Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Book Recommendation: Eucharist by Bishop Robert Barron

Eucharist, by Bishop Robert Barron, is an excellent explanation of the importance of the Eucharist as a sacred meal, sacrifice, and the Real Presence of Christ. It is short - a little over 100 pages long - but rich in content. Bishop Barron establishes his arguments by drawing on Salvation History, Church history, and Thomistic philosophy and theology. Throughout, he does so in an accessible style appropriate to a wide readership, one that both assumes the intelligence of the reader yet demands little prior knowledge of formal theology. Without relying on obscure jargon, he explains all his points from first principles, guiding the reader through to the conclusions, without shying away from the most conceptually difficult aspects of eucharistic theology.

As the Second Vatican Council famously told us, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. I propose in light of this that a focus on the Eucharist should be seen, therefore, as both the first and the final lesson of any scheme of catechesis, for it is the illuminating light that gives understanding and meaning to all other Christian teaching and the end to which it is all directed. The Eucharist is not simply the icing on the cake of the Faith, it is the principle that causes the existence of the fundamental matter from which cake and icing alike are formed; and which arranges it in such a way that it delights us. I would recommend this book as a worthy foundational text for such catechesis.

Finally, he explains profoundly and powerfully why full acceptance of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist (aided of course by our best understanding) is so important in giving us the happiness that we all desire in this life.

When I was in the process of conversion to Catholicism in London nearly 30 years ago, the first books that were recommended to me before I began my personal instruction were short texts written by the English priest Msgr Ronald Knox, himself a convert, who died in 1957. These were the Mass in Slow Motion, The Gospel in Slow Motion, The Creed in Slow Motion, and finally The Belief of Catholics. These were foundational to my grasp of the Faith, each was a simple and accessible text that was nevertheless written on the assumption of an intelligent reader who is lacking the basic information, as good as any of this type that I have seen. It seems to me that Bishop Barron’ Eucharist is a good complement to Knox’s instructional booklets, focusing on particularly noteworthy lacks in our times: first, the lack of faith in the Eucharist as sacrifice and as Real Presence, and second, a lack of understanding as to why this sacrificial real presence is at the heart of the Christian Faith.

Barron begins in the introductory chapter with a description of the book (and film) called Babette’s Feast by the Danish author Karen Blixen, because, he says, poets often ‘say it best’. He explains how the different aspects of the Eucharist that he will focus on later on in the book are symbolized within the story of a maid who came into money and sacrificed it all, giving her mistresses, two austere Lutheran sisters, and their guests a sumptuous feast. He refers back to this imagery throughout the book.

One of the great flaws of contemporary instruction in the Faith, often coming from the pulpit but not restricted to it, is to oversimplify difficult topics, or to avoid them altogether. As a result, nearly all people are put off by this patronizing approach, which treats all as though they are too stupid to understand. Nobody likes to be treated as though they are stupid - least of all those of us who are - but all are flattered if they are treated as capable of intelligent thought, even if we are not. It is far better, it strikes me, to assume intelligence and lose a few in your explanations than to lose most by assuming the listener or reader will not understand and trot out trite simplifications. In this text, Bishop Barron, in the manner of the brilliant and natural teacher that he is, tackles theologically difficult ideas without ever resorting, at least without full explanation, to what would be, to many people, overly obscure jargon. Having said that, his use of language is deliberate and precise, and he had me reaching for a dictionary from time to time, which I didn’t mind at all. His chapter detailing the development of Eucharistic theology through centuries will be enlightening to many, I think. Certainly, I learned a great deal about the history of the perception of the Real Presence through this chapter.

As an example, here is a description of how he helps us to understand the principle of transubstantiation; referring to the work of theologian Msgr Robert Sokolowski, Barron writes:
Sokolowski argues that there are three ways to think about the relationship between spirit and matter. According to the first, which he calls ‘Darwinian’, matter is really all that there is, and we call ‘spirit’ is simply an epiphenomenon of matter. In this Darwinian reading, mind, and will, for example, are only refined brain functions.
A second way to understand the relationship between the two realities is what he characterizes as the ‘Aristotelian’. In this view spirit and matter exist more or less side by side and interact with one another in complex ways. Think for instance of the standard view of how the body and soul relate to each other.
But the third model, which Sokolowski calls ‘creationist’ or ‘biblical’ holds to the precedence of spirit over matter. According to this mode of interpretation, the properly spiritual - mind and will - preceded matter and can determine matter according to its purposes. Everything we have said about creation through the word is intelligible only in the context of this third framework.
Problems occur in Eucharistic theology, Sokolowski maintains, when we try to think of the Eucharist in either of the first two frameworks. Within a Darwinian framework, the Real Presence is just so much nonsense for matter is all that there is. Within an Aristotelian framework, the Real Presence comes to be thought of as a sort of inner-worldly change, some new and unprecedented way for finite natures - one spiritual and the other material - to relate to one another. But within the biblical context, things can make a bit more sense, for in this reading, God is not one nature among others, one being within the world, but rather the creator of the world, the ground of all finite things. And this God can relate to matter in a non-competitive way, become present through it, without undermining it. The supreme instance of this non-competitive involvement of God is of course the Incarnation and the Eucharist is nothing but a sacramental prolongation of the Incarnation. Thus God can use the material as a vehicle for his presence without ceasing to be God and without overwhelming the matter he uses. The Eucharist does not involve the supplanting of one fine nature by another - as though a tree becomes a leopard but continues to look and react like a tree - but the non-competitive presence of God within an aspect of the nature he has made. Thus concludes Sokolowski, when the Church speaks of Christ being substantially present in the Eucharist even as the material appearances of bread and wine remain, it is assuming this uniquely biblical perspective on the relation of spirit and matter.
In addition to explaining what the Eucharist is, he goes on, crucially in my opinion, to describe what this means for our lives, that is what happens to us Catholics who take communion as believers. We undergo a supernatural transformation - the partaking of the divine nature - that happens by degrees in this life so that we have, to put it simply, the greatest happiness that anyone can have in this life.

I became a Catholic not so much because the Faith is true - although I believed it to be so; not so much, even, because of the beauty of Catholic culture and the cosmos - although I responded so powerfully to both; but rather because I believed that both of these aspects of the Faith, so intimately bound up with it, indicated that I would be happiest as a Catholic who might be part of the very Truth and the Beauty that drew me into itself. In the years since I have wondered how many Catholics are really aware of what is on offer to them.

Fr Barron wrote of this happiness in just a couple of pages at the end of the book. It is a small proportion of this short book, but I hope people who read it will believe what he says:
Earlier in this chapter, we saw that many of the Church Fathers characterized the Eucharist as food that effectively immortalizes those who consume it. They understood that if Christ is really present in the Eucharistic elements, the one who eats and drinks the Lord’s Body and Blood becomes configured to Christ in a far more than metaphorical way. The Eucharist, they concluded, Christifies and hence eternalizes. Now, again, if the Eucharist were no more than a symbol, this kind of language would be so much nonsense. But if the doctrine of the Real Presence is true, then this literal eternalization of the recipient of communion must be maintained.

But what does this transformation practically entail? It implies that the whole of one’s life - body, psyche, emotions, spirit - becomes ordered to the eternal dimension, to the realm of God. It means that one’s energies and interests, one’s purposes and plans, are lifted out of a purely temporal context and given an entirely new spiritual valence. The Christified person knows that his life is not finally about him but is to be found above and not below. Wealth, pleasure, power, honor, success, titles, degrees, even friendships, and family connections are all relativized as the high adventure of life with God opens up. The eternalized person can say with Paul, ‘It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me,’ (Gal. 2:20), and ‘Here we have no lasting city,’ (Heb. 13:14).

The paradox is this: such a reconfiguration actually makes such people more rather than less effective and happy in this world. G.K. Chesterton said that when he was an agnostic and was convinced that he could be happy only through the use of this world’s goods, he was actually miserable. But when he realized that he was not meant to be finally satisfied here below - when he was eternalized through the Eucharist - he found, to his infinite surprise, that he became happy...This is why I tell people to be very careful when they approach the Eucharist. Were the elements simply symbols - inventions of our own spiritual creativity and desire - they would pose no particular threat. But since they are the power and presence of God, they will change the one who consumes them. When the communicant says ‘Amen’ and receives the proffered host and chalice, he’d better be prepared to live an eternal life.
The Catholic Christian life well lived is a happy life. That happiness is more authentic, deeper and more permanent than anything on offer to those who do not consume, authentically, the Body and Blood of Our Lord, and it is a happiness that transcends all human suffering. And I really mean the happiness of the sort that all people, regardless of their level of education know, deep down, that they desire - there is no need for nuance, or the depends-what-you-mean-by sophistry that in academic circles so often seems to accompany discussions of this goal in life. It is no-holds-barred happiness.

This is a truth, it seems to me at times, that even pious Catholics hesitate to believe is possible, and so diminish, at best, its realization in their own lives. And if we who are part of the mystical body doubt it, why should any who are outside the Church believe it either? This then is the task of evangelization for Christians: to demonstrate the art of living happily in good times and bad. Those who see such happiness and belief, and to whom we communicate knowledge of its source will, without any exception, convert if they believe it is available to them too..

Bishop Barron’s book cannot in itself transmit such happiness to anyone, but my hope is that it will lead people to the eternal banquet which is its source.

Buy here. Author: Robert Barron, ISBN: 978-1-943243-82-2, 136 pages; Publisher: Word on Fire Institute, Dimensions: 6 x 9

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Feast of the Blessed Ildephonse Schuster 2021

Today the Church celebrates the feast of  Blessed Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, who served as Archbishop of Milan for just over a quarter of a century, from July of 1929 until his death on this day in 1954. Born in Rome in 1880 to German parents, he entered the Benedictine monastery of St Paul’s Outside-the-Walls at the age of 18, and was professed two years later, taking Ildefonso as his name in religion. Ordained priest four years later, he served as master of novices, prior, abbot, procurator general of the Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, and president of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Having made a visitation of the seminaries of Lombardy, Campania and Calabria from 1924 to 1928, in 1929 he was created Archbishop of Milan by Pope Pius XI, his predecessor but one in the venerable See of Saint Ambrose. He was made a Cardinal less than a month after his appointment, and consecrated bishop by the Pope himself in the Sistine Chapel a few days later.

During the difficult years of his episcopacy, the years of Italian Fascism and the Second World War (in which Milan was one of the hardest hit cities in Italy), the Bl. Schuster showed himself truly a worthy successor of St Charles Borromeo, and shepherded 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. He passed to eternal life at the seminary of Venegono, which he himself had founded in 1935.

We have had occasion to write of him several times here at 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, was written while he was still a Benedictine monk of the Roman Rite, and although inevitably dated in some respects, remains an invaluable reference point for liturgical scholarship. (It has been republished, in paperback and hardcover, by the indefatigable Arouca Press of Ontario.) 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 Ambrosian 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.

When his tomb was opened in 1985, his mortal remains were found to be intact; he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1996, and his body was exposed for the veneration of the faithful in one of the side-altars of the Duomo. My first experience of the Ambrosian liturgy was a votive Mass in the traditional rite held in his honor in 1998, at which Monsignor Amodeo and another canon sang the Ambrosian propers of a Confessor Bishop; after Mass, we processed from the altar of the left transept around the church to the altar, and sang the Ambrosian litany of the Saints at his tomb. The Ambrosian manner is for the cantors to sing the name of the Saint (“Sancte Ambrosi”) as in the Roman Rite; the choir responds by repeating it, and adding “pray for us.”

Beate Ildephonse. Beate Ildephonse, ora pro nobis!

The relics of Bl. Cardinal Schuster
His episcopal consecration
A pastoral visit
Preaching from the great elevated pulpit in the Duomo
Corpus Christi
The blessing of a church bell
Pontifical Mass in the Duomo
Surveying bomb damage to the Duomo during World War II

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Liturgical Notes on the Beheading of St John the Baptist

The Beheading of St John the Baptist is one of the oldest and most universal feasts that exists, attested in the sermons of the some of the Church Fathers already in the early fifth century; it is kept on the same day in the Roman, Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Gallican and Byzantine Rites. However, even though the Church’s devotion to the Saints in ancient times was very much focused on the martyrs, the day which commemorates John’s martyrdom has always been less celebrated than that of his birth; thus we find among the works of St Augustine fifteen sermons for the feast of his Nativity, but only two for his Beheading. The Nativity also had a vigil from very ancient times, and somewhat later, was given an octave, while the Beheading has neither. Durandus explains that this is because at John’s birth “many rejoiced”, as the Angel said, but at his death, he did not go straight to heaven, which was not yet opened by the death and Resurrection of Christ.

The Beheading of St John the Baptist, by Caravaggio, 1608; from the Co-cathedral of St John in Valletta, Malta.
In the Roman Rite, the feast of the Nativity has a fully proper Mass and Office, while on the Beheading, the majority of the liturgical texts are shared with other Martyrs. The Introit of the Mass is one normally used for Virgin Martyrs, but was selected for his feast day as a text particular apposite to the cause of his death, that he spoke to King Herod the truth about his unlawful “marriage” to his sister-in-law. “I spoke of thy testimonies before kings, and I was not ashamed; and I meditated also on thy commandments, which I loved.”

This is also expressed by the Epistle of the Mass, Jeremiah 1, 17-19, which follows from the Epistle of the vigil of his Nativity, verses 4-10 of the same chapter.

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command thee. Be not afraid at their presence: for I will make thee not to fear their countenance. For behold I have made thee this day a fortified city, and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass, over all the land, to the kings of Juda, to the princes thereof, and to the priests, and to the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee, and shall not prevail: for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.”

The Roman Rite historically makes very little use of the Gospel of St Mark, notwithstanding the evangelist’s traditional association with the first bishop of Rome. There are three very prominent exceptions: Easter and the Ascension among the feasts of the Lord, and today’s feast among those of the Saints, on which the Gospel is Mark 6, 17-29. The same Gospel is read in the Ambrosian Rite, and also in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, with one additional verse at the end.

In the Roman version of the Divine Office, the majority of the musical propers (antiphons, responsories, hymns) are taken from the common Office of a single Martyr, but there are a number of propers as well, which follow the text of this Gospel fairly closely. At Second Vespers, the antiphon for the Magnificat is slightly more rhetorical than the Gospel itself. “The unbelieving King sent his loathsome messengers, and commanded that John the Baptist’s head should be cut off.”

A page of the Antiphonary of Hartker, written at the monastery of St Gallen in Switzerland at the end of the 10th century. (Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 391, p. 107 – Antiphonarium officii https://www.e-codices.ch/en/list/one/csg/0391)
Other Uses of the Roman Rite have more proper texts, which vary greatly from one to another; most of these are also taken from the Gospel, with some notable exceptions. The Premonstratensians have this extraordinary antiphon, the text of which comes from a sermon by St Peter Chrysologus, (ca. 380-450), bishop of Ravenna, whom Pope Benedict XIII declared a Doctor of the Church in 1729. As Canons Regular, St Augustine is one of the principal patrons of their order, and his feast therefore ranks higher than that of the Beheading; this antiphon is used to commemorate the latter at Vespers on August 28th.

Aña Joannes schola virtutum, magisterium vitae, sanctitatis forma, norma justitiae, virginitatis speculum, pudicitiae titulus, castitatis exemplum, poenitentium via, peccatorum venia, fidei disciplina; Joannes major homine, par Angelis, legis summa Evangelii satio, Apostolorum vox, silentium Prophetarum, lucerna mundi, Praecursor Judicis, Christi metator, Domini testis, totius medius Trinitatis: hic tantus datur incestui, traditur adulterae, addicitur saltatrici.

Aña John, the school of virtues, the master of life, the form of holiness, the norm of justice, the mirror of virginity, the glory of modesty, the model of chastity, the way of penitents, the forgiveness of sinners, the discipline of the Faith; John greater than man, equal to the Angels, the greatest plant of the law of the Gospel, the voice of the Apostles, the silence of the Prophets, the light of the world, the Forerunner of the Judge, that showeth Christ, the witness of the Lord, that standeth amid the whole Trinity; this man so great is handed over to the unchaste, he is delivered to the adulteress, he is consigned to the dancer.

An ancient responsory for Matins places in the mouth of St John as he dies in prison the words later later spoken by his cousin on the Cross; note how the doxology is cleverly incorporated into the repetition. It appears in the Dominican Office with a slight variation.

R. In medio carceris stabat beatus Joannes; voce magna clamavit et dixit: * Domine Deus meus, * in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum. V. Misit rex, et decollari jussit Joannem in carcere, orantem et dicentem. Domine Deus meus. Gloria Patri. In manus…

R. In the midst of the prison stood the blessed John; with a great voice he cried out and said, * “O Lord, my God, * into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” V. The king sent, and ordered John to be beheaded in the prison, as he prayed and said, “O Lord my God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

There is also an antiphon used by the Cistercians and Dominicans among others, whose text is actually that of a Collect attested in the Gelasian Sacramentary; a surprising number of collects were set to music in this fashion in the Middle Ages.

Aña Perpetuis nos, Domine, sancti Ioannis Baptistae tuere praesidiis; et quanto fragiliores sumus, tanto magis necessariis attolle suffragiis.

Aña Defend us, o Lord, by the perpetual protection of St John the Baptist; and the more fragile we are, the more do Thou sustain us by such prayers as we need.

A Greek icon of the Beheading of St John from the second half of the 18th century.
The Byzantine Liturgy is famous for the use of highly complex rhetorical language in its Office texts, and those of the “Cutting-off of the Honorable Head of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John” are no exception. The following hymn is sung at the blessing of bread (‘artoklasia’ or ‘litia’) which is held at the end of Vespers on major feast days. Its author seems to presume that Salome is the daughter of Herodias with Herod, rather than with Philip, and that Herod connived with her at the oath, as an excuse for the murder.

Today, the mother of the murder, skilled in the works of impiety, contrives with murderous counsel to send her own wanton daughter, born from a lawless embrace, against the greatest of the prophets chosen by God. For as the most hateful Herod completes the banquet of his unlawful birthday, he contrives with an oath to be asked for the honorable head of God’s herald, whence pour forth wonders. And this he accomplished, the senseless man, giving it as a reward for a vulgar dance, for the sake of his oath. Nonetheless, the prophet of Christ’s coming did not cease to denounce their union that was hated of God, even after his death; but he cried out in rebuke, saying “It is not licit for you to commit adultery with the wife of your brother Philip.” Oh, this birthday that slayeth the prophet, this banquet full of blood! But let us, in accordance with piety, in the beheading of the Forerunner, keep the festival, brightly clad, and rejoicing as if on an auspicious day, and ask him to propitiate the Trinity for us, to deliver us from every danger and calamity, and save our souls.

(In Greek, the words “skilled in the works of impiety” are a single word, “ἀνοσιουργότροπος” (anosiurgotropos), which in Church Slavonic becomes the jaw-cracking eleven-syllable “непреподобнодѣлоѻбразнаѧ” (neprepodobnodjeloobraznaja). )

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Taking A Break

For the second time this baleful summer, I find myself recovering from a significant illness, while simultaneously, my laptop is having a massive breakdown, so things are going to be rather slow here at NLM for the next few days. I will be very appreciative of any prayers you may be so kind as to offer for me.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Election of John Paul I

Today is the anniversary of the election to the papacy of John Paul I in 1978; he would be Pope for a total of 33 days, the twelfth shortest papal reign in history. Here is the report from NBC Nightly News.
As a matter of historical interest, here is a copy of a letter which he issued earlier that same year, by which he reiterated his prohibition on the celebration of the traditional Mass at the church of St Simon Piccolo in Venice, of which he was Patriarch until his papal election. The traditional Mass is still celebrated there to this day.

Arranging the 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 on Saturday 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 29th, 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 5th 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 29 – the 1st Sunday of September (XIV after Pentecost)
September 5 – the 2nd Sunday of September (XV after Pentecost)
September 12 – the 3rd Sunday of September (XVI after Pentecost; Ember week)
September 19 – the 4th Sunday of September (XVII after Pentecost)
September 26 – the 5th Sunday of September (XVIII after Pentecost)

October 3 – the 1st Sunday of October (XIX after Pentecost)
October 10 – the 2nd Sunday of October (XX after Pentecost)
October 17 – the 3rd Sunday of October (XXI after Pentecost)
October 24 – the 4th Sunday of October (XXII after Pentecost)

October 31 – the 1st Sunday of November (XXIII after Pentecost, commemorated on the feast of Christ the King)
November 7 – the 3rd Sunday of November (V after Epiphany, resumed) November 14 – the 4th Sunday of November (VI after Epiphany, resumed)
November 21 – 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 29 – the 5th Sunday of August (XIV after Pentecost)

September 5 – the 1st Sunday of September (XV after Pentecost)
September 12 – the 2nd Sunday of September (XVI after Pentecost)
September 19 – the 3rd Sunday of September (XVII after Pentecost; Ember week)
September 26 – the 4th Sunday of September (XVIII after Pentecost)

October 3 – the 1st Sunday of October (XIX after Pentecost)
October 10 – the 2nd Sunday of October (XX after Pentecost)
October 17 – the 3rd Sunday of October (XXI after Pentecost)
October 24 – the 4th Sunday of October (XXII after Pentecost)October 31– the 5th Sunday of October (XXIII after Pentecost, omitted on the feast of Christ the King)

November 7 – the 1st Sunday of November (V after Epiphany, resumed)
November 14 – the 4th Sunday of November (VI after Epiphany, resumed)
November 21 – 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 7th, the Mass is that of the V Sunday after Epiphany resumed, and on November 14th, 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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Two Franco-Flemish Polyphonic Masses

Here are a couple of more wins for YouTube’s suggestions algorithm, two very nice Masses of the late Franco-Flemish school of Renaissance polyphony. The first is by Philippe Rogier, who was born ca. 1561 at Arras in the Spanish Netherlands (now in France); the kings of Spain recruited so many musicians and singers from that area that they maintained a full choir of them, known as the Flemish chapel (“capilla flamenca”), in addition to the native choir, the “capilla española.” Rogier became the assistant director of the Flemish chapel in 1584, and director of all the music at the court of Philip II of Spain two years later. He was ordained a priest at an uncertain date, but died in Madrid in 1596 at the age of only 35. He was a prolific composer, with well over two hundred compositions, the majority of them sacred works, listed in the 1649 catalog of the library of King John IV of Portugal where they were kept. This library was destroyed by the terrible Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and the corpus of Rogier’s surviving works counts fewer than 60 pieces, over half of which are motets. Here is one of his seven surviving Masses, the Mass Domine, Dominus noster for three choirs.

Rogier’s contemporary and fellow Netherlander, Géry de Ghersem, was born at Tournai ca. 1574, and as a boy, sang in the capilla flamenca under his direction. In 1604, he returned north, and found a position in Brussels as the director of music for the court of Albert VII, archduke of Austria and sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands; he was also ordained a priest, and worked in several different positions until his death in 1630. He apparently did most of his composing while he was in Spain, and almost all of his corpus, which was very large (perhaps even larger than that of his friend and teacher Rogier), was also destroyed in the library of John IV. In his will, Rogier had asked Ghersem to publish a group of six of his Masses and dedicate them to the King of Spain; Ghersem did this, while adding one of his own to the collection, the only work of his that survives complete, based on a motet by Francesco Guerrero, Ave Virgo Sanctissima.

Announcing Sacra Liturgia San Francisco: June 28 - July 1, 2022

After postponements caused by the global pandemic, Sacra Liturgia is delighted to announce its fifth international conference on the Sacred Liturgy to be held, at the invitation of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, in San Francisco, California, USA, from June 28 – July 1, 2022.
His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah will give the keynote presentation and shall be joined by a number of internationally renowned speakers and liturgical scholars including Bishop Steven Lopes, Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, Father Michael Lang, Dom Alcuin Reid, Professor Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka and Professor Duncan Stroik in addressing a variety of liturgical questions pertinent to the life of the Church in our day. In line with previous international conferences in Rome, New York, London and Milan, Sacra Liturgia San Francisco 2022 will include daily exemplary solemn liturgical celebrations of Mass or Vespers, concluding with a Pontifical Mass of St Junipero Serra, the Apostle of California, on his feast day, July 1st.
Further details of speakers and topics will be announced in October. Registration prices and facilities, including affordable accommodation options, will be made available in January 2022.
The full conference programme will be published after Easter.
Sacra Liturgia is profoundly grateful to Archbishop Cordileone for his invitation to come to San Francisco and for the opportunity to reconvene there. We look forward, in line with our previous conferences, to an informative event that will form its participants in the spirit and power of the Sacred Liturgy and its authentic renewal in the Church of the twenty-first century.
PS. At the time of writing the dates of the seventh international English speaking Saca Liturgia Summer School, to be held in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France, in the summer of 2022 are being decided. They will be published through the usual Sacra Liturgia media in due course.
I am delighted that the fifth international Sacra Liturgia Conference will be held in San Francisco in the United States of America from 28 June - 1 July 2022. Since 2013 in Rome, New York, London and Milan, clergy, religious and laity concerned for the worthy and integral celebration of the Sacred Liturgy have come together to further their own learning and formation in the Sacred Liturgy, to pray the liturgy together, and to renew and build friendships amongst those active in what Cardinal Ratzinger once described as “the new liturgical movement.”
Sacra Liturgia San Francisco 2022 will continue this work, emphasising the essential nature of authentic liturgical formation and of the true and beautiful celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in the life and mission of the whole Church in the 21st century.
I am profoundly grateful to His Excellency, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, at whose personal initiative Sacra Liturgia will come to his Archdiocese. So too I am delighted that His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, will be present as a keynote speaker: all those who heard his powerful addresses to Sacra Liturgia in London and in Milan will look forward to his contribution next year. I thank him and all the speakers in advance for their willingness to contribute.
The success of previous Sacra Liturgia conferences has been predicated on the generosity of local organisers, benefactors and sponsors. Without them we could not operate or provide admission at reasonable rates, particularly for students, seminarians and religious. I thank in advance all those who will help us to do this again for Sacra Liturgia San Francisco. Almighty God will not fail to reward your kindness!
I pray that Sacra Liturgia 2022 will bring many blessings to San Francisco, the United States and to the Universal Church!
+Dominique Rey
Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, France
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council taught that “Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy is rightly held to be a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, as a movement of the Holy Spirit in His Church. It is today a distinguishing mark of the Church’s life, indeed of the whole tenor of contemporary religious thought and action” (SC, n. 43).
The Sacra Liturgia international conferences on the Sacred Liturgy have been promoting the Council’s vision of zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy for the past eight years. We are honoured and delighted to welcome Sacra Liturgia here to San Francisco for its fifth such international conference, to be held from June 28 – July 1, 2022 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, will give the keynote presentation. The conference will also feature a number of other internationally renowned speakers and liturgical scholars, including Bishop Steven Lopes, Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, Father Michael Lang, Dom Alcuin Reid, Professor Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka and Professor Duncan Stroik who will address a variety of liturgical questions pertinent to the life of the Church in our day. In line with previous international conferences, Sacra Liturgia San Francisco 2022 will include daily exemplary solemn liturgical celebrations of Mass or Vespers, concluding with a Pontifical Mass of St. Júnipero Serra on his feast day, July 1st. The Mass will be held in the Basilica of Mission Dolores (founded directly by St. Serra) and will be the premier of the newly-composed Mass in Honor of St. Júnipero Serra by the composer in residence of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, Frank LaRocca.
Further details of speakers and topics will be announced in October. Registration prices and facilities, including affordable accommodation options, will be made available in January 2022. The full conference program will be published after Easter.
We look forward to an informative event that will, with the grace of God, further the “movement of the Holy Spirit in His Church” and affirm the restoration of the Church’s Sacred Liturgy as the “distinguishing mark of the Church’s life, [and] indeed of the whole tenor of contemporary religious thought and action.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Assumption 2021 Photopost (Part 2)

Our second Assumption photopost actually only has two entries, but each of them came with enough photos, and enough interesting features, to merit a fuller treatment.

Sanctuary of the Assumption - Calasca, Italy
Since 1641, the people of the Anzasca Valley in the Italian Alps have celebrated the Assumption in the small sanctuary of the Madonna della Gurva, which is set on a deep gorge of the Anza river, at the foot of Mount Rosa, Piemonte. At the end of the 16th century, a huge boulder fell down from the mountain, and stopped behind a chapel near the bridge, where it still hangs in balance today.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the people of Calasca, the nearest town, decided to build a church, which was consecrated in 1641. For the inauguration of the sanctuary, a group of soldiers, enlisted by the Spanish governor of Milan, offered the Virgin with a salute of blank shots; on returning home permanently from the Monferrato War, they transformed their combat militia into a militia of honor of the Virgin Mary, and ever since, have participated in the celebration of the sanctuary’s patronal feast. They march to the sound of fifes and drums led by four officers on horseback, and fire blanks shots from rifles during the processions, at the beginning of the Solemn Mass, and at Vespers.

The liturgical celebration consists of the celebration of a novena, and on the Assumption itself, a low Mass in the early morning, then the arrival of the militia, the reception of the officers, and the entrance to the church for the Military Mass, celebrated by the parish priest of Calasca, who is also chaplain of the Militia. The militia exit from the church, fire the blank shots at the beginning of the Solemn Mass, and before the Gospel reading. At the end of the Solemn Mass, the people exit from the church in procession with the statue of the Assumption, and the priest takes the relic of the Virgin Mary. During the procession, the Militia serves as guard of honor to the Virgin.
In the evening, the people with the clergy sing Vespers, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, and the second procession begins: the Militia serves again as honor guard to the Blessed Sacrament. The service end in the sanctuary with the solemn Eucharistic Benediction.

The Milizia Tradizionale di Calasca also serves every year on the feast of their patron Saint, a martyr discovered in the Roman catacombs named Valentine, with a similar program of celebrations on second Sunday of August. In the same valley, another militia, the Milizia Tradizionale di Bannio, celebrates the Madonna della Neve (Virgin of the Snows), and the feast of its patron, the apostle Bartholomew. Next year they will commemorate the 400th anniversary of their foundation. (Our thanks to the parish priest of Calasca and Bannio, Don Fabrizio Camelli, for sending us these photos and the accompanying explanation.)

Sacred Art Is Not For Teaching Scripture to the Illiterate (Part 2)

Sacred art is not meant, primarily, to help people to know good things, rather it is to inspire us to do good things, through beauty.

If we were to believe what some say, especially professional art historians, it seems, then the main purpose for the creation of Catholic art of the past (for example, the stained glass windows of Gothic cathedrals), was to teach Scripture to the illiterate. Some might broaden this slightly and tell us that it is to teach Catholic doctrine, but again, to the illiterate. This can, in turn, be asserted by Catholics who think that it is a good thing, and occasionally, Eastern Rite Christians who criticize Catholic art for this reason, and tell us that the iconographic tradition forms the hearts of those who worship, while they worship, in contrast to what they would argue are degenerate naturalistic forms. I explain why I suspect the historians are wrong, and doubt that has been the main goal of Roman Catholics in the past, but even if the historians are correct, then this narrow defined didacticism should not have been the main purpose for Catholic sacred art, because the Roman Catholic Church has consistently told us otherwise. This posting is the second in a two-part article.

The Council of Trent, in the 16th century, did refer to art and its role as an aid to the teaching role of the bishops, but this is only after reiterating the words of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787AD:
Moreover, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be had and retained particularly in temples, and that due honour and veneration are to be given them; not that any divinity, or virtue, is believed to be in them, on account of which they are to be worshipped; or that anything is to be asked of them; or, that trust is to be reposed in images, as was of old done by the Gentiles who placed their hope in idols; but because the honour which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which those images represent; in such wise that by the images which we kiss, and before which we uncover the head, and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ; and we venerate the saints, whose similitude they bear: as, by the decrees of Councils, and especially of the second Synod of Nicaea, has been defined against the opponents of images. (The Council of Trent, Twenty-fifth Session, On the Invocation, Veneration, and Relics, of Saints, and on Sacred mages.)
St Joseph and the Child Jesus, ca. 1620, painted in the Baroque style which developed in the wake of the Council of Trent, about 60 years after the close of the Council.
The Council then went on to advise bishops to teach: 
...that, by means of the histories of the mysteries of our Redemption, portrayed by paintings or other representations, the people is instructed, and confirmed in (the habit of) remembering, and continually revolving in mind the articles of faith; as also that great profit is derived from all sacred images, not only because the people are thereby admonished of the benefits and gifts bestowed upon them by Christ, but also because the miracles which God has performed by means of the saints, and their salutary examples, are set before the eyes of the faithful; that so they may give God thanks for those things; may order their own lives and manners in imitation of the saints; and may be excited to adore and love God, and to cultivate piety. But if any one shall teach, or entertain sentiments, contrary to these decrees; let him be anathema.
This is not, it seems to me, describing a simple Scripture lesson for the illiterate; rather it is an additional tool at the disposal of those who are (or at least ought to be) the primary teachers of the Church. One could as easily interpret what is being described (especially in light of the effect that the Council later had on sacred art ) as mystagogical catechesis that is directed towards orthopraxis. That is, art is there to inspire prayer and right worship, and people can be instructed on how to engage with it so that this happens when they do so.

The Council concluded its remarks on sacred art by cautioning against images that could lead the viewer away from the teachings of the Church:
And if any abuses have crept in amongst these holy and salutary observances, the holy Synod ardently desires that they be utterly abolished; in such wise that no images, (suggestive) of false doctrine, and furnishing occasion of dangerous error to the uneducated, be set up. And if at times, when expedient for the unlettered people; it happen that the facts and narratives of sacred Scripture are portrayed and represented; the people shall be taught, that not thereby is the Divinity represented, as though it could be seen by the eyes of the body, or be portrayed by colors or figures.
Moreover, in the invocation of saints, the veneration of relics, and the sacred use of images, every superstition shall be removed, all filthy lucre be abolished; finally, all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust; nor the celebration of the saints and the visitation of relics be by any perverted into revelings and drunkenness; as if festivals are celebrated to the honor of the saints by luxury and wantonness.

Finally, let so great care and diligence be used herein by bishops, as that there be nothing seen that is disorderly, or that is unbecomingly or confusedly arranged, nothing that is profane, nothing indecorous, seeing that holiness becometh the house of God. And that these things may be the more faithfully observed, the holy Synod ordains, that no one be allowed to place, or cause to be placed, any unusual image, in any place, or church, howsoever exempted, except that image have been approved of by the bishop.
Agnus Dei c. 1635–1640, by Francisco de Zurbarán, another work in the Baroque style, painted 80 years after the Council.
More recently, in the 20th century the constitution of Vatican II, Sacrosanctum concilium (SC 127) suggests the following:
All artists who, prompted by their talents, desire to serve God's glory in holy Church, should ever bear in mind that they are engaged in a kind of sacred imitation of God the Creator, and are concerned with works destined to be used in Catholic worship, to edify the faithful, and to foster their piety and their religious formation.
Formation can include the imparting of information and knowledge of Scripture, but a religious formation is, as stated before, primarily directed to the end of guiding us to right worship.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is similar (CCC 2502):
Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God—the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature," in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.
The Adoration of the Magi, by Martin Earle; 21st-century art by a Roman Catholic artist following the Second Vatican Council, painted 60 years after it closure.

As we know, Catholics do not always follow the guidance of Mother Church! If the art historians are right and the role of art has been primarily a narrow didactic role, then it means that consistently and through the centuries, artists have been ignorant of, deliberately ignoring, or at least unable to fulfill what the Church has been telling them about sacred art.

There is another point to make, in regard to the recent period in Church history. Since at least the beginning of the 19th-century, in my opinion, the art created by Catholic artists began to decline in quality and, generally speaking, failed more and more in its purpose of ‘drawing man to adoration, prayer, and the love of God.’ (I have made the argument in other articles on this blog, as to how and why stylistic changes in this period led to this decline, and more generally to a decline in Catholic culture). This, it occurs to me might explain why there is a focus today on the didactic purpose of sacred art, for if it fails to inspire through beauty then that is all you have. Furthermore, if it lacks divine beauty, as nearly all modern art does in my opinion, then ultimately it will fail in this lesser purpose as well for people will not be so inclined to look at it. If art is as vital to the cultivation of faith as the Seventh Ecumenical Council tells us, no wonder we have seen a decline in faith. 

Stained glass in a French church, created in the 1950s, 10 years before Vatican II
A carved capital at Clear Creek Abbey, 21st century, by Catholic artist Andrew Wilson Smith.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel: A Case-Study in Pius V’s Conservatism

I remember hearing years ago a double claim: first, that Psalm 42 was recited en route from the sacristy to the altar as a private act of preparation and that the Last Gospel was recited on the way back to the sacristy as a private act of thanksgiving; and second, that it was Pope Pius V who first put them into the Roman missal in the place they now occupy. I dutifully repeated this opinion in the Q&A after a lecture in St. Louis. A religious brother who happened to be there wrote to me afterwards with a polite correction, and I thought it would be beneficial to share with readers what he shared with me—especially in these days, when people who should know better often attribute fantastical acts of originality to Pius V.

*          *          *

You said that the Last Gospel and Prayers at the Foot were devotional prior to Pius V’s reform, and that they were recited while walking to and from the sacristy. I thought you might be interested to see some images from pre-Trent Roman Missals that in fact prescribe the current practice in their rubrics.

1474 is thought to be the year of the first printed edition of the Missale Romanum. The Henry Bradshaw Society published in 1899 a critical edition of a 1474 Missale Romanum from Milan. While the Last Gospel is not mentioned in the Ordinary, here are the prayers at the foot of the altar:

Missale Romanum 1474 (1899 critical edition)

A Missale Romanum printed in Venice in 1501, three years before Pius V was born, contains two rubrical sections: an introduction at the front and an Ordinarium Misse in the middle of the tome. This Missal includes both the Prayers at the Foot of the altar and the Last Gospel described in precisely the format we are accustomed to for those ceremonies in the TLM today. Since it doesn’t have internal page numbers, I have included text searches that will lead to the right pages online (the scan may also be downloaded for free). There are:

- Front section includes Prayers at the Foot: “stans ante infimum gradum altaris” (search: letificat iyuentutem)
Ordinarium includes Prayers at the Foot “cum intrat ad altare” (search: facerdos cũ itrat)
- Front section describes Last Gospel “ad cornu evangelii” (search: Initium fancti euangely)
Ordinarium does not mention a Last Gospel after the Placeat (search: tibi laf qua fancta)

1501 Missale Romanum (Venice)
One can find many Missals from this time period that omit the Last Gospel. I have not found any yet that omit the Prayers at the Foot, which are very consistent across the board, at least for the Roman rite. I also haven’t found any that direct that either of those be said while in transit. So, in the Roman usage, by the printed age, if ever that was the practice, walking and talking was no longer a thing.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Assumption 2021 Photopost (Part 1)

We have received enough photos of Assumption liturgies to make two posts this year, in addition to our special coverage of the major Masses of the vigil in London and the feast itself in Philadelphia, so there is plenty of time to send in more to photopost@newliturgicalmovement.org. As always, we are very grateful to everyone who share these with us - the good work of evangelizing through beauty continues!

Chapel of the Austrian Pilgrimage Hospice – Jerusalem
St Basil the Great Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Church – Los Gatos, California
In many Byzantine churches, the Dormition of the Virgin is celebrated with rites that in some ways imitate the rites of Good Friday, including a burial shroud with an image of the sleeping Virgin.
The Gospel at Orthros, which is said with the same ceremonies as at the Divine Liturgy. Although the Byzantine Rite does not have a mandatory liturgical color scheme like that of the Roman Rite, there are many customs concerning their use, and blue on feasts of the Virgin is almost universal among the Slavs.
The Presentation of the Gifts at the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy.
The Anaphora

Friday, August 20, 2021

Cistercian Chants for the Feast of St Bernard

In honor of the feast of St Bernard of Clairvaux, here are two sets of recordings of Cistercian chants made in the 1960s. The first one has the Salve Regina, the hymn Sanctorum meritis from Vespers of Several Martyrs (starting at 3:30), the hymn Jesu corona virginum from Vespers of a Holy Virgin (starting at 5:48), and the Magnificat, with the antiphon “Verbo caro factum est, alleluia, et habitavit in nobis, alleluia.” (starting at 7:28). You may note that the text of the two hymns differs slightly from the versions in the Roman Breviary, since the Cistercians, like the other religious orders, never adopted the revised versions of the hymns promulgated by Pope Urban VIII. These are followed by Terce of the Epiphany (minus the hymn). The second contains various chants for the Dead: the Libera me, Chorus Angelorum, and Clementissime Domine.

The “Comites Mariae” of the Assumption

Right after Christmas there are several feasts in a row that celebrate the victory of the “comites Christi” or companions of Christ: St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents. Often, the octave of a major feast is populated with saints fittingly celebrated during it on account of some special connection with the great mystery. The octave of the Assumption affords us another marvelous example, which we could name the “comites Mariae.” Something similar can be seen in other Marian octaves as well.

August 16
is the feast of St. Joachim, father of the BVM. The traditional date of his death is March 20, while the Eastern churches normally connect him with the birth of Mary, which of course is also fitting. He was placed on this date by Pope St Pius X.

August 17
is the feast of St. Hyacinth, a disciple of St. Dominic, of whom the following miracle is told: “During a Mongol attack, as the friars prepared to flee the invading forces, Hyacinth went to save the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament, when he heard the voice of Mary asking him to take her, too. Hyacinth lifted the large, stone statue of Mary, as well as the ciborium. He was easily able to carry both, despite the fact that the statue weighed far more than he could normally lift. Thus he saved them both.”

(About August 18, the commemoration of St. Agapitus of Palestrina, there seems little to say in this connection.)

August 19 is the feast of St. John Eudes, a tremendous propagator of devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. On August 22 in the Roman Rite, we will celebrate Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

August 20 is the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the greatest devotees of and preachers on the Virgin Mary in the Church’s history. He received mystical milk from her breast, symbol of the heavenly wisdom he preached (it is remarkable how much less squeamish our ancestors were about such things, as many works of art indicate), whilst founding or co-founding 163 monasteries. Many of these houses were dedicated to Our Lady’s Assumption, the great feast of contemplative religious. A pious legend says it was Bernard who added the final invocation: “O clement, O loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary!” to the Salve Regina. 

August 21
is the feast of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who bears a striking resemblance to Our Lady in her “double vocation”: first, she was a wife, mother, and widow; second, she was a consecrated religious living perpetual continence (after her husband died, she wrote the name of Jesus with a hot iron on her breast as part of her vow). St. Jane died on December 13 but was placed here for reasons that are difficult to discern; perhaps it was precisely to put her in range of the Assumption.

What a remarkable “lineup” for the octave!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Pontifical Mass of the Assumption in Philadelphia

This past Sunday, on the feast of the Assumption, His Excellency Joseph Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the traditional rite at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. This was the 21st annual Assumption Mass organized by Mater Ecclesiae parish in Berlin, New Jersey, and the pastor, Fr Robert Pasley, and his many collaborators did an absolutely outstanding job. The Mass was also celebrated as the culmination of the first choral festival of The Catholic Sacred Music Project; Sir James MacMillan, one of the best known composers and conductors of sacred music in our times, who had given a presentation at the festival, led the choir in singing Ralph Vaughn William’s Mass in G-minor as the ordinary. I was fortunate enough to be present for the Mass myself, and it was very moving to see such an enormous number of people (over 2,000) honoring Our Lady on Her greatest feast day.
We wish to thank Bishop Perry, His Excellency Nelson Perez, Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Fr. Dennis Gill, the rector of the cathedral, for their truly paternal solicitude in granting the use of the cathedral for this wonderful event. Also, we thank one of our favorite photographers, Allison Girone, for sharing her magnificent pictures with us once again. You can see more of them on her professional Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GPhotographyandFilms
Tradition will always be for the young!

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