Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Monday, September 26, 2016
It would be interesting, apart from anything else, to know how many of the clergy and laity actually employ these prayers. It must be admitted that some of them are quite long, and for some while before Mass, the priest is occupied with putting on vestments (using the appropriate vesting prayers), holding quiet parleys with MCs, servers, choir or schola directors, and well-meaning folks seeking "a word or two with Father." And while the post-Mass period is usually less chaotic, it still requires at times a heroic effort to withdraw, like Our Lord in the Gospels, into the wilderness where heartfelt thanksgiving becomes possible. (For a more in-depth treatment, see my article "Priestly Preparation Before Mass and Thanksgiving After Mass.")
Given all of these things, it has often seemed to me that it would help to have a short, well-made prayer for before liturgy and another one for afterwards -- something that could be recited in the midst of any circumstances and still wonderfully focus the mind on what is about to transpire or what has transpired.
This past summer, I finally found these prayers, and found them as the result of a happy accident. My son and I were in Chicago for a retreat, and on the way back I decided to swing by St. John Cantius, a legendary place that I had never visited. After Sunday Vespers, I bumped into one of the canons, a very affable priest whom I had met at Sacra Liturgia in Rome a few years ago, who offered to give me a tour of the hidden rooms of the immense church. One of these rooms is a Gothic side chapel with a life-size reproduction of a famous carved altar from Krakow [update: a reader has pointed out that this is a scale model]:
BEFORE DIVINE SERVICESLet us pray:
Almighty and Merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Thou hast invited us to participate in this worship with Thy beloved Son, our High Priest and King. Grant us the grace to fulfill our sacred duty with faith, reverence, and love, so that we may please Thee, edify Thy people, and deserve to obtain the fruits of this holy service, through Christ our Lord.
We adore Thee and bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world. Amen.
AFTER DIVINE SERVICESLet us pray:
We give thanks, heavenly Father, for the honor bestowed upon us by assisting at this holy service. Accept, we beseech Thee, our most humble ministry and forgive us whatever failings we have committed before Thy Divine Majesty. Enlighten and strengthen us, Lord, so that we may always render Thee praiseworthy homage through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end. Amen.
But now that I am writing about my visit to St. John Cantius, I have to share a few more photos of the back rooms. What a treasure trove of relics they have!
Saturday, September 24, 2016
|Elevation at the Solemn Mass (Star of the Sea Church, SF 2015)|
|Dominicans added the Elevation of the Chalice in about 1300|
|A Dominican Deacon Sings the Gospel (ca. 1950)|
|Salve Procession after Vestition, St. Dominic Church, SF, 2012|
Friday, September 23, 2016
The Cathedral of St Rufino in Assisi, the third church to be built on the same site, was begun in 1140 A.D., about 40 years before St Francis was born. It is perhaps less visited than the major Franciscan sites in the city, but it was certainly very important in the early history of the Order. It was while hearing Francis preach in the church (where they both had been baptized as children, along with many of their early followers) that Clare decided to follow him in his life of poverty. We are very glad to share with our readers these marvelous photographs of the church’s façade, along with the accompanying commentary, both by Julian Kwasniewski, Peter’s son; I think that the use of black and white really conveys very well how intricate these carved decorations really are. You can see some more of his excellent work recently publish on the website OnePeterFive (here and here).
Having glanced briefly at the interior and exterior and said the usual sort of thing that you say about another great edifice, my group of family and friends prepared to move on, hoping for some lunch and gelato! However, I was about to have the scales lifted from my oblivious eyes. Some of our group ended up taking a look at the crypt–treasury, and my father and I were left to wait in the square in front of the church. Then I discovered the real beauty and complexity of this court of God.
This is what I wrote in my journal: “July 16th 2016 …The Façade of the Cathedral of Assisi is exquisite: not awe-inspiring like the façade of Chartres, but in the way that one must ‘get to know it.’ It took me a good half hour to appreciate its workmanship. Going over the façade again and again, each time bringing to my eyes new details: heads, faces, people, and animals, all secretly hidden only for the attentive. The idea of a church that is so extensive in its decoration that no one man can appreciate it is a lost principle—and only God can really understand and value the offerings that these churches make. Also, in Christendom there is no sense of ‘we have built some great churches, now we can do something else.’ No, rather: ‘nothing we do can satisfy God—but a little bit more makes a little bit more…’ ”
A reader informed me about the appearance of a new video, almost half an hour in length, entitled El Velo: Respeto ante Dios y Honor para la mujer [The Veil: Respect before God and Honor for Women], from AGNUS DEI PROD in Spain. I am glad that the producers decided to include English subtitles, which will earn for their work a much wider diffusion. There is much food for thought and prayer in the running commentary. I encourage you to watch it and then consider whom you might share it with.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
This summer he collaborated with conductor and organist Michael Olbash to offer something different. Instead of late-Victorian hymns in English, the aim was to present a once-familiar sound from the traditional Mass itself: the sound of the Latin chants of the Requiem Mass, sung with organ accompaniment. A choir of 11 met for an afternoon in St. John Church in Clinton, Massachusetts in June to perform the music, and it is now available on the project’s website.
The recording begins with the Subvenite, which is sung as the body is brought into the church, and concludes with the Libera me, the ninth responsory of the Office of the Dead, which is sung as the coffin is sprinkled with holy water and incensed before being taken to the cemetery, the ceremony known as the Absolution. Between them are all of the Gregorian parts of the Mass, the regular antiphons, plus the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus dei. The choir is a strong group of men’s voices, really giving a very nice example of how Gregorian chant can and should be done, with a sober organ accompaniment (written by Achille Bragers) that works very nicely with, and never overpowers, the choir. (Cross-posted from Chant Café.)
The first local Holy Name Society group began in Newport in the year 1900, while the Holy Name procession recorded in Cincinnati was in 1907 in Mt. Adams. By 1913 the march became so large that they ended the parade at Redland Field (later renamed Crosley) to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament. It was estimated that 35,000 men marched that day. These parades were indeed a mark of the hearty heritage of Catholics in Cincinnati.
Today the Holy Name Society Men’s group of St. Antoninus realizes that the world needs strong men to stand up in faith to honor the Holy Name of Jesus. In a world that constantly deals with brokenness and fatherlessness, the group stands as one of courage and faith. These few men seek to build up fellow men to be strong leaders, faithful fathers who will promote peace and unity in our beloved city. This Group wishes to renew the Catholic heritage of the Holy Name processions of the past and encourages all men to prayerfully join this year’s Eucharistic Procession.
From last year’s procession, courtesy of Joshua Mincher. (Also see this story about it here.)
Prof. Hillis cites Merton’s journal, in which he writes immediately upon reading SC, ‘There is no question that great things have been done by the Bishops,’ and then notes that “(a)s novice master, Merton devoted three sessions to it in the days following its release.” And yet, only five days after the document was officially promulgated, he wrote to a friend at the Grand Chartreuse, with astonishing prescience, “Our great danger is to throw away things that are excellent, which we do not understand, and replace them with mediocre forms which seem to us to be more meaningful and which in fact are only trite. I am very much afraid that when all the dust clears we will be left with no better than we deserve, a rather silly, flashy, seemingly up-to-date series of liturgical forms that have lost the dignity and the meaning of the old ones.” Likewise, in 1966, he describes the English liturgy at Gethsemane Abbey as “very open, simple, even casual, but very moving and real,” while writing a year before that in a letter to an Anglican friend “As I tell all my Anglican friends, ‘I hope you will have the sense to maintain traditions that we are now eagerly throwing overboard.’ ”
Merton died in December of 1968, just under a year before the Novus Ordo Missae came into use. One can only wonder what his reaction would have been to the explosion of abuses that attended the coming of the New Rite, the disintegration of Catholic liturgical music, already well-under way by the later ’60s, and whether he would have seen in these things a cause of the collapse of his order, now at 40% of the membership it had in 1971.
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2016
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
The celebrant and ministers enter the church to the chanting of a Psallendum, an antiphon repeated from the end of Lauds. The processional cross halts at the entrance to the sanctuary, and is turned towards the celebrant, who stands facing it in the nave, with the ministers in two rows facing each other on either side. There are then sung 12 Kyrie eleisons and a hymn, followed by a second Psallendum; at Gloria Patri, all bow to the Cross, at Sicut erat, the ministers bow to the celebrant. The Psallendum is then repeated as they enter the sanctuary.
Many of the dignitaries of the Ambrosian clergy. including the canons of the cathedral, may use a staff called a ferula as a symbol of their authority.
If the Blessed Sacrament is present in a tabernacle on the altar, it is incensed by the celebrant while kneeling, before he begins to incense the altar.
The reader who sings the Prophetic lesson, and the subdeacon when he sings the Epistle, are both blessed by the celebrant, as is the deacon before the Gospel. The celebrant gives the blessing after the reader has sung the lesson’s title, bowed to him, and said “Jube, domne, benedicere.”
Some of the differences from the Tridentine Mass as celebrated today which you may note here can be attributed to the many variants and vagaries of medieval liturgical custom. The most obvious is the the use of a red vestment instead of green; this was common enough in the Middle Ages, and continues in use to this day in the Ambrosian Rite for the season after Pentecost.
Someone posted in the comments on Youtube an English translation of the introduction, which occupies the first 3:45 of the video; I will post part of it below. However, I feel that there is one very significant problem here which ought to be addressed, namely, the fact that throughout the service, the congregation remains completely silent. Obviously, one cannot exclude absolutely the notion that such Masses happened in the Middle Ages. However, common experience would strongly indicate that this was not typical, and that a sufficient number of people would have known at least the Ordinary, and perhaps rather more than that, well enough to join in with the cantor.
While there are many EF Masses celebrated today where only the schola sings, there are also many where the congregations does join in for at least the Ordinary and things like the hymns sung at the Offertory or Communion. Surely this must have been all the more common when attendance at the regularly Sunday liturgy was so much more the focus of peoples lives, when did not depend anywhere near as much as we do on printing, and when most of them lived their whole lives in the same church, hearing the same chants year in and year out.
To this day, if one attends a Divine Liturgy celebrated in Old Church Slavonic for a Ukrainian or Slovak congregation, people still sing along with the invariable parts such as the Creed and the Cherubic hymn, and very often with a great deal more besides. One may argue that the language of a modern Ukrainian is nowhere as far from Old Church Slavonic as medieval Swedish is from Latin; to this I answer that my own regular attendance at the liturgy in Old Church Slavonic has enabled me to learn a great deal of it without any particular effort, despite no knowledge at all of any Slavic language. Earlier this year, I attended the first part of the Easter vigil on Julian Holy Saturday in a Russian Orthodox church, and heard several people single along with the Cherubic hymn “Let all mortal flesh keep silent”, which is only sung once a year, at that service.
I say this, not to run down the creators of the video, who clearly put a great deal of effort into it. Nevertheless, we as Catholics ought to always keep a clear and accurate understanding of what the religion, the prayer, and the liturgical life of people really was in the Age of the Faith, as the historian Will Durant rightly proposed to rename the “Middle Ages.” Modern scholarship such as Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars and Fr Augustine Thompson’s Cities of God have shown that medieval people knew and understood, and lived participated in the liturgy, far more than they and their culture are generally given credit for.
Translation of the Swedish introduction:
“Five hundred years ago, the universe seemed much more understandable than it does for us. All of existence was framed by a number of ceremonies and behavioral patterns which were a matter of course for people at the time. And the most important of them was the Holy Mass - that ring of charged words and actions which surround the central mystery in the Christian faith: That Jesus becomes man anew in the creatures of bread and wine.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2016
|Statue of St Andrew Kim Taegon, the first native Korean Catholic priest and Patron Saint of Korea, at the Martyrs’ Shrine at Jeoldusan. St Andrew was born in 1821; he entered seminary when he was only 15, was ordained a priest at 23, and martyred by beheading at the age of 25. (Image from Wikipedia by Swiss James.)|
Saturday October 1
1:20 p.m. - Introduction and greeting (location: front of education centre of Jeoldusan Catholic Martyrs' Shrine)
1:40 p.m. - Pilgrimage to Jeoldusan Catholic Martyrs' Shrine and Rosary
|The Jeoldusan Catholic Martyrs Shrine in Seoul (Image from Wikipedia by Matthew Smith.)|
4:30p.m. - Welcoming ceremony
5:00 p.m. - Confession and imformation about Mass
5:20 p.m. - Prayer before Mass
5:25 p.m. - First Saturday Low Mass
6:00 p.m. - Prayer after mass, Traditional blessing of sacred objects and clothing with the Brown Scapular
Sunday October 2
1:30 p.m. - Introduction and greeting (location: Oratory of the St. John’s House)
1:40 p.m. - Open lecture about liturgy
3:30 p.m. - Rest time and Confession
3:55 p.m. - Prayer before Mass
4:00 p.m. - Sung Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
6:00 p.m. - Prayer after mass, Traditional blessing of sacred objects and clothing with the Brown Scapular
The iconographic tradition portrays the heavenly realm, which is outside time, and crucially in this context, outside space. In order to convey a sense of the heavenly order in an earthly image, all sense of depth beyond the plane of the painting is deliberately eliminated. There is no superfluous background in an icon, and the negative space around a figure is meant to appear flat.
This first icon was painted in the 20th century by Gregory Kroug, a Russian ex-patriot living in Paris.
The naturalistic tradition, in contrast, seeks to do precisely the opposite, as we see here in a 15th century painting by the Venetian Giovanni Bellini.
It is portraying Historical man, that is man after the Fall, but not yet redeemed; this is the world of time and space that we live in. When painting in this tradition, the artist deliberately sets out, therefore, to create the illusion of space, which he can do in a number of ways. One is to draw a scene with conventional perspective (and the icon painter can do the converse by using inverse perspective). However, in order to use either form of perspective, there must be a background scene painted in the area around the main figures onto which the artist would apply them. If there is no background scene, the artist must use other means to control our sense of how the negative space appears, either as a three-dimensional space or as a flat surround in the plane of the painting.
This is done by the choice of medium or media used in the painting; one option is to gild, which always looks flat, as you can see this 12th century Greek icon of Moses at the burning bush.
If the background is painted rather than gilded, then egg tempera, fresco and mosaic always tend to look flat too, whereas oil paint, especially when used for painting shadow, always creates a strong sense of space beyond the plane of the painting.
Just to illustrate, compare the icon above by Gregory Kroug with another work by Bellini, his Sacred Conversation painted in 1490. Neither has scenery around the figures, yet first has a white background that is designed to eliminate as far as possible any sense of space beyond the plane of the painting. Bellini, on the other hand, has painted a dark background that plunges into the depths, and gives a sense of almost infinite space – there is a gaping chasm beyond the figures.
The next painting, done just 4 years before Bellini’s by Carlo Crivelli in 1486, demonstrates why the standard choice of medium became oil rather than egg tempera. In this image of the Annunciation, Crivelli uses single point perspective to create a sense that the pathway on the left is receding far into the distance. The draughtsmanship is fine, but for me the painting just doesn’t work. I have seen the original many times in the National Gallery in London, and every time I am struck by the fact that although the size of the figures in the background and all the perspective lines pointing to them tell me that they are in the distance, they simply don’t look distant, they look small. The reason, I feel, is the medium that Crivelli is using is egg tempera.
Even beyond the choice of medium, there are also ways of manipulating the paint so that it can enhance or reduce the natural look of the paint in this respect. These are called “glazes” and “scumbles.” I do not know for certain, but as far as one can tell from the reproductions, my guess is that this is what Kroug and Bellini were using. Certainly, if I was trying to create the same effect, this is what I would do.
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2016