Sunday, December 31, 2017

Picture of the Year 2017

As our last post of the year 2017, I would like to share with our readers once again this photo from our always popular Fostering Young Vocations series, of four boys dressed for Halloween as Saints of the Order of Preachers, Dominic, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas and Martin de Porres.

For me, this photo, and the caption put on it by the Dominican Province of the Holy Name of Jesus, (by whose courtesy we published it in November) sums up all the good things happening in the Church today: the continual rediscovery of the life of the Faith, and the traditions that enshrine it for every new generation. As we enter the New Year, it behooves us to remember that every age in the Church’s life gives us many reasons to pray and work for reform and renewal, but also many reasons for hope and joy.

I also want to mention this photo from a recent photopost of Rorate Masses, which are decidedly one of the features of the Catholic liturgical tradition that brings out the best and most beautiful. The photographer captured this very impressive shot at the Fraternity of St Peter’s church in Baltimore, the shrine of St Alphonsus; in the upper left part, the priest in the pulpit almost looks like he’s floating in the darkness. The name of the photographer was not sent in with the picture; whoever you are, very nice work indeed!

Tonsure, Minor Orders and Subdiaconal Ordination in Fréjus-Toulon

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Christmas photoposts (which will resume tomorrow) to bring you some photographs from our good friends of the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian. On December 23rd, the Saturday Ember Day of Advent, His Excellency Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon conferred the clerical tonsure, minor orders and subdiaconate on various members of the Fraternity and of the Monastery of St Benedict. You can see the complete photosets on their Facebook page. Our congratulations to these young men, to their religious families, and to the diocese. As we end this year of grace, let us remember to thank God for all of the benefits we receive from Him through the sacred liturgy and the ministry of the priesthood, and never forget to pray for all priests and seminarians throughout the world!

The tonsure of the clerics.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas Photopost 2017 (Part 2)

Our photopost series for Christmas continues; we have received a very large number of submissions, so once again, a reminder that if you don’t see yours here, they will be posted in the next one (or perhaps the one after that, since they are still coming in!) This set includes the Byzantine, Maronite and Ambrosian Rites, Christmas Matins in the traditional Roman, and a first ad orientem; as always, we are grateful to all those who contribute to the work of evangelizing through beauty by sharing these with our readers throughout the world. Merry Christmas!

St Peter Eastern Catholic Church - Ukiah, California
Vespers and Litia

Sacred Heart - Albany, New York

St Clement Parish - Ottawa, Ontario (FSSP)

EF Pontifical Mass for Epiphany in Nashua, New Hampsire

The Fraternity of St Peter’s Church in Nashua, New Hampsire, St Stanislaus, will welcome His Excellency Peter Libasci, bishop of Manchester, for the celebration of a solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Saturday, January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany. The Mass will begin at 9 a.m.; the church is located at 43 Franklin Street.

Friday, December 29, 2017

What Would the Canonization of Paul VI Mean for the Liturgy and Liturgical Reform?

Many of our readers, I am sure, have seen reports to the effect that Pope Paul VI may be canonized in the coming year. It does not appear that these reports have been officially confirmed. I do not propose to say anything here about whether this would be per se appropriate or opportune; if readers wish to comment, I ask them to address only the question of what this would mean for the future prospects of the liturgy and liturgical reform.

As far as I am concerned, the short answer is: absolutely nothing.

The canonization of a Saint does not change the facts of his earthly life. It does not rectify the mistakes he may have made, whether knowingly or unknowingly. It does not change his failures into successes, whether they came about through his fault or that of others. When St Joseph Calasanz died in 1648, the religious order he had founded, the Piarists, was to all intents and purposes destroyed. Ten years after Calasanz was canonized, another religious founder, St Alphonse Liguori was tricked by a close friend and early collaborator into signing a document which badly compromised the Redemptorist Order, and he was openly reproved by his confreres for having destroyed it. (The life of St Joseph Calasanz was one of his favorite books for spiritual reading in his later years.) These are historical facts which were not in the least bit altered by their later canonization and the later restoration of their orders.

Likewise, there have been and still are many Catholic historians who believe that St Pius V’s excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I of England, and his decree releasing her subjects from obedience to her, was a significant error in judgment; they are not bad or disloyal Catholics for holding such an opinion. There are of course others who hold exactly the opposite opinion, and they are not good and loyal Catholics merely for the fact of holding such an opinion.

I mention St Pius V particularly because he also, of course, gave the Church a significant reform of the liturgy. If Paul VI is indeed canonized, it will surely be argued that his liturgical reform must be held in the same veneration shown to that of St Pius V in the post-Tridentine period. This will be a false comparison on every level, and should be flatly rejected as such. The Pius V reform is significant precisely because it was deliberately conceived as a very conservative reform in the proper sense of the term, a reform that sought to conserve the authentic tradition of Catholic worship, and change only what it was felt to be absolutely necessary to change. The Paul VI reform is significant for exactly the opposite reason, because it introduced more changes into the liturgy and more rapidly than had ever happened before in the Church’s history.

The reform of the liturgical books begun by St Pius V and continued by his successors was one of the great successes of the Counter Reformation, and one from which the Church unquestionably drew many spiritual benefits. This does not change the fact that, unwittingly, it also set in motion a process by which the other Uses of the Roman Rite were gradually Romanized, and many valuable things (such as nearly the entire corpus of Sequences) were effectively lost. Many liturgical writers have regretted such losses, and whether one agrees with them or not, they have not been bad Catholics for doing so. The same applies to the reform of the Breviary by St Pius X; and likewise, many Catholics hold Pope Pius XII in the highest regard for a variety of good reasons, while disliking the Holy Week reform which he promulgated.

All of this is to say, the intrinsic merits or demerits of the post-Conciliar reform, and its status as a success or a failure, will not change in any way, shape or form if Pope Paul VI is indeed canonized. No one can honestly say otherwise, and no one has the right to criticize, attack, silence or call for the silencing of other Catholics if they contest that reform. If that reform went beyond the spirit and the letter of what Vatican II asked for in Sacrosanctum Concilium, as its own creators openly bragged that it did; if it was based on bad scholarship and a significant degree of basic incompetence, leading to the many changes now known to be mistakes; if it failed utterly to bring about the flourishing of liturgical piety that the Fathers of Vatican II desired, none of these things will change if Paul VI is canonized. Just as the canonizations of Pius V and X, and the future canonization of XII, did not place their liturgical reforms beyond question or debate, the canonization of Paul VI will not put anything about his reform beyond debate, and no one has any right to say otherwise.

Christmas Homily of Canon Francis Altiere

This past weekend, my family and I had the great joy of assisting at several Masses at the Institute of Christ the King's Oratory of Old St. Patrick's in Kansas City, MO. I was so struck by the homily Canon Altiere preached for the Christmas Masses that I asked him for (and gratefully received) permission to post the text of it at New Liturgical Movement, along with some photos from the Oratory. Enjoy!

Canon Francis Xavier Altiere, ICKSP

A poet once said, “the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time” (Little Gidding, V). As we contemplate today the mystery of the Word-made-flesh – of God who now at last in the “fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4) takes on human nature to accomplish his plan of our salvation – I am reminded of these words as we look upon the Christ Child in his Crib. Is it not striking that Jesus Christ begins his earthly life in a borrowed cave, because there was no room at the inn, wrapped up in linen swaddling clothes, knowing in advance that 33 years later he would end his earthly life much the same way: in another borrowed cave – the tomb lent by one of his secret disciples – wrapped up this time in a linen funeral shroud? This child born between two beasts, this man crucified between two criminals: he is the same God Almighty whose earthly throne in the Jerusalem Temple perched between two cherubim. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel hath not known me, and my people hath not understood” (Isaiah 1:3).

These thoughts help us, who have perhaps become too accustomed to the sentimental aspect of the Christmas story, to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time: to come on bended knee into the Crib this year and to remember that the new-born Baby in Mary’s arms beneath the star of Bethlehem will one day lie lifeless in her arms beneath the cross. We already know how the story ends: with a death and a resurrection. Yet we come back year after year, the eternal freshness of Christmas making us forget the passing years.

What do you think we would have heard in the stable if we could have been there at that first Christmas 2000 years ago? Hush, hush, don’t wake the sleeping Redeemer, but come and lean in closely. As God sleeps in his bed of straw, I seem to hear not so much a voice as an echo: even with eyes closed, the tender Babe sees the world around him – the world he made, after all – and from within the depths of his soul he asks the question that one day he asked out loud to Peter: “and he asked his disciples, saying: … But who do you say that I am?” (St. Matthew 16:13-15). One question, so many answers!

Mary, who do you say that I am? Sweet Mother, more than anyone else you understand the true mystery of Christmas.  With a mother’s love you gaze upon your baby son, but you look deeper, Mary: you see beyond the outward veil of flesh, the eternal Son of God: born eternally of the Father he now is born in time through you. You ponder the prophetic word which said, “he that made me, rested in my tabernacle” (Ecclesiasticus 24:12). O first and living ciborium, you invite us today not to the stable but to the tabernacle, that we may adore hidden under the veil of bread him whom you adored in his crib of straw. Scripture tells us: “they found the Child with Mary his mother” (St. Matthew 2:11). It will be the same for us, O holy Virgin: if we want to find Jesus, we must find him with you.

People of Bethlehem, who do you say that I am? What: an inconvenience, an unwanted child? You could at least have seen a family in need and yet in your inn there is no room. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (St. John 1:11).

Shepherds, who do you say that I am? You are simple men: the Pharisees of Jerusalem think nothing of you because you do not share their sophisticated learning. But you are men of the promise: you know only that God promised your Fathers a Redeemer and you know that he is faithful; you are not ashamed to live in the backwater of Bethlehem because you remember the prophet’s word: “And thou Bethlehem art a little one among the thousands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). The days marked out by the prophet have elapsed: now is the time for promise made to become promise fulfilled. The angel song is the reward of your humility, and you are the first ones invited to adore in the flesh the one whom even Moses feared to see in the thunders of Mount Sinai.

King Herod, who do you say that I am? O saddest of sinners, the wilfully ignorant. The scribes of Jerusalem open to you the prophetic books: the finger of the centuries points out the Messiah. Not only do you refuse to adore, but you think you can destroy God’s plan! We weep for you, poor Herod, when we see you at the head not of those who adore, but of the long line of dictators who think that they can build a human peace by refusing the Prince of Peace. The Holy Innocents, the victims of Roman persecution, those who fall to Mohammed’s sword, the hordes massacred by Communism: their blood cries out for you, Herods old and new! Your names, O persecutors, pollute the dustbin of history: but the divine Child remains on his throne and he breaks your rod of iron.

And you, what about you, my dear friends sitting here today: who do YOU say that he is? Is he just a family tradition, a little statue we cart out once a year just to put him away again in a box when we have opened our gifts and eaten our cookies? Do we feel threatened like Herod, somehow aware that if he is who he says he is, then we need to give him our whole life? Are we indifferent like the people of Bethlehem: is there no room in our inn, because it is over full with the little pet sins we don’t really want to give up? If we do not come regularly to Mass or if it has been years since our last confession, if we do not pray or if there is someone we still have never forgiven, then this year is the Christmas when we finally decide to put things right. God did not send his only Son, he did not condescend to the poverty of the stable or the shame of the cross, simply so that he could get his picture on a greeting card. He came to save us: “this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (St. Luke 2:11). Yes, brothers, he came to save us because we need to be saved. Because he has come, salvation is now possible – but salvation is not automatic, and salvation is not for the indifferent. If you want to see him one day in heaven, then we must come to him today on bended knee with Mary and Joseph and the shepherds.

Come into the stable with me – we will wait for the shepherds to pay their humble homage – and let us see it anew as if for the first time. Today, heaven is all wrapped up in swaddling clothes. He is there waiting – waiting for you. Christmas is there to remind us that we also must decide. The world can never be the same once God enters it as one of us. It is your turn now to come to the manger. We won’t wake the sleeping Babe, but our hearts whisper our response: “I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Incensation of the Nativity
The high altar before Mass

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Feast of the Holy Innocents 2017

Truly it is worthy and just, meet and profitable to salvation, that we praise Thee more gloriously, holy Father almighty, in the precious death of the little ones, whom because of the infancy of Thy Son, our Lord and Savior, the murderous Herod slew with monstrous savagery. We know the boundless gifts of Thy clemency; for grace alone shines forth greater than the will, and confession is glorious even before speech. Their passion came before there were any to share in His passion; they were witnesses of Christ, who could not yet recognize Him. Oh, the infinite goodness of the Almighty, when it did not permit the reward of eternal glory to perish for those slaughtered for His name, even though they knew it not; rather, as they were bathed in their own blood, the salvation of regeneration was accomplished, and the crown of martyrdom attributed to them. Through the same Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty etc. (The Ambrosian Preface for the feast of the Holy Innocents.)
Reliquary of the Holy Innocents, 1449, from the Museum of the Basilica of St Ambrose. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Sailko.)
Vere quia dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos in pretiosa morte Parvulorum te, Sancte Pater omnipotens, gloriosius collaudare: quod propter Filii tui, Domini nostri Salvatoris infantiam, immani saevitia Herodes funestus occidit. Immensa clementiae tuae dona cognoscimus. Fulget namque sola magis gratia, quam voluntas, et clara est prius confessio quam loquela. Ante passio, quam membra passionis existerent; testes Christi, qui ejus nondum fuerant agnitores. O infinita benignitas Omnipotentis: cum pro suo nomine trucidatis, etiam nescientibus, aeternae meritum gloriae perire non patitur; sed proprio cruore perfusis, et salus regenerationis expletur, et imputatur corona martyrii. Per eundem Christum, Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli etc.

Octave of Christmas Pontifical Mass with Bishop Perry in Gary, IN, January 1

The Northwest Indiana Latin Mass Community announces that, for the first time in over 50 years, a Pontifical Latin Mass will be celebrated at Holy Angels Cathedral in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. His Excellency, Bishop Joseph Perry, Auxiliary of Chicago, will visit to celebrate the Extraordinary Form Mass on January 1, 2018, at 11:00 AM. There will be special music for the occasion, with Gregorian chant and Renaissance choral polyphony. All are welcome to attend this historic event. The Cathedral is located on a beautiful campus at 640 Tyler St., Gary, Indiana. Further details and images are available at

Christmas Photopost 2017 (Part 1)

As has been the case for the last couple of years, we have received a very large number of photographs of Christmas liturgies, we will be doing at least one other photopost of them, possibly more. They are posted mostly in the order they are received, so if you don’t see yours here, know that they will be posted in due time. We will also be doing photoposts for Epiphany; a reminder will be posted next week. In the meantime, we will be very glad to receive any photos of liturgies celebrated during the Octave of Christmas, the singing of the Te Deum on New Year’s Eve etc. Thanks to all those who have sent them in, and a blessed New Year to all our readers.

St Paul - Birkirkara, Malta
St Anthony of Padua - Jersey City, New Jersey

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Time for the Soul to Absorb the Mysteries — Part 4: The Ablutions to the Last Gospel

Last week I considered how the Communion rite in the traditional Mass afford a spacious home for corporate and personal prayer, so that the virtue of actual devotion, which is required for fruitful communication, may thrive in clergy and in laity alike. One may say, in fact, that the traditional Mass continually supports and strongly encourages the positing of all the acts of the virtue of religion discussed by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa, such as devotion, prayer, adoration, sacrifice, and praise.[1] In this way, the Mass is not only an “oasis” of peace in which prayer may be kindled and fed, but also a training or proving ground for the heavenly Jerusalem, whose citizens heroically exercise just these virtues. (Links to Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.)

Today I shall continue my exploration with the rites that take place once the priest and the faithful have received the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord.

The Ablutions

After communion, there is a long pause for the people while the priest cleanses his fingers and the sacred vessels, and the other ministers puts things aside or back to their places for the end of Mass. Here again we see the genius of the Roman Rite as it developed organically: there is no unseemly haste in this matter of ablutions, and, as a providential side effect, there need be no haste in the people’s time of thanksgiving. How welcome, how utterly necessary is this time of grace, when the Lord is most intimately present to and within us! Many great saints have spoken about the privileged prayer that is possible only at this time, in the minutes following sacramental communion with the Word made flesh. What a shame if the very form of the liturgy — or, it must be added, the particular customs of a given community, even in the sphere of the usus antiquior — should thwart this communion of minds and hearts!

The Placeat Tibi

Instead of racing to the finish line as the Novus Ordo does, in its eagerness to “send us out on mission,” et cetera ad nauseam, the old Mass takes a moment to beseech the Lord in a prayer of burning intensity, said by the priest bowing before the altar, in between the Ite missa est and the final blessing:
May the performance of my homage be pleasing to Thee, O holy Trinity, and grant that the Sacrifice which I, though unworthy, have offered up in the sight of Thy Majesty, be acceptable to Thee, and through Thy mercy, be a propitiation for me and for all those for whom I have offered it.
A magnificent summary of the very essence of the Mass, and a summons to embrace its ascetical-mystical reality! The usus antiquior never forgets and never allows us to forget God’s majesty and our unworthiness, God’s mercy and our dire need of it. Centered from start to finish on the primal mystery of the Holy Trinity, serious about the Father’s business, the Mass is here simply styled “the Sacrifice.” That is what it is — and that is how it should look, sound, feel, and exist for us.

The Last Gospel

Over the years, one of the things about the Novus Ordo that has grated on me the most is the rapid-fire conclusion. The celebrant may well take his time with the homily (sometimes it seems as if this is viewed as the most important point of the entire Mass), but when it comes to everything afterwards, it’s “life in the fast lane” — particularly when communion is done. The vessels are hastily put away and “Let us pray” booms out like an ultimatum over the heads of people who could not have had the slightest chance to pray. Within seconds, the floodgates are opened and the crowds, impatient to get home to leisure pursuits that are vastly more significant than anything that happened on Calvary, pour into the parking lot to simulate bumper cars. It is thoroughly disedifying for the few devout Catholics who, due to some unanticipated freethinking, wish to stay in the pews to make their thanksgiving after Mass.

At a traditional Mass, this travesty is unheard of.[2] The liturgy itself builds in time for thanksgiving from the ablutions through the Placeat tibi and, finally, the sweet balm of the Last Gospel, which, no matter how slowly or quickly it is read, whether aloud or sotto voce, always seems like a well-placed comma or ellipsis in the grammar of worship. The end is rejoined with the beginning, like the circulation of divine lifeblood: In the beginning was the Word… the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory… Deo gratias.

It is well to recall the beauty of the Last Gospel, the Prologue of the loftiest of biblical books, on this feast of its author, St. John the Evangelist. For it is he who teaches us, perhaps better than anyone else, the very virtue of restfulness in God that I have been arguing is one of the chief characteristics of the ancient Roman rite. The Beloved Disciple took his time at the Last Supper when leaning on the breast of Jesus; he did not think that there were more urgent things to do, be it selling ointments to get money for the poor, strategizing against the enemies of his Lord, or even preaching the good news that he was later inspired to write down. No, at the solemn moment when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was instituted, John knew where he had to be and what he had to be doing: at the side of his Master, in the adoring silence of a friendship so intimate that it would later spill out in the most sublime revelations vouchsafed to man. John heard his Gospel beating in the heart of Jesus, High Priest and Victim; there he learned the meaning of adoration, reparation, supplication, and thanksgiving — Eucharistia. St. John is therefore the patron not only of theologians but of all who “worship God in spirit and in truth.” He leads us back, again and again, to the authentic liturgies of the Catholic Church, whose seeds the Lord sowed into the soil of His apostles’ souls in the Upper Room.


[1] See Summa theologiae, II-II, qq. 81 to 91.

[2] Cf. my article "Priestly Preparation Before Mass and Thanksgiving After Mass."

Photos courtesy of and (c) Corpus Christi Watershed and Fr. Lawrence Lew.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Proper Hymn for St Stephen

The Roman Divine Office is traditionally much more conservative than other Uses in the adoption of new texts, and this is particularly true in regard to its use of hymns. Of the 39 Saints named in the Roman Canon apart from the Virgin Mary, only John the Baptist and the Apostles Peter and Paul have their own hymns, the latter only at Vespers; all the rest have hymns taken from the common offices. Of the seven common offices of Saints, only that of Several Martyrs has a separate hymn for each of the three major hours. The Virgin Mary’s common office, adapted from the Office of the Assumption, also has three hymns, which are used on nearly all of Her feasts, in the Saturday Office, and in the Little Office as well. Exceptions like the Matins hymn of the Immaculate Conception are quite late.

One of the gems which is therefore not found in the historical Roman Use is a proper hymn for St Stephen, Sancte Dei pretiose; it was used by the Old Observance Carmelites, Premonstratensians, and the Use of Sarum, just to name a few. Most of these Uses have it at either Matins or Lauds, with the common hymn for one martyr at Lauds or Matins, and again at Vespers. When it was originally composed in the 11th century, it had only three stanzas; a number of others were added to it later, but do not seem to have caught on.

Sancte Dei pretiose
Protomartyr Stephane,
Qui virtute caritatis
Circumfultus undique
Dominum pro inimico
Exorasti populo. 
O Precious Saint of God,
Stephen, the First Martyr,
Who, by virtue of charity
Surrounded on every side
Didst pray to the Lord
For the hostile people.
Funde preces pro devoto
Tibi nunc collegio,
Ut, tuo propitiatus
Interventu, Dominus
Nos, purgatos a peccatis
Jungat caeli civibus.
Pour forth prayers now for
The assembly devoted to thee,
That, appeased by thy inter-
vention, the Lord, may
cleanse us from sin,
And join us to the citizens
of heaven.
Gloria et honor Deo
Usquequaque Altissimo,
Una Patri, Filioque,
Inclyto Paraclito,
Cui laus est et potestas
Per aeterna saecula. Amen.
Glory and honor to God
The most high in every place;
The same to the Father,
and the Son, to the glorious
Paraclete; to whom belong praise
and might for all ages. Amen.

Mass for the Holy Innocents in San Angelo, Texas

The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in San Angelo, Texas, will have a Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form for the feast of the Holy Innocents on Thursday, December 28, with Palestrina’s Mass Aeterna Christi Munera; His Excellency Michael Sis, the bishop of San Angelo, will be in attendance and preach. The Mass begins at 6 pm; the cathedral is located at 19 South Oakes Street.

Recently Completed Sculpture by Thomas Marsh: the Holy Spouses, Patrons of the Unborn

I was delighted to receive notice of the completion of a major commission by Thomas Marsh. It is statue group of the Holy Spouses, St Joseph and Our Lady of Guadelupe, Patrons of the Unborn, located at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bakersfield, California.

I love the restrained use of color applied to the bronze. Also, note that the faces are not portraits from models, but rather idealized, taking inspiration from the Greek ideal that was used by High Renaissance and Baroque masters. This is something that is so important in sacred art, yet is not understood by so many artists who work in naturalistic styles. I explain the reasons why idealization is important in sacred art in an this post from last year.

These are as important to the creation of a culture of life as the noble political battles fought by those in the Right to Life movement. I hope this might add to your enjoyment of the Feast of St Stephen...or if you are in the UK, Boxing Day!
Below is a detail of the original clay model that the cast was based on.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Something Unusual For Christmas Day! St Anastasia, a Saint of the Roman Canon

Just as with someone whose birthday is on Christmas Day, St Anastasia is not often commemorated, even though it is her feast too. So as something slightly different for today, here is a feature on her, one of the saints of the Roman Canon, to complement your consideration of Our Lord’s Nativity.

Since a separate Mass for her cannot be said on December 25th, I suggest something else that could be done liturgically to revive her memory. Perhaps we could find a way of adding a veneration to her without distracting from the Nativity, through the addition of her name to the prayers of the day in the Mass or the Divine Office, or through a veneration of her icon in the processions, in a way that supports, rather than distracts from, the main focus of the day. We could take a lead from the Eastern Church, which often commemorates the Saints of the day even in the Sunday liturgy, by singing more than one troparion of the day at the appropriate juncture.

In regard to St Anastasia, not much is know about her, except that she was a Roman by birth who was martyred at Sirmium in modern-day Serbia, during the persecution of the Emporer Diocletian.

You can read about her at New Advent here. This Western depiction of her shows her with the idealized features of a Greek goddess, as would have been the norm in the classicizing art of the High Renaissance or the early 19th century.

Her liturgical title in the Byzantine liturgy is “Φαρμακολυτρία - Deliverer of Potions”, i.e., one who delivers people from the harmful effects of potions and poisons; Eastern icons therefore show her with a bottle in her hands, which symbolising the power of her prayers to cure the sick.

This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches, and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. (Read it here.) In these, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon - Eucharistic Prayer I - and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate. For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master’s of Sacred Arts, www.Pontifex.University.

Merry Christmas!

Hodie nobis caelorum Rex de Virgine nasci dignatus est, ut hominem perditum ad caelestia regna revocaret: * Gaudet exercitus Angelorum: quia salus aeterna humano generi apparuit. V. Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. R. Gaudet exercitus Angelorum: quia salus aeterna humano generi apparuit. V. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. R. Hodie nobis caelorum Rex ... (The first responsory of Christmas Matins.)

Illustration for Christmas Day from a Missal printed by the Desclée publishing house, late 19th century.
R. Today the King of heaven deigned to be born of a Virgin for us, that He might bring back to the kingdom of heaven man who was lost. * The host of Angels rejoiceth, because eternal salvation hath appeared to the human race. V. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth. peace to men of goodwill. The host of Angels... Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Today...

On behalf of the publisher and writers of New Liturgical Movement, I wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas, and every blessing from the Child that is born unto us! By the prayers of the Holy Mother of God and all the Saints, may God grant the world peace in the coming year.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas 2017 Photopost Request

Our next major photopost will be for the liturgies of Christmas, whether in the OF or the EF, or any of the Eastern Rites, Ordinariate Use, etc.; as always, we will also be very glad to include other liturgical ceremonies, such as Prime on Christmas Eve, Vespers, and any liturgies celebrated during the Octave. Please send your pictures to, and don’t forget to include the name of the church and its location, and any other information which you think worth noting. Evangelize through beauty!

His Eminence Joseph Card. Zen celebrating Pontifical Mass at Mary, Help of Christians in Hong Kong, from last year’s third Christmas photopost.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Importance of Ritual

Our readers are probably familiar with The Coming Home Network, an organization which helps to share the stories of people from all walks of life who have converted from other Christian denominations to Catholicism. There is also a regular Coming Home segment on EWTN; I know a few people who have found their way into the Church in no small part because of such testimonies.

I found this video particularly interesting as a testimony to the power of liturgy and liturgical rites to instill the truths of the Faith. Mr Nathan Wigfield, who is now the director of religious education at a Catholic church, speaks about his experience with the physical reality of Catholic worship. In the midst of his upbringing as an evangelical, his formerly Catholic mother used to bring him to a Catholic Church for the Good Friday ceremony of kissing the Cross. After this very simple act of participation in one of the most important Catholic rites, “I began to ask deeper questions in regard to the teaching of the Church.”
The power which this ritual exercized over him, which helped to lead him to the fullness of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church, reminds us why it is so important that the liturgy be celebrated with beauty, solemnity and reverence, in the fullness of Catholic tradition. Even the simplest ritual acts, and in this case, something which he at first experienced only once a year, and which was not even a Sacrament, can deeply plant the seeds of the Faith. It is the essential mission of all Catholic worship to make sure that such seeds be given the chance to flourish.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Gaudete and Rorate Photopost 2017 (Part 3)

We conclude this year’s series of photos of Gaudete Sunday liturgies and Rorate Masses, starting with a new priest’s first Mass at the FSSP’s Roman church, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. Fr Michael Baggot, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, was ordained on Saturday, December 16th, at the basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, and celebrated his first Mass in the Traditional Rite the following day, with his parents, family members, and several members of his community present. This was apparently the first time that a Legionary has celebrated his first Mass in the Extraordinary Form; our congratulations to Fr Baggot, to his family and to the Legion. Further down, some more good news from the Univ. of Nebraska Newman Center: the first public Traditional Latin Mass celebrated freely for the students to attend started at 6:30 a.m. on the Saturday between dead week and finals week, and still saw a full church, around 400 students present!

As always, we are very grateful to all those who sent these photos in - continue the work of evangelizing though beauty!

Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini - Rome, Italy (FSSP)

A Traditional Neapolitan Nativity Scene

The Quirinal Palace in Rome, the official residence of the Italian president, is currently displaying a nice example of a traditional 18th century Neapolitan Nativity scene.

Although the invention of the creche is attributed to an Umbrian, St Francis of Assisi, the city of Naples can truly boast of having developed it into a particular art form, with the creation of a highly theatrical Baroque style admired and imitated up and down the peninsula. The Neapolitan tradition began with St Cajetan, the founder of the Theatine Order. One of his favorite places to pray in Rome was the basilica of St Mary Major, specifically, the chapel where the relics of Christ’s crib were kept. At the end of the 13th century, the sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio had made for this chapel a large Nativity set, several pieces of which survive to this day. While praying there one year on Christmas Eve, St Cajetan had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who handed him the Baby Jesus to hold. When he came to Naples in 1534, he set up a Nativity scene in the church of a major public hospitial, in imitation of the Roman one; this was then picked up by many other churches, as well as private families. It was also in Naples that the tradition began of dismantling the creche after the Christmas season ended, so that it could be reassembled, perhaps in a different way, the following year; previous ones like di Cambio’s, the figures of which were all stone, were permanent fixtures.

As the tradition developed, it became a kind of competition (a friendly one, we hope) to enrich the scene with an ever larger number of human figures, and make them continually bigger with the addition of whole buildings, streets, piazzas etc. The persons and scenes shown are for the most part ordinary folks going about their ordinary lives, a theological declaration that the sanctifying grace of Christ, which begins to come to us in the Incarnation, is available to all in whatever station of life they find themselves. Very frequently, the Holy Family are shown within a ruined temple, or some other ancient Roman building, representing the world which suffers from the ruin of sin, and longs for renewal in the coming of the Savior.

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