Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Calculation of the September Ember Days (Reprint)

This article, which explains the difference between the traditional dating of the September Ember Days, and that currently used in the EF, was originally published in 2010. The discrepancy between the traditional rubrics and the 1960 version does not occur every year, but it does this year, and so I am republishing it for reference, adjusting the dates for 2015. You may also find interesting this article from two years ago on the September Ember Days.

One of the changes made to the Breviary in the revision of 1960 regards the arrangement of the months from August to November. This change is often noticed in September, because it causes a shift in the occurrence of the Ember Days.

The first Sunday of each of these months is the day on which the Church begins to read a new set of scriptural books at Matins, with their accompanying antiphons and responsories; these readings are 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 September” is actually August 30th, the closest Sunday to the first day of September, and the third Sunday of September is September 13th.

The Ember Days of autumn are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the third week of September, during which the book of Tobias is read; according to the traditional system of calculation, this year they will occur on the 16th, 18th and 19th. The system is also calculated so that the Ember days will always begin on the Wednesday after the Exaltation of the Cross.

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. According to this system, the first Sunday of September is the 6th this year; the third will be therefore be the 20th, and the Ember Days will be the 23rd, 25th and 26th.

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 older calculation, November has five weeks when the fourth of the month is a Sunday; according to the newer calculation, November may have three or four weeks, but never five. In order to accommodate the new system, one of the weeks had to be removed; the second week of November was chosen, to maintain the tradition that at least a bit of each of the Prophets would continue to be read in the Breviary.

The Sundays for the rest of the liturgical year, according to the traditional system:

August 30th - the 1st Sunday of September
September 6 - the 2nd Sunday of September
September 13 - the 3rd Sunday of September (Ember week)
September 20 - the 4th Sunday of September
September 27 - the 5th Sunday of September

October 4 - the 1st Sunday of October
October 11 - the 2nd Sunday of October (The Maternity of the Virgin Mary)
October 18 - the 3rd Sunday of October (St Luke the Evangelist)
October 25 - the 4th Sunday of October (Christ the King)

November 1 - the 1st Sunday of November (All Saints’ Day)
November 8 - the 3rd Sunday of November
November 15 - the 4th Sunday of November
November 22 - the 5th Sunday of November

The Sundays for the rest of the liturgical year, according to the 1960 system:

August 30th - the 5th Sunday of August
September 6 - the 1st Sunday of September
September 13 - the 2nd Sunday of September
September 20 - the 3rd Sunday of September (Ember week)
September 27 - the 4th Sunday of September

October 4 - the 1st Sunday of October
October 11 - the 2nd Sunday of October
October 18 - the 3rd Sunday of October
October 25 - the 4th Sunday of October (Christ the King)

November 1 - the 1st Sunday of November (All Saints’ Day)
November 8 - the 3rd Sunday of November
November 15 - the 4th Sunday of November
November 22 - the 5th Sunday of November

The Christian Environmentalism that the Media Choose to Ignore

We Need More People in World, Not Fewer...
And the Liturgy to Transform Them

We need more people in the world, not fewer, if we are to solve the worlds problems. And we need more gardeners - I am serious here. For the true gardener is the man transformed in Christ who works in the world to raise it up to what it is meant to be.


It is common nowadays for people to think of man as an unnatural animal whose work necessarily destroys the environment. Much of the back to the land movement, I always feel, has a romantic vision of the past, and assumes that only a man who lives as he did before industrialization can live in harmony with nature. This pessimistic view of modern man could be seen in various influential figures going back to to Rousseau in 18th-century France, a man who hated industrialization and thought that all modern society corrupted ideal man. The ideal for Rousseau was the noble savage who, unlike modern man, could be conceived of as an intrinsic part of nature, living with it as the animals do, rather than in opposition to it.

This may all sound fairly innocuous stuff - a high regard for the environment is good thing, surely? But in fact it is a modern form of neo-paganism, which removes man from his a place as the highest part of creation to something separate from it, and lower than it. This false elevation of the rest of creation to something greater than man in the hierarchy of being has serious, deadly consequences. And I do mean deadly.


Man is not only part of nature, he is absolutely necessary to it - the eco-system needs the interaction of man in order to be complete. Through Gods grace human activity is the answer to all the environmental problems we have, not the cause. This is the part of Pope Franciss message in his latest encyclical, a fact which so many eco-warriors who were enthusiastic about the encyclical seem not to have noticed...or to have ignored. It is possible to have cities, heavy industry, mass production, and forms of capitalism that are creative expressions of the Gods plan for the world, and which add to the beauty and the stability of nature. However, we do need a transformation of the culture in order to see a greater realization of this. The formation, which I believe will lead to such an evangelization of the culture, is derived from a liturgically centered piety and is described in the book the Way of Beauty.



For me, the flower garden is the model of natural beauty in so many ways. First, it symbolizes the true end of the natural world, in which its beauty can only be realised through the inspired work of man. It symbolizes what Eden was to become. It is worth noting that Adam was the first gardener and Christ, the new Adam, prayed in the garden during the passion, was buried and resurrected in the garden, and after the resurrection was mistaken by Mary Magdalene for the gardener.

Here is a quote from St Augustine from the Office of Readings on the Feast of St Lawrence, August 10th:
The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes – yes, it truly includes – not only the roses of martyrs, but also the lilies of virgins, and the ivy of married people, and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgement of the truth.

This may seem a rather innocent little quote about flowers and the things of religion - martyrs and virgins and so on, but in fact it reveals so much about the difference in attitudes between one of the Faith, and the modern world. Heres how: we see Rousseaus worldview today in many of the green movements that assume that any influence that man has on the eco-system is bad, because man himself is an unnatural entrant into it, not a part of it. 


Millions of people have been killed as a result of a simple philosophical error. If we believe that civilized mans effect on the environment is necessarily destructive, then the only method of an effective damage limitation is to limit the number of people in the world. The most effective way to do this is to control the population, and, because they do not wish to dispense of the pleasure of sex, the solutions offered are contraception and abortion.

The Christian understanding of man and his interaction with the natural world is very different. The first point to make is that both are imperfect. We are fallen and we live in a fallen world. Man is part of nature, and it is certainly true that his activity can be destructive on the environment (just as he can commit the gravest crimes against his fellows). However, through Gods grace and the proper exercise of free will, he can choose to behave differently. He can work to perfect nature. He has the privilege of participating in the work of God that will eventually lead to the perfection of all things in Christ. Then all man does is in harmony with nature, and with the common good. This is the via pulchritudinis, the Way of Beauty.


There are so many signs in modern culture that reveal this flawed perception of the place of man in relation to his fellows. The changing attitude to the garden is one of these. Even in something that seems so far removed from the issue of abortion, we can see a change which has at its root, in my opinion, the same flaw.

What is the model of natural beauty? For the modern green, neo-pagan it is the wilderness. National parks in the US seek to preserve nature in a way that they perceive as unaffected by man (although this is an impossibility, even the most remote national park is managed wilderness!) I do not say that is a bad thing that some part of nature is preserved, or that the wilderness is not beautiful. Rather, the point is that it is not the pinnacle of nature, and it is not the standard of natural beauty. When man works harmoniously with the environment, then he makes something more beautiful. Beautifully and harmoniously farmed land takes the breath away - as we might see in the countryside of France, Spain, England and Italy, for example, places of which I am familiar. This the sort of landscape in which Wordsworth saw his host of wild golden daffodils.


Higher still is the garden that is cultivated for beauty alone. A garden is a symbol of the Church. Each part, each plant is in harmony with every other, just as every person is unique and has his place in Gods plan, as St Augustine points out in the quote given above. Gardens will have their place in the New Jerusalem. We know this because the description of the City of God in the Book of Revelation contains gardens.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Legend of St Augustine

St Augustine Confounds the Devil, by Michael Pacher, 1471-75, in the Alte Pinakothek of Munich.
It is also read that while St Augustine was alive in the flesh, and was reading certain things, he saw a demon pass before him carrying a book on its shoulders. And he at once abjured it that it show him what lay written therein. And the demon said that the sins of men were written therein, which it had gathered from all parts and put down in it. And he at once ordered it to show him at once and let him read if the book had any of his own sins written down in it. When it had shown him the place, Augustine found nothing written there, except that one time he had forgotten to say Compline; and commanding the devil to wait for him, he entered a church and said Compline devoutly, and completing the usual prayers, he return to it, and told it to show him the place (in the book) so that he might read it again. And as it turned the book over and over again and found that place empty, it said in anger “You have shamefully deceived me, I regret that I showed you my book, because you have cancelled your sin by the power of your prayers.” And having spoken thus, it disappeared confounded. (From The Golden Legend of Blessed Jacopo da Voragine)

The Carthusian Salve Regina

I just happened to stumble across this recording of the Salve Regina sung by monks of the Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the Carthusian Order. It is accompanied by a number of pictures, including several stills from the famous movie Into Great Silence; the last minute and a half seems to be the soundtrack of one of the best parts of the film, when the monks go sledding. Note that there are a few differences from the text of the Roman version; it begins “Salve, Regina misericordiae, vitae dulcedo - Hail, Queen of Mercy, the sweetness of life,” and the word “Virgo” is omitted at the end. Note also the slowness and simplicity of the chant, even though this is the more solemn version of the Salve Regina, typical of the austerity of Carthusian life in all of its aspects.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary

For a fairly brief period, today was kept by the Franciscans as the feast of the Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary. As an expression of the Seraphic Order’s devotional life, it corresponds to the feast of the Holy Rosary, which began among the Dominicans, and the observance on September 15th of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin, which was originally the Patronal feast of the Servites. The principal contribution of the Franciscans to the Church’s cycle of Marian feasts is, of course, the Immaculate Conception, whereas the liturgical celebration of the Seven Joys is very late, and short-lived. It was granted to them in 1906, and at first fixed to the Sunday after the Octave of the Assumption; when the reform of St Pius X abolished the practice of fixing feasts to Sundays, it was permanently assigned to August 27th. In the Calendar reform promulgated in 1961, which aimed at reducing the number of feasts, and especially the so-called “feasts of devotion” (as opposed to those of Our Lord and the Saints), it was suppressed.

The Altarpiece of the Seven Joys, by the anonymous painter known as the Master of the Holy Family, ca. 1480; now in the Louvre.
The devotion to the Seven Joys in and of itself, however, is much older; the story of its origin is told thus in the Manual for Franciscan Tertiaries.
About the year 1420, a young man, deeply devoted to Our Lady, took the habit of St Francis. Before joining the Order, he had, among other practices, been accustomed daily to make a chaplet of flowers, and with it to crown a statue of the Blessed Virgin. Having in his novitiate no longer an opportunity of making this crown for his Most Beloved Queen, he, in his simplicity, thought that she would withdraw her affection from him; this temptation of the devil disturbed his vocation, and he resolved to abandon the cloister. The merciful mother appeared to him, and gently rebuking him, strengthened him in his vocation by telling him to offer her instead of the chaplet of flowers, a crown much more pleasing to her, composed of seventy-two Ave Marias and a Pater after each decade of Ave Marias, and to meditate at each decade upon the seven joys she had experienced during the seventy-two years of her exile upon the earth. The novice immediately commenced reciting the new crown or rosary, and derived therefrom many spiritual and temporal graces. This pious practice spread quickly through the whole Order, and even throughout the world… St Bernardin of Siena used to say that it was by the Crown of the Seven Joys that he had obtained all the graces which Heaven has heaped upon him.
A traditional Franciscan Rosary of the Seven Joys, still worn as part of the Order’s habit.
The Seven Joys listed in the Manual are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth of Christ, the Adoration of the Magi, the Finding of the Christ Child in the Temple, the Resurrection and the Assumption, but other version of the list may be found. Two more Aves are added to make the number seventy-two mentioned above, and another Pater and Ave for the intentions of the Pope. The recitation concludes with a versicle and response, and with the Collect of the Immaculate Conception.

V. In thy Conception, o Virgin, thou wast immaculate.
R. Pray for us to the Father, whose Son thou didst bear.
Let us pray. O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, prepared a worthy dwelling place for thy Son; we beseech thee, that, as by the foreseen death of Thy same Son, Thou preserved Her from every stain, so Thou may grant us also, through Her intercession, to come to thee with pure hearts. Through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

V. In Conceptione tua, Virgo, immaculata fuisti.
R. Ora pro nobis Patrem, cujus Filium peperisti.
Oremus. Deus, qui per immaculátam Vírginis Conceptiónem dignum Filio tuo habitáculum praeparasti: quaesumus; ut qui ex morte ejusdem Filii tui praevisa, eam ab omni labe praeservasti, nos quoque mundos ejus intercessióne ad te perveníre concedas. Per eundem Christum, Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.

(h/t Chris W.)

Third Anniversary Mass for the Anglican Use Community of St Gregory the Great in Massachusetts, September 3rd

The Anglican Ordinariate community of St Gregory the Great will be have a special Mass for its third Feast of Title and Dedication, to be held at St Patrick’s Parish in Stoneham, Massachusetts, on September 3rd. It promises to be particularly beautiful; see the poster below, or go to their website for more information, www.saintgregoryordinariate.org.


On a related note, some readers may remember that I featured the commissioning of a silver chalice and paten by the community; the original article was here. This set has just been given an award by the journal Faith and Form, in conjunction with the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture. The designer and maker of the set, silversmith Vincent Hawley, will be presented with the award at the May 2016 National Convention of the American Institute of Architects in Philadelphia, PA. His website is www.vwhjewelry.com. Congratulations Vincent!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summorum Pontificum Conference in Santiago de Chile

The first International Summorum Pontificum Conference in Chile was recently held in the city of Santiago from July 21-23 at the Nuestra Señora de La Dehesa retreat house, focused mainly on the implementation of the Traditional Roman Liturgy, in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The conference was organized by Fr. Milan Tisma (Archdiocese of Santiago), Fr. Lucio Cáceres (Prelature of Illapel), Fr. Carlos Bolelli (Archdiocese of La Serena) and Fr. Marcelo Guzmán (Diocese of San Bernardo), with the support of Magnificat - Una Voce Chile ( founded in 1966), the Chilean Chapter of the International Una Voce Federation (FIUV), and of several generous benefactors. The conference was attended by priests and laymen from Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and France; Paix Liturgique was represented by Mr. Guillaume Ferluc, one of the organizers of the annual Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome.

The conference began with the celebration of Low Masses in the Extraordinary Form in two shifts at the side altars of the retreat house’s main chapel. Since one of the conference’s main purposes was to introduce the Traditional Rite to priests who were not yet familiar with its celebration, an altar for celebration of the Ordinary Form versus Deum.

The opening lecture was given by Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship (1998-2002), who focused his speech on the sacrificial meaning of the Holy Mass. The second lecture was delivered by Professor Augusto Merino, Vice President of Magnificat - Una Voce Chile, addressing the issue of the liturgical reform. In the afternoon, two liturgical training workshops were held for priests interested in learning the celebration of the Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and another for laypeople.

On Wednesday the 22nd, Professor Mario Correa Ph.D. addressed the issue of the juridical status of the Extraordinary Form in light of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The second lecture was given by Professor Luis González, organist of Magnificat - Una Voce Chile, regarding the nature, purposes and features of sacred music. Prof. González also gave suggestions for the interpretation of music in the context of the Extraordinary Form.

In the evening, Fr. Lucio Cáceres celebrated a Sung Mass at the church of Nuestra Señora de la Victoria, with the attendance of a considerable number of faithful.

The first lecture of Thursday the 23rd was given by Fr. Milan Tisma, chaplain of Magnificat - Una Voce Chile, who gave a testimony of his experience in the celebration under both forms of the Roman Rite, and gave some advice for the introduction of the Extraordinary Form in a Catholic community or parish. The closing lecture was delivered by Professor Julio Retamal Ph.D., President and founder of Magnificat - Una Voce Chile, regarding the history of the Roman Rite.

The conference concluded with the Blessing of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the singing of the Te Deum. The assistants expressed their wish to attend a new Summorum Pontificum conference in 2016.






In Memoriam

Today, August 26, marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Professor László Dobszay (1935-2011), a true Catholic gentleman and scholar. Many, perhaps most, readers of NLM will have heard of him and of his substantial contributions to sacred music and liturgical scholarship, two of his English-language publications being The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (Church Music Association of America, 2007) and The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite (T&T Clark/Continuum, 2010). I was blessed to have known him personally as a colleague in the “new Liturgical Movement” and as a friend. Please say a prayer for the happy repose of his soul. Requiescat in pace Domini.

Society of St. Dominic Announces Concert with Victoria Requiem

The Society of St. Dominic, based in Winnipeg, is pleased to announce a major undertaking in connection with the Camerata Nova. If you are anywhere near Winnipeg, make sure you get this in your calendar!

Tomas Luis de Victoria's 1605 Requiem

In honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, an evening of renaissance sacred polyphony performed by Camerata Nova
Saturday September 26th, 2015, 8:00 pm, St Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church, 315 Munroe Avenue, Winnipeg, MB.

Doors open at 7:00 pm; concert begins at 8:00 pm. Admission is free. Free-will offerings gratefully accepted.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Assumption 2015 - Final Photpost

As is often the case, we’ve had a enough late submissions for the feast of the Assumption to make a third and final photopost. I am also including a video of a procession in honor of the Virgin Mary’s mother, St Anne, a tradition revived by the Fraternity of St Peter after many years’ suspension at a church entitled to her in Ottawa.

Annunciation Catholic Church - Houston, Texas
Solemn High Mass of the Vigil of the Assumption, was followed by Solemn First Vespers of the Assumption, with antiphons and psalms fully accompanied on the organ. On Assumption Day, Fr. Paul Felix, the pastor, celebrated his first Solemn High Mass, and on Sunday afternoon, Solemn Sunday Vespers was sung coram Sanctissimo, followed by Benediction. All the liturgies mentioned here were in the Extraordinary Form.





Monday, August 24, 2015

A Talk on John Singer Sargent in Manchester, NH, Thursday, August 27

Paul Ingbretson is opening up his painting school, the Ingbretson Studios, this Thursday, to give a talk on one of the great artists of the naturalistic tradition, John Singer Sargent, and the movement that was inspired to a large degree by his influence, the Boston School of the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century.

John Singer Sargent was not a religious man, and was not known for sacred art; neither was the Boston School. However, I recommend this talk for two reasons. First, because stylistically Sargent was an anachronism. Although he was trained in Paris in the 19th century, under the influence of his teacher Charles Durand (known as Carolus-Duran) he rejected the sterile neo-classicism of the French academy and its corollary, and the overly emotional portrayals of the Romantics, and strove to follow the style of the great Spanish master of the 17th century baroque, Velasquez. This was not a theological or philosophical decision, as far as I am aware, but based rather on his personal taste. He wanted to paint like Velazquez because he preferred his style. After training with Duran in Paris, he went to the Prado in Madrid, and taught himself further by copying every Velazquez on display in the museum. So, in his portraits and landscapes, he incorporates the essential elements of the baroque style, which is an authentically Christian style, and can be accounted for by a Christian worldview. This style is rooted in the religious art that grew out of the Catholic Counter-Reformation period. Therefore, anyone who wishes to understand the balance between natural appearances and idealization that must be present in all genuine Christian art could do worse than study the work of Sargent.

Idealized naturalism is as much about what you don’t show as much it is about what you do. The artist controls the focus, the intensity of color and contrast of light and dark, in order to draw your attention to the important points of interest, which must coincide with those which we would look at naturally if we were presented with the scene itself. We are made by God to be curious about important things, and uninterested in unimportant things, and the artist must understand this.


The other reason for highlighting this is to give a profile to Paul Ingbretson. One of the most important reasons that there are any ateliers teaching the academic style at all today is the group of young men trained in Boston in the 1970s under the guidance of almost the only remaining teacher of the academic style at that time, an octogenarian called Ives-Gammell. Paul was one of these young men who went on to devote himself to passing on to others what he learned.

Paul is not Catholic, but he is, as far as I am aware, Christian. Certainly, his strong libertarian views mean that he encourages people of faith to connect this with their art when he teaches. This is not true of all the ateliers around, which can be just as aggressively secular in their worldviews as any other modern art school. Some of you may be aware of the Catholic painter based in Virginia, Henry Wingate, who paints portraits, still lives, and sacred art, and is one of Paul’s star pupils.

The paintings shown here are by Sargent; the first is Gassed, which comes from his work as a war artist during the First World War, and shows soldier who have been blinded by mustard gas being led from the battle ground. The second is Venetian Interior, in which we can see how much Sargent communicates by his use of colour (or deliberate lack of it), focus and contrast.


David Clayton's book, the Way of Beauty, which contains a description of theological basis of the form of Western naturalistic art is now available from Angelico Press and Amazon.com.

On the Participation of the Clergy in a Non-Concelebrated Mass

Some time ago, a reader and I corresponded about a question that may be of interest to NLM readers more generally. The reader was a priest who had recently learned to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form and who, seeing more clearly that “the priest is ordained to offer sacrifice,” had arrived at a more critical position regarding concelebration. He wrote to me (and I quote with his permission):
In light of my preparation for the Traditional Latin Mass and in light of Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, my attitude toward concelebration has shifted. Any Ordinary Form Mass with a bishop as celebrant is an appropriate time for concelebration because of the unique theological relationship priests have with their bishops. In addition, in parishes with more than one priest, the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Easter Vigil, primary Mass on Christmas, parish feast day, etc. could be concelebrated. Also for funerals. But not as a matter of course, like the daily community Mass in a monastery or seminary.
          I truly appreciated my week at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska. There the FSSP priests hammered home that “the priest is ordained to offer sacrifice.” Upon arrival, each of us student priests received a schedule for the daily private Mass, with time, altar, and seminarian server lined out for the entire week. (They have the Novus Ordo books on hand, and the server knows he will be serving Mass in the OF.) What was great was actually saying Mass each day. What a joy, too! I was not in front of hundreds “wowing” them with my eloquent homily; I was being genuinely and deeply priestly, and letting the floodgates of Divine Mercy flow upon myself, anyone living and deceased I included in the intentions, and any that the server had, and any that the Father in Heaven desired for the sake of His Son’s sorrowful passion as He “received the sacrifice at [my] hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.”
Instead of automatically concelebrating at a clergy gathering, he went on to say, he now prefers to attend in choro or in the nave, while making time elsewhere in the day for offering a private Mass. This, I gather, is the thinking and praxis prevailing among many of the clergy, especially the younger set, as they come to see the fallacious historical research and the superficial theology on which the “revival” of concelebration was based, and as they experience in their own lives the abuses to which concelebration so often leads as well as the spiritual fruits of individual daily celebration.[1] My correspondent continued:
What I am now moved to explore is the phenomenon of the non-celebrant priest present at Mass. Since with the priesthood of the baptized, every baptized person present at Mass offers, in a way, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross as well as the sacrifice of oneself with Christ to the Father, does concelebration make any difference for ordained priests who are present at Masses they are not offering as celebrants? To rephrase the question, does a priest concelebrating at a Mass in the Ordinary Form exercise a higher level of efficacy or enjoy a greater access to sacramental graces than a priest assisting at a Mass in either form in the pew, in choir, or serving (in the EF) as deacon, subdeacon, assistant priest, master of ceremonies, etc.? The question amounts to this: Does a priest who merely attends a Mass rather than celebrating it participate in a qualitatively different way than a layman does?
I answered along the following lines.

It seems to me true that a priest is called to the altar of God every day, if possible, to represent and act on behalf of Christ the High Priest, and to offer the holy sacrifice for himself and for the people. Obviously, concelebration is not wrong in itself, and there are times when it seems to be called for, but to make it into a general or normative practice is certainly a deviation from the organic development of the Roman Church, and I am glad that so many are rethinking it and rediscovering how a priest may fruitfully pray “in choir” (though not in substitution for his daily Mass).

Concelebration is an exercise of the ministerial priesthood in a way that praying “in choir” is not, since the latter participation in the sacrifice is not essentially different from the way in which a layman participates—namely, by uniting himself spiritually with the priest who is actually offering at the altar, and in that way, uniting himself with Christ. The priest is ordained to offer sacrifice in persona Christi, but when he assists at Mass not as the offerer, he is not exercising this specific power, which is manifested and actualized in the consecration.

Serving as a deacon, on the other hand, is a distinctive way of participating in the liturgy which can neither simply be reduced to a layman’s participation nor made equivalent to a priest’s. The subdeacon presents a special case, because a layman can, in a pinch, serve as a “straw” subdeacon,[2] and also because the status of the subdiaconate is somewhat perplexing in these days when we are suspended between the OF world (where the ministry no longer exists) and the EF world (where it definitely exists). It is one among many questions for which a future solution will need to be found.

So, in short, I would say:
  1. The priest offering Mass (whether celebrating or concelebrating) is doing something unique, to which no other ministry can compare.
  2. The priest assisting at Mass as a deacon or subdeacon, or the deacon or subdeacon in their respective capacities, is participating in a manner subordinate to that of the priest but still with an exercise of major or minor orders that is distinctive to him and in which the laity do not share.
  3. The priest assisting at Mass “in choro” is participating in the Mass as the laity do, but with external marks of honor, such as cassock, surplice, and stole, to convey his difference in identity and his proper place in the hierarchical communion of the Church.
That is what I feel able to say, but it is a question with many interesting ramifications and implications to it. I would certainly value comments from any readers who have light to shed or further speculations on any aspect of the matter.

Hierarchical participation in the one Sacrifice
NOTES

[1] For more on the entirely non-Roman novelty of modern concelebration, see here; for more on how it differs from the Byzantine practice to which it is erroneously compared, see here; for more on its spiritual disadvantages, see here.

[2] Contrary to some reports, there is no definitive judgment from the PCED that the long-standing custom of the “straw subdeacon” may never be followed. It happens regularly in Ecclesia Dei communities and shows no signs of abating. It could have been officially stopped if that was thought to be necessary or important.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Assumption 2015 Photopost - Part 2

Here is the second part of our Assumption photopost, with our renewed thanks to all those who sent in images of their liturgies.

The next to last set comes from the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed in Warfhuizen, the Netherlands. The person who sent the photos informs me that the hermit, who is seen here serving as deacon, will be ordained a priest on September 6th; let us remember to pray for him and his apostolate!

Cathedral of the Holy Rosary - Vancouver, British Columbia
EF Mass for the vigil of the Assumption 



Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
Candlelit procession from the Anglican church to the Catholic church then to the Anglican shrine grounds. (click here to see more photographs)




Epiphany Catholic Church - Tampa, Florida


More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: