Monday, August 31, 2020

A New Lecture Series on Eastern Catholic Theology

This Thursday, the Lumen Christi Institute and the Godbearer Institute will begin jointly presenting a series of webinars on “Eastern Catholic Theology in Action.” This first of these lectures, “Introduction to Liturgical Mystagogy”, will be given by Deacon Daniel Galadza, whose work we have featured here before. His talk will explain how the liturgical tradition of Jerusalem developed hymnography as a way to explain the meaning of the Church’s sacramental life to the faithful during the services, an exegetical commentary on Scripture and the mystery of salvation in Christ. The lecture will begin at 7pm Central Time (8pm EST) is free and open to the public: register here via Zoom.

Dr Galadza is currently a fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Regensburg in Germany, and a member of the UGCC’s Patriarchal Liturgical Commission in Kyiv. His research focuses on the historical development of liturgy, particularly the Byzantine Rite, as well as modern and contemporary Orthodox and Eastern Catholic worship and church singing.

Other upcoming lectures in the same series:

September 10: Andrew Hayes (Univ. of St. Thomas, Houston) – A Theology of Wonder: An Introduction to the Poetry of Ephrem the Syrian
September 17: Robin Darling Young (CUA) – Christ the Lover of Mankind: Philanthropia, Mystery, and Martyria in Eastern Christianity
September 24: Alexander Laschuk (Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies) – Eastern Churches, Latin Territories: Ecclesial Catholicity and the Notion of Diaspora
October 1: Erin Walsh (Univ. of Chicago) – Expanding the Archive: Syriac Literature and the Study of Early Christianity Today
November 12: Archbishop Borys Gudziak (Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the USA) – Quo Vadis: The Direction of Eastern Catholic Theology, a Pastoral Perspective for the 21st Century

The Second Vatican Council urged the Eastern Catholic Churches to cultivate and promote their unique share of the tradition; this series responds to that mandate and features leading scholars in the field to offer their theological perspectives drawn from the wisdom of Christian East. In view of broadening our understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition, this series draws attention to the vantage points of Christians who worship, think, and pray in continuity with the first 1,000 years of the undivided Church.

Guest Review of Joseph Shaw’s How to Attend the Extraordinary Form

NLM is grateful to the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales for giving us permission to reprint the following review from their magazine Mass of Ages. I would like to add that I have read this booklet carefully and agree completely with Fr Finigan’s positive assessment. In fact, this is the first and only such booklet I could genuinely recommend for the public “pamphlet rack” at the back of the church. It it compact enough not to frighten a prospective reader, yet never superficial in its treatment of questions.

A Valuable Booklet on the Traditional Mass from the Catholic Truth Society
Fr Timothy Finigan
Long-standing members of the Latin Mass Society have had to change and adapt considerably over the decades as the Church has given greater freedom to the celebration of the traditional Mass, and most notably since Summorum Pontificum and the gradual establishment of the “Extraordinary Form” as a part of the mainstream life of the Church.

We are now fortunate to have an increasing number of parishes including it in their ordinary schedule, traditional societies being given responsibility for parishes, and several Bishops, who not only no longer need to give permission for the Mass, but now celebrate it themselves.

As I write this review, young priests all over the country are celebrating Mass privately during the lockdown. My telephone conversations lead me to suspect that more than one or two are taking the opportunity to become familiar with the old rite without the risk of any controversy.

The new booklet How to Attend the Extraordinary Form, intended for the general Catholic public and providing an explanatory introduction to the usus antiquior, is a helpful addition to the CTS list at this time. Dr Shaw has distinguished himself by writing copiously on questions related to the liturgical tradition, theology, law and practice. As an Oxford don, he is well used to dealing with controversial points without needing to start a row, and his reputation depends on accurate appraisal and intelligent comment. It would be hard to think of a better author for such an introductory treatment. The chapter on the organic development of the liturgy is a fine description of a complex subject which shows that mastery of material which is necessary in order to simplify it for a wide audience.

Traditionalists will not be disappointed by this measured and balanced account which deals gently but firmly with all the old objections about the priest “having his back to the people”, the barrier of supposedly incomprehensible language, the accusation of divisiveness and the subject on which we all have to tread on eggshells, the “reform of the reform.”

The pamphlet concisely explains the way the form of the liturgy “marks off the holiness of holy things” and has much in common with the ethos of the Eastern rites. The newcomer will learn how the personality of the priest is minimised, why the canon is said in silence, and what is gained in the traditional lectionary and calendar.

The treatment of the controversial topics of the reception of Holy Communion, head covering, and male altar servers will probably not convert a hardened liberal, but then who could? What it might well do is remove some of the obstacles for those who are genuinely enquiring but sceptical.

Many of Dr Shaw’s supporting quotations will be familiar to seasoned apologists for the Extraordinary Form and it is good to have a well-chosen selection for ready reference. The references to Pope Paul VI and even Pope Francis may raise a wry smile among some traditionalists, but they are so apposite that they simply cannot be dismissed as whataboutery.

It is no longer a newsworthy headline to proclaim that the traditional Latin Mass is attended by a high proportion of young people. Anyone not living under a stone since 2007 will have noticed by now, and during those 13 years new young people have been coming to the old Mass persistently year by year. Many of them will want a primer on the basics for themselves and, in the modern ecclesiastical zoomer vs. boomer phenomenon, so that they can answer the objections of the old folks.

How to Attend the Extraordinary Form is an excellent vademecum which is surprisingly comprehensive for its pamphlet format. Members of the Latin Mass Society would do well to get in a few copies to have on hand for interested enquirers. I would suggest having a good read yourself first: all but the most comprehensively informed are sure to find some nuggets they had not come across before.

How to Attend the Extraordinary Form is available from the LMS shop, £3.50 + £1.06 p&p., or directly from CTS.

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, founded in 1965, is an association of Catholic faithful dedicated to the promotion of the traditional Latin liturgy of the Catholic Church, the teachings and practices integral to it, the musical tradition which serves it, and the Latin language in which it is celebrated. Catholics anywhere in the world may become members and receive the quarterly magazine Mass of Ages. Visit the website for more information.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Feast of Bl. Ildephonse Schuster 2020

We never let August 30th pass without remembering the Blessed Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, who went to his eternal reward on this day in 1954, after serving as Archbishop of Milan for just over a quarter of a century. We have written about him many times on NLM, partly in connection with our interest in the Ambrosian liturgy, of which he was a great promoter, but also as one of the most notable scholars of the original Liturgical Movement. His famous work Liber Sacramentorum, known in its English translation as The Sacramentary (and recently republished in both paper and cloth by Arouca Press), was written while he was still a Benedictine monk of the Roman Rite, and although inevitably dated in some respects, it remains an invaluable reference point for liturgical scholarship.

Upon his transfer to Milan, he embraced the Ambrosian liturgy wholeheartedly, and as the ex-officio head of the Congregation for the Ambrosian Rite, strongly defended the authentic uses of the Milanese tradition. He also oversaw important new editions of the Ambrosian musical books, which are still used in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Rite to this day. Our dear friend Monsignor Amodeo, a canon of the Duomo of Milan who was ordained a subdeacon by the Blessed Schuster, told us many stories about him over the years, among which one has always stood out in my mind in particular; in his lifetime, even the communist newspapers noted his continual presence in the Duomo at all of the most important functions of the liturgical year. Nicola de’ Grandi, our Ambrosian writer, once showed me a video of Cardinal Schuster giving Benediction from the façade of the Duomo, to a crowd that completely filled the huge piazza in front of the church. (Thanks to Nicola for these photos.)

Pontifical Mass on the feast of St Charles; the mitred canons sitting on the steps of the altar are the deacons and subdeacons who serve the Mass, apart from those at the throne.
Preaching from the great tribune pulpit of the Duomo.
Lighting the faro on the feast of St Sebastian.
During the difficult years of his episcopacy, the years of Italian Fascism and World War II, during which Milan was one of the hardest hit cities in Italy, the Bl. Schuster showed himself in every way a worthy successor of St Charles Borromeo, shepherding his flock in much the same way, visiting every parish of the diocese five times (occasionally riding on a donkey to some of the more remote locations), holding several diocesan synods, and writing innumerable pastoral letters.
Pastoral visit to the village of Valsolda.
Praying at the tomb of Card. Andrea Ferrari, archbishop of Milan from 1894-1921. Card. Ferrari was beatified on May 10, 1987; his relics are now in an altar in the right aisle of the Duomo, right next to that which contain the relics of Bl. Schuster. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A First Mass in Poland

On Thursday, August 20, the feast of St Bernard of Clairvaux, a newly-ordained priest, Fr Fabian Skowron, O. Cist., celebrated his first Mass in the traditional rite at the Cistercian monastery in Wąchock, Poland, assisted by seminarians and altar boys from Warsaw, Sandomierz and Radom, and several members of his own community. The Mass was sung by the choir of the cathedral basilica in Sandomierz, which sang the Gregorian chants from the Cistercian Gradual; the O Salutaris Hostia was sung immediately after the consecration, according to the Order’s custom. After the Mass, the faithful received first blessings from the new priest, to whom we offer our congratulations – ad multos et felices annos!

The Beheading of St John the Baptist 2020

A righteous man is murdered by adulterers, and a death sentence is pronounced by the guilty upon their judge. Then the death of the prophet was the fee of a dancing girl. Last of all (something which even savages are wont to shun), the order to perpetrate this cruelty was given amid feasting and merriment, and the servants of this brutal crime run from banquet to prison, from prison to banquet. How many crimes within this one evil deed!

The Head of St John the Baptist Presented to Herod, by Donatello, 1427; one of six decorative panels on the baptismal font of Siena Cathedral.
Look, most grievous king, on these sights well worthy of thy banquet. Put out thy hand, that nothing may lack from thy savagery, and let the streams of sacred blood run between thy fingers. ... Look at the eyes, which even in death are witnesses of thy crime, even as they turn away from the sight of thy pleasures. Those eyes are closed, not from the necessity imposed by death, but from horror at thine excess. That golden mouth, now bloodless, whose sentence thou couldst not bear, groweth silent, and is still feared. (St Ambrose, On the Virgins, book 3; the sermon at Matins for the feast of the Beheading of St John the Baptist in the Breviary of St Pius V.)

Friday, August 28, 2020

Arranging the EF Breviary for the Rest of the Liturgical Year

This is our annual posting on one of the discrepancies between the traditional arrangement of the Roman Breviary and the new rubrics of 1960; the first such discrepancy appears at Vespers tomorrow evening. This year, there is also a discrepancy between the traditional placement of the September Ember Days, and their placement according to the new rubrics.

One of the changes made to the Breviary in the revision of 1960 regards the arrangement of the months from August to November.

The first Sunday of each of these months is the day on which the Church begins to read a new set of Scriptural books at Matins, with their accompanying responsories, and Magnificat antiphons at Saturday Vespers. These readings are part of a system which goes back to the sixth century: in August, the books of Wisdom are read; in September, Job, Tobias, Judith and Esther; in October the books of the Macchabees; in November, Ezechiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor Prophets. (September is actually divided into two sets of readings, Job having a different set of responsories from the other three books.)

Folio 98v of the antiphonary of Compiègne, 860-77 AD. At the top of the page are three antiphons taken from the book of Job for Saturday Vespers, the first and second of which (Cum audisset Job and In omnibus his) are found in the Breviary of St Pius V and subsequent revisions thereof. These are followed by responsories and antiphons from the book of Tobias, and responsories from the book of Judith. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 17436)
The “first Sunday” of each of these months is traditionally that which occurs closest to the first calendar day of the month, even if that day occurs within the end of the previous month. This year, for example, the first Sunday “of September” is actually August 30th, the Sunday closest to the first day of September.

In the 1960 revision, however, the first Sunday of the months from August to November is always that which occurs first within the calendar month. According to this system, the first Sunday of September is the 6th this year.

This change also accounts for one of the peculiarities of the 1960 Breviary, the fact that November has four weeks, which are called the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth. According to the older calculation, November has five weeks when the 5th of the month is a Sunday. (This is also the arrangement that has the shortest possible Advent of three weeks and one day.) According to the newer calculation, November may have three or four weeks, but never five. In order to accommodate the new system, one of the weeks had to be removed; the second week of November was chosen, to maintain the tradition that at least a bit of each of the Prophets would continue to be read in the Breviary.

The Sundays for the rest of the liturgical year, according to the traditional system:

August 30 – the 1st Sunday of September (XIII after Pentecost)
September 6 – the 2nd Sunday of September (XIV after Pentecost)
September 13 – the 3rd Sunday of September (XV after Pentecost; Ember week)
September 20 – the 4th Sunday of September (XVI after Pentecost)
September 27 – the 5th Sunday of September (XVII after Pentecost)

October 4 – the 1st Sunday of October (XVIII after Pentecost)
October 11 – the 2nd Sunday of October (XIX after Pentecost, commemorated on the feast of the Maternity of the Virgin Mary.)
October 18 – the 3rd Sunday of October (XX after Pentecost, commemorated on the feast of St Luke)
October 25 – the 4th Sunday of October (XXI after Pentecost, commemorated on the feast of Christ the King)

November 1 – the 1st Sunday of November (XXII after Pentecost, commemorated on the feast of All Saints)
November 8 – the 3rd Sunday of November (XXIII after Pentecost)
November 15 – the 4th Sunday of November (VI after Epiphany, resumed)
November 22 – the 5th Sunday of November (XXIV and last after Pentecost)

The Sundays for the rest of the liturgical year, according to the 1960 system:

August 30 – the 5th Sunday of August (XIII after Pentecost)

September 6 – the 1st Sunday of September (XIV after Pentecost)
September 13 – the 2nd Sunday of September (XV after Pentecost)
September 20 – the 3rd Sunday of September (XVI after Pentecost; Ember week)
September 27 – the 4th Sunday of September (XVII after Pentecost)

October 4 – the 1st Sunday of October (XVIII after Pentecost)
October 11 – the 2nd Sunday of October (XIX after Pentecost, with a commemoration of the Maternity of the Virgin Mary; the readings of the 3rd week are omitted.)
October 18 – the 4th Sunday of October (XX after Pentecost, with a commemoration of St Luke)
October 25 – the 5th Sunday of October (XXI after Pentecost, omitted on the feast of Christ the King)

November 1 – the 1st Sunday of November (XXII after Pentecost, commemorated on the feast of All Saints)
November 8 – the 3rd Sunday of November (XXIII after Pentecost)
November 15 – the 4th Sunday of November (VI after Epiphany, resumed)
November 22 – the 5th Sunday of November (XXIV and last after Pentecost)

The calculation of the Sundays after Pentecost also calls for a note here. (The discrepancies between the Missals of St Pius V and St John XXIII are very slight in this regard, and have no bearing on the end of this year.)

The number of Sundays “after Pentecost” assigned to the Missal is 24, but the actual number varies between 23 and 28. The “24th” is always celebrated on the last Sunday before Advent. If there are more than 24, the gap between the 23rd and 24th is filled with the Sundays after Epiphany that had no place at the beginning of the year. The prayers and readings of those Sundays are inserted into the Mass of the 23rd Sunday (i.e., the set of Gregorian propers.) The Breviary homily on the Sunday Gospel and the concomitant antiphons of the Benedictus and Magnificat also carry over in the Office. This year, therefore, on November 15th, the Mass is that of the VI Sunday after Epiphany resumed.

If this all seems a little complicated, bear in mind that the oldest arrangement of the Mass lectionary that we know of was even more so. The oldest lectionary of the Roman Rite, a manuscript now in Wurzburg, Germany, dates to ca. 700, and represents the system used at Rome about 50 years earlier. It has a very disorganized and incomplete set of readings for the period after Pentecost; the Sundays are counted as 2 after Pentecost, 7 after Ss Peter and Paul, 5 after St Lawrence, and 6 after St Cyprian, a total of only 20. There are also ten Sundays after Epiphany, even though Septuagesima is also noted in the manuscript, and the largest number of Sundays that can occur between Epiphany and Septuagesima is only six.

The Theological Virtues and the Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Codex Aureus of Echternach (c. 1030), Manuscript (Hs. 156142)
Lost in Translation #14 

The readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost have as their focal point the power and importance of supernatural faith. It is faith, the Gospel tells us (Luke 17, 11-19), that makes us whole; and it is faith, the Epistle tells us (Galatians 3, 16-22), that helps us inherit God’s promises. But lest we slip into the heresy of Sola Fides, the Collect provides a succinct and yet packed framework in which to understand this precious gift:
Omnípotens sempiterne Deus, da nobis fídei, spei et caritátis augmentum: et, ut mereámur ássequi quod promittis, fac nos amáre quod praecipis. Per Dóminum.
Which I translate as:
Almighty and everlasting God, grant unto us an increase of faith, hope, and charity: and so that we may merit to obtain what Thou dost promise, make us love what Thou dost command. Through our Lord.
There is much in this brief Collect. Like clever children who know how to get their mom and dad to say Yes, the Orations of the Roman Missal usually flatter God by praising His attributes in a “who” clause before asking Him for a favor. This prayer, however, cuts right to the chase: there isn’t even the standard deferential “we beseech Thee.”
Moreover, by requesting the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, the Collect reminds us that faith alone does not save, but must be accompanied by hope and charity, especially the latter. St. Thomas Aquinas goes so far as to call charity the “form” or animating principle of faith, that without which faith is a lifeless corpse (for even the demons believe in God, but it does them little good [see James 2, 19]). Stephen Beale rightly argues that the key difference between Protestants and Catholics is a soteriology not of “faith alone” versus “faith and works” but of “faith alone” versus “faith and charity.”
But the Collect aims even higher, praying not simply for faith, hope, and charity, but their increase. These virtues were infused into our souls by the sheer generosity of God when we received the sacrament of baptism, but they can increase or decrease after that signature event, and we obviously want them to increase. God may have infused these virtues “in us, without us” as Aquinas puts it, but they cannot be maintained without us. The Council of Trent cites this Sunday’s Collect in its articulation of the Catholic doctrine of sanctification, which involves progressing in the state of justice until death (session vi, chapter 10).
Indeed, the amount of faith, hope, and charity a person has at the moment of his death is the amount that he will have for all eternity. Purgatory does not increase one’s virtues but pays off the debt of temporal punishment that is owed to God. This decontamination shower (or refiner’s fire, if you prefer) at Heaven's doorstep simply burnishes what is there; it does not bestow what is not there. There is no growth in Heaven either, only perfection of various kinds that creates a “holy ranking” of heavenly souls and spirits, or to use the Greek term, a “hierarchy.” Therefore, if you wish your soul to have a maximum of faith, hope, and charity, now is the time to go for it. The theme of increasing the theological virtues also pairs nicely with the Postcommunion for this Sunday, which prays that through the working of the sacraments we have just received “we may advance in the increase of eternal redemption” (ad redemptiónis aeternæ, quaesumus, proficiámus augmentum), that is, an increase in the effects of the Redemption on our souls.
The second half of the Collect teaches us how to increase the theological virtues, although the answer seems contradictory. Does the Catholic Church teach that we are saved by God’s grace or by human merit? Yes, the Collect replies. We need merit to obtain God’s promises, and merit is obtained by good works and the exercise of virtue. But it is still God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3, 6). As the well-trained Thomist Blessed Columba Marmion explains, God is the efficient cause of the increase of virtue in our souls while our acts are “the meritorious cause,” which simply means that “by our acts, we merit that God should augment these vital virtues in our souls.” [1]
And what makes these acts meritorious? The Collect has an answer to that question as well: we must love what God commands. As Aristotle pointed out long ago, simply doing good deeds does not make one a just man, for if one only acts out of fear of punishment or a desire for reward, one is not truly just. What makes a good man good is that he loves the good as well as does it. But to love the good--or to put it back in more biblical terms, to love what God commands--takes nothing less than a root-and-branch conversion that only God can give us, for our hearts are desperately wicked from their youth (see Jeremiah 17, 9). We again return to the theme of reordered desire that emerges during this portion of the Time after Pentecost and to the paramount importance of undergoing an internal transformation. 
Put differently, there is no “works righteousness” doctrine undergirding this Collect, and still less is there Luther’s belief in “imputed righteousness” which has even souls in Heaven remain piles of dung covered by gracious blankets of snow. The Catholic dogma concerning salvation does not teach that we earn our way into Heaven by sole dint of our own efforts but that any merit we have earned and must earn is, paradoxically, a gift from God. For, as we never tire of citing, when God rewards the merits of His saints, He is rewarding His own gifts (see Gallican Preface for All Saints Day). 
In the case of this Collect, the Church asks for an increase of faith, hope, and charity through a two-step process. First, she begs God to make us true lovers of His will, which we have absolutely no hope of accomplishing on our own but which, when accomplished by God’s grace, internally transforms our dark hearts into shiny, bright Temples. Next, the Church asks God to give us, based on the merits that flow from being God’s true lovers, what He has promised to such blessed folk (see James 1:12, 2:5). Not a bad plan, that.

[1] Christ the Life of the Soul (Angelico Press, 2012), 222.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Investitures, First Professions, and Solemn Professions of the Benedictines of Mary

The flourishing traditional Benedictines of Mary at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus in Gower, Missouri, are no strangers to NLM readers; we have featured them before.

This past Saturday, August 22nd, I had the inestimable blessing of attending the solemn profession of two sisters at the abbey, one of whom is the daughter of close friends. The only word I can use to describe it: sublime. The largely medieval rite of profession was, like so much else, utterly cast aside after Vatican II as the Benedictines scrambled to dilute their identity into a neutral gray wash, but in usus antiquior communities, this profession rite has returned in its full splendor. To experience a traditional solemn profession — as with a traditional priestly ordination — is to experience the full glory of Catholicism, to experience bitterly what we have squandered like the prodigal son, and to feel a fire burning in one’s heart to repent and return to the house of the Father.

The day before, August 21st, six postulants were received as novices and clothed in the holy habit. Two other nuns made their simple profession.

I will share a few photos of these two days, courtesy of the sisters and the family of one of the professurae. With each photo, I’ve added a brief description of what’s happening at that moment, sometimes with an excerpt from the liturgical rite. Sadly, I don’t have photos for all the moments of the rite.

I. Before the Ceremonies and Processing In

The ladies to be clothed are dressed in bridal apparel, while the novices are identifed by the white veils of the novitiate.

Right before the ceremony begins
Processing in with lit candles
II. First Profession of Vows

After the sermon, the bishop calls the professurae forward by intoning the verse, “Venite, filiae, audite me: Timorem Domini docebo vos. – Come, my daughters, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (Psalm 33) They enter the sanctuary and kneel; there is an exchange by which their intention is declared, followed by the chanting of the Veni, Creator Spiritus and an admonition from the bishop. Then the professurae recite, one at a time, their “charts of profession,” which they write out by hand and sign upon the altar (we will see more photos of this part of the ceremony below with the solemn professions).

The high point of the ceremony is the chanting of the “Suscipe,” a verse from Psalm 118. The sisters bow low and sing, “Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum, et vivam.” Then, rising up and raising their hands aloft to heaven, “et non confudas me ab expectatione mea.” (Receive me, O Lord, according to Thy word, and I shall live: and let me not be confounded in my hope.) Then the entire community of nuns repeats the chant. (In the Benedictine Office, this verse is sung at Terce of Monday; in the Breviary, it is traditionally printed in small capitals, as a weekly reminder of the rite of profession.)

This happens two more times, each on a higher note than before (like the Easter vigil Alleluia).

Following this, the bishop presents the veil to the professurae, concluding with the prayer, “O God, who bade the most blessed Benedict, Thy chosen servant, to serve Thee alone, detached from the turmoil of the world: grant, we pray, to these, Thy handmaids, rushing to Thy service under his direction, constancy in perseverance and perfect victory unto the end. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.” The professed present their candles to the bishop and Mass resumes with the Offertory.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Liturgical Improvisation Must End

By now, I am certain that all of our readers have heard of the appalling matter that recently came to light in the Archdiocese of Detroit. A young priest, ordained just over three years ago, happened to see the video of his own baptism, and thus discovered that the deacon who baptized him had said “We baptize you in the name of the Father etc.”, rather than “I baptize you...” Earlier this month, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a note (published in the Vatican Bolletino) specifically about this particular deformation of the baptismal formula, stating that it is absolutely invalid, and furthermore, that any person whose baptism was celebrated with this formula must be baptized “in forma absoluta.” This means that the validity of the words “We baptize you…” is not dubious, which would require a conditional baptism, (“Unless you are already baptized, I baptize you…”); it is categorically invalid, and the person must simply be baptized, with the ordinary formula, not the conditional formula.

First of all, I encourage anyone who reads this to offer prayers for Fr Hood, who, subsequent to this terrible revelation, was duly and swiftly baptized, and then confirmed and ordained, since of course a person who is not baptized cannot validly receive the other Sacraments. His words in the video given below are very edifying and charitable, but this must surely be something very difficult to bear with. Likewise, we should pray for all those who have been affected by this: those who have attended Masses celebrated by him, weddings at which he officiated, those whose confessions he has heard, etc. Of course, any person, even one who is not baptized, can validly baptize another person if they use the correct form and intend to do what the Church does; therefore the Baptisms which he himself performed after his original “ordination” are indubitably valid.

In a public statement issued to his flock about this matter, the Archbishop of Detroit, H.E. Alan Vigneron, writes that “God has bound Himself to the sacraments, but He is not bound by the sacraments.” This is an important reminder that when the Sacraments are, unbeknownst to the faithful, administered invalidly, (and in this case, also unbeknownst to the minister himself), they should trust that God has nevertheless not deprived them of His grace. This is not, of course, to be taken to the despite of the importance of the Sacraments, which Christ instituted as the ordinary, efficacious, and necessary means of our sanctification. Likewise, the Detroit archdiocese must now undertake to rectify the situation as far as possible, and it cannot be denied that this will certainly be a lengthy and difficult process. It seems that there may be quite a number of other invalidly baptized persons within the parishes where this deacon served. His actions are like those of a man who throws a very large and heavy rock into a very small pond; they are devastating, and they ripple outwards.

That being said, I make bold to further urge our readers to pray that this matter spur the Church to put a definitive end to the culture of liturgical abuse, and the improvisation that fosters abuse and leads to these kinds of events in the first place.

In his letter to the archdiocese, Abp Vigneron quotes the words of Sacrosanctum Concilium (22.3) that no one “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” But the simple fact of the matter is that this statement has been a dead letter for decades, an unacceptable state of affairs that is de jure and de facto very much encouraged by the current liturgical discipline of the Church.

De jure, the post-Conciliar liturgical reform gave the clergy a degree of liberty to decide what shall be said or sung within the liturgy, how it shall be said or sung, whether it shall be said or sung, and with what rituals accompanying, that was far broader than anything known within the Church before 1969. Just to give a very simple example: prior to the reform, every sung Mass of the Roman Rite on the First Sunday of Advent began, as it had begun for centuries, with the Gregorian Introit Ad te levavi, and every low Mass began with the prayers before the altar, after which the priest read Ad te levavi. Since 1969, the ubiquitous and fatal rubric “or another suitable song” has given him (or the persons to whom he has delegated responsibility) permission to sing more or less anything, since inevitably, everyone has their own ideas about what sort of song is really suitable. There are also plenty of places where the priest is permitted to make up what he will say, like the supposedly “very brief” (brevissimis) words by which he, or a deacon, or a lay minister (as options multiply) may introduce the day’s Mass to the faithful, and the exhortations which begin rites such as the prophecies of the Easter vigil or the processions on Candlemas and Palm Sunday. One formulation of this permission, “vel similibus verbis – or with similar words,” occurs eight times in the rubrics of the 2002 Latin edition of the Missal.

Even discounting these permissions, it is impossible for a priest to celebrate the modern Rite without having to continually choose among options. The Prayers of the Faithful have a fixed form, but no fixed content at all, and Father has no choice but to make a choice: to write them himself, to get someone else to write them, to use a book of them made by someone else, or to omit them when permitted. Examples could be multiplied almost endlessly, but I am sure they are well known to our readers. Suffice it to say that the multiplication of options is not even excluded from the very heart of the Rite, the Eucharistic Prayer. Here, the celebrant is compelled, whether he will so or not, to make a choice among at least four options, often many more, guided by almost nothing. The rubrics of the Missal offer no more than suggestions as to when they may be “suitably” chosen, but a priest is never required to choose any particular Eucharistic Prayer, not even the venerable Roman Canon.

Now there is, of course, a significant difference in theory between choosing among licit options or making up things to say where this is permitted by law, and improvisations of the sort which invalidate a baptism. The latter are and always have been officially prohibited. But in practice, once the clergy were given such a broad degree of liberty to fashion and refashion so much of the liturgy as they saw fit, it was completely unrealistic to imagine that they would NOT apply this liberty to the rest of it as well. Basic experience of human nature should have made it obvious that in almost any climate, but especially in the revolutionary atmosphere which prevailed in the Church in the later 1960s, the bounds set by liturgical law would be effectively ignored.

This then brings us to the de facto part. The abuses of this new-found liberty were for a long time encouraged by an almost complete absence of will to restrain them on the part of the Church. In many parts of the world, this is still very much the case to this day. It is certainly true that in the United States, the problem is now greatly lessened, especially among the younger clergy, but “lessened” is not the same as “gone”, and is not an acceptable substitute for “gone.” Only a few years ago, I had the unpleasant experience of hearing my Confession concluded with an invalid formula of absolution, in the United States, and from a priest of about the same age as the deacon who failed to baptize Fr Hood. It is completely unrealistic to imagine that men who were positively encouraged to treat the liturgy as a forum for their own personal creativity would obey any law, even one that guards the validity of a Sacrament, if the Church itself did nothing to restrain their breaking of it for so many years. Truth to tell, in the years after Vatican II, it was the very same bishops who put their signatures to Sacrosanctum Concilium in the first place, thus approving the words quoted above, who then refused to say to their priests, “Thus far shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”

Where I write above “encouraged by the current liturgical discipline of the Church”, I wish to emphasize the word “current.” Taking St Justin Martyr’s famous description of the “improvised” Eucharist as a starting point (First Apology 67), experience must surely have taught the Church in antiquity the same thing which it is teaching Her now – that giving people broad liberty to fashion and refashion the liturgy is a terrible idea. There is absolutely no reason why this lesson cannot be applied to the post-Conciliar liturgical reform. There is no reason why the Church cannot say to the clergy, “You will say this Eucharistic Prayer on this day, and no other, that one on that day, and no other. This is the only vernacular hymn in this language that may substitute Ad te levavi on First Advent. These are the Prayers of the Faithful.” And so on.

Of course, the Church must also be willing to train Her clergy to be obedient sons, to recognize themselves as the servants of the liturgy, not its masters, as men called to be formed by the liturgy, not to form it. But She must also be willing to give them a liturgy that truly forms them, and does not need to be formed by them, one that spiritually rewards its faithful servants, and needs no master other than Herself. Until this lesson is relearned, She has sown the wind, and must now continue to reap the whirlwind.

A Brief Update from Shrewsbury Cathedral

Earlier this year, we reported a few times on the current project to restore the cathedral of Our Lady and St Peter of Alcantara in Shrewsbury, England, a building originally designed by AW Pugin, but completed by his son Edward, and consecrated by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman in 1856. (Here, here and here.) As you can see in those linked articles, a good deal has already been achieved in terms of undoing a very unfortunate wreckovation from the 1980s. The cathedral administrator, Fr Edmund Montgomery, has written let us know that although the coronavirus lockdown meant little could be done in terms of building work, the planning committee is moving forward, and God designs for the sanctuary will be submitted to the bishop for comment and refinement by early September. Also, a parishioner skilled in graphics and technology, Matthew Spriggs, brought a 3D camera to capture the cathedral; the full scan produced a virtual walk-through which might be of interest. A more developed version showing the stained glass and with labels, commentary etc is in the works.

Screenshots from Mr Spriggs’ website: the restored interior of the cathedral.
A shot of the floorplan, which shows where the beautiful original floors have been rediscovered.
A screenshot of the “dollhouse view” as if one were floating up near the roof.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Assumption Photopost 2020

Once again, we wish to thank those of our readers who sent in photos of their liturgies for the feast of the Assumption, contributing to the good work of evangelizing through beauty!

Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Organized by Mater Ecclesiae church in Berlin, New Jersey

Before the Mass, the congregation recites the Memorare, and a girl brings a bouquet of flowers to the side altar of the Assumption. The bouquet is then sprinkled with holy water and incensed.
Tradition will always be for the young!

Will the Domestic Church Grow as the Institutional Church Shrinks?

I recently had a conversation with a priest friend who opined that when enforced shelter-at-home is over, many churches will not re-open. Those who went to church out of habit will very likely not come back once the habit is broken. If he is right (and I hope he isn’t, but I think he may be) where does it leave us?
Are our parishes set for closure?
It is a truism that it will be the most pious and most faithful who will work hardest to retain, or if necessary, regain the habit of church attendance. I imagine the scenario, therefore, in which fewer people are concentrated in stronger parishes. We might already be seeing the signs of this; I heard of one Latin Mass church recently that has increased the number of Masses each Sunday since shelter-in-place started, to serve a community that consists in some cases of people who drive for hours to get there each week. However, with the best will in the world, not everyone can do this, and the situation may be so dire that some may not be able to get to church even when everything is restored.
I have thought about how to respond to this general picture, and the best answer I can come up with is to focus on leading a good and holy life with home-based liturgical piety at its heart.

When our local church was forced to close down in March, our pastor inspired us to continue a life of holiness and penitence, even if we were unable to get to church and participate in the sacraments, with the story of St Mary of Egypt, who went 47 years without receiving communion. The reasons for this were particular to her, but the lesson I learn from this is not that I don’t need the Sacraments, but rather that when they are not available to me, I can still lead a good and holy life and grow in the love of God.

A contemporary neo-Coptic rendition of St Mary of Egypt. I like this one because you get a hint of her beauty as a young women, which played such a part in the dissolute life that she led before repentance.
Perhaps this might be a time in which we see a growth of the Domestic Church not as an alternative to the parish church (although it may have to be that for some), but rather as a support to it by which we might actually see an enrichment of parish life when we get back to church.

A more conventional icon of St Mary of Egypt
I wrote some time ago about a talk on the model for parish life based upon that of the early Church, called The Apostolic Blueprint for a Parish - A Model Christian Community in the Modern Age. This template isolated four necessary parts of parish life: liturgical, social, educational, and charitable. Once all of those are in place and working together, it is asserted, evangelization will occur. All of us can participate in any of these aspects of parish life, but each of us has a special gift to participate in one of them preferentially, so as to contribute to the build-up of the Christian community most efficiently.

It seems to me that we can focus on each of these aspects of Christian living as laypeople and, if the situation demands, without the parish as the focus. Through this, we can build up the Domestic Church and a vigorous regrowth of Christian community, based in our homes, might occur.

Benedict XVI was prescient in predicting that the Church will very likely have to shrink before it will grow, and in suggesting that the Domestic Church will be the driving force for the New Evangelization. It seems that it we are being pushed into the realization of both of these predictions sooner than expected.

The internet can actually contribute to this bringing together of people, by connecting us when we cannot be together in person. Again, this does not replace a personal connection, but can add to what is possible.

Here are the ways that I have responded in addition to getting to church on Sundays as best I can, still restricted at the moment in California: I have doubled down on praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Also, we have started regular workshops via video conferencing on the spiritual exercises contained in the book The Vision for You. These are directed towards deepening our faith and discerning personal vocation. In addition, I have tried to stay in touch with others as best I can and to be hospitable to those in my social bubble. I am sure each of you can do all of these things at least as badly as I can!

The educational and social elements can be opened up with video technology. This doesn’t need to mean formal registration in courses offered by universities, but informal groups forming to pass on personal experience and knowledge are to be encouraged.
A home altar
Finally, I received this email from our pastor. He was offering free Greek classes to children of the parish, and in addition, he does regular Bible studies online. But he also asked that this information be circulated amongst homeschooling groups. I am happy to do so in order to encourage the principle of homeschooling as part of the growth of the Domestic Church, in the hope that each of us will do what we can in these difficult times.
This is an announcement that the Academy of Classical Greek is now taking registrations for the 2020 Fall Semester. Class size is limited so please be sure to register early! With the new wave of homeschooling, we expect to be inundated this fall and have already begun receiving many inquiries!
All the important information about this coming semester and registration can be found here Click here and watch one of the sample course recordings.
Please also take a moment to send out this email to whomever you think might be interested. Evcharisto!

Sincerely, Sebastian Carnazzo, PhD
Home altar

Monday, August 24, 2020

A Glimpse into Catholic Life in Ireland in the Early Sixties

Some weeks ago, a priest friend alerted me to the online archives of Radharc, “one of Ireland’s most important independent documentary production companies,” founded in 1959 and the producer of “over 400 documentaries which were screened on RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, between 1961 and 1996.” My correspondent was particularly interested in the short films made from 1961 to 1966, with two priests, Fr Peter Dunn and Fr Desmond Forristal, as the hosts. It should be noted—and this is a matter of surprise especially for Americans—that it did  not seem strange in any way for a public film project to be run by priests and to center so closely on religious and cultural matters (which were often the same).

Several of these films would be fascinating to NLM readers, so I shall comment on my favorites. There are many more worth exploring at the Irish Film Institute Radharc archive. (As the videos are not on YouTube, only still shots can be inserted here.)

The New Ritual

For an absolutely fascinating glimpse into Catholic life at the time of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, watch the seven-minute film from 1962 about “The New Ritual.” “New,” at this time, refers to the Tridentine sacramental rites done partly in Latin and partly in English. The film speaks as if this modest step is a sufficient response to modern needs.

As regular readers will know, I’m opposed to having so much vernacular in the traditional rites of the Church of Rome, but no one can deny that if what the video shows had been the only step taken towards liturgical reform, the faithful wouldn’t have been thrown into disarray and there would be a great deal more peace and unity in the Church today. The traditional movement as we know it would not exist were it not for the flagrant overreaching of the Consilium and the accompanying absolutism of Paul VI.

Most interesting to me is the interview at the end with an Irish liturgist who says: “Some people want the Foremass [Mass of Catechumens] in English, but the rest of the Mass—especially the Canon, the heart of the Mass—will remain in Latin.” He seems quite sincere in his assertion. How many, at this time, could have imagined what would be happening only a few short years later? (On this point, I recommend William Riccio’s fine article “Back to the Future? No Thanks, I’ve Been There,” in which he recounts, inter alia: “We were told the Canon, that most untranslatable prayer, would never be in the vernacular because it is too steeped in meaning. In 1967, it was put in the vernacular.”)

Sick Calls

This four-minute video was made in 1962, when the traditional rite of the sacrament of extreme unction was still being used by everyone. Today it is used by communities like the FSSP and the ICRSS, and, I would suppose, by individual diocesan priests who are familiar with it.

What a remarkable glimpse into how sick calls used to be done — and, please God, how they can and should still be done today!

Blessing the Airplane Fleet

Made in 1962, this film tells the viewer about Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline. Each plane is named after an Irish saint—and after showing us lots of examples, the film gives a quick history of Irish missionaries of old. (As far as I know, the Aer Lingus airplanes have retained their saint names to the present.) We get a tour of the primitive instrumentation panel of a Boeing. We see a priest blessing the fleet with holy water, and a Sunday Mass conducted in the hangar. We get to see the prayer card (I’m not kidding) that used to be included in every seat of an Aer Lingus plane, and a view of nuns wearing habits one would never see today.

In general, the people flying on the planes as well as those seeing them off are dressed impeccably. One would not have dreamed of going out in public any other way.

The Village with the Most Vocations

Another remarkable film concerns a village in rural Ireland that had a long history of high numbers of priestly and religious vocations. A fascinating glimpse into Irish village life in 1962: there’s not even a hint of the collapse that would come later.

All the explanations given about why this village’s vocations flourished are quite similar to the reasons we might give today for the greater number of vocations among traditional Catholics: hard-working family life, the family Rosary, the cheerfulness of the sisters, and a relatively simple life. The sisters don’t put pressure on the girls; certainly no “vocations office,” “discernment retreats,” or baby-faced agents.

The sisters depicted in this 1962 film left for good in 2016, after 151 years. Seduced by the “spirit of the Council,” they had become “Eucharistic ministers” and Lord only knows what else. Corruptio optimi pessima.

People often say to traditionalists: “If Catholicism was so great before the Council, why did it fall apart so quickly?” And I reply: “How well do you know yourself? There but for the grace of God go I…” We don't have to pretend that there were no problems before the Council (and Ireland surely had its problems too) to know that things were a far sight better than they were afterwards, when the spirit of rebellion had taken hold and churchmen couldn't throw off the shackles of commandments, customs, and cultural heritage quickly enough. Things can fall apart rapidly when we let fallen human nature take the driver’s seat. Look at the history of Israel, God’s chosen people. Look at the Church in various periods of her checkered history. It’s not as if we should be shocked. Greatness is a daily moral and spiritual conquest, and it can fall to pieces in a matter of years, months, even days. These objectors might as well pose their question to Our Lord: “If you are the Son of God, why did one of your Apostles betray you, and the others run away?” It was not the fault of Our Lord; and neither was the (post)conciliar apostasy the fault of the Catholic tradition built up over the ages by the Holy Spirit, sent to the God-loving disciples in the one and only Pentecost of the Church, which lasts until the end of the ages.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Liturgical Items from Brixen Cathedral

Following up on yesterday’s post about the cathedral of Brixen, Italy, here are some items of interest from the episcopal palace and diocesan museum, including a very nice collection of vestments. Thanks once again to Nicola for sharing his photos with us.

The bishop’s private chapel within the episcopal palace.
A painting which shows the cathedral façade decorated for the visit of Pope Pius VI in 1782.
The cathedral is jointly dedicated to St Cassian of Imola and Our Lady of the Assumption. Cassian was said to have been a Christian schoolmaster who lived at the beginning of the 4th century, and during the persecution of Diocletian, was martyred by his own students, who were allowed to stab him to death with their pens. (Note the tablet with the letters on it in the hand of the child on the left.)  The story is attested in the 5th century by the poet Prudentius, who visited his tomb, but the representation of him as a bishop is the result of a hagiographical confusion with another martyr of the same name who was bishop of Todi in the region of Umbria.
A movable altar

Heavenly Liturgy and Earthly Compassion: The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Jan Wynants, Parable of the Good Samaritan (1670)
Lost in Translation #13
The Collect for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost paints an amazing scene, but only after one overcomes a number of linguistic challenges:
Omnípotens et miséricors Deus, de cujus múnere venit, ut tibi a fidélibus tuis digne et laudabíliter serviátur; tríbue, quáesumus, nobis: ut ad promissiónes tuas sine offensióne currámus. Per Dóminum nostrum.
Which I translate as:
Almighty and merciful God, from whose liturgy comes the fact that Thou art worthily and laudably served by Thy faithful ones: grant, we beseech, that we may run without stumbling to Thy promises. Through our Lord.
The Collect contains a grammatical rarity. In the Orations of the Roman Missal, a clause with ut and a verb in the subjunctive mood is almost always a purpose clause: “O God, give us X, Y, or Z so that we can have A, B, or C,” where ut would be translated as “so that” or “in order to.” Here, however, we have a “noun clause,” where the entire clause functions as a noun (specifically, as the object of the verb “to come”), and thus we have translated ut as “the fact that.” [1]

The Collect also contains a verbal rarity. Of the 111 times that the rich and nuanced word munus appears in the Orations of the Roman Missal, over 75% are in a Secret. [2] Munus appears less frequently in the Postcommunion Prayers and the Lenten Prayers over the People and least of all in the Collects. This is one of those outliers.

Most hand Missals translate munus in this Collect as “gift,” and that indeed is how the word is used most of the time in the Roman Rite. In the Secrets, for example, munera are usually the “material gifts destined for the sacrifice.” Every now and then, however, munus can mean “the rite itself which is performed with and over the gifts,” and I believe this to be the meaning that is operative here. [3] For the ancient Roman, a munus was a public, religious service (similar to “the rite itself performed over the gifts”), and that meaning, which ties into the serving mentioned in the noun clause, better fits the context here.

The Collect is essentially stating that God has a service, and from it flows our serving Him “worthily and laudably.” Or to use another word for a public, religious service (this time from Greek), God has a “liturgy” (leitourgia), and it is by virtue of His liturgy, the divine liturgy, that humans are able to worship Him properly. Paradoxically, even our ability to praise God and give Him gifts is a gift from God. The author of the Collect could have put the noun clause in the active voice (“the fact that Thy faithful serve Thee...”), but he instead chose the more unwieldy passive voice, which puts the focus on the action done rather than the faithful who are doing it. Even grammatically, the author of the Collect is emphasizing God and His agency in the liturgy rather than us.

The same truth is expressed in this Sunday’s Epistle, 2 Corinthians 3, 4-9, where St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Holy Spirit has made us, through no merits of our own, ministers of the New Covenant. Even though human hands have obviously played a part in its historical development, sacred liturgy, which participates in and anticipates the cosmic liturgy described in the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation, is ultimately not the “work of human hands”, but the product of the Holy Spirit and the ongoing action of Jesus Christ the High Priest. Divorcing the human from the divine in sacred liturgy is a fool’s errand, as foolish as trying to separate the humanly composed from the divinely inspired in the Sacred Scriptures.

The Collect, then, is offering an astonishing metaphysical map. It is not the case that liturgy is a primarily human phenomenon, the concept of which we then apply to what is happening in Heaven, albeit weakly and metaphorically. On the contrary, the realest of real liturgies is what is happening in Heaven at the altar of the Lamb who was slain and is now at His Wedding Feast; what we do on earth in our churches is the derivative act. But since it is derivative, our earthly liturgies are truly partaking of the Heavenly Liturgy right now. So many of the liturgical controversies of the last century could have been avoided if liturgists actually understood and believed the theology brilliantly encapsulated in these thirteen words of the Collect.

The same Collect asks God to enable us to run to His promises. Only two weeks ago we made essentially the same prayer: “Increase Thy mercy upon us, that Thou mayst make us, who are running towards Thy promises, partakers of Thy heavenly goods.” (Collect, Tenth Sunday after Pentecost) Both Collects link participation in the Heavenly with running towards divine promises. Here, however, we add an additional request: to run without stumbling (sine offensione). In the Vulgate, offensio is the word for the famous biblical “stumbling block,” that which causes one to sin or offend (see Ezech. 20, 7; 2 Cor. 6, 3; 1 Pet. 2, 8). May sin not trip us up, we pray, as we race to the prize promised us.

The rather frenetic quality of this Collect also matches the tone of this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 10, 23-37). When one loves the Lord God will all of one’s heart, soul, strength, and mind, one is indeed sprinting flawlessly to God. The Good Samaritan in the Parable is not literally described as running, but it is difficult not to picture him hustling, rushing to the man's aid, binding up his wounds, and finding him shelter. And there is an additional dimension as well. The Church Fathers saw in the Good Samaritan a figure for Christ: the oil and wine which he poured into the wounds of the injured man symbolize the sacraments poured into our souls wounded by sin, and the sacraments are, of course, what we receive in the divine liturgy. May the heavenly goods in which we partake endow us with the same compassion for our neighbor as that of the Good Samaritan.

[1] My thanks to Dr. David White for help with this clause and his insight into the use of the passive voice.
[2] Sr. Mary Ellebracht, Remarks on the Vocabulary of the Ancient Orations in the Missale Romanum (Dekker, 1966), 163.
[3] Sr. Mary Ellebracht, 163, 164.

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