Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Dominican Rite Collectarium

Dominican Liturgy Publications is happy to announce a reprinting of the Collectarium Sacri Ordinis Fratrum. Praedicatorum. Before describing this new edition, readers may be interested in knowing what this volume actually is.  When Humbert of Romans promulgated the prototype of the Dominican liturgy in 1256, his exemplar contained fourteen distinct liturgical books; among them was the Collectarium, the book contained all the texts and music needed by the friar leading the Divine Office for the week, that is, the “hebdomadarian.”

As such, along with the hebdomadarian’s parts that remain constant (such as Deus in adiutorium meum intende, the Preces, the blessings at Matins, etc.), it provided, for the ferial, the propers, and the commons, the Little Chapters of Lauds, Vespers, and all the Minor Hours (then sung by the hebdomadarian in his stall, turned toward the high altar), the verse between Matins and Lauds, and all the collects of the year. It also included the music for the incipit of those antiphons intoned by the hedomadarian rather than the cantors: those of the Benedictus, Magnificat, and the Vespers Psalmody when the Psalms were sung under a single antiphon. The volume was prefaced by extended rubrics for the calendar, Solemn Lauds and Vespers, and the manner of incensing the altar and the choir.

The last edition of the  Collectarium was printed in 1846, and two supplements were issued in 1880 and 1934 to bring it up to date. Both are included in this reprint. In addition, this printing includes a further supplement with all the changes and additions made from 1934 to the present. The printed Collectarium also included many items not found in Humbert’s exemplar; for example, grace at table with music, various blessings (including some that are hard to find, e.g.. of a pilgrim’s staff and bag), Communion of the Sick, the rites of Extreme Unction, the Commendation of the Dying, funeral services, and the Office of the Dead. Dominican Liturgy Publications has already published a modern version of this book in English for use with the modern Liturgy of the Hours in choir. Even those who need this book for the Dominican Rite choir office will find it an excellent addition to their liturgical collection and useful for all the other material included.

Those interested in this publication can read about it and order it here. Although care was taken in scanning this book, which is printed with rubrics in red, and in a casewrap hard cover, the original was not always very clear. Before purchasing those interested should check the preview to determine if the reproduction is suitable to their needs.

The Offertory Jubilate Deo, Universa Terra

Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to his name; come and hear, and I will tell you, all ye that fear God, what great things the Lord hath done for my soul. allelúja. V. My mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble; I will offer up to thee holocausts full of marrow.

This recording of the Offertory of the Fourth Sunday after Easter, the text is which is taken from Psalm 65, includes one of the extra verses with which the Offertories were generally sung in the Middle Ages (in this case, the second of two), with a long melisma on the word “offeram - I will offer.” It is also used on the Second Sunday after Epiphany, on which the Gospel of the Wedding of Cana is read; in his commentary on that day, Durandus explains the repetition of certain words within it. “We sing out for joy, doubling the words both in the Offertory and its verses, an effect of spiritual inebriation.” The text and music can be seen in this pdf, starting on page 69:

Jubiláte Deo, universa terra, psalmum dícite nómini ejus: veníte et audíte, et narrábo vobis, omnes qui timétis Deum, quanta fecit Dóminus ánimae meae, allelúja. V. Locútum est os meum in tribulatióne mea, holocausta medulláta ófferam tibi.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Card. Burke Celebrates Pontifical Mass with First Communions in Minneapolis

This past Sunday, the FSSP church in Minneapolis, All Saints, welcomed His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke for the celebration of a Pontifical High Mass, at which 17 young people made their First Holy Communion. Our thanks to photographer Tracey Dunne for sharing these photos with us; another occasion on which it is very encouraging to see how young most of the servers at the Mass are!


“The Angel Cried Out” - The Byzantine Easter Hymn to the Virgin Mary

In the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, there are several places where the priest sings a part of the anaphora out loud, and the choir makes a response, while he continues the anaphora silently. In the liturgy of St John Chrysostom, which is by far the most commonly used anaphora, the priest commemorates the Saints after the consecration and epiclesis, praying in silence “Again we offer unto Thee this rational service for them that in faith have gone to their rest before us: the Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, and for every righteous spirit in faith made perfect.” He then sings out loud, “Especially for our most holy, immaculate, blessed-above-all and glorious Lady, the Mother of God, and ever-Virgin Mary:” The choir then sings a hymn to the Virgin, which in the Easter season reads as follows.

The Angel cried out to Her that is full of grace: ‘Hail, o holy Virgin, and again will I say “Hail!” Thy Son is risen from the tomb on the third day. Be enlightened, be enlightened, o new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Rejoice and be glad, o Sion; and Thou, o Holy Mother of God, exult in the resurrection of Thy Son!’

Not surprisingly, this beautiful text has inspired some of the best efforts of composers who have written for the Byzantine Rite, such as this version by Modest Mussorgsky (1839-81).

Ангел вопияше благодатней: чистая Дево, радуйся! и паки реку: радуйся! Твой Сын воскресе тридневен от гроба, и мертвые воздвигнувый: людие веселитеся! Светися, светися, новый Иерусалиме! слава бо Господня на тебе возсия: ликуй ныне и веселися, Сионе! Ты же чистая, красуйся, Богородице, о востании рождества Твоего.

Here is another very commonly used version in Church Slavonic (starts at 0:15):

The same setting in English, a perfect example of how to use the vernacular without destroying the musical patrimony of a rite.

And one in Greek (even though the title is given in Slavonic):

Ὁ Ἄγγελος ἐβόα τῇ Κεχαριτωμένῃ· Ἁγνὴ Παρθένε, χαῖρε, καί πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαῖρε· ὁ σὸς Υἱὸς ἀνέστη τριήμερος ἐκ τάφου. Φωτίζου, φωτίζου, ἡ νέα Ἱερουσαλήμ, ἡ γὰρ δόξα Κυρίου ἐπὶ σὲ ἀνέτειλε· χόρευε νῦν, καὶ ἀγάλλου Σιών. Σὺ δὲ ἁγνή, τέρπου, Θεοτόκε, ἐν τῇ ἐγέρσει τοῦ τόκου σου.

(You can discover many more versions yourself by putting the words “The Angel Cried”, “ Ὁ ῎Αγγελος ἐβόα ” or “Ангел вопияше” as the search criterion on YouTube.)

EF Mass for the Queenship of Mary in Brooklyn

The church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Brooklyn, New York, will have a Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 31st, beginning at 7 pm; the church is located at 245 Prospect Park West.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Easter Sunday 2019 Photopost (Part 2)

And so we finally come to the second Easter photopost, and the last of this year’s series. (Well, almost; there will be one more on a special topic.) The total number of photographs published, including everything from Palm Sunday to this one, is over 670, spread out over 17 posts! Once again, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who sent these in, participating in the work of evangelizing though beauty, and celebrating the richness of our Catholic liturgical tradition. Our next photopost will be for Pentecost; a reminder will be posted shortly before the day, which is June 9th this year. In the meantime, we are always glad to share photos of special events such as the upcoming Rogation processions. May the Easter season continue to bring you every blessing in the Risen Lord!

St John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church - Minneapolis, Minnesota

A New Liturgical Calendar Website

I recently learned of the existence of a new website, Catholic Liturgical Calendars, which I believe our readers will find very useful. The site hosts a program which generates liturgical calendars for the various forms of the Roman rite; one can also choose to add to the General Calendar the feasts of a huge number of local calendars, and those proper to a wide variety of religious orders. Thanks to the creator of the site, Mr Peter Day-Milne, for bringing it to my attention.
  • The calendar of the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite is available in English for the years 1970 to 4099, with the propers of 75 countries and 25 religious orders. The program accounts for the particular rules of the proper calendars of England, Wales and the United States, and includes details of the holy days of obligation celebrated in these countries, and also in Spain, Ireland and Scotland. 
  • The calendar of the Extraordinary Form is also available; outputs generated according to its rubrics are available from 1583, although only from 1960 will results accord precisely with the true calendar used that year. The Extraordinary Form Calendar, like the Ordinary Form one, is also available for years up to and including 4099. Regional feasts are available on the EF calendar for England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Spain and the United States.
  • The calendars of all three Personal Ordinariates can be accessed through the province-selecting box that appears when England, Wales, Scotland, Australia or the United States is selected as the “region”.
  • The creator of the site is also working on a version for the Byzantine Rite, although this is still in the development phase.
Here are some screen shots of what the results look like, starting with the standard view. On small screens, the list on the left will appear at the bottom of the screen instead. The box on the lower right gives the name of the current day’s celebration.

On handheld devices, it appears like this.
 A more detailed view is also available, which looks like this on larger screens.
 And finally, there is also a printable view.

Solemn Mass for Our Lady of Sacro Monte in Clifton, NJ, May 19

On Sunday, May 19th, Our Lady of Sacro Monte Society will host a Solemn High Mass with Gregorian chant, along with an Italian cultural festival, in honor of Our Lady of Sacro Monte of Novi Velia, Salerno. The Mass will begin at 11:30 a.m. at her shrine at Holy Face Monastery, 1697 Route 3 East, Clifton, New Jersey. Following Mass there will be a procession on the monastery grounds with the statue of Our Lady, her canopy and authentic Italian candle-houses. Food will be sold and games will held throughout the day. For more information, contact, visit, or call Pat at 201-658-0775.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Photos of the Holy Land from Fr Lew

Our long-time contributor Fr Lawrence Lew, who is an extremely talented photographer, was on pilgrimage in the Holy Land recently, and has very kindly shared with us some of his pictures.

A view of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem, with the church of the Holy Sepulchre at its heart. The tower on the right is one of the newest churches in the Old City, that of the Lutherans.
The icon of Christ Crucified on Calvary
The Aedicule of the Tomb and the rotunda.
The votive lamp directly in front of the icon of the Resurrection that surmounts the entrance to the Aedicule.
Enamelled icons of the Resurrection of Christ and of the Apostles above the entrance into the Aedicule.

Video of Medieval Vespers of Easter in Paris (2019)

As I described in an article last month, Vespers of Easter Sunday and the days within the octave was celebrated in the Middle Ages according to a special form used only in that period. There were many variations to the ceremony; my article was based on the Use of Sarum, simply because the rubrics of Sarum liturgical books are more thorough than those of most other medieval Uses. When the See of Paris passed over from its Neo-Gallican Use to the Roman books in 1871, a special indult was granted to continue the celebration of Vespers in this form, and this is still done at the church of St Eugène. As part of our Holy Week and Easter photopost series, here is the video of the full ceremony, from the YouTube channel of our dear friends of the Schola Sainte-Cécile, followed by some pictures; you can follow the ceremony in this pdf booklet in Latin and French:

The entrance procssion; the cantors wear apparelled amices, as was commonly done on the more solemn feasts in the Middle Ages.
The cantors stand before the altar for the singing of the Gradual, Alleluia and Sequence.
The procession to the baptismal font with the Paschal candle.

A First Mass in the Traditional Rite in San Francisco This Sunday

This coming Sunday, a newly ordained priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Rev. Michael Rocha, will celebrate the traditional rite for his very first Mass, at Star of the Sea parish, located at 4420 Geary Blvd in San Francisco. The Mass will begin at 11:30 a.m., and feature William Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices, and Josquin des Prez’s Ave Maria, Virgo Serena as a Communion motet. Fr Rocha will be ordained the day before, Saturday, May 18th, by H.E. Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, at the cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption, located at 1111 Gough St; the ceremony begins at 10 a.m. See the website of Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco for further details. Congratulations to Dcn. Rocha!

A solemn Mass in the Dominican Rite at Star of the Sea in 2013.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Procession of the Relics of St Stanislaus in Krakow

On May 8th, the church in Poland keeps the feast of one of the nation’s Patron Saints, Stanislaus, bishop of Krakow and martyr (1030-79; made bishop in 1072). There is a great deal of uncertainty about the details of his life, but the broad outline is that he reproved and excommunicated King Bolesław II for his great cruelty and immoral life, and was for this reason murdered while celebrating Mass by the king in person. Devotion to him as a Saint began immediately after his death, and was confirmed when Pope Innocent IV formally canonized him in 1253. The presence of his relics in the church of the Wawel Castle made it a shrine of great importance and a place of pilgrimage; the Polish kings were traditionally crowned while kneeling before the silver sarcophagus which contains them.

Each year on the Sunday after his feast, the bishop of Krakow leads a procession from the Wawel to “the Church on the Rock”, a shrine built on the site of the martyrdom about a kilometer away. Relics of Stanislaus and many other Saints, pictures and statues are carried in the procession, which is attended by all ranks of clergy and religious, lay confraternities and pious associations; many people wear historical costumes as well. In recent times, this procession has become a national event of some importance. Pope St John Paul II, who was elected in October of 1978, wanted his first trip back to Poland to coincide with the feast, which that year would have been the ninth centenary of the Saint’s death. However, the Communist government, fearful of what it meant for the Pope to personally celebrate a bishop martyred for resisting an immoral goverment in this fasion, refused permission, and the trip was delayed until June.

By the kind permission of Mr Adam Wojnar, and of Dom Jakobus, a canon of Herzogenburg Abbey in Austria, who administers a Facebook page dedicated to the variosu orders and congregations of Augustinian Canons Regular, here are some photographs of the procession from this past Sunday. (©Adam Wojnar)

A Medieval Hymn for Eastertide

Many medieval breviaries, including those of the Sarum Use, the Cistercians, Carmelites and Premonstratensians, have a hymn for the Easter season which is not found in the Roman Breviary, Chorus novae Jerusalem by St Fulbert, bishop of Chartres, who died in 1029. The original version of the Latin text, and the English translation of John Mason Neale (1867), are given below. In the recording, the monks of the French abbey of Ligugé sing the revsied version which Dom Anselmo Lentini made for the Liturgy of Hours; the differences are explained in the notes below the table.

Chorus novae Jerusalem,
Novam meli dulcedinem,
Promat, colens cum sobriis
Paschale festum gaudiis.
Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem!
To sweet new strains attune your theme;
The while we keep, from care releas’d,
With sober joy our Paschal Feast:
Quo Christus, invictus leo

Dracone surgens obruto
Dum voce viva personat
A morte functos excitat.
When Christ, Who spake the Dragon’s
Rose, Victor-Lion, from the tomb,
That while with living voice He cries,
The dead of other years might rise.
Quam devorarat improbus
Praedam refudit tartarus
Captivitate libera
Jesum sequuntur agmina
Engorg’d in former years, their prey
Must Death and Hell restore to-day:
And many a captive soul, set free,
With Jesus leaves captivity.
Triumphat ille splendide
Et dignus amplitudine
Soli polique patriam
Unam facit rempublicam
Right gloriously He triumphs now,
Worthy to Whom should all things bow;
And, joining heaven and earth again,
Links in one commonweal the twain.
Ipsum canendo supplices
Regem precemur milites
Ut in suo clarissimo
Nos ordinet palatio
And we, as these His deeds we sing,
His suppliant soldiers, pray our King,
That in His Palace, bright and vast,
We may keep watch and ward at last.
Esto perenne mentibus
Paschale, Jesu, gaudium,
Et nos renatos gratiae
Tuis triumphis aggrega.

(in the recording, but not in the
original text) 
Per saecla metae nescia
Patri supremo gloria,
Honorque sit cum Filio
Et Spiritu Paraclito. Amen.
Long as unending ages run,
To God the Father laud be done;
To God the Son our equal praise,
And God the Holy Ghost, we raise.

A literal transation of the hymn’s beginning would read “Let the choir of the new Jerusalem bring forth the new sweetness of a song.” The word “meli – song” is the genitive singular form of the Greek word “melos” (as in “melody”); this is unusual in Latin, and the line was emended in various ways. The Premonstratensians, e.g., changed it to “nova melos dulcedine – Let the choir of the new Jerusalem being forth a song with new sweetness.” Dom Lentini disturbed the original text less by changing it to “Hymni novam dulcedinem – the new sweetness of a hymn.”

This manuscript of the mid-11th century (British Library, Cotton Vesp. d. xii; folio 74v, image cropped), is one of the two oldest with the text of this hymn.
Unfortunately, he then decided to remove altogether the original doxology, which is unique to this hymn, in favor of his re-written version of the double doxology used at most hymns of the Easter season.

Esto perenne mentibus
Paschale, Jesu, gaudium,
Et nos renatos gratiae
Tuis triumphis aggrega.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria
Qui morte victa praenites
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula.

“Be to our minds the endless joy of Easter, o Jesus, and join us, reborn of grace to Thy triumphs. – Jesus, to Thee be glory, who shinest forth, death being conquered, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, unto eternal ages.”

It is not difficult to figure out the rationale behind this change, since it appears in other features of the reform as well. As Fr Hunwicke wrote four years ago, “The post-Conciliar reforms made much of Easter being 50 days long and being one single Great Day of Feast. They renamed the Sundays as  ‘of Easter’ rather than ‘after Easter’, and chucked out the old collects for the Sundays after Easter ...  because they didn’t consider them ‘Paschal’ enough.” (The “old” collects to which he refers are all found in the Gelasian Sacramentary in the same places they have in the Missal of St Pius V.) Likewise, St Fulbert’s original conclusion makes no direct reference to Easter.

CMAA Chant Intensive with Jeffrey Morse, June 24-28

Once again, the CMAA will be offering the Summer Chant Intensive at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this year from June 24-28. This course has been a valuable springboard for Catholic musicians who wanted to learn more about Gregorian chant, many of whom got their start in directing scholas and choirs because of this course, which was offered for the first time in 2008. The instructor this year will be Jeffrey Morse, who has provided us with this letter that includes more detail about the scope of the program.

“Over the years teaching chant to various groups at the Colloquium, many students had expressed their desire for more Chant instruction, particularly in subjects like the modes, but due to the time limitation of the Colloquium, it was impossible to cover these topics.

If you were one of these students wanting more, the Chant Intensive is for you! The topics of the Chant Intensive are provided on the CMAA website, but I thought that perhaps it might prove helpful to expand a bit on the course description and syllabus, which can be a bit off putting and vague as they are necessarily short and succinct.

The Chant Intensive is offered for everyone, with little or no chant experience, but particularly for those with an intermediate level of knowledge of plainchant and even for the advanced. I think all levels will find something useful in this Intensive. While no chant knowledge, or little is required for the class, some will be helpful as the basics of Chant, the reading of the square notes, the staff, etc. will be done at a fairly good pace, serving as a review for the others in the first sessions. In my experience in teaching over the years, this is fine for beginners, but if you would like to go at a much slower pace, perhaps ‘Laus in Ecclesia Level I’, offered at the same time, might be a better fit.

In the course of the week, we will explore the 8 modes in which Chant is written. Their individual qualities and sounds, using solfège (do, re, mi) to learn the modes and be able to sing them. Modal studies will also focus on examples of Chant representing every mode, the important notes in each, and how over centuries these notes have sometimes changed, as well as the psalm-tone for each mode. In the learning of the psalm-tones, or the little melodies to which the psalms are sung, we will learn how exactly the psalms are sung to each of these melodies and the rules of ‘Pointing’ accents and preparatory syllables that make it possible. Emphasis too, will be placed on how a good unified, choral tone is cultivated, as well as good basic vocal techniques helpful for those students with choirs or even for themselves! The simple and natural rhythm of Chant, from the simple syllabic chants of the Ordinary of the Mass and Gregorian hymns, to the melismatic glories of the alleluias and Graduals and everything in between will be explored thoroughly in singing through as much of the Gregorian repertoire as possible, with time spent on teaching the direction of Chant (chironomy), with students able to practice the direction techniques learned with the group.

Lastly, we will be returning to the very sources of the Chant in a basic introduction to the reading of the notation of the St Gall school (9th century) which is the earliest notation in the Western world. We will talk about how these manuscripts helped in the melodic restoration of the Chant in the late 19th and early 20th century by the monks of Solesmes, and we will discover how their amazing subtleties, not carried through in the square note notation of later centuries, can inform and finesse our interpretation of the Chant breathing freshness, light, and life into the sacred texts it serves.

A folio of the Antiphonary of Hartker, San Gallen Codex 390, with the beginning of the first repsonsory of the ecclesiastical year, Aspiciens a longe. (Click here to listen to a recording of this beautiful piece, conducted by Dr Morse.)
For those wanting a more thorough grounding and exposure to Gregorian Chant than what is possible at the Colloquium, this class is for you. I am grateful to the CMAA for offering the Chant Intensive each year, for I can think of nowhere else where such a complete education in the Chant is offered in such a concentrated fashion. With this class, it is hoped that the students will gain the confidence and skills to form and direct their own scholas or choirs, or become better directors of already existing ones, to bring this unparalleled music of the Church forward to our parishes and future generations, this music with its unique and singular ability to lift minds and hearts to God.

Looking forward to seeing old friends at the Chant Intensive and making new ones, singing with you all and passing it on! See you in Pittsburgh!”

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Easter Sunday 2019 Photopost (Part 1)

Our Easter Sunday photopost is usually the shortest of the series which begins on Palm Sunday; I suppose by that point, the photographers are just as tired as the clergy. Nevertheless, we have enough submissions to make two this year, for the first time since I took over as editor. Many thanks once again to everyone who sent these in!

Mater Ecclesiae - Berlin, New Jersey
San Simon Piccolo - Venice, Italy (FSSP)
Ukrainian Greek Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family - Washington, D.C.

Monastic Experience Weekend at St Mary’s in Petersham, Mass., May 31 - June 2

Live a Life in L - Liturgy, Lectio, Labor!

The next monastic experience weekend for men at St Mary’s Benedictine Monastery in Petersham, Massachusetts, will take place at the end of the month, May 31 - June 2. It is open to men aged 18-40 years of age. This is now the third year that they have put this on, and each time the response has been positive. The hope is to attract vocations, which has happened in the past, but there are great benefits to both attendees and the community alike, regardless if any ever come back again. There is a poster with contact details below, and as before, Fr Dunstan has recorded one of his slightly off-the-monastic-perimeter-wall videos.

Their rule for discerning vocation is interesting: listen twice, act once. This is very similar to what my icon painting teacher Aidan Hart always says in regard to artistic inspiration: think twice, paint once. The discernment of vocation is, in one sense, looking for inspiration on how to paint the picture of our life for which each of us the artist, so it is not surprising that the two contemplatives, artist and monk might adopt a similar approach.

In his video and in the poster, there is a request for prayers for the community, as they say, people often forget to pray for the pray-ers!

Fr Gregory and the Vocations Team, St Mary’s Monastery:

Monday, May 13, 2019

Rebuilding Authentic Catholicism upon the Ruins of the Conciliar Experiment

I was invited to do the following interview by the Italian magazine Radici Cristiane, edited by Roberto de Mattei. It appeared in the April issue under the title “L’«usus antiquior» ci salverà – Intervista al dott. Peter Kwasniewski.” The original English text is reproduced below, with permission of Radici Cristiane.

Radici Cristiane: We are going through an historical period of crisis in the Church. Just think of the decline in vocations, churches more empty everyday, abuses in the liturgy more and more numerous ... However, in churches where Mass is celebrated in ancient rite, there is a very high presence of young people. How can this be explained? 

Dr Kwasniewski: The phenomenon is not difficult to explain. The contemporary world presents constant temptations to young people, whether in the attraction of intellectual fads or in the ubiquitous moral snares of unchastity and other vices. For this reason, most youths in the Western world are corrupted by the time of adolescence: they are practical atheists, hedonists, materialists, bored, indifferent to truth, addicted to easy stimulation. If, in the midst of this degrading morass, there are any young people left who really want to go against this trend and lay claim to the Christian Faith, they will be looking for something serious, demanding, countercultural — something that can satisfy the searchings of the mind and the desires of the heart.

Young people in the West have to fight to believe and to worship. So there has to be something to fight for. The ancient Roman liturgy and the customs, beliefs, artistic culture, and worldview that tend to go along with it offer the kind of rich, complex, all-encompassing framework of meaning that inspires confident self-surrender, the pursuit of virtue, the motivation to keep living and to share life generously. People are drawn upwards by the worship of the transcendent God and forwards by the pride of receiving and delivering a great inheritance. It gives us a sense of belonging at a time when so many are rejecting their families, their cultures, their identities, their very selves; it gives us a sense of stability in an age that is formless and void.

The new liturgy was designed to appeal to modern people. Why do you think it has failed?

The reformed liturgical rites are characterized — both in their official books and in the universal manner in which they have been implemented — by a very modern emphasis on autonomy, spontaneity, local “ownership,” popular and secular styles of music and art, and an utter contempt for the way our ancestors worshiped for as many centuries as we have records.

This is not only unattractive for serious searchers, it is positively nauseating. No church will ever flourish when, instead of initiating people into divine mysteries that are seen, heard, and felt to be mysterious, awe-inspiring, fearful, timeless, it merely hands them over to a banal and verbose prayer service of contemporaries imprisoned in their contemporaneity.

The number one cause of the exodus of youth is that the “Vatican II Church” has absolutely nothing to offer young men and women — spiritually, morally, intellectually, culturally — that could spark their curiosity, awaken their conscience, capture their imagination, or open before them a path that is utterly different from the one our society is treading.

The Progress of Vatican II with Modern Youth
In your article “How the Best Attacks against the Traditional Latin Mass Fail,” you quote Dr. Alice von Hildebrand saying that the devil hates Mass in ancient rite. Why?

The devil hates discipline, order, beauty, humility, self-sacrifice, liturgical praise, tradition, and the priesthood. The ancient Roman liturgy — and I’m speaking here not just of Mass, but also of the Divine Office and all the sacramental rites — is permeated with order and beauty. It calls for immense humility, discipline, and self-surrender on the part of the ministers who undertake its correct and fitting celebration. It deliberately suppresses individuality and the desire to “shine” or to “be oneself” as the phrase is currently used. It is ordered to the adoration and glorification of God, with Christ Himself as the High Priest, and everyone else as the servant. Paradoxically, it edifies and benefits the faithful themselves precisely because it is theocentric and Christocentric, not anthropocentric like modern philosophy and culture.

Lucifer, the most beautiful of God’s creatures, fell in love with himself. His sin was one of egocentricity, self-celebration. Therefore any movement in liturgy towards freeing or applauding or celebrating or cultivating the “ego” of the ministers or the faithful is diabolical in its origin and effect. The Church in her God-given wisdom had always understood the danger of the unleashed “charismatic” personality and had guarded against it by rites notable for their objectivity, stability, precision, dogmatic clarity, ascetical requirements, and aesthetic nobility. These characteristics, in and of themselves, counteract certain recurring tendencies of fallen human nature, such as emotionalism or sentimentalism, relativism, ambiguity, haphazardness, indulgence, and aestheticism (of which utter lack of taste or carelessness of appearance is a peculiar genetic mutation).

The ancient liturgy gives the unambiguous role of sacramental mediator to the priest and, in varying degrees, to his assistants. This mediatorial role is a living icon of the Incarnation of the one Mediator between God and man, against which Satan rebelled. The one “liturgical reform” Satan is always seeking is to pull the Church away from the Incarnation, from a sacramental economy rooted in the Eucharistic flesh of Christ, and from the whole structure of rites, ceremonies, and prayers that embody it.

In every aspect, the usus antiquior is like a perpetual exorcism of the devil, pointing over and over again to the incarnate God’s triumph over the ancient enemy of human nature. The very fact that the new liturgy abolished or abbreviated exorcisms wherever they were found — in the rite of baptism, in various blessings, in the very rite of exorcism itself! — speaks volumes.

Really, there is so much one could say to unpack this extremely perceptive remark of Dietrich von Hildebrand, as reported by his wife. One could write a book on it: “The Devil’s in the Details: The Postconciliar Liturgical Reform and the Spirit of Satan.” One wonders if the confused and tormented Pope Paul VI was sensing the same truth when he said in 1972, only shortly after the introduction of the monumental rupture of the Novus Ordo: “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” Perhaps that fissure was nothing else than the incessant liturgical reforms of the 20th century, which culminated in a change in the lex orandi of earthquake proportions.

Crossing out the Cross: psychotherapy for unbelievers
At the convention for the tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, it was said that “celebrating the ancient rite means looking with hope to the future.” How is the return of the usus antiquior an effective way to counter the crisis of the Church we are living in these times?

The solution to the mess into which we have fallen through a long series of bad decisions is simple and at the same time exceedingly hard: we have to make the opposite decisions, again and again. The Church needs to stop thinking about new strategies, new programs, new pastoral initiatives, or any statistical measure of success, and resolutely throw herself again into the proclamation of the full Gospel, including its “hard sayings”; the celebration of solemn and beautiful liturgy; the building of monasteries and religious communities on the foundation of the usus antiquior; the cultivation of an intellectually robust curriculum in seminaries and universities; an encouragement of large families, as in the old days, and the promotion of homeschooling. Only by taking a seriously countercultural path is there any long-term hope for Catholicism. As a believer, I am convinced that the Faith will survive and prosper again, but only where such things are being done, or to the degree that they are being done.

What can be done to transmit to and make understood by future generations the importance of Mass according to the usus antiquior?

First and foremost, the number of places where the ancient liturgy is offered must continue to increase, in spite of all pressures to the contrary. In this time of official hostility, especially in Europe, priests will often have to learn the old Mass and say it in secret, as the undercover Jesuit missionaries in Elizabethan England had to do in their century.

As no man can believe what he has not heard, so no Catholic can learn how to think and live as a Catholic without having access to the preeminent treasure of the Faith, namely, the Roman rite in its fullness. Whenever and wherever these Masses are offered, worshipers will invariably show up at them.

I remember in college we had a chaplain who offered the traditional Latin Mass privately, but everyone who cared to know knew that it was taking place, and many students availed themselves of this opportunity — including future members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. This is how I was introduced to the old rite: as a disciplina arcani, just as in the early Church! And even now, so many years after Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum, it’s still often the case that we must fight to win territory for the Mass of the Ages.

Many people today are “converting” from Novus Ordo “Catholicism Lite” to the traditional Catholic Faith, prompted in part by the travesty of Pope Francis’s pontificate. But there are also children growing up in Catholic families who drink it in with their mother’s milk, so to speak; for them, learning the ancient liturgy is no different from learning the alphabet or the catechism. I know quite a few adults in the USA who, having faithfully assisted at the old Mass from their childhood, have never attended a Novus Ordo, or who see it for the first time when they get to college. To me, this is an enormously hopeful sign: a new generation of people uncontaminated by the false assumptions and principles of the liturgical reform, who can carry Catholic tradition forward into the future, and who, coming from outside, can easily see the Novus Ordo for the wreckage it is and will always be, no matter how much it is dressed up and made to look pretty.

Passing on the tradition, one Mass at a time
Do you think there are weaknesses in the traditional movement that might need to be overcome?

Yes, I think we can often take for granted the riches we have, almost “hoarding” them, and not going out of our way to try to bring others into the movement so that they can be blessed with what we, through no merits of our own, have discovered and couldn’t live without.

In spite of what I was saying about secrecy, most of the time we are (at least for now) “above ground” and fully capable of advertising what we are doing and why. Those who love the Church’s traditions need to be intelligently zealous about promoting the usus antiquior, through pamphlets and publications, lectures, conferences, social gatherings, study groups, invitations to strangers, and above all, tolerance for those who are showing interest or starting to come but who are not yet “on board” in regard to how they speak or dress, what their social and political views are, etc. We need to be very patient with them, remembering that — given how much the Faith has been hidden and even suppressed in the past half-century — an intellectual and moral conversion to authentic Catholicism can take a very long time, sometimes years or decades. In my own life, it took many years of experiences, conversations, and study to reach the conclusions I hold today, and yet now, as I look back, it all looks so obvious. As a result, I always try to remember how things used to look when I was an ultramontanist or papolater, and how they look to me now.

How sad it would be if inquisitive people felt shunned or unwelcome among us. I know there have to be standards of dress and behavior, but somehow we need to keep trying to reach the mainstream Catholics, and even the so-called “nones,” the people who have no religion at all. The mightiest work of evangelization ever undertaken will be, in the future, the rebuilding of authentic Catholicism from the ruins of the conciliar experiment.

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