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    This is the tenth and concluding video of the series. Throughout, Prof. McNamara has been referring to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, but in this he recaps and spells out the directives more clearly. He refers to the desirability of a “pious skepticism” towards innovation, an attitude that is open to change, but generally skeptical of it, and respectful of tradition. I think that this is the frame of mind which produces the “hermeneutic of continuity” that Benedict XVI referred to. Put simply, it says, don’t change anything unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

    He then goes on to highlight what the Council did ask for in regard to art and architecture, which on the whole reinforces the principles of the desirability of noble and resplendent beauty. Then, in his understated and polite way, he concludes by saying that nobody should ever think that Vatican II ever meant anything other than what it actually said, just because it came at a time that was “unfriendly,” as he put it, to ornament, image and traditional architecture.

    Denis McNamara is on the faculty of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein; his book is Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy.

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    We received such a large number of photographs in response to our most recent request that I am going to split them up into two separate posts. Today we will have those from Gaudete Sunday, tomorrow Rorate Masses and various other ceremonies, as always, with our thanks to all those who send them. Evangelize through beauty!

    Paris of the Holy Redeemer - Diocese of Cubao, Philippine Islands

    Church of the Holy Name of Jesus - Providence, Rhode Island

    Holy Innocents - New York City

    Cathedral of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception - Kingston, Ontario
    Opening of the Holy Door by Archbishop Brendan O’Brien

    Cathedral of the Holy Rosary - Vancouver, British Columbia
    Mass celebrated by Archbishop John Miller 

    Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church - New York City

    Morissey Manor Chapel at Notre Dame University - South Bend, Indiana

    St Mary’s Parish - Kalamazoo, Michigan

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    The website of the Passionist Fathers of southern Germany and Austria has recently posted some photographs of the opening of the Holy Door in the Diocese of Eichstätt, Germany, which are reproduced here by their very kind permission. In them, the local bishop, H.E. Gregor Maria Hanke, is shown wearing that rarest of liturgical garments, the rationale. This is described by the old Catholic Encyclopedia as a counterpart to the pallium, a humeral collar, ornamented in the front and back with appendages, worn over the chasuble. Formerly used by the bishops of several different Sees, especially in Germany, it is now restricted to Eichstätt, Paderborn, and Toul in France, as well as Krakow, where the form of it quite different from the one we see.

    The Passionists’ church of the Holy Cross, part of which was built in the mid-12th century as a reproduction of the Holy Sepulcher, was selected by Bishop Hanke, rather than his own cathedral, as the location of the Holy Door for the Extraordinary Jubilee.

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  • 12/23/15--04:33: O Rex Gentium 2015
  • O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.
    O King of the nations, and desire thereof, and cornerstone that makest of twain one: come and save Man, whom Thou formed from the mire of the earth.
    The Creation of Adam, by Andrea Pisano, 1335; from the bell-tower of the Cathedral of Florence.

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    St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce that the Fota IX International Liturgy Conference will be held in Cork, Ireland, 9-11 July 2016. The subject of the conference is Liturgy and Scripture, and will be explored by a panel of experts drawn from the United States, Germany and Ireland. Further details of the conference will be published early in 2016.

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    On Saturday, December 19, H.E. Dominique Rey, Bishop de Fréjus-Toulon conferred the tonsure and minor orders on seminarians of the diocese and the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian, at the basilica of St Marie Madeleine à St. Maximin. Afterwards, a Solemn Mass for the Ember Saturday of Advent was celebrated coram episcopo. Here is a selection of photos from the event album from their facebook, reproduced with the permission of the FSJC; you can see the rest over there.

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    Good news from the Eternal City. Last week there was an Advent Lessons and Carols concert in Rome, with a choir made up of students from the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, as well as a number of lay and religious students in Rome, under the direction of Sr. Rosemary, O.P. (from Nashville). It was their first performance, with a lovely selection of pieces. A full recording of the ceremony and music is available:

    During the concert, images from Fra Angelico’s work that corresponded to the music were projected; the same images are used in the YouTube video. Thank you, Sr. Rosemary, and all the students who participated in this most worthwhile enterprise. As our editor likes to say (taking his cue from Pope Benedict XVI), evangelize through beauty!

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    Here is our photopost of Rorate Masses and various other celebrations in Advent. A few of these are not Rorate Masses properly so-called, which is to say, the Advent votive Mass of the Virgin Mary, but Masses of the season celebrated by candlelight. We also have some photos from Holy Innocents in New York City of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our next photopost will be for liturgies of Christmas and its octave.

    Nuesta Señora del Pilar - Guadalajara, Mexico (FSSP)
    Photos courtesy of Mr Jesús Ramírez

    St Theresa of Avila Parish - Kitchener, Ontario

    Holy Innocents - New York City
    Mass of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with the blessing and distribution of roses afterwards.

    Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish - Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Photos courtesy of Thea Walsh

    St Denis’ Church - Fort Fairfield, Maine

    All Saints - Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota (FSSP)
    Photos courtesy of Tracy Dunne

    St Mary’s - Greenwich, Connecticut
    Photos courtesy of Jill Chessman

    Procession on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the church of St Mary in nearby Norwalk
    St Mary’s Parish - Kalamazoo, Michigan

    St. Mary's in Pine Bluff, WI
    Photos courtesy of Ben Yanke

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  • 12/23/15--15:00: O Emmanuel 2015
  • O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
    O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, longing of the nations and Savior thereof: Come and save us, O Lord our God. 
    An 18th century Greek icon of Christ-Emmanuel, from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.

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    Cloister Garden of the Carmel of the Holy Family
    I am pleased to announce that the friars of the Western Dominican Province House of Studies will celebrate a Dominican Rite Solemn Mass at 11:30 a.m. on Christmas Day.  The Mass will be at the Carmel of the Holy Family, 68 Rincon Road, Kensington (North Berkeley), California.  The celebrant will be Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., the deacon will be Fr. Robert Verrill, O.P., and the subdeacon will be Bro. Thomas Aquinas Pickett, O.P.  The Mass will be sung by the Carmelite Sisters.  Student brothers of the House of Studies will serve the Mass.

    Along with the other distinctive aspects of the Dominican Rite, this Mass of Christmas has two others.  There will be three readings as we have a Prophecy from Isaiah along with the Epistle and Gospel.  And our rite includes the famous medieval Sequence, the Laetabundus.

    The Carmel has ample parking, but the chapel is small, so to insure yourself seating, come early.

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    Something worth talking about: Sacra Conversatione (Paolo Veronese, 1528-1588)

    Parishes do their very best on Christmas. As no doubt Garrison Keillor would relate about Lutherans and Catholics in Lake Wobegone, we compete over the excellence of our flowers, sermons, music, candles, altar linens, hospitality… and all the other trappings of parish life and liturgy that keep folks coming back. It would be easy to forget that all of these things are signs of a greater and more important reality. Ironically, and perhaps paradoxically, they are signs directing us to a baby, God’s co-eternal Son, Jesus.

    As St. Augustine relates in On the Teacher, without signs, without words, we cannot know the thing itself. We can’t identify or even think about something without using words and names, however the name is not the thing itself. So also with our Masses on Christmas Day: without our polished words, our beautiful singing, and even our lovingly decorated churches, the world would perhaps never know about the Christmas Child, Jesus. We are, however, only midwives, messengers, and teachers; we can only point to Jesus.

    Liturgy is a sign of the presence of God among us. Through the Word of God, through the Priest, through the assembly of the people of God, and most particularly through the Blessed Sacrament, we can see God present (Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, #7). With the exception of the Blessed Sacrament and the Word, however, these things are just signs; thankfully neither the priest nor the assembly is God. Salvation and liberation come when, like the prophet Isaiah, one recognizes “surely God is my salvation” (12:2). It is only after this is known, that one can understand Theresa of Avila’s well-known saying “Christ has no body now but yours.” All of our service to our neighbor is a free gift to God, not a replacement for him or his divine work among us; and after all of our striving and effort, there is but one Savior, and it is the divine baby we celebrate.

    What is the purpose of words and songs about Jesus, then? Again as St. Augustine relates, “if we do not know [what the words signify], then we cannot call to mind [what the words signify], though perhaps we may be prompted to ask” (On the Teacher, chapter XI). Put simply, those who know Jesus sing and speak about him that they might call him to mind, and hopefully those who hear the words and songs and do not know the meaning will be prompted to ask. Even after having received faith through baptism, the process of seeking understanding is ongoing this side of heaven.  To use Augustine's words, "credo, ut intelligam" or "I believe, that I might understand."

    So we might ask ourselves: is there enough mystery and beauty in our praises that someone not “in the know” would be eager to inquire? Sometimes we hear things in Church that we believe, but do not yet understand. Do our sermons demonstrate faith seeking understanding, or is the truth expediently confined to human reason, so as to demonstrate human power and authority? Lastly, do our postures and demeanor demonstrate humility and wonder before the vast truth that lies before us, the holy Christ Child who disarms all human power in an instant? If we don’t know, we should ask someone who does!

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    The Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, says precisely nothing about the Preface of the Mass. However, there can be no doubt that its revision was on the minds of the liturgists, and had been for some time, even if it was not on the minds of the Council Fathers. The trend towards expanding the very limited traditional corpus had been growing for some time; in 1919, Pope Benedict XV added the Neo-Gallican preface for the Requiem Mass to the Roman Missal, along with a newly composed one for St Joseph, modelled on that of the Virgin Mary. He was followed in this trend by Pius XI, who added others for the feasts of the Sacred Heart and Christ the King, followed by Pius XII, who added one for the newly invented Chrism Mass in his Holy Week reform. In the same period, some religious orders adopted new Prefaces for their founders or other prominent Saints, such as the one for St Dominic added to the Dominican Missal in 1921.

    The influence of the Ambrosian Liturgy (whether correctly understood or not) and the Neo-Gallican uses was quite strong on the creators of the post-Conciliar liturgical reform. It might therefore be assumed that when the decision was made to add a Preface for Advent for general use in the Roman Rite, the most obvious choice would be the Neo-Gallican Preface already widely used in France, Belgium and elsewhere. Since in fact two such Prefaces were added, one to be said up until December 16th, and the second for rest of the season, a logical second choice would be the Ambrosian Preface for the major ferias “de Exceptato” at the end of the Milanese Advent, or possibly one of the eight other options in the Ambrosian Missal.

    Inexplicably, but not surprisingly, none of the Prefaces for Advent then in use in the Latin Rites was in fact chosen. In May of 1968, the Sacred Congregation for Rites issued eight new Prefaces, including two for Advent, both of which were carried over into the Novus Ordo when it was promulgated a year and half later. These are partly ex novo compositions, and partly the result of the often rather bizarre process known as “centonization”, the compilation of fragments and phrases taken from a variety of sources, often no more than a word or two.

    In 1989, Frs Anthony Ward SM and Cuthbert Johnson OSB published The Prefaces of the Roman Missal (Centro Liturgico Vincenziano, Rome), which meticulously documents the origins (liturgical, scriptural, and patristic) of all 81 of the Novus Ordo Prefaces. The Neo-Gallican and the Ambrosian Advent Prefaces are not even cited in either of the new Advent Prefaces; the sources for the first are mostly texts originally used on the Ascension, and those of the second are from Christmas and the birth of St John the Baptist. Johnson and Ward do however note the presence of the word “pervigiles – ever watchful” in the second one as a reference to the Collect of a Mass for Advent in the Gelasian Sacramentary.

    The beginning of the Gelasian Sacramentary in the Vatican Library manuscript Reginensis 316. (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)
    We conclude this series with the original Latin texts of these two Prefaces, each of which (in accordance with the methodus zuhlsdorfiana, a.k.a. What Does the Preface Really Say?) is followed by my own literal translation, the old ICEL translation (whose defects are displayed in a particularly glaring light in the first one), and the new translation, which today finishes its fifth Advent. (The earlier parts of this series may be read at the following links: Ambrosian 1, Ambrosian 2, Ambrosian 3, Neo-Gallican.)

    The First Preface of Advent
    (said from the First Sunday until December 16)
    VD: Qui, primo adventu in humilitáte carnis assumptae, dispositiónis antíquae munus implévit, nobisque salútis perpétuae trámitem reserávit: ut, cum secundo vénerit in suae gloria maiestátis, manifesto demum múnere capiámus, quod vigilantes nunc audémus exspectáre promissum. Et ídeo.

    My translation: Truly … through Christ our Lord. Who by His first coming in the humility of the flesh which He took on, fulfilled the duty (laid upon Him by Thy) ancient dispensation, and opened for us the way of eternal salvation; so that, when He comes again in the glory of His majesty, we may at last receive of His gift made manifest the promise which we now dare to hope and watch for. And therefore…

    Old translation: When he humbled himself to come among us as a man, he fulfilled the plan you formed long ago and opened for us the way to salvation. Now we watch for the day, hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours when Christ our Lord will come again in his glory.

    New translation: For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.

    The Second Preface of Advent
    (said from December 17 until the morning Mass of December 24)
    VD: Quem praedixérunt cunctórum praeconia prophetárum, Virgo Mater ineffábili dilectióne sustínuit, Ioannes cécinit affutúrum et adesse monstrávit. Qui suae nativitátis mysterium tríbuit nos praeveníre gaudentes, ut et in oratióne pervígiles, et in suis inveniat láudibus exsultantes. Et ídeo.

    My translation: Truly … through Christ our Lord. Whom the proclamations of all the prophets foretold, whom the Virgin Mother bore and raised with love beyond all telling, whom John (the Baptist) prophesied would come, and showed when He came. Who granted to us to come with rejoicing before the mystery of His Birth, that He may find us ever-watchful in prayer, and exultant in His praises. And therefore…

    Old translation: His future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets. The virgin mother bore him in her womb with love beyond all telling. John the Baptist was his herald and made him known when at last he came. In his love Christ has filled us with joy as we prepare to celebrate his birth, so that when he comes he may find us watching in prayer, our hearts filled with wonder and praise.

    New translation: For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him, the Virgin Mother longed for him with love beyond all telling, John the Baptist sang of his coming and proclaimed his presence when he came. It is by his gift that already we rejoice at the mystery of his Nativity, so that he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise.

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    Out next major photopost will be for liturgies celebrated on Christmas and during the Octave, whether of the OF or the EF, or any of the Eastern Rites; and as always, we will also be very glad to receive include other liturgical ceremonies such as Vespers. Please send your pictures to, and don’t forget to include the name of the church and its location, and any other information which you think worth noting. Evangelize through beauty! (Last year we received so many submissions that we had to do three separate posts - let’s see if we can get up to four this year.)

    Mass on St Stephen’s Day 2014 at the church of St Anne (Damenstiftkirche) in Munich, Bavaria, celebrated by the FSSP.

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    Here are some photographs of Midnight Mass at the London Oratory this evening. A Merry Christmas to all! [Photos: Charles Cole]

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  • 12/25/15--05:00: Merry Christmas!
  • Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all of our readers, from all of the writers and staff of the NLM. Pray for peace, and may the birth of Christ bring peace to you and all of your families and friends. For unto us a Son is born, unto us a Child is given!

    From the Grandes Heurs d'Anne de Bretagne, by Jean Bourdichon, 1503-08, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

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    St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce that the Fota IX International Liturgy Conference will be held in Cork, Ireland, 9-11 July 2016. The subject of the conference is Liturgy and Scripture, and will be explored by a panel of experts drawn from the United States, Germany and Ireland. Further details of the conference will be published early in 2016.

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  • 12/26/15--06:20: St Stephen the First Martyr
  • The gates of heaven were laid open to Christ’s blessed martyr Stephen, who was the first found in the company of the martyrs; * and therefore he triumpheth crowned in heaven. V. For he was the first to render back to the Savior the death which He deigned to suffer death for us. And therefore he triumpheth crowned in heaven. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. And therefore he triumpheth crowned in heaven. (The eighth responsory of Matins of St Stephen)

    The martyrdom of St Stephen, from the Bedford Hours, ca. 1430
    R. Patefactae sunt januae caeli Christi Martyri beato Stephano, qui in numero Martyrum inventus est primus: * Et ideo triumphat in caelis coronatus. V. Mortem enim, quam Salvator noster dignatus est pro nobis pati, hanc ille primus reddidit Salvatori. Et ideo triumphat in caelis coronatus. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Et ideo triumphat in caelis coronatus.

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  • 12/27/15--05:27: St John the Evangelist
  • This is John, who at the supper rested upon the breast of the Lord; * blessed is the Apostle, to whom the secrets of heaven were revealed. V. He drank in the running waters of the Gospel directly from sacred fountain of the Lord’s breast. Blessed is the Apostle, to whom the secrets of heaven were revealed. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Blessed is the Apostle, to whom the secrets of heaven were revealed. (The eighth responsory of Matins of St John)

    The central panel of the Apocalypse Polyptych, by Jacobello Alberegno, 1360-90 (Gallery of the Academy, Venice)
    R. Iste est Joannes, qui supra pectus Domini in cena recubuit: * Beatus Apostolus, cui revelata sunt secreta caelestia. V. Fluenta Evangelii de ipso sacro Dominici pectoris fonte potavit. Beatus Apostolus, cui revelata sunt secreta caelestia. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Beatus Apostolus, cui revelata sunt secreta caelestia.

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    Since today is the OF feast of the Holy Family, the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, the great Fr Hunwicke, with his usual wit and erudition, has put up a bit of commentary on one of the hymns for the feast. The three original hymns (for Matins, Lauds and Vespers) were written by Pope Leo XIII personally, who was both a scholar of Latin poetry and a talented Latin poet in his own right. Although the Vesper hymn was basically left alone, the man in charge of revising the hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours, Dom Anselmo Lentini OSB, tore the Matins hymn Sacra jam splendent almost completely apart, and substituted the Lauds hymn with a new composition of his own. (Dom Lentini is the single most frequently represented author in the corpus of Latin hymns in the Liturgia Horarum, by a margin of four-to-one over Prudentius and five-to-one over St Ambrose.)

    Fr Hunwicke calls attention to one change in particular; any linguistic scholar who may happen to read this is called upon to look it over carefully, and propose answers to his query either here, where I will be happy to pass them on to the good Father, or over at his own combox on his page.
    “fessis”. Disgusting? You may wonder what is problematic about that word.

    Leo wrote that Mary, a good Mother and a good spouse, gave a helping hand to both Son and husband,

    .................. felix
    si potest curas relevare fessis
    munere amico.
    [ ................. happy
    if she can lighten, with a friendly duty,
    cares for the weary.]

    But, apparently, ‘fessis’ suggests to the Francophone ear not ‘weary’ but ‘buttocks’. So Dom Anselmo Lentini changed it to the problem-free word ‘lassis’, thus spoiling the alliterative “felix ... fessis” but sparing the blushes of that notoriously bashful constituency, the French clergy. (I will award this Blog’s Order of Chastity, Fourth Class, which authorises you to have a pink pompom on your biretta, to any reader who can demonstrate that there is another language in which ‘lassis’ is even more indelicate than ‘fessis’ is in French.)

    Leo was a fluent French speaker. Yet, as a cultivated Latinist, he wrote “fessis” without a moment’s anxiety. What sort of cultural shift has landed us with an ‘emancipated’ society in which the word is too sniggerworthy to be printable?

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