Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fostering Young Vocations (Part 7) - Who’s Afraid of the Cassock?

From the French Catholic blog Le Salon Beige comes this item. The southern French dioceses of Perpignan, Montpellier, Nimes and Carcassonne made the following video for a joint collection appeal, in which a young priest meets some Young People™ in a church building which appears to be young, and yet so very, very old...

From the video is taken this still-shot for a poster, which, however, was used only by the diocese of Carcassonnne.
At Perpignan, Montpellier, and Nimes, it was apparently deemed necessary to make the poster more suitable for publication by photoshopping out the priest’s cassock, replacing the part at the bottom with jeans, and blurring the buttons above. This was, not surprisingly, done badly and on the cheap, as you can see by clicking the picture to enlarge it.
It is no secret that France has over the last several years seen a general decline in vocations which a more honest age than our own would recognize as catastrophic. According to this article from August of last year on Riposte Catholique, Carcassonne currently has no seminarians, Perpignan has three, and Nimes two. Montpellier has 14 according to its own website, which Riposte Catholique reports makes for an increase since 2010 (Deo gratias!)

There is nothing wrong with a priest hanging out with the Young People™ and appearing in the occasional selfie, but that is not what it means to be a priest. On the website of the diocese of Perpignan, the slogan in the video “Aidez-nous à transmettre - help us to hand down” (hmmm... is there another word for that?) is elaborated with some other verbs: “help us to share, preserve, support celebrate.” Only one of these, the last, expresses what is means to be a priest. A priest is a leitourgos first and foremost, one who celebrates and offers a service on behalf of the people which they cannot celebrate and offer by themselves. He and he alone is the Pontifex, “the maker of the bridge” that unites Heaven to earth. If, as this rather sad little episode seems to indicate, a diocese becomes not merely reluctant to show a priest as a priest, but positively embarrassed by the idea, it should at least be honest and admit that the money collected in its fundraising appeal will be used to pay the lawyers who handle its receivership. But perhaps they realize that “Aidez-nous à disparaître” somehow lacks appeal...

I bring this item to the attention of our predominantly American readers not to depress you, but as a reminder of two things. First, as we come to the holiest days of the year, remember to pray for the Church throughout the entire world, for the places where the Faith is languishing as well as those where it is flourishing, and especially for those where it is persecuted. Second, remember that despite everything, much progress has been made towards better days, and will continue to be made. Back in the madness of the 70s and 80s, (and yes, well into the 90s ... and yes, even beyond that), a cassock could well mark an American seminarian out for mistreatment or expulsion. In many places (not enough, but many) they are no longer the least bit controversial. I know of one congregation whose members 20 years were never seen in a cassock outside the most strictly formal occasions. A few years ago, the novices of that same congregation asked if they could wear the cassock for their first profession ceremony; not only was this permitted, it wasn’t even debated.

And finally, a reminder of what the sanity to which the Church will eventually return looks like. Tradition will always be for the young!

Courtesy of the Regina Pacis Chaplaincy

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches (Part 8)

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent - St Eusebius
In the historical lectionary of the Roman Rite, 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 St Eusebius on the Esquiline hill, right next to a very ancient Roman cemetery.

This inscription of the year 1582 records that Pope Gregory XIII granted indulgences of ten years and ten Lents for visiting the church on the feast of the titular Saint (August 14), and those of Pope St Leo I and St Benedict (at the time, April 11 and March 21 respectively), to two of the church’s chapels are dedicated.
From Fr Alek: St Eusebius was a Roman priest who is traditionally said to have died in the mid-4th century after several months of forced confinement in his house, inflicted on him because of his stance against the Arian heresy. He is depicted in the ceiling of the church’s nave with a book in his hands on which are written in Greek the words of the Nicene Creed “consubsantial with the Father”, (not “one in being.”)
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent - St Nicholas “in the prison”
The peculiar title of this church comes from a tradition that St 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. The station for this day was originally kept at the church of St Lawrence Outside-the-Walls, but transferred here in the Middle Ages. Therefore, the last three stations of Lent, as a season distinguished from Passiontide, are held at churches dedicated to Confessors, where the earlier stations are at churches of the Virgin, the Apostles and the Martyrs. (For further explanation, see this article: “Raising the Dead in Lent.”

Christ Becomes the Mystagogical Catechist through the Mass

Book review: A Devotional Journey into the Mass - How Mass Can Become A Time of Grace, Nourishment, and Devotion, by Christopher Carstens (pub. Sophia Institute Press).

In this book (available here), Christopher Carstens, who is also the editor of Adoremus Bulletin, takes us through each key element of the Mass, from entering the church through to our response to the dismissal). Grounding his discussion in the sacramental thought of Romano Guardini, he takes us on a journey into the heart of the liturgy which, in the principles he articulates, is applicable to the Ordinary Form, the Extraordinary Form, and the Anglican Ordinariate form of the Roman Rite. (Sophia Institute Press also very kindly provides a free printable summary of the major points in two pages, available here.)

“If you’re unhappy because the Mass has become for you routine – or even boring and tedious – these pages are for you. They teach you eight simple ways to make your every Mass a joyful time of piety and intense devotion.” This is how the publisher describes the appeal of this book. I would add to this that Carsten’s approach is the basis for a mystagogical catechesis that will allow us to participate, so that the Sacred Liturgy as a whole itself becomes the primary force for continual mystagogy. As such, I would see it as a natural complement to any authentic Catholic education, such as described in the book on children’s education I reviewed recently, Educating in Christ.

By emphasizing the sacramental nature of the Mass so profoundly and in such simple and clear language, and by showing its deep connection to Scripture and salvation history, it is, in my opinion, a foundational text for an approach to mystagogical catechesis that could reap rewards for a lifetime.

I appreciated particularly, for example, his emphasis also on lectio divina as a preparation for the Scripture that is proclaimed in the readings at Mass. Firstly, he de-mystifies it with simple and clear instructions on the method. Secondly, and just as importantly, he highlights how this exercise in meditation and contemplative prayer is consummated in the worship of God. It is not a higher activity, but one which, like all other activities that are not liturgical, derives its power and effectiveness from the liturgy, and so, in turn, leads us back to it for its consummation. To help us, Carstens explains beautifully how our personal pilgrimages are a participation in that which takes place in the story of salvation history, running through Old and New Testaments. This is a useful point for the evangelization of New-Agers and non-Christians who are looking to Eastern religions in a search for mystery. I would say that their desire to meditate is good, but will be even more powerful and effective if transformed to be harmony with its true place in the spiritual life.

I was gratified to read how strongly he makes the point that this is not just about the words. All art and even the architecture of the church building must reveal these universal truths in such a way that they are communicated to each person, and so act as clear perceptible signposts that direct us on our way. To the degree that we respond to what is offered, we can ourselves be formed as artists who then fashion our very lives to the template of the Paschal Mystery.

To take one example of how images can support this: some will remember my discussion on why the image of the three children in the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel is important for Christians. Through this book, Carstens enriched my own understanding and appreciation of this image even further with his detailed discussion of the Scriptural account of this episode, and its importance to the Mass. As he tells us, “its message, as well as its central text (Daniel 3, 39-40), is present at every Mass during the preparation of the altar and its gifts. This is truly right and just because the three youths exemplify the only true way for the Church to prepare for the Eucharistic sacrifice.”

I enjoyed the following passage about the priesthood. “There are a few words that the Roman Rite uses to describe its priests and one of them is pontifex. In Latin the noun pons means bridge... and -fex is the foundation of today’s word factory, the place where things are built. Put the two words together - pontifex - and you get bridge-builder, which is precisely what a priest is; his role is to bridge the divide between God and man and pass over from earthly woes to heavenly blessings. Christ is the Pontifex Maximus. Even though he does not need our assistance in his saving work, He makes us sharers in His priesthood at baptism, empowering us to build the Paschal bridge with Him during the Eucharistic prayer.”

My hope is to be formed as one of many such supernatural bridge-builders who are capable of forming an edifice that spans the divide between the liturgy and the culture of faith, and then, between the culture of faith and the wider culture; and further, that the cuture of faith can become a channel of divine beauty, bringing it from its source out into world, so that grace might be reflected in all human activity and every artefact that results from it. However, none of us can play a part in this if we don’t first come in from the dark, and “pass over”, so to speak, that bridge called the “Paschal mystery“ which connects us to the wellspring of grace and beauty, Christ present in the Eucharist.

Order the book here.

Christopher Carstens is the editor of the Adoremus Bulletin and one of the Liturgy Guys (along with Denis McNamara and Jesse Weiler) who create regular podcasts for the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein. He is also on the faculty of Pontifex University, for whom he has created an online class on the meaning of the Mass as part of the Master of Sacred Arts program.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Instruction Sheet for Clergy Assisting with Distribution of Communion at the EF

In the ever-growing number of places where the traditional Roman Rite of the Mass is being offered, a situation often arises where a priest who is not already trained in the usus antiquior is nevertheless called upon to offer assistance with the distribution of Holy Communion, particularly on occasions when a large number of the faithful are expected to be present. Sometimes clergy are confused and flustered at such moments because they have not received proper instruction ahead of time. It therefore seemed a good idea to share with NLM readers a handy one-page instruction sheet that explains how clergy should assist in these situations. If the document contains any mistakes, I would be grateful for corrections from rubrically well-instructed readers.

First, the text below, and then an image of a formatted version of it.

Instructions for the distribution of Holy Communion by an assisting priest at the Vetus Ordo

1) Having vested in cassock, surplice, and stole of the day’s color, the minister enters the sanctuary when he hears the celebrant beginning to say “Domine, non sum dignus.... (bell ring)” three times.

2) He kneels at the side of the altar during the servers’ Confiteor and the celebrant’s “Ecce agnus Dei,” and stands afterwards.

3) The minister receives the ciborium from the altar and proceeds to the communicants. (If the ciborium is in the tabernacle, he goes to the tabernacle, opens it, genuflects, and closes it without locking it; he genuflects again after opening the ciborium on the altar.)

4) The minister says, while making the sign of the cross with the host, “Corpus + Domini Nostri Iesu Christi [nodding his head at the Holy Name, and placing the Host on the tongue of the communicant] custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.
a) The priest should not go to the communicants without the server.[1]
b) The whole formula should be pronounced for each communicant.[2]
c) Communion must be received on the tongue and kneeling.[3]
d) Formal blessings to non-communicants are not permitted by the liturgical books of 1962, and sacred ministers exercising their ministry at the Usus Antiquior are bound, as per Universae Ecclesiae 28, and Sacrosanctum Consilium 22§3, not to import extraneous blessings.[4]

5) When all communicants have received Our Lord, the minister, taking care to keep his thumb and forefinger together, takes the paten from the server and ascends to the altar by the front steps, and places the paten on the corporal, leaving it there for the celebrant to purify.

6) He returns the ciborium to the tabernacle, taking care to keep thumb and forefinger together; opens the tabernacle; puts the ciborium into the tabernacle; genuflects; and closes the tabernacle.

7) After closing the tabernacle, the assistant priest washes his fingers with the water in the ablution cup (a small bowl-like container placed to the side of the tabernacle). He dips his thumb and index finger into the water and wipes his fingers on the accompanying purificator before returning to the sacristy.


[1] “Not. 1 Ne sacerdos praecipitanter S. Communionem distribuat, est enim ministerium sanctissimum, omnique possibili attentione et devotione pertractandum.” Sacrae liturgiae praxis juxta ritum romanum v.1. 272.

[2] “Not. 8 Non obstante magno communicantium numero, ad quemque illorum integra forma pronuntianda est, et crux cum S. Hostia exacte et reverenter formanda non autem praeceps manuum gesticulatio, ut distributio acceleretur.” Sacrae liturgiae praxis juxta ritum romanum v.1. 272.

[3] “Praeterea, cum sane de lege speciali agitur, quoad materiam propriam, Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum derogant omnibus legibus liturgicis, sacrorum rituum propriis, exinde ab anno 1962 promulgatis, et cum rubricis librorum liturgicorum anni 1962 non congruentibus.” UE §28.

[4] “Quapropter nemo omnino alius, etiamsi sit sacerdos, quidquam proprio Marte in Liturgia addat, demat, aut mutet.” SC Normae Generales 22 § 3. RS 186 :“Quisque enim semper meminerit se esse sacrae Liturgiae servitorem.” Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 24. Cf. also the ceremonies for coram Sanctissimo, which praxis demonstrates that, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, blessings are not imparted other than that of the prescribed Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. It is the general rule that priests do not give blessings before the Eucharist when our Lord is not residing within the tabernacle – whether these be blessings of the incense, or of people, etc.

Guardini's Spirit of the Liturgy Centenary - Call for Papers of the Society for Catholic Liturgy

Call for Papers
Centenary of the Publication of
The Spirit of the Liturgy by Romano Guardini

September 27–29, 2018
Cathedral of St. Mary
Miami, Florida

A touchstone of the twentieth-century Liturgical Movement, Romano Guardini’s Spirit of the Liturgy marks its centennial year of publication in 2018. For the occa

sion of its annual conference, The Society for Catholic Liturgy invites submissions for academic papers and pastoral presentations on topics related to Guardini’s work.

  • Expositions on the life and work of Romano Guardini
  • The legacy of Guardini and The Spirit of the Liturgy
  • The place of Guardini within the twentieth-century Liturgical Movement 
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy and the Second Vatican Council 
  • Problematics posed or introduced by The Spirit of the Liturgy 
  • The relationship between Guardini’s and Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy 
  • Relationships between the following in The Spirit of the Liturgy
    • Nature and grace, or nature and “cultural heritage”/civilization 
    • The individual and the community, the parish and the universal Church, or more generally the particular and the universal 
    • Change and stability 
    • Emotions, the mind, truth, or the will, etc. 
    • Vertical and horizontal aspects of the liturgy 
    • Liturgy and the moral life 
    • The subjective and the objective 
    • Popular piety/devotions, the spiritual life, and the liturgy 
    • Lex orandi and lex credendi 
    • Externality and internality 
    • Freedom and restraint 
    • Individual “style” and universality of expression 
    • The material and the spiritual 
    • Purpose and meaning 
    • Beauty, truth, and goodness 
    • Logos and ethos 
    • Contemplation and activity 
  • The role of the following in the liturgy, according to Guardini’s work 
    • Christ as figure or actor 
    • Repetition 
    • “Active participation” 
    • Sacrifice 
    • Humility 
    • Sensibilities of the modern man 
    • Mystery 
    • Symbolism and typology 
    • Playfulness 
    • Minimalism or simplicity 
    • Rubrics and rules
  • The problems of aestheticism, moralism, Kantianism, or didacticism vis-à-vis the liturgy 
  • Reception and application of principles of The Spirit of the Liturgy in the post-modern context, or within Guardini’s own time 
  • The place of The Spirit of the Liturgy within Guardini’s oeuvre 
  • Guardini’s liturgical praxis and ars celebrandi 
  • Guardini’s work with youth 
  • Liturgy and technology 

Other proposals will be considered, but primary consideration will be given to proposals that are related to the conference theme.

Paper proposals of approximately 250 words should be emailed to Jennifer.Donelson@archny.org or mailed to Jennifer Donelson, 201 Seminary Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10704. Proposals must be received by Friday, May 4, 2018.

Presentations will be 45 minutes in length, followed by 15 minutes of discussion. Papers presented will be considered for publication in the SCL’s journal Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal. Presenters must register for the full conference and will be responsible for their own expenses.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Passion Sunday 2018

The Vespers hymn for Passiontide Vexilla Regis, in alternating Gregorian chant, according to a different melody than the classic Roman one, and polyphony by Tomás Luis de Victoria.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Photopost Request: Passiontide Veils 2018

Our next photopost series will be of your churches with the Crosses, statues and paintings veiled for Passiontide; please send your pictures to photopost@newliturgicalmovement.org for inclusion. Be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. (We will follow this up with photoposts of Palm Sunday and the other major ceremonies of Holy Week.)

Last year, the response to this request was just tremendous, and we received so many pictures that we wound up making four separate posts of them, with 115 photographs from over 50 different churches from all over the world! This was a record, one which we will, of course, be very happy to see matched or broken. Whenever we make these requests, we always include a photo from the previous year’s post on the same subject, but since each of the four had at least one thing that was unique about it, we will take the opportunity to look back on all four.

From Part 1: putting up the veils at the church of St Joseph in Singapore
From Part 2: An altar piece with its wings closed for Passiontide, an extremely common custom in the Middle Ages; from the Ordinariate church of St John the Baptist in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania.
From Part 3: Mass at the FSSP’s church in Lyon, France, the Collegiate Church of St Just, celebrated in the Dominican Rite by members of the Fraternity of St Vincent Ferrer. The processional Cross is used at the singing of the Gospel, and of course, veiled for the season.
From Part 4: The cathedral of St Nicholas in Noto, Sicily has maintained the custom of covering the whole back of the church with a very large monochrome veil, painted with an image of Crucifixion.

Laetare Sunday Photopost 2018 (Part 2)

We finish up with your photos of Laetare Sunday liturgies just in time for Passion Sunday and the putting up of the veils; a request for the latter will be posted later today. Many thanks to everyone who sent these in; you are doing important work in encouraging Catholics throughout the world to a great love for and appreciation of our liturgical tradition. Evangelize through beauty!

Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini - Rome, Italy (FSSP)
Our Lady of Mt Carmel - New York City
Santissima Trinità - Pordenone, Italy

From the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France
Nativity of the Virgin Mary - La Londe-Les-Maures

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Raising of Lazarus in the Liturgy of Lent

Until the first part of the eighth century, the Thursdays of Lent were “aliturgical” days in the Roman Rite, days on which no ferial Mass was celebrated. A similar custom prevails to this day in the Ambrosian and Byzantine Rites, the former abstaining from the Eucharistic Sacrifice on all the Fridays in Lent, the latter on all the weekdays. I have described in another article why Pope St Gregory II (715-31) changed this custom, and instituted Masses for the six Thursdays between Ash Wednesday and Holy Week. The Epistle and Gospel for the Thursday in the fourth week of Lent were clearly chosen as a prelude to those of the following day, which are a much older part of the lectionary tradition. In the Epistle of both days, one of the prophets raises not just a man, but a son, at the behest of his mother, anticipating the Resurrection of the Son of God; on Thursday, Elisha raises the Sunamite’s son (4 Kings 4, 25-38), and on Friday Elijah raises the dead son of the widow of Sarephta (3 Kings 17, 17-24). Likewise, on Thursday, Christ raises the widow of Naim’s son (Luke 7, 11-16) as he is borne out to burial, and on Friday, Lazarus, on the fourth day after his death (John 11, 1-45).

In his Treatises on the Gospel of St John, St Augustine notes à propos of this latter Gospel, and the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world, “(Christ) raised one that stank, but nevertheless in the stinking cadaver there was yet the form of its members; on the last day, with one word He will restore ashes to the flesh. But it was necessary that He should then do some (miracles), so that, when these were put forth as signs of His might, we might believe in Him, and be prepared for that resurrection which will be unto life, and not unto judgement. For He sayeth thus, ‘The hour cometh, when all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.’ ” (Tract 49, citing John 5, 28-29)

The Raising Of Lazarus, painted by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, 1304-06
When St Paul spoke at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17, 19-34), many of the pagan philosophers who had gathered to hear him scoffed at the mention of the resurrection of the dead. The Church Fathers bear witness to the repulsion which many pagans felt at the Christian belief that the body might share the immortality which they saw as proper only to the soul, and many early heresies rejected both the Incarnation and the resurrection of the flesh professed in the Creed. On the day when the Raising of Lazarus is read, therefore, the Lenten station is kept at the church of St Eusebius on the Esquiline hill, which stood very close to a large and very ancient necropolis, a “city of the dead”, one which dated back even before the founding of Rome itself. In this way, the Church, led by the bishop of Rome, proclaimed to the ancient pagan world Her belief in the resurrection of the body, made possible by the death and resurrection of the Savior.

On the ferias of Lent, the Communion antiphons are taken each one from a different Psalm in sequential order, starting on Ash Wednesday with Psalm 1. The days which were formerly aliturgical do not form part of this series, namely, the six Thursdays, and also the first and last Saturday; the ferias of Holy Week are also not included. (See the table below; click for larger view.)

The series is also interrupted on five days when particularly important passages of the Gospels are read, and the Communion is taken from them instead, the last such being the Raising of Lazarus.

Communio Videns Dominus flentes sorores Lazari ad monumentum, lacrimatus est coram Judaeis, et exclamavit: Lazare, veni foras: et prodiit ligatis manibus et pedibus, qui fuerat quatriduanus mortuus.
Seeing the sisters of Lazarus weeping at the tomb, the Lord wept before the Jews, and cried out: Lazarus, come forth: and he who had been dead four days came forth, bound by his hands and feet.
The Roman Mass of the day makes no other reference to the Gospel; in this sense, the Ambrosian Rite gives Lazarus much greater prominence. The second to sixth Sundays are each named for their Gospels, all taken from St John: the Samaritan Woman (4, 5-42), Abraham (8, 31-59), the Blind Man (9, 1-38), Lazarus (11, 1-45), and Palm Sunday (11,55 - 12,11). On the Fifth Sunday, four of the seven Mass chants cite the day’s Gospel, and the Preface speaks at length about the Raising of Lazarus. The Ingressa (Introit) of the Mass is similar to the Roman Communion cited above.
Ingressa Videns Dominus sororem Lazari ad monumentum, lacrimatus coram Judaeis, et exclamavit: Lazare, veni foras. Et prodiit ligatis manibus et pedibus, stetit ante eum, qui fuerat quatriduanus mortuus.
Seeing the sister of Lazarus at the tomb, the Lord wept before the Jews, and cried out: Lazarus, come forth: and he who had been dead four days, coming forth, stood before him, bound by his hands and feet.
The first reading of the Mass is Exodus 14, 15-31, the Crossing of the Red Sea, a passage which most rites have at the Easter Vigil. St Paul teaches in First Corinthians that this is a prefiguration of baptism: “Our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink; (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.)” (chap. 10, 1-4) St Ambrose, in his Commentary on the Song of Songs, says that just as the children of “after the crossing of the Red Sea … were cleansed … by the flow of the rock that poured forth spiritual water, for the rock was Christ; and therefore they ate the manna; so that, as often as they were washed clean, they might eat the bread of angels… now also, in the mysteries of the Gospel, you recognize that being baptized … you are cleansed by spiritual food and drink.” (IV.5; PL XV, 1905A)
The Crossing of the Red Sea, depicted in a paleo-Christian sarcophagus, a reasonably common motif in early Christian funerary art. The front of the sarcophagus has been sawed off and used as the front of an altar in the Cathedral of Arles in France.
The Ambrosian Rite uses this passage not at the Easter vigil, but as an introduction to the story of Lazarus, whose death and resurrection foretell those of Christ Himself, and in Him, our own; first spiritually in the waters of baptism, and second in the body, at the end of the world. The chant which follows the first reading is called the Psalmellus; as the name suggests, it is almost always taken from one of the Psalms, like its Roman equivalent, the Gradual. Here we might expect that it be taken from the canticle of Moses in chapter 15, which follows the same passage at the Easter Vigil of the Roman and Byzantine Rites; instead, it is taken from the Gospel.
Psalmellus Occurrerunt Maria et Martha ad Jesum, dicentes: Domine, Domine, si fuisses hic, Lazarus non esset mortuus. Respondit Jesus: Martha, si credideris, videbis gloriam Dei. V. Videns Jesus turbam flentem, infremuit spiritu, lacrimatus; et veniens ad locum, clamavit voce magna: Lazare veni foras. Et revixit qui erat mortuus, et vidit gloriam Dei.
Mary and Martha came to meet Jesus, saying: Lord, Lord, if Thou had been here, Lazarus would not have died. Jesus answered: Martha, if thou shalt believe, thou shalt see the glory of God. V. Seeing the crowd weeping, Jesus groaned in spirit, weeping, and coming to the place, He cried out in a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And he that had died came back to life, and saw the glory of God.
The only other day on which the Psalmellus is taken from the Gospel is Holy Thursday, which in the Ambrosian Rite is much more focused on the Passion than on the Institution of the Eucharist. The first reading at the Ambrosian Mass of the Lord’s Supper is the entire book of Jonah, whose story Christ Himself explains as a prophecy of His death and resurrection; the Psalmellus which follows it is taken from the first part of the Passion of St Matthew, chapter 26, 17-75. The Ambrosian liturgy then makes explicit in the Preface this link between the death of Lazarus and that of Christ, in which our redemption is effected. (I here cite only the end of this beautiful text, which can only be spoiled in translation.)
Praefatio O quam magnum et salutare mysterium, quod per resurrectionem Lazari figuraliter designatur! Ille tabo corporis dissolutus, per superni regis imperium continuo surrexit ad vitam. Nos quidem primi hominis facinore consepultos, divina Christi gratia ex inferis liberavit, et redivivos gaudiis reddidit sempiternis.
O how great and profitable to salvation is this mystery, which is represented in a figure through the resurrection of Lazarus! He, being loosed from the corruption of the body, by the command of the Almighty King rose at once to life. Christ’s divine grace delivered us from hell, who indeed were buried by the crime of the first man, and restored us to eternal joy, when we had returned to life.
The preface of the Fifth Sunday of Lent, sung during the Capitular Mass at the Basilica of St Ambrose in Milan in 2012. The part of the preface which I have cited above begins at 1:23.

In the Byzantine Rite, the connection is made even more explicit; the Gospel of the Raising of Lazarus is read on the day before Palm Sunday, which is therefore called Lazarus Saturday. Bright vestments are used at the Divine Liturgy, instead of the dark vestments used at most services of Lent and Holy Week. The troparion sung at the Little Entrance declares the meaning of the Raising of Lazarus, and is also sung the following day, which is one of the Twelve Great feasts of the Byzantine liturgical year.
Troparion Την κοινην Ἀνάστασιν προ τοῦ σοῦ Πάθους πιστούμενος, ἐκ νεκρῶν ἤγειρας τον Λάζαρον, Χριστε ὁ Θεός, ὅθεν και ἡμεῖς ὡς οἱ Παῖδες, τα τῆς νίκης σύμβολα φέροντες, σοι τῷ Νικητῇ τοῦ θανάτου βοῶμεν. Ὡσαννα ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις, εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου!
Confirming the general resurrection before Thy passion, Thou didst raise Lazarus from the dead, O Christ God! Whence we also, like the children, bearing the symbols of victory, cry out to Thee, the Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!
The troparion of Lazarus Saturday sung in variety of languages; see original post on Youtube for the list, and the text of the troparion in several of them.

The Paschal character of the day expressed by the use of bright vestments also informs the kontakion which follows the troparion.
Kontakion Ἡ πάντων χαρά, Χριστός, ἡ ἀλήθεια, το φῶς, ἡ ζωή, τοῦ κόσμου ἡ ἀνάστασις, τοῖς ἐν γῇ πεφανέρωται τῇ αὐτοῦ ἀγαθότητι, καὶ γέγονε τύπος τῆς ἀναστάσεως, τοῖς πᾶσι παρέχων θείαν ἄφεσιν.
The joy of all, Christ, the Truth, and the Light, the Life, the Resurrection of the world, has appeared in His goodness to those on earth. He has become the image of our Resurrection, granting divine forgiveness to all.
While the troparia and kontakia are sung by the choir, the priest silently reads a prayer called the Prayer of the Trisagion, but sings the doxology out loud. It is followed at once by the hymn “Holy God, Holy mighty one, holy immortal one, have mercy on us.” On a very small number of days, however, the Trisagion, as it is called, is replaced by another chant, the words of Galatians 3, 27, “As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ, alleluia.” Among these days are certain feasts of Lord such as Christmas, Epiphany (i.e. the Baptism of the Lord), Easter and Pentecost, and also Lazarus Saturday.

The traditional Old Church Slavonic version of “As many of you ...” begins at 0:52

As the Church prepares to accompany the Savior to His passion and death, and celebrate His glorious Resurrection, the Orthros (Matins) of Lazarus Saturday declares in several texts of surpassing beauty our salvation in Christ, who in His humanity wept for the death of Lazarus, the death He himself would shortly suffer, and in His divinity raised both Lazarus and Himself, as he will raise the whole of our fallen race on the last day.

Knowing beforehand all thing as their Maker, in Bethany didst Thou foretell to Thy disciples, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep today’; and knowing, Thou asked, ‘Where have ye laid him?” And to the Father Thou prayed, weeping as a man; whence also crying out, Thou raised from Hades Lazarus, whom Thou loved, on the fourth day. Therefore we cry to Thee: Accept, Christ and God, the praise of those that make bold to bring it, and deem all worthy of Thy glory.

O Christ, Thou raised Lazarus that was dead for four days from Hades, before Thy own death, confounding the power of death, and for the sake of one beloved to Thee, proclaiming beforehand the liberation of all men from corruption. Wherefore adoring Thy omnipotence, we cry out, ‘Blessed art Thou, o Savior; have mercy on us!’

Providing to Thy disciples the proofs of Thy divinity, among the crowds Thou didst humble Thyself, taking counsel to hide It; wherefore, as one that knoweth beforehand and as God, to Thy disciples Thou foretold the death of Lazarus. And in Bethany, among the peoples, perceiving not the grave of Thy friend, as a man Thou asked to learn of it. But he that through Thee rose on the fourth day made manifest Thy divine power; Almighty Lord, glory to Thee!

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2018 (Part 7)

The Lenten Station Masses held in the evenings by the Vicariate of Rome are often preceeded by a procession, and accompanied by the exposition of relics; today’s post has some especially good examples of both. Every year, Agnese manages to catch a few particularly good photos of the processions going through one of the cloisters, as we see below at the church of the Four Crowned Martyrs and at San Lorenzo in Damaso.

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent - The Four Crowned Martyrs
The church is reached though a series of three courtyards, which give it the appearance of a fortress; they built in front of the building to serve as a place of refuge for the Pope and Cardinals during the many political disturbances which Rome saw in the later 11th century, and throughout the 12th.

Procession though the cloister - nice work, Agnese!

From Fr Alek: a fresco of the titular Saints in one of the courtyards. The Four Crowned Martyrs are traditionally said to have been stone cutters who were martyred when they refused to make idols for the enormous palace built by Diocletian at Spalatum in Dalmatia; the entire medieval city of Split in modern Croatia was enclosed inside the walls of this palace. They have long been honored as the patron Saints of sculptors and stone-cutters, as noted in the inscription of the chapel door.
Two relics set on the balustrade of the church’s sanctuary for the feast day.

Lenten Mission at Holy Innocents in New York City

The church of the Holy Innocents In New York City will have a Lenten Parish Mission from Monday March 19 to Wednesday, March 21, during the 6 pm Latin Mass, to be preached by Fr Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap. There will be the opportunity, for all those who attend each evening of the Mission, to gain a Plenary Indulgence. Confessions will be heard after Holy Mass.

The theme of the Mission will be: Saints of the Church; models and methods for overcoming sin & division.
1) Monday – Blessed Solanus Casey; overcoming patterns of personal sin and healing of division.
2) Tuesday – Saint Padre Pio; forgiveness and healing in families and the sacrament of reconciliation.
3) Wednesday – The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Eucharist (with special blessing to impart the plenary indulgence).

Fr. Joseph entered Borromeo College Seminary in 1986 where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Sciences in 1989. In 1990, he professed his first vows as a Capuchin friar, and perpetual vows in 1993, going on to earn his Master’s degree in Theology at the Washington Theological Union in 1995; he was ordained to the priesthood in 1997. His first assignment after ordination was on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea, where he served for four years. Since returning to the US in 2001, he has served in various capacities as parochial vicar, military and hospital chaplain, and Pastor. Most recently, he worked with the friars in the Custody of Puerto Rico and currently serves as a full-time Minister of the Word and Evangelization, offering retreats and reflection days for parishes, religious and priests.

What is the point of a parish mission? Are parish missions necessary? Who benefits from parish missions?

A mission is an opportunity for a parish to experience in a heightened and intense way spiritual services, sermons, and Sacraments focusing on the major themes of our Faith. We all know of parishes where we can find people who habitually neglect Mass on Sunday and on feasts of obligation, even though they could go without any difficulty. Such people, if they go to their annual confession, manifest some kind of sorrow when questioned about this point, and promise to amend. Yet, after having attended Mass twice or three times, miss it again the same as before. Next year they make the same promises, and the same relapses follow.

In these cases, only the plain (but forcible) exposition of the evil of sin and its terrible consequences on the one hand, and the reflection on the mercy and goodness of God on the other, made by experienced missionaries who have experience in dealing with such cases, can make an irresistible impression upon their perverted hearts. Only a good parish mission may be able to bring these souls back to God.

The benefits that grow from parish missions in Christ’s vineyard cannot easily be overestimated. Parish missions are times of extraordinary grace in which the kingdom of God is re-established in the hearts of the faithful, sinners are restored to God’s friendship, tepid souls are re-animated to a life of fervor, and the righteous are encouraged in their efforts to aim at still greater perfection. In a word, a mission well-made destroys the kingdom of Satan, purifies and renovates the parish, and glorifies the Church of God.

With good parish missions, the better portion of the parishioners are strengthened in their faith; they learn to appreciate their religion in greater measure and to practice it more cheerfully; and they are put on their guard against dangers that threaten them at the present, or may rise up against them in the future. The weaker portion of the congregation is animated to greater fervor; the wayward are brought back; the erring are enlightened; the ignorant are instructed; and all classes of sinners are brought to repentance and to true reconciliation with God and His Church.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Photos of the Mass of Lyon

We recently shared a brief video of part of the Lyonais Mass, offered by Fr Brice Meissonier at the Collegiate Church of St Just, the home of the FSSP apostolate in Lyon. The Facebook page of FSSP Lyon has recently posted several photos which illustrate some of the other proper customs of the Use of Lyon. Our thanks for their permission to reproduce them here on NLM, and our congratulations to them for their valuable efforts to preserve this beautiful tradition. Multa renascnetur quae jam cecidere!

The amice is worn over the alb.
Ash colored vestments (couleur cendrée) are worn on the ferias of Lent.
At the Offertory, the celebrant places the host on the paten; stretching out his hands, he says “Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Ego sum panis vivus, qui de caelo descendi. Si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in aeternum. Jesus said to His disciples: I am the bread of life. If anyone shall eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” He then makes the sign of the cross in silence.

After preparing the chalice at the right side of the altar, the celebrant puts the paten with the host on the chalice, and makes the sign of the Cross over them in silence.

Music for Lent: The Media Vita

The hour of Compline is far more variable in the Dominican Office than in the Roman, often changing the antiphon of the psalms, the hymn, and the antiphon of the Nunc dimittis. This was true of most medieval Uses, and especialy in Lent, a season in which the Dominican Use brings forth some its best treasures. The most famous of these is certainly Media vita, a piece which will always be associated with St Thomas Aquinas, whose biographers note that he would always weep copiously when it was sung, especially at the verse “Cast us not away in the time of our old age, when our strength shall fail, forsake us not, o Lord.” Although written as a responsory, with verses and the repetition of the second part of the beginning, it was sung in many Uses as an antiphon for the Nunc dimittis. As Fr Thompson has noted previously, it may now be used by the Dominicans as a responsory, rather than as an antiphon, and it is thus that we can hear it sung by the Dominican students at Blackfriars.
R. In the midst of life, we are in death; whom shall we seek to help us, but Thee, o Lord, who for our sins art justly wroth? * Holy God, holy mighty one, holy and merciful Savior, hand us not over to bitter death. V. Cast us not away in the time of our old age, when our strength shall fail, forsake us not, o Lord. Holy God, holy mighty one etc.
The Use of Sarum appointed Media vita to be sung at the same time as the Dominicans, during the third and fourth weeks of Lent, but with more verses, and the division of the refrain as follows:
Aña In the midst of life, we are in death; whom shall we seek to help us, but Thee, o Lord, who for our sins art justly wroth? * Holy God, holy mighty one, holy and merciful Savior, hand us not over to bitter death.
V. Cast us not way in the time of our old age, when our strength shall fail, forsake us not, o Lord. Holy God.
V. Close not Thy ears to our prayers. Holy mighty one.
V. Who knowest the secrets of the heart, show mercy to our sins. Holy and merciful Savior, hand us not over to bitter death.
Many composers have put their hand to this text; one of the finest versions of it is the setting by the Franco-flemish composer Nicolas Gombert. (1495-1560 ca.)

EF Missa Cantata for St Joseph in Newark, New Jersey

There will be a Traditional Latin High Mass sung for the Feast of St. Joseph, on Monday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey. Following the Mass, there will be light Italian refreshments including zeppole and sfinge to celebrate thename day of pastor, Msgr. Joseph Ambrosio. The church is located at 259 Oliver Street.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Laetare Sunday Photopost 2018 (Part 1)

We had a good number of submissions for Laetare Sunday this year, so there will be two photoposts this time. This one starts with something very interesting and unique from Douai Abbey in England, a vestment with pieces of 15th century embroidery, remounted in 1963 on a dark rose-colored cloth. (Special thanks to Dom Hugh Somerville-Knapman!) We also have photos of the Byzantine Third Sunday of Lent, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, which might broadly be seen as the Eastern equivalent of Laetare, and a blessing of golden roses. Thanks as always to all our readers who sent these in - evangelize through beauty!

Douai Abbey - Upper Woolhampton, England

St Paul - Birkirkara, Malta
St Peter Eastern Catholic Church - Ukiah, California
Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross - Vespers

“Liturgy, Orality, and Rubricism”: Article by Samuel Nyom

This article by Samuel Nyom is reproduced here from the website Pro Liturgia with his permission, translated from the original French by Zachary Thomas. This essay certainly provides interesting food for thought, but we do not present it as the last or only possible word on the subject; please act accordingly in the combox.

It is very profitable to read Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980). A Canadian and former professor of literature who specialized in the subject of communication, he said some very interesting things that can help us find explanations for the liturgical crisis that ultimately rests on a very profound anthropological crisis.

His works are very numerous and detailed, and require a careful reflection. On a first reading, we have noted that he had the same intuition as many others about the faith and the liturgy. He remarks, I think very truly, that our passage from a traditional civilization founded on orality and oral tradition toward a modern civilization founded on a culture of writing may not have initiated the sort of substantial progress that we are so often sold on.

In this regard, a military officer tells the following anecdote: “During a common meal in the regiment, the printed lyrics of the songs we sing have to be put on the table because almost no one knows them by heart anymore, especially not the youngest. This reliance on writing reveals that a tradition has been interrupted and is thus in some way ‘dead.’ But it wasn’t always that way. The songs used to flow spontaneously during the meal. Today the soldiers sing without joy, without conviction, their eyes riveted on the words written on the sheets provided for each of them. It seems that in just a few years, there will no longer be any singing during these moments of conviviality.” In other words, from orality we pass to writing, and from writing we pass to the loss of the tradition in the noble sense of the term. The same thing came to pass when the staff and notes permitting the transcription of Gregorian chant were invented: memory became lax and the nature of Gregorian chant went out the window. And this event was closely followed by the loss of the melodies of “the chant proper to the Roman liturgy”, and their replacement by polyphony, plainchant, and songs…

All truly vibrant traditional cultures have been oral cultures. It was in this context that Christianity and its liturgy developed.
The beginning of an antiphonary for the Roman Rite, known from the scribe’s name as the Codex Hartker; San Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. San. 339. (CC BY-NC 4.0)
In the Gospels, Christ calls upon us to hear, to listen to the Word of God and remember it. Jesus wrote nothing. Or rather: he wrote a few words… in the sand. They were quickly erased. The Rule of Saint Benedict begins “Listen, my son…” and not “read” or “copy.” This is because the Gospels, just like the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Christian liturgy itself, were originally inscribed into this culture of orality in which chant, psalmody, and melodic-verbal rhythm, united to the “anthropology of gesture”, played a preponderant role. (cf. Father Marcel Jousse, SJ) Even in our own day, the liturgy restored by Vatican II is supposed to be entirely chanted—including the Canon, the readings, and the Gospel—at least recto tono. And why? Because a chanted liturgy allows the sacred words to be raised to a superhuman level, the only level that permits us to grasp their supernatural dimension, something that the simple tone used for a reading or historical narration does not permit. There are very few places where this is understood and practiced.

In the Eastern liturgies, everything is sung: it is not possible to conceive of an office that is not sung because the liturgy must be performed in the mode of proclamation and not of simple reading. In fact, the simple reading in some respect “chains” the sacred words to a written text, while the chanted proclamation renders the word (Biblical or liturgical) living, as if liberated from the written word which is nothing but their material support. One can never be reminded too much that authentic Christianity is not a “religion of the book” but a religion of the Word. At the Mass, after the proclamation of the Gospel, the priest or deacon chants “The Word of the Lord” and not “the book…” The one who goes to proclaim the divine Word raises the Gospel Book very slightly. The same for the entry procession at the beginning of Mass: the deacon who carries the Gospel book raises it very slightly and never over his head (cf. the General Instruction of the Roman Missal).

Thus Martin Luther’s “sola Scriptura” might be something of an error: “Verba sola” would be more in conformity with the teachings contained in the Gospels and the Apostolic Letters…

These considerations lead us to think that in the history of the Western Church, there is a very ancient source (beginning at the end of the Middle Ages, essentially with nominalism) that explains the present crisis. It is possible, as McLuhan thinks, that the printing press accelerated the crisis.

From the 15th century, we perceive the pressing urge to codify, to put in writing, to “fix” the liturgy, because it was thought to be threatened by the false philosophies and dubious theologies that were spreading at that time. This fixing may be designated by the expression “politics of the corset.” In sum, something about the liturgy, its connection with life, with the living Word, was lost. Couldn’t this be the sense of Christ’s warning: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life?” In the immediate aftermath of this phenomenon, we begin to see the aberrations characteristic of the extreme codification of ritual inherited from the Council of Trent, which led to the normalization of the “Low” or “read” Mass. (how can the sacrifice of the Cross be “read”? Mustn't it be celebrated and lived?), then the “High Mass” which is actually a Low Mass on which a mass chanted by the faithful and the choir is artificially superimposed, thus breaking the unity of the celebration and creating a rift between the celebrant and the people. We point out in passing that in the first missal manuscripts, before Trent, rubrics are very rare… and this did not prevent the liturgy from being respected and faithfully transmitted.

This question of writing naturally poses the question of liturgical books: in the West, priests and faithful feel like they are lost if they don’t have their eyes fixed on some piece of writing: a missal, a Mass leaflet, a booklet, etc. This leads to some very strange attitudes during Latin and Gregorian masses celebrated in certain monasteries (Solesmes, for example, but not only there): at the entry procession, instead of turning toward the rite that is taking place and soaking up the liturgy, everyone “plunges” into his book and pays no attention to what is happening in the choir…

Now take a look at the Orthodox liturgies: there are very few books for the clergy (only the strict minimum, even though their liturgy is much more complicated) and for the faithful, nothing at all. This is explained by the fact that the celebrants know the most important prayers by heart (especially the Eucharistic prayers). Consequently, they can concentrate on the celebration itself and don’t have to shove their noses into some booklet or photocopy from start to finish.

One also notices, among the Orthodox, the absence of pews or rows of chairs that in the West “confine” the faithful in unnatural positions. Among Eastern Christians the faithful enjoy a great liberty to come and go, but always with the dignity and respect, entirely adapting themselves to the rites. We too used to enjoy such things: pews and missals are very late inventions that we owe in part to the Protestant Reformation. The point isn’t to get rid of the pews and missals: that would not be a realistic expectation. Nevertheless, we must all the same reflect on these “rubricizing” tendencies, whether they be “traditionalist” or “progressive”: before Vatican II, the Church was usually seen as primarily a juridical institution (when it is truly a divine-human, spiritual and mystical reality) which affected the liturgy to the point that it was understood more or less as a “solemn ceremony” (something equally applicable to a funeral) and almost never as a celebration. Liturgy was thus reduced to an ensemble of prescriptions to apply the letter of the law, which was justified by giving them an allegorical sense that did not get at the deeper sense or the true origins of the rite.

Necessarily, when one no longer understands the meaning of the liturgy, one tries to save the form by resorting to a strict ritualism, which for a time maintains the illusion...until the day when the “corset” falls and the ignorance is unveiled in full view. That is what happened in the 1970s and led to the present state of disaster.

This subject is vast and complex and many volumes would not suffice to explain all its facets. For those interested in reading more, it has been discussed notably by Aidan Kavanagh in the sixth chapter of his book On Liturgical Theology (Ch 6, pp. 96 -121). Commenting on the gradually shift, brought about by humanism and the printing press, toward a form of Christian piety based on the written word, he writes:

“God’s Word could now for the first time be visualized by all, not in the multivalency of a ‘presence’ in corporate act or icon, but linearly in horizontal lines which could be edited, reset, revised, fragmented, and studied by all--something which few could have done before. A Presence which had formerly been experienced by most as a kind of enfolding embrace had now modulated into an abecedarian printout to which only the skill of literacy could give complete access. God could now be approached not only through burning bushes, sacralized spaces and holy symbols and events, but through texts so cheaply reproduced as to be available to all. Rite and its symbols could be displaced or go round altogether, and so could the whole of the living tradition which provided the gravitational field holding them together in an intelligible union Rite became less a means than an obstacle for the new textual piety” (pg. 104).

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