Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fr Richard McBrien RIP

I have just seen a report that Fr Richard McBrien has died after a lengthy illness. (Also here, at the website of Notre Dame University, where he formerly taught.) Fr McBrien was a prominent presence in the American Catholic world from the 1970s on, often called upon by the media to comment on Catholic issues. He was also a prominent dissenter from the magisterial teachings of the Church, and promoter of other dissenters, such as Hans Kung and Charles Curran. Pray for the repose of his soul, in Latin.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

How You Can Help - Scholarship Fund for Seminarians and Religious to Sacra Liturgia USA 2015

Are you interested in improving the liturgy in your diocese or parish but unable to come to Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 this June?

Please consider donating to the scholarship fund for seminarians and religious to attend the conference, or consider sponsoring someone you know to come to the conference.

I have already received numerous requests for scholarships from seminarians who are tight on funds, as well as religious communities bound to the vow of poverty who would very much like to come to the conference to receive formation but are unable to do so. To make a contribution, send an email to and we will be in touch about how to make a donation. Every contribution made with this intention will be reserved specifically for this purpose.

Additionally, if you are a seminarian or member of a religious community and would like to get on the waiting list for scholarships, please send an email to stating your interest in the conference and your financial need.

May God bless your generosity.

Vintage Missa Solemnis Videos from England

A reader recently send in some videos of fascinating historical interest from Ushaw College in England. I found them interesting, and I hope you do as well. In the first video, Mass begins around the 8 minute mark, and appears to be the Christmas Mass at midnight (Dominus Dixit). In the second, the procession begins right away, with the asperges around the 6 minute mark, and is one of the last Sundays after Pentecost (dicit dominus ego cogito). Interestingly, they both have entire Masses, not just clips.

All of them were from Offerimus Tibi Domine. HT to Sam Guzman for the find.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Sermon by Cardinal Burke: On the Marriage of the Virgin Mary with St Joseph

January 23rd is the traditional day of the feast called “The Espousal of the Virgin Mary with St Joseph.” Although never on the general Calendar, it was kept by many religious orders, especially those with a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and on many local calendars. On January 10th, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke celebrated a Votive Mass of the Espousal of the Virgin in the Basilica of San Nicola in Carcere in Rome, as part of a recent conference of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy; this Mass was chosen because marriage and the family, and issues related to them, were the topic of the conference. His Eminence has very kindly allowed New Liturgical Movement to share the full text of his sermon with our readers, for which we offer him our gratitude. (The Scriptural readings of this Mass are Proverbs 8, 22-35, and Matthew 1, 18-21.)

Celebrating the Votive Mass of the Marriage of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint Joseph, we contemplate anew the great mystery of God’s immeasurable and unceasing love for us. In the brief account from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, we see how God provided that His only-begotten Son be incarnate in the immaculate womb of the Virgin Mary and at the same time, by His Incarnation, become part of the family of Joseph and Mary. In other words, although Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary had married before the virginal conception of God the Son in Mary’s womb, they did so with full respect for the consecration of Mary’s virginity to God from her youth, the offering of her virginity to God for consecration. In other words, Saint Joseph had married Mary with the intention to honor, throughout their marriage, her consecrated virginity.

From the text of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, it is clear that Mary was already married to Saint Joseph at the time of the Annunciation, but that Saint Joseph had not yet brought her into his home. For that reason, upon learning of her pregnancy, Saint Joseph, for the sake of decency, thought to divorce her in as discreet a manner as possible. To be clear, the word “betrothed” is not rightly understood as “engaged,” but rather as “espoused” or “married,” as the rest of the language of the text makes clear.

Here, it is important to recall the Jewish Rite of Marriage, which the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, as devout Jews, were carefully observing. The Rite consisted of two phases: a first phase by which the contract of marriage was sealed, making the parties truly husband and wife, and a second phase by which the marriage was consummated by the bringing of the wife into the home of her husband. In his Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, Pope Saint John Paul II, described the observance of the Jewish marriage practice by the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph with these words:
According to Jewish custom, marriage took place in two stages: first, the legal, or true marriage was celebrated, and then, only after a certain period of time, the husband brought the wife into his house. Thus, before he lived with Mary, Joseph was already her husband.
Mary is indeed the spouse of Saint Joseph and, therefore, the Divine Child conceived in her womb by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit is a member of the family of Joseph and Mary, and enjoys the divine maternity of the Virgin Mary and the foster-fatherhood or guardianship of Saint Joseph.

Father René Laurentin, making reference to Mary’s decision from her youth “not to belong to any man but to God alone,” thus describes her marital status at the time of the Annunciation:
The Bibles inexactly translate “engaged,” while Mary is really married to Joseph in keeping with the two phases of Hebrew marriage: the consent (qidushin) before the Annunciation, and the second phase, the introduction of the wife into the house of the husband (nissuin), in accord with Joseph’s agreement to a virginal marriage (non-consummated). - (Marie, source directe de l’Évangile de l’Enfance).
Father Laurentin goes on to explain how Mary, by reason of her status of wife in a virginal marriage, believed that she had renounced the possibility of maternity of the Messiah. Accordingly, at the Annunciation, she asked the Archangel Gabriel: “How shall this happen, since I do not know man.” The Archangel then made clear that it is precisely her virginity which prepared her to be the Mother of God. Father Laurentin, referring to her vow of virginity, writes:
But this vow brought about, on the contrary, the only means of achieving this unique privilege. Such are the paradoxes of the Most High. She receives, then, the response which makes new and clarifies everything. (ibid.)
The Church, in fact, has seen in the text about the eternal wisdom of God from the Book of Proverbs an image of the Virgin Mary whom God had chosen, from the beginning, to be the Mother of the Redeemer: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.” The inspired text draws us into a deeper reflection on Mary’s Marriage to Joseph and her Divine Maternity in the great Mystery of Faith, the mystery of our eternal salvation. Searching its deepest meaning, we understand the truth of the final verses:
For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; But he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death.
Contemplating the Marriage of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint Joseph, we see how, at the very beginning of the work of salvation, God the Father took care that the conception of His only-begotten Son in our human flesh be virginal, as it indeed must be, but, at the same time, completely legitimate, so that it manifest fully the truth, beauty and goodness of God. God the Son is virginally conceived in the womb of Mary, Wife of Saint Joseph. The Gospel according to Saint Matthew is marked, in particular, by attention to the juridical nature of our faith and its practice, presenting Christ as the New Moses, the New Lawgiver, most eminently in the Sermon on the Mount. It is inconceivable that God the Son, at His Incarnation, would not respect fully, indeed would not bring to perfection, both the virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the sanctity of her marriage to Saint Joseph.

The accurate understanding of the marital status of Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary is important for our fuller knowledge and love of the Mystery of Faith, but it is also important for the avoidance of a confusion and an error which are common today. Reference is made to the serious situation in the revised edition of The Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Basic Catholic Catechism Course. It will be helpful to quote a part of his treatment of the subject:
The fact that Jesus was virginally conceived and born after the marriage of Mary and Joseph means that Jesus was conceived and born within wedlock. This is contrary to what so many, even priests, are saying at the present time, namely, that Jesus was born out of wedlock, like the children of so many unmarried women today, and that this is not an “abnormal” situation. A pregnant, un-wed mother is said to be, according to these people, in the same condition as Mary, who they claim was also un-wed at the time she conceived Jesus. This is false; it is indeed a very serious falsehood, for it undermines the sanctity of marriage and the reason for that sanctity. It is said by defenders of this position that Jesus was conceived after Mary and Joseph were engaged, but not yet married. (The Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Basic Catholic Catechism Course, Manual, Revised Edition, ed. Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.),
The erroneous position described above is held not only by those who knowingly dissent from the constant teaching of the Church but also by many individuals who are simply poorly catechized and therefore fall prey to such false teaching.

The importance of clarity regarding the marriage of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint Joseph is also most important for the discussions regarding marriage undertaken at the present time by the Synod of Bishops. While the Synod of Bishops is called to lift up the beauty of marriage, as God established it from the beginning, there is a strong attempt to introduce discussions about the so-called “positive elements” in the cohabitation of a man and of a woman, like husband and wife, without respect for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We see in the marriage of Mary and Joseph, in a most remarkable way, the beauty of marriage, established by God at the Creation and restored to its original perfection by God the Son Incarnate at the Redemption. Contemplating the marriage of Mary and Joseph, we understand more fully and heartfeltly the words of Christ Himself, when the Pharisees tested him regarding the truth of the indissolubility of marriage:
Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one”? What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder. (Matthew 19, 4-6)
The teaching of Christ on Holy Matrimony shines forth with particular splendor in the marriage of His Mother Mary and His Foster-Father Joseph.

We are about to witness the great victory of the Cross, the great work of God the Son Who took our human nature in the immaculate womb of the Virgin Mary. Christ now sacramentally offers the Sacrifice of Calvary. He gives us the incomparable fruit of His Sacrifice: His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He gives us the Heavenly Medicine and Food by which we overcome sin in our lives and live in true freedom for love of God and our neighbor. May our contemplation of the Mystery of Faith in the marriage of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint Joseph inspire us to teach, to celebrate, and to live the truth about Holy Matrimony, as God established it from the beginning and redeemed it through His saving Passion, Death and Resurrection. May we seek always in the Eucharistic Mystery the grace so to teach, so to celebrate, and so to live.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Earliest Known Piece of Polyphonic Music Discovered

This news dates back over a month, but was just brought to my attention today. The website of the University of Cambridge published a report last December on the discovery of a manuscript fragment which contains the oldest known piece of polyphonic music. (Click the link above to read the complete article.)
The earliest known practical example of polyphonic music - a piece of choral music written for more than one part - has been found in a British Library manuscript in London.
The inscription is believed to date back to the start of the 10th century and is the setting of a short chant dedicated to Boniface, patron Saint of Germany. It is the earliest practical example of a piece of polyphonic music – the term given to music that combines more than one independent melody – ever discovered.
Written using an early form of notation that predates the invention of the stave, ... (t)he piece was discovered by Giovanni Varelli, a PhD student from St John’s College, University of Cambridge, while he was working on an internship at the British Library. He discovered the manuscript by chance, and was struck by the unusual form of the notation. Varelli specialises in early musical notation, and realised that it consisted of two vocal parts, each complementing the other.
Polyphony defined most European music up until the 20th century, but it is not clear exactly when it emerged. Treatises which lay out the theoretical basis for music with two independent vocal parts survive from the early Middle Ages, but until now the earliest known examples of a practical piece written specifically for more than one voice came from a collection known as The Winchester Troper, which dates back to the year 1000.
Varelli’s research suggests that the author of the newly-found piece – a short “antiphon” with a second voice providing a vocal accompaniment – was writing around the year 900.
... the piece is also significant because it deviates from the convention laid out in treatises at the time. This suggests that even at this embryonic stage, composers were experimenting with form and breaking the rules of polyphony almost at the same time as they were being written.
“What’s interesting here is that we are looking at the birth of polyphonic music and we are not seeing what we expected,” Varelli said....
Nicolas Bell, music curator at the British Library, said "This is an exciting discovery. When this manuscript was first catalogued in the eighteenth century, nobody was able to understand these unusual symbols. We are delighted that Giovanni Varelli has been able to decipher them and understand their importance to the history of music."
The complete text of the antiphon is: Sancte Bonifati, martyr inclyte Christi, te quaesumus ut nos tuis precibus semper gratiae Dei commendare digneris. (Saint Boniface, renowned martyr of Christ, we ask thee that by thy prayers, thou may ever deign to commend us to the grace of God.)

British Library MS Harley 3019, with the polyphonic antiphon Sancte Bonifati. Image from the original article.  
The video below shows the piece being performed by Quintin Beer (left) and John Clapham (right), both music undergraduates at St John’s College, University of Cambridge.

An Upcoming Missa Cantata at Princeton University

On February 3rd, the Princeton University Chapel will have a Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at 9 p.m., sponsored by the Aquinas Institute. The Mass will celebrated by Fr. Carlos Hamel of the Fraternity of Saint Joseph the Guardian, assisted by Princeton alumnus Brother Gerhard. A reception will follow after Mass; Latin-English worship aids will be available. More information is available on the event's facebook page.

Image from Wikipedia by Andreas Praefcke

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Blessing of the Lambs on the Feast of St Agnes

Over the course of Lent last year, I did a series of twelve posts of photographs from the Station Churches, taken by a Roman friend, Agnese Bazzucchi. Agnese celebrated her name-day today (tanti auguri!) with a visit to the church of Saint Agnes outside-the-Walls, the original site of the martyr’s burial, and very kindly agreed to share some more photos with us. Each year at the principal Mass of the feast held in this church, the Abbot of the Canons Regular of the Most Holy Savior of the Lateran blesses two lambs; their wool is then shorn to make the pallia which, on the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, the Pope gives to all those who have been made archbishops over the previous year. The second photograph shows how beautifully the church’s sanctuary is decorated for the feast.

In the crypt under the altar is a silver casket donated by Pope Paul V Borghese (1605-22), containing the relics of St Agnes, and also those of St Emerentiana, her “collactanea” or “foster-sister”, whose mother was Agnes’ wet-nurse. According to her legend, two days after Agnes’ martyrdom, Emerentiana was spied praying at her tomb by a gang of pagan thugs, and stoned to death by them on the very site. At the time of her death, she was only a catechumen; the veneration of her as a Saint from very ancient times is an important testimony to the Church’s belief in baptism by blood and by desire. Her feast is on January 23rd in the calendar of the Extraordinary Form.

The Dedication of a New Church in Aiken, SC, February 2, 2015

On February 2nd, the feast of Candlemas, His Excellency Robert Guglielmone, Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, will dedicate the church of St Mary, Help of Christians, in the city of Aiken. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m., and be celebrated in the Ordinary Form; the church is located on Fairfield Street, just north of Park Avenue. The parish was founded in 1853, but has now grown to the point where the current church building is completely inadequate to the size of the congregation; the new building has the capacity to seat 1000. The design is entirely the work of McCreary Architects, who provided us with some images of their designs; the project is scheduled to be completed very shortly. We hope to provide images of the dedication ceremony shortly after it takes place; thanks to those who provided us with these images.

Update: Fr Gregory Wilson, the pastor of St Mary, has sent in photos of some of the church’s furnishing, which I have added below.

An aerial view of the new church
interior view
the west façade
Fr Renaurd West, a priest of the Diocese of Charleston, took these photos back in December; the works have of course advanced considerably since then. In my personal opinion, the mosaic work on the main altar is some of the best of its kind that I have ever seen in a modern church. The architects, designers and clergy involved in this project are much to be commended for a beautiful church in a classical style which embraces and respects the Catholic artistic tradition. 

The front of the main altar
The baldacchino 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Setting for the Salve Regina

My last article about the music of Paul Jernberg and Roman Hurko provoked such a positive response I thought that readers might enjoy listening to this recording  and video of Paul Jernberg’s sublime setting of the Salve Regina. It is on his CD featuring the Mass of St Philip Neri recording in Chicago by the Schola Cantorum of St Peter the Apostle. CDs and sheet music are available from

Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to Rome, October 22-25, 2015

From the Coetus Internationalis Summorum Pontificum: The fourth annual pilgrimage to Rome for supporters of Summorum Pontificum will take place from Thursday, October 22nd through Sunday, October 25th , 2015. The pilgrimage will begin, as every year, with Pontifical Vespers in the FSSP’s personal parish church of Trinità dei Pellegrini, and will conclude with the celebration in the same church of the feast of Christ the King, on Sunday October 25th .

This year the pilgrimage will coincide with the closing of the Synod on the Family, and so the prayer of the pilgrims will be offered, in a particular way, that the Church will once again find home for our “little domestic churches” (Familiaris Consortio, 51) under the protection and guide of the Holy Family of Nazareth, model of conjugal life, of education and sanctification, so that new generations of Catholic families might be the leaven of the new evangelization.

Saturday October 24th, the pilgrimage will arrive at its culmination with the solemn procession towards St Peters and the celebration at noon in the Vatican Basilica of Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The CISP would like to warmly thank His Eminence Cardinal Comasti, Archpriest of St Peters for the generous solicitude with which he agreed, far in advance, to the date and time of the celebration of the Mass.

+39 366 70 46 023

To strengthen the organization, the CISP has decided to nominate the Director, Giannicola D’Amico, as musical coordinator for the pilgrimage:

All relations with the press will be handled by Giovanbattista Varricchio:

Finally some pilgrims who have participated in one of the previous pilgrimages have agreed to become delegates for the pilgrimage for their own countries and for their linguistic groups. Their job will be to disseminate information which regards the pilgrimage in their respective countries and language groups.For the moment, our first national delegates are:

Germany: AnneMarie Wimmer,
Poland: Kasia Jagos,
Denmark: Gideon Ertner,
Hungary: Bertalan Kiss,
France: Jean-Vincent Gaiffe,

The Pope Creates a New Sui Juris Church in Eritrea

It was announced yesterday on the Bulletin of the Holy See that the Holy Father has erected the Eritrean Catholic Church to sui juris status as a Metropolitan Church, separating its territory from that of the Archeparchy of Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia). The 23rd sui juris Church, which follows the Alexandrian liturgical tradition, will comprise four eparchies, covering the entire territory of the nation of Eritrea: the Archeparchy of Asmara, seat of the new Metropolitan and the national capital, and the Eparchies of Barentu, Keren and Segheneity. The Pope has nominated as the first Metropolitan His Excellency Mons. Menghesteab Tesfamariam, who has served hitherto as the Eparch of Asmara. In 1995, the Latin Rite Apostolic Vicariate of Eritrea was abolished, and so the Latin Rite Catholics of Eritrea are also under the spiritual jurisdiction of the new Metropolitan and his suffragans.

The Pope has also created a fourth eparchy of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, that of Bahir Dar - Dessie, the territory of which is also removed from the Archeparchy of Addis Ababa.

The Cathedral of St Joseph in Asmara, Eritrea. Image from wikipedia. by David Stanley.
His Grace Abune Menghesteab Tesfamariam, the newly created Archeparch of Asmara, (in white vestments, and wearing a crown.) Image from the blog of the Eparchy of Asmara

Monday, January 19, 2015

Announcing a New Children’s Book: The Life of Saint Benedict

As father of a family and an oblate of the Benedictine monastery of Norcia, I am truly delighted to be able to announce to NLM readers the publication of a new children’s book on the life of St. Benedict, written by one of the monks of Norcia, Br. John. Below are some photos and the press release from Ignatius.

Let’s be honest: most children’s saint books are a combination of sentimentality, superficiality, and bad artwork, so when a very fine book like this one comes along, it’s a serious cause for rejoicing. Parents ought to snap up this one as quickly as they can. If Alasdair MacIntyre is right that we, in the worn-out West, are desperately looking for a new St. Benedict, it is going to be important to plant those Benedictine seeds early and deeply in the hearts of our children.

As a friend wrote to me: “Now the Monks of Norcia have beer for adults and a book for children!”

SAN FRANCISCO, January 7, 2015 – Who would be better to write a story for children about Saint Benedict than a son of the Saint himself? Br. John McKenzie, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk from the Monks of Norcia, has composed a delightful story that captures the amazing life of this beloved saint, called The Life of Saint Benedict. Children and parents alike will be delighted by the lovely illustrations by artist Mark Brown, lay oblate of the monastery. Based on the biography of Saint Benedict by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, these stories and pictures are rich with interesting details.

Br. John explains why he decided to write a children’s story about his order’s founder, saying, “The life of St. Benedict is filled with great imagery and authentic monastic wisdom. The Benedictine Monastic Life expands over 1,500 years of lived tradition and it has a home on all continents of the world! This book was simply put together so that families, most especially kids, can get a chance to understand the greatness and uniqueness of my holy founder, not to mention his twin sister St. Scholastic who also plays a central role in this book. In short, I wanted to show just how cool St. Benedict really is.”

The holiness of Benedict, his wisdom, his great impact on the world, and his miracles will intrigue and inspire everyone in the family. Also included are stories involving his twin sister, Saint Scholastica.

About the Author: Br. John McKenzie, O.S.B., was born and raised in Detroit, MI. In 2005 he entered the Benedictine Monastery in Norcia, Italy, the birth place of St. Benedict. He made his solemn profession in 2009 and is currently studying theology in Rome.

The book may be ordered from Amazon or directly from the publisher. (The book is also available in Italian, here.)

Sample pages:

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