Thursday, September 30, 2010

Juventutem Conference, Douai Abbey

Young Catholic Adults in the United Kingdom is reporting on a Juventutem Conference recently held at Douai Abbey. Here are two photos from their Solemn Mass, celebrated by Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP.

Photos copyright David Aron

The Holy Father on Matilda of Hackeborn: "The liturgy is a great school of spirituality"

The following summary was published in VIS yesterday and I wished to draw your attention to it since it summarizes a catechesis given by the Holy Father where the liturgy once again enters into play.


VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2010 (VIS) - St. Matilda of Hackeborn (1241/1242 - 1298), one of the outstanding figures of the German convent of Helfta, was the subject of the Holy Father's catechesis during his general audience, which took place this morning in St. Peter's Square.

Matilda was daughter of the barons of Hackeborn. At an early age she entered the convent of Helfta where her sister, St. Gertrude, was abbess for forty years. Gertrude gave "a particular imprint to the spirituality of the convent, causing it to flourish as a centre of mysticism and culture, a place of scientific and theological education". The nuns of Helfta enjoyed "a high level of intellectual learning which enabled them to cultivate a spirituality founded on Sacred Scripture, the liturgy and patristic tradition, and on the Rule and spirituality of the Cistercians".

The main source for Matilda's life is a book written by her sister and entitled "The Book of Special Grace", in which she is described as possessing exalted natural and spiritual qualities such as "science, intelligence, knowledge of human literature, and a voice of great beauty".

While still very young Matilda became the head of the convent school of Helfta , and later director of the choir and mistress of novices. She also possessed "the divine gift of mystic contemplation" and was "a teacher of faithful doctrine and great humility, a counsellor, a consoler and a guide in discernment". For this reason "many people, within the convent but also from elsewhere, ... testified that this holy virgin had freed them from their sufferings and that they had never known such consolation as they had with her", said Benedict XVI.

"During her long life in the convent, Matilda was afflicted by continuous and intense suffering, to which she added her own great penance for the conversion of sinners. In this way she shared in the Lord's passion until the end of her life.

"Prayer and contemplation", the Pope added. "were the vital 'humus' of her life. It was there that her revelations, her teachings, her service to others, and her journey in faith and love had their roots and their context. ... Of the liturgical prayers, Matilda gave particular emphasis to the canonical hours, and to the celebration of Mass especially Holy Communion. ... Her visions, her teachings, and the events of her life are described with expressions evocative of liturgical and biblical language. Thus do we come to appreciate her profound knowledge of Sacred Scripture, which was her daily bread".

This saint, "allowing herself to be guided by Sacred Scripture and nourished by the Eucharistic bread, followed a path of intimate union with the Lord, always maintaining complete fidelity to the Christ. For us too, this is a powerful call to intensify our friendship with the Lord, especially through daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in Mass. The liturgy is a great school of spirituality", the Pope concluded.

Msgr. Rifan's Pontifical Mass in Rio de Janeiro

Msgr. Fernando Arêas Rifan, Ordinary of the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, celebrated Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Sunday 19 September in the Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro. Here are some pictures:


Msgr. Rifan, incidentally, was received this monday in private audience by the Holy Father, in the context of the ad limina visits of the Brazilian bishops.


(H/t for both to Subsídios litúrgicos.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Customs of Michaelmas

Continuing on with the theme of customs and traditions, today is the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, known as Michaelmas.

The website Catholic Culture offers many good summaries of some of the customs and traditions associated with the liturgical year, and so this can be a good resource for parents, couples and individuals alike -- even parishes who wish to organize parish events.

Here is what they have to offer today:

September 29: Michaelmas Day


To many, Saint Michael the Archangel, "Captain of the Heavenly Host," is best known as that dauntless spirit who vanquished his peer among the angels, Lucifer, once called "the Star of the Morning." Michael is a star of the love than conquers pride. Sometimes he is pictured as a winged angel in white robes, but oftener as the armed warrior on the errands of God, about his head a halo and under his foot the demon, prone and helpless. He was honored in Jewish tradition, and became the champion of Christian warriors as well, although in early ages he was also given the protection of the sick. Of his early sanctuaries, the best known is Monte Gargano in Italy, where he appeared in the fifth or sixth century to the Lombards and insured their victory over the Greek Neapolitans. In the Middle Ages Michael became in Normandy the patron of mariners. His shrines were built in high places, facing the sea, and Mont-Saint-Michel on its rock is the greatest example of devotion to him, a place of pilgrimage a thousand years ago as it still is today. In the early days much food was sold around the shrine "bread and pasties, fruit and fish, birds, cakes, venizens," according to an old description. The fare is simpler today but a visitor to Mont-Saint-Michel will eat a famed and favorite dish:

Mère Poulard’s Omelet
1/4 lb. butter, 8 eggs

Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan (traditionally never used for any other purpose and never washed, merely being rubbed clean with salt after use) until it begins to froth and becomes a light golden brown. Beat the eggs with a fork slightly, just enough to mix the yolks and whites. Do not overbeat! Pour the eggs into the pan and cook gently, bringing the edges of the omelet as it cooks to the center of the pan, lifting the mass slightly so that the uncooked portion can run underneath. Increase the heat for about one minute, moving the pan about so that the omelet will slide in the pan. Invert on a platter and, when half is out of the pan, flip the pan quickly so as to cover with the remaining half. Do not salt as the quantity of butter used is sufficient to season the omelet properly. It is an old wives' tale that this omelet can only be properly prepared over a wood fire!

England long observed Michaelmas with many special ceremonies and customs. The Michaelmas daisy was named in the saint’s honor, and village maidens in other days gathered crab apples on his feast. These were carried home and put into a loft, so arranged as to form the initials of their supposed lovers. The initials that were still perfect on old Michaelmas Day (October 11) were supposed to show where true love was. Another curious belief was that it was unlucky to gather blackberries on the feast of Saint Michael. The outstanding and most persistent custom connected with Michaelmas was the eating of a goose at dinner. This seems to have originated with the practice of presenting a goose to the landlord when paying the rent. According to a sixteenth-century poet:

And when the tenants come to pay their quarter's rent,
They bring some fowl at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent,
At Christmas a capon, at Michaelmas a goose
And somewhat else at New-year's tide, for fear their lease fly loose.

We read that Queen Elizabeth was eating her Michaelmas goose when she received the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Obviously, this is apocryphal, for the "invincible" Armada was defeated in July and the news reached Elizabeth long before Michaelmas. But certainly the custom persisted in high places and low throughout Britain. The Michaelmas goose was eaten in other places besides the British Isles, although in most countries of the Continent this custom was more apt to be connected with the celebration of Saint Martin’s Day (November 11th). The Germans believed they could foretell the weather from the breastbones of the Michaelmas goose — a belief that traveled to America with immigrants of German stock, and which still exists today among the Pennsylvania Dutch.

To Roast a Goose

Potato and Sausage Stuffing

6 cups cubed potatoes
3 tablespoons chopped onion
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 lb. sausage meat
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon marjoram
salt and pepper

Peel and cube the potatoes and parboil for about five minutes. Sauté the onion in the butter and add the potatoes, sausage meat, and parsley. Season with marjoram and pepper, and salt lightly because of the sausage meat. Apples may be substituted for the potatoes but in that case omit the marjoram.

Chestnut Dressing

6 cups chestnuts
1/2 lb. melted butter
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated onion

Shell, skin, and boil the chestnuts in salted water until tender. Mix with the remaining ingredients and, if the stuffing appears to be too dry, moisten with 1/2 cup heavy cream.

In Ireland, Michaelmas was one of the most important feasts of the year, and people prayed especially on this day for protection against sickness. A goose or a sheep or a pig was especially killed and eaten at Michaelmas at a feast of thanksgiving, connected by some with a miracle of Saint Patrick performed with the aid of Michael the Archangel. And the Irish made a Michaelmas Pie into which a ring was placed — its finder was supposed to have an early marriage. In Scotland, Saint Michael’s Bannock was made on his day, as well as a Saint Michael’s Cake, that all guests, together with the family, must eat entirely before the night was over.

In Scotland, Saint Michael’s Bannock was made on his day, as well as a Saint Michael’s Cake, that all guests, together with the family, must eat entirely before the night was over.

Activity Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951

Source: Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year : September 29: Michaelmas Day (Activity)

Another good source for knowledge of the various customs and traditions surrounding our feast days is Fr. Francis X. Weiser, the author of The Holyday Book and The Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs.

For this day, Fr. Weiser notes the tradition of St. Michael's wine, a custom which apparently persists in Denmark in particular.

Lessons of Customs and Traditions Found in St. Wenceslas' Feast and Carol

Yesterday, in both the modern and ancient Roman liturgical calendars, we celebrated the feast of St. Wenceslas.

Last year at this time, I reflected on my own childhood love of the Christmas carol, "Good King Wenceslas" which was written by John Mason Neale, an English clergyman who was influenced by the Oxford Movement of Newman's time.

My own love for this particular carol as a child -- which continues strong even today -- fostered within me a curiosity and fond affectation for this saint even when I knew little about him other than his name. It was only through this carol in fact, that I had any knowledge of him whatsoever. Further, it was through this same carol that I came to a more conscious awareness that December 26th was not simply "Boxing Day" (as it is known in Canada, the U.K. and other parts of the world) but, in fact, St. Stephen's day, which feast is mentioned in the first line of this carol.

The promptings and lessons which I took from this carol as a child continue to be borne out in my life as an adult for, even now, whenever I hear this carol, or whenever the feast of St. Wenceslas comes forth on the liturgical calendar, that spark of childhood excitement and intrigue is once again lit -- and through it, I am brought close to Our Lord and His Church.

Evidently, others may not share this particular experience with this particular carol or feast day, but one likely has a similar experience with other things or days, be it another carol or be it some particular food or custom associated with some other time or feast of the liturgical year; perhaps the Advent wreath, the roast goose of Martinmas, or otherwise. Embedded within this, we can find a lesson which is particularly poignant and pertinent to our purposes here; a lesson which I noted last year: seems to me that this tiny example speaks again of why our various customs, traditions and practices -- both those that we find within the walls of our churches proper and without in the context of the domestic church -- are particularly important to foster and exercise, for they have the power to influence and to form, planting the seeds that might later bloom.

There are many customs and traditions which are attached to the liturgical year and which spring from the liturgical year. These, like the liturgical year itself, have the power to teach and the power to delight and their presence is particularly formative in children and something which can be carried by children into their adult lives. Indeed, these things not only assist us by helping to embed the liturgical year into our broader lives, they may be precisely what can help to keep one in the Faith, or lead one back to the faith of their childhood.

Traditions and customs are very effectual and powerful aids which assist us in living a liturgical life. As such, I can only continue to encourage our families and our parishes to foster such customs and traditions, emphasizing and highlighting their connection to the liturgical year.

The Tomb of St. Wenceslaus, housed in the St. Wenceslaus chapel of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague. (Image source)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daniel Mitsui Series on Catholic Art and Artisans

Some of you will no doubt be interested to learn of a series which Daniel Mitsui is pursuing on his blog, "Interviews on Catholic Religious Art."

So far Daniel has interviewed David Clayton, Jed Gibbons, Lawrence Klimecki and Michael Sternbeck.

Solemn Mass in the Usus Antiquior at Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans

A seminarian from the archdiocese of New Orleans sends in some photographs of a Solemn Mass in the usus antiquior offered in the beautiful chapel of Notre Dame Seminary on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross this past September 14th.

Our seminarian reports that the Mass was celebrated by Fr. Stanley Klores, pastor of St. Patrick’s parish and an adjunct professor at the seminary. His Excellency, Alfred Hughes, Archbishop Emeritus of New Orleans (who is in residence at the seminary) attended in choro.

It is reported that this was the seminary’s third usus antiquior Mass since the motu proprio was issued in 2007, but the first Solemn High Mass in 45 years in the seminary chapel.

Prayers at the Foot of the Altar



Canon Missae

The Consecration

Photographs taken by Doug Vu

Pope's Private Visit to the Birmingham Oratory and Newman's Rooms

The photographic service of L'Osservatore Romano have made some images available from the Pope's recent private visit to the Birmingham Oratory, which included a visit to the new Newman chapel in the Oratory church, as well as to Cardinal Newman's preserved rooms.

Pope Benedict XVI prays before the new Newman altar

A delightful photo of the Holy Father with what I presume is the Oratory cat

The Pope in Newman's rooms at Newman's writing desk

The Pope in Newman's private chapel

The Pope viewing some of Newman's vestments in his private chapel. We have shown these before here on the NLM.

Individuals or communities who would like to order these or any of the other photographs may do so here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mass and Vespers in Honour of Newman at the Toronto Oratory

Continuing on with our coverage of liturgical events related to Newman's beatification, the Toronto Oratory is offering a Solemn Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman in the usus antiquior this Sunday, October 3rd at 11:30am at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Toronto, with Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P. present as guest preacher.

Further, the same day at 5:00pm, Solemn Vespers of Thanksgiving will be offered at Holy Family Church.

For those in the Toronto area, I would strongly encourage you to attend both of these events, not only in commemoration of this blessed event, but also in support of the Toronto Oratory.

Those who have other similar events they would like to advertise, please use the comments.

The Work of Swedish Artist Lars Gerdmars

Quite some time ago, the iconographically inspired work of Swedish artist Lars Gerdmars was brought to my attention. His work struck me because of the variety of influences that I believe can be seen within it. Evidently the Byzantine and Russian on the one hand, but there are also Western and even modern qualities to the work. Indeed, as it turns out, Mr. Gerdmars himself notes these various influences in the biographical section of his website [The following is an NLM translation]:

I have learnt to paint in the classical Russian style of the 1300 and 1400's. But I have also taken lessons from the late medieval Italian art... as expressed by painters as Duccio, Cimabue and Giotto. A meeting with Leonid Ouspensky (1902-1987) and his outstanding icon painting in Paris in 1981 made a deep and lasting impression... Today, I have developed my own style and painting technique in which aspects of both the Russian, Greek and Italian traditions interact.

Here is some of his work, beginning with a few details.


* * *

Source: Imago Nova Ikongalleri
Photos: Bo Wiberg

New Newman Shrines: Melbourne, Australia

The usus antiquior community formerly known as "Latin Mass Melbourne" in Australia, under Fr. Glen Tattersall, as of the day of the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman, re-dedicated itself as "The Catholic Community of Blessed John Henry Newman".

On this same day, they also inaugurated and blessed a shrine to Cardinal Newman.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Archivium Project at the Birmingham Oratory

[A second video presents itself of interest today...]

Cardinal Newman Archivium • Birmingham Oratory from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross at Heiligenkreuz (Holy Cross), Austria

Images courtesy of San Crucensis and Zeitzubeten

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