Saturday, July 04, 2015
|Dominican Sisters Chanting the Office|
Posted Saturday, July 04, 2015
Friday, July 03, 2015
“Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Denis Coiffet FSSP. Our confrere passed away peacefully to his eternal reward this morning at 4:50 a.m., on the feast of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, surrounded by family and accompanied by the prayers of the Church. Fr. Vianney Le Roux was at his bedside and gave him the apostolic blessing at the hour of death. Fr. Coiffet died at the end of the Litany for the Dying.
The funeral mass for Fr. Denis Coiffet will be held at the Cathedral of St. Louis, Versailles at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 7.
His coffin will be moved to the FSSP house of Maison Saint-Dominique Savio, 14 rue des Moines in Versailles, Saturday at noon and the house will be open to those who wish to come to pray until Tuesday morning 8.00 a.m., July 7.”
|Fr Coiffet (right) meeting His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, along with the Superior General of the FSSP, Fr John Berg. (Photos courtesy of FSSP Lyon.)|
God, who among the Apostolic priests made Thy servant Denis flourish by priestly dignity: grant, we beseech Thee: that he may also be joined unto their perpetual society. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
[Photos: Charles Cole and Ben Yanke]
Thursday, July 02, 2015
For many centuries, the latter was one of the classic group of four Marian feasts, along with her Nativity, Purification and Assumption, which the Latin Church had received from the Byzantine Rite in the first millennium. At the end of the 13th century, the liturgical commentator William Durandus notes that some people celebrate a fifth feast, that of the Virgin’s Conception. This feast was the cause of some notable discussions and controversies, and was not received by the Roman Church until 1476, more than 200 years after it was first kept by the Franciscans. The Visitation, on the other hand, was officially embraced and promulgated almost a century before the Immaculate Conception, and properly ranks as the Latin Church’s first “new” Marian feast, a native creation of the Roman Rite, not a Byzantine important.
|The Visitation of the Virgin Mary, by Giotto, in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, 1303-6.|
Pope Urban did in fact agree to do this, but died before he could sign the necessary decrees; the official promulgation of the feast was one of the first acts of his successor, Boniface IX, by the bull Superni benignitas Conditoris, dated November 9, 1389. As is also the case with other liturgical bulls of that era, it is a supremely beautiful and spiritual piece of writing, elegant and learned in its Latinity; it was even read in the Divine Office in some places, despite the fact that its author was a notorious simoniac (and the reason why the name Papal name ‘Boniface’ has not been used since.)
The very Queen of heaven, in whose womb the Son of God enclosed Himself and became a man, from the height of that great honor proclaimed to her by the Angel, took unto herself no spirit of pride, but as a humble servant, though she had become the mother of the Lord, fulfilled the office of her humility, upon which the Lord had looked with favor, and arising went unto the mountains, … O great mystery, o wondrous commerce, and ineffable sacrament, that these mothers should know beforehand and even prophecy about the children which they bore in their wombs; and, as the sacred history of the Gospel reveals, the Queen of Heaven, who was pregnant, and would be consecrated by the birth of God, as an even greater mark of humility, should render service to the pregnant mother of Her Son’s Precursor.Nativity of St John the Baptist. This may seem an odd choice, since the Visitation comes right before the Baptist’s birth in St Luke’s Gospel. Wishing to keep the feast with the fullness of solemnity according to the custom of his era, Pope Boniface originally gave it a vigil and an octave; both of these were removed in the Tridentine liturgical reform, although the octave was retained by many religious orders, and all the dioceses of the kingdom of Bohemia. Vigils were not kept in the Easter season, and if the feast were set in May or June, its octave would continually clash with those of the Ascension, Pentecost and Corpus Christi. (The date of the Visitation in the Novus Ordo, May 31, will fall on the Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday or Corpus Christi 13 times in the current century; adding the vigil of Pentecost, its octave and that of Corpus, it will be impeded a further 42 times). By the end of the 15th century, the July 2nd date had been received throughout the western Church, even at Prague, and this is the date that would carry through to the Tridentine liturgical books.
Videsne Elisabeth cum Dei Genitrice Maria disputantem: Quid ad me venisti, mater Domini mei? Si enim scirem, in tuum venirem occursum. Tu enim Regnatorem portas, et ego prophetam: tu legem dantem, et ego legem accipientem: tu Verbum, et ego vocem proclamantis adventum Salvatoris.
The Synaxarion of the Byzantine Rite (the equivalent of the Martyrology) tells the story that when Constantinople was besieged by the Avars and Persians in 626, the patriarch Sergius processed various relics around the city walls, including those of the Cross, and the Virgin’s Robe. Shortly thereafter, the besieging armies were completely defeated by the much smaller Byzantine forces, and the enemy fleet wrecked just off the shores of the Blachernae region. The Byzantine tradition states that the famous hymn to the Virgin known as the Akathistos was first sung on this occasion, to honor the Mother of God for protecting and delivering the city. The Virgin of the Blachernae was believed to have delivered the city from at least three other sieges, twice by the Arabs in 677 and 717, and again by the Russians in 860; the icon and robe of the Blachernitissa came to be venerated as the palladia, the protecting talismans of the city.
|The Siege of Constantinpole, in a mural of the Moldovita Monastery in Romania, painted in 1537. (Image from wikipedia; click to enlarge.) On the upper part of the city walls are seen the Blachernitissa icon of the Virgin, and the Holy Mandylion, the cloth with the face of Jesus on it.|
In a certain church of the city of Constantinople, there was an image of the Blessed Virgin, before which there hung a veil which covered the whole image. But on Friday after Vespers, this veil withdrew from the image, with no one moving it, by a miracle of God alone, as if it were being born up to heaven so that the image could be fully seen. Once Vespers had been celebrated on Saturday, the veil descended once again before the image, and remained there until the following Friday. Once this miracle had been seen, it was decreed that that day should always be celebrated in honor of the Virgin.The rubric continues with a beautiful meditation on the Virgin Mary’s faith in the Resurrection.
Another reason is that when the Lord was crucified and had died, as the disciples fled and despaired of the Resurrection, complete faith remained in Her alone. For She knew that She had carried Him without distress, and born Him without pain, and therefore she was certain that He was the Son of God, and must rise from the dead on the third day. And this is the reason why Saturday (i.e. the day between the death and Resurrection of Christ) belongs more than any other day to the Virgin.
|A 17th century copy of the Blachernitissa icon of the Virgin Mary, from the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The original seems to have been lost when the church of the Blachernae was destroyed by fire in 1434.|
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
- Fr Joseph de Castelbajac (France),
- Fr Louis Le Morvan (France),
- Fr Jean de León y Gómez (Dominican republic),
- Fr Xavier Proust (France),
- Fr Côme Rabany (France),
- Fr Elvis Ruiz Silva (Colombia).
“The new Apostolic Commissioner of the Institute of the Francescans of the Immaculate is the Salesiano Fr Sabino Ardito, a well-known canonist, professor for many years at the Pontifical Salesian University, and collaborator with various dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Fr Ardito will be assisted by two coadjutors, a Jesuit and a Capuchin, who were also chosen as specialists in the field of canon law, which has been so little respected in the previous commissarial administration. Fr Ardito replaces Fr Fidenzio Volpi, who passed away on June 7 at the age of 75, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on April 29 of this year.”
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
|The Torches of Nero, by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1876|
Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed. (Tacitus, Annals book XV, chapter 44)
Monday, June 29, 2015
M. Cristina Borges. Of Bells and Cells. Illustrated by Michaela Harrison. N.p.: St. Bonosa Books, 2014. 44 pp., paper. List: $13.50. Purchase at Amazon.com.
Maria Montessori. The Mass Explained to Children. [Unaltered reprint of the original publication from Sheed & Ward, 1933.] Foreword by Rev. Matthew A. Delaney. Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015. i + 88 pp., paper. $9.95. Purchase at Amazon.com.
But parents, like all educators, need good resources to lean on. We can't be making everything up as we go along. After decades of relative drought, it is heartening to be witnessing a downpour of solid, traditionally Catholic books being published for children. Some of these have already been reviewed here at NLM (see here, here, and here). Recently I received two more that I can highly recommend to our readers.
Borges devotes several fine pages to the three evangelical counsels, which she explains with admirable simplicity but without the slightest hint of that wishy-washy embarrassment so typical of modern discussions of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In this book, the vows are presented as the ways in which men and women make a total gift of themselves to the Lord, rely completely on Him, surrender all to Him, and emulate, as perfectly as they can, His life and virtues. (Indeed, I cannot help thinking that this children's book would make a better introduction to the subject than many highschool and college texts out there.) I also appreciated her entering into how religious life is structured, its daily round, the steps of entering and making vows, the taking of a new name, the rationale behind wearing the habit (some of the best pages of the book!), the differences between religious orders, and the active and contemplative lives.
The portion of the book dedicated to the priesthood is equally luminous and inspiring. Once again, the fact that the author is willing to explain things like the difference between a secular/diocesan priest and a religious priest, why the clergy wear black (and, in particular, the cassock), how the priest is made "another Christ" through ordination such that he can then offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and forgive sins, sets this book in a class by itself.
An appendix contains brief accounts of the Benedictines, Carmelites, Carthusians, Conceptionists, Dominicans, Franciscans, Poor Clares, Missionaries of Charity, Redemptorists, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Jesuits, to give children some basic information about their founders, most famous saints, and characteristics. This is an especially nice touch, because it helps children to start thinking about how God has provided many different "realizations" of the Gospel and raised up many different kinds of saints who are all living out the baptismal vocation of holiness.
Montessori explains in her Preface that this book is not meant to be used at Mass, but before Mass, to help prepare children to understand what they will be seeing and hearing and doing. It serves that catechetical purpose admirably. It strikes me as an ideal religion text for somewhere in the grammar school years, depending on the aptitude of a given child. Again, I have placed a few photos below to give a better sense of it.
(Attention Montessori teachers and admirers: I've been wondering for a long time if anyone has developed a "Catechesis of the Good Shepherd" approach that fully comports with the traditional Latin Mass for which Maria Montessori originally designed her catechetical materials and approaches. If anyone has any information on this matter, I'd be grateful if you would write it into the comments below, or send me an email.)
Pages from Cristina Borges, Of Bells and Cells
|Look at the text: it's amazing how far we have fallen away from the sense of reverence!|
|Written in 1933, this deep reverence for the priesthood became almost unknown after the Council.|
|Note how Montessori lovingly explains the details rather than demanding their simplification.|
|The holding together of the fingers is connected with the awesome mystery on the altar.|