta nunc beáris inter
Libens ab hostium tuére nos
Riches and regal throne,
   for Christ’s dear sake,
True saint, thou didst despise;
Amid the angels seated
   now in bliss,
Oh, help us from the skies!
Praei, viamque, dux salútis
Sequémur: O sit una mens
Odor bonus sit omnis actio,
Id ínnuit rosis operta cáritas.
Guide us; and fill our days
   with perfume sweet
Of loving word and deed;
So teaches us thy beauteous
By fragrant roses hid.
Beáta cáritas, in arce síde-
Potens locáre nos per omne
Patríque, Filióque summa
Tibíque laus perennis, alme
   Spíritus. Amen.
O charity! what power is thine!
   by thee
Above the stars we soar;
In thee be purest praise
to Father, Son And Spirit,
   evermore. Amen.

The Miracle of the Roses, 1735, by the Portuguese painter André Gonçalves (1685-1754; public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
Fr Caswall (1814-78), by he way, was an Anglican clergyman who converted to Catholicism in 1847. After the sudden death of his wife in 1849, he entered the Birmingham Oratory in 1850; he was ordained priest two years later, and died in 1878. He was a talented poet, and many of his English translations of Latin hymns were incorporated by John Crighton-Stuart, the Third Marquess of Bute, into his monumental English version of the Roman Breviary, including these two.

The Feast of St. Dominic as an External Solemnity in the Dominican Rite

I have received an inquiry as to whether the First Class Feast of St Dominic, which in the Dominican Rite falls on August 4, may be celebrated on the following Sunday as an External Solemnity. The Dominican Rite Missal (of 1933 or 1965) contains no provisions for “external solemnities” as it was intended for use by Dominicans in our own priories. What about use in parishes? Years ago, the then liturgist of the Order, Fr. Pierre-Marie Gy, O.P., explained to a friar of my province that the principle to be applied is that, when the Dominican Rite rubrics are vague or do not treat a matter, recourse is to be made to the Roman Rite (here that of 1962) as the “mother rite.”

Here are the pertinent provisions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (1962) in English:

V - Votive Masses on the External Solemnity of Feasts 356.
The “external solemnity” of any feast means the celebration of the feast without an office, for the good of the faithful, either on the day on which the feast is impeded, or on a Sunday when the feast occurs during the week, or on some other established day.

357. An external solemnity either belongs to a feast by right or is granted by a special indult.

358. An external solemnity belongs by right only to:
a) the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost;
b) the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the rosary, on the first Sunday of October;
c) feasts of the 1st or 2nd class which are connected with some special liturgical service, if that liturgical service is transferred to a Sunday with the approval of the Holy See, only for the Mass which is celebrated in connection with the aforesaid liturgical service;
d) the feast of a duly constituted principal patron;
e) the anniversary of the dedication of the church itself in which the Mass is said;
f) the titular feast of the church itself;
g) the titular feast of the order or congregation;
h) the feast of the holy founder of the order or congregation;
i) feast of the 1st and 2nd class which are celebrated with an especially large attendance by the faithful; of this matter the local ordinary is the judge.

So, it is permitted to celebrate the Dominican Rite Mass of St. Dominic on the following Sunday. As a first-class Mass, the Sunday would not be commemorated by a second collect as first class feasts only permit an extra collects for “privileged memories” (e.g. ferials in Advent and Lent) and Sundays after Pentecost are not privileged. In addition, one should remember that an External Solemnity is a Votive Mass, not a transferred feast. So, if you have a celebration of St Dominic on the following Sunday, the Mass and Office on August 4 is still that of St. Dominic.

It might also be useful treat another question here as well. Can the celebration of the the major feasts in the U.S. that are not holy days of obligation, which are moved to Sunday in the New Rite, also be celebrated in Dominican Rite on the Sunday? These feasts are Epiphany, Ascension, and Corpus Christi. Following the same principle, as there is permission granted to do so by the Holy See in the rubrics of the New Missal, and that would be equivalent to the permission of 358c above, it is my opinion that they may be so celebrated. As holy days of obligation are matters of canon law, not rubrics, the current discipline as to Mass obligation applies, not that in force in 1962.

One final matter for those using the 1962 Dominican Rite Breviary: the Office is not transferred under the rubrics for an external solemnity. Rather, the Office of the proper Sunday is used, which would be the 10th after Pentecost (1962 Missal) or the 8th after the Octave of Trinity (1933 Missal). And the Mass and Office of the proper day of the feast remain those of the feast. And remember in any case that one is never obligated to celebrate an External Solemnity Votive Mass; such Masses are merely an option.

May God grant all the brethren his choicest blessings on the feast of St. Dominic, whichever day they celebrate it on.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Where Do I Start? A Pastoral Plan for Changing a Parish Music Program - & More!

In light of the current situation, many parishes are looking at an opportunity to introduce the sung proper chants in their Masses, change out old hymnals for new resources, or implement the chants of the Roman Missal. Where does one start when thinking about the best way to improve a music program? How can you bring people along, deepening their faith as the music program becomes more robust? As we wrap up season 2 of Square Notes, episode 19 with Dr. Mary Jane Ballou addresses these questions.
Episode 18 takes you behind the scenes of the exciting new Neumz project, its app, its largest-in-history recording project, and the life of the sisters at Notre Dame de Fidelité in Jouques, France. 
Episode 20, our final episode for this season, presents a homily by Dom Mark Kirby, OSB, founding prior of Silverstream Priory in Ireland, about the chants for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost. In it, you'll find a robust model for Lectio Divina and biblical exegesis when meditating on a chant. 

Episode 18 – 7000+ Hours of Gregorian Chant: Behind the Scenes at the Neumz Project – with John Anderson & Alberto Díaz-Blanco


Episode 19 – Where Do I Start? A Pastoral Plan for Changing a Parish Music Program – with Dr. Mary Jane Ballou


Episode 20 – Lectio Divina and Biblical Exegesis of Gregorian Chants for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost – with Dom Mark Kirby, OSB


Four Stained-Glass Windows: Can You Identify Which Evangelist is Which?

A reader sent to me these photographs of four stained-glass windows from his church. He says they are of the four Evangelists, but can find no information as to which one is which. I had a look and couldn’t be sure either, so I thought I’d put the question out to you. Can you identify, giving reasons, which of these windows corresponds to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

North windows
South windows
Each window was made at the Munich Studios in Chicago and installed in 1915. There is a set of twelve windows and eight of them are clearly identifiable as Apostles. These have no name attached to them nor any other clear identifying symbols or attributes that I can recognize. 
The first point I would make is that this demonstrates why, going back to the 9th century, it was an accepted practice that all images worthy of veneration should have both a clearly identifiable name (written in a language that would be understood those who see it) and have all the accepted attributes of the person. It was an Eastern theologian called Theodore the Studite who articulated these necessary conditions, based upon the criterion that we need to know a person. Here we see a very practical fallout of the neglect of this principle.
So here is the request: can anyone out there send me photographs of images that were made around the turn of the last century and are in this style, and which might indicate, therefore, the intentions of this artist? The ideal proof would be a similar set of stained-glass windows from the same studio in which each figure is clearly named.
We can speculate based upon what we see, but this is difficult. For example, there is a suggestion that because John is often portrayed as a young, clean-shaven man in Gospel scenes, the figure on the right in the north window is St John the Evangelist. 
This seems reasonable at first sight, it is common in the Western tradition in the last 500 years at least. Here are paintings of the four Evangelists by the 17th century Italian artist Guido Reni. This doesn’t help us identify the others very much. Perhaps we might say that if we knew that the Chicago artist was following the Reni schema that the left, south window is St Luke.

Matthew, left, and Mark, by Guido Reni
Luke, left, and John, by Guido Reni
However, we should bear in mind that even the portrayal of John in these cases doesn’t fit with the general portrayal of him in pictures, such as these which show the individual and which are more suited to the purpose of the veneration of the saint. According to the traditional iconographic prototype, he would be portrayed at a time closer to the end of his long life, and so we see him as an old man who is bald, with a long beard grey beard. The others would be portrayed as follows; Matthew has a full head of grey hair and a long beard, Mark has short dark curly hair, and Luke has a trimmed beard and short hair. A typical set of icons of the Evangelists is shown below. We know the artist’s intentions here because he has clearly written the names on the paintings.

For comparison, I show a Carolingian (Western) image of the four Evangelists dating from the 9th century.

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