Sunday, April 30, 2023

Relics of St Peter Martyr in Milan

St Peter Martyr was killed on April 6, 1252, but since that day so often occurs in Holy Week or Easter week, when he was canonized less than a year after his death, his feast was assigned to April 29. As we have noted several times in the past (see here and here), his relics are in the Portinari chapel within the basilica of St Eustorgius in Milan. Here are some pictures and a video of the large reliquary containing his skull, taken in the basilica earlier today by Nicola de’ Grandi.

In the background of this picture, we see the Saint’s monumental tomb of the type known as an ‘arca’ in Italian, which is deliberately designed so that the faithful can walk under it and touch the sarcophagus containing the relics.

The Third Sunday after Easter

On this third Sunday, and on the two that follow before the Ascension, the Church exhorts us to rejoicing and exultation for the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, wherefore the Introit of this Sunday begins, ‘Shout with joy to God, all the earth.’ And there follows Alleluia, because this shout of joy is the exultation which the mind has for eternal things, and is to be made only to God. There follows, ‘Sing a psalm to His name’, that is, praise him with cheerful work, and likewise there follows a single Alleluia, because all other things arise from a single root, which is charity. There follows, ‘Give glory to His praise’, and there follows at the end a triple Alleluia, because from the power of the Father, and the wisdom of the Son, and the goodness of the Holy Spirit does it come about that He delivered us through His Passion and Resurrection, and therefore is God to be praised. But although there is exultation, nevertheless fear is also inculcated, lest hope without fear grow wanton unto presumption. (William Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, 6, 94, 1)

Introitus (Ps 65) Jubiláte Deo, omnis terra, allelúia: psalmum dícite nómini ejus, allelúja: date glóriam laudi ejus, allelúja, allelúja, allelúja. V. Dícite Deo, quam terribilia sunt ópera tua, Dómine! in multitúdine virtútis tuæ mentientur tibi inimíci tui. Glória Patri. Sicut erat. Jubiláte Deo.

Introit Shout with joy to God, all the earth, alleluia, sing ye a psalm to His name, alleluia; give glory to His praise; alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. V. Say ye unto God, How terrible are thy works, o Lord! in the multitude of thy strength thy enemies shall lie to thee. Glory be to the Father... As it was in the beginning... Shout with joy to God...

This Psalm has in the title the inscription, ‘For the end, a song of a Psalm of Resurrection’. When you hear ‘for the end’ (in the titles of various Psalms), understand it to mean ‘for Christ’, as the Apostle says, ‘For the end of the law is Christ, for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ (Rom. 10,4) ... ‘Jubilate unto God every land.’ What is jubilate? Break forth unto the voice of rejoicings, if you cannot break forth into words. For jubilation is not of words, but the sound alone of men rejoicing is uttered, as of a heart laboring and bringing forth into voice the pleasure of a thing imagined which cannot be expressed. ... ‘Say ye to God, How to be feared are Your works!’ Wherefore to be feared and not to be loved? Hear another voice of a Psalm (2, 11): ‘Serve the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him with trembling.’ What does this mean? Hear the voice of the Apostle: ‘With fear, he says, and trembling, work out your own salvation.’ Wherefore with fear and trembling? He has also given the reason: for God it is that works in you both to will and to work according to good will. (Phil. 2, 12-13) If therefore God works in you, by the Grace of God you work well, not by your strength. (St Augustine, Treatise on Psalm 65. The term ‘a psalm of Resurrection’ is in the title of the Greek and Latin translations of the Psalter.)

St Augustine, ca. 1465, by Piero della Francesca (1415-92)

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Centenary of St Thérèse of Lisieux’s Beatification

Today marks the centenary of the beatification of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who passed into eternal life on September 30, 1897. Pope Benedict XV permitted the opening of her cause in August of 1921, when less than half the traditional waiting period after a proposed Saint’s death (fifty years) had elapsed; Pius XI had the honor of beatifying her, and then of canonizing her just over two years later, in May of 1925.

Here is a video from the archives of the newsreel service British Pathé, which shows the laying of the cornerstone of the basilica built to honor Thérèse at Lisieux, in 1929. The bishop is H.E. Alexis-Armand Cardinal Charost, archbishop of Rennes. We also see her relics carried in procession on a massive palanquin. - Sancta Theresa, ora pro nobis!

Friday, April 28, 2023

Undoing the Dismal: Liberating Sunday’s Soul

Sandor Bihari, “Sunday Afternoon,” 1893

One of the recurring themes of the pontificate of Benedict XVI was the vital nature of Sunday. At the 2005 Eucharistic Congress, at the 2005 World Youth Day, and in a 2007 sermon in Vienna, the Pope repeated an arresting line from the acts of the martyrs. In A.D. 304, forty nine Christians were apprehended for assembling on Sunday, in violation of imperial law. When the Proconsul asked them “why on earth they had disobeyed the Emperor’s severe orders,” one of them, a man named Emeritus, replied: Sine dominico non possumus. [1] Emeritus’ response has been justifiably translated “Without Sunday we cannot live,” but its literal meaning is even more astonishing: “Without Sunday, we cannot exist.”

Sustaining Life
Why make such a fuss over a day of the week? Pope Benedict was reflecting on this question years before his elevation to the throne of Peter. For the early persecuted Christians, he wrote in 1996, it was not “a case of choosing between one law and another, but of choosing between the meaning that sustains life and a meaningless life.” [2] We may get a sense of this meaning by applying one of the things that YHWH said about the Hebrew Sabbath to the Christian Sunday: “If thou turn away… from doing thy own will in My holy day, and call the Sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious, and glorify Him… Then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord, and I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth, and will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father.” (Is. 58.13,14).
Note the essential elements of God’s promise: The Lord has established a holy day, and man’s proper response is to: 1) turn away from his own will and conform it to the will of God, 2) delight in that holy day, and 3) glorify God. If these conditions are fulfilled, God will be someone we truly love rather than merely obey, and we will be lifted up above our earthly drudgery and fed with a heavenly inheritance. A proper observance of the Lord’s holy day, in other words, is a life-transforming experience that gives new meaning to our existence. No wonder that as early as the second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch was defining Christians as those “who live in accordance with Sunday.” [3]
Amalia Lindegren, “Sunday Evening in a Farmhouse in Dalecarlia”, 1860
The Christian Sabbath?
As our use of Isaiah would suggest, it is tempting to think of Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath.” One must be careful here, however. While it is true that the duties of the Third Commandment regarding the Sabbath (Saturday) have been transferred to Sunday, Sunday springs not from the Old Covenant but from the Resurrection. The Day of the Resurrection falls on the first day of the week, in which God created light, and thus it marks a new beginning and a new creation. Every Sunday is a little Easter, or better yet, every Easter is a big Sunday. [4] The risen Christ’s sanctification of Sunday was a reality the Church appropriated slowly but surely: in the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christians observed the Jewish Sabbath along with their own services the next day, (18.4; 20.7), but by the time the Book of the Apocalypse was written, St. John could speak of “the Lord’s Day” (1.10) with the expectation that his readers would know exactly what day he was talking about. [5]
Freedom from Servility
Sunday also became a day of rest. In 321 the Emperor Constantine, wishing to extend the same honor to Sunday traditionally accorded to pagan feasts, forbade courts to be in session and most kinds of manual labor. Interestingly, canon law lagged behind civic law in regulating Sunday as a work-free day, though Church officials eventually came to see Sunday, like the Sabbath it replaced, as a way of conforming ourselves to God’s will by refraining from the busywork to which we, laden with cares, become addicted.
Fundamental to this rest is the distinction between servile labor (the kind of work a servant or hired hand does) and liberal activity, that which liberates the soul or is befitting a free man—reading and writing, arts and entertainment, sports and games, hobbies, etc. Hence the 1917 Code of Canon Law forbids on Sundays and holy days of obligation all “servile work, judicial proceedings and, unless legitimate custom or special indults permit them, public trafficking, public markets, and all other public buying and selling” (1248).
The prohibition of servile work had a tremendous impact on Western life, for it meant, among other things, that once a week a slave was his master’s equal. As early as the fourth century, many masters would even release their slaves from work on Saturday so that they could better prepare for the Lord’s Day, a custom that foreshadows our modern weekend. [6] And because a slave’s labor was his own on Sunday, he could eventually earn enough money to buy his freedom. In 1724, King Louis XV of France issued the Code Noir, a set of laws protecting slaves and free persons of color in Louisiana. As a result, many slaves and free blacks could gather every week at the old Congo Square in New Orleans, where they would dance and sing to the beat of an African drum, an instrument banned in most other parts of the Protestant-dominated American South. From this freedom to foster and develop culture came the eventual formation of that uniquely American music: jazz. The joy and genius that springs from Sunday is a perfect illustration of Aristotle’s paradoxical observation that all action begins in contemplation.
E.W. Kemble, Congo Square, 1886
Savoring the Useless
Aristotle privileges contemplation because it is the activity of what is highest in us, our capacity to transcend space, time, and matter and to revel in wonder and discovery. As Joseph Pieper argues in his well-known study Leisure: The Basis of Culture, any attempt to deny this “divine spark” ultimately dehumanizes us, reducing us to mere economic or social units. Servile labor is obviously a good thing, but its prohibition on Sunday reminds us that it is not the highest thing. The servile arts are around because they are useful, but that means we are using them to get to some other, greater good we want more.
A good, on the other hand, that we want for its own sake is something we enjoy: it is choice worthy regardless of its utilitarian value. When I read my favorite author, it is not because he can help me with my job or my relationships or my car problems but because his work brings me delight; it is a joy to read, even if there are no practical applications to be derived from it. All of our useful skills and pursuits are there to serve our enjoyment of what is, strictly speaking, useless.
Sunday rest is therefore an essential weekly reminder of the true hierarchy of goods, an admonition to make sure we are not mistaking the means for the end. In our consumerist society, this is no easy task. For the last three hundred years the West has placed an exorbitant emphasis on productivity and practicality, portraying the useful as good and the useless as bad.
But the Catholic intellectual tradition, lifting a page or two from classical philosophy, sees through the falseness of this view. It affirms that while the useful is indeed good, it is not as good as a certain category of the useless. Man is meant for something far higher than being a mere consumer or producer, as the two giants of capitalism and communism would both have us believe: man is meant to contemplate the face of God and be happy. As the new Catechism succinctly puts it, the Sabbath “is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” (2172). [7] While six days of the week enable us to pay the bills and maybe ensure a decent retirement, Sunday enables us to anticipate the ultimate freedom of enjoying the bliss of the Beatific Vision in eternity.
Sunday, therefore, is a gift that God gives all of us every week to add dignity to our lives and to elevate our natures. And it is our privilege to accept this gift. In the words of Cardinal Faulhaber, “Give the soul its Sunday, and give Sunday its soul.” [8]
Lands Without a Sunday
In the modern era the dramatic increase of white-collar professions and new fields of knowledge sometimes makes it difficult to identify what activities are and are not suitable for Sunday. As Cardinal Newman noted over a century ago, there “are bodily exercises which are liberal, and mental exercises which are not so.” [9] If I practice woodworking as a hobby, I am engaging in the same manual labor as a professional carpenter but in a liberating, non-servile way. Conversely, if I am studying theology (the most liberal of all the arts) in order to meet a publishing deadline, I am taking the liberating luster off of my activity; “for Theology thus exercised,” Newman writes, “is not simple knowledge,” but “an art or a business making use of Theology.” [10] Whatever we do on Sunday, be it with the hand or the mind, we must be careful that it not be “cut down to the strict exigencies” [11] of utilitarian ends but wrought purely for the sake of relaxation and enjoyment.
Sunday’s decline in modern life is not due to an increasingly complex workforce, however. As Pieper notes, the modern doctrine of “total work” has left little room for a genuine celebration of Sunday. This was true even fifty years ago, when Christians of all stripes adhered to the principle of Sunday rest and when civic laws still protected Sunday from consumerist encroachment. [12]
Maria Trapp, inspiration behind the Sound of Music, gives a concrete example of this in her excellent essay, “The Land Without a Sunday.” [13] The title is ostensibly a description of life in the Soviet Union, which ruthlessly suppressed the Lord’s Day, but as becomes clear from reading on, it also applies to contemporary America. [14] The Trapp family, which started preparing for Sunday the day before by refraining from work and reading the texts of the Mass together and then spending the Lord’s Day in joyous leisure, was shocked by what they saw when they came to the U.S. in 1938: Saturday nights spent in revelry and Sunday mornings spent hung over; farmers doing work on the Lord’s Day as on any other; and the bells of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City silent because “it would be too much noise”—in New York City, mind you. [15] “When we lived in a suburb of Philadelphia,” Maria Trapp writes, “we found that the rich man’s Sunday delight seemed to consist of putting on his oldest torn pants and cutting his front lawn, or washing his car with a hose.” [16]
Mrs. Trapp also discovered another cause behind the demise of the traditional Sunday: Calvinism. Her children were stunned when a woman told them how much she “hated Sundays.” The reason, they learned, is that she was brought up in a Puritan household where her mother would lock up all the toys on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, after a long sermon in church, the children were forbidden to play any games, listen to any music, or have any kind of fun. The lady went on to say that she vowed permanent rebellion against this upbringing and would never force her children to go to church.[17]
The Trapp’s friend was not describing an isolated incident. After the Reformation, sports and popular amusements (to say nothing of open pubs) were forbidden in several countries.[18] Sunday was now defined as a time for instruction, not enjoyment.
Calvin preaching, 19th century representation
And alas, the Catholic Church has not fared well in counteracting these tendencies. The post-conciliar allowance of Vigil Masses, some as early as 2:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon,[19] has compromised Sunday’s integrity, while for the past several decades the Magisterium has omitted virtually all references to servile work in discussions on the Lord’s Day: the term has been dropped from the 1983 Code of Canon Low and from the new Catechism. [20] My guess is that there was a concern over confusing servile work and manual labor, yet as we saw with Cardinal Newman’s remarks, the concept of servile work actually clarifies rather than conflates the difference between working with one’s hands and working for a mercenary or utilitarian end.
Guardian Angel Catholic Cathedral in Los Vegas, Nevada, has a 2:30 p.m. Saturday Vigil Mass
Whatever the motive, the absence of the servile/liberal distinction and the concrete parameters that flow from it make it easy for the individual to bend Sunday to his will rather than vice versa and contribute to the deterioration of a more socially-shared observance. The new Catechism, for example, speaks eloquently of Sunday’s purpose and of the fact that “sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort” (2187), yet working in common is more difficult when there is no concrete, common understanding of what should and should not be done. [21]
Take Back the Day
Instead of dwelling on our current “dismal” situation (a word that, incidentally, means “bad day”), I would like to offer five practical suggestions for giving Sunday back its soul.
1. Resist commercial temptations. An attentive casuist might note that since the 1917 Code of Canon Law prohibits "public buying and selling" on Sunday, it is acceptable to shop online in the privacy of one's own boudoir on the Lord's Day. True, but the more we can resist the temptations to earn or spend money on this day, the better. St. Louis Martin, the father of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, refused to open his jewelry shop on Sunday even though his confessor permitted it, nor did he buy anything on the Lord’s Day. One Sunday, when he saw an item he really needed, he asked the vendor to hold it for him until the following day. [22]
2. Agape. The agape meal was the primitive Church’s banquet after the conclusion of the Eucharistic liturgy. The family Sunday dinner, celebrated with extra festivity, is one adaptation of this Apostolic custom (and perhaps in the spirit of relieving the downtrodden, it could be spearheaded by Dad and the kids instead of Mom). Similarly commendable is the coffee-and-donuts hour which many churches offer after Mass. These gatherings foster Catholic fellowship as well as the leisurely quality of the day by discouraging the race-out-of-the-parking-lot mentality so many American Catholics have the moment their Sunday obligation has been fulfilled.
3. More than Mass. Another way to avoid reducing Sunday to one begrudgingly-conceded hour at church is to punctuate it with other forms of prayer. In Europe many churches held Solemn Vespers on Sunday evening, so much so that Sunday dinner was often called the “vesper meal.” Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the family rosary, and the recitation of Lauds and Vespers are other ways of sanctifying the day to God.
4. Attend the Latin Mass. A friend of mine found himself attending the Latin Mass several years after his conversion. It was at that point, he told me, that the concept of a “Sunday obligation” no longer made sense to him. He could not see Sunday Mass as an obligation any more: it was instead the highpoint of his week, the one thing he really looked forward to. There is something about the traditional Latin Mass, especially the High Mass, that slips the surly bonds of necessity or compulsion, of utilitarianism or functionality. It is there to be enjoyed, to give us an experience of Heaven. Pope Benedict spoke of how the “Sunday precept is not… an externally imposed duty, a burden on our shoulders” but “a joy.” [23] For more than a few Catholics, this joy comes easy to see thanks to the Latin Mass. And my friend, incidentally, is now a priest for the Institute of Christ the King.
5. Fill your day with merriment. Plan games for your children and find fun ways to bring the sacred meaning of the day to their level. When my children were young, we had “sacred theatre,” which is something like a puppet show of the Epistle and Gospel readings performed with homemade cardboard cutouts. Another personal recommendation is reading Pieper’s Leisure: the Basis of Culture. [24] Early in our marriage, my wife and I would read chapters of it to each other after we came home from Mass and brunch with friends. It is one of my happiest memories of our salad days. And how fitting to learn the theory of leisure while practicing it.
The nineteenth-century poet Ahad Ha’am is said to have made the famous observation, “As much as the Jews kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept the Jews.” No doubt something similar can be said of Catholics and the Lord’s Day. Nowadays Sunday is honored, even by practicing Catholics, more in the breach than in the observance, and the only ones that seem to have responded to the Pope’s admonitions are a splinter-group of Seventh Day Adventists worried that this ominously signals a return to the Holy Roman Empire.[25] While there may not be easy answers for the proper way to observe the Lord’s Day in the contemporary age, one thing is clear: The first step to any recovery, not just of the liturgical year but of the Catholic life of faith, is the reconquista of Sunday.

An earlier version of this article appeared as “Undoing the Dismal: Liberating Sunday’s Soul,” The Latin Mass magazine 18:2 (Spring 2009), pp. 32-35. Many thanks to the editors of TLM for allowing its publication here.

[1] Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, 24th National Eucharistic Congress, Bari, Italy, 29 May 2005.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Holy Thursday 2023 Photopost (Part 1)

We continue our regular series of photoposts of your liturgies of the Triduum. As is usually the case, it’s a slow process to gather all the albums together, select the photos among the larger albums, size them down, etc., but we will get to them all eventually (hopefully before the Ascension!) As always, many thanks to the contributors for keeping up the good work of evangelizing through beauty.
Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar – São João del Rei, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Chrism Mass celebrated by H.E. Bishop José Eudes Campos do Nascimento

Two Royal Psalters

One of the things that always impresses me in the study of the liturgy is the continuity which one can see over enormous distances in time, and here is a small but interesting example. The first set of pictures is taken from a Psalter made in the palace of Charles the Bald, a grandson of Charlemagne who ruled as King of the Western Franks from 840-77, and Holy Roman Emperor for the last 2 years of his life. An invocation is added to the Litany of the Saints, “that Thou may deign to preserve our spouse Ermentrude,” which dates the manuscript between her marriage to Charles in 842, and her death in 869. The name of the copyist and illuminator, Liuthard, is known from his signature at the end of the manuscript: “Hic calamus facto Liuthardi fine quievit. – Here the pen of Liuthard rested when the end was reached.”

The wooden covers are mounted with cabochons in metal frames, surrounding carved ivory plaques; the plaque on the front represents God protecting the soul of King David from various adversities. (Bibliothèque National de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 1152)
King David, with four of the other persons named by the titles of the Psalms as their authors, Asaph, Heman, Ethan and Idithun.
A portrait of Charles the Bald, with the hand of God reaching down to bless him. The inscription at top reads, “Since Charles sits crowned in great honor, he is like Josiah, and the equal of Theodosius.”
“The noble translator and priest Jerome, being nobly able, transcribed the laws of David.” The tradition of showing St Jerome as a cardinal has of course not yet arisen in the 9th century, and he is here shown as a Benedictine monk.
“The Book of Psalms begins.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

A Rogation Day Procession in Paris

The church of St Eugène in Paris always celebrates the liturgy in an exemplary fashion, and not only because our friends of the Schola Sainte Cécile are the in-house choir, and sing such beautiful music, always appropriately chosen for the liturgical day. The church also makes a great effort to preserve the best of the liturgical traditions of its city and nation, as, for example, in the celebration of Vespers on Easter according to the old medieval form, which we have highlighted previously. Yesterday offered another very good example of this; during the Rogation procession, they carried several relics, including a classic palanquin for a large reliquary.

The program of the entire ceremony (in Latin and French) can be seen here: There are three musical parts at the Mass which are also particularly worth noting.

- During the incensation at the Offertory (1:12:00), the choir sings one of the most ancient surviving liturgical texts of all, a litany composed by St Martin of Tours, and used in the ancient Gallican Rite. (Explained in greater detail in an article by Henri de Villiers, the head of the Schola.)
- At the distribution of Communion (1:30:54), the choir sings a processional antiphon for the Major Litanies, formerly used also in the Roman Rite, and maintained in the Use of Paris. As noted in the program, this was sung by St Augustine of Canterbury and his companions when they processed into the city in 597 to present themselves to King Ethelbert of Kent. “Deprecamur te, Domine, in omni misericordia tua, ut auferatur furor tuus et ira tua a civitate ista, et de domo sancta tua, quoniam peccavimus, alleluia. - We beseech Thee, o Lord, that Thy furor and wrath be taken away from this city, and from Thy holy house, for we have sinned, alleluia.”
- At the recessional (1:40:12), another such antiphon is sung: “De Jerusalem exeunt reliquiae, et salvatio de monte Sion; propterea protectio erit huic civitati, et salvabitur propter David, famulum ejus, alleluia. - From Jerusalem shall go forth the remnants (‘reliquiae’ - also ‘relics), and salvation from Mount Zion, wherefore, this city shall have protection, and shall be saved for the sake of David, his servant, alleluia.”

The Solemnity of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church 2023

Regarding the various graces conferred upon a rational creature, it is the general rule that whenever the divine grace chooses someone for a particular grace, or for a particular exalted state, it also endows that person with all the gifts of grace which are necessary for the person so chosen, and for the duty (to which he is called), and does so in abundance. This is most especially verified in the case of Saint Joseph, the putative father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and true spouse of the Queen of the world, and Lady of Angels. He was chosen by the Eternal Father as the faithful protector and guardian of His chief treasures, namely, His Son, and Joseph’s own Wife. This duty Joseph discharged most faithfully, wherefore the Lord hath said to him: Good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

St Joseph and the Infant Christ, by Juan Antonio Frias y Escalante, 1660-65
Remember us, therefore, o blessed Joseph, and by the support of thy prayers, intercede for us with thy supposed Son! And also make gracious to us thy Virgin Spouse, the Mother of Him Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth though all ages. Amen. (From the sermon at Matins, by St Bernardin of Siena.)

The feast of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, was originally called “the Patronage of St Joseph,” and fixed to the Third Sunday after Easter. It was kept by a great many dioceses and religious orders, particularly promoted by the Carmelites, before it was extended to the universal Church by Bl. Pope Pius IX in 1847, and later granted an octave. When the custom of fixing feasts to particular Sundays was abolished as part of the Breviary reform of Pope St Pius X, it was anticipated to the previous Wednesday, the day of the week traditionally dedicated to Patron Saints. It was removed from the general Calendar in 1955 and replaced by the feast of St Joseph the Worker, one of the least fortunate aspects of the pre-Conciliar liturgical changes; the new feast itself was then downgraded from the highest of three grades (first class) in the 1962 Missal to the lowest of four (optional memorial) in 1970.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The Major Litanies in the Ambrosian Rite

The Rogations traditionally held on April 25th are known as the “Major Litanies” or “Greater Rogations”, even though they were instituted later than the Minor Litanies, and are held on only one day, as opposed to three. This is because they are specifically Roman in origin, established by Pope St Gregory the Great in 590, at the very beginning of his papacy, while the Lesser Rogations were instituted in Gaul around 470, but came to Rome only in the Carolingian period. In the Roman Rite, they consist of the Litany of the Saints, which is sung during the Procession, and a Mass, which is the same as that said on the Minor Litanies.

Even though the Ambrosian liturgy adopted this tradition from Rome, its liturgical texts for these days are rather more developed. Each of the four Rogation days has its own version of the Litany of the Saints; each of the three days of the Lesser Rogations has its own Mass, but on April 25th, the votive Mass “for penance” is said. I shall here give the liturgical texts for the Major Litanies, along with the rubrics for their public celebration, from an edition published by the Archdiocese of Milan in 1733.

After the celebration of the Mass of St Mark, the clergy and people gather at the cathedral, and proceed from there to the basilica of St Nabor, which by the 18th century was in the care of the Franciscans, and rededicated to their Patron Saint. The archbishop, wearing violet vestments, stands before the altar, and begins the rite with “Dominus vobiscum”, after which the archdeacon intones the following antiphon, which is continued by the choir.

Domine Deus virtutum, Deus Is-
rael, qui eduxisti populum tuum
de terra Aegypti, et fecisti tibi
nomen gloriae, peccavimus, im-
pie egimus, iniquitatem fecimus;
miserere nobis, Salvator mundi.
O Lord God of hosts, God of Isra-
el, who led Thy people out of the
land of Egypt, and made for Thy-
self a glorious name; we have
sinned, we have done wickedly;
we have wrought iniquity; have
mercy on us, o Savior of the

The procession then makes its way to the basilica of St Victor, accompanied by the following processional antiphons. These are sung in alternation by the college of lectors, and the “mazzeconici”, as they were called, an Italian/Milanese corruption of “magister canonicus - master canon”. These were a group of cantors assigned to the two chapters of the cathedral specifically to maintain a high level of liturgical chant. (Our dear departed friend Mons. Angelo Amodeo came into the chapter of the Duomo as a “mazzeconico.”) The second of these is the same text that forms the Introit of Ash Wednesday in the Roman Rite.

An Ambrosian mazzeconico
Peccavimus ante te, Deus, ne
des nos in opprobrium, propter
nomen tuum, quia tu es Domi-
nus, Deus noster, quem propiti-
um exspectamus.
We have sinned before Thee, o God,
give us not unto reproach, for Thy
name’s sake, for Thou are the Lord,
our God, whom we await to show us
Misereris omnium Domine, et
nihil odisti eorum quae fecisti,
dissimulans peccata hominum
propter paenitentiam, et parcens
illis: quia tu es Dóminus, Deus
Thou hast mercy on all, O Lord, and
hate none of the things which Thou
hast made, overlooking the sins of
men for the sake of repentance, and
sparing them: because Thou art the
Lord our God.
Qui fecisti magnalia in Aegyp-
to, mirabilia in terra Cham, ter-
ribilia in Mari Rubro, non tra-
das nos in manus gentium, nec
dominentur nobis, qui oderunt
Thou who didst great things in Egypt,
wondrous deeds in the land of Cham,
terrible things at the Red Sea, deliver
us not into the hands of the nations,
nor let them rule over us that hate us.
Circumdederunt nos mala, quo-
rum non est numerus; da nobis
auxilium de tribulatione; opera
manuum tuarum ne despicias,
Evils have surrounded us, that have
no number; grant us help in our tribu-
lation; despise not the works of Thy
hands, o Lord.
Si fecissemus praecepta tua, Do-
mine, habitassemus cum securi-
tate et pace omni tempore vitae
nostrae; nunc quoniam peccavi-
mus, supervenerunt in nos om-
nes tribulationes; pius es, Domi-
ne, miserere nobis, et dona re-
medium populo tuo, Deus Israel.
If we had followed Thy precepts, o
Lord, we would have dwelt in secur-
ity and peace all the time of our life;
now, because we have sinned, every
tribulation has come upon us; holy art
Thou, o Lord, have mercy on us, and
give remedy, to Thy people, o God
of Israel.
Iniquitates nostras agnoscimus,
Domine; petimus deprecantes te,
remitte nobis, Domine, peccata
We recognize our iniquities, o Lord,
we ask Thee beseechingly; forgive us
our sins, o Lord.
Vide, Domine, afflictionem po-
puli tui, quoniam amara est ni-
mis; humiliati enim sumus pro
peccatis nostris; exaudi nos,
qui es in caelis, quoniam non
est alius praeter te, Domine.
See the affliction of Thy people, o
Lord, for it is exceedingly bitter, for
we are laid low for our sins; hear us,
Who art in heaven, for there is no
other beside Thee, o Lord.
Liberator noster de gentibus ira-
cundis, ab insurgentibus in nos
libera nos, Domine.
Our deliverer from the wrathful
nations, from them that rise up
against us, deliver us, o Lord.
At the church of St Victor, the mazzeconici sing “Kyrie eleison” three times in a lower voice; this is repeated by the “vecchioni - old men (or) elders”, a group of laymen who participated in a formal way in many services in the Ambrosian liturgy. The readers with the head of their college then sing “Kyrie eleison” three times in a higher voice, which is also repeated by the vecchioni.

A “vecchione” in the white garment which the members of the college wore during Pontifical Mass in the Duomo. At the Offertory, they presented offerings of bread and wine, seen here in his hands, which were used at a later Mass.
The cantors begin the litany of the Saints, which in the Ambrosian Rite is introduced by three repetitions of “Domine, miserere – Lord, have mercy”, three of “Christe, libera nos - Christ, deliver us”, and three of “Salvator, libera nos – o Savior, deliver us.” The names of the Saints are then sung by the cantors, to which all others answer, repeating the names and adding “intercede pro nobis.” (“Sancta Maria. – Sancta Maria, intercede pro nobis.”) In the Roman Rite, the list of the Saints is always the same, although local Saints may be added by immemorial custom; in the Ambrosian Rite, the Saints named in the litany change from one occasion to another.

On this day, after the Virgin Mary, the three Archangels are named, followed by the Apostles Peter, Paul, Andrew, and Mark, whose feast day it is; the martyrs Stephen, Felix, Fortunatus and Victor; then Pope Urban I, Tiburtius, Valerian and Cecilia. (The martyrdom of Cecilia, her betrothed Tiburtius, and his brother Valerian took place in the days of Pope Urban, 222-230; the brothers’ feast is on April 14.) There follows a group of bishops, including St Gregory, who instituted the Greater Rogations, St Satyrus, the brother of St Ambrose, then Galdinus, Charles Borromeo, and Ambrose, who always conclude the litanies in the Ambrosian Rite. The litany ends with three repetitions of “Exaudi, Christe. R. Voces nostras. Exaudi, Deus. R. Et miserere nobis.”, (Hear, o Christ, our voices. Hear o God, and have mercy on us.), and three Kyrie eleisons.

At the conclusion of the Litany, the archbishop sings the following Collect. “Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, cui sine fine potestas est miserendi, preces humilitatis nostrae placatus intende: ut quod delictorum nostrorum catena constringit, a tua nobis misericordia relaxetur. Per. – Almighty and everlasting God, that hast power without end to show mercy, be appeased and harken to the prayers of our low estate: so that what the chain of our sins bindeth may be loosed for us by Thy mercy.”

The deacon hebdomadary, the canon assigned to serve as deacon at the capitular services that week, then intones a responsory. (The Ambrosian Rite very frequently assigns specific chants to specific persons or groups within the chapter.)

R. Te deprecamur, Domine, * qui es misericors et pius, esto nobis propitius. V. Domine, exaudi orationem nostram, et clamor noster ad te perveniat. Qui es... – R. We beseech Thee, o Lord, * who art merciful and holy, be merciful unto us. V. O Lord, hear our prayer, and let our cry come unto Thee. Who art...

The high altar of the church of St Victor. (Image from Wikipedia by Carlo dell’Orto; CC BY-SA 3.0)
The procession then goes from the altar of St Victor to that of St Gregory, as the lector and mazzeconici sing another group of penitential antiphons. The first of these has the same text as the famous antiphon for the Nunc dimittis in the Dominican Office which always moved St Thomas to tears.

Media vita in morte sumus;
quem quærimus adjutórem, nisi
te, Domine? qui pro peccatis
nostris juste irásceris. Sancte
Deus, Sancte fortis, Sancte
misericors Salvator, amarae
morti ne tradas nos.
In the midst of life, we are in death;
whom shall we seek to help us, if not
Thee, o Lord, who art justly wroth for
our sins. Holy God, holy mighty one,
holy immortal one, hand us not over
to bitter death.
Domine, inclina aurem tuam et
audi; respice de caelo, et vide
gemitum nostrum, et de manu
mortis libera nos.
O Lord, incline Thy ear, and hear;
look down from heaven, and see
our groaning, and deliver us from
the hand of death.
Exsurge, libera, Deus, de manu
mortis, et ne infernus rapiat
nos, ut leo, animas nostras.
Arise, deliver our souls, God, from
the hand of death, lest hell take us,
like a lion.
Cor nostrum conturbatum est,
Domine, et formido mortis céci-
dit super nos; ad tuam pietatem
concurrimus: ne perdas pecca-
tores, misericors.
Our heart is troubled, o Lord, and the
fear of death hath fallen upon us;
we run to Thy mercy, destroy not the
sinners, merciful one.
Domine Deus, miserere, quia anni
nostri in gemitibus consumati
sunt, et mors furibunda succedit;
Domine, libera nos.
Lord God, have mercy, for our years
are consumed in groaning, and furi-
ous death cometh after; o Lord, de-
liver us.

At the altar of St Gregory, twelve Kyries are sung as above, followed by a second Litany of the Saints, shorter than the first one. The Saints named are the Virgin Mary, the Archangels, John the Baptist, the same Apostles as above, the martyrs Stephen, Saturninus, Savinus, Protus, Januarius, the bishops Martin and Gregory, Galdinus, Charles and Ambrose. This also concludes with a Collect, which specifically refers to St Gregory. “Infirmitatem nostram respice, omnipotens Deus, et quia pondus propriae actionis gravat, beati Gregorii Pontificis tui intercessio gloriosa nos protegat. Per. – Look upon our infirmity, almighty God, and since the weight of our actions beareth heavy upon us, may the glorious intercession of Thy bishop Gregory protect us.”

The deacon hebdomadary then intones another responsory.

R. Rogamus te, Domine Deus, quia peccavimus tibi; veniam petimus, quam non meremur; * manum tuam porrige lapsis, qui latroni confitenti paradisi januas aperuisti. V. Vita nostra in dolore suspirat, et in opere non emendat, si exspectas, non corripimur, et si vindicas, non duramus. Manum tuam... – R. We beseech Thee, o Lord God, because we have sinned against Thee; we ask for forgiveness, which we do not deserve. * Stretch forth Thy hand to the fallen, Thou who didst open the doors of paradise to the thief that confessed. V. Our life suspireth in sorrow, and emendeth not in works; if Thou await us, we are not reproved, and if Thou take vengeance, we cannot endure it. Stretch forth...

Twelve Kyries are sung once again, followed by the Agnus Dei, alternated between the readers and the mazzeconici.

V. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
R. Gloria Patri. Sicut erat.
V. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
R. Sucipe deprecationem nostram, qui sedes ad dexteram Patris.
V. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
R. Kyrie, eleison. Kyrie, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.
The standard conclusion of most Ambrosian ceremonies is said, after which the canon observer (“observator”), who will serve as hebdom the following week, says the Votive Mass for penance, at which the Archbishop preaches.

St Charles Borromeo leading a procession with the relic of the Holy Nail during the great plague which struck Milan in 1576-7. St Gregory the Great originally introduced the Greater Rogations at Rome to beg God’s mercy and the end to a plague. (Painting by Giovan Mauro della Rovere, also known as ;“il Fiamminghino - the little Fleming”, since his father was born in Antwerp.)

Catholic Education Foundation Seminar 2023: The Role of the Priest in Today’s Catholic School

July 11-13 at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center, North Palm Beach, Florida
St John Baptist de La Salle

I am indebted, once again, to Fr Peter Stravinskas of the Catholic Education Foundation for the following information about this wonderful annual event intended primarily for bishops, priests and seminarians. I attended last year as a speaker and found it to be inspiring and full of hope. This offers practical advice and support priests who are involved in or have an interest in orthodox Catholic education. Here is the information that Fr Peter gave to me about this year’s conference. 

The Catholic Education Foundation invites bishops, priests and seminarians to participate in an intensive and comprehensive three-day seminar The Role of the Priest in Today’s Catholic School.

For whom? Clergy who are pastors, parochial vicars, or those directly involved in the elementary or secondary school apostolate (or who wish to be) – as well as seminarians. 
When? From 4:00 p.m., July 11 to 4:00 p.m., July 13, 2023 
Where? Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center, North Palm Beach (a ten-minute ride from West Palm Beach Airport) 
The Team: 
  • Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. (President, CEF) 
  • Michael Acquilano (Chief Operating Officer, Diocese of Charleston) 
  • Sister Elizabeth Ann Allen, OP, Ed.D. (Director, Center for Catholic Education, Aquinas College, Nashville) 
  • Rev. John Belmonte, SJ (Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Venice) 
  • Rev. Robert-Charles Bengry (Pastor, Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Calgary) 
  • David Bonagura (Regis High School, New York) 
  • Most Rev. Thomas Daly (Bishop of Spokane; Chairman, USCCB Committee on Education) 
  • Rev. Michael Davis (Pastor, Archdiocese of Miami) 
  • Mary Pat Donoghue (Executive Director, Secretariat of Catholic Education, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) 
  • Julie Enzler (Principal, Cathedral High School, Houston/ Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) 
  • Most Rev. Arthur Kennedy, Ph.D. (Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Boston) 
  • Rev. James Kuroly, Ed.D. (President/Rector, Cathedral Prep, Brooklyn) 
  • Alexis Kutarna (Director of Sacred Music, Cathedral High School, Houston/ Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) 
  • Dr. Sebastian Mahfood (President, En Route Books and Media) 
  • Dr. Gregory Monroe (Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Charlotte) 
  • Rev. Christopher Peschel (Pastor & Central School Board, Diocese of Fall River) 
  • Brother Owen Sadlier, OSF (Professor of Philosophy, St. Joseph Seminary, Archdiocese of New York)
  • Rev. Msgr. Joseph Schaedel (Pastor, Archdiocese of Indianapolis) 
  • Lincoln Synder (President, National Catholic Educational Association) 
  • Dr. Susan Trasancos (Vice-President of the Board, Chief Research Officer, Children of God for Life)
  • Rev. Patrick York (Pastor, Diocese of Wichita) 
How much? $650 (all-inclusive); $550 for registrations before May 31 
The CEF – convinced by history and the present reality – believes that the viability of our Catholic schools is largely dependent on the support and involvement of our priests. Our seminar will include workshops dealing with the following topics: 
 • Conciliar and Papal Teaching on Catholic Education 
 • The History of Catholic Education in the United States 
 • The Priest’s Presence in the School Community (Students, Faculty, Administration, Parents)
 • The Priest as the Public Relations Man of the School 
 • Financial Concerns 
 • Models of Governance and Best Practices 
For further information, call 732-903-5213 or email

Monday, April 24, 2023

An Advertising Specialist Diagnoses the Church’s Modern Communication Failure

The following remarkable speech was given in 1977 by Alex Periscinoto (1925–2021), the greatest Brazilian publicist of his time, to the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (Confêrencia Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil, CNBB). Only twelve years after the end of the Second Vatican Council, the bishops no longer knew how to evangelize and were looking for a way to stop the flight of the laity from the Church. They asked Periscinoto, the “pope” of advertising, to help them (source in Portuguese). Admittedly the speech has the limitations one would expect from a secular professional, but it’s another remarkable example of how both the educated and the successful—not only the “traditionalists”—were documenting how the Church after the Council was destroying itself through incompetence and infidelity.

Speech to the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (1977)

We—communication professionals—have found that there is a lot to thank you for, since all the working tools that we use today in communication were invented by religious people. If you don’t believe me, let’s consider it.

The first mass communication vehicle invented, the strongest of all, was the bell. The bell that had a message in its clanging reached, in the era of the villages, eighty or ninety per cent of the small towns. It not only reached the people but changed the physical and mental behavior of eighty, ninety per cent of the villages every time it rang, and spread its messages in a unique way. Before the bell came the town crier, who was nothing more than a very shabby direct mail.

After this great vehicle of mass communication (continuing in this analogy of ours), you religious people invented a tool that communication uses a lot today: the display. We use displays to highlight information. When all the roofs of the villages were low, you built a very high roof, four or five times higher and in the shape of a spike, and this was not to make it easier for the snow to drop off the roof because you continued to follow this architectural design in places where there was no snow. This was so that the church tower could be seen in the distance as soon as you entered the village. By this display, we could easily locate the church.

More than this, you invented the first logo, the happiest of them all: the cross. The cross that no one ever forgot to put at the top of the display and that allowed not only its identification as a church, but also its belonging to a “brand,” to that specific religion, and not to a competing brand. You invented a rich logo like that—a logo so good that Hitler took it for himself, put four tails on it, and almost won the war with that logo.

You have invented still more things from the world of communication. Today, one of the most precious tools to use in campaigns—useful at the time of planning, in order to find the right text to say, to the right audience, at the right time—is research; without research, it is crazy to venture to say anything. The first known research department was invented by you: the confessional. The confessional, my mother still thinks, was made only for forgiveness; you religious people know that the confessional was invented to gather information. It was then a holy research department. I say holy because today, when we do any kind of research, it is possible that the person will lie to us; but in the holy research department the information was not only spontaneous, it was necessary and true. That is why the priest, in the era of the villages, was the major advisor, greater than the political advisor. There, in the nave of the church, at sermon time, you could shape the message to the main complaints of that week, give a word of comfort, a reassurance.

Then my mother, who didn’t know any of this, gets something very rewarding from her research department. For example, if I want to rebuild myself from the inside out, I go to an psychoanalyst, I pay a thousand dollars, and he helps me a little bit; but my mother goes to a confessional, she comes away rebuilt from the inside out, she comes away relieved and forgiven—something that no analyst can do, even if you pay twice as much. This by-product that the confessional gives my mother is very helpful for its clientele.

There is more to this whole communication machine that religious people have invented. We could say that the promotional event was also a religious invention; what, after all, is a procession that closes down a country town with a festival, if not a promotion for the day of Our Lady, a promotion for the day of St. George, etc.? A religious promotion! We do promotions that have much of what you have taught us: there is a banner, there is a flag, there are special clothes, there is a commercial mystique.

You have changed the system of the Mass. The Mass is no longer in Latin and the priest no longer has his back to the faithful. I have very bad news for you. My mother never thought that you had your back to her; she thought that you were facing God, and she liked Latin (although she didn’t understand the words well) because it was a mystical language that made you understand God. In my opinion, this change was a tremendous mistake.

But my point is that all this communication machinery that you invented was not for nothing. You didn’t invent bells and all that stuff, which I call religious packaging, just for nothing. No, you had the same problem that we have now: you had something to propagate, your product was called faith.

I have good news for you: this product, faith, is in short supply in the market. But today you no longer propagate faith; today what we see is much more the fights between bishops, the fights between you and the government, than the product you manufacture. Faith was what my mother used to go to church for. Today, all the trouble in the Church is like an ice-cream company that stops advertising ice cream and starts advertising the fights of the board of directors. This leads to nothing.

This reminds me of a little story I heard some time ago in the United States. There was a guy who had a store across the street from another store. He would put nylon stockings on sale at $1.50, and then the other would put the same stockings on sale for $1.35, but neither sold more stockings than the other. They weren’t going to sell any more anyway, so long as they were running both stores at the same time. [I take it the meaning here is that putting faith “on sale” at a cut rate, as the Church seemed to be doing after the council by dumbing things down and letting up on requirements, was not actually going to succeed in “selling” the product more than if the price had been kept higher.—PK]

It is up to the government to do the government’s job. I think that the product you manufacture is independent of the economic class of the customer.

I want to propose to you another line of reasoning. You don’t look favorably on the consumer society, but maybe you should see television as the bell of today, because your bell does not work anymore in the cities. A mere observer can see that your tower—the display of the spire—is now hidden among many other towers with red lights on top. The research of the confessional is deactivated because the clientele has not been renewed; you have no fresh audience. If by some chance the young people discover that they can live without the Church, then things will get really bad.

Your audience is divided into three segments. The ones who need faith first, even before food, are the sick, but this, fortunately, is a minority. The second market segment is the elderly, over seventy or whatever; they change their behavior, and start to want to have faith. But the huge contingent that maybe you are having a hard time reaching are children, youth, and adults who represent eighty to ninety per cent—this public is the one that is more or less difficult because you have to figure out how to talk to them, where, and when.

That is why I keep repeating that maybe television is the proper vehicle. In this country where everything is of heterogeneous distribution, the only thing in common that spreads in a bigger way in the country is mass communication, because my Silvio Santos [Brazilian tycoon and television host] is the same as the man in the periphery. If this is true, some action must be taken. Through communication, we receive things that fill a void. Playboy was very successful in the USA because it showed Americans exactly what they did not have. In the USA, TV series about doctors are also successful because it is very rare to have a private doctor there; this is called filling emptinesses through communication. And it is a great communication trick. Another communication trick is used in wrestling: there is an ugly guy and a handsome guy, and the ugly guy already creates an atmosphere of terror. We identify with the one who suffers, the handsome one who is always losing, until the moment he turns the game around. Most soap operas are more or less like this.

All of that is a parallel to illustrate a little bit the tricks of communication. What to do? No X-ray plate tells you what you should do; it just tells you how things are. Spreading faith is not simply praying a Mass at 8 a.m. on Globo [a TV channel]; it is selling a content called faith. Something that makes the client believe in what the Church can do for him.

* * *

Periscinoto’s speech reminds me of the words of Joseph Campbell, a fallen-away Catholic who, in his interview book The Power of Myth, lamented the way the Church was undermining religion:
There has been a reduction of ritual. Even in the Roman Catholic Church, they’ve translated the Mass out of the ritual language and into a language with domestic associations. The Latin of the Mass was a language that threw you out of the field of domesticity. The altar was turned around so that the priest’s back was to you, and with him you addressed yourself outward. Now they have turned the altar around and it looks like Julia Child giving a cooking demonstration—all homey and cozy… They have forgotten that the function of ritual is to pitch you out, not to wrap you back in where you have been all the time.
Fr Dwight Longenecker commented as follows about the sad story of Campbell, which is the story of many others who left the Church for similar reasons:
Campbell was brought up as a Catholic, but after the second Vatican Council he left the Catholic Church in disgust. He had come to appreciate the power of myth with its ability to reach into the subconscious and connect with the deepest parts of the human personality. He also realized that the Catholic Church was the one religious body in the West that still maintained a ritual sacrificial system, a hierophantic priesthood and the ceremonies and rites of mystery. He understood how these rites were connected with and made applicable the truths and the symbols of myth.
       Then he said the Catholic Church went and threw it all out the window. Furthermore, they threw it out the window at exactly the time that it was needed most. He saw that America had been Protestantized and with Protestantism the religion of mystery, myth and ceremony that drew on the deepest recesses of the human imagination was emasculated. The ceremony was replaced with dull, literal Biblicism and the sacraments were replaced with a utilitarian, bland therapeutic Deism. The mysterious temples to the Divine Son of God were replaced with bare preaching halls devoid of symbol, devoid of art, devoid of beauty, devoid of the ancient faith.
       Feeling abandoned by his own religion he abandoned the religion.
       This story unlocks one of the most maddening and frustrating things about the Catholic Church in the twentieth century. At just the time when our culture needed the depth of Catholic worship, ritual, beauty, art and liturgy the Catholic Church went in the other direction. In an attempt to be up to date they were actually half a century too late.
If the rulers of the Church will not respect tradition; will not hear the cries of the faithful; will not pay heed even to the secular professionals who are pointing out their folly; what—who—are they listening to, and why do they seem bent on doing everything that will undermine their “product”?

Visit my Substack “Tradition & Sanity.”

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Good Shepherd Sunday 2023

Alleluia, I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my sheep, and mine know me, alleluja. (The second Alleluia of Good Shepherd Sunday.)

The Good Shepherd, by Cristóbal García Salmerón (1603-66), originally painted for the church of St Genesius in Arles, France, now in the Prado Museum in Madrid. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
Alleluja, Ego sum pastor bonus, et cognosco oves meas, et cognoscunt me meae, alleluia.

n the Ambrosian Rite, the Gospel for today is St John’s account of the Baptism of Christ, chapter 1, 29-34, which the Roman Rite reads on the octave of Epiphany. In the oldest Ambrosian lectionary, the Gospels for the Sundays between Low Sunday and the Ascension continue the instruction of those who were baptized at Easter, and are centered on the figure of Christ. Today John calls him “the Lamb of God”, and on the following Sunday (John 1, 15-28), “the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father.” On the next two Sundays, Christ speaks of Himself as “the light of the world” (John 8, 12-20) and “the way, the truth and the light (John 14, 1-14).” In the Carolingian era, when the Ambrosian Rite underwent a significant Romanization, the latter three were replaced with the traditional Roman Gospels for these Sundays, but the Gospel of today remained; it is accompanied by the following particularly beautiful preface.

John the Baptist Indicates the Lamb of God to Ss Peter and Andrew; fresco by Domenico Zampieri (1581-1641), generally known as Domenichino, in the ceiling of the apse of the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome, 1622-28. (Image by AlfvanBeem released to the public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.)
VD... Aeterne Deus: Qui omnia mundi elementa fecisti, et varias disposuisti témporum vices: atque hómini ad tuam imáginem cóndito, universa simul animantia, rerumque mirácula subjecisti. Cui licet orígo terréna sit: tamen, regeneratióne Baptísmatis, caelestis ei vita confertur. Nam devicto mortis auctóre, immortalitátis est gratiam consecútus: et, praevaricatiónis erróre quassáto, viam réperit veritátis. Per Christum.

Truly ... eternal God: Who made all the elements of the world, and arranged the various changes of time, and subjected to man, who was made in Thy image, all living things, and the wonders of creation. And though his origin is of earth, nonetheless, the life of heaven is conferred upon him in the regeneration of baptism. For then the author of death was conquered, he obtained the grace of immortality, and when the error of his transgression was broken, he found the way of truth. Through Christ...

In the Byzantine Rite, today is called the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women from its Gospel, Mark 15, 43 – 16, 8. In the first part of this reading, Joseph of Arimathea requests from Pilate and receives the body of the Lord for burial, wraps Him in the shroud, and lays Him in the tomb; in the second (which the Roman Rite reads on Easter itself, minus the last verse), the women come to the tomb to anoint the body, and meet the angel who tells them that He has risen, and bids them go tell the disciples.

A fresco of the Myrrh-Bearing Women in the Dionysiou Monastery on Mt Athos.
At Matins of Holy Saturday, which is usually sung on the evening of Good Friday, the first set of proper chants at the beginning of the service is based on this Gospel. (The traditional setting in Church Slavonic is one of the best loved and most moving pieces of music among the Slavs.)
The noble Joseph took down from the Cross Thy spotless Body, and when he had wrapped It in a clean shroud with spices, he laid It for burial in a new sepulchre. – Glory be.
When Thou went down to death, o immortal Life, then didst Thou slay Hades by the brightness of the Godhead; and when Thou raised up the dead from the netherworld, all the powers of heaven cried out, ‘Christ our God, Giver of life, glory to Thee.’ – Now and ever.
The angel stood by the tomb and cried to the myrrh-bearing women, ‘Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has been shown free from corruption.’

 At Vespers of the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, these same chants are sung at the end, but the first two change places, and the second and third have additions (marked here with *) which make them more appropriate for the Easter season.

When Thou went down to death, o immortal Life, then didst Thou slay Hades by the brightness of the Godhead; and when Thou raised up the dead from the netherworld, all the powers of heaven cried out, ‘Christ our God, Giver of life, glory to Thee.’ – Glory be.
The noble Joseph took down from the Cross Thy spotless Body, and when he had wrapped It in a clean shroud with spices, he laid It for burial in a new sepulchre; * but Thou didst rise on the third day, o Lord, granting great mercy to the world. – Now and ever.
The angel stood by the tomb and cried to the myrrh-bearing women, “Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has been shown free from corruption. * But cry out, ‘The Lord is risen, granting great mercy to the world!’ ”

This video includes only the first one, which has a rather more cheerful melody in its Paschal version.

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