Monday, July 31, 2006

Where did the light go?

This year the Transfiguration falls on Sunday, which allows us to sing the strange, spooky, and mystical Visionem for communion, which lends itself so well to exciting vocal effects. It is also short, which permits the use of verses. In the case of our schola, we sound better with each repeated Antiphon, so by the third time through, this will be spectacular. (You can try this at home by making the first note a D and marching through the white keys with A as the top note.)

Good so far. But when I turn to the Introit, there is an instruction in the Gregorian Missal to sing the Tibi dixit from the 2nd Sunday of Lent. No special Introit for Transfiguration? Can't be. So I open the old Graduale from preconciliar days to find this splendid piece of work, the words of which are: "Thy lightnings enlightened the world: the earth shook and trembled. How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord."

Look at the range this piece explores just in the first figure, only to have the top note repeated, held and held, followed by a frightening melody, only to have the composition reach even higher, all in the first line, and following back down to the beginning note again precisely where we finish singing about the whole world. Here is the light. And then follows again another outbreak, a stunning scene that reaches again up and follows down again on "terra." Here is a shaken earth.

But where did it go? Why is it not in the new Propers? Anyone know? And what is a schola to do in this case? Is it time for an "alius cantus aptus"?

On the Origin and Development of Vestments. Part II: Development and Future

[Part 2 of 2 in our series on the Origin and Development of Roman Vestments]

II. The Development (and Future?) of Vestments in the Roman Rite

I would now like to shift our attention away from the origins and earlier history of Christian vestments to the specific question of the development of vestments in the Roman rite.

In our earlier history, many vestments, being derived from Roman civil clothing took the form of wool as the material they were made from. As well, materials such as silk were still less commonly found in the West. By the 9th century, silk had by then become much more common in the West and it had become the normative material employed in the construction of liturgical vestments.

James identifies the apparels as one of the most prominent feature on mediaeval liturgical vestments. We have already discussed the ornaments on the albs, by the middle ages, not going all the way around the alb, but being in two rectangular panels, front and back, as well as the presence of similiarly ornamented cuffs. Often an extra pair were put on the back and on the breast, which symbolized the five wounds of Christ. The ornamented amice further came to fit into the mystical scheme as a symbolizing the crown of thorns.

An interesting variant upon this was to be found in Milan, home of the Ambrosian rite, where the decorated panels were not sewn to the bottom of the alb, but rather suspended by ornamental cords from the cincture. Likewise, the decorative panel on the amice was a serperate piece attached by cords once the chasuble was put on.

The dalmatic itself historically being a kind of exotic, more decorative alb, often would have similar decorative panels placed upon it – though it should be remembered that the vertical “stripes” are actually part of the historical design of these vestments, and not a later ornament.

As was mentioned earlier as well, the early shape of vestments were conical, being gathered up at the arms, and the material was free falling. These vestments went down below the knees, and at this time, so to did stoles, reaching to the ankles, and as also mentioned previously, so too did dalmatics and tunicles reach below the knees. Such vestment designs may be found not only through the middle ages and before, but, James points out, also into the 15th and 16th century on the effigies of Cardinals and Popes. (A number of days ago, I had posted a piece from a museum showing a 14th century red vestment in “fiddleback” style; I have wondered whether this vestment wasn't originally a more ample, conical vestment that was later, perhaps in the 17th or 18th century, then “altered” according with the liturgical fashion of that day. I now believe it likely wise, and certainly it would better explain the pattern of embroidery on that vestment which seems more suited to an ample vestment.]

It was around the time of the 16th century that the chasuble begins to be cut down in size “at a greatly increased pace” (James) throughout the Latin Church. “The introduction of velvet and silk brocades and the increasing heaviness of the embroidery rendered the old and very full shapes, easy enough to wear when made of a supple material, now no longer tolerable; and the same hands which had begun to overlay the vestments with stiff and heavy work of various sorts began also to cut and clip away their ample folds.” It was during the later 16th and 17th century that extensive innovations in vestment designs begins to be seen on a larger, wider scale.

One can quite clearly see the evolution of the chasuble from the conical to what we know today as the fiddleback. The conical style, being the original form of vestments, appears to have reigned until approximately the 13th century in its original form. The testament of much mediaeval art, from manuscript illuminations to brass engraved effigies, reminds us of the prevalence of this form with its deep folds.

During the time of the 13th and 14th centuries, there was a slight modification in the conical vestment, though quite minor, resulting in some having a slightly pointed bottom and others slightly more rounded with a little less material to fold up onto the hands. It still, however, remained substantially conical in shape and design. In the 15th and 16th centuries, this was tailored a bit further , bearing a more proximate relation to what people today know as “gothic”, being still free-flowing, but where the material comes down to the cuffs of the wearer approximately, without any folding required.

It is only by the latter part of 16th century that we start to get closer to the fiddleback form, though not exactly so. This vestment still went over the shoulders and hung down further than the fiddleback style of the latter centuries. Many portrayals of St. Philip Neri and St. Ignatius Loyola show this style of vestment. Eventually, this style was minimized even further so that the material of the chasuble should become stiffened and barely hang over the shoulders. In some cases, such as the Spanish style, the vestment is actually narrower at the shoulders than at the base. This brings us to what we know today, and have seen in great part since the 18th and 19th centuries – though never with complete loss of the more ample style of chasuble it would seem.

The following images illustrate at least some of these styles in the order of evolution (though do not include every variant described above).

(The Conical: the original form)

(A modified form of the conical with less length in the arms. Probably the most common today.)

(The most tailored form of gothic coming from the conical family.)

(The 16th-17th century variation of the time of St. Philip Neri and St. Ignatius. One can see the modern fiddleback prefigured here, but still the reference back to the more ample forms of chasuble.)

(A front view of the modern fiddleback that arose out of the 18th and 19th centuries particularly. A Spanish variant on this is even more tapered at the top, revealing the shoulders even from the backside.)

The Fiddleback Controversy

Still to this day does the question of “Roman” vs. “Gothic” vestments (a distinction which is spurious incidentally) raise debate. This was no different during that time and resistance is evident. St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, seeking to curtail the cutting back of the vestments laid down legislation on matters such as the minimum dimensions of the chasuble which declared that it should be at least 54 inches in width, from side to side, and should reach nearly to the heels of the priest. Likewise, the apparels on the alb and amice were also insisted upon, at least for solemn occasions. Further resistance to this development of the narrower, fiddleback style of chasuble can be seen in the words of the 17th century Bishop of Toul (which also gives us some clues as to the variances in form): “So cut down is the chasuble... that at the sides it hardly covers the shoulders, much less reaches to the elbows; and this cutting-down has been effected without any sort of warrant of the Holy See or ecclesiastical law, but entirely through the private judgement of individuals ... Not only have they deformed the priestly garment itself until it bears no further resemblance whatever to its ancient shape, but they have also deprived it of its mystical reason for being the topmost vestment...” The Bishop goes on to suggest that some relaxing of the ampleness of the form is reasonable, within limits, so as to not overburden the wearer. Still further opposition can be found in the likes of Cardinal Bona, who likewise asserts a lack of authority in the making of these changes. A French writer of the time, De Vert, commented as such on vestment makers of his day: “who are allowed the liberty of nibbling, clipping, cutting, slashing, shortening, just as the whim may take them, chasubles, dalmatics, tunicles, and other priestly garments or ornaments... in a word, they gives these vestments what shape they would like, without consulting the bishop...”

As a footnote to this matter, the shortening that occurred to the chasuble in its length and breadth also occurred with the surplice. In the midde ages the surplice reached only a few inches from the ground and had very full sleeves. At this time, it had no lace, just as the alb had no lace

Arguably, the use of lace also dates from the same period of the 17th century onwards and took the place of ornamented panels of the cuffs and base of the alb.

A Modest Proposal: The Future of our Vesture

Having considered the origins, history and development of our liturgical vesture, I wish to venture into risky territory and throw out a meditation and proposal.

First some background. In certain parts of England since the Catholic revival, and through the liturgical movement, we have seen a movement back toward the fuller tradition of the chasuble and away from the fiddleback style. At times this has taken the form of a polemic – Raymund James' work that I have been basing this piece off of is no exception, being definitely against the fiddleback style and for the greater restoration of the ample Romano-gothic forms. Similarly in Catholic revival England, there was a definite battle that generally occurred between the advocates of the gothic revival, and those who favoured the baroque styles. This controversy continues, though in a much quieter way, today as architects pursue neo-classical styles of architecture on the one hand, Romanesque on the other, and with a noted hesitancy to design in gothic forms – perhaps because so much of it was done since the 19th century revival.

In modern Roman rite parishes in North America, the fiddleback style is now almost completely the parlance of classical rite communities, and in parts of Europe while they are seen, they remain rarer sightings. In classical rite priestly societies we distinctly see a preference for the fiddleback style with one exception: that of Tridentine monastic and religious communities where the ample Gothic style seems to be preferred.

Whether this rarity is a bad thing or no depends upon one's point of view. Indeed, the matter raises not a little debate when it arises. In fact, for some in Tridentine rite communities, some seem to have come to identify the fiddleback chasuble as the vestment of the traditional Catholic liturgy – perhaps in due part today because it is primarily there that it is retained – as though it were the particular vestment of that ritual tradition, akin to the uniqueness of Byzantine vestments for the Byzantine rite.

In many ways this equation is unfortunate, being rather narrow in focus. A fundamental aspect of the classical liturgical movement has been the sense of both preserving and re-discovering our classical liturgical spirituality. This means not simply preserving the pre-conciliar status quo, but actually going into the very root and depths of our tradition to root out those things which are particularly rich parts of our liturgical tradition and history and giving them renewed life; distinguishing them from that which may simply be the accidents of more recent history which we may wish to revise or reconsider, in much the same way we would say of the products 1960's culture in the Church today. In so doing, while accepting the principle of organic development and bearing in mind what is and is not dogmatic, we should avoid the temptation to equate what is “traditional” with merely what was customary prior to the Council, or even what has been in the recent history of the Church, without due consideration of our liturgical history and patrimony. And while we ought not be antiquarians certainly we know that this does not give a “carte blanche” for any and every development in our liturgies and in our churches. Some developments may be more or less desireable and we might consider whether to roll them back or return to some more ancient, possibly more venerable form. A good example of such a practice has been the promotion by St. Pius X of the restoration of Gregorian chant in the liturgy, and the curtailing of certain kinds of liturgical music less suited to the character of the sacred liturgy. (Of course it goes without saying this sort of thing must be done with great discernment and respect and due discretion.)

The classical liturgical movement finds its greatest strength when it can critically look at the pre-conciliar state of affairs, neither demonizing it, nor canonizing it, giving an honest assessment of those areas where genuine renewal and restoration can occur. If Low Mass was too prevalent, then this we address. If the liturgy had become usurped by private devotions, this we address so as to restore the primacy of liturgical prayer and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If chant, that sung prayer par excellence, was still not yet being practiced with regularity and vigour, so too do we address this. This should not be understood as a critique of the classical liturgy. Far from it. What we are actually saying is that these other extraneous things have shrouded the full beauty and depth of the classical liturgy and we wish to remove that veil so that the fullness of its beauty and depth may shine through. Equally as reasonable should we look at the developments that had occurred in our liturgical vesture, just as we should examine the modern liturgical art and music present today, and critically assess whether it best represents the depth of our liturgical tradition, or whether instead it is more representative of the accidents, even excesses, of a particular era, be that the modern era, or the Enlightenment.

In the case of these styles, one must of course be careful to not dogmatize them. But one can suggest that perhaps this or that style is more representative of our tradition, and thus also a more dignified, solemn and fitting expression, in much the way we can speak of chant as being particularly suited to the character of the liturgy, iconography a particularly venerable form of liturgical art, or the gothic as well suited to our Catholic churches.

As regards the leaner fiddleback style, perhaps in parallel development it could again find itself widening to the Borromean measurements, falling again back over the shoulders with graceful curves, going down to greater lengths (such as to the knees) as did in the time of St. Philip Neri and St. Ignatius of Loyola. It seems to me that this too would be a most worthy and appealing endeavour.

I believe that such restorations, particularly of our most ancient and longstanding of vesture, put hand in hand with the restoration of our chant would manifestly increase the edification of the faithful, and help restore the depth of our liturgical tradition, spirituality and symbolism. Further it may even help regain for men a strong sense of their vocation in the Church, alongside that of women. These things represent amongst the finest periods of our tradition, including the patristic period and the great ages of Faith, the ages of the Cathedrals of Europe. Particularly in an era when many men feel that religion is the domain of women, it is a matter worthy our attention and consideration.

Seminarians and priests are ultimately the one's who can effect this in the here and now. I would heartily encourage them to do so, and I would encourage my classical rite brethren to re-assess the perception that can exist in our beloved communities and orders which seemingly equates the fiddleback and the lace alb as the traditional vesture of the Catholic cleric. Let us, I pray, regain a deeper sense of this matter, and let us not be afraid to critically examine these matters in view precisely of our tradition, though always with an openess to legitimate development and variety.

It seems to me that our new liturgical movement must go deeper than what merely was these past couple of centuries, particularly centuries so secular, decadent and problematic as those of the Enlightenment and age of commercialism. If we look closely at those periods, we can identify the very seeds of the cult of novelty and the deprecation of our tradition which so continues to afflict us today.

These thoughts are bound to be controversial, and they are not meant to be polemical critiques. Some of these matters which I speak of with a tinge of criticism are those which I myself can at times quite like. For the reader who might be defensive, know that I do not particularly mind laced albs and surplices (though I like them not too short) or fiddlebacks (though likewise, not too short); and while admittedly the forms I have promoted in this piece are indeed more preferable to my own taste and what I hold as the ideal, know that it arises not simply out of taste, since the former styles are not repulsive to me. That being said, I put out these considerations in view of what might be best and most universally edifying, and most truly representative of our tradition.

To that end, while they needn't be as ample as the conical vestment, I say let us bring back our full flowing chasubles and our appareled amices and albs, ornamented with images of Christ and the saints, in deep, rich colours and iconographic brocades; bring as well back that more full form that was the pre-cursor to the fiddleback; bring back the length of our vestments and our surplices. Bring them back both to the modern Roman rite and the classical Roman rite. Do it not for the sake of novelty, not for the sake of archeologism, but for the continuation of our liturgical tradition and some of the most edifying forms it has produced.

Why the Tridentine Mass Should Become Universal Again?

It is not because I find the new Mass spiritually unfulfilling that I long for a general permission / restoration of the Tridentine Mass in all the parishes of the world for those who desire it. When I attend the Novus Ordo I pray the Mass, just as I do when I attend the Indult mass. I find Jesus in the Novus ordo, come to us as Real Presence, just as I do in the Tridentine Mass. Keeping our eyes on Him is everything. And there is not a word in the "new" Mass which either offends me or troubles me. They are the words of the Church, after all, and presuppose the whole Catholic patrimony. And, especially since the Jubilee year, I have seen improvements in terms of sacred ethos and ambience almost everywhere. Even the simplicity of the new Mass is a plus, not a negative. When we look at HIM, and mortify the temptation to look at the liturgy and others critically, we can gain every grace and lose nothing.

The reason I long for the general return of the Tridentine Mass, however, (without prejudice to the reformed missal of 1970, since so many are content and spiritually whole with the Novus Ordo) is because I think our generation needs more catechesis; and the Tridentine Mass is more explicitly a virtual recapitulation of the whole Catholic faith. One cannot but learn the whole Faith every time a person assists at the Tridentine Mass.

Very many could use this catechesis in our time of relativism, liberalism, and "sound bite" attention spans. Moreover, it is only more consistent with the liturgical diversity which Catholics need not fear, but welcome. ---Stephen Hand

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Two titles relating to the revival of Ritual in Anglican Britain

The scenario faced by the figures of the Oxford Movement presents a remarkable parallel, liturgically speaking, in the case of the Catholic Church today.

We face a variety of variants, with some parishes being liturgically more traditional (in Anglican parlance, "High" or "AngloCatholic") and then some being more "low" in nature -- that is, less traditional, less elaborate in its ceremonial, less ornamented generally. Of course, there is also the matter of theology. In the case of Anglicanism of course, these distinctions were far more hard and fast; in Catholicism, by contrast, it really comes down to what is legitimate liberty and what is simply dissent as compared to Catholic orthodoxy. That is a big difference of course.

Still, the liturgical parallels are interesting. Those Catholics with a keen sense of the need to "reform the reform" or preserve the classical liturgical forms face opposition and a "liturgically low" mentality from a number of quarters, be they some bishops, priests, or laity.

As such, I think it can be interesting to study the approach, trials and tribulations (not to mention the successes) of the likes of the Oxford Movement and Anglican Ritualists, as well as the Cambridge Camden Society who sought to restore an architecture suited toward Catholic liturgics.

In that vein, I wanted to share a couple of interesting titles with you.

Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain 1830-1910 by Prof. Nigel Yates.

Book Description:

This innovative book challenges many of the widely held assumptions about the impact of ritualism on the Victorian church. Through a detailed analysis of the geographical spread of ritualist churches in the British Isles, Yates shows that the impact of ritualism was as strong, if not stronger,
in middle-class and rural parishes as in working-class and urban areas. He gives a detailed reassessment of the debates and controversies surrounding the attitudes of the Anglican bishops towards ritualism, the impact of public opinion on discussions in parliament, and the implementation of the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874. The book examines the wider historical implications by not simply focusing on ritualism during the Victorian period but extrapolating this to show the impact that ritualism has had on the longer-term development of Anglicanism in the twentieth century.

A Church As It Should Be

Book Description:

If you are interested in the Ecclesiologists or early Victorian church architecture, then this book, published in February 2001, will be of real interest.

It consists of an important new series of essays on the Cambridge Camden Society, founded in 1839 and renamed the Ecclesiological Society in 1845 (for a brief history of this society and the current society, see History).

The book has been edited by two members of Council of the present Ecclesiological Society, Christopher Webster and John Elliott. The book is of 460 pages, with 87 photographic illustrations.

Reflections on the Spanish document

Sandro Magister has had a piece up as of late last week, "The Church in Spain Is Sick, but It's not Zapatero's Fault" in which he reports that the Spanish bishops are saying, the sickness is the loss of faith among the people, and the poor instructors are above all the progressive theologians.

Apparently this came in a document coordinated with Rome, as a model for other episcopates.

This is very good news indeed.

Here is Magister's preface:

ROMA, July 28, 2006 The document was written by the Spanish bishops, and focuses on Spanish theology. But its horizon is much broader. It was planned in conjunction with the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, when this was headed by cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now pope. And it presents itself as a working model for the bishops of other nations. L'Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Holy See, is preparing to issue it with a significant publicity effort...

The document is in the form of a �pastoral instruction, and is entitled "Theology and secularization in Spain, forty years after the end of Vatican Council II." ...

The sickness is “the secularization within the Church”: a widespread loss of faith caused in part by “theological propositions that have in common a deformed presentation of the mystery of Christ.”

The cure is precisely that of restoring life to the profession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), in the four areas where it is most seriously undermined today:

– the interpretation of Scripture,
– Jesus Christ as the only savior of all men,
– the Church as the Body of Christ,
– moral life.

The original source and full document is here: Chiesa

It is worth reading and gets into the matters of dissent, relativism and progressivism.

One thing that should be noted is that a significant part of this problem of secularization is not only that of our thought, but also our praxis: that is, the sacred liturgy has often become secularized itself.

What we see in our liturgies can be at one and the same time both a symptom and effect of the secularization that is being spoken of, but as well, it can also be the further cause of secularization within the Church, for if our worship becomes horizontal and secularized that is bound to have an effect on the faithful.

Hopefully, in this welcome development, this important, even central aspect, that is the sacred liturgy will be remembered.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

On the Origins and Development of Vestments. Part I: Origins

Recently I was asked if I might write a piece on the development of Roman vestments. I am most happy to do so, but I will confess, I write on this topic not as one who claims to have any authority in the matter, nor claiming this to be a historical treatise. However, I do intend that it will be based off two works: The Catholic Encyclopedia and an interesting little booklet published by Roman Catholic Books: The Origin and Development of Roman Liturgical Vestments by Raymund James – being 31 pages in length, but filled with interesting information, and some of the most interesting of liturgical photographs, including Pope Pius XI saying Mass in 1930 at the high altar of St. Peter's wearing, wonderfully, a beautiful gothic chasuble, and a few photographs of the vestments used in the Mass on the occasion of the solemn opening of Blackfriars, Oxford, being the sort of design in its outer vestments as well as apparelled albs and amices that one is accustomed to seeing in Anglo-Catholic pictures. If you're interested in this topic, I would recommend you get yourself a copy -- though ardent fans of the more baroque style vestments should be forewarned that James is not a fan of them; still, there is much interesting information.

I. The Early History of the Vestment

First, let us briefly overview the origins of our vestments. In the earliest days of the Church, vestments were essentially better forms of the clothing worn during that time that were set aside for use at the altar. This is, arguably, from whence developed the idea of there being special garments worn during the liturgical rites. As time moved on, and fashions changed, the dress of the priests and clerics of the Church did not and gradually became more and more distinct from secular fashions.

The chasuble developed from a garment that was worn in these early centuries by, at first, non-Roman citizens (who could not legally wear the toga), but which gradually came to also be worn by Roman citizens, and even Roman officials for public occasions. This garment is what became the chasuble, or “casula”, a large garment of conical shape. It reached almost to the feet apparently, and the material was bunched up to the sides to allow the arms to be outside the garment. Readers may already recognize this sort of look in the vestments found in many mediaeval images of priests and bishops, wherein numerous deep folds are visible – moreso than can be seen in our modern, less ample gothic form.

In fact, it was because of the ample nature of this vestment in this earliest of forms, that a custom developed whereby the priest would be helped by other clerics insofar as moving this ample material out of the way in performing the liturgical rites. This is the origin in the liturgy of the deacon and subdeacon holding up the priest's chasuble, such as at the incensation of the altar or at the Elevation: “some means had to be found for giving the celebrant and his assistants more play for their arms. In the case of the celebrant, this was done by the assistance of the deacons, who lifted up the sides of his chasuble whenever necessary.”

James suggests that there were two forms of chasuble from its early civil origins, one hooded and one not hooded. The unhooded variety became what we now know as the chasuble and the hooded variety developed into what we now know as the cope, a liturgical garment based off the same coninical chasuble, but left open at the front, and usable and more practical for outdoor processions and the like.

The alb derived from the Roman tunic, and originally often had some kind of bands of adornment on the cuffs of the sleeves, as well as around the bottom. Besides its function of adornment, this also served to help protect those portions of the tunic which would receive the most wear and tear. This developed into the “appareled alb” with a square piece of brocade at the front and back bottom panels that was used paticularly through the middle ages, and also during the gothic revival and Anglo-Catholic movement within the Anglican communion. Further, one can still see the decorative cuffs worn by priests of the Byzantine rite.

(An example of the apparelled alb and amice)

(Another example from 19th century England and the Anglo-Catholic Sarum Revival)

(An example of an early form of the alb with the decorated bottom and cuffs)

The dalmatic was originally an exotic sort of tunic (or, as we would call it now, alb) made of Dalmatian (sic) wool, and characterized by its shorter nature and by the width of its sleeves; it was often decorated with vertical stripes of a few particular colours, reaching from the bottom of the garment to the shoulders, as well as around the sleeves; it was also often adorned at the bottom in much the same way the original albs (described above) were as well. Clearly one can see the marks of our present dalmatic in this description. Shockingly so in fact. The use of the dalmatic by deacons occurred in Rome by the 4th century and it was during this time that the Pope also took to wearing one or two dalmatics under his chasuble. Eventually this passed on to the wider Church. Being originally considered a festal garment, it was not worn during penitential seasons like Lent. Eventually the use of the dalmatic was extended to subdeacons, but in a less ornamented form. During the middle ages, the dalmatic, like the chasuble, was a much longer, flowing garment than what we see typically in use today, going in length below the knees. This longer dalmatic is quite visible in paintings of early deacons like St. Stephen the first Martyr. (The above is a Byzantine dalmatic, and not completely representative of the more Roman style referred to above. They are, however, close in many regards.)

Originally the stole was apparently a sort of face towel, originally named the orarium. Deacons wore it over the left shoulder, outside the dalmatic, thus being ready to use – this is still the custom in the Byzantine rite. Eventually this practical use faded and it became more or less ceremonial, being attached on the right to prevent it from slipping off. By the 8th century in Rome, it was worn underneath the dalmatic instead of over top of it. At a certain point, the stole, as it came to be known, was worn by bishops, priests and deacons. In fact, during the year 675 at a council in Braga, the Spanish bishops then ordered that the priest should wear the stole around his neck, and crossed on his breast – as was the custom with all clergy up until recent times, and as continues to be the custom in classical Roman rite communities and liturgies.

The maniple was a sort of napkin rather like a large purificator carried on the arm, originally being made of linen and carried in the hand. (San Clemente in Rome has a fresco of the maniple as held in the hand. I was unable to find it for demonstrative purposes online.) It retained its practical function longer, after the stole's own practical function became ornamental. James notes: “A relic of the practical origin of the maniple is to be found in the custom of only wearing it at the altar itself, or in the ceremonies directly concerned with the Mass, for here originally would be its only sphere of usefulness, in wiping the vessels and the celebrant's and minister's hands or mouths.”

With regard to the amice, it is one of the last of the liturgical garments to be introduced, originally for the practical reason of protecting the other vestments from sweat and the like, but which also eventually came to be used to cover the head until the biretta took this function. At the point they took on this higher function, they also came to be ornamented, and take the look of an ornate “collar” when not worn over the head. (See alb pictures above. Also see here.)

Finally, in our historical overview, a quick word about the colours of liturgical vestments. It was under Pope Innocent III at the end of the 12th century that the present cycle of liturgical colours we are accustomed to in the Latin rite came became officiaized. Prior to that there was the distinction of light and dark vestments – light, or white as in the case of the Roman festal colour, for festal occasions, and dark for more pentitential occasions. This more basic usage of light and dark is still seen in the Eastern rites to this day.

In part II, we will examine the various forms and development of the chasuble particularly, and possibly a bit more on the variation on liturgical colours.

Friday, July 28, 2006

New pictures from Le Barroux

The Abbey of Le Barroux has some new ordination pictures up. Here's a few teasers.

Oxford: Goal met!

Thanks to the generosity of so many supporters of this blog, I am delighted, over-joyed and ecstatic to proclaim that the Oxford fundraising goal has been met!

Te Deum Laudamus and Deo Gratias!

I wish to thank all of the many readers out there who have been so selfless and generous. I will pray for each of you and your families at the conference!

Thank you again friends. Words will never do justice.

New Liturgical Movement Stirring in the Church

[Apologies for the length, but I think you'll be interested in the whole piece, and I didn't just want to make it solely a PDF link. Please remember to get those registrations in to CIEL 2006. One note: many Americans have been asking me whether they can pay the fee in U.S. Funds. The answer is yes. Contact me for details if you wish to do that. If you still intend to register but haven't, email me and I'll help expedite the process for you. This article first appeared in The Wanderer. SRT/NLM]

CIEL: Its Mission and its Part in a New Liturgical Movement

An Interview with Lt. Cdr. Neville McNally, Director of CIEL UK,
the Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid and Fr. Thomas Kocik

By Shawn Tribe

That there is need today for a new liturgical movement seems so self-evident as to not require explanation. In fact, if one stops and looks at the developing landscape of the Church as its members mature beyond the infancy and rebellious stage of the immediate post-conciliar era, it is fair to say that this new liturgical movement has already started. As lay organizations continue to be formed, papers, journals, blogs and websites spring up, books written and resources created, new or re-born religious orders and priestly societies develop and grow in vocations, the manifest momentum of this new movement becomes self-evident to any honest on-looker. With Benedict XVI now on the throne of St. Peter, this movement is poised to explode even further and reach into the very depths of the Curia, as it has already begun to do.

A liturgical movement is something, it would seem, that ought to be characterized by a few dominant features: on the one hand, authentic, scholarly study of the sacred liturgy -- its history, development, theology and spirituality -- and on the other, the practice and promotion of authentic, solemn worship. This movement further ought to encompass not only the rites themselves, but also ought to include that which further surrounds and ornaments these sacred rites: namely sacred architecture, sacred music and sacred art. Each of these have an important part to play in the restoration and renewal of an authentic liturgical life and spirituality, akin to the original goals of the Liturgical Movement, and it is necessary that all of these aspects come together in a synthesis.

When speaking of "authentic worship" it should be made clear that this is not be taken as a coded reference to one or another particular liturgical rite. Rather we are speaking of an overall Catholic spirit of the liturgy, one which has characterized numerous liturgical rites and uses in the history of the Church, both East and West. This spirit is characterized by a dominant truth that ought to set the stage for all else: that in the liturgy we come into contact with the Holy Trinity, worshiping God the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. That the sacred liturgy of the Church Militant is an icon of the heavenly liturgy, an offering up of the one Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross by which we offer God fitting worship and through which we are sanctified. It is this context in which and for which we gather as a Christian community.

The Church teaches us that the liturgy is a treasure we receive, not something we are masters over. But what are these treasures? Academic study of the sacred liturgy, done in view of the mind of the Church, and which understands the importance of our tradition, offers an important contribution to knowing and gaining a deeper appreciation for the divine realities that characterize the sacred liturgy, and how and why these realities have come to be expressed in particular ways. Ultimately this study enables us to better appreciate and approach liturgical questions with a deep respect for our tradition and the action of the Holy Spirit in forming that tradition down the centuries. Watered then by these intellectual wellsprings, our normative liturgical practice and parish worship is only destined to bloom and flourish with time and patience.

The future of this new liturgical movement will not be found in only the classical Roman liturgy and its associated communities, nor simply in the "reform of the reform". Rather it will be found in both as they mutually strive on their own fronts to re-invigorate their parishes and their adherents with a deep love and appreciation for the great spiritual treasure that the sacred liturgy is. Together they will work to re-introduce solemnity and decorum into ordinary parish worship; together they will seek to re-claim the ethos of Catholic worship in organic continuity with our tradition and with the written letter of the Second Vatican Council.

CIEL takes it place in the midst of this new liturgical movement, pursuing the study of the Roman liturgical tradition. Not only are the fruits of their work published for consumption and discussion, reaching into the very corridors of the Holy See, but their conferences are also characterized by that practice of solemn worship as well. While CIEL is very much characterized by the classical Roman liturgical tradition, its conferences represent a cross-section of the new liturgical movement, with priests and laity from traditional liturgical communities sitting side by side with those from reform of the reform. Here, friendships and alliances are forged and a cross-fertilization of scholarly ideas can occur. It is no wonder then that the work of CIEL has received positive attention from Rome itself.

For the first time in CIEL's history, it is hosting its annual international colloquium in the English language and in an English speaking country. As such, there is a great opportunity for those in the English speaking world who have not known about CIEL to get to know more about it and participate in the colloquium and CIEL's national activities. (Perhaps then it is fitting that represented in this essay-interview are represented four nationalities: British, Australian, American and Canadian.)

I am pleased to present an interview with Lieutenant Commander Neville McNally, the director of CIEL UK and host of the upcoming CIEL conference to be held at Oxford University this September; with the Reverend Doctor Alcuin Reid, one of the speakers at the upcoming CIEL conference and author of works including, The Organic Development of the Liturgy; and Fr. Thomas Kocik, author of Reform of the Reform?: A Liturgical Debate.

Q. Lt Cdr McNally, as director of CIEL UK can you first tell us a bit about the general mission of CIEL?

Neville McNally: CIEL, the French word for heaven, is the acronym of the French name of the organization, Centre International d’Études Liturgiques. The movement began in France in 1994 as an initiative to study the treasures of the traditional liturgy of the Church. Since then CIEL has organized an annual series of colloquia on the liturgy. In 1996, CIEL UK was one of the first national organizations to be established as a response to the French initiative to help disseminate the results of academic research of liturgy in the English-speaking world. This year for the first time, CIEL UK will host the International Colloquium at Oxford University.

Q. How does CIEL compare to other liturgical organizations?

Neville McNally: Although related by association to CIEL and with similar aims, I speak on behalf of CIEL UK. The organization’s aim is to facilitate liturgical piety and a deepening of the faith. It does not lobby or promote worship of any kind but by encouraging liturgical scholarship, it seeks to increase knowledge of the richness of the traditional liturgy and thereby to encouraging Catholic devotion. The important relationship between faith and liturgy was a theme of a previous CIEL academic conference.

Q.CIEL distinguishes itself as being ‘scholarly and non-polemical’. Can you tell us how CIEL fulfills this aspect of its mission?

Neville McNally: The source of CIEL’s scholarly activity is the series of annual international Colloquia of studies on the liturgy, of which the CIEL 2006 Colloquium at Oxford is the 11th. The Colloquia are open to all and attract clergy, religious, academics and the laity. The conference papers are subsequently published as ‘The Proceedings’, which are translated into different languages for distribution to the Church authorities and for sale.

CIEL and CIEL UK are free associations of the faithful within the meaning of the Code of Canon Law. By being non-polemical, all activities are conducted in complete fidelity to the Church authorities. The importance of the organizations work has been acknowledged by senior church figures, both in the local Church and in Rome.

Q. How has the work of CIEL been received by the Holy Father and other Roman officials?

Neville McNally: The Church authorities have been very supportive of CIEL and CIEL UK’s endeavours. A number of forewords to the Proceedings have been written by curial Cardinals and senior Church figures. In 2003 Loïc Merian, the CIEL President, had the joy of being received in private audience by the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and was able to present the Holy Father with a copy of the Proceedings.

Q.CIEL UK is hosting an upcoming conference in Oxford, as host, what can you tell us about this conference?

Neville McNally: As I mentioned, for the first time CIEL UK has the privilege of hosting the International Colloquium at Merton College, Oxford from 13 to 16 September 2006. Known as CIEL 2006, the Colloquium will receive papers from about a dozen academics on the theme of ‘The Genius of the Roman Liturgy: Historical Diversity and Spiritual Reach’. The Catholic scholarly associations of Oxford and the mediaeval setting of the College will provide a wonderful context for the Colloquium.

Q. Dr. Reid, how did you first become acquainted with the work of CIEL?

Alcuin Reid: Some French friends alerted me to its foundation back in 1995 and I purchased the first volume of proceedings - never translated into English - from the gift shop at Le Barroux [a traditional Benedictine Monastery] shortly thereafter. CIEL UK began its annual Mass and conference in London in 1997 and I have been happy to attend many of them. I was honored to be its guest speaker in 2004. I have also had the privilege of speaking at the International Colloqium in Paris 2003 and Rome 2005.

Q. Dr. Reid and Fr. Kocik, what are your impressions of CIEL as an organization and of its work?

Alcuin Reid: CIEL is loosely organized and probably much better for that in so far as it simply promotes the study and celebration of the classical Liturgy at international colloquiums and through local activities. In a sense this lack of a central ‘board’ or the like enables local initiatives - such as CIEL UK - the freedom to flourish. CIEL’s work is a contribution - how small or large only history will tell - to the vital task of examining the place and nature of the Sacred Liturgy in the Church today; a question all too often ignored.

Fr. Thomas Kocik: I first became aware of CIEL in the late-1990s, some years after its founding, by way of an article in the Catholic press. If memory serves, CIEL was described as a school for the defense of the classical Roman liturgy. For too long the liturgical progressives were portrayed as having the intellectual upper-hand over their "reactionary" and "nostalgic" opponents. CIEL would change that, the article predicted. Judging from the quality of its academic work, those hopes have not been dashed. I think it's fair to say that the opponents of ongoing liturgical destabilization now have the upper-hand, thanks in some measure to CIEL.

Q. CIEL promotes the study of the ‘classical Roman liturgy’ (i.e. the Tridentine Mass), and it celebrates these liturgies at it conferences, but is CIEL and its work only of interest to "traditionalists" or does it have a broader audience and application?

Neville McNally: The CIEL Colloquia are open to all, whether traditionalist or not. The organic development of liturgy and the heritage of the traditional liturgy are of relevance to all those with a liturgical interest, whether traditionalist, reform of the reform, or other grouping.

Alcuin Reid: Certainly - a very broad audience and application. The traditional liturgy is not a museum piece of curious interest to but a few. It is the Liturgy of the Church to this day. Of course we cannot ignore that Pope Paul VI introduced other rites as the Liturgy of the Church also, creating an interesting phenomenon - two legally legitimate versions of the Roman rite. Catholics who only know the latter can benefit enormously by discovering and beginning to understand the classical rites. They can also learn much from the scholarly discussion of the ‘question of the Liturgy’ in our day. CIEL can contribute in all these areas.

Fr. Thomas Kocik: There is much to criticize about the reform of the liturgy following Vatican II, but CIEL is not just another traditionalist group seeking a wholesale return to the pre-conciliar rite. It encompasses those who embrace the so-called Tridentine rite as well as those who advocate a "reform of the reform." In CIEL one finds the best of both movements: traditionalists who understand and appreciate the goals of the classical (pre-1965) Liturgical Movement, and reformists who realize that the pre-conciliar rite helps us to think responsibly about the liturgy and has much to offer in re-engaging contemporary worship with the fullness of tradition. In this context, the terms "traditionalist" and "reformist" are not mutually exclusive. I am of the "reform of the reform" school (hence, my membership in the Society for Catholic Liturgy); but I have nothing against those who prefer the pre-conciliar liturgy while remaining in full communion with Rome, and I do not think my commitment to the reforms actually mandated by Vatican II would be compromised were I to celebrating the traditional Mass for those desiring it. On the other hand, there are "traditionalist" priests involved with CIEL who use the current Missal as well as that of 1962.

In my book, The Reform of the Reform?, I propose a "traditionalist-reformist coalition of some form," perhaps a scholarly association, "into which some existing smaller organizations would be subsumed." CIEL, I think, fits that bill. I believe that pooling the best and brightest of both movements can create a "redoubtable bloc of scholars (laity and clergy) with enough clout to facilitate a consensus in the hierarchy on the direction the renewal should take." Time will tell

Q. There have been rumours of pending moves on the part of the Holy Father both for the Tridentine rite and for the reform of the reform, how might CIEL's work be important in the case of such developments?

Neville McNally: Any such changes would be very welcome of course, but they would not alter the need for study and knowledge of the traditional liturgy. In that sense, the work of CIEL could become very important.

Alcuin Reid: As I said, we shall probably not know the impact of CIEL’s work. It is simply important that that work be done. I expect that our beloved Holy Father may read the papers presented, as might some of his Curial officials. If so, that would be a significant contribution on the part of CIEL. Perhaps CIEL may serve to ignite the flame of love of the Sacred Liturgy in some person who may be in a position of authority and influence many years from now. All that is in the hands of Providence.

Q. CIEL's Oxford conference will be the first major CIEL conference in English. Is this an important development for the work of CIEL in the English speaking world and if so, why?

Neville McNally: The previous ten Colloquia have been held in either France, or more recently Rome, and the lingua franca has been French. While the calibre of the speakers is consistently high, and the speakers have represented a broad range of nationalities, participation by English-speaking attendees has not always been easy because of the language barrier. This year, the majority of talks are being delivered in English, but in addition, English transcripts of papers that are delivered in a foreign tongue will be provided to English language attendees. We will also be catering for French speakers by providing French transcripts for non-French papers.

Alcuin Reid: Yes, without doubt. The Rome Colloquium was the first outside France. That too was an important development. Perhaps we shall meet in North America before long? It is good that the International Colloquium is being held in more places. But I hope also that we shall meet also in France from time to time.

Q. Dr. Reid, you will be giving one of the papers at the upcoming conference, what can you tell us about this?

Alcuin Reid: My paper will attempt to explore Sacrosanctum concilium’s concept of the organic development of the Liturgy. This is an important question, as some argue that Sacrosanctum concilium itself was a betrayal of Liturgical tradition whereas others argue that its implementation was the problem. I can’t promise more than to explore the question, but if we are to move forward in any discussion of what was or was not legitimate in the liturgical reform - and therefore whether any future reform (of either Missal in either direction) is desirable or legitimate, it seems to me we must understand the Council’s official call for a reform.

Q. You are also known, Dr. Reid, for your work on a new edition of the Fortescue and O'Connell's "Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described". What can you tell us of the liturgies one can expect to assist at during the colloquium?

Alcuin Reid: Lauds, Vespers and Compline will be sung each day according to the Roman rite. Solemn Mass will be celebrated each day; Saturday’s Mass will be pontifical. Gregorian chant will have pride of place and each delegate will be given a specially printed book - sponsored by Baronius Press - containing the texts of the offices and Masses in Latin and English. The organizers feel strongly that this is a liturgical conference and that as well as talking about the Sacred Liturgy we should celebrate it as fully as possible.

Q.Lt Cdr McNally, there are liturgical conferences hosted all over the world. As host of this conference, can you tell us why should people consider coming to the CIEL colloquium in Oxford?

Neville McNally: The CIEL International Colloquia have acquired a particular importance in liturgical circles. This is the first time that the Colloquium will be held in the English-speaking world and it provides a very important opportunity to meet, discuss with and learn from all those participating. In addition the Colloquium is held against the daily backdrop of the Mass and Divine Office which offers a significant spiritual dimension to the conference.

Q. Do you have any final words on CIEL or the upcoming CIEL Conference?

Neville McNally: It is worth mentioning for those who have never attended the CIEL Colloquium, that it is not exclusive to those with an academic bent. The time between talks and at meals offers plenty of opportunity to discuss the day’s events and meet a range of interesting people. As well as Mass each day, the offices of Lauds, Terce, Vespers and Compline will be sung in the 13th century chapel. There will also be some time to explore Oxford and tours of historic Catholic Oxford are being arranged for English and French language groups.

Booking forms are available on the website,, or from CIEL UK, PO Box 500, Rochester, Kent ME1 1WU, England. [Note: Americans may pay in U.S. Dollars. Please contact Shawn Tribe for details.]

Alcuin Reid: One of the important aspects of the Colloquium is the colloquy that it facilitates. It is good to meet and talk. Indeed, Providence works through these meetings and conversations. I would encourage as many people as possible to attend. The papers themselves will make it worthwhile, as will the people one will meet. And then Oxford itself is historic and beautiful, and Merton College is simply magnificent. I look forward to meeting many new friends there.

Fr. Thomas Kocik: I look forward to attending the CIEL colloquium at Oxford this September. It's exciting to be a part of this movement for the good of the whole Church. And if there is any doubt as to the power of CIEL and similar associations to effect needed change, one need only consider how traditionally minded Catholics fared only fifteen years ago.

For more information on CIEL or the 2006 Oxford Conference: - CIEL Oxford Conference Information and Registration - CIEL UK - CIEL Canada - CIEL USA

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Liturgical Dance

I had been debating whether to draw attention to this piece. The writer is known to me, a prominent Catholic dissenter in Canada who has written many public pieces in newspapers which dissent from Church teaching: - Sacred dance ideal for today's Catholic worship

The piece demonstrates the great divide that continues to grow as the liberal intelligentsia continues to flirt with a kind of syncretism on the one hand as they search for the sacred -- having gotten rid of Catholic liturgical tradition, a most plentiful fount and genuine source of the sacred if employed -- which thus turns to non-Christian traditions for inspiration (there is something rather 1960ish about it all), and on the other, showing again a continued indifference to the instructions of the Holy See and the Second Vatican Council.

The over-arching anger comes out in Prof. Higgins comment as follows:

"the pastor was unwilling to have such a dance performed on "his" altar. The egregious stupidity of this theologically handicapped and artistically illiterate pastor continues to dumbfound me these many, many months later."

Bravo to the pastor. By Prof. Higgin's definition, the Church itself would be "artistically illiterate" and "theologically handicapped".

This statement can only be classified as itself ignorant and theologically handicapped. Prof. Higgins cannot see the Church and her liturgical tradition beyond his ideologisms sadly.

He concludes:

"The importance of all the art forms — visual, musical, literary, and physical — should not be in any way underestimated or demeaned by the Philistines that sometimes occupy the pulpit, or indeed, in no small measure, the pews. Art is a means, and I would argue a premier means, of achieving intimacy with God, tasting communion, and celebrating in ways unique to the human race the particular joys and anxieties, sufferings and hopes, of our time."

There is an irony in this statement. Both the reform of the reform and the classical liturgical movement have been making this argument about the importance of engaging the senses in worship for quite some time.

But there is a fundamental difference: this engagement must be of a certain sort, not just any engagement of the senses; it must be in accord with our tradition which has very much become attached to our sense of the sacred, and has formed it.

Chronicle of an Amsterdam Bishop's unintentional "Last Will" - an FSSP Parish.

David Oostveen of Amsterdam sent through an interesting chronicle of the twists and turns that eventually led to the establishment of the FSSP in Amsterdam.

It's an interesting story to read with much drama. I've made it available in PDF format here.

Clever Verse on the Modes

So apparently everyone in an older generation of Catholic musicians knew this verse characterizes the Church modes, but it surely must be included in the lost knowledge of our time. I found it in Rev. Dom Johner's 1925 book A New School of Gregorian Chant. It is a verse attributed to Guido and Adam of Fulda. It's characterization is limited, and maybe not entirely correct, and experts can denounce it if they want, but whatever. It's all charming and helpful:

Omnibus est primus, sed et alter, tristibus aptus:
Tertius iratus, quartus dicitur fieri blandus.
Quintum da laetis, sextum pietate probatis.
Septimus est iuvenum, sed postremus sapientum.

Dom Johner translates as:

For every mood the first will be good; the second so tender to grief;
If anger the third one provoke, then the fourth will bring the relief;
The fifth be the mood for the joyous; the sixth one the pious will prize,
The seventh is pleasing the youth, but the last is the mood for the wise.

Isn't that just wonderful? All hail the Church Modes!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sacred Architecture Journal: Issue 11, 2006

The annual issue of Sacred Architecture Journal was posted recently. It has some interesting looking offering's if you get the magazine, including a piece on "Pugin in America" and also a piece on Holy Transfiguration Skete (a nice picture can be seen here).

Available online is this editorial by Duncan Stroik:

By Duncan Stroik
The more the Church grew into the Eucharistic mystery, the more she understood that she could not consummate the celebration of Communion within the limited time available in the Mass.—Benedict XVI

What is it that makes a Catholic church different from other churches? I remember asking myself this question as a graduate student in architecture school. On a cold and dreary day I visited the Dominican church of St. Mary in New Haven. What is it that would draw people in to make a visit, say a prayer, or even stay for a while in this massive Gothic pile? Huge stairs challenged me to come in. “There is something important up here,” they seemed to say. Upon entry, the architecture was generous, grand, and with a sense of the beautiful. The lofty and colorful vaulted nave and side aisles with their bundled colonnettes and stained glass were complex and offered a glimpse into a shadowy mystery.

Musty smells, lingering incense, flickering candles, and imagery made me aware of the sacredness of the place. Elements such as side altars, statues, paintings, stations of the cross, wood confessionals, and pews seemed familiar even though I had never seen them before. I was moved by the beautiful and strange works of art. I felt I was in the Father’s house and I felt safe, cared for, and a bit in awe.

Later, a fellow student told me that what differentiates a Catholic church from all other churches is that God is present there at all times: in the Eucharist, reserved in the tabernacle. This was a novel thought to me, having grown up going to contemporary multipurpose churches where the reserved Eucharist was hidden away and housed in a brass box. I asked a priest I respected whether what distinguished a Catholic house of God from other churches was that God was truly present in the reserved host. He told me no. But I continued to wonder why some Catholic churches seemed so holy.

At the recent Synod on the Eucharist in Rome, the bishops expressed concern that people do not have correct faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. How much has this lack of belief been caused by the design of modern churches and the treatment of the tabernacle?

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in his book God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life writes, “During the day our churches should not be allowed to be dead houses, standing empty and seemingly useless.” Our churches are not to be used simply for an hour a day, but they are places of prayer and we should fill them. The devout Simeon, who was waiting to see the salvation of Israel, and the prophetess Anna, who worshipped in the temple night and day, rejoiced at Christ’s presentation in the Temple. They would be jealous of us who have the opportunity to be in his presence every day.

Pope Benedict sees our churches as calling us and inviting us in. Jesus Christ beckons to us through art, architecture, and material goods to enter in and worship. The oval piazza of St. Peter in Rome is one of the finest examples of how the exterior of the church building can be an invitation to the mysteries inside. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, responsible for the design, wrote that “since the church of St. Peter is the mother of nearly all the others it had to have colonnades, which would show it as if stretching out its arms maternally to receive Catholics, so as to confirm them in their faith, heretics, to reunite them to the Church, and infidels, to enlighten them in the true faith.” The house of God should beckon us, draw us in, and offer us an image of the eternal and real presence of the Lord. This should be done by employing the time tested principles of sacred architecture rather than with the profane aesthetic and commercial tricks of shopping centers, country clubs, or multiplexes.

Pope Bendedict again: “Jesus Christ’s invitation is always being proffered from [our churches]. This sacred proximity to us is always alive in them. It is always calling us and inviting us in. This is what is lovely about Catholic churches, that within them there is, as it were, always worship, because the Eucharistic presence of the Lord dwells always within them.” This worship continues outside of the liturgy, and we should participate in that worship through prayer, adoration, and by honoring Christ through noble and beautifully designed tabernacles and their surroundings. It was for this reason that St. Charles Borromeo, among others, advocated the enlargement and centrality of the holy tabernacle and its joining with the Eucharistic altar at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and in the cathedral and churches of the archdiocese of Milan. The eternal flame or sanctuary lamp hanging near the tabernacle is the sign of the fire of love that dwells within this miniature temple. The worship of Christ present is also articulated by other types of iconography: praying angels, images of the saints and martyrs who offered their bodies towards Christ’s one sacrifice. The saints and angels along with the faithful of all lands are part of that worship. The heavenly host and the heavenly banquet have historically been represented in our churches—a thesis recently articulated in Denis McNamara’s brilliant new book, Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago.

So even when the historic architecture of other Christian traditions is inspiring or even imitates the splendors of two millennia of Catholic tradition, it is the Eucharist reserved that sets apart the Catholic church or chapel as a sacred place. This is why people cross themselves as they pass a church, why they genuflect as they enter their seats, and kneel to pray in Christ’s presence. If the theological truth of God’s real presence in the tabernacle is believed by the faithful and church architecture reflects the fact that we are in the presence of the Almighty then it will cause us to rethink how we comport ourselves in church, how we relate to others and show reverence for Him who offered himself on the cross. The Lord is always there:

"When, thus, the eternal light was lit in the Church, and the tabernacle installed beside the altar, then it was as if the bud of the mystery had opened, and the Church had welcomed the fullness of the Eucharistic mystery. The Lord is always there. The church is not just a space in which something sometimes happens early in the morning, while for the rest of the day it stands empty, ‘unused’. There is always the ‘church’ in the church building, because the Lord is always giving himself, because the Eucharistic mystery remains present, and because we, in approaching it, are always included in the worship of the whole believing, praying and loving Church." (Benedict XVI [Joseph Ratzinger], God is Near)

Response to criticism of Mass text in "ancient languages"

We have all heard the argument that worship is not accessible unless the texts of the Mass are translated into one's vernacular. I received a note in which the writer claims that ALL texts, even and especially those attached to the melodies of the chant, ought to be rendered in a modern language (regardless of musical form) for the sake of "understanding" on the part of the worshiper.

Here is an excerpt from that correspondence:

The Criticism:

The reason it [The Mass] was in Latin/Greek/whatever is because that was the language that WAS understood at the time. It isn't now. There is no reason that those chants cannot be brought into modern languages.

The text drives the music, not the other way around, it is the words that are most important, and the music is merely the vehicle to bring that text across. If the music has to change a little bit here and there to accommodate a different language's syllabic and rhythmic structure, then two quarter notes where a half note was is no big deal. That's why instruments are forbidden in the Orthodox Church, because they cannot form words and pray.

Our music is "sung prayer", not entertainment, or a vehicle to feel all warm
and fuzzy and "mystical". "Leitourgia" means "the peoples' work." They cannot "work" and "pray" effectively if it isn't in the language they live in.

My response:

I understand your arguments, and know that the "Word" is the avenue for much of the faithful's understanding. But there is a mystical interplay between text and language when it comes to the Gregorian propers of the church, especially. This does not exist at all when taking a "modern" language and attaching it to some tune or other, even it be a Gregorian melody, just because it sounds pleasing or dramatic or whatever else seems to be called for. This interplay between Word and music is integral to the Mass - The same text, for example, is treated in different ways musically depending on its function in the Mass. For more, see this article by Dr. William Mahrt.

That the text of the Mass should always come first is a common myth. There is much to be said for awe and mystery in liturgy. Sadly, people in this day and age are poorly catechised, and have less than sufficient knowledge of what the Mass really is. This is not a problem that need necessarily be solved within the context of the liturgy itself. This requires further catechises - it is a mistake to try to package all of the Faith into that one "contact" hour per week. Attempts at doing so only further detract from the spiritualiy of that heavenly time and space that is the Mass. Genuine understanding is something that goes far beyond comprehension of text alone.

What about Latin? Anglo parishioners at Oklahoma church vent frustrations to bishop

CNS and other news organizations are carrying this story today: Anglo parishioners at Oklahoma church vent frustrations to bishop.

This issue surrounds the matter of tensions created because of the increased outreach to Hispanics in the area, which has caused tensions to boil over from some of the English speaking parishioners.

At the end of the piece, it notes:

Father Davison said he would continue to explore ways to bring English and Spanish speakers together, through social get-togethers and days of caring. "Nobody quite has the full answer," he said. "I really feel a deep-down need is to grow in our charity."

Without meaning to be tongue in cheek, it seems to me that the Church has already provided the answer in its tradition and the Conciliar document Sacrosanctum Concilium: return the use of at least some Latin to the Mass, such as for the Ordinary parts of the Mass.

Indeed, this may mean some have to relearn their Latin, and it doesn't completely address the issue of the "mother tongue" that is going on here, however, the use of Latin for parts of the Ordinary, and then finding some compromise for the Propers of the Mass with regards English and Spanish, would at least bring about some neutrality, and would mean that at each Mass, the major parts of the Mass could be participated in by any language group.

The common universal language of the Church precisely has this as one of its merits, in that it is (or has been) universal and beyond specific culture. Even the most avid of dissenters who lived through the time of all Latin liturgies comments positively on the experience of multiple races and language groups coming together for large public masses and together singing the Ordinary parts of the Mass.

There is a practical application in all this, and there is also the fact that this is our tradition and this is what the Church has called for.

What is sad is that it does not seem to even be a point of consideration.

Ancient Psalms manuscript found in Irish Bog

BREITBART.COM - Ireland Worker Finds Ancient Psalms in Bog

Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN, Ireland

Irish archaeologists Tuesday heralded the discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker who spotted something while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog.

The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000. Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries.

'This is really a miracle find,' said Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, which has the book stored in refrigeration and facing years of painstaking analysis before being put on public display.

'There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out. First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be unearthed and spotted before it was destroyed is incalculably more amazing.'

He said an engineer was digging up bogland last week to create commercial potting soil somewhere in Ireland's midlands when, 'just beyond the bucket of his bulldozer, he spotted something.' Wallace would not specify where the book was found because a team of archaeologists is still exploring the site.

'The owner of the bog has had dealings with us in past and is very much in favor of archaeological discovery and reporting it,' Wallace said.

Crucially, he said, the bog owner covered up the book with damp soil. Had it been left exposed overnight, he said, "it could have dried out and just vanished, blown away."

The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the name of Israel.

Wallace said several experts spent Tuesday analyzing only that page _ the number of letters on each line, lines on each page, size of page _ and the book's binding and cover, which he described as "leather velum, very thick wallet in appearance."

It could take months of study, he said, just to identify the safest way to pry open the pages without damaging or destroying them. He ruled out the use of X-rays to investigate without moving the pages.

Ireland already has several other holy books from the early medieval period, including the ornately illustrated Book of Kells, which has been on display at Trinity College in Dublin since the 19th century.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CNS STORY: Vatican official: Kneeling expresses meeting Jesus in the Eucharist

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Kneeling during the consecration at Mass is the most appropriate way to express the fact that in the Eucharist one meets Jesus, who was bowed down by the weight of human sin, said an article by a Vatican official.

'The Lord lowered himself to the point of death on the cross in order to encounter sinful man, freeing him from sin,' said the brief article published in 'Notitiae,' the bulletin of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

'If the Eucharist represents the sacramental memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, it seems appropriate that those for whom the Lord bowed himself down would bow down before this supreme mystery of love,' said the article by Msgr. Stephan Hunseler, a congregation official from Germany.

The late-July article said that Christ's self-emptying 'reaches its climax when the lord Jesus Christ takes on himself, as the lamb of God, all the sins of the world.'

When people kneel during the consecration, it said, they not only are assuming a position of humility, but are bowing down to meet Jesus where Jesus has bowed down to meet them.

'Kneeling during the consecration of the Eucharist, therefore, becomes one of the most eloquent moments of meeting Christ the lord,' who became man, died for people's sins and rose again, the article said."

Original: CNS STORY: Vatican official: Kneeling expresses meeting Jesus in the Eucharist

The Sarum Missal in English

Review: The Sarum Missal in English, translated by A.H. Pearson. Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. 2004. 618 pp. Softcover. $65.00 USD.

Reviewed by Shawn Tribe

In the past ten years I have found there to be a very great deal of interest in the various uses and rites of the Church. In part I believe this is in response to the rather chaotic state of the liturgy in so many of our parishes. One can go from parish to parish and find a very different sense of the liturgy. Everything from music, the design of the church, the style of vestments, how Father celebrates the Mass (and how he does or does not respect the text and the rubrics of the Missal) all converge to result in this scenario. This reality has led people to look at and search for a true and proper sense of liturgical diversity.

Moreover, the opposition that some local prelates, priests and diocesan officials have had toward the co-existence of the classical Roman liturgy and the modern Roman liturgy has also brought about a desire to examine a time and place where a greater sense of diversity of rites reigned within the Latin rite. Further, amongst Catholics of the English speaking world, having had their Christian inheritance usurped on the public level by protestantism, there is a desire to re-acquire and acqaintance with pre-reformation English Catholic life, worship and spirituality. In all these regards there is a sense of loss. Loss over our sense of legitimate liturgical diversity, the loss (or near loss at any rate) of so many traditional Western liturgical uses and rites, the loss of much English Catholic history.

In the middle ages, there were various rites and uses attached to religious orders (the Carthusian, the Dominican, etc.) and there were also such attached to particular Cathedral sees; the two most famous in our day are the Ambrosian, a rite proper, attached to the diocese of Milan, and the Sarum, attached to the See of Salisbury, England. There were other English uses, particularly that of Hereford and York, but that of Salisbury seems to have garnered the most attention – perhaps being the most widespread.

It is for all these reasons that there seems to be a particular interest in the so called “Sarum Rite”. The Sarum rite is really not a rite proper, but rather a use, or variant, upon the Roman rite. “Sarum” as well refers to “Salisbury”, home of the famed Cathedral and See of Salisbury. To that end, I bring to you news of the reprinting of a 19th century translation of the Sarum Missal in English, published under the same name by Wipf and Stock, with Mr. A.H. Pearson as the translator.

In our own day the Sarum Missal has come to have an association as being a kind of English Catholic Missal. This is not completely accurate of course, but neither is it completely inaccurate, having a fairly wide (though not exclusive) use in parts of England. The use of Salisbury was known for being very elaborate in its ceremonial and for the richness of its sequences. All such are represented within this reprinting in hieratic English translation. Besides including the Ordinary of the Mass, all of the propers of the Mass are also included, including the commons and special Masses, such as in a time of pestilence or for rain. It also includes little insights into unique festival customs on certain feasts, such as the Blessing of Apples.

Further, the ceremonial of the Sarum is brought to life in the rubrics that have been compiled and made present in this rendition of the missal. This includes details pertaining to particular festal days, as well as to general matters such as the ornamentation of the altar, or the colours of vestments used, the order of procession, etc.. These rubrics of the Low and High Mass are also compared with their variances from the uses of Hereford and York, making it a good comparative text of lost English liturgical uses. This rubrical selection alone is worth the price of the book as one will gain a sense of the Sarum liturgy as it would have been practiced.

Finally, two of the appendices in the book provide a chart making available a comparison of the epistles, gospel and sequences of the uses of Sarum, York and Hereford, as well as a listing of the Calendar of Saints to be found in the uses of York and Hereford – which can likewise be compared to the “Kalendar” of Sarum, found at the beginning of the book.

All said, I would have to classify this volume as one of the most useful and interesting pieces of liturgica I have seen in some time. Would that similar projects would be undertaken with the other rites and uses of the Latin rite.

I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the liturgies of Catholic England, the liturgical uses of the Latin Rite, the ceremonial of medieval English worship, or liturgical books, to pick up a copy of this wonderful re-print of Mr. Pearson's translation before it again goes out of print.

To order: The Sarum Missal in English

Monday, July 24, 2006

Another more official translation. Interview with Archbishop Ranjith

[Readers of the NLM may recall I posted my own unofficial translation of this interview. Here is a more official translation coming by way of Zenit.]

"On Promoting Liturgy in Africa

Interview With Archbishop Patabendige, of Congregation for Divine Worship

VATICAN CITY, JULY 24, 2006 ( A recent congress for the promotion of the liturgy in Africa and Madagascar marked a milestone: For the first time the event was held in the African continent.

The July 5-9 event was held in Ghana. To underline the importance of the event, there was a special message sent by Benedict XVI, who sees signs of hope in the liturgical awakening of the continent and the profound spirituality of the African peoples.

The Holy See agency Fides interviewed Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, about the congress and its significance.

The 58-year-old Sri Lankan prelate explained that one of principal goals of the congress was to identify together with the African bishops ever more effective ways to help the faithful live liturgical celebrations as a source of faith and courage to witness.

The congress brought together 100 members of bishops' commissions for liturgy, from all over the sub-Saharan area and Madagascar.

Q: Was the decision to make [the congress] regional, rather than to convoke it here [in Rome], a clear sign of ever greater attention for the Church's liturgy?

Archbishop Patabendige: Yes, this was the first regional meeting. In the past these meetings were held in Rome and the representatives of local Churches came here to take part. This time we decided to make it a local congress, to set it in the continent chosen as subject, like the meeting in Kumasi which has just ended.

It was an opportunity to hear the voice of Africa there on the spot, to dialogue with them and take part in their local liturgies. The latter w"

Adoremus Bulletin July-August 2006

For those interested, the July-August 2006 edition of the Adoremus Bulletin is now available online.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Vox Clara reviews U.S. bishops' proposals for wording in Mass prayers

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican-appointed committee of English-speaking bishops has reviewed the amendments and adaptations approved by the U.S. bishops in a new translation of the main prayers for Mass.

Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans, a member of the Vox Clara Committee, said members reviewed and discussed each of the U.S.-proposed changes to the text prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.

The Vox Clara Committee, which met July 17-21 at the Vatican, advises the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on English-language translations. The congregation must approve translations adopted by a national bishops' conference before they can be used in parishes.

Archbishop Hughes said Vox Clara spent a significant amount of time on the translation approved in June by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because it was the only conference to have approved the text with amendments and adaptations.

The ICEL text of the Order of the Mass also has been adopted by the bishops' conferences of England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. The Canadian and Irish bishops are expected to vote on the text in October, and the Indian bishops will vote on it in January.

The Order of the Mass contains the main, constant parts of the Mass, including the penitential rite, Gloria, creed, eucharistic prayers, eucharistic acclamations, Our Father and other prayers and responses used daily.

Archbishop Hughes said that as a member of a Vatican advisory body he was not free to share Vox Clara's reactions to the U.S. text, or to try to guess how the congregation would respond to the U.S. bishops' request for approval.

However, he said: "Some of the adaptations are more substantial than others. Those that are not, we dealt with expeditiously and recommended approval."

Currently, the United States is the only country that does not use the phrase "consubstantial with the Father" in describing Jesus. The U.S. bishops proposed to continue using the phrase "one in being with the Father."

During the U.S. bishops' June meeting in Los Angeles, Archbishop Hughes' motion to keep the word "consubstantial" was defeated.

While he would not share details about the Vox Clara discussion of the term, he reiterated his personal position that "'consubstantial' has a very significant and sacred history in the church. It is a term that helped sort out controversy in the fourth century about the divinity of Christ."

The Vatican has encouraged English-speaking bishops' conferences to work closely with ICEL to perfect an exact translation of Mass texts from Latin into an English text that could be used everywhere in the world.

The Vatican has not indicated publicly how much of a problem the U.S. bishops will face getting their specific adaptations approved.

Msgr. James P. Moroney, a consultant to Vox Clara and executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for the Liturgy, said, "It is everyone's intent, hope and goal to have one English-language text for the whole English-speaking world. That hope is shared by ICEL, Vox Clara and the Holy See.

"Is it possible to have exceptions? That depends on how many amendments come in and if they truly reflect variations in how English is spoken" in different countries, he said.

Archbishop Hughes said one thing is clear with the adoption of the ICEL text by large majorities within national bishops' conferences: It is a sign that bishops have accepted the 2001 Vatican guidelines on translations, "Liturgiam Authenticam" ("The Authentic Liturgy").

The archbishop said Vox Clara members did not discuss whether or not it would be better for bishops to publish and distribute the new Order of the Mass once it is approved by the Vatican or to wait for the completion of the entire Roman Missal, which includes the prayers that change each Sunday and feast day.

"My own position would be cautious because I think it will be important to offer an appropriate period of catechesis to both priests and the people and to do it simultaneously," he said.

"The 'Ordo' has most of the people's parts so it would be possible to give specific catechesis to the lay faithful," he said.

But using the new translation is not simply a matter of getting used to reading different words out loud, the archbishop said.

"We have a whole generation of priests who have known nothing other than the original English translation of the missal. Because it was done quickly, unfortunately, some important doctrinal points were left out," he said.

As an example, Archbishop Hughes cited the priest's prayer from the penitential rite, which currently reads: "May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life."

The new text says: "May Almighty God have mercy on you and, having forgiven your sins, lead you to everlasting life."

"Because of the way it was translated," he said, "people have been led to believe that some kind of absolution was being offered."

As for the creed, which is being changed from "We believe" to "I believe," the archbishop said, "It will be important for celebrants to explain that each person coming to celebrate the Eucharist is invited to express his or her faith, which is the church's faith."

Catechesis prior to the use of the new texts will help prepare people to understand the changes and celebrate better, he said.

Benedict XVI's Address on Sacred Music

[By way of Zenit and through the Holy See, here is the complete and official translation of this piece we only received in snippets before.]

VATICAN CITY, JULY 23, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave on sacred music, delivered in the Sistine Chapel on June 24, 2006, after a concert sponsored by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation.

* * *

Your Eminences,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

At the end of this concert, evocative because of the place we are in -- the Sistine Chapel -- and because of the spiritual intensity of the compositions performed, we spontaneously feel in our hearts the need to praise, to bless and to thank. This sentiment is addressed first of all to the Lord, supreme beauty and harmony, who has given men and women the ability to express themselves with the language of music and song.

"Ad Te levavi animam meam," (to you, Lord, I lift up my soul), the Offertory of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina has just said, echoing Psalm (25[24]:1).

Our souls are truly lifted up to God, and I would therefore like to express my gratitude to Maestro Domenico Bartolucci and to the foundation named after him that planned and put on this event.

Dear Maestro, you have offered to me and to all of us a precious gift, preparing the program in which you wisely situated a choice of masterpieces by the "prince" of sacred polyphonic music and some of the works that you yourself have composed.

In particular, I thank you for having wished to conduct the concert personally, and for the motet "Oremus pro Pontefice" that you composed immediately after my election to the See of Peter. I am also grateful to you for the kind words you have just addressed to me, witnessing to your love for the art of music and your passion for the good of the Church.

Next, I warmly congratulate the choir of the foundation and I extend my "thank you" to all who have collaborated in various ways.

Lastly, I address a cordial greeting to those who have honored our meeting with their presence.

All the passages we have heard -- and especially the performance as a whole in which the 16th and 20th centuries run parallel -- together confirm the conviction that sacred polyphony, particularly that of the so-called "Roman School," is a legacy to preserve with care, to keep alive and to make known, not only for the benefit of experts and lovers of it but also for the entire ecclesial community, for which it constitutes a priceless spiritual, musical and cultural heritage.

The Bartolucci Foundation aims precisely to safeguard and spread the classical and contemporary tradition of this famous polyphonic school that has always been distinguished by its form, focused on singing alone without an instrumental accompaniment. An authentic renewal of sacred music can only happen in the wake of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.

For this reason, in the field of music as well as in the areas of other art forms, the ecclesial community has always encouraged and supported people in search of new forms of _expression without denying the past, the history of the human spirit which is also a history of its dialogue with God.

Venerable Maestro, you have also always sought to make the most of sacred music as a vehicle for evangelization. Through numberless concerts performed in Italy and abroad, with the universal language of art, the Pontifical Musical Choir conducted by you has thus cooperated in the actual mission of the Pontiffs, which is to disseminate the Christian message in the world. And you still continue to carry out this task under the attentive direction of Maestro Giuseppe Liberto.

Dear brothers and sisters, after being pleasantly uplifted by this music, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, placed at Christ's right hand in Michelangelo's Last Judgment: let us especially entrust all lovers of sacred music to her motherly protection, so that always enlivened by genuine faith and sincere love of the Church, they may make their precious contribution to liturgical prayer and effectively contribute to the proclamation of the Gospel.

To Maestro Bartolucci, to the members of the foundation and to all of you who are present here, I cordially impart the apostolic blessing.

[Translation issued by the Holy See]

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

Saturday, July 22, 2006

NLM Guest Report on 2006 Latin Liturgy Association Convention

[I asked Alex if he might write a report on this conference, which he attended. Thankfully, he assented. Here follows his own report of the LLA conference.]

By Mr. Alex Begin, St. Josaphat Latin Mass Community, Detroit, MI.

Recently, the Latin Liturgy Association (LLA) held its biennial convention in St. Louis, Missouri. From the very first convention in Washington, DC in 1986, this event has been one of the premiere opportunities for those interested in traditional liturgy to hear talks, experience exemplary liturgies, and network with likeminded individuals. This year’s convention was no exception.

The meeting kicked off on Friday, July 14 with an all-day tour of historic churches in St. Louis, led by architectural preservationist and LLA member Max Kaiser. Max has been actively involved in the restoration of a number of churches in St. Louis. He advocates raising the profile of historic churches as community resources to better utilize them and attract non-traditional funding sources. Max believes that supporters of Latin liturgy must take an active role in preserving our older churches, as we have a functional, and not just aesthetic, motivation to keep them intact.

Notable churches visited included the Shrine of St. Joseph (, an enormous church near downtown that had been slated for demolition in the late 1970s. A volunteer group acquired the church, and over the past 25 years raised millions of dollars to restore it to its original splendor. Though it is no longer a parish, one Sunday Mass is still held there weekly. A spectacularly illuminated high altar and reredos dominate the interior.

The “New Cathedral” (, is so named because the original “Old Cathedral” on the Mississippi riverfront still operates as a church. The New Cathedral is an un-wreckovated, awe-inspiring enormous church whose walls are covered with detailed mosaics. The sanctuary includes a high altar under a baldachino (umbrella-like covering structure), at which Mass may be celebrated either ad orientem or versus populum. There is no “table altar”.

The Diocese of Belleville, Illinois is right across the Mississippi River from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. There, a weekly Tridentine Mass is held in Holy Family “Log” Church, opened in 1799 and built of wooden timbers. Though humble and small, it reminds us of the continuity of the faith that our forefathers brought to our continent.

A large percentage (41%) of the population in St. Louis is Catholic. As a result, historic Catholic churches dot the area. The urban renewal process is running smoothly, resulting in a clean and revitalized downtown. Many formerly abandoned buildings have been refurbished and reopened. The tour left the impression that this momentum has also caused many historic churches to be restored to top-notch condition.

As usual, the LLA assembled an impressive roster of speakers. Fr. Frank Phillips, pastor of Chicago’s famed St. John Cantius Church, and one of North America’s leading proponents of the Tridentine Mass, spoke about the legacy of Msgr. Martin Hellriegel, who built a thriving liturgical life at St. Louis’ Holy Cross Church in the 1950s. He encouraged all parishioners to learn the chants of the Mass and Divine Office, in an era when such participation was not the norm.

Msgr. Michael Schmitz, North American Provincial (Superior) of the Institute of Christ the King, spoke about the Institute, and the role of traditional liturgy in the modern church.

Helen Hull Hitchcock, co-founder of Adoremus, addressed her organization’s efforts to bring about a “Reform of the Reform” of the Novus Ordo. Her husband, Dr. James Hitchcock, spoke about the founding of the LLA in 1975 and the role of Latin in today’s liturgical renewal.

Chant expert Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, discussed effective methods of teaching chant to children. Dr. Richard Haefer led a workshop on singing the office of Compline, in the process demystifying many of the obscure symbols of chant notation.

This year’s convention was based at St. Frances de Sales Oratory (, a landmark gothic structure on the south side of St. Louis. In 2005, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke realigned several parishes. In the process, he gave St. Frances de Sales Church to the Tridentine Community of St. Louis, which had formerly shared St. Agatha Church with a Novus Ordo community. As a result, St. Frances de Sales has become North America’s largest Tridentine-only parish, both in terms of number of parishioners and sheer physical plant size. The term “Oratory” refers to the fact that the parish does not have geographic boundaries, nor is it an ethnic parish. Archbishop Burke invited the Institute of Christ the King to run St. Frances de Sales.

Stepping into St. Francis de Sales is in many ways a step back in time. Everything about it is in grand scale. The parish complex includes numerous buildings, among them a grade school and high school, apparently presently unused. The ICKSP has plans to open a pre-seminary on the grounds, to prepare North American candidates for entry into their seminary in Italy. Given the size of the congregation, it is entirely possible that a school could be (re)opened. There is a busy parish life with daily Tridentine Mass, devotions, and continual activities. There are even multiple choirs – hard to imagine when many Tridentine communities have challenges assembling even one choir.

The highlight of each LLA Convention is without a doubt the liturgies that are offered. Each convention offers one exemplary Novus Ordo Latin and one Tridentine Mass. In recent years, as the Tridentine movement has overtaken the growth of the Novus Ordo Latin Mass, the principal Mass of the convention has consistently been according to the 1962 Missal.

Saturday morning, a Novus Ordo Latin Mass was offered at St. John the Evangelist Church, notable for an enormous mural of the Ascension on the back wall of the sanctuary. Though the church had the architecture to support it, this Mass was not celebrated ad orientem. The choir and celebrant were clearly rather unfamiliar with the Latin Mass, which was evident to virtually everyone present. In all, this Mass was surprisingly out of character with previous LLA Masses. Fortunately, a powerful organ and accomplished organist made the Mass memorable musically.

Saturday afternoon, Vespers were offered according to the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours in St. Mary of Victories Church, located in a warehouse area on the banks of the Mississippi. Convention Chairperson and organist Regina Morris led a small schola, and introduced a memorable new setting of the Latin hymn, Deus Creátor Ómnium.

Saturday night, Dr. Richard Haefer and Fr. Samuel Weber led the chanting of Compline according to the Tridentine Divine Office.

The best was saved for last: Sunday morning, Archbishop Burke celebrated a Pontifical High Mass at St. Francis de Sales. This two hour ceremony was well rehearsed and quite simply the most flawlessly executed Tridentine Mass this writer has ever experienced. Archbishop Burke processed in wearing a cappa magna, a lengthy train rarely seen. A full throne was set up on the left of the sanctuary. The church was packed with approximately 1200 people, the vast majority of whom were not from the LLA. One wonders just how large the St. Francis de Sales Tridentine congregation is, considering that they also have a second Mass on Sunday mornings!

At the conclusion of Mass, Archbishop Burke led a procession to install a new relic of St. Prosper at a side altar. During the procession, the congregation sang the refrain of the “Vatican Radio version” of Christus Vincit, while the choir sang the verses. It was spine-tingling to hear so many voices singing this familiar chant in unison.

St. Frances de Sales Oratory demonstrates just what is possible when magnificent, historic architecture is coupled with a large congregation and a supportive diocese. Most of us elsewhere in the world can only dream of the confluence of factors creating such a situation. Perhaps its most important role is demonstrating to other, more skeptical diocesan authorities that there is nothing to fear from a sizable Tridentine congregation. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: