Thursday, March 31, 2011

Byron Consort of the Harrow School Touring the USA

From a reader comes information about a prestigious English boys choir which will be touring the United States beginning this weekend. Some background:

Harrow School is one of England’s most famous and prestigious schools. Its former alumni include Winston Churchill, Lord Byron, King Hussein of Jordan, Pandit Nehru, Cardinal Henry Manning, Fr Frederick Faber and seven prime ministers of the United Kingdom.

The Byron Consort is Harrow’s elite vocal ensemble and was founded in 2001 by Philip Evans who continues to direct the choir. It consists of between three and five Harrow boys and one adult on each voice part (Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Bass) – the choir sings a mixture of unaccompanied sacred and secular music, most of which comes from the Renaissance, Romantic and Modern periods. Many of the boys are ex-choristers from leading cathedral and collegiate choirs – there have recently been representatives from the choirs of King’s College Chapel Cambridge, Canterbury, Chichester, Westminster and Winchester Cathedrals, St. George’s Chapel Windsor and Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, as well as a former member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

Since its inception the choir has sung regularly at services and concerts at Harrow and has sung at Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, Sherborne Abbey, St James’s Church Spanish Place, the London Oratory, Jesus and St. Catharine’s College Chapels Cambridge, and Exeter and Keble College Chapels and Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, the Temple Church in London.

The choir has given eight overseas tours including: a trip to Rome in 2004 where it sang Masses in St Peter’s Basilica, Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Maria Maggiore, as well as being subject of a special documentary feature by Vatican Radio.

Most memorably of all, the choir sang for the late Holy Father in front of some 12000 people at the General Audience; in 2005 to Venice, where it sang at the Churches of San Marco, San Giorgio Maggiore, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the Frari Basilica as well as travelling to Padua to sing in the Basilica of St Anthony; in 2006 to Florence, during which it sang in the Cathedral, the Churches of San Marco and the Santissima Annunziata and the Seminary of the Institute of Christ the King at Gricigliano and the Cathedrals of Fiesole and Pisa; in 2007 to Sicily where it sang Masses in the Cathedral at Monreale and in the churches of San Domenico and San Giuseppe dei Teatini in Palermo, and took part in Vespers with the monks of the Abbey of San Martino delle Scale.

In 2008, the choir completed its second tour to Rome, and again sang at St Peter’s Basilica and other notable venues, as well as singing at the tomb of St Francis in the Basilica in Assisi. In 2009, the choir visited Austria and sang in the Peterskirche, the Malteserkirche and the Oratory in Vienna and at the Dom, Stiftkirche St. Peter and Franziskanerkircher in Salzburg. In February 2010, the choir visited Stockholm and gave performances in several churches there including recitals for the British Ambassador to Sweden and in the Grünewaldsalen at the Konserthuset, the national Concert Hall.

The U.S. tour will includes appearances in Washington D.C. as well as New York City. In Washington the choir will sing at St Matthew’s Cathedral, St Mary Mother of God, Christ Church Alexandria and at the Basilica of the National Shrine; in New York at the choir will sing at St Mary’s Times Square, Trinity Wall Street, the Basilica of Old St Patrick’s Cathedral and at the Cathedral of St John the Divine. Shortly after returning to England, the choir is scheduled to sing Choral Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The tour schedule is as follows:

Saturday, April 2 at 5.30pm: Mass followed by Recital at St Matthew’s Cathedral, 1725 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington DC.

Sunday, April 3 at 9:00am: Missa Cantata celebrated by Msgr Andrew Wadsworth at St Mary, Mother of God Church, 727 5th Street NW

Sunday, April 3 at 4:30pm: Mass and Recital at National Basilica, 400 Michigan Avenue NE

Monday, April 4 at 6:00pm: Choral Evensong at Christ Church, 118 N Washington Street, Alexandria, VA

Tuesday, April 5 at 7:30pm: Concert at St Mary’s Times Square, 145 W 46th Street, New York

Wednesday, April 6 at 1:00pm: Lunchtime Recital at Trinity Church, Wall Street

Wednesday, April 6 at 5:00pm: Choral Evensong at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue

An Important Liturgical Reform of the Eighth Century

Prior to the first part of the eighth century, the church of Rome shared the custom of Byzantium and Milan in abstaining from the celebration of Mass on a regular basis during Lent; all of the Thursdays of Lent were “aliturgical”, (with the obvious exception of Holy Thursday,) as were the Saturday before the first Sunday of Lent, and the Saturday before Palm Sunday. (The term aliturgical refers, of course, only to the Eucharistic liturgy, not to the Divine Office.) The Würzburg Lectionary, the oldest surviving lectionary of the Roman Rite, represents the Roman tradition of the mid-seventh century, and contains the oldest list of Lenten Stations; in it, we find no stations or readings appointed for these days.

The collection of papal biographies called the Liber Pontificalis tells us that Pope St. Gregory II (715-731) changed this custom, “establish(ing) that on Thursday in the Lenten season there should be a fast and the solemn celebration of Mass, which the blessed Pope Melchiades (311-314) had prohibited.” Under Melchiades himself, it is also noted that “the blessed Gregory (the Great) in arranging the offices (i.e. liturgies) left Thursday within Lent empty.” This is the reason why even in the Missal of St. Pius V, the masses of the Thursdays of Lent have no proper chant parts, borrowing their introits, graduals, offertories and communions from other masses; the respect for the tradition codified by Gregory the Great was such that it was deemed better not to add new pieces to the established repertoire. The two formerly aliturgical Saturdays, on the other hand, simply repeat the Gregorian propers from the previous day, indicating that their masses were added by a different Pope.

The question naturally arises, however, as to why the Pope felt the need to change the long-standing tradition. The answer seems to be in the controversies between the Popes of that era and the Byzantine Emperors over the Quinisext Synod. The peculiar name of this assembly, “Fifth-Sixth”, derives from its purpose, to supplement the work of the fifth and sixth ecumenical councils, which had both adjourned without issuing any disciplinary decrees. In 692, twelve years after the sixth ecumenical council ended, it met in Constantinople in the same domed hall, or “trullo”, as the previous assembly, whence its more common name in English, “the Synod in Trullo”.

In the ancient church, regional councils were free to legislate for themselves, and could expect from the Apostolic See broad tolerance of most local customs and traditions. The Synod in Trullo, however, was called by the Emperor Justinian II to legislate for the whole Church, without reference to the Pope; even the one bishop present from the territory of the Latin Patriarchate was a Greek. Like many Byzantine emperors of that era, Justinian did not believe that his absolute rule ended at the church’s doors; when Pope Sergius I refused to approve or recognize either the council or its canons, Justinian would have forced him to do so by arresting him and bringing him to Constantinople, as another emperor had done less than 40 years earlier to Pope St. Martin I. Unlike Martin, who died of the rigors of his exile and is venerated as the last martyred pope, Sergius was spared such violence by a popular uprising against the official sent to arrest him, and the deposition of Justinian three years later.

The anti-Roman force of the Trullan decrees has at times been exaggerated, but some of the canons are clearly criticisms of the church of Rome and its customs; for example, canon 55 pretends to impose the Eastern law of fasting in Lent upon Rome itself. “Since… in the city of the Romans, in the holy fast of Lent they fast on the Saturdays, contrary to the ecclesiastical observance which is traditional, it seemed good to the holy synod that also in the church of the Romans the canon shall immovably stands fast which (prohibits fasting on Saturday).” Most famously, this synod was also the occasion on which the church of Byzantium ruled that married men might enter the clergy without separating from their wives; this decree is framed in canon 13 in opposition to the “…rule of the Roman Church that those who are deemed worthy to be advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate should promise no longer to live with their wives.” Canons 12 and 48 maintain the discipline that bishops shall not be married, but the former also speaks of deposing bishops who violate the canon, mentioning specifically those in Africa and Libya, who are part of the Latin Patriarchate, not that of Constantinople.

Pope Sergius’ response to the synod was not only his refusal to recognize or approve it, in defiance of the emperor. He also added the Agnus Dei to the Mass, and the great scholar Msgr. Louis Duchesne rightly points out that this was probably done in part as “a protest against canon 82 of the Synod in Trullo, which forbade the symbolic representation of the Savior in the form of a Lamb.” (in his critical edition of the Liber Pontificalis, quoted in the Catholic Encyclopedia under “Agnus Dei”.) At the same time, St. Sergius added to the church of Ss. Cosmas and Damian, where the Station is held today, a mosaic arch in front of the older mosaic apse.

In it we see an image of the Lamb of God solemnly enthroned at the top, sitting on the same type of jeweled throne which, 250 years earlier, had been used for the Cross itself at St. Mary Major.

Detail of the central part of the mosaic of the triumphal arch of Ss. Cosmas and Damian.
Photograph courtesy of Bro. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

The same motif as it appears at Saint Mary Major.

The mosaics of Ss. Cosmas and Damian. Apse made under Pope St. Felix IV (526-30), triumphal arch under Pope Sergius I (687-701). Photograph courtesy of Bro. Lawrence Lew. O.P.

All of the imagery surrounding the Lamb is taken from the Apocalypse, the only book of the New Testament which is never read in the Byzantine Liturgy, even to this day: the seven candlesticks from chapter 1, the scroll with the seven seals from chapter 5, the angels with censers from chapter 8. The Lamb Himself is first spoken of in chapter 5; in the previous chapter, the twenty-four elders lay their crowns before the throne of God. These elders were also originally present in the mosaic in Ss. Cosmas and Damian, but were obliterated during a 17th century restoration; they are still present, however, in the mosaic arch at Santa Prassede, which faithfully copies the program of the mosaics at Cosmas and Damian. It would appear, then, that the entire program of the latter's arch was conceived of as a response to the Synod in Trullo and the customs of the Byzantines.

The mosaics of the sanctuary of Santa Prassede, made under Pope Paschal I (817-24),
reproducing the motifs of the two mosaics in Ss. Cosmas and Damian.

Before his election to the Papacy, Gregory II had served the church of Rome under four Popes. Ordained a subdeacon by Sergius I, in 710 he accompanied Pope Constantine on a year-long visit to the imperial capital, and negotiated a compromise with the reinstated Justinian II on Rome’s acceptance of the Trullan decrees. This compromise was probably no more than an agreement to disagree; neither Rome nor Byzantium changed its mind or policy on any of the disputed points. Two months after their departure, Justinian was deposed and executed; he was succeeded first by an active supporter of the heresy condemned at the sixth ecumenical council, and then, after two very brief reigns, by Leo III, the inventor of Iconoclasm. As the latter initiated a brutal persecution which gave many martyrs to the Church, relations between him and the Pope deteriorated; in a famous letter, Gregory writes “It grieves us that the savages and barbarians are becoming tame, while you, the civilized, are becoming barbarous.” (The “savages” are the peoples of northern Europe, then being converted to Christianity by St. Boniface, who was sent to Germany by Gregory himself.)

In such a climate of tension between the Pope and Emperor, the institution of the Lenten Masses of Thursday should probably be seen as another rejection of Byzantine practice as established at the Synod in Trullo under Justinian II; according to canon 52, “On all days of the holy fast of Lent, except on the Sabbath, the Lord's day and the holy day of the Annunciation, the Liturgy of the Presanctified is to be said.” Since the Byzantine council had established that the Mass not be celebrated on the ferial, fasting days of Lent, Gregory II all but abolished the practice in Rome. It is likely not a coincidence, therefore, that Station appointed for one of these new Thursday Masses, that of the third week, should be at the church of Ss. Cosmas and Damian, which his honored predecessor Sergius had already decorated with works of the same anti-Byzantine stamp.

Although the points of discipline disputed by Rome and Byzantium in the seventh century remain such to a great degree in our own time, the short-lived détente first worked out in 710 between St. Gregory II and Justinian II has in some ways returned. While the Roman Rite refrains from the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice only on Good Friday, Catholics of the Byzantine Rite, in accordance with the perennial custom of their churches, do so throughout the Lenten season. For this reason, even in Rome itself one can attend the extraordinarily beautiful ceremony known as the Liturgy of the Presanctified in the churches and colleges of the oriental Rites.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified at the Pontifical Russian College.

Video of the Holy Father's Ordination to the Priesthood

A few years ago, we had a look at Pope Benedict's First Mass as a newly ordained priest (see A New Priest in 1951 - Part I and Part II). Now footage of the actual ordination has been reposted on, which you might enjoy. The ordination took place in Freising, in the Concathedral of St. Mary and St. Corbinian of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1951. About 40 deacons were ordained on this day by the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, His Eminence Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber (already 82 at the time), among them, in addition to Fr Joseph Ratzinger, his brother Fr Georg Ratzinger.

Video source:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saint Andrew's Abbey, Bruges

Readers may recall we recently showed an historical picture of Mass offered in the Abbey Church of St. Andrew's in Bruges, which we culled from the blog of The Saint Bede Studio.

Both that blog and this one had the question asked about the present form of the sanctuary of that abbey church today, and whether the beautiful altar and ciborium were still intact. Indeed they apparently are.. St. Bede Studio recently noted when they posted a recent photo of the Abbey Church. A simply glorious church.

Photo copyright Dirk Vde

First Anglican Use Mass in Canada

We reported recently on the Anglican Ordinariate conference which took place near Toronto, Ontario, and which Fr. Christopher Phillips (pastor of San Antonio's Our Lady of the Atonement Anglican Use parish) and Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P. participated in, along with the local ordinary, Archbishop Thomas Collins, who has been asked by Rome to head up the ordinariate efforts in Canada.

Some images and video have been made available from the associated Mass which took place as part of the conference which, incidentally, was the first Anglican use Mass celebrated within Canada -- by "Anglican use" I mean Mass celebrated in accordance with the 'Book of Divine Worship', which is the liturgical book in use as part of the historical Anglican use communities in the United States. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Christopher Phillips. (As a point of comment; while visiting Boston this past fall, I had the opportunity to attend an Anglican use liturgy in a suburb of Boston, at St. Lawrence Church in Chestnut Hill, MA. It was a beautiful and moving liturgy and only served to re-affirm my belief that the Anglican Ordinariate has a great deal to offer to the liturgical conversation, most particularly to the reform of the reform.)

Here are some of those photos and videos, courtesy of the English Catholic.

The Iconography of San Clemente

Guest Article by Dino Marcantonio

If you are looking for an ideal model of a church building, then look no further than the Minor Basilica of San Clemente in Rome. It has all the traditional symbolical elements expressed almost entirely without abbreviation, from the spatial sequence to the liturgical furnishings. And its perennial relevance is attested to by its age--it has been preserved by countless generations ever since the first century when the Roman Consul Titus Flavius Clemens donated his property to the Church. The church building we see today is substantively the same as that erected in 385 A.D. Though we don't know how the good Consul's property before 385 was adapted to accommodate the liturgy, I don't think it is a stretch to assume that the natural and good instinct for conservation which has served San Clemente so well for the last 1,625 years is the same which informed the construction of that first church.

The most important symbol perhaps is the arrangement of the spaces. The movement from the street, through the forecourt and nave to the Sanctuary symbolizes the individual's passage through life: from conception and birth in Original Sin (i.e., life without Sanctifying Grace), through initiation into and increase in Sanctifying Grace, and then finally salvation, and the Beatific Vision. It also symbolizes salvation history: from the Age of the Old Testament Prophets, through the Age of the New Covenant, through the Second Coming and the end of time. Between each space, a distinct threshold is crossed.

Most churches around us abbreviate this spatial sequence due to practical considerations. The forecourt, for example, may be reduced to a simple porch, and the schola cantorum is almost always left out entirely. Nevertheless, the basic symbol of our movement through time remains. Even the traditional placement of the Baptismal font and the confessionals, at the threshold between the forecourt and the nave (where we are initiated and re-initiated into Sanctifying Grace), is the fruit of this basic, traditional diagram.

There is a fly in the ointment, however: note that the movement is from east to west. I cannot definitively explain why the church was laid out this way as a glance at the property would suggest that it could easily have been orientated, which is to say, designed so that one's movement through the church was from west to east, toward the rising sun. All the churches built by Constantine in Rome were laid out "backwards" this way (except Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, which was built into an existing building), and I can only guess that this was done in part to imitate the Temple at Jerusalem.

There are other possibilities as well. The priest offering the Holy Sacrifice is facing east, of course--the design of the altar makes it impossible for Mass to be offered any other way. It is thought that in antiquity the assembly would actually turn around and face east with the celebrant, putting the Sanctuary behind them. This is not as strange as it might at first sound. A shepherd is always behind his flock. This is why the celebrant always comes last in procession. Furthermore, the church building symbolizes the Barque of Peter. In fact, the word nave derives from the Latin navis, which means boat. So the Sanctuary is where the helm in an ancient ship would be--at the back.

We have a dual movement, then. We move into the church building toward the west, and then we turn around at a certain point in the liturgy and proceed east. Now consider for a moment St. Germanus' text (which I have been commenting on bit by bit over the past year). He says that the Sanctuary is an image of the tomb in which Christ was buried; the Altar is "the spot in the tomb where Christ was placed"; and the apse corresponds to the cave in which He was buried. So perhaps our movement from east to west toward the Sanctuary, toward the setting sun, is actually a representation of our burial with Christ. And turning around and proceeding east, toward the rising sun, represents our sharing in His Resurrection.

have no textual evidence for all this. But I can certainly see why this manner of orienting church buildings did not stand the test of time. Having the shepherd behind you while in procession is one thing, but having him lead an assembly in prayer from behind is another.

Let us now review the component parts individually. Just as the Temple at Jerusalem had a forecourt into which the uninitiated could enter (the Court of the Gentiles), so does San Clemente. At the center of San Clemente's forecourt there is a fountain, a traditional symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary through whom Our Savior came into the world. In like manner, the world now approaches Him through her.

From the atrium we pass through the exo-narthex, or porch, into the nave. The walls of the nave are decorated with images describing the life of St. Clement, the one closest to the Sanctuary depicting his martyrdom. These images act as encouragements along our metaphorical way, providing us with a specific example to follow. The fourth century church was similarly frescoed.

View of the nave, the schola cantorum with ambos to either side,
the altar and confessio under the ciborium,
and the bema at the back of the apse.

Half way up is the 6th century Schola Cantorum, which was preserved from the original church. Essentially an extension of the Sanctuary, here the clergy chant the Liturgy and the Divine Office. From the left one gains access to an elaborate ambo or tribune for the reading of the Gospel, designed to accommodate a procession up one side, and down the other. An exquisitely elaborate candelabrum for the Paschal candle sits atop a pedestal in the knee-wall (the templon) surrounding the Schola. Its shaft, a column of the composite order, is encrusted with colored marble pieces, and spirals upward in imitation of the columns Joachim and Boaz of the Temple of Solomon (3 Kings 7:13-22). To the right is a comparatively modest ambo for the Epistle. The more prominent book stand, at the top of several steps, faces the altar, while a more humble one at floor level faces the nave. (I have not found anything to explain the difference between the two, unfortunately.)

The location of the Gospel and Epistle ambos are perhaps the reverse of what one would expect. Traditionally, the Gospel side is liturgical north and the Epistle side is south, while here the reverse is the case. Jungmann argues that the determining factor in this early period was the Gospel’s position relative to the bishop’s throne, traditionally located against the back wall of the apse. It was most fitting that the Gospel be read to the bishop’s right, which is the position of honor. The priest or deacon reading the Gospel was then not facing away from the assembly, as would be the case if this were an orientated church, but rather toward the assembly, toward geographical north.

View from the high altar looking toward the east (as Mass ad orientem would be said).
Note the Gospel ambo is to the south (right), so as to be situated to the bishop’s right hand.
The Gospel would have been read, then, facing left, which is north.
The columns flanking the nave are ancient spolia,
only the capitals having been refashioned by Fontana.

Several steps above the nave, the altar is sheltered and highlighted by a ciborium, an exemplary product of the 12th century Roman Renovatio. There was at that time a heightened desire to recover knowledge of and maintain clear continuity with the Greco-roman architectural tradition that had been obscured as the Roman Empire and its component institutions fell into decline–in fact this period is sometimes called “the first Renaissance.” Already one can see progress is being made. The Corinthian columns are more clearly delineated than they would have been had they been built two centuries before (assuming they were built in the 12th century rather than the 5th as some have surmised).

Below, the richly profiled altar is inscribed with a dedication to St. Clement, whose relics, along with those of St. Ignatius, lie directly underneath in the confessio. Here is a beautiful detail, common in paleo-Christian churches, yet unfortunately never seen today. The confessio is simply a chamber for relics below an altar. As a unit, the confessio and altar form a cube, which is the ideal geometry of an altar. For a cube is the traditional symbol of the earth, and by Christ’s sacrifice upon it, the world is remade and sanctified. Additionally, the confessio reminds us that the altar is also Christ’s tomb, and that the saints mysteriously have a share in His Divine Life.

The altar over the confessio, and the ciborium above.
Just this bit is composed of elements constructed at
various times over a span of more than 1200 years.

The altar sits just proud of the center of the half-dome, the apse. The spectacular mosaic tells us that this is truly the new Garden of Eden. From the Cross's base grows a sumptuously poetic Tree of Life, filled with doves, peacocks, phoenixes, and images of various saints. From its base also spring the four rivers which water Paradise and the whole world (Gen. 2: 10-14). Above the Cross is the crowned Hand of God the Father, and below the scene is the Lamb of God surrounded by twelve lambs, the apostles, each with a corresponding portrait on the wall below (plus the Blessed Virgin to Christ's right).

The apse. The cathedra is partially visible over the altar.
[Image source]

Below the apostles, appropriately, is the throne of a successor, the bishop (now the titular Cardinal, as in all the station churches). This is the Bema. As is traditional, because the bishop’s cathedra is in this church, there is no Tabernacle on the main altar. The Tabernacle at San Clemente sits on the altar in the Chapel of the Rosary to the south of the main Sanctuary.

The floor of the whole church is another marvel. This Cosmatesque pavement, so named because the Cosmati family were the principal craftsmen, is a geometric extravaganza added to the church in the 12th century as part of an ornamental program to assert the authority of the papacy, then at the zenith of its temporal power. The Lazio region of Italy is replete with examples of this kind of pavement. The Cosmati, exponents of the broader conscious attempt at that time to maintain and clarify continuity with antiquity, adopted and extended many of the ancient geometric conventions for floor design, and merged them with iconography which developed specifically to serve Christianity. The quincunx is the most important example.

The floor is designed to complement the building's spatial sequence, and to underscore the movements of the liturgy, from those which form part of the consecration of the church, to those of daily Mass. The elaborate guilloche (the sinusoidal rope pattern) for example, marks a cross in the nave and the processional axis in the Schola Cantorum. Note that there are twelve roundels of valuable porphyry and serpentine marble in the Schola, as if to say that this is the place for the Apostles.

Watercolor study of the Schola Cantorum by my wife and partner, Paloma Pajares.
Read her book Cosmatesque Ornament for more information on the subject.

San Clemente is testament to the importance of representational art and architecture. Everything here means something, and it is all knit together into a coherent whole. The building is a witness to the Faith, a rich sacramental, an aid to the spiritual life of the Faithful. More importantly, the art and architecture incarnate the Faith, and in so building, we imitate the Creator. The Word was made flesh--our part is to make the Word stone.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Of Gods and Men

An intriguing looking film, Of Gods and Men, about Cistercian monks killed in Algeria in the mid 1990's. Here is the trailer.

Renovation: St. Peter the Apostle, Louisiana

St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana have recently undergone some renovations after a hurricane flooded their parish church. They took the opportunity to make various changes to the church, including the addition of a communion rail, the re-location of the tabernacle to the centre of the sanctuary, an addition to the predella (a too frequently neglected aspect in sanctuary renovations) and the extension of the space in front of the altar to accommodate ad orientem celebrations.

One will note as well the use of the Benedictine arrangement.

Here are some before and after photographs.



Usus Antiquior at Harvard University

As readers will know, we here at the NLM are always eager to promote and report on Masses in either the usus antiquior or in a "reform of the reform" vein which are taking place at university campuses and amongst university students. Accordingly, we were delighted to hear of the following Mass which took place at the prestigious American ivy league school, Harvard University, in Cambridge, MA.:

On Friday, March 25, 2011, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at Harvard University. Father Patrick Armano, Pastor of St. Monica Parish in Methuen, MA, celebrated Low Mass for the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the high altar of St. Paul Catholic Church in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. The Mass was a Dialogue Mass.

According to the available information, this is the first Mass in the usus antiquior at the high altar since the reform of the Roman Missal after Vatican II. Father Michael Drea, Pastor of St. Paul and Senior Chaplain to the Harvard Catholic Chaplaincy, assisted in choir and deserves many thanks for his generous support of this endeavor. The event was sponsored by the nascent Harvard Latin Mass Society and the Harvard Knights of Columbus. St. Paul Catholic Church is also the home of the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School.

Even with the last-minute time change to 5:15pm, which made it difficult for people to arrive in time after classes, work, or travel, almost 100 people, including several priests and religious were in attendance. Mass moved along smoothly with very few issues, taking into account the circumstances; this was the first Extraordinary Form Mass at Harvard and was organized within a few weeks by those with very little experience. Needless to say, it was a joyous occasion for current Harvard students and affiliates and for those who came from many parishes and schools across Boston and further. Several alumni drove or flew into Boston for the momentous occasion, which would have been unimaginable several years earlier. Deo gratias!

The Harvard Latin Mass Society have sent us some photos of the Mass.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Summer Latin Session for Clergy at FSSP Seminary in Nebraska

We tend to avoid doing too many announcements here on the NLM, only because there are so many events which are out there to promote and one can very quickly become inundated -- which, let's face it, is a delightful problem for it means that there is a great deal going on out there.

However, the following event will most certainly be of broad interest, I think, to a number of clergy, and is taking place at the beautiful FSSP seminary in Denton, Nebraska:

What: Summer Latin Session for Clergy
Place: Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, Denton, Nebraska (Airport access: Lincoln NE).
Dates: Noon on Monday 6 June-Noon Friday 10 June
Cost: $400 for instruction, room and board
Instructor: Prof. John M. Pepino, PhD
Entrance requirement: To have done seminary-level Latin and to be a priest or seminarian in good standing (testimonial letters required; sample available upon request).
Purpose: To help clergy whose Latin has become rusty to understand liturgical texts better.
Means: Review of the core grammar and vocabulary of liturgical Latin. Afternoons are spent on lessons; mornings on homework.
Texts: Roman Missal and Breviary, 1962 edition; work is done on photocopies. Bring a grammar and Latin dictionary.

For an application packet or questions, please email or write to John Pepino:
c/o Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
7880 West Denton Rd
Denton, NE 68339.

Photos from Mass at the High Altar of York Minster

A couple of weeks back, we mentioned a Mass to be celebrated in the usus antiquior at the High Altar of York Minster in York in the North of England.

The NLM is told that all of the music for the Mass (a Missa Cantata) were compositions of William Byrd, the great English composer, excepting of course for the propers. The Rudgate Singers sang the Mass for Five Voices, Justorum Animae (Offertory motet), Ave Verum Corpus (Communion motet), and Ave Regina Caelorum.

The Celebrant of the Mass was Fr Stephen Maughan from English Marty's Church, Dalton Terrace, York.

Approximately 800 people were said to be in attendance.

Following the Mass there was a procession through the medieval heart of York to one of the oldest streets called the Shambles where there is the Shrine of St Margaret Clitherow. The procession then continued through the city to Ouse Bridge (over the River Ouse) which was the place of her martyrdom. From there it continued to English Martyr's Church for Benediction and Veneration of the relic of St Margaret Clitherow.

The Mass was coordinated by the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

Dr John Ridgeway-Wood was kind enough to send us some pictures from the Mass which we are only too pleased to publish -- see his full photo set.

(The Canon Chancellor and Precentor of York Minster in attendance)

Enthronement of New Major Archbishop of Kiev-Halych

On 23 March 2011, the 40 bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Synod elected Sviatoslav Shevchuk as the new Major Archbishop of Kiev-Halych and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest Eastern Rite Catholic sui juris church, in succession to Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who retired in February. His election was confirmed by Pope Benedict on 25 March.

Yesterday, the new Major Archbishop was enthroned at Kiev. You can read about it, including a translation of his address at the Divine Liturgy, at Whispers in the Loggia, which also has some video:

In addition, some images from Daylife:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Saint Francis and the Liturgy

A few weeks back, I mentioned the topic of Saint Francis and the Divine Office. Further to this subject, I thought some of our readers would be interested in this piece, written by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB, on the topic of Saint Francis and the Liturgy. An excerpt:

I am old enough to remember having heard Franciscans of various allegiances chant the Divine Office in choir in Latin. It was impressive. The Franciscans of the Atonement at Graymoor were particularly marked by a love for the Divine Office inherited from their founders -- both converts from Anglicanism -- Father Paul James Francis Watson and Mother Lurana Mary Francis White.

The Conventual Franciscans (O.F..M., Conv.) had, in many places, a strong commitment to choral prayer and a somewhat higher standard of liturgical performance than that cultivated by the (O.F.M.) Friars Minor, although the latter are not entirely without a few strongholds of choral liturgical prayer in Italy and, of course, in the Holy Land.

The Capuchins, for their part, while reciting the Hours dutifully in choir, eschewed chant as a distraction and an impediment to recollection, and like so many movements of reform, invested more in the ways of mental prayer and a bracing asceticism than in choral liturgical prayer.

With the advent of the "peace and justice" enthusiasms of the 1970s, a serious commitment to choral liturgical prayer was judged, by many, incompatible with the "fundamental option for the poor" incumbent upon Franciscans in the post-conciliar age. Franciscans, Friars, Sisters, and even some Poor Clares, explored other non-liturgical or para-liturgical forms of prayer. Friaries and convents in which the complete cycle of the Hours was chanted in choir became extremely rare.


The Holy Father's choice of Saint Francis of Assisi as a model of liturgical piety is a clarion call, invited all followers of the Poverello to examine their commitment to a full, liturgical life, including the choral celebration of all the Hours. Magnificent early Franciscan liturgical manuscripts, described by the famous Franciscan liturgiologist, Father Stephan J. P. Van Dijk, O.F.M., attest to the importance attached to the Sacred Liturgy by the sons and daughters of the Seraphic Patriarch. Perhaps now, after more than forty years of alienation from the sources of an authentically Franciscan liturgical spirituality, the children of the Little Poor Man of Assisi may be ready to embrace the vision of Pope Benedict XVI as a passage "from the world to God."

Read the entire piece on Vultus Christi.

Fr. Aidan Nichols on the Anglican Ordinariate

Ordinariates are meant to evangelize, witness to unity, says Dominican scholar

Written by Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News Friday, 18 March 2011

OTTAWA - The headline speaker at an historic conference March 24-26 in Mississauga, Ont., hopes Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans will flourish in the Catholic Church through an emphasis on mission and unity.

But Fr. Aidan Nichols, a Dominican priest and scholar who is an expert on Anglican Church history and patrimony, would have preferred the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus had gone further than the Personal Ordinariate structure it calls for and instead created “the Western equivalent of a Catholic Eastern Church.”

“That would have been my preferred option, chiefly because it would be better able to resist assimilation to the parishes of the Latin dioceses,” he said in an e-mail interview. “But if the ecclesial arrangement offered enables the 'patrimony' to be transmitted, that is the main thing.”

He said the Ordinariates “are meant to grow by evangelizing, using their distinctive resources as means, and they are meant to witness to the unity which is possible between Rome and the best of the Canterbury tradition.”

Nichols is presenting three talks at the Anglicanorum coetibus Conference hosted by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins. The archbishop will facilitate the implementation of a Personal Ordinariate in Canada under the 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

Anglicanorum coetibus allows married Catholic priests to be appointed the Ordinary of a Personal Ordinariate. The first Ordinary of the first such structure in the world, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales, is a married former Church of England bishop, Fr. Keith Newton, who with two other former bishops was ordained a Catholic priest in January.

The conference at the Queen of the Apostles Retreat Centre has attracted almost 150 participants from both the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, a church of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Another keynote speaker is Fr. Christopher Phillips, who founded the first Anglican Use parish in the United States under Pope John Paul II’s Pastoral Provision that allowed former Anglican priests to become Catholic priests and retain an Anglican-style liturgy. In 1983, Phillips began with 18 former Anglicans, but his parish has grown to include more than 500 families and a school with more than 500 children.

“The very nature of an Ordinariate — its initially small size, and its singleness of purpose — means that we need to lay the groundwork for a close-knit family in Christ,” said Phillips in an e-mail. “It’s my hope that we’ll begin to achieve this at the upcoming meeting.”

Phillips, a pioneer in maintaining the Anglican patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church, held the first of a series of “Becoming One” conferences in November 2010. Since then, similar conferences have taken place elsewhere in the United States and Australia.

“As I've travelled to so many places throughout the United States, speaking to groups of Anglicans about Anglicanorum coetibus, I've found one of the most important purposes of these gatherings is simply to help individuals, who come from many different situations and backgrounds, just to get to know one another, and to realize that we all have a ‘common story,’ as we follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, urging us toward that unity for which our Lord prayed,” Phillips said.

Source: The Catholic Register

For more on this subject, see the interview on the English Catholic blog.

To learn more about the Anglican Ordinariate conference taking place near Toronto, Canada, as we speak, and which sees the involvement of Fr. Aidan Nichols and Fr. Christopher Phillips of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas, see here.

Feast of the Annunciation

Peter Paul Rubens, Annunciation, 1628

All the rich among the people shall entreat Thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to thee in gladness and rejoicing...

-- Excerpt from the Introit, 1962 Missale Romanum

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Santa Maria della Consolazione, Todi, Italy

(Source: Dino Marcantonio)

Can We Learn to Read the Book of Nature Today?

This follows on from an article written a couple of weeks ago about the quincunx and its relationship to the traditional image of Christ in Majesty showing with symbolic representation of the four evangelists, here. Emile Male wrote account of the understanding of how these four figures related to the evangelists in the 13th century (the book is called, The Gothic Image). Male is drawing on a commentary on Ezekiel by Rabanus Maurus, the 9thcentury Benedictine monk and bishop of Mainz in Germany, which, he says became the authoritative text for the later gothic period. Reading this is helpful in understanding the roots of this symbolism, but rather like an earlier discussion of the pelican and the peacock, not without a few difficulties also.

‘The emblem of St Matthew is the man, because his gospel begins with the genealogical table of the ancestors of Jesus according to the flesh. The lion designates St Mark, for in the opening verses of his gospel he speaks of the voice crying in the wilderness. The ox – the sacrificial animal – symbolizes St Luke whose gospel opens with the sacrifice offered by Zacharias. The eagle, who alone among birds was reputed to look straight into the sun, is a symbol of St John who from the very first transports men to the very heart of divinity.

‘Again these same creatures are symbols of Christ for in them may be seen four great mysteries of the life of the Saviour. The man recalls the Incarnation. The ox, victim of the old Law calls to remembrance the Passion. The lion which in fabled science sleeps with its eyes open is the symbol of the Resurrection for, [quoting Maurus] “in virtue of his humanity He appears to sink into the sleep of death, by virtue of His divinity He was living and watching”. The eagle is the figure of the Ascension because for Christ rose as the eagle soars to the clouds.

‘There is a third meaning relating to human virtue: each Christian on his way to perfection must be at once man, ox, lion and eagle. He must be man because man is a reasonable animal; he must be ox because ox is the sacrificial victim; he must be lion because the lion is the most courageous of animals and the good man having renounced worldly things has nothing to fear for it is written of him “the righteous are as bold as the lion”. And he must be eagle because the eagle flies into the heights looking straight into the sun, type of the Christian who with direct gaze contemplates the things of eternity.’

There is also some confusion here on my part, in that I had always thought that the first symbol was an angel, and not a man. Reading Ezekiel again, he describes the appearance of the first figure as 'human with wings' rather than as an angel. The ox and the lion are described as having wings as well, and these are still described in the tradition as ox and lion, so I have taken it that the first figure is human, or at least as human as any ox with wings is bovine. Scripture scholars please help!

Male then remarks upon the fact that two thirds of the triple-layered symbolism fell away as early as the Renaissance, as man became less inclined to interpret nature symbolically. Is this something to be regretted, I wonder?

My personal opinion is that the symbolic reading of the book of nature is important. I feel it highlights for us that God's dealings with his creatures have two aspects, one external and one internal: the natural and the supernatural; with the first pointing the second. Newman put it: 'Of necessity, Providence is secretly concurring and co-operating with that system which meets the eye.' (Nature and Supernature) The book of nature that can be read in the light of faith and understood as something that both emanates from and points to the Word. (A priest recently put it to me beautifully thus: ‘The Mass is a jewel in its setting, which is the liturgy of the hours; and the two together are a cluster of precious stones that themselves have a setting which is the cosmos.’)

The symbolism of which we speak in this particular example is firmly rooted in the tradition, and is biblically based and so we can happily use it. But if we accept the value of the richer, gothic interpretation – should we aim to restore it uncritically? Certainly, much of it we can adopt quite happily – and many of the observations of nature would be considered true today, or at least acceptable even if not literally true (even in today’s rationialist society people accept some ideas that might be difficult to establish scientifically (eg the courage of the lion).

However, what if some of the interpretation is based upon what was believed at the time to be scientific fact, and which is no longer held to be true or even accepted as myth? I am thinking here of the idea that the eagle looks directly into the sun, or that lions sleep with their eyes open. (My understanding is that neither is considered true today).

I would say that to include such aspects of the gothic symbolism in our picture would reduce the possibilities of it being broadly accepted, and so undermine the greater point we are trying to make. However, we don't need to abandon the idea altogether. We should not be afraid to develop and adapt them based upon things that we do know to be true. If gothic man could read the book of nature, why can’t we learn to do it too? In fact once we accept the principle, modern science might even enrich our symbolic reading of nature. Who would have thought, for example, see here,that in particle physics, the 'flavours' of the sub-atomic 'hadronic particles' would follow the pattern of the Pythagorean tetractys, which symbolises musical harmony and was described in Boethius's De Musica? To take another example, the four ‘elements’ of Aristotle – air, earth, fire, and water – do not correspond to the physical elements of modern physics and chemistry, but do symbolise very well what would be described today as the physical states of matter – solid, liquid, gas and energy (or perhaps plasma). The idea being communicated is the same.

Similarly, if indeed the eagle does not look directly into the sun, the symbolism of the eagle can easily be adapted into something that we do accept to be true today and is emphasizing the same point – it has extraordinary eyesight that operates in dim and bright light and could be seen as a symbol of one who is focused on the Light with an unerring and penetrating gaze.

Images: top, 9th century German ivory; below tiles manufactured by the Pugin company in England in the 19th century; and the four evangelists by Rubens.

The Short Phelonion in the Byzantine East

Recently I re-posted a research piece I wrote in 2009 on the topic of the planeta plicata -- or folded chasuble. In response to this piece, one of our Eastern Christian readers sent me the following note:

It may be of interest to you that in the Orthodox Church a "short phelonion" (i.e. one especially made shortened or a usual one pinned up) is used in the tonsure of Readers as they now hold the "first step of the priesthood." It is never used after this service.

Here are three images which show the short phelonion -- or short chasuble.

Of course, the natural question which follows from this is whether there is any co-relation or not to the Latin folded chasuble -- and if so, what is the nature of that relationship?

I have not had time to research the question myself (except for briefly browsing Taft and a few other Byzantine historical sources -- which turned up no reference to the matter), but I offer it here for you consideration and invite any readers to comment with any historical information they might be able to offer.

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