Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Feast of Christ the King 2021

Aspiciébam in visu noctis, et ecce in núbibus caeli Filius hóminis veniébat: et datum est ei regnum et honor: * Et omnis pópulus, tribus et linguae servient ei. V. Potestas ejus, potestas aeterna, quae non auferétur: et regnum ejus, quod non corrumpétur. R. Et omnis pópulus... (The second responsory of Matins of Christ the King.)

Christ in the traditional regalia of the Chinese Emperor.
R. I saw in a vision during the night, and behold, the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven; and the kingdom and honor were given to Him. * And every people, nation and tongue shall serve him. V. His might is an everlasting might that shall not be taken away, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed. And every people...
By the time the feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925, the hour of Matins was very rarely sung outside of a fairly small number of monasteries, and even then, only on major feasts, and this had been the case for quite a long time. To the degree that it was done in choir at all, it was usually done recto tono. (The common exceptions were Christmas Matins before Midnight Mass and Tenebrae.) As a result, there was little impetus to compose new responsories when new feasts were promulgated. For example, when Pope Clement XIII first granted permission for the feast of Sacred Heart to be celebrated in certain places, the Matins responsories of the Office which he promulgated for it were all borrowed from Tenebrae, Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi. Likewise, this responsory is borrowed for Christ the King from the very ancient corpus of Gregorian chants for the first Sunday of Advent, which is why a recording of it is available at all.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Photopost Request: All Saints and All Souls 2021

Our next photopost series will be for the feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls, which will be celebrated this Monday and Tuesday. As always, we welcome pictures of Mass in either Form, or the Ordinariate Rite, as well as the vigil Mass of All Saints, celebrations of the Divine Office on any of these days, and displays of relics. We will also include celebrations of the traditional feast of Christ the King, and other feasts occurring in these days, if anyone sends them in. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important; email them to (Zipfiles are preferred.) Evangelize through beauty!

From our first All Saints’ and All Souls’ photopost of last year: Mass on the feast of All Saints at the church of the Sacred Heart in Pohoa, Hawaii.

A Memento mori at the church of St Sebastian in Opole, Poland.
From the second post: relics displayed for the faithful to venerate at the church of St John Cantius in Chicago, Illinois.

The vigil Mass in the post-Conciliar rite at the chapel of St Anthony in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which has a very impressive collection of relics.

From the third post: the vigil of All Saints at the church of St Titus in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
The OF feast of All Dominican Saints (Nov. 7) at the church of St Dominic and Shrine of the Holy Rosary in London, England.

Friday, October 29, 2021

An Open Letter to Pope Francis, by Roseanne T Sullivan

After a career in technical writing in the computer industry while doing other writing on the side, Roseanne T. Sullivan now writes full-time about sacred music, liturgy, art, and whatever strikes her Catholic imagination. She has published many essays, interviews, reviews, and memoir pieces at Latin Mass Magazine, Sacred Music Journal, Dappled Things, National Catholic Register, and other publications, and she writes for the Benedict XVI Institute of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. We are glad to welcome her for yet another fine guest contribution to NLM.

Dear Holy Father,

When I read your Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes on July 16 and realized the effects it will have on the free celebration and future growth of the traditional Latin Mass, I cried. It seems like an excessively harsh measure uncharacteristic of an otherwise kindly seeming pope, after the comparative freedom we enjoyed after your predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI released Summorum Pontificum in 2007.
To explain my reaction, I think it would help for you to know some things about my background. I am a 76 year old Catholic lay woman, with a B.A. in art and English and an M.A. in writing. I was for many years a technical writer in the computer industry in Silicon Valley, and I now write full time as a passionate amateur about Catholic sacred music and divine liturgy, architecture, art, and literature.
I was a cradle Catholic who left the Church in 1963 in adolescent pride, a university freshman who thought that intelligent people don’t believe in God, and I returned in the late 1970s, a “sadder and wiser” divorced mother of two. In the meantime, from lots of hard experiences, I had realized that the Church is not a big meanie trying to steal our joys and that God’s commandments are for our protection.
At first I accepted the new Mass without any question. After all, I had come back because I had learned to believe in and trust the Church as the Body of Christ, so why would I not trust the changes made to the liturgy?
At the first parish where I went to Mass after I returned to the Church, I saw many examples of the kinds of jarring things I continued to see in the years since then. Long-haired hippies in blue-jeans played rousing spirituals and folk songs on guitars, banjoes and tambourines at the parish Masses —not that I was averse to hippies or to spirituals, but to the lack of reverence and to the way in which performance was emphasized over worship. I still hear the same types of distracting music that brings the rhythms of the world into the Mass even now when, for example, I’ve attended Masses at my diocesan cathedral, with its current large ensemble of cantors and musicians located to the right of the altar with a jazz piano, electric guitars, and drums.
During Mass at that first parish I attended in 1978, we stood in a half circle facing each other. After the novelty wore off, over time I realized that everyone was showing off, everyone was looking at everyone else, and the focus was no longer on the sacrifice that was taking place at the altar.
The priest was now at the center of attention and, since then, as I’ve seen again and again, many priests have trouble resisting the temptation of playing to the audience, spouting their own opinions instead of the Church’s teachings, sometimes telling jokes, even off-color ones, from the pulpit. The constant rather lame improvisations and the folksy or jazzy songs remind me of the old TV show The Ted Mack Amateur Hour.
I also grew more and more appalled at the experimentations that led to what Pope Benedict XVI and you have termed objectionable improvisations of liturgy. But not only that, deformations of doctrine and practice were and are rampant.
What is especially shocking is that over the ensuing years in various parts of the country where I’ve lived almost every Catholic lay person, priest, religious sister or brother or Catholic university professor I talked with believed that not only had the Mass changed but morality had changed also. Statistics show that non-traditional Catholic couples are unashamedly casually engaging in the intimacy that belongs in marriage, living together outside of marriage, contracepting, aborting their babies, and divorcing at the same rate as the rest of the society.
I think it’s due perhaps to an unexpected after-effect of Vatican II. Many Catholics believed during the 1960s, when the council was going on, everything formerly taught and practiced by the Church for two millennia was up for grabs. Some simple-mindedly seem to reason, for example, that if the Church taught before Vatican II that we would go to hell for eating meat on a Friday, and the Church removed that penalty that the Church could and was probably going to remove the penalty for all sorts of other things. As the song goes, a new Church was being sung into being, and in many respects it was nothing like the old Church.
Another false assumption came to light for me in the late 1990s when I went to a Franciscan retreat center. At Sunday Mass, the Franciscan priest who managed the center walked away from the pulpit into the middle aisle and acted out the Gospel of the day, in which Jesus says that God hates divorce. He then proceeded to claim in his homily that Jesus was really not against divorce.
After Mass, I asked the priest how he could have contradicted the words of Christ. By the way he answered me, I learned that he believes the Gospels were written by committees, each of which had its own agenda—which is a theory, as I learned later, I taught at most Catholic universities and seminaries. Many, like that priest, go on to infer logically from that premise that no passage of the Gospels needs to be taken literally, and so there’s no such thing any more as Gospel truth. And for those type of Catholics, it seems, the Church’s perennial teachings are no longer to be consulted. The priest told me that a moral theologian had written Jesus was not against divorce, and the opinion of a theologian trumped the Church’s teachings in that priest’s mind.
After I started studying at my bishop’ institute for leadership in ministry in 2002, I found there the speculations of theologians were taught as if they were settled doctrine, even thought in many cases, the theologians’ claims had been rejected by popes or by decisions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
My own bishop taught the class on Penance. He told us that Jesus had not instituted the seven sacraments, and that that the Eucharist forgives mortal sins. Professors from nearby Catholic universities and priests from the Bay Area taught that morality had changed, that the Church was no longer a hierarchy but a circle, that the church’s teachings against contraception and homosexual acts did not have to be followed. (I still have my notes.) No classes taught about personal holiness. No classes used the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I heard referred to disparagingly as a “pre-Vatican II document,” even though it was published in 1992; CCC came out during the reign of Pope Saint John Paul II, who many apparently regard as objectionably conservative.
Back to the music. In 2006, I joined a choir that had managed to keep singing Gregorian chant and polyphony during ordinary form Masses, even after that kind of music had practically been banned since 1969. After I was re-exposed to the Gregorian chants of the Ordinary I had learned as a Catholic school girl in fourth grade, and I learned the many more chant Mass settings, I then learned about the wonderful chants for the Propers of the Mass that varied every day throughout the liturgical year.
I read Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document on the liturgy, for myself. I learned that it actually says “Gregorian chant should be given pride of place,” and “the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem.” And that it didn’t say that chant should be replaced with folksy or jazzy tunes or that the organ should be replaced with guitars, drums, pianos, banjoes, or tambourines. SC does say that the vernacular could be “allowed,” not that Latin should be banished. So, what happened there?
I also learned that SC doesn’t say anything about Communion in the hand distributed from one pair of unconsecrated hands to another, about Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, about the priest celebrating facing the people, or about “girl altar boys.”
For these and several other reasons, I started to wonder what is behind the claim that the new Roman Missal expresses the mind of the Second Vatican Council. Maybe someone will explain that to me some day. But I digress.
Over time, I found myself unwilling to go to Mass at other churches where a “four-hymn sandwich” had replaced the chants. As a result of abandoning the Church’s sacred music, Catholics were singing at Mass instead of singing the words of the Mass.
And the hymns they were singing were seemingly chosen at random and had no relation to the feast of the day or the day’s place in the liturgical year. Besides, the words of the hymns were often doctrinally unsound. For example, one Christmas Eve midnight Mass, when I joined my parish church’s combined choirs, I was shocked when one of the members of the Spanish choir played his electric guitar and sang Imagine, John Lennon’s atheistic hymn against religion.
In 2007, after Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum freed up the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, the San José diocese erected an oratory as the diocesan center for the TLM. I joined their newly formed choir, and since then I have mostly attended Masses at the oratory.
I can’t help but grieve that you, my pope, my papa in the original meaning of the word, have made this decision to prevent the further growth of the traditional Latin Mass. Already many bishops around the world have used your motu proprio to justify the suppression of these Masses. These measure seems cruel and heavy handed.
Dear Papa Francis, I and the vast majority of us who love the traditional Latin Mass prefer it not because we are divisive, but because we love and are loyal to the Church.
We prefer the traditional Latin Mass because we prefer the reverence, the beauty, and the emphasis on the Holy Sacrifice of the altar that we find at the old Mass and have seldom found at the new. We know that the priests are not going to be doing comedy routines from the pulpit and they will not be contradicting the words of Our Saviour either.
Generalized accusations against traditional Catholics unfairly disparage the deep and authentic devotion that I and thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic men, women, and children express when we worship God and remember the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ at the traditional Mass. Besides, how can we deny what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Summorum Pontificum? “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”
You call for more reverent Masses that are true to the rubrics of the current Roman Missal. Pope Saint Paul VI did too, as did Pope Benedict XVI. But sixty years have passed since the experimentation began, and many more may pass before misinterpretations of Vatican II are done away with and the Church that celebrates the Mass of 1969 stops being the electric Church —as Mother Angelica once said, “because every time you go, you get a shock.”
Please reconsider. Please don’t take the Mass of the Ages away from us. Don’t divide us. Let us live side by side together with those who find their comfort with the new Mass, all of us tolerant of our differences, in peace, and united in true obedience to God.
Sincerely and respectfully yours in Christ,
Roseanne T. Sullivan

October 2021 Photopost Catch-up

Here is an interesting mix of photos and videos of recent events which people have spontaneously sent in over the last month or so. We will of course be doing a more specific photopost (hopefully more than one) for the upcoming feast of All Saints, and the Commemoration of All Souls; a reminder will be posted tomorrow. As always, we are very grateful to all the contributors - keep up the good work of evangelizing through beauty!

Choral Vespers and Benediction, celebrated at the end of a Forty-Hours Devotion at the Oxford Oratory.
A tour of the church of St Mary in Williamston, Michigan; Kari Edwards, the director of Development and Special Projects, explains some very nice renovations recently made to the building.
Mass in the traditional rite at the church of St Joseph in Macon, Georgia.
The next three sets come from one of our most regular photopost contributors, Mr João Victor Melo, who lives in Brazil; but we start with something quite remarkable, an altar card made out of silver, in which the words of consecration are etched into the metal.
Holy Mass celebrated in the traditional rite in the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Abadiânia, state of Goiás, attended by His Highness Dom Bertrand of Orleans and Bragança, Prince Imperial de jure of Brazil.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Change for Change’s Sake? The Orations for Ss Simon and Jude in the Traditional and Reformed Roman Missals

Today’s feast of Saints Simon and Jude, inscribed in both the traditional and reformed Roman calendars on October 28th, provides more insight into the general spirit of the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms, as well as the freedom the members of the Consilium ad exsequendam felt they had when it came to changing the liturgy. In a comparative index of first lines, it would appear as though no changes were made to the prayers of this feast in the course of the reform. However, as we will see, this is far from the case.

The source for today’s Collect in the usus antiquior is as follows: [1]
Deus, qui nos per beatos apostolos tuos
ad cognitionem tui nominis venire tribuisti, 
da nobis eorum gloriam sempiternam
et proficiendo celebrare et celebrando proficere. (CO 1906)
The Mass of Ss Simon and Jude in a Missal produced in the mid-11th century, and long used at the Abbey of St Denis in Paris. This manuscript represents an intermediate stage between the more ancient sacramentaries and the later medieval missals; the Gregorian propers have been integrated into the text alongside the prayers, but the Scriptural lessons have not. Note the interesting way the neume of the Communio strays into the margin. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 9436, folio 110r)
This prayer, extant since at least the eighth century, has been used in Masses of the Apostles (seven manuscripts) and, more frequently, specifically for Saints Simon and Jude (thirty-eight manuscripts, twenty-six of which insert Simonem et Iudam after apostolos tuos). [2] Its textual transmission is remarkably stable, with the only recorded variations being as follows:
  • two manuscripts of the seven where this prayer is used in Masses of the Apostles omit the word tuos;
  • one manuscript where this prayer is used for Saints Simon and Jude reads tui sancti nominis instead of tui nominis;
  • twelve manuscripts where this prayer is used for Saints Simon and Jude lack any specific mention of the two apostles.
These are all very minor variations. The text as it appears in the 1962 Missale Romanum also differs in one other very minor way from its source, reading agnitionem in place of cognitionem. This change seems to have been consolidated at the time of the first printed Missals. [3] It should be noted, however, that cognitionem is the better-attested and original reading. So, in the course of a reform of the liturgy that claimed to be a “restoration”, [4] one might have expected agnitionem to be adjusted back to cognitionem. Not only did this not happen, but the prayer was changed by the Consilium in a way unknown in liturgical history. 
As it appears in the 1970/2008 Missale Romanum, the Collect is as follows: 
Deus, qui nos per beátos Apóstolos 
ad agnitiónem tui nóminis veníre tribuísti, 
intercedéntibus sanctis Simóne et Iuda, 
concéde propítius, ut semper augeátur Ecclésia
increméntis in te credéntium populórum.
Far from restoring this particular oration, Coetus XVIII bis of the Consilium decided to completely rewrite the second half of the prayer in an entirely novel way, loosely based on Acts 5:14 (Magis autem augebatur credentium in Domino multitudo virorum ac mulierum…) and also adding the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, who have been moved to slightly further on in the Collect. Curiously, the Consilium decided to omit tuos, following the Gelasianum Vetus (probably the earliest manuscript to contain this prayer), but did not restore agnitionem back to cognitionem. Like we see in many other places in the reformed Missal, the best textual witnesses have only been half-used.
More curious, perhaps, is the change to the second half of the prayer, where the striking (and rather lovely) chiastic phrase et proficiendo celebrare, et celebrando proficere has been replaced with what is, in my opinion, a substantially less striking paraphrase of Acts 5:14. This changes the Collect’s petition somewhat: in the traditional Missal we ask, in a symbiotic way cooperating with God’s grace, to be made more holy through our own participation as members of the Church in today's feast day. It is perfectly possible – indeed, in order to cultivate a proper balance between ‘private’ devotion and ‘public’ prayer, it is necessary – to interpret this petition in both an individual and corporate sense. In the reformed Missal, on the other hand, everything is subsumed into the wider Church: we ask “that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you” (2011 ICEL), but there is now little sense in the revised Collect that this actually requires anything of us as individual Christians. 
Suffice it to say, there is nothing in Sacrosanctum Concilium that justifies the Consilium’s novel changes to this well-attested and textually very stable prayer. In fact, the intention of Coetus XVIII bis, at least to begin with, was to keep the traditional Collect for today’s feast intact, along with its Secret and Postcommunion. [5] 
Schema 287, with the proposal for the unchanged propers
for Saints Simon and Jude highlighted 
Speaking of which, how did these other prayers fare in the reform? Well, the source for the 1962 Missal’s Secret prayer is as follows:
Gloriam, domine, sanctorum apostolorum
perpetuam praecurrentes,
quaesumus, ut eandem, sacris mysteriis expiati,
dignius celebremus. (CO 2711)
This prayer is extant in six manuscripts for Masses of the Apostles, and in forty manuscripts for the Mass of Saints Simon and Jude. [6] In the 1962 Missal, tuorum Simonis et Iudæ has been added (as variously in seventeen manuscripts [7]), praecurrentes has been changed to venerantes (as in twelve manuscripts), and eandem changed to eam (as in seven manuscripts). It should be noted that there is no extant textual variation in this prayer’s concluding clause, sacris mysteriis expiati, dignius celebremus.
In the reformed Missal, the first half of the super oblata is identical to the 1962 Missal, but the second half of the prayer has been changed to read ut vota nostra suscípias et ad sacra mystéria celebránda nos digne perdúcas. We now ask the Lord to “receive our prayers and lead us to worthily celebrate the sacred mysteries” (2011 ICEL), rather than asking to be “purified by these sacred mysteries”. This change, without precedent in the manuscript tradition, was made by the Consilium presumably as part of the general drive to get rid of any “anticipatory” sacrificial language from the offertory. [8]
The source for the Postcommunion in the usus antiquior is as follows:
Perceptis, domine, sacramentis, suppliciter rogamus, 
ut, intercedentibus beatis apostolis tuis, 
quae pro illorum veneranda gerimus passione, 
nobis proficiant ad medelam. (CO 4200 d)
The Corpus orationum records eight different variants of this prayer (CO 4200 a-h). The ultimate source (CO 4200 a) is the Leonine Sacramentary, where it is a postcommunion for the June feast of Saints Peter and Paul. From there, it is used quite widely for Masses of apostles generally and individually, especially Saints Andrew (CO 4200 cA, and 4200 h), and Saints Simon and Jude (CO 4200 dA). It is also attested as being used for St Benedict (CO 4200 g). The variant for Saints Simon and Jude is extant in thirty-three manuscripts, with fifteen of them adding Simone et Iuda after tuis, and six reading exoramus in place of rogamus, as the 1962 Missal also does. There is no attested variation in the end of this prayer (nobis proficiant ad medelam) when used for Saints Simon and Jude; in fact, across all its different variations and uses, this postcommunion ends with either nobis proficiant ad medelam or nobis proficiant ad salutem.
In the post-Vatican II Missal, this postcommunion now reads as follows:
Percéptis, Dómine, sacraméntis,
súpplices in Spíritu Sancto deprecámur,
ut, quæ pro apostolórum Simónis et Iudæ
veneránda gérimus passióne,
nos in tua dilectióne consérvent.
A completely new ending has been given to this prayer: nobis proficiant ad medelam from the 1962 Missal is changed to nos in tua dilectióne consérvent, a change without precedent in its entire manuscript history across its many and varied uses. I am at a loss as to why this particular change has been made; possibly medelam was considered to have ‘negative’ connotations, but this vocabulary is used elsewhere in the reformed Missal [9] (although nowhere near as often as in the 1962 Missal). The new ending could be seen as an exceptionally vague reference to Jude 21 (vosmetipsos in dilectione Dei servate, exspectantes misericordiam Domini nostri Jesu Christi in vitam æternam), though I think this is a bit of a stretch. Mention of the Holy Spirit has also been added, and the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude deleted, both further changes that are completely without precedent in the liturgical tradition.
All this means that today's feast is, sadly, yet another example of questionable, novel changes being made to long-standing prayers, as part of a claimed “restoration” of the Roman Rite that the evidence increasingly points towards being nothing of the sort. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that what we have for today’s feast is change for change’s sake, something that cannot be justified in any way by the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (see especially n. 23: Innovationes, demum, ne fiant nisi vera et certa utilitas Ecclesiae id exigat…).
[1] In what follows, the abbreviation CO refers to E. Moeller, J.M. Clément, B.C. ’t Wallant & L.-M. Couillaud (eds.), Corpus orationum (CCSL 160-160M; Brepols, 1992-2020, 15 vols.).
[2] There is an overlap of three manuscripts where this prayer is used in both of these ways.
[3] See, for example, the 1474 Missale Romanum Mediolani (ed. R. Lippe; HBS 17; London: Harrison & Sons, 1899), which reads agnitionem.
[4] For example, see Schema 186 (De Missali, 27), 19 September 1966, p. 2; English translation from M.P. Hazell, The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms (Lectionary Study Press, 2018), pp. 220-227, at p. 222:
Permulti textus, decursu temporum, vitiati sunt.
Non agitur hic de aliquo archaeologismo, quo lectio antiquior, ipso facto melior aestimaretur. Sed quibusdam mutationibus textus antiqui, sub aspectu theologico vel pastorali, reapse imminuti vel corrupti sunt…
Placetne Patribus, ut, sensu quo modo de his locuti sumus, textus orationum recognoscatur, vel in casu, emendetur? 
[Many texts, over the course of time, have become corrupted.
There is no question here of any archeologism, where older readings are considered better by that fact alone. However, certain alterations of ancient texts, carried out for theological or pastoral reasons, are in truth impairments or corruptions…
Does it please the Fathers that, in the way indicated about which we have spoken, the text of orations is to be revised or, in certain cases, amended?]
[5] See Schema 287 (De Missali, 50), 11 April 1968, p. 35.
[6] There is an overlap of two manuscripts where this prayer is used in both ways.
[7] Five manuscripts add only tuorum, another five add only Simonis et Iudæ, and seven add both.
[9] Namely: the Postcommunion for Ash Wednesday; the Collect for Monday in Week 2 of Lent; the super oblata for the Easter Vigil; and the super oblata for Saint Luke (18 October). It also occurs in the second option for the priest’s prayer before Communion in the Order of Mass (Percéptio Córporis et Sánguinis tui, Dómine Iesu Christe…), as well as in the hymn Crux fidelis on Good Friday.

Mass for All Souls in Philadelphia Cathedral

Next Tuesday, November 2nd, the cathedral basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia will have a sung Requiem Mass in the traditional rite for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, followed by the Absolution at the catafalque. The Mass will begin at 7 pm; the church is located at 18th St and Ben Franklin Parkway. 

New Missals For the Traditional Latin Mass

It’s really encouraging to see how many new resources are being produced these days to help people pray the traditional liturgy, and we are very glad to share this news of another. A company called Via Providence has recently issues two new hand Missals for the faithful, the Marian Missal for the Mass of the Ages, and the fuller Marian Sunday Missal for the Mass of the Ages. (Ordering information at the links.) The former (64 pages) has the Ordo Missae with the propers of the feast of the Immaculate Heart, celebrated on August 22, and used as a votive Mass on First Saturdays. The title font used throughout is Benedict, a new, hand drawn font by artist Daniel Mitsui. The new typesetting and original drawings make it easy to follow the actions on the altar and will aid the faithful as they pray the Mass. The beautiful, traditional artwork throughout echoes the depth and richness of the rite. The inclusion of common devotions before and after Communion by St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Ambrose, and others, help the faithful prepare to receive our Lord then carry Him into the world. The latter (148 pages) also includes all of the propers in English for Sundays and Holy Days throughout the year. The two-color printing aids the faithful in navigating between the propers and the Mass.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

“The New American Catholic”: A Documentary from 1968

Following up on Peter’s post on Monday, “An American Layman Reminisces about Liturgical Upheaval”, here is a fascinating documentary broadcast on NBC in mid-1968 about “The New American Catholic”, which proves the truth of the adage that nothing goes out of fashion so quickly as modernity.

As someone raised in the Church in the 1970s, I found all the talk here about “renewal” (et similia) simultaneously funny and saddening. Funny, because in 1968, people did evidently still think, quite sincerely, and despite many warning signs to the contrary (signs that Vatican II had told Catholics to look for and read) that conforming the Church to the modern secularized world, embracing its culture and its concerns, was somehow going to be a roaring success; saddening, because the failure of it all could not have been more complete, and all the more so because, even today, so many people in the Church refuse to recognize this singularly unmistakable fact.

There are quite a few things here which I thought were noteworthy, although not, alas, as signs of the once-promised New Pentecost™. The young bishop who appears several times, James Shannon, auxiliary of St Paul-Minneapolis, resigned from that office later that year in protest against Humanae Vitae, which (using some of the cant of his era which has of late become fashionable again) he called a “rigid teaching”, declaring God’s law “impossible to observe.” The following year, he would marry civilly without lawful dispensation, for which he was suspended a divinis. This is particularly ironic because the Second Vatican Council, to which the soon-to-be-Mister Shannon refers several times as the source and cause of all the “renewal” that was going on, had also reiterated the Church’s perennial teaching on the use of artificial contraception. (Gaudium et Spes 51)
From about 16:00 forward, we see several scenes of what was for that era a very modern (i.e. broadly desacralized) Mass: an ugly poncho vestment, guitar players processing in with people waving posters, lots of clapping, people calling out their prayer intentions; but perhaps the most absurd part of all is the setting, as people seem to be sitting around the tables of the school cafeteria. (The scenes of the Mass are interspersed with other signs of “renewal”, including a young woman teaching children from a poor neighborhood how to sing Kumbaya... as if their lives weren’t difficult enough...) The celebrant, Fr William Nerin, a priest of the diocese of Oklahoma, left the priesthood in 1975.
In regard to the Mass, I make bold to repeat here a superb observation made by one of our regular commenters, Mr Glenn Ricketts, on Monday’s post. “... any ‘effectiveness’ in the garish scenes depicted here ... depended on being familiar with the old liturgy that was abruptly discarded. The new rites were ‘effective’ because of the striking, often shocking, contrast they posed against the traditional way of celebrating Mass, an in-your-face gesture apropos of the 1960’s countercultural upheavals. But after the initial shock to those raised in the old rite, the reforms proved to have no lasting symbolic substance or aesthetic power of their own. Now they are simply boring and bland beyond imagination.”
so groovy...
At 30:38, we meet Fr James Groppi of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, a well-known civil rights activist. This is perhaps the saddest case of all, a priest who seems to have completely forgotten the things of heaven for the sake of concerns which, however worthy and laudable in themselves, are concerns of this world which passeth away. “Now you ask me, what do I think about the Catholic Church? To tell you the truth, I don’t even think about it.” In 1976, Fr Groppi left the priesthood.
Of course, no documentary on American Catholicism in the 1960s would be complete without an appearance of the National Catholic Reporter, and at 2:55, we briefly meet the publisher, Donald Thorman. Later that year, Bishop Charles Helmsing of Kansas City forcefully (and altogether rightly) condemned the paper “for its disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith”, asking the editors, as a matter of honesty, to remove the word “Catholic” from its masthead. This request has, of course, gone unheeded, even as the NCRep has effectively repudiated the Catholic Faith more and more thoroughly with each passing year.
At about 35:45, then-still-Bishop Shannon introduces us to Vatican II’s Decree on Religious Life Perfectae Caritatis, and the general review and rethinking of how religious orders lived. This brings us to Sister Anita Caspari, the Mother General of the Immaculate Heart Sisters, who famously steered her order to almost complete dissolution with the “help” of psychologist Carl Rogers. In an interview with Dr William Marra, titled “The Story of a Repentant Psychologist”, one of Rogers’ collaborators, Dr William Coulson, gave an agonizing account of how the IHM community in Los Angeles was destroyed.
The penultimate section (42:24 to 48:20) is dedicated to women religious who had left the traditional forms of community life and broken up into small groups, the better (so they thought) to dedicate themselves to the service of the poor. In the midst of this part, Bishop Victor Reed of Oklahoma addresses this phenomenon, and concludes by saying that “as long as the persons involved are persons of good reputation, and their expressed intentions are good, those in authority should permit them... to experiment, and perhaps find a new and better way in which to serve the Lord than that to which they have been accustomed, and in which they have found some personal difficulties.” Bishop Reed died in September of 1971. By the time his successor, John Quinn, was moved to San Francisco in February of 1977, the number of women religious in the diocese had dropped from 630 to 268, a decrease of well over half. As of two years ago, there were 69, a decrease of almost 90% from their height just after the end of Vatican II. (Statistics from

TLM Requiem in Brooklyn, Nov. 4

On Thursday, November 4th, the church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Brooklyn, New York, will have a Sung Requiem Mass for Xavier High School’s recently deceased Latin teacher, Dr Philip Caliendo, who spent nearly 30 years educating Xavier boys from the neighborhood and all around the Tri-State area. There will be a comprehensive program with translation and cues for those new to the Latin Rite and the music will be very fine. The Mass will begin at 7 pm; the church is located at 245 Prospect Park West.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Beautiful New Liturgical Calendar Posters from Sophia Press

We are very glad to share this press release from Sophia Institute Press about their wonderful new illustrated liturgical calendars in poster form. Those currently available to order are for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and the time after Epiphany; more will be coming out in the future for the rest of the liturgical year. Dr Kwasniewski recently reviewed them for Rorate Caeli.

A picture is worth a thousand words, as the old expression says, and writers and storytellers know that it is better to show than tell. Sophia Institute Press is thus presenting “The Illustrated Liturgical Year Calendar.” These new posters are an important resource for parishes, classes, and families to envision the true meaning of Church seasons and feasts. Michaela Harrison, a mother, artist, and Benedictine oblate, along with her husband and two sisters, designed this set of fully illustrated calendar posters, that follow the traditional liturgical calendar. The calendar posters may be ordered as a seasonal set or one-year subscription.

(The full poster for Advent; click to enlarge. Each day of the week has a Saint or an illustration pertinent to the season; the artists have been clever about making sure all the relevant liturgical information is included in its appropriate place.)
(Detail of the first week of Advent)
(The First Sunday)
Richly colored, ornate illustrations convey stories surrounding Advent, Christ’s birth, and the Epiphany to Candlemas Day. These alluring and authentic renditions exhibit the joy of the liturgical seasons and the rich history of the Church. “The Illustrated Liturgical Year Calendar” is also a conversation piece that serves to attract others to the Faith. Each calendar poster includes charming classical artwork and beautiful detailed images of the Holy Family, saints, families, and children. Scenes and words in the calendar posters reflect how Sacred Scripture is fulfilled in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They also include biblical quotes, themes from the breviary and Dom Gueranger’s “The Liturgical Year,” key inspirational teachings, Latin titles and short prayers.
(Christmas to the vigil of the Epiphany)
(Epiphany part 1, from the feast to the end of the second week)
(The third, fourth and fifth weeks after Epiphany)
Amidst the unfolding of the seasons, these wall hangings help reorient families from a calendar month mindset to that of silent wonder about holy days and heroes of the Church. “The Illustrated Liturgical Year Calendar” also revives mysteries of the ancient Roman liturgy of the Church. The calendar posters feature symbols of the faith, traditional customs for the feasts, and proper colors of priest vestments while helping families rediscover ember, rogation, feria days, and octaves. The Lenten posters feature the cross, and the seven weeks of Easter are presented so that they may be viewed together on one poster. These calendar posters are unique and comprehensive works of art that provide an avenue for learning about the Faith and sharing it with others.

Book Recommendation: Commentaries on Jonah by Joseph Card. Ratzinger and Fr Paul Murray OP (Part 1)

A Journey with Jonah - The Spirituality of Bewilderment by Fr Paul Murray O.P. with God Took Pity a commentary of the Book of Jonah by Joseph Ratzinger. Word on Fire Institute, 2021.

This booklet, just 84 pages long, should be studied deeply by Catholic creative artists, especially those who appreciate poetry and literature, and are motivated to create contemporary and popular works of art that communicate accessibly the noble and beautiful truths of the Faith, so as to bring people into the Church.

Cover art: Carl Mayer, 19th century, fresco, Vienna, Austria
There are two commentaries in this book. One is by Joseph Card. Ratzinger, which was presented in 2003 as the basis for a guided lectio divina at the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina in Rome. It is only 15 pages long, but as with everything that he writes, is extremely rich and rooted in the tradition of the Church Fathers. This is an important addition, for, without a true understanding of the Church’s Holy Tradition, even the Scriptures are robbed of their authority. The other commentary, which takes up the bulk of the book, about 60 pages, is by Father Paul Murray O.P., who brings to light very similar themes but in a different way. We are presented with a range of spiritual and psychological insights throughout the centuries from a wide variety of artists and commentators, Catholic, non-Catholic Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular. Implicit within Fr Murray’s commentary is a template for engagement with non-Catholics through the wider culture, as he shows us how the themes of Jonah have universal meaning, and can be used to speak, potentially, to all of humanity.

He dwells on contemporary themes in this regard, and shows how the themes of Jonah might offer hope to those who are miserable in today’s world: for example, the inclination to identify as spiritual-and-not-religious (which might also be described as a phenomenon of multiple religions with a membership of one). Dissatisfied with pure materialism, and in search of a spiritual life, people look first to their own spirits in an inwardly-directed search. It is from the vantage point of our spirits that we can see, so to speak, the Holy Spirit, but so many people conflate the window with the view, and identify themselves as the god who sets the parameters for their spiritual lives. They thereby close in on themselves and exclude the very thing they yearn for, the living God.

This is the first of three articles in which I lay out a general template for evangelization and cultural renewal inspired by a reading of this short book. Who’d have thought a little book about Jonah could do this?!

I want to explain this in some detail, and so I will present this review in three parts focusing in turn on:

1. The message of Jonah
2. The evidence, through the example of many commentators, of the universal appeal of this message through time and hence its potential to connect to people today
3. How this message of hope and joy can be communicated via contemporary culture, and the importance of the study of great works of art of the past for those who are to create the contemporary culture.

The first part will be my best attempt to represent the tradition of the Church in regard to the book of Jonah, particularly as communicated through this commentary. Parts two and three, which follow in the coming weeks, will be more personal responses to the content, and will contain more of my opinions and reflections about the issues being raised.

1. A summary of the meaning of the book of Jonah
What comes through to me in reading these commentaries is just how important the book of Jonah has been in giving Christians a deeper understanding of the Faith, and, once understood, in inspiring and guiding them to go on in their mission of evangelization so as to bring all people into the Church. The book of Jonah speaks strongly of the great mercy that God has for all people who choose freely to come to Him.

Jonah is a man who is flawed in so many ways, yet he is the one whom God, in his infinite wisdom, charged with the mission of converting the non-Jewish Ninevites. His response is often poor and less than inspiring: he tries to run away in order to escape from the responsibility of his mission; he is angry at God for showing mercy to non-Jews; and bewildered by how God chases him down and the depth of His mercy and compassion. But despite all this, his faith in God prevails, and he ultimately goes on to fulfill that mission (and along the way, he converts also the sailors of the boat in which he takes passage.)

By this, remarkably, he has become in the eyes of the Church a type for Christ. The story of Jonah follows the pattern of salvation history, and therefore directs us to our own participation in the Faith and ultimate end as Christians. As such, it is relevant to every single one of us today. As Card. Ratzinger puts it:
The book of Jonah is not narrating events that took place in the distant past; it is a parable. In the mirror of this parable-story both the future and the present become visible. The present is explained over and over again to different generations, and it is only the light of the future - ultimately in that light that comes from God - that the present can be understood and lived correctly. This parable is consequently a prophecy. It sheds God’s light on time and thereby clarifies for us the direction we must take so that the present may unfold into the future and not go to ruin.
The importance of this Old Testament book to the Christian life through the centuries is made clear when one realizes that in the Byzantine churches, the whole book is proclaimed in full at the Easter vigil; furthermore, the canticle of Jonah is sung weekly during Lent, and hymns that communicate some aspect of traditional Scriptural commentary on the book are sung every single day of the year during Morning Prayer. I am not a Scripture scholar and wary of misrepresenting the message, I thought that the simplest and safest way for me to present a summary of the meaning of the book Jonah would be to use the words of the Church herself, as proclaimed on her liturgy.

First, here are two hymns that are sung on the feast of Jonah:
To the Ninevites, you were a trumpet sounding forth the fearful threats of Heaven’s judgments, at which they repented wholeheartedly. From the belly of the whale, you foreshadowed the divine resurrection of the Lord to the whole world. Therefore, entreat Him to bring up from the pit all of us who honor you, O Jonah, as a prophet beloved of God.
You passed three days and nights within the belly of the whale, showing the descent of the Lord into the belly of Hades. When He had freely suffered his Passion, He rose from the tomb on the third day. Therefore, we honor you, O prophet Jonah, who were counted worthy to be a type of Christ.
A Russian icon of the Prophet Jonah, from the cathedral of the Assumption in Moscow. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
For Christians, the fact that a man so clearly imperfect and flawed can, by God’s grace, be a type of Christ, demonstrates that it is also possible for each of us to participate in that type as members of His mystical body. In this scenario, we are at various times those to whom the Gospel is preached, and those who accept its message - the Ninevites and the sailors on the boat. And we are all Jonah too, flawed people whose lives and words might speak of the Gospel once we are reborn and have put on Christ through the triple sacrament of baptism, confirmation, and communion. Like Jonah we can, despite our ground state as fallen humanity, be elevated in Christ, and becomes icon of Him who draw others into the Church.

Given that Jonah is a type of Christ, his story can legitimately be connected to any liturgical celebration, to any aspect of Salvation History, and to any aspect of the Christian life. For to the degree that any feast relates to Christ, it relates in some respect to Jonah also. For example, here is a hymn about Jonah from September 14th, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:
Jonah stretched out his hands in prayer in the form of a Cross within the belly of the whale, plainly prefiguring the saving Passion. Cast out from there after three days, he foreshadowed the marvelous Resurrection of Christ our God, who was crucified in the flesh and enlightened the world by the His rising on the third day.
And on the Nativity of the Lord, December 25th, two hymns:
The whale ejected Jonah from its belly, as it had received him, like a newborn baby from the womb. So also did the Word dwell within the Virgin’s womb, taking flesh and being born of her, yet leaving her intact. He left her virginity untouched in the woman who gave Him birth.

The fish vomits Jonah

Submerged in the depths of the sea, Jonah begged You to come and still the storm. We who are wounded by the dart of the Devil, O Christ, call upon you as the slayer of evil, asking You to come quickly and deliver us from laziness.
Jonah thrown into the sea
I illustrate the post this week with images from the catacombs of Rome dating from the 3rd or 4th-century. Fr. Murray referred to these in his essay (I was not aware of them before I read this book.) One imagines Christians venerating and regarding these simple wall paintings as they heard the Scriptures read, and the hymns and commentaries of their day being sung throughout the liturgical year.

When sacred art is used for its highest purpose, that is, to engage the eye during prayer and worship, it does not replace or substitute Scripture or the words of liturgical hymns. Rather, it acts in harmony with what is heard or sung, and acts a portal through which the person engages with the truths that Scripture and hymn also point to. Subsequently, each time a familiar painting of Jonah is seen, it brings to mind not simply the scene depicted, but also in some way all that we know of Jonah. It is just as when we see the face of a person we have known for years and love - all that we know and love about that person, their essence, as it were, is made present for us in the single moment that we behold them lovingly. In this way, sacred art has a unique and special power to engage us and direct us to the mysteries of the Faith. So, for example, when we see the image of a figure thrown out of the boat, we recognize that this is Jonah, and in that moment the essence of the person Jonah, not just this particular part of his story, is brought to mind in some way too. And through this, we are led to a deeper relationship with the person that Jonah points us to, Jesus Christ.

Jonah rests in the shade of a gourd
This is an important distinction between the role of image and of the written word in communicating and reinforcing the Faith. Christianity is a religion of the Person, not of the book. Images are a necessary bridge that spans the divide between the book, which tells us about the person, and the person himself, and those images that are frequently venerated in the context of prayer and worship will do this most powerfully. The Church has mandated the veneration of sacred art ever since the 7th Ecumenical Council in 787AD, so as stimulate our capacity for a personal connection with those who are portrayed. Images, therefore, used in conjunction with words reinforce the Faith in our hearts in a unique way, fulfilling a role that the written word alone cannot.

One might say that as a general principle, a culture of beauty does this - it connects the perceptible and engaging with the imperceptible and real, penetrating and revealing in some way, the mystery of faith.

Monday, October 25, 2021

An American Layman Reminisces about Liturgical Upheaval

New Liturgical Movement is grateful to James Ignatius McAuley, Esq., for sending us the following write-up of some of his memories of the period of major liturgical change. Today he is a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and is preparing to receive the subdiaconate. The photos are classic shots from the period about which he is writing.

As a child growing up, I noted changes in the Mass. When I asked why they were done, if the answer was not (ad nauseam) “Vatican II,” it was that we laity had asked for the changes. Then I read The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform by Cipriano Vagaggini, O.S.B. (Alba House, 1967). In Father Frederic McManus’s introduction, he claims that we laity wanted the reform. I had to ask my mom, dad, grandmother, and every older person I knew who was Catholic whether this was true. The answer was invariably the same: “We never asked for these changes. Once they started, they never stopped.” “I was not consulted.” “I was told that it was part of Kennedy’s 'New Frontier' and the space program and that modern man needed a modern liturgy.” Maybe that last comment from my Uncle Dan was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I could never figure out what poor Kennedy, God rest his soul, had to do with it.

I talked with a priest, the late Father Allan Webber, O.F.M., about McManus’s introduction to Vagaggini’s book in 2009. My fair recollection of what Fr. Allan told me: “McManus was a liar.  The laity, outside of those few involved in the liturgical conferences, had nothing to do with the liturgical reform. The reform belonged to a certain clique of priests—Reinhold, McManus, Diekmann, and some others.  These were the individuals who set up the agenda of the reform here in the United States. Certain priests and laity from the liturgical conferences were assigned to effectuate the agenda. Some were useful idiots like [Robert] Hovda, who was better for a committee than for a parish. Jim, you should take into account that honesty was not their policy. [J.D.] Crichton told me once at a conference that the liturgical goal justified the liturgical means.”

Father Allan’s story is backed up by Alcuin Reid’s The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius, 2005), especially in Reid’s interview with Crichton. Father Allen was a progressive priest who was somewhat conservative in his liturgical approach. Father Allen supported the so-called agenda but was very reverential of the Real Presence. When I was a undergraduate student at St. Bonaventure (1987–1991), Father Allen was supportive of my use of the St. John’s Abbey 1940 Short Breviary as opposed to the Liturgy of the Hours.
In 1987, when I was a student a St. Bonaventure, I observed that all of the liturgical banners were gone from the University Chapel that were just there a few years before. I asked about this and was told they were out of style. I thought that was strange as I remember being told that banners were part of the Vatican II renewal. As part of vocation group in late 1990, we were asked by Father O.F.M. #1 [name withheld because he is still alive], as to what we could do to bring diversity to the Mass. I suggested we make arrangements to allow with the local Maronite Catholic priest or Byzantine Catholic priest and we could have such liturgies in the university parish chapel. Father Dan looked at me, and spoke most patronizingly: “Now, Jimmy, that is not what we mean by diversity. We do not want any of that Byzantine stuff here. We want diversity. Diversity means you bring non-Catholic people, especially people of color, to our Masses and have them add their spirituality to the Mass.”  Father went on to speak of the need for enculturation of the mass from minorities. Whatever Father O.F.M. #1’s intentions were, what I took away from the conversation was that certain Latin priests did not believe in true liturgical diversity, but were willing to suborn the Roman liturgy for their private agendas. This was very upsetting to me. And it was the first time I had heard the word “diversity” used in regard to racial matters.
In 1992 I was a parishioner at St. Bonaventure’s Church in Allegany, New York.  Our parish priest, Father O.F.M. #2, said we needed to “bring people back to the Church.” “Why were they leaving?,” one might ask. I noted that the high altar was gone and the tabernacle was no longer at the center of the Church, but now on the side, and that people no longer genuflected. I suggested to Father O.F.M. #2 after Mass one day that the tabernacle should be moved back to the center of the Church. Father’s angry reaction shocked me as he blew up at me and said: “This change was called for by Vatican II!” I found my voice and asked where, in what document. His response: “You wouldn’t understand. The Council called for this and we must listen to the Council.” I did not appreciate being talked down to as if I were still a child; after all I had gone to college.

So I looked carefully in Flannery’s book of Vatican II documents and found nothing of the sort. No wonder people left—they were being treated as children, berated for asking obvious questions. If we were now supposed to be (as many were saying) “adults” after Vatican II, we were not treated like adults, but rather as children, and as bad children at that.

In the early years of my life I was disturbed by what seemed to be perpetual changes in the Mass. As a young child, I remember the introduction of lay lectors. Then, I remember the change in language and my parents being irritated over it. Then there was the advent of the folk band with songs like “Day by Day,” Sister Margaret Meade’s rock-and-roll Our Father, and “Let It Be.” Simultaneous with this development was the departure of the Church organist and the end of any Latin in the Mass. Statues disappeared and were replaced by liturgical banners. Confessions were replaced with reconciliation rooms, which involved scary face-to-face confession. We were told to think of the priest as our friend and counselor and discouraged from thinking of the priest as in persona Christi. I remember as a child being told that the youth folk band was for the youth and that the youth wanted it. It was patently obvious to me, even as a child, that this was something a certain clique of adults, not youth, wanted. Funny thing: the hymns changed, “Day by Day” went away and was replaced by garbage like “On Eagles Wings.” When I was a student at Bonaventure, we used to make mocking parodies of these songs.  “The King of Glory” was modified by my girlfriend (now wife) to “The King of Glory comes delivering pizzas, open the doors before Him, give Him a good tip.”

We had the introduction of albs as altar boys and the discouragement of the use of the cassock and surplice beginning in the mid 1970s. Then the introduction of communion with the cup and then “Eucharistic ministers.” Then altar girls began to show up and, as a consequence of that, boys disappeared from the altar. As a young boy, I did not want to be around girls, and when I was older, the altar girl movement seemed to attract “weird chicks” that creeped you right off the altar.

You went from having two Eucharistic ministers, usually a husband and wife team, to a plethora (the “sacristy rats” as a friend called them), all women, who seem to evolve from sacristans to liturgical planners. First standing for Communion came, then Communion in the hand, then Eucharistic ministers. The altar rail went and the tabernacle was moved from the center of the church, behind the altar, off to the side. Then the kneelers were pulled out. In that order. By the time it was all said and done, reverence for the Real Presence had disappeared. And things such as genuflecting vanished and immodest dress appeared in Church.

Holy water fonts begin to be filled with sand to remind us of the spiritual desert. I thought: “I am trying to get out of the desert into the garden of life!” Incense went out and so did the censers, but then it reappeared in the form of big bowls in which the incense was burned, the bowls looking like something out of Conan the Barbarian. Amices were dropped and no one had to wear them in the 1970s (“Jim, the amices are no longer necessary, like the maniple,” to quote Father Allan Webber). Then suddenly, built-in amices as part of the chasuble began to appear everywhere in the 1990s and I was told that this was a (another) change required by Vatican II.  I remember thinking in 1995, “the Council ended 30 years ago, why is this being implemented now?”  As a child, many of the older priests had beautiful Gothic chasubles from the pre-Vatican II liturgical movement, but if you went to mass in a different parish, you might see a priest in a burlap chasuble with strange designs on it. Pope Benedict once wore a tie-dyed chasuble. I could not but help think that this the sort of vestment you wear when you do Mass at a Grateful Dead show.

Speaking of the Grateful Dead, I remember when a well-intentioned priest, trying to encourage reverence, handed out incense sticks to be used when one said the rosary.  Now, anyone who works with the pleasant uplifting Byzantine style incense knows that incense sticks give off an atrocious sickly sweet smell and that these incense sticks are what is used by potheads to cover up their pot smoking. Poor Father!  He meant well, but handing out what some guys used to call “pot sticks” did not create an atmosphere of reverence.

The entrance antiphon, if said, was forever banished for the new “Good morning” ritual. When are they going to do a “Good-bye ritual”? What I found funny is that they justified many of the changes in the mass as a way of eliminating “useless repetitions” such as the second Confiteor, but now we have a double handshake ceremony – one at the “Good morning” greeting and another at the Sign of Peace!

Funerals: out with the black, in came the white. Sometimes the white had the sparkly sheen of a Michael Jackson glove! Wakes with Vespers services from the Office of the Dead or Rosary for the dead disappeared. I remember saying: “What will go next, the funeral mass?” A rhetorical question then, but today most people do not have Masses said for their souls or even a Catholic funeral, but the old shake-and-bake cremation and their ashes get dumped in their backyard by their fallen-away adult children.

Anecdotal evidence, but nonetheless, primary source evidence: experience. Nothing stayed the same. It was a perfect fulfillment of the Marxist theory of perpetual revolution as espoused by Leon Trotsky. In effect, the church liturgical planners, lead by that doofus Bugnini, had developed a Trotskyite liturgy—the mass was never the same but in perpetual flux. However, where Trotsky imagined that the proletariat and peasant would work together to seize power, here we have a cabal of liturgists and their priest allies who have seized power and dictate everything. I guess that is called “empowerment.”

From the 1965 Catholic Encyclopedia

Consider what Fr. Lucien Deiss, C.S.S.p., says in his book The Mass (The Liturgical Press, 1992): “We know that no reform is perfect and that the liturgy, like the Church itself, remains subject to the law that the Council with boldness and magnificence called perennis reformatio, permanent reform” (10). And: “It is here that we can ask the question of what is called the ‘Ministerial Function,’ the fundamental question that concerns all the songs and even all the rites of the liturgy…. The question of the Ministerial Function—‘What do we use that for?’—strikes at the root of the rite or the song. It is clear that if something does not serve any purpose, or if it is at cross-purposes, the rite or the song must be cut at its root” (14-15).

Pure utilitarianism. Everything measured by our own mental capacity at this very moment, our own ability to see and to understand “utility.” What if we are not good at doing that? What if there are more subtle uses we have forgotten about and will eventually rediscover, if only we are patient?

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