Saturday, November 30, 2013

Eucharistic Procession for the Feast of Christ the King - Steubenville

Students at Franciscan University of Steubenville organized a Eucharistic procession for the Feast of Christ the King (OF) this past Sunday.

Despite the cold, there was a good turn out of over 500 people, and there was a schola present which was singing chants throughout the procession, including: Adoro te devote, Ave Verum Corpus, Credo III (for the closing of the Year of Faith), Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Veni Jesu, Salve Regina, among other chants.

According to students who were present, virtually the entire chapel was singing many of the chants along with the schola, which is very encouraging to me. Pictures from the procession can be found below:

Altar boys prepared for the cold in procession

Schola chanting in procession

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dominican Rite Requiem Mass in Edinburgh

The Dominican community of the Priory of Saint Albert the Great in Edinburgh, Scotland commemorated its founding benefactors, Canon John Gray, Marc-André Sebastien Raffalovich, and Mrs Charlotte Jefferson-Tytus with a sung Requiem in the Dominican rite on 23 October 2013.

After an absence of almost 400 years due to the Protestant Reformation, the Dominican friars had returned to Edinburgh in 1931, and at the invitation of Archbishop Andrew Thomas McDonald, O.S.B., they established a Catholic Chaplaincy for the students and staff of Edinburgh University. The establishment of the Chaplaincy and Priory at 24 George Square was made possible thanks to gifts and support from the above named benefactors.

From the beginning, the Georgian town house at 24 George Square was thought to be ideal for a new chaplaincy centre because it boasted what was reputedly "the largest drawing room in Edinburgh", and this first-floor room, with an apse-like bay window, served as the chapel of the priory and chaplaincy until 2012. Over the decades, plans for a purpose-built chapel never quite materialised, but finally in 2012 this hope was realised. On 15 August 2012, precisely 781 years after the first Dominican priory opened in Edinburgh, the new chapel of St Albert the Great, built in the garden behind the priory was dedicated by the Archbishop.

Last Saturday's Missa Cantata was celebrated in this modern chapel, which has received seven major architectural awards so far. This was the first time the ancient rite of the Order has been said in it, and it was probably also the first public Dominican rite Mass in the city for almost five decades. Mass was sung by fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., who is assistant Catholic chaplain at St Albert's, and two students of Edinburgh University served as acolytes; the students had ably mastered in just two days the intricacies of this role in the Dominican rite. The sermon was preached by the Prior, fr. Dermot Morrin, O.P., in which he reflected on Canon Gray's conversion to Catholicism having glimpsed the simple reverent beauty of the Mass, and Raffalovich's love of beauty and the Dominican charism.

A Schola Gregoriana comprised of singers from Stirling-based 'Cantors of the Holy Rude' sang the Mass propers and ordinary from the Dominican Gradual. They were led by an alumnus of St Albert's Catholic Chaplaincy, James MacMillan CBE.

The chapel was full to capacity for this Mass, with a good number of current students present as well as alumni and friends from all over Scotland and the north of England. A booklet with the text and rubrics of the Mass, annotated with thoughts concerning the Mass by St Thomas Aquinas, St Albert the Great, and fr. Gerald Vann, O.P., was provided for all present. For many this was the first time they'd attended Mass in a pre-concilar form, and students commented positively on the beauty, reverence, and contemplative stillness of the ancient Liturgy.

The photos below were taken by, and republished here courtesy of Martin Gardner

Dom Alcuin Reid: "Vatican II’s Vision Has Survived A Liturgical Winter"

This article by Dom Alcuin Reid appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Catholic Herald, and as always, we are pleased to present it on NLM, with the kind permission of the author and editors.

Writing in 1964 but months after the appearance of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, the English liturgist J D Crichton remarked: “I have spent some 30 years in the liturgical apostolate, and in reading the Constitution I have recognised with delight much that I have been trying to propagate at that time.” He added that “the findings and experiences of the liturgical movement of the last 60 years form the underlying basis of the document” and “a window is opened on to a future the end of which no man can see.”

There is no doubt that Sacrosanctum Concilium, solemnly promulgated by Paul VI on December 4 1963 after receiving a vote of 2,147 in favour and four against from the world’s bishops gained such overwhelming support in the light of liturgical renewal begun in previous decades. Similarly, it is clear that it paved the way for a future that was unforeseen. For while the Constitution articulated sound theological and liturgical principles, in the words of Aidan Nichols OP it “carried within it, encased in the innocuous language of pastoral welfare, some seeds of its own destruction”.

“The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows,” we are taught. Nothing could be truer. Thus the Council stated that the Church “earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation [participatio actuosa] in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy”. In order to achieve this the Council called for pastors to be “thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy,” and to impart this spirit to their people through widespread liturgical formation.

The Constitution then articulated subsidiary principles and policies judged apposite for the implementation of its aims – a programme of moderate reform. “Sound tradition” was to be retained while remaining “open to legitimate progress”. Hence, while “the Latin language is to be preserved” in the liturgy, the extension of the use of the vernacular was allowed. “Legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands” were approved, “provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved.” The treasury “of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care” and Gregorian chant “should be given pride of place in liturgical services,” while “other kinds of sacred music” and peoples’ “own musical traditions” may be given a suitable place, etc.

These are balanced – indeed, innocuous – proposals for reform. Unfortunately, in their official and unofficial implementation the nuances that enabled the bishops so enthusiastically to adopt at the document at the Council were ignored. It can be said that when the revised Mass and other liturgical rites appeared – on paper, in their various translations and in their local implementation – they were a long way from what was envisaged by the bishops in 1963, even if authoritatively promulgated. So much so that on the Constitution’s 25th anniversary John Paul II observed that Sacrosanctum Concilium “has known the rigours of winter”. In its 40th year he spoke of “shadows” and “dark clouds of unacceptable ... practice” in respect of the celebration of the Eucharist. Benedict XVI judged it necessary to write about “the need for a hermeneutic of continuity...with regard to the correct interpretation of the liturgical development which followed the Second Vatican Council” in 2007.

That is not to deny that many have found in the reformed liturgy the source and summit of their Christian life: the new rites are valid. Nor is it to deny that aspects of these rites – such as the wider reading of the Word of God – are in accordance with the Council’s wishes and are advantageous. It is also happily true that the expectation of conscious participation in the liturgy – old or new – is now widespread.

It is, however, to assert that these past 50 years have not been the universal liturgical or ecclesial springtime for which many hoped. The ongoing decline in numbers attending Mass may have many causes, but the modern liturgy is not to the forefront in arresting it. It is also to submit that in marking the 50th anniversary of the Constitution an examination of conscience is in order. Is the liturgical formation of clergy and laity what the Council mandated? Do we participate in the liturgy as Sacrosanctum Concilium intended by participatio actuosa? Has sound tradition in fact been retained (so that we too can be nourished from its riches)? Are the contingent policies of 50 years ago helpful today? Out of fidelity to the Council itself might it not be time to take seriously the question of a “reform of the reform,” as Cardinal Ratzinger argued?

For the fundamental principles of Sacrosanctum Concilium interpreted in a hermeneutic of continuity – and not according to an indeterminate and subjective “spirit of the Council” – do provide authentic pathways for liturgical and ecclesial renewal. They are, as Crichton observed, grounded in the liturgical movement that sprang up in the early 20th century under the impetus of Pius X and with roots in the previous decades and centuries. They are fundamental also for the new liturgical movement of the 21st century – a movement which is open to legitimate progress while taking care that sound tradition be retained.

Dom Alcuin Reid is a monk of the Monastère Saint-Benoît in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France, and was the principal organiser of Sacra Liturgia 2013, an international conference held in Rome in June.

A Note on the Mozarabic "Alleluja" - In Answer to a Reader

I had occasion to mention in a recent article that in the Mozarabic Mass, Alleluja is sung after the Gospel, rather than before it. A reader then asked in the combox why this is so. Lest the answer be lost forever in the wilderness of paleo-commenting… (with my thanks to Fr. Salvador Aguilera, one of the authors of the Spanish-language liturgical blog lex orandi)

The Mozarabic Mass actually has two Allelujas, both of which are sung as a proclamation of, and act of thanksgiving for, the presence of Christ in the liturgy, both in the Word of God and in the Sacrament of the Altar. It turns out that this is not a discovery which was made in 1965.

The first of these Allelujas, after the Gospel is called a Lauda; that of last Sunday, the Second of Advent in the Mozarabic Rite, is as follows:
Alleluja. V. Deus convertens vivificabis nos: et plebs tua letabitur in te. Alleluja.
(O God, turning Thou shalt give us life, and Thy people shall rejoice in Thee.)
The second is almost invariable through out the year, and corresponds roughly to the Communion antiphon of the Roman Rite.
Refecti Christi corpore et sanguine, te laudamus Domine. Alleluja: alleluja: alleluja. (Refreshed by the Body and Blood of Christ, we praise Thee, o Lord.)
The Mozarabic Mass also has a chant called the “Cantus ad Accedentes – the chant as they come forth”, which is sung in roughly the place of the Roman Agnus Dei, as the priest makes his Communion, and prepares to distribute the Sacrament to the faithful. The full text is as follows; note the slightly longer form of the doxology, “Glory and honor to the Father etc.” The Mozarabic liturgy also uses a different text of the Psalms from that found in the Clementine Vulgate and the Roman Breviary.
Gustate et videte quam suavis est Dominus, alleluja: alleluja: alleluja. V. Benedicam Dominum in omni tempore: semper laus ejus in ore meo. Alleluja: alleluja: alleluja. V. Redimet Dominus animas servorum suorum: et non derelinquet omnes qui sperant in cum. Alleluja: alleluja: alleluja. V. Gloria et honor Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto in secula seculorum. Amen. Alleluja: alleluja: alleluja.
(Taste and see how sweet is the Lord. I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise always in my mouth. The Lord will redeem the souls of His servants, and will not abandon any that hope in Him. Glory and honor etc.)

Solemn Requiem Mass at the Church of St Agnes, NYC

Here are some photos and link, here, through to audio of the full sung Requiem Mass at the Church of St Agnes in New York City. It took place on November 6th (so its a little late, but it has only recently come to my notice). There is even audio of the homily on Purgatory and the Communion of the Saints. This is another even sponsored by the Catholic Artists' Society who co-sponsored with the New York Purgatorial Society and the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny. Names of deceased family members and artist friends were placed at the catafalque, where the Absolution took place after Mass, according to the ritual of the traditional Catholic Mass for the Dead (Missa pro defunctis). The music was Mozart sung by the Schola Cantorum of St Agnes and the Wednesday evening Mass attracting enough to fill the church to standing room. This is another instance of the CAS emphasising the importance of the liturgy in artistic and cultural renewal, whether it is a grand Solemn Mass, such as this; or Compline which is offered in a simple form with the intention that the congregation can take home what they have learnt and make it part of the prayer of their domestic Church.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The End and the Beginning of the Church Year: Guest Article by Dr. Michael Foley

NLM is very pleased to reproduce the following article by Dr. Michael Foley, Associate Professor of Patristics at Baylor University, and well known as the author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?: The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything. He is also a regular contributor to “The Latin Mass” magazine and numerous other Catholic periodicals. The article was originally published in the Fall 2013 edition of  “The Latin Mass”, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the editors.
The End and the Beginning of the Church Year: Interlocking Clasps in the Hidden Season
By Michael P. Foley
It may seem strange that in a calendar with “only one” annual cycle of readings, two of the Sundays share virtually the same Gospel. And it may seem stranger still that these two Sundays occur consecutively. The Gospel for the Twenty-Fourth or Last Sunday after Pentecost, taken from Matthew 24:15-e5, contains Christ's twofold description of the destruction of the Temple and the world. That same discourse reemerges the following week on the First Sunday of Advent, in the slightly abridged form in which it appears in the Gospel according to Saint Luke (21:25-33). From the perspective of the worshipper, it makes little difference that these Sundays are at opposite ends of the calendar, since the cyclical recurrence of the liturgical year ensures that they are experienced back-to-back.

Why then this redundancy, especially when there are fewer “slots” for Gospel readings in the traditional Missal? Shouldn’t one of these “slots” have been put to better use? The answer to these questions teaches us much about the providential nature of liturgical development, the Time After Pentecost, and the season of Advent. And perhaps most interestingly, it reveals a hidden season in the Church year. 
Historical Background

An obvious place to begin is how the 1962 calendar took its present shape. Some time during the pontificate of Saint Gregory the Great (590-600), a devastating natural catastrophe (possibly a hurricane) struck Rome in late November. To console the people, the Pope read Luke 21:25-33, which warns of natural portents and “the distress of nations,” and delivered a homily on it. The Pope’s precedent was duly noted by later generations, who assumed (mistakenly, it is believed) that it was his intention to make this Gospel a permanent feature of Advent. Hence it was included in later liturgical books. (1)

During that same millennium, the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost served as the capstone to the liturgical year. Originally, it dealt explicitly with the conversion of the Jews that is to take place at the end of time, and even after its readings were later modified to give the Sunday its current configuration, it continued to explore those themes indirectly. (2)

A few centuries ago, however, the Church added the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, with its Gospel reading of Matthew 24:15-35, knowing full well that essentially the same Gospel would be read the following “Advent Sunday.” Instead of ending on the “eternal Alliance” that would at last be struck between Gentile and Jew, the Church year would now conclude with “the prophetic description of the dread coming of the Lord, which is to put an end to time and to open eternity.” (3)

How to Interpret

A cynic looking at these historical data might conclude that the Tridentine calendar has both a false start and a false ending. But were he to do so, he would be neglecting two important considerations, one “aesthetic” or artistic and the other theological. Like the great cathedrals of Europe, the traditional Roman rite is a work of art; and like any work of art, every element must be understood in context, even authorial “mistakes.” What may be an accident, a later interpolation, or even a defect can, with or without the author’s intention, contribute to a larger unified whole. Sometimes, these “happy faults” can even be the best or most interesting part of the work. And if this is true on a purely human level (and as a Great Books teacher I can assure you that it is), imagine how much more it is true when the art in question involves the providential guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Second, we must be careful not to confuse historical development with theological meaning—an unfortunately common presumption in a great deal of twentieth-century liturgical scholarship. The historical reasons behind the use of incense in Christian worship, for example, may be quite different from its ongoing symbolic significance. As Saint Gregory the Great would put it, the fact (factum) is one thing, the mystery (mysterium) another; and although every fact discloses a mystery, the mystery cannot be reduced to the fact.

Time After Pentecost

When we keep in mind these artistic and theological hermeneutics, a startling image emerges, like a figure from the fog: a hidden liturgical season, if you will, that begins around the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, stretches over the Last Sunday after Pentecost and Advent Sunday, and ends on Epiphany. This season, as we shall see, begins in wonder at the eschatological glory and justice of God present in Himself and in His members: the Church Triumphant (the Angels, the Saints, and the bodies of the Elect) as well as the Church Suffering (the poor souls in Purgatory). Then, it moves to the Church Militant, especially to my own dreadful ill-preparedness for the Last Things. Finally, it conditions me in such a way that I may, God willing, find just cause to say gladly with the Apostle, Maranatha—Come, Lord!

To espy this season more clearly, let us first turn to the Time after Pentecost. As both the Bible and Church Fathers attest, there are several distinct periods of sacred history. The age before the Law was replaced by the age under it, and that age, in turn, was closed during the time that Jesus Christ walked upon the face of the earth. Likewise, the age of divine revelation (which ended at the death of the last Apostle) gave way to a different era, the era immediately preceding the Second Coming.

It is that era which the Time After Pentecost liturgically commemorates and that era in which we now find ourselves. Despite the expanse of two thousand years and the plethora of cultural and technological changes that separate us from the Christians who outlived the Beloved Disciple, we are still living in the same age as they, the last age of mankind. Just as Advent symbolizes life before and under the Old Law while the Christmas, Lenten, and Easter seasons recapitulate the thirty-three-year era of Jesus Christ's earthly sojourn, the Time after Pentecost corresponds to the penultimate chapter of the story of redemption, the chapter that is currently being written.

Put differently, just as Pentecost marks the birthday of the Church in the Holy Spirit, so too does the Time after Pentecost mark the life of the Church moving through the vicissitudes of history under the protection and guidance of that same Spirit. It is for this reason that the Epistle readings from this season emphasize the Apostles' advice to the burgeoning churches of the day while its Gospel readings focus on the kingdom of Heaven and its justice. It is also the reason why the corresponding lessons from the Breviary draw heavily from the history of the Israelites in the Old Testament. All are somehow meant to teach us how to comport ourselves as citizens of the city of God as we pass through the kingdoms of this world.

The Sanctoral Cycle that concurs with the Time after Pentecost underscores this ecclesiastical focus. Providentially, this is the part of the year with the most saints' days. Saints are an important component in the Christian landscape not only because of their capacity to intercede for us, but because they are living proof that a holy, Catholic life is possible in every age.

In fact, the feasts kept during the Time after Pentecost encompass virtually every aspect of Church life. If the saints in general remind us of the goal of holiness, certain saints, such as Saint John the Baptist (June 24 & August 29) and Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), remind us of the role that the hierarchy plays in leading the Church towards that goal. Likewise the feasts of the Temporal Cycle, such as the Feast of the Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, or the Sacred Heart of Jesus, direct our attention to the explicit dogma, sacramentality, and spirituality of the Church, respectively. Even the physical space consecrated for sacred use is adverted to: significantly, all feasts for the dedication of churches take place during the Time after Pentecost.

This time of year truly is “the time of the Church,” the liturgical period that corresponds to the spotless Bride's triumphant pilgrimage through the world. Hence the liturgical color of green, the symbol of hope and life.

The Hidden Season

The Time after Pentecost mirrors the “penultimate chapter” of history, as I have called it, because we have it on good authority that the final chapter is the Last Judgment and the creation of a new Heaven and earth. Regardless of whether this cosmic grand finale occurs tomorrow or in a thousand years, it remains urgently relevant to how we live our lives today. Every believer must heed Saint Paul's admonitions about the Parousia or coming of the Lord and be ready for the end times.

Consequently, beginning on the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday Mass propers begin to take on an apocalyptic tone and theme. Verses from the prophets become more common and references to the final manifestation or visitation of Christ more insistent.

The Advent Musical Oratory

The Advent Musical Oratory is always held on the first Sunday Sunday of Advent at the Little Oratory in London and will take place this Sunday at 4.30pm. It is a service of Readings, Advent Hymns and Choral Music sung by the London Oratory Junior Choir.

The London Oratory Junior Choir, which I direct, celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year. The choir, for boys and girls aged 8-16, sings Gregorian Chant and Motets from the 16th-21st centuries. (If you know of a child who might like to join the choir, please visit If you are looking for a similar opportunity for a child elsewhere, you might like to check this list of Catholic Children's Choirs.)

The service also features the Medieval Bells played by Dr Mary Remnant. Last year I had a quick go on them myself:

St Charlemagne and the Antichrist

A concert in London by the Schola Gregoriana, founded by the late Dr Mary Berry. More information available here:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Byzantine Rite Vestments

From a priest who regularly reads NLM, and hopes that they are edifying for readers:

Evangelii Gaudium and the Liturgy: First Thoughts

Today Fr. Christopher Smith has published at Chant Café a reflection on Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, taking a close look at the document’s liturgical teaching and in particular at the areas of music, beauty, preaching, devotion, and balance. Fr. Smith's analysis of the relationship between liturgy and evangelization is particularly key. It is a magnificent piece. A sample:

Liturgy and Personal Relationship
         One of the things I find fascinating here is that nowhere is the liturgy seen as a source of evangelization itself, nor is it seen as an end towards which evangelization should strive.  Am I to conclude from this that the Bishops at the Synod and/or Pope Francis do not consider the liturgy to be even a part, much less central, to the New Evangelization?  This certainly seems to be distanced from the one of the central themes of Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum concilium: “The liturgy is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed: at the same time, it is the font from which all her power flows.  For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s Supper.” (SC 10).  Is the liturgy as fons et culmen of the Christian life merely taken for granted in this document, or is its omission indicative of a shift of perspective on the role of liturgy in the life of the Church which evangelizes and is evangelized?
         Throughout Evangelii gaudium there is an insistence on a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”  As early as paragraph 3, Francis writes, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ . . . every day.”  There is great emphasis on the fact that the Church is a place of encounter, where human being must personally witness to their faith from a place of this relationship with Christ.  The notion of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” is a very familiar one in evangelical and charismatic circles.  It is also one often described in emotional terms to describe an essentially spiritual experience.
         There is certainly an aspect of this personal, emotional, spiritual experience, which is an undeniable part of Christian faith and its presence is a sign of its vitality.  It also, however, can easily remain individualistic, even atomistic.  A personal relationship with Jesus Christ, for the historical Catholic faith, is never set up against or separate from the ecclesial, sacramental, doctrinal and liturgical aspects of that faith.  They are all part of one whole.  EG notes that “secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and the personal” (64), yet it is not apparent that the document considers the personal transformative relationship of an individual with Christ in the context of his encounter with a visible, institutional Church that lives the sacraments and the liturgy of the Church.  Baptism is seen as the door to the Church (47), but the deeper implications of the connection between Baptism, professing the integrity of the faith as handed down from the apostles, and the rest of the sacramental economy, are only vaguely hinted at.
         If the objective of the New Evangelization were merely to introduce the non-believer to the person of Jesus to begin some form of relationship with Him, it would be hard to find the difference between it and the admirable forms of evangelization already done by our Protestant brethren.  But if its objective is full communion with the Catholic Church, it is hard to see how the New Evangelization can ignore the fact that the liturgy is not tangential to it, but part and parcel of it.

EF Mass at Honan Chapel, University College Cork, Ireland

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sociological Effects of Liturgy

Sociological Effects of Liturgy," an address by the Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D., at the “Faith of Our Fathers” conference in Kilkenny (Ireland), 13-15 September 2013.

We hear a great deal today about “culture”: the youth culture, the culture of life, the culture of death, the anti-culture. And so, I would like to begin my reflections by demonstrating the connection between culture and worship. As a die-hard Latin teacher, I want to establish the etymological linkage. The word cultura (culture) comes from the word cultus (cult, as in “worship”). To enter into a language is to enter into the mindset of a people. Thus, one can say that for the ancient Romans, “culture” was rooted in “cult” or worship. We can smirk at the Greeks and Romans of old with their thousand little gods and goddesses inhabiting the Pantheon but, for all that, they still lived with a transcendental horizon. In other words, the individual human being was answerable to a higher and ultimate authority. And within that horizon, those peoples forged impressive cultures. Similarly, within the Christian scheme of things, we find that what many historians have dubbed “The Age of Faith”– the high middle ages – produced a nearly unimaginable outpouring of literature, art, music and architecture – unrivaled to this very moment.

On the other hand, we look at the century to which we have only recently bade adieu and what do we encounter? What many commentators have labeled “the century of blood.” Indeed, more people died in the wars and under the repressive, godless regimes of the twentieth century than in all previous eras combined. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council got it right in asserting that “without the Creator, the creature vanishes” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 36). That should be the object lesson we carry with us through this century and which we imprint on the consciousness of our people, especially the young.

Sociologists of religion remind us that worship always occurs within a context: cultural, political, sociological, religious. Worship forms for the Catholic community underwent a tremendous change in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. The Council itself was a great blessing to the Church, but it took place in a time of unparalleled social upheaval. Not to have lived then is to be almost incapable of appreciating the degree of confusion and uprootedness which characterized the years of Vatican II and, most especially, its immediate aftermath. To many, it appeared that the train of the Church had been derailed, and one of the first victims of that crash was the Sacred Liturgy. If the plan of the Council Fathers had been followed; if unlawful experimentation had not been tolerated; if unwarranted and unwise changes had not been introduced; things would have been different. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka and former Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome, elucidates this: “The careful reading of the conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, shows that the rash changes introduced to the liturgy later on were never in the minds of the Fathers of the Council.” (1)

Indeed, the life of the Church would not have been so massively disrupted, as so sadly reflected in: the 75% decline in Sunday Mass attendance; the 65% decline among women religious; the loss of approximately 100,000 priests worldwide during the last decade of Pope Paul VI's pontificate; the halving of our Catholic school system in the United States. Social theorists would warn that one cannot tinker with the signs and symbols of the liturgy without affecting the very existence of the Church. Why? Because the Church takes her life from the liturgy; hence, the very title of Pope John Paul II’s final encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (the Church comes from the Eucharist). It is for this very reason that every pope of the post-conciliar period has endeavored, step by step and brick by brick, to recapture what was imprudently discarded and to discard what was thoughtlessly introduced – but now in a somewhat calmer historical setting, albeit with problems of its own.

The question then surfaces: Whom are we seeking to introduce to a life of worship? I would recommend focusing on the young, if for no other reason than the fact that the elder generation is rather solidly formed (or deformed) and unlikely to change. Saint Paul showed himself to be an exemplary teacher when, before preaching to the population of Athens, he toured their city, endeavoring to learn about their culture. Although he was not totally successful in linking up the Gospel message with the cultural reality he found in Athens, he did zero in on a crucial point of reference in his discussion of the “unknown god” whom they worshiped (cf. Acts 17:23). Cult and culture merged. Following his example, many of us in Catholic education have sought to engage the culture of our students by listening to their music, watching their films, and learning their lingo. Those who have been in the business for thirty or more years will remark that today's youth are quite different from those we met as we embarked on our teaching careers.

I would summarize the picture in these terms: They are, in effect, a tabula rasa – a blank slate, especially from a religious standpoint. Talking to them about Vatican II as though it had happened yesterday (which is often the impression some folks of my generation give) has the same effect as talking to them about Nicea II. The theological battles and liturgical wars of the sixties and seventies are not on their radar screen; which is to say that they don't have the baggage of the “boomers.” They tend to be rather open to traditional approaches to Catholic life and worship, perhaps as a kind of “reaction formation” to what they have experienced of instability in the Church, society-at-large, and their own families.

My anecdotal data is actually carefully detailed in Colleen Carroll's book, The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy. (2) If you have not read this work, you must do so, as it provides invaluable information on who these young people are, how they think and, yes, how they feel.

Permit me to quote extensively from Miss Carroll's findings. She asks:
Why are young adults who have grown up in a society saturated with relativism – which declares that ethical and religious truths vary according to the people who hold them – touting the truth claims of Christianity with such confidence? Why, in a society brimming with competing belief systems and novel spiritual trends, are young adults attracted to the trappings of tradition that so many of their parents and professors have rejected? Is this simply the reaction of a few throwbacks to a bygone era, a few scattered inheritors of a faith they never critically examined? Is it the erratic behavior of young idealists moving through an inevitably finite religious phase? Or are they the heralds of something new? Could these young adults be proof that the demise of America's Judeo-Christian tradition has been greatly exaggerated? (3)
Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft answers thus: “It's a massive turning of the tide.” He goes on: “Even though they know less history or literature or logic” than students ten or twenty years ago, “they're more aware that they've been cheated and they need more. They don't know that what they're craving is the Holy Spirit.” (4)

Miss Carroll explains:
The young adults profiled in this book also differ substantially from their grandparents, though their moral attitude and devotional practices often look surprisingly similar. Most of their grandparents inherited a religious tradition that either insulated them from a culture hostile to their beliefs or ushered them into a society that endorsed their Christian worldview. Today’s young Americans, regardless of their religious formation, have never had the luxury of accepting orthodoxy without critical reflection. The pluralistic culture they live in will not permit it. Nor do most of them want to be religious isolationists confined to spiritual, religious, and cultural ghettos of their own construction. They intuitively accept the religious tolerance that marks a postmodern culture, yet they refuse to compartmentalize their faith or keep their views to themselves. Though they express their values in different ways, most of these young adults are intent on bringing them to bear on the culture they live in and on using their talents and considerable influence to transform that culture. (5)
She then spells out the salient characteristics of this generation over a two-page spread. Again, I would urge you to read her material carefully and even prayerfully. (6)

As I was reading her list, I could you hear echoes of the young I have known and taught, and the descriptor that came to mind was “dynamic orthodoxy.” If even half of her characterizations are accurate, we have great, good reason for hope. It should be mentioned that Carroll’s findings are not limited to Catholicism; in reality, they cross denominational lines. Interestingly, much contemporary research shows that the most striking turns toward tradition can be found within Judaism, where Reform Judaism has lost considerable ground, while Orthodoxy has grown by leaps and bounds, to the amazement of most observers. In this regard, it is worth consulting works like those of D. Michael Lindsay and George Gallup, Jr., with their intriguing titles: Surveying the Religious Landscape and The Gallup Guide: Reality Check for 21st-Century Churches.

How the Sarum Rite Shaped the Art and Architecture of a Country Church in Devon

Here are some photos of a tiny church in Devon. The tour of the church was given to myself and the rest of the class on the Maryvale's Art Beauty and Inspiration course that was taking place at Buckfast Abbey in Devon. As part of this, we asked Michael Vian Clark, who taught chant to the monks at the abbey, and who is a keen local historian to talk to us about one of the local churches. He is now based in Rome where has has recently begun his studies as a seminarian (for the Diocese of Plymouth). Michael is a keen student of the Sarum Rite and chanted for us in the church (teaching us to accompany him with an organum drone) as he explained how this was the music that would have resonated throughout this church prior to the reformation.

Michael has written a description for NLM readers, which I give below. There are some aspects of this that particularly strike me. When Fr Lang of the London Oratory spoke about church architecture this summer at Sacra Liturgia 2013 in Rome, he stressed the importance of thresholds that clearly separate the temple, the place of worship from the outside world. The porch or the cloister, in grander churches, become especially important in this respect in churches that are designed for the Sarum Rite. This rite has many processions that emphasise the earthly pilgrimage from the City of Man to the City of God. This point of pilgrimage by which even in this life we can by degrees be transformed and participate in the divine nature through participation in the sacred liturgy, is a feature of gothic art, which stylistically spans the divide between the shadowy fallen world of the baroque; and the heavenly state of eschatological man as revealed by the icon. As Jean Corbon describes in his book the Wellspring of Worship, by being part of the mystical body of Christ, his Church, we can participate in the transfigured Light.

A book has recently been published that looks at the design of Salisbury Cathedral in the 13th Century, here, relating to the regular processions that took place. We see similar influences even in this little country church and its humble porch. As Michael puts it:: 'The porch had particular significance in the Ritual of the Use of Sarum, which involved more regular processions outside of the Church building than other expressions of the Roman Rite. Indeed there were exceptional processions on Feasts such as Candlemas, Palm Sunday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi and Rogation Days which included a station outside at the 'Palm Cross' - a stone structure in the churchyard with ascending steps. Here at Ashton the base of the Palm Cross is still visible, directly opposite the porch with its image niche above the main portal. The porch was the place where the Rite of Baptism, Holy Matrimony and the Churching of Women actually began - the books describe the location ante ostium Ecclesiae. The threshold of the Church was therefore more than mere weatherproofing. It had its own liturgical function.'

These painting probably survived because the church is so remote and there would have been strong local sentiment to keep them. There is a pale fresco on the wall which was revealed when a painting that had previously hung on that section of the wall for centuries was removed.

 What we see here is an indication of just how colourful and ornate even a small country church would have been during the period when this gothic church, in the English perpendicular style, though very simplified, was built. There is an ornate rude screen. The floor, which immediately caught my eye because of its geometric patterned form is probably a Victorian renovation, Michael told me.

Here are some thoughts that Michael has put down for us in connection with this church:

''The Church of St John the Baptist is dramatically situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Teign Valley in Devon, England. It was, and still is, quite remote: accessible only by high-sided lanes. It is part of a family of churches in this valley that share similar architectural features: one may reasonably speculate the hand of the same masons, carpenters and glass painters.

'Like so many Devonian churches, the details (that is to say the window tracery, screenwork and fragments of painted glass) are generally of the late fourteenth to early fifteenth century, but at Ashton, as elsewhere, this disguises much more ancient fabric into which such details were inserted as part of a widespread programme of enhancement and beautification of liturgical spaces right up to the Reformation. The most striking addition to the typical dual-cell structure of a post-Conquest church is the North aisle, separate by slender and elegant Beer stone arcades that may derive inspiration from the late thirteenth century design of Exeter Cathedral. This aisle was built to house a secondary altar, the sanctuary of which later became the 'family pew' of the Chudleigh family, giving a strong clue as to its original benefactors.

'Later, a porch was also added - a feature that had particular significance in the Ritual of the Use of Sarum, [as mentioned]. The glory of Ashton is no doubt the beautifully preserved Rood Screen and Parclose Screen that respectively separate Nave from Chancel and the two altars one from the other. Rood Screens were a particularly favoured devotional expression in England as a consequence of the division of legal responsibility for the Church fabric itself: Chancels were the responsibility of the Living whereas Naves were the responsibility of the Parish.

'The Rood Screen marked the boundary and parishes are known to have been anxious to ensure their screen and Rood were as impressive as possible (and more impressive than their neighbours.) Typically a Screen has three components: a Dado with images of the Saints; Tracery work that permits a view of the High Altar and above this a Loft which gave access to the Rood itself (composed of a large image of the Crucified Lord flanked either side by His Mother and the Beloved Disciple) which was the dominating feature of the people's part of the Church.

'At Ashton the Screen was sensitively restored by Harry Hems of Exeter in the early twentieth century and the Rood itself has been restored, albeit in unpainted wood. The image sequence is a mixture of the local and universal and sometimes grouped in logical sequence - e.g. Doctors, Evangelists, Martyrs, Holy Helpers; sometimes not. An interesting feature is that of local saint, Sativola or Sidwell who features with the scythe of her martyrdom both on the screen and in glass at Ashton, demonstrating the strength of her cult in the former diocese of Exeter. The connections with mainstream (and very Roman) Catholicism are also clear: here are depicted Popes, Cardinals, Bishops and international saints, such as Zita of Lucca and Anthony of Egypt as well as saints such as Ursula and, possibly Thomas of Canterbury and Boniface that connected Britain with Continental Europe.

'Admittedly the quality of the artistry is not especially high - note that the faces of the saints are essentially the same, however this Screen has even more to reveal. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the sequence of catechetical paintings on the reverse of the Screen in the Chudleigh chapel (which survive) and the Sanctuary (which are faint outlines only) which seem to have been added later. The panels of the Annunciation and Visitation are conventional enough, but texts for the Transfiguration (a later Feast for the Universal Church) demonstrate a dynamic concern to keep up to date liturgically, even in this remote corner of Devon. Other features of note include a rather faded but nonetheless striking figure of the Lord showing his wounds, after the manner of the Mass of St Gregory. Unlike the extant Sculpture of the same theme in Exeter Cathedral, here this does not form a reredos, but is instead a devotional painting. Fragments of glass, including figure painting of exceptionally high quality survives in the North aisle, notably the figure of St Sidwell mentioned above and St Gabriel holding a scroll bearing the text of the Annunciation. In summary, this is a remarkable Church not only for the survival of the liturgical apparatus of the Use of Sarum, but also for the quality of the workmanship on display. A Church worth a detour of many miles to see.''

In this view down the ailse, the second altar Michael refers to is just barely visible to the left, we seen the section inside that portion of the screen later on.

This is the area at the front of the church that contains the second altar.

The fresco below was revealed when a more recent wall hanging was removed.

Juventutem London EF Requiem Mass

The Ongoing Saga of “the Hermeneutic of Continuity”

In the much-discussed (indeed, perhaps too much discussed) interview of Pope Francis with the Jesuit journals, there was passage that received considerable attention due to its praise for the post-conciliar liturgical reform and its apparent dismissal of the love of the pre-conciliar liturgy as a certain “sensitivity” some people happen to have. Here is the original text for reference:
Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous. Just recall the liturgy. The work of liturgical reform has been a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation. Yes, there are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today—which was typical of Vatican II—is absolutely irreversible. Then there are particular issues, like the liturgy according to the Vetus Ordo. I think the decision of Pope Benedict [his decision in Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.
How quickly some are tempted to forget the profound teaching of Pope Benedict XVI! In all the furor of reaction to Pope Francis’s interview, did anyone, journalist or apologist, take pains to ask about the meaning of the off-handed reference to “hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity,” or did everyone quickly race ahead to the remarks about the Vetus Ordo? For progressives, liberals, and modernists, it would certainly be convenient to forget about the Benedictine teaching on the hermeneutics, as if it was a bad dream from which we had awakened—and yet this is the very heart of the matter: is there a different Church after the Council than before?

Note, first of all, that Pope Francis speaks, without batting an eye, of “hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity.” He is aware of what Pope Emeritus Benedict has taught, he accepts it—accented, it is true, by a slight romanticization of the Council’s modern impetus and élan—and he is content to use, without hemming or hawing, the quite simple terminology quoted above, which, in any case, is already quite commonplace in the Church today. We will see why this is important in a moment, when we come to Fr. Martin Rhonheimer.

In recent days we have also seen the publication of letters that Pope Francis wrote to Archbishop Marchetto and Cardinal Brandmüller. In each letter, there is a decisive nod to Benedict XVI. The Pope praises Marchetto’s interpretation (or hermeneutic) of Vatican II, which is precisely one of continuity, against the Bologna school of rupture. And, in reference to the Council of Trent, the Pope expressly cites the December 22, 2005 address in which Pope Benedict momentously introduced the discourse on competing and incompatible hermeneutics. Professor Andrea Grillo of the Pontifical Athaneum of San Anselmo must be eating his hat. Prior to the release of these letters, Grillo had the temerity to opine that Pope Francis had “immediately put in second place that diatribe over ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’ which had long prejudiced—and often completely paralyzed—any effective hermeneutic of Vatican II.” So much for reading the signs of the times.

What Did Pope Benedict Really Teach?

Those who are following the ever-intensifying debate over the correct interpretation and application of Vatican II may have noticed a tendency on the part of the old guard to base their arguments precisely on the fact that Pope Benedict did not use the phrase “hermeneutic of continuity” in his famous speech to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005, but rather “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us”—as if this latter phrase meant something other than, and possibly contrary to, a hermeneutic of continuity with Tradition.

Here are some examples of this kind of linguistic dodge. Gilles Routhier of Laval University in Canada states:
What has often been remembered from the treatment is that the pope opposed to the hermeneutic of rupture a hermeneutic of continuity. Now, an attentive reading of the text leads to another conclusion. … What Benedict XVI has opposed to the hermeneutic of rupture is ‘a hermeneutic of reform in the continuity of the one subject-Church.’ … Benedict XVI’s proposal of a hermeneutic of reform—because it is precisely this that he puts at the forefront, and not the hermeneutic of continuity, as is often said—deserves to be taken seriously.
In like manner, a priest who is not your typical liberal—Fr. Martin Rhonheimer—nevertheless aligns himself with the same approach:
In the Pope’s address, there is no such opposition between a ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity’ and a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’. Rather, as he explained: ‘In contrast with the hermeneutic of discontinuity is a hermeneutic of reform…’  And in what lies the ‘nature of true reform’? According to the Holy Father, ‘in the interplay, on different levels, between continuity and discontinuity.’
An Opus Dei priest and a well-respected professor, Fr. Rhonheimer is commonly said to have been a major contributor to the text of the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, with its powerful denunciation of moral relativism. In recent years, however, he has taken questionable stances, as in his defense of condom use by AIDS victims or his grossly simplistic apologia for the novelty of Dignitatis Humanae.

Both authors, Routhier and Rhonheimer, conclude that an effort like Fr. Basile Valuet’s six-volume work, La Liberté Religieuse et La Tradition Catholique: Un cas de développement doctrinal monogène dans le magistère authentique (Le Barroux: Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine, 1998), in which Valuet reconciles Dignitatis Humanae with prior magisterial teaching, is fundamentally misguided, because the author refuses to acknowledge that there has been a break for the sake of “deeper fidelity.” (It is hard to know what kind of break there can be with the oft-repeated ordinary Magisterium of the Holy Roman Pontiffs when they have taught, to the universal Church as universal shepherds, doctrine that they establish from reason and divine revelation, but we cannot take up this particular debate, about which I have written elsewhere.)
In short, it is becoming fashionable among anti-traditionalists to say that Pope Benedict XVI did not intend to teach us a “hermeneutic of continuity” but rather a “hermeneutic of reform,” which, in the end, deliberately refuses to establish a true and full connection between the preconciliar and the conciliar.

Now, this interpretation seems clearly wrong, for at least two reasons.  First, in the famous address of 2005 itself, Benedict XVI quoted as normative these words of John XXIII:
Here I shall cite only John XXIII’s well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes ‘to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion.’ And he continues: ‘Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us ….’ It is necessary that ‘adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness ...’ be presented in ‘faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another ...,’ retaining the same meaning and message.
Second, contrary to the impression given by Routhier and Rhonheimer, Pope Benedict did speak simply of the “hermeneutic of continuity” in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. Here is the text of note 6: 
I am referring here to the need for a hermeneutic of continuity also with regard to the correct interpretation of the liturgical development which followed the Second Vatican Council: cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 44-45.
This note not only uses the more direct phraseology, applying it to the liturgy, but also cites the address in question, as if to underline that its point may be summed up in this fashion. 

In an address to the Italian Episcopal Conference on May 24, 2012, Pope Benedict, having quoted from the same speech of John XXIII, then commented:
With this key for its reading and application—according to a view, certainly not of an unacceptable hermeneutic of discontinuity and of rupture, but of a hermeneutic of continuity and of reform—listening to the Council and making ours the authoritative indications are the path to ascertaining the ways with which the Church may offer a significant response to the great social and cultural transformations of our time, which have visible consequences also on the religious sphere.
To return to our point of departure, it is hardly surprising that Pope Francis, a man who prizes simplicity, spoke simply of two hermeneutics—one of continuity, the other of discontinuity. His were not the subtle doubts of Routhier and Rhonheimer, nor the temerarious dismissal of Grillo. We are dealing here with a fundamental teaching of Pope Benedict XVI that time will not efface, that faithful Catholics have already embraced as a method of discernment, and that the future will vindicate more and more.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Solemn Benediction at the London Oratory on the Feast of Christ the King

Some photographs of Solemn Benediction following Solemn Vespers at the London Oratory today. The celebrant was Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe who was ordained forty years ago on the Feast of Christ the King. Ad multos annos!

A Marian Concert in New York City - November 25th

The Male Choir of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY, will join forces with the Schola Cantorum of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Seminary, also of Yonkers, Monday evening, November 25th, at 7:30 at St. Jean Baptiste Church, Manhattan, for a concert of Marian music. Here is the press release from the event, from the website of St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

Choirs from two local theological schools representing Eastern and Western Christendom will jointly present an a cappella concert titled “Magnificat: Hymns to the Mother of God from the East and West” on Monday evening, November 25, 2013, 7:30 pm, at St. Jean Baptiste Church, 184 East 76th Street, New York City. The Male Choir from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, of the Orthodox Church in America, will join with a Schola from St. Joseph's Seminary (Dunwoodie) of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, in praise of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, who holds a place of honor in both traditions.

Music selections from the Orthodox tradition for the concert will illustrate the Eastern Church’s feasts dedicated to the Theotokos (Greek for “Mother of God”), while music from the Roman Catholic tradition will include time-honored hymns of laudation to the Virgin Mary, taken from ancient chant and from the classical period up until modern times, such as O Sanctissima by Beethoven (1770–1827) and Ave Maria by Biebl (1906–2001).

Tickets are $25 for general seating, and may be purchased online. Limited tickets will be available at the door one hour prior to the concert.

 Click here for a beautiful sample of music from the Saint Vladimir’s choir.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is the Ambrosian Liturgy a Source for the Modern Lectionary?

Apart from the basic structure of the readings and chants (1st Reading – Gradual/Psalmellus – Epistle – Alleluia – Gospel), very little of the Ambrosian tradition found its way into the post-Conciliar lectionary. Like all historical Christian lectionaries, the Ambrosian has a single annual cycle. Unlike the Roman Rite, it never had a ferial lectionary outside of Lent; indeed, the weekdays were originally aliturgical in as in the Byzantine Rite, and the lessons of Lent on those days are borrowed directly from the Roman Rite, with three exceptions. (Fridays of Lent are still to this very day aliturgical in Milan, while the Saturday Masses have a very ancient set of proper readings for the catechumens.) There is no trace of “lectio continua”, the continued reading of the same book of the Bible over a set period of time, which is of course the guiding principle of much of the new system. All feasts of whatever grade have three readings, not only the most solemn.

A few modifications in the post-Conciliar lectionary are obviously based on Milanese customs. One example is the displacement of the three long Gospels of St. John, those of the Samaritan Woman, the Man Born Blind and the Resurrection of Lazarus, from their traditional places in Lent to three of the Sundays in year A; another is the removal of Isaiah 53 from Spy Wednesday to Good Friday. The Gospels of the Fourth Sunday of Advent in years B and C, those of the Annunciation and Visitation, are the same traditionally said at the two Masses of the Sixth and final Sunday of the Ambrosian Advent.

On the other hand, of the 27 readings from the Old Testament added to the Roman lectionary in Advent, two are taken from the older Ambrosian Mass lectionary, and one corresponds in part to a reading from First Vespers of Christmas. Of the eight New Testament Epistles added, one is from Ambrosian Rite. Of the forty readings added ex novo to the Roman corpus of readings for Lent, (counting all 15 sets for Sundays, and the ferias) one is taken from the Ambrosian.

The singing of the first reading in an Ambrosian Solemn Mass.
Our readers may also be interested to know how the three readings are done in the traditional Ambrosian liturgy. Taking the Solemn Mass as the norm: during the Gloria, a reader goes to the sacristy, puts on a cope, and comes to stand before the middle of the altar. (When there is no Gloria, he goes during the Ingressa, the equivalent of the Introit, and first prayer.) After the prayer or prayers, the celebrant repeats “Dominus vobiscum”, which is generally said much more often than in the Roman Rite. The reader then sings the title of the lesson, bows towards the celebrant, and asks his blessing with the words “Jube, domne, benedicere” The celebrant makes the sign of the Cross over him, saying, “May the Prophetic (or Apostolic) reading be to thee the teaching of salvation.” The reader sings the lesson, and departs to the sacristy to remove his cope.

During the singing of the Psalmellus, the subdeacon takes his place before the Epistle side of the altar, (or in the ambo, if the church has one), accompanied by two of the six acolytes. He is also blessed by the celebrant after singing the title, with the words, “May the Apostolic teaching fill thee with divine grace.” After the Epistle, he does not bring the book to the celebrant, or kiss the celebrant’s hand as in the Roman Rite. Instead, he waits in front of the altar on the Epistle side, while the deacon prepares for the singing of the Gospel.

The deacon, accompanied by the other four acolytes, goes to the sacristy to get the book of the Gospels, while the acolytes prepare their candles and incense. (The incense is not imposed or blessed by the celebrant.) They return to the sanctuary, where the deacon lays the book upon the altar, kneels and say the “Munda cor meum”. He then takes the book, and the Gospel procession goes to the ambo, or the left side of the sanctuary. After singing the title, he asks for the blessing from the celebrant, and is blessed as in the Roman Rite. He then incenses the book, and sings the Gospel. The procession returns to the altar, where the book is given to an acolyte to bring back to the sacristy. (Only the archbishop is brought the book to kiss at a Pontifical Mass.)

This custom dates back to the very ancient times when books in general, and especially books with elaborate decorations and illuminations like an Evangeliary, were rare and expensive, and therefore kept under lock and key in the sacristy. Indeed, the church of Milan maintained until quite recently the position of a “lector clavicularius – a reader with the key (to the cupboard)”, who would consign the book of Gospels to the deacon at solemn Mass in the cathedral. Since the ritual of the Gospel procession is per force so much longer, the Ambrosian liturgy has a number of spectacularly long Halleluiahs, or other chants before the Gospels. The Cantus (equivalent to a Tract) on the Sixth Sunday of Advent is just shy of 900 notes long. 
Saint Lawrence, in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia at Ravenna, ca. 450. The armoire on the left contains four books labelled with the names of the four Evangelists, a reference to the custom of keeping liturgical books locked in the sacristy.

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