Friday, November 30, 2018

The Feast of St Andrew the Apostle 2018

The hymns sung at the litia, the blessing of bread, wine and oil which is celebrated at Vespers on major feasts in the Byzantine Rite, for the feast of St Andrew the Apostle.

The first-called among the disciples, and, as an imitator of Thy Passion, likened unto Thee, O Lord, Andrew the Apostle, with the hook of Thy Cross, drew up those who once had wandered in the depths of ignorance, and brought them to you. By his prayers, o Thou that are good above all, grant peace to our lives, and save our souls.

The Calling of Ss Peter and Andrew, one of the panels from the reverse of the large altarpiece of the Cathedral of Siena known as the Maestà, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-11.
Let us sing, o ye faithful, of the brother of Peter, Andrew, the disciple of Christ; for once he once sought to catch fish by casting nets into the sea, but now, with the rod of the Cross, he casts his net over the world, and turns the nations back from error through Baptism; and standing before Christ, he asks for peace for the world, and great mercy for our souls.

Having received within his heart the mystic flame that enlighteneth the mind and burneth away sins, the Apostle and disciple of Christ shineth forth with the mystical rays of his teachings in the unenlightened hearts of the nations, and likewise, burns the fables of the impious like twigs; for the fire of the Spirit hath such. O strange and fearful wonder! The tounge of clay, the body of mud, the nature of mud, the body of dust receiveth knowledge mystical and immaterial. But do thou, o teacher of matters ineffable, witness of things in heaven, intercede that our souls may be enlightened!

Statue of St Andrew with his Cross in the Lateran Basilica in Rome, by Camillo Rusconi, 1715 (Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen from Wikimedia Commons)
Having seen the God for whom thou longed walking in the flesh upon the earth, o First-Called of His witnesses, thou didst shout with joy to thy brother: o Simon, we have found the One for whom we long! And to the Savior did Thou cry out like David: As the deer yearneth for streams of water, so doth my soul long for Thee, o Christ our God! Wherefore, adding love to love, by the Cross did Thou pass over to Him that thou loved, as a true disciple, becoming a wise imitator of Him through the suffering of thy Cross. Wherefore, since thou sharest now in His glory pray to him unceasingly for our souls.

Let us acclaim Andrew, the herald of the Faith and servant of the Word; for he fishes men from the depths (of error), holding in his hands the Cross in place of a rod, and letting down its power like a fishing-line, draweth up souls from the errors of the enemy, and bringeth as a gift most welcome to God. O ye faithful, let us ever acclaim him ceaselessly sing to him with the choir of Christ’s disciples, that he may pray Him to be merciful to us on the day of judgment.

St Nicholas and Andrew with the icon of Virgin Hodegetria (She Who Leads the Way)

PCED Ordo for 2019 Now Available

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei informs us that the “Order for Reciting the Divine Office and Celebration of the Mass According to the Ancient or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the Year of the Lord 2019”, edited by the Commission and published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, is now available. Copies of this publication can be bought directly from Libreria Editrice Vaticana at the ecclesiastical booksellers in Rome and elsewhere.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Liturgical Notes on the Vigil of St Andrew

In the Roman Rite, the term “vigilia – vigil” traditionally means a penitential day of preparation for a major feast. The Mass of a Saint’s vigil is celebrated after None, as are the Masses of the ferias of Lent or the Ember Days, and in violet vestments; however, the deacon and subdeacon do not wear folded chasubles, as they do in Lent, but the dalmatic and tunicle. The Mass has neither the Gloria nor the Creed, the Alleluja is simply omitted before the Gospel, not replaced with a Tract, and Benedicamus Domino is said at the end in place of Ite, missa est.

Folio 122r of the Gellone Sacramentary, a sacramentary of the Gelasian type written in 780-800 AD. The Mass of the vigil of St Andrew begins with the large Q, decorated with two fish in honor of his calling as a “fisher of men”; the same device is used with the Collect of the feast day towards the bottom of the page. The preface “Reverentiae tuae” cited below begins with the decorated VD about the middle of the page. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048)
Before the Tridentine reform, the vigil of a Saint consisted solely of the Mass, and had no presence in either the Roman version of the Divine Office, or in that of most other Uses. A minority custom, which seems to have been predominantly German, gave an Office to the vigils of Saints, which consisted of a homily at Matins, and the use of the collect of the vigil as the principal collect of the day; the rest of the Office was that of the feria. The Breviary of St Pius V adopted this latter custom for the vigils of Saints, a rare example of change in an otherwise extremely conservative reform; but even for the Roman Rite, this was not an absolute novelty. Historically, the vigils of the major feasts of the Lord (Christmas, Epiphany etc.) did include the Office, and the change in 1568 simply extended the scope of a well-established custom.

Writing in the mid-12th century, the liturgical commentator John Beleth states that the feast of St Andrew the Apostle “has no vigil, because it occurs in a time of fasting, (i.e. Advent), wherefore it was not necessary that a vigil be instituted for it.” (Summa de Ecclesiasticis Officiis 164). At the end of the 13th century, William Durandus repeats this statement word for word (Rationale 7,38). It may safely be assumed that this is not said merely in error, and does reflect a custom which they both knew to be in use at the time. [1] Nevertheless, the vigil of St Andrew is a very ancient observance of the Roman Rite, attested in the oldest sacramentaries and lectionaries with its own proper Mass, alongside those of the Assumption, the Birth of St John the Baptist, Ss Peter and Paul, and St Lawrence.

The church of Rome is particularly concerned to honor St Andrew as the brother of its first bishop, whom he brought to Christ, as recounted in the Gospel of the vigil. The Introit of the vigil Mass is therefore taken from the Gospel of the feast, Matthew 4, 18-22. “Dóminus secus mare Galiláeae vidit duos fratres, Petrum et Andréam, et vocávit eos: Veníte post me: faciam vos fíeri piscatóres hóminum. – By the sea of Galilee, the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and called them: “Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.”

The epistle is a selection of verses from chapters 44 and 45 of the book of Sirach, with the first verse taken from the book of Proverbs. Several words differ from the version of Sirach found in the Vulgate, an indication of the reading’s extreme antiquity. In the lectionary of Wurzburg, the oldest of the Roman Rite (ca. 650 AD), it is assigned to the feast, but about a century later, in the lectionary of Murbach, it has been moved to the vigil. From this position, it became the common Epistle for vigils of the Apostles, as we find in the Missal of St Pius V. The words “divided him his portion among the twelve tribes” refer to the words spoken by the Lord to St Andrew’s brother, “You, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, shall also sit on twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19, 28)

Prov. 10, 6a The blessing of the Lord is upon the head of the just, Sir. 44, 26 therefore he gave him an inheritance, and divided him his portion among the twelve tribes, 27 and he found grace in the sight of all flesh, 45, 2 and magnified him in the fear of his enemies, and with his words he made prodigies to cease. 3 He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments before his people, and showed him his glory. 4 He sanctified him in his faith, and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh. 6 And he gave him commandments before his face, and a law of life and instruction, and 7 exalted him. 8 He made an everlasting covenant with him, and he girded him about with a robe of justice, and the Lord put on him a crown of glory.

In the Gospel, John 1, 35-51, St Andrew is named as one of two disciples of St John the Baptist who follow the Lord after John points to Him and says “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Andrew finds and brings to the Lord his brother Simon, who is then first given the name “Cephas”, the Hellenized form of the Aramaic “kepha – the rock.” The passage continues to include the Lord’s meeting with Philip, who was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter; Philip then brings to Him Nathanael, whom the other Evangelists call Bartholomew. This passage also provides the Communion antiphon of the Mass, which is unique to it. “Dicit Andréas Simóni fratri suo: Invénimus Messíam, qui dícitur Christus: et adduxit eum ad Jesum. – Andrew sayeth to his brother Simon, ‘We have found the Messiah, who is called Christ’, and brought him to Jesus.”

The Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries each have a proper preface for the vigil of St Andrew. The former speaks of the importance of the ancient discipline of fasting in preparation for a major feast. “VD. Reverentiae tuae dicato jejunio gratulantes, quo apostolica beati Andreae merita desideratis praevenimus officiis, ut ad eadem celebranda solemniter preparemur. – Truly it is worthy and just, meet and profitable to salvation, that we give Thee thanks always and everywhere, o Lord, Holy Father, almighty and everlasting God, rejoicing in the fast dedicated to Thy veneration, by which we anticipate the merits of the blessed Apostle Andrew, our glad duty, that we may be prepared to solemnly celebrate the same. And therefore…”

In the Gregorian Sacramentary, this preface is displaced by that of the feast day, which lays greater emphasize on St Andrew’s role as a member of the Apostolic college. “VD. Qui Ecclesiam tuam in apostolicis tribuisti consistere fundamentis, de quorum collegio beati Andreæ solemnia celebrantes, tua, Domine, preconia non tacemus. Et ideo. – Truly it is worthy… who granted to Thy Church to stand firmly upon the foundation of the Apostles; and among their company, as we celebrate the solemnity of the blessed Andrew, we proclaim also Thy praises, o Lord. And therefore…”

Surprisingly, it is the Ambrosian Preface, not the ancient Roman one, that speaks particularly of St Andrew’s relationship to his brother Peter, and the fact that they both shared the Lord’s death by crucifixion. “VD. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Per quem beatus Apostolus Andreas tantum caelesti gratia eminet praecipuus, quantum etiam beati Petri Apostoli germanitate demonstratur esse præclarus: ut, quos una genitrix edidit mundo, una regeneratione per Crucis patibulum collocarentur in caelo. Et ideo… – Truly it is worthy… through Christ, our Lord. Through Whom the blessed Apostle Andrew stands forth as preeminent in heavenly grace, as he is also shown glorious as the brother of the blessed Apostle Peter; so that those whom one mother brought forth unto the world, might be reborn through the gibbet of the Cross, and placed in heaven. And therefore…” The final words “be placed in heaven” refer to a verse of Psalm 112 which is often referred to the Apostles, “That he may place (collocet) him with princes, with the princes of his people.”

The Crucifixion of St Andrew, by Mattia Preti, from the choir of the basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome. 
In the year 1955, as part of a simplification of the rubrics of both Missal and Breviary (which was in reality anything but a simplification), the vigil of St Andrew was suppressed, although the similarly ancient vigils listed above were not. Since the Gospel passage occurs nowhere else in the Missal, in 1960, it was rescued, along with the Introit, as part of a newly created votive Mass “to ask for ecclesiastical vocations”; the Epistle and the Communion, however, have disappeared. In the post-Conciliar rite, in which vigils in the traditional sense do not exist, both the Introit and Communion from the vigil of St Andrew have been moved to his feast.

[1] According to the rubrics of the Breviary and Missal of St Pius V, if the vigil occurs in Advent, the Office is that of the ferial day of Advent, with no mention of the vigil. However, the Mass of the vigil remains the principle Mass of the day, with commemorations of the feria and the martyr St Saturninus.

Dominican Rite Missa Cantata for First Saturday of December, Oakland CA

This is a reminder that that a Dominican Rite Missa Cantata for the First Saturday observance of the month of December will be celebrated on December 2 at St. Albert the Great Priory, located at 6170 Chabot Road in Oakland California. Ample parking is available on the street or the basketball-court parking lot.The Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m; the celebrant and preacher will be Fr Bryan Kromholtz, O.P., professor of theology at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley. The music and servers will be provided by the student friars of the Western Dominican Province.

The next Dominican Rite Mass will occur after the January academic recess, on February 2. It will be the Mass of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. Blessing of Candles and a procession through the cloister is being planned for this Mass.

The Feast of St Cecilia in Paris with the Schola Sainte-Cécile

In celebration of their patronal feast this year, the Schola Sainte-Cécile sang the Messe solennelle of Charles Gounod (1818-93), also known as the Mass of St Cecilia, to honor the famous Catholic composer in this, the bicententary year of his birth. This Mass was created at the Parisian church of Saint-Eustache, and performed for the first time on the feast of St Cecilia in 1855; it was written in honor of Gounod’s father-in-law, the celebrated pianist and professor at the Paris Conservatory, Pierre-Joseph Zimmerman († October 18, 1853). Two extracts from Gounod’s oratory Mors et Vita, first published in 1885, were also sung; as described by the artist himself, “... I mention Death before Life, since Death is not only the end of an Existence (on earth) which is continual death, but the first instant of the birth of something which dies no longer.” The extract sung here from the second part depicts the adoration of Christ sitting in majesty at the Last Judgment, worshipped by the Saints, followed by two extracts of the third part, a description of the New Jerusalem and the life of the Blessed. (See the full program of the Mass and Vespers at the website of the Schola Sainte-Cécile.)

Solemn Vespers of St Cecilia.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique and the Ordinary Form of the Mass

This article by Douglas O’Neill was originally published on the website Vox Humana, and is here reproduced by permission of the editors, with our thanks.

Charles Tournemire (1870-1939) completed his monumental project L’Orgue Mystique on February 5, 1932. It is unparalleled among Roman Catholic organ music; Tournemire had desired to do for the Roman Catholic Mass what J.S. Bach had done for the Lutheran Mass with his Orgelbüchlein. It is a set of 51 suites for nearly every Sunday and select feast days of the church year. Gregorian chant permeates Tournemire’s music, with motives drawn from the appointed proper chants for the day. Each suite consists of five movements: a “Prélude à l’Introït,” “Offertoire,” “Élévation,” “Communion,” and “Pièce terminale”.

Charles Tournemire, 1910
The Roman Rite was substantially changed with the issue of the 1969 edition of the Roman Missal after the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). This new order of Mass is variously known as the Mass of Paul VI, the Novus Ordo, and now the Ordinary Form of the Mass. The Mass adopted a new three-year lectionary cycle, and with it the proper chants for the Mass were re-ordered to coincide more closely with the readings. The official book of proper chants for this new Mass, the Graduale Romanum, was published in 1974.

One might be tempted to think that this radical overhaul of the Mass propers might condemn Tournemire’s massive project to the dustbins of history. Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum of 2007 liberalized the permission to use the old Tridentine Mass, now known as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass; thus, musicians who serve communities that offer this Mass may use this music in its original context. Nonetheless, the Ordinary Form remains the norm, and so this article will focus on how to incorporate this music into the commonly celebrated form of the Mass. For each piece of the suite, I will cite current liturgical law and suggest how the music might be used in the “new” Mass. I will rely on two magisterial documents (that is, documents approved by the Holy See): Musicam sacram of 1967, the only post-Vatican II magisterial document that specifically concerns liturgical music; and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (hereafter GIRM) in its 2011 edition.

The reader may wonder why I choose not to include two other documents: Sacrosanctum Concilium from the Second Vatican Council, and Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. Sacrosanctum Concilium, known in English as the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”, is a seminal and highly important work, but is largely philosophical, with broad general concepts. Musicam sacram more specifically applies that philosophy to regulations concerning music for the Mass. Sing to the Lord was issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007, and as such contains guidelines for liturgical music in congregations of the United States. This document to this date has not received official approval from the Holy See, and so remain guidelines (except where rooted in magisterial documents) rather than liturgical law. As well, this article seeks to suggest worldwide use of L’Orgue Mystique.

The 1863 Cavaillé-Coll organ at Ste-Clotilde in Paris, France, where Tournemire played.
Prélude à l’Introït

The first piece of each suite is a brief piece based on the Entrance Chant for the Mass. The old High Mass would customarily begin with the Rite of Sprinkling, accompanied by the singing of the Asperges. After this, the procession would return from the main nave of the church to the sanctuary, upon which the celebrant would remove the cope and vest in the chasuble. Then he would go to the altar for the singing of the Introit. The organist was permitted to play an interlude during the time between the end of the Asperges and the beginning of the Introit, which is the original purpose of Tournemire’s Prélude à l’Introït.

Musicam sacram specifically mentions that organ music may be played during the Entrance Procession. The GIRM instructions regarding the Entrance Chant are these:
47. When the people are gathered, and as the Priest enters with the Deacon and ministers, the Entrance Chant begins. Its purpose is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity, and accompany the procession of the Priest and ministers.
48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone…. If there is no singing at the Entrance, the antiphon given in the Missal is recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a reader; otherwise, it is recited by the Priest himself, who may even adapt it as an introductory explanation.
GIRM 47 mentions a fourfold purpose of the Entrance Chant, none of which would preclude the playing of organ music before the Introit. It also says that the Entrance Chant begins as the procession commences. However, it seems not to rule out an extended organ introduction to the singing of the Introit. GIRM 48 concerns more specifically the method of the Entrance Chant, and permits a choral-only rendition of the Gregorian Introit upon which the Tournemire piece is based. For those congregations that wish to incorporate congregational participation in the Entrance Procession, a short congregational antiphon could be added. Concerning chants in English, the work of Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB; Adam Bartlett; Fr. Samuel Weber; and Richard Rice are especially to be commended in this regard. Their settings tend to use the same modes as the Gregorian Introits. This allows various possibilities for seamless musical transitions between Tournemire and the singing, when the starting pitches of the chants are matched to the organ piece.

There would be a few options for its use in the current Mass: as a Prelude before the Mass, after which the Introit would be sung during the Entrance Procession; during the Entrance Procession, followed by the singing of the Introit; and music covering the entire Entrance Procession, with a spoken Entrance Antiphon.


Of the four movements from the suites, the Offertory is perhaps the easiest to incorporate into the Ordinary Form Mass, as the chants are often retained from the earlier Tridentine Mass. Musicam sacram makes clear that solo organ music is permitted at this time, and the GIRM regards the guidelines for the music to be identical to those of the Entrance Chant. Tournemire intended that the music be played following the singing of the Offertory Chant, and this practice may be followed. In addition, it could follow the singing of a vernacular chant of the same mode or be played without the chant being sung.


This is the one movement that has no equivalent in the Ordinary Form Mass. It was customary for some churches in France to have organ music at the consecration and elevation of the host, though some clergy preferred silence. After the elevation, the celebrant would conclude this portion in a subdued voice, and organ music was permitted during this short time. Even before the Mass of Paul VI was promulgated, a 1958 instruction during the pontificate of Pius XII effectively ended the practice of having music during this time, and this guideline has continued to the present day. Organists who wish to play the Elevation pieces could incorporate them as part of a prelude before Mass, but not in the context of its function as Tournemire intended. For this reason, they are not included in the chart at the end of this article.

Charles Tounemire playing at St. Clothilde, June 1939

Tournemire’s Communion pieces are based on the appointed Communion chant for the day. Many of the Communion chants in the 1974 Graduale Romanum vary according to the three-year lectionary cycle. For instance, the communion piece in Office 9 paraphrases Dicit Dominus: Implete, which now is appointed for only Year C on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. The chant for Year A, Laetabimur in salutari, appears in the 1961 Graduale Romanum for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent, and Year B’s Dicit Andreas Simoni for the Vigil of the Feast of St. Andrew.

Tournemire intended that the Communion piece be played following the Agnus Dei, thus beginning the music for the distribution of communion. The singing of the communion chant would follow.

Musicam sacram specifies that solo organ music is appropriate for music during Communion. Regarding music at Communion, the GIRM instructs:
While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful…. Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.
…. if there is no singing, the antiphon given in the Missal may be recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a reader; otherwise, it is recited by the Priest himself after he has received Communion and before he distributes Communion to the faithful.
Here, the GIRM specifies that the chant should begin as the Priest receives, rather than after, as was the former practice. Although some would claim that the mention of “unity of their voices” would preclude any instrumental music, or indeed a choral-only rendition at all, it should be noted that these are not specific guidelines, but rather broad expressions of purpose. It is left to those planning the liturgical music to decide if organ music fulfills the “spiritual union of the communicants.” The GIRM also mentions that the “singing is prolonged” for the duration of the communion procession, but that does not rule out the possibility that organ music could prolong the singing; the singing need not be continuous. Organ music could, in fact, enable the singers to “receive Communion with ease.” The following paragraph implies that singing is not necessary at all, as is the common practice at daily Masses. Feasibly, organ music could be played during the Communion procession, with no singing at all.

In my experience, the following scheme works well: (1) The choir/schola sings the Communion antiphon. (2) The organist plays Tournemire’s setting of the communion chant while the choir receives Communion. (3) The choir/schola again sings the communion antiphon, alternating with psalm verses. A short vernacular antiphon involving the congregation, in the same mode as the Gregorian chant, could also be incorporated if so desired.

Pièce terminale

Tournemire avoids the use of the common French term “Sortie,” as it connotes a purely functional role as “exit music.” Rather, he refers to the movement as the “final piece,” which implies a work of more substance. Robert Sutherland Lord writes that “Tournemire seemed to have envisioned a period of meditation for the devout at the conclusion of the Mass rather than the usual noisy and hurried movements of the congregation toward the door.” Unrestricted by time constraints within the Mass, these pieces are lengthy and complex, frequently quoting chants from the Gregorian Gradual and Alleluia of the Mass (normally replaced in most celebrations of the Ordinary Form Mass by the Responsorial Psalm and a simpler congregational alleluia, although they are technically still permitted), as well as hymns and antiphons sung at Lauds and Vespers.

Musicam sacram mentions the possibility of solo organ music “at the end of Mass.” The GIRM makes no mention of what happens at this point, as the Dismissal formally concludes the Mass itself. While it has become customary in many parishes to sing a hymn after the Dismissal, this practice is hardly required. Because Tournemire’s pieces often do not begin in a boisterous manner, they tend to sound anticlimactic after a final congregational hymn. They more appropriately commence immediately following the Dismissal, accompanying the retiring procession and continuing as the congregants leave the church, or choose to stay and listen while meditating.

The following chart shows how the suites of L’Orgue Mystique may be adapted to the current liturgical calendar, tied to the appointed chants:

L’Orgue Mystique for Novus Ordo.pdf

With this chart, I hope organists in Catholic churches around the world will incorporate L'Orgue Mystique into the Ordinary Form Mass.

First Prize Winner of the 1999 Dublin International Organ Competition, Douglas O'Neill is an active performer on organ, piano, and harpsichord, as well as a church musician and choral conductor. He holds degrees from the University of Evansville, the University of Iowa, and the University of Kansas, where he completed the DMA in Church Music. His principal teachers have been Douglas Reed, Delbert Disselhorst, and James Higdon. Douglas has performed solo and collaborative concerts in the United States and Europe, including the Dublin International Organ and Choral Festival. He has also performed at regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association, and the International Trumpet Guild, as well as with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. He has previously served as Assistant University Organist at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, on the faculty of the University of Evansville, as Associate Organist and Director of the Organ Academy at Saint Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, and as Organist and Assistant Director of Music at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. His responsibilities at the Madeleine included playing for daily liturgies at the Cathedral, managing the acclaimed Eccles Organ Festival, and teaching at the Madeleine Choir School, the only full-time co-educational Catholic choir school in North America. He also prepared numerous editions of chant and polyphony, as well as compositions and orchestrations for performance by the choirs of the school and Cathedral. In addition to his prizewinning effort in Dublin, he has participated in the Grand Prix de Chartres, the Concours internationaux de la Ville de Paris, and the RCO Performer of the Year Competitions, and was a finalist in the Grand Prix Bach de Lausanne competition.

Cardinal Burke Celebrates Pontifical Mass in Mexico City Cathedral

Earlier this month, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke was in Mexico for the Sixth Worldwide Congress of Catholic Jurists, and celebrated a traditional Pontifical Mass in the cathedral of the Assumption in Mexico City. The Mass was organized by the priests of the Fraternity of St Peter’s apostolate in Guadalajara, by whose kind permission we reproduce these photos.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Post-Vatican II Reform of the Epiphanytide and Post-Pentecost Collects: Some Observations

It is (or should be) no secret that the corpus of orations found in the post-Vatican II Missale Romanum are quite different from the preceding liturgical tradition as embodied in the 1962 Missale Romanum. This difference exists not only in the orations used, but also in where they are utilised. For those who are interested, my recently published book The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms (USA, UK) gives the texts of all the orations from the 1962 Missal, Schema 186 of the Consilium (dated 19th September, 1966), and the 1970/2002 Missal, arranged in parallel for the Proper of Time. It also contains various indices for the different types of oration, ordered by the source numbers given in the Corpus Orationum and other books, [1] where one can see at a glance where a given source is utilised in each set of orations. (For more on the book, see this post on NLM.)
An example page from the indices of The Proper
of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms

(click to enlarge)
As readers of New Liturgical Movement are no doubt aware, Lauren Pristas has carried out a detailed comparative analysis of the collects for proper seasons (i.e. Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter). [2] This wonderful book makes an excellent starting point for this sort of comparative analysis, but it is only a start. One of the next steps in this research will be to analyse the collects for Epiphanytide and post-Pentecost (i.e., tempus per annum). So, I thought I would compile some basic statistics about the three corpora of orations - the 1962 Missal, Schema 186, and the 1970/2002 Missal - both as a precursor to further research and to show how the information in The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms could be utilised in this regard. [3]

Between the 1962 Missal, Schema 186 and the 1970/2002 Missal, there are 53 sources used for the collects that occur in Epiphanytide and post-Pentecost. [4] Some of these sources are common to all three corpora, some are common to two of them, and some are unique to one corpus. Of these 53 sources, 29 are used in the 1962 Missal, 33 are used in Schema 186, and 37 are used in the 1970/2002 Missal. [5] The percentage of collects common to all three sets of orations is 30.2% (16/53). [6]

It should be noted that this figure is already quite a low level of correspondence, but it also masks the stark differences between the 1970/2002 Missal and the other two corpora:
Table 1: Percentage similarity of sources used between the different corpora (click to enlarge)
As can be seen from the table above, the number of sources in common between 1962 and Schema 186 is 77.1% (27/35), whereas the number in common between Schema 186 and the 1970/2002 Missal is 37.3% (19/51). This number is even lower when one compares the 1962 and 1970/2002 Missals - in fact, the only sources in common between the two Missals are those that all three corpora have in common! [7]

We can observe another major difference between the three sets of sources when we look at those unique to each set of collects:

Table 2: Percentage of unique sources in each corpora (click to enlarge)
Whereas there are only 2/29 (6.9%) sources unique to the 1962 Missal and 3/33 (9.1%) unique to Schema 186, almost half (48.6%; 18/37) of the sources used in tempus per annum in the 1970/2002 Missal are unique to this corpus. [8]

So, what do these basic statistics point towards?

Firstly, that the corpus of collects in the 1970/2002 Missal really is very different to that of both the preceding liturgical tradition and the proposed draft for the reform of these prayers - perhaps even more so than liturgists and scholars have thus far realised. It should be pointed out here that these statistics do not indicate which orations were edited prior to their inclusion in either Schema 186 or the 1970/2002 Missal, as this would require much more detailed consultation of the Corpus Orationum. However, the number of changes would seem to indicate that, potentially, the character of what is known in the 1970/2002 Missal as tempus per annum has been significantly altered from what came before.

Secondly, that the set of collects being proposed by Coetus 18 bis in 1966 for Epiphanytide and post-Pentecost were only marginally different from those already in the 1962 Missal. It should be noted that a significant proportion of these differences can be accounted for by the elimination of Pre-Lent in Schema 186, and the subsequent designation of these Sundays as the 7th, 8th and 9th after Epiphany. It would also be interesting to look at the collects that have been changed from the 1962 Missal in Schema 186, to see if there are any patterns in the changes and whether these changes satisfy the criteria laid out by Coetus 18 bis in the schema. [9]

Both of these observations raise the question of why the eventual outcome of the Consilium’s work was quite so different from their 1966 draft. Further research and comparative analysis of the post-Vatican II reform of the Missal orations is vital for this question (and others) to be resolved.


[1] For the numbering of sources which follows in this article, CO = E. Moeller, J.M. Clément & B. Coppieters ’t Wallant (eds.), Corpus Orationum (CCSL 160-160M; Turnholt: Brepols, 1992-2004, 14 vols.); CP = E. Moeller (ed.), Corpus Praefationum (CCSL 161-161D; Turnholt: Brepols, 1980-81, 5 vols.)

[2] Lauren Pristas, The Collects of the Roman Missals: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper Seasons before and after the Second Vatican Council (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013).

[3] It should be noted here that, though some of these sources are used elsewhere in the respective corpora, we are only looking at the use of sources in Epiphanytide and post-Pentecost (tempus per annum).

[4] The 53 sources are: CO 20, 95, 669, 762, 875, 899, 901, 934, 990, 1085, 1188, 1245, 1310, 1532, 1582, 1633, 1737, 1772, 1898, 1952, 2055, 2128, 2175, 2210, 2234, 2418, 2555, 2637, 2638, 3233, 3237, 3246, 3739, 3773, 3819, 3830, 3837, 3849, 3886, 3887, 3909, 4145, 4244, 4557, 4663, 4745, 5110, 5346, 5956, 6109, 6821, 6824; CP 1073.

[5] The breakdown is as follows:
  • 1962 Missal: CO 20, 875, 899, 990, 1188, 1245, 1532, 1772, 1898, 1952, 2175, 2210, 2234, 2418, 2555, 2637, 2638, 3233, 3237, 3739, 3773, 3849, 3887, 3909, 4145, 4557, 4745, 5346, 5956;
  • Schema 186: CO 762, 875, 899, 934, 1188, 1245, 1532, 1772, 1898, 1952, 2055, 2175, 2210, 2234, 2418, 2555, 2637, 2638, 3233, 3237, 3246, 3739, 3773, 3849, 3887, 3909, 4145, 4244, 4557, 4663, 4745, 5346, 5956;
  • 1970/2002 Missal: CO 95, 669, 899, 901, 934, 1085, 1188, 1245, 1310, 1532, 1582, 1633, 1737, 1952, 2055, 2128, 2210, 2555, 2638, 3739, 3773, 3819, 3830, 3847, 3886, 3887, 3909, 4244, 4557, 5110, 5346, 5956, 6109, 6821, 6824; CP 1073.
[6] The sources shared between all three are: CO 899, 1118, 1245, 1532, 1952, 2210, 2555, 2638, 3739, 3773, 3887, 3909, 4557, 4745, 5346, 5956.

[7] The breakdown is as follows:
  • 1962 Missal & Schema 186: those common to all three (see note [6]), plus CO 875, 1772, 1898, 2175, 2234, 2418, 2637, 3233, 3237, 3849, 4145;
  • 1962 & 1970/2002 Missal: none, other than those common to all three (see note [6]);
  • Schema 186 & 1970/2002 Missal: those common to all three (see note [6]), plus CO 934, 2055, 4244.
[8] The breakdown is as follows:
  • 1962 Missal: CO 20, 990;
  • Schema 186: CO 762, 3246, 4663;
  • 1970/2002 Missal: CO 95, 669, 901, 1085, 1310, 1582, 1633, 1737, 2128, 3819, 3830, 3837, 3886, 5110, 6109, 6821, 6824; CP 1073.
[9] An English translation of pp. 1-4 of Schema 186, which gives the criteria for and some of the rationale behind the proposed reform of the Missal orations, can be found along with the Latin text in Matthew P. Hazell, The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms (Lectionary Study Press, 2018), pp. 220-227.

Steve Talley - Tonalism and Nocturnes in the American Landscape Tradition

Here is a lesson for any artist who wants to make a living as a painter. I was contacted recently by an American artist who is Catholic, Steve Talley, who told me that he paints landscapes and his intention is to glorify God through the beauty of his work. When he told me that he sells much of what he paints - his Nocturnes are strong sellers - and shows in two galleries, one in Texas and one in New Mexico, I was particularly interested to know how he had managed this.

Although he is already a working artist who sells his work, he contacted me because he wanted to improve as an artist by allowing his faith to inform what he does more deeply. He also wished to reflect on the nature of his personal vocation as an artist in relation to the broad mission of the Church.

Naturally, I recommended that he enroll in the Master of Sacred Arts program and suggested that while he considers this he read two books, The Vision for You, which would help him to discern his personal vocation, and The Way of Beauty.

I asked Steve about his work. His approach as he described it to me is to look at artists whom he admired and whose style he thinks might have an appeal to people today. Believing that the paintings of the American landscape would have an appeal, he divides his time between Texas and New Mexico, and so these have become the subjects of his work. The works of specific artists that he mentioned to me were the nocturnes of Will Sparks, and the tonalist works of John Francis Murphy and Chauncey Foster Ryder. All three are American artists who worked in the last part of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th. He used these as a starting point for the development of his own style.

Lifting Fog by Steve Talley
This, to my mind, is exactly what Catholics ought to do, because it reflects a mindset of tradition. You start by working in the style of another and let your own interpretation of it come through naturally. Being commercially minded is important, because it is no small thing to create a work of art that people are prepared to part with money to own. This is not the only criterion of good art, but it is one of them. Not everything that sells is good, but as generally speaking, all that is good will sell.

We can think of the Nocturne as an American invention in many ways. The term “nocturne” was coined by the American artist James McNeill Whistler in the 19th century. Although Whistler himself did much of his work in London (sometimes from a boat anchored in the middle of the Thames) it is a form that seems to have taken up by American painters in their portrayal of their own country. Perhaps it’s the wide open night skies of the prairie that inspire them, I don’t know, but it is unmistakably a theme in the American landscaping tradition. Associated with it is a school of painters called Tonalists. As well as the harmony and beauty of the natural world, both the Tonalists style and the Nocturne painters draw inspiration from ideas of musical harmony - parallels with the musical Tone Poems and Nocturnes of the 19th century were deliberate. While the inspiration for these is the beauty of the created world and the natural order, it seems to me that this is a form that an artist will excel in if he understands that they give glory to God .

The paintings by Talley that I like most seem to sit in the place where the Nocturne painter and the Tonalist touch. They are set at times when the light is still present, but dimmed, waxing, or waning - late in the day, or early in the morning, or perhaps in heavy mist.

Below are paintings, in order, by Talley (the first two) then works by Whistler, John Francis Murphy, and Chauncey Foster Ryder.

James Whistler - Nocturne (1877)
John Francis Murphy - In the Clearing (1877)
Chauncey Foster Ryder (1868-1949) - Milford Plain

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Continual Spectre of False Antiquarianism

Excavating Roman ruins in London
A friend of mine once wrote to me about a forum on the Eucharist that he attended at a well-known Catholic institute, taught by a teacher who, though talented, said a few things that were, at best, misleading. They illustrated well the sort of half-truths that people occasionally use to justify a kneejerk preference for a liturgical form that, if only they were to research it better, they would come to see as the fruit of Enlightenment rationalism, the fulfillment of the ideals of the Synod of Pistoia, and not authentically Roman, or even Catholic for that matter.

Here were three points made by this teacher:

1. The Emmaus story prefigures the Novus Ordo Mass because Jesus broke open the Scriptures (“Liturgy of the Word”) and then broke bread (“Liturgy of the Eucharist”).

2. Origen’s commentary on Exodus 35, 4–5 shows that people received Communion in the hand at the inception of the Church: “How carefully and respectfully you receive the Lord’s body when it is distributed to you, for fear even a crumb might fall and a little part of this consecrated treasure might be lost. You would even blame yourself — and rightfully so — if a fragment were lost through your negligence.”

3. St Justin Martyr’s First Apology describes a Mass far closer to the Novus Ordo than to the traditional Latin Mass. Even the term “president” is found there, as the term “presider” is found in the context of the Novus Ordo. Thus, the Novus Ordo is a return to the “true” Mass of early Catholics.

Note that there is a common thread running through all of these points: “false antiquarianism,” as Pius XII called it. This appeal to antiquity is always selective: the reformers pick the early elements that fit with their modernist agenda, and effortlessly discard the rest — even things that are equally ancient or more ancient, such as the ad orientem stance.

In other words, there is a modern filter that determines what antiquity means and what makes an ancient element acceptable to moderns. In this way, all such “recoveries” are inherently and unavoidably modern rather than ancient. Thus, antiquarianism is doomed to collapse into the self-referential modernism that picks and chooses items still deemed “relevant” out of the indifferent mass of ateleological matter into which the Church’s past has been converted by modern philosophy. Nothing is valued simply on account of its being handed down; it is valued because it is wanted by a reformer according to his own lights and for his own purposes, be they good or ill. It could almost be turned into a motto for an organization called Planned Prayerhood: “No rite an unwanted rite.”

For example, the reformers liked Communion in the hand because it suited their anti-medieval, anti-scholastic, anti-metaphysical, anti-Tridentine mentality, dressed in the fancy clothing of ressourcement. But when it came to Septuagesimatide, which is from the 6th century and even older than Ash Wednesday, they just chucked it out the window. One can cite dozens of such examples. There are, however, patently good reasons why the liturgy of the Church developed as it did over the centuries — when, for example, a period of preparation for Lent was introduced, or when it was experienced as safer and more reverent to give Communion on the tongue to kneeling faithful.

The modernist agenda is thus very clever in how it appeals to the ancient practice while conveniently forgetting (or denying?) that the Church’s worship is perfected over time, under the guidance of Divine Providence. In spite of his own unfortunate dabbling with liturgical reform, it seems that Pius XII saw this truth and underlined it in the 1947 encyclical letter Mediator Dei, in three paragraphs that should have been engraved on the wall of the Consilium’s headquarters:
62. Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feastdays, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer’s body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.
          63. Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church [a reference to the Council of Trent], under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas [of antiquity]. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by the disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation. 
          64. This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn. For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father for their souls’ salvation.
Notice how many of the things that Pius XII singled out for condemnation ended up being done, to the letter, by Captain Bugnini and his novelty-mongering crew. (In my book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, I go into all these things in more detail, especially in the chapter contrasting the original liturgical movement with what it devolved into.)

Let us consider briefly, then, the three points made by the teacher that were mentioned at the top of this article.

Ad 1. The division of the Mass into the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful is far more ancient than the division between Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. This latter division hails from the Protestants. Sure, you can get it out of Emmaus, just as you can get Luther out of Romans or Calvin out of Augustine. But it’s not traditional and it’s not Catholic.

Ad 2. Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book Dominus Est is the definitive refutation of the idea that the early Church did “just what we’re doing now” with Communion in the hand. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, the ancient way was more careful, more devout, and more solemn. Second, the numbers of faithful were far smaller. Third, the reason the Church moved to Communion on the tongue for kneeling recipients is the very piety one finds in the Fathers of the Church. Take the attitude you find in St. Cyril of Jerusalem and compound it by several centuries of meditation, adoration, and experience, and you will end up with the medieval custom. (It should hardly need to be said that the Byzantine manner of distributing communion, in spite of superficial differences, has far more in common with the traditional Roman way than it has with the contemporary Romish way.)

Ad 3. Yes, the primitive liturgy described by St. Justin sounds a bit like the Novus Ordo. That’s because there had not yet occurred 1,800 years of natural and supernatural development to enrich the solemn official worship of the Church, especially after this worship had become legal and public. St. Justin must be rolling over in his grave to see people depriving themselves and Our Lord of due reverence and beauty in order to simulate the fiction of a primitive liturgy.

The redactors of the Novus Ordo used selective (and, as we now know, often erroneous) scholarship on early Catholic practices as an incentive and a justification for creating their own novel product, which, in its totality as in its particular constellation of details, bears little resemblance to any actually existing liturgical rite whose complete form we know, such as the Latin rites and uses at the end of the first millennium, or the Roman Rite from the middle of the second millennium. Or rather, it bears the same resemblance as a teddy bear to a black bear: they both have the same shape, they both have eyes, ears, nose, a mouth, and four paws, they are both furry. But one is large, heavy, alive, and hungry, while the other is small, lightweight, lifeless, and stuffed.

To return to our point of departure, the well-intentioned but ill-informed teacher who presented this half-information to his Catholic audience was doing them a disservice by implying that the Novus Ordo is somehow more in continuity with the ancient Church than the developed Latin liturgical tradition. In so doing he inadvertently made himself a “useful idiot” running interference for the modernists who carried out the liturgical reform with a hatred of the traditional Catholic faith, and who removed every so-called “medieval or Baroque accretion” they could get away with removing. The result is the stripped-down Bauhaus liturgy that will haunt the reputation of Paul VI until the end of the ages.

In order to cover the new rite’s nakedness, people inclined to “Reform of the Reform” add as many “smells and bells” as they can think of or get away with. But there is no amount of Latin that will change what the prayers say (and do not say); there is no amount of chant that will change the damaged structure of the propers, the lectionary, and the calendar; there is no mountain of incense that will mask the sharp smell of the electric dynamo, the spirit behind the reform. ROTR is a huge band-aid placed over a gaping wound that refuses to heal. It refuses to heal because rupture with tradition cannot be blessed by God. Many people will be saved in spite of it, but it can never be a good thing in itself.

Why, then, do Catholics still adhere to the ROTR when they could (in many cases) so easily move over to the TLM? When, let us say, a parish run by the Fraternity or the Institute is just across town, or even down the road, or where a parish priest has added the usus antiquior to the Sunday schedule? Why settle for the Citroën or Renault when you could have the Jaguar or Rolls Royce? Why is it that those without special training or academic credentials can often see the rightness of the old ways and the emptiness of the new, while those who should be leading their brethren by precept and example turn out to be hoodwinked and benighted?

I believe there is a moral reason and a cognitive reason.

They do not see it because they do not want to see it. This is the moral dimension. It stems from a false ultramontanism, whereby Paul VI or any pope can do no wrong, and from a fear that if the liturgy he promulgated turns out to be flawed, it will somehow call into question the indefectibility of the Church — which it certainly does not. It also stems from a fear of personal instability: if the new liturgy is seriously defective, that may mean the new theology and pastoral approach introduced by Vatican II is worthy of critique (as indeed it is). And that would require an interior spiritual and intellectual reorientation that many are unwilling to entertain, let alone execute — although Pope Francis has been making this reorientation tempting and even irresistible, for which we can be grateful to him.

They do not see it because they have not tried to see it. This is the cognitive or perceptual dimension. One has to let the traditional liturgy wash over one’s body and soul like waves at the ocean, patiently getting to know it, adjusting to its gentle rhythm, before its secrets fully reveal themselves. Those who discover these secrets are proving once again the efficacy of the prayer of Our Lord: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones” (Mt 11:25).

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Bishop Robert Morlino, RIP

His Excellency Robert Morlino, the bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, passed away yesterday evening, three days after experiencing a cardiac event during planned medical tests. He served as Bishop of Madison for 15 years, and as bishop of Helena, Montana, for a bit less than four years before that. He is known to our readers particularly as a strong supporter of the traditional Latin Mass, and a great encourager of priestly vocations. We offer our condolences to Bishop Morlino’s family and friends, and to all the Catholics of the diocese of Madison.

Da nobis, Dómine, ut ánimam fámuli tui Roberti Epíscopi, quam de hujus sáeculi eduxisti laborióso certámine, Sanctórum tuórum tríbuas esse consortem. Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum. R. Amen.
Vouchsafe us, o Lord, that Thou may grant that the soul of Thy servant, the bishop Robert, which Thou has led out from the toil and strife of this world, may share in the fellowship of the Saints. Through Christ our Lord.  R. Amen.

Bishop Morlino imparts the Pontifical Blessing while assisting from the throne at the first Mass of a newly ordained priest. (From an article posted this past June.)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

New TLM in Vero Beach, Florida

Beginning on December 2nd, the First Sunday of Advent, the church of St John of the Cross in Vero Beach, Florida, will have a Mass in the Extraordinary Form each Sunday at noon. The church is located at 7590 26th Street.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Life and Work of Mgr. Li Jingfeng, Bishop of Fengxiang (Part 2)

The first part of this article offered a brief biography of the late Mgr. Li Jingfeng, Bishop of Fengxiang, China, together with his letter to the general synod of 2012 and his preface to a Chinese-Latin textbook. Today we will look at what this good bishop did to promote the usus antiquior in China, and his rather sharp criticisms of the deleterious effects of the introduction of the Novus Ordo in his country.

Traditional Liturgy
Paradoxically, as if facing persecution by the Communist Party was not enough, Bishop Li also had to defend his diocese against what he perceived to be the harmful influences of Western missionaries, who began to enter China in greater numbers in the 1980s after the “opening-up” policy went into effect. He blamed some of these religious for bringing with them a “corrupt faith” and a “liberal” attitude toward Church law and tradition.

In particular, he worked energetically to oppose the liberal liturgical reforms that were brought into China by these religious. As a clandestine Church, China had had restricted communication with the Vatican, and thus the great changes of the ‘70s and ‘80s had mostly passed them by, and many dioceses did not yet celebrate the Novus Ordo Missae.

His Pastoral Letter for the Year of Faith (15 August, 2012) blames a flawed interpretation of the “spirit of Vatican II” for creating a “Protestant” attitude toward liturgical law. Most of all, it blames the influence of liberal western missionaries for disrupting the sound traditional piety of Chinese Catholics in the name of “progress” and “inculturation.”

“In the 1980s, after the opening-up policy, foreigners started coming to mainland China and brought with them the pollution of the West. When the government discovered this, it took action to correct it. But who was keeping watch over the corruption brought by people into the Church? At that time, some Western religious came to China. When they saw Chinese Catholics piously kneeling on the ground and praying the Rosary and Stations of the Cross before the liturgy, they said: ‘You are all so behind the times, acting like that, kneeling and saying so many prayers. We stopped doing that a long time ago!’ Not wanting to witness this, they would leave the church and go back home until the Mass began and our Catholics had stopped saying their prayers. Moreover, during Mass they always either stood or sat, which our priests and lay Catholics despised.

I once wrote a letter to the Apostolic Delegate in Hong Kong: ‘The rubbish brought into civil society has been cleaned up by the state. But whose duty it is to clean out the trash brought into the Church? Your religious who came here, they walked out because they disapproved of our way of praying. Their influence is extremely dangerous. I urge you not to let this kind of religious come to mainland China.’ But the Apostolic Delegate did nothing. So this kind of religious kept coming as before, and always protested against our way of praying. Now that several decades have passed, finally we have come to understand that the faith of certain people overseas was corrupted long ago.”

The same pastoral letter addresses the question of inculturation. He points out that recent efforts at “inculturation” often turned out to be merely an imposition of Western liberal values:

“Some people make use of the fashionable word ‘inculturation’ to argue that everything should be localized. But how should we understand inculturation? We may well ask whether we still see a genuine Chinese culture in China. But putting aside the question of Chinese culture for the moment, the meaning of the word ‘inculturation’ is ambiguous. It is a new word that became common after the Vatican II, derived from the Latin word ‘inculturatio.’ ‘Cultura’ means culture, but the meaning of the prefix in- added before it is hard to tell clearly. ‘In’ has two meanings: ‘in something’ and ‘into something.’ Therefore the choice to render it in Chinese as ‘localization’ is not necessarily appropriate.

Some people think that inculturation entails assimilation to local things. But a small error can lead to a great misconception. ‘To enter into a culture’ and ‘to become like that culture’ are two absolutely different things. As for Chinese culture, can it still be seen in our modern society? Customs, ways of thinking, food, clothing, living arrangements, travel, and morality, is there any of these domains in which we do not imitate the West? Are the cornerstones of Chinese culture, such as the Three Obediences and the Four Virtues, the Three Principles and the Five Moralities, [1]  still seen and practiced in today’s China? To the contrary, in the eyes of modern Chinese people, this whole culture can be summarized in one phrase: undesirable feudalistic doctrines. What is desirable is Western culture. The Western people wear camisole dresses at weddings, and so we are imitating it. Western people practice homosexuality, and we are starting to imitate it. Is this Chinese culture?

A classic example of inculturation in a Chinese context: altar boys wearing the jijin, the hat worn by the clergy when saying Mass in China, where it was traditionally considered a matter of shame for a man to appear in public without a hat. (From an article we originally published last August.)
In 2011, there was a local Church feast celebrated in an Asian country, and the Pope sent a cardinal as his representative to participate in the opening ceremony. The cardinal only saw benches and chairs but no kneelers, so he asked: ‘Does your Eastern culture not believe it is important to kneel to venerate and worship God? Why is there not a single kneeler in the church? Is this your inculturation of the Gospel?’ This should come as a great rebuke to us! [....]

We can see how Buddhism has entered into local culture. For example, there are many Buddhist ideas and phrases in our language; in this case there was a real entering into Chinese culture. Can we do as Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi did, who made the Gospel of Jesus Christ enter into Chinese culture, so that everyone will know the salvation of Jesus? Can we make the Gospel of Christ become part of Chinese culture? This is the real meaning of inculturatio.”

On 10 Oct 2011, Bishop Li published called “The Inviolability of the Sanctity and Dignity of the Church’s Liturgy,” (Chinese text here), in which he instructed Catholics on the nature of the sacred liturgy. Citing decades of conciliar and papal teaching, he forcefully urges the necessity of obeying liturgical law, and warns against the dangers of the liberal “reform” movement imported by Western clergy. Here are a few excerpts:

“9. What can we do to help correct liberalism?

Here I want to quote some words from the introduction of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, as the basis of an answer to this question. ‘Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace… ‘Caritas in veritate’ is the principle around which the Church’s social doctrine turns, a principle that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action...: justice and the common good.

Justice: Ubi societas, ibi ius… Love is to give, to offer what is ‘mine’ to the other; ... justice [is] to give the other what is ‘his’... I cannot ‘give’ what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice.

The common good: To love someone is to desire that person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it… It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it.’

‘The social community’ the Pope mentions certainly includes the Church, and the appearance of liberalism in the Church is precisely what the Pope meant by a ‘lack of love’.

As pastors of souls, if priests do not celebrate according to liturgical rubrics, then as the Holy See pointed out, they ‘insult the dignity of the believer’ (Liturgicae Instaurationes). The Pope said: ‘To love someone is to desire that person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it.’ Now let us look at these priests, who lack love. Can they say they desire the good of lay Catholics and that they take effective steps to secure it? … The reason why the clergy who disobey the liturgical regulations do not care about justice and the common good, and choose to insult the dignity of believers, is that they do not have the love mentioned above. [....]

Now let’s see how to correct liberalism in the liturgy. It is simple: the priest must love the Lord with his whole heart, and the Church, lay Catholics, the Sacrament and the liturgy, justice, the common good, his own vocation, and his priestly identity, imitating the Apostle Matthew who left the tax-collector’s desk at the call of Christ, imitating Zacchaeus who gave up worldly thoughts and climbed into the sycamore tree of love to see our sorrowing Lord Jesus. In this way we can overcome liberalism without difficulty, conform our actions to the Church’s teaching, restore respect for the sacred and sublime character of the priest, and console our sorrowing Mother Church and her vulnerable flock of believers.”

The same letter puts forward the traditional Roman liturgy, with its strictly regulated ceremonies, as a powerful antidote against liturgical liberalism:

“I feel it is necessary to talk about a very realistic fact. Pope Benedict has granted the whole Church freedom to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. The rituals of this form are complicated and difficult. But priests around the world, in ancient and modern times, in China and overseas, have been able to celebrate this Mass in exactly the same way according to the liturgical rubrics, without exception. How can we explain this? Recently, our priests and seminarians watched videos of the Tridentine Mass being celebrated in different places around the world (the United States, Ireland, Britain, Rome, the SSPX). They exclaimed afterwards: ‘This is amazing! These priests from different places and differents times celebrate the same ritual with exactly the same gestures, and their rite is also identical to the Tridentine Mass we celebrate here! How can this be?’ I said: ‘It is simple: that they all love the Lord and the Church with their whole hearts, and love to obey Church teaching. There is nothing else.”

Roman Missal

While forming his priests for a correct celebration of the new rites in conformity with the mind of the Church, Bishop Li also fostered in his priests devotion to the traditional Latin liturgical tradition, which was used generally by the Church in China until the 1980s and 90s.

Bishop Li’s devotion to the old rite led him, in 2012, to publish a Chinese-Latin edition of the Missale Romanum 1962, (Parvum Missale Tridentinum 1962 Sinice Explicatum - A Small Tridentine Missal, 1962, Explained in Chinese) whose use he encouraged in his diocese. This Missal is used in several dioceses of mainland China where the traditional Mass is offered. It may be the only edition on the mainland, though there is another printed in Hong Kong.

Bishop Jingfeng made it clear in his writings that he saw Summorum Pontificum not merely as a permission, but as a challenge to all priests of the Roman rite: “As priests of the Church, if we are not able to celebrate the sacrifice and to venerate God in the official language of the Church, what does that say about our identity as priests!” The Missal was accompanied soon after by a volume of liturgical instruction for priests, published on Dec. 1, 2012. These and all his books can be found here.


Bishop Li died on 17 November, 2017, at the age of 95. A young Catholic who witnessed his holy death had this to say. (

“Our beloved bishop loved God in his whole life. For his steadfastness in faith, he had been jailed for years. Even though he was under all kinds of pressures and suffered injustices, his love for God was not shaken. He was firm in his faith, never changed, even until the last moment of his life on earth.

His firmness in the principle of faith, his love and seriousness in Church liturgy and Church traditions have deeply influenced my faith and vocation.

We were happy our beloved bishop had received the Precious Blood at 6:50 am this morning, before he departed at 7:20 am. In the prayers of priests and the faithful, our Lao Zhujiao rested in peace!”

[1]The Three Obediences (obedience to the father before marriage, to the husband in marriage, and to sons in widowhood) and the Four Virtues (morality, proper speech, modest manner, and diligent work) apply to women. The Three Principles express the hierarchical order of society: the monarch is the principle of the subject; the father is the principle of the son; the husband is the principle of the wife. The Five Moral Rules are: charity, gratitude, humility, prudence, and honesty. 

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