Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fr. Schall on saying Mass

[Originally published here:]


by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

Every time I am at a Mass on Sunday or a Solemnity where, contrary to the rules, the Creed is omitted, I wonder why. The Creed is that part of the Mass wherein we, individually and as a congregation, affirm, out loud, what, in essence, we hold to be true about the Godhead. We need to hear, affirm, and think about this Credo; as it is called; the Church needs to hear that it is affirmed.

I asked a friend of mine about this omission of the Creed. He told me of a parishioner he knew who noticed the same thing. He asked his pastor about it. The pastor told him that it was omitted because the Creed was “divisive!”

Now, the life of Christ itself was divisive. This division is what happened when He dwelt amongst us. “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division” (Luke, 12:51). The Trinity, the subject matter of the Creed, is divisive. Jews and Muslims, among others, reject it. There is practically no point of what we believe or know that is not “divisive” to someone. The logic of this dubious principle – skip what is “divisive” – is to believe and proclaim precisely nothing as the essence of our faith. Is nothingness what satisfies empty minds?

Another friend told me that many of the younger priests he knew do not wear vestments at private Masses. I have even heard of Mass in swimsuits. There is no warrant for this shedding of proper liturgical garb, except perhaps in the failure of bishops and superiors to insist on the normal rules of the Church. Too much bother, I guess.

Not infrequently these days, I find petition prayers after the Creed to last longer than the Canon of the Mass itself, with seemingly interminable lists of things to pray for, not infrequently of dubious political or moral import. Not seldom, petitions merely repeat what is already in the Canon, itself is also in the vernacular. Why pray for the Pope in petition prayers when we pray for him in the Canon?

What happens at the amazingly poorly named “kiss of peace” is too amusing to recount. No aspect of the current Mass is more inappropriately placed. It distracts us from what is going on at Communion at the very moment we ought not to be so distracted. I believe at the Brompton Oratory in London it is placed elsewhere. Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, in The Spirit of the Liturgy, praises the Church of Zaire for placing it before the Presentation of the Gifts. He adds that this placing “would be desirable for the whole Roman Rite, insofar as the sign of peace is something we want to retain” (170). That is, we may not want to retain it.

The kneeling, standing, sitting, bowing, genuflecting aspects of Mass and Communion are up for grabs and cause all sorts of needless controversy. No two parishes or dioceses seem to be exactly the same or even think they should be. When we visit a new parish we often have that bewildered look about what is going to happen next. The old suspicions seem borne out in practice, that if you change one thing, on the grounds that it could be “otherwise,” then everything connected with it will be changed. I sometimes wonder whether every parish will not end up having its own liturgy, sort of like the reformation.

If there is anything clear in the later Eucharistic documents of John Paul II, the Roman and National Liturgical Commissions, and Benedict XVI, it is that each priest should say Mass every day, even if he has to do so alone, and, unless ill or infirm, properly vested.

What is even more clear is that, granted cultural variety, the Liturgy is not up for grabs so that we can refashion it to suit our tastes in either doctrine, wording, or movement. It is not the private property of priest or bishop. Benedict XVI recently said to the Roman clergy assembled in St. John Lateran, “we are not sent to proclaim ourselves or our personal opinions, but the mystery of Christ and, in him, the measure of true humanism” (L’Osservatore Romano, May 18, 2005).

This admonition, which is really a kind of charter of freedom from the reigning mood of recurrent adaption, is no doubt aimed at the “actor priests.” Josef Ratzinger has often remarked that today the priest must, like John the Baptist, “decrease.” The show is not about him. He is not there to call attention to himself, expound his own ideas, or entertain the people, a temptation almost endemic, as Ratzinger also indicates, to “turning the altar around.”

The Mass is not a staged drama at which we applaud the talent of the performers. There really is room for quiet and awe. The priest is there to do what the Church asks in the way the Church asks. Both of these criteria are set down in official documents and are easy to understand by almost anyone who takes the trouble to read them..

For a long time, following publication of the General Catechism and the Code of Canon Law, I have thought what the Vatican especially needs to do is to establish a universal popular Missal, an editio typica, on which all others everywhere in the Church are based. We need to get rid of the leaflet missals, burn them all like Luther, I believe, is said to have wanted to do to Aristotle. Each person in every parish should have his own Missal, which should not be changed every month, or year. The same Missal that we took to Mass at twenty should still be used at seventy. It is a great comfort to die with the same Missal we have used all our lives. I do recognize that many of the current English translations, especially of the collects, range from atrocious to vapid in comparison to the old Latin originals.

Each language group should have a common Missal, easily purchased in expensive ro inexpensive versions. On one side is the official Latin text, the same in all missals; on the opposite page the corresponding vernacular – whether German, Greek, Arabic, English, French, Spanish, whatever – in exact translation. Nothing is wrong with old and familiar translations. The rubrics about what the priest should do and wear should be quite clear in the text and easily known by the reader. Latin should be used once in a while, if not often. The translation is right there. Everyone has what is being said or sung right there in front of him.

I know there are theories that want to take away any reading or prayer tools (i.e., rosaries or Missals) from the faithful so that they are completely beholden to whatever the celebrant (I dislike that word) comes up with. The Mass is absorbing, but only when it is what it is supposed to be. If I have to worry about whether it is orthodox or proper, I cannot follow it with attention. With no authentic text before them, people do not know what is supposed to happen. Today the Missal should be seen both as itself a prayer book, as it is, and as instruction and information about what is supposed to happen.

The laity have a right to (it’s in Canon Law) and should avail themselves of the duty to inform bishops, and the Holy See, when what is laid down is not observed. How can they do this if they do not authentically know what is supposed to be going on? They should know that the clergy are bound to the same rules that they are reading about in the Missal. It is also their Mass in the sense that neither the clergy or themselves make it up by themselves but both observe the same rite.

Even the slightest changes in wording and gesture usually imply a veering in thinking or understanding, even in doctrine. C. S. Lewis pointed out that we cannot say liturgical prayers together if the celebrant or other minister is making up the words as he goes along. The Mass words are very precise, very much expressive of a definite, well thought out, defined understanding of who the Father is, who Christ is, what this sacrifice of the Mass is about in each of its details. Moreover, there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading what is also being said. In fact, it is often a help in praying the Mass, both because rarely in the average church are the acoustics and pronunciations clear enough for everyone to hear and because understanding takes constant repetition and attention.

“The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law,” Benedict XVI remarked at an earlier Mass, also in St. John Lateran. “On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism” (L’Osservatore Romano, May 11, 2005). This spirit, of course, is what we should follow with regard to the Mass. We are a literate and intelligent people. Our faith is a faith also directed to intellect. We should not only know what the Mass is supposed to be because we too can read what it is intended to be, but we should witness what it is when we attend it.

“The authority of the Pope is not unlimited,” Josef Ratzinger wrote in the earlier book; “it is at the service of Sacred Tradition. Still less is any kind of general ‘freedom’ of manufacture, degenerating into spontaneous improvisation, compatible with the essence of faith and liturgy. The greatness of the liturgy depends – we shall have to repeat this frequently – on its unspontaneity” (166). That is a worthy conclusion to what I want to say here – “the greatness of the liturgy depends on its unspontaneity.” It is unfortunate that we have to repeat this reminder so frequently.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fr. James V. Schall, SJ

I am delighted to announce that Fr. James V. Schall, the author of such wonderful books as "The Unseriousness of Human Affairs", "A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning", "Another Sort of Learning" and numerous other titles; a columnist with various Catholic periodicals and a professor at Georgetown university, has agreed, like our other distinguished guests, to submit some pieces to this weblog whenever his schedule permits.

Please join me in welcoming Fr. Schall.

Strategy in the reform of the reform

[Apologia: This is not a formal essay, but rather an open musing that I am writing as I go here -- and with time constraints -- so do not consider this a fully developed thought on my part. SRT]

I've been thinking much lately about the reform of the reform and the pastoral considerations that go along with any question of liturgical reform, renewal and restoration.

Clearly we've discussed on here certain principles, such as the common direction in liturgical prayer. While not all agree, many believe this is a fundamental aspect to be rediscovered in the Latin West. Some would hold the liturgy ought to be entirely this way, while others propose a mixture of versus populum and ad orientem. Whatever the case, we know the general direction of this is with regards our renewed emphasis on the liturgy as worship of the Holy Trinity.

Clearly there are deeper matters in the whole question of the reform of the reform that require much more than the will of the parish priest or his congregation. Namely, the revisions which the 1970 Missal might go under to bring it textually more back into line with what the Council desired. Certaily we can contribute to the discussion, but ultimately these decisions will be taken by the Church.

I've been thinking lately of what a parish priest, motivated by earnest desire to see the reform of the reform move forward, might do in his parish. Certainly it is arguable that ad orientem requires no approval, but let's face it, unless the congregation is willing and the bishop is at least neutral, this is not likely to get anywhere fast just on the movement of a parish priest alone. Likewise a parish priest may not licitly change the texts of the Roman Missal, even if he is changing them to be a more faithful translation to the Latin typical edition.

Sometimes parish priests effect changes like moving the tabernacle back into the centre of the sanctuary. They may also ensure that the sacred vessels, vestments and sanctuary design are in accord with the dignity that they are to be accorded. All important things. But is it the most important?

I've been thinking lately that while these things are good and necessary, that probably the single most important means and way to begin to bring one's parish into the spirit of the reform of the reform in a substantial way is by way of the sacred music used in the liturgy -- and perhaps this is one of the areas that seems least attempted in most parishes. All the other things are important, but if the music that is used in our liturgy is mediocre at best, and descacralized at worst, no matter how beautiful the priests vestments, or the sanctuary, the liturgy will still be found severely lacking.

Music seems to be one of those things which most profoundly effect the overall character of the liturgy and by consequence the attitude of priest and people. If we are having a fine dinner, we make sure to set the mood accordingly with good dinner music and ambiance. While liturgical music is not so limited as to merely be "mood music" it nonetheless sets a tone. For the Catholic in the pew, as well as the priest in the sanctuary, it can remind us that we are first and foremost approaching God in worship and adoration in the liturgy. This can effect things such as our interior prayer and our exterior reverence. The character and tone of our liturgical music is indeed to be imbued with such a tone -- sung prayer. That of course it the other improtant aspect of liturgical music, a sound theology.

It's at this point I want to mention the Adoremus Hymnal. It seems to me that Adoremus had it right in putting great effort into producing a parish hymnal that is a mixture of Latin Gregorian classics and vernacular pieces built organically upon that same tradition. In so doing, priests who wish to manifest the reform of the reform have an up-to-date option that is ready for their parish pews and designed with the reform of the reform and Second Vatican Council in mind.

Again, I am not suggesting that the other moves not be pursued. Far from it. However, in thinking strategically about implementing the reform of the reform in the here and now with the 1970 missal as it currently stands, and in considering what change might most effect a positive change both in the liturgy and in the congregation, liturgical music may be "where it's at."

To that end, I'd recommend that parish priests and parish musicians do what they can to bring this hymnal into their churches and begin to slowly adapt the congregation

Monday, August 29, 2005

Pope & leader of SSPX agree on “gradual process” towards unity

Castel Gandolfo, Aug. 29 ( - Pope Benedict XVI met on Monday with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the Society of St. Pius X, for talks aimed toward reconciliation between the Holy See and the traditionalist group.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office, reported that the meeting had been held "in a climate of love for the Church and a desire to arrive at perfect communion." He said that the Pope and Bishop Fellay were hoping to make gradual progress in overcoming differences, so that a full agreement could be reached "in a reasonable time."

In his own statement after the meeting, Bishop Fellay said that his visit to the Pope showed that the SSPX "has always been, and will always be, attached to the Holy See." Echoing the Vatican's official statement, Bishop Fellay said that the 35-minute conversation had produced an agreement to work gradually toward a resolution of the differences between the traditionalist group and the Vatican, "in a spirit of great love for the Church."

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, broke from the Vatican in 1988, when the French prelate ordained four new bishops in defiance of a direct order from Rome. Pope John Paul II responded by announcing that the traditionalist group had committed a "schismatic act," incurring the penalty of excommunication for Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops (including Bishop Fellay) he had ordained. But the Vatican has repeatedly sought means of restoring normal ties with the traditionalist group. Today's meeting was scheduled in response to a request from Bishop Fellay, Navarro-Valls reported. The Pope met with the traditionalist leader at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence. Also present was Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the president of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei, which is charged with the task of seeking reconciliation with traditionalist Catholics.

After the meeting Bishop Fellay said that members of the SSPX would pray "that the Holy Father will find the strength to bring an end to the crisis in the Church and 'restore all things in Christ.'"

In a July interview, Bishop Fellay said that he wanted to meet with Pope Benedict, and ask him to give permission for all Catholic priests throughout the world to use the Tridentine rite in celebrating Mass. He said that he would also ask the Pontiff to rescind the decrees of excommunication for himself and the other bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988.

Informed Vatican officials speculate that Pope Benedict may be prepared to grant the traditionalist request for a "universal indult" allowing the use of the Tridentine rite.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Order and Symbolism of the Iconostasis

This comes from the website. I would like to do a series on the order and decoration of Byzantine Churches. I think their strong catechetical focus with regards sacred imagery is fascinating. - SRT.


The interior of a Byzantine Catholic Church is described as "heaven on earth" - the place where God dwells and where man can "lay aside all earthly cares." Between the altar and the congregation there is the iconostasis, which establishes the unity between God and man; where the material and sensory worlds meet.

The screen symbolically divides the heavenly world (the altar area) from the human world (the main body of the church), and unites these worlds into one whole. Standing on the boundary line between the heavenly and human worlds are the images (icons) of Christ, the Mother of God, and the saints, through whom salvation is accomplished.

The iconostasis is composed of three doors and up to four rows of icons. Most churches today build lower screens of only two rows of icons.

The icon screen has a double door in the middle. These are called the Royal or Holy Doors because only the bishop or priest can pass through them. These doors are usually decorated with the Annunciation (Angel Gabriel telling Mary she is to be the Mother of God), and the four Evangelists (those who announced the good news of salvation to the entire world). These doors represent the gates of heaven.

On either side of the Royal Doors are the Deacon or Servers Doors. These are single doors used by the deacon or servers who assist the priest during the liturgy. On these doors can be found icons of a deacon saint, usually Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, or an angel, usually St. Michael.

To the immediate right of the Royal Doors is the icon of Christ the Teacher. To the left, is the icon of the Mother of God. On either side of the Deacons' Doors is the patron saint of the church (right side) and St. Nicholas, patron saint of the Byzantine Catholic Church (left side).

The twelve major feast days of the Byzantine liturgical year can be found over the doors on the second row of icons. These represent the main events to salvation. In the center of this row, above the Royal Doors, is the icon of the Mystical Supper. Since this event is reenacted during every liturgy, it is a focal point on the iconostasis.

If the iconostasis contains more than two rows of icons, the central figure of the upper sections is that of Christ in His glory, the Pantocrator, sitting on a throne as the King of the Universe. On both sides of Christ, in the third and fourth rows, are the Apostles, Prophets and Patriarchs of the Old Testament. It is topped with a Crucifixion, with the Mother of God and St. John the Evangelist standing beneath the cross. It was through the Crucifixion and the Resurrection that salvation was accomplished and the gates of heaven opened.

The Divine Liturgies Music Project

I haven't had time yet to really look deeply into it, but I've found what looks like an interesting page for Byzantine hymnology and sacred music, called The Divine Liturgies Music Project.

The site describes itself as follows: This webpage contains more than 1000 pages of Byzantine music, transcribed into Western notation according to the style of chanting used on the Holy Mountain [of Mount Athos]. The scope of this project covers the liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, St. James, and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, as well as various doxologies. The words of the hymns are provided in Elizabethan English, Modern English, and Greek.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Papal Legislation on Sacred Music

Back in print:

Papal Legislation on Sacred Music

Active Participation

From Hillenbrand Books, a book that looks promising on a very relevant and contentious subject (contentious by means of how it is to be interpreted):

Cardinal Reflections: Active Participation and the Liturgy

By Francis Cardinal Arinze, Jorge Cardinal Medina, Francis Cardinal George, George Cardinal Pell.

In the forty years since Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Church has instituted new liturgical books with new rites, and a liturgy that Catholics can hear and respond to in their own language. Active participation is being examined again in light of recent re-examinations of the new rites. This thought-provoking collection presents four different examinations of the concepts of active participation and the liturgy by four leading contemporary figures in liturgical and sacramental theology today. A thoughtful introduction by Cardinal George Pell leads into the essays by Cardinal Francis Arinze, Cardinal Francis George, and Cardinal Jorge Médina. Each is a leading pastoral voice in the post-Vatican II Church as well as a highly regarded theologian. This book also contains the document Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Pope Benedict to Meet Head of SSPX on August 29th

Catholic News Agency: "Meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Lefebvrists could initiate path towards reconciliation "

From Catholic World News:

Pope to Meet Traditionalist Leader

And finally, from Zenit:

Code: ZE05082405

Date: 2005-08-24

Lefebvre Successor Reportedly to Meet Pope

According to Society of St. Pius X

ROME, AUG. 24, 2005 ( The Society of St. Pius X said that Benedict XVI will receive its superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, in audience next Monday at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

The communiqué, issued today from the society's headquarters in Menzingen, Switzerland, added that "no public statement will be made before the audience."

The meeting between the Pope and Bishop Fellay was meant to be discreet, but was made public in a letter by one of the society's four bishops, Richard Williamson, who is opposed to any "compromise" with the Holy See.

The Holy See has yet to confirm this audience, but it has not denied the information published by the society, founded by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Pope John Paul II stated in an 1988 apostolic letter, "Ecclesia Dei," that the "illegitimate" ordination of four bishops within the society by Archbishop Lefebvre constituted "a schismatic act."

The ordination cut short the attempt at an agreement between the Holy See and the society, carried out on behalf of John Paul II by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now Benedict XVI.

2 requests

The bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre were Swiss Bernard Fellay, Frenchman Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Briton Richard Williamson and Argentine Alfonso de Galarreta.

Archbishop Lefebvre died in 1991 and was succeeded in the leadership of the society by Bishop Fellay.

In a recent interview with DICI, the press agency of the motherhouse of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Fellay announced that, if he were to meet with Benedict XVI, he would request two things.

First is the possibility for all priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without special permission from the local bishop, as is now required. Second is the "recanting [of] the decree of excommunication related to the consecrations" of the four bishops.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

FSSP Parish in Rome

Per the request of one of our gentle readers, here is more information on my favorite parish in Rome, San Gregorio dei Muratori, where even the grime on its ancient plasterwork cherubim is fantastic and beautiful. You can find the official FSSP website in Rome here, with more info on the church's history and location here as well. If anyone is ever in Rome, you have to stop by here for mass sometime. You now cannot use the excuse that you got lost.

More Juventutem pictures..

Let me know if you're getting sick of seeing these. More pictures, these more professional from a Polish news agency.

Bishop Haas Mass

(Please do not confuse with David Haas. ;)

Beauty vs Aestheticism in the Liturgy

I have posted on the above subject on my blog. It may be of interest to readers here too and was inspired by comments on this blog and also readings from Dietrich von Hildebrand's comments on the issue in his book 'Trojan Horse in the City of God'.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ancilla Domini in Stereo

A Liturgical Curiosity

Originally posted on the Holy Whapping March 25, 2004, while the author was studying in Rome and frequenting the miniscule FSSP parish of San Gregorio ai Muratori.

It always surprises me that the solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord isn’t a holy day of obligation. I find myself blinking in surprise as I check the Code of Canon Law yet again to see if it’s one of the big ten that we’re still responsible for. Unless, of course, it falls on a Saturday or a Monday or in the Jewish lunar month of Cheshvan during a leap year, all those Byzantine attempts to make the layman’s life simpler. In the Middle Ages, it was Ladymas or Lady Day, the first day of the new year, the traditional date of the Crucifixion just as it was of the Incarnation and the Creation, and the day the world would someday end.

Nonetheless, I turned up at San Gregorio at six thirty this evening, that familiar, humble church door at the end of a dark, nondescript alley. I paused in the claustrophobic dark wooden sentry-box fitted over the inside of the door, the bussola that climate and custom has provided all of Rome’s churches with in lieu of a narthex. And I found myself fumbling with the doorknob, realizing it was the right-hand door they left unlocked and popped into San Gregorio.

I’d lied—it wasn’t six-thirty exactly, maybe a bit after it. I was, as usual, fashionably late. They were already at the Kyrie, whispered sotto voce, when I entered, and unfortunately my first thought was some snarky comment about the astonishingly ugly pattern of bright-red poinsettias on the priest’s Roman chausible and matching chalice-veil, atrocious petalled scarlet against the mandated white for the feast of the Virgin.

I tried to orient myself, straining my ears to make out the intimate mumblings of the server and the priest, and quietly backtracked over to the rear pew to snatch up a bilingual missal. Then, I realized, over at the side altar not two yards away from the sanctuary in this tiny oratory, Father Tomas was beginning a whole other mass by himself. Things had suddenly gotten very, very confusing: I had received the singular privilege of Tridentine instant-replay. The whisperings suddenly turned to Latinate mush, the snakelike sibilants of the letter s that are the one sound you can’t ever truly whisper, interlocking and interlacing into an inverted Pentecost—in other words, Babel.

Father Tomas. I’d recognize the back of that head anywhere. He’s really still a kid, a little Croatian with cropped yellow hair, round steel-rimmed spectacles and an impeccably-tailored cassock and long black cloak that could have come out of a Bing Crosby-era clerical supply catalog. Or, in the gilded robes and falling sweeps of laced alb he had selected for the solemnity, out of a forgotten, smoke-darkened Counterreformation altarpiece of one of those passionate young Jesuits, Aloysius, Stanislaus or John Berchmans the Belgian.

He moved to the center of his side-altar with drill-field precision, turning and strutting and turning again to kiss the relic beneath the three layers of consecrated cloth, addressing his low responsories to no one in particular. Oramus te Domine, per merita Sanctorum tuorum, quorum reliquiae hic sunt, et omnium Sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Amen. His biretta lay neatly on the wooden footpace of the altar, looking primly forlorn. I tried not to be amused, but the utter dazzling confusion of the sight of two priests with their back turned offering two separate masses within earshot of one another was—God forgive me—weirdly comic. Or perhaps the way I was reacting was the origin of the humor in this situation. It just seemed like some strange optical illusion, Latinate déjà vu all over again as my eyes clicked back and forth from priest to priest.

No—wait—up in the little tile-floored sanctuary, the two lonely candlesticks of low mass lit with little wavering flames, they’d just ascended the altar-step. Maybe they were at the Confiteor when I came in, not the Kyrie. I heard more intricate mutterings, and tried to wedge in a whispered Christe eleison from the pew between the quick exchanges between the be-poinsetta’d celebrant and the server. Now, the Gloria—oh yes, for a feast, of course, wrapped in silent and frustrating gauze as Tomas continued his own mass at the side. A white-haired old man had joined him below the creaky footpace and was quietly answering his responses. Now they were at the Gloria, and I tried to offer my continuing confusion up to God having nothing else to give. Something, anything to salvage my utter bewilderment.

I have to admit, though, my first thought when the battle of the dueling celebrants began, was simply that there was no way I wasn’t going to write about this, it was just too singular an opportunity to miss. It’s a struggle sometimes, the impulse to play liturgical tourist and lose yourself in descriptions of orange silk maniple-linings flashing in semidarkness, of liturgical osculae and triplicate crossings, or even semi-comic ecclesial curiosities like the odd tableau that I had stumbled into on Lady Day. And it’s a struggle even to admit it’s a struggle, as even that makes for interesting writing. I tried my best to get back to my prayers, hoping whatever came out of this, either in my soul, my head, or my journal, that it was for God and not my amusement. I tried to bury myself in the little paperback missal, over-carefully reading the private prayers to re-orient myself.

Concelebration, the rite of several priests consecrating together the sacred Victim at mass, was virtually unheard-of in the days of Pius V, when the old mass was first fully codified as a weapon against the religious strife that then wracked Europe. Before the Council fathers had sat in snowy Trent, the custom had died out, but not before St. Thomas could defend it and Durandus deny it. By the sixteenth century, it had been reduced to a peculiarity of the Ordination mass, the one time that the words of Consecration were said in anything more than a whisper. By necessity—to keep the newly-chrismed priests, their chausibles still folded up on their backs, in time with their leader, the bishop.

But otherwise, for better or worse, for all its ubiquity today, it was unknown then. The endless ranks of splendidly-marbled side-altars in so many churches are a testament to this liturgical quirk, allowing every priest to have his private mass every day of the year. Churches rang with the staggered sound of sacring bells, one Consecration coming after the other with imprecise precision. Priests even complained, as the golden sky of the Middle Ages slowly rolled up into the apocalyptic scroll of the Reformation, of pious laymen rushing from chapel to chapel to adore the upraised host in mass after mass.

And here was I, living on a page of liturgical history and trying to pray and not to gawk. To look and not stare. I considered fumbling with my rosary, but turned back to the missal balanced on the pew-rail.

My eyes kept slowly wandering back and forth between the two priests. I watched the old celebrant at the high altar bow with slow familiarity, assisted by a bespectacled, black-cassocked old acolyte.

And I watched Tomas as well, resplendent in his kingly vestments shot with gilt black-graped vines, move through the ritual with the graceful over-enthusiasm of the neophyte, laying on signs of the cross with the vigor of a tomahawk chop, cutting the air over the paten and chalice with a balletic and solemn slice of his hand. He is growing slowly into his priesthood, and it is marvelous to watch, as I did at high mass this last Sunday, Laetare Sunday, as this innocent, unprepossessing-looking creature turns to his server, hand pressed to his silk-clad breast, and gives a stiff little blessing with his forefinger touched to his thumb, the pardon before Communion. Possibly the most beautiful gesture in the world.

Indulgentiam absolutionem + et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tributat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.

Communion—but not yet. I strained to listen for the Sanctus and tried to hang onto the words as the server rang the altar bell three times, and then silence. A single moment of silence at both altars, and then even lower, more secret whispers. Another bell, and I waited in anticipation, as the Host was raised on high, almost piercingly white against the dark canvas of the reredos.

I’d missed Mass twice over the last few days, and perhaps that’s why He seemed so glaringly present, not in some mystical sense, of course, but there was a certain odd solidity about that sacred Disk of bread that was not bread in this collision of liturgical tableaux. And then I found myself waiting again, eagerly, excitedly, as I looked over to my left and saw the same miracle happen one more time, a doubling of Calvaries like Christ in a sacred temple of mirrors—yet it was no reflection I saw. Time loops in on itself at every mass, bringing us back to Golgotha, and here I had the unique privilege of seeing God do the impossible two times in a row.

Staggered humilities, flavored by different accents. Nobis quoque peccatoribus. And then again from the side altar, in Croatianized Latin, more subtly, more murmured. Nobis quoque peccatoribus. Though we are sinners, the only words of the old Canon said aloud.

I saw the priest at the main altar kneel slowly as he worshipped the Host, and then noticed Father Tomas out of the corner of my eye fall on his knees, almost seeming to strain as he fell onto the footpace with a great clatter to reverence the God He had just brought back down to earth. Two reverences, two men, one Lord.

And I quietly went over to the altar-rail and took the Host silently. No response, the missal had admonished me, no response to the priest’s complex quadripartite gesture with the Host (And the absentminded, gentle blessing of Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.) The mass soon ended with the Last Gospel, said so silently as if one had to take the instruction to genuflect at et Incarnatus est on faith from the priest. He left then, the chalice veiled in his hands, the black biretta square on his head like a curious piece of Roman origami. But Father Tomas was still at his side-altar, bowing low again and again as he prayed the last series of blessings, scarlet vestment linings flashing in the semidarkness, the dangling stole with fishtailed ends bouncing against his knees. And so I joined him, thinking he might appreciate a congregation as I stood sideways in the pew.

As he turned around to impart the final gesture with a simple crossing, I waited and wondered if perhaps he might notice me—but then I looked up, watching his skinny hands impart the sign, and realized his head was bowed, his eyes almost closed in serene, intensely-controlled mysticism.

It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter to him who was listening, who was there. It hadn’t even mattered if he had a server to say all the Et cum spiritu tuos at the beginning, the old man had come to him, not the other way round. As a favor, maybe, like I had.

I remembered the words in the missal, black on white. Three times, three taps of the breast.

All. Domine, nom sum dignus et intres sub tectum meum; sed tantum dic verbo, et anabitur anima mea.

All. Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof. But only say the word and my soul will be healed.

Only say the word. Words, words and silence and secrecy and eyes sealed shut in communion with God. A strange mass, with the silent Canon and Consecration of the old rite, to attend on the feast of the Annunciation, that day so full of words, Ave Gratia Plena exclaimed aloud, words that could trouble a sinless virgin because they were understood and not lost in a stream of jarring whispers. Words and the Word, and the Word that entered through the ear of a Virgin and went straight into Her womb.

I am not sure I like the silent Canon of the old mass, but I know well enough to respect it. And I hope I understood it better on this day of loud and sacred words, of that grand seraphic greeting painted on so many unfolding Germanic triptychs of centuries past. Because the word of the Annunciation, the word that mattered, was not the angelic salutation of Gabriel but the word that came in secret from the overshadowing Holy Spirit and dwelt for nine months in secrecy within the Virgin’s womb just as the priest stands in silence bent over the altar whispering the unchanging words of Consecration and the alter Christus brings Christ into the world.

Of course he had his eyes closed. It was not about him, this mass. It was about something else. Someone else, with a name, and, because of a teenaged girl in Nazareth, a human face. And for Her, it was not about Herself either, but Someone else too. Ecce ancilla Domini. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.

A Word From the East

I was invited to contribute something on Byzantine liturgy, so that the Catholic liturgical traditions could be more fully represented. While each liturgical tradition in the Church ought to preserve its own distinctive character and practices, there are certain basic approaches or perspectives that can be shared for mutual enrichment. Since there has been something of a crisis in the Western liturgy since Vatican II, it may be helpful to reflect on a few fundamental aspects that can assist the necessary restoration.

One important dimension of the Byzantine liturgical tradition is what may be called its “sensual” or incarnational approach. The Liturgy thoroughly engages the senses, and the body is actively involved. We were created and redeemed body and soul, so we ought to worship that way as well. To sit in a pew and sing from a hymnal (which is the extent of much Protestant, and “protestantizing,” worship) is hardly an experience that involves the whole person. A style of worship that is too cerebral or “spiritual” is not one that adequately expresses the adoration of the Incarnate God.

So we use lots of incense, candles, bells, chants, rich vestments, icons; we have processions and venerations of the Gospel book and the cross, and we employ liturgical gestures like the sign of the cross, deep bows, and prostrations. You love Jesus? Here is his icon: kiss it! Get involved, body and soul, in the worship of the Lord. (Of course, the bright-colored felt banners that have replaced sacred art in many modern Roman churches also engage the senses—but the sensation they produce is more like a touch of nausea than religious awe.)

Paradoxically, with all this active involvement of body and senses, the Byzantine Liturgy is meant to be a contemplative experience—not in the sense of silent prayer, for it is one of our liturgical principles that the worship should be unceasing, without gaps or breaks, like that of the angels in heaven—but in the sense of disposing oneself to receive the ineffable gift of the grace of God by personal openness in worship. Since the Byzantine Divine Office is complicated (unnecessarily so, but that’s another question), we usually just invite our guests to listen and receive, rather than hand them a stack a books and try to explain the complex liturgical navigation. There are sufficient repeating refrains to make participation easy, but listening deepens the experience. Without trying to push this point too hard, one can say that to read from a service book is to grasp with the eyes and the intellect, in a sense to be in control of the experience. To listen is to let go, to abandon oneself to the mystery without wishing to grasp or contain it.

The founder of our monastery, Archimandrite Boniface Luykx, himself a liturgical peritus at the Council, told us that many of the Council fathers explicitly insisted that the liturgical revisions be done so as to make it all intelligible and hence acceptable to modern man. Transcendence and mystery were not to be part of the new program, still less popular piety. They were embarrassed, for example, by feast days such as the Circumcision of Christ (which was in fact suppressed) and the Presentation of Mary (which I think is now merely optional). Both of these are still solemn feasts on the Byzantine calendar. They also succeeded at reducing the level of liturgical language to that of middle-school colloquial. But this insistence on intelligibility (and making “modern man” the norm for determining it) was a grave error. It was the beginning of the evacuation of statues, candles, relics, and timeless beauty from the churches, along with everything else that “modern man” finds unintelligible in his ignorance or contempt of the sacred traditions.

Therefore Byzantine churches aren’t “intelligible.” Some people complain that the churches are “cluttered,” that it’s hard to focus, that they don’t know what’s going on, that they are distracted by old ladies in babushkas walking around lighting candles. Good. It’s a little disorienting when you enter an Eastern church. It should be. Sensory overload is OK. You shouldn’t be able immediately to grasp and understand everything, and hence feel comfortable in your relative control of the situation. You are supposed to be entering the world of God, who is ineffable, mysterious, and beyond human comprehension, yet who has invited us into his life and holiness. Some people walk in and are immediately seized by the Holy Spirit and would exclaim, like Jacob, “This is the house of God and the gate of heaven!” They are like the envoys of St Vladimir who attended a Liturgy in Constantinople and said they couldn’t tell if they were in heaven or on earth. It didn’t matter if they didn’t know what page the choir was on.

That is how worship should be. A Catholic church should be an anteroom of the Kingdom of Heaven. As time goes on, you do understand more, and maybe you can even find the right page. But that is still secondary. The primary thing is to fall on your face before the living God.

I hope to continue these reflections in a week or two, God willing.

Juventutem Photos

It looks like one of the Juventutem pilgrim's has made their own personal photos available via a Tridentine Mass site in the Netherlands. They have more shots of the actual liturgies and events surrounding Cologne Cathedral than the official Juventutem site has up at this point. Check it out.

Monday, August 22, 2005

BOOK REVIEW: Thomas Aquinas and the Liturgy

THOMAS AQUINAS AND THE LITURGY by David Berger. Translated by Christopher Grosz (Sapientia Press, 300 West Forest Ave., Ypsilanti, Mich. 48197, 2004), x + 127 pp. P8 $14.95.

This is truly a remarkable little book. In 113 modest-sized pages of text, the German Thomist David Berger offers us a feast of high theology, meditative reflection, and sharp critique. How many books offer a readable summary of St. Thomas’s subtle account of transubstantiation and the real presence (89-110), or pay attention to his beautiful “allegorical” interpretation of the ceremonies and prayers of the Latin-rite liturgy (27-41), or unfold a compelling vision of “mantas] by nature a liturgical being” (52-61) who, estranged from God by sin, can yet return to him and cleave to him ever more intimately through the mercies of Jesus, who is “at once priest, sacrificial gift, and God” (61-87)?

No, this is an unusual book, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it should be required reading for priests, seminarians, and all who have a serious interest in theology. It performs the important service of focusing our minds, so easily distracted by scandal and scattered by contemporary quarrels, on what is essential and timeless in the liturgy. Among other things, Aquinas helps us to see that just as Jesus lived first and foremost for the glorification of the Father, so too our liturgy, principally the Mass, must be directed first and foremost to the cultus divinus, the pleasing and acceptable worship of God for his own sake—­propter magnam gloriam tuam, as we pray in the Gloria—and only secondarily, as a result of that, to our own sanctification and instruction. When the liturgy is transparently adoration and thanksgiving, when it is “man’s incorporation into the cultic glorification of God through Christ,” it can then truly become our healing and our source of community. But if we commit “anthropocentric idolatry” (73) by putting ourselves and our human preoccupations first, we fall prey to “rationalisms and the banality that follow in their wake” (Berger, quoting Ratzinger, 79), yielding ultimately to total desacralization and loss of faith. No perceptive Catholic needs to be told that this idolatry has been tried and found wanting; but many are still wondering what to do next, how to recover balance, sobriety, beauty, after dizzying doses of experimentation.

Helpfully Berger starts off with a summary of Thomas’s unique authority in the Catholic Church, a reminder that is especially necessary in these times of free-wheeling dissent and, even among orthodox Catholics, philosophical and theological pluralism. It was not for superficial reasons that Vatican II became the first ecumenical council in history to single out “one individual author,” none other than the Angelic and Common Doctor, as a universal guide for Christian education, in this respect echoing Leo XIII’s Aeterni Parris and anticipating John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio. Thomism’s real relevance, argues Berger, consists in its very “otherness” from the fashions of today—”where it breaks through those superficial plausibilities that support the spirit of the age’s articles of faith . . . where its timeless wisdom causes us a painful yet salutary disquiet” (10). On a number of occasions Berger notes how theological errors have distorted the authentic meaning of the awesome mysteries re-enacted every time we gather for the Mass, and shows how Aquinas gives us the principles we need for the purification and ennoblement of our public cultus. Surprising, as it may initially seem, we have a voice from seven hundred years ago that can and will help us greatly in this process of reparation and renewal.

The book’s brevity comes at the cost of a certain density. Berger presupposes in his reader a thorough grasp of Catholic doctrine and at least a passing familiarity with basic scholastic terminology (act and potency, form and matter, hypostatic union, sacramental character). So, the book is targeted, one might say, at amateur and professional Thomists, those who seek to know the mind of Aquinas on the liturgy. It is not, however, written in the pompous, inaccessible jargon typical of many academic books today. The style and substance are a breath of fresh air (for which some of the credit surely goes to the book’s capable translator). I recommend the book in a special way to priests, who may find its radiant explanations of central truths about the Mass, the Eucharist, and the sacraments in general a source of solid ideas for preaching.

In contrast to an oft-assumed “decline of liturgy that allegedly started in the Middle Ages” (2), the greatest of our mediaeval predecessors knew what the liturgy is far better than many of today’s liturgical scholars—it is the ineffable mystery of God planted as a fruitful vine in the soil of our world, the supreme sacrifice of praise, a heavenly wedding feast, the gateway to the heart of Jesus, the lover of mankind whom we meet under veils in the darkness of faith, warmed by the fire of his love. Through his doctrine and his heavenly intercession, may St. Thomas help us toward that new beginning, that “rediscovery of the living center” (1), we so desperately need and so deeply long for.

Peter Kwasniewski

International Theological Institute
Gaming, Austria

(Reprinted from the June 2005 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ratzinger: the organic development of the classical liturgy

This is one of those topics which always stirs up a certain amount of controversy, at least amongst a certain crowd. It pertains to the continued organic development of the 1962 Missal. I find the controversy is not so much that some find it unacceptable to think of any change, but the question of what and when is the problem is the heart of the controversy and concern. It seems that much of this is rooted in an understandable mistrust of the intent and scope of such change, particularly when those who love and worship in the classical rite find themselves marginalized and their liturgy attacked by many.

I've just finished reading Looking again at the Question of the Liturgy and Cardinal Ratzinger lays out in his concluding thoughts his vision of the classical Roman liturgy. Indeed, I share these thoughts and I believe they represent the direction things must and will go with regards it:

"I am very much aware of the feelings of the faithful who love this [classical Roman] liturgy; moreover, it is my own sentiment. And accordingly, I fully understand what Professor Spaemann asserted: if one does not understand the meaning of change, however miniscule it might appear, and if one is to assume that it is only a stage toward a more complete revolution, that worries the faithful. Accordingly, one should be very prudent regarding any eventual changes. However, he also said, and I underline it: it would be fatal if the old liturgy found itself in a refrigerator, rather like a national park, protected for a certain species of persons, to whom one would leave these relics of the past... With such a reduction of the past, one would not conserve this treasure for the Church of today and tomorrow. This [classical Roman liturgy] should also be a liturgy of the Church, and under the authority of the Church. And only in this ecclesiology, in this fundamental link with the authority of the Church, can it offer all it has to offer.

" the future, we need to think, it seems to me, about enriching the missal of 1962 by introducing new saints. There are now important new figures: I think, for example, of Saints Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, the Spanish Martyrs, the Ukrainian Martyrs and many others. There are many truly beautiful figures that are necessary for us. Therefore opening the calendar of the old Missal for the new saints, in making a well thought out choice, seems to me an opportune thing that would not destroy the makeup of the liturgy. One could also think of the prefaces that come from the treasure of the Fathers of the Church, for example, for Advent, and others: why not insert these prefaces in the old missal?

"Therefore, with the greatest feeling, great understanding for the preoccupations and fears, in union with those responsible, one should understand that this missal is also a missal of the Church, under the authority of the Church; that it is not something of the past to be protected, but a living reality of the Church, much respected in its identity and in its historical greatness. All the liturgy of the Church is always a living thing, a reality which is above us, not subject to our wills or arbitrary wishes.”

(The translation is not the same as in the book, but the essence is the same.)

Fr. Ethan spoke of the pastoral considerations which apply to a reform of the reformed liturgy. Clearly we can see in terms of the classical Roman liturgy, similar pastoral considerations apply.

Moreover, what I find deeply compelling is that (then) Cardinal Ratzinger has stated his own love for the classical Roman liturgy.

This is a beautiful thing, for it will hopefully help people to see that this liturgy is indeed legitimate and continues to have legitimacy. It is my hope that under Benedict, we might see him publically celebrate this classical liturgy at some opportunity for these communities -- even better, within the bosom of St. Peter's Basilica itself. I'm not suggesting he does this in replacement of the modern rite, but rather, "now and again" as a sign of its legitimate place in ecclesial life.

The History and Development of the Tabernacle

From 30 Days, The casing of the Eucharist.

This article, as the subject suggests, gives a history of the tabernacle, the various froms it has taken (tower, dove, and what we are more familiar with), where it was placed and how that developed.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A few interesting articles

I'd like to share a couple of interesting articles with the readership. These are not new articles, but they are good one's.

A New Dawn for Latin Chant by Jeffrey Tucker and Arlene Oost-Zinner, published in Crisis Magazine

Second, our very own Stratford Caldecott's conference, given at the Fontgambault Conference, Liturgy and Trinity: Towards an Anthropology of the Liturgy.

Book Review: Turning Towards the Lord

[Some of you may be interested in this review I wrote of U.M Lang's book.]

Book Review: Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer, by U.M. Lang, C.O., Ignatius Press, 2004, 156 pp.

Reviewed by Shawn Tribe

This work is a very needed contribution to the ongoing evaluation of the direction the reform of the Roman liturgy took after the Second Vatican Council. Uwe Michael Lang, a member of the London Oratory (internationally known for its beautiful celebration of the post-conciliar liturgy) sets out to re-examine the question of the orientation of the priest at the altar during the Mass. In tackling this question, Lang echoes the concerns of other prominent churchmen, proposing that the recovery of a sense of sacred direction in our liturgical prayer is "indispensable for the welfare of the Church today." Lang discusses the matter in a scholarly but very readable manner, falling firmly into the "reform of the reform" school of liturgical thought. Lang's work is not one of absolutes, but rather analyzes the principle of sacred direction in Christian worship and makes a strong argument for the propriety of the priest and people facing the same direction at least during the Eucharistic Prayer, if not the Liturgy of the Eucharist entirely.

In our own day, we are faced with a more absolute type of situation. With only a small few exceptions, the modern Roman liturgy is typically celebrated with priest and people constantly facing one another (versus populum). It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to suggest that many modern liturgists have almost raised this practice to the level of dogma, so fiercely do they hold to it. The thought of priest and people facing the same direction (ad orientem) sends many of them into a frenzy of disdain and anathemas. Lang tackles the matter head on, but is careful to do so in a non-polemical way. He addresses the arguments and assumptions most commonly made for versus populum celebration and quite successfully demonstrates why these arguments do not hold, either in the light of history, or in the light of sound theological thought. To do so he avails himself not only of history and patristic evidence, but also of modern liturgical thinkers such as Josef Jungmann, Louis Bouyer and Cardinal Ratzinger.

This book does a good job succinctly and lucidly presenting an indepth picture of the issues behind this question. Do not let the size of the book fool you, it is packed with relevant quotations, diagrams of early church architecture and ample footnotes that can serve the scholar and layman alike. The reader will not only come away with a deeper understanding of the history of orientation in Judeo-Christian liturgical prayer, but also a renewed appreciation of the eschatological and cosmological significance of ad orientem posture. In summary, Turning Towards the Lord is not only an excellent look at this specific liturgical question, but also a reminder, more generally, of what the Christian approach and attitude to liturgical prayer must first and foremost be: an act of Trinitarian worship.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Interesting works from Spire Books

The Early Publications of the Cambridge Camden Society looks at how a group of Cambridge scholars radically re-catholicized the order and decoration of Anglican parishes throughout the world in fairly short order. This book re-publishes a number of the early tracts/pamplhets of the Society (also known as the Ecclesiological Society). As you can imagine there were contacts with the Oxford Movement and AWN Pugin even designed their logo. I mention this particular work because from our perspective, in effect we are in many ways trying a similar project with regards our churches and with regards liturgy. Perhaps there is inspiration to be had here?

From a Catholic perspective, another rare offering from this same publisher worth mentioning while we're at it is AWN Pugin's "True Principles of Christian Architecture" and "Contrasts", delightfully binded in hardcover green cloth with a gold embossed image of Pugin's crest on the front.

Pugin was perhaps known for his over-zealousness with regards the Gothic, being criticized, if I recall correct, by Cardinal Newman for his excess this way. However, the quality of his art and design is interesting, so too is his thought, which, for all its excess, has some fruit within it.

Liturgical music and liturgical books -- is a website I have found quite interesting for a time. It is particularly good though for its sacred music, which it divides into Western, Eastern and even Jewish. Moreover, it links you to CD's of numerous quality recordings of liturgical music from these traditions and, even better, gives you a liberal dosing of it right on the website itself, along with numerous other clips.

liturgical music and liturgical books --

I found it intriguing how similar Jewish liturgical chant is to Christian chant. It was an eye opener for me when I first discovered this, and I remember a religious brother whom I was with at the time who said "there's our ressourcement." In that vein, when we throw away our chant, we are throwing away a great deal of the patrimony, not only of the Christian Church, but also of the Jewish tradition of which Christianity is the fulfillment.

Incidentally, there's lots more than just music on the site, so take a look.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Working Towards Liturgical Restoration: Can CIEL and Adoremus present a common front?

(This is an article myself and a good friend of mine wrote a few years back, which appeared in The Wanderer and The Catholic Answer. While it is a few years old, the themes and issues seem as relevant as ever. Someone recently quoted part of it on their weblog, so I thought it would be good to post it in its entirety. What's more, the article will serve as a springboard to let people know more about CIEL.)

by Pete Vere, JCL and Shawn Tribe

If there is one element which unites the liturgical atmosphere of the Western Church at this present time, it is unfortunately that of conflict. More unfortunate is that this conflict is not absent amongst those who could be allies by reason of their mutual love of the Church and her traditions. Although both the Reform of the Reform and the Ecclesia Dei movement express concern over the present state of Catholic liturgy in the West, in the past much misunderstanding has arisen between these two schools of liturgical thought which has contributed to tensions between them.

However, this need not be so. CIEL-Canada, an organization rooted in the Ecclesia Dei movement, admires Adoremus’ work to improve the present state of liturgy. In carrying out CIEL’s work, we are hopeful for closer ties with the Reform of the Reform movement of which Adoremus is a primary proponent.

All that being said, it seems appropriate to first give a brief overview of CIEL’s nature and background. First off, CIEL should not be confused with ICEL -- as some have done in the past. The latter is the International Committee for English in the Liturgy, whereas CIEL is the French acronym for the “Centre International d’Études Liturgiques.” This loosely translates into English as the International Center for Liturgical Studies. CIEL is also the French word for heaven, of which the liturgy is a foretaste here on earth. Pope John Paul II upholds this relationship between heaven, earth and the liturgy as follows: “This is why the liturgy is heaven on earth, and in it the Word who became flesh imbues matter with a saving potential which is fully manifest in the sacraments…” (Orientale Lumen, par. 11)

From its roots within the Ecclesia Dei movement, CIEL promotes the usage of the 1962 typical edition of the Roman Missal. It does so exclusively in communion with the Roman Pontiff and the diocesan bishop. Nevertheless, CIEL is neither exclusive nor elitist in its liturgical view. Rather, in addressing the present debate over liturgy, CIEL recognizes both the good and the legitimacy of other liturgical movements within the Latin rite. These movements would include, but certainly are not limited to, the Anglican Use in the Latin Rite -- a movement originally born of Anglicans who desired to come into full communion with the Holy See, while retaining their own liturgical forms and ethos -- and Adoremus which proposes the need for a reform of the reformed liturgy according to the principles laid down in Sacrosanctum Concilium. In short, CIEL promotes the Ecclesia Dei Indult as one of many diverse, legitimate solutions to the current liturgical debates. As noted in CIEL’s introductory literature, such openness to liturgical diversity amongst those favoring a more traditional approach to the liturgy is clearly favored by Pope John Paul II:

“It is necessary that all pastors and the other faithful have a new awareness, not only of the lawfulness but also of the richness for the Church of a diversity of charisms, traditions and apostolates, which also constitutes the beauty and unity in variety: of that blended ‘harmony’ which the earthly Church raises up to Heaven under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.” (Motu Proprio, Ecclesia Dei.)

Nevertheless, this raises an important question, namely, how should one set about fostering a new interest in classical liturgy? Although CIEL approaches liturgy from the Ecclesia Dei perspective, it earnestly attempts to do so through scholarly and non-polemical dialogue, and always in a manner respectful of legitimate Church authority. “First and foremost,” Loïc Mérian forewarned, “the founder and organizers of CIEL in Europe and North America are Catholics loyal to the Church. Although our [personal] liturgical preference is for the traditional liturgy, this in no way separates or isolates CIEL from the liturgical mind of the Church. On the contrary, CIEL endeavors to present to the contemporary Church the multiple treasures of Catholicism. Church authorities have received CIEL and it’s published proceedings warmly.”

The proceedings to which Loïc Mérian refers are those of CIEL’s annual international colloquia on the liturgy. These proceedings feature the contributions of many scholars representing a range of academic disciplines -- all of whom share a common interest in the liturgy. Not infrequently, the speakers at CIEL’s colloquia have been comprised of curial officials, diocesan bishops, monastics and professors at some of the Church’s most prestigious Pontifical universities. In the months following each colloquium, the proceedings are collected into book format, translated into various languages, and published. Subsequently, CIEL makes a special point of officially launching the proceedings of the previous colloquium at the Vatican every year, during which time copies of the proceedings are presented to numerous curial dicasteries. The result of this effort, as noted by Loïc Mérian, is the following:

“Letters of support for CIEL’s work have been written by Cardinals Ratzinger, Medina, Mayer and Stickler, as well as many bishops, abbots, and priests. The liturgy should be a means of strengthening Catholics’ faith and charity, binding them closer to the hierarchy and the Church’s life. Toward this goal, CIEL works closely with ecclesiastical authorities to present the best information existing in the domain of the liturgy at its annual colloquium. […] The work of CIEL is respected because it is grounded in a solid approach to liturgical research. New contacts are opening up with university and seminary professors who are interested in CIEL. New lines of communication with Church authorities are being opened because CIEL carefully opens channels of communication.”

Here in the Americas, CIEL-Canada hopes to be the first of many national CIEL delegations to open the lines of communication with Adoremus. Having found Adoremus’ work towards a reform of the reform encouraging, the Canadian delegation of CIEL sees many issues where both movements share common interests and goals. Such issues include, but are not limited to, the preservation of Latin and traditional sacred music in the liturgy, the placement of the altar and the tabernacle, and the fostering of an interest in our western liturgical patrimony. These are issues which both CIEL and Adoremus have carefully researched and have interest in, and the Church could benefit if they were to share their findings with one another and work more closely together in a spirit of fraternity.

In a sense cooperation between the two movements has already begun. One comes across numerous individuals who support the efforts of both CIEL and Adoremus. One notes that two priests of the Oxford Oratory have given presentations at the CIEL colloquia in the past. As Oratorians, both regularly offer a liturgy similar to that being proposed by Adoremus, and with regards to their respective CIEL presentations, the topics chosen by these two priests are of interest to both the Ecclesia Dei movement and the Reform of the Reform. Therefore, future cooperation between Adoremus and CIEL is not only hopeful, but attainable as well.

Which brings those who support CIEL and/or Adoremus to the next question, namely how to go about achieving cooperation between Adoremus and CIEL on a wider scale? Is more formal dialogue between both groups possible, either in print or by means of a joint conference on the liturgy? What about co-operation in developing resources to assist dioceses in restoring the liturgical life of the local faithful? Granted, there will be those who oppose such cooperation, but does the will exist among the majority of grass-root supporters to promote further cooperation?

“Only time will tell,” is an all too common cliché, as is, “hopefully sooner than later.” However, both clichés are rather fitting given the present state of liturgy in the West. Simply put, both Adoremus and CIEL have found a common cause on many issues, have carefully researched these common issues in a scholarly manner, and in sharing their scholarship and jointly presenting their concerns, they would increase their potential to help stabilize the liturgical situation in the near future. For the sake of the liturgy and the Church, let us pray and work towards future cooperation between Adoremus and CIEL. More to the point however, let us hope for cooperation in general between the Reform of the Reform and the Ecclesia Dei movements.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Duruflé's "Requiem": A Paradigm for Reform

I recently listened to the BBC radio program on the history of the Kyrie. (See the post of 10 August.) The commentator noted that Maurice Duruflé's (1902-86) Requiem uses a lot of plainchant (going back to the roots of Western liturgical music) while embellishing the chant with all the music of the ages that has followed: Palestrina, Bach, the French impressionists, to name a few.

In this connection, I suppose Duruflé offers us a way of understanding what authentic liturgical renewal is all about: organic development. On the one hand, we should neither forget nor disdain the past; rather, we must continually refer to it as a norm for future change. On the other hand, we should be careful to avoid the error of archeologism (as Pope Pius XII called it), romanticizing the distant past and rejecting the developments of the intervening ages or whatever is new simply because it is new. To do either is to misunderstand the Church's living Tradition.

As I noted in The Reform of the Reform? A Liturgical Debate, the 20th-century liturgical movement fell (strangely enough) into both of these errors, archeologism (we might also call it antiquarianism or primitivism) and neophilism (or faddism). To oversimplify a bit for the sake of brevity, the primitivist views the liturgical, architectural and even theological developments from, say, the 4th century onward as decadent; thus everything about the early Church should be retrieved and reinstated (sackcloth and long penances excepted, of course!). The neophile, in contrast, considers only the contemporary and trendy to be relevant and pastorally suitable.

It occurred to me as I listened to the broadcast that Duruflé's nova-et-vetera approach to liturgical music is a model for authentic liturgical renewal. In a word, it's all about ressourcement, renewal through a reappropriation of the fullness of Tradition. In some respects, that happened (for example, restoring ancient collects from sacramentaries not available during the Tridentine reform). In other respects, it did not (for example, eliminating many of the priest's private prayers simply because these were medieval importations to the "pure" Roman liturgy). Considering what the schizoprenic reform actually produced, many words come to mind, one of which is Kyrie.

Gorgias Press - Liturgy

Finding small, scholarly publishers who publish eclectic and rare bits of liturgical history, or who republiish some of the classic texts has always been something I've enjoyed.

One publisher I neglected to share in our list of links, is Gorgias Press who publish a number of books related to Eastern Christianity. They also have a Liturgy section which includes books like F.E. Brightman's compilation of Eastern liturgies, as well as other non-Byzantine (i.e. Oriental) liturgical items that some may find of interest here.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Upcoming liturgical colloquium at Oxford University

The Society of St. Catherine of Siena is hosting a conference pertaining to the Sacred Liturgy at Oxford University.

Forthcoming Events

Make sure to read the PDF file explaining the conference (see link below). It is itself an interesting document. Thank's to Stratford Caldecott as well who pointed this out to me.

PDF File on Conference

The basic synopsis of the conference:

Ever Directed toward the Lord. . .
The Love of God in the Liturgy of the Eucharist past, present, and hoped for

October 2005 - a conference to be held at Blackfriars Oxford
To be opened by Most Revd Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham

This conference is to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist declared by John Paul II and in response to his Papal Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia.
Main speakers will include -
Professor Eamon Duffy, University of Cambridge
Revd Dr Jonathan Robinson cong.orat., University of Toronto
Professor Lauren Pristas, Caldwell College New Jersey
Revd Dr Laurence Hemming, Heythrop College, University of London
Revd Professor Paul Bradshaw, University of Notre Dame, London Centre.

The conference papers will be published together with contributions from a number of other scholars.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Vestment design

I was at the local Seminary recently and was going through the various journals. One of those journals was not one I expected a great deal from, the Environment & Art Newsletter. Flipping through the journal, I came across a beautiful picture of a vestment set, the kind of thing you'd expect was perhaps a Pugin designed set of vestments.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this vestment set was actually commissioned by the Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke, for the occasion of his installation in that archdiocese and for other solemn liturgies, such as Easter and Christmas.

What was wonderful was not only to see such beautiful vestments being designed today, but also the care put into their symbolism, and also the comments that brocades are not inappropriate to vestments -- an idea that seems to float around out there these past decades.

As I say, I was pleasantly surprised at the tone of the whole article which was quite in favour of this return. More signs that beauty again is on the uprise and return to more classical forms may well be on its way.

Take note in the picture as well that the good archbishop is actually wearing the full compliment of pontifical vestments for such solemnities, which includes a dalmatic underneath.

The Juventutem Itinerary for World Youth Day

Look at the traditionalist pilgrims' Cologne schedule.

And then tell me you're not just a touch jealous.

It even features the debut of a Mass setting dedicated to John Paul II, arranged by Sir John Tavener.

The first Juventutem pictures from Europe are becoming available online

(Thanks to Mike Roesch for passing this information on to me.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

BOOKS: Liturgical Study of Ambrosian rite

For those interested, please go to this website:
Grove Books JLS

For the following two books:

JLS44: Ambrosianum Mysterium—The Church of Milan and its liturgical tradition. (Volume I)
Author: Cesare Alzati Translated by: George Guiver C.R.
ISBN: 1 85174 421 5
Description: The author is the Milanese expert on the Ambrosian rite and this makes available in English very important material previously virtually unknown here. (1999)

JLS47-48: Ambrosianum Mysterium—The Church of Milan and its liturgical tradition (Volume II)
Author: Cesare Alzati Translated by: George Guiver C.R.
ISBN: 1 85174 444 4
Description: The author is the Milanese expert on the Ambrosian rite, and the Joint Editorial Board has been very pleased to secure this translation by the English enthusiast for the rites of Milan. The second part emerged as a 96-page double-length Study, hence its double number and double price (£9.90). (2000)

Abbot Joseph of Holy Transfiguration Monastery

I've asked Abbot Joseph of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Redwood Valley, California (a Byzantine Catholic Monastery) if might be able to contribute some news and views now and again from the Eastern Christian perspective. While the Abbot is certainly quite busy, he has kindly agreed to this request. The abbot has his own weblog, The Word Incarnate.

You have probably noticed that an emphasis on this weblog is to try and gain various contributors from varying perspectives, all in unison with the Church. Many of these individuals are of course very busy, so while you cannot expect to hear from them every day, we are happy to have them on board to hear from then whenever we can.

On the Proper Activity of EME's

I just read the 1997 instruction Ecclesiae de Mysterio, which deals with contemporary issues regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained in the duties of the ministerial priesthood. The document was signed off by eight dicasteries of the Holy See, including the CDF, the CDWDS, the Pontifical Council for the Clergy, and the Congregations for the Clergy and for Bishops. While I would certainly recommend reading it, most of the contents and clarifications are not new to those who are knowledgeable in liturgical law. The emphasis on terminology is important, as the document distinguishes between munera ("function" - the Latin term is also prominent in the Code of Canon Law) and officia, with the laity having God-given gifts which are to be used in ecclesial functions, but which should not be viewed as supplanting the office of the ministerial priesthood with the abilities of the common.

At any rate, what I wish to comment on is the section on Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (EME). The instruction lists three practices which are to be particularly "avoided and eliminated" when it comes to the use of EME's. Two of these - the use of any EME "renewal of promises" which parallel religious vows, and the habitual use of EME's to the extent that judgment behind their usage becomes largely arbitrary - are obvious enough, with only the latter appearing to be a very widespread abuse. However, the document also says that compentent authorities must be on guard against "extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants" (Part 4, Article 8, 2).

I am trying to understand how this directive should be properly understood and implemented. I cannot recall seeing a parish use any other practice than having EME's come forward to receive the Eucharist separately from the assembly, followed by their being given the species to distribute to the faithful. Does this constitute a confusing and exceptional means of receiving the Body and Blood apart from the assembly? Or are we to understand the directive specifically through the lens of the phrase "as though concelebrants," thereby only taking offense if EME's assume activities explicitly reserved to concelebrants (e.g. self-communicating)? This does not really seem to be the case, since self-communicating is the only major distinctive act of concelebrants after the Eucharistic Prayer, and the instruction would surely have mentioned self-communication specifically if it was the overriding issue.

However, the position concelebrants take within the sanctuary and near the altar is also quite privileged; and so it is possible that EME's are being exhorted not to mimic that role. Of course, I find it hard to see how any of the assembly (who had been paying any attention whatsoever throughout the Liturgy of the Eucharist) could possibly mistake an EME coming up well after the Eucharistic Prayer for a concelebrant. There is also the fact that the practice of having EME's step forward is simply the most efficient and practical. If anything, I would say that the restriction should be placed on their stepping into and waiting in the sanctuary before the priest communicates (plenty of parishes instruct the EME's to wait until after the priest communicates, rather than during or immediately after the sign of peace). I think, naturally, that it would be most fitting to have EME's not enter the sanctuary at all; but then there is the legitimate question of requiring the priest to bring Communion and the ciboria and chalices down to each EME.

These are mostly practical considerations, and it will certainly depend upon a proper evaluation of the individual parish situation and sanctuary scheme when it comes to implementation. If there are any other thoughts or insights into this particular directive, please place a comment.

Kyrie eleison

Thanks to Fr Jim Tucker at 'Dappled Things' who pointed out this excellent BBC Radio program on the history and usage of the prayer: Kyrie eleison. Well worth a listen.

The radio program proper starts after some news and a quick plug for another BBC program, so keep listening. The music on the program is fantastic and begins with the troped Kyrie from the Novus Ordo set to glorious music (in English and Greek) by James Macmillan (just entitled 'Mass') for the Westminster Cathedral Choir, arguably the best church choir in the world! Incidentally James Macmillan is a lay Dominican and often writes excellent contemporary church music for liturgical use. The second choral Kyrie on the recording is from the beautiful Mass for Double Choir by Frank Martin for which the same choir won the choral world's first Gramaphon Record of the Year. The third recording of Palestrina's classic Missa Papae Marcelli is also by this superlative choir whose choral sound is unique and immediately recognizable to an afficionado like myself! There follows a beautiful reflection on Bach's masterpiece Mass in B-minor... and so on.

Do listen: it's a great musical survey/ history of the Kyrie eleison.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Diary of a Suburban Priest: Ecclesia Dei and the Reform of the Reform

Diary of a Suburban Priest: Ecclesia Dei and the Reform of the Reform

Living a Liturgical Life

(Originally published in The Catholic Response in Summer 2005)

by Shawn Tribe

For many of us, when we hear speak of "the liturgy" we tend to think of this as applying almost exclusively to the Mass. Thus, speaking of "living a liturgical life" we might conclude this simply means going to Mass as much as possible – which, while desirable, is far too limited an understanding. That being said, a genuine Catholic sensibility should glory in such a thought, since, in the liturgy, heaven permeates earth. Dom Chautard, in his spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate, quotes St. Peter Damian who says that "the Divine Office and the Holy Mass... cannot be celebrated without the whole Church being associated with it and being mystically present."(1) When St. Peter Damian refers to "the whole Church," he means not only the Church on Earth, but also in Purgatory and in Heaven. This is a truth well worth pondering, especially for those who find the liturgy secondary in their spiritual life.

The Mass, or Divine Liturgy as it is also called, is certainly liturgy par excellence. In the hierarchy of Catholic prayer, it is topmost, being the source and summit of the Faith. As such its place in living a liturgical life cannot be underestimated, nor over-valued. But what does it mean to live a liturgical life? Does it simply mean going to Mass frequently? The idea of living a liturgical life is not novel. Many saints have talked about this subject, and it certainly was a matter associated with the liturgical movement. Put succinctly, living a liturgical life means placing one's spiritual life in sync with the liturgical seasons, feasts and associated customs of the Church’s year. Clearly the Mass is paramount in this, but not exclusive to it. But before getting to the how of this matter, let us discuss the why.

Why then should we strive to live a liturgical life? Isn't it enough to simply pray my daily devotions, perhaps the Rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet, read the Scriptures or simply spend quiet time in meditation? These things are all good and profitable and to be encouraged. But there is something to be said for unifying ourselves to the liturgical life of the Church. Dom Chautard puts it this way: "I share, thanks to the Liturgy, in the life of the Church and [God]. With Her I assist each year at all the mysteries of [Christ's] Life... Moreover, the periodic feasts of our Lady and the saints... by putting their examples before my eyes bring me an ever-increasing light and strength to reproduce in myself [Christ's] virtues..."(2) In joining our own spiritual life to the liturgical seasons and feasts of the Church we are embarking on a profound meditation on the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the saints who successfully emulated Him, and ultimately upon the Divine Truths and Sacred Mysteries which God has bestowed upon us. To draw ourselves deeply into this is to bring ourselves into intimate contact with the revelation of the Triune God and the Church He established. Done in spirit and in truth, it will only positively effect our spiritual growth. The public liturgical life of the Catholic Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit down the centuries; it has borne countless saints. As such it is by far our most sure, solid and comprehensive guide in the spiritual life.

How then are we to do this? As suggested earlier, there is a hierarchy in Catholic prayer, and first and foremost is the Mass. If at all possible, we should strive to attend daily Mass. Following closely is the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours. The Divine Office can be particularly effective in drawing the liturgy of the Church out of the parish and into one's home, hotel room or place of work. What's more, it is setup to permeate one's day -- morning, evening and night -- with the liturgical feasts and seasons of the Church. While most of us will not be able to devote as much time to it as those in monasteries, nonetheless we can probably find at least some time to devote to it. Both the Mass and the Divine Office form a part of the formal liturgy of the Church and as such should be given the highest priority in a Catholic's spiritual life. As the great Benedictine spiritual director, Dom Columba Marmion, reminded us, "the Liturgy, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, draws from the Scriptures, from tradition and from the symbolism of the Church, a pure doctrine perfectly adapted to the spiritual understanding of the faithful..."(3) Hence, what better source to draw from? By comparison he notes that "the great difficulty which so many persons experience in prayer comes in great part from the divorce established between individual prayer and the prayer of the Church; shut up alone in themselves, they attempt by reasoning to find out the meaning of the Scripture and no longer go to Our Lord through the Church."(4)

There are of course other ways to unite ourselves to the liturgical life of the Church. One can pick devotions or spiritual reading in tune with the liturgical season. Perhaps one could take up the chaplet of Divine Mercy during Lent so as to meditate on the Passion of Our Lord. We might read the life of the saint of the day. Also, we live an incarnational faith; one filled with symbols and ritual. There is much of this we can draw into our own homes. Take up the custom of having a home altar. This could be a shelf, a mantle, or a small table set aside solely for this use. On this might be a statue, an icon or a crucifix, along with candles and incense that can be lit during times of prayer. If you have particular holy images for particular saints or feast days, you might give them prominence here during those days and seasons. You can even consider adorning it with flowers on solemnities or patron saints days – just as our parish sanctuaries are on such days. These holy reminders put before us continually a sense of the sacred. What’s more, the life of the Church becomes something incarnated in our day to day life, pulling us out of the doldrums of mere secular existence.

The liturgy is something of paramount importance to our Catholic life, both in Church and out of it. The life of Heaven is indeed an eternal liturgy of the angels and saints giving worship and adoration to the Holy Trinity. As such, in seeking to live a liturgical life here and now, we join ourselves more closely with the Church Triumphant in Heaven, as well as to venerable Christian antiquity where “the liturgy was not only a school of prayer… it was their prayer."(5)


1. Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, The Soul of the Apostolate, 3rd American ed. (Mission Press,1941), 224.
2. Ibid., 216.
3. Dom Raymon Thibaut , ed., Union with God According to Letters of Direction of Dom Marmion (London: Sands & Co., 1949), 199.
4. Ibid., 200.
5. Louis Bouyer, Liturgical Piety (Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1955), 243.

Welcome to Stratford Caldecott

I'd like to announce that Stratford Caldecott of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture in Oxford, U.K. is joining us as a contributor. For those not familiar with Stratford, he is not only involved in the aforementioned institute (formerly the Oxford Centre for Faith & Culture), he is co-editor of The Second Spring: A Journal of Faith and Culture, he was editor of Beyond the Prosaic, the liturgical conference at Oxford which put together the Oxford Declaration, he was one of the invitees and speakers at the 2001 Fontgombault Conference organized by Cardinal Ratzinger (published in the book, Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger, and so on.

Welcome Stratford! We look forward to your thoughts whenever you can spare the time!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

My architectural loves.. Warning, pure bias on my part.

Byzantine Gothic anyone?

There's a little discussion going on in the comments section concerning new church architecture.

I'm not sure how our architects will feel, and nor am I certain how this fits in with the NLM per se, but let me share with you my own spectrum of preferences and ideal for ecclesiastical arhitecture. My interest in these two different forms is not exclusive meaning that I am not open to other possibilities, but these would represent two of my favourites.

Specifically, AWN Pugin's great masterpiece, St. Giles in Cheadle: St. Giles, Cheadle, by A.W.N. Pugin

And on the other side (or lung) of the Church, more generally, here is a wonderful example of Byzantine style architecture with its iconographic canons: St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, Washington

Those who are interested in ecclesiastical architecture would do very well to study the Christian East, particularly the Byzantine tradition, with its emphasis on the placement of icons in the Church in a way that cannot be described as anything but truly representing a catechism and Bible in stone (or more accurately, paint) -- to paraphrase St. Gregory the Great. While not all such churches follow these canons to the letter, nonetheless, their well developed theology of the image and its correspondence with the church is phenomenal and a highly developed understanding of the place and importance of the sacred image.

I'd recommend a look at Constantine Cavarnos' set "Byzantine Iconography" or Leonid Ouspensky's set, "The Theology of the Icon".

Short Primer on Eastern Catholics

I came across this Short Guide to the Eastern Catholic Churches by Kevin Yurkus at CRISIS Magazine and thought it may be helpful for readers who are unfamiliar with the Eastern churches and their rites.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Pastoral Considerations by Fr. Ethan over at his blog

Fr. Ethan over at the Diary of a Suburban Priest has written a piece, in part directed toward the NLM blog, but more generally he has put down some pastoral considerations for the reform of the reform here:

Diary of a Suburban Priest: The Reform of the Reform

I hope that Fr. Ethan will certainly appreciate that pastoral considerations are indeed recognized as being real considerations that must be wisely looked at and taken into account. The reform of the reform indeed must be organic. Adoremus' hymnal as well as the re-translation of the Pauline missal of 1970 are good signs of such an approach. The same can be said in regards the question of the "Tridentine" rite.

This aim of this blog is to contribute to the discussion, look to the ends, and particularly highlight the good, the true and the beautiful.

Sancte Dominice, ora pro nobis

Seeing as how this is the feast of Holy Father Dominic (at least in the US), I figured it would be nice to share the sequence Dominicans have the option of using during Mass on this day, which is a solemnity for the OP. Alas, I am not a Dominican myself, though perhaps I'll someday join the third order.

Sequence for the Solemnity of St. Dominic

In caelesti hierarchia,
nova sonet harmonia,
ducta cantico:

Cui concordet in hac via,
nostri chori melodia,
congaudens Dominico.

Ex Aegypto vastitatis,
virum suae voluntatis
vocat Auctor saeculi,

In fiscella paupertatis,
flumen transit vanitatis,
pro salute populi.

In figura catuli,
praedicator saeculi
matri praemonstratur;

Portans ore faculam,
ad amoris regulam
populos hortatur.

Hic est novus legislator,
hic Elias aemulator,
et detestans crimina.

Vulpes dissipat Samsonis,
et in tuba Gedeonis,
hostis fugat agmina.

A defunctis revocatum,
matri vivum reddit natum,
m adhuc corpore:

Signo crucis imber cedit;
turba fratrum panem edit,
missum Dei munere.

Felix, per quem gaudia
tota jam ecclesia
sumens exaltatur.

Orbem replet semine,
in caelorum agmine
tandem collocatur.

Jacet granum occultatum,
sidus latet obumbratum:
sed Plasmator omnium,

OssaJoseph pullulare,
sidus jubet radiare,
in salutem gentium.

O quam probat carnis florem,
omnem superans odorem,
tumuli fragrantia!

Aegri currunt, et curantur,
caeci, claudi reparantur,
virtutum frequentia.

Laudes ergo Dominico
personemus mirifico,
voce plena:

Clama petens suffragia,
ejus sequens vestigia
plebs egena.

Sed tu pater pie, bone,
pastor gregis, et patrone,
prece semper sedula,

Apud curiam summi Regis,
derelicti vices gregis
commenda per saeculi.
Amen. Alleluia.

Now new canticles ascending,
And new strains harmonious blending,
'Mid the hierarchies of heaven:

With our earthly choirs according,
Join this festival in lauding,
To our holy father given.

For the welfare of the nations,
Called from Egypt's desolations
By their God and Maker, he

Was the chosen one and glorious,
Passing o'er the wave victorious,
In the ark of poverty.

Ere his birth, the preacher brother
Is prefigured to his mother
By a hound with torch of fire;

So her son, his torch-light bearing,
Midst the nations dark appearing,
Leads them on with full desire.

He, another Moses, teacheth,
And Elias-like he preacheth,
Sin denouncing with his might

Samson-like his foxes sending,
And the foe his trumpet rending,
Gedeon-like he put to flight.

From death's sleep a child he waketh
Whom alive his mother taketh:
When the holy sign he makes,

Cease the floods; and bread from heaven
For his fainting sons is given
Which into their hands he breaks.

Happy he, whose elevation,
Is our mother's exa1tation,
Is her joy and weal indeed.

To his home by saints attended,
Hath his soul for aye ascended,
Having filled the earth with seed.

Like the hidden grain he bideth
Like the clouded star he hideth:
But the Maker of the spheres,

Joseph's dry bones readorning,
Will reveal the star of morning,
Till earth's darkness disappears.

O surpassing fragrance, telling
Of the virtues of that dwelling,
Which within the tomb doth lie!

Thither flock the sick for healing,
Blind and lame the grace revealing
That his body lives for aye.

Wherefore now with jubilation
Bless and praise him, every nation,
Cry aloud, and crave his care:

Sing Dominic the glorious,
Sing Dominic victorious,
Claim his help and promised prayer.

And thou, father, kind and loving,
Shepherd, patron, unreproving,
Kneeling heaven's high throne before,

Lift for us thy voice prevailing,
To our King with prayers availing
Evermore and evermore.
Amen. Alleluia.

I apologize for not including the chant notation - I searched in vain for it on the web. If anyone can direct readers to an online version, please let us know.

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