Articles on this Page
- 05/10/16--05:00: _The Walled Garden -...
- 05/10/16--09:12: _A Priest's First TL...
- 05/10/16--12:36: _Pictures from Last ...
- 05/11/16--06:00: _A New Artwork Based...
- 05/11/16--13:20: _Ad Petri Sedem - A ...
- 05/12/16--00:44: _Is “Contemporary” C...
- 05/12/16--10:35: _The Postcommunion P...
- 05/12/16--13:41: _The Feast of St Pan...
- 05/13/16--04:00: _Photopost Request: ...
- 05/13/16--06:01: _Information on the ...
- 05/13/16--09:00: _Fatima Conference a...
- 05/13/16--12:20: _Humbert Codex of th...
- 05/13/16--14:10: _Chants from the Rec...
- 05/14/16--23:19: _Humbert Codex of th...
- 05/14/16--23:30: _Pentecost 2016
- 05/15/16--13:18: _Images from the Cha...
- 05/16/16--04:20: _Pentecost Monday 2016
- 05/16/16--15:28: _On Needlessly Probl...
- 05/17/16--13:37: _Can Anyone Identify...
- 05/17/16--09:00: _Masses Celebrated B...
- 05/10/16--05:00: The Walled Garden - a Poetry Collection by Andrew Thornton-Norris
- 05/10/16--09:12: A Priest's First TLM: The Story is the Same
- 05/10/16--12:36: Pictures from Last Friday’s Mozarabic Mass in Rome
- 05/11/16--06:00: A New Artwork Based on the Medieval “Creeping to the Cross”
- 05/12/16--00:44: Is “Contemporary” Church Music a Good Example of Inculturation?
- 05/12/16--13:41: The Feast of St Pancratius
- 05/13/16--04:00: Photopost Request: Pentecost 2016
- 05/13/16--06:01: Information on the TLM in Korea
- 05/13/16--12:20: Humbert Codex of the Dominican Liturgy Available Online
- Missale Conventuale
- Missale Minorum Altarium
- 05/13/16--14:10: Chants from the Recent Mozarabic Mass in Rome
- 05/14/16--23:19: Humbert Codex of the Dominican Rite Links Fixed
- 05/14/16--23:30: Pentecost 2016
- 05/15/16--13:18: Images from the Chartres Pilgrimage, and Commentary by Shawn Tribe
- 05/16/16--04:20: Pentecost Monday 2016
- 05/16/16--15:28: On Needlessly Problematizing Our Situation
- 05/17/16--13:37: Can Anyone Identify Who Painted this Beautiful Icon?
- 05/17/16--09:00: Masses Celebrated Before a Relic of St John-Marie Vianney
Quarterly Review’s Michael Davies hailed it as “a return to the great tradition.” You can read his detailed review of Andrew’s poems in this collection here.
Andrew Thornton-Norris’s work is accessible and noble, and even speaks to someone like me whose eyes ordinarily glaze over at the mention of poetry - honestly, read my article The Need for Beauty and Form in Poetry if you don’t believe me. I never studied literature formerly at any level, opting away from it at every opportunity; I never even did an English Literature class at high school - an omission in my education for which I am profoundly grateful I might add.
For me, Andrew’s poems have simultaneously the simplicity and the depth of a psalm or an Ambrosian hymn. This is not surprising, for he has a deep understanding of the connection between faith and the culture, and between the Faith and Western culture. It is because he understands both the cultural traditions of his faith and the culture of modern man that he knows how to make the first speak within the second through his poetry.
For evidence of his understanding of the tradition, I suggest you read his book The Spiritual History of English, in which he analyses the form - the underlying sentence structure and vocabulary - of the English language since the time of the Venerable Bede, and demonstrates how it has changed to reflect the culture of faith from which it emanates. As he describes it, modern English is less able to articulate the ideas and beauty of the faith than it was in the time of Shakespeare. You can read my review of this brilliant book in an article entitled A Book For Anyone Interested in the Evangelization of the Culture.
As the title of my review suggests, Andrew is not pessimistic, however, and is ready to stick his neck out and try to influence the culture through his own work, hoping to restore what has been lost and, (who knows?), perhaps help to raise it to something even greater. This is what all who are creative must do. As he wrote so revealingly in a recent post on the Beauty of Catholicism blog, “The modern artist or writer of faith has to inculturate his faith and work into the culture and the artistic forms of modern society in exactly the same way that a missionary has to inculturate his message into that of an alien culture. For that is exactly the circumstance that we face today, an alien culture, albeit one formed historically by our faith; and our challenge is to make our work ‘relevant,’ comprehensible and attractive to the modern consumer of that work, without diluting its content or alienating ourselves.”
I also recommend Andrew’s course, The Romance of the Soul, which is a study of mystical poetry, including the work of poets such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dante, St John of the Cross, T.S. Eliot and John Burnside, which is offered at Pontifex.University. He is also a regular contributor to the American magazine, the Imaginative Conservative.
Fair Quiet, have I found thee here
The day I wandered after dusk
Across ploughed field and shadowed copse
And wondered of the busied world
If I should ever step there again.
For my heart was bleak as the plain ploughed field
And my mind was dark as the shadowed copse,
Where roosting fowl did cluck and screech
And flitting bats did dart among the flies.
Darkening skies of grey and silver and blue
With bursting coloured sunset nearly out of sight
As India from my nation's realm withdrew
And peaceful evening skies let no respite.
By Andrew Thornton-Norris - London, United Kingdom - 19 February 2012
|The Rev. Richard Cipolla celebrates at Sacred Heart Church,|
New Haven, circa 2001.
Recently, St. Mary’s music director David Hughes and I had the honor of assisting at a priest’s first Traditional Mass. It was a very spiritually powerful event. David provided the music, while I served as master of ceremonies for a Missa Cantata. What made it special was that it was a votive mass where only nine people were in attendance, not including visitors to the church. Where and when is not important, nor is the name of the individual. What this post aims to relate is not an individual event, but the proliferation of several of those events.
Fr. Richard Cipolla, pastor of St. Mary’s, is a longtime friend, and one of the priests this writer has had the pleasure to watch since the Indult days. He tells the story of his first Mass in New Haven, which he related in a post on NLM in 2013.
It is not a Pollyanna outlook. There are real problems in the Church. They will have to be addressed. The liturgy, and particularly the ancient Mass of the Roman Rite, will be one of the means used to solve those problems. I’ve seen the proof first-hand.
|The incensation of the altar at the beginning,|
|A concelebrant prepares the chalice at the Offertory; note the use of the so-called scruple spoon.|
|After the Offertory, since there are a number of other prayers to be said before the Preface, the vessels with are covered with a veil.|
|At the Eucharistic Prayer|
|At the Lord’s Prayer|
|After the Lord’s Prayer and the Embolism, the priest shows the paten and chalice to the people and says “Sancta sanctis - holy things for the holy,” which is also said in the Byzantine Rite before Communion.|
|Before the distribution of Communion, the priest gives a solemn blessing to the people, consisting of three invocations and conclusion, to each of which the choir answers “Amen.”|
The drawing depicts the “Creeping to the Cross” that occurred not on Good Friday, but on Easter morning, after the Crucifix is disinterred from the Easter Sepulcher, as described in Eamon Duffy’s book The Stripping of the Altars, and alluded to in The Vision of Piers Plowman.
I encourage you to go and have a look at the literary and liturgical description at Daniel’s website. The details in this drawing are absolutely fascinating, particularly the intertwined monsters in the background, which seem to draw upon Bosch and Escher, and the Amen-Alleluia pattern behind the figures.
Go here for the full description and image.
It seems that the missionaries who went to the New World were able to take up elements of the culture of the people they encountered, including something from their music. Vatican II tells us that we should do the same thing wherever the Gospel is preached. Why can we not take up elements of today’s popular culture around us, such as rock or pop styles of music, and turn them into vehicles for evangelizing our contemporaries?
My answer—at least as far as the realm of the liturgy is concerned—is a resounding no, for the following reasons.
Inculturation, correctly understood, is the process of carefully discerning and integrating harmonious elements of an indigenous culture into the teaching and practice of the Faith, so as to make the Faith at home in a culture. In this way the people to whom it is being introduced experience it not as something completely foreign to them but as something that completes and elevates the good already present in their midst. . . .
Today’s Westerners, in contrast, are post-Christian aliens, estranged from their own history and the great cultural synthesis that could and should be theirs. The history of modern music, whether atonal or jazz or rock or pop, is a history of deliberate rebellion and revolt against the great tradition of Western music, against its high art forms, its slowly developed musical language, its explicitly or implicitly Christian message. In its origins and its inner meaning, much of modern Western music is a rejection of the Catholic (and European) tradition. As a result, it is not morally, intellectually, or culturally “neutral”; it is already laden with an anti-institutional, anti-sacral, anti-traditional significance. This music is not naïve raw material waiting to be Christianized, but highly articulate anti-Christian propaganda. It rejects the ideals of lofty beauty and grandeur, spiritual seriousness, evocation of the divine, openness to the transcendent, and artistic discipline, in favor of vapidity, frivolity, profanity, sensuality, and banality.
In the 1962 Missale Romanum, the postcommunion prayer for Ascension is as follows (with my rough English translation):
Praesta nobis, quaesumus,This is a prayer that appears in this form in fifty-nine manuscripts,  ranging from the 8th to 17th centuries.  In nearly all of them, it occurs on the day of the Ascension itself. However, even in the few manuscripts that utilise this prayer on other days, the association of this prayer with Ascension is retained. In one 9th century manuscript it occurs on the Vigil, in one 14th century manuscript it is used in the Octave, and in five manuscripts (four from the 9th-11th centuries and one from the 16th century) it appears on the Sunday within the Octave. There is one other occurrence of this prayer in a slightly different form from the 6th/7th century, in the Leonine Sacramentary (also known as the Sacramentarium Veronense), again used on Ascension. 
omnipotens et misericors Deus:
ut, quae visibilibus mysteriis sumenda percepimus,
invisibili consequamur effectu.
Grant us, we pray,
almighty and merciful God:
that, what we have taken and obtained in visible mysteries,
may profit us by its invisible effects.
The collect, secret and postcommunion for Ascension Thursday were all replaced in the post-conciliar reforms.  With regard to the postcommunion, Abbot Patrick Regan, O.S.B., writes that the 1962 prayer is “well phrased but without connection to the feast”, hence why it was replaced, and he sees a “theological enrichment as we move from the Mass in the 1962 Missal to its successor in the 1970 Missal of Paul VI”.  The Ordinary Form’s postcommunion for Ascension reads as follows:
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,This prayer is actually a combination of two different prayers,  both from the Leonine Sacramentary (omissions in red):
qui in terra constitutos divina tractare concedis,
ut illuc tendat christianae devotionis affectus,
quo tecum est nostra substantia. (2008 MR)
Almighty ever-living God,
who allow those on earth to celebrate divine mysteries,
grant, we pray,
that Christian hope may draw us onward
to where our nature is united with you. (2011 ICEL)
(1) Omnipotens sempiterne deus,
qui in terra substantia constitutos divina tractare concedis,
deprecantibus sanctis tuis,
ut eadem consequamur conversatione caelesti. (Leonine 689)
Almighty ever-living God,
who allow in earthly realities the celebration of divine mysteries,
by the intercession of your saints,
that we may obtain the same heavenly way of life.
(2) Tribue, quaesumus, domine,This is an example of a technique called centonization, used with some regularity by the reformers. Centonization takes parts from two or more different prayers and weaves them together, sometimes along with originally-composed parts, in order to make a new prayer. It is not a modern technique; Pope St Gregory the Great used it when he composed the collect now used on the 1st Sunday of Advent in the 1962 Missal.  The character of the centonization used by the post-conciliar reformers is often rather different to that of Pope St Gregory, as we will see.
ut illuc tendat christianae nostrae devotionis affectus,
quo tecum est nostra substantia. (Leonine 185)
Grant, we pray, O Lord,
that our Christian hope may draw us onward
to where our nature is united with you.
The first prayer of the above two used to compose the Ordinary Form’s postcommunion, Omnipotens, occurs only in the Leonine Sacramentary; there are no other occurrences in the tradition.  The second prayer, Tribue, has quite a wide use across the 6th to 15th centuries in slightly differing forms, with a roughly 50/50 split between use on Ascension and as an Easter prayer for St Andrew.  In the form above, however, it occurs only in the Leonine Sacramentary, and is associated with the Ascension. Neither of these prayers is used anywhere in the 1962 MR.
It looks like that the Consilium were very keen on using the postcommunion prayer for Ascension from the Leonine Sacramentary, rather than retaining the one from the 1962 Missal. In all likelihood, this is because the Leonine prayer, like the Preface for Ascension,  speaks about our natures being united with God. However, since there is no mention of the faithful having just received the Eucharist (something the reformers dogmatically insisted that a postcommunion must have), the prayer had to be centonized with the first half of another prayer that the reformers also liked the phrasing of, which in this case happened to be from the same sacramentary. This particular centonization, however, is a little different to the example of Pope St Gregory the Great given above. Instead of centonizing two thematically similar prayers from the same time of year, one of the prayers the reformers chose, Omnipotens, was only ever used in the month of August, on the feast of St Stephen buried in the Catacomb of Callixtus on the Via Appia, and has never been associated with Ascension. And the other prayer, Tribue, as we have already mentioned, is only associated with Ascension in about half of the manuscripts that contain it.
We have thus moved from a postcommunion prayer in the EF that has always been associated with the Ascension, and almost universally on the day of the feast, to a newly-centonized composition in the OF made up of one prayer that never had anything to do with the Ascension and another only used as such around half the time, and that mainly on the Vigil rather than the day itself. Omnipotens and Tribue do at least have similar themes. Omnipotens, however, is only extant in one single manuscript, the Leonine — admittedly an important, early witness, but it is perhaps questionable whether it ought to have been used to replace a far more widely and consistently used prayer, the source of which, incidentally, is also the Leonine sacramentary!
If we look for a moment at the collect and super oblata as well as the postcommunion, we can see that, as a result of the Consilium’s changes, the prayers of the OF Ascension are, on the surface, more thematically focused than those of the EF. The prayers, along with the preface, all make explicit mention of the ultimate end of the Ascension: the union of our natures with God in heaven, our divinisation. “[W]here the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope” (collect), “that through this most holy exchange we, too, may rise up to the heavenly realms” (super oblata), “that Christian hope may draw us onward to where our nature is united with you” (postcommunion).
One can understand how this might be seen as an enrichment in terms of theology. However, this has the effect that the OF prayers are arguably more limited in scope than those of the EF. Since the focus of the OF prayers is almost exclusively on the eschatological significance of the Ascension, there is very little space left for consideration of what the fruits of this feast ought to be in our daily lives. In the postcommunion, for instance, there is no mention made “of the fruits of the mystery just celebrated” (cf. GIRM 89); the closest we get is that we have been allowed to celebrate it. We pray that “Christian hope”, rather than “these mysteries”, may draw us onward to heaven. In the EF, on the other hand, space is given to both the here and now as well as the end of time: “that, what we have taken and obtained in visible mysteries, may profit us by its invisible effects” (postcommunion), “grant that we may be delivered from present dangers and attain eternal life” (secret), “that he might make us sharers in his divinity” (preface), “that we… may in spirit dwell already in heavenly realms” (collect). The scope of the EF prayers is wider, more complete than that of the corresponding OF prayers. 
The visible/invisible parallel in the 1962 postcommunion also has resonances with the Ascension. Our Lord visibly ascended (Acts 1:9), and has given us the Holy Spirit to be with us invisibly (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:7-11) until He comes again visibly in glory (Acts 1:11; Mt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7). Jesus Christ, physically and visibly present with His disciples until His Ascension, and now invisible to us until He comes again, can be seen today at every celebration of Mass under the visible signs of bread and wine in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is also a literarily pleasing parallel: outside of the Creed, it is actually quite uncommon in liturgical prayers, and contributes to the conceptual variety of the EF prayers for Ascension.
Whether one set of Ascension prayers is preferable or superior to the other, and whether the different liturgical sources have been used in a manner consistent with the organic development of the liturgy, is a matter for reasoned debate. But in order to begin to appreciate how the OF and EF each shape the faith of Catholics, and the similarities and differences in how the two Forms of the Roman Rite accomplish this shaping, it is absolutely vital to begin the detailed work of delving into the sources of the prayers of each Missal.
 The main example is Lauren Pristas, The Collects of the Roman Missal: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper Seasons Before and After the Second Vatican Council (London: Bloomsbury, 2013).
 This and other similar data is taken from E. Moeller, J.-M. Clément & B.C. ’t Wallant (eds.), Corpus Orationum (Turnholt: Brepols, 1992-2004), a 14 volume set of books that detail the history and sources of almost every single extant Latin prayer, excluding prefaces (henceforth referred to as CO). It is a vital resource for detailed research into individual prayers of the Latin liturgical tradition.
 Two manuscripts from the 8th century, eleven from the 9th, eight from the 10th, fifteen from the 11th, six from the 12th, and twelve from the 13th century or later. Cf. CO 4387b.
 Praesta nobis, omnipotens et misericors deus, ut, quae visibilibus mysteriis celebrando suscepimus, invisibili consequamur effectu: Leonine 172; cf. CO 4387a.
 However, the Ascension Thursday collect of the 1962 Missal was inserted into the editio typica tertia (2002) of the OF Missal as an alternative collect.
 Advent to Pentecost: Comparing the Seasons in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012), p. 282.
 Cf. A. Dumas, O.S.B., “Les sources du nouveau missel romain (II)”, Notitiae 7 (1971) 74-77, p. 75
 Cf. Gelasianum Vetus, 1120 (also 1141 and 1149, which have the same introduction) and 1158; for more detail, see Pristas, Collects of the Roman Missal, pp. 32-38.
 Cf. CO 3972.
 Cf. CO 5924. The other usages are as follows: one variation in the Gelasianum Vetus (8th century), used as an Easter evening prayer; another variation in twenty-six manuscripts, from the 8th-12th centuries, all but one used on the Vigil of Ascension as a postcommunion; a third variation found in thirty-four manuscripts, from the 8th-13th centuries, used as an oratio (collect) for St Andrew.
 Note that the Preface of the Ascension in the 1962 Missal was retained as Preface II of the Ascension in the 1970 Missal. Incidentally, this is one of the very few examples where a preface from the preceding liturgical tradition has been carried over into the post-conciliar Missal with no changes to the text.
 One of the criticisms often levelled at the Ordinary Form is that it lends itself too easily to didacticism. This criticism can also be applied here: the reformers seem to have insisted on all the proper prayers for Ascension Thursday explicitly mentioning the Ascension itself, which could perhaps be seen as overly didactic (and also rather heavy-handed).
|The skull of St Pancras, encased in a silver and bronze reliquary, and displayed for his feast day in his church in Rome. (Also perfectly positioned so that from no angle could lens-flare be avoided.)|
|Pulpit decorated with a statue of St Pancras, holding a reliquary of himself in one hand, and the palm branch which symbolizes the victory of his martyrdom in the other.|
|This pulpit is very new, but has some nice Romanesque style work on it.|
|The church’s very large organ was installed right in the sanctuary in the reign of St Pius X. One can only assume that the organist is under orders from the celebrant NOT to pull out all the stops during Mass...|
|From last year’s Pentecost photopost: Solemn Mass in the OF at the church of St Birinus at Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.|
The Traditional Latin Mass is usually celebrated every third Sunday of the month in Gunpo City in the Oratory of St. John’s House of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, located at 915-15, Dang-dong, Gunpo City, Gyeongi-do Province. The Mass this month will be celebrated on Pentecost Sunday, May 15.
The blog of the TLM Community of Korea: http://cafe.naver.com/ecclesia/
The website of the Oratory of the St. John’s House: http://kunpohome.com/ (in French and Korean) Local phone number: 031-393-3569
|Title Page of the Humbert Codex|
Dominus regnavit a ligno, etenim correxit orbem terrae, qui non commovebitur. V. Laetentur caeli, et exsultet terra. R. Qui non commovebitur. (The Lord hath ruled from the tree, for He hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth exult, which shall not be moved. - These words from Psalm 95 are quoted with the addition of the word “from the tree,”, a variant which was known to St Justin Martyr in the 2nd century, and also cited in the hymn Vexilla Regis.)
The second is the Alleluia, which in the Mozarabic Rite is said after the Gospel.
Alleluia, Tu es Crux fidelis, in qua pependit salus nostra, Alleluia. (Alleluia, thou art the faithful Cross, upon which hung our salvation, Alleluia.)
The Sanctus has a few variations from the text common to the Roman, Ambrosian and Byzantine Rites, (italicized) with a few words in Greek added at the end.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth, pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria maiestatis tuae, Hosanna Filio David. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Hosanna in excelsis. Hagios, Hagios, Hagios, Kyrie, o Theos. (Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, the heavens and the earth are full of the glory of Thy majesty, hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest. Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God.)
Lastly, as the priest sings the Lord’s Prayer, the choir adds “Amen” after each few words.
I apologize for this post, which is simply to tell our readers that the file links promised by my previous post have now been fixed and tested, and that those who want to download the Prototype Manuscript of the Dominican Rite (1254) can now do so here. I apologize to those who tried to download the files that the upload of these files had corrupted most of them.
|From the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry; public domain image from Wikipedia.|
Our founder and long-time editor Shawn Tribe happened to mention in foro privato that one of his favorite things to write about during his many years at NLM was the famous Notre-Dame de Chrétienté pilgrimage, which takes place every year at Pentecost. We are very glad indeed to welcome him back for a bit of commentary on some photos of the pilgrimage, which are here reproduced by the kind permission of the organizers from the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté facebook page.
As we look beyond the youth, one will note the many religious orders also present as pilgrims, wearing their distinctive habits -- a sight for sore eyes for many, their presence brings a certain air of monastic serenity and calm. There are the surpliced clerics, toting their breviaries along the way, and there are of course the flags and processional banners with their brilliant colours and beautiful Christian symbols. Then there are the liturgies; solemn liturgies set from the stage of two of the great temples of mediaeval Christendom, as well as from a humble, but nobly appointed, roadside tent halfway between. There are the statues carried in procession, there are the splendid arrangements of cut flowers sitting upon the altars amidst the incense and beeswax candles, echoes of the wildflowers found in the fields along the pilgrims’ way. There are noble silken vestments on the one hand, and there are muddied cassocks and bandaged feet on the other. There are aspects of high culture and there are aspects of monastic culture as found in simple foods offered, such as apples, soup and bread.
The entirety of the event embodies, I think, the noble inheritance and tradition of Christian Europe in so many ways, and also embodies ambitions toward a resurgence of the same. There is an “air” and authenticity to the event which words itself cannot adequately describe or measure, and I think its interest can extend to anyone who sees any value in the inheritance of Western Civilization. The Chartres Pilgrimage is truly one of those unique events of our time that not only merits attention, I think it demands it.
(MORE PHOTOS BELOW THE BREAK.)
|An 18th-century Russian icon of Pentecost. (public domainimage from Wikipedia.)|
The Holy Spirit, light, and life, and the living font of reason, the Spirit of wisdom, and the Spirit of understanding, good, righteous, rational, ruling us, and purifying our faults; God, that maketh us like God, fire, that comes forth from fire, speaking, acting, dividing graces, through whom all the Prophets, and the Apostles of God, together with the Martyrs were crowned. Wholly new is this which we have heard and seen, a fire divided unto distributions of graces. (Third sticheron.)
Since it is a long-standing custom of the Rite never to kneel in Eastertide, a custom which goes back to a decree of the First Council of Nicea, this Vespers also includes the ritual known as the “gonyklisia - the bending of the knee.” This consists of the recitation of a number of prayers interpolated between the regular Litanies (some of them extraordinarily long, even by Byzantine standards), which the priest ordinarily says while kneeling down done before the iconostasis, facing the people. Every Vespers in the Byzantine Rite belongs to the day following it; there is no such thing as Second Vespers, even for a Sunday or a major feast like Pentecost. There, although this Vespers is sung on the evening of Pentecost Sunday, it is liturgically part of Monday, and therefore outside the 50 day period in which kneeling is prohibited in the liturgy. Here is the shortest of the kneeling prayers; the full texts are included in the links given above.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych and leader of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, reciting the kneeling prayers in the cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyiv. (Image from the website of the UGCC Seminary of the Three Holy Hierarchs in Kniazhychi.)
But if this is not to be a mere pious platitude, it must actually mean something, namely, that the Spirit really does bless the Church with gifts at each stage of her pilgrimage. These gifts, moreover, are cumulative: their effects linger in time even as they echo in eternity. Each age inherits the gifts of the saints who have gone before (and, regrettably, suffers from the crimes and vices of the sinners who have also gone before). We do not honor the Holy Spirit or our Lord Jesus Christ if we consider any age to be so different, so great, so new, so chaotic, that it must start afresh, cut the ropes that bind it to the past, reject or push away the gifts of tradition, in a bid to “modernize,” which is to say, to make orphans or strangers of ourselves within our own household. Indeed, such an approach is the only one that could not possibly be a gift of the Holy Spirit.
One day while I was driving around, I was listening to NPR on the radio, and heard them play a clip of the rock band that happened to be performing before the start of a papal Mass in Mexico. The incident seemed to me to speak volumes as to where we are in general. Here was a visit of the Vicar of Christ, Successor of St. Peter, heir of the fisherman, about to offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the supreme act of worship on the face of the earth, the font and apex of our entire Christian life, the axis on which the cosmos revolves until the Day of Judgment. It is the most awesome thing that ever happens or could ever happen — “the divine, holy, most pure, immortal, heavenly, life-creating, and awesome mysteries of Christ,” as our Eastern brethren ecstatically exclaim. And… it was being introduced by a rock concert, which was probably not a whole lot different from the music (weep, o Muses, at the abuse of your sweet name!) performed at the Mass itself. This kind of surreal contradiction, this towering absurdism, is so typical of our age that it almost ceases to attract notice.
Among some highly educated Catholics today, particularly those who study liberal arts and Great Books and therefore spend a lot of their time pondering the past, I have noticed a strange phenomenon, a sort of tormented or self-doubting relationship with tradition, as if they admire it and feel a longing to recover it, while at the same time fearing it is quite impossible to have this tradition any more. They will tell you at one moment how beautiful and how fraught with meaning are certain customs, prayers, or liturgies, and in the next moment will shake their heads about “those misguided people who want to bring all this back, when the Church is doing something different now” — as if the maintenance of laudable tradition always amounted to “turning back the clock,” which, as Charles Taylor assures us, is impossible.
the healthy wound of beauty and the sting of nostalgia that, on behalf of God, beckons us into the wide open spaces of Christian tradition, we end up feeling trapped in the shell of our late modern garbage. We try to console ourselves with the cold comfort of knowing that, even if what we’ve got is second-rate, at least it’s our own. Somehow this is supposed to be reassuring, and somehow it will guard against the temptation of escapism or elitism.
I submit, however, that this attitude is a manifestation of discouragement, which, as St. Thérèse teaches, is a form of pride. While it looks like humility to say we are stuck with our second-best and should not aspire to greatness, the attitude sharply contrasts with the true humility of an artisan who says: “This old chair is lovely. I’m going to copy it as well as I can.” Is there a rule written down somewhere that a great artist should not begin by copying the work of his predecessors? On the contrary, as anyone who studies art history realizes, that is exactly how all great artists have begun: as humble apprentices, learning, absorbing, imitating, drinking deeply from the fountain of the past.
Neither, of course, is there any rule that says we cannot believe, say, and do what our forefathers believed, said, and did. In fact, we would be fools to act otherwise. Our Catholicism would become somewhat like the sun of Heraclitus, which dies each day so that a new one can be born the next morning.
In reality, there is either continuity with our tradition, which guarantees abundant fruit, or there is rupture and severance from it, which brings exponentially compounding problems. So much that has taken place in the past half-century has diluted, distorted, divided, or otherwise needlessly complicated Catholicism by pretending it must change, catch up, try on new garb, shut out the past, and say goodbye to dogmatic certainties. The neo-Catholic perspective abandons us to groping confusion, within which our faith can offer us only mantras of kindness, mutual aid, and generic religiosity.
Such sins against truth and tradition yield the wages of death — death to liturgy and prayer, death to priestly and religious vocations, death to missionary work, death to marriage and family, death to education, death to a culture of beauty. Life, the vitality of the Church in her own nature, will come from our humble embrace of truth and tradition, or it will never come at all.
Reflecting on all of this, I have to wonder where the phenomenon of proudly clinging to our modern mediocrity comes from. Why do otherwise intelligent people needlessly problematize the situation of the Church and of the Catholic in the modern world, wringing their hands at insoluble problems, feeling tempted to rush along with fads and fashions, and resisting the still, small voice that calls them back to the potent treasury of the ages?
One cannot help wondering if this habit of inventing problems or excuses is not an unconscious or semi-conscious defense against taking the single sane action available, namely, immersing oneself deeply and humbly in Catholic tradition — in all those practices, customs, rituals, prayers, arts, and sciences that were handed down from century to century prior to the revolution at the time of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath. Perhaps there is fear, anxiety, an unwillingness to break free from certain assumptions, comforts, alliances, or mythologies. Perhaps there have been bad experiences with traditionalists who are shell-shocked and radiate glumness instead of joy.
Whatever the case may be, let us pray and work, breaking through and breaking down this ennervating tendency to problematize what is obviously good, holy, noble, and sublime, rather than surrendering to it and embracing it wholeheartedly. It is understandable that the devil would do all he can to thwart this conversion. For in each and every soul that undergoes it, tradition lives again in our midst, and brings new life to a world out of date.
I don’t know what you think of it, but I love it. The expressions on the faces show the love between Our Lady and Our Lord without straying into sentimentalism; the grace, pattern and flow of line in the design is exquisitely handled and in harmonic rhythm, and the color harmony is perfect - bright and attractive, without ever looking like a fluorescent print on a nylon T-shirt.
From the style, it looks to be a modern icon, from the last 40 years or so...beyond that I’m clueless. Does anyone have any answers? As they used to say on Blue Peter (British readers will understand the reference): answers on postcard....or failing that, in the comments box below.
The following day, a Solemn EF Mass was celebrated by Fr Cyprian La Pastina, pastor of St Mary’s and spritual director of St John Fisher Seminary. The choir directed by Mr Charles Weaver sang the Gregorian propers and Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli, as well as motets by Lassus, Gabrieli, Victoria and Aichinger. Fr George Rutler, pastor of St Michael’s Church in New York City and author of a book about St Jean-Marie, “The Curé of Ars Today,” preached the sermon. Our thanks to Fr La Pastina for sending in these photos.