Monday, November 30, 2015

A Reliquary of St Andrew the Apostle

For the feast of St Andrew, here is a picture of a wonderful reliquary containing some of the wood of both his cross and that of his brother, St Peter. Both sets of pieces are arranged in the shape of the crosses on which the two Apostles died, Andrew’s an X, and Peter’s like that of the Lord, but upside-down.

This photograph was taken by Dom Jakobus of Herzogenburg Abbey in Austria, a house of the Order of Canons Regular of St Augustine, and is reproduced here with his kind permission. Dom Jakobus also maintains a facebook page about the Order, (under their Latin title, “Ordo Canonicorum Regularium Sancti Augustini”), with lots of information about the various orders and houses of Augustinian Canons Regular, and many interesting pictures, both modern and historical, of the canons and their liturgies.

Recent Typeface Design and Calligraphy from Daniel Mitsui

We have much work to do in the rebuilding of Catholic culture, and in this “slow evangelization” (as Stratford Caldecott called it), liturgy can be compared to the right hand, the fine arts to the left hand. I found myself thinking about this when looking at some magnificent calligraphic work by well-known Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui, and reading his superb lecture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, “Invention and Exaltation.” (The text may be read here; a video of the lecture is available here. Highly recommended.) Daniel visited the university to open an exhibit of his artwork in the Gentile Gallery on September 14th.

Following up on my earlier post about the layouts and typography of Dom Benedict Andersen, I wanted to share with NLM readers some of Daniel Mitsui’s recent experiments with designing his own typefaces, a painstaking art form he is pursuing in order to work towards the publication of new illustrated fine press editions of late medieval books. Two of the pieces now on display in Steubenville are typographic broadsides, one of them prepared in anticipation of the Synod on the Family:

(To see these at the artist's website, go here and here.)

In toto, Daniel has designed four typefaces: Benedict, Victor, Adam, and Michaëla. The marriage and family texts above are written in Benedict; the Lord's Prayer in Victor. Here are samples of Adam and Michaëla:


Some time ago Daniel did this "Ecce quam bonum," which is a masterly example of the art of illuminating a text (we see again the Benedict font):

These are truly exquisite pieces of work, and we are all looking forward to many more from this extraordinary artist. Check out his website for a complete portfolio and items for sale.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The First Sunday of Advent 2015

Looking from afar, behold I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering all the land: * go ye to meet him and say: * Tell us if thou art the one, * who art to rule in the people of Israel.
V. All you that are earthborn, and you sons of men: both rich and poor together, go ye out to meet him and say.
V. Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep; tell us if thou art the one.
V. Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in, who art to rule in the people of Israel.
Glory be unto the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Looking from afar, behold I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering all the land: go ye to meet him and say: tell us if thou art the one, who art to rule in the people of Israel. (First responsory at Matins of the First Sunday of Advent)

The Prophet Isaiah, painted by Raphael in the Basilica of St Augustine in Rome in 1512. On his scroll is written in Hebrew, from chapter 26 of his book, verses 2-3, “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Whose mind is stayed on thee, Thou wilt keep him (in perfect peace).” The dedicatory inscription in Greek above reads “To Anne, the mother of the Virgin, to the virginal Mother of God, and to Christ the Redeemer, John Goritz” (hellenized as ‘Joannes Corycios’). Goritz, a merchant from Luxembourg, commissioned both the painting, which is on one of the pillars of the basilica, and the altar to St Anne originally located beneath it. The influence of Michelangelo, who was completing the Sistine Chapel ceiling when Raphael painted this, is very strong in this work; a famous story claims that when Goritz complained to Michelangelo about the price of it, he replied, “The knee alone is worth the price!”
R. Aspiciens a longe, ecce video Dei potentiam venientem, et nebulam totam terram tegentem: * ite obviam ei, et dicite: * Nuntia nobis, si tu es ipse, * qui regnaturus es in populo Israël.
V. Quique terrigenæ, et filii hominum, simul in unum dives et pauper: ite obviam et, et dicite.
V. Qui regis Israël, intende, qui deducis velut ovem Joseph: nuntia nobis, si tu es ipse.
V. Tollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini portæ æternales, et introibit Rex gloriæ, qui regnaturus es in populo Israël.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
R. Aspiciens a longe, ecce video Dei potentiam venientem, et nebulam totam terram tegentem: ite obviam ei, et dicite: Nuntia nobis, si tu es ipse, qui regnaturus es in populo Israël.

Click here to listen to a beautiful recording of this magnificent text, made several years ago at St Stephen’s in Sacramento, California.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

NLM Quiz no. 17: What Is This, and Why Is It On a Church? - The Answer

Here’s something to ponder about as you slip into a turkey-induced slumber. Our last quiz was back in January, so as a reminder of the procedure: Please give your answer in the combox, along with any and all details you think pertinent to it. To keep it more interesting, please leave your answer before reading the other comments. We are always pleased to hear humorous answers as well. The photograph does show the item out of context, as I have done before, but I will say that it is part of the decoration of a church’s façade.

The Answer : Since the church of the Sagrada Família, of which this is a part, is the second most popular site in Barcelona (after the Picasso Museum...sigh...), many people got the correct answer, or at least part of it. It is indeed a decorative element of the Passion façade, a so-called “magic square;” each of the four horizontal and four vertical lines of four squares adds up to the number 33, Christ’s age at the time of His Passion, as do the two major diagonals, each corner quadrant, the central quadrant, and various other combinations.

To be perfectly honest, I rather suspected this quiz would prove to be fairly easy, but went ahead and posted it anyway, knowing that it would bring out some interesting entries in Most Wildly Incorrect Answer and Best Humorous Answer categories. In this, I was not disappointed. The Most Wildly Incorrect Answer award goes to Jackie, even though she gave the correct location. “Dice representation on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.” Dice? There are actually soldiers playing dice over Christ’s garment elsewhere on the Passion façade, and they look as much like dice as the sculptor (this is the work of Josep Subirachs, not of Gaudí himself) could make them (which isn’t much.) Honorable Mention to Hoss Gardner for his guess that it is an old Roman Calendar - good try, but although the Roman calendar was a rather messy affair before Caesar’s reform, it wasn’t that messy!

Mornac runs away with the Best Humorous Answer, “It's a relief depicting a numeric Rubik’s cube that dissident bishops will be forced to solve in order to be released from purgatory. The numbers correspond to the number of liturgical abuses they allowed in their dioceses. The six sides of the cube represent the last six years of their episcopacy. The object is to display the exact number of abuses in each of those years simultaneously on the six faces of the cube.” Nice work!

The World's Last Night

A reflection on the Second Coming by C.S. Lewis as we enter the season of Advent.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Carmelite Chapel and Choir Renovated in Loretto, PA

The Carmelite Monastery of Saint Thérèse in Loretto, Pennsylvania, in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, recently received beautiful renovations to their public chapel and nun’s choir. Among the renovations which were carried out under the patronage of Saint Joseph were a new altar, altar rail, and tabernacle. The monastery of Discalced Carmelite Nuns was founded in 1929 by Mother Marie Joseph from Bordeaux. Mr. Charles Schwab, the great steel magnate, provided many of the resources for it’s construction. Pauline, Mr. Schwab’s mother, had a great devotion to St. Thérèse and when Mother Marie Joseph, with her sense of humor, sent one of the community’s small statues of the Saint, via taxi to the Schwab’s estate with the note “I need a new home,” Pauline was completely captivated. Her son, Charles, soon oversaw the building of the new Carmel on land offered by the Franciscan T.O.R. Fathers. The Monastery in Lisieux served as inspiration during the building of the Loretto Monastery. Loretto was founded in 1799 by the Russian Prince, (Servant of God) Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin (1770-1840). (This description and the accompanying photographs were sent to us by Mr Jordan Hainsey, with our thanks!)

The chapel before the renovation...
...and after. 
The nuns’ choir before renovation... 
...and after.

Denis McNamara on Church Architecture, part 7 - Sacred Images

Here is the seventh in the series of short videos by Prof. Denis McNamara, a member of the faculty of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein; his book is Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy. As usual, it is an excellent presentation.
In this one he focuses on sacred images. He describes how sacred images are a necessary part of the environment for the worship of God because they manifest those aspects of the liturgy that are present but not ordinarily visible. They are there to remind us that the angels and saints in heaven participate with us in the heavenly liturgy. 
In this video, the stylistic features of art that he describes are those of the iconographic tradition, which portrays man fully redeemed. One point that he doesn’t address in this short presentation is how the other authentic liturgical traditions, the Gothic and the Baroque, fulfill this function. I would argue that they do exactly what the iconographic style does, but in a subtly different way. They are stylistically different and do not reveal man fully redeemed, but rather justified and at various stages on the path to heaven. By revealing the path they direct our attention, via the imagination, to the destination at the end of that path, which is our heavenly destiny. (If you are interested in a fuller discussion of this last point, I direct you to section three of my book, the Way of Beauty.) 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed - New Website for Dutch Shrine and Hermitage

We have included in several of our photoposts images from the shrine of Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed in the village of Warfhuizen in the Netherlands. This shrine was formerly a protestant church, but was transformed in 2001 into a Catholic shrine, which has both a public church and a hermitage; the hermit was ordained a priest this past September. A reader has just brought to my attention that the shrine now has a website, which is available in English, as well as Dutch, German and French. According to the Horarium, Mass is celebrated in both forms of the Roman Rite, with the EF as the regular Sunday Mass, and along with this the full Office, Rosary and Benediction. (I note with amusement that google translate turns the Dutch word for “Horarium” into “Circadian rhythm.”) The Virgin Mary is honored at the shrine as the Mother of Sorrows, and there is a beautiful image of Her kept to the right of the main altar. We look forward to seeing more of the liturgical life of this beautiful little outpost of the Catholic Faith! (Images from our second Assumption photopost this year.)

Nine Lessons & Carols at St John the Evangelist, Calgary, Canada

Saint John the Evangelist, Calgary, Canada, a parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, will celebrate its annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 20, 2015, at 7pm. The service, which consists of traditional carols, seasonal pieces of sacred choral music, and nine lessons (readings) from Holy Scripture, was first devised by Eric Milner-White shortly after his appointment as Dean of King’s College, Cambridge in 1918. The service is now a firm fixture on the English cathedral calendar, and is a cherished part of the Anglican patrimony brought into the Personal Ordinariates.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Edward Pugin’s Tomb of Cardinal Wiseman

This article about the tomb of Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman, a work of Edward Pugin, was first published in the November 2015 issue of the magazine of Westminster Cathedral Oremus. The author, Mr Roderick O’Donnell, very kindly submitted it to NLM for republication; it is here reproduced by permission of Oremus, and the editor, Mr Dylan Parry, with our thanks.

Cardinal Wiseman’s tomb is one of the least known works of art in Westminster Cathedral. It was designed by the architect EW Pugin. Since 1907 it has been housed in the crypt of the cathedral, and is placed directly under the high altar.

This is a so-called ‘altar tomb’, set on a plinth and supporting a ‘table’ or mensa, with its recumbent effigy, with narrative panels round the sides. It was clearly meant to be free-standing, and its inscription and sculpture are meant to be read. It can be attributed to the sculptor was RL Boulton, a craftsman much employed by EW Pugin in the 1860s. Pugin would have provided the drawings for the figurative and the architectural sculpture, the sculptor and his workshop being the executors of Pugin’s scheme. As such the work not signed. Wiseman’s figure and other relief sculptures are worked in statuary marble. But the moulding with the inscription and the base plinth are in a red-orange marble, probably Cork Red, with black marble colonettes at the angles, perhaps a Kilkenny black. The framing of the sculpted panels, the projecting niches and the deeply-cut frieze and capitals are in alabaster. Colour contrasts were therefore intended, although the colouring of the carving, such as would have occurred in the Middle Ages, is not attempted.

Around the Mensa top of the tomb is the inscription: ‘Hic in pace Christi requiescit Nicolaus titulo S[anc]tae Pudentianae S.[acrae] R.[omanae] Ecc.[lesiae] presbyter Cardinalis Wiseman/Primus Eccles[iae] Westmonasteriensis archie[piscopus] Natus die 3 Augusti/1802 Defunctus die 15 Februarii 1865 E[pisoco]patus sui anno Vigesimo quinto omnia pro Xto in vita agens omnia per Xtum/in morte sperans cujus animae propitietur Deus’ which translated is ‘Here in the peace of Christ lies Nicholas, under the title of [the church of] St Pudentiana, Cardinal-priest of the Holy Roman Church, Wiseman/ First archbishop of Westminster. Born 3 August 1802, died 15 February 1865 in the twenty-eighth year of his episcopacy in life doing all things for Christ [and] in death hoping all things through Christ, on whose soul may God be merciful.’

The slightly over life–size recumbent figure of the archbishop is vested for Mass with a chasuble worn over a dalmatic and both over an alb ‘apparelled’ with fleurs-de-lys. The vestments are strikingly of the full Gothic form championed by Augustus Welby Pugin and already under the ban of those like Manning who wished to re-introduce the so-called Roman chasuble. He is mitred, gloved and slippered, the tip of his metropolitan cross clasped by a dragon at his feet, with angels at his pillowed head. (EW Pugin particularly complimented Boulton on his angels.) Wiseman also wears the pallium.

On the short return under a cardinal’s much tasselled hat is Wiseman’s coat of arms, with his motto as archbishop, ‘Omnia pro Christo’ (All things for Christ). The other one has a seated, mitred and coped St Nicholas of Myra, his patron, with the three boys he saved (from boiling) in a vat, with a large classical wreath behind. Both are set within quatrefoils.

Narrative panels on either side of seated saints or patrons are found on the long sides. These have a particular point to make, both about Wiseman and about the role of a metropolitan bishop and its relationship to the Holy See. A late source describes them as scenes from lives of the two saints, but the iconography should perhaps be read with a double meaning, with the life of the saint prefiguring or anticipating that of Wiseman.

Chronologically they begin with young cleric in academic dress or religious habit kneeling before a seated and ceremonially hatted cardinal, or perhaps a pope on an X-framed chair; or it might be the student Wiseman. Then, under a projecting niche is seated the Cardinal in alabaster, with the same features of the bishop or pope in the previous panel. It may be St Edmund of Canterbury, to whom Wiseman had a devotion; in 1853 he procured some of his relics from his burial place at Pontigny in France. The next quatrefoil has a kneeling and vested bishop, now evidently a portrait of Wiseman, being receiving a pallium from the pope, as Wiseman did from Pope Pius IX did on 3 October 1850.

The answering long side has the seated bishop as Metropolitan presiding over the bishops seated around, all vested in copes and mitres; or it might be Wiseman presiding at the Synod of Oscott (1852). The niched panel shows the enthroned St Thomas-à-Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, vested for Mass, grasping the sword of his martyrdom, and wearing the so called ‘Becket mitre’ from the Cathedral Treasury, now on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.The next quatrefoil has the death of a bishop, clearly not Becket’s death, but Wiseman’s. He lies on a bed with book of the Gospels on his knees. He is dressed with pectoral cross and chain fully looped over his shoulders, attended by his canons and by an acolyte holding his metropolitan cross. The details follow the record of his death made by Canon Morris, his secretary.

The tomb was conceived to stand inside a cathedral to be built in Wiseman’s memory. The Dublin Builder said the architect was to be Edward Pugin. £16000 was subscribed to this end at the first public meeting. However the new archbishop, Manning, had pastoral priorities quite other than cathedral-building, and he allowed the project to stall. Wiseman’s burial took place at St Mary’s Cemetery Kensal Green, where this monument was housed in what the decorous language of the day called ‘a chamber of glass.’

Edward Welby Pugin (1834-1875) was a brilliant designer in the small scale, such as altars and tombs, beginning with his father’s at Ramsgate (1853). He would have been aware of his father’s difficult relationship with Wiseman as President of Oscott College and as Vicar Apostolic in the Midlands, and then in London, where Wiseman triumphantly opened Pugin’s St George’s Cathedral Southwark in 1848. In 1852 AW Pugin died, leaving his eighteen-year old son to continue the practice. The young architect might have thought his star ascendant when in 1858 Wiseman invested him with his regalia as Knight of St Sylvester, after winning the competition to build the Junior Seminary at Ushaw. He attended the Cardinal’s soiree receptions and even entertained him at his house St Augustine’s Grange, Ramsgate in 1863. But he wrote candidly to Wiseman in 1862 to complain of lack of work in the new Westminster archdiocese, which he ascribed to ‘the unjust animosity of Dr Manning and the Bayswater clique.’ As Manning was by that time more than Wiseman’s right-hand-man, this was unfortunate. Indeed as Manning’s biographer was to put it, ‘Gothic architecture, together with the Pugins and their traditions, was exiled from the diocese of Westminster.’

Dr Roderick O’Donnell is an Architectural Historian and a member of Westminster Cathedral’s Art and Architecture Committee.

The following images were not included in the original article; they are here reproduced from Oremus’ flickr account, again, with their kind permission and our gratitude.

Card. Wiseman receiving his pallium from Bl. Pope Pius IX 
Card. Wiseman’s arms

Lumen Gentium - a new CD of music for Advent and Christmas

Lumen Gentium is a new CD by the Choir at Mater Dei FSSP Parish in Irving, Texas. The recording of music for Advent and Christmas is sung by the volunteer amateur singers of the choir, conducted by Kimberly Walters. Included in the recording is Victoria's Missa O Magnum mysterium along with some Chant Propers and motets by Guerrero, Scarlatti and Nanino among others. Their last recording was featured on NLM here. The recording is available now from CD Baby as a download or CD and there is a 1-cent shipping promotion available from Nov 30 - Dec 4.

Here is the full track listing:

1) Veni Veni Emmanuel (Traditional Chant)
2) Alma Redemptoris Mater (Palestrina)
3) Rorate Coeli (Introit: 4th Sun of Advent)
4) Creator Alme Siderum (Anonymous; 9th century)
5) Veni O Sapientia (J. Singenberger)
6) O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
7) Sancta et Immaculata (Guerrero)
8) Flos de Radice (Harm. by Praetorius)
9) Dominus Dixit (Introit - Christmas midnight mass)
10) - 14) Missa O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
15) Puer Natus est (Introit: Christmas Day mass)
16) Gaudete (traditional, anonymous)
17) Jesu Redemptor Omnium (Ravanello & 6th cent. chant)
18) Hodie Christus Natus est (Nanino)
19) Lumen ad Revelationem (Gregorian chant)
20) Omnes de Saba (Gradual of Epiphany; gregorian chant)
21) Omnes de Saba Venient (Asula)
22) Senex Puerum Portabat (Victoria)
23) Exultate Deo (Scarlatti)

St Catherine of Alexandria

Praesens dies expendatur in ejus praeconium, cujus virtus dilatatur in ore laudantium, si gestorum teneatur finis et initium.

Imminente passione Virgo haec interserit: Assequatur, Jesu bone, quod a te petierit suo quisque in agone memor mei fuerit.

In hoc caput amputatur, fluit lac pro sanguine: Angelorum sublevatur corpus multitudine, et Sinai collocatur in supremo culmine.

Gloria et honor Deo usquequaque altissimo, una Patri Filioque, inclyto Paraclito, cui laus est et potestas per aeterna sæcula. Amen. (The hymn for Lauds of the Office of St Catherine of Alexandria.)

The Martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria, by Guercino (Francesco Barbieri), 1653; now in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.  
Let this day be spent in proclaiming her whose virtue is enlarged by those who praise her, if the sum of her deeds be kept in mind.

With her passion imminent, the virgin adds this words: “Good Jesus, let each man who remembers me in his own suffering obtain whatever he may ask of Thee.”

At this, her head was cut off, milk floweth instead of blood; her body was taken by a multitude of Angels, and placed at the height of Sinai.

Glory and honor in everyplace to God most high, and with Him to the Son, and the glorious Paraclete, to Whom are praise and might for eternal ages. Amen.

A Call to Men in Parishes from Cardinal Burke - Join the Holy League

A friend in New Hampshire named Tom contacted me to tell me that he and another are establishing a Holy League in response to this call from Cardinal Burke.

This is intended to create a network of parish based men’s groups that meet monthly in a structured Holy Hour. The Holy League was first formed as part of the call to holiness and fortitude that occurred when Europe was under threat from Islamic forces and prior to the battle of Lepanto in 1571. The aim is to reestablish this in every Catholic parish.

The website tells us that the Holy League:
  • Provides a Holy Hour format which incorporates Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, short spiritual reflections, the availability of the Sacrament of Confession, Benediction and fraternity.
  • Encourages consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Purest Heart of Joseph.
  • Promotes the Precepts and Sacraments of the Church, especially through devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and the praying of the Most Holy Rosary.
  • Creates a unified front, made up of members of the Church Militant, for spiritual combat.
In addition to this, Tom told me that they intend to sing Compline during this hour as well.
You can read more about it here and below see a short description of it by the Cardinal.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Advent & Christmas Carol Services at the London Oratory, and a Concert

The Advent Musical Oratory is always held on the first 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, with medieval bells played by Dr Mary Remnant. The London Oratory Carol Service takes place on Tuesday 22 December at 7.30pm featuring both the Junior and Senior Choirs of the Oratory. Doors open at 7pm and admission is free. The Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School will be giving a concert this Friday 27 November of music by Rheinberger, Bruckner and J.S. Bach, and will also be singing a Carol Service for Aid to the Church in Need on 3 December at St Mary’s Cadogan Street, London. See the posters below for details.

Fourth Video on the Mass from the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein

Here is the fourth in the series called The Elements of the Catholic Mass, produced by the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein and presented by its director, Fr Douglas Martis.

This one is about the church building. As Fr Martis describes, the Catholic Church is a sacramental Church, using the word sacramental as an adjective here, not as a noun. Invisible and deeper realities are revealed through perceptible signs, and the church building itself, not just what is contained within it, has a sacramental role. This is an echo of themes explored in greater depth by Denis McNamara, also of the Liturgical Institute, in his videos on church architecture.

You can find the previous two and the accompanying study guides for each video at:

Introducing USUARIUM, A Massive New Database of Liturgical Books

We are very pleased to share with our readers news of the publication of an new electronic database of liturgical books, USUARIUM. I have already had occasion to peruse the database, and examine some of its contents; it is an absolutely invaluable resource, providing access to many rare texts which would otherwise be very difficult to get a hold of. I would also particular call attention to the fact that Prof. Miklós Földváry and his collaborators have made the fruits of their extensive research available for free. Anyone who is interested in medieval liturgy will want to make sure to bookmark this page!

USUARIUM is probably the largest and most well-organised digital collection and database for the research of western liturgical sources from the Middle Ages and the early modern period, initiated, designed, and edited by Miklós István Földváry and his Research Group of Liturgical History (ELTE University of Budapest, Hungary). Its principles are detailed on the frontpage. At its present stage, USUARIUM consists of a catalogue of more than 800 books that can be filtered according to liturgical uses and downloaded by registered users (no payment required), an index of every kind of liturgical ceremonies that has ever been performed, cross referencing the various types of sources, and an inventory of liturgical texts which lead to the single occurrences in each source. Both the ceremonies and the texts have already been uploaded from about 200 Missals of documented and central origins, mostly printed. Indices of Rituals and Pontificals are coming soon and databases for Calendars and Breviaries are also forthcoming.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Normativity of Ad Orientem Worship According to the Ordinary Form’s Rubrics

Ordinary Form Mass in Salt Lake City (Sacred Music Colloquium 2013)
Today, most people who take a serious interest in liturgy know that celebrating Mass “facing the people” or versus populum was never mentioned even once in the documents of Vatican II, that it was never mandated by any law or instruction of the Church, that the Vatican said historic high altars should continue to be used and not supplanted by table altars, and that it remains perfectly lawful for any priest at any time to celebrate Mass “facing east” or ad orientem. (For more reading on these points, see last week’s post.)

What is still not known nearly as well as it should be is the simple fact that the very rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite demonstrate the normativity of the traditional orientation of prayer at Mass. Every edition of the Novus Ordo Missae, from the earliest down to the latest revised translation, contains rubrics that clearly presuppose that the priest is facing the altar or “liturgical east” and that he will need to turn around to address the people at various points.

For some readers this will be familiar territory, but for others, it may be one of those obvious points that has nevertheless managed to escape notice until now. Below, I will simply reproduce the texts that contain instructions pertinent to the priest’s position vis-à-vis the people.

From “The Order of Mass” (MR 2002/2008 in the current English translation)

(Numbers below refer to the internal numbers in the Missal. The quoted texts are taken verbatim from the current Missal.)
       1. When the people are gathered, the Priest approaches the altar with the ministers while the Entrance Chant is sung. When he has arrived at the altar, after making a profound bow with the ministers, the Priest venerates the altar with a kiss and, if appropriate, incenses the cross and the altar. Then, with the ministers, he goes to the chair. When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the Priest and the faithful, standing, sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, while the Priest, facing the people, says: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The people reply: “Amen.”
       23. The Priest, standing at the altar, takes the paten with the bread and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.” Then he places the paten with the bread on the corporal. If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim: “Blessed be God for ever.”
       (24. Water and wine. 25. The prayer over the chalice. 26. “With humble spirit…” 27. Incensations.)
       28. Then the Priest, standing at the side of the altar, washes his hands, saying quietly: “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
       29. Standing at the middle of the altar, facing the people, extending and then joining his hands, he says: “Pray, brethren…”
If the priest were assumed to be always or normatively facing the people throughout the offertory, there would be no need for the rubric to specify that at the “Pray, brethren” he should now be “facing the people.” This phrase is to be taken in contraposition to “standing at the altar,” i.e., in the ad orientem position.

After the Preface, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer, we come to the giving of peace:
       127. The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds: “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” The people reply: “And with your spirit.”
Again, if during the Eucharistic Prayer and ensuing Communion Rite the priest had already been facing the people throughout, the boldfaced rubric would be superfluous. There is no reason to specify that the peace should be given “turned towards the people” unless he has been turned away from them until this point.

Summarizing the next few paragraphs: 128. If appropriate, the sign of peace. 129. Fracture. (Note that if the priest is celebrating ad orientem, he will be turning towards the Lord again at this point — which will make sense out of the upcoming n. 132, as we shall see below.) 130. Agnus Dei. 131. Prayer before communion.
       132. The Priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud: “Behold the Lamb of God…”
Here and in the following number, the rubrical presupposition of eastward celebration is particularly obvious. If we imagine that the priest is celebrating versus populum, it would be strangely inconsequential for the rubrics to say that he should be turned towards the people at the giving of peace (n. 127) and then to note again, a mere matter of moments later, that he should be “facing the people” for the “Behold the Lamb of God” (n. 132). The obvious implication is that between these two moments, he must have turned eastwards to face the Lord present upon the altar of sacrifice. Once he picks up the host and paten or host and chalice, he then needs to turn around again to address the people. This reading is confirmed by n. 133.
       133. The Priest, facing the altar, says quietly: “May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life. And he reverently consumes the Body of Christ.”…
Again, if “facing the altar” and “facing the people” mean one and the same thing, as they do in a versus populum scenario, this phrase is meaningless. But once we re-envision the rubrics in the context of an ad orientem celebration, it all clicks into place. The pattern goes like this:
  • From the Prayer over the Gifts to the giving of peace, the priest has been facing ad orientem.
  • At the giving of peace, he turns around to address the congregation (n. 127).
  • He turns again to the altar for the fraction, Agnus Dei, and prayer before communion.
  • He turns to the people to say “Behold the Lamb of God…” (n. 132).
  • He faces the altar again to consume the precious Body and Blood of Christ (n. 133).
This may sound like a lot of turning back and forth, but as clergy and faithful know who have attended Ordinary Form Masses celebrated in perfect accord with these rubrics, the actions flow smoothly and, what is far more important, they make sense. When addressing primarily the people, the priest faces them; when addressing primarily God, he remains in the normative position of facing Him, symbolized by the east and, after the consecration, truly present upon the altar of sacrifice.
       139. Then, standing at the altar or at the chair and facing the people, with hands joined, the Priest says: “Let us pray.” All pray in silence with the Priest for a while, unless silence has just been observed. Then the Priest, with hands extended, says the Prayer after Communion, at the end of which the people acclaim: “Amen.”
It should not be necessary by now to point out that if there exists a need to specify that the priest ought to be facing the people for the Prayer after Communion, it is because he cleansed the vessels in his usual posture for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, viz., standing at the western side of the altar, facing eastwards.
       140. If they are necessary, any brief announcements to the people follow here.
       141. Then the dismissal takes place. The Priest, facing the people and extending his hands, says: “The Lord be with you…”
The phrase “facing the people” would seem superfluous here, but the possibility of an interruption by announcements might prompt a question about the stance the priest should take up afterwards. In any case, this rubric falls into the pattern of the priest being told to face the people when saying “The Lord be with you,” with some notable exceptions: see n. 31 and all the Preface dialogues, where the priest is never told to be facing the people.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2011, 2nd ed.) matches the foregoing rubrics in every respect, with the same implications as above.[1] One may consult GIRM 124, 146, 154, 157, 158, and 165; cf. 181, 185, 243, 244, 257, 268. The controversy over the egregious mistranslation of GIRM 299 is not our concern at present; see here to read more. I will limit myself to the observation that one who clings to the mistranslation of n. 299 effectively consigns over a dozen other paragraphs of the GIRM, namely those listed above, to incoherence or total superfluity.

Particularly striking, in any case, is this passage from GIRM 2:
[T]he doctrine which stands out in the following sentence, already notable and concisely expressed in the ancient Sacramentary commonly called the Leonine — “for whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption is accomplished” — is aptly and exactly expounded in the Eucharistic Prayers; for as in these the Priest enacts the anamnesis, while turned towards God likewise in the name of all the people, he renders thanks and offers the living and holy sacrifice, that is, the Church’s oblation and the sacrificial Victim by whose death God himself willed to reconcile us to himself; and the Priest also prays that the Body and Blood of Christ may be a sacrifice which is acceptable to the Father and which brings salvation to the whole world.
Part of the new liturgical movement is surely rediscovering how just and right it is when the priest is "turned towards God in the name of all the people" -- and when the people, facing east together with him, offer up the sacrifice of praise.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Liturgical Notes on the Presentation of the Virgin Mary

The story of the Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple comes to us not from Sacred Scripture, of course, but from some of the apocryphal Gospels. Although these are never read in the liturgy, some of what is written in them has been accepted by the Church’s tradition, both liturgical and artistic; they have given us not only today’s feast, but also influenced the depiction of Christ’s Nativity and the Assumption. It should always be born in mind that the Apocrypha (which exist in all the New Testament’s literary categories, gospels, acts, epistles and apocalypses), are not all of a piece. Some are clearly written to lend credit to one heresy or another, but others are simply harmless (or mostly harmless) tales about the Holy Family during the years of which the real Gospels say very little.

The Presentation of the Virgin, by Tintoretto, 1553-56, from the church of the Madonna dell’Orto in Venice.
One of the very oldest, the mid-2nd century Proto-evangelium of James, recounts the Virgin’s presentation in the Temple as follows.
And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her. And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel.” (chapter 7 and beginning of chapter 8)
This story is told in similar terms in the “History of Joseph the Carpenter”, written about the year 400, which goes on to tell how the temple priests chose Joseph to be Mary’s husband. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, of the same period, adds that “Joachim, and Anna his wife, went together to the temple of the Lord to offer sacrifices to God, and placed the infant, Mary by name, in the community of virgins, in which the virgins remained day and night praising God. And when she was put down before the doors of the temple, she went up the fifteen steps so swiftly, that she did not look back at all; nor did she, as children are wont to do, seek for her parents.” (chapter 4) It then describes the Virgin’s life of prayer and work in the temple, showing Her to be a perfect model of religious life.

A feast in honor of this event appears in an English manuscript known as the Canterbury Benedictional, written about 1030, and in a number of English calendars after that. It seems, however, to have died off; in the last editions of the Sarum Missal, from the mid-16th century, it is missing from the Calendar, and the Mass is included only in the appendix. Elsewhere, it appears sporadically in liturgical books printed in the century before the Council of Trent; the Mass and Office were often simply those of the Virgin’s Nativity, with the word “Nativity” changed to “Presentation” wherever it occurred. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84), who was the Minister General of the Franciscans until two year before his election, brought his order’s traditional zeal for new Marian feasts to the Use of Rome by adding the Presentation to the Roman Missal and Breviary, as he also did for the Immaculate Conception. The unusually elaborate rhyming Office seems to refer to the novelty of the feast in the Magnificat antiphon of First Vespers.

Novae laudis adest festivitas,
grata mundo ac caeli civibus,
qua Beatae Mariae sanctitas
templo data est a parentibus,
ut olivae pinguis suavitas
uberibus redundet fructibus.
(A feast of new praise is nigh, pleasing to the world and the citizens of heaven, in which the holiness of Blessed Mary is given to the temple by Her parents, that the sweetness of this rich olive tree may redound with rich fruits.)

A page of a Roman Missal of 1515, with the rubric in the upper part of the right-hand column, “On the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, the Mass is said of (Her) Nativity, with the name ‘Nativity’ changed to ‘Presentation.’ ”
In St Pius V’s reform of the Roman liturgical books, the feast of the Presentation is suppressed, along with those of Ss Joachim and Anne, precisely because they all derive from an apocryphal gospel. This went far too strongly against the grain of traditional piety, and all three feasts were swiftly restored, St Anne’s by Pius’ own successor, Gregory XIII, in 1584, the Presentation by Sixtus V the following year, and St Joachim by Gregory XV in 1622. The liturgical texts of the feast are the common Mass and Office of the Virgin Mary, with proper readings only for the second nocturn of Matins, and a proper Collect.

The Byzantine Rite knows no such reserve or restraint in regard to the feast, which is properly called “The Entrance of the Our All-Holy Lady, the Mother of God, into the Temple.” It is ranked as one of the Twelve Great Feasts, most of which are kept with both a Forefeast and Afterfeast, broadly the equivalent of a Vigil and Octave in the traditional Roman Rite. Afterfeasts vary in length, however, and those of the Virgin’s Presentation and Nativity are the shortest, only four days, the final day being known as the Leave-taking.

As such, it has a great many proper texts to be sung in the Office, of which here I can only give a very small selection.

At Vespers: Today, let us dance, O faithful, singing to the Lord in psalms and hymns and honoring His sanctified Tabernacle, the living Ark, that contained the Word Who cannot be contained; for in wondrous fashion she is offered to the Lord as a young child in the flesh, and Zachariah, the great High Priest, joyfully receives her as the dwelling place of God.

Here and elsewhere, the liturgy assumes that the High Priest who received Mary into the Temple was Zachariah, the father of John Baptist.

Anna the all-praised cried out rejoicing, “Receive, O Zachariah, her whom God’s prophets proclaimed in the Spirit, and bring her into the holy Temple, there to be brought up in reverence, that she may become the divine throne of the Master of all, His palace and resting place and dwelling filled with light!”

At the Divine Liturgy, the usual hymn to the Mother of God “It is truly meet’ is replaced by the following:

The angels, on seeing the entrance of the Virgin, were amazed that She went with glory into the Holy of Holies. Since she is a living Ark of God, let profane hands in no way touch Her, but let the lips of believers unceasingly sing to the Mother of God, raising up a song with the angel’s voice, and cry out in rejoicing, “Truly, thou art exalted above all, O pure Virgin!”

The Apocryphal Gospels have also helped to establish the traditional manner of representing the Entrance of the Mother of God in icons. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew states in chapter six that “when (Mary) was three years old, she walked with a step so mature, she spoke so perfectly, and spent her time so assiduously in the praises of God, that all were astonished at her, and wondered; and she was not reckoned a young infant, but as it were a grown-up person of thirty years old.” For this reason, She is represented in this icon, not as a child, but as a miniature adult, to indicate that the fullness of grace and virtue already resides within Her. The lamp-bearing virgins who accompany Her to the temple at Joachim’s request, as stated above in the Protoevanglium of James, are also shown. Note how The Virgin Mary approaches the high priest with Her hands open, to symbolize that She is offering Herself to God.

Laying A Few More Bricks in Switzerland

Fr Zuhlsdorf likes to use the phrase “brick by brick” to describe the slow and often painstaking process of building back up the Church’s liturgical life after decades of widespread neglect and abuse. So here is another example of a few more bricks being laid for the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy, sent in by a group of students at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Let us offer a small prayer or two that their initiative continue and succeed.

“Since last September, with a small bunch of students, we organize every Wednesday a Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. The main particularities are the offering of the Sacrifice in Latin, with the Gregorian chant, ad orientem, and with the traditional way to receive the Holy Eucharist. The chaplain of the University, since his arrival in September, is a supporter of the initiative. These pictures were taken this week on the occasion of St Martin’s feast, celebrated by our chaplain.

We want to associate this student project with the Reform of the Reform and especially with the new liturgical movement that actually spreads throughout the world. ... We hope this still small project will grow and that the Christ through his holy liturgy will touch many people in Fribourg and elsewhere.”

Victoria Mass for OF Christ the King in Palo Alto

Friday, November 20, 2015

Denis McNamara on Sacred Architecture, Part 6 - Columns

Here is the sixth in the series of short videos by Denis McNamara, Professor on the faculty of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein; his book is Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy.
I found this one particularly fascinating; he describes here how columns are a vital part of the design of the church building, which is meant to be the sacramental image of the Church, the mystical body of Christ. Historically, the building was so clearly identified as an image of the Church that it came to be called a “church” itself.

The columns represent important people within the Church who, metaphorically, support it, chief among them the Twelve Apostles. Before the Christian era, in Jewish architecture the columns represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Even within the classical, pre-Christian tradition, columns were identified with people, and different designs were ascribed to men, women and young girls. Building on both the Jewish and classical traditions that preceded them, we can see why it made great sense for the early Christians to incorporate the same symbolism into the design of their churches.

Because they are symbolic images of people, columns have particular aspects of design, again, incorporated into the tradition, and should not be just straight vertical lines that are pure structural support, as a modern architect might wish to do. This does not mean that every column should per force correspond precisely to the Doric, Corinthian and Ionic orders of classical architecture, but it does indicate the importance of columns of as symbolic images of people, and as decoration that visibly performs a structural purpose.

The question one might have after considering this is: even if we acknowledge that properly formed columns are right for a church building, do we need to have them in secular buildings as well, such as libraries, town halls, houses, theaters, and so on?

I would say that the church should be the symbolic heart of the community. Therefore, just as all human activity is formed by and leads us to the worship of God, so the design of all buildings, whatever their purpose, should be derived from and point to what should be the focal point within a town plan, the church, and so we ought to see columns in secular buildings too. All of this should be modified so that each building is appropriate to its particular purpose: a government building would have a design that corresponds more directly to that of a church, I would suggest, than the design of a cow shed or a public convenience.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

EF Pilgrimage to Bologna for Dominican Jubilee

To celebrate the Jubilee of eight-hundred years from the establishment of the Order of the Preachers (November 7, 2015 - January 21, 2017), on December 7, 2015, a pilgrimage to the Ark of Saint Dominic will take place in Bologna, culminating with a Holy Mass sung in the Dominican rite. The event is preceded by a conference on Dominican rite given by Fr. Riccardo Aimone Barile OP, Prior of the Convento Patriarcale in Bologna, and followed by a reception.

The pilgrimage is first of all a time of prayer and thanksgiving to God for having given the Church the Holy Father Dominic, founder of the Order of the Preachers. It is also an opportunity for the study and promotion of the rite that for seven hundred and fifty-years characterized the liturgical life of the Order, and which since 2007, thanks to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae of the Pontificial Commission Ecclesia Dei, may again be celebrated and promoted without any limit in the Church and in the Dominican Order.

Also, as Fr Thompson has noted both here and at Dominican Liturgy, a special plenary indulgence has been proclaimed for the various events of the Dominican Jubilee.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Dedication of Barcelona Cathedral

I am currently in Barcelona, and chose today to visit the cathedral, jointly dedicated to the Holy Cross and St Eulalia, a local martyr of the persecution of Diocletian. I did not know ahead of time that today is the anniversary of its dedication, the same day as the dedication of the Roman basilicas of St Peter in the Vatican and St Paul Outside-the-Walls, and also as that of the cathedral of Siena. The church seems to have a pretty strong liturgical life going, at least in terms of the number of Masses being said (in both Spanish and Catalan), a good number of regular devotions, and the availability of Confession. The building is a very interesting mix of the Gothic, from its original construction and decoration from the 13th to 15th centuries, with a number of Baroque additions; here are just a few photos of a complex far too rich in art and history to fully capture in a photoessay like this.

The crypt under the high altar, where the relics of St Eulalia repose.
The vaulting of the apse, seen from the stairs that lead down to the crypt.
The vaults of the nave, seen from the same point,
The tombs of Count Ramon Berenguer I (left), founder of the Romanesque cathedral which was later replaced by the current Gothic building, and his third wife, Almodis de la Marche (right).
The upper part of the liturgical choir, which is badly lit and hard to photograph.

Behold the Lamb of Advent!

Here’s an enterprising way to draw people into the liturgy, and to prepare for Advent, from Jesson Mata, who was recently appointed Director of the Office of Divine Worship in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, and also serves as Archbishop Sample’s Master of Ceremonies.

He has done a blog posting on how to cook a dish - “lamb with earthy vegetables.” At one level this is a simple cooking demonstration, but he connects it with the liturgical season of Advent and offers it in anticipation of the coming season. This highlights the point that feasts and fasts are not just religious observances or names given to the liturgical celebration, but are also about eating (or not not eating, as the case may be).

There can be a tendency of course to think of the Lamb’s Supper in the Mass as a symbolic replication of conventional meals, but in fact it is the other way around. Formal meals are quasi-liturgical activities that are derived from and point to the Holy Banquet. Similarly, the choice of vegetables reflects the earthly season, which points us to the seasons of sacred time, and it is sacred time that is the model for earthly time, and not the other way around.

He also gives it a Oregonian connection by making use of locally grown produce. Anyway, here is the posting, complete with the video of Jessen in his kitchen... Read the article here.

My only criticism would be the same one I have of all haute-cuisine - the size of the helping. If I was presented with a meal like this, I could probably eat it 10 times and still be hungry. Then again, I am a bit of a Philistine when it comes to food, and tend to see quantity and quality as the same thing!

Jesson also chooses a very interesting modern image of Our Lady, which has has a hazy, Gothic feel to it which I think works very well. I didn’t recognize it, so I asked Jesson about it, and he referrred me to this link here. The artist is Kay Eneim, and it was painted in 2007. As she explains, it is “copied” from a 14th-century painting by Spanish Gothic master Pere Serra. She explains her reasons for focusing just on Our Lady; the original has many Saints surrounding Her. It is to her credit that she did not seek to do something wholly original, as someone working in the modern idiom might. This selective copying, changing only what is necessary to make it accessible to the modern eye, is how artists should approach the reestablishment of these traditions today as living traditions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Third Video on the Mass from the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein

Here is the third in the series called The Elements of the Catholic Mass, produced by the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein and presented by its director, Fr Douglas Martis.

This one is entitled “the Role of the Parishioner,” and discusses how in this life we are pilgrims who have their sights set on the heavenly liturgy.

You can find the previous two and the accompanying study guides for each video at:

2016 Calendar from the Monks of Norcia

Following upon the monastic wisdom shared yesterday, courtesy of Norcia, today we can take a look at this remarkable community's 2016 Calendar.

For several years running, I have been happy to announce the annual calendar produced by the Monks of Norcia. I find this year's calendar particularly beautiful, because of the harmonious integration of the photography with apt verses from the Psalms, in Latin and English. I have given some samples below in low-res, but nothing can compare with the printed version, where the photos are large, glossy, colorful, and inspiring, and the text is crisp and easy to read.

Each year the calendar has had a mix of photos (indoor, outdoor, liturgical, recreational, meditative, musical, etc.), but this year's calendar tilts strongly towards nature, with stunning photos of the Umbrian countryside around Norcia, to which the monks go out for hikes and picnics.

As usual, the Norcia calendar features:
  • Feast Days for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form (modern and traditional) calendars
  • Reminders of historical and patronal saints not in the general liturgical calendars
  • Benedictine and local saints
  • Days in which to fast and abstain from meat
  • Holy days of Obligation
  • Key dates in the life of the monastery in Norcia (founding, professions, ordinations, etc.)
For those living in the USA, the calendar is $20 (which includes S&H). For those living elsewhere, the calendar is $30 (which includes S&H).

Each year, this calendar is a major fundraising effort for the monks, and the best part of it is that you can help them by getting yourself, or someone you especially admire, a pulchritudinous, liturgically comprehensive calendar. Promote the great mission of the Benedictines: ORA ET LABORA.

For more information and to place an order, visit this link.

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