Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Eucharist, Sacred Pledge of Civilization: Guest Article by Zachary Thomas

Our thanks to one of our most diligent guest contributors, Mr Zachary Thomas, for this interesting account of the 6th Italian National Eucharistic Congress, which was held in the Lombard city of Bergamo in 1920, a signal event in the life and career of the future Pope St John XXIII.

In the north transept of the Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro in Bergamo, at the base of the right column there is a Latin inscription commemorating the 6th National Eucharistic Congress, which took place there in September of 1920. It was a momentous year for the Italian people, who were suffering through the “Biennio Rosso”, the Two Red Years of violent socialist agitations—strikes, factory takeovers, mass unemployment—and counter-revolutionary measures by the Italian state leading eventually to the Fascist reaction.

It was in this nervous climate that the Congress met, its participants journeying from all across Italy to join in three days of spiritual retreat and Eucharistic adoration. The ninth of September also turned out to be momentous for an obscure priest from that area, Fr Angelo Roncalli, who gave a galvanizing speech that attracted the attention of the Italian hierarchy and soon propelled him on to higher responsibilities.
Fr Angelo Roncalli in his youth.
The inscription, and some excerpts of Roncalli’s speech, are worth recalling in our times of trouble. They show how even in the worst times Catholics found hope in Christ and his Eucharistic priesthood, and went on building the city of God even as the city of man once more turned against them. Unfortunately, this is only a partial rendering of the inscription, taken from my hasty notes, so please pardon any errors. (I think the Latin is rather problematic in some places as well.)






“In this great cathedral of Bergamo there was an extraordinary spectacle of religion and liturgies of dazzling splendor. Such a multitude of citizens and visitors from all over Italy had never before been seen.

The most holy body of Our Lord Jesus Christ was exposed continually and adored day and night. Priests worked at the altar unceasingly from the middle of the night, and the holy assembly was reverently celebrated by the people who were fittingly delivered from their sins.

On Sunday, the last day of the congress, George Cardinal Gusmini the Archbishop of Bologna celebrated a solemn Mass with a sermon at the High Altar of the church, surrounded by a splendid crown of prelates and in the presence of all the town’s corporations and pilgrims from every nation.

In the afternoon the procession set out hence with a magnificence that knew no bounds. The August Sacrament was led in a triumphal chariot down through the walls and the suburbs to Sant’Alessandro in Colonna amidst immense festivity, the intense ardor of the faithful, and the unrestrained voices of the huge crowds packing the streets.

How envious our example of piety should be to future generations! How joyful those days spent at Bergamo in Eucharistic devotion! The men in charge of the festivities, desiring to establish a perpetual memorial of such a great event here for the people, have engraved it on this white stone.”

Envious indeed. Roncalli’s oration—according to Peter Hebblethwaite’s book John XXIII: Pope of the Century (London: Continuum Publishing, 2000.), from which all the excerpts are taken—was entitled “The Eucharist and Our Lady.” The Acts of the Congress describe the enthusiasm with which it was received.

“The Rubini Theatre was more crowded even than the day before. Not a single corner was free. The stage itself was packed with bishops and notables. The scene cannot be described: hearts are full of joy; enthusiasm, restrained by reverence, shines out on all faces. The eucharistic hymn is sung, the president recites the prayers and sums up the work done during the morning. Then Professor Don Roncalli begins to speak . . . His speech is many times interrupted by applause, and at the end the audience, deeply moved and enthusiastic, gave him a standing ovation.”

In his speech, Roncalli defended Catholic Action and spoke of the political future of Italy. As Hebblethwaite summarizes: “Catholic Action is a populist cause and this ‘vast and powerful organisation is merely the spontaneous emanation of the religious feeling of the people.’ It’s purpose was to bring to bear the principles of Catholic social doctrine, ‘derived from the Gospels’, on all the contemporary questions: unemployment, poverty, class-war, labour unrest, inflation. (ibid.)

Roncalli’s peroration ends invoking the Eucharist as the “sacred pledge of civilisation”: “While we are gathered here for this Congress, our Italy is going through one of its blackest and most terrible hours. New barbarians are standing at the gates of our city. You have seen the red banners, symbols of violence, fluttering in sinister fashion above the factories where the people—sometimes gullible but always good at heart—are waiting for work. What is going to happen? Are we perhaps on the eve of a social revolution?”

“Our spirits are not apprehensive. Our hearts are firm, even if the revolution should come. In the midst of universal ruin, salvation lies in our hands. Behold, we priests will raise aloft Christ in his sacrament, and will bless the swirling river of humanity. You laypeople will strap upon your backs the image of the Madonna, and will face with sure steps the abyss, the tempest, death itself. God will renew his miracles. We will bring to safety the sacred pledges of civilisation, the Holy Eucharist and the Madonna, the dearest objects of our faith and love, and after the agonising struggle, will lay them on the altar of the fatherland.” 

Upcoming Masses and Parish Study on Sacred Art at St Vincent Ferrer, NYC

On Friday, September 8th, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass will be celebrated in the Dominican Rite at the Church of St Vincent Ferrer in New York City, starting at 7 pm. The gentlemen of the Schola Cantorum will sing Maurice Duruflé’s Messe cum jubilo, Andrea Gabrieli’s Nativitas tua Dei Genitrix á 7, and Vincenzo Bertolusi’s Ego flos campi. The church is located at 869 Lexington Avenue.

On Monday, September 11th, in commemoration of the 16th Anniversary of 9/11, the New York Purgatorial Society will sponsor a Dominican Rite Requiem Mass at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, starting at 7 pm.
On Thursday, September 14th, for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, there will be a special Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form at the Church of St Catherine of Siena at 6:30 pm. The Schola Cantorum will sing Sebastián de Vivanco’s Missa Crux fidelis, Jacob Handl’s Adoramus te á 6, and Pierre de Manchicourt’s O crux splendidiorNobile lignum exaltatum. Exposition will immediately follow Mass and an All Night Watch before the Blessed Sacrament will be kept until Benediction and Low Mass the next morning, Friday, September 15th, at 7:00 am, for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The church is located at 411 East 68th Street.

The parish entity which comprises these two churches will also hold a study course this fall entitled “The Arts as Paths to God: Secular and Sacred Art and the Spiritual Life,” each Tuesday evening in the parish hall of St Vincent Ferrer. Details in the poster below.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Feast of Bl. Ildephonse Schuster 2017

We never let August 30th pass without remembering the Blessed Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, who went to his eternal reward on this day in 1954, after serving as Archbishop of Milan for just over a quarter of a century. We have written about him many times on NLM, partly in connection with our interest in the Ambrosian liturgy, of which he was a great promoter, but also as one of the most notable scholars of the original Liturgical Movement. His famous work Liber Sacramentorum, known in its English translation as The Sacramentary, was written while he was still a Benedictine monk of the Roman Rite, and although inevitably dated in some respects, it remains an invaluable reference point for liturgical scholarship.
Upon his transfer to Milan, he embraced the Ambrosian liturgy wholeheartedly, and as the ex-officio head of the Congregation for the Ambrosian Rite, strongly defended the authentic uses of the Milanese tradition. He also oversaw important new editions of the Ambrosian musical books, which are still used in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Rite to this day. Our dear friend Monsignor Amodeo, a canon of the Duomo of Milan who was ordained a subdeacon by the Blessed Schuster, told us many stories about him over the years, among which one has always stood out in my mind in particular; in his lifetime, even the communist newspapers noted his continual presence in the Duomo at all of the most important functions of the liturgical year. Nicola de’ Grandi, our Ambrosian writer, once showed me a video of Cardinal Schuster giving Benediction from the façade of the Duomo, to a crowd that completely filled the huge piazza in front of the church. (Thanks to Nicola for these photos.)
Pontifical Mass on the feast of St Charles; the mitred canons sitting on the steps of the altar are the deacons and subdeacons who serve the Mass, apart from those at the throne.
Preaching from the great tribune pulpit of the Duomo.
Lighting the faro on the feast of St Sebastian.
During the difficult years of his episcopacy, the years of Italian Fascism and World War II, during which Milan was one of the hardest hit cities in Italy, the Bl. Schuster showed himself in every way a worthy successor of St Charles Borromeo, shepherding his flock in much the same way, visiting every parish of the diocese five times (occasionally riding on a donkey to some of the more remote locations), holding several diocesan synods, and writing innumerable pastoral letters.
Pastoral visit to the village of Valsolda.
Praying at the tomb of Card. Andrea Ferrari, archbishop of Milan from 1894-1921. Card. Ferrari was beatified on May 10, 1987; his relics are now in an altar in the right aisle of the Duomo, right next to that which contain the relics of Bl. Schuster. 

Investitures and Professions of Eight Benedictine Sisters in Missouri — Photos, with Bishop’s Homily

On Sunday, August 20th, at St James Catholic Church in St Joseph, Missouri, six women were invested with the holy habit of St Benedict, and two sisters made their simple professions at the hands of the Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Jr., Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The sisters belong to the flourishing community of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. The Solemn High Mass in the presence of a prelate at the throne was celebrated by Rev. Mark Bachman, O.S.B., of Clear Creek Monastery, assisted by Fr Peter Bauknecht, FSSP and Fr Lawrence Carney, with recently-ordained Fr Alex Stewart, FSSP, as the Master of Ceremonies, and many clergy, monks, nuns, and lay people in attendance. Never having been to a traditional Roman investiture and profession of nuns before, I found it to be one of the most sublime liturgies I have ever had the privilege of attending.

His Excellency Bishop Johnston graciously shared with me his splendid homily, and the photographer sent me exquisite photos, which have been interspersed into the homily. Our readers are encouraged to spread these images far and wide, so that everyone, especially young Catholic women discerning their vocations, may see visible signs of the beauty of a life of consecrated self-sacrifice to which the Lord Jesus Christ, Bridegroom of the Church, is inviting many souls — today, as always. Without this life fully embraced and radically lived, the Church only limps along, half-dead. With it, she can run in the way of God’s commandments.

Homily of Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.
Profession and Investiture for Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles
St. James Church, St. Joseph, Missouri, August 20, 2017    
Reverend Fathers, Mother Cecilia, dear Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles, other Women and Men Religious, Family members, Friends in Christ one and all; it is good to be with you for this Mass of First Profession and Initiation into the Novitiate of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles. The Church joins the Sisters today in thanksgiving for the gift of vocation and consecrated religious life, as this Community of the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus celebrates the Religious Profession and the Investiture of so many sisters!
The sisters before the ceremony.
Our gratitude is first to God who gives the growth, and then gratitude to the families of the sisters who provided the “good soil” for the seeds of faith to grow.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in service of the kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.” (916) What a beautiful path for a person to take in life:
  • To follow Christ more nearly
  • To give oneself to God who is loved above all
  • To pursue charity in service of the Kingdom
  • To signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come
If you think about this list, all of us are supposed to do these things, not just the Sisters in the monastery; this is the way we are all called to live because of our Baptism into Christ. The difference is that the religious sister gives herself entirely over to this within a community, while the other members of the Church must also attend to other obligations that flow from their vocations. And so, this is one of the great blessings of consecrated religious life in the Church: consecrated religious stand before us as living reminders of what we are all called to pursue in our own particular way.
The bishop summons the two sisters who are making profession.
The first sister reads her “chart of profession,” written in her own hand...
...then she signs it on the altar of sacrifice...

...and shows it to the Prioress

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Noble Family’s Private Chapel

The subject of our most recent quiz was a portable chapel from the Casa Rocca Piccola in the city of Valletta, Malta. The house, which is still privately owned by an old family of Maltese nobility, the de Piros, also contains a full chapel, and some other interesting religious objects. Unfortunately, my SD card was having a bit of problem, so my only picture of the whole room is rather fuzzy.
The altar retains both altar cards and relics, as well as the Latin propers for the Saints kept by the Knights of Malta.
I am not quite sure what a small private chapel would need a Tenebrae hearse for; it seems difficult to imagine they would have their own private Tenebrae services.
A glass case for the chalices, plates, statues, ex votos, and other precious objects. The family has been in Malta since the 17th century, and has accumulated rather a lot of these things over the years.

Aidan Hart on How To Make a Mosaic

The English iconographer Aidan Hart has completed a series of wonderful mosaics for St George’s Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas; I have just read this long article in the Orthodox Arts Journal about the project.

Aidan describes the process by which he made the mosaics, right down to creating the tesserae out of glass. He writes with care and attention to detail, and it is beautifully illustrated. The article is so thorough that one wonders if this is going to appear as an additional chapter in his book on the method of egg tempera and wall painting, a book which might already be the best art instruction book that I have read.

Aidan is primarily a painter, and so his success in mosaic demonstrates a point for anyone interested in being an artist. The fundamental skills of art are those aspects other than the mastery of the medium: drawing, and then the use of colour, tone and line, as well as compositional design. Once these have been mastered, they can be applied in any medium.

It is better to learn to be an artist while becoming a master in one medium only, for example egg tempera painting. Once this has been mastered, then applying those skills in a new medium becomes relatively easy. It is a mistake, I believe, to focus on too many media in the training stage, as the learning of each new medium becomes a distraction from focussing on the underlying skills of creativity in visual art.

This is quite an old article (it is dated May 4th) although it’s content is timeless). I became aware of it because it rose to the top of one of the categories in the newly packaged website. Read the full article here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Priest at Eucharistic Adoration

My favorite book of spiritual reading, hands down, has become In Sinu Jesu: The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Angelico Press, 2016). Although NLM has not run a proper review of the book (see here, meanwhile, for a good review by Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.), it would not surprise me if a good many of our readers had already heard of it and possibly already own it and use it. I simply cannot recommend it too highly, for laity and religious, but above all, for priests. Here are a few passages I copied down recently and would like to share.

It is through My silent life in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar that I teach My priests how to be priests at every moment and not only when, vested in the insignia of their sacerdotal dignity, they stand before the altar to celebrate the Holy Mysteries. The life of the priest is My life in heaven: ceaseless attention to the Father and uninterrupted intercession, thanksgiving, reparation, and praise on behalf of all men.
A holy priest is quite simply one who allows Me to live in him as in a supplementary humanity. In every priest I would speak and act, delivering souls from the powers of darkness and healing the sick—but most of all, I desire to offer myself in every priest and to assume every priest into My own offering to the Father. This I would do at the altar in the celebration of My Holy Sacrifice, but not only there; the life of a priest united to Me is a ceaseless oblation and he, like Me, is a hostia perpetua. You cannot imagine the fruitfulness of such a union, and this is the fruitfulness that I desire for My Father’s glory and for the joy of My Bride, the Church.
Have I not told you before that the priesthood is, above all else and before anything else, a relationship of intimate friendship with Me? The priests who do not understand this have no notion of what their priesthood means to Me and to My Father in heaven. This is one of the great sorrows of My Sacred Heart: that priests do not approach Me as a friend, that they fail to seek My company, to abide in the radiance of My Face, and to rest close to My Heart.
          Seminarians are taught many things, some useful, and others less so, but are they taught to love Me, to give Me their hearts, to remain in My presence, to seek My Face, and to listen to My voice? If they are not taught these things, they will have learned nothing useful, and all their efforts will remain shallow and sterile. Why are the seminaries of My Church not schools of love, and furnaces of divine charity wherein the dross is burned away and the pure gold of holiness is produced, a gold capable of reflecting the glory of My divinity and the splendour of My truth in a world plunged into darkness?
          Woe to those who allow men to pass through their institutions without teaching them the one thing necessary! Will I be obliged to say on the last day to those whom I have chosen, “You have not yet come to know Me, and though I know you through and through, I find in you coldness and resistance to My grace”?
          Pray, then, not only for My priests, your brothers, but also for the men whom I have called to be My priests, that they may learn to love Me before investing their talents and their energies in a multitude of other things that are perishable and have no value except in the hands and in the mind of one wholly converted to the love of My Heart. 
This is the root of the evil that eats away at the priesthood from within: a lack of experiential knowledge of My friendship and love. My priests are not mere functionaries; they are My chosen ones, the friends whom I chose for myself to live in such communion of mind and heart with Me that they prolong My presence in the world. Each priest is called to love My Church with all the tender passion of a bridegroom, but to do this, he must spend time in My presence.
I long for the adoration of My priests. I see other adorers before My Face and I rejoice in their presence, and I bless them with all the tenderness of My Eucharistic Heart. But I look for My priests. Where are they? Why are they not the first to seek Me out in the Sacrament of My love and the last to leave Me at the close of the day? Even in the night I wait for them. In the night hours it is possible to have an intimacy with Me that one cannot experience at other times. I wait for My priests. I look for the friends chosen by My Sacred Heart and anointed to continue My victimal priesthood in the world. I want My priests to come to Me, and I will draw them, one by one, into the radiance of My Eucharistic Face. There I will refresh them. There I will heal them. There I will restore them and give them the choicest gifts of My Heart.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

NLM Quiz no. 20: What is This Object’s Liturgical Function?

The liturgical function of this piece of furniture can be perfectly described with exactly two words; if only one of those words is given, that is insufficient for the answer to be deemed correct. Please leave your answer in the combox, but do also feel free to add any details or explanations you think pertinent. As always, to keep it more interesting, please leave your answer before reading the other comments. We are always pleased to hear humorous answers as well.

The Answer: The two words that sum up the function of this piece of furniture are “portable chapel.” “Portable altar” is only partially correct. Here is a photo of a photo of the chapel when it is opened, which is displayed next to the original in the Casa Rocca Piccola in Valletta, Malta. (Sorry for the glare, this was the best angle I was able to find.)
It is in point of fact a fully functional chapel, and was used not only for the celebration of Mass, but also for family devotions, and even contains everything necessary for a baptism. It is also portable, by the standards of a wealthy family in the 18th-century that employs a good many servants; the upper and lower parts can be separated from each other for transport. Noble families would often bring amazing amounts of stuff with them when they decamped to their country house for several months in the summertime, which of course can be particularly hot in Malta. (Valletta is closer to the equator than either Tunis or Algiers.) Here is a fuller view of the room where it is currently kept.
The Chinese style was very much in vogue in Italy in the 18th-century; the doors of the upper part show Christian missionaries in the Far East, with St Francis Xavier baptizing on the left.
The full correct answer was given by Longinus, who also knew the location, and so has clearly visited the place, and by Pax Tecum, with the addition of some interesting information about use of similar objects in the Netherlands.
The award for Best Wildly Incorrect Answer is given to those who thought it had anything to do with hiding priests in a hole blocked by such a piece of furniture. One would hardly hide a priest behind a piece of furniture with pictures of priests in cassock on it; also, chinoiserie was not a thing in the days of the priest-holes. The Best Humorous Answer is awarded to Joe Lody for “How Narnians come to earth. ... it’s locked.” “Peter, High King of Narnia, lock the door!”
More from Malta and the Casa Rocca Piccola later this week.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Returning to Beauty in Church Design: Article on NCR

The National Catholic Register recently published a good article by Trent Beattie on the ever growing trend back towards more traditional and more beautiful designs in churches, and some of the firms that are helping to bring this about. I was particularly struck by this line from David Riccio, who works for John Canning Studios, a firm that did some of the work on the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

“...beautiful churches usually cost no more than mediocre or ugly ones. ‘Mediocre or bad church designs can cost just as much as good ones, and the durability is not usually there, so you can easily end up paying even more over the years for a mediocre or bad design than a good one,’ Riccio said.”

(This reminds me of an occasion many years ago, when I was walking with a priest friend through the Roman streets near the Pantheon where many of the shops are that sell vestments and other church goods. In my youth an naiveté, I was surprised to notice that a polyester chasuble with a nightmarish design was more than three times as expensive as a chasuble and all of the additions, including the maniple, in the window of a more reputable firm down the street. To this, my priest said, “Oh yes, poverty is terribly expensive!”)

The article also mentions the church of St Pius X in Granger, Indiana, a new construction which replaced a far less attractive church from the 1970s, and the restoration of the St Turibius Chapel at the Pontifical Seminary Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, both of which we have recently covered here. Here are photos of the latter as it looked before wreckovation, the results of the wreckovation, and the recent undoing of it.

Good News in Norwalk, Connecticut: Daily Traditional Mass

(Cross-posted from the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny.)

Starting September 5th, at St. Mary’s Church the daily morning Mass will be a Traditional low Mass. The time will be changed to 7:30 am, Monday to Friday. Deo gratias! This is the kind of thing we need to see happening everywhere, so that authentic liturgical renewal may flourish (dare one say, irreversibly?)

Father Richard Cipolla announced the change today on the St. Mary’s website:

The Traditional Roman Rite of the Mass lies at the very heart of Saint Mary’s parish. Since Father Markey introduced it in the parish some seven years ago, it has become integral to the very existence of this parish both in spiritual ways and in eminently practical ways. The Solemn Mass on Sunday has brought so many new people to the parish and continues to be a source of inspiration and genuine prayerful worship to all who assist at the Mass. The Traditional Mass, also known as the Extraordinary Form, is a gift from God via Pope Benedict to St. Mary’s.
When God gives someone a gift He expects it to be used for His glory and to be part of the missionary effort of the Church to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. In our case, I have decided that this gift needs to be used even more deeply in the parish than up to this point. After much thought and prayer, I have decided that the daily morning Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. The time of the Mass will be moved to 7:30 a.m. to allow more people who go to work early to attend Mass. The readings will be in English. The quiet simplicity of the Low Mass will enrich us all. Cardinal Sarah’s book on Silence specifically mentions the silence of the Canon in the Extraordinary Form as something very good for the worshipping community. Most of our parishioners will notice little change, since we celebrate the daily Novus Ordo Mass in continuity with the form of the Traditional Mass. This change will also enable more of our parishioners to experience the beauty of the Extraordinary Form and enrich their understanding of the worship of the Church in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In no way should this change to the daily celebration of the Extraordinary Form be interpreted as a “return to the past”. As Pope Benedict said: “What was sacred then is sacred now.” We live in the now, not in the past. And we look to the future with confidence that the presence of the Extraordinary Form at St. Mary’s will be a force within the Church to worship God in the Spirit, the God of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. The return to the Tradition of the Church is absolutely necessary in an age of spiritual amnesia within the Church that has sapped her strength to be who she is: the presence of Jesus Christ in the world.

Your support, as always, is very important to me. Let us pray for each other and our beloved parish church dedicated to Mary most Holy.

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla
St. Mary’s is truly one of the gems of the East Coast

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tradition is for the Young (Part 10) : Pontifical Mass in Louisiana

On the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, His Excellency Glen Provost, bishop of Lake Charles, Louisiana, celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the traditional rite in the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Even though this was two months ago, I am very happy to share these photos, because they show once again that it is especially the young who are working so diligently to preserve and promote our Catholic liturgical tradition. (The complete set can be seen at this link:  The 2nd MC is the same Fr Jacob Conner whose parish was featured in the first article in the “Tradition is for the Young” series last November.)
Thy sons round about thy table.

Dr Barbara Wyman, who sent in the photos, writes “If a passerby, anxious to escape the Louisiana heat for a moment, had slipped into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, he would have immediately known that something extraordinary was occurring. What he would have seen is truly the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven. On this particular day, the occasion was the Solemn Pontifical Mass for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, celebrated by His Excellency, The Most Reverend Glen John Provost, (the 13th since his consecration as Bishop, and the 6th at his own cathedra).
One of the hallmarks of the usus antiquior, or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the continuity it gives us to the Saints who have gone before. It is quite moving to think of St Thomas Aquinas, St Francis De Sales, Blessed John Henry Newman, St Josemaria Escrivá, St Catherine of Siena, St Padre Pio, alongside St Therese of Liseux … all these Saints, from throughout time, if they were to suddenly slip in the side door, they would feel right at home, and their voices would blend with the schola, chanting the Mass, for these Saints would know the Latin words. And there was much cause for rejoicing this particular night! Not only is this the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, but also the 10th anniversary of His Excellency’s consecration and installation as third Bishop of Lake Charles, and the 42nd anniversary of his ordination to the sacred priesthood.

It is altogether fitting that at this particular Mass, newly ordained Samuel Orsot served as the deacon, since he had grown up in the Tridentine Mass celebrated for many years in this diocese under the Ecclesia Dei indult of St John Paul II. We must be ever thankful to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for the motu proprio. Cardinal Sarah, writing on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, recalls the words of the great German liturgist Msgr. Klaus Gamber (1919-1989) who ‘used the word Heimat to designate this common home or ‘little homeland’ of Catholics gathered around the altar of the Holy Sacrifice. The sense of the sacred that imbues and irrigates the rites of the Church is the inseparable correlative of the liturgy.’ And so, our imaginary passerby, who stumbled out of the heat and out of time, along with all present on that night, were given a glimpse of the heavenly city. ”

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Durandus on the Silence of the Canon

Pursuant to two recent posts on the silence in the Mass and the Canon, (one by Matthew Hazell and one by myself) here is part of what the great William Durandus wrote on the subject in his famous commentary on the liturgy, the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum. (book, 4, 35).

“After the praise (of God) has been called out, (i.e. the Preface), a secret silence and a sacred mystery are observed, in which the Canon of the Mass is devoutly said; and this is done by the priest alone, since according to Matthew, Christ prayed alone. (cap. 26, 36-44, the description of His prayer in the Garden, which is to say, the beginning of His Passion, which the Mass represents.) …

Now the Canon of the Mass is called oblation, … and action, and canon, and sacrifice, and secret. … It is called secret as something hidden from us, because so great a mystery can in no wise be fully understood by human reason, and to signify this, it is celebrated with a secret voce.

… It is called secret because it is said secretly and in silence; for when Christ was to come to the consecration of His body, He prayed secretly and in silence from the hour of the (Last) Supper until He was hung on the Cross; and the secret prayers express these things. … Furthermore, as the Evangelist John describes, after Christ was honorably received and glorified by the crowds with psalms and praises, He went away and hid Himself … because His hour had not yet come, but when it did come, He went to His Passion of His own will. Therefore, this secret silence represents Christ’s lying hidden, in which intent devotion is directed to the Lord alone. For then the priest must enter into the chamber of his heart (Matthew 6, 6), and closing the door of his bodily senses, pray to God the Father, who hears the cry of the heart, not of the voice.

For this reason, Anna, bearing a type of the Church, not with loud petition, but with silent devotion, obtained what she asked; of whom it is read in the book of Kings (1 Kings 1) that ‘spoke in her heart, and only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard at all.’ … In the second place, the Secret (i.e. Canon) is said in silence, lest the priest in crying out loudly be less intent on the things which are happening; third, lest the priest’s voice fail from too much crying out, and fourth, lest the sacred words be held of little value (‘vilescant’ – become commonplace, cheap, of little value.)”

To this I would add one note, in regard to his words “lest the priest’s voice fail.” Christian worship has always tended very strongly to either sing or keep silent, as a reflection of what Scripture itself says about the heavenly liturgy. The Canon is too long to sing; the option to sing it has been available for about 50 years, but is to all intents and purposes a dead letter. Almost no one does so, and it is clearly never going to become a common practice.

Summer 2017 Issue of Sacred Music

The summer issue of Sacred Music (vol. 144, number 2) will soon be appearing in mailboxes around the world. We are happy to publish in this issue and a few upcoming issues a number of addresses from a recent conference, as well as an excellent editorial by our editor, Dr. William Mahrt.

If you'd like to receive the journal, become a member of the Church Music Association of America by clicking here. Membership also offers the benefit of discounts on books and program tuition.

Summer - Volume 144, Number 2

Table of Contents

Ministry | William Mahrt

Sacred Music Renewal Fifty Years after Musicam Sacram | Jennifer Donelson
A Pastoral Plan for Sacred Music | Rev. Jon Tveit
Is Beauty Subjective? | Rev. David Friel
A Sense of Solemnity in the Sacred Liturgy as a means of Catechesis and Evangelization | James Monti

Sacred Treasure by Joseph Swain | Trent Beattie


“In Heaven, There Is Only Singing” : An Interview with Fr George Rutler

The following interview with Fr George Rutler was published on the website of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review on August 18th; we thank them and the author, Roseanne T. Sullivan, for their gracious permission to republished it on NLM. (The original version included a preamble which we omit here for considerations of space.) I would especially call our reader’s attention to the last paragraph, and Fr Rutler’s choice words that “The Church must convert the barbarians and not be converted by them.”

Whether hymns should be sung, or not sung, at Mass, and which hymns are acceptable, is a fraught topic. The issues are described in more detail in an interview I did with Professor Peter Kwasniewski, called “The Propers of the Mass Versus the Four-Hymn Sandwich.” (which was published at Homiletic and Pastoral Review and republished on NLM).

The phrase “We should not be singing at Mass, we should be singing the Mass” is used often among Church musicians and liturgical experts who believe it is important it is that the actual texts of the Mass be sung. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote this in his “Foreword” to The Proper of the Mass for Sundays and Solemnities, by chant composer Father Samuel Weber, O.S.B., who founded with Archbishop Cordileone the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy at the archdiocesan seminary.

“It is often said, and rightly so, that we should aim at singing the Mass not singing at the Mass, but old habits die hard, and in many places the ‘four-hymn sandwich’ is still being served, a relic from the days before the Second Vatican Council when provision was made to allow vernacular hymns to be sung at Mass.” The archbishop went on to write that the best hymns can enhance our liturgical celebrations, but that hymn singing is a recent innovation in terms of Church history.

Experts claim that singing of any old hymns at Mass became entrenched after Vatican II because vernacular versions of the Proper texts were not available, and hymns filled the void. Many feel that choirs and congregations should be singing the texts of the Mass, which are the Ordinary and the Proper texts of the Mass. Venerable Pope Paul VI wanted congregations to be able to sing the Ordinary in Latin set to simple chants, as published in his booklet Jubilate Deo. And eighteen more-complex settings of the Ordinary are available in the Kyriale. Many musicians, including Father Weber, are composing English versions of the Propers.

Because of the controversy about where hymns belong in Ordinary Form Masses, my questions to Father Rutler focused mainly on the paragraph at the end of his “Preface” to his Stories of Hymns, in which he wrote about how the hymns he wrote about may be included in Catholic liturgy. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t read and enjoy the rest of the book, and I hope you will read and enjoy it too.

Where Can Catholics Sing These Wonderful Hymns?

RTS: At the end of your preface to Stories of Hymns, you wrote:
The hymns that follow complement the Liturgy but are not part of it. The whole Mass itself is its own gigantic hymn, and it is only by indult that it is said at all instead of being sung. It is liturgically eccentric to “say” a Mass and intersperse it with extraliturgical hymns. Hymns may precede or follow the Mass, but they should never replace the model of the sung Eucharist itself with its hymnodic propers. In the Latin Rite, that model gives primacy of place to the Latin language and Gregorian chant, according to numerous decrees, most historically those of Pope Pius X in Tra le Sollecitudini and Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. The Church has normally reserved other hymns for other forms of public prayer, especially the Daily Office. And, of course, all hymns can be part of private prayer, following the Augustinian principle that he who sings prays twice.
What do you mean by: “The hymns that follow complement the liturgy but are not part of it”?
Father Rutler: Those hymns would qualify as “tropes,” or embellishments of the proper liturgical texts, but not substitutes for them. The guidelines for the Ordinary Form would accord a certain validity to hymns, other than the traditional Propers, as part of the Liturgy provided the texts are approved by the legitimate ecclesiastical authority, but this is by way of exception.

RTS: Do you agree that we should not be singing at Mass, we should be singing the Mass?
Father Rutler: Since the Mass is the highest act of praise, and singing is the highest form of praise, the Mass is a song, and is not therefore interrupted by song.

RTS: Can you explain what you mean where you wrote, “The whole Mass itself is its own gigantic hymn, and it is only by indult that it is said at all, instead of being sung.” How is the Mass a hymn? What indult do you mean?
Father Rutler: The Second Vatican Council described the Holy Eucharist as the song of the Heavenly Jerusalem brought to earthly altars. For expediency in the Latin Rite, recitation is permitted instead of chant, but this should be only by exception. Expediency is not a concern of the Oriental Rites, or of Jewish prayer, for that matter. In Heaven, there is only singing, no mere talking.

RTS: You wrote, “Hymns may precede or follow the Mass, but they should never replace the model of the sung Eucharist itself with its hymnodic propers.” In layman’s terms, what are the “hymnodic propers?”
Father Rutler: The Propers are the Scriptural texts and other sacred texts. The Psalter is the Church’s main hymnal. To recite Psalms, rather than chanting them, is an oddity. It would be better to sing brief texts (antiphons) rather than rather drearily recite a Psalm between the readings. Indeed, as I understand it, the provision of lengthy Psalm verses between the Readings was granted at the last moment in the revision of the Mass, to satisfy a minority opinion.

RTS: If hymns should not be sung during Mass, when might hymns from this rich collection you wrote about in Stories of Hymns be sung by Catholics?
Father Rutler: I did not say that hymns should not be sung at Mass. In the Ordinary Form they are permitted, but should not replace the Propers (for example, the Introit and Gradual). A hymn after Communion would not be inappropriate but the “Hymn Sandwich” of an Entrance Hymn, Offertory Hymn and Closing Hymn accompanied by a static “said” Liturgy should be avoided.

RTS: You also wrote in your “Preface” that outside of the Mass, these hymns might be used in the Divine Office and private prayer. The stories for some of the hymns also often mention how stirring some hymns can be when sung in procession, for example, the Easter hymn “Hail Thee Festival Day,” with its alternative verses that can make it also appropriate for processions on Ascension Day, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and at dedications of churches. You also wrote about “Daily, Daily Sing to Mary” as “a marvelously raucous hymn, which is especially suited for processions.” And you wrote about a favorite hymn, “Jerusalem the Golden,” which you fondly recalled singing as a choirboy. Do any others still appeal to you particularly?
Father Rutler: “Jerusalem the Golden” was my favorite boyhood hymn–I had good taste in youth–and it remains such. There are others I especially like, such as “Brightest and Best” and “Hark, Hark My Soul”–but it is difficult to choose. Obviously some are more appropriate for particular seasons. One hymn that I wish I had included in my book was the Wesleyan one: “And Can it Be That I Should Gain.”

RTS: I remember enthusiastically singing, “And Can it Be That I Should Gain,” “The Church’s One Foundation,” and “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”–and other hymns that I recognized in the Stories of Hymns–when I worshipped at an Evangelical Free Church, which is one of the Protestant denominations I sampled on my way back to the Catholic Church after I lapsed as a college student. I missed that enthusiastic hymn singing when I came back to the Church, until I started singing with a Gregorian Chant choir, and all the treasures of the chant repertoire opened to me. More important than hymn singing is the Eucharist, and the Eucharist and the teaching authority of the Church are a large part of what brought me back. Now it seems to me that Protestant denominations filled up their worship services with long sermons, and lots of hymns, because they removed the Sacrifice out of the Mass.

How do you use music in Masses in your current parish, St. Michael’s in New York City? Do you, the choir, and/or the congregation sing the Propers?
Father Rutler: We have a small choir that sings the Introit and Gradual and, often a special setting of the Gloria. Otherwise the people sing the chants. (Plainchant, or Gregorian chant, should have pride of place, even as Vatican II prescribed.)

It is highly preferable that the choir be in a loft, or at least positioned to support the people’s voices. Choirs should never face the people. And “song leaders” are entirely counter-productive. No ritualistic: “Please join us in singing…” and so forth, and no arm waving. Highly recommended on the topic are two books: Why Catholics Can’t Sing by Thomas Day, and Real Music: A Guide to Timeless Hymns by Anthony Esolen.

We sing the liturgical texts and, as provided in the rubrics for the Ordinary Form, we usually have an additional hymn at the Offertory. I think that if there is a hymn, it may best be at the end of the Mass. Hymns should not displace the liturgical texts, and normally one hymn is adequate.

RTS: By saying that your congregation sings the chants, do you mean the Ordinary chants? If the Ordinary is chanted by the congregation, what settings do you sing? Do you cycle during the year through the some of the eighteen Gregorian chant Masses available from the Kyriale, such as Mass I: Lux et origo (for Paschaltide), Mass XI: Orbis factor (for Sundays per annum)? Or do you follow a simpler scheme?
Father Rutler: To encourage participation, the Missa de Angelis is a Plainchant setting that everyone can sing easily–then on special feasts other Gregorian settings can be sung from the choir.

RTS: What might you add to help Catholics who are attached to singing their favorite hymns at Mass, and who might object to the idea of any change?
Father Rutler: In a time of cultural decay, such as ours, the Church has an obligation to preserve and promote the best human achievements, including music, and the visual arts. The Church must convert the barbarians and not be converted by them. Many of the aging “baby-boomers” who resist change, imposed it wantonly on others right after Vatican II. That period of aesthetic destruction may take a long time to repair, but bad music should not be allowed to drive out the good, just as bad money should not be allowed to drive out good money. To deny that there are superior forms of aesthetics is simply to enlist oneself in the ranks of the relativists for who quality is nothing more than opinion. That is not aestheticism; it is narcissism. The astonishing collapse of church attendance in recent decades, cannot be blamed on St. Gregory, Palestrina, and Mozart, and there are many reasons for it other than a defective psychology of worship, but the cloyingly grotesque, pseudo-Christian elevator music in many parishes is not guiltless of the damage done in those post-Conciliar years.

Roseanne T. Sullivan is a writer from the Boston area who currently lives in San Jose, CA. Sullivan studied graphic design, painting, journalism, fiction and poetry writing while completing a BA in Studio Arts and English, and an MA with writing emphasis at the University of Minnesota. She has a deep and abiding interest in sacred music, sacred art, liturgy, and Latin, and she teaches Latin to homeschoolers. Many of her writings and photographs have appeared in the National Catholic Register, the New Liturgical Movement, Regina Magazine, Latin Mass Magazine, and other publications. Her own intermittently updated blog, Catholic Pundit Wannabe, is at

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pope Pius XII Celebrates the Queenship of Mary

From the archives of the Istituto Luce comes this wonderful newsreel report on an event of the Marian year proclaimed by Pope Pius XII, which ran from the feast of the Immaculate Conception of 1953 to the same date of the following year.

“The Marian year (1954) is at its most moving display. From St Mary Major, the miraculous image of the Madonna has reached St Peter’s. On the sedes gestatoria, Pius XII comes down among the faithful, to proclaim the liturgical feast of the Queenship of Mary, fixed by a recent encyclical to the 31st of May each year. At the end of his affectionate pilgrimage, inside the basilica of the Prince of the Apostles, the Pope crowns the sacred image of the Madonna Salus Populi Romani, to whose materal protection Rome owed its preservation from the war. (The voice of the Pope): ‘The regality of Mary is a reality beyond this earth, but one which at the same time, penetrates to the very depth of the heart.’ In the piazza, the faithful greet and celebrate their bishop, the Pope who crowned as Queen the Madonna of Rome, and the Pope, smiling, paternally blesses his children, invoking the divine mercy upon the earth, and asking from heaven the love of Mary to protect Rome and the world.”

(The full discourse of the Pope, pronounced on November 1st of 1954, can be read on the Vatican website, but only in Italian.)

The crowning of images of the Virgin Mary was a tradition important enough to be included in the Pontificale, and one especially dear to the Italian people. However, many of these crowns have subsequently been removed by restorers, including the one given here by Pope Pius, the idea being to bring the images back to their “original” appearance. This has been done with two others among the many famous Marian images in Rome, the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Michelangelo’s Pietà; in the case of the latter, the crown was not, of course, fixed to the statue itself, but held over the Virgin’s head by two angels affixed to the wall over it.
The Pietà, photographed in 1949, before the angels and crown were removed. The altar has been disused since the statue was attacked by a lunatic in May of 1972, and the cross, candlesticks and altar cards have also been removed, along with the frontal seen in the photo below.
A wider view of the chapel of the Pietà in St Peter’s Basilica, photographed in 1949. The column seen behind a cage on the right is one of twelve which in the ancient basilica of St Peter were arranged around the Apostle’s tomb, supporting an architrave; statues of the twelve Apostles stood on top of the architrave, one over each column. These are known as “Solomonic columns from the popular legend that the Emperor Constantine recovered them from the ruins of the Jerusalem temple, and brought them to Rome to decorate the original church. From there it was but a short step to the belief that the Lord Himself leaned upon one of these columns when He spoke “in the portico of Solomon”, as recounted in John 10, 22. Long after the old basilica was destroyed, it was moved into this chapel, and subsequently to the treasury museum, where the visitor can see it today, and note that a great many pieces were hacked off by overzealous pilgrims. The baseless tradition regarding the columns’ origin was accepted by Jews in the later Middle Ages as well as Christians, and Solomonic columns also figure prominently in Italian Jewish art.

Marie Reine du Canada Pilgrimage, Sept. 2-4

The Marie Reine du Canada pilgrimage will take place this year from September 2nd to the 4th; this a great opportunity to participate in the North American version of the annual Chartres pilgrimage, and see some of sites and historic churches of Catholic New France.

Marie Reine du Canada, a lay-led apostolate of St Clement Parish in Ottawa, organizes the annual three-day 100 km pilgrimage on foot from Saint-Joseph-de-Lanoraie to Notre-Dame-du-Cap shrine at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. Priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter celebrate Mass each day of the pilgrimage in parish churches along the route: in Berthierville, Yamachiche, and in the historic Small Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape at Cap de la Madeleine, with the blessing of the Bishops of Joliette and of Trois-Rivieres, and the local parish priests. Two priests are normally available to hear confessions in French and English throughout the pilgrimage, whether en route, in camp or before Mass. Click the poster to enlarge, and feel free to share it.

Benedict XVI and Plato on Music in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

Here is a fascinating paper by Dr Tom Larson of St Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, entitled Man, Music and Catholic Culture; he presented it at the Institute of St Anselm Studies, an annual symposium which takes place the college campus each summer. It has just been published in the proceedings and is now online.

Dr Larson examines first the place of music in Greek philosophical tradition and compares this with accounts of two modern commentators. The first is a non-Christian philosopher, Allan Bloom, whose thoughts he presents as a foil to a modern Christian view, that of Pope Benedict XVI.

Larson’s discussion clearly applies to sacred music and reinforces all that has been said by many others on the importance of music in the liturgy. But he extends this also to the profane and considers the place of music in the wider culture and in general education.

Here is the abstract for the paper:
The topic of this paper is the place of music within the Catholic intellectual tradition. The paper discusses the dignity of music, its relationship to man, and its place in education. The paper begins with the pagan classical treatment of music. The classical account of music is bound up with certain claims about human psychology, education, and culture, as well as certain claims about the universe. Allan Bloom’s discussion of music in the Greek philosophic tradition is examined as a foil to the Catholic vision discussed in the second part of the paper. The second part presents Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI’s understanding of music’s place in Catholic culture. Music, along with laws of beauty and order, has its source in God; it contributes to the re-integration of Man and directs him toward union with God in prayer; it has an intimate relationship with the human longing for transcendence; as a universal language, it has a role in evangelization and facilitating inter-cultural dialogue; in its beauty we are enabled to experience the presence of Ultimate Beauty; and in its own and very powerful way, the beauty of the music that has grown out of Christian culture serves as a kind of verification of the Christian faith.
Read the rest of the paper here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Visit to Innsbruck (6): The Castle of Ambras and the First Museum in Europe

Today is the final installment of my series on Innsbruck. I have saved the most exotic for the end.

On the last day of my visit, my host took me to the city's Hapsburg castle, Schloss Ambras, for a special exhibit on the erudite collector-prince Ferdinand II of Tirol (1529-1595). Ferdinand, who lived at Ambras once he was installed as ruler of Tirol, embarked on a building and collecting campaign that would lead to the opening of Europe’s first museum, dedicated primarily to his extensive armor gallery and his remarkable gallery of “curiosities and wonders.” While some of these pieces remain at the Schloss, many have been dispersed to other museums; hence, the special exhibit attempted to pull them back together more or less the way Ferdinand intended. The museum was so extensive that I could not hope to do it justice here. I paid special attention to religious items that would be of interest to NLM readers. (The descriptions of many of the objects are adapted from the museum’s placards.)

First, the castle itself that houses the collection:

On the many suits of armor the detail that captured my attention was this little crucifixion scene etched on the breastplate, in which the knight kneels before his Lord.
One room was devoted to victors of famous battles, including that of Lepanto. Here are Don Juan of Austria, Marc Antonio Colonna, and Sebastiano Venier, and then matching portraits of Andrea Doria and Chaireddin Barbarossa.

One of the more remarkable types of object in the archduke’s collection are things (often Passion scenes) made from carved and polished coral and shell, obtained from Genoa and processed in Bavaria or Tirol.

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For more articles, see the NLM archives: