Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ancient Churches in Northern Italy

Our Ambrosian correspondent Nicola de’ Grandi recently paid a visit to the archeological zone of Castelseprio, about 30 miles to the northwest of Milan. This was a Roman military outpost which became a small but important fortress town in the Middle Ages, but was then destroyed by Milan in 1287. Close to the area of the castle are two churches, Santa Maria ‘foris Portas’ (outside the gates), built in the 7th or 8th century, and the 8th-century Monastery of Torba, which remained a Benedictine women’s house until 1492. Although both fairly ruinous now, they still preserve a number of interesting fragments of their ancient fresco decorations; those which remain in the former, an extensive cycle on the Infancy of Christ, are more extensive and in better condition. Those

Santa Maria Foris Portas

Above left, Christ the Pantocrator; in the middle, above, the Angel appears to Joseph; below, the Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple.
The Divine Throne with angels to either side.
Above, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem; below, the Nativity
The Adoration of the Magi

Friday, April 29, 2016

Relic of the Curé d'Ars to Visit St Mary’s Church in Greenwich, Connecticut

St Mary’s Church in Greenwich, Connecticut, will host the relic of the incorruptible heart of St Jean-Marie Vianney, the patron Saint of parish priests, this coming week, from Tuesday May 3rd until Thursday, May 5th. Details in the flyer below.

From the church’s website: When (St John’s) coffin was opened his body was found perfectly preserved even though it was never embalmed and is today enshrined in a glass casket above the altar at his parish Church in Ars. As was the custom of the time the heart was removed from the body and placed in a separate reliquary for devotion. This extraordinary relic on occasion leaves France to visits other Churches throughout the world.

Saint Mary Church is delighted to announce that the Bishop of Belley-Ars in France has given his permission for the relic of the incorrupt heart of Saint John Vianney to visit our parish from May 3 to 5! The last time the relic was in the United States was 10 years ago. Bishop Caggiano has requested that during this visit we concentrate on the mercy of God given us through the Sacrament of Penance as well as prayers for an increase in priestly vocations. The Bishop will join us for Mass during the visit and we will have many opportunities for Confession during the three days.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

“The moment has come to normalize the situation of the Society”

In February of this year Fr. Franz Schmidberger, rector of the SSPX seminary in Zaitzkofen, Germany, wrote a short essay expressing his reasons, from a personal point of view, for members of the Society to accept a normalization of relations with Church authorities. Here we present an English translation of the document “Thoughts about the Church and the Place of the Society of Saint Pius X in it”.
Under normal circumstances this is a document we would not have published, because NLM has learned that Fr. Schmidberger wrote it as a private communication. He sent it to the SSPX Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, and to a small circle of colleagues, including fellow professors at the seminary. He did not authorize anyone to release it on the internet, let alone to claim incorrectly that he had sent it to all members of the Society; but in recent days both of these have taken place without his consent.
Now that erroneous translations of the text and untrue stories about the document are doing a disservice to innocent readers, Fr. Schmidberger has approved the publication of this authorized translation in English, in order to clear away the errors.

Thoughts about the Church and the Place of the Society of Saint Pius X in it

I. The Church is a mystery. She is the mystery of the one true God who is present among us, the saving God who desires not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. This conversion requires our cooperation.

II. The Church is infallible in her divine nature, but she is led by human beings who can go astray and also be burdened with failings. An office should be distinguished from the person in it at a given moment. The latter holds office for a certain time and then steps down—either through death or through other circumstances; the office remains. Today Pope Francis is the holder of the papal office with the power of the primacy. At some hour that we do not know, he will step down and another Pope will be elected. As long as he occupies the papal throne, we recognize him as such and pray for him. We are not saying that he is a good Pope. On the contrary, through his liberal ideas and his administration he causes much confusion in the Church. But when Christ established the papacy, He foresaw the whole line of popes throughout Church history, including Pope Francis. And nonetheless He permitted the latter’s ascent to the papal throne. Analogously, the Lord instituted the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar with the Real Presence, although He foresaw many sacrileges over the course of history.

A Mozart Mass in Tribute to Mother Angelica

Join the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale for a tribute to Mother Angelica, a performance of Mozart’s Spatzenmesse during a Latin High Mass, at St. Agnes Parish in St. Paul, Minnsota, Sunday, May 8, starting at 10 a.m.

Our Lady of the Mount Anjara, Jordan - New Icons of the Mysteries of the Rosary, and a Miraculous Weeping Statue

It is funny how one story leads to another, or in this case two others. On my blog, I recently posted an article about my visit to the seminary of the Argentinian order Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) in Washington, D.C. In response, I was contacted by English icon painter Ian Knowles, who told me that order that had commissioned him to paint icons of the Mysteries of the Rosary for a church which they run in Jordan, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Mount.

I thought that this might be of interest to NLM readers, so I asked him for pictures and started to dig around for information about the church. Then I found out that it is also that it is the site of a miracle, validated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in which a statue of Our Lady wept tears of blood in 2010. In 2014, IVE presented fellow Argentinian Pope Francis with an image of Our Lady of Anjara when he visited the site of Our Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan.

The statue is perhaps 150-200 years old, and was purchased by the church shortly before the miracle occurred. Culture, beauty, prayer and devotion to Our Lady are all aspects of the charism of the order, (you can read about the IVE charism here), and somehow all of this is entwined in a dynamic mix for the mission of the Church in this one shrine in the Middle East.

As to the original thrust of the story, the icons: there are some photos below at the bottom of the blog post. Immediately below is artist Ian with one of the panels in progress. (Incidentally I met him several years ago when we both attended a class taught by Aidan Hart!) .

I am so heartened to hear of IVE wanting to encourage “eyes-open prayer” through the commission of these icons. It shows, in my opinion, a true understanding of the New Evangelization, since, regardless of the miracle, the simple beauty of each one of them in the church will surely encourage a deeper prayer that engages the whole person. This will facilitate a supernatural transformation of the person in Christ and lead, in turn, to the transformation of the culture as each person contributes to it, gracefully and beautifully, by simply going about their daily business.

The same can be said of the statue. For all the headlines in connection with the miracle, (which I very happily accept as real), it is the supernatural transformation of mankind in Christ, the partaking in the divine nature, that is the truly astounding fact of the Christian faith. This is an extraordinary privilege that is open to every single human person, and leads to a life of such joy. Sometimes, exceptional, headlining events such as miracles are needed to inspire the prayer that will engender what I think are the greater, yet so often neglected and misunderstood truths of the Faith.

The account of the miracle is here at the National Catholic Register, and an account of the Pope’s visit is on the IVE site, here. The order is devoted to Our Lady with a special devotion to the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Lujan, a South American holy image. This photo is taken from the order’s website.

What struck me in the account of the miracle is how the Argentinian priest of the order who is at the Shrine, Fr Nammat, says quite matter-of-factly that he doesn’t know why the miracle should have occurred, except to remark that the “Arab spring”, which has led to the persecution of so many Christians (and Muslims) in the region began shortly afterwards, and perhaps there is a connection.

Below: Ian’s Sorrowful Mysteries, with detail below that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sacred Choral Works and Other Liturgical Resources from Peter Kwasniewski

In addition to rescuing the forgotten treasures of our Catholic musical tradition from the dust-heap of history, our regular contributor Dr Peter Kwasniewski somehow finds the time to make his own original contribution to it, in the midst of his teaching and writing. His collection of Sacred Choral Works was published by Corpus Christ Watershed in 2014, a treasure-trove of choral music in Latin and English, written in an accessible style.

Recently some new videos of a number of pieces in the collection have been put up at YouTube, and we are happy to share them with NLM readers. We have also decided to add this title to the sidebar of recommended books, in the category Other Liturgical Books, along with his Missal for Young Catholics, and the reprints of Roman Guardini’s Sacred Signs, and the Cantus Mariales about which he wrote on Monday. Here are the videos:

O Clarissima Mater

O Salutaris Hostia

Tantum ergo

Mandatum (in English)

A Note on External Solemnities in the EF

Since the feast of the Ascension is coming up next week, it seems a good idea to address the following matter which was brought to my attention by a regular reader, regarding the concept of the external solemnity of this and other feasts in the Extraordinary Form.

In the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, certain feasts which were traditionally celebrated on a weekday, such as the Ascension and Corpus Christi, may be permanently and entirely transferred to the following Sunday at the discretion of the local bishops’ conference; such is the case with both of these feasts in the United States. In such places, the Thursday on which the feast was historically celebrated simply becomes a ferial day, or the feast of a Saint. To give an example, this year, Thursday May 26th is in the United States the feast of St Philip Neri, an obligatory memorial, because Corpus Christi in its entirety is kept on the following Sunday.

In the Extraordinary Form, however, these feasts are not transferred; it is obligatory to celebrate both their Mass and Divine Office on the traditional days, which this year are May 5th and 26th. The “external solemnity” is a pastoral provision which may be made, but is not obligatory, in cases where a reasonable number of the faithful are unable to attend the feast on the day itself. The Mass of the feast is repeated, but the Office is not changed to match it; the rubrics of the 1962 Missal (numbers 356-361) describe it as “celebratio … festi absque Officio – the celebration of the feast without the Office.” Whereas on the feast day itself, a church may celebrate as many Masses of the feast as are possible, desired, or necessary, only two may be said of the feast on its external solemnity (number 360), and only one of them may be sung.

Further, it should be noted that according to this rubric, there are only two feasts to which an external solemnity is automatically granted, those of the Sacred Heart and the Holy Rosary; the former may be repeated on the following Sunday, the latter on the first Sunday of October, whether before or after its fixed date of October 7.

The original logic of the external solemnity, by the way, was that it applied to feasts which had octaves, and therefore corresponded to at least a part of the Office, namely, the commemoration of the feast in the Sunday within its octave.

Solemn Masses for Pentecost at Shreveport LA Cathedral, OF and EF

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, Louisiana, located at 939 Jordan Street, will have Masses with the music of William Byrd and Franz Schubert inter alios (the latter with an orchestra) for the Feast of Pentecost on May 15. Details in the poster below.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

“Behold the Bridegroom Cometh” - A Beautiful Chant for Julian Holy Week

This post has been updated with a more accurate description of the use of the chant in question, and a video posted yesterday of a live recording of it at the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Cathedral of St George in Lviv. The new video begins with one of the best Alleluias of the Slavonic chant repertoire.

Those who follow the Julian Calendar are now in the midst of Holy Week, and via the Facebook pages of some Ukrainian and Greek friends, I just discovered this especially beautiful chant, a troparion for Matins on the first three days of the week, which has given its name to the service, Bridegroom Matins. Here is a version in Old Church Slavonic, sung by the always-impressive choir of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow.
Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the midst of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again, unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless. Take care, therefore, oh my soul, lest thou be borne down down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death, and be shut out of the kingdom; but rouse thyself, crying, Holy, Holy, Holy are Thou O God. * Through the Mother of God, have mercy on us!

Се Женихъ грѧдетъ въ полунощи, и блаженъ рабъ, егоже обрѧщетъ бдѧща: недостоинъ же паки, егоже обрѧщетъ унывающа. блюди убо душе моѧ, не сномъ отѧготисѧ, да не смерти предана будеши, и Царствиѧ вне затворишисѧ, но воспрѧни зовущи: Свѧтъ, Свѧтъ, Свѧтъ єси Боже, Богородицею помилуй нас.

Matins are traditionally anticipated to the evening of the day before, so that the first of the Bridegroom Matins, that of Holy Monday, is celebrated on the evening of Palm Sunday, the second, that of Holy Tuesday, on the evening of Holy Monday, and the third, that of Holy Wednesday, on the evening of Holy Tuesday. According to a Greek Holy Week book which I have, the troparion is sung three times in a row, but the final words “through the Mother of God, have mercy on us!” as given above are only sung the third time. On Holy Monday, the first two times end with the words “by the protection of the Bodiless Ones”, on Holy Tuesday, “by the prayers of the Forerunner”, and on Holy Wednesday, “by the power of the Cross.”

Here is another very beautiful version in Arabic.

From the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Cathedral of St George in Lviv:

Catholic Artists Conference and Faces of Christ Exhibition: Sept 12-13, Shuyler NE

Here is early notice of a conference that will take place in the fall. The Catholic Artists’ Conference is intended to encourage and guide Catholic artists and patrons. The central theme and title of the conference is Prayer: Art from the Heart of God; you can read more about it at Among the speakers will be Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska.
In conjunction with the conference will be the US debut of the Faces of Christ exhibition, with works by living artists from around the world; for more information, go to
I have attached below images of the conference and exhibition promotional material; reminders will be posted as we get closer to the date.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Newly Republished: Cantus Mariales — Rare 1903 Book of Marian Chants

Choirs and scholas often like to have a selection of devotional chants for ad libitum use. Books like The Parish Book of Chant have done an admirable job in this regard, but I often find there is a real dearth of Marian chants. I was therefore delighted when, some years ago, friends of mine delivered to me three copies of an exceptionally rare book published in 1903, Cantus Mariales, that contains 50 beautiful Marian chants for the entire Church year, as well as an Appendix of several litanies and antiphons. I am happy to announce today the publication of a facsimile edition, bringing this volume once again to choirs and scholas everywhere.

The story of how I came by these books is quite interesting. My friends were visiting Jerusalem, and happened to enter a monastery called St. Pierre de Sion, otherwise known as the Ratisbonne Monastery. They somehow got up into the choir loft (which is exactly what I would have tried to do myself!) and found a stash of old chant books, covered with dust and in various stages of disrepair, and evidently unused. When they asked a person who lived there if they could buy any of the books, he shrugged his shoulders and said: "Go ahead and take them, no one's using them." When my friends got back to Austria, they gave them to me and said: "You should be the one to get these, you'll know what to do with them."
One of the original books
Once I began to sing the chants inside Cantus Mariales — which bears the subtitle quos e fontibus antiquis eruit aut opere novo veterum instar concinnavit — I knew that I had stumbled on a goldmine that deserved to be republished. The editor, Dom Joseph Pothier, O.S.B., is well known to chant afficionados as one of the great maestros and paleographers of the Solesmes monastic movement. Dom Pothier ranged through manuscripts finding Marian sequences, proses, and rhythms from all centuries. Some of these were already fitted with melodies, others he adapted to existing melodies, and still others he set to neo-Gregorian compositions. At the end of most pieces, the sources of text and melody are indicated. (The preface and annotations are in Latin.) Here is the Table of Contents:

The short chant antiphons given for announcing each of the traditional 15 mysteries of the Rosary (pp. 125-31) are fascinating and could elevate the communal recitation of the Rosary in places where that is a custom, e.g., during a public Holy Hour.

The three original copies appear to be hand-produced: the pages show obvious signs of having been printed, cut, and assembled in small batches; each cover is marbled in a distinctive manner, and each book has discrepancies of spacing and placement, not to mention pencil and pen markings. The one I dismantled for scanning was in good shape and had few extraneous markings. I am happy to announce the availability of a full-color facsimile edition identical in content to the original, with a new cover.

An original copy (1903) and the new facsimile (2016)

Gregorian Chant Workshop in Amenia, NY, June 21-24

A four day workshop-retreat for those who want to learn how to sing and lead Gregorian chant will take place from Tuesday, June 21, through Friday, June 24, at the Wethersfield Estate in Amenia, New York.

Two Dominican priests will lead the workshop, Fathers Vincent Ferrer Bagan and Innocent Smith, both of whom have studied chant and church music and have led church and school choirs in singing chant. They also collaborated in Ave Maria: Dominican Chant for the Immaculate Conception, a recent recording by the friars of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

In addition to formal instruction time, the workshop will include singing chant in the Church’s liturgy as well as discussion about the place of chant in the churches and schools from which the participants come. The $150 fee includes room and board for the four-day retreat/workshop. For more information and to register, please contact Nicole Martin at

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Liturgical Notes on the Feast of St George

St George has the distinction of being one of the earliest examples of a Saint whose biography was recognized to be historically doubtful. A document of the early 6th century known as the Gelasian Decree mentions him twice, once to say that his acts are not read by the Roman church, “lest even a slight occasion for mockery arise,” and again on a long list of “apocryphal” books. The term “apocryphal” in the context of this decree simply means that the books were not approved to be read in church, which is to say, to be read in the liturgy; nevertheless, it is significant that only one other “passio”, that of Ss Quiricus and Julitta, is so noted. (Ironically, the Gelasian Decree as we have it today postdates the reign of the Pope to whom it is attributed, St Gelasius I (492-96), and is therefore itself technically “apocryphal.”)

St George Slaying the Dragon, by Paris Bordone, 1525; now in the Painting Gallery of the Vatican Museums. 
For this reason, in the pre-Tridentine editions of the Roman Breviary, the single historical lesson of his feast consists of only two brief statements. “In the Persian city of Diospolis, the passion of St George the Martyr. Although the deeds of his passion are counted among the apocryphal writings, nevertheless, the Church honors his most illustrious martyrdom with veneration among the crowns of the martyrs.” Diospolis, also called Lydda, was actually in the Roman province of Syrian Palestine in George’s time; renamed Georgiopolis in the early Byzantine period, it is now in the state of Israel, and called by its Hebrew name Lod. Nothing is said about the era of his martyrdom, which took place in the persecution of Diocletian, from 303 to 306.

In the Breviary of St Pius V, not even this brief notice was retained, and generic lessons from the common of Martyrs in Eastertide are read instead. The feast itself, however, remained as a semidouble, even though many other Saints with dubious passions were either removed from the calendar, or reduced to commemorations. (In 1568, when the first edition was published, semidouble was the second of three grades of feasts.) This would seem to be an act of recognition that the skepticism of the hagiographers, however long-standing or well-founded it may be, must yield to popular devotion; a principle also recognized, for example, when the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria was restored to the general Calendar in 2002.

The Western Church’s reserve towards St George’s history does not seem to have impeded that devotion in the least, as witnessed among other things by the popularity of his name, which derives from the Greek word “geōrgos – a farmer.” He is honored as the Patron Saint of many places, including over 150 cities and towns in Italy, and most famously, of England, although it is not clear how exactly the latter came about.

In art, St George is traditionally shown as a knight on horseback in the act of killing a dragon, which in a particular region (the Golden Legend says a city in Libya, but there are many versions of the story), was about to eat the local king’s daughter. Surprisingly, this is not the legend to which the Gelasian Decree refers as a possible occasion for mockery, as it was unknown before the 12th century. This fact this has not stopped some of the more cynical hagiographers (perhaps “credulous” would be a better way to describe them,) from describing St George as a Christianized version of the Greek mythological character Perseus, who slew a different and much larger monster as it was about to eat a king’s daughter.

The Byzantine Rite has no such reservations about St George, as is often the case with some of the best loved legends and traditions about the Saints. He is honored with the titles “Great Martyr”, meaning one who suffered many and various torments during his martyrdom, and “Bearer of the Standard of Victory”; in the preparation rite of the Divine Liturgy, he is named in the company of martyrs second only to St Stephen. His feast always occurs in Eastertide, unless it be impeded by Holy Week or Easter week; one of the texts for Vespers of his feast refers to this in a very clever way.
Thou didst suffer along with the Savior, and having willingly imitated His death by death (thanato ton thanaton … mimesamenos), o glorious one, thou reignest with Him, clothed in bright splendor, adorned with thy blood, decorated with the scepter of thy prizes, outstanding with the crown of victory, for endless ages, o Great-Martyr George.
The phrase “having willingly imitated His death by death” makes an obvious reference to words of the well-known Paschal troparion, “Christ is risen from the dead, by death he conquered death (thanato ton thanaton … patesas), and gave life to those in the tomb.”

A famous icon of the Virgin and Child with Ss George (left) and Theodore, from the monastery of St Catherine on Mt Sinai, ca. 600 A.D. (public domain image from Wikipedia.)

Sacra Liturgia UK Program Announced for July 2016

The full conference programme for Sacra Liturgia UK, which will be held in London, from July 5-9 this year has now been published on the conference website and may be consulted through the link on this page:

The conference is open to anyone. Registration will open in the morning of Tuesday, 5th July at 10h00 at the London Oratory (St Joseph's Hall).

Conference sessions will be held at the central location of Imperial College in South Kensington, a distinguished research university with excellent conference facilities.

The inaugural session with the address by Robert Cardinal Sarah will begin at 17h30pm on Tuesday, 5th July (preceded by Vespers at the Oratory Church, see below.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the morning sessions will run from 9h00 to 13h15 (with a coffee break). The afternoon sessions will run from 14h30 to 17h30 (with a tea break).

The conference is non-residential: delegates are responsible for their own accommodation and meals, though tea and coffee will be provided each day. Conference delegates will be able to use the cafés and restaurants of the Imperial College campus for meals.

Click here to view and download the complete programme.

Liturgical Celebrations
Tuesday, 5th July 16h30:
Solemn Vespers (Breviarium Romanum 1961)
St Anthony Maria Zaccaria (III cl.)
The Oratory, Brompton Road, London SW7 2RP
Celebrant: Bishop Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon
Music: Oratory Choir, directed by Patrick Russill

Wednesday, 6th July 19h00:
Solemn Pontifical Mass (Missale Romanum 2002)
Votive Mass of Saints Peter & Paul
The Oratory, Brompton Road, London SW7 2RP
Celebrant & Preacher: Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.
Music: London Oratory School Schola Cantorum, directed by Charles Cole

Thursday, 7th July 19h00:
Solemn Pontifical Mass (Missale Romanum 1962)
Votive Mass of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest
The Oratory Church, London SW7 2RP
Celebrant & Preacher: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco
Music: Oratory Choir, directed by Patrick Russill

Friday, 8th July Evensong (Ordinariate Use)
Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ
Celebrant: Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

All liturgical celebrations will be open to the public. Seating will be reserved for conference delegates.

Conference delegates will receive a ticket for admission to the Concert of Sacred Music; other tickets may be available for the public space permitting.

Priest delegates will need to make their own arrangements to celebrate Mass, and are reminded of the need for a valid celebret.


On Tuesday, 5th July 19h00: Concert of Sacred Music with the London Oratory School Schola Cantorum, directed by Charles Cole Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Rd, London SW7 2BA

Paul Jernberg's Music to Be Sung at Masses in Milwaukee, Pittsburg and Massachusetts

The liturgical music of composer Paul Jernberg is deservedly beginning to catch attention. In the next few weeks his Mass of St Philip Neri, which is written for the Ordinary Form celebrated in English, will be sung in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and St John’s in Clinton, Massacusetts. The details are as follows:

Tuesday, April 26, 7 pm: Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Mass of Confirmation; Propers for the Sacrament of Confirmation composed by Jernberg will be sung, as well as the Mass of St. Philip Neri.

Sunday, May 8, 5:30 pm: St. Monica Parish, Methuen, Massachsetts - Mass of Confirmation; Propers for the Sacrament of Confirmation, as well as the Mass of St. Philip Neri (and other chant and polyphony, including music by another contempory composer of note, Roman Hurko.)

Sunday, May 22, 10:30 am: Holy Family Parish, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin - First Mass of Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, May 25, 5 pm: St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood and Diaconate for the Pittsburgh Oratory of St. Philip Neri; the Mass of St. Philip Neri will be sung. This Ordination will be taking place on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Philip!

I have no doubt that Paul’s music will makes these all the more beautiful and solemn. Below you can hear excerpts from his Mass of St Philip Neri and his Salve Regina.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Office of Vespers as Sacrifice - Guest Article

Skyler Neberman is a student of Theology and Philosophy at Benedictine College, and hopes to continue on to graduate studies in Systematic Theology and the Liturgy. He is interested in the restoration of Gregorian chant, especially in the Divine Office, and the Mixolydian is his favorite mode. We are very pleased to be able to share with our readers this article which he has written on the Office of Vespers as a Sacrifice.

The Evening Sacrifice
A Historical Case for the Office of Vespers as Sacrifice
One of the first experiences that began my formation in and devotion to the Liturgy was attending Cathedral Vespers in my youth. Though I have since experienced much more solemn Vespers in many rites and forms, I was struck even in that office’s simplicity, which stirred a dormant sense that it was “right and just” to worship at eventide. Vilma Little says in The Sacrifice Of Praise, “Of the two original offices of praise the Evening Hour has always been the prime favorite. It was in the calm of evening that God walked with our first parents in the Garden.” That Evensong stirred something of the first homo adorans that awoke in the evening of Creation, when the evening star first arose upon the imagines Dei, who saw it and offered thanksgiving to God. In this essay I will attempt to trace the tradition of the early Church in an effort to discern the theology of the office of Vespers, especially the understanding of Vespers as the evening sacrifice of the Last Supper and of Christ on the Cross.

The Creation of the World; mosaic in one of the cupolas of the Basilica of St Mark in Venice, 1215-35.
The liturgy of the hours has its earliest roots in the Jewish Temple sacrifices and prayers. Exodus mandates “thou shalt sacrifice upon the altar: Two lambs of a year old every day continually. One lamb in the morning and another in the evening. … It is a sacrifice to the Lord, by perpetual oblation unto your generations” (Ex 29:38b-39, 42a). When the Divine Office comes into its own in the 4th century, the Church Dathers develop this connection, but as Fr Robert Taft says in The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West, the “raw material and symbols for what would later become the Liturgy of the Hours” are already present.

The earliest Church documents show little in the way of a Liturgy of the Hours beyond exhortations to pray at set hours of the day: St Clement of Rome, in his Letter to the Corinthians, encourages us to keep Christ’s commands by observing the “sacrifices and services … at the set times and seasons he fixed” (40.2-3). But Taft points to the greater importance of Clement’s comments, which develops the symbolic value of the times of day: “We see, beloved, that the resurrection was accomplished according to the time. Day and night make visible to us a resurrection. Night goes to sleep, the day rises; the day departs, the night follows.”

Among the most important of the earlier writings is the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus, from around the year 215. In chapter 25, Hippolytus covers what Taft calls the “evening agape.” The agape is a rather curious office, which begins with “The Lord be with you. … Let us give thanks to the Lord. … It is proper and just. Greatness and exultation and glory are due to him,” but doesn’t continue to the “Lift up your hearts … for this is only said at the oblation.” (25:2-6) This is a meal which is not the Eucharist, though bread and the cup are blessed, and the blessed bread is given to the faithful by the deacon or bishop, “Yet it is not the Eucharist, like the body of the Lord” (25:15-26:1). Still, the agape is very Eucharistic, in the sense that it is a thanksgiving; where the translation I have used says the bishop “shall bless the cup” (25:15), Taft’s translation says “give thanks over the cup.” The prayer over the lamp, a precursor to the lucernarium of Cathedral Vespers according to Taft, is also Eucharistic in nature:
We give thanks to you, O God, / through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, / because you have enlightened us / by revealing the incorruptible light. / Therefore, having finished the length of a day, … and since we now do not lack a light for the evening through your grace, / we sanctify you and glorify you. (25:7-8)
The Divine Office comes into its own in the 4th century Cathedral Office. In this period, Taft shows us St. Basil, who tells us that at the lucernarium “thanksgiving for the light” was made with the hymn Phos Hilaron. Later on, St. John Chrysostom makes another important contribution. Taft notes that in commenting on psalm 140 - which forms the fulcrum of cathedral Vespers (16) - Chrysostom applies the Old Testament sacrifices to Matins and Vespers (43); these sacrifices show that “it is necessary to be zealous in worshipping him at both the beginning and the end of the day.” (The Phos hilaron is still sung at Vespers every day in the Byzantine Rite; here is a version in Old Church Slavonic.)

The last ancient source we shall consider is the Institutes of St. John Cassian. In chapter 3, Cassian discourses on the theological significance of the canonical hours, connecting them to significant moments in Scripture. When he comes to evening prayer, he calls it the “evening sacrifice”, which even in the Old Testament we can see is offered in the morning and night,
although with figurative victims, from the fact that David sings: “Let my prayer come like incense in your presence, the raising of my hands like an evening sacrifice.” Here the true evening sacrifice can be understood in a more spiritual way as either that which the Lord, the Savior, delivered to his apostles as they supped in the evening, when he initiated the sacred mysteries of the Church, or as that evening sacrifice which he offered to the Father on the last day—namely, at the end of the ages—by the raising of his hands for the salvation of the whole world. (3, 3, 8-10)
Cassian is saying that Vespers is the Evening Sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the offering of the Last Supper, the fulfillment of the old Jewish Temple sacrifices wherein the Lamb of God is offered.

But how can it be the Evening Sacrifice without the Eucharist? The answer can be found in Psalm 115, 17, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call on the name of the Lord,” as well as in Psalm 49, 23 “He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me; to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation of God!” The psalmist writes in Psalm 140 “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!” The offering of our selves in worship is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews writes, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (13, 15-16). At Vespers we offer up to God, not the Bread of Heaven which is the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine, but rather the Bread of Heaven as the word that proceeds from the mouth of God (cf. Mt. 4:4).

The incensation of the altar during solemn Vespers in the Ordinariate Use. (Photo by Fr Lew.)
The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours says this.
In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church exercises the priestly office of its Head and offers to God ‘without ceasing’ a sacrifice of praise, that is, a tribute of lips acknowledging his name. … All who render this service are not only fulfilling a duty of the Church, but also are sharing in the greatest honor of Christ’s Bride for by offering these praises to God they are standing before God's throne. (I-III.15).
This is especially true of the character of Vespers, for as the Evening Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, it commemorates and offers the wedding feast of the lamb, for according to St. Chrysostom in his Catecheses, the Church is born and wedded to Christ when, in the sleep of death, His side is pierced and blood and water pour forth—the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism—just as Eve is born from and wedded to Adam from the rib of his side after God places him in a deathlike sleep. Therefore, while Morning Prayer celebrates the Resurrection, Vespers celebrates the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, which is ratified in the offering of the last supper, and consummated upon the cross. In the modern office, we could posit too that this is expressed in the twofold nature of Vespers on Sundays and Feasts or Solemnities in the Roman Rite; First Vespers can be seen as the offering, and Second Vespers as the consummation, wherein in the Ordinary Form the New Testament canticle is taken from Revelation: “The wedding feast of the lamb has begun … and his bride is prepared to welcome him.”

Today, the Divine Office has to a large degree fallen by the wayside in terms of devotion, but given the incredible purpose that it fulfills—especially in Vespers—of bringing us into the eternal worship of God, we should strive to celebrate it in our Cathedrals, Parishes, religious communities, and even our families, and where possible, with the greater perfection of Gregorian Chant, as the music proper to the Roman Rite. Benedict XVI makes this very exhortation in Verbum Domini (62), asking that prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially Lauds and Vespers be promulgated among the people of God: “Emphasis should also be placed on … First Vespers of Sundays and Solemnities … To this end I recommend that, wherever possible, parishes and religious communities promote this prayer with the participation of the lay faithful.” In the Church offering Vespers with greater frequency and devotion, we her members may better enter into the mystery of the eternal offering of Christ the eternal high priest and sacrificial lamb, and ultimately reach consummation in the vision of Divine light, to which humanity was first drawn when they looked upon the stars and gave thanks.

A Greek icon of the Second Coming of Christ, ca. 1700

On the Inclusion of 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 in the Ordinary Form

In his recent NLM article The Omission that Haunts the Church, Dr Peter Kwasniewski rightly observes that the omission of 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 from multiple points in the usus recentior has contributed to the contemporary crisis over who can receive Holy Communion. There was a brief but interesting exchange in the comments section of the article about whether or not it was licit for a priest or lector to include vv. 27-29 in the relevant Ordinary Form readings. I thought this question deserved some further consideration, since the rubrics governing this, as well as their history, are actually quite interesting to look at.

It should be said, first of all, that in my conversations with people about the lectionary of the Ordinary Form, they are often quite surprised about these sorts of omissions, and are unaware that not every reading from the preceding tradition has been included in the OF. [1] Of course, some readings, such as 1 Cor. 11:23-29 for Corpus Christi, had verses eliminated from them by the Consilium; others, such as 1 Pet. 2:11-19a (the epistle for the 3rd Sunday after Easter) are missing entirely. These omissions are more common than many people think, and my recently published book Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite provides the tools to make discovering them much easier. [2]

With regard to the topic at hand, the General Introduction to the Lectionary (GIL) states that “in the celebration of Mass the biblical readings with their accompanying scriptural chants may not be omitted, shortened, or, worse still, replaced by non-biblical readings” (GIL 12). It should be noted that this paragraph has nothing to say on whether or not readings may be lengthened.

On the issue of ‘difficult’ texts, among which 1 Cor. 11:27-29 could be classified, the GIL says:
In readings for Sundays and solemnities, texts that present real difficulties are avoided for pastoral reasons. The difficulties may be objective, in that the texts themselves raise complex literary, critical, or exegetical problems; or, at least to a certain extent, the difficulties may lie in the faithful’s ability to understand the texts. But there could be no justification for depriving the faithful of the spiritual riches of certain texts on the grounds of difficulty if its source is the inadequacy either of the religious education that every Christian should have or of the biblical formation that every pastor should have. Often a difficult reading is clarified by its correlation with another in the same Mass. (GIL 76, my emphasis)
There is a certain subjectivity as to what the “religious education” or “spiritual formation” of clergy and laity “should” consist of, but I would hope everyone can agree that knowledge of Who one is receiving and of the dispositions necessary to receive Him in Holy Communion are an essential part of this (cf. Code of Canon Law 913.1, 915-916, 919.1; Catechism of the Catholic Church 1384-1387, 1415). Thus, we are entitled to ask: can the omission of 1 Cor. 11:27-29 be justified based on what the OF lectionary says about itself in this section? To state the question differently: can the addition of these verses be defended on the basis that their exclusion unjustly deprives the faithful of the spiritual riches that are rightly theirs?

(It should also be noted that the way in which the principles in this paragraph were applied in the OF lectionary, along with those of GIL 75, [3] deserves much more critical attention that it has received up until now.)

On the omission of verses within readings, GIL says this:
The omission of verses in readings from Scripture has at times been the practice in many liturgical traditions, including the Roman. Admittedly such omissions may not be made lightly, for fear of distorting the meaning of the text or the intent and style of Scripture. Yet on pastoral grounds it was decided to continue the tradition in the present Order of Readings, but at the same time to ensure that the essential meaning of the text remained intact. One reason for the decision is that otherwise some texts would have been unduly long. It would also have been necessary to omit completely certain readings of high spiritual value for the faithful because those readings include some verse that is unsuitable pastorally or that involves truly difficult problems. (GIL 77)
It is true that, from time to time, verses are omitted from lections found in the 1962 Missale Romanum: for example, Acts 3:13-15, 17-19 on Easter Wednesday, and Eph. 3:8-12, 14-19 on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The GIL seems a little disingenuous here, though, because I can find no occasion on Sundays in the EF where verses are omitted from the middle of readings, yet this happens with some regularity in the OF. [4]

Still, when this paragraph of the GIL speaks of “continuing the tradition”, common sense would indicate that this refers to certain readings that are new to the OF lectionary, and thus were not part of the Roman lectionary tradition up until 1969. It would not be consistent to say, for example, that leaving out vv. 27-29 from 1 Cor. 11:23-29 “continues the tradition” of the omission of verses, as those verses have been part of the tradition for centuries. In fact, it would be against the tradition of the Roman Rite to omit them! [5]

With regard to the readings on Sundays and solemnities, it may surprise some to learn that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) has changed over the years:
Dominicis et sollemnitatibus assignantur tres lectiones, scilicet Prophetæ, Apostoli et Evangelii, quibus populus christianus ad continuitatem operis salutis, secundum mirabile propositum divinum, educatur. Hæ lectiones stricte adhibeantur.
Sundays and Solemnities have assigned to them three readings, that is, from a Prophet, an Apostle, and a Gospel, by which the Christian people are instructed in the continuity of the work of salvation according to God’s wonderful design. These readings should be followed strictly. (GIRM 357 [2002])
Diebus dominicis et festis assignantur tres lectiones, scilicet Prophetæ, Apostoli et Evangelii, quibus populus christianus ad perennitatem operis salutis, secundum mirabilem disciplinam divinam, educatur.
Sundays and holydays have three readings, that is, from the Old Testament, from the writings of an apostle, and from a Gospel. Thus God’s own teaching brings the Christian people to a knowledge of the continuity of the work of salvation. (GIRM 318 [1975])
The stipulation that the readings for Sundays and solemnities are to be “followed strictly”, which would seem to exclude any lengthening of them, does not appear in the earlier GIRM. Thus, from a technical standpoint, only since 2002 has it been illicit to lengthen readings in the Ordinary Form. [6]

Given what the most recent edition of the GIRM has to say, I would argue that, at the present time, adding 1 Cor. 11:27-29 to the relevant readings on Sundays and solemnities in the OF is illicit. However, the omission of these verses does not seem at all consistent with the language and ambitions of Sacrosanctum Concilium 51:
The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years (my emphases).
Again, we are entitled to ask: How is it “more representative” to omit verses that have been read for centuries in the Roman Rite? How do this and other omissions serve to “open up more lavishly” the scriptures? How is “richer fare” provided when the traditional readings of the Roman Rite are shortened or eliminated? I would argue that, in the particular case of Corpus Christi, rather than omitting 1 Cor. 11:27-29 out of a concern that these are ‘difficult’ verses, the proper solution for the Consilium would have been to lengthen the traditional reading for the OF to include the more ‘upbeat’ conclusion of vv. 30-32:
That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
These verses most certainly “correspond to the principal themes” (cf. GIL 108) of Corpus Christi as expressed in the Collect common to the OF and EF: tribue, quæsumus, ita nos Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus (“grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption”).

In any case, it is to be hoped for that the Holy See will correct this and other serious omissions in the Ordinary Form lectionary in the years to come. Until then, bishops, priests and deacons should be strongly encouraged to read these verses in the one place in the OF where it is licit to read them: the homily.


[1] Some are also surprised to be informed that the Church does not read the entirety of all four Gospels every year (or every three years), or the whole New Testament every two years, for example. I am not sure quite where these sorts of myths about the OF lectionary originated, but they certainly need to be debunked when possible.

[2] The Index Lectionum is available from Amazon (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain). In his Foreword to the book, Dr Kwasniewski goes into more detail about some of the readings and verses in the EF that have been omitted from the OF.

[3] “In the case of certain rather long texts, longer and shorter versions are provided to suit different situations. The editing of the shorter version has been carried out with great caution.” This is all that the GIL has to say about why long and short forms of certain texts exist in the OF lectionary. However, Phil. 3:17–4:1 (2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C) is not a long text, yet it has a short form (3:20–4:1); Mt. 13:44-52 (17th Sunday per annum, Year A) also has a short form (13:44-46), despite being only 9 verses long! Readers can look at these passages for themselves and quickly deduce perhaps why, in the case of certain rather short texts, even shorter versions are provided.

[4] For example, in the following sequence of Sundays in Year C: Neh. 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10 (3rd Sunday per annum); Jer. 1:4-5, 17-19 (4th); Isa. 6:1-2a, 3-8 (5th); Lk. 6:17, 20-26 (6th).

[5] Text-critical omissions, such as that of v. 44 from Mt. 21:33-46 (read on Friday of week 2 of Lent in the EF and OF) are perhaps the one exception to this rule, though the relationship between text-criticism and tradition certainly warrants further discussion.

[6] SC 22 § 3 does say that “no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority”, though it has to be said that the rubrics of the OF (e.g. the frequent use of vel similibus verbis) somewhat undermine this particular section of the Constitution. Whether bishops or bishops’ conferences could mandate the lengthening of particular readings in their dioceses is a separate question (cf. SC 22 §§ 1-2).

Latinitas Suprema II

Salvete, discipuli optimi!

Month-Mind Traditional Requiem for Mother Angelica, April 28th

The Latin Mass Community of Jersey City announces the celebration of a Month’s Mind Requiem Mass for Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, who died on Easter Sunday. The Month’s Mind Mass will take place on Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 pm at historic St. Anthony of Padua Church located in the downtown section of the city at 457 Monmouth St.

Mother Angelica was born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in Canton, Ohio on April 20, 1923. She entered the contemplative Franciscan Order of Poor Clares in 1944 and was best known as a television personality and the founder of both the internationally-broadcast cable television network Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and the radio network WEWN.

In 1981, Mother Angelica started broadcasting religious programs from a converted garage on the grounds of her monastery in Birmingham, Alabama. Over the next twenty years, she developed a media network that included radio, TV, and internet channels as well as printed media. Mother Angelica hosted shows on EWTN until she had a stroke in 2001. She continued to live in the cloistered monastery in Hanceville until her death at age 92 on March 27, 2016.

The celebrant of the Mass will be the Rev. Fr. John A. Perricone, who worked with Mother Angelica when producing a series for EWTN. The resident choir Cantantes in Cordibus will sing the beautiful Renaissance Requiem Mass by the Spanish composer Cristobal de Morales. Mass Programs in Latin and English will be available for the congregation.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sacred Concert in Rome, Wednesday, April 27

This coming Wednesday, April 27, the Rome-based St Cecilia Women’s Schola will present the latest in its ongoing series of concerts of Gregorian chant and polyphony at the Church of the Visitation, via Torre Rossa 27, starting at 6 pm. The concert is titled “A Musical Meditation on Redemption”, Salvation and Mercy; during the singing, images of the works of the famous Dominican painter Blessed Fra Angelico will be shown on a large screen, selected by Fr Michael Dunleavy, O.P. There will also be readings from the Bible and brief meditations on them.

The Saint Cecilia Women’s Schola has a Youtube channel, with recordings from of their previous concerts, . Here is a very nice rendition of the Easter Sequence Victimae Paschali.

The Ghent Altarpiece - What Makes it So Suited for the Liturgy?

One of the greatest masterpieces ever painted, the Ghent Altarpiece (also known as the “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”) was created in the 15th century by Flemish brothers Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. While broad appeal is not the only necessary indicator of merit, it is, in my opinion, one of them. This being so, the Adoration of the Lamb passes the test with flying colors - it is the second most visited and viewed work of art in history, after the Mona Lisa.

My consideration of it was prompted by the publication of a book about the altarpiece, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, published by Ignatius Press and Magnificat (the one that produces a portable Liturgy of the Hours, sent out monthly). The book is an excellent resource, with large (12in x 12in) reproductions of details, which are as sumptuous as I have ever seen. The commentary, written by French art historian Frabrice Hadjadj, is excellent in its description of the historical background, provenance, and in the details of the content, viewing it as a pedagogical tool. Every figure is identified, and every Latin inscription is translated.

In this article, I want to examine additional elements that pertain to the consideration of the altarpiece as a piece of liturgical art, focusing especially on how its design, medium, and Gothic style are all in harmony with its purpose of promoting the right worship of God. These are the things that an artist or patron needs to be aware of when creating new works of liturgical art suited to their purpose.

I was invited by Chris Carstens, the new editor of Adoremus Bulletin, to write a review of the book, and what I present here is an adaptation of what I wrote for him. I would recommend, by the way, that this be read in conjunction with Chris’ excellent accompanying piece contained in the bulletin, called Mystagogy of the Lamb, in which he explains in detail the meaning of symbol of the lamb for Christians.

Looking now at the famous reredos: when the panels are closed we see, painted largely in monochrome, white and graded tones of sepia through to black, a depiction of the Annunciation watched by a congregation of figures, including two Sybils, the prophets Zachariah and Micah, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Also making an anachronistic appearance in the scene are the Van Eycks’ patrons, Joos and Isabelle Vijd. To include one’s patrons in a work of art is a typical device for honoring those whose generosity helped make the work of art possible. The figures of the two Johns are of statues in stone, lifeless as well as colorless.

When the doors are opened, the scene is in notable contrast, with glorious and bright color. It is dominated by the two largest central panels. The lower of the two is the image which gives the whole piece its name, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, in which the heavenly hosts adore the Lamb of God – Christ – standing ‘as if slain’ (as it is cryptically described by the Book of Revelation 5:6). Above this is the figure of God enthroned who looks down blessing us with his right hand.

There is some ambiguity as to whether this figure is intended to be the Son or the Father (I will discuss this later).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Not Your Average Campus Chapel (Krems, Austria)

Since January 1st of this year, the Catholic university chaplain of Krems, Austria, has his seat at the Piarist Church of that city, which has become the center of the Campus Ministry. There are over 10,000 students in Krems, a great many international students among them; services are offered in various languages, including English, as well as Bible studies, discussions and spiritual direction. This past Sunday, the Campus Ministry celebrated a special thanksgiving Mass for the establishment of this new location; the Danube Private University choir sung Schubert’s Mass in G. The Mass was well attended and many young people were present. The chaplain, Fr Patrick Schöder, belongs to the Benedictine Abbey Göttweig, near Krems, and was appointed in 2014. The movement for liturgical renewal has reached Austria, and asks for our support in prayer!

Christian Wisdom from the Anglican Tradition

A devout Anglican reader of this blog send me the following texts from the Book of Common Prayer, as evidence that the points made by St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Vianney, and, well, the entire Catholic tradition, have a notable place in the Anglican tradition as well. As I read through these texts, I marveled at the strength and clarity of the exhortations — no beating around the bush here, no mincing of words, no political correctness. One might wonder why the Roman Catholic Church today has such a difficult time speaking the selfsame truths.

Obviously, Latin Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and other Protestant readers of NLM have their well-known disagreements about Eucharistic theology; that is not the point at present. The point is that we can find, across the confessional spectrum, brilliant examples of forthright preaching of the Christian’s moral responsibility in the face of the meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist. This is what has been lost in so many places, and, as the Anglican Ordinariate has abundantly demonstrated, we can continue to learn from the best traditions of our baptized brethren in Christ.

Besides all this, we should savor the lofty eloquence of this Authorized Version-style English, which runs circles around our feeble attempts today to find a “sacral register.”
* * *
This Exhortation may be used, in whole or in part, either during the Liturgy or at other times. In the absence of a deacon or priest, this Exhortation may be read by a lay person. The people stand or sit.

Beloved in the Lord: Our Savior Christ, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood as a sign and pledge of his love, for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of his death, and for a spiritual sharing in his risen life. For in these holy Mysteries we are made one with Christ, and Christ with us; we are made one body in him, and members one of another.
          Having in mind, therefore, his great love for us, and in obedience to his command, his Church renders to Almighty God our heavenly Father never-ending thanks for the creation of the world, for his continual providence over us, for his love for all mankind, and for the redemption of the world by our Savior Christ, who took upon himself our flesh, and humbled himself even to death on the cross, that he might make us the children of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, and exalt us to everlasting life.
          But if we are to share rightly in the celebration of those holy Mysteries, and be nourished by that spiritual Food, we must remember the dignity of that holy Sacrament. I therefore call upon you to consider how Saint Paul exhorts all persons to prepare themselves carefully before eating of that Bread and drinking of that Cup. For, as the benefit is great, if with penitent hearts and living faith we receive the holy Sacrament, so is the danger great, if we receive it improperly, not recognizing the Lord’s Body. Judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord.

When the Minister giveth warning for the Celebration of the Holy Communion, (which he shall always do upon the Sunday, or some Holy Day, immediately preceding,) he shall read this Exhortation following; or so much thereof as, in his discretion, he may think convenient.

DEARLY beloved, on —— day next I purpose, through God’s assistance, to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by them received in remembrance of his meritorious Cross and Passion; whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the Kingdom of heaven. Wherefore it is our duty to render most humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that he hath given his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that holy Sacrament. Which being so divine and comfortable a thing to them who receive it worthily, and so dangerous to those who will presume to receive it unworthily; my duty is to exhort you, in the mean season to consider the dignity of that holy mystery, and the great peril of the unworthy receiving thereof; and so to search and examine your own consciences, and that not lightly, and after the manner of dissemblers with God; but so that ye may come holy and clean to such a heavenly Feast, in the marriage‐garment required by God in holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy Table. 
          The way and means thereto is: First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of God’s commandments; and whereinsoever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other; and being likewise ready to forgive others who have offended you, as ye would have forgiveness of your offences at God’s hand: for otherwise the receiving of the holy Communion doth nothing else but increase your condemnation. Therefore, if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of his Word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other grievous crime; repent you of your sins, or else come not to that holy Table.
          And because it is requisite that no man should come to the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness.

& Or, in case he shall see the People negligent to come to the Holy Communion, instead of the former, he may use this Exhortation.

DEARLY beloved brethren, on —— I intend, by God’s grace, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper: unto which, in God’s behalf, I bid you all who are here present; and beseech you, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, that ye will not refuse to come thereto, being so lovingly called and bidden by God himself. Ye know how grievous and unkind a thing it is, when a man hath prepared a rich feast, decked his table with all kind of provision, so that there lacketh nothing but the guests to sit down; and yet they who are called, without any cause, most unthankfully refuse to come. Which of you in such a case would not be moved? Who would not think a great injury and wrong done unto him?
          Wherefore, most dearly beloved in Christ, take ye good heed, lest ye, withdrawing yourselves from this holy Supper, provoke God’s indignation against you. It is an easy matter for a man to say, I will not communicate, because I am otherwise hindered with worldly business. But such excuses are not so easily accepted and allowed before God. If any man say, I am a grievous sinner, and therefore am afraid to come: wherefore then do ye not repent and amend? When God calleth you, are ye not ashamed to say ye will not come? When ye should return to God, will ye excuse yourselves, and say ye are not ready? Consider earnestly with yourselves how little such feigned excuses will avail before God. Those who refused the feast in the Gospel, because they had bought a farm, or would try their yokes of oxen, or because they were married, were not so excused, but counted unworthy of the heavenly feast. Wherefore, according to mine office, I bid you in the Name of God, I call you in Christ’s behalf, I exhort you, as ye love your own salvation, that ye will be partakers of this holy Communion. And as the Son of God did vouchsafe to yield up his soul by death upon the Cross for your salvation; so it is your duty to receive the Communion in remembrance of the sacrifice of his death, as he himself hath commanded: which if ye shall neglect to do, consider with yourselves how great is your ingratitude to God, and how sore punishment hangeth over your heads for the same; when ye wilfully abstain from the Lord’s Table, and separate from your brethren, who come to feed on the banquet of that most heavenly food. These things if ye earnestly consider, ye will by God’s grace return to a better mind: for the obtaining whereof we shall not cease to make our humble petitions unto Almighty God, our heavenly Father.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: