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    We have just heard that the latest edition of the Adoremus Bulletinis available. As usual there are many points of interest concerning the liturgy; in particular, details of preparations for the liturgies during Pope Francis’ upcoming visit, and some information about the new translation of the Order of Confirmation.

    One piece that caught my eye is the reproduction of an article by Virgil Michel, OSB, written during the Depression, entitled City or Farm? In it he describes the importance of an awareness of nature and man’s place within it. He was an advocate of back-to-the-land movements in the context of the typical cityscape of 1939. He describes how people were so unaware of where their milk came from that a cow was paraded through the streets of one metropolis in order to show them.

    In thoughtful commentary which accompanies it, the Adoremus Editors point out that this is a subject important “not only for its own relevance to the life of grace generally, but as a topic supremely relevant to the celebration of and participation in the Church’s sacred liturgy”. The glory of nature directs man to God, reflects the pattern of our worship, and inspires us to want to do so.

    Some may feel that the cities of 2015 are not much better - I guess it depends on which city and which part the city we want to focus on. I can think of cities at both ends of the spectrum. Nevertheless the points that Virgil Michel makes will almost certainly resonate with many today, if the reactions to my recent article about gardening and Christian environmentalism are anything to go by! I think that the editors hit the nail on the head when they comment on this and say “ must be acknowledged at the same time that the city is also a key locus for the Christian faith. It is toward the heavenly city of Jerusalem that we journey. (Rev. 21:2)”

    For my part, I think that the answer to the question, “City or Farm?” is neither one nor the other, but both. The ideal is a society in which each has his part to play and this incorporates city and farm...and garden! This is the glory of man in harmony with the rest of creation, in which both the culture and the cultus (field) point to the cult (the liturgy), and each is derived from the forms contained within the liturgy.

    The link to the Adoremus website is here; while the link through to the online presentation of the Bulletin itself is here.

    The cover image of the bulletin shows a wall panel from the Newman Center at Lincoln, Nebraska. I love this depiction of the dove of the Holy Spirit, with the Romanesque style design behind it, an image which speaks to the discussion on the Sacrament of Confirmation.

    and here’s the full panel in situ:

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    I close my eyes, and while my lips murmur the words of the Breviary which I know by heart, I leave behind their literal meaning, and feel that I am in that endless land where the Church, militant and pilgrim, passes, walking towards the promised fatherland. I breathe with the Church in the same light by day, the same darkness by night; I see on every side of me the forces of evil that beset and assail Her; I find myself in the midst of Her battles and victories, Her prayers of anguish and Her songs of triumph, in the midst of the oppression of prisoners, the groans of the dying, the rejoicing of the armies and captains victorious. I find myself in their midst, but not as a passive spectator; nay rather, as one whose vigilance and skill, whose strength and courage can bear a decisive weight on the outcome of the struggle between good and evil, and upon the eternal destinies of individual men and of the multitude. (Blessed Card. Ildefonso Schuster, Archbishop of Milan, 1929-54)

    At the time Bl. Schuster said this, he was close to death, and too weak to follow the Office closely as he prayed it; this in itself must have been a great burden to one whose devotion to the liturgy was so great that it was noted even by the communist newspapers. Despite his weakness in his final days, and his enormous pastoral duties, he never ceased to fulfill his obligation to recite the official prayer of the Church. I think these words may serve as a great consolation for those for whatever reason and in whatever circumstance find it difficult to concentrate on their prayers. For those who know Italian, the passage is well worth reading in the original, as he was a man very skilled in the rich rhetorical language of his era.

    “Chiudo gli occhi, e mentre le labbra mormorano le parole del breviario che conosco a memoria, io abbandono il loro significato letterale, per sentirmi nella landa sterminata per dove passa la Chiesa pellegrina e militante, in cammino verso la patria promessa. Respiro con la Chiesa nella stessa sua luce, di giorno, nelle sue stesse tenebre, di notte; scorgo da ogni parte le schiere del male che l'insidiano o l'assaltano; mi trovo in mezzo alle sue battaglie e alle sue vittorie, alle sue preghiere d'angoscia e ai suoi canti trionfali, all'oppressione dei prigionieri, ai gemiti dei moribondi, alle esultanze degli eserciti e dei capitani vittoriosi. Mi trovo in mezzo: ma non come spettatore passivo, bensì come attore la cui vigilanza, destrezza, forza e coraggio possono avere un peso decisivo sulle sorti della lotta tra il bene e il male e sui destini eterni dei singoli e della moltitudine”

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    To mark the feast of St Matthew, here is the illumination from the 8th century British manuscript (the original is in the British Library). 

    There are profound lessons here for those who wish to pray, and for those who wish to paint...or both. This simple painting, which is over 1200 years old and was created by an obscure monk working on a bleak island of the northeast coast of England in the North Sea, can tell us so much. It reveals truths about St Matthew, and from its style we can discern things about the whole history of Christian art. These are lessons that budding artists can apply today, even if we want to paint in completely different styles like the baroque.

    To be able to see these things in the painting we will look first at the historical context: this little painting even tells us about the history of Britain! Art historians - (and the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, of course!) - will describe the style of this art as “insular” or “hiberno-saxon”. This refers to the Celtic style of art and literature of the Christians who remained in the British Isles and Ireland after the retreat of the Romans. It is viewed as “insular” in two ways - first more literally, as it belongs to the islands of Britain and Ireland; and secondly, because it is often viewed as a style that is distinct from others of this period. There is a third reason particular to this gospel, in that Lindisfarne, the site of an abbey, is an remote island off the coast of Northumberland in northeast England. The artist of this painting was a monk called Eadfrith, who later became the abbot of Lindisfarne.

    The British islanders who remained after the retreat of Roman troops in the 5th century were culturally Roman, and wrote in Latin. Over the following centuries, they were gradually overwhelmed by the incursions of German and Nordic tribes. But even in the 8th century, there were pockets of Latin culture left, and most of the Lindisfarne Gospel is written in Latin. On this page “Mattheus” is in Latin, and he is referred to as a saint with the Greek word “Hagios.” Matthew is depicted writing his gospel with the figure of the winged man, his traditional symbol, standing on his shoulder (imago hominis - the image of a man). This is one of the four faces of the cherub described by Ezekiel in his vision at the beginning of his book. Over time, Germanic and Viking culture dominated more and more, and by the 9th century Latin was not so widely spoken; and so on other pages the original Latin gospel text is translated into the vernacular in red ink.

    The curtains are present to indicate that the person is inside, and are drawn back to reveal the scene to the observer. Some commentaries refer to this as a symbolic unveiling by which the truth is revealed. I have to be honest and say I do not know who the figure peeping out from behind the curtain is. Can anyone help me here?

    The style of the Lindisfarne Gospels is certainly distinctive. While retaining its unique look, it still conforms largely to the iconographic prototype, which governed Christian art, East and West, from about the 5th century through to the 13th century. This is a Western variant, so while it doesn’t look like a Russian icon, it still conforms in many ways to the same prototype, with the characteristic flatness and lack of perspective that one expects in icons, revealing the heavenly dimension which is outside space. In order to emphasize this, the bench upon which Matthew is sitting is in inverse perspective. He has his feet on a pedestal, indicating that he is a sacred person.

    There is one little anomaly, however. A feature that pulls it away from strict conformity to the icon is the fact that the symbolic winged man is in profile. In icons, faces are generally in three-quarter profile or full face (like the other two figures), indicating a Saint who is happy to reveal his person to the viewer, because in his purified state he has nothing to hide. Most images from this period conformed fully to the iconographic prototype, as may be seen here with the four evangelists in the Book of Kells, produced about 100 years later considered to be of the same period and style. We can see St Matthew portrayed in three quarter profile, the standard for human forms. I don't know why Eadfrith departed from this in his version. It might be a mistake or even an act of defiance, or perhaps a little bit of ignorance.

    There is another aspect to this, which relates the question of how we know what an icon is. What is it that makes something an icon, rather part of the gothic tradition? Anyone who has done an icon painting class or read a book about icons is aware that there are stylistic principles which govern what they do. What many do not know is that the rules that they are being given are a modern construct, written and popularized for the most part in the 20th century. I have researched the matter, and asked many people about it, and I am not aware of any writings prior to the recent period that represent a codification of the stylistic elements that make in icon an icon, rather than, say, a piece of gothic art. There are no writings by Church Fathers, for example. The rules that you come across in the books were devised by a group of Russian ex-patriots in Paris; especially influential were two men called Ouspensky and Lossky. They looked at the images that they judged to be good and worthy of veneration, and then devised a set of rules that seem to apply to them to aid people to create art in a similar style in the future. To my knowledge, no such code was in existence in writing when Eadfrith was active. We do not know the degree to which the style, which seems to have been preserved by force of tradition, was directly linked to the theology of style in the way that it is presented today. Perhaps, in fact, there was more leeway than we imagine and Eadfrith was just making what would have seemed a legitimate artistic decision.

    Make no mistake, people such as Ouspensky and Lossky did a great job, in my opinion. They provided a set of guidelines by which something that was in the 19th century a wayward tradition in Russian and Greece was reestablished into a strong and clearly defined form, so that icon painters today can be every bit as good as the top icon painters of the past.

    These Russians were not without their own agenda in setting this down, however. They were Eastern Orthodox, and deliberately set down the rules so as to reflect their belief that the Western forms of art were inferior (“degenerate“ ” is the term I have heard used to refer to the gothic and the baroque.) Catholics should be aware of this. The idea that all sacred art has to look like an icon is, from the point of view of the Catholic Church, flat out wrong. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop many Catholics from unquestioningly accepting it, and repeating the anti-Catholic rhetoric that they have heard in their icon painting class. Contemporary Orthodox commentators are motivated to make Western forms that were created prior to the schism between East and Western Church, such as this example of insular art, fit in with the iconographic prototype, because it supports an argument that Christian culture was unified before the schism, and then fragmented afterwards. Then, the argument runs, we can see that the Eastern Churches remain faithful to the original forms of Christianity, while it is the Roman Church that has veered away.

    We don’t have space here to give the full theology of the image that governs the Western traditions in art, but we can give a general picture of what is legitimate for the liturgy and what is not, I take my lead from Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote in The Spirit of the Liturgy that the icon is appropriate for the liturgy, (in this he agrees with the Orthodox), but for the Roman Rite, he says, the gothic and the baroque styles are appropriate too. So, you can continue to enjoy and worship with paintings in the style of people such as Duccio and George De La Tours. I would say that the one thing where the Eastern Church does lead the West is in the re-establishment of these traditions. We are 60 years behind in propagating a theology of the uniquely Western styles, in the way that the East has done for icons. My book, the Way of Beauty, was an attempt to create a the theory of the gothic and the baroque traditions analogous to what Lossky and Ouspensky did for the iconographic tradition.

    Below, classic baroque - St Matthew and the Angel by Guido Reni of the 17th century - with the angel...legitimately... in profile; and the same evangelist by Duccio

    — ♦— 

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    As always, with many thanks to the readers who have sent in pictures of these liturgies.

    Church of the Holy Innocents - New York City
    Solemn Mass, followed by the Veneration of a relic of the True Cross

    Church of St Matthew - Flint, Michigan

    Cathedral of St Paul - Worcester, Massachusetts

    Parish of “El Sagrario” - Lima, Perú
    Mass followed by Procession, Benediction and Veneration of the Relic of the Holy Cross

    Church of Christ the Savior - Didymoteicho, Greece
    Divine Liturgy presided Metropolitan Damaskinos of Didymoteicho, Orestias and Soufli. From the parish priest, Fr Nikodemos Sklepas: “The church is adorned with flowers and basil, which is blessed and the distributed to the faithful at the end of the Liturgy. According to tradition, the place where St Helen found the True Cross of the Lord was full of basil plants, so every Orthodox church this day is decorated with flowers and basil. The color of the vestments is green, the color of hope - crux Christi spes unica! - and the color of basil leaves, but according ancient customs the color of the vestments this day should be red, color of The King and of His precious Blood.”

    Parish of the Holy Family - Diocese of Cubao,. Philippine Islands

    St John the Baptist Parish - New York City

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    This coming Saturday, September 26th, Mgr Keith Newton will celebrate a High Mass in the Ordinariate Rite for the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Mass will be held at the Church of St Agatha on Market Way in Portsmouth, beginning at at 11 a.m. (Click here for information about how to find the church.) As I am sure many of our readers know, Mgr Newton is the prelate of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Anglican Use Ordinariate in the United Kingdom.

    An address will be given by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester and before that Bishop of Raiwind, Pakistan, on the subject of persecuted Christians. The Newman Consort will sing Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli (Paukenmesse), accompanied by an orchestra. Refreshments will follow, and all are very welcome.

    Below are some images from the parish website; a Low Mass, the Lady Chapel, and a banner of the church’s patron. St Agatha. Click here to browse their image gallery.

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    As one who has made hundreds of booklets, pamphlets, "worship aids," prayer cards, signs, and posters over the years, I have invested a lot of time learning how to make these simple items look beautiful. Fonts, styles, images, colors, borders, ornaments are all taken into account, the moreso as the occasion is more solemn. My attitude is that of Eric Gill and others who considered nothing so pedestrian or trivial that it should not be dignified by attention to detail, care in presentation, creativity in approach, and permanence of quality. I would imagine that similar thoughts prevail among the readership of NLM.

    It is therefore a special delight to be able to share with you some examples of the extremely fine typesetting work of Dom Benedict Anderson, O.S.B., of Silverstream Priory, whose "Litany for the Holy Father" I was able to present two weeks ago. Those who attended Sacra Liturgia in 2013 in Rome would have seen the remarkable black hardcover that contained the texts for all the liturgies (solemn Masses and Vespers) of the conference -- in parallel Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, German, and English translations! (A couple of pages from this book are below.) Dom Benedict's work is characterized by elegant lines, balanced elements, a judicious use of typographical variations, and, most of all, an eye for tiny details of punctuation and spacing. He truly offers us a model that can inspire our own efforts in this area.

    When Dom Benedict and I were corresponding about the art of printing, he did specifically ask me to say that he is not available for commissions, as the routine work of producing materials for the monastery and for special occasions as requested by prelates is already keeping his hands quite full, and maybe overfull.

    from the Sacra Liturgia 2013 book

    also from Sacra Liturgia 2013

    Sacra Liturgia 2013

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    Andrew Chandler & Charlotte Hansen (eds.), Observing Vatican II: The Confidential Reports of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative, Bernard Pawley, 1961-1964 (Camden Fifth Series, 43; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). Hardcover, 426 pp., cover price £45.00/$80.00, ISBN 9781107052949.

    This volume in the Royal Historical Society’s well-respected Camden Series publishes, for the first time, the confidential reports about the Second Vatican Council made by the Anglican Canon Bernard Pawley to the Church of England’s Council on Inter-Church Relations. It takes its place alongside other recent English-language publications of diaries, journals and memoirs that cover Vatican II in whole or in part, such as Henri de Lubac’s Vatican Council Notebooks: Volume 1 (Ignatius Press, 2015), Yves Congar’s My Journal of the Council (Liturgical Press, 2012), and The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer (Angelico Press, 2015).

    The main body of Observing Vatican II reproduces large sections of the 167 reports Pawley wrote from April 1961 until the end of the Council’s third session in November 1964 (Canon John Findlow wrote the reports for the fourth session). As the editors admit, extensive cutting has been necessary to produce a book that fits within the scope of the Camden Series — Pawley’s reports encompass around 240,000 words, which would require a book at least twice the size (and probably the cost!) of this one. But even given these limitations, we still have 400 pages of exceptionally interesting material. Not only did Pawley write notes and summaries of the speeches given by the Council Fathers (in a similar manner to de Lubac’s Notebooks), but he also recorded the meetings of the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox observers. The first section of reports (pp. 33-132) also has particular interest for its recording of the period immediately before the Council, from April 1961 to October 1962, in which Pawley details his various interactions with, among others, the then Mgr Johannes Willebrands of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, as well as members of the British Catholic hierarchy and the Roman Curia.

    Here are some quotes to give a flavour of the material:

    For the most part, the suggestions in the ‘Schemata’ for bringing up-to-date the Liturgy of the Roman Church are eminently reasonable and acceptable by us. As the Bishop of Ripon [John Moorman] remarked, ‘If they go on like this, they’ll find they’ve invented the Church of England.’ We often comment that the general principles are similar to those of the Preface to the Book of Common Prayer.
    (p. 40: Report n. 50, 29th Oct 1962)

    The [observers’] meeting was then electrified by the principal Russian observer [Vitali] Borovoj, who, with many dramatic gestures, then got up and said that for the Orthodox the relations between Scripture and Tradition presented no problem. They had always had an ‘orthodox’ doctrine.

    Then, with accelerating gestures and with great force of declamation, he turned towards where [Oscar] Cullmann and [Bernhard] Schlink were sitting and said: ‘I wish you Protestant theologians would realise the harm you are doing in picking the Bible to pieces, with your Formgeschichte, without giving people positive doctrines to put in its place. You make mistakes in publishing your immature conclusions. The atheists among whom we have to live use your confusions to demonstrate that all Bible teaching is discredited. You manufacture a weapon with which they can beat our backs. Have you no more sense?’

    At this point the meeting broke up.
    (p. 172: Report no. 59, 24th Nov 1962)

    In discussion about [the schema De oecumenismo] with responsible members of the Secretariat, we get the impression that the text of the Schema as it stands is the result of a long struggle with conservative elements on the Theological Commission, etc. and represents an optimum of what we can expect. We should therefore prepare ourselves and our public not to be disappointed if certain positions at present occupied are heavily attacked and even lost. Some of the texts (e.g. that on permission for corporate prayer) are deliberately vague, in the hope that they will be able to be given a favourable context later.
    (p. 258: Report n. 101, 14th Nov 1963)

    One slight downside is that the book’s introduction unfortunately relies too much on the Bologna school’s view of Vatican II and the historical period leading up to it — better known as the ‘hermeneutic of rupture’ or ‘Vatican II as event’. However, this only takes up the first twenty pages, and thus is not much of an issue.

    We are fortunate enough to be living in a time when these sorts of confidential reports, diaries, memoirs and other such personal recollections of the Council are being published, and with increasing frequency. However, unlike most of these recent publications, Observing Vatican II is written from the viewpoint of a Protestant (Anglican) observer. For those who have an interest in the history of Vatican II, this book comes highly recommended, and at the time of writing can be found for substantially less than the cover price online from various outlets.

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    The Lumen Christi Association of New York: Pro Fide et Cultura is sponsoring an event to benefit the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, Italy on October 7, 2015 at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan from 5:30 - 8:00 pm.

     The guest speaker will be Catholic author and NY Times op-Ed columnist Ross Douthat. The title of his talk is "Religion and the Fate of the West: Being Catholic in a Secular Age".

    The founding prior of the monastery, Fr. Cassian Folsom, will also be giving a brief presentation on Monastic Life in Norcia and the Restoration of Christendom - Worship, Work and Art. Please visit for more details and payment options.

    All proceeds for this event will be donated to the Monks of Norcia Foundation.

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    From the FSSP Parish of All Saints in Minneapolis, with thanks to Tracy Dunne for posting the video. Quite an improvement, I dare say.

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    Sept. 26th is the new deadline. 

    Register here:

    The Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, will deliver the keynote address: “We Are Bound to Give Thanks to God Always: Worship That is Right and Just” at the Union League Club on Thursday, October 1. And on Friday, October 2, he will celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass (Extraordinary Form), accompanied by a sixteen-voice choir, at the historic Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral.

    Two days of scholarly lectures follow at the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. Topics range from the justice of worship in St. Thomas Aquinas to the styles and hierarchies of Gregorian chant melodies. The Pastoral Track of the conference, held at the Basilica Parish House, will offer practical workshops for parish and diocesan personnel—everything from financing a parish music program, to liturgical preaching, to "unwreckovation."

    Our distinguished speakers are:

    Matthew Alderman
    Taylor J. Bartlette
    Fr Thomas Buffer
    Fr Daniel Cardó
    Christopher Carstens
    Jennifer Donelson
    Robert Fastiggi
    Carl G. Fougerousse
    David Hughes
    Fr Paul J. Keller, OP
    Fr Bryan Kromholtz, OP
    Fr Uwe Michael Lang
    William Mahrt
    Michon Matthiesen
    Brandon Otto
    Christopher D. Owens
    Fr Joseph F. Previtali
    Fr George Rutler
    Jonathan Ryan
    Fr Innocent Smith, OP
    Fr Nicholas Zientarski

    Among the other beautiful liturgies to be offered, all free and open to the public, Archbishop Cordileone will preside Friday evening at Pontifical Vespers (Extraordinary Form), again accompanied by a professional choir.

    To see the full conference schedule, and to register, go to:

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    We recently received this information about the new location of the FSSP Apostolate in South Bend, Indiana, from the parish priest, Msgr. John C. Fritz. NLM joins the Fraternity in thanking His Excellency Kevin Rhoades, bishop of Fort Wayne - South Bend, for this generous pastoral provision for the faithful in his diocese attached to the traditional Mass.  

    The Mother Theodore Guerin Latin Mass Community had been celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass as guests at St. Patrick’s Parish in South Bend. As the small community continued to thrive and grow, its chaplain, Msgr. John C. Fritz, FSSP began to think that perhaps the group was ready to find a home of its own. As often happens, Divine Providence stepped in, and the opportunity came through a phone call from the local bishop. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne South Bend called to ask Msgr. Fritz how he would feel about relocating his community to St. Stanislaus Parish in South Bend, thereby placing the parish under the care of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Msgr. Fritz called a ‘town hall’ meeting of his community where the proposal was unanimously and joyfully accepted! Msgr. Fritz went home to pack his bags in order to prepare to move from Fort Wayne to South Bend, in order to take up residence in the rectory of St. Stanislaus Parish as its new pastor.

    The Traditional Latin Mass was resumed at St. Stanislaus on September 8, 2015, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and will continue regularly on Sunday mornings at 10:00 am. Msgr. Fritz warmly welcomes everyone in South Bend and the nearby areas to come and experience this beautiful ancient liturgy. We will celebrate a Solemn High Mass on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. with guests Fr. Gerard Saguto, FSSP and Fr. Simon Harkins, FSSP. All are welcome to attend.

    The Fort Wayne – South Bend Diocesan Newspaper, Today’s Catholic, recently did a feature story on the changes taking place at St. Stanislaus, and the South Bend Tribune also published an informational piece explaining what people can expect when they attend the Latin Mass. Check out either of these great articles or the parish website ( to learn more!

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    This past Saturday, Fr. Dominic Holtz, OP, a professor at the Angelicum in Rome (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas) celebrated a Dominican Rite Missa cantata for the feast of St Januarius and Companions at the Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our thanks once again to the ever-generous Tracy Dunne of Tracy Dunne Photography for sharing with us these photographs, which illustrate very nicely some of the ways in which the Dominican Mass differs from the Roman.

    Note how the acolytes face in the same direction as the priest when standing next to the altar, as opposed to the Roman custom by which they face the priest. The same is seen a few photos below.

    The Dominican way of holding the thurible.

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    The website ChurchPop recently published an article about a series of twenty paintings of the life of Christ, by Korean artist Woonbo Kim Ki-chang. The style and the settings are unmistakably Korean, a beautiful example of the best kind of inculturation, that by which the culture of a people and a nation are put to the service of the Gospel, while retaining what is good in their proper traditions and characteristic. As we have noted on other occasions, recent and not so recent, in many parts of Asia it is considered dishonorable for a man to appear in public without a hat. Notice therefore how the Magi at the stable and the adult Christ (among others) are shown with hats. When, however, we come to the trial of Christ, the scourging, the carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion itself, He is shown without a hat; the hat then reappears at the Resurrection and Ascension.

    You can see the whole set in the original article linked above. (Images reproduced here with permission of their editor.)

    The Annunciation
    The Birth of Christ
    The Adoration of the Magi
    Jesus and the Adulteress
    The Last Supper
    The Trial before Pilate
    The Crucifixion
    The Resurrection

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    This past July, we published an interview with our own Henri Adam de Villiers, director of the Schola Sainte Cécile, which will provide the music for the upcoming Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome. The Schola Sainte Cécile will be joined by the English ensemble Cantus Magnus, lead by Mr Matthew Schellhorn; in this interview with the organizers of the pilgrimage, he describes his group’s contribution to the liturgies, which promise to be absolutely outstanding.

    1) Can you introduce yourself – your background and your current activities?

    I am a musician living in London, originally from Yorkshire. I went to school in Manchester and then read Music at Cambridge, where I still work. I am a pianist by training and my professional activities include teaching and giving recitals on my own and with others. Singing has always been part of my life and is the heart of my music making, even at the piano. After I converted to Catholicism in 1999, I realised that the Sacred Liturgy needed to be serviced with a much higher standard of music, both in terms of performance and repertoire. The traditional liturgy and the movement surrounding its promotion provides rich opportunities for chant and polyphony, and it is a great privilege to be involved with so many celebrations in the UK and further afield.

    Matthew Schellhorn conducting the choir during the Easter vigil at St Mary Moorfields. (Courtesy of Joseph Shaw.) 
    2) You will be in Rome in late October for both the General Assembly of Una Voce and for the pilgrimage Summorum Pontificum. Can you explain the musical programme that you will perform during these two events?

    My colleagues and I will be providing the music for several celebrations, including the Eucharistic Adoration in San Lorenzo in Damaso (before the procession to St Peter’s) and for the Sunday Mass in the historic church of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. I wanted to programme works that highlight our British provenance and the international nature of the events.

    So, we have music by Robert Parsons and William Byrd, both English composers who worked at the Chapel Royal and were most probably teacher and pupil respectively. We also have music by the great English Catholic composer Sir Edward Elgar, Master of the King’s Musick from 1924–34; his music is considered nowadays the epitome of “Englishness” or “Britishness”, but in fact owes more to continental Europe. I have also included a motet by my friend Sir James MacMillan, a potent musical voice who does much to represent Sacred Music and who is a Patron of The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, which is sponsoring our work in Rome. To reflect the international dimension, I have programmed works by Josquin, Lotti, Viadana, Victoria, Palestrina, Mozart, Robledo and Franck. This will be a grand tour of Sacred Music!

    3) You have assembled a choir especially for this purpose: can you introduce it to us and tell us if it will continue in the future?

    I founded Cantus Magnus as a small professional vocal ensemble in 2011 to fulfil the objective of performing Sacred Music in the context for which it is composed – the worship of God during Solemn Mass. We give no concerts, make no recordings. I do not believe in hearing Sacred Music in the concert hall. We have been fortunate to be supported by the Latin Mass Society, assisting with its events including national pilgrimages and cathedral celebrations. Since 2012, we have provided the music for the Sacred Triduum held at St Mary Moorfields, London, where we also gave what we believe was the UK premiere of the Tenebrae Lamentations and Responses by Italian cleric and composer Pietro Amico Giacobetti (fl. 1579–1616). I very much hope this work will continue, allowing the faithful to hear such beautiful music in the manner it was intended.

    4) What is the link between your musical calling and Catholic faith?

    Good music can draw people into the mystery of worship and therefore I see being a musician as primarily a vocation of service. Beyond that, I can only explain in general terms. I am a Catholic musician, but all Catholics are musicians in the sense that our patrimony includes music because music is an essential human quality. As Cardinal Ratzinger explained: "When man comes into contact with God, mere speech is not enough.”. Or, to use St Augustine’s phrase: “Cantare amantis est” – singing is a lover’s thing. This truth, then, is the link for me and for others. We sing because we have faith; and we have faith so we sing.

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    Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., of this blog has suggested that I republish this post since the question of Dominican practice in incensing was raised by a combox query after the article on the recent Dominican Rite Missa Cantata in the Dominican Central Province.  Students of my province have also asked about this, so I think this summary of Dominican Thurible Etiquetteis timely.

    I have occasionally commented that the Dominican and Roman practices concerning incense are often quite different.  So I thought readers might appreciate an overview of traditional Dominican usage.  The beautiful Gothic thurible to the right is virtually identical to the anniversary thurible at St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland CA, our House of Studies.

    A. Occasions when Incense is Used.

    1. Although properly a Solemn Mass (with deacon and subdeacon) would normally be said every day in a priory with sufficient numbers, not all Solemn Masses use incense.  Incense is used at the Gospel, Offertory, and Elevation on all Sundays and Third Class (previously Simplex) feasts and above.  It is not used on ferials or at Requiems (except at the Absolution after Mass).

    2. Incense is also used at Missae Cantatae on those days.  In fact, a recognition of this practice was requested by the Order and received from the Congregation of Rites every five years up to Vatican II to settle doubts about this practice. Today incense is universally used.  Although it is not required at Missae Cantatae.

    3. The altar is traditionally incensed during the Gospel Canticle of Lauds and Vespers on those days as well.

    B. How the Thurifer Handles the Censer when Loading it.

    Although in parishes, perhaps because of the number of available altarboys, it was and is common practice for the thurifer to be accompanied by a boat-bearer, this was not the case in the conventual Mass.  And, as the priest in our rite never handles the spoon, this required certain techniques that seem complicated but are actually very simple.The presence of a boat-bearer actually complicates the handling of incense.  This method is used (at the sedilla) in preparation for the Gospel and at the Epistle Side of the altar in preparation for the Offertory. The thurible used must be a conventional one with a cover that can be pulled up the three outside chains using a center chain.

    When entering before the Gospel, the thurifer holds the chains near the disk (or the disk ring) with the little finger of the left hand; with his left forefinger and thumb he holds the boat (which must have a little pedestal base).  With his right hand he holds the chains just above the cover, holding the thurible at about waist height on his right side. This is how he always holds the thurible when it is not in use: it is never carried or held with the chain at full length, except during the singing of the Gospel, as will be explained below. As the Alleluia or Tract begins, he approaches the priest.  He lowers the thurible and, with his right hand, pulls up the center chain ring and hooks it on the ring finger of his left hand.  This will raise the thurible cover about four or five inches: more than enough to get access to the coals.  Then, with his right hand, he grasps the four chains just above the cover and raises them up so that he can grasp them with the last three fingers of his left hand.

    The open thurible is now at waist height, and the thurifer's right hand is free.  With it, he opens the boat, and takes out a spoonful of incense.  He offers this to the priest, saying, "Benedicite."  The priest blesses the incense, the thurifer responding "Amen." The thurifer then puts the incense in the censor, places the spoon back in the boat, closes the boat, and takes the chains off the three fingers of the left hand, letting the chains extend completely.  He then takes the center chain ring off the left ring finger and lowers the cover of  the thurible.  He then takes the chains just above the cover with his right hand, so as to assume the position for holding or walking with the thurible.  One should note that the sliding ring around the chains, if present, is never pushed down onto the cover of the thurible.  It remains at mid-point of the chains at all times.  If it is pushed down, these movements would be hindered or impossible. This sounds complicated, but once the movements have been executed a couple of times, nothing could seem more natural.

    C. Other Rules Governing the Thurible.

    1. When the thurible is carried, whether there is incense lighted in it or not, it is never held with the full chain extended.  It is held or carried as explained above.  This means that the chains are in the proper position if the thurible is to be given to a major minister to hand to the priest.  If the thurifer is to hand the thurible to the priest himself, he must reverse his hands first--so that the priest will receive the thurible correctly oriented for use.  This manner of holding the censer renders it less visible and mobile, and so less distracting.  I also solves the usual awkwardness of genuflecting with the chain fully extended.

    2. The thurifer never swings the censer back and forth (supposedly to keep the coals burning) as is usually done in the Roman Rite. Again, this prevents the object from distracting attention from the liturgical activities in process.

    3. There is only one occasion when the thurible is held is held with the full chain extension (and again by the left hand).  This is during the chanting of the Gospel.  And, again, there is no swinging of the thurible.  This would distract attention from the Gospel.

    4. When the thurifer (or priest or deacon) incenses, this is done without any swinging of the censer during the ductus.  Thus there is no chain-clanking.  The motion is straight up and down, entirely silent.  Dominican incensing is always silent: it should not distract from the music or the liturgical actions it embellishes.

    5. The incensing of the deacon and subdeacon, as well as of the two acolytes, is done by the thurifer during the Preface.  The minsters face him in their positions: he gives the deacon two lifts of the censer; the subdeacon, one lift; and each acolyte, one lift, the senior acolyte first.  He then incenses each friar in choir: the provincial receives three lifts; each priest, two lifts; other friars, one lift.  Our liturgical books do not mention the incensing of the people because, as ours is a monastic rite, it is assumed they are absent.  But it is common in parishes to give each side of the congregation one lift, and the choir in the loft one life. The image to the left shows the thurifer in position for the Preface. The photo shows Fr. Joseph Fulton (RIP) celebrating Mass at St. Albert the Great Priory in the mid-1950s.  

    D. Particularities in when incense is used in the Solemn Mass.

    1. The thurible is NEVER carried in the entrance or exit procession. Nor is the Cross ever carried in these processions. The thurifer, boat-bearer, and crucifer do NOT participate in these processions: they sit in the sacristy (which is preferred) or sit uietly and unobtrusively in the sanctuary on the Gospel side until they have functions to perform.  For the thurifer, his first function is at the Gospel.

    2. There is no incensing of the altar during the Officium (i.e. Introit) chant.

    3. The priest directs the preparation of the censer for the Gospel while seated at the sedilla (the bench for the three major ministers) as explained above.  The priest never touches the spoon.  The thurifer stands throughout this ceremony.

    4. The deacon incenses the Gospel book with three simple, silent, lifts of the thurible.  He then hands the incense back to the subdeacon, who hands it back to the thurifer.
    Blessing of Incense at the Offertory
    Position of the Thurifer after the Offertory
    5. The incensing at the Offertory is simpler than in the Roman Mass. The deacon offers the incense to be blessed and then hands the priest he censer.  With it, he makes a single Sign of the Cross over the gifts. After this he raises and lowers the censer three times before the host and chalice (never lifting higher than his shoulder). If the tabernacle or Cross (or both) is present, he incenses it (them) with one set of three lifts.  If there are reliquaries, he makes a moderate bow, and from the center, without moving, he incenses as a group those on the Gospel side with two lifts, then those on the Epistle side with two lifts.  If there is only one reliquary on the altar, he incenses it with two lifts.  Making a profound bow, he then incenses with three lifts above he altar as he moves to the Epistle end, once toward each candlestick.  He lowers the censer and returns to the middle.  In the same way he incenses the top of the altar while while going to the Gospel end.  Then then returns incensing the lower part of the altar three times as he returns. He stops before the Cross to make a profound bow, then completes the three lifts of the lower part of the Epistle side. On arrival there he surrenders the thurible to the deacon.

    6. The deacon incenses the priest (using three lifts), when he has finished incensing the altar at the Offertory. As he does the three lifts, the deacon lifts the front of the priest's chasuble so as to incense under it---this prevents any sparks from landing on the chasuble and damaging it. The incensing of the other ministers is done by the thurifer during the Preface, as already explained. At the left you can see the deacon (Fr. Paul Raftery) holding up the chasuble and incensing as Fr. Anthony-M. Patalano elevates the chalice during Solemn Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Portland OR in the 1990s.

    The deacon incenses at the Elevation
     7. Just before the Consecration, the thurifer, who is kneeling between the acolytes at the foot of the altar, loads the censer with unblessed incense.  He then passes it up to the deacon, who incenses the Sacred Species continuously during each elevation.  He then passes it back to the thurifer who rises, genuflects and leaves for the sacristy, as he has no functions during the rest of Mass.

    E. The Thurifer at the Missa Cantata

    1. The thurifer stays in the sacristy or (more properly) sits in the sanctuary until the priest prepares the chalice after the Epistle.  As the priest begins to pass to the north side of the altar for the Gospel, he turns and faces the Epistle side of the altar.  This signals to the thurifer to arrive and come up the front of the altar steps to meet the priest at the center as he passes over. (See the positions of the priest and thurifer in the image of the Solemn Mass Offertory above.) He there receives the blessing of the incense for the Gospel, descends and leads the acolytes around the corner of the steps for the Gospel.

    2. At the Offertory, when the priest makes a half-turn, as at the Gospel, the thurifer comes up the front of the altar steps with the censor for the priest's blessing of it before he incenses of the altar.  The thurifer then goes and stands at the Epistle side. The incensing over, the thurifer receives the censer back, incenses the priest with three lifts, and goes to the center of the sanctuary and waits.  He incenses the acolytes in order of seniority with one lift, the community (using the number of lifts explain for the solemn Mass, and possibly the people, all during the Preface, as at Solemn Mass.

    3. The Thurifer then stands in the center, when the acolytes are to kneel in the canon, kneels in center of the first step as the acolytes ascend for the elevations.  He puts unblessed incense in the thurible if needed.  He then incenses the elevations continuously as the deacon would at Solemn Mass.  His work finished, he rises, genuflects and departs to the sacristy.

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    On Monday, October 12, the major relics of St. Maria Goretti (canonized in 1950) will be venerated at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago. Information is available here. As a prelude to the “Year of Mercy,” those who venerate the relics of this young virgin-martyr will have the opportunity to experience the Mercy of God that St. Maria Goretti experienced when she forgave her murderer in her last breath.

    The Most Rev. Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, will celebrate a Pontifical High Mass according to the 1962 Pontificale Romanum at 7:30 pm on October 12th at St. John Cantius, and everyone is encouraged to attend this Votive Mass of St. Maria Goretti. The choral music will be provided by Ensemble Cor et Vox with Fr. Scott Haynes, SJC, Director, and Corrado Cavalli, Organist, and will include:
    • Messe brève No. 2, Félix-Alexandre Guilmant (1837–1911)
    • Ecce Sacerdos, Anton Bruckner (1824–1896)
    • Justorum animae, Op. 38, No. 1, Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
    • Beati quorum via, Op. 38, No. 3, Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
    • Ave Verum, Colin Mawby (b. 1936)
    • Allegro from Fantasie in Eb, C. Saint-Saens (1835 – 1921)
    The propers for the Feast of St. Maria Goretti (July 6) are located in an appendix (Proprium Sanctorum Pro Aliquibus Locis) of the 1962 Missale Romanum:
    INTROIT (Ps. 118, 95-96)
    Me exspectant peccatores ut perdant me: ad praescripta tua attendo: omnis perfectionis vidi esse terminum: latissime patet mandatum tuum. Ps. Ibid., I Beati quorum immaculata est via: qui ambulant in lege Domini. V. Gloria Patri.
    GRADUAL (Ps. 70,4-6)
    Deus meus, eripe me de manu iniqui, de pugno improbi et oppressoris. V. A ventre matris meae eras protector meus.
    ALLELUIA (Ps. 70, 6-7)
    Alleluia, alleluia. V. Ps. 70, 6-7 In te speravi semper. Tamquam prodigium apparui multis; tu enim fuisti adiutor meus fortis. Alleluia.
    OFFERTORY (Ps. 73, 19)
    Ne tradideris viilturi vitam turturis tui, vitam pauperum tuorum noli oblivisci in perpetuum.
    COMMUNION (Isai. 33, 6)
    Timor Domini ipse est thesaurus eius.
    The Gregorian chant setting of these propers for the Feast of St. Maria Goretti (which are appointed to be used for her Votive Mass at St. John Cantius on October 12th) have proved difficult to locate. It seems that these Gregorian chant propers can neither be found in the 1962 Liber Usualis nor in the 1961 Graduale Romanum. (They are also not found in the 1974 Graduale Romanum.) Because St. Maria Goretti’s spiritual formation was guided by the Passionists, one might hope that the Passionists, who fostered devotion to her, might have these proper Gregorian chants in their possession (perhaps in the archives of their congregation). If any NLM readers have access to the proper Gregorian chants for the Feast of St. Maria Goretti please contact Fr. Scott A. Haynes, SJC at St. John Cantius at 312.243.7373 x 111 or at

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    I have received the itinerary for the Catholic Artist Society speaker series in New York City for the coming year.

    Amongst the very strong line-up there are two speakers whom I have had contact with in the past. First is Denis McNamara who is always interesting when he talks about beauty and architecture. He has a deep understanding also of the form of liturgical art and how to place it in the right architectural setting. He is on the faculty of the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein. Second is Francesca Murphy whom I knew through Stratford Caldecott and her contributions to the journal Second Spring.

    I encourage all who can make it to attend all of the lectures on the list.

    I attach the poster. You can see it directly on the Catholic Artists Society Facebook page also.

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    By the grace of God I’ve been a Catholic all my life, and during these decades, I’ve known and observed many priests going about their duties. One of the most fascinating differences among them is how they bear themselves before and after Mass. It took me a long time to realize how great an impact for good or for ill this can have.

    Let us take as our point of departure a marvelous line in the Code of Canon Law. Canon 909 reads: “A priest is not to omit dutifully to prepare himself by prayer before the celebration of the Eucharist, nor afterwards to omit to make thanksgiving to God.”

    As if commenting on this canon, Bishop Marc Aillet writes:
    Tearing us away from the secular world and thus from the temptation of immanentism, [the liturgical rites] have the power to immerse us suddenly in the Mystery and open us to the Transcendent. In this sense, one can never stress enough the importance of the silence preceding the liturgical celebration, an inner narthex, where we are freed of the concerns, even if legitimate, of the secular world, in order to enter the sacred space and time where God will reveal his Mystery; one can never stress enough the importance of silence in the liturgy to open oneself more readily to the action of God; and one can never stress enough the appropriateness of a period of thanksgiving, whether integrated into the celebration or not, to apprehend the inner extent of the mission that awaits us once we are back in the world.

    The Time Before Mass

    Consider first the time before Mass. Shawn Tribe wrote an article here a number of years ago that deeply affected me—an article urging the recovery of a spirit of reverence, respect, and quietude in the sacristy before the celebration of Mass. He noted that many sacristies have a sign reading SILENTIUM, and recalled the very old custom of the priest reciting hallowed prayers as he dons each separate garment in preparation for offering the Holy Sacrifice. Before a High Mass, a Solemn Mass, or some other major liturgy the platoon of servers will be very busy, but there is no reason why they can be quietly busy, learning to move in an atmosphere of prayerful preparation and anticipation, keeping their voices down and their conversations useful to the matters at hand.

    The holiest priests I’ve known (although there are exceptions to any rule) have tended to arrive in the sacristy early so that they could prepare in an unrushed spirit. I have noticed that they would carefully say the vesting prayers and be ready, waiting, often looking at a wall-mounted crucifix, before the servers had finishing pulling themselves together. When the bell rings or the clock strikes, such a priest is ready to process in, with a “Procedamus in pace” on his lips. What a profound “ripple effect” his earnest, calm, and focused mind can have on the entire sacristy atmosphere, and on all who are working in it!

    Contrast this with the priest who rushes in at the last minute, in a whirl and a tizzy. He’s looking here and there, maybe stealing a quick glance at the Ordo, racing against the clock. He throws open the closet and grabs the alb and the chasuble, scarcely taking time to straighten them before walking out into the church. Where is the “dutiful preparation” of Canon 909? Do the servers imbibe a true spirit of reverence towards this most awesome of all human actions—indeed, do they see that the priest is embarking on a divine action of which he is, and they are, totally unworthy, and before which we stand in fear and trembling? Or take the other contrast, Father Foghorn, whose arrival everyone knows because you can hear him yacking away in the sacristy before Mass, about the weather, or football, or something in the news, or someone’s sick aunt, or whatever the topic du jour may be. Indeed, he might even be giving out commands about liturgical preparations, but the generalissimo manner is enough to debar anyone from prayer.

    The truth is simple: Father Foghorn and Father Roadrunner are not edifying. We need clergy who, before Mass, conscientiously pursue the spirit of recollection, prayerfulness, humility, and peace. At the end of the day, this is not merely for the benefit of a bunch of rag-tag servers or half-asleep pewsitters; it is for the benefit of the clergy themselves, who stand to win or lose their vocations based on how they approach the very work for which they have been set apart. The devil, shall we say, never omits to prepare for whatever dark business he has in hand, and it seems he targets those who have forgotten their dignity. We must not omit to prepare ourselves for ascending the mountain of the Lord in the company of the angels.

    The Time After Mass

    Let us turn to the time after Mass. Although I don’t remember ever seeing this custom while growing up in a mainstream American parish in the 1970s and 1980s, I began to notice in college and afterwards that more conservative or traditional priests, having returned to the sacristy, would say “Prosit” and then give a blessing to the kneeling altar servers. This is a laudable custom that surely deserves to be retained wherever it exists or revived wherever it has fallen into desuetude.

    But what should happen next? The best way I can answer that question is to describe a particular priest friend of mine, whose example in this regard was as luminous as can be. After blessing the servers, he would quietly divest (no indulging in sacristy banter and very little of the “post-game debrief”), and then immediately step out to the sanctuary, kneel on the side, and pray for several minutes. He sometimes used the traditional prayers of thanksgiving from the Missale Romanum, other times not. It was clear that he was not doing this to be seen by men, yet everyone saw him nonetheless—and this is as it should be. The priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the most sublime act of worship on the face of the earth, the ecstasy of angels and the terror of demons—how can he possibly return immediately to secularity, light chit-chat, text messages, voicemails, or emails, or rush away to do something else (unless it is a genuine emergency)?

    The holy priest just described is the polar opposite of the priest who seems unable to get away fast enough when Mass is over. He zips out of the sanctuary or nave (depending on the planned or available route of escape), whips off the garments, and is out the door quicker than you can say: “Father, do you have a minute to hear a confession?” To a layman, this is a dismaying experience. I was taught in grammar school to stay a bit after Mass and make thanksgiving. Why isn’t our priest, our leader, doing the same? We always say that example speaks louder than words.

    Then there is the priest who obviously thinks that the time after Mass is created for socializing, often at great length, in the atrium or right outside the main doors of the church. I’m not saying that greeting people, shaking hands, and asking “How’s your mother doing?” or questions of that sort is a bad idea; in fact, on Sundays it seems to be an especially good opportunity for making the sort of “horizontal” connections that ought to be avoided during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass itself. Nevertheless, when the post-liturgical bonhomie is conducted with such vim and vigor that the faithful who are trying to pray in the church can hear the guffawing and backslapping pouring through the entrance, or when the extent of the socializing crowds out any real prayer of thanksgiving on the priest’s part, we are dealing with a mixed-up sense of priorities.

    When we have received our Lord in Holy Communion, He is, for some precious minutes, really, truly, substantially present within us. If we are in a state of grace (and we’d have no business receiving communion otherwise), He is always with us spiritually; but He is not always with us in the miraculous mode of His physical Eucharistic presence. This is a special time, a time of unique intimacy and love, when our praises to God and His favors to us are poured out more abundantly, when we are most of all abiding in Him and He in us. Let us not squander this gift from the Lord—and let the clergy lead the way in setting a strong and sincere example of how to rejoice and give thanks. I am reminded of a saying attributed to St. Pius X: “If the priest is an angel, the people will be saints; if the priest is a saint, the people will be good; if the priest is good, the people will be mediocre; and if the priest is mediocre, the people will be beasts.”

    The Advantage of the Usus Antiquior

    As a parting thought, the impression has grown on me more and more over the years that one of the strongest merits of the usus antiquior is that it has preparation and thanksgiving already “built in.” Yes, there is still a brief period for each in the Novus Ordo, but nothing comparable to Psalm 42 and its accompanying versicles and prayers, or to the Placeat and the Last Gospel. One feels that one has decisively begun and decisively ended. There is a suitable psychological and spiritual transition from the secular world to the sacred, and again from the sacred to the secular. And yet, paradoxically, it is among usus antiquior-celebrating priests that I have tended to find the greatest recollection and prayerfulness before and after Mass, too. What this suggests to me is that the very reduction of the rituals of preparation and thanksgiving within the Ordinary Form has had a bleed-over effect on the time before and after the liturgy itself.

    This is why we should adamantly oppose any “reform” of the 1962 Missale Romanum that involves the abolition of the prayers at the foot of the altar and the Last Gospel. Those who speak of the value of the 1965 Missal—the supposed implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium—as if it’s the fulfillment of legitimate liturgical reform are not thinking carefully enough about why these introductory and conclusory parts became popular in the first place and why, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they were eventually integrated into the liturgy.

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    Information about this upcoming liturgical event in New York City was provided to us by Mr Patrick O’Boyle.

    On Sunday, October 4 at 10:00 a.m., an Italo-Albanian Greek Catholic Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at Most Precious Blood Church, 109 Mulberry Street (between Canal and Hester Streets) in the Little Italy section of Lower Manhattan, sponsored by the Sts. Cosmas and Damian Society in honor of their patron saints. The society is composed of immigrants and the descendants of immigrants from the town of San Cosmo Albanese in Calabria, Italy. San Cosmo is one of the many communities formed in southern Italy by Albanian Christian refugees in the 15th century, who were seeking to escape the conquest and persecution of the Ottaman Turks. To the present day, a distinct Italo-Albanian culture continues in parts of southern Italy, with communities that retain many unique customs and dress, the ancient Albanian language and Byzantine Christianity. The Italo-Albanian Rite posses two Eparchies in Italy, at Lungro in Calabria and Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily, as well as the famous monastery of Grottaferrata outside Rome. Their priests can marry, and their liturgical language was Greek up until the time of the Second Vatican Council.

    Between 1904 and 1946, the Italo-Albanian immigrants to New York possessed a parish, Our Lady of Grace, which existed in a Lower Manhattan store front, due to the community’s poverty. The parish was under the care of an Italo-Albanian immigrant priest, Papas Ciro Pinnola, who worked under the auspices of the Archdiocese of New York, since the United States did not have an Italo-Albanian Greek Catholic Eparchy of its own. Upon Father Pinnola’s death in 1946, the Archdiocese of New York failed to procure a priest of the rite from Italy to serve the parish, which was therefore closed the parish. (below: external and internal views of the church of the Most Precious Blood.)

    In other major American cities where they settled, Italo-Albanian Greek Catholics were absorbed into Italian national parishes of the Latin Rite. Plans to form their own parishes outside Manhattan never came to fruition, due to the poverty of these immigrant communities and the apparent disinterest of many bishops.

    Italian-American Catholics of Italo-Albanian descent have begun working in recent years to reclaim their spiritual heritage. A renewed Italo-Albanian Greek Catholic Society of Our Lady of Grace was formed in New York to promote the Rite in the Northeast; a parish, Our Lady of Wisdom, was formed in Las Vegas under the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix, and occasional liturgies have been celebrated in New Orleans.

    In this spirit, the Sts. Cosmas and Damian Society has decided this year, on the occasion of their patronal celebration, to forgo the annual Latin rite Mass held at Most Precious Blood, and instead return to their ancestral tradition and sponsor the Divine Liturgy according to the Byzantine Rite. The Rt. Rev. Economos Romanos V. Russo will serve the liturgy in English (at the Society’s request) assisted by Subdeacon Alexei Woltornist. This is a very rare opportunity to experience the Italo-Albanian Rite that should not be missed.

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  • 09/29/15--13:18: Article 0
  • The traditional title of today’s feast is “The Dedication of St Michael the Archangel”, a term already found in the 8th century Lectionary of Wurzburg, the oldest of the Roman Rite that survives, and in the ancient sacramentaries. The Martyrology erroneously refers this feast to the dedication of the famous shrine of St Michael on Mt Gargano in the Italian region of Puglia, following a medieval tradition attested by William Durandus at the end of the 13th century. In reality, the title comes from the dedication of a church off the via Salaria, about seven miles from the gates of Rome, sometime before the 7th century, and remained in use long after the basilica itself fell completely to ruin. The traditional Ambrosian liturgy, which borrowed the feast from Rome, has in a certain sense actually preserved the memory of its origin better than the Roman Rite itself; not only does it use the Roman name, but it also takes several of the Mass chants, as well as the Epistle and Gospel, from the common Mass for the dedication of a church.

    The central panel of The Last Judgment, by Rogier van der Weyden, 1446-52, showing Christ above, and below, St Michael weighing the souls of the dead. 
    Despite the fact that the feast’s title specifically refers only to St Michael, September 29th is really the feast of all the Angels, as stated repeatedly in the texts of both the Office and Mass. The Introit is taken from Psalm 102, “Bless the Lord, all ye his angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute his word, hearkening to the voice of his orders.”

    This text is repeated in part in the Gradual.

    The Communion is taken from the Old Latin version of the canticle Benedicite, “Bless the Lord, ye angels of the Lord: sing a hymn, and exalt him above all forever.”

    The collect of the Mass makes no reference to St Michael at all: “O God, who in wondrous order assign the duties of Angels and of men: mercifully grant that our life on earth be guarded by those who continually stand in Thy presence and minister to Thee in heaven.”

    The Lauds hymn of the Office speaks in its first stanza of all the Angels, and in the following three of Ss Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the only Archangels specifically named in the Bible. In the book of Tobias, however, St Raphael refers to himself as “one of the seven who stand before the Lord.” (12, 15); this gave rise to a Byzantine custom of depicting seven Archangels standing together around the the Lord. Many icons of this motif give names to the remaining four from various apocryphal sources; one is called Uriel, who is mentioned several times in the Book of Enoch which St Jude quotes in his epistle (verses 14-15). The names of the remaining three are not the same in all sources; in the 19th century Russian icon seen below, they are given as Jegudiel, Selaphiel and Barachiel.

    In the Middle Ages, many places imitated the Roman custom of celebrating a second feast of St Michael, commemorating the famous apparition which lead to the building of the shrine on Mt Gargano. In northern Europe, however, we find instead the feast of “St Michael on Mount Tumba”, the Latin name of the celebrated Mont-St-Michel, as for example in the Use of Sarum. A votive Mass of all the Angels was already in use in the early ninth century, as attested by Alcuin of York, and is present among the votive Masses in every Medieval. However, only very rarely does one find a feast of St Gabriel or of the Guardian Angels in the pre-Tridentine period; a Mass of St Raphael is sometimes found among the votive Masses especially to be said for the sick, but I have seen no reference to an actual feast day for him in the Medieval period.

    In the year 1670, Pope Clement X added to the general Calendar of the Roman Rite a feast of the Guardian Angels, which had been granted to the Austrian Empire by Paul V at the beginning of the century. The feast was kept in some places on the first Sunday of September, but the common date, October 2, was chosen as the first free day after the feast of St Michael.

    The Three Archangels and Tobias, by Francesco Botticini, 1470
    Pope Benedict XV, who reigned from 1914 to 1922, took a particular interest in devotion to the Angels. At the end of 1917, he raised the feast of St Michael to the highest grade, double of the first class, along with the March 19 feast of St Joseph. In 1921, he added the feasts of Ss Gabriel and Raphael to the general Calendar, the former on the day before the Annunciation, the latter on October 24 for no readily apparent reason. The feast of St Michael’s Apparition was removed from the General Calendar in 1960; in the post-Conciliar liturgical reform, Ss Gabriel and Raphael have been added to September 29th, and their proper feasts suppressed.

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