Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Gradual Update

The glorious American Gradual is updated through Easter.

Fr Andrew Wadsworth to ICEL

Some good and interesting news from Fr. Finigan at the Hermeneutic of Continuity:

Fr Andrew Wadsworth has been appointed by the Holy See as General Secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and Executive Director of the ICEL Secretariat in Washington DC, to take up post from September 2009. This is very good news. Fr Wadsworth has taken a leading role in England in promoting the worthy celebration of the liturgy in both the usus antiquior and the usus recentior.With regard to the latter, he played a leading role in the two highly successful training conferences for clergy at Merton College, Oxford.

Fr Wadsworth (47) is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster, ordained in 1990. He has Masters degrees in Italian and Theology, as well being an accomplished musician. He has taught Latin, Greek and Italian as well as fulfilling various pastoral responsibilities, including parish work and hospital chaplaincy. He has most recently been Catholic Chaplain at Harrow School as well as teaching Italian there. As well has having good Latin and Greek, Fr Wadsworth speaks Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and some German.

Now that the new translation of the Missale Romanum is almost complete, ICEL will be moving on to new translation projects (for example, the texts for the other sacraments) and will continue to work in accord with Liturgiam Authenticam. It is good to know that Fr Wadsworth will be involved with this work.

Source: The hermeneutic of continuity: Fr Andrew Wadsworth to ICEL

Modal music for Lent, in Spanish

Fr. Soto of Costa Rica and Fr. Samuel Weber have cooperated to produce a little Gradual for Lent in Spanish. Download here.


News from Mariawald: All Masses in the Extraordinary Form

The German Trappist Abbey of Mariawald, which last November had received the privilege conceded by the Holy Father of a complete return to the Liturgy and the Observance in use in the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists) until 1963/64 and has been gradually implementing this return since (see previous posts here), has announced that now all Masses will be celebrated according to the usus antqiuior. This includes the liturgies of Holy Week.

Reform of the Reform Parish of St. Willibrord, Utretcht, Reportedly Adds Usus Antiquior to Offerings

News is coming to the NLM of a parish we have reported upon before, St. Willibrord in Utrecht.

Our reader offers the following (in unofficial translation) taken from Katholiek Nieuwsblad (Catholic Weekly) in the Netherlands:
From Easter onwards there will be celebrated at St. Willibrord Church in Utrecht on Sunday and Solemnities at 17.30 a traditional sung Holy Mass. The archdiocese has reached an agreement with the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter.

This is in addition to the Latin Mass sung at 10.30 am each Sunday (ad Deum), according to the ordinary form. Daily there is also at 10.30 hours a non-sung Latin Mass in the Utrecht church. "As the Latin center that we want to be, we are very pleased about it," says Timo Tomassen, chairman of the St. Willibrord Apostolate. "We can now offer both Latin rites in both forms at our center.

The NLM is still trying to confirm these details.

Source: Katholiek Nieuwsblad

Monday, March 30, 2009

Episcopal Consecration in Charleston, SC

Fr. Dwight Longenecker -- not to mention some other great NLM supporters -- tipped us off to the recent consecration of the new bishop of Charleston, South Carolina.

You'll note the presence of the Benedictine arrangement of the altar, which is always a particularly noteworthy matter when it is coming in the context of pontifical liturgies.

Source: Standing on My Head: Episcopal Ordination

More on Passiontide Veiling and a New Roman Frontal

An excellent example of passiontide veiling comes to us through Orwell's Picnic from the Roman parish of Ss. Trinita, which also shows the veiling of images.

For parish priests considering the employment of frontals, I would point out very dignified form of antependium on the high altar as well.

Not only is it a good example of a Roman frontal, it is also using the new FSSP fabric the NLM reported to you on in Feb. 2009:

Revival in the Traditional Liturgical Arts on Display in Nantes

Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions of Pius XII: Part 3 - The Mass of Holy Thursday and the Mandatum

We continue with Part III of Gregory DiPippo's consideration of the texts, ceremonies and history of the Holy Week ceremonies from before and after Pope Pius XII's reforms in 1955.

Here, we pick up upon the Mass of Maundy or Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord's Supper, where the mandatum (the washing of the feet) also takes place.

Previous Installments in this series:

Part 1 - The Palm Sunday Blessing and Procession of Palms

Part 2 - The Masses of Palm Sunday, Holy Tuesday and Spy Wednesday

Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions of Pius XII

Part 3: The Mass of Holy Thursday and the Mandatum

by Gregory DiPippo

Part 1 - The Mass

Synopsis of the Pre-Pius XII Ritual

Holy Thursday is treated as a solemn feast of the Lord; as on other such solemnities, the vestments are white, and during the Mass both the Gloria and Creed are said. These customs are proper to the Roman Rite and quite different from those of some other churches; for example, in the Ambrosian rite, the vestments are red, a color of mourning in that tradition, and the Gloria and Creed are not said. There are however, several changes from the normal rite of Mass, which indicate the particular character of the day on which the Holy Eucharist and Priesthood were instituted. These changes help us to understand that this day is the beginning of the Paschal mystery, which is completed only on the Sunday of the Resurrection.

Therefore, after all of the bells of the church have been rung during the Gloria, they are not rung anymore until the Easter vigil. In place of the bells at Mass is used a “crepitaculum”, or noisemaker, the dissonant sound of which indicates that this is also an occasion of mourning for the Church, the night of Christ’s betrayal, His abandonment by the Disciples, and His imprisonment, before His condemnation to death on the following day.

In this Mass, the kiss of peace is not given; “Our thoughts turn to the traitor Judas, who on this very day profaned the sign of friendship by making it an instrument of death. It is out of detestation for this crime, that the Church omits, today, the sign of fraternal charity:” (Dom Gueranger, The Liturgical Year) Otherwise, the whole rite of the celebrant’s communion remains the same as in other Masses.

The celebrant consecrates two large Hosts on this day, one for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the other for the rite of the following day. One of the most beautiful aspects of this rite is the special way in which this second Host is prepared for being brought to the Altar of Repose, before the communion of the celebrant. It is placed in a chalice, not in a pyx or ciborium, and then covered with a soft pall, a paten turned upside down, and a thin white chalice veil, which is then tied with a ribbon around the node of the chalice. The Host thus enclosed in the chalice is left on the corporal, until the end of the Mass.

This custom of enclosing the Body of the Lord in a chalice is a sign of the Passion which He undergoes in His human body, the Passion which He Himself describes as a “chalice” when He goes to pray in the garden. (St. Matthew 26, 39-42; St. Luke. 22, 42.) It also serves as to indicate the link between the first Mass, the Lord’s Supper, and the Sacrifice of the Cross, which takes place on the following day; the instruments of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the chalice, pall, paten and veil, are used on both days.

Once the Host has been thus enclosed, the rest of the Mass is celebrated as a “Missa coram Sanctissimo”. The celebrant and major ministers genuflect before the Sacrament each time they come to the middle and stand before it, and before they move away from it. When the Priest or Deacon turn to address or bless the people, they turn only half way, so as not to turn their back to the Blessed Sacrament. At the very end of the Mass, at the genuflection in the Last Gospel, the Priest turns towards the Sacrament as he says “Et Verbum caro factum est.”

Synopsis of the Pius XII Reforms

The Holy Week reforms of 1955 brought only a few small changes to this rite, one of which however forms a notable part of the nearly complete change to the rite of Good Friday.

The Creed is suppressed, which brings about a shift with regard to the custom of the Roman Church of singing the Creed on all of the solemn feasts of the Lord.

The custom of not giving the Peace remains, but two changes are made to the rite of the celebrant’s communion. At the Agnus Dei, the words “dona nobis pacem” are no longer said as the third invocation, but rather “miserere nobis” is said a third time. The first of the celebrant’s silent prayers before communion, “Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis ‘Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis’...” is also omitted, a practice introduced from the Requiem Mass into a solemnity of the Lord. This prayer cites the very words which Our Lord spoke to the Apostles during the very Supper which is commemorated in this Mass. ( St. John 14, 27)

The entire rite of enclosing the second large Host in a chalice is omitted, and indeed, no large Host is consecrated for the celebrant of the rite of Holy Friday. Instead, two ciboria of small Hosts are consecrated, one for the general communion of Holy Thursday, and another for the general communion of the following day. The Priest who celebrates the new rite of Good Friday receives communion with a small host, as do all of the rest of the faithful.

Three other modifications were made to the rites after Communion. In place of “Ite, missa est” is said “Benedicamus Domino”, a formula hitherto used in the Roman Rite on penitential days, when the Mass is celebrated in violet. The change was clearly motivated by the fact that one does not actually leave the church after the Mass, because there follows the procession to the Altar of Repose. “Ite, missa est” is a formula which is used exclusively in the Roman Rite; it is unknown to the Ambrosian and Byzantine traditions. The people are not blessed after the Placeat. At the end of the Mass, the Last Gospel is omitted, and consequently the genuflection towards the Sacrament at “Et Verbum caro factum est.”

Part 2 - The Procession to the Altar of Repose and the Stripping of the Altar

Synopsis of the Pre-Pius XII Ritual

In the pre-1955 ritual, after the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is brought with a solemn procession to a lesser altar of the church, which is decorated for this purpose with flowers, drapes made of precious materials, candles, etc., and fitted with an urn or tabernacle. Many churches had a special urn made particularly for use in this rite.

After the Mass, the celebrant removes his chasuble, and dons a white cope. Coming before the altar along with the major ministers, he imposes incense in two thuribles; with one of these, he incenses the Blessed Sacrament as at Benediction. Then he dons a humeral veil, while the deacon ascends the altar, and brings him the Chalice with the large Host closed inside it. All of the acolytes and attending clergy form a procession, and go to the Altar of Repose, while the choir sings the hymn Pange lingua. Walking immediately before the Priest as he holds the Chalice under the humeral veil, two acolytes take turns incensing the Blessed Sacrament.

When they arrive at the altar of Repose, the deacon takes the Sacrament from the priest and places it on the altar. After a pause, the choir sings the end of the hymn, i.e., Tantum ergo, while the Sacrament is incensed again, and finally laid in the urn or tabernacle. The priest, the major and minor ministers and the attending clergy return to the sacristy by the shortest way. It is traditional for the church to remain open until midnight, at which hour it is closed to symbolize the complete abandonment of Christ on the night of His imprisonment.

After the Procession with the Blessed Sacrament, the Altar is stripped of all of its furnishings. The Priest, Deacon and Subdeacon, after they have returned to the sacristy, remove their Mass vestments and don violet stoles. They return to the principal altar of the church, along with the Acolytes and attending clergy. The Priest intones the antiphon “Diviserunt sibi”, which is continued by the choir, along with Psalm 21, while the acolytes remove the altar cloths, altar cards etc. When this has been done, all return to the sacristy.

Synopsis of the Pius XII Reforms

The Holy Week reforms of 1955 did not modify this Procession or the stripping of the Altar.

Part 3 - The Mandatum, or Washing of Feet

Synopsis of the Pre-Pius XII Ritual

In the pre-1955 ritual, the Washing of the Feet, commonly known as the “Mandatum”, from the first word of the first antiphon sung during the washing, is done as a separate service from the Mass. After the stripping of the Altar is complete, and generally after a break of some hours, the clergy and servers go in procession to a place set aside for the Mandatum. (The service was often done immediately after Vespers, but it was not obligatory for the Vespers to precede.) If there is no other place where the Mandatum may be conveniently done, it may be done before the main altar of the church, but this is not the ideal practice.

The Gospel of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is repeated, with all of the ceremonies normally observed at a Solemn Mass. After this, the priest washes the feet of 12 men, wearing an apron as Our Lord Himself did at the Last Supper. As he comes before each of the twelve, the priests genuflects before him, in imitation of our Lord’s humility. The subdeacon kneels to hold up the foot of each of the 12 men as the priest washes it, and the deacon proffers a towel with which to dry it, after which the priest kisses it.

The Missal and Gradual have 9 antiphons to be sung during the washing of the feet, which are certainly to be ranked among the most beautiful pieces in the entire Gregorian repertoire. Of these nine, the first six are taken from the 13th chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, the seventh from the end of the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, Saint Paul ’s “Hymn to Love”. The eighth is the identical in text, but not in music, to the Introit of the feast of the Holy Trinity, and has a different versicle accompanying it; the last of these nine is the famous “Ubi caritas.”

When the washing of the feet is done, the celebrant sings the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer aloud, and says the rest silently up to the verse “Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,” the choir responding “Sed libera nos a malo”, as is frequently done in the Roman Rite. There follow two versicles with their responses, and a collect.

Synopsis of the Pius XII Reforms

In the Holy Week reforms of 1955, the Mandatum was modified as follows.

It is permitted, but not required, to insert the Washing of the Feet into the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, immediately after the Gospel (and Homily, if there is one.) A new rubric specifies that as many of the antiphons as are needed for the length of the service may be sung, but “Ubi caritas” may never be omitted. The eighth of the nine antiphons in the Missal of St. Pius V is suppressed. The rubric no longer says that the priest kisses the feet after washing them.

Since the Mandatum may still be done outside the Mass, another new rubric specifies that in such case, the Gospel of the Mass is to be repeated at the beginning, as in the Missal of St. Pius V.

In the Missal of 1961, a further slight alteration was made to this rite, namely, that the collect at the end is to be said “versus populum.”

Copyright (C) Gregory DiPippo, 2009

(Part IV will begin to take up the consideration of the Mass of the Pre-sanctified on Good Friday. This will be followed by parts upon Tenebrae and the Vigil.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why Latin Hymns?

Part of our ambition as a schola is to bring popular chant hymns from all ages back into the life of Catholic people. So this year, we made an effort to sing the Marian antiphon for Lent—Ave Regina Caelorum—following communion every single week. We put it in the program each week and we have sung it without fail. Today, on the fifth week, the people joined the singing as if they owned it. It is now part of their experience of the faith.

Some might have carried the lovely song with them to brunch or while playing sports later in the afternoon. Perhaps it will be sung quietly in their heads before drifting off to sleep tonight, and perhaps it will be recall tomorrow morning as well.

This was not true only weeks ago, when hardly anyone in the parish knew this song. Now it is a living reality in their lives, and they have added it to their intellectual and aesthetic store of understanding of what comprises the marks of the Catholic faith. This song is added to a thousand other signs, from holy water to rosary beads, of what it means to be a Catholic.

This is very satisfying to me personally. Of course it is only one song. The Parish Book of Chant includes 70 of them. There are hundreds more that might qualify as people’s music. Would that we all knew them by heart.

I began to think about why in particular. After all, this is not “ritual music” in the sense that it is the text of the Mass. These hymns are neither propers nor part of the ordinary chants of the Mass. They are hymns, and have a life outside the liturgical books. They are used during the times of Mass when the ritual has stopped and we are experiencing a period of contemplation.

Today, we tend to regard them as somehow high-brow music characteristic of “high-Church celebration,” but this is not really correct historically. This music might be regarded as true Catholic folk music. It has pious origins, rooted in the popular expression of our faith, sung by all Catholic people in all times, and their continued presence for one-thousand plus years, some of the dating to the Patristic period, speaks to their quality as music and as true expression of the sense of faith.

These small tunes have a special quality to unite people in a song, a point which might sound like a cliché until we consider precisely what Catholics mean by the term unite. It is a unity of the trivial sort that pertains only to those present in the room at that moment. That sort of unity is rarely achieved in a parish environment in any case, given the characteristic nature of Catholics to avoid being cajoled into group-based activities. There will also be a solid quarter of the congregation that will resist singing no matter how compelling the cantor or familiar the song.

By unity, then, we mean unified across geographic and national lines, and across time, stretching back generations and generations. Our voices are united with people we do not know and could not know. This is a mystical form of unity that leaves the physical space we experience with our sense alone. We can only imagine people one thousand years ago singing the same tunes with the same words at the same Mass during the same season. We do not know and cannot imagine what their lives were like, what they wore, what they ate, how they thought and spoke, their trials and troubles, their joys and fears, but we can, after all, sing the same songs as they did. So our unity with them in song is a magnificent expression of what it means to be Catholic, to broaden our thinking and living outside the boundaries of time and space.

Thus can we understand the importance of Latin here. The tunes are written to accommodate the language and express it as beautifully as possible. To adapt them to another language is possible but it sheds an importance aspect of unity, and the song becomes a different one, reminiscent of the original but not the real thing. Plus, music is a great way for postconciliar Catholics to get over their Latin-phobias.

But we might further ask why it should matter that one particular group of Catholics comes to know one particular group of chant hymns. They might teach their children and the song will live and spread and then we make a contribution to historial continuity. Or perhaps they will not teach them to others. They might move to another town, or forget the song after Lent, and eventually of course we will all die and our capacity for rendering these songs will die with us.

So why do it? It is a matter of the obligation we all have to assist in making the faith as beautiful as we can, in our own space and time, insofar as we can. We sing these songs for the same reason that we plant flowers in our front yards and window boxes. The flowers, like the song, live for only a short time. They will die and, if not tended to, the ground will revert to its natural state without blooms and beauty.

Why, then, do we plant? Because the beauty elicits from us a certain idealism that improves the world in which we live and gives us as glimpse of something glorious and eternal. We learn from flowers that we can make a contribution to improving our world and the flowers make a contribution to improving us as people, giving us a brighter outlook and imaging that what may seem impossible is indeed possible. Planting them is a way of entering into a continuous effort, made by every generation, to bring color and brightness to the vale of tears in which we live.

I also like to think of the job of a Church musician as comparable to entering into a stream of living water that began to flow at the beginning of life of Christ. This stream grows and grows through time, and sometime falls back, but it continues to exist and move only in a forward direction. We have so few years on this earth, but we have the opportunity to become part of this stream of music and make a contribution to carrying from the past into the future.

When we sing these songs, our voices become part of the water and its continuous movement. Doing this as musicians gives our lives meaning beyond our time. We partake in the great effort of color the world with Christian art, an art that points to the great truth that we seek and that gives our lives meaning.

Addendum to Part 2 of the Holy Week Revisions Series

Please note: for those following the NLM series on the Holy Week revisions of Pope Pius XII in 1955, Gregory DiPippo has added a significant addendum to this piece which you will want to review if this matter is of interest to you:

Part 2 - The Masses of Palm Sunday, Holy Tuesday and Spy Wednesday

Please see the bottom of the article, under the title of "Addendum."

The Violet Veils of Passiontide

A couple of readers have sent in images today which show their veiling of images and altar crosses for "Passion Sunday" or the 5th Sunday of Lent.

I thought I would share them with you as a part of keeping within liturgical time.

Those who would like to read more about Passiontide may wish to consult this article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Chant Mania

Jeffrey Ostrowski sent this image to me, the books he just purchased from the MusicaSacra storefront, part of his contribution in the hope of putting MusicaSacra over the top to win the prize money that will go to Colloquium scholarships. Looking at them this way, I'm struck by what a different world we live in today as versus the past. It was only 4 years ago that I and others spent days on the phone, desperate to find notated versions of Communion Psalms. Now there are two books in print, available to everyone. The Chants Abreges book was completely lost to history -- the work of Dom Gajard. There are yet others available, in this outpouring of resources.

More from Conception Abbey

We recently featured Conception Seminary College where we showed a picture of the Abbey basilica:

A reader kindly sent in images of the basilica prior to its having been renovated, which shows rather some stunning murals, and an even more stunning ciborium over top the high altar -- not to mention high altar itself.

It is a particularly great shame that so many ciboria seem to have been lost following the renovations of the more recent decades, as they have always seemed to be one of the most desireable architectural revivals of recent times, and even more ideally so in a time that sees the dominance of the free-standing altar. Sadly, even the ciborium of Fr. Adrian Fortescue's parish of St. Hugh in Letchworth did not survive.

One can see the particular prominence, beauty and substantiality that this gave the altar -- not to mention that which was also lent by the antependium.

Parish Visitation in Santiago de Compostela

His Grace the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Msgr. Julián Barrio Barrio, last 19 March made a canonical visitation to the parish of St. Christopher in Briallos, entrusted to priests of the Fraternity of Christ the Priest and St. Mary Queen. The Archbishop celebrated Pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form, wearing the pontifical dalmatic and a chasuble in the traditional Spanish cut. The altar was arranged in what we have come to call the "Benedictine Arrangement", including the seventh candle for the celebrating ordinary. and covered with a nice Roman frontal. While this may not seem much to some, keep in mind that much of the restoration of the sacred which the Holy Father is inspiring has not yet been taken up in many places and especially by many bishops, so it is always welcome and a reason to give thanks when we see another place where this is happening.

Here are some images, unfortunately a bit shaky, but giving a good impression nevertheless:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tenebrae service in full, English/Latin

Fr. Samuel Weber just dropped into my inbox something I've longed for over many years. It is a complete Tenebrae service, sung mostly in English, to be used in any parish. To do this yourself would require weeks--well, if I did it, it would be longer--and here it is ready for booklet printing, for both choir and congregation. Of course you can substitute any chant with polyphony. You should download this and put it in a safe place and ready for next year, or even this year if you are ready. It is quite spectacular, a very viable combination for bringing the old into the new (typical) parish setting.

Tenebrae according to the use of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions of Pius XII: Part 2 - The Masses of Palm Sunday, Holy Tuesday and Spy Wednesday

We continue with Part II of Gregory DiPippo's consideration of the texts, ceremonies and history of the Holy Week ceremonies from before and after Pope Pius XII's reforms in 1955.

Here, we pick up upon the the Masses of Palm Sunday and the Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week.

Previous Installments in this series:

Part 1 - The Palm Sunday Blessing and Procession of Palms

Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions of Pius XII

Part 2: The Masses of Palm Sunday, Holy Tuesday and Spy Wednesday

by Gregory DiPippo

Synopsis of the Pre-Pius XII Ritual

In the rite of St. Pius V, the Mass celebrated immediately after the Palm Sunday procession differs from other Masses in one very important respect, namely, the ritual with which the Passion of Our Lord according to Saint Matthew is sung. The same ritual is observed when the other Passions are sung during the course of the week: St. Mark on Holy Tuesday, Saint Luke on Spy Wednesday, and Saint John on Good Friday. As far as Tuesday and Wednesday are concerned, the only changes made in 1955 were to the manner of singing the Passion, and therefore I include them here with Palm Sunday. Good Friday will of course be treated in entirely separate articles; suffice it here to say that on that day, the ritual of the singing of the Passion is slightly different from that of the other three days, and will be described in its own place.

The Passions are sung by three deacons, dressed in amice, alb, cincture, maniple and diaconal stole; they are not the major ministers of the Mass itself. Of these three, one sings the main narration of the Passion in a middle voice; another, in a lower voice, sings the words of Christ; the third sings in a higher voice the words of all of the other people. This is a ritual proper to the Roman Rite; in other historical rites, for example, the Ambrosian and the Byzantine, one deacon sings the whole Passion by himself. The three deacons enter the sanctuary towards the end of the Tract, genuflect before the altar, and go to stand in the place where the Gospel is usually sung. They do not say “Munda cor meum”, nor are they blessed by the Priest.

The three deacons sing the Passion nearly to the end; on Palm Sunday, they stop after the Burial of Christ, (at verse 27, 61), on the other three days, they stop where the Evangelist speaks of the witnesses to the death of Christ. (Saint Mark 15, 41; Saint Luke 23, 49; Saint John 19, 37) When they have reached this point, the three deacons leave the sanctuary.

The last part of each Passion (Saint Matthew 27, 62-66; Saint Mark 15, 42-46; Saint Luke 23, 50-53; Saint John 19, 38-42) is sung by the deacon of the Mass. After the three deacons have departed, the deacon, subdeacon and acolytes perform all of the rites which normally precede the Gospel procession; the Missal is moved to the Gospel side, the Gospel book is placed on the altar, incense is imposed in the thurible, the deacon says the “Munda cor meum”, asks for and receives the blessing of the celebrant, and they all go to the place where the Gospel is normally sung. Omitting “Dominus vobiscum” and the title, the deacon incenses the book, and sings the end of the Passion. As in other solemn Masses, the celebrant receives and kisses the Gospel book, brought to him by the subdeacon, and is then incensed by the deacon.

The pause between the end of the Passion and the beginning of this Gospel dramatically represents the astonishment of all of Creation, including the Church Herself, at the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Christ, the Crucified God. With the great reform of Gregorian chant in the reign of Pope St. Pius X, a special tone for this Gospel was re-introduced into general use (ad libitum), one of the masterpieces of sacred chant. This tone, with a long descant at the beginning of each verse, and a long and solemn conclusion, represents the weeping of the Church over His death.

Synopsis of the Pius XII Reforms

In the Holy Week reform of 1955, the following changes were made to the Mass of Palm Sunday. Items two and three also apply to Holy Tuesday and Spy Wednesday.

1. The prayers before the altar are omitted, because another liturgical rite takes place before the Mass itself. This same change is found in the rite of Holy Saturday, and with the reform of 1962, is extended to Ash Wednesday and Candlemas.

2. In the reform of 1955, the three synoptic Passions were shortened at the beginning; the first 35 verses of Saint Matthew were removed, the first 31 verses of Saint Mark, and the first 38 of Saint Luke. Furthermore, at the end of the Passion of Saint Matthew, the last six verses were also removed. These passages appear nowhere else in the Roman Missal, which therefore no longer contains the Gospel account of the preparations which the Lord made for the celebration of the Last Supper, the washing and anointing of His feet, the betrayal of Judas, and the Last Supper itself. From the end of the Passion of Saint Matthew was removed the account of the guard set by Pilate and the Pharisees at the tomb of Jesus, a passage which has no parallel in the other Gospels.

3. The particular rite for the singing of the Passion was almost entirely removed. The three deacons come before the altar, kneel, and say “Munda cor meum”. Then they go to the Priest, ask for and receive the blessing, and go to the place where the Gospel is sung. They are not accompanied by the acolytes with candles, nor is incense used. The last part of each Passion is sung by the narrator, not by the deacon of the Mass, without pause between the Passion and the Gospel. The special tone of the “weeping” is not found in the typical edition of the chant of the Passion, though it was not explicitly abolished. (However, the part of Saint Matthew which is sung in this special tone was deleted from the text of the Passion.) The book of the Gospel is not brought to the celebrant, who is not incensed.

In the typical edition of the new OHS, every time the Passion is mentioned, the rubric says “cantatur vel legitur”, “proceditur ad cantum vel lectionem”. Thus it is foreseen that the Passion, even within the context of the Solemn Mass, may read, rather than sung.

Let it be noted that this description of the singing of the Passion presumes, as does the Missal, that there are present three deacons to sing the Passion, apart from the three major ministers of the Mass. It was of course a common custom that when there were not sufficient clergy present, the major ministers could take the parts of the three deacons, but this should not be considered the ideal or normative practice.


For the sake of brevity, I originally planned to omit from these articles any reference to certain other changes which were made to the Masses of Palm Sunday, Holy Monday and Tuesday, and Spy Wednesday. These changes touch on aspects of the Holy Week liturgies which are not exclusive to Holy Week itself, such as the use of folded chasubles.

For the sake of completeness, however, here is an addendum covering these aspects of the reform as well.

1. On Palm Sunday, the Asperges, which is normally done before every Sunday solemn Mass throughout the year, is omitted.

2. In the pre-1955 Holy Week rites, folded chasubles are worn by the deacon and subdeacon on the first four days of Holy Week, as also in Advent and Lent. (cf. Shawn Tribe's recent article for the complete explanation of when they were used: Use, History and Development of the "Planeta Plicata" or Folded Chasuble) With the 1955 reform of Holy Week, the deacon and subdeacon wear dalmatic and tunicle instead at all four of these Masses. Although the use of the folded chasubles was later completely suppressed, this reform originally applied only to Holy Week itself, and the folded chasubles continued to be used throughout Lent and Passiontide, right up until the day before Palm Sunday.

3. The addition prayers of the Mass, which were appointed by the Missal of St. Pius V to be said at almost all Masses of the Ordo temporalis (varying from one liturgical season to another), were removed from the Masses of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. (They were not said on Palm Sunday.) Likewise, the commemorations of Saints’ feasts are completely excluded from all of Holy Week; in the rite of St. Pius V, they were excluded from the Mass of Palm Sunday (not from the Office), and from the Sacred Triduum.

4. In the pre-1955 Holy Week rites, the celebrant of a solemn Mass reads in a low voice at the altar all of the parts of the Mass which are sung aloud by a deacon, subdeacon or lector. In the 1955 reform he longer does so. Although the “doubling” of the readings (as it is commonly called) was later completely suppressed, this reform originally also applied only to Holy Week itself, and the readings continued to be doubled outside of Holy Week.

5. In the pre-1955 Holy Week rites, the celebrant of a solemn Mass or sung Mass says the first two words of “Orate fratres” at the end of the Offertory out loud, and the rest silently, as he turns towards the Missal. In the 1955 reform he says the entire “Orate fratres” out loud (‘clara et elevata voce’). The “Orate fratres” continued to be said in the same manner as in the Missal of St. Pius V outside of Holy Week, until the post-conciliar liturgical reforms.

Copyright (C) Gregory DiPippo, 2009

(Part III will take up the consideration of Maundy Thursday. This will be followed by parts upon the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified, Tenebrae, and the Vigil)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Solesmes This Summer

Diane Silva, formerly of Ave Maria University, has written to let me know about a unique opportunity for those wishing to study Gregorian Chant in Solesmes this summer. She writes:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I'm happy to announce the sixth annual Advanced Gregorian Chant Week in Solesmes! This year the organization will be somewhat less formal. Arrangements for travel, housing, eating, applying and paying tuition are do-it-yourself this time.

Abbey St. Pierre, Solesmes, France

Instructor: Dom Daniel Saulnier, OSB, Director of Paleography at the Abbey and Instructor of Gregorian Chant at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome

Class will begin on Monday, July 20, 2009 and finish on Friday afternoon, July 24.

Cost: 200 Euros, cash, payable directly to Fr. Saulnier. 100 Euros for students or religious.

The course is for advanced students only. No beginners, please. You should be be familiar with and experienced in Gregorian chant, its notation and repertoire, liturgical Latin, and you must be able to sight sing.

Language: The course is taught in English, but Fr. Saulnier is multi-lingual, and I have heard him answer questions in French, Italian, or Spanish, as needed.

What do I do next? If you are interested in attending the Advanced Gregorian Chant Week in Solesmes, please contact Fr. Saulnier directly.

Men may stay at the Abbey guesthouse, where meals are also provided. Contact: Père Hôtelier at: hospesol@free.fr
Women: There is a hotel (Grand Hotel) right across the street from the abbey (rather pricey) or you can stay in one of the houses in the village or one owned by the monks--Contact: Père Hôtelier at: hospesol@free.fr. You will be responsible for your own meals. There is a bakery a half-block from the abbey, and a creperie next to the hotel (open and closed on a schedule I've never figured out). The hotel has a restaurant. There is a large store (like a super Walmart, called E Leclerk) about a five minute taxi ride away, or there's a grocery store in the nearby town of Sable sur Sarthe.

Note: Père Hôtelier speaks French. I write to him in English and he answers in French. So far, that has worked. If you don't understand French, get a friend who does, or check out the Language Tools on Google.

How to get there from Paris: Take the train to Sable sur Sarthe. Take a taxi to the abbey in Solesmes or walk (about an hour)
For more information on Solesmes and the abbey, go to: http://www.solesmes.com

Although the organization this year is do--it-yourself, I'll be happy to answer questions and be of some assistance. Please contact me by email.

Bon Voyage!

Diana Silva

Rector of Conception Seminary to Offer Usus Antiquior Tomorrow for Seminarians

News comes to the NLM that tomorrow morning, the rector of Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri "will be offering the first Mass in the "Usus Antiquior" since the release of the Holy Father's motu proprio..."

The Mass will take place tomorrow morning in their seminary chapel. The NLM will try to provide you with photos from the event.

Some Examples of Early Twentieth-Century Scandinavian Church Architecture

Högalid Church, Stockholm, 1923

In Scandinavia, among the designers of Lutheran churches during the first part of the last century, there was a distinct 'Other Modernism' in their architecture, one which partook in large measure of the regional art nouveau and national romantic movements then at their apogee in Central and Northern Europe. The results were quite wonderful, and bear further study. Some examples follow below, from the quadrilingual Dutch work of the period, Moderne Kerken in Europe en America, which also includes some strange Central European and French monstrosities, not shown here--though I admit a secret fondness for the etherial openness of Perret's Notre Dame du Raincy, just not all that exposed concrete. I have dozens more scans from this book and others of the era I will post in the next few weeks, with any luck.

Engelbrecht Church, Stockholm, 1923

Skelleftea Church, Stockholm, 1926

Högalid Church, Stockholm, 1923

Details of St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington

Our recent coverage of St. Birinius in Dorchester-on-Thomas seems to have brought forward some other similar art which I thought our readership would be interested in, this time coming from St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

There would certainly appear to be some very beautiful work in this cathedral.

The photos are from James Bradley.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Rare Sight: A Conical Rose Chasuble

While Laetare Sunday has come and gone, I could not help but share these images -- photographed by the NLM's own Br. Lawrence Lew, O.P. -- of a very rare sight indeed. Not only the incredibly beautiful church of St. Birinius in Dorchester-on-Thames, with its wonderful rood screen, riddle posts and curtains, and painted ceilings, but also a conical chasuble.

Now conical chasubles are rare enough to see, all things considered, but the sight of a conical rose chasuble is virtually unheard of:

Laetare Mass in Dorchester

Rose in Dorchester

The conical vestment originally came from Pluscarden Abbey and the priest is Fr. John Osman, the parish priest of St. Birinius.

Quite stunning all around.

Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions of Pius XII: Part 1 - The Palm Sunday Blessing and Procession of Palms

For those interested in the question of the principles or history of liturgical reform, in the 20th century there are two matters which are often looked at, outside of the matter of the post-conciliar reform itself. The first of these are the breviary reforms of St. Pius X in the early 20th century and the second are the Holy Week reforms of Pope Pius XII in 1955, just a few years before the Second Vatican Council.

As we move closer to Holy Week, references to (and interest in) the latter invariably increases. For some, this topic is one of simple factual and historical curiosity, while for others, it is a matter of some deeper consideration in contemplating questions of liturgical reform within the 20th century -- which is a conversation which can hopefully be approached in a more dispassionate light in our times.

Regardless of the perspective which one brings to the matter, one of the most common questions asked is simply the question of what precisely was reformed and how. For many, the matter remains somewhat obscure and they only know that some kind of reforms were instituted.

The question is not easy to answer in brief as there is a great deal to consider. This has made it difficult to speak upon, except in general terms. Accordingly, the NLM is pleased to present the following series which may help in this regard. The piece presented here today is the first of 5-6 parts. It was independently researched and written by Gregory DiPippo as a matter of his personal liturgical interest. In it, he sets out to give a detailed consideration of precisely what was revised, both textually and ceremonially, offering some comparison between the pre and post-Pius XII Holy Week rites.

Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions of Pius XII

Part 1: The Palm Sunday Blessing and Procession of Palms

by Gregory DiPippo

(Pre-1955 Palm Sunday Procession, Westminster Cathedral, London, 1919)


In the year 1955, the rituals of Holy Week were substantially altered under the auspices of Pope Pius XII. These modifications represented the first genuinely substantial change to the Missal of Pope St. Pius V.

My purpose in the following series of articles is not to give a general history of the Holy Week rituals, but rather, solely to describe the difference between the Holy Week rites of St. Pius V and those of Pius XII.


Synopsis of the Pre-Pius XII Ritual

In the pre-Pius XII edition of the Missal of Saint Pius V, the blessing of the Palms takes place within a rite which parallels the rite of Mass. The branches to be blessed are placed on the main altar. At the beginning, an Introit is sung, followed by a Collect (there is no Kyrie), an Epistle, a Gradual, and a Gospel. After the Gospel, there is another prayer, which, although it is sung out loud, corresponds to the Secret of the Mass. The conclusion of this prayer leads into the Preface Dialogue and a Preface, at the end of which is sung the Sanctus. There follows a sort of ‘canon’ for the blessing of the branches, consisting of five prayers. After sprinkling the branches and incensing them, (following the normal order of such blessings: imposition of incense, sprinkling, and incensation) the priest sings a sixth prayer, and distributes the branches to the attending clergy, and to the people, while the choir sings the two antiphons Pueri Hebraeorum. When the branches have been distributed, the priest sings another prayer, which corresponds, both in position and in thought, to the Postcommunion of the Mass. There follows the Procession; ideally, the Palms are blessed in a different church or chapel from that were the Mass is celebrated, and the Procession goes from one church to another.

As with all processions, the subdeacon leads with the processional Cross, which, like all of the Crosses in Passiontide, is covered with a violet veil. There follows the clergy, then the celebrant, accompanied by the deacon and master of ceremonies. The Roman Gradual has six antiphons to be sung during the procession. Having reached the doors of the church, the clergy and faithful stand before the doors, while two cantors enter the church and close the doors over. From within the church, the cantors sing the refrain of the hymn Gloria, laus et honor, which is repeated by all those who are standing outside. The cantors sing the verses of the hymn, and those who are outside repeat the refrain after each verse. When the Hymn is done, the subdeacon knocks on the doors of the church with the staff of the processional Cross; the two cantors open the doors at once, and everyone enters the church, while the Responsory Ingrediente Domino is sung. (A similar ritual is performed at the procession of Candlemas, for which the Missal appoints two processional antiphons, and a Responsory to be sung when the procession enters the church.)

When the major ministers have entered the sanctuary, the priest removes his cope, and puts on the chasuble; the Mass then begins. The whole rite of this day is celebrated in violet vestments; therefore, this change of vestments present no particular difficulties.

Synopsis of the Pius XII Reforms

The reform of 1955 modifies this rite of blessing, removing the very ancient rite in imitation of the Order of the Mass, while also introducing changes which arguably made it more difficult to execute; some of which are at variance with the typical liturgical practice of the Church.

1. The vestments for the procession are no longer violet, but red. In the typical edition of the Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae (OHS) of 1955, the hymn Gloria, laus et honor is designated explicitly with title “Hymnus ad Christum Regem”. Furthermore, a rubric has been added for the procession that one may sing the hymn Christus vincit, (which had never been used in this rite), or another hymn “in honor of Christ the King.” Despite the re-working of the procession as a procession in honor of Christ the King, one no longer uses the color which in the Western tradition has always been the royal color, violet.

2. The deacon and subdeacon must now wear red dalmatics, where formerly they wore folded chasubles. It is therefore now necessary for all three major ministers to change all of their vestments for the Mass.

With the removal of the color violet, the folded chasubles, and the veiled Cross, those things which the Church of Rome has considered as signs of mourning or penance are removed from this procession which commemorates the Savior coming to the place of His torment, and the terrible death on the Cross.

3. The OHS of 1955 declares explicitly that the palms to be blessed are to be arranged on a table in the middle of the sanctuary, in such a way that the faithful can see it. The ministers of the Mass must therefore enter the sanctuary, reverence the altar in the usual way, then turn away from the altar and the Cross. (“Celebrans cum ministris sacris... sistit retro abacum, versus populum.”) This shift of focus away from altar and cross and toward the gathered people introduced a new practice which went contrary to the normative liturgical practice of the historical rite of the Latin Church and is introduced for the first time with this reform.

The usage of placing a table in the middle of the sanctuary also presented some logistic difficulties; in order to enter and reverence the altar, as the OHS requires, everyone must go around the table in the middle first. Furthermore, once the branches have been distributed, the table must then be taken away during the midst of the liturgy.

4. The Epistle which was formerly recited immediately after the first prayer (Exodus 15, 27 - 16, 7), a passage of the greatest importance for understanding the whole rite of Holy Week, has been removed.

After the triumphal Exodus from Egypt , and the defeat of Pharaoh’s army, the people rebel against Moses and Aaron, because of the lack of food. Therefore, God Himself declares to them, “I will make bread from heaven rain down upon you”, a text which has always been held by the Church to be a prophetic reference to the Eucharist. (The Book of Wisdom’s commentary on this episode, chap. 16, vers. 20, is still sung at Benediction.) Then, God orders the people to gather twice as much manna on the sixth day, because on the seventh day, the Sabbath, it will not be given.

In the context of Holy Week, the triumphant people of Israel represent the new triumphant people of the Church, which acclaims the Savior at His entry into Jerusalem. As the people of Israel, after their triumph, rebel against God and His prophet, so the people of Jerusalem rebel against Christ; those who acclaim Him as the Messiah on Sunday shout out “Crucify Him” from amid the crowd on Friday. The double gathering of the manna represents the Consecration of the two Hosts on Holy Thursday, which thus becomes the new ‘Parasceve – day of preparation’, anticipating the new Pasch: the Sacrifice of Christ, the new Paschal Lamb, upon the Cross.

5. The Gradual which followed the Epistle has also been removed. There was at this point a choice between two different graduals, one with a text from the Gospel of Saint John (11, 47-49; 50 and 53), the other from Saint Matthew (26, 39 and 41). The first of these associates the blessing of the Palms with the Gospel of the preceding Friday, ( Saint John 11, 47-54), which tells of the conspiracy of the chief priests against Jesus; His triumphal entry into Jerusalem appears in this regard as the principal cause for the anger of the priests and Pharisees. The second, on the other hand, looks forward to the Passion, sung in this same liturgy from Gospel of Saint Matthew, perfectly joining the two parts of the rite.

6. Of the nine prayers of the Pian rite, (the three which correspond to the variable prayers of the Mass, and the six which form the ‘canon’ of the blessing) there remains only one, “Benedic, quaesumus”, the fifth of the six in the ‘canon’. This prayer is said immediately after the Introit.

7. For the blessing of the branches, it is prescribed by the new rubrics that the priest must first sprinkle them with holy water, and then impose incense in the thurible and incense them. This change has no particular importance, but it touches upon another aspect of the whole new rite of Holy Week: namely, the introduction of several small modifications contrary to the normative practice found in other, analogous rites, where there was no apparent reason, either practical or theological, to change anything. Indeed, the other major blessings, of candles and of ashes, are performed following the normal practice (imposition, sprinkling, incensation).

8. The distribution of the branches is moved to the beginning of the rite, immediately after the one remaining prayer, and the chanting of the Gospel is moved to follow the distribution. In the pre-Pius XII edition of the Missal of Saint Pius V, the priest is incensed after this Gospel, as in every solemn Mass; in the new reform, on the other hand, he is not incensed.

9. It is now ordered that the Cross used for the Procession not be veiled. This introduces a variance with regard to the historical practice of the Church, and which is arguably at odds with all the rest of the rite. One possible motive for this change would be that the Crosses are veiled in violet, while this part of the rite is done in red vestments.

10. The Cross is carried by a second subdeacon in red tunicle, not by the one who serves the Mass, or else by an acolyte. Here again we have a variance with the normal practice of the Church, according to which the Processional Cross is carried by the subdeacon of the Mass, except in Processions with the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed, there has been no change to the Candlemas procession.

11. Of the six antiphons which the Roman Missal and Gradual assign to this procession, the first three (Cum approppinquaret, Cum audisset populus, Ante sex dies) no longer appear in the typical edition of the OHS of 1955. Four new antiphons have been added (Coeperunt omnes turbae, Omnes collaudent, Fulgentibus palmis, Ave, Rex noster). The entire rite of singing Gloria, laus et honor before the doors of the church, and of knocking on the doors of the church with the staff of the processional Cross, has been removed.

12. At the end of the procession, a new prayer has been inserted, which is also to be said facing the people. The celebrant must therefore reverence the altar as usual, then turn and stand in the middle of the top step of the altar, while an acolyte comes in front of him to present him the book. This likewise introduced a practice is which was outside the historical usage of the Latin Rite.

Copyright (C) Gregory DiPippo, 2009

(Part II will take up the consideration of the remainder of Palm Sunday. This will be followed by parts upon the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified, Tenebrae, and the Vigil.)

The Dangers of Architectural Positivism

How tiresomely moralistic will the twentieth century's arts appear to our grandchildren's grandchildren! The first half of that strange era devoted its time exhaustively to erecting tediously "truthful" structures, while the second, discovering one could only go so far contemplating the bare reality of a building's skeleton, decided that there was no truth to begin with, and then spent the rest of its time sermonizing like a Puritan about the subject. On the one hand, this gave the profession enough self-doubt to allow some of its brighter sons to start noodling around with the past, and to discover it was a fine thing; on the other hand, it gave us Frank Gehry, that dealer in flashy junk heaps, a sort of superficial Dinocretes writ larger than Vitruvius could have ever imagined.

Dinocrates the Formalist was a flashy cove who, in the first instance of starchitect branding, wandered into Alexander the Great's camp dressed as Hercules and flourishing his plans to fashion Mount Athos into a gigantic recumbent sculpture of his would-be patron. A little city rested in the palm of the colossus's hand. When asked how he'd get water and amenities into the place, he said he had no idea. The ancient Roman architectural writer Vitruvius could be, at times, a bit of a gloomy Gus--or Augustus--whose back-to-basics canons don't always match up with the occasional, agreeable messiness of later Roman classicism, but in retelling this story he did have a point. Things have to work and be beautiful at the same time. In my own mind, the best architects always have a bit of both the practical, conservative Vitruvius and the extravagant dreamer Dinocrates. Unfortunately, we have spent the last century wobbling from one extreme to the other, while at the same time managing to have Vitruvian rigor without Vitruvian decorum, elegance and tradition, and Dinocritean extravagance without its attendant beauty, weirdness and wonder.

Of course, I'd take Gehry over Modernist bores like Corbusier and Mies any day, whose own purportedly practical aesthetic frequently didn't work very well, relying on fancy-pants technology to solve problems inherited common-sense could have fixed from the get-go. Flat roofs are certainly possible, for instance, in our brave new world, but they're going to leak a lot more than a pitched roof, especially in Michigan.

Our Postmodern malaise ultimately goes back to the shiny, happy future promised us by the Modernist movement more than a century ago, which turned out to be public housing. An item by R.R. Reno on a new--and apparently unsatisfactory--biography of the founding genius of Modernism, Le Corbusier, brings up some of these ghosts back out into the light, and brings to mind some of the core problems with this manner of building:

...with the structural beams of Le Corbusier’s egotistical vision exposed, the biography provides readers with the useful occasion to look back on modernism through the eyes of one of its high priests.

Modernism in art and literature is best understood as a drive to bring everything into the open. It reflected a broad rejection of manners and ornament, a determined effort to tear away what Edmund Burke called “the decent drapery of life” so that we could see life as it “really is.”
It is often wondered aloud why we cannot create a new "modern" Catholic style, a true expression of our own era. Partially it is because of this intellectual, positivistic bankruptcy at the root of the modernistic style. Continuity must be re-established first before any progress or development may be made.

Though I'd also say that the classical experiments of the last forty or so years are just as "modern," if not more so, than whatever bizarro koolade Rem Koolhouse is peddling. Perhaps something new and different, yet traditional, will spring from its roots, like Goodhue's Gothic sprung from the earlier work of Pugint, Scot and Bodley, or how Comper's unified eclecticism came from everything he saw, but we have to start somewhere, and there is still so much to learn, in terms of design and craftsmanship. The architects working today have the hardest job--which is bringing, effectively, a whole world back to life. And as this culture was brought down not by obsolescence but by willful cruelty, this is hardly archaeologism.

Perhaps the modernistic style might be baptized, but much that made it distinctive, would be washed away in the progress. One problem is its fixation, almost Gnostic, with disembodied ideas and concepts. A painting cannot be simply about paint, pace Rothko; and while a building must stand up, it need not solely be about standing up. Certainly the classical and Gothic traditions have that aspect, as far back as Vitruvius and as recently as Viollet-le-Duc, though at its best, such mechanics were stepping-stones to something better and wilder. Alberti considered the intellectual lineaments of a building something mediated by the structure and ornament of its exterior; and while Pugin--another gloomy Gus, if perhaps a necessary one--frequently railed against what he saw as dishonesty in buildings, he never hesitated to plaster his own designs with exuberant tilework and gilt. Whenever architecture has been reduced to simply being about architecture, it has suffered--whether under the dry-as-dust reforming classicist Abbé Laugier during the eighteenth century, or Mies and Corbu in the twentieth. But this positivism is a dead-end:
The same impulse of stripping away conceit characterized modern architecture. Le Corbusier famously said that a house ought to be “a machine for living.” The idea was not to make a living room into a miniature factory floor. Instead, Le Corbusier wanted to remove decoration and expose the “real purpose” of buildings. As the slogan of architectural modernism proclaims, “Form follows function.”

Le Corbusier’s work gives good examples. If a roof provides shelter, then we need to see it sheltering. Take a look at the Centre Le Corbusier in Zurich. It is a whimsical, charming building that is dominated by a roof that shouts, “I am a roof.” The same is true of his famous church, Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp. The structure is topped with a massively overhung roof that says, “I shelter and protect.”

[A very limited sort of truth this is, exclusively moral rather than philosophical or symbolic, with no room for anagogy whatsoever. Even a church is more than a machine for liturgy. --MGA].

The same holds for other features of buildings. If windows are for the sake of bringing in light, then let them be large-paned, industrial windows that make no excuses for their function. If steel girders hold the building up, then do not hide them. If concrete pillars provide structural support, then expose their roles.

Again and again, the basic principle of modernism is the same: strip and expose. It fit with a larger social desire: be done with inherited social mores and hierarchies. Indeed, encouraged by various forms of progressive political ideology, modernism presumed that the decent drapery of life serves only to disguise the deadening, authoritarian desire of the past to control our futures. If we strip and expose, the modernists promised, then our latent, universal humanity will burst forth and flourish in the shining light of pure, unadulterated reality.
Reno, on the other hand, reminds us people tend not to look very good with their clothes off. For that matter, to take the analogy further, the face of a building these days is a bit more like skin over muscle and bone. Skin conceals skeletons, and skeletons are not particularly beautiful, nor terribly honest, one way or the other. Structure may be dramatized in a certain way in design, but it is mediated, and often transcended or even occasionally inverted, by ornament, heraldry and symbol. A majestic door needs a surround not just because of some practical reason--though it may shield the rain as a nice side-effect--but because its decorum and purpose require it as the central entry into a building. Indeed, once the Modernists figured out it wasn't always possible to display actual structure on the skins of their buildings, they often retreated to depicting an iconographic or fictive structure reminiscent of some, though not all, subspecies of classicism. You cannot escape the past.

But there is much more to this debate than the relative limitations of structure, real or symbolic. Architecture is more than just about architecture, just as painting is not just about paint. The greatest buildings have often been those that deliberately stretch or defy our sense of dramatized structure--from the fairyland of Gothic to Borromini's own playful classicism, though such defiance always had a meaning and compositional purpose. Postmodernism lacks the order to throw such clever compositional subversions or shifts into high relief, while its puritanical ancestor Modernism, as we see, has no room for such necessary and unique departures. One is reminded of Chesterton:
Mr. McCabe thinks me a slave because I am not allowed to believe in determinism. I think Mr. McCabe a slave because he is not allowed to believe in fairies. But if we examine the two vetoes we shall see that his is really much more of a pure veto than mine. The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle. Poor Mr. McCabe is not allowed to retain even the tiniest imp, though it might be hiding in a pimpernel.
Set this description against Reno's own critique of Corbu and the Modernists, and the parallels are stunning:
Of course, it turns out that design is not like physics and physiology. You cannot make people free and natural and virtuous by forcing them into “machines for living,” as the great (and failed) urban projects of the 1950s and 1960s repeatedly showed.

But reality never inconvenienced Le Corbusier and his generation. He was attracted to the image of science: mastery and technological power, the promise of objective, indefeasible truth, men in white lab coats fiercely committed to stripping away illusions. Like the Marxists of the day, he needed the rhetoric of objectivity to sanctify his impulse toward destruction. In his own mind, Le Corbuser was not demolishing traditional views in order to satisfy personal needs. Quite the contrary. He was a noble scientist of construction, serving “the future” and obeying the “objective truths of urban planning,” devoted always to “the intrinsic principles of architecture.”

The self-deception was massive. Any reader of Le Corbusier: A Life will be struck by the atmosphere of violence, destruction, and desire for power that animated the architect. “What exists today is intolerable!” Le Corbusier writes to a friend. Again and again he attacks established “bourgeois taste.” He hates the “swine.” At age thirty, he writes, “You must forge your own weapons for the life you want to have. You must make yourself a superior being.”

Weber unfailingly provides letter after tedious letter in which Le Corbusier vents his spleen, often in close conjunction with fantasies of erotic abandonment. The past is sheer bondage and empty conformity. It produces nothing but the repression. Le Corbusier, therefore, assigns himself the role of moral aristocrat (someone had to). He alone is the architect who knows that what must be destroyed so that something new and humane can be built and experienced.

Of course, the ordinary man is in bondage to conventional views. But we cannot allow delay! The world must be made anew! Men must be forced to be free! Le Corbusier’s vision of the modern city provides the clearest example of his lust for destruction, always for the sake of millennial renewal. His most famous plan was for Paris. It involved bulldozing most of the city, and remaking it to accord with his principles. The result would have been horrifying: Co-op City on the Seine.
The other thing Reno notes, as he rounds out his article, is, whatever theories the Modernist spouted, their work is simply, brutally, unapologetically ugly, and for an architecture of the future, does not age well. I visited Corbu's house on the outskirts of Paris and found it surprisingly run-down for a building less than a century old. Its distant descendent, the United Nations Headquarters on New York's East Side, bright and shiny in its day, now resembles, from the inside, anyway, a heroic-scale interpretation of a Midwestern high-school circa 1964.

One is reminded of the old joke abou the French philosopher--“We know it works well in practice, but what about in theory?” The Burkean apothegm mentioned earlier in the article is very fitting here. Traditional architecture works because it has had centuries-worth of road-testing to hone it, and because while human taste does change, human nature doesn't.

Traditional architecture--whether classic or Gothic, Romanesque or Roman--has always had room for both Vitruvius and Dinocrates. Modernism and Postmodernism has often managed to bring the worst out of both of them in serial. We can do better.

New NLM Template

As many will no doubt notice, the NLM looks a bit different. This is because I have migrated the site over to the newer form of blog template -- a task I felt was necessary, particularly as the new "widgetted" format has quickly become the standard, and quite soon, I suspect much will be made to simply work with that. Rather than be surprised or be left behind, I determined to act and migrate.


As you will note, I took the opportunity to make some revisions by adding a third column. Some will probably prefer the older template I suspect since I have had to slightly reduce the main article width, but the newer method will give some additional space and flexibility, and also aligns with a fairly standard "news" style template.

The opportunity also arose to modify some of lists in the sidebar, and now that there is more space, given that there are two sidebars, I expect I will make some additions there soon. But while I was at it, I saw some things that could be removed, or which were out of date.

An additional benefit as well is that this double-side-bar allows some of the most useful bits of information (writers, feeds, search, event calendar) to appear at the very top.

New Share Feature

Readers will notice a new "Share" feature which will allow you to share NLM posts by email, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and many other networking tools.

Post Titles Now Clickable Links

A feature that has long been requested, the ability to click upon the post title to get the individual post, has also been added.

Coming Soon: Featured NLM Articles

A final mention should go to a coming feature, which will be a section of "Featured NLM articles" from over the past years, encompassing some of those we consider the most important. This is long overdue.

Tweaks Surely to Come

Be patient however, I suspect there will be some bugs to work out, and I also suspect that I will make some tweaks, even as it appears now.

One item I can see is that the right sidebar appears to take a bit longer to load, so I shall look into this.

Please, any technical feedback about any issues is most welcome. I am interested to know how the new "share" feature will work for you, and also if the new width of the template fits onto standard screen resolutions, or if a tiny bit of the blog is not appearing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ordinations for the Franciscans of the Immaculate

As mentioned earlier, Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, today celebrated Pontifical Mass in the usus antiquior and ordained five priests for the Franciscans of the Immaculate (FFI) in the church of St. Francis in Tarquinia (a small town in Latium). Our good friend John Sonnen of ORBIS CATHOLICVS has some pictures of this splendid occasion. Here is a selection:

The church:

The Mass. Archbishop Burke and the sacred ministered, incidentally, were wearing some rather fine gothic vestments, and these pictures show, in my opinion, how these can go perfectly well together with other paraments in more Roman/baroque forms, such as the mitre, the copes of the book and bugia bearers or the chasubles of the ordinandi. In the first image, you can see to the left Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli, the Minister General and Founder of the FFI, and to the right his Co-Founder, Fr. Gabriele Maria Pellettieri.


The First Blessing of the new priests:

Followed by the kissing of the anointed palms:

The recession.

The NLM congratulates the new priests and the FFI.

Bring Back the High Mass (to regular parishes)

Many observers of the progress of the restored Extraordinary Form, in places where it has not been previously offered, are concerned that most of the Masses newly in place are Low Masses. This is a fine thing but there is much that needs to be done to progress toward the full sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form in a setting that reaches all Catholics.

This is why the CMAA has looked to two great masters--Fr. Scott Haynes of St. John Cantius and Scott Turkington of the Stamford Schola Gregoriana--to lead a workshop for celebrants in the Sung Extraordinary Form. The dates are April 28-30, and it takes place in Stamford, Connecticut.

No prior experience in singing the Mass or even knowing the Extraordinary Form is necessary!

Some people might think this is too soon. Masses according to the 1962 Missal are just getting off the ground. Why push so hard for the High Mass? Because it is important to start things off right from the outset. The pervasiveness of the Low Mass in the preconciliar times led to the impression that the laity are excluded (I know this is wrong but that's the impression) and it also led to "four-hymn sandwich" and prepared the ground for some of the biggest liturgical problems we have today. In the Extraordinary Form of our times, we need to have higher ambitions, to make it right from the very beginning, so the full glory of the Roman Rite can be there for everyone.

There is still room for more registrations. I urged you to let priests know about this wonderful opportunity.

Exsultet from the Birmingham Oratory

Relics of 39 Saints Discovered in Mediaeval Portable Altar

A reader sent in new of this story: British Museum finds relics of 39 saints after 100 years.

The story from The Guardian in Britain includes a video which tells of the story of the discovery "made by curator when 12th-century German portable altar was opened for the first time"

The Importance of Attending the Upcoming Dominican Rite Conference

Fr. Augustine recently spoke of the opportunity for non-Dominicans to sign up and attend the upcoming Dominican Rite Conference this coming August 5-9th in Oakland, CA., the diocese to which Bishop Salvatore Cordileone was recently appointed as bishop.

Not only is this an opportunity for readers to meet Fr. Augustine, as well as the renowned speaker and writer, Fr. Aidan Nichols, it is also both a rare opportunity and an important witness.

How so you might ask?

It is a rare opportunity to both take part in, study and explore one of the great ritual and liturgical traditions of the Western Church, the Dominican rite, and all within the proper Dominican context.

Beyond that however, it is also an important witness. This point cannot be stressed enough. As we have entered the post-Summorum Pontificum era, one of the significant matters of the day is how this re-approach to the more ancient Roman rite might also apply in spirit to and impact upon the other venerable Western liturgical books of our tradition. Traditions such as the ancient Ambrosian rite, the Carmelite and Cistercian usages, the Carthusian and Premonstratensian, the Bragan, the Lyonese and the Mozarabic, and yes, most certainly too the venerable Dominican liturgical books.

This conference then is an opportunity for you not only to experience and learn about the Dominican rite, it is also an important witness whereby you can directly give witness and testimony to your support and interest in the revived use of the Dominican rite specifically and these Western liturgical traditions generally.

The impact of a full house and great interest cannot be underestimated and will almost certainly not go without notice. (All the more so if you are a young man or woman who is considering a vocation within the Dominican order.)

Accordingly, I would encourage people to take advantage of this rare opportunity to attend this event and show your interest in and support for the Dominican rite and all of our Western liturgical traditions, while also receiving the benefit of the edification provided by noble company, intellectual pursuits and solemn worship.

Please, register and make your plans to attend starting today. If you start planning and coordinating now, then it won't sneak up upon you. It is very important that we support these events and make them successes.

To whet your appetite, a few historical images of the Solemn Dominican rite liturgy:

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