Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Sharon Kabel on a Supposed Saying of Pope Pius XII

Our friend Sharon Kabel has just posted another one of her useful and interesting research pieces, this time on a saying ascribed to Pope Pius XII: “The day the Church abandons her universal tongue [Latin] is the day before she returns to the catacombs.” I had read this once before, and was recently going to use it in an article. When I went to look for it in what I thought was the source, the encyclical Mediator Dei, I discovered that it was not there, and in fact, could not trace it to any of the Pope’s published writings or discourses, so I asked Sharon if she could verify it. She posted the full results of her research on her own blog two days ago, and kindly gave us permission to reproduce them. She gives a bit more than I include here, but the sum of it is that while these words are consonant with Pius XII’s thoughts as expressed elsewhere, the exact quote cannot be verifiably ascribed to him.
Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons
“(The) encyclical Mediator Dei is the source that is most commonly given for this quotation, but one will search in vain for the quotation in that document. Pius did, of course, discuss Latin in Mediator Dei with the famous quotation: ‘60. The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth.’ So the sentiment of the original quotation about catacombs is not implausible; it’s simply not confirmed. It’s not in Mediator Dei, and checking something said ‘days before his death’ is above my pay grade and time-traveling abilities.
In the course of checking my usual sources and databases for any relevant keywords, I found several unrelated but interesting uses of the phrase ‘returns to the catacombs’... (but) I can’t confirm that Pope Pius XII ever said, “The day the Church abandons her universal tongue [Latin] is the day before she returns to the catacombs.” There is no evidence he said it, but it is not completely unlikely.
What I did find is a related quotation that has not made its way into any mainstream outlet, as far as I can see. Pope Pius XII, in an Apostolic Letter, said Latin is not a dead language and must be ‘preserved in its force and in its clarity.’ He stressed that the fact that Latin is ‘covered by the dust of centuries’ does not justify calling it a dead language. The Pontiff said it especially deserved to be preserved because it is an instrument which serves to provide understanding of the wisdom of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
... I also checked the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. The closest match that I found was from a letter in May 1958, ‘De Latina Lingua Rite Excolenda.’ (On the cultivation of the Latin language.) ‘Ex omnis aetatis igitur viris litteratis exemplum simul et incitamentum capiant discipuli, qui hac ratione certis innixam argumentis hanc detegent veritatem: linguam Latinam non esse mortuum quiddam vel exsangue saeculorum pulvere contectum** ideoque ad vitae disciplinam prorsus inutile, sed instrumentum atque sapientiae humanitatisque vehiculum, quibus, Ecclesia duce et magistra, noster civilis cultus effictus et conformatus est: eam igitur iure meritoque firmam etiam hodie servare vim et efficacitatem.’ (Let students therefore take from the literary men of every age both example and encouragement, and by this consideration, they will discover this truth which depends on certain arguments: that the Latin language is not something dead, or bloodless, covered over with the dust of the ages, and therefore wholly useless for the study of life, but rather an instrument and vehicle of wisdom and good education, by which, under the leadership and authority of the Church, our civil society was formed and strengthened, and therefore rightly and worthily preserves even today its vigor and efficacy.)
I asked a classicist friend to focus on phrases that I thought used “dust” and “clarity”. He translated two relevant phrases as, “that Latin is certainly not dead or buried in the lifeless dust of ages”, and “therefore rightfully and deservedly to keep this force and power enduring even today.” Given the nearly identical keywords and the date of this letter, it seems reasonable to think that this May 1958 letter from Pius (as yet untranslated in full) ... perhaps may have inspired the alleged catacombs quotation.”

The Solemnity of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church 2021

From the decree of the Sacred Congregation for Rites Inclytus Patriarcha Joseph, dated Sept. 10, 1847, extending the feast of the Patronage of St Joseph to the general calendar. The translation is my own.

The glorious Patriarch Joseph, whom the Almighty Father enriched with singular graces, and abundantly filled with heavenly gifts, so that he might serve as the reputed Father of His only-begotten Son, and the true Spouse of the Queen of Angels and mistress of the world, fulfilled the duties and offices of this high calling so perfectly that he merited to receive the praise and rewards of a good and faithful servant.

The Coronation of St Joseph, by Juan de Valdés Leal (1622-90), ca. 1665. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
For, ever mindful of the preeminent dignity and holiness of the noble offices entrusted to him by the Divine Wisdom, he never ceased to obey the counsels and will of God  in all matters with inexpressible joy; and by pleasing God, was made beloved, until, being crowned with glory and honor in heaven, he received a new office, namely, that by his many merits, and the support of his prayers, he might come to the aid of man’s most wretched condition, and by his most powerful intercession, obtain for the world what the efforts of man cannot. For this reason, he is venerated as a merciful advocate and a powerful patron, and the feast of his patronage is kept in a great many places with a proper Mass and Office on the third Sunday occurring after the joys of Easter.

However, one thing was still left to be desired, namely, that the office of the Patronage of St Joseph should be extended to the whole Church. This did the Very Eminent and Rev. Cardinal Costantino Patrizi earnestly beseech from the Holy Father Pius IX, with most humble supplication offerred in his own name and that of the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church, and of a very great number of the faithful from home and abroad. The Holy Father, receiving these supplications, so conformable to his own devotion to St Joseph, with Apostolic kindness … gave his formal consent to the petition, and ordered that henceforth, the Mass of the Patronage of St Joseph should be celebrated by the clergy of Rome and of the whole church on the Third Sunday after Easter.

When the custom of fixing feasts to particular Sundays was abolished as part of the Breviary reform of Pope St Pius X, the feast of the Patronage of St Joseph was anticipated to the previous Wednesday, the day of the week traditionally dedicated to Patron Saints. It was removed from the general Calendar in 1955 and replaced by the feast of St Joseph the Worker; the new feast itself was then downgraded from the highest of three grades (first class) in the 1962 Missal to the lowest of four (optional memorial) in 1970.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Good Friday 2021 Photopost (Part 2)

I apologize for the delay in getting to these photoposts; my wireless router decided it was going to just relax and take most of the weekend off. In the meantime, we unexpectedly have enough contributions to make three posts of Good Friday, returning to a peak last reached in 2018. The third one will be posted tomorrow, before we move on to the Easter vigil and Easter Sunday. Thanks once again to everyone who sent these in.

Notre Dame de Lourdes – Libreville, Gabon (ICRSP)

Two Lectures by Fr David Anderson on How the Liturgy Sanctifies Time

Father David Anderson, a highly respected writer and speaker on the liturgy, is giving two lectures which will be live-streamed and so available to all for the excellent Institute of Catholic Culture.

His lecture covers the traditional cycles of prayer which have provided the foundation of the sanctification of time, drawing on both Holy Scripture and the traditions of liturgical prayer of the Church, East, and West.
The talks will take place on consecutive Tuesdays, April 27 & May 4, with a pre-class discussion at 7:30 pm EDT, and the lecture itself beginning at 8:00 pm EDT.
To attend you must register in advance via the ICC online portal
Father David Anderson is a priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Chicago, and has served as a parish priest for 37 years after studying liturgical theology with Fr Alexander Schmemann. He is also a published translator of Patristic works and Byzantine liturgical texts. For over 40 years, he has presented many classes on liturgy and the Church Fathers throughout the country, but especially in northern California. He is presently the Byzantine Rite Chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Ending Seventy Years of Liturgical Exile: The Return of the Pre-55 Holy Week

“Quis dabit ex Sion salutare Israel? Cum averterit Dominus captivitatem plebis suae, exsultabit Jacob, et laetabitur Israel. Who shall give out of Sion the salvation of Israel? When the Lord shall have turned away the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice and Israel shall be glad.” (Psalm 13:7)

In 586 BC, the Jews of old were violently removed from the Temple in Jerusalem and its sacrificial cultus, and led off to exile where they had only memories of their traditional divine worship. Seventy years later, in 516 BC, they began to return to the land of their fathers — those who, listening to Ezra, longed for true worship and were willing to make a new life in the old land.

In 1951, on February 9th, Pius XII’s “new and improved” Easter Vigil was first launched “ad experimentum” — a simple Latin phrase that would become ever more commonplace as the Vatican more and more treated the sacred liturgy as a laboratory specimen. Although the way was paved for this drastic innovation by Pius X’s unprecedented manhandling of the venerable Roman psalter, it is accurate to say that 1951 marked the beginning of that overturning of the Eucharistic liturgy of the Roman Rite that culminated eighteen years later in the modern papal rite of 1969, which, only by a certain legal stretch of the imagination, can be called the Roman rite as it had been known in history.

The year 2021, however, appears to be the year in which Rome (taken here to mean those who are quietly in charge of affairs concerning the usus antiquior) has given a global wink to those wanting to use the pre-55 Holy Week, and, indeed, to reclaim pre-55 practices more generally. No express permission is being given, because none is needed for that which is immemorially sacred and great. Catholics of the Roman rite, in small groups, here and there, are returning to the liturgical temple after seventy years of exile.

In his sermon on Passion Sunday (March 21, 2021), Canon Francis Xavier Altiere, ICRSS, said the following:
You will recall on Septuagesima Sunday that we spoke about the Babylonian exile and the symbolism of the number 70. We heard how the Jews suffered greatly from the suspension of their traditional worship when they could no longer frequent the Temple. We can borrow this analogy to speak about our own Catholic worship, because this year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the gradual demolition of the Roman rite [of Mass]. You know that the New Mass was introduced in 1969, and you probably know that in 1955 a new version of the Holy Week ceremonies was introduced, but the first trial balloon actually came in 1951, with the introduction of an experimental new Easter Vigil. In fact, for the architects of the reform this new rite clearly was seen as the first step in a longer process because years later, when he promulgated a totally new missal, Pope Paul VI looked back on this and said, “the beginning of this renewal was the work of Our predecessor Pius XII, in the restoration of the Paschal Vigil and of the Holy Week Rite, which formed the first stage of updating the Roman Missal for the present-day mentality” (Missale Romanum, April 3, 1969). My purpose this morning is not to give a detailed critique of these reforms, but simply to take it for granted that, rather than “updating” the sacred liturgy to the limited horizons of the present-day mentality — whatever that may mean — we should rather cherish the treasures we have received from tradition and try to adapt our thoughts to them instead. Modern man is shaped by technocracy and so if we want to derive more fruit from the liturgy, we need to try to let our minds move on another plane that is somewhat foreign to us: the world of symbolism.

Sometimes people still ask why we think there is freedom to celebrate the pre-55 ceremonies. The answer, to put it succinctly, is that one has to know how to interpret the “signs of the times,” as, most famously, the last Council bid us do. For example, for three years the PCED/CDF “gave permission” to the ICKSP and the FSSP to do the pre-55. This year, no permission was granted — not because it was denied, but because the CDF doesn’t want to micromanage this stuff anymore. One can tell from the printed 2021 Ordo (written in Latin, of course: today’s ultimate code language), which includes many pre-55isms, albeit with no explanation of why they are there; one can see it from the trend of responses that have been made to individual queries in recent years; one can see it from the fact that Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini in Rome, a stone’s throw from the Vatican, is doing and has been doing pre-55 ceremonies for a long time now, celebrated by bishops and cardinals. The Vatican is well aware that all this is going on, and lets it happen — for some officials, presumably, on account of agreement and sympathy; for others, because they don’t want the bad publicity of a fight or the inconvenience of an intervention.

Priests and faithful all over the world enjoyed the richness and splendor of the pre-55 Holy Week ceremonies in larger numbers than ever, and we can certainly expect that those who have experienced it will never wish to turn back. Those who are hesitating because of scruples about “permission” should reflect on the sad fortunes of the liturgy for the past several decades. One bad decision after another has been handed down, to the great detriment of the faithful, and often in the teeth of unbroken tradition (e.g., Paul VI’s attempt to dismantle minor orders and the subdiaconate, or John Paul II’s permission for altar girls, or the permission for Communion in the hand, which was extorted by disobedience and tolerated by cowardice and lukewarm faith). One could give too many examples of where permission for abuse has been granted, while that which is “sacred and great” was forbidden. The admission of Benedict XVI that the usus antiquior had never been abrogated, contrary to the modus operandi of all of its opponents for decades, should be enough to make us genial skeptics about the “official” line.

Conversely, no Catholic may rightly believe that immemorial and venerable tradition has to “justify itself” in a court of law. It bears within itself its own justification for existing, because it is given to us by the generosity of Providence and has been received and celebrated by countless Catholics for centuries, even millennia. Could anyone take seriously the proposition that a remodeled Holy Week that lasted for not even 14 years has a greater right to exist or to be used than ceremonies that enjoyed continuous use for 500 or 1,000 years or even longer? Yes, the hierarchy of the Church has a responsibility for regulating these things, but the whole point of regulating the liturgy is to ensure that it reaches us intact in its splendor, not to strangle it or butcher it. Authority is given for the common good, not for the private good of its wielders, or for the promotion of strange philosophies.

In short: one who thinks explicit permission is required for the pre-55 Holy Week has not yet grasped the nature of tradition and the inherent rights of immemorial custom or the limits of papal and curial authority.

On Good Friday: incensing the veiled chalice containing the Host

In my lecture “The Once and Future Roman Rite: What We Lost from 1948 to 1962 and Why We Should Recover It Today,” I devote the final section to explaining why no permission is necessary for reclaiming elements such as Holy Week, the true Vigil of Pentecost, the octave of Corpus Christi, the octave of the Holy Innocents, folded chasubles and broad stoles, multiple orations, doubling of readings by the priest, the recitation of the Creed on various feastdays, and the use of Benedicamus Domino at Masses without Glorias. (This link will take you directly to that section.) As I point out, almost no one at present, including the SSPX, follows all of the rubrics of 1960 when celebrating with the 1962 missal, so a “perfect conformity to legislation” is not and has never been achieved, nor would there be any compelling reason to attempt it, especially now, with hindsight into the nature of the changes and the rationale (not to mention personnel) behind them.

Those who object that “we are taking things into our own hands and that makes us no better than perpetrators of other liturgical abuses” are making a false parallel. It is one thing to reclaim a heritage that was already fixed, specified, reverent, and holy (as with the pre-55 Holy Week); it is quite another to dismantle it or experiment with it or subject it to political agendas, as occurs all the time with the Novus Ordo’s plethora of abuses. In general, arguments based on a “one size fits all” model usually fail. One might think, in a different sphere, of the argument of John Courtney Murray and others that the Church must have one consistent policy for religious freedom rather than asking for freedom of operation when her members are in the minority but wielding her authority over society when her members are in the majority. That’s perfect nonsense. Of course she should wield her authority when she can, and demand freedom when she cannot. False religions will be similarly inconsistent to the extent that they too believe in absolute truth claims (think of Islam, which is “peaceful” when in the minority and militant when in the majority), and should be resisted in any case as purveyors of error and causes of spiritual shipwreck.

On a practical note, it’s never too early to start thinking ahead to next year’s Holy Week, so that you can have a timeline for taking the steps needed to celebrate solemn pre-55 ceremonies. For example, you may wish to source your tricereo or triple candle, and ensure that you will have the right chasubles and stoles. There is, happily, an ever-burgeoning number of high-quality videos of the pre-55 ceremonies (with more being added all the time — one can hardly keep up!), so that clergy and their M.C.s can study them ahead of time, which is often far more helpful than bleary-eyed late-night sessions with rubrical manuals. Some examples of these videos:

St. Joan of Arc: Palm Sunday  |  Good Friday 
St. Mary’s on Broadway: Palm Sunday  |  Holy Thursday  |  Good Friday  |  Easter Vigil
Our Lady of Mt Carmel: Holy Thursday  |  Good Friday  |  Easter Vigil

I’m sure readers can point us to other videos they would recommend for this or that special reason (the camera angles, the audio quality, the architecture or vestments, etc.).

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has released a video called “The Pre-1955 Holy Week: A Liturgical, Spiritual & Cultural Treasure.” Taylor Marshall and Timothy Flanders discussed the topic in a long and wide-ranging conversation here, although I should note that we ought to be careful not to exaggerate Bugnini’s role in the Pacellian reforms; it seems, alas, that these reforms were endorsed by a number of like-minded individuals and that the young Bugnini at the time was more of a fanboy and water-carrier for them than a sinister schemer (see Dom Alcuin Reid’s “Holy Week Reforms Revisited — Some New Materials and Paths for Further Study,” in Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives [London/New York: Bloomsbury, 2016], 234–59). Which is not to say that he was not a sinister schemer later on....

Readers should also become familiar with two excellent websites, which, while overlapping to some extent, are not redundant in their resources: “Restore the 54” and “Pre-1955 Holy Week Resources.”

Thinking back over my life in the traditionalist movement, I find it a great cause of joy to think of the burning questions that occupied most people at any given time. Way back in the 1990s, the question was simply: “Where am I going to find a Mass according to the 1962 missal?” — any Mass, low, high, legal, sketchy, or whatever! Then in the 2000s, one started hearing more often about pontifical Masses here and there, about ordinations and other sacramental rites. After July 2007, the dominant theme became diocesan clergy learning the TLM and even taking up the preconciliar breviary. In the past decade or so, it seems to me that the movement is broadening to include the pre-55 Holy Week and other riches lost under Pius XII. I predict that in years to come, the recovery of the “Breviary of the Ages” (as Bishop Athanasius Schneider calls it) will be a matter of increasing importance.

In any case, right now the hot topic is no longer “should we celebrate the pre-55 Holy Week” — this is a matter of obviousness to those who have taken the time to study the question — but “What time of day should they be celebrated?” And on that question, which is full of interest, I intend to publish a separate article later on.

Looking ahead in Paschal time, what are some steps that could be taken to restore pre-55 practice? Perhaps the first and most important would be to celebrate the Paschal feast of St. Joseph in its more appropriate place, namely, on the Wednesday before the Third Sunday after Easter (this year, Wednesday, April 21, adding a commemoration of St Anselm), in place of the highly artificial St Joseph the Worker on May 1st. The start of the month of May — a trainwreck oft lamented by Fr Hunwicke (1, 2, 3) — should be put to rights by celebrating Saints Philip and James on May 1st, the Finding of the Holy Cross on May 3rd, St John before the Latin Gate on May 6th, and the Apparition of St Michael on May 8th. (N.B.: I commend once more to NLM readers the “Octave of Liturgical Restoration” from May 1–8: see here for more information.) Parishioners may be encouraged to acquire either the St Andrew or the Fr Lasance daily missals, because they will match up perfectly.

The triple candle at the Easter Vigil & the chanting of the Exsultet

Further Reading:

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Good Shepherd Sunday 2021

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. (John 10, 11-16)

The Good Shepherd, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-82), ca. 1660; Museo del Prado, Madrid. The ruined classical building in the background on the left represents the fallen world renewed by Christs coming, as it does also in Nativity scenes; the flock on the right alludes to the 99 sheep whom the shepherd leaves behind to seek the one that has wandered (Matthew 18, 12-13). The Christ Child wears a purple garment, the color of royalty, to indicate His divinity, and a rough skin in brown over it, to indicate His humbling of Himself in the Incarnation. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Friday, April 16, 2021

Ambrosian Music for Eastertide

We continue our ongoing series on the Ambrosian liturgy of Eastertide with a musical interlude, three very nice pieces of Ambrosian chant for the Paschal season, sung by the Gruppo di Canto Ambrosiano (Ambrosian chant group) conducted by maestro Luigi Benedetti.

The first is the Confractorium of Low Sunday, the variable chant sung during the Fraction, which in the Ambrosian Mass takes place immediately after the Canon, before the Lord’s Prayer. “Rising, Jesus our Lord stood in the midst of His disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you, alleluia.’ The disciples rejoiced when they had seen the Lord, alleluia.”

The second and third pieces are both Transitoria, the equivalent of the Roman Communion antiphon, but generally rather longer, and very often not taken from the Scriptures. The former is one of a series of twelve sung in rotation on the Sundays after Pentecost; the latter is that of Easter Sunday, and has a particularly beautiful text very much reminiscent of the Eastern liturgies. “Let us love one another, for God is love, and he that loveth his brother, is born of God, and seeth God, and in this the love of God is made perfect; and he that doth the will of God abideth forever, alleluia.

“Come, o ye peoples: the sacred, immortal and pure mystery is to be treated with reverence and faith. Let us come forth with clean hands, let us share the gift of penance; for the Lamb of God has been set forth as a sacrifice to the Father for our sake. Let us adore Him alone, let us glorify Him, crying out with the Angels, Alleluia, alleluia.”

The Freefall Collect of Good Shepherd Sunday

Fresco of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, from the Catacombs of St Callixtus in Rome.
Lost in Translation #48

The Collect for the Second Sunday after Easter, also commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”, is brief but striking:

Deus, qui in Filii tui humilitáte jacentem mundum erexesti, fidélibus tuis perpétuam concéde laetitiam: ut, quos perpétuae mortis eripuisti cásibus, gaudiis facias pérfrui sempiternis. Per eundem Dóminum nostrum.
Which I translate as:
O God, who by the humility of Thy Son hast raised up a falling world, grant to Thy faithful perpetual gladness: that those whom Thou hast delivered from the dangers of perpetual death Thou mayest cause to thoroughly enjoy endless joys. Through the same.
Sr. Mary Haessley uses this Collect as an example of “antithetical chiasm,” that is a chiastic or V-like structure (ABC - CBA) marked by antitheses or contrasts. The statement of fact about God (“O God, who...”) is dominated by the language of descent: the world is not simply fallen but still falling, spiraling downward to Hell. God the Father responds by the humility of His Son, who, we can imagine, humbly races down from Heaven to catch us before we perish. The Son not only stops our fall, but He raises us up, lifting us higher. In the Latin, the verb “raised up – erexisti” is the last word in the phrase, keeping the focus on the sinful descent of man and the saving descent of God until the last moment. It is an apt summary of the Paschal mystery that we continue to celebrate during this season, for Holy Week likewise characterizes salvation in terms of Jesus Christ’s humility (see here).
The petition, on the other hand, is replete with references to eternity: we ask for perpetual gladness, thank God for deliverance from perpetual death, and ask to revel in sempiternal joys. The emphasis underscores why the Paschal mystery – that is, the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ – is so important. It is not just a matter of life and death; it is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. Mentioning the terrors of eternal death also sets into sharp relief, and helps us be all the more grateful for, the joys of eternal life.
More specifically, we thank God for deliverance from the dangers of perpetual death. It is a good reminder, especially in an age that values long life and physical health as much as ours does, that the greatest dangers that man faces on earth concern not temporal death but eternal. “And fear ye not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul,” Our Lord commands, “but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10, 28). Finally, the author has chosen the perfect word for “dangers,” for the Latin word “casus” also means a fall, and thus it chiastically echoes the “falling world” mentioned earlier.
Although the imagery of the Collect is not explicitly pastoral or bucolic, it nevertheless contributes to the theme of Good Shepherd Sunday. Christ is the Good Shepherd who strikes with lightning speed at the wolves, saving His flock from the dangers of ravenous predators who wish to drag us down to perpetual death. And Christ strikes with His humility and total self-offering, leaving us an example to follow, as the Epistle reading from 1 Peter 2 attests. We also suspect that humility is another difference between the Good Shepherd and the hireling mentioned in the Gospel (John 10, 11-16). The hireling “hath no care for the sheep,” probably because he cares only about his wages or position. In other words, he is filled with self-regard and self-interest rather than self-emptying humility. May Jesus Christ, the shepherd and bishop of our souls (1 Pet. 2, 25), dive down to save us from both wolves and hirelings and carry us up to eternal joys.

Note: [1] See Sr. Mary Gonzaga Haessly, Rhetoric in the Sunday Collects of the Roman Missal (Ursuline College for Women, 1938), 19.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Good Friday 2021 Photopost (Part 1)

Our Triduum photopost series continues with the ceremonies of Good Friday. There will be at least one more of these before we move on to the Easter vigil and Easter Sunday, and late submissions are always very weclome, so please feel free to send them in to, remembering to include the name and location of the church. Once again, our thanks to everyone who contributed!

Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento – Lisbon, Portugal
Photos by Fábio Azenha

Sacred Liturgy Conference, June 1-4, in Spokane, Washington

Schola Cantus Angelorum is pleased to announce the 9th annual Sacred Liturgy Conference, which will be held from June 1-4, in Spokane, Washington. This year’s theme, “The Incarnation in the Holy Eucharist”, will illuminate the Incarnation as inseparable from the Cross, Resurrection, and the Holy Eucharist. The lectures will take place in the conference center of the Ruby River Hotel; four beautiful Gregorian liturgies, including one in the ancient Dominican Rite, will be celebrated at St. Aloysius Catholic Church and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes.
This year His Excellency Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, the former apostolic nuncio to Switzerland, will deliver the keynote address and celebrate the Pontifical Mass of Corpus Christi in the Extraordinary Form, with Eucharistic Procession, and Benediction. Other distinguished faculty members will include: Bishop Thomas A. Daly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, OSB, Fr. Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD, Fr. Joseph Levine, Fr. Theodore Lange, Fr. Gabriel Mosher, OP, Fr. David Gaines, Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre, Dr. Anthony Clark, Dr. Kevin Clarke, Dr. Patrick M. Owens, Professor Ed Schaefer, Lucas Viar and Alex Begin.
An alternative to attending this year’s conference in person will be to watch a high-quality livestream of all lectures and selected workshops. Additionally, scholarships for virtual viewing of the conference are available at no cost to all enrolled seminarians.
From its modest beginnings in 2013, the Sacred Liturgy Conference has grown into the largest liturgical conference in North America, with participants coming from throughout the United States and beyond. The conference is open to anyone interested in the treasures of the Catholic Faith, and promises to be intellectually, liturgically, and spiritually enriching. To find out more specifics about the schedule, accommodations, and how to register for the conference go to You may also call (503) 558-5123, or email Space is limited due to current state regulations of in person events, so register today!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Ambrosian Liturgy of Easter Week - Part 3: the Masses of Tuesday and Wednesday

We continue with Nicola de’ Grandi’s notes on the Ambrosian liturgy of Easter week; previous parts of this series may be read at the following links: part 1; part 2.

We have previously noted that the Gospels of the Masses “for the baptized” during Easter week are attested in some of the very oldest sources of the Ambrosian Rite. Among these sources are the Capitulary and Evangeliary of Busto Arsizio, which give the order of readings before the major reform which the Ambrosian lectionary underwent in the Carolingian period. Here we shall give some indications of the historical traditions behind the choice of these readings, and their thematic connection to the other readings of the same Masses.
The Prophet Elijah Refuses the Gifts of Naaman, ca. 1655, by the Dutch painter Abraham van Dijck (1635-80); public domain image from Wikimedia Commons
The first reading of the Mass on Easter Tuesday is 4 Kings, 5, 1-15a, the miraculous healing of the leprosy of Naaman the Syrian, when the Prophet Elijah tells him to wash seven times in the river Jordan. St Ambrose cites and comments on this passage in his two mystagogical treatises, lectures delieved to the newly-baptized catechumens, the De Sacramentis and the De Mysteriis, and interprets it as a clear prefiguration of the Sacrament of Baptism.
“I can have no doubt that what happened to Naaman the Syrian cannot befall in your minds, because even though he was cleansed, yet beforehand, he doubted.” (De Sacr. 1, 3, 9). …
In the story of the Naaman the leper was signified that that water alone can heal, which has the grace of Christ, and that Christ wished to be baptized only for our sake. Wherefore the Holy Spirit, appearing in the likeness of a dove, did not come down upon Him before He Himself entered the water of the Jordan, and (thus it was also signified) how the whole Trinity was there present.” (De Sacr. 1, 5 passim).
In the De Mysteriis, he makes it clear that this reading was part of the day’s liturgy.
“Finally, let the reading lately gone through from the (books of) Kings teach you. Naaman was a Syrian, and suffered from leprosy, nor could he be cleansed by anyone. Then a maiden from among the captives said that there was a prophet in Israel, who could cleanse him from the defilement of the leprosy. And (the reading) said that, taking gold and silver, he went to the king of Israel, who, on hearing the reason for his coming, rent his clothes, saying that occasion was rather being sought against him, since things were asked of him which belonged not to the power of kings. But Elisha sent word to the king, that he should send the Syrian to him, that he might know there was a God in Israel. And when he had come, he bade him bathe himself seven times in the river Jordan.
The Baptism of Naaman, depicted in a stained-glass window in the cathedral of Cologne, Germany. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by GFreihalter, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Then he began to reason with himself that he had better waters in his own country, in which he had often bathed and never been cleansed of his leprosy; and so thinking back upon this, he did not obey the commands of the prophet. Yet on the advice and persuasion of his servants he yielded, and washed himself, and being immediately cleansed, he understood that it is not by the waters, but by grace that a man is cleansed.
Know now who is that young maid among the captives, to wit, the congregation gathered from among the gentiles, which is the Church of the Lord, held down of old in the captivity of sin, when it did not as yet possesse not the liberty of grace, by whose counsel that foolish people of the nations heard the word of prophecy about which it formerly doubted. But afterwards, when they believed that (that word) ought to be obeyed, it was washed from every defilement of sin. And he indeed doubted before he was healed; you are already healed, and therefore ought not to doubt. (De Myst. III, 16-18)
“So the Syrian washed himself seven times under the law, but you were baptized in the name of the Trinity, you confessed the Father. Remember what you did: you confessed the Son, you confessed the Holy Spirit. Mark well the order of things in this faith: you died to the world, and rose again to God. And as one buried to the world in that element (i.e. water), being dead to sin, you were raised again to eternal life. Believe, therefore, that these waters are not void of power.” (De Myst. IV, 21)
In the very brief Epistle of the same Mass, Romans 6, 3b-4, St Paul affirms that we have all been baptized in virtue of the death of Christ, and are buried and risen with Him. This is also cited in De Sacramentis as one of the liturgical readings to which his catechetical lecture refers.
“Therefore the Apostle cries out, as you have heard in the lesson just read, that whosoever is baptized, is baptized in the death of Jesus. What is in this death? It is that, as Christ died, so also you should taste death; as Christ died unto sin, and lives unto God, so also you should be dead unto the former enticements of sins through the sacrament of baptism, and rise again through the grace of Christ. It is a death, therefore, not in the reality of bodily death, but in its likeness. For when you wash, you take on the likeness of death and burial, you receive the sacrament of that cross, because Christ hung on the cross, and His body was pierced with nails. Therefore, when you are crucified, you adhere to Christ; you adhere to the nails of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the devil may not be able to tear you away. Let the nail of Christ hold you fast, whom the weakness of human nature seeks to call back (to sin).” (De Sacr. 2, 7, 23)
Christ Heals the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda, by the Flemish painter Artus Wolffort (1581-1641); public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
The Gospel is that of the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, John 5, 1-15, which is cited in the De Mysteriis (4, 22, 24), and the object of a fairly lengthy analysis in the De Sacramentis. Here again, St Ambrose affirms that the passage was read during the liturgical celebration, and interprets it as a figure of baptism.
“What was read yesterday? An angel, the readings says, went down at a certain time into the pool, and, so often as the angel descended, the water was moved: and he who first descended into it, was made whole of every disease whatsoever he had. Which signifies a figure of our Lord Jesus Christ who was to come….
But observe the mystical sense. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to the pool. … Consider where you were baptized. What source can there be for baptism, save the cross of Christ, the death of Christ? Herein is the whole mystery, in that He suffered for you. In Him you are redeemed, in Him you will be saved.”
While we cannot prove that these three readings were originally all read on the same day, we do know with certainty that St Ambrose based part of his mystagogical catecheses on liturgical readings which are exactly the same as those now read on Easter Tuesday in the traditional Ambrosian rite. This is further proof of the care which the church of Milan has taken to jealously guard some of its most ancient traditions, going back to the earliest days of the Church.

The purpose of the mystagogical catecheses was to explain in greater detail the significance of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, which the catechumens had received at the Easter vigil. The readings of the Mass “for the baptized” on Easter Wednesday touch on both of these sacraments, and again, bring us back to the writings of St Ambrose himself.

The Old Testament reading is also taken from the fourth book of Kings, chapter 6, 1-7, the story of the floating axe-head; in the Ambrosian Rite, this is also read at the First Vespers of the Epiphany.
Illustration from a Bible for children published in 1873; public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
“In those days: the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Behold the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. Let us go as far as the Jordan and take out of the wood every man a piece of timber, that we may build us there a place to dwell in.’ And he said, ‘Go.’ And one of them said, ‘But come thou also with thy servants.’ He answered, ‘I will come.’ So he went with them, and when they were come to the Jordan they cut down wood. And it happened, as one was felling some timber, that the head of the axe fell into the water, and he cried out, and said, ‘Alas, alas, alas, my lord, for this same was borrowed.’ And the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ and he shewed him the place. Then he cut off a piece of wood, and cast it in thither, and the iron swam. And he said, ‘Take it up.’ And he put out his hand and took it.”
St Ambrose comments on this passage in both of the works previously cited. In the De Sacramentis (2, 4, 9) he explains the miracle as a symbol of Baptism.
“Elisha called upon the name of the Lord, and the axe-head which had sunk came up out of the water. Here is another kind of baptism. Why? Because every man before baptism is weighed down like iron, and sinks: when he has been baptized, he is no longer like iron, but now rises like the fruit-bearing wood, which is a lighter kind of thing. Therefore here is another figure. It was an axe by which wood was cut down. The handle fell from the axe; that is, the iron sank. The son of the prophet knew not what to do; but this alone he knew, to ask the prophet Elisha for help. Then the latter cast wood (into the water), and the iron was raised. Do you see, therefore, how the weakness of all men is raised on the cross of Christ?”
In the De Mysteriis (9, 50-51), the same miracle is read as a figure of the Eucharist. Just as the axe-head changes its substance while preserving its form and accidents, so also in the Eucharist, the substance of the bread is changed into the body of Christ, without changing its form and accidents.
“Perhaps you may say, ‘I see something else; how do you assert to me that I receive the Body of Christ?’ And this remains for us to prove. What great examples then shall we use? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and that the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing, nature itself is changed. …
In the time of the prophet Elisha, one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank at once. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast a piece of wood into the water, and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of a heavier nature than water.”
The Crossing of the Red Sea, by Agnolo di Cosimo, known as Bronzino, 1540; from the Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.
In the second reading, 1 Corinthians 10, 1-4, St Paul teaches that certain events of the Exodus are to be read as prefigurations of Baptism.
“Brethren: I would not have you ignorant that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food. And all drank the same spiritual drink; and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.”
St Ambrose also cites this passage in two places, and again, in two complementary senses, corresponding to the two themes of the mystagogical catecheses; first as a symbol of baptism.
“There is also a third testimony, as the Apostle teaches us: For all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (1 Cor. 10, 1-2) And further, Moses himself says in his song, ‘You sent Your Spirit, and the sea covered them.’ (Ex. 15, 10) You observe that even then holy baptism was prefigured in that passage of the Hebrews, wherein the Egyptian perished, the Hebrew escaped. For what else are we daily taught in this sacrament but that guilt is swallowed up and error done away, but that virtue and innocence remain unharmed?” (De Myst. 3, 7; 12)
Secondly, once again, as a prefiguration of the Eucharist.
“In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ; it is therefore not bodily food, but spiritual. Whence also the Apostle says of its type, that ‘our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink (1 Cor. 10, 3), for the Body of God is a spiritual body; the Body of Christ is the Body of the Divine Spirit, for the Spirit is Christ, as we read, ‘The Spirit before our face is Christ the Lord.’ ” (Lam. 4, 20)
Here also, we may well suppose from St Ambrose’s use of these passages that they were already established in his time as a part of the liturgy of this week dedicated to the newly-baptized catechumens.

Easter Mass with Bishop Schneider in the Cathedral of His Diocese

On April 7, Easter Wednesday, His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider celebrated Mass in the usus antiquior at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan (formerly called Astana), the capital city of Kazakhstan, while His Excellency Tomash Peta, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Saint Mary in Astana, assisted in choir on his cathedra. This was the first time that a Mass was celebrated in the usus antiquior as a normal scheduled parish Mass in the presence of an Ordinary in central Asia. This day was also Bishop Schneider’s 60th birthday, and we offer him our best wishes and prayers for his continued ministry to the Church - ad multos annos!

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