Thursday, June 30, 2022

We Don’t Need No Re-Education

In due time, we will post a round-up of articles about the Apostolic letter Desiderio desideravi on the sacred liturgy, as we did for Traditionis Custodes and the “dubia.” For the moment, however, I wish to offer only one very brief commentary of my own, mostly by agreeing with some other people.

Any imputation that critique of the post-Conciliar rite means rejection of the most recent ecumenical council is false. The letter says “I do not see how it is possible to say that one recognizes the validity of the Council ... and at the same time not accept the liturgical reform born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium...” As Phil Lawler rightly put it, this is simply a non-sequitur. And as my colleague Matthew Hazell rightly put it, there is a difference, and it is a very important one, between the Concilium and the Consilium. The post-Conciliar rite is a product of the latter and not of the former. It was not born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium, it was born as a rejection and repudiation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Even the most cursory reading of that document makes it very clear that the post-Conciliar rite was created by going FAR beyond the Conciliar mandate, and in places, flatly contradicts the very letter of that mandate. Claims to the contrary are false. This is the reality of the situation, and with all due respect for the office of the papacy, the power of the keys which Christ gave to Peter is not the power to declare reality to be something other than what it is.

More simply, as this fellow also rightly put it

Corpus Christi 2022 Photopost (Part 2)

Our second post of your Corpus Christi liturgies really shows the splendor of this great feast as it is meant to be celebrated, with processions going to multiple churches, outdoor altars, and floral carpets laid out for the procession. As always, our thanks to everyone who took the time to share these with us. We also see a visit of His Eminence George Cardinal Pell to friends at Chavagne International College in France. 

We will definitely have at least one more post in this series, and there is always room for more photos, or to make another post, so there is still plenty of time to send yours in to, always remembering to include the name and location of the church, and any other information you think important. We will be very glad to include photographs of any of the recent major feasts such as Sacred Heart, the Birth of John the Baptist, or the feast of Ss Peter and Paul. Keep up the good work of evangelizing through beauty!
St Eugène – Paris, France
Courtesy of our good friends of the Schola Sainte-Cécile. The procession made its way to the church of Saint-Roch, and ended at Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.

Upcoming Celebrations at Our Lady of Mt Carmel in NYC

The Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New York City will have the following major celebrations this month, including its patronal feast on July 16th, for which, as usual, the church is offering a particularly rich liturgical program. The shrine is located at 448 East 116th Street.
First Friday, July 1
Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ
10:00 am - 8:00 pm All Day Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
7:00 pm Missa Cantata, 1962 Missal
First Saturday, July 2
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
9:00 a.m. Missa Cantata, 1962 Missal
138th Annual Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
July 6 – July 14
7:30 pm - Novena Masses, Prayers & Benediction
Friday, July 15
5:30 pm - Vigil Mass, 1962 Missal
7:30 pm – Solemn 1st Vespers & Benediction of The Blessed Sacrament
9:00 pm – Candlelight Procession
11:00 pm – Holy Rosary & Litany of Loreto
Saturday, July 16
12:00 am – Solemn Midnight Mass, 1962 Missal
8:00 am - Spanish Mass
10:00 am - English Mass
11:00 am Grand Procession
3:00 pm – French/Creole Mass
6:00 pm – Sung Mass, 1962 Missal, followed by closing Eucharistic Benediction

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Feast of Ss Peter and Paul 2022

On this day, * Simon Peter ascended the gibbet of the cross, alleluia: on this day, he that beareth the keys of the kingdom of heaven passed rejoicing to Christ: on this day, Paul the Apostle, the light of the world, inclining his head, for the name of Christ was crowned with martyrdom, alleluia. (The antiphon at the Magnificat for Second Vespers of Ss Peter and Paul.)

Ss Peter and Paul, with Ss John the Evanglist and Zeno; the left panel of the polyptych of San Zeno by Andrea Mantegna, 1457-60.
Aña Hodie * Simon Petrus ascendit crucis patibulum, alleluia: hodie clavicularius regni gaudens migravit ad Christum: hodie Paulus Apostolus, lumen orbis terrae inclinato capite pro Christi nomine martyrio coronatus est, alleluia.

This antiphon is musically very similar to the antiphon for the Magnificat at 2nd Vespers of Pentecost. 
In the Roman Rite, the feast of St Peter and Paul was originally always the first feast of any of the Apostles to occur after Pentecost. The musical similarity between the two antiphons therefore signifies that Peter and his successors lead the Church in the long period from the descent of the Holy Ghost to the end of the world, a period symbolized by the season between Pentecost and Advent. (Since the 11th century, when the feast of St Barnabas was taken into the Roman liturgy from the Byzantine Rite, and kept on its Byzantine date, June 11th, it can occur between Pentecost and Peter and Paul. However, this doesn’t really disturb this ancient arrangement, since Barnabas was not one of the Twelve.)
A polyphonic setting of the Apostles’ Hodie by William Byrd.

“Recollections of a Vatican II Peritus” by Alfons Cardinal Stickler — Another Nail in the Coffin of the Roche Narrative

Recently on social media, I shared a passage from a 1976 letter from Joseph Ratzinger to Wolfgang Waldstein in which he stated: “The problem of the new Missal lies in its abandonment of a historical process that was always continual, before and after St. Pius V, and in the creation of a completely new book, although it was compiled of old material, the publication of which was accompanied by a prohibition of all that came before it, which, besides, is unheard of in the history of both law and liturgy. And I can say with certainty, based on my knowledge of the conciliar debates and my repeated reading of the speeches made by the Council Fathers, that this does not correspond to the intentions of the Second Vatican Council.” It is good to recall that Ratzinger was not the only high-ranking prelate who had this impression. What follows here is a set of recollections by Cardinal Alfons Stickler, prefect emeritus of the Vatican library and archives, who served as a peritus on the Liturgy Commission of the Second Vatican Council. This essay originally appeared in Franz Breid, ed., Die heilige Liturgie (Steyr, Austria: Ennsthaler Verlag, 1997); it was translated by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. and published in the Winter 1999 edition of The Latin Mass magazine (see here); reprinted here with permission.

Recollections of a Vatican II Peritus
Alfons Cardinal Stickler

My position at the Council — pardon me, please, if I begin with some personal background; it is necessary in order to understand what I have to say. I was Professor of Canon Law and Church Legal History at the Salesian University and for eight years, from 1958 until 1966, I was the university's rector. As such I worked as consultant to the Roman Congregation for Seminaries and Universities; and from the preparatory work to the implementation of Council regulations, I was a member of the Conciliar commission directed by that dicastery. In addition, I was named a peritus of the Commission for the Clergy….

Shortly before the beginning of the Council, Cardinal Larraona, whose student I had been at the Lateran, and who had been named chairman of the Conciliar Commission for the Liturgy, called to say he had suggested me as a peritus of that Commission. I objected that I was already committed to two others, above all the one for seminaries and universities, and as a Council peritus. But he insisted that a canon lawyer had to be called upon on account of the significance of canon law in the requirements of the liturgy. Through an obligation I did not seek, then, I experienced Vatican II from the very beginning.

It is generally known that the liturgy had been placed as the first topic of the discussion sequence. I was appointed to a subcommission that had to consider the modi of the first three chapters, and had also to prepare the texts that would be brought to the Council hall for discussion and voting. This subcommission consisted of three bishops-Archbishop Callewaert of Ghent as president; Bishop Enciso Viana of Majorca and, if I am not mistaken, Bishop Pichler of Yugoslavia-as well as three periti: Bishop Marimort, the Spanish Claretian Father Martinez de Antoñana and me. I understood precisely, therefore, the wishes of the Council fathers, as well as the correct sense of the texts that the Council voted on and adopted.

You can understand my astonishment when I found that the final edition of the new Roman Missal [1969] in many ways did not correspond to the Conciliar texts that I knew so well, and that it contained much that broadened, changed or even was directly contrary to the Council's provisions. Since I knew precisely the entire proceeding of the Council, from the often very lengthy discussions and the processing of the modi up to the repeated votes leading to the final formulations, as well as the texts that included the precise regulations for the implementation of the desired reform, you can imagine my amazement, my growing displeasure, indeed my indignation, especially regarding specific contradictions and changes that would necessarily have lasting consequences.

So I decided to go see Cardinal Gut, who on May 8, 1968 had been named prefect of the Congregation of Rites in place of Cardinal Larraona, who had resigned from the prefecture of the congregation on January 9 of that year. I asked him for an audience at his apartment, which he granted me on November 19, 1969. (Here I would like, incidentally, to note that the date of Cardinal Gut's death is repeatedly given in Archbishop Bugnini's memoirs as one year too early: December 8, 1969 instead of the correct date of 1970.)

He received me very cordially, although he was already visibly quite ill, and I could pour my heart out to him, so to speak. He let me speak without interruption for half an hour, and then said that he shared my concerns completely. He emphasized, however, that the Congregation of Rites bore no blame, for the entire work of reform had been achieved by the Consilium, which was appointed by the Pope specifically for that purpose, and for which Paul VI had chosen Cardinal Lercaro as president and Fr. Bugnini as secretary. This group worked under the direct supervision of the Pope.

Now, Fr. Bugnini had been secretary of the Council's Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy. Because his work had not been satisfactory — it had taken place under the direction of Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani — he was not promoted to secretary of the Conciliar Commission; Fr. Ferdinand Antonelli, OFM (later Cardinal) was named in his place. An organized group of liturgists represented this neglect to Paul VI as an injustice against Fr. Bugnini, and they managed to see that the new Pope, who was very sensitive to such procedures, righted that "injustice" by naming Fr. Bugnini as secretary of the new Consilium responsible for the implementation of the reform.

Both of these appointments — of Cardinal Lercaro and Fr. Bugnini — to key positions on the Consilium made it possible for voices to be heard that could not be heard during the proceedings of the Council, and likewise silenced others. The work of the Consilium was accomplished in working areas that were inaccessible to non-members.

(It must, of course, be left to the future to throw light upon why, despite their great effort in the immense and sensitive work of the Consilium and especially in the heart of the reform, the new Ordo Missae, which had been put together in the shortest time, both men fell visibly out of favor: Cardinal Lercaro had to give up his position as archbishop; and Fr. Bugnini, named Archbishop as well as the new secretary of the Congregation of Rites in 1968, did not receive the red hat to which a position of that kind entitled him but was instead named Nuncio in Tehran, a position he held until he ended his earthly work with his death on July 3, 1982.)

In order to assess the agreement or contradiction between the Council's regulations and the reform as it was actually carried out, let's look briefly at the most important of the Council's instructions for the work of reform.

The general instructions, which concern above all the theological foundations, are contained principally in article 2 of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Here is first stated the earthly-heavenly nature of the Church, her Mystery, as the liturgy should express it: everything human must be ordered to the divine and subordinated to it; the visible to the invisible; the active to the contemplative; the present to the future city of God which we seek. Accordingly, the renewal of the liturgy must also go hand in hand with the development and renewal of the concept of the Church.

Article 21 sets down the precondition for any liturgical reform — that there is in the liturgy an unchanging part, because decreed by God, and parts which can be changed, namely those which in the course of time have intruded in an improper way or have proven less appropriate. Texts and rites must correspond to the order articulated in article 2, and can thereby be better understood by the people and better experienced by them.

In article 23 appear mainly practical guidelines that must be followed to bring about the right relationship between tradition and progress. A precise theological, historical, and pastoral investigation must be undertaken; in addition one must heed the general laws of the structure and of the sense of the liturgy, and the experiences derived from recent liturgical reforms. It is then laid down as a general norm that innovation may be introduced only if a genuine benefit to the Church demands it. Finally, the new forms must always grow organically out of those already existing.

I would like to point out the practical norms which arise for the work of reform from the didactic and pastoral nature of the liturgy. According to article 33, the liturgy is principally the cult of the majesty of God, in which worshippers come into relation with Him by means of visible signs that the liturgy uses in order to express invisible realities, which have been chosen by Christ Himself or by the Church. Here there is a vibrant echo of what the Council of Trent of the Catholic Church already recommended in order to protect her patrimony from the rationalistic and spiritless emptiness of Protestant worship, a patrimony which the Holy Father [John Paul II] in his writings on the Eastern churches has characterized as their special treasure. This "special treasure" also deserves to be a source of nourishment for the Catholic Church. It distinguishes itself by being rich in symbolism, thus providing didactic and pastoral education and enrichment, making it splendidly suited even to the simplest people. When we consider that the Orthodox churches, despite their separation from the rock of the Church, through the symbolic expression and theological progress that continuously found entrance into their liturgy, have preserved the correct beliefs and the sacraments, every Roman Catholic liturgical reform should rather increase the symbolic richness of its form of worship than (sometimes even drastically) decrease it.

As far as the guidelines for the particular parts of the liturgy are concerned — above all for their center, the Sacrifice of the Mass — only a few especially significant points for the reform of the Ordo Missae, on which we are concentrating, should be recorded. Regarding the reform of the Ordo Missae, two Conciliar directives are especially to be emphasized.

In article 50, first the general directive is given that in the reform the intrinsic nature of the several parts of the Mass and the connection between them should be more clearly manifested, in order that devout and active participation might be made easier for the faithful. As a consequence, it is emphasized that the rites should be simplified, while faithfully retaining their substance, and that elements which in the course of centuries had been duplicated or added in a way that was not especially opportune, would again be eliminated; while others, which had been lost with the passage of time, would be restored in harmony with the tradition of the fathers as far as should appear appropriate or necessary.

As far as the active participation of the faithful is concerned, the various elements of external involvement are indicated in article 30, with special emphasis on the necessary silence at the proper moments. The Council comes back to this in greater detail in article 48, with a special note about interior participation, through which alone the divine worship and the attainment of grace jointly with the sacrificing priest and the other participants are made fruitful.

Article 36 speaks about the liturgical language generally, and article 54 of the Mass in particular cases. After a discussion lasting several days, in which arguments for and against were discussed, the Council fathers came to the clear conclusion — wholly in agreement with the Council of Trent — that Latin must be retained as the language of cult in the Latin rite, although exceptional cases were possible and even welcome. We shall return to this point in detail.

Article 116 speaks extensively about Gregorian chant, noting that it has been the classical chant of the Roman Catholic liturgy since the time of Gregory the Great, and as such must be retained. Polyphonic music also deserves attention and cultivation. The other articles of Chapter VI, on sacred music, speak about appropriate music and singing in the Church and the liturgy, and emphasize splendidly the important, indeed the fundamental role of the pipe organ in the Catholic liturgy.

Interestingly, article 107 discusses the reform of the liturgical year, with an emphasis on the affirmation or reintroduction of the traditional elements, retaining their specific character. Particularly emphasized is the importance of feasts of the Lord and in general of the Proprium de tempore in the annual sequence, to which some sacred feasts had to give way in order that the full effectiveness of the celebration of the mysteries of redemption not be impaired.

This account of the liturgical reform in light of the Liturgy Constitution cannot be complete, both as far as the individual subjects are concerned and the way they are treated. I shall select as many and as varied examples as appear necessary in order to reach a convincing conclusion.

The Church and the liturgy grow and develop together, but always in such a way that the earthly is organized around the heavenly. The Mass comes from Christ; it was adopted by the apostles and their successors as well as by the Fathers of the Church; it developed organically, with the conscious retention of its substance. The liturgy developed along with the Faith that is contained within it; thus we can say, with Pope Celestine I, in his writings to the Gallican bishops in the year 422: Legem credendi lex statuit supplicandi: The liturgy contains, and in proper and comprehensible ways, brings the Faith to expression. In this sense the constancy of the liturgy participates in the constancy of the Faith itself; indeed it contributes to its protection. Never has there been, therefore, in any of the Christian-Catholic rites, a break, a radically new creation — with the exception of the post-Conciliar reform. But the Council again and again demanded for the reform a strict adherence to tradition. All reforms, beginning with Gregory I through the Middle Ages, during the entry into the Church of the most disparate peoples with their various customs, have observed this ground rule. This is, incidentally, a characteristic of all religions, including non-revealed ones, which proves that an attachment to tradition is standard in any religious worship, and is therefore natural.

It is not surprising, therefore, that every heretical offshoot from the Catholic Church featured a liturgical revolution, as is most clearly recognized in the case of the Protestants and the Anglicans
; while the reforms effected by the popes, and particularly stimulated by the Council of Trent and carried out by Pope Pius V, through those of Pius X, Pius XII and John XXIII, were no revolutions, but merely insignificant corrections, alignments and enrichments. Nothing new should be introduced, the Council expressly says of the reform desired by the fathers, which the genuine good of the Church does not demand.

There are several clear examples of what the post-Conciliar reform actually produced, above all in its core, the radically new Ordo Missae. The new introduction to the Mass grants a significant place to many variants and, through further concessions to the imagination of the celebrants with their communities, is leading to a practically unlimited multiplicity. Next comes the Lectionary, to which we will return in another connection. Thereupon follows the Offertory which, in its contents and text, represents a revolution. There is to be no preceding sacrificial act, but only a preparation of the gifts with evidently humanized content, which impresses one as contrived from beginning to end. In Italy it was called the sacrifice of the coltivatori diretti, that is, of the few people who still personally cultivate their small parcels of land, for the most part beyond and after their principal occupation. On account of the great technical means at the disposal of agriculture, which today can be maintained only via industry, very little human labor is necessary for the production of bread. From the plowing to the harvester from which the sacks of grain come, few human hands are needed. The substitution of the offering of the gifts for the coming Sacrifice is rather an unfortunate, outdated kind of symbolism that can scarcely replace the many genuine symbolic elements that were suppressed. A tabula rasa was also made of the gestures highly recommended by the Council of Trent and required by the Second Vatican Council, as well as of many Signs of the Cross, altar kisses and genuflections.

The essential center, the sacrificial action itself, suffered a perceptible shift toward Communion, in that the entire Sacrifice of the Mass was changed into a Eucharistic meal, whereby in the consciousness of believers the integrating component of Communion replaced the essential component of the transforming act of sacrifice. Cardinal Ratzinger has expressly determined also, with reference to the most modern dogmatic and exegetical investigations, that it is theologically false to compare the meal with the Eucharist — which practically always occurs in the new liturgy. With that, the groundwork is laid for another essential change: in place of the sacrifice offered by an anointed priest as alter Christus comes the communal meal of the convened faithful under the presiding priest. The intervention of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci persuaded the Pope to overturn the definition [in the original General Instruction that accompanied the new Missal] that confirmed this change in the Sacrifice of the Mass; it was "pulped down" by order of Paul VI. The correction of the definition resulted, however, in no change to the Ordo Missae itself.

This change of the heart of the Sacrifice of the Mass received confirmation and activation in the celebration versus populum, a practice which had previously been forbidden and which was a reversal of the entire tradition of celebration towards the East, in which the priest was not the counterpart of the people but rather one who acted in persona Christi, under the symbol of the rising sun in the East.

It is germane to point out a quite serious change in the consecration formula of the wine into the Blood of Christ: the words mysterium fidei were removed, and inserted as a later joint acclamation with the people — quite a strike for "actuosa participatio." What does historical research, which had been prescribed by the Council before every change, now say exclusively? That the words go back to the beginning of the traditions of the Roman Church that are known to us, which had been handed on by St. Peter. St. Basil, who through his studies in Athens was certainly familiar with the Western tradition, says regarding the forms of all the sacraments that they had not been written down in the well-known holy writings of the apostles and their successors and pupils because of the discipline of secrecy that then prevailed, on the ground of which the most holy mysteries of the Church should not be betrayed to pagans. He says expressly, as do all Christian witnesses, who reveal the same conviction, that in addition to the written teachings handed down to us we also have ones that in mysteria tradita sunt [are handed down in mystery] and that date from the tradition of the apostles; he says both have the same value and no one may contradict either. As an example he expressly cites the words through which the Eucharistic bread and the Chalice of Salvation are confected: "which of the saints has handed them down to us in writing?"

All subsequent periods of history expressly attest to this historical inheritance in the Eucharistic consecration formula: the Gelasian sacramentary —the oldest Mass book of the Roman Church — has in the Vatican codex in the original text, not as a later addition, the words "mysterium fidei."

People have always wondered about the origin of these words. In 1202, the emeritus Archbishop John of Lyons posed to Pope Innocent III, whose liturgical knowledge was well known, the question of whether one must believe that the words of the Canon of the Mass, which do not come from the gospels, were passed down by Christ and the apostles to their successors. The Pope answered in a long letter in December of that year that these words, which are not from the gospels, are to be believed as if the apostles received them from Christ and their successors received them in turn. The fact that this decretal, included in the collection of decretal letters of Innocent III, which were combined by Raymond von Penafort by order of Pope Gregory IX, was not excluded as were other outdated ones but rather was passed on, proves that prolonged value was given to this statement of the great Pope.

St. Thomas speaks clearly about our subject in the Summa Theologiae III, q. 78, art. 3, which deals with the words of the consecration of the wine. Explaining the necessary arcane discipline of the ancient Church, he says that the words "mysterium fidei" come from divine tradition, which was given to the Church by the apostles, making particular reference to 1 Cor. 10[11]:23 and 1 Tim. 3:9. A commentator refers to D.D. Gousset in the 1939 Marietti edition: "sarebbe un grandissimo errore sostituire un'altra forma eucharistica a quella del Missale Romano…die sopprimere ad esempio la parola aeterni e quella mysterium fidei che abbiamo dalla tradizione" [it would be a great mistake to substitute another Eucharistic form for that of the Roman suppress, for example, the word aeterni and that mysterium fidei which we have from tradition]. The Council of Florence also, in the bull of union with the Jacobites, expressly adds the consecration formula of Holy Mass, which the Roman Church has always used on the foundation of the teaching and authority of the apostles Peter and Paul.

One wonders about the supremely cavalier way in which the colleagues of Cardinal Lercaro and Fr. Bugnini disregarded the obligation of undertaking a detailed historical and theological investigation in the case of so fundamental a change. If such a thing took place in this case, how might they have discharged this fundamental obligation before making other changes?

The Eucharist is not only the unique mystery of our faith; it is also an everlasting one, of which we should always remain conscious. Our everyday Eucharistic life requires a medium that fully embraces this mystery — above all in the modern age, in which the autonomy and self-glorification of modern man resist every concept that goes beyond human knowledge, that reminds him of his limitations. Every theological concept becomes a problem for him, and the liturgy especially as a support of the Faith turns into a permanent object of demystification, that is, of humanizing to the point of making it absolutely understandable. For this reason, the banishing of mysterium fidei from the Eucharistic formula becomes a powerful symbol of demythologization, a symbol of the humanizing of the center of divine worship, of holy Mass.

With that, we come to the various false interpretations — and equally false implementations — of a central demand of the reformers: a fervent, active participation of the faithful in the celebration of the Mass. The main purpose of their participation is what the Council expressly says: the worship of the majesty of God. The heart and soul of the participant must therefore first and foremost be raised to God. (This does not exclude the possibility that participation also becomes activated within the community.) Above all, this actuosa participatio was demanded as a result of the frequently lamented apathy of Mass-goers of the pre-Conciliar period. If it extends itself into an endless talking and doing, which allows all to become active in a kind of hustle and bustle which are intrinsic to every external human assembly, even the most holy moment of the individual's encounter with the Eucharistic God-Man becomes the most talkative and distracted. The contemplative mysticism of the encounter with God and His worship, to say nothing of the reverence which must always accompany it, instantly dies: the human element kills the divine, and fills heart and soul with emptiness and disappointment.

Here a further important point must be mentioned, a decree of the Council not only misunderstood but also completely denied: the language of worship. I am very well acquainted with the argument. As an expert on the commission for the seminaries, I was entrusted with the question of the Latin language. It proved to be brief and concise and after lengthy discussion was brought to a form which complied with the wishes of all members and was ready for presentation in the Council hall. Then, in an unexpected solemnity, Pope John XXIII signed the Apostolic Letter Veterum Sapientia on the altar of St. Peter. According to the opinion of the commission, that made superfluous the Council's declaration on Latin in the Church. (In the document not only the relationship of the Latin language to the liturgy, but also all its other functions in the life of the Church, were pronounced upon.)

As the subject of the language of worship was discussed in the Council hall over the course of several days, I followed the process with great attention, as well as later the various wordings of the Liturgy Constitution until the final vote. I still remember very well how after several radical proposals a Sicilian bishop rose and implored the fathers to allow caution and reason to reign on this point, because otherwise there would be the danger that the entire Mass might be held in the language of the people — whereupon the entire hall burst into uproarious laughter.

I could therefore never understand how Archbishop Bugnini could write, regarding the radical and complete transition from the prescribed Latin to the exclusively vulgar language of worship, that the Council had practically said that the vernacular in the entire Mass was a pastoral necessity! (op. cit., pp. 108-121; I am quoting from the original Italian edition).

To the contrary, I can attest to the fact that regarding the wording of the Council Constitution on this question, in the general part (art. 36) as well as in the special regulations for the Sacrifice of the Mass (art. 54) the Council fathers maintained a practically unanimous agreement — above all in the final vote: 2152 votes in favor and only four against. In my research for the Council decree about the Latin language, I became aware of the concurring opinion of the entire tradition: up to Pope John XXIII, a clearly unfriendly attitude had been taken toward all preceding efforts to the contrary. Consider in particular the cases of the statement of the Council of Trent, sanctioned by anathema, against Luther and Protestantism; of Pius VI against Bishop Ricci and the Synod of Pistoia; and of Pius XI, who deemed the Church's language of worship as "non vulgaris."

Yet this tradition is not at all a question only of ritual, although that is the aspect always emphasized; rather, it is important because the Latin language acts as a reverent curtain against profanation (instead of the iconostasis of the Easterners, behind which the anaphora takes place) and because of the danger that through the vulgar language the whole action of the liturgy might be profaned, which in fact often happens today. The precision of the Latin language, moreover, uniquely does justice to the didactic and dogmatically precise contents of the liturgy, protecting the truth from obfuscation and adulteration. Finally, the universality of Latin both represents and fosters the unity of the whole Church.

Because of its practical importance, I would like especially to go into both of the last-mentioned, with examples. A good friend has the Deutsche Tagespost sent to me regularly. I always read the next-to-last page, on which the editorial staff, very laudably, gives readers the opportunity in letters to the editor to express opposing views. A continuing series of such letters dealt in detail with the "pro multis" of the Latin text of the formula of consecration and with its translation as "for all." Again and again philology was engaged, which often becomes the ruler instead of being merely the handmaid of theology. Monsignor Johannes Wagner says in his Liturgiereformerinnerungen (1993) that the Italians first introduced this translation, although he himself would have been for the literal translation of "many."

Unfortunately, I have never found an appeal to an argument of the first order that is at once theologically decisive and extremely important pastorally; it is contained in the Roman Tridentine Catechism. Here the theological distinction is clearly emphasized: The "pro omnibus" indicates the force that the Redemption has "for all." If one takes into consideration, however, the actual fruit that is allocated to men from it, the Blood of Christ is effective not for all, but rather only "for many," namely for those who draw benefits from it. It is therefore correct that here not "for all" is said, since in this passage only the fruits of the suffering of Christ are spoken of, which come only to the elect. Here application can be found for what the Apostle said in Heb. 9:28, that Christ sacrificed Himself once to take away the sins of "many," and for Christ's own distinction: "I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them whom Thou hast given me, because they are thine." In all these words of consecration many secrets are contained that shepherds should recognize through study and with the help of God.

It is not difficult to see here extraordinarily important pastoral truths contained in these dogmatic contents of the Latin language of worship, which unconsciously (or even consciously) are covered up in an inaccurate translation.

A second, even larger source of pastoral misfortune — again, against the explicit will of the Council — results from giving up the Latin language of worship. Latin plays the role of a universal language that unifies the Church's public worship without offending any vernacular tongue. It holds particular importance today, at a time when the developing concept of the Church highlights the entire People of God of the one Mystical Body of Christ, underlined elsewhere in the reform. By introducing the exclusive use of the vernacular, the reform makes out of the unity of the Church a variety of little churches, separated and isolated. Where is the pastoral possibility for Catholics across the whole world to find their Mass, to overcome racial differences through a common language of worship, or even, in an increasingly small world, simply to be able to pray together, as the Council explicitly calls for? Where is the pastoral practicability now for every priest to exercise the highest priestly act — Holy Mass — everywhere, above all in a world that is short of priests?

In the Conciliar Constitution the introduction of a three-year Lectionary is nowhere spoken of. Through it the reform commission made itself guilty of a crime against nature. A simple calendar year would have been sufficient for all wishes of change. The Consilium could have stuck to a yearly cycle, enriching the readings with as many and as varied a choice of collection as one would want without breaking up the natural yearly course. Instead, the old order of readings was destroyed and a new one introduced, with a great burden and expense of books, in which as many texts as possible could be accommodated, not only from the world of the Church but also — as was widely practiced — from the profane world. Apart from the pastoral difficulties for parishioners' understanding of texts demanding special exegesis, it turned out also as an opportunity — which was seized — to manipulate the retained texts in order to introduce new truths in place of the old. Pastorally unpopular passages — often of fundamental theological and moral significance — were simply eliminated. A classic example is the text from 1 Cor. 11:27-29: here, in the narrative of the institution of the Eucharist, the serious concluding exhortation about the grave consequences of unworthy reception has been consistently left out, even on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The pastoral necessity of that text in the face of today's mass reception without confession and without reverence is obvious.

That blunders could be made in the new readings, above all in the choice of their introductory and concluding words, is exemplified by Klaus Gamber's note on the end of the reading on the first Sunday in Lent of the Reading Cycle for Year A, which speaks of the consequences of Original Sin: "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked." Whereupon the people, performing their duty of lively and active participation, must answer: "Thanks be to God."

Furthermore, why was the alteration of the sequence of the sacred feasts necessary? If any caution were needed it was here, in pastoral concern and awareness regarding the people's attachment to their local Church feasts, whose temporal disarrangement had to have a very negative influence on popular piety. For these considerations the implementers of the reform appear to have had no great sympathy at all, despite articles 9, 12, 13 and 37 of the Liturgy Constitution.

A brief word must still be said about the realization of the Council regulations regarding liturgical music. Our reformers certainly did not share the great praise for the Gregorian chant that was being regarded more and more highly by secular observers and enthusiasts. The radical abolition (above all through the creation of new choral parts of the Mass) of the Introit, Gradual, Tract, Alleluia, Offertory, Communion (and this especially as a prayer of the community), in favor of others of considerably greater length was a silent death sentence for the wonderful variable Gregorian melodies, with the exception only of the simple melodies for the fixed parts of the Mass, namely the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus/Benedictus and Agnus Dei — and that only for few Masses. The instructions of the Council for the protection and fostering of this ancient Roman liturgical singing met a practically deadly epidemic.

The widely beloved Church instrument of the pipe organ experienced a similar fate through the abundant substitution of instruments, whose enumeration and characterization I can leave to your rich personal experience, with the sole remark that they have prepared the way in not a few cases for the entry of diabolical elements into Church music.

The latitude allowed for innovation represents a last, important subject of this account of the practical elements of the reform. This latitude is present in the original Latin Roman Order of Mass. Among the various national orders, the German Order of Mass stands out through many further concessions of this kind. It practically eliminates the strict, absolute ban of §3, art. 22 of the Conciliar Constitution — namely, that no one, not even a priest, may on his own authority add, leave out or alter anything. The violations in the entire course of the Mass that are escalating more and more against this ban of the Council are becoming the cause of resounding disorder, which the old Latin Ordo, with its much-lamented rigidity, so successfully prevented. The new guarantor of order thus contributes to disorder, and one may not, therefore, wonder when again and again he discovers that in every parish a different Ordo seems to be in force.

With that we have arrived at the public, if also limited, negative statements about the reform of the Mass. Archbishop Bugnini himself discusses them with commendable honesty on pages 108-121 of his memoirs of the reform, without being able to contradict them. In his memoir and in Msgr. Wagner's, the insecurity of the Consilium is obvious over the reform they so hastily carried out. There also appears little sensibility towards the prior "theological, historical, pastoral" research ordained by the Council as necessary to any alteration. For example, the expert capacities of Msgr. Gamber, the German historian of the liturgy, were completely ignored. The incomprehensible rush with which the reform was hammered into shape and made obligatory actually caused influential bishops who were anything but attached to tradition to reconsider. A monsignor who had accompanied Cardinal Döpfner as secretary to Salzburg for the passing of a resolution of the German-speaking bishops for the activation of the new Order of Mass in their countries told me that the Cardinal was very reticent on the return journey to Munich. He then briefly expressed his fear that a delicate pastoral matter had been dealt with too hastily.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I would like to emphasize that I have never cast in doubt the dogmatic or juridical validity of the Novus Ordo Missae although in the case of the juridical question serious doubts have come to me in view of my intensive work with the medieval canonists. They are of the unanimous opinion that the popes may change anything with the exception of what the Holy Scriptures prescribe or what concerns previously enacted doctrinal decisions of the highest level, and the status ecclesiae. There is no perfect clarity with regard to this [latter] concept. This attachment to tradition in the case of fundamental things which have conclusively influenced the Church in the course of time certainly belongs to this fixed, unchanging status, over which even the Pope has no right of disposal. The meaning of the liturgy for the entire concept of the Church and its development, which was also especially emphasized by Vatican II as unchangeable in nature, leads us to believe that it in fact should belong to the status ecclesiae.

It must nevertheless be said that these regrettable misuses, which above all are consequences of the discrepancy between the Conciliar Constitution and the Novus Ordo, do not occur when the new liturgy is reverently celebrated — as is always the case, for example, when the Holy Father offers Mass. It cannot, however, escape experts of the old liturgy what a great distinction exists between the corpus traditionum, which was alive in the old Mass, and the contrived Novus Ordo — to the decided disadvantage of the latter. Shepherds, scholars, and lay faithful have noticed it, of course; and the multitude of opposing voices increased with time. Thus the reigning Holy Father himself, in his Apostolic Letter Dominicae Cenae of February 24, 1980, regarding the mystery and worship of the Eucharist, pointed out that questions concerning the liturgy, above all of the Eucharist, should never be the occasion for dividing Catholics and seeing the unity of the Church sundered; it is, he said, indeed the "sacrament of piety, the symbol of unity, and the bond of charity."

In his Apostolic Letter on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the approval of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on December 4, 1963, which was published on December 4, 1988, after praising the renewal in the line of tradition, the Pope deals with the concrete application of the reform: he points to the difficulties and the positive results, but also in detail to incorrect applications. He also says expressly that it is the duty of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to protect the great principles of the Catholic liturgy, as illustrated and developed in the Liturgy Constitution, and to be mindful of the responsibilities of the bishops' conferences and the bishops.

Cardinal Ratzinger, the protector of the Faith (and of the worship connected with it) closest to the Pope, has repeatedly commented on the post-Conciliar liturgical reform, and with a singular profundity and clarity has subjected its theological and pastoral problems to constructive criticism. I remind you only of the book The Feast of Faith (1981), of the prologue to the French translation of the short basic book by Klaus Gamber, and finally of the references in his recent books, Salt of the Earth and his autobiography La mia vita, both published in 1997.

Among the German-speaking bishops, the one responsible for the liturgy in the Austrian bishops' conference pointed out in 1995 that the Council had intended no revolution but a reform of the liturgy faithful to tradition. Instead, he said, a worship of spontaneity and improvisation bears a share of the blame for the declining number of people at Mass.

Lastly, the Primate of Belgium, Cardinal Daneels, who certainly cannot be called a stick-in-the-mud, has subjected the entire reform to devastating criticism: there has been a 180-degree turn, he says, with the transition from an obedience to rubrics to their free manipulation, through which one himself makes use of the liturgy in order to rearrange the service and worship of God into a creative people's assembly, into a real "happening," into a discourse in which the individual wants to play a role instead of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in whose house he is a guest. Man's desire to understand the service, Daneels says, should lead not to a subjective human creativity, but to a penetration of the mysteries of God. One would not have to explain the liturgy, but live it as a window to the invisible.

When we climb lower rungs of the ladder of the people of God, we find even among the members of the Consilium a colleague indicated as critical by Archbishop Bugnini: L. Bouyer, who has not been silent in the meantime.

In Italy the hard-hitting critique The Torn Tunic (1967), by the high-profile lay writer Tito Casini, with a prologue by Cardinal Bacci, made a sensation. Slowly more and more growing lay groups, to which many intellectuals of high standing belonged, organized themselves into national movements, above all in Europe and North America, and were connected in Europe and beyond in the international organization Una Voce; the problems of the reform were also discussed in journals, among which the German Una Voce Korrespondenz stands out. In a characteristic summary, the Canadian Precious Blood Banner of October 1995 says that it is becoming clearer and clearer that the radicalism of the post-Conciliar reformers did not consist of renewing the Catholic liturgy from its roots, but in tearing it from its traditional soil. It did not rework the Roman rite, which it was asked to do by the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican II, but uprooted it.

Shortly before his death, the well-known Prior of Taize, Max Thurian, a Catholic convert who was previously a Calvinist, expounded his view of the reform in a long article entitled "The Liturgy as Contemplation of the Mystery" in L'Osservatore Romano (May 27-28, 1996, p. 9). After an understandable expression of praise for the Council and for the Liturgy Commission, which were supposed to bring forth the most admirable fruits, he says expressly that the entire contemporary celebration often takes place as a dialogue in which there is no place for prayer, contemplation, and silence. The constant opposing of the celebrants and the faithful isolates the community within itself. A healthy celebration, on the other hand, which gives the altar a privileged position, conveys the duty of the celebrant, that is, to orient all toward the Lord and the worship of His presence, which is represented in the symbols and realized in the Sacrament. This conveys to the liturgy that contemplative breath without which it becomes an awkward religious discussion, an empty communal activity and a kind of prattle.

Thurian makes a number of personal proposals for authority in the event of a revision of the "Principles and norms for the use of the Missale Romanum" (one sees that he nourishes the hope that it could be possible), which clearly demonstrate dissatisfaction with the present principles. Under the title of "The Priest in the Service of the Liturgy," he gives a series of distinguished criticisms of the present situation, which share practically all the severe reproaches of our account, and which merit individual examination….

I would like briefly to add, as an ecumenical reference, two experiences with the Eastern Churches. During a visit at the end of the Council…representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople said in personal conversations that they did not understand why the Roman Church insisted on changing the liturgy; one should not do such a thing. The Eastern Church, they said, owed its retention of the Faith to its faithfulness to liturgical tradition and to the liturgy's healthy development. I also heard somewhat similar things from members of the Patriarchate of Moscow, who looked after the Vatican Historical Commission during the International Historical Congress in Moscow in 1970.

Two more significant reports from the world of the ordinary and the uneducated, which best express the genuine sensus fidei of the children of God: Two young boy scouts of ten and twelve from the Siena area, who assist at the so-called Tridentine Mass every Saturday, based on the privilege granted by the Archbishop of Siena, answered my provocative question as to which Mass they liked better, that since they attended the old Mass they no longer enjoyed the new.

A simple, elderly farmer, who comes from a poor area of Molise, told me spontaneously that he always goes only to the six o'clock Tridentine Mass because he considers the change to the liturgy to be a change of the Faith that he wanted to retain. Msgr. Klaus Gamber, an outstanding expert I have already mentioned, has published strictly academic accounts, above all his summary The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background,* that were more or less silenced by the official specialist literature, but are being rediscovered now for their penetrating clarity and insight. He arrived at the conclusion that today we stand before the ruins of a 2,000-year tradition, and that it is to be feared that as a result of the countless reforms the tradition is now in such a vandalized mess that it may be difficult to revive it. One hardly dares any longer to pose the question whether after this dismantling a reconstruction of the old order may come.

Still, one should not give up hope. Concerning the dismantling, we see how it is reflected in the orders given by the Council. They say: no innovation may be introduced unless the real and certain benefit of the Church demands it, and then only after a precise theological, historical, and pastoral investigation. Moreover, any change must be made in such a way that the new forms always arise organically from those already existing. Whether this happened, my recollections can give you only a limited picture. They should show, however, whether the essential theological and ecclesiological requirements were fulfilled in the reform, namely whether the liturgy, above all its heart, Holy Mass, ordered the human to the divine and subordinated the former to the latter, the visible to the invisible, the active to the contemplative, the present to the eternity to come; or whether the reform has, on the contrary, frequently subordinated the divine to the human, the invisible mystery to what is visible, the contemplative to active participation, the eternity to come to the mundane human present.

But precisely the ever-clearer recognition of the real situation strengthens the hope for a possible reconstruction, which Cardinal Ratzinger sees in a new liturgical movement that resurrects the true inheritance of the Vatican Council to new life (La mia vita, 1997, p. 113).

Let me close with a comforting prospect: the reigning Holy Father, John Paul II, in his distinctive pastoral sensibility, articulated his concern in a 1980 appeal regarding the problems that the change of the liturgy created in the Catholic Church, but he met with no response from the bishops. That is why he decided, certainly not with a light heart, in 1984 to issue an apostolic indult for all who felt attached to the old liturgy for reasons I have emphasized, above all because of the liturgical innovations which, far from decreasing, are still escalating. Because he had understandably given it to the bishops, but only under narrow conditions and at their good pleasure, it had only very limited pastoral success.

After the unauthorized consecration of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre, certainly with the intention of avoiding an extensive schism, he issued on July 2, 1988 a new motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei adflicta, in which he not only assured members of the Society of St. Pius X willing to be reconciled in the Fraternity of St. Peter of the possibility of remaining faithful to the ancient liturgical tradition, but he also now gave the bishops a very generous privilege, which was supposed to fulfill the legitimate desires of the faithful. He recommended specially to the bishops to imitate his generosity to the faithful who feel attached to the fixed forms of the old liturgy and discipline, and stated that one must respect all those who feel attached to the ancient liturgical tradition. The text — designed very generously this time for the bishops — gives us justifiable confidence that the Pope, in his efforts to re-establish unity and peace, not only will not relent, but rather will continue to tread the path shown in numbers 5 and 6 of the 1988 motu proprio, in order to bring about the legitimate reconciliation between the indispensable tradition and time-bound development.

To read more about and from Cardinal Stickler, see here, here, and here.

Cardinal Stickler offering the Mass he so loved

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Vigil of Ss Peter and Paul

In the Roman Rite, the term “vigilia – vigil” traditionally means a penitential day of preparation for a major feast. The Mass of a Saint’s vigil is celebrated after None, as are the Masses of the ferias of Lent or the Ember Days, and in violet vestments; however, the deacon and subdeacon do not wear folded chasubles, as they do in Lent, but the dalmatic and tunicle. The Mass has neither the Gloria nor the Creed, the Alleluja is simply omitted before the Gospel, not replaced with a Tract, and Benedicamus Domino is said at the end in place of Ite, missa est.
The Mass of the Vigil of Ss Peter and Paul in the Echternach Sacarmentary, (895 A.D.; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9433) Note that it is preceded by the Mass of Pope St Leo II, as will be explained below; the preface of the Apostles is said, instead of the common preface prescribed by the Missal of St Pius V.
The vigil of Ss Peter and Paul is one of the oldest observances of the Roman Rite, attested in all pertinent liturgical books as far back as we have them. The Mass chants (except for the Communio) and the two Scriptural readings are the same in the most ancient sources as those in the Missal of St Pius V; the three prayers are the same in the earliest versions of the Gregorian Sacramentary, from the end of the 8th century.
It is one of the Church’s oldest and most universal customs to celebrate Ss Peter and Paul in a joint feast on June 29. However, the Roman liturgy naturally tends to lay greater emphasis on Peter as the one who was a close friend of the Lord in His earthly life, and in whom the primacy was conferred upon the church of Rome. Therefore, just as Peter figures more prominently than Paul in the main feast, so also in the vigil; the Introit, Epistle, and Gospel are all about him, as is the modern Communio taken from the Gospel. This is balanced by the fact that Paul has a special feast of his own on June 30th, while at the vigil, the prayers all refer to “apostles” generically, without naming either one.
Collecta Præsta, quáesumus, omnípotens Deus: ut nullis nos permittas perturbatiónibus cóncuti; quos in apostólicae confessiónis petra solidasti. - Grant, we ask, almighty God, that Thou may not permit us to be shaken by any disturbances, whom Thou hast strengthened on the rock of the apostolic confession. (Here, of course, the “rock” also refers more to Peter.)
Secreta Munus pópuli tui, quáesumus, Dómine, apostólica intercessióne sanctífica: nosque a peccatórum nostrórum máculis emunda. – Sanctify the service of Thy people, we ask, O Lord, by the intercession of the Apostles, and cleanse us from the stains of our sins.
Postcommunio Quos caelesti, Dómine, alimento satiasti: apostólicis intercessiónibus ab omni adversitáte custódi. – O Lord, by the intercession of Thy Apostles, defend from all adversity those whom Thou hast satisfied with heavenly food.
The Introit is taken from the Gospel, as it is some of the other very ancient Roman vigils, such as those of St John the Baptist and the Apostle St Andrew.
Introitus Dicit Dóminus Petro: Cum esses junior, cingébas te et ambulábas ubi volébas: cum autem senúeris, extendes manus tuas, et alius te cinget et ducet, quo tu non vis: hoc autem dixit, signíficans, qua morte clarificatúrus esset Deum. Ps 18 Caeli enarrant gloriam Dei: et ópera mánuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum. Gloria Patri. Dicit Dóminus Petro.
Introit The Lord said to Peter, ‘When thou wert young, thou didst gird thyself and walk where thou would, but when thou shalt be old, thou wilt stretch forth thy hands, and another will gird thee, and lead thee where thou wouldst not. Now this He said to signify by what manner of death he should glorify God. Ps 18 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the works of His hands. Glory be. The Lord said to Peter.
The Epistle, Acts 3, 1-10, is chosen in part because it is the first miracle which Peter performs after Pentecost, the healing of the paralytic at the Beautiful Gate. This signifies his role as the head of the Church in the long period from the descent of the Holy Ghost (which is recounted in the previous chapter) to the end of the world, a period symbolized by the season between Pentecost and Advent. This miracle happened when Peter and John had gone up to the temple to pray “at the ninth hour”, which refers to the hour of the vigil’s celebration after None.
The psalm verse with which the Introit is sung is repeated in the Gradual, and was associated with the Apostles from very ancient times. For example, a commentary on the Psalms written in the 4th century, and formerly attributed to a correspondent (and later disputant) of St Jerome, Rufinus of Aquileia, says “the Apostles and Evangelists … are rightly called ‘heavens’, because of the loftiness of their life, and the ‘firmament’ because of the solidity of their faith and charity; they declare the glory of (Christ’s) divinity, and proclaim to the works of (His) humanity.” (PL 21, 712B in fine) The first part of the Gradual, “Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world,” likewise refers to the Apostolic preaching of the Gospel to the whole world. (The exact same verses are also sung in the Byzantine Rite as the Prokimen, the chant before the Epistle, at the Divine Liturgy on June 29.)
Since the Gospel of the feast is Matthew 16, 13-19, the conferral of the primacy of the Church upon Peter, that of the vigil is the prophecy of his death which Christ makes to him at the end of the Gospel of St John.
“Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep. Amen, amen I say to thee, when thou wast younger, thou didst gird thyself, and didst walk where thou wouldst. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not. And this he said, signifying by what death he should glorify God.”
In the brief reading in the breviary in which St Augustine comments on this passage, he explains that Peter here makes a three-fold confession in place of his three-fold denial of Christ during the Passion.
The Crucifixion of St Peter, depicted in the Papal Chapel known as the Sancta Sanctorum at the Lateran Basilica in Rome, ca. 1280.
Since at least the later part of the 8th century, June 28 was also kept as the feast of Pope St Leo II, who died on this day in 683, after a reign of less than 11 months. The Liber Pontificalis records that on the previous day he celebrated the ordination of nine priests, three deacons, and twenty-three bishops; it is not said that it was the ordination ceremony that killed him, but the heat of Rome in June and the inevitable length of such a ceremony make this seem likely more than coincidence. The principal achievement of his pontificate was the confirmation of the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, the third of Constantinople, which condemned the Monothelite heresy; being fluent in Greek as well as Latin, he personally made the official Latin translation of the council’s acts. It is one of the oddities of hagiography that his predecessor St Agatho, in whose reign the council was held, and whose intervention (through his legates) in its deliberations was acclaimed with the words “Peter has spoken through Agatho!”, has never been honored with a general feast day in the West, but is kept on the Byzantine Calendar. Leo, on the other, was a Sicilian, and therefore born as a subject of the Byzantine Empire, but is not liturgically honored in the East. (Back when there were plenty of canonical and monastic churches, such foundations would have celebrated two Masses in choir, that of St Leo after Terce, and that of the vigil after None, just as was done with the feasts of Saints which occur in Lent.)

In this altar in St Peter’s Basilica are kept the relics of three Sainted Popes named Leo, the Second (682-3), the Third (795-816) and the Fourth (847-55). The altar of Pope St Leo I (440-61) is right next to it, and Pope Leo XII (1823-29) is buried in the floor between them.
In 1921, Pope Benedict XV extended the feast of St Irenaeus of Lyon to the general Calendar on his traditional Lyonese date, June 28, moving Leo II to July 3rd, the next free day on the calendar, and the day of his burial according to the Liber Pontificalis. In the reform of 1960, St Irenaeus was moved to July 3rd, and Leo II suppressed, in order to free June 28th up entirely for the Mass and Office of the vigil of Ss Peter and Paul. This was fundamentally a rather odd thing to do, since so many of the vigils then on the general Calendar (including all those of the other Apostles, and, inexcusably, those of the Epiphany and All Saints), were abolished by the same reform.
Less than a decade later, however, with the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, vigils in the classic Roman sense, penitential days of preparation for the major feasts, were simply abolished altogether, “freeing” June 28th from the one observance which had hitherto been absolutely universal on that date, the vigil of Ss Peter and Paul. Irenaeus was therefore returned to that date.

Provisional Program of the Fota XIII International Liturgy Conference

St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce the following program for the XIII Fota International Liturgy Conference, which will be held this coming weekend, July 2-3, in the New Hall at Ballyhea, Charleville, Co. Cork (Ireland). The conference is titled Worship in Spirit and in Truth, and is intended to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger’s book The Spirit of the Liturgy. Registrations may be made on line by email to

Saturday, July 2
8.00 am - Registration opens
9.00 am - Conference convenes
9.30 am - Bryce Evans: The Role of the Sacred Liturgy in Joseph Ratzinger’s Fundamental Theology.
10.30 am - Serafino Lanzetta: The Sacrifice of the Logos incarnatus. Ratzinger’s Theology of the Liturgy in perspective.
11.30 am - morning coffee
12.00 pm - Mariusz Bilieniwick: Twenty years of reception of Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy.
1pm - break
2.30 pm - Matthew Hazell: The Spirit of Liturgical Reform and the Vota of the Second Vatican Council Fathers.
3.30 pm - break
4.00 pm - Brian A Butcher: The Spirits of the Liturgy: Ressourcement vs. Aggiornamento in Contemporary Eastern-Rite Catholic Worship.
5.00 pm - discussion Panel
8.00pm - dinner
Sunday, July 3
9.00 am - Sven Conrad: The relationship of the Old and the New Testament in the light of the Logos incarnatus. Joseph Ratzinger’s solution of the spiritualisation of the idea of worship.
10.00 am - Roland Millare: An Iconic Theology of Liturgy for the World: A Rapprochement Between Joseph Ratzinger and Eastern Orthodox Theology.
11.00 am - morning coffee
11.30 - Manfred Hauke: Reservation and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Its theological and pastoral importance.
2.30 pm - break
2.00 pm - Kevin Zilverberg: Worship in Truth (John 4, 23–24): Polyvalent Veritas in the Latin Fathers.
3.00 pm - John Hayes: Worship in Spirit and Truth: A Biblical Foundation for Ratzinger’s Notion of Active Participation.
4.00 pm - coffee
4.15 pm - Joseph Briody: Obedience over Sacrifice (1 Sam. 15, 22; Hos. 6, 6): Liturgical Interiority and Biblical Covenantal Attentiveness.
5.15 pm - discussion
6.15 pm - Solemn Pontifical High Mass

The Distinctions Between Liturgical Art, Didactic Sacred Art, and Illustration: Is There Really Any Difference?

When discussing the merits and qualities of sacred art, a distinction is often made between art that has a didactic function - primarily for teaching purposes - and liturgical art which is intended to deepen engagement with God directly during the liturgy itself. It is commonly said that in the Roman Church, the focus for the production of art has been didactic, at least since the time of Gregory the Great (who is often quoted in this regard), whereas in the churches of the Byzantine Rite, the focus, it is maintained, is on deepening engagement with the liturgy, and thus is more authentically liturgical. This distinction is made by some to explain what is perceived as the inferiority of Western art in relation to Eastern iconographic art.

Didactic art, it is assumed, engages the person primarily through the intellect, deepening the understanding of salvation history or of a feast. Liturgical art, on the other hand, it is said, engages the heart of the person, and engages both the intellect and will in an ordered and balanced way, so that the whole person is directed to the contemplation of God through worship of Him. 

In practice, however, I would say that this distinction is exaggerated. Good examples of Western “didactic” sacred art engage both the intellect and the will if it is effective in its function. After all, art that is intended to be didactic must be beautiful enough to engage the will as well as the intellect, so that we want to understand and be open to accepting its message - taking it to heart, so to speak. Further, if what it teaches us directs us to the liturgy simultaneously, which is quite possible, then it will enrich our worship, and so can be considered liturgical.

Similarly, good liturgical art is inevitably didactic also. The content of Eastern icons can be described and explained to us so that we understand its Scriptural roots, for example, and the feasts more thoroughly, strongly engaging the intellect. There are excellent books that do just this, and they draw heavily on Scripture and the teachings of the Church Fathers in doing so. I have recently featured a wonderful example written by the Orthodox iconographer Aidan Hart.

If the result is in each case that the person is drawn into a deeper participation in the liturgy, then for all the differences in artist’s intended purpose, or of those who commission artworks, the dynamic between art and viewer is likely very similar. Good didactic art is simultaneously liturgical, and good liturgical art is simultaneously didactic. The assumption made by critics of Roman Catholic art, that it was created to exclude a liturgical function, is not necessarily true.

So, for example, Gothic windows are often described by art historians as Scripture in images that teach the illiterate. But the truth is that they cannot be an alternative to Scripture; no one looking at this picture of Seth and Adam, e.g., would know the story without either hearing it or reading first. The primary form of teaching even with such a window is either the written word, or word of mouth. Once we know the story, however, looking at such an image is likely to bring to mind, in a single moment, not only the narrative from Genesis associated with it, but all the theological implications that this narrative has. And just as these truths have relevance every time we worship, this window has a clear liturgical function.
In order to know how well art performs its function, we would need to know if, generally, its effect is to distract from the liturgy, or to direct people to it, and this will be as much a consequence of its style as its content. We can never say definitely what goes on in people’s hearts, but generally, the Gothic style, as much as the iconographic, is cited as having a positive effect in this regard in the context of the rite it was created to illumine, that is, the Roman Rite. As a rule, liturgical art styles must have a balance of naturalism and abstraction, so as to create a recognizable image that has inbuilt into it a degree of dissatisfaction (due to the symbolic quality imparted by controlled abstraction) that leads us to move beyond the image in our imaginations, and to God.

There is another category of religious art, which has a purpose that is distinct from traditional church art and that is book art - i.e. illustration or illumination. One might say that the purpose of the illustration of sacred texts is primarily to direct us to the words in the book, so enhancing the power of the words lead us to God. This is a noble function certainly but is secondary in importance to the function of the art I have described above. The style of art that we might see in a children's bible or a Latin Mass Missal would, in my opinion, fall into this category. The examples I show below are not presented as bad art, but as good art which fulfills its function of illustrating a text very well. In my opinion, the style is too naturalistic to be considered authentically liturgical.

However, there can be a blurring of distinctions here too. For texts that have been read many times, and so become familiar to the reader, the sense that the words contain can be brought to mind in an instant, as described above with Seth and Adam in the context of the liturgy. When this happens, the art won't lead us back to the words, rather it leads us from the words, via meditation on the passage, to the contemplation of God. I suggest that images that are more likely to do this, will be illustrations painted in liturgical styles, as one might see in an ancient psalter.
Scenes from the life of Christ from the gothic Psalter of St Louis

An XI century Spanish Romanesque bible illumination
Such art, if viewed often in conjunction with the text, by being impressed upon our memories can be drawn upon by the imagination when we hear the words of the psalm, say, in the context of the liturgy, and so in this way can have a clear and even more direct liturgical function, albeit in a less direct way than the art hanging on the walls of the church. I suggest the best ‘illumination’ work in sacred art will fulfill both an illustrative and liturgical function (and hence is didactic as well!).

Monday, June 27, 2022

A Beautiful Testimony to the Power of the Original Liturgical Movement

Newly released from Arouca Press in collaboration with Silverstream Priory, NLM followers will no doubt want to make a point of reading a book which combines fine art, hagiography, and sound spiritual advice: For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself. I greatly enjoyed and benefited from reading it and consider it to be one of those precious hidden gems, lost in a world of more superficial entertainment and NYT bestsellers, that readers will still be thinking about years after they read it.

The biography of a young Polish nun of the last century, it is a fascinating snapshot of the fruits of the 1950s Liturgical Movement at its finest. “There is a question of equilibrium, of balance, in the supernatural order, as in the physical universe,” writes Abbot Philip Anderson about this book. “It was the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who re-established this balance on the highest level, after sin had unleashed ruin upon mankind. But some souls are called to fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in their flesh for His Body, as Saint Paul tells us. How can this be? Let the story of Sister Maria Bernadette, who was surely one of those souls, lift a corner of the veil and draw you into the mystery. Maybe you too have a part to play.”

Known in the world as Róża Wolska, she was born in 1927. Reminiscent of Pier Giorgio Frassati in many ways, Róża was an avid athlete. In the early ’40s she was introduced to the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec. At that time Tyniec was in the vanguard of the Liturgical Movement, in its healthy phase; under the monks’ guidance, Róża’s spiritual life flourished, as friendship, lectio divina, and the sacred liturgy revealed the beauty of God to her.
Somewhat of a surprise even to herself, Róża felt moved to enter the Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in Warsaw after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1951. Those years were very difficult for the monastery, which was being rebuilt after the being bombed in World War II; the Communist yoke weighed heavily on the whole country. During these years, outwardly quiet but inwardly eventful, Sr. Maria Bernadette, as she was known in religion, struggled with how to overocome the old Adam and put on the new; in particular, her secular training in art had to be sublimated to monastic purposes, and in this regard she eventually produced many striking images of various sizes and for varied occasions.
After about ten years of living the monastic life, Sister Bernadette’s health began to fail, and in 1963 she was admitted into hospital for surgery. While there, she offered her life in reparation for the sins of apostate priests about whom she had read, particularly the so-called “Patriot Priests” who were supportive of the Communist government. Complications arose but doctors declared them normal symptoms of recovery; they were mistaken. “Both the sick and the doctors cannot get over the fact that a nun can be so cheerful,” she wrote to her parents shortly before her death. “I think that the glory of the Bridegroom grows through this, so I don’t even care anymore that my stitches hurt from laughing.”
A prayer card by Sr. Bernadette: "I to my beloved, and my beloved to me, [who feedeth among the lilies]" (Song 6:2)
As her strength failed, the wistful Gregorian melody for the Magnificat antiphon for the Ascension ran through her soul: “O King of glory, Lord of hosts, Who hast this day mounted in triumph above all the heavens, leave us not orphans: but send unto us the promise of the Father, the Spirit of truth, alleluia.” Sister Bernadette died on April 30th, 1963, surrendering her life into the hands of God.
Page from a Gospel book illuminated and calligraphed by Sr. Bernadette
Sally Read, poet and author of Night’s Bright Darkness, writes of this book: “The life of Sister Bernadette of the Cross is vividly detailed here. Her role as a child of God, in a world ravaged and abused by war and corruption, comes across as both heroic and ordinary.”

For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself is a new translation and revised edition of a Polish biography of Sister Bernadette. It contains numerous photographs and reproductions of her artwork, and extensive passages from her charming, humorous, and spiritually uplifting letters. “As we go through the pages,” Sally Read continues, “[Sister’s] very soul seems to be honed and polished before our eyes; she is both reduced and glorified by her pains. Her story is an illustration of what it means to suffer in Christ, and for the sins of others, and is given great immediacy and vitality by the examples of her beautiful art. Her words are meat for those who wonder about the role of suffering in life.” An epilogue in the book ponders the lessons of victim souls and how we are to make sense of this “scandal” in a world that has so much lost the understanding of the value of reparation and the practice of abandonment to the Father’s Providence.
A humorous drawing showing Sister's response to the psalm verse
"And he took me up from the deep waters"
Perhaps the strongest praise comes from Scott Hahn, who writes: “This book is a roadmap to true happiness, not only in the afterlife, but beginning here and now.” Drawing attention to the remarkable cheerfulness that suffused Sister Bernadette’s often difficult life, Dr. Hahn says: “Sister Bernadette was one of those souls who, while living with the Church, the liturgy, and the Scriptures, allow themselves to be led by the Spirit to pray and to suffer—generously and cheerfully. She made an offering of her life, and in these pages we can learn to do the same.”

For Their Sake I Consecrate Myself is available for purchase on Arouca Press’s website, on Silverstream Priory’s shop, as well as, Amazon UK, and other retailers. I hope that many will “take a chance” on this little-known story and find a special blessing in it.

A brief preview of the photos and artwork found in the book is available in a video released by Silverstream Priory: 

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