Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Feast of Ss Peter and Paul 2016

All the world, let us praise as our leaders the disciples of Christ and foundations of the Church, the true pillars and bases, and inspired trumpets of the teachings and sufferings of Christ, the Princes, Peter and Paul. For, passing through the whole breadth of the earth as with a plough, they sowed the faith, and they made the knowledge of God well up for all, showing forth the understanding of the Trinity. O Peter, rock and foundation, and Paul, vessel of election, who as the yoked oxen of Christ drew nations, cities and islands to knowledge of God, and brought the Hebrews again to Christ, and intercede that our souls may be saved. (from Great Vespers of Ss Peter and Paul in the Byzantine Rite.)

An 13th-century icon of Ss Peter and Paul from the church dedicated to them in the city of Belozersk, now in the Russian State Museum in St Petersburg, which houses many famous icons.
Τοὺς Μαθητὰς τοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ θεμελίους τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, τοὺς ἀληθεῖς στύλους καὶ βάσεις, καὶ σάλπιγγας ἐνθέους τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ δογμάτων καὶ παθημάτων, τούς κορυφαίους Πέτρον καὶ Παῦλον, ἅπας ὁ κόσμος ὡς προστάτας εὐφημήσωμεν. Οὗτοι γὰρ διαδραμόντες τὸ κλίτος ὅλον τῆς γῆς, ὥσπερ ἀρότρῳ ἔσπειραν τὴν πίστιν, καὶ πᾶσι τὴν θεογνωσίαν ἀνέβλυσαν, τῆς Τριάδος δεικνύντες λόγον. Ὦ Πέτρε, πέτρα καὶ κρηπίς, καὶ Παῦλε, σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, οἱ καὶ ζευκτοὶ βόες τοῦ Χριστοῦ, πάντας εἵλκυσαν πρὸς τὴν θεογνωσίαν, ἔθνη πόλεις τε καὶ νήσους, Ἑβραίους δὲ πάλιν πρὸς τὸν Χριστὸν ἐπανήγαγον, καὶ πρεσβεύουσι τοῦ σωθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.


Pontifical Liturgies This Week - Madison WI (July 1) and Charlotte, NC (July 3)

We have received news from Fr Zuhlsdorf that His Excellency Robert C. Morlino, the bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, will celebrate an EF Pontifical Mass at the throne on Friday, July 1, the Feast of the Most Precious Blood, starting at 7:00 p.m., at the chapel of Holy Name Heights (aka Bishop O’Connor Center, 702 S. High Point Road, in Madison.) The Mass is organized by the Tridentine Mass Society of the Diocese of Madison, and will be offered for the intentions of suffering and persecuted Christians around the globe. All are welcome; Catholic clergy are cordially invited to participate in choir dress.


On Sunday, July 3, a Pontifical Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite will be celebrated in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, located at 1400 Suther Road, starting at 11 a.m. The celebrant will be Bishop Bohdan Danylo of the Eparchy of Saint Josaphat in Parma, Ohio. The liturgy is organized by the St. Basil the Great Eastern Catholic Mission, who ask for our prayers in continuing their work as a fast-growing mission parish committed to the ancient beauty and spirituality of the Byzantine Christian East.

The Consecration of Westminster Cathedral

The long vigil of fifteen years has ended. Fifteen years of strong endeavour have achieved a splendid triumph. The crowning act was the Consecration on Tuesday. The act was clothed with all the solemnity with which the Church, with its matchless heritage of ritual, knows how to surround its life and express its spirit. And now Westminster Cathedral takes its place among the great Cathedrals of the world, unique and original in design, itself alone, with its own message, and its own significance. The predilection of Bentley was for Gothic art ; he has produced a masterpiece which is old and new, individual and alone. In style it spans the centuries, finds its foundations in the years of early Christianity as it emerged in freedom from the catacombs, and now the great act of Consecration has set an eternal seal upon it.”

- From the July 2, 1910 edition of the Tablet. Click here to read the whole account of the ceremony, a really splendid piece of writing.

The dedication of the Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood took place over two days, June 28th and June 29th of 1910. The photograph above shows the part of the ceremony in which the bishop writes the letters of the Latin and Greek alphabets with his crook in the ashes which have been sprinkled over the floor of the nave.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Kicking St Irenaeus Around

June 28 is traditionally the feast day of Pope St Leo II, who died on this day in 683, after a reign of less than 11 months. The Liber Pontificalis records that on the previous day he celebrated the ordination of nine priests, three deacons, and twenty-three bishops; it is not said that it was the ordination ceremony that killed him, but the heat of Rome in June and the inevitable length of such a ceremony make this seem likely more than coincidence. The principal achievement of his pontificate was the confirmation of the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, the third of Constantinople, which condemned the Monothelite heresy; being fluent in Greek as well as Latin, he personally made the official Latin translation of the council’s acts. It is one of the oddities of hagiography that his predecessor St Agatho, in whose reign the council was held, and whose intervention (through his legates) in its deliberations was acclaimed with the words “Peter has spoken through Agatho!”, has never been honored with a general feast day in the West, but is kept on the Byzantine Calendar. Leo, on the other, was a Sicilian, and therefore born as a subject of the Byzantine Empire, but is not liturgically honored in the East.

In this altar in St Peter’s Basilica are kept the relics of three Sainted Popes named Leo, the Second (682-3), the Third (795-816) and the Fourth (847-55). The altar of Pope St Leo I (440-61) is right next to it, and Pope Leo XII (1823-29) is buried in the floor between them.
Even older than the feast of Pope Leo is the vigil of Ss Peter and Paul. The vigils of the Saints originally consisted solely of a Mass, penitential in character, celebrated after None in violet vestments, without a Gloria, Alleluia or Creed; prior to the Tridentine reform, they had no presence in the Office in the Use of Rome. (Back when there were plenty of canonical and monastic churches, such foundations would have celebrated two Masses in choir, that of St Leo after Terce, and that of the vigil after None, just as was done with the feasts of Saints which occur in Lent.) In the Breviary of St Pius V, vigils were extended to the Office, following a custom of medieval German Uses, an unusual example of change in an otherwise very conservative reform. At Matins, a homily on the day’s Gospel is read, and the prayer of the vigil Mass is said at the Hours; everything else is done as on the feria until Vespers, which are the First Vespers of the feast. However, the vigil of Ss Peter and Paul, because it coincides with St Leo, was reduced in the Office to one lesson at Matins (the ninth) and a commemoration at Lauds.

At Lyon, the ancient primatial see of Gaul, the day was kept as the feast of St Irenaeus, and the vigil as a commemoration. In his book On Illustrious Men, St Jerome mentions the famous martyrdom of St Pothinus, who was Irenaeus’ predecessor in the See of Lyon, but says nothing about the latter’s death, the date and circumstances of which are unknown; it is a rather later tradition that he died a martyr. It may very well be that his feast found its way to the vigil of Ss Peter and Paul at Lyon because of the famous passage in his book Against the Heresies (3.3.2) in which he attests to the primacy of the Roman See as follows. “For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority – that is, the faithful everywhere – inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere.” In 1921, Pope Benedict XV extended his feast to the general Calendar on his traditional Lyonese date, moving Pope Leo II to July 3rd, the next free day on the calendar, and the day of his burial according to the Liber Pontificalis.

The crypt of the church of St Irenaeus at Lyon. In 1562, the church was severely damaged by the Huguenots, who also destroyed the Saint’s relics, and played a game of soccer with his skull. After more destruction in the revolution, it was rebuilt in 1824, and the crypt renovated in 1863. Despite these vicissitudes, the crypt may still be regarded as one of the oldest religious buildings in France; relics of certain local martyrs were venerated there already in the later part of the 5th century. The church was originally dedicated to St John the Baptist. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Xavier Caré.)
In the Breviary Reform of 1960, St Irenaeus was moved to July 3rd, and Pope Leo II suppressed, in order to free June 28th up entirely for the Mass and Office of the vigil of Ss Peter and Paul. This was fundamentally a rather odd thing to do, since so many of the vigils then on the general Calendar, (including all those of the other Apostles, and, inexcusably, those of the Epiphany and All Saints) were abolished by the same reform. Less than a decade later, however, with the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, vigils in the classic Roman sense, penitential days of preparation for the major feasts, were simply abolished altogether, “freeing” June 28th from the one observance which had hitherto been absolutely universal on that date, the vigil of Ss Peter and Paul. St Irenaeus was therefore moved back to that date, freeing July 3rd for the transfer of the Apostle St Thomas from his historical Roman date, December 21st, to the date on which the Syrian church commemorates the transfer of his relics from India to Edessa.

This may seem to be just another case of what Fr Hunwicke once described as the freezing in pack ice of the EF Calendar, which keeps Irenaeus on a day which he held for ten years, while the OF has restored him to his historical Lyonese date. It should be noted, however, that Lyon itself moved his feast 4 times. After it had been kept on June 28th for centuries, Archbishop Camille de Neufville de Villeroy (1654-93) moved it to November 23rd, displacing the very ancient feast of Pope St Clement. (His Grace will have had a reason for choosing that date, but I cannot find what that reason might be. If anyone knows, please be so kind as to leave a comment.) In the Neo-Gallican reform of Abp Antoine de Montazet (1758-88), which was a catastrophe for the Use of Lyon, it was fixed to the Sunday after the feast of Ss Peter and Paul. In the 1860s, the Missale Romano-Lugdunense was promulgated (basically the Missal of St Pius V, with a great many Lyonese customs added to it, including the rites of Holy Week), and St Irenaeus was fixed to July 3rd. Finally, in the 20th century, he was returned to his traditional date.

Ordinariate Liturgy et al. at Sacra Liturgia 2016

A week before Sacra Liturgia 2016, I would like to mention a couple of things about it that caught my eye.

First is that the conference is once again promoting the liturgy of the Anglican Ordinariates. When I attended Sacra Liturgia 2014 in Rome, I was heartened by the welcome that priests from the Ordinariates were given, as I wrote in an article at the time, in which I also said why I think that their creation is so important for the whole Church.

I am please that the openness to the Anglican Use continues, and that in the program of liturgy for the conference there will be a “Solemn Mass (Divine Worship - Ordinariate Use)” on Friday, July 8th, at 7 p.m. at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London. The celebrant and preacher will be Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Our Lady of Walsingham.

Most liturgies for the conference are taking place at the Brompton Oratory. This program includes a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form celebrated by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. The music will be by the London Oratory School Schola Cantorum, directed by our own Charles Cole.

My own conversion to Catholicism was influenced profoundly by stumbling into a beautiful Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form at the Brompton Oratory over 25 years ago; I am pleased to see this and so much of the conference liturgy at this church.

The point should be made that the program of the liturgy is open to all, not just those attending the conference. The full program of liturgies is here.


On another Anglican Ordinariate matter, I was recently lucky enough to bump into Fr Edward Tomlinson of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham at a conference in, of all places, Grand Rapids, Michigan, the annual conference of the Acton Institute which was also attended, incidentally, by Jeffrey Tucker. Fr Tomlinson and I were both attending the EF Latin Mass which was offered at the conference, and he introduced himself because I had my copy of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham under my arm. He told me of his CTS booklet about Ordinariates, which is an excellent short introduction for people who have questions about the Ordinariates and the reasons for their creation. Fr Tomlinson has written it with both curious non-Ordinariate Catholics and curious Anglicans in the UK in mind, and so his answers refer to the Personal Ordinariate or Our Lady in Walsingham in particular.

I will quote one page from the booklet about the liturgy of the Ordinariates, simply because it addresses questions that cropped up on this blog when I posted an article about the Customary.
Does the Ordinariate have its own liturgical rites? Yes. Ordinariate texts exist for use in public and private worship. Ordinariate services are, of course, open to all.
What is the purpose of a distinct Ordinariate liturgy? Ordinariate liturgy exists to encourage an 'Anglican patrimony' - that is worship reflecting an English and Celtic spirituality, to connect Catholic liturgical life in the present with its pre-Reformation existence, reminding Britain that she was in truth, formed and forged in a rich Catholic culture. 
Are the Ordinariate texts mandatory? No. Being a full part of the Latin Rite, Ordinariate groups and priests are free to choose between the Ordinariate resources for worship and those of the wider Church.
What is the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham? The Customary is the 'office book' of the Ordinariate, that is to say it provides texts for Morning and Evening Prayer and other similar celebrations. Accessing aspects of the Book of Common Prayer, so familiar to Anglicans, it places heavy emphasis on readings from the English and Celtic saints to remind us of our pre-Reformation history.
The booklet is available from CTS here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Incense as the Sacramental of Devotion

Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea, sicut incensum in conspectu tuo. Let my prayer, O Lord, be directed as incense in Thy sight. (Psalm 140[141]:2)

St. Thomas Aquinas, in the fourth book of his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, states: “Figures that signify what should always be done should not end, as is clear in the example of using incense, which signifies devotion.”[1] In context, Aquinas is arguing about whether circumcision should cease once baptism is in place, but what I was struck by is his matter-of-fact statement — said without any fear of contradiction — that the use of incense is just one of those symbols that we will always be using in our rites, since it signifies devotion, which ought always to be present.

At this point in the text, the editors of the Parma edition of Aquinas decided to insert a lengthy note, which is rather unusual. Evidently they thought readers would wish to know just how and when incense was used to express devotion:
Incense in Italy was not used in antiquity in the sacred rites of the Gentiles. Each one used to bring to the gods what he had at hand: honey, wine, milk, but mostly fruits or the first fruits; then they used to give those things that come from grains, like spelt and liba (cakes).  However, after this incense was imported from Arabia into Greece and Italy, although it was brought at great expense to Rome, people of every class could nevertheless purchase a little bit easily, even the poorest, which they would use as an offering.  The poor would offer three grains of incense with their three fingers. But the use of incense in the cult of the true God is extremely ancient. Whence Henry Cannegieter [1691-1770] must be rebuked for asserting the following propositions: 1) Christians abhorred the use of incense in the Sacred Rites or Mass. 2) There were no thymiamata [resin compositions of incense] in the ancient Church.[2]
Where Henry Cannegieter doubted the use of incense in the ancient Church or in the Mass, considering it an abomination, G. W. F. Hegel in Phenomenology of Spirit considered its use a sign of “the Unhappy Consciousness,” which, for him,
is only a movement towards thinking, and so is devotion. Its thinking as such is no more than the chaotic jingling of bells, or a mist of warm incense, a musical thinking that does not get as far as the Notion [or Concept], which would be the sole, immanent objective mode of thought. . . . What we have here, then, is the inward movement of the pure heart which feels itself, but itself as agonizingly self-divided, the movement of an infinite yearning . . . . At the same time, however, this essence is the unattainable beyond which, in being laid hold of, flees, or rather has already flown.[3]
For Hegel, devotion means abortive thinking, a gesturing towards conceptual clarity without attaining it. Devotion substitutes the ringing of bells and clouds of incense for rigorous thought; it settles for music rather than science. Yet what I find so delightfully odd is that Hegel has portrayed not an imperfection but, on the contrary, one important reason why the Christian is superior to the mere logician or scientist: the fact that the Christian is possessed of an infinite longing for the divine — this, a gift of God’s grace! — and that he is agonizingly self-divided, since he sees in himself, fallen creature that he is, both a renewed spirit that belongs to Christ and an old Adam that stubbornly clings to the earth. It is precisely through the virtue of devotion that he yields himself up again and again, like incense, to God, as to one who is not only ineffable and inaccessible but also nearer to me than I am to myself, present in all things as the one who holds them in being and endows them with their forms, capacities, energies, and destinies. It is only from the unbeliever that devotion’s object flees or has flown, only to him that it is unattainably beyond.

The saint has become incense that burns upwards to God and in so doing diffuses to men the sweet fragrance of divine gifts. He is flame that, in the intensity of his desire to keep burning and set others aflame, consumes whatever dares oppose it, the last remnants of selfish preoccupations and preferences. In unison with all voices of the Catholic tradition, St. Thomas teaches that holiness — which in one place he defines as “purity consecrated to God”[4] — is judged strictly in terms of charity, whereby one’s very self is handed over, yielded up, made wholly sacred.

We can learn much from pondering the narrow-mindedness of Cannegieter and Hegel. Cannegieter thinks the use of incense either superfluous or idolatrous; Hegel thinks it primitive and prephilosophical. For the one it is a form of excess, for the other a defect or retardation. What neither seems to grasp is the realm of symbol as symbol, and man as homo liturgicus whose path between creation and eternity is strewn with signs that clue him in or lead him astray. We cannot not be immersed in a world of signs; our only choice is which signs to surround ourselves with and what to make of them. Indeed, the result of iconoclasm and minimalism is the anti-trinitarian sign of emptiness, coldness, and barrenness, as we have seen and heard in all too many modern churches and liturgies.

It was fashionable for people in the sixties and seventies to talk about how Catholics had “grown up” (or how they needed to grow up… with a finger wagged at the stubborn folks who clung to the old ways), and thus had outgrown the need for medieval accretions and Baroque courtly excrescences. But such talk betrays an utterly superficial way of thinking, a fusion of the imbecilities of Cannegieter and Hegel. In reality, man matures by growing out to the things he loves and the signs he communicates with, and growing in to his own soul, which is experienced as more real and more important than the ephemeral and transient world.

This is the Christian addressed by (and, in a certain sense, created by) the traditional liturgy. This liturgy, too, has matured over great ages, expanding outward to encompass all the symbols it could reach, and moving inward by developing fully its own inner potentialities, becoming ever more itself.[5] This liturgy beckons and forms man in its image. Its sign-saturation becomes, over time, our sign-language. We think and feel in the images, words, and gestures it offers to us and inculcates in us.

Let us remember, with St. Thomas, the profound symbolism of incense, which should be in front of our eyes, filling our nostrils, clouding our imagination, and concentrating our minds. Its burning up, releasing billows of smoke and fragrance, is the offering of our hearts to God in sweet sacrifice that lifts us up to His throne in adoration. It is the outward sign of our inward devotion, and while it does not effect what it signifies, it affects what it permeates.

NOTES

[1] In IV Sent., d. 1, q. 2, art. 5, qa. 1, obj. 3: “Praeterea, figuralia quae significant id quod semper faciendum est, non debet cessare, sicut de thurificatione, quae significat devotionem, patet.”

[2] “Thus in Italia non erat antiquitus adhibitum in Sacris Deorum Gentilium. Quisque ad Deos ferebat quod obvium erat, mel, vinum, lac, plerique vero fruges, aut frugum primitias; deinde dabant quae ex frugibus his fiebant, farra et liba. Verum posteaquam Thus ex Arabia in Graeciam, atque in Italiam advectum est, quanquam magnis impensis Romam asportabatur, facile tamen tantillum inde comparabant cujusque fortunae homines etiam tenuissimi, quod Deo libarent. Pauperes tribus digitis tria grana thuris offerebant. Sed thuris usus in cultu veri Dei antiquissimus est. Unde reprobandus est Henricus Cannegieter asserens propositiones sequentes: 1. Christiani abhorruerunt a thuris usu in sacris; 2. Thymiamata ex thure in vetere Ecclesia nulla fuerunt.”

[3] Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), §217, p. 131.

[4] “Sanctitas enim importat puritatem consecratam deo” (Super ad Heb. 7, lec. 4). At Summa theologiae II-II, q. 81, a. 8, Thomas notes that the word sanctus may be derived from sanguine tinctus, sprinkled in blood. This purifying consecration and consecrated purity comes not from ourselves, but from Christ alone (cf. Heb. 9:14–15; Heb. 10:19; Jn. 1:12–13; 1 Th. 4:3).

[5] Nota bene, ever more itself—which is precisely why one must question the bizarre Byzantinisms grafted on to the Roman rite in the liturgical reform.

EF Solemn Mass for Ss Peter and Paul Near Vancouver

Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, will hold a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the feast of Ss Peter and Paul this Wednesday, starting at 7 pm. The church is located at 3141 Shaughnessy St.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

NLM at Sacred Music Colloquium XXVI

As has been true of each Colloquium in past years, the Sacred Music Colloquium XXVI in St. Louis, which concluded today, was uplifting in its liturgies, abundant in musical glories, and rich in friendships. Next year's Colloquium, in St. Paul, Minnesota, promises to be a worthy successor.

Seven members of the New Liturgical Movement site participated this year: Charles Cole, William Riccio, Fr. Robert Pasley, Peter Kwasniewski, Jennifer Donelson, William Mahrt, and Joel Morehouse. (The last two were not available for the photo.) We are standing here before the right-hand entrance of the front of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica -- one of the most magnificent spaces in which I have ever had the privilege to sing! The Palestrina Missa Papae Marcelli, with the six seconds of resonance, truly brought us into the precincts of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rediscovering the Imprecatory Psalms

After much debate among some members of the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy, Pope Paul VI decreed that the so-called imprecatory psalms be omitted from the new Liturgy of the Hours. Consequently, 120 verses of the Psalter, comprising three whole psalms and additional verses from nineteen others, were edited out of the official prayer of the Church. As far as I know, the question whether the (supposed) “psychological difficulty”1 and “spiritual discomfort”2 caused by these passages justifies their removal has not been widely explored in studies of the liturgical reform following Vatican II.

Father Gabriel Torretta, O.P., addresses that lacuna in a recent edition of The Thomist. In his essay “Rediscovering the Imprecatory Psalms,” Torretta first covers the history of the removal of these imprecatory verses from the liturgical hours. He then examines the state of scholarship on the nature and meaning of these passages, and extensively analyzes St Thomas Aquinas’s “subtle and fruitful” approach to the phenomenon of biblical imprecation. Thomas’s interpretive framework, Torretta argues, can bolster a broader rationale for reintroducing these sacred verses into the liturgical prayer of the Church.3 With the caveat that “any reintroduction must proceed carefully and with much education,” the author makes a useful contribution to the question of the necessity of reforming the reform, however narrowly or broadly one may conceive that project.

Footnotes
1 General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, no. 131.
2 Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy (1948–1975), trans. Matthew J. O’Connell (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1990), 503.
3 Within the Catholic Church, the question concerns only the ordinary form of the Roman Rite.

The Tomb of St Peter Martyr in Milan's Portinari Chapel

Here are some great photos from our Ambrosian correspondent Nicola de’ Grandi of the Portinari Chapel at the Basilica of St Eustorgio in Milan. They were taken during a special night-time opening made possible by a new lighting system; as one might well imagine, the Italians are extraordinarily good at this sort of thing, and more and more museums throughout the country are now offering occasional visits in the evening or night. The chapel is famous as the place where the relics of St Peter Martyr are housed in a large medieval “ark”, which, as noted last year in a guest article by our friend Dr Donald Prudlo, was designed so that the faithful could pass under it to touch and kiss it.

The ark of St Peter Martyr was carved by Giovanni di Balduccio in 1339, but has only been in the Portinari Chapel since the 18ht century. The major panels on the front show St Peter’s funeral, his canonization, and a posthumous miracle by which he saves a ship in danger.
On the back, St Peter heals a mute, causes a cloud to cover the sun while he preaches outdoors, and heals a sick man and an epileptic.
This inscription records the praises of St Peter by his confrere St Thomas Aquinas. “When St Thomas Aquinas had visited the grave of St Peter as he was traveling to France in the year 1265, wondering at so great a martyr, he said ‘A herald, lantern, fighter for Christ, for the people and for the faith, here rests, here is covered, here lies, wickedly murdered. A sweet voice to the sheep, a most pleasing light of spirits, and sword of the Word, fell by the sword of the Cathars. Christ makes him marvelous, the devout people adore him, and the Faith which he kept by martyrdom adorns him as a Saint. But Christ makes this place new signs, and new light is given to the crowd, and the Faith spread (thereby) shines in this city.”
The dome and vaults of the chapel were painted by Vincenzo Foppa from 1464-68.
On the left, the miracle of the cloud; on the right, a very famous apparition in which the devil appeared to St Peter in the guise of Virgin, but is driven off when St Peter shows him a Eucharistic Host and tells the apparition, “If you are truly the Mother of God, then adore your Son!”

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Relic of St John the Baptist

Oft in past ages, seers with hearts expectant / Sang the far-distant advent of the day-star; / thine was the glory, as the world’s Redeemer / First to proclaim him.

A reliquary of a finger of St John the Baptist, from the museum of the cathedral of Florence, where he is honored as Patron Saint of the city. Attributed to Matteo di Giovanni; first half of the 15th century.
The text given above is a rather free translation of the third stanza of the Matins hymn for today’s feast, the Nativity of St John the Baptist, taken from George Herbert Palmer’s translation of the hymns of the Sarum Breviary. The Latin is:

Ceteri tantum cecinere Vatum
Corde praesago iubar affuturum:
Tu quidem mundi scelus auferentem
Indice prodis.

Translated literally, “The rest of the prophets in their foreseeing heart told only that the day-star would come; but Thou with Thy finger reveal Him that taketh away the sin of the world.”

EF Pontifical Mass Tomorrow at Holy Innocents in NYC

On Saturday, June 25, there will be an EF Pontifical Mass at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City starting at 1 p.m. The church is located at 128 West 37th St.

The Mass will be celebrated by His Excellency Matthieu Madega Lebouankehan, Bishop of Mouila in Gabon. Bishop Madega is the president of Gabon’s Bishop Conference, and was the representative of the African continent on the committee during the recent Synod on the Family to oversee the draft of the final document. Additionally, Bishop Madega was one of the Bishops who signed the “Filial Appeal to His Holiness Pope Francis” asking the Holy Father to clarify and preserve Church doctrine on the family and the sacrament of matrimony.

At the end of the Mass, there will be a small reception in the parish hall where parishioners will have the opportunity to meet Bishop Madega.

Bishop Madega conferring tonsure on seminarians of the Institute of Christ the King.

Dominican School Offers Formation for Artists- Now Including Sacred Geometry and English Gothic Illumination Practicum

Here is a reminder (with some additional details) of a four-course certificate intended as a formation for artists in any creative discipline. It is an exciting new course offered by the The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley University in California. The Certificate in Theological Studies is a Master’s level, four-course (12-unit) certificate which is recommended for those who already have a working knowledge of a specific medium (visual arts, music, architecture etc.), and wish to increase their expertise with a specialized focus in the relationship of the fine arts to Catholic worship and culture. These courses are open to people not otherwise studying at the DSPT.

The new information is that I have been invited to teach the elective in the Spring 2017, which will be a practical course including the creation of a Gothic image in the style of illuminations from the 13th century School of St Albans, and sacred geometry. In the geometry course, students will construct a traditional geometric pattern as found in Cosmatesque floors of the period. In support of the practical skills, I will teach the supporting theory as described in my book, the Way of Beauty.

The approach to this certificate program assumes the “cross-disciplinary approach” between philosophy and theology that uniquely characterizes all DSPT curricula. Furthermore, in this particular program there will be a focus on the integration of theory with praxis, particularly as it applies to Catholic worship and culture. An emphasis of the outcomes of this course is on the evangelization of the culture through a well-discerned engagement with contemporary cultures, so that the artist’s creativity may be directed towards the engagement of contemporary man, without compromising the core principles of a traditional Christian culture.

The Certificate program of studies is organized by the Academic Dean of the DSPT, Fr Chris Renz; readers may remember that I highlighted his excellent article on liturgy and culture recently published in Antiphon.

Fr Renz will use my book the Way of Beauty as one of the texts for the opening course of the Certificate program. Anyone who has read any of my writings over the years will see why I am enthusiastic about this – these themes of inculturation, worship and fresh creativity are at the heart of my own ideas about the evangelization of the culture.

The first course of the four to be offered this coming Fall is called the Foundational Principles of Catholic Liturgy and Worship. To complete the Certificate in Theological Studies program with a specialization in Sacred Arts, the student must complete the four courses indicated below, typically over two or more semesters.
1. Foundational Principles of Catholic Liturgy and Worship (next offered Fall 2016)
2. Liturgical Piety: Anthropological Foundations of Catholic Worship (next offered Spring 2017)
3. One elective offering from any advisor-approved Religion and the Arts course. These are the courses that will particularly focus on practical elements, such as painting.
4. Christian Iconography (offered Fall 2016)

The format for all courses is once-per-week for just under 3 hours. They will typically be offered on a weekday, which means that you have to be within traveling distance of Berkeley, California in order to take it.

The named goals are:
• to imbue students with an understanding of sacred art and its relationship to sacred liturgy;
• to provide students with the philosophical and theological foundations for the anthropological as well as the transcendent aspects of art;
• to provide basic principles for using the fine arts as a vehicle for “preaching the gospel” to the contemporary culture.

Application Process 

Applicants must complete the DSPT Certificate of Theological Studies application (found at the DSPT website), including a statement of purpose, official transcript, and two letters of recommendation. Application is on a rolling admission process.

Tuition and Fees 

Tuition rate for 2016-2017 academic year is $715 per semester unit (all courses are 3 units). For further information, contact Fr. Chris Renz, O.P. at crenz@dspt.edu, or 510-883-2084. You can read about this course on the DSPT website at www.dspt.edu/sacred-arts.





Thursday, June 23, 2016

164 Stained Glass Windows (Church of St Paul in Westerville, Ohio)

Our thanks to Mr Mark Cousineau for providing us these photos of the church of St Paul the Apostle in Westerville, Ohio, and to Mr Bruce Buchanan for his description of the project to install in the church 164 stained glass windows, many of which were rescued from recently closed churches in the Diocese of Cleveland. The project was just completed a few days a Click here to read an article about the project from the Columbus Dispatch, which quotes Dennis McNamara, whom we have featured here many times, one the return to traditional church designs, and away from “churches that look like airplane hangars.” 

In June 2010, the church of Saint Paul the Apostle in Westerville, Ohio, celebrated the dedication of its new building. About a year earlier, the artists and craftsmen of Cleveland-based Henningers Inc started work on what would eventually be 164 new and refurbished stained glass windows for the new building. Now, years later, the last of these windows are finally being installed, the end of a long and complicated process.

Working on a window of Our Lady of t Carmel
The finished product, along with St Sebastian
In 2009, the parish was about to begin construction of a new church, the third building in its history, and the largest Catholic Church in Ohio. As the building project itself was such a large one, there were no immediate plans for stained glass; that would come later, or so it was thought. The Diocese of Cleveland, however, had just undergone a significant downsizing and consolidated many of its parishes, leaving many buildings empty, and a great many stained glass windows in crates. The opportunity to re-use these discarded windows was one which could not be passed up.

Saint Paul purchased stained glass windows, all between 70 to 100 years old, from three separate closed churches. One set had incredibly colorful geometric patterns and dozens of medallions of saints and religious symbols, another group had large narrative scenes of the New and Old Testament, with ornate painted scrollwork borders. The third set had large round windows with scenes from the life of Christ. All of the windows were beautiful in their own way, but markedly different in style; the challenge would be to synthesize the windows into a cohesive overall scheme.

A decorative zig-zag border pattern was pulled from the geometric windows, then copied and used in
every new window in the church. The elaborately painted scrollwork from the narrative windows was duplicated and repeated in nameplates and decorative flourishes throughout the church, while stenciled rosettes were copied and incorporated in newly created windows over the front doors. A new background grid pattern of brown and clear swirled glass would provide a unifying framework for the various scenes and saints and symbols. Every window in the church was designed to fit in the new openings with mixed stylistic elements that could harmoniously sit together.

Given that the windows were so old, they all benefited from being taken apart, cleaned, and rebuilt with new lead, a typical procedure with older, time-worn stained glass panels. Once apart, they could be re-arranged to the new specifications. Some parts, like the geometric knot patterns and the painted scenes were rebuilt exactly as they had been. Other decorative painted pieces were too good not to re-purpose and incorporate wherever possible. New glass borders and backgrounds were cut to frame the painted scenes and medallions.

There were dozens of windows to re-arrange and fit into the new church’s design scheme, but one could hardly expect the found treasures to meet all of the needs of the new church. There were Saints and symbols that would need to be made from scratch to match the old glass. In the end, two dozen new medallions were painted to complete the clerestory, confessionals, and shrines. A series of 40 new standing-figure Saint windows were created to line the ambulatory around the perimeter of the church. Working with the parish and the donors to design the medallions and Saint windows was an incredible learning process, which gave us the opportunity to research lesser known Saints and learn more about the ones we thought we knew.

St Charles Borromeo
Preparatory work for a window of St Damian of Molokai, and the final product.
Perhaps the most satisfying design challenge of the whole project was the 12 foot rose window, with a crucifixion scene surrounded by twelve petals. The image of Christ on the cross with adoring angels was originally a tall thin lancet in three panels. Here, new glass was added to expand the sky and clouds and make a round center for the rose. The twelve petals around it, while mostly new, incorporate old glass and design motifs from all of the churches from which the old stained glass had been purchased. This kaleidoscope of glass is a new creation made from the old, so that the grandest window of this new church pays homage to the old churches that made this project possible.


Over the course of the years, it has been satisfying to see Saint Paul the Apostle Church slowly filled with stained glass. Bit by bit, window by window, patron by patron, the place has been transformed. It will be satisfying to install the last of the remaining windows, but the biggest change came last December when the final windows in the sanctuary itself were installed. The natural light in the church was forever changed. The outside world was obscured, and the sacred space inside felt different, becoming quieter and more serene. Old stained glass windows that had watched over worshippers for 100 years were once again doing their work.

(more pictures below)

Why We Do What We Do


Here at the 26th Annual Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America, at Masses, workshops, sessions, rehearsals, and plenary talks, the various speakers are quite literally “preaching to the choir.” Of course we’re all in it because we love excellent sacred liturgy in all its aspects: beautiful music, fine visual arts, reverent clergy, well-prepared servers, and resounding participation. In such circumstances, it’s easy to find support and encouragement for the often thankless work we do in our home parishes.

But one might ask, why do we do what we do? 
I once heard a little story, which I will re-tell here for the truth it illustrates. A pious little lady once came upon an old man working diligently in a beautiful perennial garden. “Why, isn’t God’s creation wonderful? Look at all of these flowers he created, with such variety and color. What a beautiful garden God made!” The old man responded, “You should have seen the garden when God had it all to himself… it was nothing but weeds!” Horticulture reveals the beauty of creation in greater variety and intensity.

As bearers of the image of God the Creator, and following Adam himself, our most basic vocation is to tend God's garden, to cultivate and create using the material and plot God has given us. As musicians, liturgists, pastors, and really as human beings, we’re given opportunity either to cultivate or neglect these little “gardens.” Our life's work is arranging the "plants" in a proper relationship with the sun and each other (Matthew 22:36-40).

Our “cultus” or "worship" stems from what we cultivate, from what we love most deeply. What we hold in highest esteem will, without a doubt, inform and direct our worship and our character. For this reason, we ought to cultivate "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, [whatever is] excellent or praiseworthy..." (Philippians 4:8).  Culture, a word very much related to "cultus," is not just what turns milk into cheese; it is the outworking of our mores and deepest values. Culture is the fruit of the things we cultivate. Culture in this sense is part of our conversion. Not to create, not to cultivate, not to care, not to "work at it," is a violation of the best and most fundamental aspect of our identity, the imago dei that we bear. Accordingly, worship requires the cultivation of the arts. We must not neglect the "garden" God his given us.

Speaking of our relationship to each other and to the "sun," Catholic culture, worship, and community, if they are truly rooted in the Incarnation, must maintain a healthy and sustaining relationship with our tradition, because we preach the life, death, and resurrection of the real, historical Jesus. There is one story of salvation and one Messiah, and he is the "root" (Rev. 22:16). The leaf can neither curse the branch, nor the trunk, nor the root. If it does, it will wither (John 15:6).

To claim that Catholics simply "got it dead wrong" for centuries until Martin Luther came along, or the Second Vatican Council came along, or Karl Rahner came along, or really any other person or movement came along, is to deny the ongoing and irrevocable action in every age of the Holy Spirit, the teacher Jesus promised would "lead us into all truth" (John 16:13). What hubris! Rather, there is no "new" and "old," no "hard break" with the past, but rather all things are made new for those who remain in Christ, who is the fullness of God's revelation (II Cor 5:17). And so our relationship with tradition must be healthy and sustaining, and our future must be understood in a hermeneutic of continuity with our past. It's never the root or the trunk that is pruned and tossed aside, but rather the withered branches which do not bear eternal fruit.

The crisis of liturgy and sacred music today is not a mere question of taste. It is the garden left untended. It is the withering leaf that cursed the branch. It is the lukewarm pablum, neither hot nor cold, which even God himself wants to spit from his mouth (Rev. 3:14-18).

The 26th CMAA Colloquium wins high marks for good taste; for loving, diligent, and scholarly renditions of sacred music in their proper liturgical context; and perhaps most interestingly for outsiders -- diversity. Musical selections range from medieval chants, Esquivel, Byrd, and Purcell to Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcellae; Sweelinck, Bach, and Lotti to Mozart's Sparrow Mass; Stanford, Franck, and Bruckner to new compositions by Frank La Rocca, not to mention numerous modern chant adaptations. New compositions written by participants are read and critiqued each day. The repertoire spans centuries and continents. Diversity is not only present in the repertoire, it is present in the participants. Men and women are equally represented; and numerous clergy and religious representing dozens of dioceses, monasteries, and congregations are participating alongside laypersons of all stripes. As a participant, the overwhelming feeling is, to quote Rosie the Riveter, "we can do it." Whether you are keen on simple or complex, easy or difficult, ancient or modern, beauty is within your reach. There are flowers that can bloom in your "garden" with just a little care and effort.

CMAA is growing and building a future on quality foundations. Young musicians and young priests from across the country and the world are majority of the attendees at this conference. The participants I met are quality people pursuing advanced degrees, working in growing parishes and cathedrals, and teaching in schools, colleges, seminaries, and universities. Look out! This is the future, folks; and this is why we do what we do. We love Sacred Music: we love our story, we love our God, and we love each other. Not to mention, it's fun! 

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