Thursday, July 07, 2022

Corpus Christi 2022 Photopost (Part 3)

We continue with more photographs of your Corpus Christi liturgies, and still haven’t finished! There will be another post in this series, so as always, we will be very happy to include more photos of other major feasts celebrated recently, as here we begin with a solemn Mass of St Peter and Paul. Once again, thanks to everyone who sent these in, keeping up the good work of evangelizing through beauty. 

Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mass of the basilica’s patronal feast; photos courtesy of Allison Girone
In the background of this picture, we see the tomb of St Katherine Drexel, a native of Philadelphia.
Yes, of course tradition will always be for the young.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The Canonization of St Maria Goretti

From the archives of British Pathé, a brief report on the canonization of St Maria Goretti, which took place on the feast of St John the Baptist in 1950. Today is her feast day in the post-Conciliar Rite, the anniversary of her death in 1902. The report mentions the remarkable fact that her mother, who was then 84, was present for the ceremony, and shows her watching the ceremony from a window overlooking St Peter’s Square; four of her six siblings were in attendance. It does not mention that her assailant, Alessandro Serenetti, who underwent a very remarkable conversion through her direct intervention, was also present. The story of the rest of his life after his conversion is such that it would not be surprising if he himself were someday canonized, much like the Blessed Carino, the assassin of St Peter Martyr.

An Essential Resource for Restorationists: Detailed Charts Comparing Pre-’55, ’55, and ’62 Mass and Office

In the slow but steady work of restoring the Roman liturgical tradition, it seems that we are never quite fully equipped with all the resources we might wish to have at any given moment. There is work being done today, for instance, that would have been mightily helpful to have decades ago. At the moment there is a burning need for reprints of the pre-55 breviary (both Roman and Monastic) and of the pre-55 altar missal. But things get done when they get done, and all in good time.

The magnificent resources I am posting today at the end of this short article are examples of just such a precious boon, which, once one holds them in one’s hands, will prompt wonder at how it was ever possible that they did not exist before. I speak of the following detailed comparative charts, prepared by expert calendarist and rubrician Paul Cavendish (of St. Lawrence Press fame), and now made available via NLM. Spread the knowledge of them far and wide.

Archdale King has a snippet about the desired/planned changes discussed at Lugano in 1953 (see image below) which he describes as “revolutionary.” The idea that the post-Conciliar changes to the Roman rite (whose solid outline certainly comes from Lugano) just came out of thin air and were all the fault of Vatican II, or Paul VI, or both, is simply impossible to sustain from a closer look of the patterns indicated on Cavendish’s charts.

Here, in Appendix A of H.A. Reinhold’s 1960 book Bringing the Mass to the People, is a summary of the proposals coming out of Maria Laach (1951), Ste Odile (1952), and Lugano (1953). They read as a veritable blueprint of the Novus Ordo.

Cum nostra hac aetate and Maxima redemptionis nostrae mysteria, both of 1955, were of course the tipping point, though the 1951 and 1952 “Easter Vigil” permissions presaged something big. There was lesser tinkering too, such as the editio VI post typicam of the Missal in 1953 which anticipated some of the 1962MR changes, such as short conclusions. Bugnini wrote a very useful article in Ephemerides Liturgicae about that.

In any case, the charts should be fairly self-explanatory, and repay close study.

PDF of “Outline of Changes to the Roman Missal between 1955 and 1962”

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

The Theology of Legoland

How can a fairground with a McDisney aesthetic and made of plastic bricks be so popular?

On a trip to England a few years ago, I visited a number of attractions for children in or around London. Two of them were the modern style of themed parks, Legoland and Kidzania, which have a range of highly interactive activities and rides that are free once you pay the entrance fee. They seem to be modeled on Disneyland in this regard.

We also went to the more conventional London Museum of Water and Steam, which is in the old water pumping station on the banks of the Thames, at Kew, built in 1820. This has the 19th-century pumps and engines on display, including a miniature steam train looking not unlike Thomas the Tank Engine. It is made interesting for children with some interactive explanations of what they are seeing.

Finally we went to Regent’s Park Zoo, which doesn’t really need to do very much to please most kids and parents other than show us the animals, but, perhaps in order to keep the eco-warriors at bay, it has had to reinvent itself as an environmentalist educational park (a marketing veneer, in my opinion, that can be ignored if eco-politics doesn’t interest you).

First, here are thoughts on the most popular of these attractions by far, Legoland. I was struck by just how exciting and entertaining these places are for kids aged 5 - 10. Legoland is a large permanent open-air fairground on a hill that overlooks Windsor castle, and so presumably the Queen can see it from her bedroom window if she cares to look in that direction. It is so popular that it has a hotel onsite, made out of real bricks...I think. Pretty much everything else in the place is made out of Lego. The general idea seems to be that there is a range of fairground rides - a ghost train, a rollercoaster, a merry-go-round, a boat on artificially created rapids, etc. - into which we are all strapped for safety, to which some themes from popular culture are applied. These themes are chosen to tap into whatever is running high in children’s popular culture at the time, so that might be the latest Disney hit or anything to do with pirates, princesses or fairy tales. Then they make a string of giant Lego models on that theme, perhaps have some of them waving their arms mechanically, and open the doors for business. And boy, does this work as a business model. Thousands and thousands attend.

This shows the power of anything that stimulates the imagination. These children are transported in their imaginations and they love it. The fact that the imaginary world is so obviously recreated by images made out of plastic bricks does not put them off; rather, it seems to attract them even more. They are thrilled by the Lego sculptures and, it seems to me, by the way, it stimulates their natural facility for seeing prototypes when presented with images. To my mind, the fact that Legoland stimulates this so powerfully is the attraction. It’s not just the themes, it’s the fact that there are images of the themes! This is the way of thinking that St Thomas describes in his 4th ‘proof’ of God and which he says is the most powerful way of evangelizing of all his proofs.

As I describe in a previous blog post, 4th-Way evangelization is a method underutilized by Christians today. The Lego company understood the power of this, even if Christians today haven’t, and have made a spectacular business success out of it. (So striking is Lego’s skill at doing this that one wonders if some secret Thomist has finally stumbled upon a commercial application for all those years studying the Summa and medieval philosophy. About time!) Christians should learn to tap into the same power. We could create something, perhaps, that without necessarily being explicitly Christian taps into the themes of Salvation History which are hardwired into us. The McDisneyland aesthetic of the Legoland is not great, but this is not a necessary component of what is on offer - it just says to me that there is a place for something even more powerful if we wanted to provide it. Whoever does this successfully will corner the market!

We do not need to compete with Legoland if we don’t want to (I don’t see that it is doing anything bad). They are so good at what they do, we might choose instead to observe how they tap into this natural facility in mankind and then build on what they do in order to further the Faith. People whose imagination is stimulated powerfully will respond even more powerfully to more explicitly Christian themes if presented well in a Christian context, such as the liturgy.

Kidzania is an indoor facility in West London which uses a similar psychological device to draw people in. Rather than transporting us to imaginary worlds for pure entertainment (with perhaps some incidental moral message) as Legoland does, Kidzania presents the world of adult work to children as an exciting place to which they can aspire. They can become for about twenty minutes at a time, airline pilots, aircrew, policemen, window cleaners, cooks, firemen, paramedics in an ambulance. Typically, an instructor firefighter welcomes them to the activity classroom. The door is shut and parents are excluded. They can’t hear what is said so are trusting that what they are told is good - we watch them through a glass screen. The children put on firemen’s hats and in conjunction with a video are told about this profession. Then they are told that there is an emergency to attend to. They are ushered into something like a golf cart that is made to look like a fire engine. They go to the scene of the accident and douse the fire with hoses spouting real water. As a result of this ‘work’, they earn 12 Kidzania pound notes. The moral message is more apparent here than the Lego experience. The goal is to introduce the idea of work to them and make it seem worthwhile. Again, what is fascinating is how exciting they make this by using the children’s imaginations to connect them to the reality they portray.

The last two places - the Museum of Water and Steam, and London Zoo - were more of what you would expect and much more interesting to me. The beauty and grace-in-motion of the old pump engines and even the elegance of the pumphouse (made in harmonic proportions of course) caught my eye. Interestingly, it was the rides and the interactive models, that seemed to me to be incidental to the main attraction, that the children were most interested in.

The latter two attractions offered an experience of something which was not using imagery, but presenting us with directly with something real. The children were thrilled to be at both of these places too, and enjoyed what was on offer, whether it was a water pump, a steam engine, tropical butterflies, gorillas, giraffes or penguins. The tendency of the more culturally conservative, such as myself, would be to argue that the higher, nobler, experience for the children is that in which they relate to reality directly. But now I’m not so sure. As I have pointed out in the past, the stimulation of imagination and the ability to relate the image to the prototype is almost universally necessary for one to have faith in God. Moreover, for all the beauty of the animals, we will not see them as God’s creatures unless we have that capacity for awe and wonder, and the power of imagination, to connect image to prototype, and creature to Creator. So, in fact, London Zoo needs a Legoland if it is to avoid being a neo-pagan, eco-warrior homage to Nature, rather than an authentic glorification of the Creator.

Perhaps Legoland is onto something profound here!

The Legend of Simon Magus

Until the year 1881 [note], July 5th was celebrated on the general celendar of the Roman Rite as a day within the very ancient octave of Ss Peter and Paul. The breviary lessons for the second nocturn are taken from a sermon of St Maximus of Turin, a Church Father of the late 4th and early 5th, of whom very little is known. This sermon recounts a famous legend concerning the death of the Apostles as follows.

The Fall of Simon Magus, by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1461-62
“On this day, then, the blessed Apostles shed their blood; but let us look to the cause for which they suffered, namely, that among other miracles, they also by their prayers brought down the famous magician Simon in a headlong fall from the empty air. For when this Simon said that he was Christ, and claimed that as the Son he could ascend to the Father by flying, and, having been lifted up by his magical arts, had at once begun to fly; then Peter knelt down and prayed the Lord, and by his holy prayer, overcome the magician’s flight. For his prayer ascended to the Lord before the flight did, and his just petition came there before (Simon’s) wicked presumption did; Peter, being set upon the earth, obtained what he asked for before Simon could come to the heavens whither he was headed. Then did Peter set him down like a prisoner from the lofty heights, and dashing him down with a steep fall onto a stone, broke his legs; and this, as a reproach of what he had done, so that he who had just tried to fly could suddenly no longer walk, and he that had taken on wings lost the use of his feet.” (Sermo 72 de natali Ss Apostolorum Petri et Pauli)

Church Fathers even earlier than St Maximus, such as St Justin Martyr and Arnobius, knew of the tradition that Simon Magus, who sought to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from St Peter (Acts 8), was in Rome at the same time as the Eternal City’s founding Apostles. The apocryphal Acts of St Peter tell the story that Simon sought to win the Emperor Nero to his teachings, which he would prove to be true by flying off a tower built in the Forum specifically for this purpose. As he was lifted up into the air by the agency of demons, Peter and Paul knelt on the street and prayed to God, whereon Simon was dropped, and soon after died of his injuries.

In the unintentionally hilarious 1954 historical epic The Silver Chalice, Simon Magus is played by the great Jack Palance, wearing what is perhaps the very worst super-hero costume ever made. (Palance, by the way, was born Volodymyr Palahniuk, to a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic father and Polish mother, in Pennsylvania mining country. This movie saw the debut of another world-famous actor, Paul Newman, whose performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination; despite this, Newman himself once called it “the worst motion picture produced during the 1950s.”)

The legend goes on to say that the enraged Nero arrested Peter and Paul and threw them into the Mamertine prison before their execution. There they converted the two wardens, Processus and Martinian, in whose acts it is told that St Peter caused a well to spring up from the ground so that he could baptize them. The site has been venerated as the place of the Apostles’ imprisonment for many centuries, and pilgrims can still visit it to this day; a plaque near the door lists the famous Roman prisoners, such as King Jugurtha of Numidia, who were killed there, the Saints who suffered and died within its walls, and the later Saints who have come to venerate the site.

On the opposite end of the Via Sacra, the principal street of the Roman Forum, Pope St Paul I (757-67) built an oratory dedicated to Peter and Paul, nicknamed ‘ubi cecidit magus – where the magician fell.’ This oratory contained as its principal relic the stone upon which St Peter knelt to pray for the defeat of Simon Magus and the vindication of the Christian faith. It was later demolished, but the stone itself is preserved in the nearby church of Santa Maria Nuova.

Photo by JP Sonnen. The Italian inscription above says “On these rocks St Peter set his knees when the demons carried Simon Magus through the air.”
[note] In October of 1880, Pope Leo XIII added the feast of Ss Cyril and Methodius to the general calendar, and assigned their feast to July 5th. The day within the octave of the Apostles was chosen to express the hope for the reunion of the Orthodox Slavs, originally evangelized by Cyril and Methodius, with the See of Peter; this is also stated in the proper hymns of their Office, which were composed by the Pope himself. Their feast was celebrated on this day from 1881 to 1899. At the end of 1899, the feast of St Anthony Maria Zaccaria, founder of the Clerks Regular of St Paul (also known as the Barnabites, from the titular Saint of their mother church in Milan) was extended to the universal calendar, and placed on July 5th, the day of his death in 1539; Ss Cyril and Methodius were then moved to the 7th. In the post-Conciliar calendar, they were moved again, to the day of Cyril’s death, February 14th.

Monday, July 04, 2022

Interesting Saints on July 4th

In the Middle Ages, very few churches celebrated July 4th as a day within the octave of Ss Peter and Paul as Rome itself did. In most places, it was kept as a secondary feast of one of Western Christianity’s most popular Saints, Martin of Tours, commemorating the anniversary of both his ordination and the translation of his relics. The origin of this commemoration is narrated by the famous historian St Gregory of Tours, who succeeded to that see about two centuries after Martin did. The following excerpt from his book “On the Miracles of St Martin” was read at Matins of the feast in the breviary of Sarum.
The modern basilica of St Martin of Tours, built between 1886 and 1924 to replace a great medieval basilica which was destroyed during the Revolution. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by rene boulay, CC BY-SA 3.0.)
“In the 64th year after the passing of the most glorious lord Martin, the blessed Perpetuus obtained the dignity of the See of Tours… and decided to set the foundations of a church over (Martin’s) blessed body greater than that which has had been. … When the desired time came for the priest (i.e. bishop) to dedicate the church, and translate the holy body from where it had been buried, Perpetuus brought together to the feast day the nearby bishops, and no small multitude of the abbots are various clerics. And because he wanted to do this on July 1st, after they had kept a vigil through the night, in the morning, they took a hoe, and began to dig out the dirt which was over the sacred tomb. Once it was uncovered, they put their hands to it to move it, and the work of whole multitude could do nothing at all (by way of moving it) for the whole day.
(This happens again the next day, after which) of the clerics said, “You know that after these three days, was the beginning of his episcopacy, and perhaps he is admonishing us that it is on that day that he wishes us to move him.” Then giving themselves over to fasting and pray and continual silence day and night, they passed the three days … but on the fourth day, coming and putting their hands (on) it, they were completely unable to move the sarcophagus. Being all then thoroughly terrified, and ready to cover over the vessel which they had uncovered, there appeared a venerable old man with hair, and white like snow in his appearance, saying that he was an abbot, and he said to them, “How long will you be confused and (thus) delay? Do you not see the lord Martin standing there, and ready to help you if you put your hands to it? Then casting aside his cloak, he put his hand on the sarcophagus with the rest of the priests… and (thus) at last at the attempt of the old man, the sarcophagus was moved with the greatest ease, and brought to the place where it is now venerated by the Lord’s favour. And being set in its place as the bishop wished, when the Mass was said, they went to a banquet, and looking diligently for the old man, they did not find him anywhere. Nor was there any man who had seen him leave the church. I beieve that it was some angelic power, which proclaimed that it saw the blessed (Martin), and thereafter appeared no more.”
The tomb of St Martin in the crypt.
The Use of Sarum also kept feasts of the four other relic translations in July: St Thomas of Canterbury on the 7th, St Benedict on the 11th (this feast was kept in many other parts of Europe), St Swithin and Companions on the 16th, and St Osmund on the 17th. For this reason, a general feast of all relics was also instituted for the Sunday following July 7th.
In many parts of Germany, however, July 4th is the feast of St Ulrich. He was born in the Bavarian city of Augsburg in 890, and studied at the famous monastery of St Gallen in Switzerland; in 924, was appointed to succeed his own uncle as bishop of his native place. The Magyars, not yet converted to Christianity, frequently attacked the southern and eastern parts of the Holy Roman Empire, and shortly before his appointment had raided Augsburg and destroyed its cathedral. Ulrich built a temporary church to replace it, and devoted himself entirely to divine services, beginning with Matins in the early hours of the morning, and the caring for the people both spiritually and temporally. In 955, he successfully preserved the city from another Magyar assault, personally taking charge of the defences until an imperial army could relieve it. He died on July 4, 973, and has the distinction of being the first Saint canonized by the Pope through a formal process.
St Ulrich, ca. 1510, by the painter Leonard Beck (1480 ca. - 1542) a native of Augsburg. Ulrich is often show holding a fish, inference to a legend that he once was traveling, and forgot to eat his meal until it had gone past midnight of a fast day. On opening his container of provisions, he found that the meat had been miraculously turned into fish so he could eat it.  
In some parts of Eastern Europe, especially Bohemia, today is the feast of a Saint called Procopius, not to be confused with the 4th-century martyr of the same name noted in the Martyrology on July 8th. He was a married man who later became a hermit, and like so many truly holy hermits, attracted many disciples (thereby effectively ceasing to be a hermit). After his death in 1053, this community was organized into a Benedictine monastery that celebrated the liturgy in Church Slavonic. I have not been able to find a source to verify whether they were using it for the Roman Rite, as was done in some parts of Croatia even until modern times, or if they were of the Byzantine Rite, but in any case, the tradition ended at the end of the 11th century. Procopius was canonized in 1204 by Pope Innocent III, and has long been venerated as one of the patrons of the Kingdom of Bohemia.
St Procopius, together with St Vicent Ferrer, on one of the decorative pillars of the Charles Bridge in Prague. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by ZP, CC BY-SA 2.5
In the treasury of the cathedral of Reims in France there is kept a Gospel book written partly in the Cyrillic alphabet, and partly in the early Slavic script known as Glagolitic. The Glagolitic parts are pericopes that follow the tradition of the Roman Rite. The true origin of this manuscript is unknown, but it was long attributed to the hand of St Procopius. After being lost during the Hussite wars of the 15th century, it passed through various hands until it was acquired by a French cardinal and donated to Reims cathedral in 1574. By that time, the legend was current that St Jerome himself (who was in fact a native of the Balkan peninsula) has made the first translation of the Gospels into Church Slavonic, and this manuscript was believed to be his original of this (non-existent) translation. It was therefore incorporated into the coronation ritual of the French kings, which was traditionally held there. Unfortunately, the cover, which was covered with jewels and small relics, was destroyed during the Revolution.
A page of the Reims Gospel book, with a picture of St Jerome in an illustrated letter. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Some Thoughts on America and Americanism

The fourth of July is, in most parts of the world, a day like any other. In the pre-55 Roman calendar, it would have been a day within the octave of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, with the Mass “Mihi autem.” Current Ordos usually say “feria.” On this day the United States of America celebrates a national holiday called Independence Day, for which, in the Novus Ordo, a perfectly ridiculous “proper Mass” has been cobbled together that reeks of Masonic “Manifest Destiny” patriotism (see here for the texts and my detailed critique). Traditional priests more modestly and more appropriately celebrate a votive Mass in honor of the country's patroness, the Immaculate Conception, or a votive Mass for Peace.

At this time of its history, the USA is — or at least is in continual danger of — devolving into violence and anarchy. Some would blame this on very recent social movements and educational failure; others would see it as rooted in longstanding philosophical errors and habits of life that take time to work out their consequences. The recent welcome overthrow of Roe v. Wade has stoked the fires of the culture wars still further. As a student of political history I find fascinating the genre of dreamy praise directed to the US government and its founding documents as practically the best the world has ever seen, and this, not on the lips of secularists or Protestants, from whom one might expect the message, but on the lips of important Catholic figures. Let’s begin with Cardinal Gibbons, who stated in a speech at the Catholic University of America on January 19, 1897:
If I had the privilege of modifying the Constitution of the United States, I would not expunge or alter a single paragraph, a single line, or a single word of that important instrument. The Constitution is admirably adapted to the growth and expansion of the Catholic religion, and the Catholic religion is admirably adapted to the genius of the Constitution. They fit together like two links in the same chain.
The same prelate returned to this theme twelve years later in the North American Review of March 1909: “American Catholics rejoice in our separation of Church and state, and I can conceive no combination of circumstances likely to arise which would make a union desirable for either Church or state.”

It seems to me exceedingly unlikely that the Leo XIII whose gigantic and impressive statue sits in the grand McMahon Hall of CUA would be able to approve of these sentiments. Indeed, he expressly taught the contrary in his encyclical Longinqua Oceani and in his letter Testem Benevolentiae directed, meaningfully, to Gibbon, not to mention a host of social encyclicals like Immortale Dei and Libertas Praestantissimum. (For an anthology of such texts, see A Reader in Catholic Social Teaching: From Syllabus Errorum to Deus Caritas Est.)
A statue (of Leo XIII) that I saw every week at CUA in grad school...
Another Americanist of distinction was Isaac Hecker (1819–1888), founder of the Paulist Fathers, who is quoted in Walter Elliott’s Life of Father Hecker as saying:

The form of government of the United States is preferable to Catholics above other forms. It is more favorable than others to the practice of those virtues which are the necessary conditions of the development of the religious life of man. This government leaves men a larger margin of liberty of action, and hence for cooperation with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, than any other government under the sun. With these popular institutions men enjoy greater liberty in working out their true destiny. The Catholic Church will therefore flourish all the more in this republican country in proportion as her representatives keep, in their civil life, to the lines of their republicanism. (p. 293)
And yet, even one so wedded to Vatican-II-style religious liberty and the separation of Church and State as John Courtney Murray had the perspicacity to see, and the honest to state, the real situation “on the ground” (this, in a lecture at Loyola University in Baltimore in 1940):
American culture, as it exists, is actually the quintessence of all that is decadent in the culture of the Western Christian world. It would seem to be erected on the triple denial that has corrupted Christian culture at its roots, the denial of metaphysical reality, the primacy of the spiritual over the material, of the social over the individual . . . . Its most striking characteristic is its profound materialism . . . . It has given citizens everything to live for and nothing to die for. And its achievement may be summed up thus: It has gained a continent and lost its own soul.
Such a blistering assessment brings to mind G. K. Chesterton’s quip in the New York Times of February 1, 1931: “There is nothing the matter with Americans except their ideals. The real American is all right; it is the ideal American who is all wrong.”

A last passage worth sharing on this fourth of July is written by a man of dual origin, Spanish and English, namely, the historian Henry Sire, whose wide-ranging book Phoenix from the Ashes does not neglect to make some critical remarks about the role America played in the dechristianization of the world and the decatholicizing of the Church:
Across the Atlantic, there was a new Protestant power, adding its strength to those of Europe, and here, too, the work of sapping Catholic societies was prominent. It had already been seen in the French Revolution, in which the American example was influential, and the process continued in the nineteenth century. The United States, like Britain, supported the revolt of Spanish America, and in 1867 they were directly responsible for the victory of an anti-clerical regime in Mexico.
          A less commonly noticed achievement was that of decatholicising the lands — the seaboards of the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific — which the United States acquired by purchase or conquest between 1803 and 1848. For a contrast, we may look to the case of Quebec after its annexation by Britain; a policy of respecting the native institutions allowed Quebec to survive essentially as a traditional Catholic society. A different fate was that of the Spanish and French colonies that fell to republican expansion, as their institutions were overruled in favour of the self-evident truths of Thomas Jefferson. Yet it would be petty to find fault with the American Republic merely for what it did to Catholic societies. It also followed the career of territorial expansion led by its Protestant precursors, Holland and Britain. The empire that those powers built up in far-off lands was available to the Americans on their doorstep.
          It is not generally remarked that the United States is the only country in the modern world which in the recent past — specifically the years from 1811 to 1898 — has acquired its national territory by dispossessing the existing inhabitants and by launching wars of aggression against its neighbours; but that record has not hampered the United States from presenting itself as the world’s moral pastor in international affairs, so successfully has democracy been identified with virtue and innocence.
          Internally, the years after the Civil War became known for their corruption and political manipulation, and for the rise of the robber barons of large-scale capitalism, showing that the country’s domestic morality matched that in foreign relations. By that period, the United States was taking the place of Britain as the example of modernity. American society became the leader in advances against the older Christian ethos, a trend that became stronger in the twentieth century. The undermining of sexual morality included, amongst other signs, a growing fashion for divorce, encouraged by the strength of the feminist movement. A Protestant tradition that busied itself in imposing teetotalism and biblical literalism was engaged in looking the wrong way while these vices stole upon it. (pp. 133–34)
After that sobering passage, it does not seem quite right to say among ourselves in the USA, “Happy Independence Day!,” much less (in keeping with the faux new rite optional memorial) “Blessed Independence Day!” Rather, we might say, as indeed all Catholic citizens of any Western country at this time must say: Miserere nostri, Domine, quia peccavimus tibi.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

An 11th-Century Musical Miscellany

Here is another great discovery from the website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, a musical collection produced for the abbey of St Martial in Limoges in the first quarter of the 11th century. (Département des Manuscrits, Latin 1121) Different parts of the manuscript was copied and illustrated by various hands; almost all of the illustrations are found within the first 42 folios (out of 247), and there are none after the 90th. It contains a wide variety of the classic medieval liturgical elaborations: tropes, proses, sequences, processional chants etc. While it was produced, Guido of Arezzo, who popularized the use of diastemic notation (i.e. written on a staff) was still alive, but his innovation did not take off everywhere at once, and so here we see the notes written adiastemically. I here include all of the illustrations, and have highlighted them by cropping the pages.
The abbey of St Martial was an extremely important center of musical production, and played an important role in the early development of polyphony; see this article from Wikipedia for more information:
A prose for Christmas, which begins with the words “Quem quaeritis in praesepio – Whom do ye seek in the manger”, a play on the words of the angel at the Lord’s tomb, “Whom do ye seek in the tomb?”

The verso of the same folio.
The feast of St Stephen
An eagle for St John the Evangelist
The Holy Innocents; as is common in medieval liturgical manuscripts, many of the illustrations have no relationship to the feast to which they are attached.

Saints Processus and Martinian

For many centuries before the feast of the Visitation was instituted, July 2nd was kept as the feast of the martyrs Ss Processus and Martinian, who remain as a commemoration. According to a legend current since the sixth century, they were the jailers in charge of keeping Ss Peter and Paul in the Mamertine prison in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Nero, and having been converted by the Apostles, allowed them to escape. For this, they were put to death after a long series of torments, through which they simply said over and over again, “Blessed be the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, whom his blessed Apostles have preached!” Originally buried in a cemetery off the via Aurelia, their remains were transferred to the ancient basilica of St Peter by Pope Paschal I in the early ninth century. The north transept of the new basilica is named for them, where their relics are kept under the middle of the three altars.

The north transept of St Peter’s Basilica
The central altar is where this painting of their martyrdom, by the French painter Valentin de Boulogne (1629) was originally displayed; it is now replaced by a mosaic copy.

Since the windows of St Peter’s Basilica are so high up, the marble walls are never exposed to direct sunlight for any great length of time, and generally remain cooler than the air. In the summertime, when Italy is often very hot and humid, a great deal of moisture comes into the building and condenses on the cooler marble. In the middle of the 18th century, it was realized that the paintings over the altars were being destroyed because they had a slick of condensation over them for several months of the year; there were therefore all taken down and replaced by mosaics. The original is now in the Painting Gallery of the Vatican Museums.

Valentin was an unabashed plagiarist of Caravaggio, in terms of both style and subject. One of the latter’s more prestigious commissions was a series of three paintings of the life of St Matthew in the Contarelli Chapel of the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. The angel whom Valentin shows here bringing the palm of victory to the martyrs is essentially a cross between the two angels painted by Caravaggio, one inspiring St Matthew in the writing of the Gospel, and the other bringing him the palm of martyrdom.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Vespers of the Precious Blood

Although the feast of the Precious Blood is very new to the general Calendar, added in 1849 by Bl. Pius IX, the exegetical tradition behind some of its liturgical texts is very ancient indeed. Here I will focus on the antiphons sung with the Psalms of Vespers, four of which are taken from Isaiah chapter 63, and one from Apocalypse 19, both passages long associated with the Passion of Christ and the Redemption effected by it.

The high altar of the Jesuit church in Mindelheim, Germany, with the motif of Christ in the wine-press on the antependium. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Thomas Mirtsch)
Aña Who is this that * cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this one, that is comely in His apparel. Isa. 63, 1
Aña I that speak * justice, and am a defender unto saving. ibid.
Aña He was clothed * with a garment sprinkled with blood, and His name is called The Word of God. Apoc. 19, 13
Aña Wherefore then * is Thy apparel red, and thy garments as of them that tread in the wine-press? Isa. 63, 2
Aña I have trodden * the wine-press alone, and of the nations there was no man with Me. Isa. 63, 3

The passage from Isaiah is traditionally the first of two Old Testament readings on Spy Wednesday, when the station is held at St. Mary Major. In the middle of Holy Week, as the Church of Rome commemorates Christ’s Passion, and visits its principle sanctuary of the Mother of God, this Mass begins with a prophecy of the Incarnation, which took place in Mary’s sacred womb. The full reading is Isaiah 63, 1-7, preceded by a part of verse 62, 11.
Thus sayeth the Lord God: Tell the daughter of Sion: Behold thy Savior cometh: behold his reward is with him. 63, 1 Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra, this beautiful one in his robe, walking in the greatness of his strength? I, that speak justice, and am a defender to save. Why then is your apparel red, and your garments like theirs that tread in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the gentiles there is not a man with me: I have trampled on them in my indignation, and have trodden them down in my wrath, and their blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my apparel. etc.
The Fathers of the Church understood this passage as a prophecy of the Passion of Christ, starting in the West with Tertullian.
The prophetic Spirit contemplates the Lord as if He were already on His way to His passion, clad in His fleshly nature; and as He was to suffer therein, He represents the bleeding condition of His flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red, as if reddened in the treading and crushing process of the wine-press, from which the laborers descend reddened with the wine-juice, like men stained in blood. (Adv. Marcionem 4, 40 ad fin.)
This connection of these words with the Lord’s Passion is repeated in very similar terms by St. Cyprian (Ep. ad Caecilium 62), who always referred to Tertullian as “the Master”, despite his lapse into the Montanist heresy; and likewise, by Saints Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechesis 13, 27) and Gregory of Nazianzus (Oration 45, 25.)

The necessary premise of the Passion is, of course, the Incarnation, for Christ could not suffer without a human body. Indeed, ancient heretics who denied the Incarnation often did so in rejection of the idea that God Himself can suffer, which they held to be incompatible with the perfect and incorruptible nature of the divine. St. Ambrose was elected bishop of Milan in the year 374, after the see had been held by one such heretic, the Arian Auxentius, for twenty years. We therefore find him referring this same prophecy to the whole economy of salvation, culminating in the Ascension of Christ’s body into heaven, thus, in the treatise on the Mysteries (7, 36):
The angels, too, were in doubt when Christ arose; the powers of heaven were in doubt when they saw that flesh was ascending into heaven. Then they said: “Who is this King of glory?” And while some said “Lift up your gates, O princes, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.” In Isaiah, too, we find that the powers of heaven doubted and said: “Who is this that comes up from Edom, the redness of His garments is from Bosor, He who is glorious in white apparel?”
In the next generation, St Eucherius of Lyon (ca. 380-450) is even more explicit: “The garment of the Son of God is sometimes understood to be His flesh, which is assumed by the divinity; of which garment of the flesh Isaiah prophesying says, ‘Who is this etc.’ ” (Formulas of Spiritual Understanding, chapter 1).
The Risen Christ and the Mystical Winepress, by Marco dal Pino, often called Marco da Siena, 1525-1588 ca. Both of the figures of Christ in this painting show very markedly the influence of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment.
In his Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah (book 18) St Jerome explicitly connects this passage with St John’s vision in Apocalypse 19.
John also in the Apocalypse bears witness that he saw these things: “I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and with justice doth he judge and fight. And his eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many diadems, and he had a name written, which no man knoweth but himself. And he was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood; and his name is called, the Word of God. And the armies that are in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp two edged sword; that with it he may strike the nations.” The Lord and Savior sat upon a red horse, taking on a human body; to whom it is said “Why are thy garments red?” and “Who is this that cometh from Edom, his garments bloodied from Bozrah?” St Jerome presumes his reader’s familiarity with the exegetic tradition that the “garment” and “bloodied vestment” in Isaiah 63 refer to the Incarnation. He does even need to finish the thought by pointing out that both passages refer to a “wine-press” as a symbol  of the instrument of Christ’s sufferings.
The Rider on the White Horse, Apocalypse 19, from the Bamberg Apocalypse, 1000-1020 A.D. The lower part shows the angel calling to the birds of prey in verse 17 of the same chapter.
Well before St Jerome, the great Biblical scholar Origen had also described this vision of St John as a prophecy of the Incarnation and the Passion.
Now, in John’s vision, the Word of God as He rides on the white horse is not naked: He is clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood, for the Word who was made flesh and therefore died is surrounded with marks of the fact that His blood was poured out upon the earth, when the soldier pierced His side. For of that passion, even should it be our lot some day to come to that highest and supreme contemplation of the Logos, we shall not lose all memory, nor shall we forget the truth that our admission (into heaven) was brought about by His sojourning in our body. (Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book II.4)

A Calendar Comparison for the Month of July: Byzantine, Tridentine, Montinian

On November 16, 2020, I published a piece at NLM entitled “The Sanctoral Killing Fields: On the Removal of Saints from the General Roman Calendar.” I noted, inter alia, the tremendous and often ruthless purging of saints from the calendar in the 1960s, including many saints who have been on it for as long as we have any records and saints universally beloved.

Toward the end of last July, I happened to notice a few parallels between the Roman Martyrology and the Byzantine liturgical calendar, and this prompted me to look more closely at the month of July as a whole. I then brought in the Novus Ordo calender, to see how it compared to both of these. The findings were interesting, confirming what most of us already know from experience.

The Byzantine calendar features 135 named saints or dominical feasts, and all are mandatory. The traditional Latin Mass calendar features 60 named saints or dominical feasts, and all are mandatory (unless a saint happens to fall on a Sunday; a sad legacy that should be undone, at least by way of a simple commemoration after the Sunday orations). The Novus Ordo calendar features 22 named saints, of which only 10 are mandatory.

I am certainly aware of the important differences between how the presence of a saint affects the Byzantine liturgy and how it affects the Western rites; in the former case it has little enough effect, in the latter a dramatic effect. For more on this topic, see my article "In Defense of Cluttered Calendars."

The details may be found in the two images below.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

We Don’t Need No Re-Education

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

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

More simply, as this fellow also rightly put it

Corpus Christi 2022 Photopost (Part 2)

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

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

Upcoming Celebrations at Our Lady of Mt Carmel in NYC

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

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