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    Registrations are now open for the Sacra Liturgia conference, which will take place in London this summer from July 5-8. Full information is available at the following link on their website: Among the participants in this year’s conference will be Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Salvator Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia, and Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

    “Continuing the work of Sacra Liturgia 2013 and Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 (both organized by Bishop Rey of Fréjus-Toulon), Sacra Liturgia UK 2016, an international conference on liturgical formation in light of the new evangelization, seeks to support the Church’s saving evangelistic and catechetical mission as well as the continued revitalisation of the liturgical life of the Church. Lectures will take place at Imperial College, London. Liturgies will be held at the London Oratory and the church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory (Warwick Street).

    ‘It is a singular honour that His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, will be present to address us. I hope that all who participate in Sacra Liturgia UK shall be enriched by the liturgical formation it will provide, profit from the new connections and friendships it will occasion and be strengthened by the beautiful liturgical celebrations in which we shall participate.’ ”

    From last year’s Sacra Liturgia Conference, a Corpus Christi procession through the streets of New York.

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    After seeing yesterday’s post about St Benedict’s disciple St Maurus, reader Jordan Hainsey very kindly sent in these beautiful photographs of the monastery at Subiaco, Italy, where the famous miracle of St Maurus running over the water to rescue St Placid took place. He writes “The Monastery of Saint Benedict in Subiaco, Italy, houses the cave in which Saint Benedict lived as a hermit before he founding his monastic community.

    The great Upper Church features frescoes in this section were painted by the Sienese school in the 13th and 14th centuries. Among the many fascinating pictures is a portrait of St. Francis of Assisi; labeled ‘Fr. Franciscus,’ the saint is shown without the stigmata or a halo, indicating that it was painted during his lifetime (before 1224).

    Outside the monastery is the Rose Garden of Saint Benedict. A fresco in the garden depicts Saint Francis grafting roses onto the thorn bushes into which Saint Benedict threw himself to avoid temptation. The bushes still bloom today.
    The terrace offers a beautiful view to flowing water where Saint Maurus rescued Saint Placid, easily connecting visiting pilgrims to one of the greatest stories associated with these early heroes of the Western monastic tradition.”

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  • 01/17/16--02:03: Epiphany in Munich
  • Thanks to reader Dawid Patryk Szmigielski for sending in these photos and description of the Epiphany celebrations at the church of St Peter in Munich, Germany.

    Epiphany was a packed day of liturgical celebrations at St Peter’s Parish in Munich, Germany. The parish is the mother of all parishes in the medieval center of the city, built is on the site of the original church where the monks from whom Munich gets its name evangelized and lived in the 8th century, on St. Peter’s Hill. Archbishop Gaenswein, secretary to Pope Benedict XVI, was parish priest here. Then-Archbishop Ratzinger celebrated morning mass Thursdays, ad orientem, at the Corpus Christi side-altar.

    The parish is known for retaining the high altar without an additional freestanding altar in the sanctuary, and also for sacred music, art, liturgy, and a collection of relics, including the bejeweled skeletal remains of St. Munditia, a Roman martyr, exposed for all to venerate. The church is adjacent to City Hall and the Marianplatz Square, and minutes away from the Cathedral.

    The 9:30 am weekly principal mass in the ordinary form, preceded by the Asperges, is said ad orientem in Latin, with the Liturgy of the Word in German. After Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monumental monstrance lowered mechanically from a niche above the tabernacle, below the Gothic and Baroque depiction of the Chair of St. Peter. The tiara atop St. Peter’s head is traditionally removed during an interregnum period, and crowned again upon the installation of the next successor of Peter.

    Tradition dictates that the Archbishop visit the parish every Epiphany. This is in part due to the parish being home to the Corpus Christi Brotherhood, which celebrates its high feast on the Epiphany, following the example of the Adoration of the Magi. After the morning Masses, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed until 3pm, then temporarily reposed for a grand celebration of Vespers in Latin with the Archbishop. A Eucharistic procession through the church follows, with Benediction at the end. The last Mass of the day is at 6:30pm, with a blessing with the relics of the three magi as the final blessing. This year, unfortunately, His Eminence Cardinal Marx was unable to attend and was represented by the Vicar General of Munich and Freising.

    Notably, the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, ministers in one of the parish’s affiliated churches, St. Anne’s Damenstiftskirche, in the Extraordinary Form. Mass at St. Peter’s in Munich is offered only in the Ordinary Form, ad orientem, by both diocesan and religious priests. His Holiness Pope Pius VI celebrated Pontifical High Mass here in 1782.

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    The Paulus Institute for the Propagation of Sacred Liturgy, Washington, DC, has announced that the Fourth Annual Nellie Gray Mass will take place after the 43rd March for Life, Friday, January 22, 2016. The Mass will be celebrated at 4pm in the Extraordinary Form (traditional Latin Mass) at St. Mary Mother of God Church at 5th and H Sts. NW in downtown Washington DC, where Nellie attended Mass. A Pontifical Solemn High Mass will be celebrated at the faldstool by The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa. (His Excellency was the celebrant of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form arranged by The Paulus Institute at the High Altar of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington in 2010.)

    Assisting ministers will include Rev. Fr. James Bradley of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Master of Ceremonies, and Rev. Fr. Gregory Pendergraft, F.S.S.P., Director of Development for the North American District of the Fraternity, Deacon. The Mass will be the Missa Intret for Two or More Martyrs on the feast day of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon and Martyr, and St. Anastasius of Persia, Martyr. The Vox in Rama Choir from the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City (Director Kirsten d'Aquino) and members of St Mary's Schola (Director David Sullivan) will sing the Missa Secunda by Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612), Ave Maria by Victoria (1548-1611), Ave Maria (Angelus Domini) by Franz Biebl (1906-2001) and O Sacrum Convivium by Luigi Molfino (1916-2012) as well as the Gregorian Propers. Further information is available here.

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    In an article here at NLM, Gregory DiPippo beautifully summed up the fundamental difference between the original Liturgical Movement and its increasingly revolutionary successor prior to, during, and after the Second Vatican Council:
    Before World War I, the major figures in the Liturgical Movement believed that instilling true devotion to the liturgy, and curing the neglect thereof, was principally a matter of education. The liturgy was seen as an inexhaustible treasure-trove for the spiritual life, and the goal of men such as Dom Guéranger and Fr. Romano Guardini was to raise both the clergy and the laity up to a greater appreciation of it. In the period between the wars, the attitude shifted towards the idea that if the run of the clergy and faithful were uninterested in the liturgy, the problem lay not with them, but with the liturgy. The cure for this neglect would then become, not to educate the faithful up to the level of the liturgy, but to alter the liturgy to suit the needs of “modern” man.
    DiPippo goes on to ask the logical questions that no progressive or liberal or modernist could ever answer without undermining his own position:
    Since all of the architects of the post-Conciliar reforms were formed as churchmen in the aftermath of the two World Wars, the question should also be asked: how much of their era’s way of looking at the world, how many of their attitudes and ideas, are as perennially valuable as those of, say, Saints Augustine, Benedict, and Gregory the Great? If they could ask the question “how much longer must we live according to the ideas of the preceding centuries?”, and answer “no longer, starting from today”; can we not also ask “how much longer must we live according to the ideas of the preceding century?” (These questions are pertinent not only to the liturgy, of course, but to all of the aspects in which the Church struggles through the aftermath of the post-Conciliar reforms.)
    These questions could sound like an endorsement of perpetual revolt: each generation has to throw off that which came before. But he’s not saying that at all. Rather, he’s saying that there are two views: the one that chucked out tradition, arbitrarily mixing archaic and modernist elements (the decadent liturgical movement), and the one that honored and respected tradition in its slow development over time (the original liturgical movement). The former specializes in throwing the past overboard, or tinkering with it ad libitum and injecting modernity into it — Fr. Gelineau’s concept of the liturgy as “a permanent workshop”[1] — while the latter wishes to hold firm to the received treasures and to live them with the understanding that comes from love.[2] It is the essential difference between the revolutionary and the counter-revolutionary: one tears down and reconstructs on a new plan, the other maintains a sound identity by preserving, repairing, and enriching.

    One might think of it this way. Let us say you have a balance scale for the history of the Church, and you want to determine what is heavier, weightier, worthier. In one dish is more than nineteen centuries of tradition (and with it, reverence for the given forms of worship); in the other dish, not even one century of theory-based experimentation (and with it, a notable lack of reverence for given forms). Which way will the balance tilt? Which way will you tilt? For each of us is, in a way, the balance scale, and how we tilt amounts to a small gain or loss in the renewal of the Church.

    Consider a different use of this metaphor. Some practices are extremely widespread, and others are rare. Say you are weighing precious metals and common metals. The weight of the common, since there is far more of it, may greatly exceed the weight of the precious, but you would be foolish not to take the precious over the common, the gold over the lead. Here, it is not weight that counts, but quality. Take the one piece of gold over the nineteen pieces of lead.

    The traditional Catholic joins his lot with nineteen and a half centuries of organic development rather than half a century of inorganic innovation. He searches for the precious handmade works of great anonymous masters and values them above the lackluster assembly-line products of committee barons. He knows how to use — and how to be — a reliable balance scale.


    [1] See here for the full quotation.
    [2] See my article "Carrying Forward the Noble Work of the Liturgical Movement" for more on the contrast.

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  • 01/19/16--06:00: Paschal Candles
  • Here are some examples of Paschal candles created by Gina Switzer of Columbus, Ohio. Her parish is St Patrick’s in Columbus, the Dominican church in the city.
    I give you this information for two reasons. The first is that if your parish needs a paschal candle, you might consider commissioning one from Gina. Her website has details of how to order and the designs that she has done in the past. So far she has six main themes, and churches ask for modifications that make it appropriate to their parish. On the Paschal page of the website there is a downloadable catalog that has details. Smaller candles also make good gifts, such as named candles for baptisms.
    I asked Gina about her methods and she told me the following: “We design and decorate liturgical grade, 51% beeswax Paschal candles. We have designed images that express Christological themes, and so they are appropriate for their liturgical use. I create the artwork which is then reproduced onto a thin gelatin film. Metal leaf is applied by hand along with some hand painting directly onto the candle before the gelatin is applied, also by hand, to the candle. Because each candle is custom-made to order, our basic designs can be tweaked to fit a particular parishes needs; for example, the Dominican cross for a Dominican parish, a Celtic border for St. Patrick parish, and so on.”

    The other reason for writing about this is that I hope it might inspire other artists to do the same. I am regularly asked by priests where they can get hold of Paschal candles, as they find the designs in the usual catalogs unsatisfactory. There seems to be a dearth in the market.

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    From the Facebook page of TV2000, the television channel of the Italian Episcopal Conference, comes this video of a brief encounter between an elderly Jewish man and the Pope during His Holiness’ recent visit to the principal synagogue of Rome.

    "Listen, since you are a great rebuilder, why don’t put you the Circumcision back on the Calendar, as it was when I was a little boy? It’s a good idea, no? In that way, it would be for us, we are (interrupted.)... Well, very simpatico *, we’re all very fond of you."

    Visita di Papa Francesco alla Sinagoga di Roma
    Un simpatico incontro all'esterno della Sinagoga e una richiesta particolare rivolta al Santo Padre.
    Posted by Tv2000 on Sunday, January 17, 2016
    Good question.

    The Circumcision of Christ, as depicted in the Menologion of Basil II, ca. 1000 A.D. The feast of the Circumcision is still kept in the Byzantine Rite, and in the post-conciliar reformed versions of the Ambrosian and Mozarabic liturgies.
    * simpatico - a famously difficult-to-translate Italian word, broadly indicating a person or thing that is found pleasing or congenial.

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    I have just received early notice of the premier of a new major work by composer Frank La Rocca, which will take place in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 8:00 pm. It is an oratorio called A Rose in Winter - the life of Saint Rita of Cascia; the original libretto is by Matthew Lickona.

    The 90-minute work for chorus, orchestra, and soloists was commissioned by Saint Rita Catholic Church (URL) in Dallas, and is the brainchild of Alfred Calabrese, director of music at the parish.

    The church is organizing a three-day conference entitled High Above the Stars: Sainthood, Beauty, and Catholic Artistic Expression, which will take place on the three days prior to the performance, May 19 - 21. The conference is designed for musicians, artists, poets, theologians, and Catholic laity, and deals with the creation of sacred music and art, the promotion of beauty, and the quest for sainthood in everyday life. Masterclasses will be held for conductors, composers, and poets.

    For more details, you can read a blog post on the Corpus Christi Watershed website written by Dr Calabrese, through the link here. We are told that a website with more details about the event and on how to register for the conference is coming soon. As soon as I have more information I will pass it on to you.

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    On January 2nd, I was blessed to be united in the Sacrament of Matrimony to my amazing wife. Not only that, but we were also doubly blessed by Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison being the celebrant at our Pontifical Nuptial Mass at the Throne, and witness our vows. I hope some of the pictures of the Nuptial Rite and Mass are edifying for readers! More of them can be found here. The music was as follows:

    Ordinary: Messa da Cappella a quattro voci, 1641 (Monteverdi)
    Propers: Deus Israel (Votive Mass Pro Sponsis)
    Procession: O God Beyond All Praising (Tʜᴀxᴛᴇᴅ, arranged by Richard Proulx)
    After Last Gospel: Alma Redemptoris Mater (sung by all)
    Recession: How Shall I Sing that Majesty (Cᴏᴇ Fᴇɴ, arranged by Michael Mills)

    Wedding procession with
    the entrance of the bishop

    The bishop receives our vows as the MC holds the ritual book.

    Nuptial blessing following the reception of vows

    The sacred ministers bowing for the confiteor during the prayers
    at the foot of the altar
    The bishop, reading the introit and kyrie at the throne
    Epistle chanted by the Subdeacon

    The bishop, being approached by the deacon, about to give
    him a blessing for the proclamation of the gospel

    The gospel, chanted by the deacon

    Homily delivered by Fr. Eric Bergman,
    of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter

    Sacred ministers going to the altar for the offertory

    Bishop praying at the offertory

    Incensation of the altar at the offertory

    Incensation of the seminarians in choro

    Two cantors chanting the communion antiphon

    Improvising at communion

    The assistant priest distributing communion to the faithful

    Final Pontifical blessing

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    From time to time, the New Liturgical Movement will cover the work of artists and architects from recent history, whose work, while “modern,” nonetheless took a different and more traditional path than that of the “modernism” of Le Corbusier or Picasso, a path which we call“the Other Modern.”
    My Cuban grandfather, José Morell, was never quite sure where his family had come from. Blue-grey eyes and a rather unconventionally un-Spanish last name made him suppose they might have been Basque, or French, or Catalan. A bit of genealogical research and the fact he shares a last name with a very small town near Valencia—where my family, on vacation in 2014, found an open coffee shop and some very friendly if ultimately somewhat perplexed locals—suggests the Morells were probably Catalan at one time. So, when we took a day trip on that same vacation up to the Marian mother shrine of the Catalan people, the mysterious monastery of Montserrat, I took more than a usual interest. As I write, a small black and gold image of La Moreneta—the Black Madonna—watches me from one of my shelves.
    Montserrat is worth an article in itself—it is an eerie, moving, otherworldly sort of place, suspended below the great toothed mountain that gives the shrine its name, its slopes spiked with great rocky promontories that appear always on the verge of looking like something else, but never quite do. The Benedictine monastery there has been embellished numerous times over the centuries, the present church having been begun in 1559 and consecrated in 1592, though much of the interior decoration and its apse is in the high-flown nineteenth-century chivalric style of the Catalan Renaixença, and the exterior contrafacciata looks mid-twentieth century—its inscription, “Cataluña será cristiana o no será” is, somewhat pointedly, in alien Spanish.

    Much of the excellent painted paleo-Christian style decoration that marks the long rising ambulatory up to the shrine statue dates from this era, and is the work of Josep Obiols i Palau (1894-1967). One of the more distinguished of Catalonia’s twentieth-century painters, after time in Italy he made a name for himself as a muralist, and his work at Montserrat is only part of a larger oevre that includes everything from large-scale work in Montjuïc’s Palacio Nacional to rather sketchy, abstract bookplate designs. An excellent monograph is available on him (Josep Obiols: Pintor de Montserrat by Alexandre Cirici Pellicer et al.), though it is unfortunately only available in Catalan and Spanish.

    Most of his work at Montserrat consists of frescoes in an interestingly loose, almost El Greco-esque take on early Christian and Byzantine art, without eschewing a touch of something modern, or at least unique, that nonetheless does not shade into the angular sterility of modernism. Catalonia is full of such apparent and quite triumphant artistic contradictions—indeed, had Picasso bothered to study the Romanesque murals in the Catalan National Museum with more diligence than fervor, we might have gotten quite a few more Pantocrators and a lot less Demoiselles d'Avignon.

    Obiols’ frescoes can be seen in the shrine ambulatory, the monks’ refectory (1945), the new sacristy (1944-1945) and abbot’s sala (1951). In addition to his work near the shrine of the Madonna, which also includes some stunning mosaics around the statue itself (1947) and relief work on adjacent doors (1953), he executed a series of stunning marquetry images of local saints and holy figures—including several uncanonized but significant abbots of Montserrat shown with the old square halo, an interesting choice—for the cabinet doors of the new sacristy (1945), as well as for the abbatial throne (1957); it is unclear to me if this is the current abbatial throne in the choir, a former throne there, or a throne elsewhere in the complex; in any case, the insertion of that more “modernistic” element into the lush décor of the main church is a bit jarring.

    His is a fascinating style as it owes very little to many of the “Other Moderns” we have discussed before, which often have a far clearer link to Art Nouveau or even Art Deco. There is also a small touch of Art Deco here (mostly in the marquetry), but there is also much that is uncategorizable or perhaps reminiscent of mainstream continental painting of the period, albeit quite successfully blended into the numinous, symbol-rich, yet strangely straightforward art of the early Christians. The fact that an unabashedly traditional artist was working with great, almost medieval-level Church commissions so late into the last century (and not only that, but in 1945, when the rest of the continent was otherwise occupied) only adds to the unique and peculiarly Spanish and Catalan story behind his work. But, considering he sprang from a city whose most daring and avant-garde architect ended life as a reclusive saint living in the crypt where he would some day be buried, it is no surprise that another Catalonian could close that gap so successfully.

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    By a letter to Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Pope Francis has officially ordered the modification the rubric of the Roman Missal according to which only men were to have their feet washed at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. The letter and a relevant decree of the Congregation were announced today on the Vatican website; the dating of the letter is currently given on the website as December 20, 2014, which one can safely assume is a mistake for 2015. The relevant portion of the letter reads as follows.

    As I have said to you in conversation, for some time I have been reflecting on the rite of the washing of the feet, which forms part of the Liturgy of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, with the intention of improving the ways in which it is put into practice, so that they may fully express the significance of the gesture carried out by Jesus in the Upper Room, His giving of Himself ‘unto the very end’ for the salvation of the world, his charity without limits.

    After due consideration, I have come to the decision to introduce a change to the rubrics of the Roman Missal. I order therefore that the rubric be modified according to which the person chosen to receive the Washing of the Feet must be men or boys, so that from now on, the pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all the members of the People of God. It is furthermore recommended that to those who are so chosen, an adequate explanation of the meaning of the rite itself be provided.

    This relevant portion of the CDW decree reads as follows.

    At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, after the reading of the Gospel according to St John, to demonstrate the humility and charity of Christ towards His disciples as it were in a drama, the restoration of Holy Week, y the decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria (November 30, 1955), gave the opportunity of performing the washing of the feet of twelve men, where pastoral reasons recommended this. This rite, in the Roman liturgy, had been handed down with the name of the Lord’s Mandatum (commandment) about fraterncal charity, from the words of Jesus (cf. John 13, 34) which were sung in an antiphon during the celebration.

    Bishops and priests acting in this rite are intimately invited to conform themselves to Christ, who “came not to be served, but to serve,” and driven by charty “unto the end” (John 13, 1), to give His life for the salvation of the whole human race.

    That this full significance of the rite may be expressed to those who participate in it, it seemed good to the Supreme Pontiff Francis to change the norm which is read in the rubrics of the Roman Missal Romani (p. 300 no. 11) legitur, “Chosen men (viri) are lead by the ministers…”, which therefore must be changed in the following manner, “Those who are chosen from the people of God are lead by the ministers…” (and consequenly in the Bishops’ Ceremonial no. 301 and no. 299 b: “seats for those designated”), so that pastors may choose a small group of the faithful to represent the variety and unity of each portion of the people of God. This group may consist of men and woman, and suitably (may consist) of young and old, the healthy and the sick, clergy, consecrated persons and laity.

    This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with the force of the faculties given to it by the Supreme Pontiff, introdces this change in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, reminding pastors of their duty to instruct with appropriate preparation both the faithful chosen (to have their feet washed) and others, so that they may participate in the rite knowledgably, actively and fruitfully.

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    Our Roman pilgrim-on-the-scene, Agnese Bazzucchi, once again celebrated her name-day (tanti auguri!) with a visit to the church of Saint Agnes Outside-the-Walls, the original site of the martyr’s burial. Each year at the principal Mass of the feast held in this church, the Abbot of the Canons Regular of the Most Holy Savior of the Lateran blesses two lambs; their wool is later shorn to make the pallia worn by archbishops. Here are her photos of the lambs prepared for the blessing.

    And from last year, the beautiful decorations of the church’s sanctuary.

    In the crypt under the altar is a silver casket donated by Pope Paul V Borghese (1605-22), containing the relics of St Agnes, and also those of St Emerentiana, her “collactanea” or “foster-sister”, whose mother was Agnes’ wet-nurse. According to her legend, two days after Agnes’ martyrdom, Emerentiana was spied praying at her tomb by a gang of pagan thugs, and stoned to death by them on the very site. At the time of her death, she was only a catechumen; the veneration of her as a Saint from very ancient times is an important testimony to the Church’s belief in baptism by blood and by desire. Her feast is on January 23rd in the calendar of the Extraordinary Form.

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    Father Carlos Hamel of the Fraternity of Saint Joseph the Guardian will preach a retreat based on the Ignatian Exercises, at the Church of Saint John the Baptist, 1282 Yardville-Allentown Road, Allentown, N. J. The Spiritual Exercises comprise an ordered series of meditations and contemplations born from the profound spiritual experience St Ignatius, gained from his conversion and his time as the first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. These exercises purpose to help the retreatant discern God’s will for his own life.

    The retreat will begin on the early afternoon of Friday, February 19 and finish on the afternoon of Sunday February 21.

    The cost of the retreat to cover the expenses (Fr. Carlos’ travel from France, food, donation to the parish, etc) is $60. Also, please bring a sleeping bag.

    In addition to the meditations, the traditional Mass will be each day, as well as parts of the Divine Office; there will also be plenty of opportunities for spiritual direction and Confession.

    To confirm your attendance, or if you have any questions, please e-mail Wynne Kerridge at See the Facebook page for the event here. Feel free to forward this invitation to any else you reckon would be interested.

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    Just a brief note to all our readers who may be in the Washington D.C. area for the March for Life: contrary to what I just posted a few minutes ago, Fr Z writes that the Fourth Annual Nellie Gray Mass WILL take place as scheduled after the March at St. Mary Mother of God Church in D.C.

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    One of the great pleasures of visiting Spain is that, despite the violence that has been visited on her churches and abbeys from time to time, by and large its ecclesiastical heritage has remained far more intact and organically preserved than the rest of Europe. Even Italy, which may not have had the Reformation, saw not a little damage at the hands of the counter-Reformation to its older ecclesiastical heritage. Thus, Spain’s cathedrals are often fascinating and surprisingly harmonious hodgepodges of Gothic architecture, Renaissance silver and ironwork and Baroque altarpieces, or any other combination of the above. For better or worse, though, its heritage of Romanesque painting can largely now only be seen in museums such as the Museo Nacional in Barcelona’s Parc de Montjuïc.

    I was, admittedly, not at my best when I visited it about two years ago in the autumn. Tripping over a low bench in the dark of my hotel room had left me face-planted with a touch of rug burn and a rather extragant nosebleed, so I spent most of the rest of the trip with a rather arresting bruise on my face. However, I do remember the absolutely stupendous collection of Romanesque frescoes taken from all over Catalonia, many of them apses and whole church interiors. One might wish these remained in situ, but given the vagaries of history and renovation, perhaps they are safer here.

    I am no apologist of primitivism for its own sake—Picasso allegedly was inspired by some of these vast and occasionally weird images—but there is both a beautiful clarity of line and a moving otherworldliness to these stunning and simple, but never crude images. Admitted, there is also a bit which to the modern eye seems jumbled, preposterous or comic (the phrase "derpy kings" popped into my head at one point), but is easy to overlook these bits and concentrate on the static, almost Egyptian grandeur of these images, populated by vast and unmoving seraphim and distinctly un-Egyptian, whirling clouds of angels and winged Evangelical beasts and thick-outlined Pantocrators.

    Even more exciting for the student of liturgy is their collection, interspersed with wooden altar frontals (some decorated with martyrdoms of an almost comic directness), the undersides of canopies, and even the remnants of a baldachin. It is all colorful and clear with the rich clarity of a manuscript illumination, and, while there is great charm in grey Gothic and greyer Romanesque, we ought to recall this esoteric riot of color and figures graced every church of Christendom until time or the tide of revolution washed it away.

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    I would like to draw your attention to the latest edition of the Antiphon Journal. As usual, all the writers are worth reading, and their names will be recognizable to NLM readers. I mention it particularly this time because of the subject discussed in an article by Fr Chris Renz, Liturgical Piety, Awe, and Beauty in a New Liturgical Movement”.

    I was excited to get a preview of what Fr Renz has written. He discusses the importance of developing an authentic liturgical piety to the evangelization of the culture. He is thinking here of the creation of a Catholic culture in the widest sense of the word, what he calls an “everyday way of being Catholic.” He explains very well, I think, just how powerful an influence the liturgy is on the way we are as people, and how this is reflected in what we do. This is a topic close to my heart.

    Fr Renz is the Academic Dean and Assistant Professor of Religion and the Arts and Science of Theology at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (the DSPT) at UC Berkeley.

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    Since 2012, the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, in cooperation with the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, has offered a two-week summer theology program at the birthplace of SS. Benedict and Scholastica. This year, for their fifth summer, the Center has planned a truly marvelous program: “The Transcendent Christ: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews.” Participants will study St. Thomas Aquinas’s commentary on Hebrews, exploring its rich teaching on Christology, priesthood, sacrifice, sacraments, and worship. The Epistle offers the opportunity to explore the topic of grace as it is found in its source, Jesus Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body, and, in particular, on how the excellence of the work of Christ has a three-fold extension: to the whole of creation, to the rational creature, and to the justification of the saints.

    The faculty will include NLM’s own Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, as well as Fr. Thomas Crean, OP, Br. Evagrius Hayden, OSB. John Joy, Christopher Owens, and Daniel Lendman. Guest lectures will be delivered by monks from the monastery, including its prior, Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB. (It bears noting that, over the years, we have featured numerous items in connection with Fr. Cassian, such as this talk on sacred music, an article by Br. Evagrius, and the superb photography of Mr. Owens.)

    The goal of the AMCSS is to offer a meaningful academic experience of scholastic theology in its original fullness: studying Sacred Scripture, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Fathers of the Church, in the peaceful and enchanting setting of a medieval Italian town, imbued with the spiritual and liturgical life of the traditional Benedictine monks (daily traditional Latin Masses, Low and High, and chanted monastic office), and all the culinary delights of the prosciutto and black truffle capital of Italy — in other words, an authentically Catholic feast for mind, soul, and body. This year the course dates include Norcia’s festive celebration of the feast of St. Benedict on July 11th. Pilgrimages to the nearby towns of Assisi and Cascia are included in the cost, with the option of participating in a weekend trip to Rome at the end.

    The dates for the Summer program are July 10–24, 2016. Most remarkably, the cost for tuition, room, and half-board (a light breakfast and an authentic five-course Italian dinner every day) is 900 Euros. Tuition includes a hardcover bilingual edition of the Commentary on Hebrews as well as other course materials. A background in academic theology is not required. Students working towards degrees may request a summary of the program with faculty credentials and a certificate of completion that they may submit for possible course credit elsewhere.

    For more information, please visit the AMCSS website.

    Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB
    The old residence of the governor who represented the Papal States
    Mass at the monastery
    Dr. Kwasniewski and Br. Evagrius (Norcia, September 2015)
    Fr. Thomas Crean, O.P.
    Main street

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    I am sure that many of our readers are familiar with the various customs related to the removal of the Alleluia from the liturgy on Septuagesima Sunday. In the Roman liturgical books, this is done in the simplest possible fashion; at the end of Vespers of the previous Saturday, “Alleluia” is added twice to the end of “Benedicamus Domino” and “Deo gratias”, which are sung in the Paschal tone. The word is then dropped from the liturgy completely until the Easter vigil. In some medieval uses, however, “Alleluia” was added to the end of every antiphon of this Vespers, and a number of customs, some formally included in the liturgy and other not, grew up around it as well.

    One of the most popular was to write the word on a large piece of parchment, and then after Vespers bury it in the churchyard, so that it could be dug up again on Easter Sunday. Our friends from the Fraterity of St Joseph the Guardian in La Londe-les-Maures, France, have posted some pictures of their ritual burial of the Alleluia on their Facebook page, which they very kindly agreed to share with us.

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    His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, will celebrate a Pontifical Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament in the Extraordinary Form, as part of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. The Mass will take place tomorrow, January 26, at 4:30 p.m. Asilo de Milagrosa, Gorordo Avenue in this Cebu City; see the invitation and poster below. The Societas Eccelsia Dei Sancti Ioseph (Ecclesia Dei Society of St. Joseph) – Una Voce Philippines organized and sponsored the TLM to be celebrated by the cardinal.

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  • 01/25/16--05:15: The Conversion of St Paul
  • Called by Christ from heaven, and laid low upon the earth, from a persecutor, he became a chosen vessel, and, laboring more than all others, sowed the grace of the Word more broadly among all, * and completed the teaching of the Gospel by his preaching. V. Last in his calling among the Apostles, but first in preaching, he made the name of Christ manifest to the peoples of many nations. And completed the teaching of the Gospel by his preaching. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. And completed.... (The third responsory of Matins of the Conversion of St Paul, according to the Dominican Breviary.)

    The Conversion of St Paul, by Michelangelo Buonarroti, in the Pauline Chapel, (also known as the Farnese Chapel) in the Vatican, 1542-45. (This fresco, one of the artist’s vary last, was magnificently restored in the reign of Pope Benedict XVI, and is now cleaner, sharper in line and richer in color than is shown in this photograph, especially in the parts of the sky that here appear white.)
    R. A Christo de caelo vocátus, et in terra prostrátus, ex persecutóre effectus est vas electiónis: et plus ómnibus labórans, multo latius inter omnes verbi gratiam seminávit * atque doctrínam evangélicam sua praedicatióne complévit. V. Inter Apóstolos vocatióne novíssimus, praedicatióne primus, nomen Christi multárum manifestávit gentium pópulis. Atque. Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spirítui Sancto. Atque.

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