Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Thomas Gordon Smith RIP

I just learned from Duncan Stroik that the architect Thomas Gordon Smith passed away this morning. He was one of the most important leaders in the movement to reclaim beauty in architecture, and particularly church architecture, over the last few decades, a movement which has born great fruits both in his own work, and in the work of those trained and mentored by him. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Smith on two occasions, once at the consecration of the FSSP seminary in Nebraska, which he designed, and again in Rome in the company of his wife, and his son, Fr Innocent Smith OP. (Fr Smith is a musicologist specializing in the chant tradition of the Dominican Order, and whose work we have featured a few times here on NLM.) He was a very kind man, and will be missed by many. Our condolences to all of his family and friends.

The chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, designed by Thomas Gordon Smith.
Deus, cui proprium est miseréri semper et párcere, te súpplices exorámus pro ánima fámuli tui Thomae, quam hodie de hoc sáeculo migráre jussisti: ut non tradas eam in manus inimíci, neque obliviscáris in finem, sed júbeas eam a sanctis Angelis súscipi, et ad patriam paradísi perdúci; ut, quia in te sperávit et crédidit, non poenas inferni sustíneat, sed gaudia aeterna possídeat. Per Dominum... – O God, to whom it belongeth ever to have mercy and to spare, we humbly entreat Thee for the soul of Thy servant Thomas, which this day Thou hast bidden to pass from tis world, that Thou may deliver him not into the hands of the enemy, nor forget him forever, but command him to be taken up by the holy Angels, and led to our home in paradise, so that, since he hoped and believed in Thee, he may not suffer the pains of hell, but possess everlasting joys. Through Our Lord...

New Statues for the Cathedral of Covington, Kentucky

Our friend Fr Jordan Hainsey has sent us some pictures of the sculptures recently added to the façade of the cathedral of his diocese, Covington, Kentucky. He writes, “On Sunday, June 6, Bishop Roger Foys and the faithful of Covington, Kentucky, blessed and dedicated 24 new statues and two tympana on the façade of the cathedral of the Assumption during Solemn Vespers of Corpus Christi. Modeled after some of France’s great Gothic churches like St Denis and Notre-Dame de Paris, the cathedral was begun in 1894 by Covington’s third bishop, Camillus Paul Maes; while much of the construction and decoration were completed by 1915, a good deal of the work envisioned by Bishop Maes remained unfinished.

World-renowned ecclesiastical artist Neilson Carlin was commissioned to design 24 statues honoring the Diocese of Covington’s parishes and institutions, and 2 tympana bas-reliefs to complete the tripart Marian schema of the portals. They are made of Bedford limestone taken from the same quarry which provided material for the original façade in 1908.

Twenty, full-round statues fill the portal jamb niches (L-R): Saints John the Baptist, Barbara, James the Greater
Agnes, William of York, Timothy

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Corpus Christi 2021 Photopost (Part 3)

It just happened to work out that the third (but still not final!) post in this year’s series of your Corpus Christi photos is almost all pictures of processions. The general revival of this custom is an encourafing heartening sign of the ongoing rediscovery of our Catholic liturgical heritage, so once again, thanks to everyone who shared these with us.

Shrine of the Little Flower – Burrillville, Rhode Island
Celebrated with the FSSP parish in Providence, St Mary’s on Broadway

A Classic Book on Art and Beauty to Be Republished: “The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty”

Fr John Saward’s classic theological meditation on the works of Fra Angelico is to be re-published by Angelico Press, almost 25 years after it first appeared. You can purchase it here.

In October 2001, I decided to make a trip to the USA from London, where I was living at the time. I had just read John Paul II’s Letter to Artists. This short text, a survey of the range of Christian art over the centuries, and an exhortation for contemporary artists to emulate the greats of the past, was the first coming out of the contemporary Church that I had read that had any stamp of authority on it and which seemed to be making a case for the re-establishment of a Catholic culture of beauty. I knew nobody in the US, but wanted to try to connect with Catholic universities over here to persuade them to establish a new sort of Catholic art school that might create artists capable of responding to the Holy Father’s call.

I didn’t know the world of Catholic education at all, and approached, without any introduction and out of the blue, a number of big-name “Catholic” universities. In some cases, I just walked unannounced into the art departments on campus and asked to speak to the head. I was, naively, hoping to persuade them to stop teaching secular art and start forming Catholic artists.

Unsurprisingly, most couldn’t get rid of me fast enough. Here was a strange Englishman waving papal encyclicals at them and telling them they had been getting it wrong for years. It was not something they particularly relished, it seems. However, some did listen and explained that it was not as easy as I thought to transform the teaching goals of an established art school. They tried to connect me with students who they knew would feel as I did. As I started to talk to these two names kept on cropping up. Nearly all suggested first that I go back to England and approach someone called Stratford Caldecott, who lived in Oxford and published a journal called Second Spring (this I did, and he became a mentor to me). Second, they suggested that I read this book by Fr John Saward. By coincidence, Fr John also lived in Oxford, and Stratford Caldecott introduced me to him on one of my subsequent trips there.

I was captivated by this book, a work on Catholic art that was actually sympathetic to Catholic culture, and written by someone who unapologetically believed in the truth of the subjects portrayed in the paintings. Until then, every account of Catholic culture and painting I had read (with the exception of the very brief Letter to Artists) came under the category of art history, and was written by people who were clearly non-believers. They spoke of Catholic art - even if they appreciated its beauty - as the product of antiquated superstitious thought and formed by socio-economic factors (what I now realize is the standard Marxist critique, although they never said so). But this was different. Here was someone who not only talked about the content knowledgeably, but extended his discussion to the necessity for art and beauty in the culture. It was as much about philosophy and theology as it was about art. The name alone told me that this was different.

As a result, I understood that there was a Catholic way of discussing and appreciating art and culture that could begin to explain why the Church had been the source of so much beauty through the centuries...and why it had ceased to be so in recent times. The cleverness of the name alone captured my attention and told me that this was special. So much of what I have tried to do in the years since then in the mission to re-establish a Catholic culture of beauty has been inspired by what I read in this book.

Below are the reviews that appear on the book itself, including one by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whose The Spirit of the Liturgy was first published around the same time as Fr Saward’s book, and translated from German into English by Saward himself.

The first, unattributed, is the summary from the publisher:
“Beauty will save the world,” said Dostoyevsky. In this book, John Saward presents a study of two ways in which the saving beauty of Christ shines upon the world: in the lives of His saints, and in the works of Christian art—“the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty.” This unique and unprecedented theological meditation centers on several works of art of the Dominican blessed, John of Fiesole, known to the world as Fra Angelico. Drawing on the wisdom of the Church’s Fathers and Doctors, Saward has written a book not on art history, but on the attractive radiance of Catholic truth. Its goal is to help Christians grow in wonder at the glory of Divine Revelation, to which both the Church’s saints and the Church’s art bear witness.
“The importance of this luminous book can scarcely be overestimated. The substance of Saward’s scholarship and his understanding of culture are dazzling. His vision is of utmost urgency. This is wise, deeply moving, and invigorating—a masterpiece!”
“The more I read of John Saward’s work, the more I am inclined to include his name on the very short list of preeminently important twentieth-century Catholic writers. He opens to us yet another rich aspect of the Faith that seems scarcely to have been touched on before. Read it, and find your vision vastly deepened and heightened.”
“Professor Saward provides his readers a great service by his careful treatment of the connection between sacred art, the heroic virtue of saintly people, and the fullness of truth taught by Christ and His Church. The numerous citations of Catholic artists, poets, and musicians demonstrate how the Catholic Faith elevates civilization. Perhaps through efforts such as Professor Saward’s, we will see the prevailing culture of death in our day pale in the light of a civilization of life and love radiating from the beauty of holiness, and the holiness of beauty, that truth inspires.”
You can purchase it here.

FR. JOHN SAWARD is a Fellow of Blackfriars’ Hall and priest in charge of the parish of SS. Gregory and Augustine, Oxford.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Formation and Malformation: Why Catechesis Isn’t Enough if the Liturgy is Countercatechetical

In many discussions online, I have encountered versions of the view that we should not be “fussy” about liturgy, because as long as we are attending a Catholic rite, and we are sincere in our intentions, we will be led to God. Those who hold this view fail to recognize, however, that bad liturgy damages the spiritual lives of the faithful; it actually sets them back. A letter I received some time ago from a friend really brought this out, and I share it now with NLM readers, along with my briefer reply.

Dear Dr. Kwasniewski,

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of malformation in the liturgy. What is the effect (if it can even be measured) of the liturgy of the past 50 years on the faithful? Specifically, in the way that it has formed us (or malformed us)?

Reflecting on this, I realize that I first thought of this problem about seven years ago. I can still picture myself driving in the car listening to Catholic Answers. The new translation of the Missal had just been issued and the host was discussing the repetition of “through my fault” in the Confiteor. I believe the caller was troubled by an “overemphasis on sin.” The host was lamenting a “loss of the sense of sin” in our culture.

However, as I listened (and I had not studied the liturgy at all), I couldn’t help but think that the liturgy itself, in the old ICEL translation, had itself downplayed the sense of sin (at the time, I didn’t know that this was more than just the translation, but was also the fact that the Consilium deliberately removed this type of language from the Missal). And so, I found myself actually somewhat upset with the host. His caller probably wasn’t a “now-and-again Catholic”; most likely, this was someone who had attended Mass faithfully over the past several decades. Part of the reason this person had lost the “sense of sin” wasn’t just “the culture,” but was the fact that the liturgy itself fails to adequately convey this.

I’ve worked in faith formation in a variety of roles over the past several years. We were always lamenting the “failures in catechesis” regarding things like sin, the Mass as Sacrifice, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, marriage, the importance of Confession, the reality of hell. We thought all we needed to do was to teach people about these things and to explain their meaning and importance, developing programs and faith formation series, making more resources available, getting priests to talk more about them in homilies.

While all of those endeavors are certainly helpful, what we failed to comprehend was that the liturgy itself was working against us. Week after week, the average Catholic’s experience of the liturgy was malforming them in all these areas. And this is something, it seems to me, that catechesis can never overcome. Catechesis, the lex credendi, should flow out of liturgy, the lex orandi. I can remember a relative of mine—a very faithful man, and something of a “postconciliar exile”—being so struck by John Paul II’s Ecclesia de Eucharistia. He would say again and again that at the Mass, we are at Calvary. Years later, I realized that when I’m at the TLM, it actually feels like I’m there at the Cross. At the NO, I have to direct my intention and make a greater effort to be mindful of what’s taking place on the altar.

Another common thing I’ve heard in discussions of evangelization is the fact that “only 5–7% of people in the pews are evangelized.” What I always thought about this was that we need to have different in-parish evangelization programs to help these people understand what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We have to understand the “thresholds of conversion” (Sherry Weddell) and help guide people through them to the place of “intentional discipleship.” Then they will be ready and in a position to benefit from the Mass.

While there is probably some truth to this, my thinking is starting to shift in this area as well. If these people are at Mass, presumably they have some faith, some relationship with Christ. What if it’s been the liturgy that has actually been an obstacle to them deepening this relationship? What if they have actually gone backwards in their journey, because they are not being drawn into a deeper encounter with mystery and a richness of prayer? I don’t think we’ve sufficiently considered this as a real possibility as we try to find “solutions” to these problems. Generally the thinking seems to be that these people won’t “get anything out of the Mass” until they are evangelized and have a personal relationship with Christ. But isn’t the liturgy the very place where this relationship is fed? What about situations where the liturgy does not instill the habits that allow us to grow closer to Him?
In my own life, I see this struggle especially with the Liturgy of the Hours. I have prayed the LOTH on and off for about fifteen years. Lately, however, I’ve been using either the Roman Breviary or, more recently, the Anglican Use Office (which allows for the continuous reading of the whole psalter over the course of a month). I notice that I’m actually formed differently. Using the Anglican Use Office, I’ve been going through all 150 psalms, with no omitted verses. It conveys a very different sense of God, of myself, of what I should ask for in prayer, than the LOTH does. I guess my point is that even if someone is immersed in the new Mass and the LOTH, they aren’t going to get a lot of those things that we (from the “faith formation” perspective) most want them to get: the sense of sin, the importance of penance/fasting, a deepening immersion in the liturgical year, the Mass as Sacrifice, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the uniqueness of the ordained priesthood, the four last things (death, judgment, heaven, hell).

Having come to this, I’m understanding more and more your call for a wholesale return to the traditional Latin Mass and the other traditional rites. Even if the Novus Ordo is celebrated beautifully (along with Vespers at the parish, for example), it still seems that in some way we have to put back in all sorts of elements that have been removed (through homilies, catechesis, explanations, etc.). But this is incredibly laborious, never totally successful, and finally, doesn’t seem to be what the liturgy is intended to be. It should be able to do what it does just by being what it is, rather than needing constant life-support from a team of doctors.

Nowadays, when people are bored at Mass or “don’t get anything out of it,” we often ask: well, what are you bringing to it? Again, there’s some truth here, I don’t deny it. But am I right in thinking that this is fundamentally a wrong way of looking at liturgy?The liturgy is supposed to call these things out of us. We aren’t meant to simply put ourselves, by our own effort, into the proper dispositions. The liturgy is intended to draw these things from us, demand them of us.

Yours in Christ,
Parish Catechist

Dear Parish Catechist,

You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. Obviously, the rudiments of faith and catechetical knowledge are presupposed to engaging the liturgy—but the liturgy is then supposed to take that and nourish it, carry it further, like Christ multiplying the few loaves and fishes the disciples offered Him. If the liturgy is not assisting in the development of a deep interior life and a reliance on sacramental grace and an awareness of the sacred mysteries of Christ in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, then it is simply failing in its proper work as liturgy. I talk about this in a few chapters of Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright, especially 5, 7, and 19 (online versions of which can be found here, here, and here).

The Divine Office was destroyed by the Liturgy of the Hours. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but it’s the sober truth. For the first time in the history of the Roman church, the full psalter is not recited. In the old breviary the 150 psalms are recited each week; in the LOTH, it’s not quite 150 over a month—and with plenty of verses skipped, as you know. The Anglican book, which I’m not familiar with, sounds very good. It’s clearly superior to the LOTH, and if you find it spiritually fruitful, I’d say stick with it. It’s better, all things considered, to pick one book and make it your go-to for the office than to bounce between several.

What you have described can be rephrased this way: the reformed liturgy simply lacks whole dimensions of the traditional Catholic faith—heck, whole dimenions of the Old Testament and the New Testament. So it really doesn’t matter if you add all the “smells and bells.” It’s like putting royal clothing on a starved and shivering waif. There’s a disjunct that cannot be overcome by piling up externals but only by restoring the fullness that already existed in the old rites. It seems to me plausible to believe that Divine Providence, with a “severe mercy,” permitted the “mystery of iniquity” of the liturgical revolution in order to send the most almighty wake-up call and cold shower in the history of the Church. “O my people, pay attention to the riches you have—or I will take them away.” He says this a thousand times in the Old Testament. We are still Israel journeying through the wilderness of this world en route to the Promised Land of heaven, equipped with laws and rites that we seldom perfectly observe or appreciate. He bestows what is good; He tries the hearts and reins; He chastens whom he loves; He sends into exile; but He always promises to relent, for a remnant, and He does relent, letting the sweetness of His love be tasted and seen. This is the very logic of salvation history, and we have seen it playing out before our eyes.

I have no more to add to your excellent analysis. Would that more pastors and religious educators would wake up to the sharp inadequacy of reformed means to accomplish traditional ends; would that they could turn again to what the Lord has already provided in the history of the Church, and feed the people with liturgical bread, not stones!

In Domino,
Dr. Kwasniewski

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Corpus Christi 2021 Photopost (Part 2)

My apologies to everyone who sent in these beautiful photos for the delay in getting to this post; I had meant to do it while I was in Mexico, but my computer had a significant problem, and I was unable to do anything with it at all. We also include here a Rogation Mass and a first Mass by a priest; there will be at least one more post in this series, possibly two. Keep up the good work of evangelizing through beauty!
Our Lady of Loreto – Cold Spring, New York

Friday, June 18, 2021

Life in a Dominican Studium before Vatican II (Oakland, 1961)

I originally posted these videos some ten years ago, but I thought some of our readers who never saw them might find them interesting. Enjoy!
The video “Life a Monastery” was broadcast on Oakland Channel 6 in 1961. It shows life in the Western Dominican Province House of Studies, Saint Albert the Great Priory, in Oakland, California.

VIDEO ONE The film begins with clips of our House of Studies, still the same today in Oakland CA. Then follows film of the Dominican Rite Solemn Mass, the center of the liturgical day at the House of Studies. The film than moves to the class room, and then highlights different aspects of the life.

A list of those appearing is below the video. The times listed for each of the scenes in the identification list tell where you can find that segment on the video.

The Priory and Grounds (time 0:00)

Members of the Choir (time 1:35) are identified for Second Video

Solemn Mass Ministers (time 2:43) Celebrant: Fr. Martin Giannini; Deacon (l): Bro. Aquinas Wall; Subdeacon (r): Bro. Nicholas Prince; Senior Acolyte (r): Bro. Bernard Cranor; Junior Acolyte (l): Bro. Brendan O’Rourke; Thurifer: Bro. Bertrand Pidgeon

Classroom (time 5:07): Instructor: Fr. Fabian Parmisano

Student in his Room (time 7:00): Bro. Jordan DeMan

Library Stacks (time 7:26): Bros. Terence McCabe and Sean Doherty

Studying in Library (time 8:36): Bro. Peter Cole


Student Discussion by the Fire (time 9:11): Bros. Philip Valera, Benedict DeMan, Bertrand Pidgeon, Albert Linkogle, Brendan O'Rourke, and Edmund Ryan

Chess Players (time 9:58) : Bros. Stephen Coughlin and Lawrence Ackerman

Music Room (time 10:20) : Bros. Thomas More McGreevy, Salvador Calderon (Mexican Province) and Francisco Brenes Camocho, O.P. (Spanish Province)

Drama Practice (time 10:43) : Director: Bro. Lawrence Ackerman; with Bros. Sabastian Haterias, Gerald Elher, and Fr. Fabian Parmisano

Weather Service (time 11:30) : Bro. Stanislaus Sharlach

Art Studio (time 11:56) : Bro. Aquinas Wall

VIDEO TWO The second part of the film highlights the fine arts and the domestic life of the house. It then returns to the Solemn Mass and ends with the chanting of the Exsultet according to the Dominican chant. The credits were actually added later, I am told, by Fr. Finbar Hayes.

Music Session (time 0:00) : Trumpeter, Bro. James Aymong; Guitar, Bro. Louis Fronk

Print Shop (time 0:30): Bro. Antoninus Everson, T.O.P.

Wood Shop (time 1:25) : Bros. Daniel Thomas and Raphael Goodfriend

Visiting the Infirm (time 2:39) : Fr. Bertrand Clyne and Bro. Gregory Lira

Student and Teacher (time 2:60) : Fr. Leo Thomas and Bro. Giles Wentworth

Priest Leaving for Sunday Supply (time 3:30): Fr. Mark McPhee

Gardens (time 4:06) : Bro. Matthias Lockett (weeding)

Dominican Sisters at Grotto (time 4:35) : Sisters Assumta Vorndran, Maria Goretti Eder, Nicolina Kohler, and Melita Wolf

Sisters in the Kitchen (time 5:02) : Sisters Rosalia Steinbach and Maria Goretti Eder

De Profundis Line and Refectory (time 5:19) : Fr. William Lewis, the Prior

Reader in Refectory (time 6:35) : Bro. Stephen Coughlin

Friars at Table (time 7:03) : Frs. Dominic Deniz Ortega, (Spanish Province), Martin Giannini, Mark McPhee, and Fr. John Flannerty

In the Cloister (time 7:40) : In garden (unknown); in archway, Bro. Thomas Thierman, T.O.P.

The Choir at Mass (time 8:35) : The Cantors (left to right): Bros. Francisco Brenes Camacho (Spanish Province), Louis Fronk, Bertrand Pidgeon, and James Aymong.

Front Row on Left (left to right): Bros. Daniel Thomas, Gregory Lira, Antoninus Everson (T.O.P.), Albert Linkogle, Lawrence Ackerman, Augustine Hartman, Anthony Chavez, Patrick Labelle, Bede Wilks, Philip Valera, and Fr. Peter Miles.

Back Row on Left (left to right): unidentified

Front Row on Right (left to right): Bros. Sebastian Haterias, Gerard Elher, Giles Wentworth, Stephen Coughlin, Edmund Ryan, Frederick Narberes, and Adrian Rivera (lay brother postulant). plus four others unidentified,

Back Row on Right: empty stalls, then Bro. Terence McCabe

Solemn Mass (time 10:00) ministers are identified for first video.

The Exsultet (time 11:34) : Bro. Kieran Healy

Credits (time 14:00) : Frs. Mark McPhee, Fabian Parmisano, Finbar Hayes and Leo Thomas/

I thank Bro. Lupe for his help with the production of this video and Fr. Edmund Ryan for his help in identifying the friars. I also thank the many friars who have written me with corrections and new identifications.

A Personal Note of Thanks to the FSSP and FIUV in Mexico

On behalf of Dr Kwasniewski and myself, I would like to express our profound gratitude to the Mexican apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, especially to the head of their house in Guadalajara, Fr Daniel Heenan; and likewise, to the Mexican branch of the International Federation Una Voce, and particularly to the president, Mr Edgar Fernández, for their warm and generous hospitality over the past week as we attended the recent Summorum Pontificum conference in Guadalajara. I would also like to thank the many people who were kind enough to express their appreciation of the papers we delivered at the conference, and of the work we do at NLM in general. It was a pleasure to meet you all, we will both be very glad to return to Mexico when occasion arises. We also offer our heartiest congratulation to Fr Joel Pinto Rodríguez FSSP, who was ordained to the priesthood by H.E. Raymond Cardinal Burke during the conference, on June 11th, the feast of the Sacred Heart. This was the first priestly ordination in the traditional rite to be celebrated in Mexico since the post-Conciliar liturgical reform.

While we were in Mexico, however, my computer suffered a catastrophic automatic update, which is why we have had so few posts this week. My clever nephew has solved the problem, and we will, Deo volente, be getting back to a more regular posting schedule soon, including some of Peter’s pictures of the various sites we visited. In the meantime, just a little preview...

the FSSP church in Guadalajara, dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Pilar, the patroness of Spain...
and the laying-on of hands at Fr Rodríguez’s ordination. (Both photos by Peter.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Virtual Sacred Music Colloquium 2021

Virtual Sacred Music Colloquium 2021 | June 21-25, 2021 | CMAA


Make plans to join the Church Music Association of America for this summer’s Virtual Sacred Music Colloquium, from June 21-25, 2021.

Our virtual program offers opportunities for learning, singing, listening, and interacting with some of the best minds and musicians in the Catholic world today! We will offer three tracks for the breakouts this year, with an eye toward providing a broader range of information that you can use to expand your knowledge.

Three Tracks

One track will be in Spanish. One English track will be more focused on the basics; the other will address more advanced topics and issues.

You can choose from either English track as you wish for each breakout time. The Spanish track will be held on its own day so that more can participate in it. 

The CMAA Virtual Colloquium will be primarily focused on instruction in topics related to chant, polyphony and the Catholic sacred music tradition, lectures and daily night prayer. 

We are also pleased to include three plenary talks this year as well. During the week, you’ll be able to participate in all these sessions via your home computer using the Zoom app. At the end of each breakout session there will be a question and answer session.

Plenary Talks

June 21 – Welcome and Plenary Talk, Dr. William P. Mahrt, CMAA Board President

June 22 – Plenary Talk, Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco

June 24 – Plenary Talk, Rev. Joseph Koterski, S.J., Fordham University

For information about all the details of Schedule, Breakout Session topics, Faculty bios, and more, visit our website at:



Can’t make all the sessions you wish to attend? Registrants will have access to the recordings for several days following the completion of each session.

To register online: REGISTER NOW.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Campaign Against Musically-Shaped Memory

Research has demonstrated what everyday experience already knew: music is the most powerful of all memory aids. The reason we can so easily remembered twenty-six pieces of unrelated information when we memorize the alphabet as a small child is that we learn a song about it. Years after one has last heard a certain song, all it takes is a snatch of its melody for the whole thing to come flooding back. People in comas have reawakened when their loved ones sang or played familiar music to them. Music embeds itself deep in the psyche; its highly articulate structure secures for it a permanence that is often missing from mere text. It takes ten times longer to memorize a spoken poem than the same poem set to a melody.

We know that before the Council, there were still many places that, in spite of St. Pius X’s best intentions, did not use the full chanted propers, but substituted for them “Rossini Propers” or something similarly dreadful; we know that the majority of Masses were recited, not sung or solemn. Nevertheless, there were High Masses and fully chanted Propers; this cannot be denied, for many eyewitnesses and historical records confirm it. For many communities of religious, a fully chanted Mass was normative. Popular liturgical writers could confidently refer to and comment on the chants of Mass, expecting to be understood. “Ad te levavi,” “Puer natus est,” “Nos autem,” “Resurrexi,” “Spiritus Domini,” “Requiem aeternam,” were texts and melodies that enjoyed currency and, more importantly, embedded themselves into the collective ecclesial consciousness. They were the stuff of the Church’s long-term memory. Everyone knew what “Gaudete” and “Laetare” referred to, namely, the Introits of the particular Sundays in Advent and Lent when rose-colored vestments could be worn.

In his letter Sacrificium Laudis of 1966, Paul VI encouraged monks and nuns to retain chant (though in the eleventh hour Rembert Weakland torpedoed his efforts, which were never more than Hamletesque), but he certainly expected Mass everywhere else to be characterized by a lack of chant. In his infamous General Audience of November 26, 1969, right before the Novus Ordo Missae was to go into effect, he said:

It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church’s values?
He replies, not too convincingly: 

The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic. Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech. 

It would be difficult to believe that the Supreme Pontiff, Pope of Rome, actually said these words, had they not been carefully recorded and committed to print and were they not readily available. Later in his address, the Pope cautiously suggests that Latin will not perish, but never says that chant will survive. The fact that he rushed to promulgate a missal in 1969 for which there was no corresponding chant book—a glaring defect that would be repaired only in 1974 when the monks of Solesmes published the revised Graduale Romanum, at which point the horses had not only bolted from the barn, but the barn had been razed and the ground unrecognizably planted over—points to the same conclusion: this pope had absolutely no intention of following one of the teachings of Vatican II that could not be called ambiguous or ambivalent, namely, the assignment of “chief place in liturgical services” to Gregorian chant, as signed by 2,147 council fathers and promulgated by the same pope only six years earlier (Sacrosanctum Concilium 116).

The loss of chanted propers of the Mass was therefore a deliberate strategy, not an accidental fallout. The appearance of the 1974 Graduale Romanum was a sad afterthought that made no impact on parochial life; the tradition had already been severed. Stories are rife of monks, nuns, friars, and laity chanting from the Liber Usualis one week, and the following week singing folksy English songs from binders or booklets, never to take up the chant again. What this means, if we go back to our opening remarks about music as a repository and vehicle of memory (indeed, of an ever-deepening memory that lives and grows while it endures), is that the Church was systematically deprived of her most precious liturgical memories in the form of the cantillated scripture verses with which her worship had been adorned for at least a millennium and a half.

The result? A rupture or dissolution of memory that, at least as far as individuals and communities are concerned, would be comparable to severe amnesia or to Alzheimer’s, with a superficialization of the meaning and content of worship. It is not that one treasure was substituted for another, but a treasure was lost, and in its place was put a random collection of vastly inferior items that enjoyed neither diachronic nor synchronic universality. The power of music to retain and transmit the Faith was fragmented, atomized, and fluxified.

The replacement of the annual reading cycle with two-year and three-year reading cycles; the abolition of many priestly prayers in the Mass (at the start, at the offertory, before communion), the distension of the integral one-week psalter to an expurgated four-week psalter, the optionitis and opportunities for presidential improvisation—all of these moves run strongly against the formation of memory by continual repetition. Together they guaranteed that almost no Catholics—including, tragically, the clergy—would be able to internalize the liturgy to such an extent that it became bone of one’s bone, flesh of one’s flesh. Or, at any rate, what was internalized would be inadequate compared to the inheritance of the Faith. Instead, due in part to the sheer quantity of text and in part to the assumption of recited liturgy as normative, the clergy would have to remain largely at the level of reading texts out of “official books.” This reinforced legal positivism and cut off Catholics from an ingrained, intuitive sense of what is and is not liturgy, what is and is not in keeping with tradition. If one has the liturgy within oneself because of its stability of form, relatively narrow compass, rhythm of language, and most of all its standard assigned music, then one attains much more readily that experiential knowledge called by St. Thomas Aquinas “connnatural knowledge,” that is, intimate acquaintance of something’s essence not by reasoning but by sympathy. One would therefore be in a position to tell when a note jarred against this harmony, when a word or phrase grated against the ear.

In short: the ancient liturgy is capable of planting itself within, while the reformed liturgy is spread out in so many texts and books, and multiplied by options, that it would be well-nigh impossible to “have it” within. This makes its user less offended by deviation and more pliant to officialdom, from which the books are handed down.

The Introit for Pentecost, from the Codex Gisle (ca. 1300)

Imagine Roman clergy from the Middle Ages who had somehow been transported to our time and had sat through a parish Novus Ordo Mass. Their first question would be: “Where was the Ad te levavi?” or “Where was the Puer natus? We didn’t hear it anywhere.” They knew what the Roman liturgy was not because it had been dictated to them by a pope or any conference of bishops, but because they had it in their ears, their mouths, their hearts. This was true, be it noted, well before and well after 1570, since the text, music, and ceremonial aspects of the various Latin rites and uses enjoyed considerable analogy with one another and a stability of form akin to the massive stone architecture of their churches: they were recognizably from and for the Catholic Church. Nothing substantial in the Roman rite had changed or would be changed until 1907 when Pius X laid hands on the Breviary, and after World War II, when Pius XII disfigured the Holy Week ceremonies.

The worst part about loss of memory is that, after a certain point, the one suffering from it no longer realizes that he has lost it. Traditionalists in the Church today are like nurses trying to remind a patient of who she is or where she came from or who her relatives are, showing pictures from the past, singing a bit of chant, trying in some way, in any way, to reactive the memory of a beloved mother.

Thanks be to God, not all hope of recovery is lost. For indeed the Church is not a monolithic entity with merely mortal powers but is composed of many members united in their Head. The Head of this Body has never lost His memory and never will; He sends the Spirit of truth to remind the disciples of all that He has taught, not only in His lifetime but in the lifetime of the Church that He governs from heaven, and on which He has bestowed the treasures of liturgical rites and their traditional music. The memory is present in actuality in Him, and in a mixture of act and potency among us, as in a body with some healthy limbs and some diseased or damaged limbs. With the prophet we can say: “Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees” (Is 35:3). The rigor mortis of legal positivism is giving way to the warm love of tradition for its own sake.

To change metaphors, rebuilding a bridge that has collapsed is difficult but not impossible, if there is a willingness to reconnect the two sides over the abyss. I have been singing the proper chants for the usus antiquior for thirty years now, and have reached a point where they are totally ingrained in me. Every Sunday of the year, practically every holy day, the chants are right there in my soul, brought up instantly when the singing begins. And the same is true for many of my friends around the world, a growing number that includes new recruits, new reverts and converts, cradle Catholics who have been driven by a longing for more to seek out a worship that has and is more. The memory of the Church that was thought to be obliterated has, by the grace of God, returned to the Mystical Body; a bridge, even if a narrow and rickety one, has been erected again, joining the past to the future by way of the present. What a privilege to be a part of the rebuilding—part of the reactivating and transmission of beautiful, noble, gracious memories.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

An Exhibit of Episcopal Dress in Covington, Kentucky

Our friend Fr Jordan Hainsey has just sent us the following. “The Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, blessed and dedicated 24 new statues and two tympana for the façade of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption on Sunday, June 6. To honor Bishop Camillus Paul Maes (1846-1915), who built the cathedral and façade, a temporary display of his clothing and personal effects is on view through the end of June the crypt chapel where his remains are entombed, visitors can see items ranging from episcopal clothing to the trowel used at the ’athedral’s cornerstone laying ceremony in 1910.” (Below, there are two historical photographs of Bishop Maes, one in the standrard cassock and rochet, and the other in the winter cappa magna. There is also a portrait Mark A Thiessen, who served as the bishop’s train bearer from 1906-09, wearing the formal costume seen in the 4th photo.) Fr Hainsey will soon be sharing photos of the new statues with us.

The formal costume of Bishop Maes’ trainbearer, very typical for its time.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Parisian Mass for the Octave of Corpus Christi

Some of the oldest Roman octaves, such as those of Ss Peter and Paul and St Lawrence, have a Mass on the octave day itself which is different or partly different from that of the main feast; Peter and Paul also have another Mass for the days within the octave. However, by the time the feast of Corpus Christi was promulgated in the mid-13th century, this custom was no longer being developed for new celebrations, and the Mass of the feast was simply repeated though the octave. As I noted recently, the neo-Gallican Parisian Missal of 1738 added a proper Epistle and Gospel for each day within the octave of Corpus Christi, a development which by the standards of its time was certainly an innovation, but one in keeping with tradition. This Missal also contains a special Mass for the octave day, which is for the most part quite well composed from a literary point of view.

The Mass of the Octave of Corpus Christi, from the 1738 Parisian Missal
The introit is taken from the book of the Prophet Malachi (1, 11), a text which was already understood to be a reference to the Eucharistic sacrifice by St Justin Martyr in the mid-2nd century.

Introitus Ab ortu solis usque ad occasum, magnum est nomen meum in gentibus, et in omni loco sacrificatur et offertur nomini meo oblatio munda, quia magnum est nomen meum in gentibus, dicit Dominus exercituum. Ps. 49 Deus deorum Dominus locutus est, et vocavit terram a solis ortu usque ad occasum. Gloria Patri. Ab ortu solis.

Introit From the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. Ps. 49 The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken: and he hath called the earth from the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof. Glory be. From the rising.

The Collect is taken from an ancient Sacramentary of the Gallican Rite.

Oratio Deus, qui magno misericordiae tuae munere, docuisti nos redemptionis nostrae sacrificium celebrare, sicut óbtulit Póntifex noster Jesus Chrifius in terris: da nobis, quaesumus, ut sanctifìcati per oblatiónem Córporis et Sanguinis ejus, cum ipso mereamur in sempiternum consummari; Qui tecum.

Prayer God, who by the great gift of Thy mercy, taught us to celebrate the sacrifice of our redemption, as our priest Jesus Christ offered (it) upon the earth: grant us, we ask, that sanctified by the offering of His Body and Blood, we may merit to be perfected for ever with Him who liveth and reigneth...

The neo-Gallican revisers were very fond of creating themes in the liturgy, and this Mass is no exception. The Epistle, Hebrews 7, 18-28, continues the thought of the Introit and Collect on the universal priestly offering of Christ. This passage is perhaps also chosen for Corpus Christi as a deliberate rebuke or challenge to the Calvinists, who often cited the words of verse 27, “Who needeth not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices first for his own sins, and then for the people’s, for this He did once, in offering Himself”, against the Catholic doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Gradual joins the line of Psalm 109 quoted above by St Paul with the figure of Melchisedech, whose appearance in the book of Genesis (14, 17-20) is read as the Epistle on Friday within the Octave.

Graduale Melchisedech rex Salem, protulit panem et vinum, erat enim sacerdos Dei altissimi. V. Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.

Graduale Melchisedech, the king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God. V. The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.

The Offerings of Abel and Melchisedech, mosaic from the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, 526-547 AD. (Image from Wikipedia by Roger Culos - CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Alleluia is also taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews (9, 26), after which St Thomas’ Sequence Lauda, Sion is said as on the feast day.

Alleluia, alleluia. Christus in consummatione saeculorum, ad destitutionem peccati, per hostiam suam apparuit, alleluia. – Alleluia, alleluia. Christ at the end of ages hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of Himself, alleluia.

The Gospel, John 6, 58-70, is the fourth of a series of readings chosen to give a broader selection from the Eucharistic discourse of that chapter than the four verses (56-59) originally provided by St Thomas’ version of the Mass. (Monday, verses 27-35; Tuesday, 41-44; Wednesday, 51-55.) The neo-Gallican revisers, like most “right-thinking” liturgists, were painfully obsessed with making the liturgy more Scriptural and more didactic; the results of their tinkering are often comically inept, as for example, in the damage which they did to St Thomas’ Office of Corpus Christi. Here, however, they have shown a commendable respect for the original tradition, while at the same time building from it, an example which the modern revisers of the lectionary might profitably have heeded.

The Offertory is taken from the First Epistle of St Peter, 2, 4-5.

Offertorium Ad Christum accedentes lapidem vivum, et ipsi tamquam lapides vivi superaedificamini, domus spiritualis, sacerdotium sanctum, offerre spirituales hostias, acceptabiles Deo per Jesum Christum, alleluia.

Offertory Coming unto Christ, as to a living stone, be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, alleluia.

The first part of the Secret (up to the asterisk) is taken from a very ancient prayer found in the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries; in the latter, as in the Missal of St Pius V, it is assigned to the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost. (The Latin version of this prayer, moved to the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, somehow managed to survive the Consilium intact; the 1973 ICEL version of it was one of the old translation’s most grotesque failures, as Fr Zuhlsdorf noted here in this very useful commentary.) The second part was composed specifically for this Mass.

Secreta Deus, qui legalium differentias hostiarum unius sacrificii perfectione sanxisti: accipe sacrificium a devotis tibi famulis; et pari benedictione, sicut munera Abel, sanctifica; ut * Christo sacerdoti et victimae per fidem adunati, nosmetipsos tibi hostiam viventem, sanctam, et beneplacentem exhibere valeamus. Per eundem...

Secret O God, who by the perfection of the one sacrifice didst ratified variety of offerings prescribed by the Law; receive (this) sacrifice from the servants devoted to Thee, and sanctify it by a blessing (as Thou did with) the gifts of Abel; so that * we, united by faith to Christ, who is priest and victim, may be able to offer to Thee ourselves, as a living, holy and well-pleasing sacrifice. Through the same...

The Secret “Deus qui legalium” in the Echternach Sacramentary, 895AD. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9433) In the Gelasian Sacramentary, it appears in the third of sixteen Masses under the heading “for Sundays”, without further qualification. Later sacramentaries would reorganize the material in the Gelasian in broadly similar, but not identical ways; in the Echternach, it is assigned to the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, rather than the Seventh.
The Communion antiphon is taken from 1 Corinthians 11, 24-25, an unusual (for neo-Gallicans) example of a partial and inexact quotation.

Communio Hoc corpus quod pro vobis tradetur: hic calix novi testamenti еst in meo sanguine, dicit Dóminus: hoc facite, quotiescumque sumitis, in meam commemoratiónem.

Communion This (is the) body, which shall be delivered for you: this chalice is the new testament in my blood: do ye this, as often as you shall receive it, for the commemoration of me.

The Postcommunion is a new composition, which cites the idea of the Communion antiphon, again keeping to a theme.

Postcommunio Domine Jesu Christe, qui corpus et sanguinem tuum esse voluisti humanae salutis pretium, Ecclesiae tuae sacrificium, et nostrae infirmitatis alimentum; praesta, quaesumus, ut haec sancta, quae in tui commemorationem nos súmere praecepisti, sempiternam nobis redemptiónem operentur. Qui vivis.

Postcommunio Lord Jesus Christ, who willed that Thy Body and Blood be the price of man’s salvation, Thy Church’s sacrifice, and the nourishment of our weakness; grant, we ask, that these holy things, which Thou didst command us to receive in commemoration of Thee, may effect for us everlasting redemption. Who livest.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Corpus Christi 2021 Photopost (Part 1)

Of all of our regular photoposts, Corpus Christi is always the hardest for me to do, since we always get such a large number of beautiful images, far more than we can post, and this always involves making a lot of painful decision as to which ones to select. This is, of course, a great problem to have, and we will be very glad to receive more as we process them over the several days, so please feel free to send your images of Corpus Christi celebrations or other recent feasts to, remembering to include the name and location of the church, and any other information you think important. This year, we images of Pentecost and a few other things will be included in this series. Evangelize through beauty!

St Barnabas – Omaha, Nebraska
Kudos to the photographer for this great shot!
Benediction at a church along the route of the procession.

Going on Pilgrimage 2021

I just wanted to let our readers know that things may be a little bit slower than usual on NLM over the next several days. Today, I am travelling to Guadalajara, Mexico, where I will be participating in the Fraternity of St Peter’s Summorum Pontificum Convention. In addition to the various liturgical events, which include a priestly ordination on Friday afternoon, to be celebrated by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, I will be delivering a paper on the history of the ordination rites in the traditional Roman liturgy; next week, we will be visiting some of the sites associated with the Cristero Martyrs. I promise that I do my best to cpntinue processing our photopost submissions for Corpus Christi and Pentecost. There is plenty of time to send more in to

The ordination will be live-streamed at the following link: People can also sign up to participate in the convention virtually through the following event page:

The FSSP in Mexico recently also posted some nice videos about the traditional liturgy which you may enjoy.
“The most beautiful thing this side of Paradise.”
“Are young people still interested in Faith? Why are they attracted to the traditional Latin Mass?”
“How the traditional Mass helped my conversion to Catholic Faith.”
“Our spiritual life has to be centered in Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the traditional Latin Mass.”

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Beautiful New Vestments for the Dominican Order

Our long-time contributor, and photographer extraordinaire, Fr Lawrence Lew OP, is currently serving as prior and parish priest of the Dominican church in London, dedicated to St Dominic and Our Lady of the Rosary. The church has recently received some very nice new vestments, beautifully decorated with symbols of the Dominican Order. Fr Lew writes: “To celebrate the 800th anniverary of the English Dominican Province, we decided to commission vestments that will be used by the brethren for concelebrated Masses. I worked with Adam Bławat (of on the design of the vestments, including the customised damask and orphrey we designed together that features the Holy Rosary, Dominican heraldry and other symbols. This set will be used for the first time at an ordination at St Dominic’s Church on July 4th.

With the help of benefactors, I hope in time that the Rosary Shrine will have vestments with this design in all the main liturgical colours. If any Dominican brothers, convents, provinces would like to order similar vestments, please contact me - we should club together and co-ordinate the order!” Anyone who is interested can contact Fr Lew via email at Our thanks to him for sharing these pictures with us.

The dalmatic.
A closer view of the orphrey, with the alternating black-and-white cross of the Dominican Order (a shape known in heraldry as a “cross fleury”), and the MR monogram of the Virgin Mary.

Heraldic symbols of the Dominican Order woven into the damask: at the upper middle, an eight pointed star with a gold-and-white alternation as on the cross fleury seen above; rosaries enclosing a floral border, within which are symbols of the three sets of mysteries of the rosary (a flower for the Joyful Mysteries, a Crown of Thorns for the Sorrowful Mysteries, and an MR with a crown over it for the Glorious Mysteries); a coat of arms of the Order; two dogs with torches in their mouths. These last refer to a pun commonly made about the Dominicans in the Middle Ages, by which they were called “Domini canes - the hounds of the Lord.” It also refers to a vision which St Dominic’s mother, Bl. Juana de Aza, had when she was pregnant with him, of a dog with a torch in its mouth, a symbol of how her son’s preaching would enflame the world. (Closer views of the details given below.)
The chasuble; this is the pose of a priest when he says “Dominus vobiscum” facing the people during the Dominican Mass.

In the Dominican Mass, as in most medieval Uses and the Ambrosian Rite, the priest extends his arms out in the form of a cross at the Unde et memores.

Turning a Protest into Pilgrimage, and a March into a Meditation

On the weekend of May 29th, within the Octave of Pentecost, I joined a small group for the 2nd annual 50-mile San Francisco Bay march, which ran from Point Reyes south and finished at the Golden Gate Bridge. In case you are wondering, I didn’t complete all 50 miles, but was with them for a 17-mile section on the first part of the first day, and for a barbecue at Stinson Beach, although several people did complete the 50-miles to mark the 50 days of Pentecost.

The organizer is my friend Charlie Deist, with whom I regularly record podcasts, and his description of why he started it is here at Charlie is interested in promoting health through physical exercise and nutrition, and as a Christian - he is a convert to Catholicism - is interested in finding a way to integrate them with the Christian life.

In our podcasts together, we have discussed how modern nutritional science seems to support a dietary regime that is a harmonized mix of the different approaches which individually might be considered just the latest fad diet. Charlie proposes a combination that is in harmony with the Church’s traditional cycles of fasting and feasting. He is also a qualified instructor in a form of exercise called MoveNat. I became interested in this because at age 58, I wanted some form of exercise that would allow me to stay healthy and flexible, and didn’t come with the distorted spiritual baggage that yoga brings with it.

As I talked to Charlie about this, it dawned on me that his approach to exercise and nurtition could be combined with the pattern of Christian living which I recently described inan article about beauty in the spiritual life. It works so well, I believe, firstly because it doesn’t come with any associated new age spirituality that has to be negated or redirected. Secondly, the emphasis on working with human nature allows, it transpires, for an easy (one hesitates to use the word “natural”) combination with Christian mysticism, which aims at the supernatural elevation of human nature. The regular singing of the psalms to mark the hours, Christian spiritual exercises and forms of mediation such as lectio divina, all work well with in combination with them.
This march began as a statement of freedom a year ago, at a time when society and churches were being fragmented by the lockdown and mask regulations imposed to stop the spread of Covid. We wanted something that we could do together, cheerfully, joyfully (and legally) as a statement of our desire for freedom, and especially religious freedom. The idea of a 50 miles hike came from an American tradition instituted by Theodore Roosevelt and encouraged by JFK to stop the slide of the US into a sedentary nation - you can read about the history of this in Charlie’s write up here. By coincidence, the first one was set for the weekend of Pentecost and so suggested that we make it a pilgrimage – a 50-mile March for Eternal Life. The hope is that we might be more open to the Holy Spirit in our quest for freedom and faith. Charlie offered tuition on a natural walking method to help us along - which he termed the “Golden Gait”!
We repeated it again this year; some joined for sections (like me) and those who are younger and more vigorous completed the whole distance over two days. We introduced the regular singing of the psalms on the walk. I was not sure how the crowd who came would take to it. The common connection was an interest in MoveNat, and certainly not all were Catholics. Some were other denominations and the majority of our group of about 12 were “spiritual but not religious.”
Charlie and I resolved to sing the psalms to “sanctify the day”, as the General Instruction for the Liturgy of the Hours puts it, and give individuals the opportunity to join us or to step away. In fact, all joined in. I led the group in the singing of a single psalm and some traditional hymns in the open air at each point, to mark the Hour, with passers-by listening. Charlie sang the drone and I sang the melody, and we told those who had never done this before to stand close to Charlie and sing the drone with him. This way everybody was able to join in instantly, and they did. It was a group of predominantly masculine voices, and we faced East and sang the psalms in the Gregorian modes out loud, many doing it for the first time in their lives. 
In addition to the psalms, I chose the traditional hymns for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which is in the Eastern Calendar. I wanted to connect the Christian message with the idea that the nation is a natural association of man. These are hymns that ask God to protect our country against its enemies but look for a victory whose measure is peace. 
Oh Lord save Your people and bless your inheritance. Grant victory to our country over its enemies, and preserve your community by the power of your cross.
Oh Christ our God who chose by Your free volition to be elevated upon the holy Cross, grant Your mercies to Your new people who are called by Your name; in Your power gladden the hearts of our civil authorities; strengthen them in every good deed so that Your true alliance may be for them a weapon of peace and a standard of victory.
O dread Champion who cannot be put to confusion, despise not our petitions. O Good one, all lauded Theotokos, establish the way of those who hold the orthodox faith; save those you have called to rule over us; bestow upon them victory from heaven; for You gave birth to God, O only blessed one.
Again we sang these with melody and drone, and so all were engaging with the text and not simply listening. Everyone, including a number of lapsed Catholics, commented on how much they enjoyed it and also how strong the sentiments of the psalms were. This had surprised those who had not read them before. The outdoor setting and the timing of pauses in physical activity seemed a natural association in their minds. Interestingly, one person who is a libertarian and who thought of nations and countries as artificial constructs, noticed this and asked me about it. I describe my reasons for choosing these hymns in more detail in a write-up I did prior to the march, posted here.
At the end of the day, I was asked about organizing some more pilgrimages which could be a shorter distance and on which we could do the psalms again, so we have decided to do two more in the year. We have scheduled our next pilgrimage as an 8-mile walk in which we will sing all 8 Offices for the octave of the Holy Cross, then the third will be for Epiphany. I noticed that this communal prayer did bring us together as a group. 
One of the great successes of yoga is that it at least bothers to try to make a practical connection between the physical body and the spiritual aspect of the human person by connecting physical activity and meditation. One wonders if, for all the distortion and error that is embedded into what they do, the reason that so many people are drawn to it is that the yoga studio is the only place that actually makes this connection between the physical and spiritual. Deep down, people know that there is something to it and feel better for practicing. Christians are typically happy to discuss anthropology and the unity of body and soul as an intellectual topic, but in my experience, many will compartmentalize their activity. Physical exercise and nutrition - eating for physical health - are not connected with the spiritual life in any practical way. 
What this event showed me is that all we have to do is try to make the connection as best we can using traditional Christian practices, and people respond.
As Chesterton said, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. Surely we can do it at least as badly as the yoga studios around the country? This was our attempt at doing something good, even if we did it badly!

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