Saturday, November 17, 2018

Beautiful Newly-Made Vestments at the Catholic Arts Exhibition

The seventh edition of the Catholic Arts Competition recently held at the St Vincent Gallery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, also included among the submissions some very beautiful new vestments, which deserve a post of their own. The first one is a green chasuble from Altarworthy Handmade Vestments, similar to the one seen below in a painting of the 15th century.

The cut of this chasuble (55” x 55”) is a modified bell shape, the origins of which is found in the very earliest conical vestments derived from common ancient Roman attire. The front pillar and Tau cross on back are ornamented with carnelian and pearl; carnelian (ruby) was the first of twelve stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, on the breastplate of the high priest in the Old Tesatment, while pearls are often referred to in the Bible as a symbol of the virtue of Faith. The silk shantung lining is a terracotta/clay hue which reminds us of our earthly nature, made from dust, and to dust we will return. This silk damask faithfully reproduces the textile worn by St Martin of Tours in this painting of the Mass of Saint Martin of Tours by an anonymous Franco-Rhenish Master, ca. 1440 Silk, carnelian gems, pearls, metallic brocades, and trims
The second one, also from Altarworthy, is inspired by the Tenth Station of the Cross, in which Jesus is stripped of His garments; this is represented on the back in a painting by Susan Jasper. The silk and metallic brocade incorporates both thistles and pomegranates. The former refers to the punishment for Original Sin stated in the Book of Genesis, 3, 17-18, “…cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of they life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…” Pomegranates, which denote royalty, are prescribed in the book of Exodus for the design of the high priest’s vestments, while the tightly ordered conforming seeds of the fruit have long been associated with the fruitfulness of Holy Mother Church. Liturgically, red is used for martyrs’ feast days or Pentecost; the black accents clarify this as a set especially for martyrs.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tradition is for the Young (Part 16) - A New Regular TLM in Mississippi

Once again, we are very happy to share some photographs from a new apostolate, established by the efforts of young people who are rediscovering the traditional Latin Mass. These come to us from Jackson, Mississippi, where the local Una Voce chapter has been working diligently to restore the Extraordinary Form. Recently, the group obtained the use of a parish church, and has two young diocesan priests celebrating the EF every other Sunday evening. On Sunday, October 28, the feast of Christ the King, they celebrated the first Solemn High Mass in the Diocese of Jackson since the liturgical reform of the 1960s; a small step, but one of a great many. We can all take encouragement once again from the fact that none of the people who are working to make this happen are old enough to be doing so from any sense of “nostalgia”; what we see here is a true and sincere love for the richness of our Catholic liturgical tradition.

Five Recent Articles about Funerals and Masses for the Dead

Photo courtesy of Liturgical Arts Journal
November, the month of the Holy Souls, always brings with it a number of articles concerning the current state, or plight, of Catholic funerals and Masses for the Dead. As the years pass, we are fortunate to see a double outcome of Summorum Pontificum: first, an always growing presence of the traditional Requiem Mass with its full panoply of symbols and chants (including the great Dies Irae), as can be seen in the photo albums published here; and second, an ever more widespread acknowledgment that something has gone drastically wrong with the way Catholics approach prayer for the dead.

I would like to mention here four recent articles of potential interest to NLM readers, and give a few excerpts.

The first is “The scandal of the modern Catholic funeral,” one of my daily columns at LifeSite.
Once upon a time, a very important person in my life died. I attended the funeral. It was a Novus Ordo canonization ceremony, conducted by a priest and three women in skirt-suits ministering in the sanctuary. Everyone at the funeral was dressed in black—except for the priest, who was wearing white. The disjunct was glaring and tasteless. The contrast between the deep human instinct of mourning, which can be said to be an ineradicable part of the sensus fidelium, and the crackpot liturgical reformers who introduced white as a color for Masses for the dead, was never so obvious to me.
          The day before, however, my family and I had gone to a traditional Requiem Mass, sung by a priest friend. The contrast was not just profound, but shocking. Between that day and the following, we were emotionally suspended between two radically different offerings for the dead: one that took death with deadly seriousness, that cared about the fate of the departed soul, and allowed us to suffer; another that shuffled death to the side with platitudes and empty promises. The contrast between Friday’s black vestments, Dies irae, and whispered suffrages and Saturday’s stole-surmounted white chasuble and amplified sentiments of universal goodwill seemed to epitomize the chasm that separates the faith of the saints from the prematurely ageing modernism of yesterday.
          I found myself thinking: The greatest miracle of our times is that the Catholic Faith has survived the liturgical reform.
A few weeks ago, Dr Joseph Shaw, the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England & Wales and a much-appreciated blogger at LMS Chairman, officially joined the bloggers writing for LifeSite. In this capacity he has given us two articles of note:

“Why Catholic funerals prior to Vatican II better expressed death’s gravity”
The chants of the traditional Mass for the Dead, called by the first word of the Mass proper, Requiem, include some of the Church’s most ancient, solemn, and moving. They express the seriousness, the gravity of death, and seek God’s mercy for those who have died. It was shocking to many when the Dies Irae and other chants were removed from the Mass for the Dead in the liturgical reform that followed the Second Vatican Council. Annibale Bugnini explained the reasoning of the reformers as follows (The Reform of the Liturgy p. 773):
          "They got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as the Libera me, Domine, the Dies irae, and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. These they replaced with texts urging Christian hope and giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection."
          The idea that the texts at issue “overemphasize” “despair” (how much should despair be emphasized, one wonders?) is a gross mischaracterization. The texts of the ancient Mass for the Dead speak of God’s mercy and the gift of salvation, in the context of human guilt and God’s justice.
And “Why Christians must honor those who have died in war”:
It is an unsurprising sociological fact that people are more willing to sacrifice themselves for their community if they see that such sacrifices in the past have been honored by the community. If we are not prepared to honor them when they fall, we should not expect our young people to put themselves in harm’s way for our protection.
(As a side-note: NLM readers might not expect to find liturgical commentary at LifeSiteNews, which has built its reputation as a pro-life, pro-family, general news source; but this expectation is not quite accurate anymore, now that Dr Shaw and I are writing on liturgical topics there with some regularity.)

Last but not least, Shawn Tribe, founding editor of NLM, continues to promote the best and most beautiful elements of the Catholic liturgical aesthetic at his site Liturgical Arts Journal, as we see in “The Value of Black as a Liturgical Colour” and “Constructing a Catafalque for the Requiem Mass.”

May each passing November, and indeed the passage of each one of Christ’s faithful into eternity, be accompanied by obsequies and orisons worthy of the dignity of Christian baptism, testifying to the reality of the Four Last Things and redolent of the piety, devotion, and earnest prayer of the ages.

Italian Bishops Approve New Bowdlerizations of the Missal

The Italian newspaper Avvenire reports that a general assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (which owns the paper) has approved a new translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, which will now be submitted to the Holy See for approval. This translation includes two particularly notable bowdlerizations of the Ordinary of the Mass, one in the Lord’s Prayer, the other in the Gloria.

The penultimate petition of the Lord’s Prayer as proposed will read in Italian “non abbandonarci alla tentazione – do not abandon (leave) us to temptation.” The traditional reading, “non indurci in tentazione - lead us not into temptation” has been in use for centuries, like its English analog, and is known to every Italian, even those who never attend Mass or pray. On a pastoral level, there is absolutely no need to change it whatsoever.

It is also, of course, completely wrong as a translation. The Greek verb in question “eisenenkēis” does not mean “abandon.” It is a form of a highly irregular verb [1] “eispherō – to bring in, lead in, carry in, introduce.” No dictionary lists “abandon” or any synonym thereof as a translation. It is as if Christians have not been praying “lead us not into temptation” in countless languages for over 19 centuries, as if no one has ever bothered to consider what these words mean, and comment on them. It is impossible to believe that pastors with the cure of souls in Italy (or anywhere else) are suddenly besieged by anguished parishioners, tormented at the thought that the Eternal Father might be leading them into temptation. But even if that were the case, is it really an improvement to suggest that God cannot lead us into temptation, but can abandon us in it?

It is equally impossible to believe that there could be another, even more grotesque and unjustifiable mistranslation, and yet there is. A phrase of the Gloria in excelsis has also been modified, from “pace in terra agli uomini di buona volontà – peace on earth to men of good will” to “pace in terra agli uomini, amati dal Signore – peace on earth to men, loved by the Lord.” I hazard a guess, and no more than that, as to the rationale behind this. To speak of “men of good will” implies that there are men who are not of good will, one of the most basic facts about human existence, and one which the Church has for over half a century wasted enormous time and effort on denying. The new reading permits the insertion of a comma, turning the phrase “loved by the Lord” into a non-restrictive adjectival phrase, (“men, who are loved by the Lord”), in a way that cannot be done by translating the actual text.

Our readers may be curious as to whether this new version of the Gloria, if it is approved, will present Italian churches with the same problem recently faced by the English-speaking world, when the new translation was promulgated, and musical settings of the old and hideous paraphrase became unusable. The answer is, Probably not. There is much to be said for the thesis that in many places, the post-Conciliar reform made everything that was worst about pre-Conciliar liturgical practice normative, and Italy is decidedly one of those places. The four-hymn sandwich over a Low Mass is as common as it ever was, although the Low Mass itself is now in the vernacular, and often miked-up so loudly as to destroy all possibility of contemplation or recollection. It is normal for the Gloria to be recited by the congregation, not sung, even on major feasts like Christmas and Easter.

However, the will of the Council is sometimes fulfilled in Italy, vis-à-vis the preservation of Latin in the liturgy, by the use of the so-called Gloria of Lourdes. This turns one of the Church’s most ancient hymns into a responsorial psalm (and one as unpleasant to listen to as any responsorial psalm) by the frequent repetition of the words “Gloria, gloria, in excelsis Deo”, leaving the rest to a solo cantor, or, more often, to be recited (not sung) by the congregation.

The Italian Bishops’ also wrote in their final communiqué (again, as reported by Avvenire), “in a particular way, the suggestion is made to take care for the quality of singing and the music of the liturgies.” (in modo particolare, si suggerisce di curare la qualità del canto e della musica per le liturgie.) Their Excellencies would do far better to actually take this to heart, and apply their collective efforts to improving the appalling music heard in most Italian churches, rather than to “fixing” translations that were not broken.

[1] “Eispherō” is a compound of the proposition “eis”, which means “into” (not “in”), and the verb “pherō – to bring, to carry.” The latter is a highly irregular word, in that it derives its various tenses from different roots, like the English “be, am, is, etc.” The present form is “pherō”, but the future is “oisō”, and the aorist, from which the verb in Matthew 6, 13 is derived, is “ēnenka.” This accounts for the radical difference between the main verb form by which it is located in a dictionary, and the specific form translated in the Lord’s Prayer, or mistranslated, as the case may be.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Exhibition on the Catholic Arts Competition at St Vincent Gallery

The Saint Vincent Gallery, located on the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvana, is currently hosting the exhibition of the 44 entries selected for Biennial Juried Catholic Arts Competition. This event was established in 2001 by the late Br Nathan Cochran, O.S.B., to cultivate and revive the sacred arts, and give artists who engage Catholic subject matter an opportunity to dialogue with the Church and pastors, in the hope of creating new, original artworks for churches and liturgical spaces. As seen below, some very nice vestments were also included in the competition; tomorrow we will have some more photos of these, and some interesting details about how they were created.

The juror for the seventh edition of the competition was Dr Elizabeth Lev, an art historian who specializes in Christian art and architecture, Baroque painting and sculpture and High Renaissance art, and professor of art and architecture for the Italian campus of Duquesne University. In her lecture by entitled Catholic Art of the Modern Age: New Images for an Ancient Story preceded the exhibition on October 28, she noted, “The works of the Catholic Arts Exhibition demonstrate that art can still persuasively communicate ancient truths to the modern Church through the exploration of critical contemporary themes such as fatherhood, universality and religious persecution.”

The exhibition continues through Sunday, Dec. 2. Gallery hours are from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and Thursday until 7 p.m. The Gallery is closed on Mondays and Nov. 21-26 for Thanksgiving. A complementary catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Photopost Follow-Up: Prayers for the Dead

As a follow-up to our recent All Saints and All Souls photoposts, and yesterday’s photos of Masses celebrated by military chaplains during World War I, here are a few late submissions.

On Tuesday, November 6, the Order of Malta in the Dallas area commemorated the centennial of the end of World War I with Solemn Vespers of the Dead at the University of Dallas’ Church of the Incarnation, celebrated by Fr Carlos Hamel of the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian (Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France). The Schola Cantorum Stellae Solae, directed by Brian Bentley, sang the Gregorian chant. The “Remembrance Day” Vespers drew well over a hundred participants from the university and local area, including clergy of the Dominican and Cistercian orders, as well as a dozen seminarians. (Photos by Anthony Mazur, reproduced by permission.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Holy Mass in the First World War: A Photo Collection

This article by Henri de Villiers was first published in 2014 on the blog of the Schola Sainte Cécile, to commemorate the centenary of the start of the Great War. It is translated and republished here and at Canticum Salomonis in honor of Armistice Day, and the centenary of the first armistice, which occurred this past Sunday.

On August 3, 1914, Germany declared war on France, and Europe entered into a terrible four years of slaughter that would decimate believers on every side, wiping out the youth of thousands of towns and villages, and bringing about the loss of a great part of Europe’s Christian elite. In memory of this sorrowful centenary, we present a collection of photographs that testify to the faith of these men in the midst of the horrors of the front.

We shall remember them.

Requiem æternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

“For the Lord will judge his people, and will be entreated in favour of his servants.” (Psalm 134,14) – Mass at the front in France during the First World War.

“The sorrows of hell encompassed me: and the snares of death prevented me.” (Psalm 17,6) –Mass at the front for the French troops. New York Times, February 14, 1915

“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.” (Psalm 17,2-3) – 1915: A Mass at the 43rd battery of the 29th artillery regiment between Oostduinkerke and Nieuport.

“My eyes have failed for thy word, saying: When wilt thou comfort me?” (Psalm 118,82) – Holy Mass for the French troops on the front of Champagne in 1915. Collection of Odette Carrez

“The Lord will give strength to his people: the Lord will bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 28,10) – 1915: Sub-lieutenant Pape says Holy Mass for the 262nd infantry regiment. Photograph by Henri Terrier (1887† 1918). Musee de l’Armee, Paris.
“With thee is my praise in a great church: I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear him.” (Psalm 21,26) – German troops assist at Mass in the Belgian cathedral of Anvers. New York Times, March 21, 1915.

EF Pontifical Mass in Ottawa on November 23

On Friday, November 23, the feast of Pope St Clement I, His Excellency Terrence Prendergast, the Archbishop of Ottawa, will celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the traditional rite in his cathedral, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the parish of St Clement. As we noted in an article earlier this year, St Clement, which is now run by the FSSP, was one of the few churches that held on to the celebration of the traditional rite after the promulgation of the post-Conciliar reform. For a ten-year period, it was constrained to use the new rite, and did so according to the mind of the Council, with Latin, chant and worship ad orientem; in 1984, the traditional rite was restored, and has continued ever since. This Mass will be the first Pontifical to be celebrated in the cathedral of Notre Dame since 1998. The ceremony will begin at 7:30 pm; the cathedral is located at 383 Sussex Avenue.

Book Announcement: The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms

I am very pleased to announce the recent publication of The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms, a new resource for the continued study of the post-conciliar reform of the Missale Romanum.

The aim of this new book is to allow easy comparison of the work of the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia on the prayers of the Roman Missal with those found in the 1962 Missal and the 1970/2002 Missal.

The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms. Edited by Matthew P. Hazell. N.p.: Lectionary Study Press, 2018. Paperback, 236pp. $24.95 (USA), £19.99 (UK), €21,95 + tax (Germany, France, Spain, Italy)

As readers of NLM are no doubt aware, the Consilium was the main body that was responsible for the reform of the liturgy desired by Sacrosanctum Concilium. One of the documents of Coetus 18 bis of the Consilium, known as Schema 186, deals with the reform of the various orations (collects, super oblata, etc.) contained in the Proper of Time of the Roman Missal, and gives draft texts for each day in this section. [1] In many places, this draft of the orations for the Proper of Time differs significantly from both the preceding liturgical tradition and the outcome of the reforms. These differences, along with the work of the Consilium generally, have increasingly been the object of scholarly study and enquiry in recent years.

Now, in The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms, the text of the corpus of orations in Schema 186 is readily available for the first time, and each prayer has been arranged side-by-side with those of the 1962 and 1970/2002 Missals for easy comparison.

Each individual prayer has been keyed into the Corpus Orationum, to make it much easier for researchers to consult this indispensable set of volumes during any future analyses and comparative studies. (The Corpus Orationum collates the orations from over 200 pre-Tridentine extant manuscripts, and makes it possible for one to determine how widely a given prayer was used, when it was used, in what contexts, and whether there are any textual variants.) Various other tools and indices are also provided in the book to aid further study into this important aspect of the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms.

Finally, the Latin text of the first few pages of Schema 186, which explain some of the rationale and methodology of Coetus 18 bis, are provided, along with an English translation.

Below are some preview pages. To purchase the book from Amazon, please follow the links above.

Sample page for Septuagesima / 7th Sunday after Epiphany / 7th Sunday per annum
Sample page for 4th Sunday after Pentecost / 13th Sunday per annum
Sample page from the indices


[1] Lauren Pristas makes many references to Schema 186 throughout her seminal work, The Collects of the Roman Missals: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper Seasons before and after the Second Vatican Council (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013).

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

All Saints and All Souls Photopost 2018 (Part 3)

We conclude this year’s All Saints and All Souls photoposts with another very varied selection: a bit more of All Saints than usual, a lot of reliquaries, some vivid memento mori images, and one instance of the old double Vespers on the evening of November 1st. As always, we are very grateful to all those who sent these in, continuing the work of evangelizing though beauty!

Shrine Church of St. Walburg - Preston, Lancashire, England (ICKSP)
The photos of the Mass given below were taken on All Souls’ Day, but the catafalque in the first picture was made for Remembrance Day, November 11, the anniversary (and this year, the centenary) of the end of World War I. Notice the British flag on the coffin, and the large poppy wreath at front. This was built (with some guidance from the clergy) by the men currently discerning their vocation with the Institute at their House of Discernment in Preston - well done, gentlemen!

Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini - Rome, Italy (FSSP)
Relics on the high altar for the Mass of All Saints

The Feast of St Brice, St Martin’s Bad Disciple

St Martin, whose feast we kept two days ago, was succeeded in the see of Tours, as he had predicted, by a monk named Brice, a singularly unpromising candidate to come after such a holy bishop. Martin spent as much time as his episcopal duties permitted among a monastic community at Marmoutier near Tours, into which he himself had taken the orphaned Brice. St Gregory of Tours describes Brice as “proud and vain”, and Martin’s biographer Sulpicius Severus tells the story in his Dialogues (3.15) that Brice was led by devils to “vomit up a thousand reproaches against Martin,” even daring to assert that he himself was much holier for being raised from childhood in a monastery, while Martin was raised in a military camp. Although Brice repented of this (as Sulpicius believed, because of Martin’s prayers), and asked for the Saint’s forgiveness, he continued to be a very difficult character. Martin refused to remove him from the priesthood, lest he seem to do so as an act of vengeance, but expressed his tolerance in less-than-complimentary terms: “If Christ could put up with Judas, why should I not put up with Brice?”

Ss Martin and Brice
Martin had predicted not only that Brice would succeed him as bishop, but that he would suffer much in the episcopacy, words which Brice dismissed as “ravings.” Both predictions were fulfilled in the following manner. Although Brice was vain and proud, he was “chaste in body”, and yet he was accused of fathering a child. The revised Butler’s Lives of the Saints says, with characteristic (and characteristically irritating) reticence, that he vindicated himself by “a very astonishing miracle”, without saying what the miracle was. Gregory of Tours tells us that Brice called together the people, and before them ordered the month-old infant to say whether or not he was the father, at which the child did indeed say, “You are not my father.” The people ask Brice to make the infant say who its father was, but Brice replied (pride still unconquered), “That is not my job. I have taken care of the part of this business that pertains to me; if you can, ask for yourselves.”

St Brice with the Infant, from the church of St Médard in Boersch in eastern France. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Ralph Hammann
This was attributed, perhaps understandably, to the use of magic, rather than holiness, and so Brice attempted to vindicate himself by carrying hot coals in his cloak to the tomb of St Martin; when he arrived his cloak was not burnt. But this sign was also not accepted, and so he was driven from his see, “that the words of the Saint might be fulfilled, ‘Know that in the episcopate, you will suffer many adversities.’ … Then Brice sought out the Pope of Rome, weeping and mourning, and saying ‘Rightly do I suffer these things, because I sinned against God’s Saint, and often called him crazy and deluded; and seeing his virtues, I did not believe.’ ” After staying in Rome for seven years, and purging his sins by the celebration of many Masses, he was restored to his see, which he governed for seven years further as a man “of magnificent sanctity,” according to Gregory, very much changed for the better by the experience. His popularity in the medieval period was very great, and his feast is found on most calendars, although not that of Rome. This is due in part to his association with St Martin, but perhaps more as an example of something that the medievals understood very well and loved to dwell on, that it is never too late for God’s grace to bring us away from sin to sanctity.

The see of Tours also celebrates within the octave of St Martin another of its holy bishops, the historian and hagiographer St Gregory, whom we have cited above, whose feast is kept on November 17. A very charming story is told that he was unusually small, which must have been very small indeed to be noted in an age when people were generally much shorter than we are today. When he came into the presence of Pope St Gregory the Great during a visit to Rome, the Pope’s expression clearly evinced surprise at his stature, at which he quoted the words of Psalm 99, “He (i.e. God) made us, and not we ourselves.”

Painting Created by Artifical Intelligence Sells For $432K. Is This Art?

As a follow up to an earlier piece about the validity of reproductions as art, here is an article about an image produced by three computer developers with no background in art, which sold for a staggering $432,500. AI - artificial intelligence - is the latest fad artist, it seems.

Artificial intelligence is not intelligence as a Catholic would understand the term. I saw recently saw George Gilder (author of Life After Google) talking to Mark Levin about this, and he gave a good explanation as to why. For all the power of the machine to collect and process data, the way in which it does so is limited by the algorithm, which is, in turn, a reflection of the programmer who created it. He is saying in effect, it seemed to me, that because intelligence is a faculty of a spiritual soul, it can’t be in a machine. The idea behind the AI machine exists in the mind of the person who made it, just as the idea behind a work of art exists in the artist who painted it.

Without a spiritual soul, there can be no inspiration, and hence no authentic creativity. The AI machine, therefore, is an artifact and a sophisticated tool in this painting process, and the programmer is the artist.

So is this art? I say yes, perhaps. The artist, in the case of AI-generated paintings, is not the machine, but the programmer or programmers who created it. They can create a good algorithm or a bad one; the test is in the quality of the work that comes out at the end of the process.

My argument is not that the human element isn’t necessary for the creation of art. Rather, it is that the human element is not absent from AI (or from printed reproductions, from photography etc). All of these are just different ways of controlling the production of an image. And just like painting with a brush, the process by which the image is created can potentially produce good or bad art.

Art is the product of artifice, and is by nature artificial. Artificial intelligence, therefore, is a misnomer. It is a creation of the programmer who created the algorithm but it is not in itself creative. AI is artificial like art itself, and the print is an artifact, but AI is not intelligence.

Is this good art? I would say no. Art is as good as it looks, and if it looks good, it is good. And (this is just a personal opinion) I don’t think this is good.
But that could change, perhaps. The prodution of good art by these means would probably require programmers who understand art, and how to instill in the machine a systematic process of pattern recognition and image generation that is in harmony with good art, and thus controlling the image. If, at the end of the process, someone judges the quality before presenting it for sale, perhaps modifying the process in response to improve the image, you have a more authentic artistic process.
I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, but I imagine the programmers in this instance could come up with 432,500 good reasons to do it.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Two Modest Proposals for Improving the Prayerfulness of Low Mass

With the increasing number of Masses offered in the usus antiquior, it is fair to say that Catholics are experiencing some of the same problems that were pointed to as reasons for the liturgical reform prior to the Council. While the list of such problems is lengthy, none of them in fact justified the liturgical reform as it actually played out. Nevertheless one would hope that the traditional movement could learn from past mistakes and make a special effort to avoid the same in the current fraught ecclesiastical situation. Since the manner of carrying out the Mass redounds immediately to either the edification and devotion of the priest and people or to their distraction and frustration, it behooves us to take it seriously. For indeed, nothing could be more serious than the sacramental re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross.

In this article I will look at two of the most common problems: nearly inaudible, inarticulate muttering of servers at Low Mass, and rapid-fire delivery of the Latin prayers by the priest, as if he were in a race against time.

The Dialogue Between Priest and Servers

While it would be ideal to have liturgy served by clerics in minor orders, religious brothers, or seminarians, most of the time, as we know, Catholics have recourse to “altar boys” filling in for acolytes. And I have no complaint about the institution of altar boys as such, provided they are tall enough and serious enough to fulfill their functions in the sanctuary.

However, as we learn from the High Mass, which is the real template of the Low Mass, the servers are making responses on behalf of the entire body of the faithful. At High Mass, we all sing “Et cum spiritu tuo,” and at Low Mass (I am purposefully not discussing the dialogue Mass in this article) the servers speak the same words in our place. Moreover, as the Roman Rite has developed, the preparatory prayers or prayers at the foot of the altar have ceased to be purely private prayers for the priest and ministers; they have come to belong to the faithful, too, who treasure them, follow them in their missals or from memory, and wish to hear them at Low Mass. As if in tacit acknowledgment of this fact, nearly all of the priests whose Masses I have heard over the past 30 years utter Psalm 42 and the additional prayers prior to the “Aufer a nobis” with a level of voice that can readily be heard throughout the church.

It is therefore asymmetrical and irritating when the servers mumble, swallow, or whisper their responses to the priest’s well-articulated phrases. It is the liturgical equivalent to someone walking with one normal leg and one peg-leg. Here is how it comes across to the faithful in the pews:

Priest. In nómine Patris, et Fílii, + et Spíritus Sancti. Amen. Introíbo ad altáre Dei. 
Servers. Ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam.
P. Júdica me, Deus, et discérne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab hómine iníquo, et dolóso érue me.
S. Quia tu es, Deus, fortitúdo mea: quare me repulísti, et quare tristis incédo, dum afflígit me inimícus?
P. Emítte lucem tuam, et veritátem tuam: ipsa me deduxérunt, et aduxérunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernácula tua.
S. Et introíbo ad altáre Dei: ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam.
P. Confitébor tibi in cíthara, Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es, ánima mea, et quare contúrbas me?
S. Spera in Deo, quóniam adhuc confitébor illi: salutáre vultus mei, et Deus meus.
P. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
S. Sicut erat in princípio et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
P. Introíbo ad altáre Dei.
S. Ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam.
P. Adjutórium nostrum + in nómine Dómini.
S. Qui fecit cælum et terram.

And so forth, throughout the liturgy. The dialogue is often so unequal that the priest might as well be the only one speaking, in a bizarre vivisected conversation, somewhat like overhearing a telephone call. If the servers are representing us at the foot of the altar, they are doing a poor job of it. Why don’t they speak up a bit — “enunciate and articulate!,” as my high school rhetoric teacher used to say? Again, this is not about using a loud voice. It is simply about using a normal audible voice and not rushing through the words. They are, after all, prayers, and prayers are worth praying. Deo gratias after the Epistle should sound like it means “Thanks be to God!,” and the same with Laus tibi, Christe.

Am I asking too much of these cute and sometimes clueless boys? No. I believe that those who train altar boys should teach them what the words mean, and teach them how to enunciate them and articulate them at a normal volume and a walking, not running, pace. Not:

P. Kyrie eleison.
S. Kyrie eleison.
P. Kyrie eleison.
S. Christe eleison.
P. Christe eleison.
S. Christe eleison.
P. Kyrie eleison.
S. Kyrie eleison.
P. Kyrie eleison.

Above all, at the end of the Offertory, these words should be distinct and audible at Low Mass:

Suscípiat Dóminus sacrifícium de mánibus tuis ad laudem et glóriam nóminis sui, ad utilitátem quoque nostram, totiúsque Ecclésiæ suæ sanctæ.

And moving into the Preface dialogue, it is totally unfitting to hear the following:

P. …per omnia saecula saeculorum.
S. Amen.
P. Dóminus vobíscum.
S. Et cum spíritu tuo.
P. Sursum corda.
S. Habémus ad Dóminum.
P. Grátias agámus Dómino Deo nostro.
S. Dignum et justum est.

The priest is inviting us, in one of the most beautiful phrases of the Roman liturgy, to “Lift your hearts on high!,” and the response should be in earnest: “We have lifted [them] up to the Lord!” Then, in a phrase rich with Eucharistic meaning: “Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God.” To which the response must be equally meaningful, as if the servers are senators speaking for a holy nation: “It is worthy and just.” These are not phrases to be rattled off under one’s breath; they are to be sounded forth in public.

The inaudibility of the servers, the disharmony it creates with the priest, and the lack of “purchase” it offers the congregation are matters that deserve to be taken seriously by the adult trainers who prepare the servers and the MCs who regulate the teams. This is not a difficult problem to correct, but it does require awareness, attentiveness, and follow-through, together with positive reinforcement (“Johnny, it was great how you spoke your responses so clearly today. Keep it up!”)

Haste in Clerical Recitation of Texts

A related matter of concern is the post-Summorum reappearance of clergy who habitually rush through the Low Mass. As far as I can tell, we are dealing in most cases with genuinely devout men who intend no disrespect to Our Lord and no disedification to the faithful. Nevertheless, machine-gun Latin —




— does not carry any conviction of being speech truly addressed to the face of a living Person with whom one is communicating, as two friends would talk to one another, nor, for this reason, can it in fact increase the devotion of the speaker or of the listeners. It seems, on the contrary, to be a lost opportunity on the part of both priest and people for the intensification of acts of adoration, faith, humility, contrition, and other virtues. In spite of the daily repetition of the Mass, we could truthfully apply to its celebration the familiar words of the Quaker who said: “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” This particular Mass will never be repeated, nor will this particular congregation assist at it. And as we know from the dogmatic theologians, the subjective devotion of the priest and of the people have a role to play in the spiritual fruitfulness of the Mass.

Perhaps the most germane statement made on this subject is St Francis de Sales’s: “Beware of it [haste], for it is a deadly enemy of true devotion; and anything done with precipitation is never done well. Let us go slowly, for if we do but keep advancing we shall thus go far.”

Dom Chautard, author of The Soul of the Apostolate — one of the few truly essential spiritual books written in the past century — has a lot to say on this subject. The author spends several pages unpacking the meaning of the prayer said before the Divine Office, in which the cleric asks for the grace to recite it digne, attente, devote, worthily, attentively, devoutly:
DIGNE. A respectful position and bearing, the precise pronunciation of the words, slowing down over the more important parts. Careful observance of the rubrics. My tone of voice, the way in which I make signs of the Cross, genuflections, etc.; my body itself: all will go to show not only that I know Whom I am addressing, and what I am saying, but also that my heart is in what I am doing. What an apostolate I can sometimes exercise [this way]! …
DEVOTE. This is the most important point. Everything comes back to the need of making our Office and all our liturgical functions acts of piety, and, consequently, acts that come from the heart. “Haste kills all devotion.” Such is the principle laid down by St. Francis de Sales in talking of the Breviary, and it applies a fortiori to the Mass, Hence. I shall make it a hard and fast rule to devote around half an hour to my Mass in order to ensure a devout recitation not only of the Canon but of all the other parts as well. I shall reject without pity all pretexts for getting through this, the principal act of my day, in a hurry. If I have the habit of mutilating certain words or ceremonies, I shall apply myself, and go over these faulty places very slowly and carefully, even exaggerating my exactitude for a while.
          Fill my heart with detestation for all haste in those things where I stand in Your place, or act in the name of the Church! Fill me with the conviction that haste paralyzes that great Sacramental, the Liturgy, and makes impossible that spirit of prayer without which, no matter how zealous a priest I may appear to be on the outside, I would be lukewarm, or perhaps worse, in Your estimation. Burn into my inmost heart those words so full of terror: “Cursed be he that doth the work of God deceitfully” (Jer 48:10).
Another classic text, The Hidden Treasure by Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, counsels the priest in the following words:
Use all diligence to celebrate with the utmost modesty, recollection, and care, taking time to pronounce well and distinctly every word, and perfectly to fulfill every ceremony with due propriety and gravity; for words ill articulated, or spoken without a tone of meekness and awe, and ceremonies done without decorum and accuracy, render the divine service, instead of a help to piety and religion, a source of distress and scandal. Let the priest keep the inner man devoutly recollected; let him think of the sense of all the words which he articulates, dwelling on their sense and spirit, and making throughout internal efforts corresponding to their holy suggestions. Then truly will there be an influx of great devotion into those assisting, and he will obtain the utmost profit for his own soul.
There is no question that a reverent Low Mass Mass can be offered in 30 minutes by a priest whose Latin flows well, who is extremely adept at the ceremonies, and who knows many of the prayers by heart. It is also true that sometimes Low Mass takes longer than it should because the celebrant is still learning the ropes and has not yet “mastered” the liturgical form. But regardless of the total duration, any appearance of rushing in words or gestures is never edifying and always detracts from the dignity and beauty of the celebration — and consequently from the prayerfulness it is meant to induce as well as the spiritual fruit likely to be derived from it.

Little things make a difference in the spiritual life; why would it not be the same in the greatest act of worship we can offer to God, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? For a long time Catholics have fought simply to have access to the old Mass, an immense reservoir of grace, doctrine, and godly piety. We should not stop fighting for that access if we do not yet enjoy it, but now that we are some years down the road from the Mass’s reintroduction on a wider scale, it is time to correct the bad habits into which we may have inadvertently slid.

Some may be wondering: Can we possibly concern ourselves with such matters when the Church on earth seems to be falling apart in front of our very eyes? My view, however, is quite the opposite. This crisis we are living is a crisis of worldliness, of lukewarmness, infidelity, and apostasy. The ultimate solution to it is not investigations (however necessary), proclamations of doom and hand-wringing (however correct and satisfying), or a flurry of activism (however tempting). The solution begins and ends with drawing near to the Father and joining with the citizens of the fatherland. Now is the very best time to attend to the service of Almighty God in His holy sanctuary and to do what is right, because it is right, for the love and glory of God.

Dominican Rite Ceremonial (1869) Now Available for Purchase

I am pleased to announce that Dominican Liturgy Publications is now able to make available a paperback reprint of the Caeremoniale juxta Ritum S. Ordinis Praedicatorum, published by order of Fr. Alexandre Vincent Jandel, O.P., Master General of the Dominican Order, in 1869. It was the last ceremonial published for the Dominican Rite. It is reprinted in a convenient pocketbook-size format.

When celebrating the Dominican Rite, this volume should be used in conjunction with the revised rubrics of the Breviary and Missal of 1962. This older book gives detailed instructions for many processions and other ceremonies in addition to those of the Mass and Office. It also supplies instructions that are lacking in more modern books.

The volume is also useful for historical studies, as it includes abrogated medieval rubrics, along with the legislation that changed them; for example, use of yellow vestments for Confessors, something dropped even before the Council of Trent.

Purchasers should note that is a photographic reprint from scans of the original printing, which is itself a bit muddy. We have tried to clean up these scans as much as possible, but they are still imperfect, and the “gutter” is a bit tight. Therefore, purchasers should carefully check the preview to see if the quality is sufficient for their needs.

Readers may find this book and our other publications here.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Litany of St Martin

Until the time of the Revolution, and even beyond, to the beginning of the 19th century, some dioceses in France preserved the custom of singing a litany known from its opening words as Dicamus omnes. The ancient character of this text is unmistakable; prayers are offered for the Emperor and the Roman army, which may date it back to the fourth century.

This litany is probably one of the very few remnants of the ancient Gallican Rite which survived the suppression of that rite decreed by Pepin the Short and Charlemagne, in favor of the Roman Rite. It is known in a similar form in the rites of territories which border that of the Gallican Rite; in the Ambrosian Rite, it is still sung to this day at the beginning of the Masses of the 2nd and 4th Sundays of Lent, and in the ancient Celtic Rite of Ireland, it was sung between the Epistle and Gospel.

In the most precious witness to the latter, the Stowe Missal (Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; D ii 3, f° 16), which dates to the end of the 8th century, the litany is titled “Deprecatio Sancti Martini pro populo – St Martin’s prayer for the people.” The importation of a Gallican prayer into the Celtic liturgy is explained by the close ties between the monastic practice of Ireland and that observed early on in Gaul, in the time of St Martin.

The attribution of this prayer to him is perfectly plausible: the whole tone of the text takes us back “to the era when Caesar ruled the world.” Without being an exact translation of an Eastern diaconal litany, the similarity of expressions used therein indicates that the text is probably the reformulation of a model litany originally written in Greek. The people’s response, as in the East, is “Kyrie eleison”, here translated into Latin, “Domine miserere”, or, in the version in the Stowe Missal, “Domine exaudi et miserere.”

Here is the chant notation for it from the Processional of Laon (Processionale Laudunense), published by Jean-François-Joseph de Rochechouart, bishop and duke of Laon (1755). Even in the middle of the 18th century, it preserves all the beauty of the primitive deacon’s chant, in the third mode. The litany was probably originally sung at the beginning of the Mass, like the Great Litany of Peace in the Byzantine Rite, and the Ambrosian Litanies of the Sundays of Lent. Like certain other texts of the ancient Gallican liturgy, it was able to survive the Carolingian suppression by being incorporated among the chants used on the Rogation Days, which were instituted in Vienne in the 5th century, and from there passed into the Roman Rite.

V. Dicamus omnes, Domine, miserere. (Let us all say, Lord have mercy.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Ex toto corde, et ex tota mente, adoramus te. (With all our heart, and all our minds, we worship Thee.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Pro stabilissima pace, et prospera Imperii constitutione, supplicamus te. (For long-lasting peace, and the prosperous condition of the Empire, we beseech Thee.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Pro Congregatione Catholica, quæ est in hoc loco constituta, invocamus te. (For the Catholic Church, which is established in this place, we call upon Thee.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Pro imperatore nostro, et& omni exercitu ejus, Rex regum. (For our emperor, and all his army, o King of Kings.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Pro aëris temperie, et fructibus ac fœcunditate terræ, largitor bone. (For mildness of weather, and the fruits and fertility of the earth, Good Giver.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Pro civitate ista, et conservatione ejus, deprecamur te. (For this city and its preservation, we beseech Thee.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Pro his qui infirmantur et diversis languoribus detinentur, sana eos. (For those who are sick, and detained by various illnesses, heal them.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Pro remissione peccatorum, et emendatione eorum, invocamus te. (For the forgiveness of sins, and the correction of them.) R. Domine, miserere.
V. Exaudi nos, Deus, in omni oratione nostra, quia potens es. (Hear us, o God, in our prayer, for Thou art mighty.) V. Dicamus omnes. R. Domine, miserere.

With some modifications (see the text used for the Offertory in this Mass booklet), we sing the Litany of St Martin at the church of Saint-Eugène in Paris, especially on his feast day, on the Rogations, and this year, on November 11, the centenary of the of the Armistice which ended the slaughter of the First World War, on which occasion we ardently pray “for lasting peace, and the prosperous condition of France.”

Mass this morning at the church of Saint-Eugène; the Litany of St Martin begins at 1:03:25.
The original version of this article was published earlier today on the website of the Schola Sainte-Cécile; translation by Gregory DiPippo. 

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