Saturday, March 31, 2018

Holy Saturday 2018

The Harrowing of Hell, by Duccio di Buoninsenga, 1308-11
R. Recessit pastor noster, fons aquae vivae, ad cujus transitum sol obscuratus est; * nam et ille captus est, qui captivum tenebat primum hominem: hodie portas mortis et seras pariter Salvator noster disrupit. V. Destruxit quidem claustra inferni, et subvertit potentias diaboli. Nam et ille.

R. Our Shepherd hath departed, the font of living water, at Whose passing the sun was darkened; * for he that held the first Man captive, was himself taken: today our Savior hath broken asunder the doors and bars of death. V. Indeed, he destroyed the fortress of hell, and overthrew the powers of the devil. For he that held. (Tenebrae of Holy Saturday, fourth responsory)

Holy Week 2018 Photopost Request

As we do every year, we will have a whole series of photoposts of your Holy Week liturgies, with individual posts for Tenebrae, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. As always, we are glad to receive images of the OF, EF, Eastern Rites, the Ordinariate Use, etc., including any part of the liturgy. Please send your photographs to, and remember to include the name and location of the church.

Please read this! - Last year, we received so many submissions that the final Easter photopost went up almost a month after Easter itself. This is, of course, all to the good, but I would ask people to do a few things to make it easier for us to process the photos. The first is to size them down so that the smaller dimension is around 1500 pixels. The second is, as much as possible to send the pictures as zipped files, which are a lot easier to process, (not links, and not as photos embedded in an email). The third is to not mix photos of one ceremony with those of another, and to put the name of the ceremony (“Tenebrae”, “Holy Thursday”, “Good Friday”, “Holy Saturday”, and “Easter Sunday”) as the subject of the email. Your help is very much appreciated.

From the second Good Friday 2017 photopost, the unveiling of the Cross at Holy Innocents in New York City.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday 2018

O Lord, I have heard Thy report and was afraid: I have considered Thy works and trembled. V. In the midst of two living beings Thou shalt be made known: when the years shall draw nigh Thou shalt be known: when the time shall come, Thou shalt be manifested. V. When my soul shall be in trouble, Thou wilt remember mercy, even in Thy wrath. V. God will come from Libanus, and the Holy One from the shady and thickly covered mountain. V. His majesty covered the heavens: and the earth is full of His praise. (The first Tract of the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday.)

Christ on the Cross between the two Thieves, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1619
Dómine, audívi audítum tuum, et tímui: considerávi ópera tua, et expávi. V. In medio duórum animalium innotescéris: dum appropinquáverint anni, cognoscéris: dum advénerit tempus, ostendéris. V. In eo, dum conturbáta fúerit ánima mea: in ira, misericordiae memor eris. V. Deus a Líbano veniet, et Sanctus de monte umbróso et condenso. V. Opéruit caelos majestas ejus: et laudis ejus plena est terra.

FSSP Maundy Thursday in Rome

I decided to make a special post of Maundy Thursday at the FSSP’s Roman parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, since the ceremonies were not just done particularly well, but also particularly thoroughly. In addition to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Tenebrae, the stripping of the altar was done, and more notably, the Mandatum was performed for the first time in many years. The altar of repose is also extremely beautiful; courtesy of Fr Alek, we also have a picture at the end of the famous altar at Santa Maria dell’Orto, with an unusually large number of candles.

The Gospel at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
 The sermon
 Members of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims
 Sacrament Procession

Palm Sunday 2018 Photopost (Part 3)

Like our first two Palm Sunday photoposts, this one also shows very beautifully the richness of our Catholic liturgical tradition; once again, we have pictures of the EF in its pre- and post-Pian forms, the OF, the Ordinariate Use, and the Ambrosian and Byzantine Rites. There will be a fourth Palm Sunday post, and then we will get started on the rest of Holy Week, so if you haven’t seen yours yet, know that they will be posted. As always, we are very grateful to everyone who sent these in!

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fribourg - Fribourg, Switzerland

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Ambrosian Mass of Holy Thursday

The mandatum ceremony according to the Ambrosian rite
One of the most beautiful features of the traditional Ambrosian Rite is its unique manner of celebrating the Mass of Holy Thursday, which includes a special form of the Canon used only on that day. The Mass takes place ‘inter Vesperas – in the midst of Vespers’, although the Vespers in question are very much simplified, relative to the normal form. In fact, the Divine Office of the entire Milanese Holy Week is unusually austere; among other things, the Magnificat is omitted at Vespers, and the Benedictus at Lauds, as a sign of mourning over the death of the Savior.

The rite begins with the regular lucernarium, a responsory originally to be sung during the lighting of candles and lanterns in the church. This is followed by a hymn, and another responsory called the “responsorium in choro”; in the Duomo itself, this chant is to be sung by the archbishop. A reader then sings the entire book of Jonah, a custom which, as Nicola de’ Grandi has noted before, is attested in the writings of St Ambrose himself; this is followed by a psalmellus, the Ambrosian equivalent of a gradual. The Mass then begins without an introductory chant, (the Ambrosian Rite has no Kyrie), starting from the collect, the same that of the Roman Rite; the epistle which follows is of course St Paul’s account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 11, 20-34, which is read in the Roman Rite at both Mass and Tenebrae.

There follows a cantus, the Ambrosian equivalent of a tract; its text is taken partly from the reading of the Passion according to St. Matthew which follows, (chapter 26, 17-75), and partly from St. Luke 22, 47-48.
You are come out as it were to a robber with swords to apprehend me. Daily I was with you, teaching in the temple, and you laid not hands on me, and behold you hand me over to be crucified.

V. As He yet spoke, behold a crowd, and he that was called Judas came, and drew near to Jesus to kiss him. And Jesus said to him: Judas, dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss to be crucified?
All the readings for the principle services of the Triduum are taken from the Gospel of St Matthew; the Passion therefore stops with the cock-crow which reminds St Peter that Christ prophesied his betrayal, and resumes in the morning service after Terce at the beginning of chapter 27. (The other three Passions, of Ss Mark, Luke and John, are read in the second of two nocturns at Matins of Good Friday.)

The Mass continues as normal, with a few modifications similar to those of the traditional Roman Rite. The normal antiphon “after the Gospel” is sung; its text is taken with slight modifications from the Byzantine Rite, which on this same day sings these words in the place of the Cherubic hymn at the Divine Liturgy.
Thou receivest me today, Son of God, as a partaker of Thy wondrous Supper. For I will not reveal this mystery to Thy enemies; I will not I give Thee a kiss as did Judas; but as the thief, confessing to Thee: remember me, O Lord, in Thy kingdom.

In accordance with the very ancient custom that the Kiss of Peace is not given on Holy Thursday, since it was the sign by which Judas betrayed the Lord, the deacon does not sing “Pacem habete” after laying the corporal on the altar, is as usually done in the Ambrosian Rite.

The prayer “over the Offering” is the same as the Roman Secret; the Mass has a proper preface, as do most Masses in the Ambrosian Rite.
Truly it is worthy and just etc. … Through Christ our Lord. Who though He was God in heaven, descended unto the earth to cancel the sins of men; and He that had come to liberate the human race, was sold in an unlawful purchase by His servant, like a debtor and a guilty man, even the Lord; and He that judgeth the Angels, was set in the judgment of man, that He might deliver from death man, whom He Himself had made. And therefore with the Angels etc.
The Canon of the Mass is the normal Ambrosian Canon, which is in most respects fairly similar to the Roman Canon, but today is said with several very long interpolations. The first of these is in the Communicantes:
Communicating, and celebrating the most sacred day, on which Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was betrayed. Thou, o Lord, didst command us to be partakers of Thy Son, sharers of Thy kingdom, dwellers in Paradise, companions of the Angels; ever provided we keep the sacraments of the heavenly army with pure and undefiled faith. And what may we not hope of Thy mercy, we who received so great a gift, that we might merit to offer Thee such a Victim, namely, the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ? Who for the redemption of the world gave himself up to that holy and venerable Passion; Who instituting the form of the perennial sacrifice of salvation, first offered Himself as the Victim, and first taught that It be offered. But also venerating the memory etc.
The words “keep the sacraments of the heavenly army – caelestis militae sacramenta servemus” refer to a common pre-Christian sense of the Latin word “sacramentum – a military oath of allegiance”.

The Hanc igitur is not so much interpolated as completely rewritten.
We therefore beseech thee, o Lord, graciously attend to this offering, which we make to Thee because of the day of the Lord’s Supper, on which Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, instituted the rite of sacrifice in the New Covenant, when He transformed the bread and wine, which Melchisedech the priest had offered as a prefiguration of the mystery that was to come, into the sacrament of His Body and Blood; and so for the course of many years, in health and safety may we merit to offer our gifts to the Thee, o Lord; and may Thou order our days in Thy peace etc.
The Qui pridie is then interpolated as follows:
Who on the day before He suffered for our salvation and that of all men, that is, on this day, reclining in the midst of His disciples and taking bread etc.
The rest of the Canon is said as normal; however, after the Nobis quoque, there follows a lengthy addition unique to the Ambrosian Rite.
We do these things, we celebrate these thing, o Lord, keeping Thy commandments: and at this inviolable communion, by the very fact that we receive the Body of the Lord, we also announce his death. But it belongeth to Thee, almighty Father, to send now Thy only begotten Son, whom Thou didst send willingly to them that sought Him not. Who though Thou art infinite and unknowable, didst also beget of Thee God infinite and unknowable; so that Thou may now grant His Body unto our salvation, by whose Passion Thou didst grant redemption to the human race. Through the same.
In the Ambrosian Rite, the fraction of the Host is done before the Our Father, accompanied by an antiphon called the Confractory, which on Holy Thursday reads as follows:
This is the Body, which shall be given up for you: this Chalice of the New Covenant is in My Blood, sayeth the Lord. As often as you shall receive these things, do this in memory of Me.
The Lord’s Prayer is then preceded by a special formula of introduction used only on this day, in place of the usual formula common to the Roman and Milanese rites.
It is His commandment, o Lord, which we follow, in Whose presence we now ask Thee. Give to the sacrifice its Author, that the faith of the matter may be fulfilled in the loftiness of the mystery; so that as we carry out the truth of the heavenly sacrifice, so we may draw in the truth of the Lord’s Body and Blood. Through the same Christ Our Lord, saying: Our Father etc.
The Transitory, the Ambrosian communion antiphon, also refers to the Passion Gospel of Matthew 26.
My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. Now you shall see the crowd that surroundeth me, and take flight, and I will go to be immolated for ye.
The Post-Communion prayer is different from that of the Roman Rite.
Lord, our God, grant in Thy mercy; that we who have received the Body and Blood of Thy only begotten Son may be set apart from the blindness of the faithless disciple, we who confess and worship Christ our Lord as true God and true man. Who liveth etc.
As in the Roman Rite, the Blessed Sacrament is taken to the Altar of Repose in solemn procession at the end of the Mass; afterwards, the end of vespers is sung. This consists of psalm 69, sung together with the two psalms 133 and 116 added to it, sung with a single doxology, according to a common custom of the Ambrosian Rite on feasts. The rite then concludes with four prayers, the Magnificat being omitted as noted above.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pre-Pius-XII-Reform Dominican Rite Easter Vigil

Although I published this here a couple years ago, it seemed like a good time to reprint it, as we are now about to enter the Triduum.  Easter Blessings to all our readers!

As most readers know, the old Easter Vigil of the Roman Rite underwent a series of reforms beginning in 1951 and continuing until the introduction of the revised Holy Week Rite of Pope Pius XII in the spring of 1956. The Dominicans imitated as much as possible these changes until we produced a new Vigil of our own, one that went into effect at Easter 1957, a year after the Roman Rite. Readers who know the Vigil of the 1962 Roman Missal would find that in use by Dominicans from 1957 onward virtually identical to it, so I am not going to describe it. But as our older liturgy is quite different and of historical interest; thus this post.

Following the medieval practice of Saturday afternoon celebration of the Easter Vigil, the Dominican Vigil began after the singing of None. In the modern period, when the Vigil had migrated to Saturday morning, this meant that Matins and the four Little Hours of Holy Saturday were sung back-to-back in the morning so that the Vigil itself could begin before 9:00 a.m. One of the first effects of Pope Pius XII's period of experimentation after 1951 was that in some houses the Little Hours of Holy Saturday were restored to their normal times and the Vigil was celebrated in the later afternoon, but this was by no means the universal practice. Morning celebration continued in many places until 1957.

The old Dominican Vigil began with the Blessing of the New Fire. The prior or other priest celebrant, in purple cope, standing before the high altar, blessed lighted coals in a small metal dish held by the sacristan. The coals had been lighted without any special ceremony in the sacristry before the service. The deacon held the missal. The blessing prayer Domine sancte Pater was short and merely recited, not sung. A small candle was then lighted from these coals, but they were kept in the presbytery until the lighting of the church lamps, so that they could be used to relight the Easter Candle should a draft put it out. The deacon received the prior's blessing, gave the subdeacon the missal and placed himself to the subdeacon's left, which was the Gospel side, as all were facing the altar. The two acolytes with unlighted candles flanked the deacon and subdeacon. The prior took his place at the Epistle side of the altar, as he did for the singing of the Gospel at Solemn Mass. The Deacon then sang the Exultet, for which Dominicans have a tone somewhat different from the Roman and which differs in a number of places from the Roman text.

Although in modern times Dominicans used Easter Candles of conventional size, as late as the 1800s we often used a very large Easter Candle, much taller than those in use today. Our Province archives have pictures from the 1850s of one of these candles at our old priory church in Benicia California. I will try to get a scan of it. Dominicans did not use a three-branch holder for the Easter Fire and there was no chantning of Lumen Christi. In many priories the ancient practice of the "Easter Card" (Cartula Paschalis) was maintained into the last century. This was tacked to the candle in place of the modern practice of lettering on the candle. The card gave the year of the Lord, the years since the foundation of the Order, Years since the death of St. Dominic, the Epact, the Dominical Letter, and the Indiction.

When the deacon reached the words In huius igitur noctis, he inserted the first grain of incense into the candle; at the words Rutilans ignis accendit, he lit the Paschal Candle. The server holding the other four grains of incense then inserted them as the deacon continued to sing the Blessing. These acts would have required use of a ladder in the old days. As the deacon sang Qui licit sit divisus in partes, the two acolytes' candles were lighted, and then, at Pretiosae huius lampadis, the church lamps. When the Exultet was finished, the ministers returned to the sacristy, put on white Mass vestments and returned to the altar. There they bowed and went to be seated for the readings, without any other ceremony. During this one Mass of the year, the acolyte's candles were not snuffed when not in use, but allowed to burn continuously.

A lector in surplice then sang the four readings of the Vigil. These were Gen. 1-2; Ex. 14-15; Is. 4; and Is. 54-55.  In the thirteenth-century the number of readings at the vigil varied widely: from 4 to 18. The Dominican shorter version was found widely in use in Italy. There is actually nothing unusual about it.  So, I do not believe that the Dominican was a special model for the post-1955 Roman revision of the Vigil--the readings do not match. I would think that the Roman model was one of the shorter Italian (Roman) uses from the middle ages.

A Tract and Collect followed each reading except that from Genesis, which had only a Collect. The second reading from Isaiah had two collects, one before and one after the Tract Sicut Cervus. Two chanters wearing surplices in medio chori then lead the community in singing the Litany of the Saints in its Dominican form. When the choir had sung the last Agnus Dei of the Litany, the choir began the Easter Kyrie and the major ministers approached the altar for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. 

The priest then intoned at the center of the altar, the Gloria in the solemn tone (very similar to that of Roman Mass IV). As it was intoned, the organ played for the first time since the beginning of Lent, the church bells were rung for the first time since Holy Thursday, and the friars took off their black cappas to reveal their white habits. The subdeacon then sang the Epistle from Colossians 3.

The Dominican way of singing the Easter Gospel Alleluia differs from the common Roman form, with its three repetitions of the Alleluia and cantors raising each intonation. To the right you can see the Easter Alleluia according to the Domincan chant, the melody of which differs a bit from the common Roman form. You can also see how it is sung. Two cantors in medio chori intone it and the friars all rise. The community then joins in on the short melisma at the end: as indicated by the double bar. Note that this use of the double bar in Dominican notation functions as does the asterisk in Solesmes notation. Then the entire Alleluia is repeated by all, as indicated by the "Repet." The friars then sit while the two cantors sing the verse, joining in for eius at the end, as indicated again by the double bar before that word. As can be seen from "Non repet. Alleluia." the Alleluia is not repeated after the verse. So the Dominican practice is to repeat the Alleluia only once, before the verse. Originally we sang the Alleluia once more after the verse, as I will explain below. Another pair of cantors next joined the original two to sing, antiphonally, the Tract (Ps. 116). Then came the deacon's chanting of the Gospel from Matthew 28.

The current use at the Alleluia reflects changes made in our liturgy at the time of Humbert's reforms in 1256. In the picture to the right you can see displayed one of the four extant Dominican Missals from before the Reforms of Humbert of Romans in 1256. This book represents the "Liturgy of the Four Friars" whose standardization of Dominican practice was approved in 1246. The left page shows the end of the Litany and the Vigil Mass of Easter (the right page is the Mass of Christmas). If you look carefully you can see where the rubrics for the Alleluia have been changed to conform to Humbert's revision: originally the Alleluia was sung a third time after the verse. This is here crossed out. The Tract was then sung in medio with two pairs of friars alternating the verses. At the Gospel only incense was used; no candles or cross were carried. There was no Credo and no Offertory chant.

The Mass then continued as usual until the Pax Domini. Unlike the usual practice at Solemn Mass, the Pax instrument was not passed and there was no Agnus Dei. Rather, a very short vespers service began immediately after the response to the Pax Domini. The triple Alleluia antiphon was sung and followed by Psalm 116 with its Gloria Patri. After the choir repeated the antiphon, the cantor intoned the Magnificat Antiphon Vespere autem sabbati, which was also repeated after the choir had finished the Magnificat. The priest, who had by this time finished communion, then sang the Postcommunion Collect. The Mass ended in the usual way with the Placeat, the Ite Missa est, the blessing, and the Last Gospel, the deacon, however, sang the Ite with triple alleluias. Compline was sung after the major meal with chants proper to the Easter season and the Salve Regina was followed by procession to the altar of the Virgin Mary singing the Litany of Loreto, was customary on all Saturdays of the year. In case you are wondering, Dominicans sing the Salve Regina all year round after Compline.

There was no General Communion of the friars at the Vigil because the Easter General Communion was at the day Mass of Easter. But I understand that in many places a General Communion had been introduced into the Vigil in the early part of the twentieth century. Such as the practice at our House of Studies in the early 1950s. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Dominican Vigil is the absence of any rites related to Baptism and the font. This reflects the monastic origins of our rite: monasteries did not have pastoral cures and so had no baptismal font since they never needed to perform baptisms. The rite is also of interest for the simplicity of the Fire Ceremony, which is probably quite ancient.

The Four Friars Missal show is Lausanne: Musee Historique MS MG 2117 and dates to the late 1240s. This post follows the rubrics of the 1933 Dominican Missal, the 1869 Caeremoniale juxta Ritum S. Ordinis Praedicatorum, and the memories of older friars of the Western Dominican Province, in particular Bro. Raymond Bertheaux.

Palm Sunday Photopost 2018 (Part 2)

As we come closer to the sacred Triduum, here is our second Palm Sunday photopost, which is just as varied as the first, with photos from several different countries, the EF and the OF, and the Ambrosian Rite as well. More to come over the next few days - Evangelize though beauty!

Damenstiftkirche - Munich, Germany (FSSP)
Procession starting at the nearby church of All Saints

Dominican Rite Mass in Indiana, Thursday of Easter Octave

Spy Wednesday 2018

When Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to him a woman having an alabaster box of precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he was at table. And the disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying, “To what purpose is this waste? For this might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.” And Jesus knowing it, said to them, “Why do you trouble this woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always. For she in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial. Amen I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memory of her.” Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and said to them, “What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver. And from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26, 6-16, the Gospel sung at Vespers of the Presanctified Gifts on Spy Wednesday in the Byzantine Rite.)

The Betrayal of Judas, as depicted by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, 1304-06. 
On the following day, the Divine Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper is sung together with Vespers; the stichera, sung between verses of Psalms 140, 141, 129 and 116 while the church is incensed, are a series of poetic compositions about the betrayal of Judas, several of which also refer to the woman who anointed the feet of Christ.

Judas the transgressor, o Lord, who dipped his hand with Thee in the dish at the supper, lawlessly stretched out his hands to take the silver pieces; and he that reckoned up the price of the myrrh, did not shudder to sell Thee, that art beyond price; he who stretched out his feet to be washed, deceitfully kissed the Master to betray him to the lawless; cast from the choir of Apostles, and having cast away the thirty silver pieces, he did not see Thy Resurrection on the third day; through which have mercy on us.

Judas the slave and deceiver, the disciple and plotter, the friend and accuser, was revealed by his deeds; for he followed the Teacher and with himself he plotted the betrayal; he said to himself, ‘I shall hand him over, and gain the money that has been agreed upon.’ He sought for the myrrh to be sold, and Jesus to be taken by guile; he gave a greeting; he handed over Christ; and like a sheep to the slaughter so did He follow, that alone is compassionate and loveth mankind.

Judas is truly of the generation of vipers who ate the manna in the desert and murmured against the One who nourished them; for while the food was yet in their mouths, the ungrateful ones spoke against God; and he, the impious one, while bearing in his mouth the heavenly Bread, devised betrayal against the Savior. O insatiable mind, and inhuman daring! He sold the One who nourished him and handed over to death the Master whom he kissed; truly the transgressor is their son, and with them he has inherited destruction. But deliver, o Lord, our souls from such inhumanity, Who art alone boundless in long-suffering.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Palm Sunday Photopost 2018 (Part 1)

The response to our request for photos of your Palm Sunday liturgies has been pretty remarkable; last year we did two posts, this year we will certainly do at least three. We have quite a mix of things right off the bat, and are very pleased to be able to show the EF in the both the pre- and post-Pian forms, the OF, the Byzantine Rite and the Ordinariate Use, a magnificant expression of our rich Catholic liturgical heritage. We will have a lot more of the same variety in the days to come!

St Victor - Los Angeles, California (FSSP)

The History of the Folded Chasuble, by Henri de Villiers (Part 2)

We continue with the second part of Henri de Villiers’s article “Les chasubles pliés: Histoire et liturgie”, originally published in French on the website of the Schola Sainte Cécile. This translation of the article, done by Mr Gerhard Eger, is also being published simultaneously on Canticum Salomonis, with our thanks to him and to Henri once again for his generous permission to reproduce his work.

The generalized practice of cutting off the front part of the folded chasuble, which is certainly convenient, must have contributed to it being perceived as a vestment distinct from the celebrant's chasuble, which was certainly not so in the beginning. Paradoxically, this might have contributed to disaffection with its use. In 1914, the Jesuit Braun [14] deplored the disappearance of folded chasubles throughout Germany. France was hardly better off at this time; although the published ceremonials continue to describe the use of folded chasubles, it is quite rare to find examples or even photographs of them in the 20th century. Their use seems to have endured more in Italy, in the Iberian Peninsula, and in the British Isles.

Already suppressed for the Paschal Vigil in the new experimental liturgies of 1951 and 1952, folded chasubles were entirely banished from Holy Week with the 1955 reforms, and violet and black dalmatics and tunicles put in their place; folded chasubles were still to be used during the rest of Lent and other penitential seasons. This anomaly ceased with the publication of the new code of rubrics in 1960, which stated at the end of the general rubrics that "folded chasubles and broad stoles are no longer used” [15].

Msgr Léon Gromier, the Papal Master of Ceremonies, remarked during his famous conference on the reforms of Holy Week:
Folded chasubles are one of the oldest characteristics of the Roman Rite; they go back to the time when all the clergy wore chasubles, and were retained for a most austere penance. Abandoning them makes a lie of the paintings in the catacombs. It is an immense loss, an outrage to history. They wrongly give this explanation to justify their misdeed: that folded chasubles are difficult to find. But the exact contrary is the case: one finds violet chasubles everywhere that can be folded, whereas violet dalmatics are much less widespread [16]. Besides, one always has the option of ministering in an alb.
We may add that it was a curious move to suppress folded chasubles at the same moment when a return to the ancient, more ample form of the chasuble was being promoted everywhere.

On the other hand, the usage of folded chasubles was never interrupted among the Anglo-Catholics (and perhaps its usage will be gradually restored by the various new ordinariates erected to receive these communities into the bosom of the Catholic Church). In addition, amidst the renaissance of liturgical studies among traditional Catholic communities one observes a growing number of people who are restoring the ancient use.


The use of the folded chasuble is not limited to the Roman Rite. It is found, with variations, in the following liturgies:

1) The Ambrosian Rite: Folded chasubles are used during Advent, Lent, and the Major and Minor Litanies (i.e. Rogation Days, which take place on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the Ascension in this rite, and during which ashes are imposed) and other fasting days throughout the year. As in the Roman rite, the subdeacon takes off his folded chasuble to chant the Epistle. The deacon rolls his up crosswise in the Roman way from the Gospel to the end of Communion. During Sundays of Lent, the deacon chants the very ancient litanies after the Ingressa at the beginning of the Mass; to do this, since it pertains to his proper ministry, he also rolls his chasuble crosswise. The liturgical colours differ from the Roman custom: dark violet during Advent and the Sundays of Lent, but the ferias of Lent are in black. The Major Litanies are in dark violet and the Minor are in black. During an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on a day of penance, folded chasubles are obligatory, even in small churches. One notable difference with the Roman use is that during all of Holy Week (which begins on the eve of Palm Sunday, in Traditione Symboli) is celebrated in red and the dalmatic and tunicle are employed.

2) The Rite of Braga: The use is identical to the Roman rite, except for the procession of Palms when the dalmatic and tunicle are used.

3) The Rite of Lyon: Very interestingly, folded chasubles are not used until after the first Sunday of Lent, a relic of the time prior to St Gregory the Great when the first day of the Lenten Fast was the Monday following this Sunday. The deacon takes off his chasuble before chanting the Gospel but does not roll it over his shoulders (so he does the same as the subdeacon at the Epistle). Folded chasubles are not used on Good Friday.

4) The Rite of Paris: Chasubles are not folded but rolled over the shoulders (the ceremonials speak of transversed chasubles: planetis tranversis super humeros). They are not used during Sundays of Advent, which are celebrated in white in Paris; rather the dalmatic and tunicle are used instead. Folded chasubles are nonetheless used during ferial Masses of Advent in bigger churches with many clerics; smaller churches are dispensed. Transversed chasubles are used for the first time on Ash Wednesday, then on Sundays of Lent, and on Good Friday; the vestments are black each time. On ferias of Lent, on the other hand, the deacon and subdeacon serve only in alb, stole, and maniple, without chasubles, even in the cathedral. Ember Days in September are celebrated with red transversed chasubles, since these days belong to the Time after Pentecost, which is red in Paris.

5) The Premonstratensians: This rite has the interesting peculiarity that the use of folded chasubles begins on Septuagesima.

6) The Cistercians, Dominicans, and Carmelites: These three rites shares similar uses; during penitential seasons, the deacon and subdeacon serve in alb, stole, and maniple, as in smaller churches in the Roman rite. Note that in the Dominican rite, the dalmatic and tunicle are not used during ferial Masses throughout the year.

7) The Carthusians: This rite is very pared down and does not employ the dalmatic and tunicle at all during the year. During Mass, the deacon only puts on the stole to sing the Gospel. Folded chasubles are therefore not used at all.


Based on the evidence from ancient artistic representations, the Byzantine East used the chasuble since at least the 5th century; it is called φαιλόνιον in Greek (phelonion, similar to the Latin pælonia).

Theophilus of Alexandria. Miniature on papyrus, 5th century.
By an interesting development similar to the one that happened in the West, the front part of the phelonion is cut in such a way as to facilitate the gestures of the celebrant.

Icon representing St John of Novgorod: the phelonion is held folded over the arms.
A Byzantine priest wearing the phelonion. The front part of the vestment is cut to facilitate liturgical gestures.
Certain Spanish folded chasubles have a shape very similar to that of modern-day Byzantine phelonia cut in the front.

Spanish-style folded chasubles, very similar to the current Byzantine cut.
We nevertheless do not find any evidence that deacons and subdeacons ever wore chasubles in the East; both used dalmatics) [17]. Yet, in the Russian use, during the ordination of a cantor or lector, the bishop puts a short phelonion over his shoulders, which is likely the Eastern equivalent of the Western folded chasuble.

Ordination of a lector in the Russin use.
The short phelonion is then taken off once the lector has chanted an Epistle.

A newly-ordained Byzantine lector wearing the short phelonion sings the Epistle.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Christ’s Life is the Church’s Life

The great English writer Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson believed that, because the Church is Christ’s Body extended over time and space, the life of the Church as it unfolds throughout the course of history must follow the pattern of the earthly life of Christ. His divine-human life is the pattern of her own origin, growth, and destiny, for He lived her life in concentrated form, and weaves anew the tapestry of His mysteries as each century passes. If the Church is Christ’s bride, she will enjoy a perfect union not only with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His glorious resurrection, but also with His sufferings, His passion and death on the Cross. Christ is the microcosm, and His Church, journeying through history, is the macrocosm which mirrors His own earthly mission.

Christ was born in humble surroundings, the son of a virgin, protected by a guardian; His Church is born from the humble throne of the Cross, the handiwork of the virginal High Priest, shrouded with a protecting veil by His Mother. Christ was obscure in His hidden life at Nazareth; the Church, too, remains hidden beneath the surface of the Roman Empire, and slowly comes to light as paganism exhausts itself in lupercalian gasps. Christ came into public prominence and was subjected to persecution by the authorities; His Church is the subject of imperial anger, sword, and fire. Christ was crucified by His own people; His Church will be martyred in every land where she dwells, as long as she gives living testimony to His Gospel. Christ is risen from the dead; His Church rises like the phoenix from every bed of ashes into which she seems to be dissolved.

The cycle began long ago and will continue until the end of time. Whatever was made manifest in the life of Christ will take place within His Church, in her sacred history. In every age of the Church there will be obscure births, a hidden and a public life, trials and crucifixions, resurrection and ascension. The whole of reality exists from Him, through Him, and towards Him: He is Alpha and Omega.

Wisely did the fathers of the Council of Nicaea name Pontius Pilate in the Christian Creed. For all time he represents the profane world. His voice can be heard across the centuries uttering the cry of despair “What is truth?,” which has become the modern question par excellence. Thinking himself generous and fair, Pilate haughtily “finds no crime” in Christ, the very Sun of Justice (cf. Jn 18:37–39). In the eyes of the contemporary West, Christ is nothing but a moral teacher, thanks to the efforts of Thomas Jefferson and his Enlightenment peers who felt quite comfortable with Pilate’s cowardly indifference. Having judged Christ innocent, the ruler hands the master over to the slaves to be crucified.

Pilate foreshadows the modern democratic leader, appealing to the people for a final decision and washing his hands of their irrational choice, while the Sanhedrin gloat over the conquered prophet: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum. Here we see the frightening consequence of indifference to truth: the Good is handed over to be crucified, in favor of Barabbas, an insurrectionist, a rebel from order, a violator of natural law. The monied rulers and avaricious slaves who populate our cities, from America to Europe, the Middle East to the Far East, acknowledge Caesar—the secular city, the civil state, the temporal realm—as their sole king. We who wish to follow Our Lord hail a different, higher, nobler, immortal King: Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe, Redemptor.

Almighty Father, draw all men to your Son, draw them into the bosom of His holy Church. Lord Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, draw us all into the safe haven of your Sacred Heart, that we may not be lost in the growing confusion and darkness, but remain ever united to you in a love that knows no end. O Holy Spirit, raise up prophets of conviction and preachers of truth in your Church, to confront and unmask the lying spirit in the mouth of the false prophets (cf. 1 Kgs 22:22). O Holy Trinity, eternal, unchanging Good and source of all life, save us, have mercy on us, for You are gracious and you love mankind. Amen.

Artwork by Daniel Mitsui.

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2018 (Part 9)

As we enter Holy Week, we finish up our series of the pictures of the Lenten station churches in Rome from our Roman pilgrims, Agnese Bazzuchi and Fr Alek Shrenck. There will be one more in the series covering a bit of Holy Week.

Tuesday of Passion Week - Santa Maria in via Lata
The church where today’s station was originally kept, and which is still listed in the Roman Missal, dedicated to an early Roman martyr named Cyriacus, was demolished in 1491 to make way for the construction of Santa Maria in Via Lata, to which the station was then transferrred.
The crypt is partly the remains of an ancient house, traditionally said to be one of the places where St Paul stayed when he was in Rome.
From Fr Alek: the 13th century icon of the Virgin Mary in the reredos.
The apsidal fresco of the Assumption, (which is the church’s titular feast), interacts very cleverly with the ceiling.
Wednesday of Passion Week - San Marcello al Corso
“Via Lata - Broad Street” is the Latin name for the via del Corso, and the station church for this day sits on it almost directly across from yesterday’s station. The church is dedicated to a Pope who was martyred in the early 4th century, Marcellus, built over the filthy stables where he was condemned to labor by the Emperor Maxentius; his relics are under the high altar. The church burned down in 1519, and was rebuilt in the opposite orientation from that of the original structure.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday 2018

A great multitude that was met together at the festival cried out to the Lord: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest! (Processional antiphon of Palm Sunday)

The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, by Pedro Orrente, ca. 1620, now in the Hermitage in St Petersburg
Turba multa, quae convenerat ad diem festum, clamabat Domino: benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, hosanna in excelsis!

(Don’t forget to send in photographs of your Palm Sunday ceremonies!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Passiontide Photopost 2018 (Part 4)

We finally come to the conclusion of our four-part series of churches with veils for Passiontide; I believe we have even surpassed last year’s bumper crop, in terms of the number of individual churches. To all our readers, we wish a most blessed Holy Week!

Holy Innocents - New York City
Trinità dei Pellegrini - Rome, Italy (FSSP)

Holy Week Schedule for the St Ann Choir in Palo Alto, California

Here is the Holy Week schedule for services in Palo Alto, California, which will be sung by the St Ann Choir, featuring the music Byrd, Tallis, Palestrina, Victoria, di Lasso and others, and Gregorian chant as well. Please note that the services are divided between two locations, St Thomas Aquinas Church at 751 Waverly, and the St Ann Chapel at 541 Melville.

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