Friday, October 29, 2010

November 2010 Adoremus Bulletin

The November 2010 edition of the Adoremus Bulletin is now online.

This month's edition includes an article by Bishop Peter Elliott on Why We Need the New Translation of the Mass.

Preparing for Martinmas

As we proceed deeper into the Autumn and move towards Advent, we enter a time of the year which seems to be particularly saturated with wonderful customs and traditions associated with the liturgical year. Sometimes we mention these customs on the same day, or at least very near to the day, and occasionally the suggestion is made that it might be helpful if mention was made ahead of time so that one might prepare better.

Last year, this came up in relation to Martinmas, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, which is on November 11th. One of the traditions associated to this feast is that of the traditional roast goose dinner:

People first went to Mass and observed the rest of the day with games, dances, parades, and a festive dinner, the main feature of the meal being the traditional roast goose (Martin's goose). With the goose dinner they drank "Saint Martin's wine," which was the first lot of wine made from the grapes of the recent harvest. Martinmas was the festival commemorating filled barns and stocked larders, the actual Thanksgiving Day of the Middle Ages. Even today it is still kept in rural sections of Europe, and dinner on Martin's Day would be unthinkable without the golden brown, luscious Martin's goose.

-- Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, p. 270-71

So then, for those of you who would like to observe this day, you might like to source out your goose and its trimmings sooner than later, as Martinmas is now less than two weeks away.

If you do, make certain to take photos of your Martinmas feast to send into us. Indeed, this goes for all of these sorts of customs attached to the liturgical year.

The Beuronese School

The Beuronese School is an interesting cul-de-sac in the Christian tradition. It is named after the town of Beuron in Germany which is the location of the Benedictine community in which the school originated. The style is an attempt in the 19th century to revive Christian art, reacting against the dominating over sentimental naturalism of the time, which draws on Egyptian art and canon of proportion that was said to be derived from that of the ancient Greeks (although this is speculative, given that the canon of Polyclitus is lost). The artists themselves were trained in the methods of the19th century atelier and the result is a curious mixture of 19th century naturalism stiffened up, so to speak, by an injection of Egyptian art and geometry. Examples are to be found in central Europe and also in the USA at Conception Abbey in Missouri.

I have read an account of the geometric proportions used in the human form in translation of the book written by their main theorist, Fr Desiderius Lenz, On the Aesthetic of Beuron. It was complex , so much so that my reaction was that it would be very difficult for any painter to use the canon fully in any but very formal poses (although it might be possible for sculptor to follow it). As soon as you have to twist and turn a pose, then the necessary foreshortening requires the painter to use an intuitive sense as to how the more distant parts relate to the nearer. To be able to do so would require the artist to have many years’ experience of working within that proportion, to the degree that it would be unnatural for him to do anything else. For this reason those that have more formal poses are the most successful works. Those that attempt a more naturalistic pose are less successful, in my opinion, and tend to look like a bit like illustrations in the bible I was given when I was a child.

The approach of Beuron school is idiosyncratic and as such sits outside the mainstream of Christian tradition. It does not as far as I can ascertain have its form integrated with theology in the way that the iconographic, the baroque or the gothic do. Nevertheless the end result does, in some examples, strike me as having something of the sacred. Perhaps their efforts to control individual expression have contributed to this. The school stressed, for example, the value of imitation of prototypes above the production of works originating in any one artist. The artists collaborated on works and did not sign it once finsished, so it is not always clear who the artist is.

My approach in seeking to reestablish our Christian culture is look first at the mainstream of tradition, so this is not a school I I would look at in regard to my own painting, but that is not to say that no one else might consider them as examples worthy of study.

The main artists in Europe are Lenz (d 1928) and Gabriel Wuger (d 1892). The artists of Conception Abbey, their website tells us, were trained in Beuron but moved to Missouri once the abbey was founded.

Above, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, St Gabriel's, Prague

Above, situated in the Abbey of St Martin, Beuron

Below, sculptures of Our Lady and the Archangel Gabriel at St Gabriel's in Prague

Below, crucifixion by Wuger

The two examples below are at Conception Abbey in Missouri

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another Solemn Mass from Maynooth Seminary, Ireland

We recently showed photos from the beautiful chapel of the Irish seminary in Maynooth, and further to the same theme, photographer John Briody has captured further photos of another Solemn Mass in the usus antiquior offered there, this time this past October 23rd by Fr. Gerard Deighan.

The Mass was offered following the annual general meeting of the Latin Mass Society of Ireland.

A full photo album has been made available.

An Example of an Altar Arrangement in Masses for the Dead

In our recent reprint related to All Souls and Masses for the Dead generally, we spoke on the subject of unbleached beeswax candles. While doing so, note was also made of the following:

... a similar sombreness is spoken of even as regards the very candlesticks themselves. Normally the candlesticks we see used in our churches are gold or silver in colour. However, during these times, the mention of these being of some more sombre tone arises as well. Hence we see mention of black or some other darkened colour and the use of iron, dark wood, or bronze. This is mentioned both in relation to the candlesticks on the altar as well as those which surround the coffin/catafalque... One will also note that, while it appears to only be specifically mentioned within the context of pre-Pius XII Good Friday liturgy, some also make use of a dark wood altar cross for Masses of the Dead instead of one of gold or silver. This, or some other non-gilt altar cross, would certainly seem to me to be a laudable custom, consonant with this same spirit of sobriety.

My reason for raising this again is that an opportunity has since arisen to show a sort of "before" and "after" example of this; or more precisely, to show the same altar which is arranged both in the usual manner -- as regards the altar candlesticks and cross -- and then also arranged with more sombre altar candlesticks and cross for use in Masses for the Dead. The photos come from the chapel of the Little Oratory which is part of the London Oratory.

Let us begin with what we might call the usual arrangement:

Now let us consider the same altar, but with a set of candlesticks and cross (not to mention unbleached beeswax candles and Requiem altar cards) setup for use within the context of Masses for the Dead:

While these particular candlesticks and cross use golden highlights -- and other manifestations, such as those previously mentioned, are also possible -- the use of black certainly gives them a greater character of sobriety by comparison with the former and I believe one can see the parallel to the use of bleached versus unbleached candles.

All Souls Reprint: On the Use of Unbleached Beeswax Candles for Masses for the Dead

Following from a post on where to find unbleached beeswax candles for All Souls Day and Masses for the Dead generally, one of our priests asked the question of where one might find explicit explanations of the symbolic meaning of this usage for use in teaching the faithful.

The matter is, to some degree, one of symbolic and liturgical common sense, but indeed, taking a very quick look about, other than the mention and recommendation of their use, commentary on the symbolism itself seems rather sparse -- no doubt it was deemed unnecessary.

Quickly peering through ceremonialists like Fortescue and O'Connell, or church arts commentators like Anson and Webb, brought forward no explicit mention of this point on their part, however, a rather obscure little tome, Candles in the Roman Rite by Fr. Edwin Ryan, saw fit to comment on the matter accordingly:
The employment on occasions of sorrow (the Tenebrae, funerals, etc.) of unbleached rather than bleached candles is evidently fitting, since the sombre tones of unbleached wax harmonize with the mournful ceremony, while bleached wax, being far higher in the tone scale, would intrude a note of joy.

This idea is the "common sense" to which I referred. I say it is that because it is consonant with other similarly sombre elements that are mentioned in relation to these liturgical occasions. In other words, there is a consistency with regard to the signs.

The use of unbleached beeswax is mentioned within the context of liturgies for the Dead, inclusive of All Souls Day of course, as well as on the liturgies of Good Friday in the usus antiquior. In other words, the times that, traditionally, black vestments were worn -- also a more sombre sign it goes without saying.

Fr. Ryan further suggests that "[t]he candles at the funeral of a baptized infant are bleached, because that ceremony is clearly intended by the Church to be taken as one of gladness". While I have been unable to find an explicit reference to using bleached candles in this instance, it is noteworthy that, unlike all of the other instances where using unbleached candles is specifically mentioned, here it is absent. Certainly this would make sense, particularly as the vestments worn in these instances are white rather than black in the usus antiquior, as well as the fact that there is a special rite for their funeral where no prayers for the dead are said, and as Fortescue generally comments, "there are no signs of mourning."

We should recall as well that in these same instances a similar sombreness is spoken of even as regards the very candlesticks themselves. Normally the candlesticks we see used in our churches are gold or silver in colour. However, during these times, the mention of these being of some more sombre tone arises as well. Hence we see mention of black or some other darkened colour and the use of iron, dark wood, or bronze.

(Detail of photo by Br. Lawrence Lew)

This is mentioned both in relation to the candlesticks on the altar as well as those which surround the coffin/catafalque -- although, one can certainly see many examples of where this is not done, probably for lack of possessing them.

One will also note that, while it appears to only be specifically mentioned within the context of pre-Pius XII Good Friday liturgy, some also make use of a dark wood altar cross for Masses of the Dead instead of one of gold or silver. (See above and right) This, or some other non-gilt altar cross, would certainly seem to me to be a laudable custom, consonant with this same spirit of sobriety.

Finally, it cannot pass mention that relics and other ornaments are not to be used at the altar during these sombre liturgical occasions.

All of these things consistently point to the same theme of a sombre reserve and thus also speak to the symbolic purpose of using unbleached rather than bleached candles.

Now evidently we have been looking at this through the lens of the usus antiquior specifically, but how these would apply to Masses for the Dead in the modern Roman liturgy seems fairly straightforward: unbleached beeswax candles and more sombre candlesticks (and cross) could easily be used at the altar and around the coffin in that context, and of course black vestments used as well.

I would conclude by noting that there are many other sources that could be referenced in looking at this particular question, and so I would invite our readers to feel free to supplement these considerations with their own within the comments.

* * *

Since the article above was originally published, it is worth mentioning that Fr. Edwin Ryan's book, Candles in the Roman Rite, has been reprinted by Romanitas Press.

They were kind enough to send me a copy quite some while ago, and having also a copy of the original publication, I can attest to the fact that they have done a very good job in reproducing the original.

It is available for sale at $18.80 USD.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Notice: Office of Compline

Office of Compline
Edited by Fr. Samuel F. Weber O.S.B.
$18.95 USD
Foreword by Archbishop Raymond Burke

Publisher Description:

This volume contains the Office of Compline for every day of the year, in Latin and English, according to the novus ordo of the Roman Catholic Church, with Gregorian Chant settings. On the facing pages for the Latin, the official English text is also arranged for chanting, using simple English tones. New translations have been made for the official hymns of the Office, and all the hymns are given with the Gregorian melodies proper for each season and feast of the liturgical year.

This book will find a welcome in parishes, cathedrals, religious communities and seminaries, as well as families, all who wish to pray together at the end of the day.

Complete instructions are given for praying Compline. The Foreword by Archbishop Raymond Burke explains the rich spiritual tradition of prayer at the close of day, and provides an inspiring meditation on the texts and meaning of the Office of Compline.

The scriptures give only one command concerning the frequency of prayer: pray without ceasing (Lk 18:1; 1 Thess 5:17). This volume will prove to be a welcome companion to all who are seeking to make a full response to the Gospel, and persevere in unceasing prayer.

For more information: Ignatius Press

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568 - 1961: Part 9.2 - An Assessment of the 1955 Simplified Rubrics

The distinctive feature of this reform is, to put it simply, that for the first time, the Office was substantially changed for the benefit of the rubrics, rather than rubrics for the benefit of the Office. In addition to the removal from the Breviary of a considerable portion of patristic readings, especially from the offices of the temporal cycle, the “simplified” rubrics of 1955 also create a number of rather peculiar anomalies; this, despite the priority given (in theory) to the rubrics over the text.

1. Although all Sundays are raised from semiduplex to duplex, their antiphons are not doubled, and thus they lack what had been hitherto the characteristic feature of double offices.

2. It is very difficult to see the logic behind the choice of which vigils were kept and which suppressed, particularly when one notices that that of St. Lawrence has been kept, and those of Epiphany and All Saints’ abolished.

3. The Octave Day of the Epiphany is renamed “the Commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. Although this is one of the most ancient aspects of the Epiphany, and indeed, the dominant one in the Byzantine tradition, the feast of the Holy Family, extended to the General Calendar in 1921, is given precedence over it if they coincide on the Sunday after Epiphany. In such case, the Baptism is not even commemorated.

4. Although the octaves of the Ascension, Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart are suppressed, the Sundays within said octaves continue to be celebrated as hitherto, with the office mostly identical to that of the feast.

5. Wholly inexplicable is the suppression of first vespers from all grades of feasts except Doubles of the first and second class. Simple feasts, which only had the first vespers, now have none at all, running from Matins to None, a change absolutely without precedent. The tradition of beginning feasts on the evening of the preceding day is one that the Christian church inherited from the pre-Christian temple and synagogue of the Jewish people, and was known to be so at the time of this reform. This suppression, extended further in the reforms of 1960 and 1970, is now recognized to be a mistake; the reformed Ambrosian Office of 1981 has retained the historical custom by which ALL feasts have first Vespers, and the more important also have second Vespers.

6. In the Vesper hymn of Confessors, the verse, “on this day rejoicing he merited to ascend to the place of blessedness,” was changed if the feast was kept on a day other than the day of the Saint’s death. The modified verse says “on this day rejoicing he merited the highest honors of our praises.” This hymn is now always said in the modified version, even on the feast of St. Martin, for whom it was originally composed, and whose feast is kept on the day of his death.

7. Most peculiar of all, editors and publishers with authorization to print liturgical books are forbidden to incorporate these changes into future editions of the Breviary, although they are plainly too much for anyone to memorize. I have seen editions of both Breviary and Missal from the years 1957-59 which do in fact incorporate the changes into the book in various ways, either by omission, or by printing the deleted texts in italics or smaller type. However, many priests decided to keep track of the new changes by a less costly expedient than the purchase of a whole new breviary.

(photo courtesy of John Sonnen)

The next part of this series will discuss the reform of 1960. To read the most recent parts of this series, click here. For the complete set of links to the earlier parts of this series posted last fall, including a Glossary of terms related to the Divine Office, click here.

All Souls Reprint: On the Use of Black Vestments for Masses for the Dead

All Souls Day is fast coming upon us, and so I wish to continue our annual NLM tradition of using this occasion to appeal to our priests to use black vestments both for All Souls and for Requiems generally according to the modern Roman rite -- I specify the modern liturgy because in the usus antiquior, black is what is specified for these and so no appeal is needed, whereas in the rubrics for the modern liturgy, black, violet or white are permitted as valid options. [Note: I am speaking generally and excluding the specific consideration requiems for young, baptized children, where the tradition is for white to be used.]

But why do so? At times in the past few decades, some individuals have attempted to make the argument that the use of black is contrary to Christian hope in the resurrection of the dead. Accordingly, some of these same individuals have agitated against the use of black -- even violet -- for these occasions, despite the Church's continued use of that liturgical colour. In response, I would point out that this is not a case of either-or, but rather one of both-and. While Christians are indeed a people of hope rooted in the resurrection, this does not invalidate the natural emotional response of sorrow or mourning, nor that fact that we are likewise to be aware of the reality of sin, death and judgement. Such awareness and reserve is simply that, an awareness and reserve which springs from a recognition of a genuine spiritual reality, and the mere fact of this cannot be equated with hopelessness or an insufficient hope in the resurrection of the dead. In point of fact, not giving adequate recognition to these realities is itself a problem.

If we look at the Church's liturgical year, we see how it brings with it times of feasting as well as times of fasting; it brings times of exuberance and joy and times of more sombre reserve, penance and mourning. The liturgies of Holy Week alone give a particularly condensed example of this. Each of these parts bring to bear and teach of particular aspects within their appointed times and on their appointed occasions, also necessarily understood in relation to and as part of the greater whole. The loss of any of these parts results in an incomplete picture.

The use of black, which corresponds to the recognition of sorrow and mourning, sin, death and judgement, is one manifestation or part of this fuller picture. (And at this point, I would note this is being considered primarily within the liturgical and cultural context of the West.)

On a symbolic and theological level, the sombre and reserved tone of black vestments can be understood as a reminder of the sorrowful reality of sin (personal and original) and the reality of death which entered the world with the Fall. It manifests a kind of holy and prudent reserve. It can emphasize the reality of purgatory and the need for prayers which we should offer for the dead -- one of the seven spiritual works of mercy. By the same token, we, the living, are accordingly reminded of the four last things and the need to care for the state of of our own souls, working out our salvation. On a cultural and pastoral level, in the Western world black has a particularly strong association as symbolic of sorrow and mourning. Accordingly, black pastorally acknowledges and unites itself to the natural and perfectly normal emotional response to the loss of a loved one; of the sorrow which entered the world through sin and death.

As a symbol then, the use of black speaks strongly and poignantly on a variety of levels and its use is therefore both meritorious and to be encouraged.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Late last week, it was brought to our attention that a website has been established to send congratulations to Archbishop Burke, who has recently been named a cardinal:

We were asked if we could make mention of the site here, so as to encourage people to show their support, and of course, we are only too happy to do so.

Readers may also wish to send their congratulations to Archbishop Ranjith who will also receive the red hat.

The Proposed St. Paul's University Catholic Center, Madison, Wisconsin

Matthew Alderman Studios has been serving for the past few months as the designer for the principal elevation of the new St. Paul's University Catholic Center in Madison, Wisconsin, with RDG Design and Planning of Omaha serving as the overall architect of record. We are now releasing our concept to the various organs of the city government for their comment and review, so I can now share this exciting news with our readers.
St. Paul's University Catholic Church serves as the Newman Center for the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Under Fr. Eric Sternberg, it has spearheaded an amazing effort to bring the fire of the Faith to Madison's student population. Catholic life in Madison has undergone a remarkable renaissance under Bishop Morlino, and St. Paul's is one of the foundations of this resurgence. I can assert from personal experience that it is really heartening what is going on over there. St. Paul's is molding a new generation of faithful, responsible, and joyfully serious young Catholics.The current facilities are crowded and do not match the parish's expanding vision. St. Paul's is proposing a mixed-use high rise, incorporating a chapel and offices on the lower floor, with a unique residential college located on its upper levels. The fourteen-story building's dormitories will house 175 students, while the chapel will have room for 500 worshippers. More details from the Wisconsin State-Journal:
Officials with the St. Paul Catholic Student Center at UW-Madison unveiled a new, less-boxy design Monday for a $45 million housing development and campus worship center. The design keeps the same square footage and 14-story height as an earlier version but presents it in a way that will better fit with surrounding historic buildings, they said. An April design drew concerns from city planners over mass and height.
"I don't know if we've addressed those concerns — it's the same height and size — but our goal is to convince city staff that while it's a tall building, it's not a very big building," said the Rev. Eric Nielsen, St. Paul's priest.The project would replace the existing Catholic campus facility at 723 State St. The center's "relatively small" quarter-acre footprint would remain the same, with much of the 10,000 square feet coming in height, Nielsen said.The student center portion of the current facility was built in the late 1800s. The chapel was built in 1909 and renovated 43 years ago. It has no residential component. The redeveloped center would house up to 175 students. "This is something Catholics in the state will want for students here, and urban density is something the city wants," Nielsen said.City Planning Division Director Brad Murphy did not return phone calls for comment. The student center is across from Memorial Library on State Street Mall and between University Book Store and the landmark, neo-Gothic revival Pres House, the campus Presbyterian chapel. The new design looks less blocky and more classical than the earlier version, center officials said. It is "more cohesive" in the way it integrates a chapel and student center on the lower levels with several stories of student housing, Nielsen said. Informational plans for the project were to be submitted Monday to the Madison Landmarks Commission, said Ron Trachtenberg, St. Paul's attorney. The project is expected to go before the Landmarks Commission Nov. 8 and before the Urban Design Commission Nov. 10. The City Council will need to approve it, he said. Center officials hope to break ground in two to three years, said Scott Hackl, St. Paul's development director. A vast majority of the money for the project is expected to be raised from a small group of benefactors, he said.The project poses a number of intriguing challenges; it was commented when I was first discussing the possibility of involvement that I was probably the only ecclesiastical design consultant in America who had made a systematic study of early twentieth-century churches with a similar mixed-use program. I was brought on board once most of the internal program had been worked out, as well as the basic height and width of the building, but a lot of the exterior massing and detail had not yet been worked out. After consultation with the clients, a form of Romanesque was adopted as the preferred style, given its obvious ecclesiastical connotations, its ability to blend with a more modern Deco aesthetic, and its ability to withstand budgetary simplification. The interior of the building will house a variety of dormitories, apartments, meeting rooms, study lounges, and other facilities for the campus ministry, as well as the chapel, which is accessed through a large lobby and will be on the second level of the structure. It was important to impart an ecclesiastical character to the principal facade while at the same time asserting the building's mixed-use status. In my own sketches, I drew on the work of Ralph Adams Cram at Christ Church Methodist in New York, a rugged urban ecclesiastical plant with a great deal of dignity and personality, and Bertram Goodhue's slightly earlier St. Bartholomew's, just down the street on Park Avenue. St. Bart's offered some particularly useful ideas, as the General Electric Building, a particularly lofty high rise, was built behind it and designed to serve as a suitable low-key backdrop for the church's Byzantine dome, in much the same way the main shaft of the structure relates to the church facade below. This is also an important precedent given the neighboring structure, Pres House, the Presbyterian university church, is a landmarked Gothic revival structure, so while St. Paul's should make its identity clear, it must also create a symbiotic relationship with the older structure. I imagine you will hear more from me on this in the next few weeks as the story develops further and we get reactions from the vox pops. Everything I have heard so far has been very positive. I encourage you in any case, if you live in Wisconsin, to tell your friends and support this very worthy cause. Not only could this be a great moment for traditional architecture, it could be a unique and fruitful opportunity for future generations of young Catholics in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

Tallis Choir of Toronto to Recreate Venetian Midnight Mass in San Marco, 1605

The Tallis Choir of Toronto has an intriguing offering this Advent: the Gabrieli Midnight Mass of 1605 in which they set out "to recreate the splendour of Christmas Eve in the ducal chapel of San Marco in Venice."

They provide the following notes:

Midnight Mass in Renaissance Venice

“Music … so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupefy all those strangers that never heard the like!”

So wrote an astonished 17th century English visitor after hearing high mass in San Marco in Venice. Today even concert musicians are looking at the original liturgical context to shed light on the great choral music of history. Paul McCreesh pioneered the reconstruction of the music of historic liturgies on CD and in concert. The Tallis Choir of Toronto has presented several popular concert recreations: Sarum Vespers of the Purification with the music of Thomas Tallis, Monteverdi Vespers of Christmas Eve, and the Victoria Tenebrae of Good Friday.

On Saturday, December 4, the Choir will present its most ambitious reconstruction to date: Midnight Mass as it may have been celebrated on December 24,1605 in St. Mark’s in the presence of the Doge and Senate of Venice under the direction of Giovanni Gabrieli. Choir, soloists, organ and period orchestra will catch an echo of the splendour of Renaissance Venice.

Researching the event has provided vivid insight into the liturgy of the period. For instance, it was a Venetian tradition to write settings of the Ordinary as individual movements which could be mixed to produce a collective mass, unlike the more common cyclical settings of Palestrina. Vivaldi’s famous “Gloria” is a later example of a work that could be inserted into a mass setting on a festal occasion.

Gabrieli placed his various choirs in the galleries above the sanctuary and in the choir screen pulpit which was nicknamed the “Tub”. Hidden passageways above the reredos allowed musicians to redeploy musicians in new configurations. Equally-balanced choirs could suddenly resound as a dialogue of upper and lower voices. Surprise and delight were constant features of Venetian masses.

Perhaps the most curious tradition was the substitution of motets for the prescribed texts of the Proper. On festal occasions, little Gregorian chant was heard. The rubrics were of course fulfilled by the clergy’s sotto voice recitation. These parallel sequences can be seen as late as the works of Mozart who wrote many Proper substitutes. Gabrieli’s motets are on the largest scale imaginable: Salvator Noster has three five-voice choirs.

Another unexpected tradition were the choral settings of the mass responses. Orlando di Lasso published a set of polyphonic settings of the responses at the Collect, Gospel, even the Sursum corda of the Canon. And no Gabrieli mass would be complete without the famous brass canzonas filled with fanfares to welcome the Doge or acclaim the reading of the Gospel. The concert will not be able to recreate the cannons that were fired at the Elevations!

Students of musical and liturgical history will find this a feast for the ears and imagination. For more information about this concert, check the Tallis Choir’s website: HYPERLINK ""

Douglas Cowling

The concert takes place on Saturday, December 4th at 7:30PM at St. Patrick's Church, McCaul St. in downtown Toronto.

For those who are not in the area, but are interested in this choir, do visit their webpage, including their page of recordings.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ecclesiastical Heraldry of Marco Foppoli

Today there seems to be a growing interest in the subject of ecclesiastical heraldry. Accordingly, a number of our readers might be interested to learn of an Italian artist who recently came to my attention, Marco Foppoli.

From the website of Mr. Foppoli:
Marco Foppoli also produces ecclesiastical coats of arms and had, for a number of years, enjoyed the honour of Mons. Bruno B. Heim, Papal Nuncio and the celebrated pontificial heraldist who produced the official armorial bearing for Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II in additons to numerous coats of arms for prelates. Mons. Heim described Marco Foppoli as his "pupil in Italy" to whom he had passed on a part of his huge experience in church heraldry.

Carmelite Ordinations

The Carmelites of Wyoming, who celebrate Mass in accordance with the Carmelite liturgical books, recently celebrated the ordination of two new priests.

The ordaining bishop was Bishop James Conley of Denver and the ordinations took place on the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, October 15th, in the Cathedral of St. Mary's, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Here, too, is an image from one of the first Masses.

The Papal Mass and the Altar and Ciborium of Westminster Cathedral

Shortly after the papal visit to the United Kingdom, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, when back in Rome, reflected on his visit and made a particularly glowing comment about the sacred liturgy which was celebrated in Westminster Cathedral. The comment made suggested the Pope was holding it forth as a kind of model.

Similarly, in this week's edition of The Catholic Herald, Fr. Anthony Symondson, S.J., suggests that parishes throughout the U.K. should draw inspiration from Westminster Cathedral while also giving a particular consideration of the altar and ciborium of the same.

Here is that article in its entirety.

The Cathedral shows us the way ahead

Parishes throughout Britain should draw inspiration from the papal Mass at Westminster Cathedral, says Fr Anthony Symondson SJ

By Fr Anthony Symondson SJ on Thursday, 21 October 2010

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, September 18. A graceful silver 18th-century standing crucifix is positioned on the altar

Shortly after his appointment as Archbishop of Westminster in 2000, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor attended a meeting of the Westminster Cathedral Art and Architecture Committee. After thanking the members for their work, he said that the main reason for coming was to propose changes to the high altar. Several times, he recalled, he had asked Cardinal Hume why he had left the Cathedral only temporarily re-planned in conformity to the regulations laid down by the Second Vatican Council.

“I am leaving that to my successor,” explained the cardinal. “I am he,” declared the new archbishop, with a smile. He proposed that the temporary altar erected for the pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to England in 1982 should be removed and the great monolith of Cornish granite, given by the Hon George Savile, which forms the original high altar should be moved forward to the centre of the ciborium magnum, or baldacchino, to enable Mass to be celebrated versus populum and ad orientem. As a member of the committee, I welcomed this proposal because it meant returning to Bentley’s high altar and drawing the Cathedral into the liturgical unity it had formerly enjoyed. It also meant that once more Mass would be celebrated beneath a ciborium and that the sanctuary would have one altar. It was also enlightened in so far as it excluded destruction, built upon what was already there, rather than introduce innovations, and enabled Mass to be celebrated in both positions.

With few reservations the committee welcomed the proposal. These were that it would constitute a change to the relationship between the altar and ciborium, so far undisturbed, and the destruction of the inlaid wooden predella that stood in front of it. Michael Drury, the Cathedral’s inspecting architect, was commissioned to investigate the possibility of the proposal and make plans. The matter was then, under listed building consent, referred to English Heritage, the Westminster City Planning Department, the Victorian Society and the Historic Churches Committee.

All appeared to be going smoothly until a letter was received from Paul Vellouet, of English Heritage, an Anglican architect with an interest in liturgical planning. This reflected the provisional liturgical ideals of 40 years ago. He objected to the suggestion because he thought it would be temporary and would, in due course, be replaced by a radical re-planning of the sanctuary, of which he appeared to be enthusiastic. Adapting the high altar would represent an expensive waste of money and was the wrong path to take. Money was certainly a factor and it transpired that it had not entered the considerations behind the proposal. It would cost an estimated £50,000, but the Cathedral did not have it. An appeal was not launched and quietly the proposal fell into abeyance.

Meanwhile, a mock-up was made to show the new position of the altar and, for a time, experimentally, Mass was celebrated facing the people when it was used. The sightlines were unaffected and there were no objections to the proposed change. Indeed, the transformation of worship occasioned by returning to the high altar was met with wide approval. The practical problem was that there was hardly any room behind the altar to celebrate Mass easily and genuflection was almost impossible.

Nine years later the cardinal again came to the committee to bid farewell on the eve of his retirement. He said that one of his biggest regrets was that he had been unable to re-plan the sanctuary and leave a permanent liturgical legacy behind. He seemed concerned by the redundancy of the stalls and the obstruction created by the rosso antico cancelli walls. In 2005 Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, was elected Pope Benedict XVI and a new liturgical chapter in the history of the Church was opened that eclipsed the former liturgical zeitgeist which had come into being in the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council and opened many of its radical, de-sacralising objectives to question. One was a criticism of the principle of a clean break with the past in architectural terms in the re-planning of churches; another was an emphasis on historical continuity in the celebration of Mass. Evidence of this is to be seen in the celebration of papal Masses in St Peter’s, St John Lateran and on papal visits abroad.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols was translated to Westminster in 2009 and his inaugural Mass and enthronement launched a new regime in the Cathedral. Despite the restricted space, Mass was celebrated with great splendour at the high altar, facing the people, and few, if any, complaints were received afterwards. The desire to make this practice permanent recurred. The proposal to move the massive mensa was abandoned but superseded by another to move the wall behind the altar, on which stood the crucifix and six candlesticks, three feet back towards the apse, narrowing the steps that led up to it, thereby freeing space behind the altar to enable greater ease of movement. At one time it was thought that this would be structurally impossible because of the shift of weight on the supporting pillars in the crypt, below the altar. Investigation by Michael Drury resulted in a positive solution and plans were made to make the structural changes as carefully and unobtrusively as possible at half the cost of the original proposal.

The aim was to finish the alterations in time for the state visit of the Holy Father this year. The papal Mass celebrated on September 18, televised universally, was widely considered to be the most magnificent Mass celebrated so far by the Pope on a foreign journey, and the use of the high altar significantly contributed to this verdict. Once more Westminster Cathedral embodied a liturgical unity which did not compromise its architectural integrity or the reformed and unreformed liturgical canons.

These developments are deeply significant for the liturgical life not only of the Diocese of Westminster, but the Church in England and Wales. Several radical proposals were drawn up since Vatican II to re-plan the sanctuary but none were executed, despite experiment with temporary solutions. The present result is so convincing that one wonders why it was not considered 40 years ago. Not least is the liturgical advantage of celebrating Mass once more beneath a ciborium.

In recent years there has been a tendency to erect permanent square altars in sanctuaries on the basis that they follow the primitive model of Constantinian basilican practice. Indeed they do to some extent, but they are frequently architecturally maladroit and their size as well as form often does violence to the scale of churches. As Edmund Bishop, the leading English 19th-century liturgiologist, whose influence on 20th-century liturgical theory was profound, proved, the primitive Christian altar was indeed square but it was completed by the addition of a ciborium to provide necessary protection and a liturgical enclosure. That is what is found in the undisturbed, fourth-century Roman basilicas and surviving churches of the period in Italy. It was Bishop’s research that persuaded Bentley that a ciborium was an essential part of the Christian altar and that his baldacchino was the best thing about the cathedral. A square altar looks wrong without a ciborium to cover it. Where square altars are put in modern churches, the liturgical space would be transformed by the addition of a simple ciborium and I hope that Westminster Cathedral will sow seed in their revival as necessary adjuncts to the sanctuary.

For the papal Mass a graceful silver 18th-century standing crucifix and candlesticks, chosen by Mgr Guido Marini, the papal master of ceremonies, were put on the altar and it would be good if these remained permanently in place. The crucifix simply applies what was laid down after Vatican II and provides an indispensable Christocentric focus for the celebrant. It is not an obstruction but a necessary ornament. All in all, the recent changes at Westminster and the example of the papal Mass are radical in their exemplary celebration of the Roman Rite and I hope the precedent they give will be followed in the parishes of England and Wales. Worship would thereby be newly reformed, as commended and practised by the highest source of ecclesial authority.

Source: The Catholic Herald

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Deacons for the Franciscans of the Immaculate

Today, H.E. Msgr. Velasio de Paolis, Titular Archbishop of Thelepte, President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and to be created Cardinal at the coming consistory of 20 November, ordained nine new deacons for the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Pontifical Mass was sung and Holy Orders were conferred according to the usus antiquior.

Here are some pictures, via John Sonnen at Orbis Catholicus.

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568 - 1961: Part 9.1 - The Simplified Rubrics of 1955

In his History of the Roman Breviary, Msgr. Batiffol correctly notes that “the tendency to multiply the festivals of saints will always be found to exert more power, and to command more sympathy, than any plan for reducing them.” (p. 305) The same thing may well be said about the tendency to multiply rubrics. As noted earlier in this series, the basic rubrics of the Breviary of St. Pius V are much shorter, clearer, and better organized than those of its medieval predecessors; they also left unresolved a number of questions about how to say the Office. Over the following centuries, therefore, they were frequently added to and expanded, becoming ever more precise, and as a result, ever more complicated. In the editio princeps of the Breviary of St. Pius V, the general rubrics occupy a total of seven pages. I own a copy of the Roman Breviary printed in 1900, in which they occupy 32 pages of rather smaller type, followed by 13 pages of proper rubrics for the Discalced Carmelite Order.

To give just one example of the way the rubrics were expanded: in the Breviary of 1570, the feast of Saints are classified in three grades, double, semidouble and simple. The first of these three was originally reserved for the most important feasts; over time, however, as the number of saints on the general Calendar increased, it came to be generally used as the entry-level grade for all new feasts. In order to maintain a distinction between, e.g., Easter, and a local confessor-bishop of uncertain history, the grade of double was later divided into four categories: First Class, Second Class, Major and Minor. Each of these four was then subdivided into “primary” and “secondary” feasts, the former being used for the main feast of a particular saint, and the latter for feasts such as the translations of relics, or miracle-feasts like the Apparition of Saint Michael. Thus the Office came to have effectively ten classifications of feasts.

Similar changes were made to the rubrics of the Missal, with a view to accommodating all possible concurrences of feasts and commemorations. Before the reform of 1911, the rubric printed before the preface of the Holy Trinity is thirty words long, including the date it was formally enacted. In the edition following the 1911 reform, it is expanded to 279 words, forming two head-spinningly complicated Latin sentences. The lengthy “Additions and Variations to the Rubrics”, added to the Missal by the same reform, contain a number of sentences in which the subject can only be seen from the principal verb on very clear days.

While some of these changes may seem very poorly thought out today, it must be born in mind that rubrics are supposed to function as an aide-memoire; priests traditionally learned the office by celebrating it in choir, not by reading it from book. (For this reason, many medieval breviaries, written or printed when choral Office was the norm, contain no “general rubric” at all to teach clerics how to say the office.) Many of the rubrics apply only to certain particular situations, and often would not have even been noticed by the average cleric when using his Breviary or Missal. Nevertheless, it must be granted that, taken as a whole, the corpus had become very complex indeed by the early twentieth century; many who had no experience of singing the Office in choir clearly sympathized with Thomas Cranmer’s famous jab at the rubrics of the Sarum Breviary, “…many times, there was more busines to fynd out what should be read, then to read it when it was faunde out.” (preface to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer.)

In March of 1955, therefore, a decree was issued by the Sacred Congregation for Rites, simplifying the rubrics of both the Breviary and Missal. I will here limit myself to enumerating the more salient features of this reform; the complete text is available in the online version of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. I have attempted to describe these changes in a more clearly organized way than they are given in the decree itself.

The reader must keep in mind a particular feature of the reform of St. Pius X, namely, that most saints’ offices of nine readings were also provided with a simplified version of the saint’s life, summarizing it in a single lesson. This simplified lesson was to be used, according to certain rules, when the saint was only commemorated; in the reform of 1955, and the later reform of 1960, it will come to play a very important role. When an office is reduced from nine readings to three, only the simplified lesson is left.

The following changes of a general nature apply to both the Missal and the Breviary.

1. The rank of semidouble is suppressed. Offices of the temporal cycle which were traditionally kept as semidouble (including all Sundays) are raised in rank to doubles; feasts of the saints formerly kept at this grade are reduced to simples, i.e. offices of only 3 readings at Matins.

2. The custom of anticipating certain Sundays to the preceding Saturday is suppressed.

3. The vigils of Christmas, Pentecost, the Ascension, the Assumption, St. John the Baptist, Ss. Peter and Paul, and Saint Lawrence are retained; all other vigils, whether of the general Calendar, or of any local Calendar, are suppressed. If the vigil of a saint should fall on a Sunday, it is no longer to be anticipated to the preceding Saturday, but simply omitted.

(The suppressed vigils on the general Calendar are those of the Epiphany, the Immaculate Conception, All Saint’s Day, and the feasts of the Apostles Andrew, Thomas, Matthias, James the Elder, Bartholomew, Matthew, and Simon and Jude.)

4. All octaves are suppressed, both on the universal Calendar, and on all local Calendar, except those of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. This entails four octaves of the temporal cycle (Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart), and ten of the general Calendar. (The Assumption, Immaculate Conception and Nativity of the Virgin Mary; the Birth of St. John the Baptist; Ss. Peter and Paul; All Saints’; St. Stephen; St. John; the Holy Innocents; St. Lawrence.) Provisions are made by the new rubrics for the ensuing gaps in the temporal cycle.

5. All feasts of simple rank are reduced to commemorations.

The following changes are specific to the Breviary.

1. The Lord’s Prayer, the “Hail Mary” and the Apostles’ Creed are no longer said at the beginning and end of the hours. It should be noted that the Hail Mary and the Apostles Creed are thenceforth no longer part of the Roman office. The former was said only at the beginning of each hour, and the end of Compline. The latter was at the beginning of Matins and Prime, at the end of Compline, and also said in some of the Preces of Prime and Compline; these Preces were also suppressed by this decree.

2. The ferial preces of Lauds and Vespers, formerly said on all penitential ferias, are now to be said only on Wednesdays and Fridays, and on the Ember Saturdays of Advent, Lent and September. The preces of all other hours are suppressed.

3. The Suffrage of the All the Saints, and the Commemoration of the Cross which is said in its place in Eastertide, are both suppressed.

4. The Athanasian Creed is now to be said only on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

5. All feasts below the rank of Double of the second class (i.e., all Double majors, Doubles and Simples) are no longer celebrated with first vespers.

6. Double feasts of the second class now use the psalms and antiphons of the day at the hours from Prime to None, as do those double majors which formerly retained the psalms of Sunday at these same hours (such as the feasts of angels.)

7. In the Missal of St. Pius X, when a feria of Lent and a lesser feast (i.e. not a double of either the first or second class) occurred on the same day, a priest might choose to say the Mass of either the feast or the feria. Permission is now granted to do the same for the Office, i.e. to say the office of either the saint or the feria.

8. The transfer or resumption of certain antiphons and of certain readings from the Scriptures from one day to another is suppressed. Likewise, the transfer of certain hymns proper to particular feast days from one hour to another is also suppressed.

9. When the office of a Sunday or vigil is impeded by an office of nine readings, the ninth lesson of Matins is no longer to be taken from the impeded office.

The second part of this article will offer some observations on this reform. To read the most recent parts of this series, click here. For the complete set of links to the earlier parts of this series posted last fall, including a Glossary of terms related to the Divine Office, click here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Historic Bell Tolls again at Assumption Church, Windsor, Canada

A 260-year-old bell - probably brought to Windsor by the Jesuits in 1750 - was recently discovered in the Assumption Church belfries.

On Wednesday, Jason Grossi, the principal architect working on the $9.6 million reconstruction of the 170-year-old church, climbed up two rickety 20-foot ladders and squeezed through a dirt encrusted opening to ring the three-foot tall bell that sits on the north wall of the belfries. Then he rang the church's main bell, which trilled so loud it could be heard halfway across the University of Windsor campus.


The Jesuit bell was discovered by Steven Ball, a University of Michigan musical instruments professor. Last summer Ball, who is also an organist, was substituting at an Assumption mass and decided to climb into the belfries. As a campanologist, he studies bells and bell ringing. He informed officials about the second bell, but it wasn't investigated for a year.

Ball couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday but Grossi said the bell probably came to Canada with the Jesuits from France sometime after 1701.


Assumption Church, which is the oldest building west of Montreal, is undergoing a massive renovation that will probably take 10 years to complete.

Read the entire story: Historic bell tolls again at Assumption Church (Windsor Star)

Resources for Opus Sectile Work

A reader of my blog recently directed me to two excellent books about the Christian tradition of geometric patterned art. The first is one has actually been mentioned here on the NLM before, Cosmatesque Ornament: Flat Polychrome Geometric Patterns in Architecture by Paloma Pajares-Ayuela. This book focuses on the opus sectile work of the 12th and 13th century charaterised by coloured stone. With systematic thoroughness and hundreds of diagrams and gorgeous photographs, it explains the design schemes of all these patterns, the symbolism of the geometry and mathematics behind them and the colour schemes used. The author has gone to the trouble of researching every church that has examples of this work. As he points out, 'The principle focus of Cosmatesque ornament, central Italy, is home to 91% of Cosmatesque cities. The 62 cities of central Italy contain 183 Cosmatesque monuments; 85 of these are in the capital city of Rome.' He lists every church in existence that has such patterns, including the only one outside Italy, which is Westminster Abbey, in London.

The book sets the scene historically, explaining the classical Roman, Byzantine and Islamic influences on the design schemes. It devotes a whole section to analysis the quincunx, the quintessential Cosmati design. This is the design of four circles, spinning out of a larger 5th circle. The one shown top left is Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome. It devotes special detailed attention also, as an exemplar, to the pavement of the Schola Cantorum in the church of San Clemente, Rome.

Cosmati work, named after the family that through several generations pioneered the style, is not the only form of geometric patterned art in the Christian tradition. However, like all gothic design, it is a form integrated with all aspects of Christian culture and is run through with proportions and harmonies that echo the patterns and rhythms of the liturgy. This makes them especially good starting point. Being a lover of all things gothic, it appeals to my taste as well!

For those who want a slightly broader perspective, there is a second book Italian Pavements: Patterns in Space by Kim Williams. It examines patterned pavements in both mosaic (which is composed of tesserae - many small pieces of glass or stone of similar size and shape) and opus sectile ( literally 'cut work' where the stone, usually porphyry or marble, is cut to a precise shape). Also it considers designs ranging from classical Roman to Baroque, rather than just a two-hundred year period. What makes it a useful complement to the other is that it describes how to draw some of the more complicated designs that it describes.

I am not aware of anyone who is capable of producing work that compares with this today, but I am hoping this might inspire and help someone to do so in the future.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome

The altar at Sacra Speco, Subiaco

Fr. Anthony Symondson Reviews Volume Three of The Collected Letters of AWN Pugin

The Collected Letters of A. W. N. Pugin: Volume 3: 1846 to 1848, edited by Margaret Belcher, Oxford University Press, £126.

Reviewed by Fr. Anthony Symondson, S.J.

One of the most remarkable feats of modern scholarship is Margaret Belcher’s edition of the collected letters of A. W. N. Pugin, the Victorian architect. Scrupulously edited and annotated, they are not only indispensable for the study of Victorian architecture and ecclesiastical life of the period, but reveal Pugin in his own, sometimes raw, words. The third volume (the longest so far) brings the record to 1848.

The years 1846-8 find Pugin at the zenith of his work and influence. His two major churches – St Giles’s, Cheadle, and St Augustine’s, Ramsgate – are finished; the first part of the House of Lords is open; and he makes his only visit to Italy. He also married for the third time. His bride, Jane Knill, brought happiness after four years of misery, poor health, and disappointment following the death of Louisa, his second wife, in 1844, leaving him with six children and the burden of running an expanding practice with little assistance.

Much of his correspondence was with the colleagues who executed his work. With Myers, his builder, Hardman, his metalworker and glass-painter, Crace, who executed his domestic furniture, wall paper and diapering, and, less so, Minton, his ceramist. Much of this correspondence is professional, associated with architectural projects, but some is personal and discloses the good terms of friendship established by Pugin with them; the same applies to his clients. Hardman took an interest in Pugin’s welfare, knowing how he drove himself, and it was he and Lord Shrewsbury who urged him to go to Italy for a month to recuperate after the intense exertion of working on Cheadle and the House of Lords.

This took place in the spring of 1847 and, predictably, Rome was vilified. This was ill-received and a vivid account was written by James Gillis describing the lamentable impression Pugin made. ‘Marshall the convert with whom he went about a good deal declares he was in perfect misery all-day long – Then he went out in the morning & was tortured by the Paganism of the churches here, at his hotel he was Encompassed by Protestants talking treason & scoffing at religion – That in the stir out after Sunset for fear of Stilletos – On one occasion he suffered his pocket to be picked without resistance in church fearing the revenge of the thief – but their crowning joke is their having found him at his devotions in the Confessional of St Peter’s & upon congratulating him upon being able to pray in so Pagan a temple, he assured them that he was returning thanks that there were 5 cracks in the cupola of the Church.’

‘Ever since I left Rome I have been delighted with Italy,’ he wrote to Lord Shrewsbury from Florence, ‘… I have seen 3 of the finest gothic altars in Christendom & one of silver about 12 feet high – as for the stained glass there is nothing so good on our side of the alps - & the sacristies are full of Gothic shrines reliquaries chalices &c. I am in a perfect mine of medieval art …’. If anything, his enthusiasm intensified in Perugia, Bologna, Venice and Milan.

Pugin met Newman in 1846 at a reception at Alton Towers after the consecration of Cheadle, in company with the massed ranks of clerical and lay Catholic leaders celebrating the revival of Catholicism in England. But, on practical grounds, nobody indighted Pugin’s reputation as a liturgical designer more than Newman. In 1848, after preaching at the newly-consecrated St Thomas’s, Fulham, he delivered the coup de grace on the efficiency of Pugin’s altars and the functional competence of his churches.

‘Mrs Bowden’s new Church at Fulham is very pretty,’ he wrote to Miss Giberne, ‘but it has the faults of Pugin. In details Pugin is perfect but his altars are so small that you can’t have a Pontifical High Mass at them, his tabernacles so low that you can scarce have exposition, his East windows so large that every thing is hidden in the glare, and his skreens (sic) so heavy that you might as well have the function in the sacristy, for the seeing of it by the Congregation.’ Pugin did not attend the consecration and came to fear Newman’s antipathy.

In Jane Knill Pugin found a ‘first-rate Gothic woman at last, who perfectly understands and delights in spires, chancels, screens, stained glass windows, brasses, vestments, etc’. She befriended his children, bore him two more, and, Myers confided to Hardman, made ‘the governor’, ‘Very Cosy … and as fat as a seal’.

Every few years an immaculate volume of Pugin’s letters is published by the Oxford University Press, sparsely illustrated in monochrome on art paper, which is a model of how letters should be edited and presented to the public. Three have appeared so far, volume 4 is promised next year, and more are expected to bring the record to the year of Pugin’s death in 1852. They are not only a monument of scholarship but, through the extensive footnotes, set Pugin’s life in the context in which he lived, devoid of bias. Not least, the Second Spring of English Catholicism is reflected as it actually was through Pugin’s engagement with the protagonists. Victorian studies as a whole owe Margaret Belcher a debt that will never be repaid.

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