Wednesday, August 31, 2016

EF Requiem for the First Bishop of Peoria

Last week, the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, marked on August 25th the 100th anniversary of the death of its first bishop, John Lancaster Spalding, who was appointed to the See in 1877, and retired in 1908 after suffering a serious stroke. He oversaw the construction of the cathedral of Peoria, St Mary of the Immaculate Conception, which replaced an earlier church and was completed after four years’ work and dedicated in 1889. The building has recently undergone a major restoration, and as part of a series of Founders’ Day events to mark its completion, four priests of the Diocese celebrated a Solemn Requiem for Bishop Spalding in the same Rite he celebrated in his years as a priest and bishop, and in which his first funeral was celebrated.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr Alexander Millar, assisted by Frs Kyle Lucas as deacon, and Michael Pica as subdeacon; since this was Fr Millar’s first Solemn Requiem, Fr Jacob Valle served as assistant priest. The current bishop of Peoria, the Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, attended from his episcopal throne; more photos can be seen at his blog. Music was provided by The Saints Gregory and Romanos Guild; the vestments which were used formerly belonged to H.E. Joseph Schlarman, who served as the Third Bishop of Peoria from 1930-51.

This reminds me of an event from two years ago in my home diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, where Bishop Thomas Tobin arranged for a Solemn Pontifical in the traditional rite to be celebrated for the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul. It is very heartening to see bishops not just taking care of historical church buildings, but also working to preserve the great liturgical patrimony for which they were created. For this, we offer our special thanks to Bishop Jenky. It should also be greatly encouraging to us all to note how young the clergy who actually celebrated the Mass are; all of them were ordained within just the last two years.

Mantilla: The Veil of the Bride of Christ — A New Book on the Practice of Veiling

Mantilla: The Veil of the Bride of Christ. By Anna Elissa. Malang, Indonesia: Penerbit Dioma, 2016. 150 pp. $10.15 at

One of the privileges of writing for NLM is that one tends to receive a disproportionate number of good new books in the mail, from authors who wish their work to become better known, or publishers who are seeking reviews. Of course, there's a drawback: I've got eight books on my desk that I'm supposed to review, and classes are starting up again at Wyoming Catholic College!

The book we'll be looking at today is called Mantilla: The Veil of the Bride of Christ, by Anna Elissa. (The book is available in paperback at the above link, as well as in Kindle format from all Amazon sites.)

Ms. Elissa is an articulate, spirited writer who not only does justice to her subject, but brings to it a truly refreshing breadth of perspective and a "poetry of the everyday" that helps her to see the beauty of symbols in the Christian life. Considering that her topic is, at least for some people, enough to cause fits of apoplexy, this book is about the most serene and positive exposition I could imagine. Whether you are already convinced that veiling is a good practice or are curious to find out what stands behind it and its reappearance (clergy, take note!), I cannot too highly recommend this attractive and informative book. I would particularly recommend it as a book to hand out to women who are discovering traditional Catholicism for the first time and need a reliable, balanced, and appreciative treatment of this subject.

It is especially to Ms. Elissa's credit that she does not resort to platitudes or generalizations, much less appeals to nostalgia or mere cultural norms, but rests her argument on Scripture (both Testaments), Church Fathers, St. Thomas Aquinas, and papal, liturgical, and canon law texts. Not surprisingly, the author, who is so sensitive to the language of signs, took pains to make the book itself beautiful: each chapter is prefaced by a monochrome reproduction of a famous painting featuring a woman in a veil. I was particularly struck by the third chapter, where Ms. Elissa shows her theological strength by offering a series of arguments of fittingness on behalf of the veil, and the fourth, where she responds to a battery of common objections (in fact, I have never heard any objection she does not raise and convincingly answer here).

One thing I was not expecting at all from such a book is the level of practical detail to which the author descends. Even if the theoretical part is more important, Ms. Elissa takes time, in chapter 5, to write about rules and practical tips for wearing the mantilla. In chapter 6, she explains how "the mantilla is not enough" by speaking to other aspects of one's personal appearance and actions: what one should wear; prayer before and after Mass; genuflecting and making the sign of the cross deliberately; keeping custody of the eyes; folding one's hands; kneeling for holy communion; and so forth. She reminds me, in this section, of Romano Guardini's little masterpiece Sacred Signs.

Her chapter 7 brings together many testimonials from women about their experience of adopting and wearing the veil, and from men, too, about why they value the practice. The book concludes with a guest chapter by Cornelius Pulung, and a detailed bibliography. I ought to mention that the book features a Foreword by His Excellency Antonio Guido Filipazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia.

Ms. Elissa sent a letter to me, which I would like to quote here (having her permission to do so):
This is such exciting times to be young people in the Church! We are at the closing of an era and the beginning of a new one, and I’m sure everybody can see it or feel it just by watching the news. Change brings about many unprecedented things; some are terrifying but others are definitely full of hope. In the life of the Church, I believe one of these is the recovery of Church traditions. Traditional Catholicism is being rediscovered and lived once again, by youngsters no less! This wave is everywhere in the world, including in my country Indonesia.
       The Church in Indonesia is herself relatively young. This makes the resurgence of tradition is even more interesting: by many, if not most, Indonesian Catholics, ancient Church traditions are seen as almost wholly new! Recently we see elements of traditional Catholicism are making a comeback in their own ways. The chapel veil (popular now with its Spanish term “mantilla”) phenomenon is especially worthy of note because it grows almost independently from its “source”, the Traditional Latin Mass. The TLM did introduce the usage of the chapel veil, but the veil itself has found its place in the Indonesian Catholics’ hearts as a Eucharistic devotion. While people do recognize it as “traditional”, the devotional aspect makes the veil particularly appealing and less “threatening”.
       The Holy Spirit is the Theologian behind this book, so all the good things in it must be credited to Him, and all errors to me. I hope this book does justice to the great Catholic Faith, and that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If any of the NLM readers would like to contact me, they may reach me at
To God be all the glory!
Warm regards
Your sister in Christ
Anna Elissa

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Video of the Blessed Ildefonso Schuster’s Episcopal Enthonement

Today is the anniversary of the death of the Blessed Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, who passed to his reward in heaven in 1954, after serving the church of Milan as her shepherd for just over 25 years, and was beatified in 1996.

We have written about him several times on NLM, partly in connection with our interest in the Ambrosian liturgy, but also as one of the most notable scholars of the original Liturgical Movement. His famous work Liber Sacramentorum, known in its English translation as The Sacramentary, was written while he was still a Benedictine monk of the Roman Rite, and although dated in some respects, remains an invaluable reference point for liturgical scholarship. When he was appointed Archbishop of Milan by Pope Pius XI, (who was himself Milanese, and had held that office for six months before his Papal election), he embraced the Ambrosian liturgy wholeheartedly, and as the ex-officio head of the Congregation for the Ambrosian Rite, strongly defended and promoted the authentic uses of that tradition. He also oversaw important new editions of the Ambrosian musical books, which are still used in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Rite to this day.

The Youtube archives of the Italian film company Istituto Luce has this video of unedited footage of his installation as archbishop in Milan cathedral, unfortunately without soundtrack. Particularly noteworthy is the Latin plaque shown at the beginning, which set over the door of the cathedral, and starts with the words “Enter (‘Ingredere’, in the imperative,) Alfred Ildephonse Schuster.” Starting at 1:20, one sees the extraordinarily large crowd in the famous Piazza del Duomo, far too large for them all to enter the cathedral for the ceremony itself, many of whom have climbed up onto the large equestrian statue of King Victor Emmanuel II.

Beate Ildephonse, ora pro nobis!

The Power of the Divine Office to Transform a Church and Society

The ‘Method’ of the Methodists!

I was idly investigating forms of the breviary on the internet the other day (as one does), and came across a page about the history of the Anglican breviary, here.

Contained within it was the following:
 Regular praying of the Divine Office was likewise central to John and Charles Wesley’s “method,” which included scriptural study, fasting, and regular reception of Holy Communion in addition to daily celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer. John Wesley’s Rule of Life is, in its essentials, thoroughly orthodox and Catholic. It has been said that if Wesley had only been born in 1803 rather than 1703, he would have been a follower of those great Oxford divines -- John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and Hurrell Froude -- who by their preaching and Tracts turned the Church of England to its apostolic and sacramental roots.

Indeed, it was those 19th century “Tractarians” who kindled new interest in the pre-Reformation forms of celebrating the Holy Eucharist and daily prayer. In the mid and late nineteenth century, the Anglican Church in England and America witnessed nothing less than a Catholic Revival, including the rebirth of organized religious orders, renewed emphasis upon and appreciation for the Episcopate and Priesthood, the Sacraments, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrificial nature of the Holy Communion, devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
As someone who grew up going to Methodist church and whose great grandfather was a Methodist lay preacher, I found this staggering. I had heard about John Wesley’s “method” that gave the name to the Methodists, but no one every talked about what it actually was.

Obviously, as a Catholic I do not now believe that Methodists and high Anglicans actually had the Real Presence at the heart of their churches, but it does suggest, if the writer of the history referred to above is correct, that much of the strength of these two movements may be attributed to a devotion to the Divine Office. My old headmaster at Birkenhead School, John Gwilliam, used to say that it was the rise of the Methodists in England that stopped social upheaval of the sort that led to the French Revolution. He was a Welsh Methodist (and a former captain of the Welsh rugby team when it won a grand slam in the 1950s). He also told us that Methodism was responsible for saving the nation from mass alcoholism - Britain was drowning in a sea of gin at the end of the 18th century.

The Anglican church was responsible, in my opinion, for the Gothic revival which shaped the culture of the 19th century in Britain and America so strongly. Given the absence of the Real Presence, this is testament to the power of what authentic liturgy they had, to transform lives and society nevertheless. I wrote about this here.

It does make me wonder, also, if it is the lack of adherence to the true Method today, perhaps, that has contributed to the decline of the Methodists that is so marked in England.

This reinforces my belief that that if we want to transform the culture and revive the Church, we can do this through the Domestic Church and the family centered on liturgical piety, including the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours at home. Furthermore, this means that we need to encourage this in the vernacular, so that people who are not fluent in Latin (i.e. most people) can genuinely pray it. I suggest that the Anglican Use Divine Office is a way to do this, as I described in a review of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham. And it is the prayer of the family in the domestic church, centered on a liturgical piety, that can drive such societal change today as well as transform the Church. We need to form people as contemplatives as a matter of course, not as the exception.

Perhaps we have something to learn from John Wesley!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Are Traditional Catholics “Weird”?

How often have we heard it said, in one way or another, that traditional Catholics are “weird” because of the way we dress, the things we are earnest about, our devotion to liturgy, our adherence to the old ways, our tendency to withdraw from popular entertainments, and such things? How often have we heard well-meaning advice that, when it comes to our tastes, opinions, and practices, we must be careful not to be “too different” from our surroundings?

It is true that one should not deliberately cultivate oddities, eccentricities, or affectations, as these are expressions of vanity. Moreover, those who are striving to influence positively the people they come into contact with should have a certain naturalness about them. However, all too often the advice mentioned above seems to carry a subliminal message: “Blend in with the secular world and do not stubbornly resist it. Most of what people do and think is going to be all right, after all, and you have to go with the times, since the Spirit is blowing everywhere. Don’t resist the culture of tolerance, informality, convenience, or media stimulation. In fact, you need to take up all things modern and turn them into tools for the New Evangelization!”

This message is not only false but dangerously false. All reform movements in Church history have turned their backs on aspects of the society or culture of their time — precisely those aspects that represented compromises with worldliness or secularism. As Pope John Paul II said, apropos today's secular world: “It is urgent that Christians should rediscover the newness of the faith and its power to judge a prevalent and all-intrusive culture.”[1] Those who are valiantly confronting, resisting, and striving to overturn the anti-catholic culture of modernity, which is nothing if not prevalent and all-intrusive, are therefore doing just what they should be doing, as soldiers and witnesses for Christ by the seal of Confirmation.

Homeschooling is considered “weird” by conventional Americans, yet millions of Christians in the United States, including many traditionally-minded Catholics, have embraced it as being more in keeping with the rights and duties of parents, particularly when the institutional alternatives are so disgracefully bad. Great Books liberal arts education is considered totally out of date, old-fashioned, irrelevant, and even fringe, but Catholics who have taken up this model at various levels of education are proving it to be perennially efficacious and highly fruitful. Believing that such things divorce, contraception, abortion, or homosexual activity are wrong is seen as utterly weird by an increasing majority of our fellow citizens, but faithful Catholics will reject these evils as the bitter poison they are, no matter what happens. Being Catholic in any serious way — believing in the Incarnation of the Son of God, in the seven sacraments, in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist — qualifies us in 2016 as the weirdest of the weird.
*          *         *
Kneeling at a Missa Cantata, in the rain
Maybe, then, our problem is that we worry too much about being weird in the perceptions of those who have neither the ability nor the right to judge us. It is time to stop worrying about what “people out there might think,” and to be the “holy fools” of Christian tradition. St. Paul was laughed at in Athens by the sophisticated and the trendy, but he did not change his message or his way of life. St. John Chrysostom gave this advice to his congregation: “Those others [the pagans] make a theatre of their house; you must make a church of your home. For where there is a psalm, prayer, the dance of prophets, and a pious attitude among the singers, one would not err in calling such a gathering a church.”

Critics of traditionalists often accuse them of withdrawing from society and forming their own communities. While we know there can be an unhealthy way of doing this, it is no less clear that there is a healthy and indeed necessary way of doing this in a time of social decay and moral turpitude. No less a figure than Joseph Ratzinger frequently praised such “intentional communities”:
Today there are Christians who drop out of this strange consensus of modern existence, who attempt new forms of life. To be sure, they don’t receive any public notice, but they are doing something that really points to the future.[2]
In our age faith has largely disappeared as a publicly formative force. How is it to become creative? Has it not been driven back everywhere into being a mere subculture? . . . But even in the Western world, the word "subculture" should not frighten us. In the crisis of culture we are experiencing, it is only from islands of spiritual concentration that a new cultural purification and unification can break out at all. Wherever faith reawakens in lively communities we also see how Christian culture develops anew, how the communal experience provides inspiration and opens new paths that we could not see before.[3]
Close association with monastic communities will certainly be one way to have an experience of the Christian reality. In other words, if society in its totality is no longer a Christian environment, just as it was not in the first four or five centuries, the Church herself must form cells in which mutual support and a common journey, and thus the great vital milieu of the Church in miniature, can be experienced and put into practice.[4]
Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the Church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world—that let God in.[5]
All of this, of course, has liturgical implications. I am reminded of another statement by John Paul II: “In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.”[6]

The most missionary centuries in Church history were also, by some strange coincidence, steeped in ecclesiastical traditions (think merely of the great wave of missionaries to the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries, all of whom brought the traditional Latin Mass and Divine Office wherever they went, and planted them firmly in the souls of their converts). In contrast, the past 50 years have been characterized by a drastic decline in religious life, a devastation of the priesthood, and an unprecedented collapse of missionary work. We are beginning to recover from these things, but only because we are recovering from the pseudo-theological drinking binge of the 1960s and 1970s — and with what a hangover!

In the final analysis, to take shots at the Church’s Tradition or at those who love and treasure it is a form of Protestantism, or worse, a form of Modernism as St. Pius X defines it. Catholicism is defined by its Tradition; take this away and you take away the Faith itself. Moreover, ecclesiastical traditions — even if not part of the apostolic depositum fidei — deserve to be gratefully received, humbly embraced, and reverently preserved.[7] May the Lord grant us the grace to be countercultural fools for Christ.

[1] Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, 88.
[2] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), 128.
[3] Joseph Ratzinger, "The Image of the World and of Human Beings in the Liturgy and Its Expression in Church Music," in A New Song for the Lord, trans. Martha M. Matesich (New York: Crossroad, 1997), 126.
[4] Salt of the Earth, 264-65.
[5] Salt of the Earth, 16.
[6] John Paul II, Ad Limina Address to the Bishops of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska (9 October 1998).
[7] On these and kindred points, see the excellent books by Fr. Chad Ripperger, The Binding Force of Tradition and Topics on Tradition.

Photo credits: Joseph Shaw/The Latin Mass Society of England & Wales. The photo of people kneeling in the rain was of a High Mass in one of the very few medieval places of worship in Catholic hands, the Slipper Chapel at Walsingham, which has just been declared a Minor Basilica. This Mass was the culmination of a 58-mile walking pilgrimage organised by the Latin Mass Society.

The Beheading of St John the Baptist 2016

Joannes schola virtutum, magisterium vitae, sanctitatis forma, norma justitiae, virginitatis speculum, pudicitiae titulus, castitatis exemplum, poenitentium via, peccatorum venia, fidei disciplina; Joannes major homine, par Angelis, legis summa Evangelii satio, Apostolorum vox, silentium Prophetarum, lucerna mundi, Praecursor Judicis, Christi metator, Domini testis, totius medius Trinitatis: hic tantus datur incestui, traditur adulterae, addicitur saltatrici.
(From the Premonstratensian Breviary, the antiphon at the Magnificat for First Vespers of the Beheading of St John the Baptist.)
Alabaster head of St John the Baptist, carved in England in the 15th century; from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
John, the school of virtues, the master of life, the form of holiness, the norm of justice, the mirror of virginity, the glory of modesty, the model of chastity, the way of penitents, the forgiveness of sinners, the discipline of the Faith; John greater than man, equal to the Angels, the greatest plant of the law of the Gospel, the voice of the Apostles, the silence of the Prophets, the light of the world, the Forerunner of the Judge, that showeth Christ, the witness of the Lord, that standeth amid the whole Trinity; this man so great is handed over to the unchaste, he is delivered to the adulteress, he is consigned to the dancer.

Friday, August 26, 2016

EWTN Interviews Fr Cassian Folsom about the Recent Earthquake

On last night’s edition of the EWTN news program The World Over, anchor Raymond Arroyo interviewed by telephone Fr Cassian Folsom, prior of the Benedicine Monks of Norcia, about the recent earthquake in central Italy. The epicenter of the 6.2 magnitude quake was fairly close by, but Norcia itself saw no casualties; other communities in the area were hit much harder, and the death toll is now over 270 persons. Fr Cassian explains that his community has temporarily transferred to the Benedictine house of Sant’Anselmo in Rome, and gives an account of the damage to the church and monastery; the basilica of St Benedict will be unusable for the next year, but there has been as of yet no definitely assessment of the condition of the monastery. (The brewery has not been damaged.) The reportage on the earthquake begins at 6:06.

Click here to visit the monks’ website, where you can find also information about supporting the repair efforts.

“Missa Dulcis Amica Dei,” St. Louis Church, Pittsford, New York

Saint Louis parish in Pittsford, New York (Diocese of Rochester), highlighted the musical legacy of its patron saint with a patronal feast-day Missa Cantata on August 25th, featuring music from the Sainte-Chapelle, the shrine built by St. Louis IX to house the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross. A schola led by Dr. Aaron James sang the “Missa Dulcis amica Dei” by Pierre Certon, the master of the choristers at Sainte-Chapelle from 1536 to 1572. The music was newly transcribed from its sixteenth-century sources for this occasion. Father Peter Mottola, parochial vicar, was the celebrant.

More Good News from Scotland

In addition to the pilgrimage which we reported on yesterday, here is some more good news from the church in Scotland. A regular reader writes to let us know of an ordination which took place on the feast of the Assumption at St Andrew’s Cathedral in the diocese of Dunkeld, followed by the First Mass of the newly ordained priest, Fr Ninian Doohan, at the church of the Immaculate Conception in Dundee. “One of the most beautiful ordinations in the Ordinary Form I have witnessed.” Our heartiest congratulations to Fr Doohan! And likewise, thanks to His Excellency Bishop Stephen Robson, the Ordinary of Dunkeld, for his support of the traditional liturgy in Scotland, as will be seen from the photos below.

I have not yet received permission to download and reproduce the photos from the website of the diocese, but you can see pictures of the ordination here, and those of the First Mass here.

The following Saturday, Fr Doohan celebrated a Solemn EF High Mass at the church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Glasgow.

On Sunday the 21st, Bishop Robson confirmed three children in the traditional rite, after which Fr Doohan celebrated a Solemn High Mass in the presence of a greater prelate. The assistant priest was Fr Anthony Mary and the deacon Fr Magdala Mary, both of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, and the sub-deacon Fr Mark Morris. The High Mass vestments were donated by Una Voce Scotland to Father Ninian upon his ordination. (The following photographs courtesy of Mr Martin Gardner; click here to see the whole set.)

The famous Confirmation slap!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

NLM Quiz no. 18: What Is This, and Why Is It On the Grounds of a Church? - The Answer

It has been several months since our last quiz, so as a reminder of our regular 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 structure you see in the photo below is certainly old, but not broken, and not part of a ruin.

The Answer : This object is called a mounting block, made to help people get on and off horseback when they arrive at the church. The church in question is a very ancient parish church dedicated to St Brynach, in the village of Nevern, Pembrokeshire, in south-western Wales. The block was built in the 18th century, and there is apparently only one other in the region. Thanks to Fr Nicholas Schofield for sharing these photos. Correct answers were given by Jose, Exoniensis, Don Adrian, (with a slight qualification: it’s not just for a bishop), David Peters and Bob Eccles, the latter two on our Facebook page.

As I suspected would be the case, this one really brought out some great submissions for the Best Wildly Incorrect Answer and Best Humorous Answer prizes, which we try to include in every quiz. The former is shared by those who guessed that the ten steps (five up, five down) had something to do with counting the Aves of a decade the Rosary: wouldn’t fingers be easier? Niall deserves an Honorable Mention for guessing that it was an architectural “folly”, i.e. a purely decorative structure which serves no purpose; follies tend to be a great deal more than five steps and a wall.

In many of these quizzes, the Best Humorous Answer has been very difficult to judge, and this was no exception. Variants on the “StairMaster” and winners’ podium themes were good, but slightly too obvious, and in the end, Will Bloomfield takes it with “Two-thirds of a small bridge built in the wrong spot,” the “two-thirds” being just the right touch. Thanks to everyone who submitted an answer!

A New Annual Pilgrimage Inaugurated in Scotland

Our thanks to Mr Mark Hamid, the director of the newly instituted Two Shrines Pilgrimage, for sending us this description of what will hopefully become a regular and flourishing part of the Church’s devotional life in Scotland, and to Mr Martin Gardner for the use of his photographs. Those are interested can contact the organizers about attending or supporting the pilgrimage at the following e-mail address: You can also visit their Facebook page.

Scotland’s inaugural Two Shrines Pilgrimage took place this month from August 6-8. The walk, which began at the National Shrine of St Andrew in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, and concluded at the site of the pre-Reformation shrine to Scotland’s patron in St Andrew’s Cathedral, St Andrews, was undertaken for the particular intention of the conversion of Scotland. Inspired by the Chartres Pilgrimage, the event incorporated daily Mass in the Extraordinary Form, accompanied by traditional devotions.

The pilgrimage began with a Missa Cantata celebrated at the Lady Altar in St Mary’s Cathedral by the chaplain to the pilgrimage, Fr Anthony Mary of the Transalpine Redemptorists. Fr Anthony Mary is the chaplain of the Latin Mass Chaplaincy in Christchurch, New Zealand, but joined the pilgrimage from his regular (northern) summer visit to the Transalpine Redemptorists’ principal community on the island of Papa Stronsay, Orkney, accompanied by two of his brethren.

After the traditional blessing for pilgrims was given at the shrine, the chapter headed out of Edinburgh towards South Queensferry to cross the Firth of Forth; this is now possible using the Forth Road Bridge, but in mediaeval times pilgrims used a ferry endowed in the twelfth-century by Scotland’s queen St Margaret, secondary patron of the nation and a particular focus of the first day of the pilgrimage. The pilgrims then walked into Dunfermline, St Margaret’s town, where they received a blessing with her relic before taking dinner and retiring for the evening.

photo by Mark Hamid
The second day, the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, began with a Missa Cantata celebrated in St Margaret’s Church, after which, the pilgrims walked through south Fife, a former mining area, before arriving at Scotlandwell, notable for its holy well which was itself a former site of pilgrimage. The pilgrims then ascended the Bishop’s Hill, in spite of extremely high winds, before crossing the Lomond Hills to arrive at Falkland for the evening. There a Holy Hour in support of the pilgrimage had taken place in the Chapel Royal of Falkland Palace, led by Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld. The palace chapel is the only Catholic Chapel Royal in Scotland, and probably the only one in the Commonwealth. This unusual situation arose through the keepership of the palace by the Crichton-Stuart family, at one point lead by the enthusiastic John, 3rd Marquess of Bute, who was a generous benefactor to the Catholic Church in Scotland in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Indeed, it was his wish that the cathedral in St Andrews be brought back into Catholic ownership and restored to its former glory but, alas, this never came to fruition.

Arriving at St Andrews

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Prayers for Norcia and Environs

By now, I am sure that majority of our readers have heard of the major earthquake that struck central Italy last night, registering 6.4 on the Richter scale, with its epicenter close to Norcia, the birthplace of St Benedict, and home of the famous Monks of Norcia. Two small towns in the area, Amatrice and Accumoli, have been very badly hit, with over 70 fatalities, and a great many more injuries. Norcia itself was shaken up, but the damage has been fairly light, and the monks are all safe; many of the decorations in their church and the bell-towers were damaged. However, there have been so many aftershocks, some of them quite notable, that the community have just posted on their Facebook page their intention to temporarily transfer to Rome, until the condition of their buildings can be fully assessed, and necessary repairs made.

The Patron Saint of nearby Ascoli Piceno, St Emygdius, a bishop and martyr of the persecution of Diocletian, has long been invoked by the Italians against earthquakes, and was so renowned for this devotion that his feast on August 9th was also adopted by several Californian dioceses. These prayers from First Vespers of his proper Office would be appropriate way to ask that Italy be spared any further harm from this event; I have added the prayer against earthquakes from the Roman Missal.

Aña : Emygdius spiritu oris sui idolorum cultum et templa subvertit; quos in Christo genuit filios, illos fideliter a ruinis terraemotus servavit.
V. Amavit eum Dominus et ornavit eum. R. Stolam gloriae induit eum.
Oremus. Oratio Deus, qui beátum Emygdium, Mártyrem tuum atque Pontíficem, idolórum victória et miraculórum glória decorásti: concéde propítius; ut, eo interveniénte, malórum spirítuum fraudes víncere et coruscáre virtútibus mereámur.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, “qui respicis terram, et facis eam tremere”: parce metuentibus, propitiare supplicibus; ut, cujus iram terræ fundamenta concutientem expavimus, clementiam contritiones ejus sanantem jugiter sentiamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Aña : Emygdius by the breath of his mouth overthrew the worship of idols and the temples; he faithfully kept the sons whom he had begotten in Christ from the ruin of the earthquake.
V. The Lord loved him and adorned him. R. He clothed him with a robe of glory.
Let us pray. Prayer O God, who didst honor the blessed Emygdius, Thy Martyr and Bishop, with victory over idols and the glory of miracles: grant in Thy mercy, that by his intervention, we may merit to overcome the deceits of wicked spirits, and shine forth with virtues.
Almighty and everlasting God, Who lookest down upon the earth and makest it tremble, spare those who are afraid, show Thy mercy to those who implore Thee; that we who fear Thine anger, which shaketh the foundations of the earth, may evermore enjoy Thy mercy, which healeth its commotions. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Society for Catholic Liturgy - L.A. Conference - Registration Deadline Sept. 6

Registration Deadline: Tuesday, September 6th

The Liturgy and the New Evangelization
September 29 - October 1, 2016

We hope you'll be able to join us for the Society for Catholic Liturgy's Annual Conference held this year at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, California.

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The conference schedule, speaker bios, and helpful travel information are also available at the conference website.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

“Liturgical Life and the Priesthood” - A New Talk by Card. Sarah

Earlier today, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, gave the following address to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on “Liturgical Life and the Priesthood.” In it, he offers a beautiful series of reflections on the liturgical formation of the clergy, and their duty to impart both knowledge and love for the Church’s prayer to the faithful. We are honored and very grateful to His Eminence for sharing this talk exclusively with New Liturgical Movement.

Cardinal Sarah speaking last month at the Sacra Liturgia UK Conference
Your Eminence, Your Excellencies, dear brothers in the priesthood of Jesus Christ:

Firstly I must thank my brother, His Eminence, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, for his kind invitation to visit your country and for his warm welcome to Colombo. It is a great joy to be able to spend some days here in your country—a country that has been richly blessed by Almighty God in its natural beauty and in the gracious hospitality for which your people are so well known.

It is a particular joy, and a privilege, to meet today with you, my dear brothers in the priesthood. For although I have been called to the episcopal ministry and serve also as a cardinal, in all of my life I continue to look back on the date of the 20th of July 1969: the day of my priestly ordination just over 47 years ago. Every day since then, even in moments of danger or of suffering, it has been a grace and a singular privilege to be a priest of Jesus Christ. Dear Fathers, dear brothers in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, what goodness Almighty God has shown us! What graces has he given us! Never, ever forget the day of your priestly ordination no matter what trials come, no matter how impossible challenges you face may be, nor however illness or old age may weigh upon you.

Cardinal Ranjith ordains one of the 13 new priests of the Archdiocese of Colombo on April 11th of this year, in the Cathedral of St Lucia. (From the archdiocese’s website.)
Of course, the grace of priestly ordination would never have been possible if the day of my Holy Baptism had never occurred—and for me, in northern Guinea, that was not something that could be taken for granted: I was born into an animist family who first heard the Gospel from French missionaries of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, and to them I owe a profound debt of gratitude. To their missionary and priestly zeal I owe the fact that my family became Christian.

My brothers, let us never forget that before we are ordained, we are baptised. This may sound a little strange, but sometimes it is easy for us priests to think and behave as if we are a caste somehow ‘above’ those who are not ordained. That is not correct. We are first and foremost baptised Christians for whom all of the duties of Christian life apply. Let us remember the injunction of Pope St. Leo the Great (400-461) which is cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1691):
Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.
St. Augustine (354-430), in his Sermon on the anniversary of his ordination, reminded us of this important truth:
This burden of mine, you see, about which I am now speaking, what else is it, after all, but you? Pray for strength for me, just as I pray that you may not be too heavy. I mean, the Lord Jesus would not have called his burden light, if he was not going to carry it together with its porter. But you too must all support me, so that according to the Apostle’s instructions we may carry one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2). If Christ does not carry it with us, we collapse; if he does not carry us, we keel over and die. What terrifies me is what I am for you; I am comforted by what I am with you. I am a bishop for you; with you, after all, I am a Christian. The first is the name of an office undertaken, the second is a name of grace; the first one means danger, the second, salvation. In the first one, I am tossed about by the storms, as if in the open sea, but in the second, I enter a safe harbour by tranquil recollection of the one by whose blood I have been redeemed; and while toiling away at my office, I take rest in the marvellous benefit conferred on all of us in common. If, therefore, I find greater pleasure in having been redeemed together with you than having been placed in charge, then, as the Lord has commanded, I will more fully be your servant, grateful for the price which makes me worthy to be your fellow servant. (Sermon 340)
We cannot be faithful to our priestly vocation if we are not first faithful to our baptismal vocation! And, as reminded by St. Augustine, our priestly vocation is to be of service to the baptised, to minister to our brothers and sisters as an alter Christus, indeed as ipse Christus, as Christ himself, “who did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20,28). Today I would like to share some reflections with you about that particular ministry which is our privilege and duty as priests of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has often observed that the Church is not an N.G.O. It follows from this that we priests are not executive officers or social workers or volunteers trying to do good things in society. What then is the Church? What is a priest?

The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, teaches that Almighty God “planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ” (n. 2) and that:
The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in Him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons, for in Him it pleased the Father to re-establish all things (cf. Eph. 1:4-5, 10). To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By His obedience He brought about redemption. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. This inauguration and this growth are both symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of a crucified Jesus (cf. Jn 19:34), and are foretold in the words of the Lord referring to His death on the Cross: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself" (Jn 12:32). As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the Eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:17) is both expressed and brought about. All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains (n. 3).
What then is the Church? It is the assembly—the ecclesia—of all who believe in Christ, to which all men are called by Almighty God. And at the heart of the ecclesia is “the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed...celebrated on the altar” which both expresses and brings about the Church’s unity. Please note that this “unity” is not a consensus formed amongst those present as at a human meeting. No, the unity of the Church is “union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.”

So the Holy Father is very right to insist that the Church is not an N.G.O. Rather, the Church is the Family of God (Ep. 2: 19-21) and the People of God called together by Him so as to be nourished by His Eucharistic Sacrifice in order that she might be a true light to the nations and realise her mission “to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church” (Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 1).

My brothers, we cannot underestimate the importance of this teaching. The very first words of St John Paul II’s encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003) put it succinctly: “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church.” (n. 1)

In other words, the Church is essentially Eucharistic, which means that the Church is essentially liturgical. The Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Liturgy are not ‘extras’ added on to Christianity: they are part of its very fabric, they are of its very essence. One cannot truly be Christian without participation in the Church’s liturgical life of worship, at the heart of which is the Eucharistic Sacrifice. We remember the wonderful and touching testimony of the 42 African martyrs who died at the time of the Emperor Diocletian for violating the laws forbidding the celebration of Holy Mass. They clearly testified: “non poteram, quoniam sine Dominico non possumus”.

This, then, clarifies our second question: What are priests? The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Ministry and life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis (7 December 1965) states that they are men who, “by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head” (n. 2). The Decree continues:
[Priests] perform the sacred duty of preaching the Gospel, so that the offering of the people can be made acceptable and sanctified by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 4:7). Through the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel, the People of God are called together and assembled. All belonging to this people, since they have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, can offer themselves as "a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God" (Rom 12:1). Through the ministry of the priests, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect in union with the sacrifice of Christ. He is the only mediator who in the name of the whole Church is offered sacramentally in the Eucharist and in an unbloody manner until the Lord himself comes (cf. Eph 3:9.). The ministry of priests is directed to this goal and is perfected in it. Their ministry, which begins with the evangelical proclamation, derives its power and force from the sacrifice of Christ. Its aim is that "the entire commonwealth of the redeemed and the society of the saints be offered to God through the High Priest who offered himself also for us in his passion that we might be the body of so great a Head" (Roman Pontifical [1962] on the ordination of priests).
And so, if the Church is essentially Eucharistic and therefore essentially liturgical, so too it is clear that the priest is above all a minister of the Holy Eucharist, a man set aside for liturgical ministry. The priest is, therefore, first and foremost homo liturgicus—a liturgical being. Whilst this is also true of all of the baptised—to be a Christian is to be a liturgical being—I think that it is clear from what we have read from the Second Vatican Council, that this is true in a particular and specific way of those of us who, by God’s unmerited grace, have been called by the Church to the ordained priesthood and who have been set aside as ministers of Christ’s Word and Sacrament for the service benefit of all of Christ’s faithful.

Let us therefore take some time now to consider the liturgical life of priest.

EF Mass for the Exaltation of the Cross in the Bronx

On September 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, an EF Solemn High Mass will be offered at 7:30 p.m. at Church of the Holy Rosary in Northeast Bronx. This will be the first time an EF Mass is celebrated at Holy Rosary, and also a fitting way to mark the 9th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum coming into effect. Fr. Jean-Paul Soler of St. Clement-St. Michael’s Parish in Staten Island will be the celebrant. In addition to the chant Propers, music by Byrd, Tallis, and Morales will be sung.

Fr. Soler will give a talk on the EF Mass on the previous Wednesday, September 7 at 7:30 p.m., also at Holy Rosary. All are welcome to both events; the church would especially like to extend this invitation to youths and young families in the Bronx and the nearby suburbs. The church is located at 1510 Adee Avenue, Bronx, New York; the web address is The church has a parking lot, and is also accessible by public transit.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Basilica of the Assumption on Torcello Island

The large lagoon at the top of the Adriatic Sea which is called “Venetian” from its most famous site and city also contains more than 60 other islands. There are several hidden treasures among them, one of the most interesting of which is the island of Torcello, about seven-and-a-half miles to the northeast of the city. An episcopal see was established on the island in the 7th century, and although it was suppressed two centuries ago, its cathedral remains, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, whose octave is today. (The entire lagoon, including Venice itself, has suffered from a notable decline in population over the last several decades, and the group of islands which includes Torcello is now in the parish of nearby Burano.)

Our good friends of the Schola Sainte Cécile are currently wrapping up a pilgrimage to Venice, Italy, joined by our Ambrosian expert Nicola de’ Grandi, who took these photos of this wonderful reminder of Venice’s long association with Byzantium and Byznatine art.

Mosaic of the Virgin Mary in the main apse, second half of the twelth century; the Apostles in the band below are about a century older.
Many churches within the former Republic of Venice ignored some of the common changes in church architecture which developed in the Counter-Reformation period, such as the removal of rood screens.
Last Judgment on the counterfaçade, also twelfth century. 
To the right of main apse, the mosaic of this secondary apse shows Christ the Pantocrator, with Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Martin of Tours and Gregory the Wonderworker beneath; the presence of St Gregory is another example of the strong Byzantine influence in Venice and environs. 
The pulpit on the left side of the rood screen,

Traditional Liturgy Reflects the Dignity and Beauty of the Virgin Mary

On this octave day of the Assumption, we may meditate with profit on a remarkable medieval poem to Our Lady, "Ave rosa sine spinis," which (in typically clever and pious fashion) takes the words of the angelic salutation and weaves the remaining words around them:
1  AVE rosa sine spinis,
Te quam Pater in divinis
Majestate sublimavit,
Et ab omni vae servavit.

2  MARIA stella dicta maris,
Tu a Nato illustraris
Luce clara deitatis,
Qua praefulges cunctis datis.

3  GRATIA PLENA te perfecit
Spiritus Sanctus dum te fecit
Vas divinae bonitatis
Et totius pietatis.

4  DOMINUS TECUM: miro pacto
Verbo in te carne facto
Opere trini conditoris:
o quam dulce vas amoris.

Hoc testatur omnis tribus;
Coeli dicunt te beatam
Et super omnes exaltatam.

Quo nos semper dona frui
Per praegustum hic aeternum
Et post mortem in aeternum:

7  Hunc, Virgo, salutis sensum,
Tuae laudis gratum pensum,
Conde tuo sinu pia,
Clemens sume, O Maria. Amen.
As I studied this text, I was struck by the way in which everything it says about the Blessed Virgin Mary applies analogously to the traditional liturgies (Eastern and Western) of the Church.

1. HAIL, Rose without thorns, thou whom the Father by His majesty in heaven hast elevated and preserved from all woe.

The organically developed liturgies of the Church deserve our veneration; they are splendid roses, beautiful in their symmetry, lushness, color, and fragrance of holiness, without the thorns of rationalism, utilitarianism, anthropocentrism, and other baneful ideologies.

2. MARY, known as the Star of the Sea, thou art illuminated by thy Son with the bright light of divinity, by which thou shinest bright with all thy gifts.

Over the rising and falling waves of tempestuous centuries, the liturgy has been like a fixed star, immutable in its apostolic essence but growing, expanding, in its expression of that sacred core, so that the light of Christ may shine forth ever more clearly and illuminate the world. This shining is undisturbed by the caliginous machinations of committees.

3. FULL OF GRACE: the Holy Spirit perfected thee when He made thee into a vessel of divine goodness and of all mercy.

The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of genuine liturgy and its gradual development from age to age. By His gentle brooding the Church's worship of God is perfected as a vessel of divine goodness and of all mercy, precluding the acceptance of radical rupture. How privileged we are to drink from this pellucid font!

4. THE LORD IS WITH THEE: the Word became flesh in thee in a wondrous way by the action of the Creator who is Three in One: O, how sweet is the vessel of love!

Through the liturgy, the Word becomes flesh in our midst, and O, how sweet is the pure vessel of this Eucharistic love! As with Mary, the traditional liturgy echoes and magnifies the Word of the Lord, without human compromise, without omitting the hard sayings, without deflecting adoration from the Real Presence and the mystery of the sovereign Sacrifice.

5. BLESSED ART THOU AMONGST WOMEN: all peoples bear witness to this. The heavens call thee blessed and high above all others.

How blessed among women is the Virgin in whom the Lord has done great things -- the marvel of His Incarnation! Blessed, too, among prayers, high above all others, is the solemn, objective, and rational worship of the Church's traditional liturgy, which exalts those who partake of it by lifting them above the private limits, idiosyncracies, and opinions of their age or place. All missionized peoples once bore witness to this universal blessing. May God grant it to be so in a future age.

6. AND BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF THY WOMB: grant that we may enjoy Him always, as a foretaste here, and after death, eternally.

Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso . . . Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Victim, Altar, Thou givest Thyself to us in Holy Communion as the price of our redemption, the food of our pilgrimage, the earnest and foretaste of our eternal bliss! Canst Thou do anything more for us that Thou hast not already done? Thou art far more generous with us than we could ever deserve. We owe it to Thee to be faithful stewards of Thy manifold gifts, beginning and ending with the sacred liturgy, lest we be found unworthy servants who squandered Thy treasury.

7. O merciful virgin Mary, lay up in the holy refuge of thy Heart and mercifully receive this disposition to salvation and the pleasing duty of thy praise. Amen.

For us, the liturgy is a holy refuge, the heart of our Catholic life, where we raise up to God the sacrifice of praise and fulfill our vows to the Lord. By the Virgin's prayers may He graciously accept our oblation, which we offer in union with all the saints of the Catholic Church across the ages.

*          *          *
At least two composers set this poem to music: Ludwig Senfl (1486-1542), who set verses 1-6, and the much better known Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585), whose set all seven verses in a magnificent meditation that lasts some eleven minutes:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Assumption Photopost 2016

Thank you to all the readers who sent in their photos for our Assumption photopost! Starting at the top, I’d like to take special note of a Mass at Fort Hood, a US military base in Texas; according to the organizers, it seems to be the first High Mass in about 45 years in a US Military Chapel. Additionally, EWTN’s Extraordinary Form focused show Extraordinary Faith was also present and did interviews before the Mass with the chaplains.

Fort Hood, Texas
Mater Ecclesiae Parish’s Assumption Mass
at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia

Talk on Way of Beauty, Lincoln, NE, August 26th

For anyone within striking distance of Lincoln, Nebraska, next Friday evening there will be a talk on the Way of Beauty at the Newman Center in Nebraska at 7 pm. This is the opening event for a Diocesan Sacred Music Clinic, run by Adam Bartlett and Matthew Meloche, that will take place the next day.

The talk is by yours truly, and I plan to discuss how the past experiences of successfully establishing traditions in sacred art, such as the introduction of the iconographic style to medieval Russia, demonstrate principles that can be used to introduce high quality and beautiful sacred music to congregations that might otherwise be resistant.

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