Monday, October 31, 2016

All Saints and All Souls Announcements: St Paul, MN and Palo Alto, CA

Here are two announcements from churches which have for many years maintained the tradition of celebrating these important occasions with great music.

The St Ann Choir will sing Victoria’s Mass Simile est regnum caelorum on the feast of All Saints, and the Gregorian Requiem propers, along with Reniassance motets, on All Souls’ Day, at the church of St Thomas Aquinas in Palo Alto, California. (Details in the posters.)

The church of St Agnes in St Paul, Minnesota, will have its annual Mass for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed with the famous Requiem Mass of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (Details in poster.)

Missals from Silverstream Priory (4): A Defaced Missal from the Post-Conciliar Revolution

In our series of missals from the library of the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration, we have so far looked at magnificent works of art from the 20th century (Maria Laach, Regensburg) and from the 18th century (the Augustinians).

Today, instead of basking in beauty, we will come face to face with the diabolic disorientation of the Church in the mid- to late 1960s, when prayers and practices of half a millennium’s duration or longer were being discarded and burned like so much chaff. Not even the Roman Canon, that ancient pristine shrine of Romanitas, was safe from this barbarian appetite for conquest, this insatiable lust for violating the sacred under the guise of “simplification” and “modernization.”

Too much kissing!
It is not surprising, in fact, that this massive appetite for cultural destruction paralleled the sexual revolution, and that the same generation of radicals that was dismantling the liturgy was also leaving the consecrated celibate life in droves and favoring so-called “liberation” of the id or the libido. As Augustine pointed out in The City of God, power among fallen human beings, without the grace of God, is exercised as libido dominandi, the lust for domination.

In the liturgical sphere, this took the form of standing in arrogant judgment over centuries of the most holy practices of faith and laying profane hands on a sacred inheritance, following the principle (if it can be called a principle) of “might makes right.” In the sphere of religious life, it took the form of abandoning the choral office and high Mass, casting off habits and veils, diluting constitutions, softening rules, and losing one’s supernatural identity by amalgamation with secular social work and civil rights. The so-called “superiors” who guided the process were guilty of the same libido dominandi as the liturgical revolutionaries, and left in their wake a similar post-nuclear desolation.

What was important for the Catholic radicals of the mid-twentieth century was to shatter, bit by bit, the taboo of an untouchable liturgy, an object of collective veneration transmitted from generation to generation.[1] They started by messing with the existing prayers and rubrics, as if to say: “See what we can get away with! We haven’t been struck dead by lightning yet. You see now that all these things must be merely human inventions; we can do as we please. Suppress or invent rubrics; omit, rearrange, bawdlerize, or make up new texts; throw out the entire aesthetic of ‘awe’ and replace it with one of ‘brotherhood’ or ‘caring community’ — we must do all this and more, quickly, before our game’s called and our time’s up.” Their eventual success, more complete than they could ever have dreamed at first, is a remarkable testimony to the limits to which Divine Providence permits evil, in order to demonstrate His power in bringing forth good from it and in spite of it, as the phoenix rises from the ashes.

To me, a poignant sign of that Providence is the fact that Catholics are returning in growing numbers to the use of just those liturgical books that were placed on the butcher’s block half a century ago, and are now praying those very prayers that were canceled out and pasted over. The Benedictines have a motto: Succisa virescit — cut down, it grows back again. It’s a variation on one of the oldest sayings of all: sanguis martyrum semen christianorum. Perhaps there is a special fruitfulness in the blood that, over the centuries, so many priests and faithful have shed (literally or metaphorically) as their Catholic worship was attacked by iconoclasm, be it of the Byzantine, Protestant, or Modernist variety.

The movement to recover and restore Catholic worship cannot be eradicated. That has been tried and it failed. It can be cut down by persecution or lack of support, but its roots remain and the new growth will be taller and stronger.

Below are additional photos from this melancholy "interimized" missal.


[1] Before you write in the comments that the liturgy has never been untouchable and that there have been countless little changes down through the centuries, pause for a moment and ask yourself whether it is likely that I am unaware of this fact. What I am talking about is a general attitude of conservatism and respect for the liturgical rites, such that even archaic elements whose function or meaning may no longer be clear to us (or may have acquired a different, allegorical meaning over time) are jealously preserved. The trend was almost always towards retaining what had been added over the centuries; and certainly the magnitude of the modifications from the 1950s and 1960s has nothing remotely like it in the entire history of the Catholic Church.

A comparison of two similar missals -- one defaced, one unharmed

Sacred Music Workshop on Long Island

I will be offering a sacred music workshop at Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Freeport, New York,on Saturday, November 19th.

The afternoon workshop will include study of the rhythmic understanding of the “classical” Solesmes school, conducting, and the chants for the feast of Christ the King. All are welcome, including beginners. There is no charge for the workshop, but those who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to Fr. Alessandro da Luz by calling (516) 378-0665, or emailing him at

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Purge at CDW? Important Commentary from the Catholic Herald

In regard to the latest series of appointments to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments, this column in the Catholic Herald by canonist Ed Condon is very much worth a read. Of particular note are the following observations:

“While the appointment of 27 new members to a single congregation is bound to have an impact on its character, it must be noted that the Vatican announcement failed to mention which of the current members of the congregation would be staying on. This has not stopped instant and vociferous internet speculation from taking off, with some websites insisting that Cardinals Burke, Pell, Ouellet, and Scola were all leaving the congregation. This speculation, for that is all that it is at the moment, is being framed as a removal of the ‘Ratzingerians’ and a purge of the traditionalists from the congregation. Meanwhile the new Rome based members are being pitched as arch-modernists who will leave Cardinal Sarah effectively isolated at the top of his own congregation. Wild interpretations of this sort should be taken with a large measure of salt.

“In the first place, none of the supposedly departing ‘Ratzingerians’ has actually been confirmed as yet. Even if these so far unconfirmed reports are true, they fail to account for the considerable depth of experienced members of whom nothing has yet been said, and who can be assumed to be carrying on until we hear otherwise. These include formidable minds and characters like Cardinal Peter Erdö, the Relator General of the Synod of Bishops’ General Assembly; Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Columbo and former Secretary of the CDW; Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, former Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy and current head of the Apostolic Penitentiary; and Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.

“While the simultaneous appointment of 27 new members to any congregation represents a real changing of guard, as with so many of the acts of this pontificate there has been an instinctive rush to interpret events through the most ecclesiastically partisan lens to be found.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

All Souls Announcements: Tulsa, North Jackson OH, and Vancouver

We have received the following announcements for Masses on the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, this coming Wednesday, November 2nd.

Holy Family Cathedral, Tulsa, Oklahoma

At 6 pm, the FSSP will celebrate a Solemn Requiem Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at which H.E. Edward Slattery, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Tulsa, will preach. The cathedral is located at the corner of 8th Street and Boulder Avenue.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, North Jackson, Ohio

The Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, located at 2759 North Lipkey Road in North Jackson, Ohio, will have a TLM Missa cantata at 7 pm, followed by the Absolution at the Catafalque. Music provided by the Basilica Schola and Choir. (

Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver, British Columbia

The Cathedral of the Holy Rosary, located at 646 Richards St. in Vancouver, British Columbia, will have an EF Requiem Mass at 7 pm.

Why Did Caravaggio Paint a Beardless Christ?

There is a fascinating article by Marthinho Correia about the connection between Michelangelo and Caravaggio on the Pontifex University blog, Beauty of Catholicism.

It is the third in a series of six that he is presenting about how the first Michelangelo inspired the work of the second, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. As usual, he helps us with some adept use of photoshop to place the works of the two artists side-by-side.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Legends of Saints Simon and Jude

In the Breviary of St Pius V, the lives of the Apostles Simon and Jude are summed up in a single lesson of fewer than sixty words. It is noted that St Simon was called “the Chananean, also the Zealot”; the term “Chananean” was thought by some of the Church Fathers to refer to Cana of Galilee, where the Lord turned water into wine, but it is simply a hellenization of the Hebrew word “qanna’i – zealous.” St Thaddeus, more often called Jude, was the author of one of the seven Catholic Epistles. After the Ascension, the former went to evangelize Egypt, the latter to Mesopotamia; they later met in Persia, where they continued to preach the Gospel, and were eventually martyred.

The pre-Tridentine Roman Breviary, on the other hand, gives a much more elaborate account of their lives after the Lord’s Ascension. St Simon is said to have preached the Gospel in many places, which are not specifically named. When St James the Less was killed in 62 A.D., Simon was chosen by the other Apostles to succeed him as bishop of Jerusalem. Having governed the mother church of Christianity for many years, and reached the age of one-hundred and twenty, he was tortured and crucified under the Emperor Trajan. In reality, these stories derive from the life of a different saint with a similar name, Symeon of Jerusalem, who is mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260-340) in the third book of his Ecclesiastical History.
Chapter 11. After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem … it is said that those of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh … to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James. They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention, to be worthy of the episcopal throne … He was a cousin, as they say, of the Savior; for Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.

Chapter 32. (Citing Hegesippus again) Speaking of certain heretics, he adds that Symeon was accused by them at this time; and since it was clear that he was a Christian, he was tortured in various ways for many days, and astonished even the judge himself and his attendants in the highest degree, and finally he suffered a death similar to that of our Lord. But there is nothing like hearing the historian himself, who writes as follows: “Certain of these heretics brought accusation against Symeon, the son of Clopas, on the ground that he was a descendant of David and a Christian; and thus he suffered martyrdom, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, while Trajan was emperor and Atticus governor. … And after being tortured for many days he suffered martyrdom, and all, including even the proconsul, marveled that, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, he could endure so much. And orders were given that he should be crucified.”
The Martyrdom of Saints Simon and Jude
In his famous Golden Legend, Bl. Jacopo de Voragine writes that the confusion between Symeon of Jerusalem and the Apostle Simon was noted by Eusebius, St Isidore and Bede the Venerable. In the Tridentine reform of the Breviary, therefore, the error was corrected; the story of St Symeon of Jerusalem was detached from that of the Apostle, and he was given his own feast day on February 18.

In each of the Synoptic Gospels, when the Evangelists give the names of the Twelve Apostles, Simon and Jude appear together at the end of the list, right before Judas Iscariot; Ss Matthew (chapter 10) and Mark (chapter 3) give the name of the latter as Thaddeus, but St Luke (chapter 6) calls him Jude. St John does not give a list of the names of the Twelve, but recounts in chapter 14 that Jude “not the Iscariot” at the Last Supper asked Christ, “Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?” It is with the name Thaddeus that he is mentioned in the Communicantes of the Roman Canon, and by this name he also came to be associated with one of the most beloved stories of the Christian tradition, the legend of King Abgar, and the painting of the Holy Face of Edessa.

The Holy Face of Edessa, often called the Mandylion from the Syriac word for the cloth on which the image was made.
As recorded by Eusebius in the Ecclesiastical History, (I. 13) King Abgar of Edessa suffered from an incurable disease of some kind; having heard of the many healings wrought by the Lord during His earthly ministry, he sent Him a letter asking Him to come to Edessa and heal him. The Lord replied by letter that He would not come personally, but that after His Resurrection, one of His disciples would be sent to cure him; and in due time, the Apostle Thomas sent one of the seventy disciples, a certain Thaddeus, to perform this office. Eusebius gives what purport to be the text of the two letters, which were kept, he claims, in the public archives at Edessa. The story is repeated in a much more elaborate form in an early fifth-century apocryphal work, “The Doctrine of Addai,” in which the name of the disciple sent to King Abgar appears as Addai, rather than Thaddeus.

By the late fifth-century, the so-called Gelasian decree, in the section “on books to be received and not to be received”, (i.e., which may be used in the liturgy), already notes the spurious character of the letters exchanged between Christ and King Abgar. (The decree itself would later be spuriously attributed to Pope Gelasius I, and is commonly called after him.) As is the case with many apocryphal writings, formal rejection did not in the least diminish the popularity of the story, which continued to be embellished in various ways. The Doctrine of Addai simply adds that Abgar’s messenger made a picture of Christ’s face to bring back to the King; by the Bl. Jacopo’s time, the legend states that on receiving the reply of Christ, King Abgar sent a painter to make an image of the Lord’s Face on a piece of cloth. The painter was unable to do this himself, however, “because of the exceeding brightness that came forth from His face”; the Lord Himself therefore took the cloth and laid it over His own face, leaving an impression of the image upon the cloth, which was then taken to Abgar. Among Byzantine Christians especially, the Holy Face of Christ is still to this day the object of great veneration; it is known as the Holy Mandylion, a word which derives from the Syriac “mandil – a cloth.” Although Eusebius clearly says that the Thaddeus of the Abgar legend is one of the seventy disciples, and not one of the twelve Apostles, the Golden Legend and the Roman Breviary of 1529 both identify him with the Apostle called Thaddeus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and Jude in those of Luke and John. Because of the association with the King Abgar legend, he is sometimes shown holding an image of the Lord’s face.

In modern times, a new devotion has emerged to Saint Jude as the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, the origins of which are quite obscure. There are many variations of the following prayer to ask for his intercession, and it is still a fairly common custom to thank the Saint publicly for his intercession by placing a message of thanksgiving in a newspaper.
Oh glorious Apostle St Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies has caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honors and invokes thee universally as the patron of hopeless cases--of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable; make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded thee of bringing visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolations and succor of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly (mention your request), and that I may bless God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed St Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee. Amen.

Conference on Beauty at Notre Dame, with Roger Scruton, Timothy Verdon, Alasdair MacIntyre.

The Fall Conference of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, called You Are Beauty, will be held from November 10-12. To register and for more details go here.

There is a long list of high-profile invited speakers, including my new favorite on the subject of beauty and culture (and a few other things besides!), Sir Roger Scruton, along with Mgr Timothy Verdon, Alasdair MacIntyre, Mary Ann Glendon, Elizabeth Lev, Dony McManus, and Etsuro Sotoo, sculptor of the Nativity Façade of the Sagrada Família Basilica, Barcelona, Spain.

I will be attending, and am speaking at one of the panel sessions on the Saturday morning, so perhaps we’ll see some of you there!

New Nominations to CDW, Including Archbishop Piero Marini

The daily bulletin of the Holy See’s Press Office for today includes news that the Holy Father has nominated several new Members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, among them:
- Domenico Sorrentino, the Archbishop of Assisi‑Nocera Umbra‑Gualdo Tadino, who served as Secretary of said Congregation from August of 2003 until November 2005
- Piero Marini, titular Archbishop of Martirano and President of the Pontifical Commitee for International Eucharistic Congresses, also formerly the Papal Master of Ceremonies
- Arthur Joseph Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey
- Alan Stephen Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia, U.K.
- Charles Morerod, Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg in Switzerland.

Fr. Jeffrey Keyes Celebrates Jubilee in Oakland

St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland, California, was the site for the celebration of the Jubilee Mass of the Rev. Jeffrey Keyes on October 23. The Mass in the Extraordinary Form marked the external solemnity of the parish’s patronal feast, with a commemoration of the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.

Fr. Keyes was assisted by the Rev. Joseph Illo as deacon, and Abbé Kevin, ICKSP, as subdeacon, as well as the servers of St. Margaret Mary Parish.
Fr. Keyes, who now works as a chaplain and high school teacher in the diocese of Santa Rosa, will continue his Jubilee with a Mass in St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Santa Rosa, on October 29, at 4 p.m. in the presence of his former student Most Rev. Steven Lopes, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
The author of the blog Omnia Christus Est Nobis, Fr. Keyes is a member of the Church Music Association of America and is a regular attendee of the annual Colloquium sponsored by the organization.

Inaugural Issue of ALTARE DEI: A Magazine on Liturgy and Sacred Music

I am pleased to announce the appearance of a new downloadable magazine, Altare Dei, the content of which will certainly be of interest to readers of NLM. From the publisher:

"Altare Dei will present in English featured articles not only by people in the Anglo-Saxon world, but also by European theologians and liturgists whose work will be translated. We hope in this way to promote a wider awareness of the good work that is taking place in different countries and language spheres. Each issue will also feature an insert of sacred music scores. The inaugural issue contains 6 original pieces (12 pages of music) from fine contemporary Church composers.

"The cost of the issue is 6 Euros (ca. $7 US). You can download the PDF right away, no shipping fees."

Here is the table of contents of the first issue:

Aurelio Porfiri

"Challenging the great liturgical narrative"
Aurelio Porfiri

"Proclaiming the Kingdom of God through Preaching and Sacraments"
David W. Fagerberg

"Applause in Church"
Serafino Tognetti

"Vatican II and the Reform of the Mass"
Peter A. Kwasniewski

"The Role of Psalmody in Catholic Worship"
David M. Friel

Three questions for Archbishop Agostino Marchetto

Benedict XVI

Alleluia, Ego Sum Pastor Bonus (SATB and Organ) by Mauro Visconti
Song of Ruth (SATB and Organ) by Colin Mawby
Iustorum Animae (3 Equal voices) by Aurelio Porfiri
Puer Natus (3 Equal voices and Organ) by Valentino Miserachs
Amen (SATB and Organ) by Aurelio Porfiri
O Salutaris Hostia (ATB) by Aurelio Porfiri

Enrico Zoffoli

"Cornelio Fabro, Christ’s Priest"
Rosa Goglia

"My life at 80"
Colin Mawby

"Remembering Armando Renzi"
Valentino Miserachs

"Catholic Painting as 'Living Writing'"
Rodolfo Papa

For more information, see here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Byzantine Diaconal Ordination in Sicily

St Demetrius the Great Martyr, whose feast day we noted yesterday, is also the titular Saint of the Byzantine Catholic cathedral of Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily. The Byzantine churches in southern Italy descend partly from the Greek communities which were formerly very numerous in that region, and partly from Albanians who fled from the Turkish invasion of their lands into Italy in the 15th century. (Hence the distinction “degli Albanesi - of the Albanians”; Albano and Albanese are both fairly common last names in Italy.) Their liturgy is therefore celebrated in a mix of Greek and Arberesh, a literary form of Albanian from about 400 years ago.

Their patronal feast yesterday was also the occasion of a diaconal ordination; congratulations to the new deacon, Giuseppe Miceli. (From the Facebook page of the Friends of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi.)

Newly Republished: The Little Flowers of Saint Francis with Antique Illustrations

Years ago in Austria, I found a small rare book, called on its cover Franz von Assisi, and on its title page Legenden vom Heiligen Franz. The pocket-sized book, only 106 pages, contains selections from The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, translated by Karl Toth and illustrated by Maximilian Liebenwein. It appeared as part of the Kleine Amalthea-Bücherei from the Amalthea Verlag, Zürich-Wien-Leipzig, in 1921.

The illustrations are vigorous, clear, and dramatic, with the strong graphic design of their time period. Of particular note are the eight full-color plates, which were printed with gold, blue, and red, and then colored in with pencils.
From the 1921 edition in German
That was more than 15 years ago. Every once in a while, I would take the book down from my shelf and wonder anew at its artistry. After deciding that a simple facsimile, though doubtless intriguing to a German speaker, would do little for those of Anglophonic readership, my son and I set to work scanning the images and compiling the stories from an elegant English translation of The Little Flowers in the public domain, so that we could bring out a new edition and share this wonderful artwork with others.

We began with the stories that were already in the German volume, but as we went along, the charm of other stories worked on us irresistibly, and so we added them, too — hence the larger size of our volume. It is not the complete Little Flowers, but it delivers a respectable portion of classic stories about St. Francis and his early companions. These stories bring us face-to-face and heart-to-heart with the real St. Francis and with his genuine followers: radical Catholics; ascetics, holy fools, and mystics of the Mass; enthralling in their colorfulness, yet a challenge to our modern assumptions and an antidote to our contemporary poisons. There is much in these pages that Catholics have forgotten and need to recover. But I digress . . .

The book is available in two versions — a hardcover from Lulu (on the left in the photo below) and a paperback from CreateSpace (on the right; also available at Amazon). Both of these are 6" x 9", that is, much larger than the original volume.

Although the cover designs are different, the interior content is identical: 114 pages, with eight full-page color illustrations and 19 black and white drawings. Decorative red capitals are liberally spread throughout the book. (Note that the previews at Lulu and Amazon do not include any of the full-color pages — a good reason to share some more photos here.) The size of the print and the fine illustrations make it an ideal book for older children or for reading aloud. This is something I tested with my own family; the book was a great success.

Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage Information: First Day in Norcia Cancelled

We have been asked by the organizers of the Populus Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to help spread the following news: due to the earthquake activity which took place yesterday evening in central Italy, the events scheduled for today in Norcia have been cancelled. The city is still recovering from the earthquake back in August, and the long series of aftershocks. This evening, the pilgrimage events will begin at 6 pm at the FSSP church in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, with a Rosary at 6 pm, followed by Low Mass at 6:30 celebrated by the pilgrimag chaplain, Fr Claude Barthe.

Abp Alexander Sample, who will celebrate the main Mass of the pilgrimage on Saturday at St Peter’s, is in Norcia, where he celebrated Mass this morning for the Benedictine Monks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

St Demetrius the Great-Martyr

On October 26, Byzantine Christians celebrate with great solemnity the feast of St Demetrius of Thessalonica, a soldier and martyr of the early 4th century, whose popularity is almost as great as that of another warrior, St George. The traditional story of his life is that he succeeded his father as military commander at Thessalonica, but was imprisoned by the Emperor Maximian (286-305) for not only refusing his orders to persecute the Christians, but openly preaching the Gospel.

Maximian had a favorite gladiator, a very large German named Lyaeus, who, at his behest, challenged any Christian to wrestle him on a platform surrounded by spears. A Christian named Nestor, brave, but very small of stature, visited Demetrius in prison and received his blessing, after which he wrestled and beat Lyaeus, hurling him down onto the spears. In his anger at losing his favorite gladiator, Maximian sent his soldiers to the prison, where they speared Demetrius though the chest, while Nestor was killed the following day.

This story forms the tropar of St Demetrius’ feast day.

The world has found you to be a great defense against tribulation, and a vanquisher of heathens, O Passion-bearer. As you bolstered the courage of Nestor, who then humbled the arrogance of Lyaios in battle, Holy Demetrius, entreat Christ God to grant us great mercy.
Kontakion God, who has given you invincible might, has tinged the Church with streams of your blood, Demetrius! He preserves your city from harm, for you are its foundation!

Devotion to St Demetrius has always been very strong among the Slavs, particularly as a patron of soldiers, as witnessed by the popularity of the name Dmitry. Attempts have even been made to claim him as a Slav, since he was supposed to be originally from the city of Sirmium, now called Mitrovica, in Serbia; this is in fact in the area of the Balkan peninsula where the Slavs first settled in Europe, but only in the 6th century. His patronage of soldiers was reaffirmed in modern times during the First Balkan War (Oct. 1912 – May 1913), when Thessalonica was liberated from Ottoman control and united to Greece on his feast day in 1912. He is also honored with the titles “Great-Martyr”, as one who suffered much for the Faith, “Myrrh-gusher” from the tradition that streams of scented oil came forth from his relics, and “Wonderworker” for the many miracles attributed to him.

Icon of St Demetrius by Andrei Rublev (and follower), ca. 1425, from the Trinity Cathedral in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.
The Byzantine Synaxarion, the equivalent of the Martyrology, also still notes on this day a terrible earthquake which took place in Constantinople in the year 740, which killed thousands of people and did terrible damage to the city and its walls. This was the year before the death of the first iconoclast Emperor, Leo the Isaurian, and it was generally believed that the earthquake was a divine punishment for the iconoclast heresy. By an interesting coincidence, there has been some significant earthquake activity in central Italy today, in the same area where two months ago a major earthquake did so much damage in Norcia and some of the nearby towns. Thus far, the damage appears to be minimal, and no fatalities have been reported, but please remember to pray for the safety of the people in that area.

EF Solemn Mass for Christ the King in Toronto

This coming Sunday, the EF feast of Christ the King, the St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto, Canada, will host a Solemn High Mass to mark the tenth anniversary of the founding of St. Patrick’s Gregorian Choir, directed by Surinder S. Mundra. The Mass begins at 2:00 p.m; the church is located at  65 Bond Street in Toronto. His Eminence Thomas Card. Collins will deliver the homily.

For more information, see the Facebook page of the St Patrick’s Gregorian Choir, and the cathedral’s bulletin page. Besides being the 10th anniversary Mass of the choir’s formation, this is also the first Mass in the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated in the cathedral of Toronto, since the promulgation of the post-Conciiar reforms. Following a beautiful restoration, St Michael's Cathedral has recently been declared a basilica.

“Reverence Is Not Enough: On the Importance of Tradition”

The text of the lecture I gave in Prague for the launch of the Czech translation of Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis is now available at Rorate. A few excerpts:

Prior to all arguments about which practice is better or worse is the overarching principle of the primacy of tradition, meaning the inherent claim that our religious inheritance, handed down from our forefathers, makes on us. We do not “own” this gift, much less “produce” it. Tradition comes to us from above, from God who providentially designed us as social animals who inherit our language, our culture, and our religion; it comes to us from our ancestors, who are called antecessores in Latin—literally, the ones who have gone before. They are ahead of us, not behind us; they have finished running the race, and we stand to benefit from their collective wisdom. St. Paul states the principle in 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.”
The rejection of tradition and the cult of change embodies a peculiarly modern attitude of “mastery over tradition,” which is the social equivalent of Baconian and Cartesian “mastery over nature.” The combination of capitalism and technology has allowed us to abuse the natural world, treating it as raw material for exploitation, in pursuit of the satisfaction of our selfish desires. In a similar way, the influence of rationalism and individualism has tempted us to treat Catholic tradition as if it were a collection of isolated facts from which we, who are autonomous and superior, can make whatever selection pleases us. In adopting this arrogant stance, we fail to recognize, with creaturely humility, that our rationality is socially constituted and tradition-dependent. By failing to honor our antecessores, we fail to live according to our political nature and our Christian dignity as recipients of a concrete historical revelation that endures and develops organically over time and space.[4] The Psalm verse comes to mind: “Know ye that the Lord, he is God: he made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps 99[100]:3). Ipse fecit nos et non ipsi nos. We do not make ourselves, nor do we make our religion or our liturgies; we receive our existence, we receive our faith, we receive our worship. Tradition comes to us from outside ourselves, before and beyond us. It unambiguously expresses our dependence on God—as creatures, as Christians, as coheirs with the saints. An heir is one who inherits, not the “self-made man” of capitalism. 
St. Paul states to the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). Massively changing the liturgy to make it apparently more suited to “modern man” was, in fact, a form of yielding and conforming to the world rather than standing all the more firmly over against it with a supernatural alternative, holding fast what was already known to be “good and acceptable and perfect.”[8] While earlier ages of the Church witnessed the enrichment of the liturgy with elements from the cultures through which it passed, there had never been, prior to the twentieth century, a systematic attempt to reconfigure the liturgy according to the pattern of a certain epoch or worldview. There had been pruning and adjustment, but never wholesale reconstruction and whole-cloth invention. The very ambition to attempt such an audacious feat could have arisen only in an age bedazzled by the Myth of Progress—a myth that played upon the well-known gullibility of rationalists and romantics alike. The liturgical reformers for the most part surrendered to the temptation without resistance, like springtime lovers in Paris. We could adapt what St. Paul says elsewhere in the Epistle to the Romans: “they became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:21).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Iconostasis, Rood Screen, Communion Rail...or Shag-Pile Carpeted Step?

The nature of the dividing line between sanctuary and nave in a church has been a hot topic over the years. I raise the subject today not to spill yet more ink in complaining about the removal of altar rails in churches over the last 50 years or so, although it is something I do feel strongly about. Rather, I am interested in trying to establish how, with due regard for tradition, we might encourage in the Roman Rite a renewed engagement with art in the liturgy, in the such a way that it deepens our participation, rather than distracts from it.

One thing that always strikes me when I go to an Eastern Rite Catholic Church, (recently I have been attending St Elias Melkite Church in Los Gatos, California,) is how much more naturally priest, deacon, cantor and congregation engage with the icons during the liturgy. In contrast, in the Roman Rite, even in traditional congregations, apart from perhaps the crucifix and altarpiece, the choice of art seems to be governed more by the priest’s personal devotion than liturgical considerations, and there appears to be very little engagement with it during the liturgy itself. At best, sacred art provides a decorative backdrop that helps set an appropriate mood for the worship of God with direct engagement in the liturgy itself, which is largely a hands-clasped and eyes-closed activity.

First a quick presentation of different options available to us.

According to my research, the original division in both East and West was more like today’s altar rail, with gaps or doors for processing. The typical “transenna” might have looked as this one at Sant’ Apollinarre in Ravenna, which I understand was restored in the 20th century.

Another example from the 12th century, at San Clemente in Rome, which seems to follow the early traditional style.
In time, from perhaps the 9th century onwards, the transenna grew upwards into a screen, as in this 9th century example from Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome.
Gradually, we see images being added, as in the Byzantine-Venetian Torcello Cathedral, built in the 7th century, but restored in the 9th and 11th centuries.
This then developed into the Western rood screen, “rood” being an old English word for the cross. The example below is a 15th century screen from Cornwall in England.
The lower portion would originally have had images in it, as in this example below from Norfolk. (The cross is now missing.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Missals from Silverstream Priory (3): Augustinian Missal of 1716

One of the oldest missals, if not the oldest, that the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration at Silverstream Priory have in their possession is this lavish volume from 1716, the title page of which clearly proclaims that it is a Roman Missal with all the feasts proper to the order of Augustinian hermits.

As is typical with books of this period, the artwork is monochromatic, while the text features red rubrics (that’s a redundancy of course!) and red capitals. The book is in excellent shape given that it is exactly 300 years old.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Relics of St Boethius

As we mentioned earlier this month, the church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in the Italian city of Pavia, which houses the relics of St Augustine, also has those of another Saint, the philosopher and theologian Boethius, whose feast is kept today.

The first page of a later 14th-century manuscript of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, showing him as a teacher of philosophy above, and in prison below. 
His full name was Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius; the gens Anicia were a very prominent family in ancient Rome, and there is reason to believe that St Gregory the Great was also descended from it. Boethius was born about 480 A.D., and orphaned in youth; his guardian was a member of another very ancient family, one Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, whose daughter Rusticiana he eventually married. (The Vesper hymn of Ss Peter and Paul was long falsely attributed to a non-existent second wife of his called Elpis.) His life was dedicated to the study of both philosophy and theology, and it was largely through his work as a translator that the early Middle Ages knew what it knew of the writings of Plato and Aristotle, as well as Euclid, Archimedes and others. Several of his theological treatises also survive and there is also a famous letter to him from the writer Cassiodorus in which he asks Boethius to make a sundial and waterclock for the king of the Burgundians.

In the great tradition of the ancient families to which they belonged, Boethius, like his father and father-in-law before him, took an active part in the public life of Italy. By the end of the 5th century, the last Roman Emperor in the West had been removed, and the peninsula was nominally ruled by the Eastern Emperor in Byzantium, but in fact, by the Ostrogothic king Theodoric. Boethius served under Theodoric as the Roman consul in the year 510 A.D., and saw the same ancient honor vested upon his two sons twelve years later. (The fact that they were in their teens shows what the office had been reduced to in reality, but the prestige of it was still very great.) More importantly, he also held the position of the “magister officiorum – the master of the offices,” one of the greatest significance and responsibility.

Shortly thereafter, Theodoric had come to believe that members of the senate in Rome were plotting with the Emperor to overthrow his kingdom and restore direct control of Italy to Byzantium. When one of their number was charged with this conspiracy, Boethius defended him in court, for which he was also accused of the conspiracy, arrested, imprisoned at Pavia, and condemned to death. During his imprisonment of about nine months, he wrote his most famous work, The Consolation of Philosophy, a lengthy dialogue between himself and Philosophy, in which she consoles him for his misfortunes, and teaches him to regard them with what, largely because of this work, we would now call a “philosophical approach.” This exhortation to regard all earthly things as transitory, to value the eternal things which only the mind can apprehend, and to see the world governed by divine wisdom which is always just, was one of the most popular books in the Middle Ages, and many vernacular translations were made of it.

Boethius was murdered in prison in 524, his death preceded by torture, according to the common tradition. His relics were at first buried in the cathedral of Pavia, but later moved to the crypt of St Pietro in Ciel d’Oro. Although his death was essentially a political matter and not inflicted for the Faith, he was popularly venerated as a martyr, since he was unjustly put to death by an Arian heretic. In this sense, he is very similar to the 11th century Princes of the Rus’ Saints Boris and Gleb, also killed for political reasons, but immediately venerated as Saints for their Christ-like acceptance of the injustice inflicted upon them.

The devotion to Boethius as a saint and martyr is still kept in the city of Pavia, and also in the Roman church of Santa Maria in Campitelli, which was founded by his sister-in-law, St Galla. This devotion was confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in 1883. These photos were taken by Nicola de’ Grandi during a recent visit to Pavia.
The entrance to the crypt, under the main sanctuary.
“The body of St Severinus Boethius, Martyr.”
Next to his relics and altar in the crypt is this well, whose waters are said to have healing properties.
This poetic inscription reads as follows:
Hoc in sarcophago iacet ecce Boetius arto,
Magnus et omnimodo mirificandus homo.
Huncque Sophia suis prae cunctis compsit alumpnis.
Quam sibi grande decus contulit ipse Deus!
Consul enim factus cum natis ipse duobus,
Romae conspicuum et habitus speculum;
Sparsa per Europam vulgant sua dogmata totam.
Quam fuit et merito clarus et ingenio
Nam nobis logicen de graeco transtulit artem,
Commenti gemino quam reserat radio
Catholicae verum fidei dedit et documentum
Et nos informat musica quae resonat.
Qui Theodorico regi delatus iniquo
Papiae senium duxit in exilium
In quo se maestum solans dedit inde libellum
Post ictus gladio exiit e medio.

In this narrow sarcophagus lies Boethius,
A great man, in every way to be marvelled at.
Wisdom adorned him more than all her students;
How great a glory did God Himself bestow (upon him).
For he was made consol, along with his two sons,
Prominent in Rome, an example of decorum.
His teachings are shred through all of Europe;
How famous he was in merit and in genius
For he translated for us the art of logic from the Greek,
Which he clearly explained in two commentaries.
He also gave true proof of the Catholic Faith,
And teaches us how to play music.
Accused before the wicked King Theoderic
He passed his old age in exile at Pavia,
Where he consoled himself in his sadness by writing a book;
Afterwards, the blow of a sword took him away.

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