Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Relics of St Andrew

In the Roman Breviary, the life of St Andrew the Apostle ends with the statement that “When Pius II was Pope, his head was brought to Rome, and placed in the basilica of St Peter.” This statement gives no idea of what an extraordinary event the translation of this relic was in the life of the Church at the time.

St Andrew is traditionally said to have died in the city of Patras on the northwestern coast of the Peloponnese, which was usually called “the Morea” in the Middle Ages. In 357, under the Emperor Constantius, his relics were brought to Constantinople, and remained there until the city was sacked during the Fourth Crusade, when they were brought to the Italian city of Amalphi; his head, however, had remained at Patras.

(Each year, for the feast of St Andrew, the reliquary kept in the crypt of the Duomo of Amalphi is taken out for a long procession though the city, and then returned to the church in a rather remarkable fashion, as seen in this video.)

In the later years of the Byzantine Empire, the Peloponnese was made into its own principality within the Empire, ruled by relatives of the Emperor, and called the “Despotate of the Morea.” (“Despotes” in Greek simply means “prince.”) The last two princes, Demetrius and Thomas, were the brothers of Constantine XI, under whom the Great City fell to the Turks in 1453. The Morea, however, was not immediately invaded, and the despotate continued to exist for seven years afterwards. Partly as a gesture to gain the Latin Church’s support for a new Crusade to drive the Turks out of Greece and the Balkans, partly to prevent the relic of the Apostle’s head from being destroyed in the by-then inevitable invasion, the despot Thomas decided to consign it to Pope Pius II.

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini was known as one of the great men of letters of the Italian Renaissance, although much of his writing as a layman, and most of his personal life, would hardly suggest a man fit for the clerical state, much less the Papacy. However, after years of involvement with important matters of both Church and State, he underwent a profound moral conversion; after receiving the subdiaconate in 1446, he was made a bishop about a year later, a cardinal by 1456, and elected Pope in 1458. His papal name “Pius” was chosen as partly in reference to his secular name “Aeneas”, since Virgil constantly calls the hero of his Aeneid “pius Aeneas.”

Pope Pius II Canonizes St Catherine of Siena, from the famous Piccolomini library in the cathedral of Siena, by Pinturicchio, 1502-8. Pius was born in a small town within the territory controlled by Siena, where his family became especially important upon his election to the Papacy, and he was particularly proud of the fact that he was able to canonize a great “home-town hero” among the Saints. The proper Office of St Catherine still used to this day in the traditional Dominican Breviary was composed by him.
We may be tempted to dismiss this as no more than a clever literary reference from an age very much enamored with clever literary references, but this would be unjust. The Latin word “pius” means “one who fulfils his duty”, duty to God, to one’s country, and to one’s family, and therefore, among its many meanings are “pious, devout, conscientious, affectionate, tender, kind, good, grateful, respectful, loyal, patriotic.” Under the heading of the last of these, Pope Pius died while attempting to rally the Christian princes to the defense of Europe, as the Turks prepared to press further into the Balkans, and cross the Adriatic into Italy.

Under the heading of the first two meanings, “pious and devout”, Pope Pius devoted several pages of his autobiography to the events surrounding the reception of St Andrews’ head. After the despot Thomas had rescued the head from Patras, he brought it to Ancona, a major Italian port on the Adriatic, protected by its presence from severe storms during the crossing. Pius’ legate was sent to examine it, and declared it authentic, after which it was brought to the city of Narni, and left there for a time on account of political and military disturbances then flaring up in Italy. When these had died down, preparation was made for it come to Rome; the Pope had thought to go meet it by bringing with him the heads of Ss Peter and Paul which were kept in the Lateran, but gave up on this idea because the reliquary in which they were enclosed was too heavy to conveniently move.

The high altar of St John in the Lateran; in the enclosed area above may be seen the reliquary containing the skulls of Ss Peter and Paul. (These are not the reliquaries which Pope Pius II found too heavy to move, which were likely destroyed during the sack of Rome in 1527, but later replacements. Image from Wikipedia.)
On Holy Monday, the Pope and his court, along with an enormous crowd of Romans, went forth from the Flaminian gate to meet the three cardinals charged with bringing the relic from Narni, close to the Milvian bridge, the site of Constantine’s famous victory so many centuries before. A large platform was erected in the middle of a field, so that all could witness the event, with two staircases on either side, and an altar in the middle. As Pius II describes the event, “as the Pope ascended the one side, weeping with joy and devotion, followed by the college (of cardinals) and the clergy, (Card.) Bessarion with the two others ascended from the other side, bearing the small arc in which the sacred head was contained, and set it on the altar… the arc was then opened, and Bessarion, taking the sacred head of the Apostle, weeping, handed it to the weeping Pope.” Pius then gives his address before the crowd.

“Thou hast finally come, most sacred and adored head of the Apostle! The furor of the Turks has driven thee from thy place; thou hast fled as an exile to thy brother. … This is kindly Rome, which thou seest nearby, dedicated by thy brother’s precious blood; the blessed Apostle Peter, thy most holy brother, and with him the vessel of election, St Paul, begot unto Christ the Lord this people which stands here. Thy nephews, all the Romans, venerate, honor and respect thee as their uncle and father, and doubt not of thy patronage in the sight of God. O most blessed Apostle Andrew, preacher of the truth, and outstanding asserter of the Trinity! With what joy dost thou fill us today, as we see before us thy sacred and venerable head, that was worthy to have the Holy Paraclete descend upon it visibly under the appearance of fire on the day of Pentecost! … These were the eyes that often saw the Lord in the flesh, this the mouth that often spoke to Christ! …

We are glad, we rejoice, we exult at thy coming, o most divine Apostle Andrew! … Enter the holy city, and be merciful to the Roman people! May thy coming bring salvation to all Christians, may thy entrance be peaceable, thy stay among us happy and favorable! Be thou our advocate in heaven, and together with the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, preserve this city, and in thy devotion take care for all the Christian people, that by thy prayers, the mercy of God may come upon us.”

The Pope then lifted up the head for all to see, and the entire crowd knelt, most of them already moved to tears by the Pope’s oration. The relic was brought to the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, just inside the gates of Rome; from there, it was carried on Holy Wednesday under a golden processional canopy through the streets of the Eternal City to St Peter’s Basilica, accompanied by thousands of Romans and pilgrims.

Less than 50 years later, Pope Julius II would begin the process of tearing down the ancient basilica of the Vatican, which was then close to twelve centuries old, and in several places on the point of collapsing under the weight of its own ceiling. The new basilica, not the work of Pope Julius’ original architect, but of the genius of Michelangelo, is centered upon a massive elevated dome, directly over St Peter’s tomb. The base is pierced with enormous windows to show us that St Peter is God’s privileged instrument, who opens for us the doors of Heaven with the keys which Christ gave him, and that it is through Peter that God brings us up to Himself. The four enormous pillars which support the dome are each dedicated to one of the church’s major relics, among them the head of St Andrew, which was kept in a room behind the balcony seen here above François Duquesnoy’s statue of the Apostle. (In 1966, this relic was returned to the custody of the Orthodox Church in the city of Patras.)

The pillar of St Andrew in St Peter’s Basilica. (Image from Wikipedia)

Melkite Liturgy on Campus of UC Berkeley, This Saturday 5pm

Fr Sebastian Carnazzo of St Elias Melkite Catholic Church, Los Gatos, California (, has instituted an Outreach Divine Liturgy on the campus of University of California, Berkeley, which will be held this Saturday, Dec 3rd, at 5pm, in the Gesu Chapel of the Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Leroy Ave., in Berkeley.

An Outreach Divine Liturgy is the first stage towards the establishment of a weekly mission. Please pray for this endeavor, and if you are able to, make plans to attend. Dinner will be provided afterwards.

I shall be attending myself, and we would love to see you there, especially any UC Berkeley students and professors!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fostering Young Vocations (Part 4)

And I will go unto the altar of God, to God who giveth joy to my youth.

EF Sung Mass for Immaculate Conception in British Columbia

Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, will have a Sung Latin Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Thursday December 8, at 7 p.m. The church is located at 3141 Shaughnessy Street.

The Scandal of the Missing Haloes! A Case of Chronic Halo-tosis?

Observant readers will have noticed that in a recent post, I showed an icon of the Transfiguration in which the three Apostles do not have haloes, both as they are led up to and down from the mountain.

This puzzled me. Just when you think you might have a consistent picture of what went on you always find an anomaly. I was under the impression that Saints are always shown with a halo, even in scenes which portray a moment in history before they are fully united with God in heaven. This is the heavenly reality, which touches all of time, bursting through on the historical reality.

But there is something else to be taken into consideration. We become saints - sons and daughters of God who partake of the divine nature - in baptism. It is the action of the Holy Spirit that effects this, and for the Apostles this did not occur until Pentecost. So it makes sense for images of them in the time before Pentecost to be without haloes.

The icon above is Russian, painted in the 15th century; the one below is a 12th century icon from Mount Sinai.

So I started to look at more icons of the Transfiguration, and found that this was not unusual. Although sometimes they are portrayed with halos, more often they were not. Then I noticed that the same was true for icons of the last supper. Although some have them, many do not, many do not.

The same is true for the Apostles’ Communion.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forthcoming Issue of Sacred Music

Sacred Music vol. 143 no. 3 will soon be arriving in mailboxes. The articles contained therein are:

Melisma by William Mahrt

Shunning the Hermeneutic of Discontinuity and Rupture: Richard Joseph Schuler as Liturgist by Duane L.C.M. Galles
Music for the Ordinariates’ Divine Worship: The Missal by Helen Harrison

A Commentary on the Traditional Proper Chants of Holy Thursday by Ted Krasnicki

Sacred Choral Works by Peter Kwasniewski by SusanTreacy 

Southeast Summer Sacred Music Workshop by Maria Rist

To become a member of the Church Music Association of America and begin receiving Sacred Music, among other benefits of membership, click here

Book Notice: In Sinu Jesu. When Heart Speaks to Heart: The Journal of a Priest at Prayer

Angelico Press is one of the few Catholic presses today for whose new releases one could envisage having a standing subscription and not be disappointed with each title as it comes in the mail. Even so, Angelico occasionally outdoes itself by publishing a book that soars above and beyond the normal expectations of readers, a book that (in a sense) redefines and enlarges those expectations. Such a book has just appeared: In Sinu Jesu. When Heart Speaks to Heart: The Journal of a Priest at Prayer.

It will be difficult to describe this work of mysticism in any way that remotely does justice to the contents. Someday I hope to do a full and proper review, but for now let it suffice to say that it is a book of words received from the Lord, His Mother, and other saints during Eucharistic adoration, words which are largely about adoration (in its narrow and broader senses) but which, in keeping with this sacramental focus, also extend to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office, the ministerial priesthood, the prayer of the clergy, the religious, and the laity, and the interior and exterior dispositions necessary for seeking and attaining intimate union with God. To describe it to someone who has not yet had the privilege of reading it, I would say something like this: imagine a fusion of St. Gertrude the Great, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Bd. Columba Marmion.

I don't often say this kind of thing because I prefer not to over-recommend, but given what a special message this book holds for priests in particular, I urge the clergy who read this announcement to get a copy of In Sinu Jesu and bring it for spiritual reading to Eucharistic adoration, or simply before the Blessed Sacrament reserved. Judging from the reactions of many other priests who have had the chance to read parts of the manuscript over the past several years, it is a book that can work wonders. I highly recommend it for religious and laity, too, because the message of In Sinu Jesu applies to Christians in every state of life. People should also consider giving this book as an Advent or Christmas gift to their local priest(s).

Below is the announcement from the publisher's site.

*          *          *
In 2007, Our Lord and Our Lady began to speak to the heart of a monk in the silence of adoration. He was prompted to write down what he received, and thus was born In Sinu Jesu, whose pages shine with an intense luminosity and heart-warming fervor that speak directly to the inner and outer needs of our time with a unique power to console and challenge.

The pages of this remarkable record of spiritual communication range across, and plunge into, many fundamental aspects of the spiritual life: loving and being loved by God; the practice of prayer in all its dimensions; the unique power of Eucharistic adoration; trustful surrender to divine providence; the homage of silence; the dignity of liturgical prayer and the sacraments; the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; priestly identity and apostolic fruitfulness; the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints in our lives; sin, woundedness, mercy, healing, and purification; the longing for heaven and the longed-for renewal of the Catholic Church on earth.

Given the harmony of its content with the teaching of Sacred Scripture, Catholic Tradition, and well-known works of the mystics, it is eminently fitting that In Sinu Jesu be published in full at this time (it has been granted the imprimatur). Passages from this journal have already influenced the spiritual lives of priests, religious, and laymen. May it now give light and warmth, consolation and renewed conviction, to readers throughout the world.

328 pages, 6 × 9 in
Paper: ISBN 978-1-62138-219-5 (at /
Cloth: ISBN 978-1-62138-220-1 (at /
E-book for Kindle

Praise for In Sinu Jesu
"In Sinu Jesu recounts the graces experienced in the life of one priest through the healing and strengthening power of Eucharistic adoration. At the same time, it issues an urgent call to all priests — and, indeed, to all Christians — to be renewed in holiness through adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. It is my fervent hope that In Sinu Jesu will inspire many priests to be ever more ardent adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, and thus find the strength and courage to show forth the Face of Christ in the midst of our profoundly secularized society." HIS EMINENCE RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

"Reading In Sinu Jesu has opened my heart to a deeper awareness of what occurs when I spend time before the Savior hidden and revealed in the Holy Sacrament. This can be summed up in one word: Friendship. Deep consolation and a renewed gratitude for Him as He draws His friends to Himself — these are the fruits of following the meditations of this book. It will fill hearts with encouragement and joy." FR. HUGH BARBOUR, O.Praem., Prior, St. Michael's Abbey of the Norbertine Fathers

"Upon my first reading the words of the Journal of a Priest at Prayer, a seed was planted deep within me. The words spoken to him in the intimacy of the chapel bring such comfort, courage, and light  a longing to be with the Lord, gazing upon and adoring His Eucharistic Face and offering ourselves and our lives in reparation for sins against Love. I rejoice that the Lord has chosen this moment in time to share His desire for Eucharistic adoration through the publication in its entirety of In Sinu Jesu." FR. DAVID ABERNETHY C.O., Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Pittsburgh

"In Sinu Jesu has the power to inflame the desire for Eucharistic adoration. It is a powerful expression of Our Lord's thirst to draw us deeper into His friendship, to heal wounds, and thus to renew the Church. For several years now its inspired words have accompanied me in my priestly ministry: attracting, comforting,strengthening, and touching my heart whenever I am in danger of forgetting my 'first love.' May this book cause a revolution of Love and conquer many hearts!" FR. JOACHIM SCHWARZMÜLLER, Krefeld, Germany

"In Sinu Jesu is a beautiful and powerful work saturated with the kind of contagious love and holiness that can only come from reclining — like His beloved disciple — upon Christ's breast, hearing Him whisper words of consolation and encouragement for us all. Its pages breathe a Johannine spirituality that welcomes also the Blessed Mother into our homes and hearts, drawing us toward more intimate, joyous union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." KEVIN VOST, Psy.D., author of The Porch and the Cross

"We sometimes dismiss the interior voice, thinking that because it is within, it must be our own. But does God not dwell deep within us? Can he not speak, then, to the heart? This listener has heard Christ invite priests and all the faithful, back to the Sacrament of Love. He has heard a call to draw near to the place where Christ tabernacles in the midst of his people, there to adore the Eucharistic Face of Christ. Here the power bestowed in the sacrament of orders is strengthened for a more selfless ministry." DAVID W. FAGERBERG, University of Notre Dame, author of Consecrating the World

Sunday, November 27, 2016

2017 Dominican Rite Calendar (Corrected)

I have made some corrections in the Dominican Rite Calendar for 2017 and this revised version is now available on the left sidebar at Dominican Liturgy.  You can download it at the link called "Dominican Rite Calendar 2017."  Or download it directly here.  The major change is the addition of memory of the American blessed Francis Xavier Seelos on October 5.  I have also added information to make it easier to find the ferials in the missal.

Advent and Christmas Meditation on Art and Scripture

Pontifex University is now offering a free short course, An Advent and Christmas Seasonal Meditation as a promotion for its new Masters in Sacred Arts. It is a meditation in art and scripture for these seasons through to Epiphany, taught by Fr Sebastian Carnazzo and myself, using a method that we have developed for the scripture classes in the MSA program.

Each day, Fr Carnazzo, an experienced scripture scholar who, for example, spent several years teaching FSSP seminarians in their seminary in Nebraska, gives a short meditation on the Gospel account of the Nativity.

Fr Carnazzo is also pastor at the Melkite Church of St Elias, in Los Gatos, California, and has a deep knowledge of the icons of the Church, which he connects to the Scripture. I offer additional “artistic sidebars” on certain feast days during this season, and on major feast days we discuss the art together. As a result, this is simultaneously a Scripture class that uses beautiful art to communicate truths beyond words, and so increase our grasp of the Word, and an art class that explains the Scriptural roots of the icons of the Church.

Most importantly, we connect all of this to the worship of God in the sacred liturgy where, one hopes, it will deepen our encounter with Him during this wonderful time in the Church year. It includes an encouragement to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in your domestic church, and even offers suggestions on how families can sing the psalms as they do so.

Question: why would we be considering the Baptism of the Lord during this seasonal meditation? And who are these figures on fish in the Jordan? And the significance of the rock that Christ is standing on? Answers can be found for free...if you sign up for the course! To go to the MSA catalog page and sign up for the free course: An Advent and Christmas Seasonal Meditation

Gerrit van Honthorst, 17th century, Dutch. The Adoration of the Shepherds.

The First Sunday of Advent 2016

The Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a Virgin espoused to Joseph, proclaiming to Her the Word, and seeing the light She was afraid. Fear not, Mary; thou hast found grace before the Lord. * Behold, Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son, and He shall be called the Son of the Most High. V. The Lord God shall give Him the throne of David, His father, and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. Behold, thou shalt conceive, ... Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Behold, thou shalt conceive ... (Third responsory at Matins of the First Sunday of Advent.)

The Annunciation, by Pietro Cavallni; part of the apsidal mosiac in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, 1296-1300
R. Missus est Gabriel Angelus ad Mariam Virginem desponsatam Joseph, nuntians ei verbum; et expavescit Virgo de lumine: ne timeas, Maria, invenisti gratiam apud Dominum: * Ecce concipies et paries, et vocabitur Altissimi Filius. V. Dabit ei Dominus Deus sedem David, patris ejus, et regnabit in domo Jacob in aeternum. Ecce concipies... Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spirítui Sancto. Ecce concipies...

Friday, November 25, 2016

St Catherine of Alexandria in the Counter-Reformation

The acts of St Catherine of Alexandria tell us that she was a noblewoman of immense learning in all the sciences, who at the age of eighteen went to the emperor Maximin Daia (305-312) to reprove him for his persecution of the Church, denouncing the worship of the false gods of the pagans. Unable to respond to her himself, Maximin had her imprisoned, and then brought a group of fifty philosophers to explain to her the folly of Christianity; all of these she converted to the Faith, for which they were put to death. Catherine was returned to prison, where she was visited by the empress and a captain of the emperor’s troops named Porphyry, both of whom were also converted, and soon after martyred. Catherine was then condemned to die by the famous spiked wheel which has long been known as her emblem, but which broke apart on touching her; like so many Saints whom Nature itself and the persecutors’ devices refused to harm, she was then beheaded. As the traditional Collect of her feast states, her body was carried by Angels to Mount Sinai, where first a church, and later the famous monastery were built in her honor.

An icon of the Presentation of Mary, with St Catherine on the far left. (Greek, 18th century). In the Byzantine Rite, the Entrance of the Virgin in the Temple is one of the twelve Great Feasts, most of which are kept with both a Forefeast and Afterfeast, broadly the equivalent of a vigil and octave in the traditional Roman Rite. Afterfeasts vary in length, and those of the Virgin’s Presentation and Nativity are the shortest, only four days, the final day being known as the Leave-taking; the Leavetaking of the Presentation therefore coincides with St Catherine’s feast day. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons by shakko.) 
She became one of the most popular Saints of the High Middle Ages beginning in the 11th century, when some of her relics were brought to the French city of Rouen. Innumerable churches and chapels were dedicated to her, she appears in an extraordinary number of paintings and statues, and her feast day was kept in many places as a holy day of obligation. She has long been honored as a Patron Saint of philosophers and theologians, orators and preachers, (and hence especially by the Dominicans, who kept her feast with an octave until the early 20th century,) but also of women in religious life, students of every sort, millers and wheelwrights. In France, her prestige was very much enhanced by the fact that she was one of the Saints who spoke to St Joan of Arc. She is honored in the Byzantine Rite with the title “Great Martyr”, and named in the preparation rite of the Divine Liturgy; in the Ambrosian Rite, her name was even added to the Canon of the Mass in the later 15th century.

It is painful to relate that no aspect of the life of St Catherine as given in her acts can be considered historically trustworthy. Just to give one of many possible examples, she is named as the “daughter of a king named Costus”, even though Egypt in the early fourth century was a province of the Roman Empire, and had had no king for over three-hundred years. There is no mention of her in the wealth of Egyptian Christian literature for several centuries after her death, or in the various accounts of pilgrims to the monastery on Mt Sinai, which was not originally named for her.

By the time the Roman Breviary was revised after the Council of Trent, scholars had long known that many of the well-known and loved stories of the Saints were not historically reliable. Thus we find several of the Virgin Martyrs who were very popular in the Middle Ages, such as Ss Barbara, Margaret of Antioch and Ss Ursula and Companions, reduced from full offices of nine readings in the Roman Breviary of 1529 to a mere commemoration in the Breviary of St Pius V. Even Ss Cecilia and Agatha, who are named in the Canon of the Mass, were originally kept at the second of three grades; only Ss Agnes, the Roman martyr par excellence among women, Lucy (a rather random choice), and Catherine of Alexandria were kept at the highest grade.

Virgo inter Virgines (The Virgin Mary among the other holy virgins) by the anonymous Netherlandish painter known as the Master of the St Lucy Legend, ca. 1490. The holy Virgins are Ss Apollonia, Ursula, Lucy, Dorothy, Catherine (receiving a ring from the baby Jesus; her red cloak is covered with her symbol, the wheel), Mary Magdalene, Barbara, Agnes, Margaret, Agatha and Cunera, patron of the Rhenen area near Utrecht, said be one of the 11,000 companions of St Ursula. (Click image to enlarge; click here for a complete explanation of the icongraphy.)
The Breviary of St Pius V, first published in 1568, was revised in the last decade of the same century, and a new edition published in 1602. Pope Clement VIII had entrusted the task of correcting the Saints’ lives to the great Cardinal Cesare Baronius, also the principal editor of the first Tridentine edition of the Martyrology. Among Baronius’ collaborators was St Robert Bellarmine, one of the most learned men of his age, who is supposed to have said in regard to St Catherine, “I wish I could believe that she existed.” In his History of the Roman Breviary, Mons. Pierre Batiffol notes (p. 216) that Baronius often refused, against St Robert’s advice, to alter some of the popular legends, despite the historical problems associated with them; and that he noted of St Catherine specifically, “Her history contains many things which are repugnant to the truth.” Nevertheless, her Office was left unaltered, and remained in the same form until the Breviary revision of 1960.

It was certainly a goal of the Tridentine reform of the Breviary to remove from the Church’s public prayer anything that might offer the Protestants a pretext for attack or ridicule. (Baronius was well aware of this problem, and also produced a massive history of the Church, covering the first 12 centuries, in response to Protestant controversialists.) The question therefore arises as to why a Saint whose life was subject to serious doubts, even on the part of the very revisers of the Breviary, was not merely included in it, but celebrated in one of its most prominent feasts.

In part, we may simply say that scholars must at times take their lesson from the devotion of the people, and accept what they may perhaps not understand. (It is interesting to note in this regard that St Catherine was abolished in the Novus Ordo, but restored to the general calendar by Pope St John Paul II.) But there are three aspects of the story of St Catherine that are particularly significant to the Counter-Reformation, which certainly contributed to the preservation of devotion to her.

The first is her role as the Patron Saint of philosophers, which comes, of course, from the story told above of her converting the fifty men sent to dissuade her of her Christian faith.

The second is her role as patron of women in religious life. This arises from the story that Maximin offered to take her on as a second wife or mistress, and even honor her as a goddess, if she would renounce the Faith. To this Catherine replied, “It is a crime even to think of such things. Christ has taken me to Himself as a bride; I have joined myself to Him as a bride in an indissoluble bond.” Other virgin martyrs like Ss Agnes and Agatha also speak of themselves in similar terms, but for whatever reason, it was seen as especially important in Catherine’s case. Therefore, she is very often represented, both before and after the Counter-Reformation, receiving a wedding ring from the infant Christ as He is held by His Mother, joined to him in a mystical marriage, although this is not specifically said in the text of her acts commonly read in medieval breviaries, nor in the Golden Legend.

The Mystical Marriage of St Catherine, by Guercino, 1620
The third reason has to do with her place among the Fourteen Holy Helpers. In the 1499 Missal of Bamberg, the Collect of a Votive Mass in their honor reads as follows:
Almighty and merciful God, who didst adorn Thy Saints George, Blase, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christopher, Denis, Cyriacus, Acacius, Eustace, Giles, Margaret, Barbara and Catherine with special privileges above all others, so that all who in their necessities implore their help, according to the grace of Thy promise, may attain the salutary effect of their pleading: grant us, we beseech Thee, forgiveness of our sins, and with their merits interceding, deliver us from all adversities, and kindly hear our prayers.
The words “according to the grace of Thy promise” refer to the tradition that during their passion, each of these Saints received a promise from God that their intercession would be exceptionally effective on behalf of those who honored them. Thus, the third antiphon of Lauds in the proper office of St Catherine reads “I await the sword for Thee, o Jesus, good king; set Thou my spirit in Paradise, and show mercy to those who keep my memory.” To this Christ answers in the fourth antiphon: “A voice sounded from heaven: ‘Come, my chosen one, come, enter the chamber of Thy spouse; thou hast obtained what thou asked; those that praise thee shall be saved.” And the fifth concludes, “Because we keep the memory of thee, o virgin, with devout praises, pray for us, we ask, o blessed Catherine.”

In these three roles, as Patron Saint of philosophers, as a bride of Christ, and as a Holy Helper, St Catherine stands out as a perfect response to the novelties of the Protestant reformers.

After serving for many centuries as the “handmaid of theology,” from the Fathers to Boethius to St Thomas, and particularly after the great scholastic conquest of Aristotle, philosophy, and indeed reason itself, were cast out by Martin Luther as “the Devil’s greatest whore… who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom…” And likewise, “Aristotle is the godless bulwark of the papists. He is to theology what darkness is to light. His ethics is the worst enemy of grace. He is a rank philosopher, … the most artful corrupter of minds. If he had not lived in flesh and bones, I should not scruple to take him for a devil.” As for St. Thomas, “he never understood a chapter of the Gospel or Aristotle … In short, it is impossible to reform the Church if Scholastic theology and philosophy are not torn out by the roots with Canon Law.” St Catherine therefore serves as an example of the Church’s true tradition, one who successfully used philosophy in the preaching and teaching of the Faith.

St Catherine and the Philosophers, from the Castiglione chapel in the Basilica of St Clement in Rome, by Masolino da Panicale, 1425-31. Note how she calmly counts off her reasons for believing the Christian faith, as the philosophers look in confusion in different directions. “We firmly confess this to thee, o emperor, that unless thou shall show us a more likely sect than these which we have followed hitherto; behold, we all convert to Christ, because we confess Him to be true God and the son of God.” (from the Sarum Breviary). At this the emperor orders them to be burnt alive, as seen on the right.
The Protestants also completely rejected any kind of monastic or canonical religious life, leaving no formal place at all for women in the institutional life of the Church. (Luther himself, like so many disaffected religious, married a former nun, whose name, ironically, was Catherine.) The tradition of Christ accepting her in a mystical marriage would therefore validate the institution of consecrated life in general, but particularly for women.

Finally, as a Saint renowned for her powerful intercession on behalf of many classes of people, St Catherine stands with countless others in the “cloud of witnesses” against the early Protestant rejection of devotion to the Saints, and their power to intercede for us in this world.

Even within Luther’s lifetime, it was hardly possible to get two Protestant reformers together to agree on any point; hence, the famous dispute at which he carved “EST – it is” into the table, in reply to Zwingli, who was quite certain that the Lord was only kidding when He said “This IS my body.” Broadly speaking, however, they generally accepted that things had really gone wrong in the Church with the coming of the mendicants, (especially the Franciscans), and the flourishing of their teachings in the universities. Although the life of St Catherine may no longer be regarded as historical, it still bears witness to the Church’s historical belief, before the emergence of the mendicants, in the goodness of reason and philosophy, in the value of consecrated life, and the intercession of the Saints on our behalf.

First Ever Greek-Catholic Liturgy in Bangkok, Thailand

We received the following report from Mr Ryan Kullavanijaya, a Romanian Greek-Catholic born and raised in the U.S., but currently living in his paternal homeland of Thailand, concerning the recent celebration of the first ever Greek-Catholic Divine Liturgy in that country. Photos below courtesy of the Greek-Catholic Society of Thailand, reproduced with permission from their Facebook page. We congratulate them on their efforts to spread the Gospel though the beauty of the Byzantine liturgical tradition, and pray for their continued success.

Through the prayers of the faithful in Thailand and of many supporters abroad, I worked with several others to launch the Greek Catholic Society of Thailand here in Bangkok in 2014. Slowly but surely, we have been able to reach out to many Thais and foreigners alike here, teaching them about our Catholic Faith and inviting them to pray with us. Nevertheless, this was purely a lay apostolate with little oversight or support by the clergy.

Yet, in a miraculous turn of events, we were informed (via an Indonesian friend in Australia) that at least four Greek Catholic priests of the Redemptorist Order were attending international meetings this year in Pattaya, Thailand. After playing phone tag with the priests to learn their liturgy schedule, a small contingent of our Society made the journey to Pattaya to meet these priests and to attend their liturgies.
Preparation Rite for the Liturgy in Bangkok
While in Pattaya, we invited the priests to Bangkok to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and to meet our small but growing community. After making some changes to their schedule and securing the permission of their superiors, three of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Redemptorists agreed to come and scheduled their liturgy for November 20th.

Our Society launched a large media campaign via Facebook, our blog, and word-of-mouth. In less than a week, hundreds of people around the world had heard about our upcoming liturgy and passed the word on to others as well. Even so, only about 10-15 individuals confirmed their attendance directly to us or via the official Facebook event.

We baked prosphora, translated the liturgy propers, printed bulletins, and made other preparations for about 50 attendees, just in case the number more than doubled. When November 20th came, we were shocked to discover that roughly 70 souls turned up to attend the liturgy and to worship the Trinity with us. Ukrainians, Americans, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Thais, and others attended the liturgy and were overjoyed to have the opportunity to participate in a Byzantine Rite service. As this was the first known Greek Catholic liturgy in Bangkok (and the first ever public Divine Liturgy anywhere in Thailand), it was new and mysterious to many, but everyone took to it quite well!

To add success to success, we also had several Orthodox Christians visit the liturgy. One has been undergoing catechesis with us for almost one year now, and he was formally received into the Catholic Church during the liturgy through sacramental confession and profession of Faith (public recitation of the Nicene Creed). Glory to God for all things!

A new set of Eucharistic vessels bought for the occasion.
The Little Entrance
The Epistle read in Thai

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rich Offerings Even in Persecution (Guest Article by Julian Kwasniewski)

In Fr. John Gerard’s account of his time in England under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, published as The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, this sixteenth century Jesuit tells many remarkable stories—stories of his imprisonment and torture in the famous Tower of London and subsequent escape, the priest hunters who almost burn through his hiding place, and several remarkable healings through the sacrament of Extreme Unction.

Less swashbuckling than some others, one very interesting account nonetheless deserves some attention. It describes the rich altar and votive offerings in the house of a wealthy recusant Catholic that he served for some time. I would like to consider this more closely because it offers encouragement to the effort of filling churches today with art that befits the worship of God.

In the last great house where John Gerard stayed before returning to the continent in 1606, a place he stayed for some months ministering to the household and surrounding country, he describes the rich vestments and vessels for Mass:
Also we had there many very fine vestments for the altar: two sets of each color which the Church uses—one for ordinary use, the other for greater feasts; some of these which figures of exquisite workmanship were embroidered with gold and pearls. (1)
Since the church uses six colors of vestments, (2) Gerard is saying that this house had as many as twelve chasubles. This is incredible for a time when it was against the law to be Catholic!

Chasuble made by English recusants in the 17th century
He then describes the candlesticks:
Six massive silver candlesticks stood on the altar, and two smaller ones at the side for the elevation. The cruets, the lavabo bowls, the bell and thurible were all of silverwork; the lamps hung form silver chains, and a silver crucifix stood on the altar… For the great feasts we had a golden crucifix a foot high. It had a pelican carved on the top, and on the right arm an eagle with outstretched wings, carrying on its back its little ones, who were learning to fly; and on the left on the left arm a phoenix expiring in flames so that it might leave behind offspring; and at the foot was a hen gathering her chickens under her wings. The whole was worked in gold by a skilled artist. (3)
One thing I especially like about this set of “Popish Massing materials” is the sense of hierarchy: more intricate vestments and different crucifixes for the varying solemnity of feasts. This last item has the most remarkable ornament on it which was donated by the mistress of the house.
It [the crucifix for great feasts] also had a precious ornament with the Holy Name engraved on it. My hostess had given it to me on the first Christmas after I came to live at her house. The Name was formed of pins of solid gold, and the surrounding “glory” had two pins in one ray and three in the next alternately. It…contained altogether two hundred and forty gold pins, to each of which was attached a large pearl. The pearls were not perfectly shaped (had they been, the value of the ornament would have been fabulous, but, as it was, the whole thing was worth about a thousand florins). At the bottom there was a colophon, worked in gold and gems by the artist, in the form of a monogram, expressing the Holy Name, and in the middle of this a heart with a cross of diamonds radiating from it. This was a New Year’s present from the devout widow in honor of the most Holy Name of Jesus, the day’s feast.
Is this not marvelous? This unnamed host certainly knew how to express her faith through her wealth, supporting priests in many and various ways, making her house a center of Catholic resistance and refuge.

The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest brings together two aspects of spirituality necessary today, namely, that the interior life with its prayers, consolations, and trials, must be the guiding principle for the exterior life; that the externals of our faith matter so much that even in time of persecution one should aspire to have the richest and most beautiful objects for the service of the Lord at His holy altar. As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, nothing is too good, nothing too beautiful, for God, who is Beauty itself. This account of a stalwart Jesuit is good encouragement for traditional Catholics today who feel persecuted in practicing the Faith of our Fathers, even as the recusant Catholics of the sixteenth century did. All the Holy Martyrs of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, orate pro nobis!

(1) John Gerard, S. J., The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, translated by Philip Carmen, S.J., Ignatius Press (2012, San Francisco) ch. 22, p. 246
(2) White, red, green, violet, black, and rose. Gold is a seventh color, but it is not assigned to any particular occasions or feasts, replacing green, white, and red as a festive color.
(3) Gerard, ibid.

Calendar from Papa Stronsay Now Available

The Sons of the Divine Redeemer write in to let us know that their 2017 liturgical calendar is now available. As in previous years, it contains a wealth of useful information, not just on the liturgical seasons, feast days and fast day, but also on historical anniversaries in the life of the Church, the lives of the Saints, astronomical events and important civil observances, etc., along with a lot of very nice decorations, in the best tradition of medieval liturgical calendars.

It can be ordered at the following link:

A New Prior for the Monks of Norcia

Fr Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., the founder of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, has just announced two days ago on the community’s blog that he is stepping down as Prior, and that Fr Benedict Nivakoff will become the new Prior. Our readers will perhaps know that Fr Cassian is a cancer survivor; he notes in the following video message that he has NOT had a recurrence.

“In the history of every new community, the transition from the founder to the next generation of leadership is a positive sign of growth and maturity. I am happy to announce that the monastic community of Norcia has reached this important moment.

The earthquakes of the past several months have presented us with incredible challenges, which require vigorous, creative leadership. While I am in good health at the moment, I do not have the strength or energy necessary to meet these challenges. Therefore it is time to pass the baton to younger, more energetic hands. After consulting the chapter members of the monastery, I submitted my resignation to the Abbot Primate, the Most. Rev. Gregory Polan, O.S.B., who appointed Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B., to take my place.

Fr. Benedict is extremely well-qualified to lead the community. He has much experience as Subprior and Novice Master, and possesses the human and spiritual qualities necessary to guide the monastery in these difficult times. As for me, after eighteen years of intense labor, I am ready to accept a less demanding assignment, and will continue to serve the community in whatever way I can, especially as a liaison with our many friends and benefactors.

When St. Paul talks about the transition of leadership in the church of Corinth, he writes: ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.’ (1 Cor 3:6). We give thanks for the life of our community: for the planting, for the watering and for the growth that comes from God.”

NLM offers congratulations to Fr Benedict, and we ask all our readers to pray for him, for Fr Cassian, and the entire community of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia as they rebuild in the wake of the major earthquakes earlier this year which destroyed both their church and monastery.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tradition is for the Young (Part 3)

Just under two weeks ago, we published some photos of the All Souls’ Day Mass at St Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Oberlin, Louisiana, which particularly struck me because of the youth of both the priest and his servers. Each year, for the OF feast of Christ the King, the church holds a Eucharistic procession after their principle Sunday Mass, and the parish priest, Fr Jacob Conner, was kind enough to send us these photos. It’s great to see a parish which celebrates both forms of the Roman Rite in a worthy fashion, and young people enthusiastically participating in them both. Our thanks to Fr Conner, and to the photographer, Mr Ryan Rozas.

Update: Some photos of the Mass which was celebrated before the procession have been added; the principle Sunday Mass at St Joan has been celebrated ad orientem since the first Sunday of Advent last year, and as of this coming Sunday, this will be done for all Masses, heeding Cardinal Sarah’s suggestion to turn to the Lord! This was announcement at all the Masses on the feast of Christ the King, to tremendously positive response from the faithful - Deo gratias!

CMAA Sacred Music Workshop, Winter 2017 - Early Registration Extended

The Church Music Association of America has extended Early Registration for Winter Sacred Music 2017 to November 30th - you can still take advantage of Early rates and plan to join them in January for a fantastic week to start the new year! Sing Gregorian chant and Sacred Polyphony with the two directors, Scott Turkington and Nick Botkins.

Enjoy liturgies in the beautiful Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham, Alabama (January 2-6, 2017), including:

Wednesday Memorial Mass - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (with music by Bruce Ludwick's cathedral choir), Ordinary Form
Thursday Memorial Mass - St. John Neumann (chant and polyphony sung by course participants), Ordinary Form
Friday Epiphany Mass (chant and polyphony sung by course participants), Extraordinary Form

In addition, enjoy the sounds of Early Music by the Highland Consort (a local Early Music group directed by Frederick Teardo) with a special concert on Wednesday evening. For all the details, including repertory, visit the webpage for the Winter Sacred Music 2017 program.

Colloquium 2017 Registration now open!

Join the CMAA in St. Paul, Minnesota next summer for the 27th Annual Sacred Music Colloquium (June 19-24, 2017). Participants will be staying at the beautiful campus of the University of St. Thomas (UST) and enjoying liturgies in three different venues. In addition, an organ recital, featuring Samuel Backman, will be on Wednesday evening at the amazingly beautiful Cathedral of St. Paul.

Find all the information about schedule, liturgies, faculty, housing, breakout sessions and more at the website SACRED MUSIC COLLOQUIUM 2017.

Renew Your CMAA Membership now!

As the year end approaches, most CMAA memberships will expire on December 31st (unless you have an automatic renewal). If you haven’t already, please take the time to send in your renewal so that you don’t miss any issues of Sacred Music. Please be aware that membership rates are to increase for US and Canada members in 2017*. If you have questions about the status of your membership, please contact Janet Gorbitz at

Work continues on the final two issues of the Sacred Music journal for the year... we expect them both to reach you before year-end. Thanks very much for your patience.

* Membership rate changes for 2017: US & Canada: $60/year, Other non-U.S: $65/year. Parish Membership 2017 rates: US & Canada: $300/year, Other non-US: $325/year. Renew or Join Now

On the Feastday of St. Cecilia...
The CMAA Board of Directors and staff wish you all a wonderful day as we prepare to begin the season of Advent.
With best regards,
Dr. William Mahrt, President
Dr. Horst Buchholz, Vice President
Rev. Robert Pasley, Chaplain
Adam Wright, Treasurer
Mary Jane Ballou, Secretary
Dr. Edward Schaefer, Member
Dr. Susan Treacy, Member
Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Member
David Hughes, Member
Jonathan Ryan, Member
Janet Gorbitz, General Manager
Richard Chonak, Webmaster

November Issue of the Adoremus Bulletin Now Out

Here is the online edition of the Adoremus Bulletin. There are articles by Denis McNamara, Adam Bartlett and editors Chris Carstens and Joseph O'Brien. I have listed what I consider to be the highlights below:

News and views
Motu Proprio Harmonizes East and West on Sacraments The Editors
Cardinal Sarah Talks Liturgical Silence The Editors

The Power of the Knee in Catholic Liturgy Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
A Liturgical Year of Mercy – Three Priests from Around the World Recall Pope Francis’s Extraordinary Jubilee Joseph O'Brien
Ever Ancient—Ever New: Implementing Musicam Sacram Today Adam Bartlett
The Ambo: Launch Platform for the Word Denis R. McNamara

Questions of Faith
The Rite Questions: What is “Intinction,” and is it Allowed? Christopher Carstens

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Dies Irae in English

One of the gifts which the Church has received through the promulgation of the Ordinariate Liturgy is a model for vernacular liturgy that preserves some of the great treasures of the Catholic liturgical tradition, treasures which in one way or another were lost to the liturgical reform. Here we see a Mass for All Souls’ Day celebrated at Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida, celebrated ad orientem and in black vestments; particularly noteworthy is the singing of the famous sequence of the Requiem Mass, the Dies irae, in an English translation which perfectly preserves the music of the Latin original (starting at 9:57).

Anglo-Catholic churches produced quite a lot of music which the English-speaking Catholic world would have done well to adopt when vernacular liturgy came in the 1960s. (A friend of mine who grew up in a very famous Anglo-Catholic parish knew how to sing the Introit of Corpus Christi, also in an English setting that followed the original Gregorian chant exactly.)

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Dies irae is given as an optional hymn (split into three parts) for the Office of Readings, Lauds and Vespers on the ferias between Christ the King and First Advent. In his book Te decet laus, Dom Anselmo Lentini, O.S.B., who led the committee that revised the Office hymns, leaves little doubt as to what he really thought of the removal of the Sequence from the Requiem Mass, referring to it as something which the faithful knew very well and sung with enthusiasm. The committee decided to give it a place in the Office, lest it be lost altogether from the liturgy, since the revisers of the Mass had decided that death was henceforth to be treated as a rather cheerier affair.

What We in the Roman Rite Should Take From the Iconographic Tradition: Some Thoughts

Using the example of the School of St Albans, I have been discussing how one might re-establish a tradition of sacred art for the Roman Rite, in such a way that it might have the same success as that of the mid-twentieth century re-establishment of the iconographic tradition in the Eastern Church.

Stylistically, I have opted for something based upon the St Albans school, but for a canon of imagery, I would look first to that of the iconographic tradition. This is because so much of the hard work has already been done. The figures of the last century catalogues a series of images that are rooted in Scripture and related directly to the liturgy. So many of the great feasts have their own icons, and we can re-appropriate this for our own imagery. I say “so many” because there are occasional differences between the feasts of the Roman and Byzantine Rites; so we might have to look to past examples in others styles as a source for content for these, and perhaps even in some cases develop a new iconography, drawing upon the magisterium, Scripture and tradition.

An example of this would be the Immaculate Conception, which began, as I understand it, as a celebration of the Conception of the Mother of God on December 9th, but was moved when adopted by the Western Church to December 8th in the latter part of the first millennium.

The familiar iconography of the Immaculate Conception is particular to the Roman Church, and was developed in Spain in the 17th century; it therefore has no part in the iconographic tradition. Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644) who was the teacher of Spanish baroque masters such as Alonso Cano, and of his son-in-law Velazquez, described the iconography of the Immaculate Conception in his influential book The Art of Painting (Arte de la Pintura), published posthumously in 1649. I have written about this in some detail in my book The Way of Beauty. The example below is by the great 18th century Italian painter Gianbattista Tiepolo.

So in my new style, I would adopt the content of the above picture, while trying to paint it in the style of the School of St Albans.

Iconographic or Gothic?
For ease of consistency as the tradition develops (being optimistic about it catching on!) I would stick to the principles of the iconographic prototype. Again this is something that is well thought out and can be a useful guideline. So for example, I would make sure that the compositions do not have Saints in profile, and take care to eliminate depth, so that the action, so to speak, takes place in the plane of the painting. 

It can be surprising, sometimes, how following the principles can dictate how you design an image. For example, if every Saint is to have a halo, then it is difficult to have images arranged packed together one behind the other, as we see here.

In the following painting of the Last Supper, the artist Duccio wanted the viewer to be able to see the artifacts on the table, so he omitted the halos in the figures in the lower part of the painting:

The iconographic prototype would not permit this, so the artist below, in a modern icon, has arranged the figures so that none obscure the table.

Similarly, I would not want figures in profile. In the painting below, also by Duccio, he wants the central figure at the bottom, St John, to be looking up Christ, and so has had to turn his head around. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Presentation of the Virgin Mary 2016

Anne, the divine grace, leads the holy Ever-virgin with gladness into the temple of God, even her who is manifestly full of grace, calling upon the young women bearing lamps to go before her, and saying, “Go, my child, become an offering and sweet incense unto the giver (of grace). Go into the sanctuary, and learn the mysteries, and be prepared to become the dwelling place, full of delight and grace, of Jesus, who giveth great mercy to the world.” (Apostichon from Vespers in the Byzantine Rite.)

The Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple; fresco in the Studenica Monastery in Serbia, ca. 1210. In Byzantine images of this event, the Virgin is represented not as a child, but as a miniature adult, to indicate that the fullness of grace and virtue already resides within Her.
Ἄννα ἡ θεία χάρις σαφῶς χαριτωθεῖσαν τὴν ἁγνὴν Ἀειπάρθενον, προσάγει μετ' εὐφροσύνης, εἰς τὸν Ναὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, προσκαλεσαμένη προπορεύεσθαι αὐτῆς τὰς νεάνιδας λαμπαδηφόρους, καὶ λέγουσα· Ἄπιθι τέκνον, τῷ δοτῆρι γενήθητι καὶ ἀνάθημα, καὶ εὐῶδες θυμίαμα. Εἴσελθε εἰς τὰ ἄδυτα, καὶ γνῶθι μυστήρια, καὶ ἑτοιμάζου γενέσθαι, τοῦ Ἰησοῦ οἰκητήριον, τερπνὸν καὶ ὡραῖον, τοῦ παρέχοντος τῷ κόσμῳ, τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.

Book Review: Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives

Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives. Ed. Alcuin Reid. London/New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016. xxvi + 367 pp. Paperback, $24.95. [Publisher's site] [Amazon].

This review will be shorter than the richness of this collection deserves, but I hope it will encourage NLM readers to add this compendious, challenging, and eminently readable volume to their personal libraries -- a step greatly facilitated by the book's affordable price in paperback. (A hardcover is available for those who prefer the Rolls Royce.)

Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century brings together all the papers delivered at the second of the Sacra Liturgia conferences, namely the one held in New York City in June 2015. Those who remember that event will recall the excitement generated by the message sent to the conference by Cardinal Sarah, who strongly endorsed the program of Pope Benedict XVI and stated that this was still the mind of the Church. If more recent events have cast a cloud over that happy prognosis, the content of this book nevertheless helps us to see why Cardinal Sarah was (and is) essentially correct and why the promotion of sacred liturgy in its traditional fullness is the permanent, ineradicable, and immutable task of the Church on earth, regardless of contrary voices.

Along these lines, a number of well-known contributors offer penetrating analyses of the current situation. Fr. Thomas Kocik's "The Reform of the Reform" (pp. 19-50) furnishes not only a theoretical map of the ROTR but also a thorough account of the ways in which one could reform the reform. Dr. Lauren Pristas's "The Post-Vatican II Revision of Collects: Solemnities and Feasts" (pp. 51-90) continues her long line of studies on the massive rewriting of the prayers of the Pauline missal, emanating from dubious theological commitments. Fr. Christopher Smith's "Liturgical Formation and Catholic Identity" (pp. 260-86) presents what may be the best short account of what went wrong with liturgy in the sixties and seventies, the various psychological and sociology factors at play, different ways of responding to the crisis and their relative merits and demerits, and the need for a gradual restoration of liturgical tradition, including the old rites, if we are ever to overcome the incoherence of our contemporary situation. My favorite lecture is Michael Foley's "The Reform of the Calendar and the Reduction of Liturgical Recapitulation" (pp. 321-41), which I would consider the single best critique of the severe, not to say brutal, redesign of the liturgical calendar by the Consilium.

A particular strength of this volume that I have not seen plentifully in other recent literature is its sensitivity to and seriousness about the aesthetic dimension of liturgy and the necessary artistic "clothing" of worship. Several of the papers delve into this area with great subtlety and vigor. In "The Ease of Beauty: Liturgy, Evangelization, and Catechesis" (pp. 91-104), Margaret Hughes pleads that we must let beauty be so that it may woo and win over our minds and hearts to the Lord, with a certain "ease" that is not the passivity of relaxation but the intensification of rational activity in confrontation with the manifestation of the divine. (I am making it sound academic, but the paper is easy to read and persuasive!) In "Addressing the Triumph of Bad Taste: Church Patronage of Art, Architecture, and Music" (pp. 105-24), Jennifer Donelson argues that good intentions without theological grounding and some training in the arts is destined to produce results nearly as disastrous as bad intentions and theological heresies, and that the wave of iconoclasm seen in the Church since the Council can be blamed not only on false ideas and dubious motives, but also on a grave lack of sound judgment as to what is artistically tasteful, appropriate, and in conformity with the spirit of the liturgy. Gregory Glenn makes the bold claim that "Liturgical Music is Non-Negotiable" (pp. 125-39), and explains the benefits of investing in it, using his long experience at the Choir School of the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. The most magisterial paper in this category is Raymond Cardinal Burke's "Beauty in the Sacred Liturgy and the Beauty of a Holy Life" (pp. 1-18), where he demonstrates that concern with liturgical beauty is not only not antithetical to the pursuit of holiness, as a misguided spiritualism or utilitarianism might maintain, but is in fact an indispensable support to it, and a sign of the interior health of a Christian community with well-ordered priorities and the ability to make sacrifices for the honor of God.

Other papers in the book are valuable for their insights into particular "spheres" of liturgical life and their peculiar challenges, needs, and successes -- whether it be the seminary (Fr. Kurt Belsole, pp. 189-217), youth ministry (Matthew Menendez, pp. 156-173), the monastery (Abbot Philip Anderson, pp. 342-359), the spiritual life of the priest (Fr. Richard Cipolla, pp. 218-233), or the leadership of the bishop (Archbishop Cordileone, pp. 140-155). Finally, Dom Alcuin Reid looks into interesting historical details about the waves of revision to the Holy Week rites in order to raise questions for further research (pp. 234-259), and Fr. Allan White delves into theories about preaching and proclamation (pp. 174-188).

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I was one of the presenters at the conference; my lecture is included herein as "The Reform of the Lectionary" (pp. 287-320). In this work I offer a multifaceted critique of the revised lectionary and the entire set of presuppositions behind its compilation and execution, as well as a defense of the traditional lectionary. In general, it is a healthy sign that this and so many other topics taken up in the book can be openly discussed and debated, at least among people of younger generations who do not feel personally invested in the liturgical reform and offended by the suggestion that it may have serious, indeed malefic, flaws.

The book is rounded out by messages of Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Sarah, and Bishop Rey, and the homily preached by Fr. Jordan Kelly, OP, at the Solemn Votive Mass of the Holy Angels that took place during the conference.

For those who are keen on the practice and study of the sacred liturgy, recognizing in it the font and apex of the Church's life and mission, Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century offers a feast of discourse not to be passed over. Its pages scrutinize the meandering paths of pseudo-reform while scattering abroad hopeful seeds of genuine renewal. I am triply grateful -- first, to have played a small part in the event myself; second, to have heard so many fine papers presented in New York in 2015; and third, to be holding this book in my hands, a permanent record that will enable the authors' work to benefit many more people over the years.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: