Saturday, May 27, 2023

Historical Images of the Chartres Pilgrimage, from Sharon Kabel

Since today is the first day of the Chartres pilgrimage, we are very pleased to share with our readers some more of the fascinating research work of Mrs Sharon Kabel, who has put together this wonderful collection of historical documentations of past pilgrimages, going back nearly 100 years. (I am sure our readers have already heard that this year, for the first time ever, the number of people enrolled was so high that the organizers had to close registrations.) Félicitations à tous les pélérins!

From Sharon: To start off, here’s a photo from the 1948 pilgrimage. (from The Catholic World in Pictures, 18 June 1948:
We can thank the poet Charles Peguy for reviving the pilgrimage in the 1910s (not in 1935, as the clipping says... Peguy was long dead by then.) The 1955 pilgrimage allegedly had 14,000 pilgrims and two Masses at the end! (from The Catholic Standard and Times, Volume 60, Number 35, 27 May 1955,
1933 - over 5,000 pilgrims. (Catholic News Service - Newsfeeds, 15 May 1933,
I leave American newspapers behind, and turn to the website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Here’s an announcement for the 1955 pilgrimage in the publication Cité chrétienne. (Cité chrétienne: bulletin trimestriel des chrétiens: anciens résidents de la Cité Universitaire. 1955-05-01.

The Vigil of Pentecost 2023

In those days: the morning watch was come, and behold the Lord looking upon the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, slew their host. And overthrew the wheels of the chariots, and they were carried into the deep. And the Egyptians said: Let us flee from Israel: for the Lord fighteth for them against us. And the Lord said to Moses: Stretch forth thy hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and horsemen. And when Moses had stretched forth his hand towards the sea, it returned at the first break of day to the former place: and as the Egyptians were fleeing away, the waters came upon them, and the Lord shut them up in the middle of the waves. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen of all the army of Pharao, who had come into the sea after them, neither did there so much as one of them remain. But the children of Israel marched through the midst of the sea upon dry land, and the waters were to them as a wall on the right hand and on the left: And the Lord delivered Israel on that day out of the hands of the Egyptians. And they saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore, and the mighty hand that the Lord had used against them: and the people feared the Lord, and they believed the Lord, and Moses his servant. (Exodus 14, 24 -51 1, the Second Prophecy of the Vigil of Pentecost.)

The Crossing of the Red Sea, by Jacques Cortois, 1621-76. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
Let us sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously honored: the horse and the rider He hath thrown into the sea: He has become my helper and protector unto salvation. V. He is my God, and I will honor Him: the God of my father, and I will extol Him. V. He is the Lord that destroys wars: the Lord is His Name. (The Tract that follows, Exodus 15, 1-2; both sung in Latin in the video below, taken at Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini in Rome at the vigil of Pentecost in 2018.)

Let us pray. O God, who by the light of the New Testament hast laid open the miracles accomplished in former times, so that the Red Sea should be an image of the sacred font, and the people delivered from servitude in Egypt, should show forth the mysteries of the Christian people: grant that all nations, having obtained the privilege of Israel by the merit of faith, may be reborn by sharing in Thy Spirit. Through our Lord...

Friday, May 26, 2023

St. Philip Neri: A Patron Saint of Traditionalism

St Philip Neri in Ecstasy, 1614 by Guido Reni

As a boy, Saint Philip Romolo Neri (1515-1595), whose feast we celebrate today, was so charming and kind that he was nicknamed Pippo Buono or “Good Little Philip.” Pippo Buono was full of high spirits: when he was eight years old, he saw a donkey laden with fruit standing unattended in a courtyard and jumped onto its back. The startled beast bolted and hurled both itself and its rider into a deep cellar.

Philip left his native Florence at the age of sixteen to learn the business of his father’s cousin, and even though the impressed kinsman wanted to make him his heir, Philip felt called to Rome two years later. He arrived in the Eternal City penniless and took a job as a tutor to the young sons of a fellow Florentine. After another two years he became a student himself, studying philosophy and theology (He had a special fondness for St. Thomas Aquinas). But when after three years Philip felt that his studies were complete, he sold his library and gave the proceeds to the poor. Even decades later, scholars marveled at his theological erudition.

Philip now devoted himself to a love of neighbor, living like a gregarious hermit in the midst of a bustling city. Surviving only on a little bread and some herbs, he visited the Seven Churches of Rome each night and kept vigil in the catacombs of San Sebastian. He began visiting the sick in hospitals and then frequented the piazzas, schools, shops, banks, and rough parts of town such as the warehouse district. His warm conversation melted hearts. In the warehouses he would ask, “Well! my brothers, when shall we begin to do good?” [1] Several workers became his disciples and later entered the priesthood.
A Heart On Fire
St. Philip’s greatest attribute was his burning love of God—literally. At the age of twenty-nine, he was praying to the Holy Spirit shortly before Whitsunday when a mystical ball of fire entered his mouth and lodged in his chest. His heart grew so aflame with divine fervor that he had to rip open his clothes and cool himself on the stone floor.
When he arose, there was a painless swelling as large as a man’s fist next to his heart. An autopsy after the saint’s death would disclose the source of the protrusion. Over his heart, which had expanded with the love of God, two of his ribs were dislodged and curved in the form of an arch. The physicians marveled that Philip’s enlarged pulmonary artery did not cause him extreme pain and officially concluded that the cause was miraculous.
From that moment on, Philip was prone to heart palpitations that would occur any time he was engaged in a spiritual activity. The palpitations were sometimes so violent that his chair or bed or even room would shake from them; disciples who rested their head on his heart said that they sometimes knocked them off his chest. Yet these mysterious heartbeats had a spiritual power as well. Disciples of Philip would later say that when they lay their head on his chest at the saint’s behest, all temptations to sins of the flesh would disappear.
Portrait by Giuseppe Nogari (1699-1766)
Father Philip
Philip Neri labored as a layman in Rome for seventeen years, eventually founding the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity to look after pilgrims and convalescents. The community frequently received the sacraments and met for their distinctive spiritual exercises (see below). It was Philip who helped begin the Forty Hours’ Devotion: every first Sunday of the month, the chaplains of the Confraternity exposed the Blessed Sacrament, during which time he would give a sermon. Some people came to heckle him, amused at the thought of a layman giving a spiritual discourse, but Philip won them over. Once, a sermon of his converted thirty dissolute youths.
In 1551, Philip obeyed the bidding of his confessor and was ordained a priest. As a layman, he had encouraged the frequent reception of Holy Communion (uncommon at the time), but he also taught that the young especially should go to confession more than they communicated. As a priest, he put this policy into practice, and soon his confessional was changing lives. Night and day, he heard confessions, leaving a key under the door of his room so anyone could enter, and he never complained about being interrupted to help someone, saying he was “leaving Christ for Christ.” Philip would typically hear as many as forty confessions before dawn in his room and then go to the church when it opened at sunrise to hear many more. Sometimes, he could read the hearts of penitents before they opened their mouths; once, he converted a young noble by giving him a glimpse of Hell.
Love of the Mass
The sacrament of confession was the cornerstone of Philip’s apostolate, but his first and foremost love was the Blessed Sacrament. For most Catholics, it takes effort to acquire the right spirit of devotion prior to Mass. Father Philip had the opposite problem: he was so prone to spiritual ecstasy that he had to distract himself from the Mass beforehand with joke books and the like or he would be caught up in a catatonic rapture. Even then, he often had visions during Mass, such as the Christ Child on the altar one Christmas or a glimpse of Paradise during the Consecration. His servers were trained to recognize the signs of his being caught up in divine love; they tugged at his chasuble to bring him back to earth. And I choose that metaphor deliberately, for Saint Philip sometimes levitated during Mass.
His palpitations were at their most vigorous during Mass, sometimes shaking the whole altar; he could barely pour the wine into the chalice. And if he paused only a little at the elevation, his arms would freeze in adoration. God’s outpouring of love into Philip’s soul also made it difficult for him to stay within the boundaries of liturgical decorum. He received from the Chalice (the contents of which, one server attests, looked like pure blood) with such intense affection that the silver and the gilding on the lip were worn off and dented with tooth marks. He also had to say random and distracting things to his server such as “Turn those dogs out” in order to control his ecstatic trembling.
Near the end of his life, Philip received permission from the Pope to say Mass privately in a little chapel near his room. His servers would leave at the Sanctus, bolt the door, return two hours later, and knock. If the saint answered, they would resume the Mass; if he did not, they would try again later. No one knows what experiences Philip had during those hours with his Eucharistic Lord, but his servers said that afterwards he looked like he was on the verge of expiring.
The Oratory
Saint Ignatius of Loyola tried repeatedly to recruit Philip for the Jesuits, but Philip knew that his vocation was to be in the world. Once, when he contemplated withdrawing from public life and becoming a hermit, he had a vision that told him “Rome will be your desert.” Later, when he desired a martyr’s death as a missionary in India, another vision informed him that “Rome will be your India.”
God wanted Philip to be the “Apostle of Rome” (as he was later called) for good reason. At the start of his ministry, the Eternal City was a den of iniquity and neo-paganism, its Popes corrupt and its residents wallowing in vice. By the time of his death at the age of eighty, Philip—along with other Saints like Pope Pius V—had turned the city around. His guiding principle was simple: he wanted everyone to become holy, not necessarily by becoming a cleric or religious but by loving God wherever they were. Centuries before the Second Vatican Council’s universal call to holiness and St. Josemaria Escriva’s mission to sanctify work, St. Philip’s “greatest delight and his special desire was that men should make themselves saints in their own homes.” As early as 1570, someone wrote that Philip had established a school of “spiritual worldlings.” [2]
Accordingly, instead of joining or founding a religious order, Philip began the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of secular clergy living under obedience but not bound by vows. Formally recognized by the Pope in 1575, the Oratorians were given Santa Maria in Vallicella; soon after they built a new church, or Chiesa Nuova, on the site of the old edifice.
It was at Chiesa Nuova that the Oratorians continued their “exercises,” a service consisting of four half-hour sermons on a spiritual reading, Sacred Scripture, Church history, and the life of a Saint. Beautiful music was an important element as well. The great Palestrina, who was a penitent of St. Philip, composed for the service several Laudi, a popular form of singing in late-sixteenth century Italy that combined sacred text, interludes of dialogue, and polyphonic texture. The new music forged under Philip’s influence, a happy medium between the sacred and the secular, was promoted by the Oratorians wherever they went as a part of their efforts to attract youth to the Faith. The genre, familiar to many thanks to Handel’s Messiah, subsequently became known as an “oratorio.”
Prophet of Joy
Saint Philip was renowned for the gift of prophecy and for his miraculous healing of the sick and even raising of the dead, but what made him so beloved was what the Italians call festività, his infectious joy and humor. The saint held that being cheerful “is the true way to advance in every virtue.” His long experience in directing souls, he said, had taught him “that in spiritual matters cheerful men were much more easy to guide than the melancholy.”
Consequently, Philip preserved “perpetual cheerfulness” in himself and went to great lengths to encourage it in others. His room, wherein he would receive strangers as if they were his long-lost children at all hours of the day and night, became known as the “Shelter of Christian Mirth.” He sometimes gave his penitents a playful slap on the cheek, saying “It is not you I am beating, but the devil!” Like a zany Italian uncle, he pulled their hair, caressed their faces, boxed their ears, and held their heads near his heart, all of which caused great joy and consolation. In the words of Saint John Henry Newman, “If ever there was a saint who set his face against humbug, it was Saint Philip.” [3]
Gentleness and Patience
Philip’s good cheer extended into his relations with subordinates, peers, and superiors. There is no easier way to rule, he stated, “than by being gentle and sparing in giving orders; he who wants to be well obeyed should give few commands.” Philip preferred exhortations to commands, saying things like, “I should like you to do this, but if it seems hard I will do it for you.” And when correcting another, he would describe the person’s fault as if it were his own in such a way that the person took the admonition to himself.
Philip was also careful in correcting the vanities of the age. Instead of inveighing against some of the fashions of the time, he would tell his disciples, “Just let a little devotion enter into their hearts, and you may then leave them to themselves; they will soon do all or more than you wish.” Consequently, he never said a word to a particular priest who dressed like a layman; after two weeks, the priest started dressing appropriately on his own accord. One of his female penitents asked if it was a sin to wear extremely high heels. Philip only replied, “Be careful you don’t fall!” (The lady decided against the shoes.) To a male penitent who wore a collar with an inordinately large ruff, Philip simply said, “Ah! I should caress you a good deal oftener than I do if this collar did not hurt my hands.” The man soon stopped wearing it.
When it was necessary to correct a superior, Philip recommended using a third party example, like the prophet Nathan did to King David. And when being rebuked by a superior, he advised showing no anger but returning cheerful in order to show no ill will. His policy in this regard would be put to the test several times, as his popularity earned him envy or suspicion from members of the hierarchy. Among his many trials: the Pope’s vicar, who had been fed misinformation about his activities, severely rebuked the saint and ordered him not to hear confession for fifteen days. But the saint merely forbade his supporters from saying one cross word about the vicar and used these false accusations as an opportunity to grow closer to God. “You will see,” he told his disciples. “When this persecution has achieved the fruit God wants from it, it will come to an end.” [4]
There were also initial tensions between Saint Philip and Pope Saint Pius V, who had heard rumors about “unorthodox” sermons coming out of Philip’s community. Concern had also been voiced about the exercises themselves, since they were conducted in the vernacular—not unlike, it was pointed out, the Lutherans in Germany. But the Pope himself approved the exercises and developed a great esteem for Philip and his followers. Philip in return had the highest opinion of the Pope’s holiness; he kept a biretta and a red shoe that had belonged to Pius V and cherished them as relics. Nevertheless, even Saints can disagree. When Pius V ordered gypsies to be rounded up and used as galley slaves in the naval fleet against the Turks, Philip protested and procured their freedom.
Portrait of Pope St Piusm by Scipione Pulzone, 1570-72
Saint Philip was treated with open contempt at various times by cardinals, priests, laymen, and even prisoners. But the saint’s good cheer and patience eventually won them over. One of his sayings explains his motive: “How patiently Christ, the King and Lord of heaven and earth, bore with the Apostles, enduring at their hands many incivilities and misbeliefs, they being but poor and rough fisherman! How much more ought we to bear with our neighbor, if he treats us with incivility.” [5]
Master of Mirthful Mortification
Philip’s festività also colored his practice of mortification. In the words of the Catholic Encyclopedia, he gave “a quaintly humorous turn to the maxims of ascetical theology.” [6] That is putting it mildly. The madcap saint walked through the streets of Rome with half his beard shaved off or wearing a goofy mismatch of clothes. He had his barber cut his hair once in the middle of a crowded plaza and once even in a church nave while Mass was being celebrated. He skipped around like a little boy even when he was an old man, inspiring one astonished onlooker to exclaim, “Look at the old fool there!” When the Pope sent to him a visiting delegation of Polish lords for their spiritual edification, Saint Philip ignored them and listened in rapt attention to a joke book being read. The astonished noblemen stared each other for a while and presently departed, at which Philip told his companion to stop reading, saying that “we have done all that was wanted.”
Why did the saint do these things and many more like them? He wanted above all to be thought of as a worthless person so he could be free of the egoism which chooses one’s reputation over God. As a biographer of Neri notes:
The one who is totally free of egoism, who has given himself completely, is the one who has found perfect joy. Egoists are always the saddest of men, while unclouded joy follows from humility. [7]
St Philip did not deny the value of traditional asceticism (which he also practiced), but he warned: “Take care not to become so attached to the means as to forget the end; and that it is not well to be so taken up mortifying the flesh as to omit mortifying the brain, which after all is the principal matter.” The whole quest for sanctity, as he saw it, could be summed up in the span of three fingers which he placed on his forehead: “to mortify the razionale”—a word which for Philip meant not so much reason but the proud or overheated use of reason. [8] And one of the chief ways reason becomes overheated is by fixating on how one is perceived by others in the theater of life.
An excellent example of his approach: When one of his penitents asked permission to wear a hair shirt, Philip said that he could on one condition: he had to wear it on the outside of his clothes. (The fellow loved Philip so much that he wore it that way for the rest of his life, eventually becoming known as “Berto of the Hair Shirt.”) On another occasion, a Roman prince who had become an Oratorian novice sought full admission into the Congregation. St. Philip told him that one final test would be required: he had to pin a long foxtail to the end of his coat and parade through the streets with all seriousness. When the stunned prince said that he wanted to be an Oratorian for honor and not disgrace, Philip replied that he had come to the wrong place, for the first principle of their community was complete self-renunciation. 
St. Philip Neri is a patron of Rome, of Mandaluyong in the Philippines, and of laughter and humor. He is also the patron of the international seminary of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Florence. In fact, if you attend Mass on St. Philip’s feast day (May 26) at any of the chapels, churches, or oratories run by the Institute of Christ the King, you may gain under the usual conditions a plenary indulgence. Finally, the Apostle of Rome was chosen to be the patron saint of the U.S. Special Forces because “he embodied the traits of the ideal Special Forces Soldier, Selfless, Superb Teacher, and Inspirational Leader."[9] Special Forces also has a distinguished Order of Saint Philip Neri with Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels of membership.
It is our opinion, however, that Saint Philip Neri should be the intercessor of more than the Green Berets or a single traditionalist seminary. He should—along with other holy figures like Gregory the Great, Pius V, and Pius X—be a patron of all traditionalists, lay and clerical alike. For Saint Philip is ideally suited to confirm us in our virtues and cure us of our vices. Saint Philip loved the traditional Mass and calendar, understood the importance of beauty, and lived ascetically and chastely. But he was also on guard against dourness, scrupulosity, and a penchant for tsk-tsking. In the words of Father Paul Türks,
Saint Philip Neri put his trust in the positive, in grace. What is meant is shown by his way of dealing with many of the evil habits of his day. He did not reject the immoral fashions or the excessive wealth. He did not forbid the luxurious creations of the contemporary culture. He trusted in the love of God, which would do its work in men of itself like a fire or a seed—unnoticed and hidden at first, but already growing. [10]
Pippo Buono, pray for us.

An earlier version of this article appeared as “St. Philip Neri: A Patron Saint of Traditionalism” in The Latin Mass magazine 25:1 (Winter/Spring 2016), pp. 34-38. Many thanks to its editors for allowing its publication here.

[1] Pietro Giacomo Bacci, The Life of Saint Philip Neri, ed. Frederick Ignatius Antrobus, 2 vols. (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, and Co., 1902), vol. 1, p. 30. Most of the direct quotations and stories in this article are taken, unless otherwise noted, from Bacci.
[2] Paul Türks, Philip Neri: The Fire of Joy, trans. Daniel Utrecht (Alba House, 1995), 115.
[3] Quoted in Türks, 110.
[4] Türks, 65.
[5] The Maxims and Sayings of St. Philip Neri, ed. F.W. Faber (Athanasius Press, 2009), 62.
[6] Charles Sebastian Ritchie, "St. Philip Romolo Neri," The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 12 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911), retrieved May 25, 2023.
[7] Türks, 126.
[8] Türks, 117.
[9] Retrieved February 21, 2016.
[10] Türks, 114.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Interesting Saints on May 25th: Rome, Florence and Milan

For most of the Roman Rite’s history, since at least the later 8th century, May 25th has been the feast of St Urban I, who was Pope from 222 to 230. As with many sainted bishops of the early centuries, very little is known about him. His election and his death are mentioned in passing by Eusebius of Caesarea in book six of his Ecclesiastical History; it is by no means certain that he actually died as a martyr, though he is titled so in the liturgical books. The Martyrology confuses him with a martyr named Urban and states that he was buried on the via Nomentana, which runs out of Rome to the north-east. In point of fact, he was buried in a crypt shared by several other Popes in the catacomb of Callixtus on the Via Appia, which runs to the south-east; his burial inscription was discovered when the catacomb was explored in the 19th century.
St Urban I Converts St Valerian; 1505-6, attributed to Giovanni Maria Chiodarolo and Cesare Tamaroccio. This is the second of ten panels depicting the legend of St Cecilia in an oratory dedicated to her in Bologna. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
The Breviary states that he converted a great many persons, among them, St Valerian, the betrothed of St Cecilia, and his brother Tibertius. In Cecilia’s Passion, St Urban plays a prominent role, and just as many of the legendary details about him come from these acts, so too, their popularity accounts for the perpetuation of devotion to him outside of Rome. On their wedding night, Cecilia reveals to Valerian that she has consecrated herself to God, and states that she is protected by an angel; Valerian wishes to see the angel, but she tells him this is impossible unless he gets baptized. She therefore sends him to find Pope Urban, who is hiding out in the catacombs; once he is baptized, returns, and sees the angel, he expresses no other wish than that his brother should also be saved, and so he sends Tiburtius off to Pope Urban as well. Eventually, all four of them are martyred.
The next panel in the series: Pope Urban Baptizes Valerian. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
On May 25th, 1607, St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi died at the age of 41, after a quarter of a century as a member of the Carmelite monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in her native Florence. Her life was one of very great sufferings, both physical and spiritual, and voluntary mortifications, accompanied, as such things so often are, by the most extraordinary graces, including many healings, visions and prophecies. (She predicted to the archbishop of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici, that he would become Pope, but only very briefly; he reigned as Leo XI for 27 days in April of 1605.) Her incorrupt body is now in the church of a monastery named for her, located about three miles north of Florence.
St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi Having a Vision of the Risen Christ and the Virgin Mary, by the Spanish painter Pedro de Moya (1601-74). Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons
Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi also has the distinction of being the first Saint to be canonized under the procedures definitively established by the seventh (and thus far last) namesake of Pope Urban. (See Mary Maddalena de’ Pazzi: The Making of a Counter-Reformation Saint, by Clare Copeland, Oxford, 2006). Her canonization was done jointly with that of St Peter of Alcantara, the confessor of St Theresa of Avila, by Pope Clement X in 1669, and her feast set on her day of death, with Urban I reduced to a commemoration.
As an interesting aside, her family name, which means “of the crazies”, is traditionally said to come from an ancestor who participated in the First Crusade, Pazzo di Ranieri, and was the first man over the walls of Jerusalem during the great siege of 1099. There is a charming story that he brought flintstones which he had taken from the Holy Sepulcher back to Florence, and for many years, these were used to make the new fire for the Easter vigil at the cathedral.
The coat of arms of the Pazzi family, made in terracotta (whence the protective net over it) by Luca della Robbia, and mounted on the inside of the cupola of the family’s chapel at the Franciscan basilica of the Holy Cross in Florence, 1442-3. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Sailko, CC BY 3.0)
In 1728, Pope Benedict XIII decided to add Pope St Gregory VII to the general calendar, placing him on the anniversary of his death, which took place on May 25th, 1085; St Mary Magdalene was therefore moved forward to May 27th. However, in 1900, Pope Leo XIII declared St Bede the Venerable, who died on May 26th, 735, to be a Doctor of the Church, and added him to the general calendar. Since his death date was already occupied by St Philip Neri, Bede was placed on the 27th, and Mary Magdalene moved again, to the 29th. (In the post-Conciliar Rite, Gregory VII, Bede and Mary Magdalene are all on May 25th as optional memorials, and Pope Urban has been abolished.)
As we live through the death spasms of the post-Conciliar revolution, there are many eras of the Church’s history to which we can look back for encouragement, and one of these is the one that gave us St Gregory VII. In the 10th century (the first to produce not a single sainted or blessed Pope), and the first half of the 11th, the Church had been thoroughly compromised by simony and lay control of ecclesiastical offices, with all the evils that attend them: moral corruption, financial corruption, and a placid indifference to the things of God. But it is truly often darkest before the dawn, and the beginning of the 10th century also saw the foundation of the abbey of Cluny, the spearhead of reforms that would see these vices thoroughly repudiated by the end of the 11th century, and largely extirpated over the course of the 12th.
Gregory VII was not the first Pope of this great reform movement, which captured the papacy, so to speak, in 1049, in the person of St Leo IX. But as the breviary lessons for his feast rightly note, he was one of the most important counselors and lieutenants of the reforming Popes, and it is fitting that the movement which he and they represented is sometimes called “the Gregorian reform” after him. On the death of Alexander II in 1073, he was elected by acclamation, which has happened only six other times in the Church’s history. (By a curious coincidence, four of the Popes thus elected were named Gregory, including the Great.) Having been driven by force from his see for his resistance to the importunities of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, he died at Salerno in 1085, saying, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity (Ps. 44, 8); therefore, I die in exile.” His body still rests there, in the cathedral which also has the relics of its titular Saint, the Apostle Matthew, and which he consecrated the year before his death.
The relics of Pope St Gregory VII, in his chapel within the cathedral of St Matthew in Salerno. The words of Psalm 44 quoted above are written along the bottom edge of the casket. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by NicFer, CC BY-SA 3.0)
A full view of the chapel. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Adert, CC BY-SA 4.0
Of course, the motto “Ecclesia semper reformanda – the Church is always in need of reform” exists for a reason. At the time of his canonization in 1728, lay control of the Church had resurfaced in various ways, more subtle than those which he and his contemporaries fought against, and particularly in France. Pope Benedict XIII added his feast to the general calendar partly in protest against these encroachments, which were greatly exacerbated by the controversies over the teachings of Cornelius Jansen and his supporters.
This gave rise to one of the most curious episodes in the history of the Church’s liturgy. The statement that Pope Gregory remained fearless in the face of “the wicked attempts of the emperor Henry”, who is later described as “iniquus – unjust”, was taken by the civil parliament of France as “an impeachment of the liberties (sic) of the Gallican church and the King’s Majesty.” (Batiffol, History of the Roman Breviary, p. 258 footnote). The parliament therefore ordered the suppression of the feast throughout France, and forbade the publication of the breviary supplement that contained it. The feast of St Gregory was not adopted in France until the 19th century, when “liberties of the Gallican church” had been swept away, along with the would-be autarchic state that invented them. (Similar controversies arose in the kingdom of Naples, the Low Countries, and the Austrian empire under one of its very worst rulers, Joseph II.)
As a Florentine, St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi would have kept the day of her eventual death not as the feast of St Urban I, but of one of her city’s principal patrons (alongside St John the Baptist), the bishop St Zenobius. He is said to have been a friend of St Ambrose, and among the miracles attributed to him is the raising from the dead a group of children who were run over by a cart while playing near the cathedral. He had the good fortune to be bishop of a city that would later be ground zero of the Renaissance, and is thus immortalized in countless artworks, but it must be admitted that there is no contemporary source that mentions him, and the earliest written account of his life dates from 700 years after his death.
Episodes of the Life of St Zenobius, 1500-5 ca. by Sandro Botticelli. From left to right: he rejects the marriage arranged for him by his parents; his baptism; the baptism of his mother; his consecration as bishop of Florence by Pope St Damasus I. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.) 
Further north in Italy, the Ambrosian church today celebrates one of its early bishops, St Dionysius, whose career is much better documented. In 355, four years after he succeeded to the see of Milan, the Emperor Constantius, who kept his capital there, called a synod to condemn St Athanasius for his defense of Nicene orthodoxy. It is highly significant that it was held in the palace, and not in a church.
An aspect of the Arian crisis which is often overlooked is that many bishops in the West understood little to nothing about the controversy, and little to nothing of what was said about it by others, whether in Greek (which most of them did not speak) or Latin. (St Hilary of Poitiers, an ardent champion of Nicene orthodoxy, famously stated that he had been a bishop for 20 years before he had even heard of the Council of Nicaea.) It was easy enough to misrepresent St Athanasius’ teaching to them, and convince them to condemn him as a dangerous heretic, and Dionysius was such a one. However, when Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, arrived at the synod, he was able to explain to Dionysius why Athanasius was correct, and Constantius the real heretic. Having thus been persuaded, and withdrawn his condemnation, he refused to yield to all further attempts of the Emperor to threaten or convince him. Both bishops were banished from Italy, as was another defender of orthodoxy and Athanasius, St Eusebius of Vercelli. St Dionysius ended his days in exile in Cappadocia, dying about 5 years later. The Arian bishop who replaced him, Auxentius, was succeeded in 374 by St Ambrose (elected, like Gregory VII, by popular acclamation), who would later receive Dionysius’ relics back to Milan, sent by St Basil the Great.
The relics of St Dionysius, in the cathedral of Milan. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by A ntv, CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Ambrose Missal has this preface for his feast, which celebrates his confession of faith.
Truly it is worthy… Almighty God, and not to keep silent the confession of Thy holy priest Dionysius, who could not be moved from the righteousness of his stance by the wickedness of the heretics, or the allures of this world, but in challenge to both, as one who proclaimed the truth, he did not depart from the steadfastness of Thy Faith. And therefore, we pay him the service of due honor, since in his solemn feast, o Lord, we proclaim might of Thee, by whose grace he was such.

Historical Falsehoods about the Liturgy from George Weigel

In our conversations, Dr Kwasniewski has occasionally referred to liturgical discourse within the Church as something like a game of whack-a-mole. Every time a falsehood or series of falsehoods about the liturgy is refuted, more spring up to take its place. Case in point: no sooner does a book replying to the absurd claims of Drs Cavadini, Healy and Weinandy come out, than someone brings to my attention this video, in which George Weigel repeats several of the common falsehoods about the liturgy, which are no less false for being common.

Unfortunately, this is merely an excerpt of a much longer video in which a great deal more that is false but commonly believed about the liturgy is repeated, and I simply do not have time to write a refutation of all of it. There is more than enough to deal with in this span of less than six minutes.

– He begins by taking issue with the term “Mass of the Ages” used to describe the Traditional Latin Mass, and of course made especially popular of late by the on-going documentary series of that name. (In the longer video, Mr Weigel says that he hasn’t seen the documentary, which is hardly surprising.) He then makes the false claim that the Roman Rite was always “constantly evolving.” While it is true that many small adjustments were made to the liturgy, by far the largest portion of the material found in the Missal of St Pius V, (the order of the audible parts of the Mass, i.e. Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, etc., the chants, prayers and readings of the temporal cycle and the oldest Saints’ feasts, the Canon) are already fixed in their places in the earliest liturgical books of the Roman Rite.

– He goes on to say that the Missal of 1962 is not “the Missal that was used in the 12th century.” This ignores the fact that a very considerable amount of that same material found in the oldest books of the Roman Rite would in fact also be found in any Missal from either 1162, 1562, or 1962. (But of course, in defiance of the explicit commands of the Second Vatican Council, much of it is NOT found in the Missals of 1969 or 2002.)
Taking these two points together, no serious (or even casual) historian of the liturgy denies that changes and additions have been made to the liturgy, but to say that the Roman Rite was “constantly” evolving is a grotesque exaggeration.
The end of the Preface, the Sanctus (written in Greek letters), and the beginning of the Canon, in the Gellone Sacramentary, ca. 780 AD, one of the oldest surviving books of its kind.
– 0:28 “The changes in the Roman Rite began with Pope Pius XII, and specifically with the restoration of Holy Week to its proper form.” Almost nothing about the Holy Week reform of Pope Pius XII is a restoration, least of all the one aspect of it which he specifically mentions, the moving of the Easter vigil from one wrong time to another. (He later says that Pius XII “restored the more ancient liturgy of Holy Week”; assuming this to mean something more than the completely superficial adjustment of the timetable, namely, the revision of texts and rites, this is completely false. No aspect of these changes is a restoration of anything.)
– 1:00 “The Easter vigil used to be celebrated on Saturday morning.” While it is true that this was done for a very long time, it was not always done. There are plenty of ancient sources that clearly state that the Easter vigil was begun in the evening, as sunset approached, but Pius XII’s reform specifically moved it to the middle of the night, a custom which has no historical precedent, and which also makes “no sense whatsoever.” Fire- and lamp-lighting rituals are a thing one does when the sun is going down, not when it has been down for hours.
– Beginning at 1:20, he gives a completely erroneous account of the Tridentine liturgical reform. He repeatedly attributes to the Council of Trent actions which the Council itself did not take, and which it explicitly left to the Holy See. And he repeats the false idea, repeatedly debunked in primis by Fr Hunwicke, that Trent suppressed all of other Uses of the Roman Rite with a few exceptions. (He names the Ambrosian Rite and the Dominican Use.)
– At 2:20, he claims that “several years before Vatican II”, John XXIII “signaled” that the Roman Rite was not “fixed in concrete” by adding St Joseph’s name to the Canon of the Mass. In point of fact, the decree ordering this was issued on November 13, 1962, more than a month after Vatican II was opened, and became legally active on the following December 8. (AAS 1962, p. 873) This is a minor point, but highly indicative of how so much of our liturgical discourse is done these days, without even a cursory examination of the most basic sources, or command of the most basic historical facts.
(I cannot pretend to have read everything that John XXIII ever said or wrote, so I may be wrong about this, but I can find nothing in which he ever said that such was his intention in changing the Canon, and I think this interpretation of his action is highly tendentious. Angelo Roncalli was born and raised in a small town within the Roman Rite diocese of Bergamo, for which he was ordained a priest, but within walking distance of Ambrosian territory. He surely knew that the Ambrosian Canon varies both lists of Saints; in his time, the Ambrosian Rite was commonly (though wrongly) thought to be an archaic form of the Roman Rite, and this change may not have seemed like a particularly earthshaking thing to him.)
(Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons)
From these statements, Mr Weigel somehow concludes that the idea of a “Mass of the Ages” is a fiction. He thus ignores the most basic fact about the Roman Rite, namely, that there is a very high degree of very obvious continuity which runs directly from its most ancient sources all the way through to the editions published in the reigns of Pius XII and John XXIII. And again, this continuity was savagely ruptured by the post-Conciliar reform, in countless ways that the signatories of Sacrosanctum Concilium did not even remotely dream of.
– At 3:20, Mr Weigel make a very interesting statement indeed, that he once asked a friend of his “what are these kids looking for in the Latin Mass celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form.” (Interesting that he didn’t ask, um, the kids themselves.) She said that “they are looking for the awe and wonder”, and he “think(s) that’s exactly right.” He goes on to say that “you can experience awe and wonder in a properly celebrated Novus Ordo Mass.”
But this begs the question by assuming that a “properly celebrated Novus Ordo Mass” is one that inspires awe and wonder. This is simply not true. There are plenty of options that any celebrant of the Novus Ordo can select at any time for any or no reason, options which have a long proven track record of more than 50 years of obliterating all sense that one is in the presence of something awesome and wonderful, and which are nonetheless perfectly licit, and therefore not improper by any objective standard. And of course, the post-Conciliar rite, unlike any other historical rite, was deliberately designed to be subject in this fashion to the will and whim and bright ideas of the celebrant and his chosen collaborators. This in turn, de facto if not de jure, strongly and unavoidably encourages any number of other practices which do not inspire awe and wonder.
For example
I readily confess my agreement with Mr Weigel on a point which he makes, and which almost no one is concerned to deny, that a worthy celebration of the Novus Ordo is possible. But sadly, he follows this up (4:15) with a repetition of the hoariest and most exhausted point that can be made on this topic, that the liturgy was often celebrated hurriedly and with bad music before Vatican II.
I do not expect him, or anyone else, to explain plausibly why, because the Roman Rite was badly celebrated in one or more particular places and times, so much of it needed to be destroyed, not sparing even its most ancient features (and this, again, in flat defiance of Sacrosanctum Concilium). Much less do I expect him to say whether the Novus Ordo, which is celebrated very badly in a great many places, and which has never been celebrated very well in more than a tiny minority of places, needs to be similarly destroyed.
However, I will say this: if this point is raised without reference to the massive destruction of Catholic institutions in Europe and Latin America in the age of the great revolutions, from which the Church was still recovering in 1962; if it is raised without reference to the specific conditions of Catholic immigrant populations in places like the United States and Australia; if it is raised without reference to the failure of the post-Conciliar Rite to produce any of what the first paragraph of Sacrosanctum Concilium said it wanted to come out of the reform, then it is being raised polemically, not seriously, and were better left not raised at all.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Vestments for the Recent Coronation by Watts & Co.

Our thanks to Mr Robert Hoare, managing director of Watts & Co., London-based makers of ecclesiastical vestments and furnishings, for this account of some vestments which his firm contributed to the recent coronation of King Charles III.

Watts & Co. and the Coronation of King Charles III
With the eyes of the world on the recent coronation of King Charles III, Watts & Co. once again was proud to play its part and reinforce its special connection with Westminster Abbey. As the coronation procession advanced up the central aisle from the main doors, it passed over the tomb of one who was deeply involved in the restoration not only of the fabric of the building itself, but also in the richness of its ceremonial and liturgical life.
The tomb in question is that of the renowned Victorian architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott, who became father to one of the company’s founders, George Gilbert Scott Jr, and great-great-great-grandfather of the current managing director (and present author). Sir George Gilbert Scott was assigned as architect and Surveyor of the Fabric to Westminster Abbey in 1849, a role which included responsibility for repairs and restorations of the abbey’s interiors and general structure.
As the choir filled the abbey with the magnificent strains of Handel, Byrd and Parry among others, Gilbert Scott’s work could be seen in the choir stalls; the original medieval ones were replaced in the 18th century, and then by the present ones in 1848.
Scott’s son founded Watts & Co. in 1874 as an ecclesiastical furnishing company, and it went from strength to strength, designing and creating fabrics, furnishings and vestments of the highest quality. The high altar frontal and copes used by the Abbey Chapter at the coronation were designed by Watts’ previous creative director, David Gazeley. The main fabric in these was inspired by the background of the famous Wilton Diptych in white silk and gold thread.
Among the magnificent gowns in the procession, two were designed and created by Watts & Co. especially for the coronation. The High Bailiff of Westminster Abbey and Searcher of the Sanctuary (a role evolved from responsibilities and jurisdictions originally exercised by the medieval abbot and convent), wore a splendid robe of blue silk velvet, with Watts Blue Bellini silk sleeves, front contrast and yoke, trimmed with Diamond and Lay and gold braids.
The other robe in crimson silk velvet, Watts Sarum Red Gothic silk sleeves, front contrast and yoke, trimmed with Diamond and Lay and gold braids, was worn by the High Steward of Westminster Abbey. It was he who carried the sceptre with cross, a Christian symbol of the king’s temporal power.
Watts’ first commission in the 19th century was the creation of vestments for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, the first to be worn in the Westminster Abbey since the Reformation. Since then, the family business has accompanied the Abbey and royal family in the major ceremonial and liturgical milestones of their life: a fitting continuation and development of the work of Sir Gilbert Scott through his descendants.

St Gregory of Nyssa on the Ascension

In the Breviary of St Pius V, this beautiful passage from St Gregory of Nyssa’s Sermon on the Ascension is read at Matins on the Wednesday within the Octave. It explains the last part of Psalm 23 as a dialog between the angels who accompany Our Lord in His Ascension, and those who serve as door-keepers of Heaven, into which He brings our human nature. The full passage from the Psalm is as follows.

“Lift up your gates, o ye princes, and be ye lifted up, o eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this King of Glory? the Lord who is strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory.” (verses 7-10)

A silver icon of the Ascension made in Georgia in the 11th or 12th century; note the Angels at the top opening the gates of Heaven.
“The Prophet David makes today’s festival, which is great enough in itself, all the greater, when he adds to it words of rejoicing taken from the Psalms. For this great prophet, rising above himself, as if he were not at all weighed down by the body, brings himself into the midst of the heavenly powers, and tells us what they said when they accompanied the Lord as He returned to heaven, and commanded those Angels who dwell on earth, even they to whom His entrance into human life was entrusted, with these words: ‘Lift up your gates, o ye princes, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in!’

… The gatekeepers therefore ask ‘Who is this King of glory?’ They answer them, and show Him strong and mighty in battle, Who came to fight against him who held human nature captive and in servitude, and to ‘destroy him that had the power of death’ (Hebr. 2), so that, that most oppressive enemy being conquered, he might win mankind back unto freedom and peace.

The guardians come to meet him, and order the doors to be opened, that He might once again receive glory in their presence. But they do not recognize Him, who was clad in the sordid stole of our (earthly) life, whose garments are red from the winepress of our evils. (Isa. 63) Therefore His companions are asked once again by those voices ‘Who is this King of glory?’ And they answer no longer ‘He that is strong and mighty in battle’, but rather ‘The Lord of hosts’, Who hath obtained the rule of the world, Who hath gathered together all things in Himself, who hath restored all things to their prior state; He is the King of Glory!”

It is a very ancient tradition of the Fathers to understand the passage from Isaiah 63 cited here as a prophecy of the Incarnation. St Gregory’s namesake, friend and fellow-bishop (of Nazianzus), has a very similar passage in his Oration 45, 25.

“And if He ascend up into Heaven, ascend with Him. Be one of those angels who escort Him, or one of those who receive Him. Bid the gates be lifted up, or be made higher, that they may receive Him, exalted after His Passion. Answer to those who are in doubt because He bears up with Him His body and the tokens of His Passion, which He had not when He came down, and who therefore inquire, ‘Who is this King of Glory? that it is the Lord strong and mighty, as in all things that He has done from time to time and does, so now in His battle and triumph for the sake of mankind. And give to the doubting of the question the twofold answer. And if they marvel and say as in Isaiah’s drama ‘Who is this that comes from Edom and from the things of earth?’ or ‘How are the garments red of Him that is without blood or body, as of one that treads in the full wine-press?’ set forth the beauty of the array of the Body that suffered, adorned by the Passion, and made splendid by the Godhead, than which nothing can be more lovely or more beautiful.”

An 11th-century mosaic of St Gregory of Nyssa, from the cathedral of St Sophia in Kyiv. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
Despite his importance as a theologian, and his close association with the other Cappadocian Fathers (St Basil was his elder brother), St Gregory of Nyssa was very little known in the West for a very long time. Almost nothing was known of his writings, and there was no veneration paid to him as a Saint, although he is listed in the Martyrology on March 9th. To this day, he has never been recognized as a Doctor of the Church, and the passage given above is his only appearance in the Divine Office. This may make the inclusion of it seem unusual, but it is in fact part of a very deliberate program of the Tridentine Breviary. The Protestants often claimed to find justification for their teachings, and proof that they were not really novelties, in the writings of the Fathers. In the company of Western Fathers such as Maximus of Turin, Augustine, Leo the Great and Gregory the Great, those of the East such as Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom appear as witnesses against them, attesting to the true and perennial teaching of the Church.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A Video of Solemn Pontifical Vespers from the Throne

This past Sunday, His Excellency William Lori, the Archbishop of Baltimore, preached and then celebrated Pontifical Solemn Vespers from the throne, followed by Benediction, at the National Shrine of St Alphonsus Liguori in Baltimore. In 2017, the Archbishop Lori entrusted the church, which had had an indult Mass since 1992, to the Fraternity of St Peter; we thank His Excellency for his paternal solicitude for the faithful attached to the traditional rite.

Science, Art and the Sacred: A Conversation with Brandon Vaidyanathan of CUA

Here is a recent interview I did with Brandon Vaidyanathan of Catholic University of America for his Beauty at Work podcast. I met Brandon at the Scala Foundation conference in Princeton last year, and caught up with him again at this year’s conference.

Brandon is a sociology professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and his channel is about how beauty works in our world and shapes the work we do, exploring the meaning of beauty in relation to science, justice, morality, food, religion, work, and other aspects of our lives. Through the interviews he conductsm he examines how beauty works -- how it shapes our personal and social lives in ways that may both contribute to and impede our flourishing.

I talk about my work as a painter and how my training at university in science has contributed to that. I expand further on how I feel that training as a painter might contribute to creativity in scientific research.

In the course of the interview, I refer to the work of the 17th century Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The Abduction of Proserpina, 1621-22

Bernini deliberately cut deeply into the stone to generate sharp shadows, and create a rhythmical array of lines that mimic the mathematical parabolas and ellipses that the physicist uses to describe the natural order.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Lutherans in America Using Latin in Ordinations in 1703

The following excerpt is taken from A Year with American Saints, written by an Episcopalian pastor, Christopher L. Webber, and a Lutheran pastor, G. Scott Cady (Church Publishing, 2006). The book tells stories about Christians of various denominations who played a role in caring for their communities during the whole span of American history, from the Jamestown colony to the Civil Rights Movement. Of special interest to me, however, is the following vignette about Latin as a unifying language in early American Protestantism, which showed in this case a common sense that is utterly lacking in the ethnically-charged, politicallly motivated multilingual large-scale Catholic liturgies of today.—PAK

The first Lutheran ordination in the United States was apparently performed in Latin, carried out as it was before ethnically mixed congregations of Germans, Dutch, and Swedes, so as not to privilege any of their vernaculars!

Providing leadership for small, struggling congregations is still a challenge for church bodies. In the early eighteenth century, it was more so. Without well developed structures and support systems, and with the kind of inertia that still characterizes so many churches today, newly formed immigrant congregations in the colonies could not count on good leadership. One of the consistent reports we have of frontier congregations of that period concerns the shortage of adequately trained clergy. Such was the case for New World Lutherans in general, and certainly in the Hudson Valley area.

There was a kind of extended parish of Lutherans in this area, many of whom had Dutch roots. Andreas Rudman had been a good pastor to them, but his health was declining, so the parish wondered where they would find a qualified replacement. Justus Falckner [November 22, 1672–September 21, 1723] eventually became that leader, but he never sought out the role. In fact, the prospect was something of a conflict of conscience for him. As a Swedish pastor, Rudman wrote him, asking: “What shall I do forsaking my little flock? Looking everywhere, I find no one better fitted than you to whom I may safely entrust my sheep.” Though complimented, Falckner remained hesitant. He was German, and not fluent in Dutch. He had studied theology, but instead chose to be a land agent and surveyor. He questioned the legitimacy of ordination in the absence of regular church procedures for calling and ordaining new pastors on North American soil.

At thirty-one, Falckner was finally convinced that Rudman’s request was indeed a true call to ministry. There were Lutheran precedents for what we would now call “presbyteral ordination”—the use of parish clergy to ordain new parish clergy—in the New World. The mission of the church can be hampered by too much rigidity about specific details, especially in times and places that are simply too far removed from the normal apparatus of traditional ecclesiastical structures. Rudman had authorization from his bishop in Sweden to ordain new pastors in the colonies. In addition, Falckner’s own inner call began to be irresistible. In a letter to one of his former teachers, he wrote: “After much persuasion, also prompting of heart and conscience, I am staying as a regular preacher with a little Dutch Lutheran congregation, a state of affairs which I had so long avoided.”

On November 24, 1703, three Swedes, including Rudman, participated in the ordination of Falckner in Philadelphia. In his book The World of Justus Falckner, Delber Wallace Clark describes the event that needed to take into account Swedish, Dutch, German, and American traditions and understandings:

“The arrangements for the ordination were made with a speed which, in those days, was breathtaking. Just three weeks after the acceptance of the call, Rudman had reached Philadelphia and ordained the candidate who was already preparing to leave for New York. There was much to be done in this brief period. The Swedish ministers had to assemble, approve the plan, and settle upon a procedure.

“The three-way reference of the act made certain precautions necessary. The ordination must be in a form consistent with Falckner’s German tradition and the standards of the Dutch Lutherans to whom he would minister, and it must be the kind the Swedes could validly confer. There were minor questions, such as language, vestments, and even music. They met linguistically upon the common ground of Latin, the learned language. There were just about enough vestments to go around for all involved in the ceremony and some tact had to be used in deciding who should wear which.”

Thus began the official ministry of the first Lutheran pastor ordained in what would become the United States.

Falckner proved an able and energetic leader. He studied Dutch to make his preaching to his congregation more meaningful. He traveled the course of the Hudson River in his ministry of visitation to his far-flung parish. He covered an area that took in parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and became known as a missionary and a pastor. He taught, organized, and baptized not just new European immigrants and their children, but also converts within the black and Native American communities. Despite all his pastoral duties, he also found time to develop a manual of Christian teachings and even contribute to the growing body of hymnody.

When a pastor died, others in the area would fill in, covering his duties as best they could until a new pastor could be found. Falckner’s own workload expanded until it was no longer possible for one man to fulfill it. He died at fifty-one, during a pastoral visitation journey up the Hudson River. His demise was probably hastened by the previous death of a colleague, The Rev. Josua Harrsch, which markedly increased his own obligations.

Some of Falckner’s records survive. They contain heartfelt prayers following many of the notes of baptisms and other pastoral duties in the course of twenty years of ministry. Although all reference to the date and place of his burial has been lost, his faithfulness keeps his memory alive. A hymn he wrote while still a student in Halle might serve as his epitaph:
When His servants stand before Him,
each receiving his reward;
when His saints in light adore Him,
giving glory to the Lord:
“Victory,” our song shall be,
like the thunder of the sea!

NLM comment: Even with today's lax standards of canonizaton, we do not suggest that Falckner is an “American saint,” strictly speaking. However, only a proud man would fail to be challenged by the example of his evident devotion to his flock and to his obligations, which led to an early death from exhaustion. Perhaps this, too, shall soon be the lot of some traditional priests who will not renounce the Roman Rite in favor of the modern rite, and who will end up traveling far and wide to provide the sacraments and the blessings in their traditional form.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Sunday after the Ascension

Hear, o Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to thee.” After the first anointing, which they had received in the death of Christ, as He breathed upon them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”, the Apostles awaited the second anointing which the Lord had promised, saying, “If I shall go; I shall send the Paraclete to you.” Therefore, as they await, they sing in the Introit, “Hear.”

Introitus Ps 26 Exaudi, Dómine, vocem meam, qua clamávi ad te, allelúia: tibi dixit cor meum, quaesívi vultum tuum, vultum tuum, Dómine, requíram: ne avertas faciem tuam a me, allelúia, allelúia. V. Dóminus illuminatio mea et salus mea: quem timébo? Glória Patri... Exáudi, Dómine...

Introit Ps. 26 Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to Thee, alleluia: my heart hath said to Thee, I have sought Thy face; Thy face, o Lord, will I still seek turn not Thy face from me, alleluia, alleluia. V. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Glory be... Hear, o Lord...
This is taken from the twenty-sixth Psalm, “The Lord is my light”, the title of which is “Unto the end, a Psalm of David, before he was anointed”; for therein is treated of the anointing of David, which was three-fold. For indeed, first he was anointed as a sign that he would be the king, second, as king over the tribe of Judah, and third over all of Israel.
Folio 14r of the breviary of René of Anjou (1409-80). This image is placed before the ferial Office of Monday, on which the nocturn begins with Psalm 26,“a psalm of David, before he was anointed.” At the lower left, is the election of David as king, and at the right, his anointing and coronation (2 Samuel 5).
We also sing the same, because we await a third anointing. For the first anointing is in baptism, the second in confirmation, or in the penance of confession, the third will be in the resurrection. In another sense, the first anointing was among the Apostles, the second among the Jews, the third among the gentiles. For “the ointment which ran down upon the beard of Aaron ... ran down upon the hem of his garment” (Ps. 132, 2), that is, upon the chosen Jews who were close to the Apostles... and “ran down like dew the dew of Hermon upon Mount Sion”, that is, the grace of Him that was exalted (in the Ascension) imbued the nations that watched for God.
And since the Apostles as they waited... were in the temple, praying, and praising, and blessing God (Luke 24, 53), therefore, as we wait, we are invited to prayer by the Epistle, “Be ye prudent (and keep watch in prayers.” (1 Peter 4, 7-11)

from the Mitrale of Sicard, bishop of Cremona, Italy, (1155 ca. - 1215), book 7, chapter 9. This work was one of the major sources for William Durandus’ Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, the Summa of medieval liturgical commentaries, and in the parallel chapter, Durandus cites Sicard by name (or rather, almost by name, since he called him “Richard.”) However, in this case, Sicard’s commentary is much clearer than Durandus’.

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