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    We have much work to do in the rebuilding of Catholic culture, and in this “slow evangelization” (as Stratford Caldecott called it), liturgy can be compared to the right hand, the fine arts to the left hand. I found myself thinking about this when looking at some magnificent calligraphic work by well-known Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui, and reading his superb lecture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, “Invention and Exaltation.” (The text may be read here; a video of the lecture is available here. Highly recommended.) Daniel visited the university to open an exhibit of his artwork in the Gentile Gallery on September 14th.

    Following up on my earlier post about the layouts and typography of Dom Benedict Andersen, I wanted to share with NLM readers some of Daniel Mitsui’s recent experiments with designing his own typefaces, a painstaking art form he is pursuing in order to work towards the publication of new illustrated fine press editions of late medieval books. Two of the pieces now on display in Steubenville are typographic broadsides, one of them prepared in anticipation of the Synod on the Family:

    (To see these at the artist's website, go here and here.)

    In toto, Daniel has designed four typefaces: Benedict, Victor, Adam, and Michaëla. The marriage and family texts above are written in Benedict; the Lord's Prayer in Victor. Here are samples of Adam and Michaëla:

     

    Some time ago Daniel did this "Ecce quam bonum," which is a masterly example of the art of illuminating a text (we see again the Benedict font):

    These are truly exquisite pieces of work, and we are all looking forward to many more from this extraordinary artist. Check out his website for a complete portfolio and items for sale.



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    For the feast of St Andrew, here is a picture of a wonderful reliquary containing some of the wood of both his cross and that of his brother, St Peter. Both sets of pieces are arranged in the shape of the crosses on which the two Apostles died, Andrew’s an X, and Peter’s like that of the Lord, but upside-down.


    This photograph was taken by Dom Jakobus of Herzogenburg Abbey in Austria, a house of the Order of Canons Regular of St Augustine, and is reproduced here with his kind permission. Dom Jakobus also maintains a facebook page about the Order, (under their Latin title, “Ordo Canonicorum Regularium Sancti Augustini”), with lots of information about the various orders and houses of Augustinian Canons Regular, and many interesting pictures, both modern and historical, of the canons and their liturgies.

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    NLM authors were asked to offer Christmas gift ideas to pass along to our readers. Their suggestions have been grouped into thematic lists. The following list is obviously anything but comprehensive — and if your personal favorites happen not to be included, that’s not because we don’t think they’re worth giving or receiving. Indeed, if you’d like to supplement our list in the combox, feel free to do so!

    The lists below are book-heavy. The reason is simple enough. We need to keep studying, we need to form and inform ourselves intellectually. There is a huge amount of ignorance and error in the Church today, and, obviously, no one of us is ever fully “finished” with our education. Miseducation and lack of knowledge are not static problems; like weeds in a garden, they multiply and take over if they are not uprooted and valuable plants cultivated in their place. I saw recently a quotation attributed to St. Thomas More: “One of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled but few are educated.” So, NLM authors not surprisingly like to recommend good books.


    Devotional items

    • Icons. There are, alas, a lot of cheap and ugly icons out there, but if you take your time you can find something very beautiful — either a well-made reproduction (two excellent sources are Jordanville and St. Isaac Skete) or an original icon (see, e.g., here or here).
    • A good daily Missal. The two best for the TLM are The Roman Catholic Daily Missaland the Baronius Press Daily Missal. For the OF, one can’t beat the Midwest Theological Forum editions
    • A nice chapel veil— this could make a great gift from a fellow to a lady, a sister to a sister, etc. Here’s one very good source.
    • Hand-carved olivewood statues from the holy Land that help support the Christians of the Holy Land.  They certainly need our support, and the gifts are really lovely. One such source would be here.
    • Oplatki Christmas Wafers for Christmas Eve.
    • Mystic Monk Coffee. I don’t think this really is a devotional item (although, in Thomistic fashion, one might consider it such by extention, inasmuch as it removes impediments to devotion.) But it’s comforting to be able to support great liturgy and get great coffee at the same time. The progress the monks are making on their Gothic monastery is heartening and deserves our support.

    CDs and DVDs

    Books for Parents & Families

    Catholic Childrens’ Books

    Books on the Sacred Liturgy

    • Joseph Ratzinger, The Theology of the Liturgy— this incredibly handy volume brings together all of Ratzinger’s writings on the liturgy, including his now-classic The Spirit  of the Liturgy. (It’s unfortunate that Amazon doesn’t delete the reviews that referred to the initial printing of the book, which was marred by a manufacturer’s error. The problem was quickly solved with a new printing, but now these one-star reviews are weighing it down.)
    • Romano Guardini, Sacred Signs. (NLM review)
    • Peter Kwasniewski, Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church. (See NLM review by Dom Alcuin Reid)
    • William Mahrt, The Musical Shape of the Liturgy.This book deserves to be better known than it is. A collection of Dr. Mahrt’s wise articles from years and years of Sacred Music, it represents the pinnacle of aesthetic, musicological, and theological thinking about the organic interconnection of church music (especially Gregorian chant) and the sacred rites. For serious students of liturgy and the fine arts.

    Great Resources for Sacred Music (OF)

    • Fr. Samuel Weber’s The Proper of the Mass for Sundays and Solemnities.If you are going to sing the Introit, Offertory, and/or Communion chants in English, this is the gold standard. (NLM review.) 
    • Fr. Samuel Weber’s Hymnal for the Hours. This exceptional book contains English plainchant settings of nearly all the hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours. If you sing the LOTH, it’s a must-have. Available in hardcover or paperback. (NLM review)
    • Adam Bartlett’s Lumen Christi series (NLM review of one of the books in the series)
    • Aristotle Esguerra’s Modal Responsorial Psalms.
    • The Parish Book of Chant,2nd ed. (for both OF and EF)—this is the flagship chant publication of the Church Music Association of America and has found a home in hundreds of churches and chapels. It is an ideal compilation of authentic Latin Gregorian chant for parish use.
    • Peter Kwasniewski’s Sacred Choral Worksa collection of 91 choral pieces (motets, antiphons, acclamations, Masses) for various choral ensembles, mostly SATB. The table of contents and audio samples are found at this link. (see NLM interview)

    Books for Your Parish Priest (if he doesn’t already have them)

    Other Gifts for the Clergy

    • If you want to offer a good gift of vestments for your priest, visit here. Superior work at an affordable price. (Of course, we also always recommend all the companies who advertise with NLM in our sidebars. We do not accept every ad; we take ads from people whose work we know and love.)
    • Every well-dressed cleric should have a biretta; it is the correct headgear for the priest of the Roman Rite. See here for a good source.

    Books for Masters of Ceremonies

    Essential Reading on the Contemporary Church

    • H. J. A. Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes.Difficult to praise this book highly enough! It is a well-crafted, penetrating presentation of the crisis moments in the history of the Church, with special attention to the past 50+ years. 
    • Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods, The Great Façade, second edition. If you own the first edition, you’ll want to get the second—it has an additional 250 pages by Ferrara on the period from 2002 to the present (mainly, the pontificates of Benedict and Francis to date). Hot stuff, as P.G. Wodehouse would say.
    • Roberto De Mattei, The Second Vatican Council – An Unwritten Story.If you ever wanted the real scoop on what happened at the Council, including the intentions of its major players, the way the procedures were tampered with, how the documents actually got written, and so forth, this is the book. Wiltgen’s The Rhine Flows into the Tiberis a classic, of course, but De Mattei drills deeper — he’s not a journalist but a true historian, with a vast knowledge of primary sources and the careful habits of a scholar, with the benefit of hindset that Wiltgen did not enjoy.
    • Romano Amerio, Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century.This book is, in a way, The Great Façade, avant la lettre. Amerio casts his net wider than Ferrara and Woods by surveying the entire 20th century and documenting the (usually) gradual shift in positions on a whole host of subjects. Check out the table of contents at Amazon for a sense of the breadth of the coverage.
    A blessed Advent to all NLM readers. Let us all pray for one another.

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    NLM readers undoubtedly know by now of the atrocious acts of sacrilege committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament in Pamplona, Spain. This nauseating act of contempt for the most sacred of all sacred things speaks of the decline of the Church in Europe and, broadly speaking, of civilized life more poignantly than anything else could do. There are, thanks be to God, thousands who have been making reparation, as our Lord, never to be defeated and never to be surpassed, draws forth spiritual good from the worst of the devil's attacks. The devil will never win -- but until the end of time, he will never stop trying to mar the good work of God, until he is bound hand and foot and shut up forever.

    In connection with this incident, I was struck by an article posted by Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B., of Silverstream Priory, where he ponders the connection between novel liturgical customs and the kinds of irreverence they make possible today on a scale that beggars the imagination. I shall quote here most of the article, but encourage the readers to go to Vultus Christi for the whole piece (and for other posts -- it is always a most enlightening and edifying blog).

    A priest friend said to me this morning that bishops the world over need to consider a moratorium on Holy Communion in the hand. Perhaps for the Year of Mercy? Are we to show no mercy to the One who is present among us under the appearances of a thing so fragile as the Host? Do we not recognize in the Sacred Host God become, for love of us, vulnerable, poor, silent, and defenseless? Do we not see that the Sacred Host is the ultimate expression of what Saint Paul (see Philippians 2:7) calls the kenosis of the Son of God, that is His utter self-emptying?
           The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum promulgated eleven years ago by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments 25 March 2004, seems, in most places, to have had little or no effect. One wonders if the clergy were at all given the opportunity to come together to study the document and, with one mind, plan its implementation. Among other things, in article 92, the Instruction says clearly: “If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful”. Many times I have had Sacred Hosts, sometimes bearing the imprint of shoes after having been trampled, brought to me by aggrieved layfolk who picked them up from the floor of churches. I think it only reasonable to conclude that there is, in fact, widespread risk of profanation. Consequently, article 92 of Redemptionis Sacramentum needs to be invoked and implemented. Not to do so would be, I think, more than a mere oversight.
           What has so inured the clergy and laity to the extreme abasement of Jesus Christ in the Sacred Host that sacrileges and profanations meet with no more than a passing measured expression of regret? Have we no  mercy for the defenceless Christ? No tears for God? No voice to cry aloud when the Body of God is defiled?  One forgets, I think, that the culture of death denounced by Saint John Paul II is, in fact, an attack on the human body. Every attack on the human body and every profanation of the human body is, in the final analysis, an attack on the Body of Christ. Conversely, every attack on the Eucharistic Body of Christ and every profanation of that Sacred Body attacks and profanes the human body.“Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to the body of one of these my least brethren, you did it to my Body; and as long as you did it to my Body, you did it to the body of one of these my least brethren” (cf. Matthew 25:39). [...]
           A society that admits the practice of abortion — dismembering the body of a child — will, ineluctably, feel indifferent towards sins against the Eucharistic Body of Christ, the hóstia pura, hóstia sancta, hóstia immaculáta – the pure Victim, the holy Victim, the spotless Victim. By the same token, irreverence towards the Eucharistic Body of Christ opens the door to every manner of sin against the human body: abortion, pornography, sexual perversion, and every manner of violence and abuse. Everything that affects the body has repercussions upon The Body; and everything that affects The Body has repercussions upon the body.
           “The stench of putrefaction”, says the old Italian proverb, “begins from the head of the fish”. I would argue that every loss of reverence at the altar leads to a loss of reverence in the sanctuary; that every loss of reverence in the sanctuary leads to a loss of reverence in the body of the church; that every loss of reverence in the body of the church leads to a loss of reverence in the marketplace, schools, hospitals, and theatres; that every loss of reverence in the marketplace, schools, hospitals, and theatres leads to a loss of reverence in the home; and that every loss of reverence in the home leads to a loss of reverence in the marriage bed.

    (Read the whole article here.)


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    I am certain that many of our readers are aware of and use the site Divinum Officium, one of the most useful liturgical resources on the web. It provides the full text of each day’s Mass and Office in the Extraordinary Form, with the full Latin text on one side of the page, and a vernacular translation on the other. The Masses appear in full with everything in order, so you don’t have to click links back and forth between the invariable, semivariable and variable parts. The Office is likewise arranged hour by hour, and the reader can choose which set of rubrics to follow (the original 1570 Breviary of St Pius V, the same breviary as it was in 1910, the Breviary of St Pius X, etc.)

    Hitherto, the site has provided the side-by-side translations in English, Italian, Hungarian and Polish; I have just received word that, as of the First Sunday of Advent, German has been added to that list; information about the source of the German texts is available here. These translations will be a tremendous help to German-speaking priests and laity who may want to pray the EF Office, but who need some help with the Latin. The creators and administrators of the site have clearly put a tremendous amount of time and effort into the site, which must involve some rather complicated programming to account for all the different possible options, especially in the Office. They are very much to be commended for making such a valuable site available to all for free!

    (This is a slightly cropped screen capture from Divinum Office, showing the beginning of Vespers for today, December 2nd, in Latin and German, according to the Roman Breviary as it was in 1910. First Vespers of St Francis Xavier; click to enlarge)

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    The feast day of St Andrew was celebrated on the evening of November 30th at St Joseph’s Church in Greenock in the Scottish Diocese of Paisley, the first mass in the Extraordinary Form for many years in this diocese. The Mass was celebrated by Fr Robert Mann, with music by the Schola Benedicti, and was well attended the Mass. The parish priest, the Rev. Doctor John Bollan was present in the sanctuary.












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  • 12/03/15--11:02: A Catholic Praise Tradition?
  • Most Catholics have no idea what it is to “praise” God. We hear this verb occasionally in the Psalms, but the experience of praise is unfamiliar.

    Praise is distinctly different than worship in the broad sense.  Worship is showing reverence and adoration to God, through rite and through sacrament. Praise, however, is the specific act of identifying God as savior, redeemer, the almighty, the superlative Good. Further, praise recalls the great works of the Lord. The Psalms are chock full of praise. Take Psalm 107, for example:
    1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

        for his steadfast love endures forever.

    2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,

        those he redeemed from trouble

    3 and gathered in from the lands,

        from the east and from the west,

        from the north and from the south.
    What gives praise its particular value and depth comes from our personal context. It is particularly difficult to identify God as the savior when all seems lost. It is difficult to praise God as the source of good, when goodness around us seems tarnished by pride, ego, deception, and greed. Offering God our praises in this context is an act of faith, hope, and love. Praise, for that reason, must be personal. It must come from “all that is within me,” warts and all (Psalm 103).  Then, the praises being offered, our personal situation is illumined by God’s very being, placed in context of eternity as it were. Through praise, we come to see God's involvement in the circumstances of our own life and sanctification. This personal benefit does not come when someone else offers God praise on our behalf.

    While the Psalms are certainly a part of our Catholic experience, the mode of the Mass is primarily didactic and demonstrative, offering lots of “we do this” and “we do that.” Of course, there is the singular worship Jesus offers God the Father through his death and resurrection, and that is made present at every Mass. With the exception of the Gloria and the Sanctus, however, Mass is not in the "mode" of praise as we've defined it above. Music covers movement or actions at Mass; an Introit or entrance antiphon, a Gradual or Offertory antiphon, a Communion anthem, or a closing hymn all co-exist with other actions that take precedence.  For some, sacred music is just music of the court, even though it is God’s court; it offers reflections on the readings and brings beauty. Praise, however, as an act of faith – identifying God as God – demands our focus, commitment, and time. In fact, St. Gregory the Great required monks observe a pause of at least five syllables in the middle of a psalm verse to provide adequate time for praise to seep into the soul and become understanding.

    Without belief in the authentic, real presence of God, liturgy slips into a comfortable and bloodless deism, where God is distant and disengaged, a watchmaker who winds the watch and walks away. In this counterfeit spirituality, we attempt to make God present through human interaction (support, community, etc). But ultimately this is madness. As Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy, “The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head, and it is his head that splits.” God has already made a way for us to get our heads (and someday, please God, our whole body) into the heavens, and that way is faith. The psalms are a sort of litmus test, a way to show our faith in action; it is impossible to sing the psalms without faith that God is indeed "our refuge and our strength, our ever present help in time of trouble" (Psalm 46). In keeping with the Jewish tradition, praise is the correct response to God's deliverance and liberation from sin and oppression.

    Many well-intentioned pastors go to great lengths to offer their own compassion and heart-felt understanding to parishioners, as if there were something sacred or divine about their own emotional commitment or vulnerability. “Fr. Bob understands,” and for some that's enough.  But while human compassion is profoundly valuable, what about the freedom that comes from the virtue of faith, which comes from God and grows strong within us? Why offer the lesser (and split your head in the process), when you can offer the greater? 1 John 5:4 says, “this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith;” and faith is the primary virtue cultivated by praise.

    How could praise be more thoroughly included in our Catholic liturgy and practice? At one time whole psalms of praise were sung with the Introit, but today the ancient praise tradition remains most intact in the Liturgy of the Hours. Priests are obligated to keep the Liturgy of the Hours daily, even if they are unable to say Mass. Laypeople can keep the office without priests. In communities that struggle to find clergy to staff their parishes, a rediscovered tradition of praise, the practice of keeping the Liturgy of the Hours, might be just the ticket. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for ecumenism and collaboration with Jewish and Protestant communities. If the value of praise were discovered, it could be a tremendous boon on a variety of fronts.

    Here at St. Mary’s Church in Auburn, NY, we started singing Compline (Night Prayers) a few years ago during Advent and Lent. About fifteen to twenty of us sing the psalms and various prayers by dim candlelight, without any accompaniment. Another thirty to forty folks sit in the pews, taking it in quietly. It’s a new experience for all of us, and you’re welcome to take a look at the music we’re using here. The prayers and psalms are assembled after the old Latin Benedictine office, with Cardinal George’s favorite, the newly revised Grail psalms. I composed two new antiphons to satisfy the requirements of the new office. It's not perfect, but it's a start.

    What would it look like if parishioners arrived Sunday about thirty minutes early, and sang Matins and Lauds (Morning prayers) before the Mass started? What parish communities are keeping the office? How do you see the ancient Catholic praise tradition becoming a meaningful part of your spirituality? Let’s start the discussion!

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    In many different years, I have been able to visit the Jesuit mother church in Rome, popularly known as the Gesù (but formally “the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus”), on the feast of St Francis Xavier. The altar of the right transept is dedicated to him, and just over it is suspended a reliquary which contains his right arm, the arm by which he baptized hundreds of thousands of people during his long career as a missionary in India and the Far East. The altar has the normal number of steps, the lowest of which rests on a platform extending slightly away from it, a step above the main floor level. This platform is surrounded by a communion rail, and the space inside the rail, while not huge, can certainly accommodate a decent number of concelebrants, or even a solemn Mass in the rite for which it was built. Nevertheless, every time I have been there on the feast day, a table was set up outside the rail, on the same level as the main floor, and the Masses of St Francis celebrated on the table. That is, until this year, when there was no table, and I saw part of a Mass, OF in Spanish, celebrated versus Deum at the principal altar. Just a small step, but one in the right direction.

    The altar, designed by Pietro da Cortona, contains the painting of “The Death of St Francis Xavier” by Carlo Maratta, and the reliquary of his arm (closer view below).

    The Trinity Crowning St Francis Xavier, by Giovanni Andrea Carlone. The saint is not represented in the fresco itself, but in the stucco relief below it set on top of the altar piece. (In the next photograph.) The representation of the death scene below, the Saint rising into Heaven in the middle, and the glory of Heaven above, also reinforces the idea of the Saint as a mediator between us and God, an important theme of the Counter-Reformation period which this church exemplifies. Various miracles of the St Francis are represented on either side of the window, and to the left and right of the Trinity.
    St Francis Xavier Assumed into Glory in Heaven 


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    Here is the eighth in the series of short videos by Denis McNamara, Professor on the faculty of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein; his book is Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy.
    This is the second video within the series that focuses on sacred images; in it he argues for a restoration of sacred images in churches which respects a hierarchy of imagery. Describing first the reasons for the iconoclasm of the period after Vatican II, (with more charity towards those responsible than I could muster), he then indicates some principles by which we can restore imagery in such a way as to not simply repeat the problems that existed before the Council. This means giving the altar greatest prominence, followed by authentically liturgical art, art that depicts the heavenly liturgy in a form that is appropriate to its high purpose. He acknowledges that there is a place for devotional images in church, provided they do not distract from the liturgical function.



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    The interior of the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
    (photo from Wikipedia by Beyond My Ken)

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    Here are some details of the wonderful liturgies and events coming up Holy Innocents, New York between now and Epiphany. The Church is at 128 West 37th Street, Manhattan.





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    One of the most interesting and important features of the Ambrosian Mass is the corpus of Prefaces, which is very much larger than in the Roman Rite. Almost every proper Mass has a proper Preface, and there are also many common Prefaces (for the Commons of the Saints, and the Sundays after Pentecost), totaling well over 200. Since the Ambrosian Advent is longer than the Roman, beginning on the Sunday after St Martin’s day, there are a total of nine Advent Prefaces: one for each of the first five Sundays, two for the sixth, which has two Masses assigned to it, one for the ferias at the end of Advent, and one for the vigil of Christmas. In this post, I will give the Latin of the first three, followed by my own translation; the other six will appear in two separate posts later on.

    The frontispiece of an Ambrosian Missal printed at Milan in 1522
    The opening formula of the Ambrosian Preface is the same as that of the Roman, except that the word “quia” is added after “Vere”. In manuscript sacramentaries and missals, this formula was usually abbreviated to a highly stylized V and D joined together, a custom which carried over into some early printed editions; I have used it below from a printed Ambrosian Missal of 1522. The conclusion varies, as it does in the Roman Rite, and the formula “Per quem majestatem tuam” is longer, including the names of all nine choirs of Angels. “Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant Angeli, venerantur Archangeli, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Principates, et Potestates adorant. Quem Cherubim et Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes.” The other most common formula “Et ideo…” is the same as in the Roman Rite.

    The First Sunday of Advent
    Cui proprium ac singuláre est, quod bonus es, et nulla umquam a te es commutatióne diversus. Propitiáre supplícibus, et Ecclesiae tuae misericordiam, quam confitétur, ostende, manifestans plebi tuae Unigéniti tui mirábile sacramentum. Ut in universitáte natiónum perficiátur, quod per Verbi tui Evangelium promisisti: et hábeat plenitúdo adoptiónis, quod práetulit testificatio veritátis. Per eundum.

    Truly...Almighty God: To whom it is proper and unique that Thou art good, and in Thy very nature not subject to change. Have mercy upon Thy suppliants, and show to Thy Church the mercy which She confesseth, making known to Thy people the wondrous mystery of Thy Only-Begotten Son; so that what Thou didst promise through the Gospel of Thy Word may be fulfilled in all the nations of the world, and the fullness of adoption may have that the truth brought forth in witness. Through the same Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty etc.

    The Second Sunday of Advent
    Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Cuius Incarnatióne salus facta est mundi, et passióne redemptio procuráta est hóminis procreáti. Ipse nos, quáesumus, ad aeternum perdúcat praemium, qui redémit de ténebris infernórum: iustificetque in adventu secundo, qui nos redémit in primo: quátenus illíus nos a malis ómnibus defendat sublímitas, cuius nos ad vitam erexit humílitas. Per quem.

    Truly...Through Christ our Lord. By whose incarnation was wrought the salvation of the world, and by whose passion was brought about the redemption of Man whom Thou didst create. May He lead us, we beseech Thee, to eternal reward, who redeemed us from the darkness of hell, and in His second coming, justify us, who redeemed us in the first: that His glory by defend us from all evils, whose humility raised us up to life. Through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty etc.

    The Third Sunday of Advent
    Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum: cuius praestolámur adventum. Qui causa salútis humánae, sic est dignátus úterum Vírginis introíre, ut et nobis viam salútis tribúeret, et a tuae maiestáte Deitátis numquam deesset, idem Iesus Christus, Dóminus noster. Quem una tecum, omnípotens Pater, et cum Spíritu Sancto laudant Angeli...

    Truly...Through Christ our Lord, whose coming we await. Who for the sake of man’s salvation, did so deign to enter the womb of the Virgin, that he imparted to us the way of salvation, and was never separated from the majesty of Thy divinity, the same Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who together with Thee, almighty Father, and with the Holy Spirit, the Angels praise etc.

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    Of possible interest to NLM readers in southern New England



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    In the fifth video of this seris, Fr Douglas Martis (who has just stepped down as Director of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein) describes the purpose of the four processions of the Mass, Entrance, Gospel, Offertory and Communion, which symbolize our movement, as an assembly of people, to heaven.
    As he describes this, I am reminded of a Melkite priest who pointed out to me how these same processions are more obviously processed, so to speak, in the Eastern Liturgy.
    Also, I was told once also that the Sarum Liturgy, the pre-Reformation Catholic liturgy of the Church in England, had a strong tradition of extended processions. It has been speculated that this is the reason why the great Gothic cathedral of Salisbury has a long cloistered walk into the cathedral. (Sarum is the old name for Salisbury) It was not a monastic design, but rather intended to allow for these Sarum Liturgy processions.



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    A 16th-century Russian Icon of St Nicholas, from the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg
    Many of the proper Offices commonly used in the Middle Ages make an addition to the last responsory of Matins called a Prose (“Prosa” in Latin, sometimes also “Prosula”), an interpolation which often begins and ends with the same words as the repeating part of the responsory. It is similar to the Sequence of the Mass, and in fact, “Prosa” or “Prosula” was often used in medieval Missals instead of “Sequentia.” Some of them were inordinately long; I have heard one for the Office of Christmas which extends the responsory to about 15 minutes. They were suppressed in the Tridentine reform, with a single exception, “Inviolata,” which is found in many editions of the Liber Usualis and other chant collections; this was kept by the Dominicans on the Purification, and by the Premonstratensians in their Little Office of the Virgin. In the commonly used medieval Office of St Nicholas, the ninth responsory includes a fairly short prose, as heard in the following recording. Below is a longer version, in which part of the responsory is repeated several times, extending it to over 13 minutes.


    R. Ex ejus tumba marmorea sacrum resudat oleum; quo liniti, sanantur caeci, * surdis auditus redditur, et debilis quisque sospes regreditur.
    V. Catervatim ruunt populi, cernere cupientes quae per eum fiunt mirabilia. Surdis auditus redditur, et debilis quisque sospes regreditur.
    Prosa
    Sospitati reddit aegros olei perfusio.
    Nicolaus naufragantum affuit praesidio.
    Revelavit a defunctis defunctum in bivio.
    Baptizatur auri viso Judaeus indicio.
    O quam probat sanctum Dei farris augmentatio!
    Vas in mare mersum, patri redditur cum filio.
    Ergo laudes Nicolao concinat haec concio.
    Nam qui corde poscit illum, expulsato vitio,
    Sospes regreditur.
    Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
    Et debilis quisque sospes regreditur.

    R. From his marble tomb comes forth a sacred oil; and when they are anointed with it, the blind are healed, * hearing is given back to the deaf, and every lame man walks away healthy.
    V. In crowds the people rush, wishing to see the wonders that take place through him. Hearing is given back to the deaf, and every lame man walks away healthy.
    Prose
    The pouring of the oil brings the sick back to health.
    Nicholas was present as to help to sailors risking shipwreck.
    At a crossroad, he raised a dead man from the dead.
    A Jew is baptized when he sees the miracle of the gold.
    Oh how the multiplication of grain proves God’s Saint.
    A vessel sunk into the sea is given back to a father with his son.
    Therefore, let this assembly sing praises to Nicholas,
    For he that seeks him in his heart, vice being driven away,
    walks away healthy.
    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
    And every lame man walks away healthy.

    The reference to the baptism of a Jew “when he sees the miracle of the gold” is one of the less known posthumous miracles of St Nicholas. The story is told in the Golden Legend of Bl Jacopo de Vorgine that a man who had borrowed a sum of money from a Jew tried to cheat him by claiming falsely that he had already repaid it. Going to court, he filled his hollowed out walking-staff with small pieces of gold, to a value greater than what he owed, and then handed the staff to the Jew to hold for him, while he solemnly (and in a certain sense, truthfully) swore his oath that he had given him what he owed and more. While returning from court, however, the cheat was run over by a chariot at a crossroads and killed, and his staff broken, revealing the fraud. When it was suggested to the Jew that he reclaim his money, he refused “unless the dead man should return to life by the merits of the blessed Nicholas,” which did indeed happen, leading to his conversion and baptism.


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    Our next major photopost will be for tomorrow’s feast of the Immaculate Conception. Please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to photopost@newliturgicalmovement.org for inclusion. We are also always glad to receive photographs of celebrations of Vespers and other parts of the Office. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!

    From last year’s Immaculate Conception photopost - blue vestments used in the Philippine Islands! 

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  • 12/07/15--07:00: Beat Your Own Breast
  • Even if Advent is not a penitential season in quite the same way Lent is, nevertheless, a penitential note has always been struck in this time of preparation and expectancy, in the weeks that lead up to the great feast of Christmas. In keeping therefore with the hopeful asceticism of the season, and the many Scriptural readings that call us to vigilance, I would like to have a look at one of the “lost gestures” of the Roman Rite which, thanks be to God, is now making a comeback.

    Why do we beat our breasts? Many years ago, Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., prior of the Monastery of Norcia, wrote a lovely article entitled “Sacred Signs and Active Participation at Mass: What Do These Actions Mean, and Why Are They So Important?” Apropos our topic, Fr. Cassian says:
    This is a sign of repentance, of humility, like the parable of the Pharisee and publican in the Gospel: “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk 18:13). In the Missal of Pius V, the rubric for this gesture was very specific: “He strikes his breast three times, saying: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” The rubric in the Missal of Paul VI is less precise. It simply says: “Striking themselves on the breast they say mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” … The words express our repentance verbally. Striking the breast expresses our repentance physically, in body language.
    Fr. Cassian continues, quoting one of my favorite books, Guardini’s Sacred Signs:
    Guardini has something to say about this gesture too. He asks the question: “What is the significance of this striking the breast? All its meaning lies in its being rightly done. To brush one’s clothes with the tip of one’s fingers is not to strike the breast. We should beat upon our breasts with our closed fists. In the old picture of Saint Jerome in the desert he is kneeling on the ground and striking his breast with a stone. It is an honest blow, not an elegant gesture. To strike the breast is to beat against the gates of our inner world in order to shatter them. This is its significance.” … The gesture of striking the breast, made carefully and with full awareness, can communicate to ourselves and to others more than mere words can say, that we recognize our sinfulness and publicly declare our sorrow for our sins. … Try it yourself. The rib cage is like an echo chamber. If you strike your breast properly, you’ll hear the sound of it: like the sound of thunder.
    This, then, is why we have this gesture and why it is important not to let it slip away into a manner of worship that is too verbal and not sufficiently physical and interior.

    I don’t know if others have done the same, but ever since the new translation of the Roman Missal appeared, I’ve been wondering if the People of God in my neighborhood would start beating their breasts as they say: “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” After all, this rhythmic repetition, evidently not a useless repetition but a highly necessary one, almost begs to be accompanied by some bodily action: “through my fault (thump), through my fault (thump), through my most grievous fault (thump).”

    The results seem to be mixed so far. The younger people pick it up quickly: they are natural imitators, they delight in ritual observances, and as soon as they see a few adults who do it, they start to emulate. But those who have lived a very long time without the beating of the breast — which was, I’m afraid, lost during the confusion of “the changes” — for the most part do not seem to have resumed the custom, and, alas, I cannot remember a single homily in which the custom was mentioned, either to explain it, or to encourage it.

    Still, there’s hope. The beating of the breast will come back, for three reasons: firstly, the increasing number of Catholics who attend the Extraordinary Form cannot avoid seeing it happening many times (and, perchance, reading it in their missals); secondly, members of the younger generation who are liturgically conscientious are taking it up again at both the Ordinary and Extraoridnary Forms; thirdly and most deeply, it is a profoundly human, natural, humble, and effective sign, of which we always stand in need. This gives it a kind of elemental claim on us that easily reasserts itself in spite of decades of abeyance. One sees the same thing with the reintroduction of kneeling for communion, the use of incense, the Benedictine altar arrangement, ad orientem, and lots of other examples. They may have been totally unfamiliar in a certain community, but when they reappear on the watch of a pastor more attuned to Catholic tradition, they make such intuitive sense in worship that the reaction of many is: “Ah, yes — that’s what we’ve been missing.”

    ***
    There is also a practical issue that a reader once raised with me, in connection with the traditional Latin Mass. He wrote:
    At the the Agnus Dei (Angelus Press Missal, pp. 906–7; Lasance, p. 788; Saint Andrew, p. 981), I have noticed that people in the pews strike their breast three times. They often do the same at the Communion of the Priest (Angelus Press Missal, pp. 910–11; Lasance, p. 790; Saint Andrew, p. 983). My understanding, perhaps mistaken, is that at these two points in the Mass, the priest is the only person who should be doing this, while the faithful in the pews are supposed to do it only at the Communion of the Faithful (Angelus Press, pp. 912–13; Lasance, p. 791; Saint Andrew, p. 984). There seems to be some confusion about this amongst those of us in the pews. I’d appreciate it if you could let me know what is correct.
    It’s a good question, and similar to many other questions that people can and do raise about posture and customs at the TLM. In response, let me mention a few points:

    1. As surprising as it may seem, what the laity are supposed to do in the old Mass is nowhere explicitly determined. There are no obligatory rubrics for the laity. There are customs and expectations, but no instructions. (In this regard it is different from the Novus Ordo, which specifies what the congregation is supposed to do at every stage of the liturgy. When Fr. Cassian said above that the old rubric is more precise than the new, he was of course referring to the old rubric for the priest and server; there was none for the laity in attendance. The new rubric is less precise about how many times to beat the breast, but it is more inclusive in that it prescribes the action for all present.) Accordingly, it cannot be “right” or “wrong” to beat one’s breast at any point during the traditional Mass. Granted, if someone were to beat his breast so often and so loudly that it became a distraction to his neighbors, that could well be a venial sin against charity. Otherwise, whether you sit, stand, kneel, pray the Rosary, read your missal, etc., is all up to you.

    2. That being said, certain customs are so widespread and longstanding, e.g., standing during the Gospel or kneeling during the Canon, that departing from them would be strange. To kneel during the Gospel or to stand during the Canon would be symbolically unfitting and certainly a huge distraction to others. Frankly, it’s very rare to find a community that is not united around such obvious symbols.

    3. But then there is the realm of local customs that prevail in a given region or country, in a given parish or chapel, or in a given religious order that may be in charge of the liturgy you attend. There are bound to be some consistent customs, and, if you are new or visiting, it is wisest to follow St. Augustine’s advice in his famous Letter 54 to Januarius to fall in with local custom if there is nothing inherently evil in it. (One of his examples is which days to fast on: if in a place you are newly residing the choice of days is different from the choice you are accustomed to, you should not stubbornly maintain your past practice but adopt the one of your new locale.)

    4. Now, I would have to do more research to find out about how widespread is the custom of beating the breast three times at the Agnus Dei. Still, the Agnus Dei is a part of the Mass Ordinary, which belongs (at High Mass) to the people to sing. Why should they not strike their breasts, too? Indeed, one might infer that this custom had been around before the Council because one almost always sees some people today at OF Masses striking their breast during the Agnus Dei — which is certainly not something mentioned in the new rubrics and could be a carry-over from the past. When, on the other hand, the priest strikes his breast at his“Domine, non sum dignus,” it would not make equal sense for the people to do so, because he is preparing for his own communion, and shortly afterwards, when he raises the host and says “Ecce Agnus Dei,” the people have their own opportunity to say “Domine, non sum dignus” three times and to strike their own breasts, as is right and fitting.

    Thus, in my opinion, people shouldn’t do this at the priest’s communion, but they should do it at the Agnus Dei and for their own communion. But this is merely my opinion, since there are no official rubrics for the people’s postures and gestures. (And let's not forget all the other wonderful opportunities for striking one's breast that the traditional liturgy offers — active participation to the max!)

    As we move towards the season of Christmas revelry, when people are apt to celebrate more and more, let’s not forget the Catholic B.Y.O.B.: Beat Your Own Breast.



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    As posted a few days ago, there was a Rorate Mass held at Holy Innocents in Manhattan on Saturday. The Solemn Mass took place at 5am illuminated by candlelight alone, and included Gregorian Chant. The following photographs were taken by Anthony Dacosta and Cecilia Tan:









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    For the feast of St Ambrose, we continue our series on the Ambrosian Prefaces of Advent. Click here to read the first part.

    The Ambrosian Divine Office does not have the O Antiphons, nor the special series of Lauds antiphons for the ferias that accompany them. Instead, the end of Advent is distinguished by a number of ferias called “de Exceptato”, which have many proper features in the Office, features which carry over to the vigil of Christmas. They are normally celebrated after the Sixth Sunday of Advent, and there must always be at least three of them, including Christmas Eve. When Christmas itself occurs on a Tuesday or Wednesday, there would only be one or two of them; in that case, they are anticipated to the fifth week. The precise meaning of the term “de Exceptato” is disputed. They also have a proper Mass, one of a small number of Masses for penitential days which have prayers, readings and a preface, but no chant parts, with the exception of a very brief one between the Epistle and Gospel. This Mass is said only on the first three of these ferias, and were traditionally accompanied by a penitential procession, with the singing of the Litany of the Saints and a very large number of special processional antiphons.

    Two folios of an Ambrosian Missal printed at Milan, with the end of one of the two Masses assigned to the Sixth Sunday of Advent, the Mass “de Exceptato”, and the beginning of the Mass for Christmas Eve. 
    Here then are the prefaces of the Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Advent, and of the proper Mass of the ferias “de Exceptato”. The opening formula is the same that of as the Roman Rite, except that the word “quia” is added after “Vere”. In manuscript sacramentaries and missals, this formula was usually abbreviated to a highly stylized V and D joined together, a custom which carried over into some early printed editions; I have used it below from a printed Ambrosian Missal of 1522. The conclusion varies, as it does in the Roman Rite, and the formula “Per quem majestatem tuam” is longer, including the names of all nine choirs of Angels. (See the previous post in this series.) The other most common formula “Et ideo…” is the same as in the Roman Rite.

    The Fourth Sunday of Advent
    Cui proprium est veniam delictis impéndere, quam poenáliter imminére. Qui fábricam tui óperis per eundem rursus lápidem es dignátus erígere, ne imágo, quae ad similitúdinem tui facta fúerat vivens, dissímilis haberétur ex morte. Munus veniábilis indulgentiae praestitisti: ut unde mortem peccátum contráxeret, inde vitam píetas reparáret immensa. Per Christum.

    Truly...Almighty God: To whom it is proper to generously grant the forgiveness of sins, rather than threaten with punishment. Who deigned to raise up again through the same stone what Thy work had built, lest the living image which had been made in Thy likeness, should by death become unlike Thee. Thou didst grant the gift of pardon and forgiveness, that Thy boundless mercy might restore life, where sin had brought in death. Through the same Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty etc.

    The Fifth Sunday of Advent
    Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Cuius divínae nativitátis potentiam ingénita virtútis tuae génuit magnitúdo. Quem semper Filium et ante témpora aeterna generátum, quia tibi pleno atque perfecto aeterni Patris nomen non défuit, praedicámus. Verum etiam honóre, maiestáte, atque virtúte aequálem tibi cum Sancto Spíritu confitémur, dum in tribus persónis únicam crédimus maiestátem. Quam laudant Angeli Per quem.

    Truly…Through Christ our Lord. The unbegotten greatness of Thy might begot the power of His divine nativity, Whom we proclaim was ever the Son, and unbegotten before all time; for Thy name of eternal Father has ever been fully and perfectly Thine. But we also confess Him equal to Thee in honor, majesty and might, as we believe that in three Persons there is but one majesty. Which the Angels praise etc.

    On the ferias “de Exceptato” Sunday of Advent
    Et maiestátem tuam humíliter expóscere: ut ita nos Unigéniti tui in praesenti sáeculo illustret respectus, quáliter culpis ómnibus emundátos inveniat secundus eius adventus. Per quem....

    Truly...Through Christ our Lord, whose coming we await. Truly…eternal God, and humbly to beseech Thy majesty, that in this present age, Thy only-begotten Son may so enlighten us with His countenance, that when He comes again, He may find us cleansed of every fault. Through Whom the Angels praise etc. etc.

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    TO SING WITH THE ANGELS: A HISTORY OF THE TWIN CITIES CATHOLIC CHORALE
     By Virginia A. Schubert, PhD

    This is a signature volume chronicling the history of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, founded in 1955 by Father (later Monsignor) Richard J. Schuler. The Chorale is now in its 42nd season of singing with professional orchestra the great Classical and Romantic Masses of composers like Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert, as a part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated in Latin at the Church of Saint Agnes in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This book also recounts the important role that Monsignor Schuler played in the area of sacred music in the post-Vatican II Church. It was his heroic commitment, through word and deed, to the authentic implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s document on music and liturgy, that helped keep the patrimony of Catholic sacred music alive in the United States for a new Renaissance.

    When Monsignor Schuler was accused of living in the past, he often said that he was rather forty years ahead of the times. And he is being proven correct.

    ABOUT THE AUTHORVirginia A. Schubert has sung in the soprano section of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale for many years, and is currently president of the Board of the Chorale. She assisted Monsignor Schuler when he was editor of Sacred Music magazine, and is a member and former officer of the Church Music Association of America. She is a professor emerita of Macalester College, where she taught French, chaired the French Department, and served as Associate Provost during a 37 year career. Dr. Schubert was decorated by the French government as an Officer in the Order of Academic Palms. She is a Lady Commander in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Dr. Schubert is a member of Saint Agnes parish and the parish of Nativity of Our Lord, both in Saint Paul, MN. To contact the author, email at saintceciliapub@gmail.com

    THE BOOK WILL BE AVAILABLE BEGINNING DECEMBER 8, 2015
    TO ORDER COPIES OF TO SING WITH THE ANGELS visit:

    Leaflet Missal Co., 976 W. Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104 (651-487-2818 or 1-800-328-8582), www.leafletonline.com
    www.saintceciliapublications.com 
    Amazon.com

    ISBN: 978-0-692-42105-5 260 pages including 16 color plates $24.95

    PRAISE FOR TO SING WITH THE ANGELS: “To Sing with the Angels is an account of the unique Twin Cities Catholic Chorale and the splendid Latin liturgy for which it sings at the Church of Saint Agnes in Saint Paul, MN. Behind it all is Monsignor Richard J. Schuler, who had a consistent vision of the mandates of the Second Vatican Council maintaining the Church’s magnificent treasure of sacred music….” -William P. Mahrt, President of the Church Music Association of America and Editor of Sacred Music

    Dr. Schubert’s remarkable history of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale is a beautiful witness to the preservation of sacred music in the liturgy, a truly great endeavor that can and should be repeated in many parishes and dioceses throughout the world.” - Reverend Mark Moriarty, Pastor, Church of Saint Agnes

    To Sing with the Angels” is an account of the unique Twin Cities Catholic Chorale and the splendid Latin liturgy which it sings at the Church of Saint Agnes in Saint Paul, MN. Behind it all is Monsignor Richard J. Schuler, who had a consistent vision of the mandates of the Second Vatican Council maintaining the Church’s magnificent treasure of sacred music; this was an unfailing guide to the liturgy, fulfilling the hermeneutic of continuity articulated by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.” - Jeffrey Tucker, Editor, New Liturgical Movement.org; Director of Publications, Church Music Association of America

    Though the artistic heritage of Catholic sacred music was acknowledged and encouraged (by the Second Vatican Council) …as a treasure of inestimable worth, five decades after the last Council the musical tradition of the Universal Church has in fact been eliminated from Catholic sanctuaries and choir lofts…except at the Church of Saint Agnes in Saint Paul, MN. This book explains how and why that happened.” - Reverend Robert A. Skeris, Director for Ward Method Studies, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

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