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- 01/25/16--07:43: _Liturgical Insights...
- 01/26/16--05:34: _Documentary About t...
- 01/27/16--05:42: _How Well Did the OF...
- 01/27/16--16:19: _A Miscellany of Arc...
- 01/27/16--12:23: _The January Edition...
- 01/28/16--02:53: _Ukrainian Christmas...
- 01/28/16--05:55: _Signs of the Holy O...
- 01/28/16--09:29: _Candlemas in Palo A...
- 01/29/16--01:47: _The Second Feast of...
- 01/29/16--05:00: _What Did Christ Rea...
- 01/29/16--09:00: _A Visigothic Hermit...
- 01/29/16--12:06: _No Parish Left Behind
- 01/30/16--05:00: _Candlemas Events: P...
- 01/30/16--11:58: _A New Essay by Shaw...
- 01/30/16--15:00: _The Book of Genesis...
- 01/31/16--07:00: _Photopost Request: ...
- 01/31/16--15:18: _Saint Geminianus of...
- 02/01/16--15:59: _Books That Cry Out ...
- 02/02/16--03:00: _The Meeting of Chri...
- 02/02/16--09:00: _Book Announcement: ...
- 01/25/16--07:43: Liturgical Insights in The Gentle Traditionalist
- 01/27/16--12:23: The January Edition of the Adoremus Bulletin is Now Out.
- 01/28/16--02:53: Ukrainian Christmas Customs: A Documentary From 1942
- 01/28/16--05:55: Signs of the Holy One: Part I
- 01/28/16--09:29: Candlemas in Palo Alto, California
- 01/29/16--01:47: The Second Feast of St Agnes: A Liturgical Oddity
- 01/29/16--05:00: What Did Christ Really Look Like?
- 01/29/16--09:00: A Visigothic Hermitage in the Province of Burgos
- 01/29/16--12:06: No Parish Left Behind
- All parishes and schools will learn to sing the Ordinary at masses according to the 2010 ICEL Setting in English and the Jubilate Deo Latin setting.
- Parishes will sing the Communion antiphon proper, even if sung simply, at all Sunday masses.
- A diocesan hymnal, to be released in Advent 2017, will replace all parish hymnals. No new hymnals may be purchased.
- 01/30/16--05:00: Candlemas Events: Philadelphia, Jersey City and Grand Rapids
- 01/30/16--11:58: A New Essay by Shawn Tribe
- 01/30/16--15:00: The Book of Genesis in Stone
- 01/31/16--07:00: Photopost Request: Candlemas 2016
- 01/31/16--15:18: Saint Geminianus of Modena
- 02/01/16--15:59: Books That Cry Out the Unique Richness and Holiness of God’s Word
- 02/02/16--03:00: The Meeting of Christ and Simeon in the Temple
Have a look at that review if you are interested in a more general description of the book.) At the time, I promised to follow up later on with a few specifically liturgical thoughts.
Some passages in the book struck me as highly pertinent to the plight of the sacred liturgy today. Early on, we discover that one of the characters, Anna, has abandoned the New Age movement for traditional Catholicism and a vocation to the religious life — to the bewilderment of her former lover, Geoffrey Peter Luxworthy, who is still very much in love with her. He muses at length about her inexplicable conversion:
Nor could I understand why she wanted to go to a Mass in a dead language. From what I understood, the Catholic Church had changed the Mass when it liberalised itself in the1960s. This liberalisation looked like a good thing to me. But Anna thought the changes in the Church were slowly killing it. Since the ’60s, she told me, there’d been massive declines in vocations — as well as Catholic baptisms, marriages, etc. People were abandoning the Church in droves. She was particularly worried that very few people bothered with Confession anymore. The new liturgy, according to her, was a major part of the problem. Apparently, a “mystic life-force” was being drained from the Church. (pp. 25-26)As the story continues, Geoffrey (GPL) meets a mysterious character called the Gentle Traditionalist.
GPL: It is indeed odd to find you here. In fact, I’ve been wanting someone to help me understand the exact issues you describe: those which separate modern, liberal people, as you call them, from conservatives. I’ve met this conservative type — a woman. Really, I cannot understand half the things she’s talking about.This phrase has haunted me ever since I read it: some people have been culturally denied the keys to understanding the Faith and its traditional practices. This is not to say that unbelievers have no personal responsibility, that all can be blamed on the surrounding culture. It is but a sobering acknowledgment that so many people, even within the Church, have never been given the basic “means to understand” what she is talking about in her doctrine, what she is doing in her rites. Very few (comparatively speaking) are deeply, intimately familiar with the teaching, life, and rituals of the Church in their preconciliar fullness and clarity. This is why reading older authors for the first time can bring us up short: “I cannot understand half the things she’s talking about … her views are completely unintelligible.” We see the dynamics of rupture and discontinuity at work.
GT: Yes — your culture never provided you the means to understand.
GPL: Well, I don’t know about that…
GT: You’re intelligent, educated — and yet her different views are completely unintelligible to you. There must be a reason. Is it not possible you’ve been culturally denied the keys to understanding? (p. 38)
GT: Well, the 1960s are just a handy approximation. Although some people are even more specific than that. They identify 1968 as the turning point. But think about what I’m saying: Wherever previous generations disagree with the post-1960s worldview — let’s call it that for short — previous generations are always wrong. Post-’60s is always right. At least, according to modern media and education.
Post-’60s says a woman has a so-called “right to choose.” Post-’60s must be right; everyone who felt differently, before the ’60s, is obviously wrong.
Or take freedom of speech. Only the other day, someone told me pornography was “the price we have to pay” for free speech. All kinds of people say that — now. Nobody ever said that before the ’60s. Westerners believed in freedom of speech in 1950, too. Still, they banned things like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Literature was prohibited — to say nothing of pornography. But according to the post-’60s worldview, freedom of speech means pornography should be allowed everywhere. Why didn’t people ever think that before the ’60s? […]
If you belong to the New Secular Religion, the 1960s revelation is your creed, your Bible. Every generation of people before you, who believed differently, was wrong. In other words: wherever pre-’60s beliefs differ from post-’60s ones, post-’60s is always, always right. (p. 47)
|Free Speech Movement, UC Berkeley, November 20, 1965|
Only the material world counts in the New Secular Religion. Either no other world exists or it if it does, it doesn’t matter. It counts for nothing. You have a materialist metaphysic — either de jure or de facto… It’s the same with all religions. Buddhists don’t believe in God. Inevitably, that helps form their ethics. Christians do believe in God — a personal God—and their ethics are formed by that. Secular Materialists don’t believe in an afterlife and that, likewise, shapes their ethics. (p. 51)As many have noted, Catholics today, due to a powerful desire to accommodate themselves to the secular world, to be welcomed by it and “competitive” with it, run the serious risk of imbibing the materialist metaphysic, the New Secular Religion, and even reproducing and reinforcing it in and through their corporate acts. Sadly, we cannot exclude the causal influence of a worship that no longer confronts them with and immerses them in otherworldliness, the primacy of the invisible, inaudible, transcendent, as underlined by rich symbols of the sacred, hallowed chant, hidden ritual, and reservoirs of silence. If most Catholics in the contemporary West have the mentality of secular materalists, must we not resolutely and fearlessly look to the root causes of this debacle, and not be content with a superficial prognosis?
In this vein, the Gentle Traditionalist says to his interlocutor:
[T]he English often have the whole idea of the Church mixed-up. You think it’s a place where someone preaches a sermon, you sing some hymns, maybe say a prayer or two. Then come home again. For Catholics, that’s a travesty of the Church! I warned you this wouldn’t be PC — but it’s the tragedy of the English-speaking world. Millions and millions of English people — also Americans, Australians, etc. — they all think a church is somewhere you gather on Sundays for spiritual instruction. Rules! … The Reformation never took hold in most countries like it did in England. So this state of confusion doesn’t exist in Greece or Russia or Spain. Plus, in some countries, they use separate words for Protestant and Catholic sites of worship. But in English, it’s just one word — church — for two entirely different realities. To your ordinary American, a church is something like a meeting hall — an assembly room! To a Catholic, it’s a place where the most sublime ritual on Earth is enacted.That the Mass itself has been reduced in the minds of many to a community gathering for songs and homilies — as evidenced by the relative emphasis given to each of the parts in many celebrations today — only sharpens the point Buck is making: the Protestant notion of “church” and “church service” has massively invaded the Catholic sphere, to the point where it is almost unknown that the Mass is primarily an oblation of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of the Most Holy Trinity, a propitiatory sacrifice on behalf of the living and the dead, and only secondarily an occasion for instruction and fellowship. One might put it this way: the Mass is pleasing to God and sanctifying for man because of its inherent nature as the unbloody renewal of the all-sufficient sacrifice of Calvary, the fruits of which we share in Holy Communion; its didactic and social functions are premised on that sacrifice, ordered to it, and derived from it.
GT: … Clearly, I advocate Sacramental societies over non-Sacramental societies. If you study traditional Catholic cultures, capitalism does not develop so strongly. Likewise, you don’t see the same hyper-individualism, atomisation of society, breakdown of the family, social decay… Unfortunately, today’s Church doesn’t understand the power of its own Sacraments. Or sacramentals — like this Holy Water or the Rosary. This is the tragedy of the post-Vatican II Church. Large parts of it have surrendered to faith in rationalism, rather than keeping faith in tradition. The Church must recover her tradition. Only tradition understands the immense, healing power of the Sacraments. That power can save civilisation. If people returned to Confession, if people took the Mass seriously again, there’s no telling what would happen. But how can ordinary people take those things seriously, when the priests and bishops don’t either? (p. 161)American Catholics are blessed with many priests and bishops who take the sacraments seriously, which might prompt one to think the Gentle Traditionalist guilty of exaggeration. If one looks to the dire European scene (as this book does), however, there is no question of exaggeration. One may indeed wonder if the Son of Man will find any faith left when He returns. Without a doubt, there are still the valiant who cling to the Church, her sacraments, and her sacramentals, but they can see their societies and their churches crumbling around them. In our times, to continue to be supernaturally hopeful and to persevere in the faith despite appearances and a lack of institutional support is a form of heroism that may well produce the great saints of the end times.
[T]he Church has been given the power to resurrect. Resurrection applies not only to individuals, but also society. The Sacramental Church has the power to resurrect society, but it must claim it once more. That’s why Benedict XVI — against considerable opposition — was working to restore the liturgy. (p. 162)Exactly: the Church cannot take anything for granted; her earthly leaders must claim her power and use it, rather than being embarrassed or afraid or reticent or too sophisticated. I am reminded in this connection of something often stated and experienced by Juventutem groups: If only the Church’s leaders would bring forth the treasures of tradition with pride, joy, and generosity, spreading them as a banquet before the starving men and women of our profaned world, all would see their immense sanctifying and evangelizing potency. It can already be seen in the places where the “experiment of tradition” has been attempted without any artificial restrictions.
Click here for The Gentle Traditionalist's page at Angelico Press.
Click here to order from Amazon.com.
One of the most familiar images in Catholic churches today is the Divine Mercy image.
Most will be aware of the story of the vision of Sr Faustina and how she instructed an artist in Lithuania to paint it. What I did not know is that the images that we see most commonly in churches, and which are usually reproductions, are not reproductions of the original, but of painted copies of the original.
You can see this in the trailer for the documentary here.
I do believe the Conciliar Fathers had a significant part to play in the bad practices that developed after the Council, both through their actions in the celebration of the liturgy and in the texts of the council itself. That, however, is a discussion for another time. Here, I intend to take a closer look primarily at the revised Ordinary of the Mass, the mandates of the Council, and compare them with those elements which have been specifically downplayed or removed in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. While some may see this as a feeble attempt to compare the Extraordinary Form to the Ordinary Form, it’s not simply that. Sacrosanctum Concilium asked for a revision of the missal, not a complete rewrite from scratch. Therefore, any discussions of the reforms and formation of the Ordinary Form liturgical books must be placed in context of the 1962 Missale Romanum, as that is where they were reforming from. To ignore it is to not fully appreciate the situation.
I am well aware that those who disagree with me will be quick to quote Sacrosanctum Concilium§ 51. On this topic I will limit myself to the following observations and questions: what makes a part of the rite “of little advantage?” For the purposes of this post, how should § 51 be implemented in such a way so as to not directly conflict with § 24, § 25.1, § 51, and § 91? (See below) Indeed, I am writing this post from the point of view that the council documents contained the best vision for liturgical reform, and am intentionally leaving the post open ended on that topic, with a view to further reflection on its value. The discussion about the merit of Sacrosanctum Concilium itself is an important one, but again, will be left for another post at a later date.
First, I begin with the Asperges. In the Extraordinary Form, the Sunday Mass begins with the sprinkling of blessed water, accompanied normally by an antiphon from Psalm 50 (51 - Asperges Me) and accompanying verse or Ezechiel 47 (Vidi Aquam) and a verse of Psalm 117 (118). These are sung before the High Mass every Sunday, as a required part of the rite. In the Ordinary Form, this chant and ritual is downplayed (according to GIRM § 51) to be used “from time to time,” and also replaces the Kyrie and Confiteor.
In the Extraordinary Form, Psalm 42 (43) is recited by the priest and sacred ministers or servers at nearly every Mass, barring Requiems. Notably, in the Ordinary Form, this is completely removed, and the Mass simply begins at the Introit, giving the beginning of Mass a very different flow.
Next, in the Extraordinary Form, we find another big change to the flow of the end of Mass, where the first fourteen verses of the Gospel of John are proclaimed at the end of almost every Mass, a practice going back to the twelfth century. If you’re following the trend of this post, you may have guessed that this was also removed from the post-Conciliar liturgy. The exclusion of this one is perhaps the most incongruent to me, as this Gospel not only speaks of the nature of Christ in the didactic matter the Council encourages, but of course is a removal of scripture that was mandated to be in more abundance and more suitable. If the reformed liturgy is to be more easily understandable and didactic, why would one remove the recurring passage which describes briefly the nature of Christ and his mission?
And finally, the proper antiphons of the Mass are required to be prayed by the celebrant at every Mass, and are required to be sung at every Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This is also a discussion for another post, but in the Ordinary Form, in Masses without music, the offertory proper is missing, and in sung Masses, they are merely one option among many, with only a slight preference toward the proper chants over various motets and hymns.
In conclusion, I ask the same question I posed above: how well does the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium follow the mandates of § 24, § 25.1, § 51, and § 91?
For your reference:
§ 24: Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.
§ 35.1: In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.
§ 51: The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's word.
§ 92: Readings from sacred scripture shall be arranged so that the riches of God's word may be easily accessible in more abundant measure.
A few selected images from my visit in 2014 that may be of interest.
The first, by Christopher Carstens, is a discussion of the proper form of language in the liturgy, with a particular reference to the poetic device of repetition.
There is also a second film in the same vein, from a year later, which covers many different aspects of the life of these communities. The first half is about pioneer life and farming, but starting from about 6:50, it talks about the various religious institutions founded by the Ukrainians in Canada.
|A sign posted at the historic Black Hills Free Methodist Church Camp, Grafton, West Virginia|
But let's get back to Karl Rahner for a bit.
Fr. Lang is much more of a gentleman and scholar than I, and he has touched the root of the problem. As you can tell, I found a lot to savor in Fr. Lang's scholarly critique of Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx. He was able to carefully extract the small bits of truth from their writings, while avoiding the massive amount of slop and confusion.
|The church of St Agnes Outside-the-Walls on the via Nomentana. (Image from Wikipedia.)|
The original purpose of the second feast, however, is not at all clear; theories abound, but evidence is lacking. In the Wurzburg lectionary, the oldest of the Roman Rite, January 21 is “natale S. Agnae de passione – the birth (into heaven) of Agnes, of her passion,”, while January 28 is simply “de natali.” One theory is that the actual day of her death was the 28th, and the 21st originally commemorated the beginning of her sufferings, starting with her trial and condemnation. However, we would then expect something similar for other prominent martyrs, particularly St Lawrence, whose passion also extended over a variety of days and events. The next oldest lectionary, Codex Murbach, doesn’t mention the second feast at all, nor does the Lectionary of Alcuin. In the Gregorian Sacramentary, the titles are simply “natale” and “natale...secundo.”
The prayers of the Gelasian Sacramentary, which dates to the mid-8th century, and uses titles for the two feasts similar to those in the Wurzburg lectionary, may refer to the idea that St Agnes’ passion began on the 21st, and her death occurred on the 28th. One of the two collects for the former refers to the day “of her passion”, and asks that “we may follow the constancy of her faith,” while the Secret of the latter says that “she was glorious from the beginning of her blessed contest unto the end.” On the other hand, the Collect that goes with it says that we are “repeating” her feast, while the Secret on the 21st speaks of her “heavenly victory”, certainly a more appropriate expression for the actual day of death. In short, the earliest evidence in inconclusive.
Nevertheless, Dom Suitbert Bäumer (1845-96), in his History of the Breviary refers to it as an example of an octave that has only a commemoration on the eighth day, with no mention made of the feast on the days in between. (pp. 31-32 of the French edition, vol. 2, 1905) In support of this theory, he cites a text of the year 1085 called the “Micrologus de Ecclesiasticis Observantiis – Summary of Church Services”; it was Dom Bäumer himself who identified the author as one Bernold of Constance, a supporter of the great reformer Popes of that era. In chapter 42, Bernold writes that “according to the authority of Rome, … we make no daily mention of those whose octaves we celebrate on the intervening days, … except for those of St Mary (i.e., the Assumption), and of St Peter.”
What he says in this regard, however, is hardly conclusive. Fifty years later, a canon of St Peter’s Basilica named Benedict, in a treatise now known as the 11th Ordo Romanus, describes the manner of celebrating the days within octaves, specifically mentioning those of Saints John the Baptist, Peter, Lawrence, and the Assumption alongside those of Christmas and Epiphany. (chapter 68) A similar custom is attested in the Ordinal of Pope Innocent III at the beginning of the 13th century. Bäumer radically overstates his case when he attributes the celebration of the days within octaves to the influence of the Franciscans; St Francis was born fifty years after Canon Benedict wrote, and received verbal approval for his order from Innocent III only a few years before the latter’s Ordinal was compiled circa 1213-16. Simply put, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Bäumer fell into the trap that the liturgical scholars of his era routinely fell into, extrapolating too much from too little evidence.
I write above that Bäumer’s was “the most influential” explanation for the Second Feast of St Agnes, because it seems to have been the model for part of the Breviary reform of Pope St Pius X. Prior to this reform, octaves were celebrated with varying degrees of precedence, but not formally divided into classes as feasts were. The reform of 1911 created three classes of octaves, “privileged, common and simple,” the first of which was subdivided into three orders. The simple octaves are those attached to feasts of the second rank (among six), called Doubles of the Second Class; such octaves are celebrated as a Simple feast (the lowest of the six grades) on the eighth day, with no mention of them on the intermediary days.
|St Agnes on the Pyre, by Ercole Ferrata, 1660-64, in the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, built at the site of her martyrdom in the Piazza Navona in Rome.|
Why I think that those who criticize the Christian artistic tradition for always presenting Christ as a northern European are wrong.
Twice recently I have heard this discussion sparked off by the discovery of human remains in the Holy Land which date from the time of Christ, which have allowed scientists to create an image of the person from whom the bones came. The figure that is recreated is, surprise, surprise, olive-skinned and Semitic-looking, and so this indicates, so the logic goes, what Christ would probably have looked like. This being so, it demonstrates how narrow minded Europeans are, and how culturally narrow Christianity is for portraying Christ as a white, Caucasian.
In short, it would be said, Christ didn’t look like this painting by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, as the Church has often represented:
He looked instead more like this scientific reconstruction of a man developed from a skull discovered in the Holy Land, according to this article.
Here is my reaction: first, if ever there was a concocted news piece this was one - does we really need the discovery of a skull as evidence that a Jew living in the Middle East about 2,000 years ago might have been dark skinned and Semitic-looking? I think nearly every Christian today would at least be open to the idea without feeling that their faith was threatened, and it wouldn’t require the discovery of a skull to convince them.
Second, I think that the argument reveals a narrow understanding of the Christian artistic tradition, and a lack of appreciation of just how universally inclusive it is. I will acknowledge that there is a tradition of artists who present Christ as their own race, or the race of those for whom the painting is intended. The idea behind this is to encourage people to believe that Christ is a person to whom they can relate to at a personal level. This is natural. Sir Anthony Van Dyck, who was northern European and who spent most of his professional life working in England, might very well naturally paint Christ as a northern European. But why shouldn’t he? I feel that it is as reasonable for a European to paint Christ as European as it is for him to be painted as an African for an African congregation, or as Chinese for a Chinese audience, as in this painting:
This desire to portray Christ in a form that the intended viewers will relate to can manifest itself in other ways. This famous crucifixion by Grunewald shows Christ with the open sores of a fungal infection transmitted through rye grain eaten in the bread of 16th century France. Those who suffered from this horrible disfiguring disease were given care in a hospital, and this painting was painted for chapel in the hospital. The intention was to give them solace by showing that Christ not only bore the pain of their sins, but was suffering with them physically too.
On the whole, the depiction of Christ in the Christian artistic tradition does look more like the Van Dyck image than anything else. However, what I would contest the idea that this results from a northern European cultural bias. Look at these two images, first this one:
and now this one of Christ and St Menas:
Both have Christ represented as a light-skinned man. However, these have no connection with Western Europe; they were painted in Egypt. The first one comes from Mt Sinai and dates from the 6th century, and second is even older, a Coptic icon from the 4th century. Why did they represent him in this way? One possibility that never seems to be considered in these articles is that the tradition has preserved an image that corresponds to what Christ really looked like. If this were the case, and it is historically accurate, one would expect to see others who looked similar. Well here are two portraits of Egyptians dating from even earlier, the 2nd century AD.
The two paintings above are portraits for coffins painted in encaustic, a technique by which pigments are suspended in hot wax. Not everybody would have been this light skinned in Egypt at this time, but at least this shows that some were. Egypt is not the Holy Land of course, but one would have expected an Egyptian artist to have some idea of what those who lived next door in the Holy Land might have looked like. Nevertheless, if the images of Christ are not accurate and reflect a prejudice of Egyptian artists of the period, which is possible, then the prejudice which created them is certainly not northern or Western European, but rather aristocratic 4th century north African.
There is another reason why Christ would have been light skinned in religious images, even if it was widely believed that he was naturally much more dark-skinned. This reason has nothing to do with racial stereotypes. The Christian tradition always portrays Christ, to varying degrees, as an idealized heavenly figure. Even in naturalistic styles, such as the baroque exemplified by Van Dyck, there is always an element of idealization that points to this heavenly destiny. The model for this is the Transfiguration. The three apostles, you will remember, saw him transfigured on Mt Tabor, shining with light. In authentic Christian liturgical art there is always going to be an indication of the Light of the World. Sometimes this is achieved by a lightening the whole complexion. Here we have a portrayal of Christ in 16th century, painted by an man originally trained in Crete in the Eastern Mediterranean, living in Spain, El Greco.
Sometimes the indication of the divine light is achieved by adding concentrated lines of pure white light which sparkle on the surface of a generally darker skin. Russian icons especially tend to use this latter method, and ironically, it is in Russian art that we see some of the darkest skinned portrayals of Christ. I say it is ironic, because if racial or nationalistic prejudice was driving the portrayal of Christ one would have a expected a Greek living in Spain to paint a darker Christ than a Russian living in Russia. The icon below is from the late 15th century by the Russian iconographer known as Dionysius:
Another point of discussion relates to what Christ looked like facially. Was he clean shaven or was he bearded with long hair? While some portrayals of Christ do show him without a beard (Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmeus comes to mind), this is rare. The early depictions of Christ without beard that I am aware of are not intended to capture his characteristics directly, but to be allegorical representations of Christ as the Good Shepherd. This is one from the catacombs in Rome.
Another image in the catacombs dating from the 4th century, which is not allegorical, shows Christ as the familiar bearded figure.
We do not know for certain what Christ looked like. However, I suggest that the tradition is old enough and geographically widespread enough to cast doubt on the assertion that the familiar bearded Christ with a light complexion arises from a Western European cultural prejudice. Furthermore it is not even true that Christ is always portrayed as white European, even by white Europeans. Russian icons show Christ with olive brown skin for example.
I would add that in my opinion, if a discussion of this subject ignores the possibility that the tradition is as coherent as it is because it reflects what the historical Christ actually looked like, this indicates an unfair bias. It is the modern anti-Christian bias of some historians that refuses to consider the validity of Christian tradition as a historical record of truth alongside other sources.
And any discussion that doesn’t consider the possibility that the complexion might be lightened in order to indicate the transfigured heavenly Christ reflects a lack of understanding of how theology governs form in Christian art.
For my part I am happy to trust Christian tradition in this respect.
|An early manuscript of Jubilate Deo or "Rejoice in the Lord," the Introit for the 3rd Sunday of Easter|
Where Bishop Sample outlined the ideals, now Bishop Doerfler is the executive. Instead of talking about things in the abstract, he is putting them into practice. It is a bold move, and I wish the Diocese of Marquette well. I would be thrilled if a similar project were under way in my part of the country, and I would be the first in my diocese to sign up to help.
As an educator, I can only hope that considerable time, expertise, and resources are being invested in this project. When the goals are high and the timeline is short, the possibility of failure is real. All it would take is chant written in keys too high, lack of proper education in parishes on how to do chant effectively (at a quick pace, please), inadequate time to get copyright permissions (hymnal publishers may not look kindly on the project, which cuts into their business), and lack of "buy-in" from key parishes and constituencies. Chant can die the death quickly from seemingly insignificant things, too, like a pastor singing too loudly on his mic.
There's a minefield ahead, but I commend Bishop Doerfler for his courage. When it comes to doing chant, we should not live in fear. We should do it, and learn how to do it by doing it. Left to right, bottom to top. Dot means double, squiggle means "wait, then go." Solfege down from DO, and then go. There's no other way. If it feels slow, make it faster. If it feels too high, set it lower. Do what you need to do to make it successful, but nonetheless, do the chant and do it well. Don't wait until your Schola sounds like Solesmes. Not to mention, organ accompaniment helps for Ordinaries. Add nuance and sweetness to your interpretation after you have achieved confidence.
I trust that Bishop Doerfler has already recruited a qualified staff for this project. I hope you will join me in praying that the work is received positively. High quality work, coupled together with EDUCATION in our parishes, is the only way to success. Pius X and Justine Ward knew this. Time has come to teach parishes not just to sing their prayers, but also to love our faith. This initiative is a bold step in a good direction. Let's hope and pray it's carried through to a glorious completion.
Meanwhile, if you know how to teach chant and good sacred music, please get to work... there may be new jobs in Michigan!
Palestrina’s Missa Brevis will be performed for Candlemas on Tuesday, February 2nd at a Traditional Latin Solemn High Mass in downtown Jersey City’s historic St. Anthony’s Church, starting at 7:00 PM. The church is located at Monmouth St. between 6th and 7th. The church parking lot is located on 6th St. between Coles and Monmouth Street, and is easily accessible from the Grove Street PATH, the Newport PATH and Light Rail stop.
A social event for young adults will follow the Mass, since a strong drive behind St. Anthony’s performance of this classical sacred masterpiece is the presence of many young parishioners who have recently joined the growing parish in a quickly gentrifyng city.
In the current Fall/Winter issue, NLM readers will be interested to know that our founder and former editor, Shawn Tribe, has contributed an article on the matter of the politics of tradition. It is a two part piece, the second part of which is written by Bernard Pothier, author of a history of the FSSP parish in Ottawa, St. Clement’s.
In the first part, Shawn aproaches the question of the importance of the liturgical tradition of the church as part of a broader discussion of why this tradition should matter to Catholics and non-Catholic alike. To accomplish this, the Catholic liturgical tradition is looked at from a Burkean perspective on the one hand and and as a cultural and artistic treasure of Western civilization on the other. In the second part of the piece, Bernard Pothier gives his first hand account of the liturgical reforms as they occurred within the context of Catholic Quebec, setting the scene for what happened before, during and after.
NLM is pleased to be able to bring our readers a preview of this piece. Those who are interested in reading it in its entirety, as well as the other articles in this excellent journal, may wish to consider purchasing a copy of it here. (Click the images to enlarge and read.) You can also follow Shawn on Facebook and Twitter.
Winter/Autumn 2015: EDITOR’S NOTES
... The pursuit of beauty, truth, and goodness is not a universal aspiration today. Perhaps little appreciated is a form of religious worship that in the past inspired great art, music, and architecture: the traditional Mass of the Roman Church, the subject of Shawn Tribe and Bernard Pothier’s essays under the title “Wasteland” (p. 65). It is small wonder that a group of the most distinguished secular liberals living in 1971 appealed to Pope Paul VI not to allow this rite, as a treasure belonging to “universal culture,” to be destroyed (p. 69).
Tomorrow is the feast of Modena’s principal patron, St Geminianus, whose relics are kept in the crypt, so I will post some photos of the interior then.
|God the Creator; the Creation of Adam; the Creation of Eve; the Serpent speaks to Adam and Eve|
|God rebukes Adam and Eve; He expels them from the garden; Adam and Eve begin to work the earth.|
|Cain and Able make their offerings to God; Cain kills Abel; God rebukes and curses Cain|
|Lamech kills Cain; Noah’s Ark; Noah and his sons leave the ark.|
|Many Romanesque cathedrals in Italy have a small porch over the door held up by columns which sit on figures of animals, most typically lions.|
|The bell-tower seen from the piazza in front of the church.|
|The “fish-market door”, which no longer has a fish-market right next to it.|
|The apse of the church and the base of the bell-tower.|
|The bell-tower, known as La Ghirlandina, was originally built in 1179, and raised higher twice in subsequent eras as an experssion of Modena’s long-standing rivalry with nearby Bologna. The total height is now just over 282 feet.|
|A pulpit added to the south side of the church at the beginning of the 16th-century for preaching to large crowds in the square.|
|The “royal door” south side of the church.|
|From last year’s Candlemas photopost - Vespers of the Presentation of the Lord at St John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.|
|The entrance to the crypt.|
|The crypt itself is a small forest of well preserved Romanesque columns and capitals of the 12th century.|
|The sarcophagus which preserves the relics of St Geminianus, made in the late 4th century.|
|St Luke the Evangelist and his bull.|
|The balustrade that encloses the sanctuary of the church and the rood screen, seen from the staircase on the left.|
|The nave seen from the sanctuary.|
|The 15th-century preaching pulpit in the nave.|
|From the Museo dell’Opera, the 18th-century frontal formerly used on the Saint’s feast day...|
|and some nice reliquaries.|
|A Romanesque Gospel book|
Why are we content with plainness and mediocrity?
Why do we have no aspirations to do the greatest possible honor to our God, to His Word, to His Sacraments, to His house, and therefore to His people who will worship there?
Why do we produce so few masterpieces of fine art today?
Here are some absolutely stunning Epistolarium and Evangelarium covers from various periods, Romanesque, medieval, Baroque, and modern (19th century), that embody the Catholic spirit of proclaiming unmistakably the utter uniqueness of Sacred Scripture.
|A Gothic Gospel book|
The Word of God is given a rich casing of gold and semi-precious stones or glass to indicate the priceless treasure of wisdom contained within. It is decorated with figures of the saints, often stories from the life of Christ or the Virgin, to proclaim outwardly, even prior to the use of any words, the burden of its inner message of holiness. In the very excess of these book covers there is a potent symbol of the ineffable, of what cannot be depicted, that mysterium of which no human art can ever be worthy.
When we make something appreciably less magnificent than such works of art, and yet we might have done something better (in other words, we are not suffering for lack of money or workshops of skilled laborers), what then are we actually saying about the content of the book and our beliefs in regard to that content? About its superabundant excess of wisdom, its supreme worthiness of our affection and awe? About its value in our community and within our hierarchy of economics and politics?
|A Baroque Gospel book|
|This set of three books were produced at the end of the 19th century in France.|
The following contemporary Gospel books or lectionaries do NOT reflect such faith. They reflect a different theology, perhaps a different religion; they display a contempt of past forms, an arrogance that turns it back on artistic tradition, an utter incomprehension of principles of beauty, and a laughable unseriousness.
|The Meeting of Christ and Simeon in the Temple depicted in a mosaic under the dome of Katholikon (principal church) of the monastery of St Luke, on Mt Helicon in the Boeotia region of Greece; early 11th century. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Hans A. Rosbach.)|
If you are in charge of a library, or if you can make recommendations of books to libraries, or most of all, if you are a serious scholar of the liturgy, you should make a point of getting and studying this book, whose table of contents reads like a "who's who" of the most thoughtful and penetrating writers on the liturgy. Obviously a volume of 581 pages (xx + 561) cannot include every name, but its breadth and ambition can be seen from the list of authors who contributed chapters: +László Dobszay, +Anscar Chupungco, Uwe Michael Lang, Thomas Kocik, Paul Gunter, Bruce Harbert, Daniel Van Slyke, David Fagerberg, James Monti, Susan Treacy, Timothy McDonnell, Thomas Gordon Smith, Robert Hayward, Yitzhak Hen, Anthony Chadwick, Benjamin Gordon-Taylor, and, of course, Alcuin Reid himself (who is represented by five fine chapters: on participation, on the Liturgical Movement, on the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, on the concept of "pastoral liturgy," and on the usus antiquior's restoration). Indeed, Reid's contributions, taken together, constitute a mini-treatise on some of the most important liturgical topics of our time.
Although the book does present a variety of perspectives, not all of them sympathetic to the hermeneutic of continuity or the recovery of tradition, most of the authors represent the new wave of liturgical scholarship that is highly respectful of and dedicated to the Catholic tradition and, accordingly, skeptical about the rapid and ideologically-motivated changes that befell the Roman Catholic liturgy before and particularly after the Second Vatican Council. In this way, the book exemplifies a noble seriousness of purpose, a depth of intellectual engagement, and a pastoral concern with the health of the Western liturgy that makes it an essential reference work for consultation on the host of topics taken up in its pages.
I would like to draw special attention to an unusual and very helpful feature of this book, one that I had not been expecting: Part V, "A-Z of the Study of Catholic Liturgy," pp. 499-551. Here we have a detailed glossary of liturgical terms, be they rites, ceremonies, books, documents, persons, or concepts, from which any reader can learn a great deal, whether a beginner to the study of liturgy, or one who has been at it a long time.
Here is the table of contents:
Introduction - Alcuin Reid
Once again, for the month of February, the book is available at 35% off of the list price ($172), which brings the price down to $111.80.