Friday, April 30, 2010

Ancient Ambrosian Rite at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome

This weekend in Rome there are some events going on attached to the usus antiquior Ambrosianus, or ancient Ambrosian liturgy -- a liturgical tradition which I have a particular interest in and fondness for, and which I have had the privilege to witness and participate in personally.

As is so often the case, Msgr. Angelo Amodeo, whom one might, without exaggeration, call a sort of apostle for the ancient Ambrosian rite, and also a Canon of the Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral of Milan, was involved. A few of our very own NLM writers were also involved.

These events began this afternoon at 4:00pm Rome time with a Sung Mass in Ambrosian Rite at Roman Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. (The photos are courtesy of John Sonnen.)

You will note here the unique way the chasuble is held for the incensation in the Ambrosian rite. Note as well the uncapped, or uncovered, thurible.

Other Ambrosian events this weekend will include Solemn Vespers and Compline at Sant'Andrea del Quirinale on Saturday, and on Sunday at Noon, Solemn Mass in the Ambrosian rite at the Pantheon.

Press Release from Bishops of ICEL on the Recognitio

30 April 2010

The Bishops of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy [ICEL] join me in welcoming the announcement of the approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the definitive English text of the Third Edition of The Roman Missal. This news ushers in the final phase of preparation for the publication and implementation of the Missal in our eleven member Bishops’ Conferences and the many other territories where the sacred liturgy is habitually celebrated in English.

It also brings to a conclusion the long and complex process by which the translation has been prepared, a process in which the Bishops of the Commission and the Bishops of the English-speaking world, together with the members of the Roman Missal Editorial Committee, the ICEL Secretariat and the translators and consultants who are our closest collaborators have worked together with national conferences and the various organs of the Holy See to ensure that we have a text of the highest quality that can truly be called a work of the Church.

Upon receipt of the definitive text and in accordance with established procedures, the ICEL Secretariat will prepare the electronic files of the Missal, which will assist Conferences in the task of communicating the text to their publishers. ICEL has also produced an interactive DVD 'Become One Body, One Spirit, in Christ' [], which will be of great assistance in the catechetical process that will accompany the reception of the new text. The date for the publication of The Roman Missal and its implementation in our territories is a matter to be determined by Bishops’ Conferences in conjunction with the Holy See.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have put their gifts at the service of the Church in the great endeavour of producing the new translation, men and women whose faith is matched by the refinement of their scholarship.

+Arthur Roche
Bishop of Leeds

Card. Paul Augustin Mayer R.I.P.

Paul Augustin Card. Mayer OSB, former Abbot of Metten, Germany, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and first President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei died today at Rome. The oldest living cardinal, he would have turned 99 next 23 May. He will be buried at Metten abbey, where he made his vows in 1931. May the Lord grant him eternal rest.

Geometric Patterned Art at the Cappella Palatina in Sicily

Some readers will already be aware of the Christian tradition of geometric and patterned art. This was an adaptation of the patterned geometric art that we see in the pre-Christian classical period.

The study of the quadrivium four of the seven liberal arts (geometry, music, number and cosmology) is concerned with the study of cosmic order as a principle of beauty, and which is expressed mathematically. The patterns and rhythms of the liturgy of the Church reflect this order too. Christian geometric art is an abstract (in the sense of non-figurative) visual representation of number, consistent with Christian number symbolism. In a recent address, Pope Benedict XVI described how St Boethius worked to bring this aspect of Greco-Roman culture into a Christian form of education, by writing manuals on each of these disciplines.

This is not, to my knowledge a living tradition as a Christian art form. By the time of the Enlightenment it had died out (with a limited revival in Victorian neo-gothic architecture).

I recently taught a class about geometric patterned art at Thomas More College. in order to look at a living tradition we considered Islamic art. This art form was derived from the Byzantine patterned art of the lands they conquered (and of course the classical mosaics and other patterned art that preceded them). Because Islam was forbidden completely, in its strictest interpretation, from any figurative art, their focus on abstract art forms was intensified. Islamic craftsmen took what they had taken from the Byzantine craftsmen and developed it into something more complex than had previously existed.

The question the class was considering was: can we safely take it back? That is, in order to reestablish this as a Christian form, can we look to the Islamic art form, which is a living tradition, and create a Christian tradition out of it? It would make it easier if we could: there are schools that teach it in its Islamic form, for example, the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London. And I have been able to get hold of textbooks that explain how to draw the tiled patterns of the great mosques of the world but no equivalent for patterned Romanesque art.

I was pleased that in response my class said, yes. (Teachers are always pleased when their class gives the right answer!) They understood further that while we can adopt some of the forms, we don’t have to adopt the Islamic numerical symbolism as well. Islamic number symbolism is similar, but crucially different from the Christian symbolism. (The number three and the Trinity come to mind immediately.) That is, it is always important to make sure that due proportion is used – that the number symbolism contained within the symmetry of the pattern is appropriate to the place where it was used, when understood in Christian terms.

We are learning to draw some Islamic patterns at the moment, so I suggested to them that they consider how to incorporate them into a pattern, or combinations, that could be used in the floor of the sanctuary of a church. We’ll see what they come up with!

Perhaps the next day I stumbled across this website, which is a great resource of images of mosaics and opus sectile work. Its gallery ranges from the floors in the offices of a Victorian architect in Norwich to Roman villas and the great churches of the world. The section on Sicilian mosaics has 80 photographs of the Palatine Chapel in Palermo. This revealed that precisely what my class was proposing had been done by the Norman king, Roger II of Sicily when he built his private chapel in the 12th century. He employed not only Christian mosaicists and Cosmati pavement specialists who produced geometric art in the Christian tradition, but also Islamic craftsmen. The ceiling is the pattern that is most obviously, to me at any rate, taken from a pattern also seen in mosques. for the most part, however, there is such harmony between the presentation Romanesque, Byzantine and Islamic influences they all seem consistent with a single expression.

This, in my opinion, is an incorporation of Islamic form which has been carried out with the appropriate level of discernment. It is a model, I suggest, along with a number of other churches built around that time in Sicily, such as the cathedral a Monreale near Palermo, that would be well worth further study. I hope any architects reading this might consider commissioning something like this in any churches they are designing. I have included some photographs below of patterns from the chapel and from the cathedral at Monreale.

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Islamic from the Alhambra, Granada


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The floor at the Capella:

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The floor pattern at Monreale

April 2010 Adoremus Bulletin

The April edition of the Adoremus Bulletin has now come out online and includes some interesting articles.

First, I cannot fail to mention an article which first appeared here, Gregor Kollmorgen's translation of Bishop Marc Aillet's address, The Wounded Liturgy.

Dr. Denis McNamara also has an article in this edition, Bearers of the Heavenly Jerusalem: Vatican II & Development in Church Architecture. In this piece, Dr. McNamara answers questions often asked "by students, building committee members, architects, pastors, and parishioners" about sacred architecture. Some of the questions include:

"Didn’t the Second Vatican Council do away with traditional, beautiful churches? What about 'noble simplicity'?"

"Isn’t using traditional styles for architecture just copying the past? Isn’t there room for new development in church architecture?"

"The upper room of the Last Supper was a simple place for the Passover meal. Jesus never wore fancy vestments or drank from gold cups. Why should we do this in the liturgy? Shouldn’t we give money to the poor instead?"

These will give you a sense of the questions.

Fr. Samuel Weber also has a piece in this edition, Taking up the Psalter wherein he discusses the place the psalter can have within our spiritual life.

Finally, a reprint of an article by Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Welcoming the Roman Missal wherein he "presents a basic catechesis on the new translation of the Roman Missal" and "addresses frequent questions about the translation, and responds, though indirectly, to efforts to delay or resist the texts."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fundraising Sale: High Quality, Brand New Catholica

Recently, I came into some extra copies of some high quality Catholic books, which I am offering here today as a fundraising drive.

The intent is to raise funds for some liturgical reference material I would like to acquire for NLM purposes. (Made a bit pricier than usual for reason that these few titles are all, by odd coincidence, being sold from Britain and accordingly in British Pounds.)

The books I am offering today are all brand new, coming from Baronius Press and one from Preserving Christian Publications.

This is an opportunity to make a donation toward such a purpose, while also receiving some high quality Catholic books for yourself. (Please recall that shipping costs are not included and will need to be added.) Paypal is preferred.

Latin-English Bible (read about it here)
This is a beautifully done parallel Latin-English Catholic Bible, which is produced in a family size edition. Make a Donation Offer

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Catena Aurea (read more about it here) of St. Thomas Aquinas. Patristic commentaries on the Four Gospels compiled by St. Thomas. Translated by Cardinal Newman. Make a Donation Offer

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A slightly larger edition of the famed Baronius Missal with a protective slipcase (read more about it here). A parallel Latin-English daily missal for the usus antiquior. Make a Donation Offer

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Another edition of the Catena Aurea, also translated by Cardinal Newman, this one put out by Preserving Christian Publications. (read more about it here). Make a Donation Offer

Newman Revised

From today's online edition of The Catholic Herald:

"It’s wrong to use Newman to attack Pope Benedict: Efforts to present Cardinal Newman as a 'spirit of Vatican II' Catholic are laughable, says Ian Ker."

An excerpt from the article:

In the Easter issue of the New Statesman, John Cornwell celebrates the feast by invoking Newman's name in a particularly vicious and virulent attack on the Pope. He ends his article by saying that as the date of the beatification approaches: "We may expect... to hear tidied-up versions of Newman's critical and liberalising views of the Catholic Church, but unlike those dissident theologians who have been suppressed down the years, his unexpurgated works ... remain in print." Yes, indeed, and so do over 30 volumes of letters, as well as other volumes of writings that were never published in Newman's lifetime. As the biographer of Newman and the author and editor of more than 20 books on Newman, I can claim to have consulted these "unexpurgated works" to which Cornwell (who is no Newman scholar) appeals in his attempt to present Newman as a dissident theologian of the "spirit of Vatican II" school.

It is, of course, perfectly true that in the Church in which Newman lived he was seen by the Ultramontanes as a dangerous liberal. But these Ultramontanes were extreme papalists, who were disappointed by the very moderate and circumscribed definition of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council; their counterpart to "the spirit of Vatican II" of contemporary liberal Catholics, who similarly wish that Vatican II had gone much further in its teachings...

Cornwell appropriately cites Newman's famous words: "Here below to live is to change", as "an ideal mission statement for the 1960s". Indeed, they would be very apt words for that rebellious decade had the previous sentence also been quoted - namely, that Christianity has to change "in order to remain the same". Having invoked Newman's concept of development as essential if the Church is to remain the same, Cornwell then laughably accuses the reforming Ratzinger (who allegedly degenerated into the reactionary Ratzinger) of opposing development because he came to believe that the Church "must remain ... ever the same"!

Read the entire article: It's wrong to use Newman to attack Pope Benedict – Catholic Herald Online

Eamon Duffy at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Conference, Pusey House, Oxford

While I have as yet not had a chance to listen to it in its entirety, I noted an interesting conference over on The Anglo-Catholic, the Anglicanorum Coetibus Conference, which was recently held at Pusey House in Oxford.

In particular I was interested to see that Eamon Duffy (above right) -- author of The Stripping of the Altars and professor at Cambridge University -- gave a paper, Anglican Patrimony: A Catholic Historian’s Perspective (which can be listened to by clicking on this link).

Missa Anglicae Vetus

Several fantastic practice videos of Richard Rice's Missa Anglicae Vetus - using current texts. Now, as you listen, imagine how such a setting would improve your parish Mass. And consider: no accompaniment and the music is free. There is no excuse remaining.

As an aside, this setting was requested by the CMAA for this year's colloquium English Mass. One is tempted to remark: after 40 years, we finally have a worthy and solemn English Mass setting.

English Mass (Kyrie) by Richard Rice from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

English Mass (Sanctus) by Richard Rice from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

English Mass (Agnus Dei) by Richard Rice from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

See them all here.

CIEL-UK Announces Annual High Mass and One Day Conference

The Annual Pontifical High Mass and One-day Conference takes place this year on Saturday, 29 May. As last year, the venue for our Mass is at the London Oratory, 232 Brompton Road, Kensington, London, SW7 2RP. We are most grateful to Fr. Ignatius, the Oratory Provost, in allowing use of the superb Oratory Church again this year.

The Mass will be a Pontifical High Mass starting at 11 am. Of course, the rite will be the “Old Mass”, according to the Missale Romanum of 1962. But in a departure from previous Annual Masses (which it is hoped will prove to be popular) Mass will be sung in plainchant, facilitating the participation of the congregation in song. It is also hoped to include a motet composed by James MacMillan.

Once again the choir will be directed by Patrick Russill, Director of Music at the London Oratory. Patrick will be known to many Friends, but those who do not know about him will be interested to learn more.

We are most fortunate that the Head of Choral Conducting, Royal Academy of Music and Chief Examiner, Royal College of Organists, who was invited in 1987 by the Royal Academy of Music to found Britain’s first conservatoire church music department supports our Annual Mass. The conservatoire was further developed in 1997 to provide the first UK specialist postgraduate choral direction course in the United Kingdom. This course now attracts students from around the world. Patrick is in demand as a visiting teacher at major European conservatoires and has been Visiting Professor of Choral Direction at the Leipzig Hochschule für Musik und Theater since 2000. He made his Royal Festival Hall organ recital debut in 1986 and has since played in Europe, Asia and throughout the UK.

His scholarly writing includes important articles on early Tudor liturgical organ music, Howells’s Latin church music and Dupré’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin of 1920. He was Musical Editor of the acclaimed Catholic Hymn Book (1998) and contributed the chapter on Catholic Germany to The Cambridge Companion to the Organ (1999).

In 1993 Patrick Russill was made an Honorary Patron of the Herbert Howells Society in recognition of his research and rediscovery of the early Latin music of Herbert Howells written for Westminster Cathedral. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music and an Honorary Fellow of both the Guild of Church Musicians and the Royal College of Organists – the highest accolade of each institution.

Patrick is of the opinion that this Mass will be an exceptional musical and liturgical event.

The Conference will take place in the afternoon in St Wilfrid's Hall at the Oratory at 2.30 pm and the proceedings will be chaired by Lord Gill. Entry will be £5.

Our principal speaker is Dr James MacMillan CBE. Dr MacMillan will present a lecture on Liturgical Music pre- and post-Vatican II.

Our second speaker is Very Rev. Richard Duffield, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory.

Father Duffield is now Actor (postulator) of the Cause of John Henry Cardinal Newman. Most will know the beatification of Cardinal Newman is expected during the Holy Father’s visit to the UK next September. Fr Duffield will make a short address on the status of Cardinal Newman’s cause. Fr Duffield took up his new post as Provost of the Birmingham Oratory in early February.

The afternoon will conclude with Solemn Benediction in the Little Oratory, followed by a reception in the Little Oratory.

Nicole Hall’s “Granny” books will be offered for sale by Peter Hall at this time.

Ex Libris Theologicis: Liturgical Arts Quarterly

From the blog of Loome's Theological Booksellers, Ex Libris Theologicis, they detail their recent discovery of a number of sets and volumes of Liturgical Arts Quarterly.

It was from Loome's -- at least one of whom is an NLM reader -- from whence my own recently acquired set of LAQ came. I am very pleased.

This would be a great purchase in particular for newer libraries, religious houses, or Catholic colleges.

My advice: pick them up while they are available.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Liturgical Events in Rome and at a University

We have had a few requests for event announcements of recent, and while we cannot post all of these, I thought I would share a couple of them with you for reason of the particular context in which these particular events are occurring; in the first instance, Rome, and in the second, associated with a university campus and recent university lecture.

The first is that Giovani e Tradizione has announced that on the Feast of St. Pius V, May 5th in the calendar of the usus antiquior, Fr. Vincenzo P. Nuara will celebrate a Mass in the usus antiquior in the chapel of S. Madre di Dio "Salus Populi Romani" in the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, offered for the Holy Father.

Second, another Dominican, Fr. Dominic Holtz, O.P., of the Aquinas Institute of Theology at St. Louis University, will be celebrating a Mass in the usus antiquior at St. Paul's Catholic Center in Bloomington, Indiana tomorrow evening, April 29th, at 8pm. This is being done in conjunction with the IU Jacobs School of Music.

Just today, Fr. Holtz also delivered a lecture on campus titled, "Liturgical History and Musical Performance Practice: Issues to consider for a performance of a Missa Tridentina". More information may be found here:

Rice English Mass

With the new texts coming out, the Sanctus and Angus of the setting below, by the legendary Richard Rice, won't be in use after a few years. But they are outstanding settings (perhaps Jeffrey Ostrowki can produce them on youtube). They were written for this year's Sacred Music Colloquium. Here is the edition in PDF.

The Shrine Mass: A Turning Point

The reality of what happened at the National Shrine last Saturday is dawning on ever more people. Many in attendance, and many who watched on television, have described it as a life-changing experience - the Roman Rite in all its glory. Many have also pointed out what a dramatic change has taken place in our times that this Mass could happen at all, and thanks be to God for that.

Here are some fascinating reports at Fr. Z's blog.

Because the names of the schola directed by Richard Rice did not appear in the program, here they are:

David Sullivan
Paul Connors
John O'Connell
Jacob Wood
Brian Kiernan
Steve Karsteter
Ken Wolfe
Greg Bennett
Dave Amann
Ed Myers
Michael Collins
Brad Cypher
Kurt Poterack
Michael Lawrence
and David Lang

New Mass Translation Given Rome's Approval

New Mass Translation Given Rome's Approval

by Edward Pentin Wednesday, April 28, 2010 3:09 AM

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is to issue its formal approval of the new English translation of the complete Roman Missal later today.

The recognitio comes after nearly ten years of study and sometimes difficult consultation over the new translation of prayers for the Mass.

Today’s development will therefore mark a key step, although when the new Missal will be made available in parishes remains unclear.

Cardinal George Pell, chairman of the Vox Clara Committee, the international group of bishops advising the Vatican about the translation, told the Register yesterday that although formal approval will be given today, the new Missal certainly won’t be available before 2011.

Advent next year is considered to be the most likely time, once various technical adjustments and printing are completed.

The International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has been working in consultation with English-speaking episcopates worldwide to formulate a new translation in line with the 2001 Vatican document Liturgiam Authenticam, making the texts adhere more closely to their Latin original.

Source: National Catholic Register

Holy Father Addresses Vox Clara Committee

By way of Fr. Tim Finigan at the Hermeneutic of Continuity our attention is drawn to an address delivered today by the Holy Father to the members of the Vox Clara committee.

Dear Cardinals,

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

Members and Consultors of the Vox Clara Committee,

I thank you for the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world. I thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

Saint Augustine spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the speaker’s heart. Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf. Sermon 293). I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people. The voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.

A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.

Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great collaborative endeavour to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere. As the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm 140:2), may the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s people.


The Baldwyn Chasuble

Awhile back, a note was sent to the NLM about an historic chasuble kept at Salisbury Cathedral. It is apparently thought to be an Italian chasuble from ca. 1500 with alterations later made to it. The chasuble is known as the "Baldwyn Chasuble" due to an inscription found on it.

Images: James Bradley

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gregorian Chant Network, Report from 2009

In preparation for the 2010 meeting, the Gregorian Chant Network of the UK posts a fascinating report from last year's invitation-only meeting:

The main speaker at this session was Père Xavier Perrin, Choir Master, Novice Master and Prior of Kergonan Abbey of the Solesmes Congregation in Brittany. We were very fortunate indeed to have him. He has a deep knowledge and love of the Chant, and very considerable musical ability. His English is more or less fluent: well able to express his teaching points on music, liturgy and prayer, and also his rather dry humour, seldom far from the surface.

Appropriately for the Year of St. Paul, the theme Dom Xavier chose was St. Paul in Gregorian Chant. First of all, he presented Paul’s doctrine of how to pray as a key to understanding the Chant. “I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind as well” he says in 1 Corinthians 14:15. Accordingly the Chant is rooted in the word, the text, which is always primary: it is not mere sound, but always conveys clear meaning. Yet this word, this text is expressed with free musical movement. We can think of this as representing the spirit, whose depths reach far beyond earth-bound human comprehension. Dom Xavier continually returned to this idea: that in Gregorian Chant we have a perfect union of word and spirit, and this above all is why this music is so much honoured in the Church, and still so valuable for us today.

There are relatively few Pauline texts in the Gregorian corpus. In the current Graduale Romanum indeed, only 17, of which one is a 19th century “neo-Gregorian” composition, and another a mediaeval adaptation, setting Pauline words to a pre-existing melody. We were therefore able to look during these days at a good portion of the available repertoire in some detail.

Read the whole thing

Dominican Antiphonal for Liturgia Horarum Updated

Thanks to the Dominican Nuns of Marbury AL the Advent-Christmas and Lent files of the Antiphonarium according to the Dominican Use for the Liturgia Horarum that can be downloaded on the sidebar at Dominican Liturgy have now been purged of most typos and errors.

Those who use these files should download the new versions. As some errors were in the commons and in the psalter, these problems have also been corrected in the Easter and Ordinary time volumes as well. But those files still need more extensive correction -- thus I have left them marked as "beta" versions.

I am currently completing the music for Midday Prayer (Terce, Sext, None) for this project and, as the volumes get corrected, I will post new versions that include this new music.

Again, my thanks to the sisters at Marbury: who are preparing for a "Come and See" Vocations Weekend in June. Read about it here.

What's So Great About a Procession?

One of the difficulties Catholic musicians face today is transitioning from hymns for the processional to real proper texts and music for the processional. People are asked to sing the hymns (whether people do sing them is another matter) and that means staring at a book (or a screen). Propers sung by the schola permit people to watch the procession. The question comes up: what is so great about a procession that should cause people to want to watch it? William Mahrt answers as follows:

I am thinking of the procession at a solemn Mass, in which there are cross-bearer, thurifer, acolytes, lectors, (sub-deacon in EF), deacon, master of ceremonies, assistant priest, celebrant, and if he is bishop, extra deacons, masters of ceremonies, mitre bearers, etc., each vested in garments which are beautiful in themselves, but also which represent the hierarchical nature of the liturgy to be celebrated, and thus the church which celebrates it.

But what is moving about a procession is its motion—ideally it moves from the sacristy down the side-aisle and then up the center aisle, symbolically moving through the congregation, as if coming from it, and moving to the focal point of the Mass which is the altar, marking the altar as a holy place by incensing it, going to the chair for the completion of the entrance rite by singing in dialogue with the congregation the penitential rite, and together with the congregation, the Kyrie and the Gloria, and concluding the entrance rite with a collect. I think that it is the purposeful order in motion which is moving about such a procession.

I came to this conclusion, not in the church where my choir sings, where I have to direct the introit and mainly never see the procession, but when visiting England and attending solemn liturgies there (especially in Church of England cathedrals, where the ceremonies are done beautifully). The congregation is asked to sing a hymn, sometimes even a text from one hymnal sung to the tune from another hymnal. I would dutifully get out both hymnals, keeping the program of the liturgy up to be sure to get the page right, balancing all of this together, and looking back and forth between hymnals to match the text to the tune, confidently singing the hymn, only to realize that I had completely missed seeing the procession. Next time, I left the hymnal in the rack and watched the procession, which was much better. I concede that many of the congregation knew the hymns well enough that they were not as distracted as I (in fact, the reason fro singing from two different hymnals is sometimes that they use the same tune for several different texts, and that tune becomes quite familiar).

I do not I propose that it is an issue of any great urgency. Rather, it is a matter of a proper balance in the liturgy—Mass propers generally accompany another action; the congregation's proper participation is either to move in a procession or to witness others doing the same. It need not be their function to provide the music which accompanies the liturgical action. Shouldn't they see and appreciate the sacredness of the altar which is enacted by the incensation, rather than singing the music for it? The congregation's proper role in singing comes when the singing is the liturgical action itself, such as at the Kyrie and Gloria, as well as the penitential rite. This balance between choir and congregation, proper and ordinary in a Mass sung in Gregorian chant suggests that more effort should be placed in the cultivation of the congregation's singing of the ordinary as their best function.

This is not to say that hymns should not ever be used; a parish with several Masses in a day will certainly need to use hymns at some of the Mass. But I think that at the highest form of the Mass, the proper chants (which the hymns so often replace) should take a priority.

Architect Dino Marcantonio Considers the Altar

The New York City based architect, and lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture, Dino Marcantonio, has been gradually pursuing a series of considerations of the parts of the church building using St. Germanus of Constantinople's treatise, Ecclesiastical History and Mystical Contemplation, as a guide.

Quite recently he pursued a consideration of the altar. Here is an excerpt:

The altar is the central focus of the Christian religion. So, naturally, it is the central focus of every church building. St. Germanus is marvelously succinct about it:

"The holy table corresponds to the spot in the tomb where Christ was placed. On it lies the true and heavenly bread, the mystical and unbloody sacrifice. Christ sacrifices his flesh and offers it to the faithful as food for eternal life.

"The holy table is also the throne of God, on which, borne by the Cherubim, He rested in the body. At that table, at His mystical supper, Christ sat among His disciples and, taking bread and wine, said to His Apostles and disciples: "Take, eat, and drink of it: this is my body and my blood" (cf Mt 26:26-28). This table was prefigured by the table of the Old Law upon which the manna, which was Christ, descended from heaven."

Of all the parts of the church building, the altar is the most ancient in provenance with roots stretching deep into the book of Genesis.


The earliest reference to an altar in Sacred Scripture is Genesis 8:20 when Noah offered sacrifice after the flood. Its form was simple: a collection of rough stones set upright to support a sacrifice over a fire. Other such Altars of Holocaust (from holos and cauma, meaning a thing wholly burnt) followed Noah's, those of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There was no church to surround these altars. They were built out in the open, usually in a high place.

After the Hebrews were liberated from bondage in Egypt, when they roamed the desert, God revealed to Moses a precise form for the Altar of Holocaust. It was essentially a portable framework to contain a fire and support a grille. In addition, Moses was commanded to build the much smaller and more precious Altar of Incense. Built of an extremely durable wood called setim-wood and covered in gold, no victims were burnt on it. Finally, for our purposes here, Moses was commanded to build the Ark of the Covenant, a chest of setim-wood and gold which contained the Tables of the Law, the Rod of Aaron, and a golden urn containing a bit of the miraculous manna which fed the Jews for forty years. On top of the chest were the images of two Cherubims whose wings sheltered the chest.

Continue reading the rest of the article over at his site: Parts of the Church Building: The Altar

Cantores in Ecclesia in Rome

It's true that this post is twelve years late, and I'm personally embarrassed that I had this CD for some years and never really focused on its astonishing magnificence and singular beauty. The CD is Cantores in Ecclesia in Rome, issued by North Pacific Music and available in limited supply at Amazon.

Dean Applegate (bless him, this unsung hero of sacred music!) is the director here. The selections are perfect. We begin with the Kyrie and Gloria from Palestrina's Missa Aeterna Christi munera. Sicut cervus is next. The ever-haunting Super flumina Babylonis is next line.

I love all of this material - every bit by the great Palestrina, who has been a victim of both obscurity in modern times, on the one hand, and overbooking within a small sector an its attendant and inevitable debunking among a sub-sub-sector of micro-experts. So let's let the music speak for itself. We discover from these recordings that Palestrina was an amazing genius. Nothing on this earth is comparable if you are seeking vast vistas of sound like replicate what we imagine eternity with God sounds like.

Moving onward, we have two selections from Byrd's Masses for 4 and 5 voices, plus the nearly impossible motet Vigilate. Brave is the choir that takes on this piece. I considered it for our own schola until taking a closer look and realizing that it would be a year in preparation. Cantores takes on this mighty masterpiece and makes it sound easy.

Then comes the really breathtaking moment of this CD: Os Justi by Bruckner. I've heard this rendering now a dozen times, and every time it causes my jaw to drop. The sheer expansiveness and power of the sustained passage elicit a kind of awe. And then, if possible, the repertoire intensifies with Rachmaninoff's Ave Maria from the Vespers. Now, I don't know if you have ever heard a choir that sounds as big and undulating as the ocean, but that is what we get here. I really don't know how it is possible for any conductor to achieve this sound - this perfection in dynamics over long passages. It sounds angelic, immortal - and so intimidating for this polyphony director that it makes me never to give a downbeat again. This is how a choir should sound. This CD truly settles it in my mind.

Applegate was trained in the English choral tradition with its tenderness, balance, and relaxed tempos, but he adds his own spin to this, encouraging the singers to really sing - don't affect a sound but instead really sing. Many of the singers on this CD were in his children's choirs growing up, and, as a result, are all carefully trained in the Gregorian tradition. Applegate recently retired, but just consider his seen and unseen legacy. This and many other CDs are part of his seen legacy. The unseen are the multitudes of singers in this county who have come up through the ranks in his programs. He has done this for many decades, ignoring the passing trends in Catholic music to stick to what is beautiful and true. It has been a great life of passion, stamina, hard work, and victory for him. I'm grateful that this CD is there as a tribute to all that he has accomplished.

Once you have heard all these stunning elaborations, listen to how they handle this simple Gloria in a live performance at Mass. Here we have the foundational song, the basis of polyphonic greatness. There is a long stretch between this and Vigilate but, in the end, it is made of the same material: piety, discipline, and love.

Dietrich von Hildebrand on the Spirit of Continuity in the Liturgy

Browsing through the February 1943 edition of Liturgical Arts Quarterly, I came across an article written by Dietrich von Hildebrand, the title of which will no doubt have something of a contemporary ring to it from our own perspective: "The Spirit of Continuity in the Liturgy"

The article is too lengthy to quote in its entirety, but I thought it might be of interest as a supplement to our own particular considerations of continuity today.

One of the deepest, and essential, marks of man as a spiritual person is his continuity. This means not only the faculty of remembering the past, of looking back on what we have formerly known and experienced, but also the fact of knowing oneself to be one through the stream of time and moments filled with the most varied contents. It means that man possesses not only one stratum of experience, the actual "here and now," which embraces only a limited content, but that he can retain on a deeper, super-actual stratum the knowledge of facts, values and the response to them. Continuity is a presupposition for being a full person, for the development and abundance of the person, as well as for all responsibility. If a man lived only in separate moments, without any link between them, if he did not know himself as the same being in the past and present, if all that he experienced and accomplished and all that was revealed to him sank back into nothingness before the actual contact with the new "now," he would be only a bundle of disconnected experiences. He would be deprived of the dimension of depth...

There are unconscious men, always completely absorbed in the present moment. What has happened to them in the past, what moved and filled them, fades away as soon as a new, strong impression takes possession of them. They are capable of feeling these strong impressions, but these are not rooted in them, they do not become their unalterable possession and a background against which new impressions are juxtaposed without order and selection. The present always dominates the past, even when the content of the present is far more insignificant and mediocre. These people glide through life without developing from their contact with values and their experience of joys and sorrows. When their attention is drawn to their defects, they admit them for the moment, but in the next moment everything is engulfed again. Such men naturally are not really awake, in spite of the force and vivacity of their impressions... These men are dominated mostly by "fashion"; what is "in the air" at the present moment in their narrower and larger surroundings conquers them easily.

Beside this type of extreme discontinuity we find another type of man who is accessible to deep experiences, whom the truths and values already acquired have become a durable possession, but who does not resist the onrush of intense new impressions; the inner content accumulated in the past does serve as a measure for these new impressions. These are the people who do not let what they possess in the depth of their souls become the principle of formation for the present situation... The power of the present and the freshness and power of new, unusual experiences exercise too great an influence upon them... The man with a spirit of continuity, on the contrary, maintains super-actually all truths and values. He observes fully the response-to-value attitude; he possesses a complete understanding of the realm of values and their demands; he fully penetrates them. Thus the values he has grasped and maintained become the natural background against which all new impressions stand out; not only do they arise against the background, but also their compatibility with it must be proved. The enchantment and glamor of novelty has as little hold on the man with a sense of continuity as has routine. The familiar and customary cease to influence him as soon as they are discovered to be valueless. The new, the freshly experienced, will not exercise attraction for him whenever it is acknowledged to be without value...


The organic development of divine life within us, in which we are allowed to participate through baptism, and which attains its full personal reality in sanctification, necessarily presupposes continuity. If Christ must become the "form" of our souls, even as the soul is the "form" of our body, our eyes must be super-actually fixed on God. In every moment of our lives, Christ must be the cornerstone against which all that is contrary to God is to be shattered. He must be the light in which everything is seen and known, the measure which determines whether or not a thing should have a place in our life. Without continuity there is no organic ripening of the person, no up-building, ascension; life remains a perpetual issuing forth, a constant beginning...

More than anything else the spirit of continuity penetrates the Liturgy and dispenses its spirit to those who live in it. The daily repetition of the holy sacrifice of the Mass and the Hours is a specific expression of continuity, of the sense of necessity for always sacrificing to God, Who contains all values, so as to praise and thank Him. The frequent repetitions in the liturgy, which certain people consider unnecessary and wearisome, testify precisely to this continuity. The Gloria Patri must accompany each psalm because our prayer must again and again turn expressly to the mystery of mysteries, the Trinity... How often is the Deus in adjutorium meum intende repeated? What a spirit of continuity in the eternal actuality of this supplication! How often does the Confiteor return! The continually renewed actualization of revelation educates us in continuity. How constantly is the Alleluia repeated, and the Hodie of Christmas. In the Liturgy we are immersed in the realm of eternity, where there is no room for the habitual or the sensational novelty. The invariable resplendence of the God of eternal beauty and holiness, the eternally new suavitas of the God-Man is always equally actual, always equally thematic.

What another expression of continuity in the recurrent rhythm of the liturgical year! Every year there is the same unfolding of longing in Advent, the same rejoicing and thanksgiving at Christmas, the same transfigured jubilation at Easter! What a spirit of continuity in the fact that a saint who lived two thousand years ago is venerated today as much as a recently canonized saint! ... In the liturgy there truly breathes the spirit of God "for a thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday..." What a continuity in the firmly patterned expression of all the prayers which we constantly repeat! It is not necessary for us to speak new words to God, but only to maintain the objectively adequate, "valid" word in the prayer of the Church and to participate in it always more deeply and originally.

Thus the liturgy itself is a great actualization of continuity, a participation in the adoring love of the Son for His heavenly Father, which always remains the same. The man who lives in the liturgy organically acquires the spirit of continuity; his relationships with all true values which speak to us of God's glory also are continuous; likewise his relationships with other men, the community, knowledge, the world of beauty, nature, and art.

Through continuity is achieved the true simplicity of the person which in spite of all differences manifests ultimate unity because it maintains the deepest and crowning response-to-value, the response to God, which molds all other responses-to-value. In spite of its richness and inexhaustible differentiation, the liturgy is filled with this simplicity. The man formed by the liturgy is simple because he lives from God and performs everything in God, because he performs everything through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ. For him the fascination of the present moment and novelty, or what happens for the first time, has lost its power of dispersion. Over his life is written Christus heri, hodie, et in saecula.

* * *

Related to Dietrich von Hildebrand, the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project has recently announced the following forthcoming conference which it has asked us to make mention of:

The Christian Personalism of Dietrich von Hildebrand:
Exploring His Philosophy of Love

Convened by the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project in collaboration with the the School of Philosophy of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

Rome, May 27-29, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Oxford Oratory Site Reveals Architectural Building Plans

The Oxford Oratory has up a reasonably new website/blog, Oxford Oratory: Reaffirmation and Renewal, which serves as a fundraising portal for some of their renewal and building projects, and also helps to bring forward some of their plans -- which plans include a new baptistery and chapel which will be dedicated to Blessed Cardinal Newman.

View inside a three dimensional model of part of the proposed structure

Model showing the altar of the new chapel

The site also details some of the general restoration work they have pursued so far -- work we have shown here in the past -- and includes other projects such as providing new rooms for the growing number of vocations the Oratory is receiving, and constructing a new library to hold the Oratory's ever growing collection.

Seminarians at Kenrick

From the MusicaSacra forums:

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, twelve seminarians at Kenrick were installed as acolytes by Most Reverend Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, KS. The ceremony was truly beautiful, and was enhanced by Gregorian chant performed under the direction of Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB. Fr. Weber is to be commended for the fine work he is doing in this area. A snippet of the ceremony can be seen here:

Chant Workshop, UK

You can join Nick Gale (Director of Music, Southwark Cathedral) on Saturday May, 1, 2010, for an Ascension Day Chant Workshop and rehearsal at St. Mildred’s Church, Church Lane, Canterbury, CT1 2PP. People will gather to prepare for the Thursday, May 13, 2010, Ascension Day Mass. More information and other events available at Nick Gale's site.

The Mozarabic Rite: The Offertory to the Post Sanctus

This article is a continuation of our series on the Mozarabic liturgy -- with a reminder, again, that while making some reference to the earlier liturgical books, we are primarily looking at the Mozarabic liturgy as it stood after the 16th century and the reforms of Cardinal Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros. I would make a further reminder that the intent here is not to cover all aspects or variances in a comprehensive manner, but instead guide one through the basic structure of the rite, while noting some points of interest along the way.

Previous installments in the series include:

The Mozarabic Rite: Introduction
The Mozarabic Rite: The Two Missals
The Mozarabic Rite: Introductory Rites and Lessons

* * *

Cardinal Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros

In our previous consideration of the Mozarabic Missal, we looked at the introductory rites and lessons and left off with the Lauda chant. We now turn our attention to the Mass of the Faithful where we are brought to what the Mozarabic Missal calls the Sacrificium; a prayer and chant which is variable, approximating itself to the Roman offertory chant. (Though at this point I would bring to your recollection again an interesting discrepancy within the Mozarabic missal. While the Omnium Offerentium places the Sacrificium before the offering of the host and the chalice with its associated prayers, the other, which is found within the context of the First Sunday of Advent, sees this order reversed. For our purposes here, I will simply follow the textual order found within the Omnium Offerentium.)

Archdale King notes "that it was here that the offering of bread and wine by the people in the old Mozarabic rite took place. The priest removed the pallium (covering), which until then had covered the altar, and spread the corporal. The officiant then received the gifts of the people, with the bread offered in a linen cloth, and the wine in a cruet or other receptacle. Deacons poured wine into a large 'ministerial' chalice. Such of the offerings as were needed for the Mass were placed on the altar and covered with a veil of silk, which was known as the coopertorium, pall or palla corporalis. There was a prayer ad extendendum corporalia, but the various offertory acts were not accompanied by prayers. At the conclusion of the oblation, the sacred ministers washed their hands, and a signal was given for the chant of the sacrificium to cease." (Ibid., p. 591)

As was already noted in an earlier installment however, the actual preparation of the chalice in the later incarnation of the Mozarabic missal seems to have been somewhat akin to its position in the Low Mass of the Dominican rite, happening near the beginning of the Mass before the readings.

At this time the host and the wine are offered with the accompanied prayers.

Following this, the Lavabo occurs and from there, an interesting rubric may be observed. The priest returns to the centre of the altar, and with three fingers over the oblation prays quietly:

"In the name of the Father +, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, reign Thou O God, forever and ever. I will approach Thee in the lowliness of my spirit; I will speak to Thee because Thou has given me much hope in strength. Do Thou, O Son of David, Who revealing Thy mystery, didst come to us in the flesh, do Thou open the secret places of my heart with the key of Thy cross, and send one of Thy Seraphim to cleanse my defiled lips (He signs his lips) with that burning coal which has been taken from Thy altar to enlighten my mind (He signs his forehead) and to furnish me with the matter for teaching (He signs himself from his forehead to his breast) so that my tongue which serves to the help of my neighbours by charity, may not resound with the misfortune of error, but ceaselessly re-echo the praise of truth."

At this point, we enter into the "seven prayers" spoken of by St. Isidore of Seville (A.D. 560–636) in De Ecclesiasticis Officiis (Book 1, ch. 15), beginning with what the Mozarabic missal calls the Missa -- which is variable to the liturgical day. These might be addressed to the faithful, to God the Father, or to Christ. An example of the prayer for the feast of St. James -- which is the Mass given within the Omnium Offerentium as noted previously -- is as follows:

"O Christ whose might and power shone forth so conspicuously in Thy apostle James, that he merited to command with power in Thy name the hordes of demons cast out by him; do Thou defend Thy Church from the attacks of her enemies; so that in the might of her Spirit conquering adversity, she may indeed be rendered perfect by his teaching, whose example of holy suffering she honours today."

After the conclusion of this prayer, it is at this point we see another quite interesting feature; we see the use of the Greek "Άγιος" (Agyos or Hagios): "Hagios, hagios, hagios, Domine Rex aeterne, tibi laudes et gratias" - Holy, holy, holy, O Lord God, Eternal King, to Thee be praise and thanks. (Lest one think this is in place of the "Sanctus" as we think of it in Roman terms, it is worth noting that the Sanctus is yet to come.)

After this one then proceeds into what Archdale King calls "a very compressed form of litany". The text is chanted.

"Let us bear in mind in our prayers the holy Catholic Church, that the Lord may mercifully deign to increase it in faith, hope and charity; let us bear in mind all the lapsed, the captives, the sick, and strangers, that the Lord may mercifully deign to look upon them, to ransom, to heal, and to strengthen them."

To which the choir responds: "Grant, O Eternal Almighty God."

Following this, a second proper prayer for the Mass of the day, the Alia oratio, is then prayed and from here we are led into the chanting of the Nomina or names:

"Through Thy mercy, O our God, in Whose sight the Names are recited of the holy apostles and martyrs, of the confessors and virgins. R. Amen.

"Offer they the oblation to the Lord God, our priests, the Roman Pontiff, and the rest, for themselves and for all the clergy, and for the peoples of the Church entrusted to them, likewise for the entire brotherhood. These also, all priests, deacons, clerics and people assisting, make the offering in honour of the saints, for themselves and for all theirs."

To which the choir responds: "They make the offering for themselves and for the entire brotherhood."

Continuing, the priest chants (and one will note here a close approximation to the Roman Communicantes):

"Making commemoration of the most blessed apostles and martyrs, of the glorious holy Virgin Mary, of Zacharias, John [the Baptist], the Infants [the Holy Innocents], Peter, Paul, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, Simon and Jude, Matthias, Mark and Luke."

(The choir responds:)

"And of all martyrs"

(The priest continues chanting:)

"Likewise for the souls of them that are at rest: Hilary, Athanasius, Martin, Ambrose, Augustine, Fulgentius, Leander, Isidore, David, Julian, also Julian of Peter, also Peter, John, Servideus, Visitanus, Vivens, Felix, Cyprian, Vincent, Gerontius, Zacharias, Coenapolus, Dominic, Justus, Saturninus, Salvatus, also Salvatus, Bernard, Raymond, John, Celebrunus, Gundisalvus, Martin, Roderic, John, Guterrius, Sanctius, also Sanctius, Dominic, Julian, also Julian, Philip, Stephen, John, also John, Felix."

(The choir responds:)

"And of all them that are at rest."

Archdale King comments that the Mozarabic "diptychs are divided into classes: (1) the saints of the Old and New Testaments; (2) the names of bishops of the Church, as well as priests and clerics; (3) the names of certain bishops of other Churches renowned for their holiness or doctrine; (4) the dead for whom the holy Sacrifice was being offered... The choir respond Et omnium pausantium at the conclusion of the diptychs, as we find in the Celtic missal of Stowe." (Liturgies of the Primatial Sees, p. 597)

After this comes the Post Nomina which is again a proper, and thus variable dependent upon the Mass of the day.

It is at this point that the Pax comes within the Mozarabic liturgy, rather than after the consecration and prior to the communion as we see in the Roman liturgy and some other liturgical uses. The prayer which introduces the pax is likewise a variable proper it should be noted.

The rite of peace concluded, we now turn toward the prayers which most immediately lead up to the consecration. The priest chants, "Introibo ad altare Dei mei" to which the choir responds, "Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum."

Placing his hands over the chalice he says, "Your ears to the Lord" and from here we enter into some texts which will be much more familiar to Roman ears, such as the "Sursum corda" -- though not necessarily in the same order and with some variation.

This then brings us to the Preface, or as it is termed in the Mozarabic books, the Inlatio or Illatio -- yet another prayer which is also variable. Of this King notes that "the Mozarabic books offer the richest and most varied collection of prefaces, hardly a Mass without its own proper inlatio..." (Ibid., p. 604)

Here for example, is an excerpt from the text of the Inlatio for the feast of St. James:
It is right and just that we always give thanks to Thee, Holy Lord, Eternal Father, Almighty God, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, in Whose name the chosen James, when he was being dragged to his passion, cured a paralytic who called out to him, and by this miracle so softened the heart of him who mocked him, as to cause him now imbued with the sacraments of faith to arrive at the glory of martyrdom. And so he himself having perished, by having his head struck off in the confession of Thy Son, attained in peace to Him for Whom he suffered this passion...

This brings us to the Sanctus which text is similar to that of Rome, but also shows forth some interesting variations:

Aside from the minor textual variation which includes "son of David", you will also note the inclusion, again, of the Greek: "Hagios, hagios, hagios, Kyrie O Theos."

This is then followed by the Post Sanctus, which, yet again, is a variable prayer.

In the next installment, we shall continue looking toward the consecration and what comes thereafter.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Full Text of Bishop Edward Slattery's Homily

I know there are many out there who have asked for this. Accordingly, by way of Diane at Te Deum Laudamus, the full text of Bishop Edward Slattery's homily at the National Shrine on April 24, 2010.

Abbaye Saint-Joseph de Clairval, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, France

France is justly known for its Benedictine Abbeys and other religious communities which have a close affinity to the usus antiquior, but as we have also shown most recently through the Communauté Saint-Martin, it also has its share of communities which are active within the reform of the reform context as well -- which is to say, working in relation to the modern form of the Roman liturgy and in a spirit of continuity with our liturgical tradition. Not, mind you, that these need be (or should be for that matter) mutually exclusive as a point of principle of course. More and more, particularly in the light of the liturgical reforms of Benedict XVI, there is a growing understanding of the important relationship which these movements and expressions have with and offer to one another, both in principle and in practice. Thus, as a matter of principle, we see some communities, even if they predominantly use one form, supporting and encouraging both initiatives; in still other instances, we see others taking up the practice of actively using both forms, either formally as a community, or at least informally insofar as they may have members who actively use both forms.

Today I wished to feature another community which we briefly showed some three years ago, and which I wished to draw your attention to yet again today. It is a community of Benedictine monks who are resident in the mediaeval town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, located in the French duchy of Burgundy. I am speaking of the Abbaye Saint-Joseph de Clairval.


For their solemn public liturgy, the Abbey uses the modern form of the Roman liturgy in a reform of the reform context; namely, celebrated in Latin (with vernacular readings), using Gregorian chant and celebrated ad orientem. In addition, many of the monks will additionally offer private Masses according to the more ancient form of the Roman liturgy. The Divine Office is likewise done in Latin and Gregorian chant, using the Breviarium Monasticum adapted to the modern Roman liturgical calendar.

As the website of the Abbey notes, Flavigny was the seat of a Benedictine abbey from the 7th century until the time of the French revolution. Of this original abbey little remains, but for the crypt.

The Carolingian era Crypt

What one sees at the abbey today are the 18th century buildings -- which are architecturally quite beautiful.

The Monastery

The Main Abbey Church

The choir and organ of the main church

The Oratory of St. Joseph

The monastery itself is of diocesan right since February 2, 1988, when it obtained canonical recognition from the Bishop of Dijon. In 1992 it was raised to the rank of an abbey at the request of the Holy See, and, similar to the recent proceedings we witnessed at Clear Creek Abbey, its founder, Dom Augustin Marie Joly (d. 2006), was then made the abbot of the community.

The current abbot is Dom Antoine Marie Beauchef and the community currently counts approximately fifty monks.

Some of the community with the Abbot

Lectio Divina

One of the noteworthy pursuits of the abbey is in the domain of the liturgical arts. Not only do they pursue iconography, they also have a noteworthy practice in relation to hand-crafted sculpture work. The abbey site comments:
For many centuries, monks have been in the service of the beauty which leads to God. Since the Lord is to be praised as much by the celebration of the Divine Office as by the work of the hands - a fortiori through religious art - Our Lady Help of Christians Workshop tries to raise hearts to God, by the realization of stone statues. Such work becomes prayer according to the word of the Psalmist: “Let the light of the Lord our God shine on us! Direct for our good the work of our hands” (PS 89, 17).

Virgin Maison-au-Donataire, realized in 2004 by the Abbey workshop. This is a copy of a 16th century statue.

The Work in Progress

Saint Egilius, realized in 2002 for the facade of the Abbey

Further examples of the work of the Abbey workshop are available here and this may be yet another good source to consider if your parish is looking to commission statuary work. Generally speaking the products of the Abbey are available for order online from the Abbey gift shop, Traditions Monastiques.

The Abbey also provides a monthly spiritual newsletter which is free of charge and which you can subscribe to here.

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