Friday, March 27, 2015

The Hungarian Greek-Catholic Church Elevated to Sui Juris Status

As reported last week on Vatican Radio and elsewhere, the Holy Father has elevated the Hungarian Greek-Catholic Church to the status of a sui juris church, as he did in January for the Catholics of Alexandrian Rite in Eritrea. The Eparchy of Hajdúdorog has been raised to the status of a Metropolitan See, and His Excellency Fülöp Kocsis has been appointed the first archbishop. The Apostolic Exarchate of Miskolc has been raised to an Eparchy, and a new Eparchy has been created at Nyíregyháza; His Excellency Bishop Atanáz Orosz has been appointed bishop of the former, and Apostolic administrator of the latter sede vacante. Both are suffragan to Hajdúdorog.

The website of the Hungarian Greek-Catholic Church has posted a very large number of photos of the installation of His Excellency Bishop Kocsis; they are also available on the church’s facebook page, along with a number of links to various videos. Here is just a small selection, reproduced with their kind permission.

And here is a video of the complete ceremony; you can make it bigger by clicking the link at the top and watching it in a separate window.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Holy Week Photopost Request

As always, the high point of our photopost collection is Holy Week;. We invite you to send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to for inclusion. We are also always glad to receive photographs of celebrations in the Eastern rites, as well as vespers and the office. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important.

Specifically, we are looking for photos from Palm Sunday, Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Tenebrae, and Easter Sunday.

Evangelize through beauty!

Holy Week Services in the Dominican Rite, East SF Bay Area

A schedule of Dominican Rite Holy Week Services at the Carmel of the Holy Family in Kensington (north Berkeley) CA may be found here. This link will be reposed before the Triduum.

Passiontide Veils 2015 - Your Photos

As always, thanks to all of our readers who sent in photographs of their churches with veils for Passiontide. We are looking forward to seeing your pictures of yesterday’s feast, the Annunciation, followed by Palm Sunday and the rest of Holy Week, and then Easter. (This post has been updated with four new submissions, and we will be happy to add more if they arrive.)

St Mary Magdalene - Brighton, England
for more images see Fr. Ray Blake’s blog:

Missa Cantata in the Premonstratensian Use. Note how right after the Consecration, the priest stretches his hands out in the form of Cross, a very common custom of medieval uses.

Oratory (in formation) of St Philip Neri - Washington, D.C.

Old St. Mary’s Church - Cincinnati, Ohio

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Feast of the Annunciation 2015

Today is the beginning of our salvation, and the manifestation of the mystery from the ages; the Son of God becometh the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaimeth grace. Wherefore, let us also cry out with him to the Mother of God: Rejoice, O full of grace! The Lord is with thee. (Troparion of the Annunciation)

The Annunciation, from the Trebizond Gospels (11th-century)
Σήμερον τῆς σωτηρίας ἡμῶν τὸ κεφάλαιον, καὶ τοῦ ἀπ' αἰῶνος μυστηρίου ἡ φανέρωσις· ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, Υἱὸς τῆς Παρθένου γίνεται, καὶ Γαβριὴλ τὴν χάριν εὐαγγελίζεται. Διὸ καὶ ἡμεῖς σὺν αὐτῷ, τῇ Θεοτόκῳ βοήσωμεν· Χαῖρε Κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ.

Monks of Norcia Sign with Recording Label

From a press release just made public:
The Monks of Norcia Sign with Recording Label De Montfort Music
Distributed Worldwide Through Decca/Universal Music Classics
Debut International Recording of Ethereal Chant 

March 23, 2015 (New York, New York) – The Monks of Norcia, a monastic Benedictine community of men from Norcia, Italy, are releasing their first international album. As the monks sing nine times per day, it is fitting that, after years of inquiries, they decided to release a recording of their classic-style Gregorian chant. The album will be available in early June of 2015. 
Their monastery rests in the center of life and culture in the small town of Norcia, Italy and the monks engage the modern world while following in the footsteps of venerated sixth-century monk St. Benedict. Located on the ancient ruins of the home of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica, the monastery is closely tied not only to the townspeople of Norcia, but to many international travelers who visit Monastero di San Benedetto in Norcia, or the Monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia. 
Current Prior Fr. Cassian Folsom, an American, founded The Monks of Norcia. Before he became a monk, Fr. Folsom was enrolled in the music program at Indiana University in the United States. Fr. Cassian Folsom has inspired many with his dedication to monastic chant, clearly a central part of the young vibrant community where the average age among the monks is thirty-three. “Music for the monastic life is an essential part of our prayer. The Divine Office as well as the Mass are moments of prayer during the day which are all sung, so chant is part of the air we breathe and since we do it so often, it comes naturally. We wanted to do a recording, focusing on the monks exclusively and on chant only. Moving deliberately, it took several years from the invitation and interest expressed by De Montfort Music to finally being ready to For Immediate Release ecord, the time is right now and we are very happy with this prospect of releasing the music this way,” says Fr. Cassian Folsom. 
Founded in 1998, The Benedictine Monks of Norcia are a young, monastic order of men who reside in Norcia Italy. Their monastery is home to the birthplace of Saint Benedict, set in the beautifully preserved nature of the Umbrian landscape. The Monks seek a life of prayer and work as guided by the Rule of St. Benedict summarized by the motto “Ora et labora” (work and pray). Their monastery rests in the center of town and receives many visitors from far and wide. In addition to chanting the Divine Office in Latin, the Monks sing the Mass and sing their meal prayers. They own their own brewery, which distributes their well-received signature beer called ‘Birra Nursia.’

Photo credit: Christopher Owens (

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches 2015 (Part 9)

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent - Saint Eusebius
In the historical lectionary, this was the day on which the Gospel of the Raising of Lazarus (John 11, 1-45) was read; the station was therefore kept at the church of Saint Eusebius on the Esquiline hill, right next to a very ancient Roman cemetery.

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent - Saint Nicolas ‘in Carcere’
The peculiar name of this church, Saint Nicholas ‘in prison’, derives from a tradition that Saint Nicholas of Myra was brought to Rome and imprisoned by the Emperor Constantius for his refusal to accept the heresy of Arius. The church encompasses the remains of three temples built in the later years of the Roman Republic, the basements of which were in fact used a prisons in antiquity.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The New Evangelization and the Domestic Church - Pope Benedict XVI on the Connection between the Two

Why the beauty of the prayer corner in the family home is crucial to the New Evangelization

The New Evangelization has become a buzzword of the age. Used by Pope St John Paul II, it refers to the need to reach the faithless in the West whose parents and grandparents were Christian. But how do we reach these people who have no faith, but think they already know enough about Christianity to be hostile to it?

In a short and clear paper written in 2000, Benedict XVI outlined what he believes is the answer to this question. If people are to convert they must believe that the Church has the answer to the fundamental question: ‘Which is the path to happiness?’ We do not tell people the answer to this question, he says, so much as show them. By the example of our own happy lives and loving interactions we show Christ to others. And the only way we can do this is to strive to be walking icons of Christ supernaturally transformed so that we participate in the light of the Transfiguration.

There were two aspects of the Christian message that Pope Benedict felt would resonate today particularly when communicated in this way. First is that we demonstrate Christian joy that transcends human suffering, so that in our own small way (or sometimes not so small) we bear suffering joyfully and with dignity as the martyrs did.

Second is that we should communicate the fact of life after death and a just and merciful judgment by Christ. When we have joyful hope for a future that reaches beyond death, fear is dispelled and we are given a purpose in this present life (anticipating themes discussed later in Spe Salvi in much greater depth). Again this is more powerfully transmitted in the way we are than by us telling people directly that we are joyful and free of fear.

How can we possibly live up to this ideal? The answer is that left to our own devices we can’t, but with God's grace we can. The foundation of such a transformation, says Benedict, is prayer.
Benedict describes prayer life that is a balance of three different sorts of prayer, all ordered to the Eucharist. These are, first, the Sacred Liturgy - the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours; second, ‘para-liturgical’ prayers which are devotional prayers said in common such as the rosary; and third personal prayer which is said alone and in private.

Most of us do not know how to pray well without being taught. Even the Apostles asked Christ to teach them how to pray and Benedict tells us that we need ‘schools of prayer’ where we may learn to pray this transforming prayer.

The most powerful and ideal school of prayer is the domestic church - the family home - where children learn by seeing the example of their parents (and I would say, especially fathers) praying to God, visibly and audibly to the image corner. Benedict tells us that the domestic church is an essential aspect of the new evangelization:

‘The new evangelization depends largely on the Domestic Church. The Christian family, to the extent that it succeeds in living love as communion and service as a reciprocal gift open to all, as a journey of permanent conversion supported by the grace of God, reflects the splendor of Christ in the world and the beauty of the divine Trinity.’

So, he seems to be saying, if we did not learn to pray in our own home (perhaps because you are a convert like me), we have a responsibility to learn and then to pray at home so that we each create our own domestic churches.

Outside the family, a spiritual director is the best way to learn. These are hard to come by and so the next best thing is to look at books on prayer, Thomas Dubay’s for example are good, and of course one of the four sections of the Catechism is devoted to it.

The book The Little Oratory, A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home was written by myself and Leila Lawler with this aim in mind. (The word ‘oratory’, incidentally, derived from the Latin orare - to pray - means literally ‘house of prayer’.) In this we pass on the guidance we were given when we asked of others that question, ‘teach us how to pray’. It describes how to order prayer in accordance with the hierarchy that Benedict describes, so that it lightens the load of daily living rather becoming a burden. It addresses directly how to arrange the images for the icon corner in the home and how to pray to visual imagery.

The traditional layout for the core imagery of the icon corner is as follows: in the center should be the suffering Christ, that is Christ on the cross; to the left should be an image of Our Lady; and to the right should be an image of the glorified Christ (perhaps a Veronica cloth or Christ Enthroned with angels).

It seems that nearly every aspect of the Faith is contained in some way in just these images and there simply isn’t room to talk about it all here. However, it is interesting to note that they speak directly to the concerns that Benedict brought out in regard to the new evangelization: Christ on the cross is the most poignant symbol of consolation in our suffering; and all images of Christ glorified communicate to us the glory of heaven and what is in store for us through deification. This is the transformation by which we participate in the divine nature through Christ. It happens by degrees in this life through participation in the sacramental life.

Iconographic images of the face of Christ are always painted with an expression of compassion tinged with a slight sternness. This enigmatic combination tells us that Christ is a judge (hence the sternness), but that he is a good and merciful judge.

Finally, the role of Mary is crucial in the new evangelization, I believe. All that the Mother of God does is directing us to her son. We see this portrayed directly in many images of Our Lady - she engages us with her eyes while gesturing towards her son.

How will the domestic church evangelize the un-churched? At first sight it is not clear - it is possible that the images of the domestic church might communicate these truths to the faithless directly, who are invited into our homes, for example, but it is unlikely. That is not the point.

Monday, March 23, 2015

How the Cistercians Can Help Us Disentangle the Washing of the Feet

Every year, we come back to the Holy Thursday ceremony of the washing of the feet -- and all the inevitable controversy that surrounds it when women are included among the group whose feet are washed, in spite of the use of the masculine word viri in the liturgical rubrics. Sadly, we seem to be living in a time where liturgy so often becomes another socio-political statement, thanks to a pervasive disregard for the wisdom of Catholic tradition and the simultaneous conviction that we ourselves are the masters and possessors of the liturgy, that we know better than our benighted forebears. Liturgy then risks turning into a declaration of our preconceptions, priorities, and politics. How many people consider themselves bound to do things the traditional way because they have a fundamental trust that this way is good, holy, wise, greater than I am, and ready to teach me spiritual lessons if I but apprentice myself to it?

I would like to suggest, however, that in regard to the Holy Thursday mandatum ceremony, we can learn a valuable lesson from the Cistercian tradition, one that could resolve even this particular dispute in a surprisingly sympathetic manner.

First, we must recognize that Our Lord's washing of the feet has a double aspect to it, which, it seems to me, accounts for some of the confusion we have managed to introduce by not thinking through how these two aspects are related. One aspect is the washing of the apostles’ feet at their ordination and the first Mass. Here, the accent is definitely placed on the apostolic college as the kernel of the new ministerial priesthood of the new covenant. The other aspect, of course, is the washing of the feet as a symbol of serving one’s fellow man in general, even as Christ came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Thus we have something of a paradox here: a symbolic action of universal application is nevertheless being given at a very particular event in salvation history with a very special group of men—not just any human beings, not just any male individuals, but the first priests and bishops of the Church. The Virgin Mary was holier than all of them put together, she offered her Son most perfectly the next day at the foot of the Cross, and she guided the nascent Church in profound ways we will understand only in heaven. And yet she was not called upon to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice nor to govern local churches, as the Apostles and their successors did; nor was she among the men whose feet were washed at the Last Supper. This tension in the mandatum between the universal charity symbolism and the particular apostolic/priestly symbolism makes it necessary to choose ONE or the OTHER as the prime symbol. Yet there is an assymetrical relationship between these. If you mix in the women, you are opting for the universal charity message and excluding the ordination message; whereas if you simply have men, as the rubrics specify, you are opting for a reenactment of what Christ did that evening at the first Mass, but you are not excluding the charity symbolism. After all, the very heart of the sacrifice of Christ was His burning charity for God and man, and this is the love the apostles, as His priests, are to carry into the world. In any case, the way the ceremony is done should not, as it were, garble the message so that one ends up severing the universal message from its original sacramental context.

Here is where the Cistercian tradition can be so helpful. Historically, these related but distinct aspects of the Holy Thursday washing of the feet were highlighted in analogous but still separate monastic ceremonies, as Terryl N. Kinder explains:
While many activities related to water took place in the gallery nearest the fountain, the mandatum was performed in the collation cloister. The weekly mandatum, or ritual washing of the feet, takes its name from the commandment of Jesus (John 13:34), which was also the text of an antiphon sung during the ceremony: “Mandatum novum . . .” (“A new commandment I give you . . .”). The ritual was a reminder of humility and also of charity toward one’s neighbors, whether those in the community or those outside. It was obviously inspired by Christ washing the feet of his disciples, and it was commonly practiced in the early church as a simple act of charity, recommended by Saint Paul (1 Tim. 5:10).
The community mandatum took place just before collation and Compline on Saturday afternoon, and, as specified in chapter 35 of the Rule of Saint Benedict, the weekly cooks—incoming and outgoing—performed the ceremony. The cooks who were leaving their week’s duty were responsible for heating the water in cold weather. The monks sat along the benches in this gallery, and the ritual began when the abbot (or cantor in the abbot’s absence) intoned the antiphon Postquam. After the abbot took off his shoes, the community followed, but as foot modesty was very important, the brothers were instructed to keep their bare feet covered at all times with their cowls. The senior (in monastic rank) of the two monks entering his week’s kitchen service washed the abbot’s feet first, while the junior incoming kitchen brother dried his feet; this pair continued washing and drying the feet of all the monks sitting to the left of the abbot. At the same time the senior of the cooks leaving his weekly service washed the feet of the brothers to the abbot’s right, the junior outgoing cook drying; the pair finishing first went to the other side to help. The cooks then washed their hands along with the vessels and towels, and everyone put their shoes back on before the collation reading began.
On Holy Thursday preceding Easter, this ceremony had a special form, the mandatum of the poor. The porter chose as many poor men from the guesthouse as there were monks in the monastery, and these men were seated in this cloister gallery. The monks left the church after None, the abbot leading and the community following in order of seniority, until each monk was standing in front of a guest. The monks then honored the poor men by washing, drying, and kissing their feet and giving each one a coin (denier) provided by the cellarer. Later the same afternoon, the community mandatum was held, and it, too, had a special form on this day. In imitation of Christ washing the feet of the twelve disciples, the abbot washed, dried, and kissed the feet of twelve members of the community: four monks, four novices, and four lay brothers. His assistants then performed this ceremony for the entire community, including all monks from the infirmary who were able to walk, and all lay brothers.
We see, then, that the activities carried out in the gallery parallel to the church were activities of a spiritual nature—much like those carried out in the church itself. In every case they emphasized the Christian life in community, whether directed inwardly to oneself (the collation reading) or, in the mandatum, shared among others. The weekly mandatum recalled the unity-in-charity of the monastic community; the Holy Thursday mandatum linked that community to Christ and his disciples; and the mandatum of the poor symbolized the responsibilities of the community to the world of poverty and suffering beyond the abbey walls.[1]
Could we not think of ways in which to imitate and adapt the monastic custom in its thoughtful distinction of the two aspects of the mandatum? Could there be a washing of the feet of (e.g.) prisoners or the elderly or the handicapped that was not embedded, misleadingly and acontextually, in the liturgical commemoration of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday? It seems to me that we may be victims of a too limited imagination when it comes to the way the liturgy (and the rich symbols of the liturgy) can spill out into parish activities, outreach programs, or other domains of Catholic life. Are we trying to jam everything into the Mass? We will certainly end up making a mess of it, if that's the line of thinking we are following. Whereas if we allow the powerful deeds of Christ to sink into our consciousness, we will, like the Cistercians, develop a plethora of ways to express the inexhaustible richness of the Gospel, like streams branching off of a river.


[1] Terryl N. Kinder, Cistercian Europe: Architecture of Contemplation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans; Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 2000), 136-37. To read more about how the Cistercians at Heiligenkreuz live out this practice even today, see this article by Fr. Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

From the Archives : Liturgical Colours for Lent in the Ambrosian Tradition

This article by our Ambrosian expert Nicola de’ Grandi was originally published on NLM on March 23, 2010. From time to time, we will be reposting earlier articles which may be of interest to our newer readers.

According to the Ambrosian liturgical tradition, this present week is the last week of the ordinary Lenten season, before the beginning of the season “in Authentica”, known as Holy Week in the Roman Rite. In fact, there is no Passiontide in the Ambrosian Rite, and Crucifixes in Ambrosian churches are never veiled.

This shift gives an occasion to give our readership some information about the use of liturgical colours during Lent in the Ambrosian Rite.

First of all, it should be noted that in the Ambrosian Tradition, the whole of Lenten time is “aeortological”, that is no Saint’s feast - apart from St. Joseph and the Annunciation, the former only since 1902 - is ever celebrated during Lent. Thus, almost on every Lenten weekday, the Mass is de feria, with the only exception of the above mentioned feasts. Fridays are always aliturgical, and the celebration of the Mass in Ambrosian churches is strictly, as is the celebration of Mass by Ambrosian priests in the Roman Rite churches of the diocese.

The liturgical colour for Lenten feriae is that of strict penance: black.

In fact, according to the Ambrosian tradition, black is not only the colour of mourning (and, as such, used for requiem Masses), but also the true color of penance and fast. In this sense it is used at least since the 12th century not only for Lenten ferial days, but also for the Minor Litanies, which in the Ambrosian Rite occur after the Ascension, not before.

It is also worth noting that the use of black for Lenten feriae has been recently restored as an option in the Ordinary Form of the Ambrosian Rite.

On Sundays, on the contrary, when penance is partially mitigated and the fast is suspended, the colour used for liturgy is -or rather should be- a dark sort of violet called “morello”, which is very different form the Roman “violaceo”.

You see an example of this difference in the photo below, taken during a Pontifical Mass in the Cathedral; the Archbishop of Milan is wearing morello vestments, while the deacon is wearing a roman violet dalmatic. (The imposition of the ashes takes place at the beginning of Lent only in the Ordinary Form.)

Rose-colored vestments are never used in the Ambrosian tradition.

The use of black and morello ends with the Thursday after the Fifth Sunday of Lent; the following Friday is, of course, aliturgical.

The Saturday after the Fifth Sunday of Lent is called “in Traditione Symboli - at the handing down of the Creed”, the day on which the Creed was imparted to the catechumen. From this day forward, the Ambrosian Church drops black and wears only red during the whole week “in Authentica”, even on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, until Easter Eve.

During the Easter Vigil, which has structure very different from the Roman one, the celebrant and major ministers will drop red and wear white, which is used only the Saturday “in albis”.

On the Sunday immediately afterwards, called “Dominica in Albis depositis”, as the neophytes put aside the white dress they received during the Paschal Vigil, so also for liturgical cermonies, white is replaced with green, which will be used for the rest of Eastertide.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Laetare Sunday, St Joseph, and St. Patrick Photopost

As always, our thanks to all those who sent in photos for Laetare Sunday and the feast of St Joseph. We also received from Northern Ireland some photos of a Mass for St Patrick’s Day, and a nice image of a Cross decorated for the Third Sunday of Lent in the Byzantine Rite, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross. (Please do keep in mind that NLM is always very happy to receive and publish photographs of liturgies not covered by specific photopost requests.)

Holy Name of Jesus - Providence, Rhode Island (Laetare Sunday)

St Patrick’s Church - Wangaratta, Australia (Laetare Sunday)

Photopost Request: Annunciation and Passiontide Veils 2015

Our next major photoposts will be for the feast of the Annunciation, March 25; please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to for inclusion. We are also always glad to receive photographs of celebrations in the Eastern rites, as well as Vespers and other parts of the Office. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important.

This year the feast falls in Passion week, and we will also be doing a photopost of veils for Passiontide, followed by (hopefully) many photoposts of the Holy Week ceremonies. Evangelize through beauty!

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