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    The May issue of the Adoremus Bulletin is now available to be read online. It’s another strong issue, with a tribute to Mother Angelica by Fr Jerry Pokorski, and great articles by Denis McNamara of the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein, Adam Bartlett of Illuminare Publications and the editorial team of Chris Carstens and Joe O'Brien. Joe’s article is an interesting piece on works of sacred art recently completed in Phoenix, which are painted in the Bueronese style. 

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    Our next major photopost will be for Corpus Christi, which is celebrated either tomorrow, Thursday, May 26, or this coming Sunday, May 29; please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to for inclusion. Of course, we are especially glad to include pictures of Eucharistic Processions, one of the major staples of this feast, but also those of celebrations in the Eastern rites, as well as Vespers and other parts of the Office. Last year and the year before, we received enough submissions to make three separate posts - let’s see if we can keep this tradition going! Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!

    The Corpus Christi procession of the church of Saint Eugène in Paris, from the second of last year’s three posts.

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    This coming Tuesday, May 31st, the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an event to give worthy veneration to Our Lady and to promote the Latin Mass in the area will take place at the FSSP parish, Saint Victor Church, located at 8634 Holloway Drive, in West Hollywood, California.

    The program is:
     4:30pm - Solemn High Mass  — with FSSP District Superior
     7:00pm - Confirmation and Benediction — with Archbishop José H. Gomez
     8:15pm - Dinner — free to all who attend

    There will be a choir of sixty people directed by Jeff Ostrowski. For more details go here.

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    The Church of Our Holy Redeemer in Freeport, New York, is hosting me for a talk and a chant workshop. If you're in the area, I hope you'll be able to join us.

    Sacred Music and the New Evangelization
    Thursday, June 2, 2016

    6:30 p.m. Dinner (Hosted by Discovering Christ)
    7:30 p.m. Presentation by Dr. Jennifer Donelson
    Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church
    37 South Ocean Avenue, Freeport, NY
    Lower Church
    Free will offering
    RSVP to the rectory at (516) 378-0665 or if you plan to attend the dinner.

    “Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new!” These words of Saint Augustine capture the longing of every heart for Christ, whether one is a practicing Catholic or living a life far from God. As a reflection of the beauty of Christ, sacred music draws minds and hearts to God and can serve as a tool to open even the hardest hearts to the graces that God desires to give them. Sacred music, which the Second Vatican Council calls a “treasure of inestimable value,” is effective in preaching the Gospel in an authentic and attractive way, and it aids those who hear it in being more readily able to perceive the presence of Christ at the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Director of Sacred Music at Saint Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in Yonkers, will address how Catholics can learn to pray through sacred music, and how truly beautiful sacred music is an essential means for drawing fallen-away Catholics back to the Church, as well as sharing the faith with those who are not yet members of the Church.

    Building up the Church through Sacred Music
    Saturday, June 11, 2016

    12:00 p.m. Sacred Music Workshop
    5:00 p.m. Sung Mass
    Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church
    37 South Ocean Avenue, Freeport, NY

    Join Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Director of Sacred Music at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie), for an afternoon learning the melodies that are the basis for all Western music. We’ll cover the basics of reading Gregorian chant notation, as well as beautifully shaping musical lines. Practical sessions in singing will be supplemented by short talks on how Gregorian chant has served as a means for building up the life of the Church in times past, and how chant can revitalize the life of the Church in the present day. The afternoon will culminate in a sung Mass for the Commemoration of the 105th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of Our Holy Redeemer in Freeport, New York.
    RSVP to Fr. Alessandro da Luz at (516) 378-0665 or if you will be participating in the workshop and plan to sing at the 5:00 p.m. Mass.

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  • 05/26/16--09:00: Corpus Christi 2016
  • Truly it is fitting and just, right and profitable to salvation, that we give Thee thanks always, here and in every place, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God. Through Christ our Lord. Who under the appearance of bread and wine, declared to us and showed forth the wondrous Sacrament; and by words wondrously spoken forth, transubstantiated the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, which He willed to be received unto life by the worthy, unto judgment by the unworthy. O how great the sweetness and life to the blessed! O how great the death and punishment to the condemned! Let us therefore avoid judgment, by receiving the Sacrament worthily, that we may merit to obtain the eternal kingdom. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise, the Archangels venerate Thy majesty, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Principalities and Powers adore. Whom the Cherubim and Seraphim celebrated with one rejoicing. To whom we pray that Thou command our voices also be joined, as we say with humble confession: Holy... (The Preface of Corpus Christi in the Ambrosian Missal.)
    The first page of the Mass of Corpus Christi from an Ambrosian Missal printed in 1522. In the illustration after the rubrics (next to the Ingressa, the equivalent of the Introit), a bishop is carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession. Notice that the monstrance is cylindrical, rather than flat, and he is still wearing his miter; both of these customs are still observed to this day. - The traditional Ambrosian Mass of Corpus Christ is that composed for the Roman Rite by St Thomas Aquinas, with the necessary adjustments to the form of the rite, including a Prophetic reading (3 Kings 19, 3-8) and the proper Preface given here; the Lauda Sion is not said, since the Sequence was never adopted in the Ambrosian Rite.
    Vere quia dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, hic et ubique gratias agere, Domine, Sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Qui sub specie panis et vini mirabile Sacramentum nobis declarando monstravit: et per verba mirabiliter prolata, panem et vinum transubstantiavit in Corpus et Sanguinem suum: quod sumendo dignis ad vitam, indignis esse voluit ad iudicium. O quanta dulcedo, et vita beatis! O quanta mortalitas, et poena damnatis! Vitemus ergo iudicium, digne sumendo Sacramentum; ut Regnum mereamur consequi sempiternum. Per eundem Christum, Dominum nostrum. Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant Angeli, venerantur Archangeli, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Principates, et Potestates adorant. Quem Cherubim et Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: Sanctus...

    The main sanctuary of the Duomo of Milan, decorated for Corpus Christi in 1963. From the Facebook page of the Ambrosian Rite traditional Latin Mass community.

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    Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by Cardinal George Pell at the London Oratory this evening for the Feast of St Philip Neri. The Choir and Orchestra of the London Oratory sang the Theresienmesse by Haydn and Pangamus Nerio by Wingham. Happy Feast to all Oratorians!

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    I have just heard that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter have been invited by the bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, His Excellency Peter Libasci, to staff a parish in Nashua, starting at the end of the summer.

    I heard of this through my friends at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, who live just a stone’s throw away, and I anticipate that many of the students will attend regularly. By all accounts, the church will need little renovation to make it appropriate for the Latin Mass. Here is an article in the Nashua Telegraph from 2011 with photographs, in which the writer talks of the beauty of the church; at time, it was being used as a chapel for perpetual Adoration, which continues to this day.

    The press release from the Diocese of Manchester, dated May 20th, read as follows:
    (MANCHESTER, NH) – The Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, announced today that the Diocese of Manchester will soon be blessed with the opening of a new parish dedicated to the celebration of the Tridentine Rite Mass, when the former Saint Stanislaus church in Nashua will reopen. The new parish will be entrusted to the members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP). While a pastor for the new parish has not yet been named, current plans call for the celebration of the first Mass in early August.
    “Since coming here in 2011, I have heard from many Catholics who have a deep affection for the traditional liturgical forms of the pre-Vatican II era,” said Bishop Libasci. “Consistent with that desire I am happy to announce the opening of this parish, dedicated to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, as suggested by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, issued Motu Proprio in 2007.” Saint Stanislaus parish, established in 1908 to serve the Polish community of Nashua, was unified with Saint Aloysius of Gonzaga Parish in 2002. The church has remained in use since then as a Eucharistic adoration chapel. Since 1999 it has also been the home of the Corpus Christi Food Pantry. The pantry, with its many dedicated volunteers, will continue to offer its valuable services and programs that serve those who are in need in the greater Nashua area.
    The Diocese of Manchester is the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire, serving the needs of more than 264,000 Catholics. For more information, please visit

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    A reader in the Netherlands, Mr Sander Zwezerijnen, has posted on his Youtube channel this nice video of Vespers, sung in Latin and Gregorian chant in the Ordinary Form, for the feast of the Dedication of St Joseph’s Cathedral in Groningen, on May 25th. The hymn Urbs Jerusalem Beata, is followed by the Psalmody, (Psalms 45, 121 and the Alleluia canticle from Apocalypse 19), and the short reading from Apocalypse 21, at which point the battery of his recording device died. The clergy and choir of the cathedral are very much to be commended not only for cultivating the Church’s tradition and Her preferred form of liturgical music, both also for solemnly celebrating a feast which is too often neglected.

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    NLM has covered the work of classical architect Duncan Stroik on several occasions, and we are happy to offer him him our congratulations for winning the Arthur Ross Award.

    The Arthur Ross Award is the oldest award for classical architecture in the United States. It “recognizes and celebrates excellence in the classical tradition.” This year, Duncan Stroik, practicing architect and professor at the University of Notre Dame, received the Arthur Ross Award in McKim, Mead & White’s historic University Club in New York City.

    Stroik received his architectural education from the University of Virginia and Yale University. In 1990, after serving as a project designer for Allan Greenberg, he was invited to help implement a new curriculum in classical architecture at the University of Notre Dame. His work utilizes hand drawing, full-scale details, and watercolor renderings, as well as close collaboration with painters, sculptors, and other craftsmen. Learning from the great tradition has led him to visit and study buildings in situ throughout Europe, including the opportunity to measure the work of Andrea Palladio in the Veneto.

    Stroik’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in California was the first classical chapel to be built on a college campus in sixty years. His Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is the grandest classical church built in decades. He is also known for the “creative restoration” of Saint Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which brought back the glory the cathedral never had. Presently, Stroik is working on a $28 million, 1300-seat chapel complete with a masonry dome, interior limestone columns, and two world-class organs for a college in Michigan.

    Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. 
    The New York Times called Stroik a “Young Old Fogey” in 1994. The Wall Street Journal has said that, “Stroik has labored long and hard to reconnect Catholic artistic patronage with its ancient heritage.”

    Stroik’s efforts to bring beauty back to churches led to the founding of the Institute for Sacred Architecture and its journal, Sacred Architecture. He is the author of The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence and the Eternal. His work is animated by the conviction that beautiful and durable architecture ennobles mankind and honors the Creator.

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  • 05/28/16--20:18: Rila Monastery in Bulgaria
  • I recently had the joy of visiting the Holy Monastery of Rila, Bulgaria, founded by St. John the Wonderworker and Hermit (876-946). I have no pictures of the monastic church’s interior, which was glorious, because the Orthodox do not permit photography inside their churches. Parts of the structure date from the 10th century; however most of the monastery was built in the early 19th century after a fire destroyed the earlier structure. Bulgaria was at that time ruled by Ottoman Turks, but the people nonetheless contributed generously to build this glorious and holy house of prayer. Enjoy!

    The Monastery Chapel lies within a high-walled enclosure.
    Inside and out, detailed frescoes told stories of saints and figures in the Bible. 
    The monastery has eight monks at this time, but room for nearly 250.
    The medieval clock tower and bells did not burn in the 1800s fire.

    St. John of Rila
    It seems proper attire is important for Bulgarian Christians, too.
    13th Century structure adjacent the Monastery
    Doors are always significant, and quite often, they are small.

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    Adriaen Ysenbrandt (active 1510-1551), The Mass of St. Gregory

    I recently heard a public address in which the speaker urged his audience “not to get stuck on externals” or to think that “just because you have the externals right, you are being a good Christian.” Consistent with his starting point, the speaker continued: “It’s wrong to say that having preferences A, B, C is better than having preferences X, Y, Z. If Holy Mother Church permits them all, then we should be okay with them all, too.”

    As readers may have already surmised, he was addressing Catholics of a conservative and traditional disposition, and upbraiding them for (I suppose) their excessive preoccuptation with good liturgy, and for their presumptuous opinion that it is better to have certain “externals” rather than others — for example, to have the Latin language, chant and polyphony, the ad orientem stance, all-male altar service, and kneeling for communion, rather than their all-too-common alternatives.

    I have come to think of this attack on externals as a kind of archetypal error of our day and age. It is no mere difference of opinion; it goes to the very roots of our faith.

    To begin with, when and where do we see human beings fixated on externals? Ancient Israel, like its neighboring nations, seems to have had an irresistible hankering for idols of wood, stone, or metal, and when European missionaries arrived in pagan regions, they found craven tribesmen who worshiped trees, animals, or totems. Superstition has often reared its ugly head in religious history. Undoubtedly there are individuals with a mental handicap by which they latch on to particular objects or actions and seem incapable of passing through the symbol to its meaning. More subtly, there may well be the occasional ritualist who is so intent on the finer points of rubricology that he misses the forest for the trees.

    Yet these categories of people are not likely to have been what the speaker had in mind. His message ran more along the lines of classical Protestantism: externals in religion are, at best, useful things, and, at worst, dangerously misleading ones, but they are not essential on our path. The moment one says “you can get too caught up in the externals and forget that it’s all about your interior relationship with Jesus,” one is creating an artificial dichotomy, a fictitious opposition, an almost Manichaean division between the sensible and the spiritual that puts them in tension rather than seeing them as providentially interconnected.

    This interconnection is, after all, the very logic of the Incarnation. Man could not reach God directly and internally, so God came to Him visibly, in and through the external world. In the fullness of time, God Himself became man, became body, matter, a sensible object to unite us with that which is beyond all sense, beyond all conception of the created mind. Thanks to this initiative of divine mercy, man, exercising his own senses and imagination, could draw near to God by surrounding himself with what was not God but had become the living signs of His presence and His work. I mean, of course, the Bible, the sacraments, the liturgy.[1] This theology is captured in the pithiest manner by the most sublime of all Prefaces, that of the Nativity: “Through the mystery of the Word-made-flesh, a new radiance of Thy glory hath shone on the eye of the soul, such that, as we recognize God made visible, we are drawn to love of things invisible.”[2]

    Carried to its furthest conclusion, the view that externals don’t matter, or that they matter only in “moderation” and with a hearty dose of relativism about other possible configurations of externals, runs the risk of repudiating or marginalizing the Incarnation and the sacramental system by which it continually irrupts into our world. It will provoke over time a rejection of the “scandal of the particular” in favor of a bland ecumenism in which all paths to salvation and all expressions of faith are valid, as long as one is sincere in one’s devotional life. It will express itself in a disposition that is more welcoming to evangelical Protestants, who are outside of the unity of the visible Church of Christ, than to traditionally-minded Catholics, who, prioritizing a certain definite ritual worship as Catholics have done for at least 1,500 years, are definitely inside of it.

    We are looking at nothing less than a temptation to reject the Catholic religion in favor of an American religiosity that looks more to “where the heart is” than to where the intellect is in its act of faith and what the definite object of that faith is. As St. Thomas teaches, we cannot have the charity of God if we do not believe in Him first. In this sense, love — understood not as an instinct or emanation of the soul, as the modernists do, but as an infused gift from above — depends radically on the integrity of our faith. If you damage that integrity (and there can be no doubt it has been grievously damaged throughout the Church on earth over the past fifty years), you will weaken and eventually undermine the charity that is Christ’s most precious gift and the Christian’s most valuable possession.

    If there is no integral faith, there can be no charity. If there is no right worship, there will be no right ordering to God and neighbor. If there are no sacraments, there will not be the consistent and guaranteed divinization of man in the Word made flesh. If the sacraments are not conducted as befits their sublime nature, the faithful will drift away from integral faith and right worship pleasing to God. It is all interconnected, each piece crucial to the existence and functioning of the whole; nothing is optional, nothing a mere “add-on” or “super-sizing.”[3]

    In short, there is no Christianity without the Incarnation and all that it makes possible and necessary. The very essence of Christianity is the embodiment of the divine, the materialization of the Word, the irruption of the eternal and the boundless into time and space, so that through these means we may rise up to immortality and the beatific vision, perfect communion with God and one another. There is no shortcut. All will be saved by flesh, by signs, by the blood-soaked Cross, by . . . externals.

    Someone may object: “But Jesus Himself said that a time was coming when men would worship not on this mountain or that mountain, but in spirit and in truth. He’s basically saying that worship is about being spiritual and truthful, not about doing this or that, or any particular rite or offering.” If we say this, however, we make Our Lord flagrantly contradict Himself. For it was He who established the sacrifical banquet of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, saying “do this in memory of me,” and it was He who, lifted high upon the Cross, gave us the perfect reality of worship in spirit and in truth, in the sacrifice of His pierced flesh and streaming blood. The particular once-for-all oblation of His particular Body and Blood is our salvation — and this oblation is made present for us in the mystery of the Most Blessed Sacrament. In this sense, to be without the Holy Eucharist is to be without worship, without salvation, without spirit and truth. Re-read John 6.

    Hence, the error about which we are speaking is not an incidental one. It is a temptation to disincarnation, to distancing ourselves from that which, for us, here and now, must be of primary and vital importance. We are called to embrace the one and only Word-made-flesh, not the Word in abstraction or in a private and therefore individualized world of devotion. We cannot bypass the ladder of Christ’s humanity and each rung thereupon: the sacraments and sacramentals, which are signs potent for salvation; the sacred liturgy, where heaven meets earth and immaterial realities are clothed in color, tone, fragrance, and taste; the Eucharistic sacrifice, “font and apex of our entire Christian life”[4]; the corporal works of mercy, through which Our Lord touches the needy through our own hands. And we must not deceive ourselves by thinking that these things have a full and proper existence apart from Catholic tradition, through which they came to us in the first place, and from which they have their permanent and self-abiding justification. When we innovate, when we experiment, when we pluralize and privatize the devotional life, we are sawing off the branch on which we are sitting.

    As mentioned before, the speaker said we should never think that a certain set of preferences (“A, B, C”) is better than another set of preferences (“X, Y, Z”), if both are permitted. But what if it is possible for us to know that A, B, C really is better than X, Y, Z — significantly better? Better because more aligned with the expressions and needs of human nature as understood by psychology, sociology, and anthropology? Better because more in keeping with millennia of Catholic tradition? Better because closer to what Holy Mother Church actually recommends? If one is convinced, on solid grounds, that A, B, C is superior to X, Y, Z, and that the very health and fruitfulness of the Church depend on adhering to the former and phasing out the latter, it may even be a sin not to pray and work for the widespread acceptance of the one and the downfall of the other.

    It is claimed that saying and acting on such convictions promotes “tribalism.” But the reality is far otherwise. The Protestants have split into a thousand sects because they abandoned the unity of signs — the signs of papacy, sacrament, liturgy, sacred art. This is what happens to Catholics today, inasmuch as they, too, abandon the Church’s tradition in favor of pluralism, optionitis, and false inculturation.[5] Unity of sign has given way to pluralism of style. The pluralist does not say: “the Church always acted thus,” but “it is up to you to find and choose the way that works best for you.”

    This is nothing other than a subtle form of the dictatorship of relativism, under which one is never permitted to say A, B, C is better than X, Y, Z, for fear of offending someone by insisting on forgotten truths. Reason’s natural and noble work of discernment and judgment is compromised by politeness masquerading as charity, fideism pretending to be obedience, and laxity dressed up as humility.

    Lack of due emphasis on externals ends up vitiating the internal powers and resources as well; we lose our common frame of reference and, with it, the most fertile source of our interior growth. To be isolated in this way, to be lulled into thinking ourselves more or less independent of the past and its certainties, is precisely what foments factionalism, as each tribe defines its multifarious allegiances to past, present, and future differently from the way every other tribe would do it. This is the heavy price we pay for sweet autonomy from those dastardly externals.

    In the traditional Roman Mass, the priest consecrates the wine with this formula: “Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni Testamenti: Mysterium fidei: qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.” The liturgy is teaching us that the mystery of faith is not properly found in a catechism or voluminous papal documents, in acclamations of the people, or in any social work or political activism, however laudable. The mystery of our faith is found in the heart of the Mass; it is intimately and intrinsically bound up with this precious chalice and its infinitely precious contents. We are thus reminded, again and again, of where our own source and summit must always be, if we are to have the strength to do the Lord’s work.


    [1] St. Thomas Aquinas speaks particularly eloquently to these points. Here is how he argues in Summa contra gentiles, Bk. 3, ch. 119:
    Since it is connatural to man to acquire knowledge through the senses, and since it is most difficult to arise above sensible things, divine providence has appointed sensible things as a reminder to man of things divine, so that thus man’s intention might the more readily be recalled to divine things, not excluding the man whose mind is not equal to the contemplation of divine things in themselves. For this reason sensible sacrifices were instituted; since man offers these to God, not because God needs them, but that man might be reminded that he must refer both himself and all that is his to God as his end, and as the Creator, Governor and Lord of all.
           Again, sensible things are employed for man’s sanctification, in the form of washings, anointings, food and drink, and the uttering of sensible words, as signifying to man that he receives intelligible gifts from an external source, and from God whose name is expressed by sensible words.
           Moreover, man performs certain sensible actions, not to arouse God, but to arouse himself to things divine: such as prostrations, genuflections, raising of the voice and singing. Such things are not done as though God needed them, for He knows all things, and His will is unchangeable, and He looks at the affection of the heart, and not the mere movement of the body: but we do them for our own sake, that by them our intention may be fixed on God, and our hearts inflamed. At the same time we thereby confess that God is the author of our soul and body, since we employ both soul and body in the worship we give Him. 
    [2] “Quia per incarnati Verbi mysterium nova mentis nostrae oculis lux tuae claritatis infulsit: ut, dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilium amorem rapiamur.”

    [3] Ironically, the liturgical reformers in the 1960s and 1970s knew very well that the whole thing was about externals. That is why they moved, as quickly as possible, to change as much as they could do. Change the sign and you change the message. Change the ritual and you change the religion. They knew that the externals were the first and last thing every Christian encounters, prior to learning how to think, prior to formal catechesis, prior to discrimination.

    [4] Lumen Gentium 11; cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 10.

    [5] See my articles "Confusions about Inculturation" and "Is 'Contemporary' Church Music a Good Example of Inculturation?"

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    I have become aware over the last couple of years of contemporary artists looking to the 19th century Beuronese school for inspiration when painting for the liturgy. Time will be the ultimate test of how appropriate this is, but my initial reaction is that it is a good thing; I thought that I would explain a bit why I believe this to be so.

    Stylistically, the Beuronese school is an interesting cul-de-sac that sits outside the mainstream of the Christian tradition. It is named after the town of Beuron in Germany, the location of the Benedictine community in which the school originated in the mid-19th century.
    The most well-known artists who painted in this style in Europe are Desiderius Lenz (d. 1928) and Gabriel Wuger (d. 1892). In the United States, the walls and the ceiling of the abbey church of the Benedictines at Conception Abbey in Missouri, are decorated primarily with authentic examples of the Beuronese style. The abbey website tells us that the work was done between 1893 and 1897, by several monks of Conception, most notably Lukas Etlin (d. 1927), Hildebrand Roseler (d. 1923), and Ildephonse Kuhn (d. 1921), the latter two of whom had studied art at Beuron.

    The original Beuronese artists were reacting against the dominant form of sacred art being painted for the churches of the Roman Rite at the time, an overly naturalistic and sentimental form of academic art, produced by the French academies and ateliers. The most well known artist of this decadent form is probably the Frenchman Bougeureaux. (For an in-depth discussion of this over naturalism in academic art read Is Some Sacred Art Too Naturalistic?)

    Authentic Christian art has a style that is always a carefully worked out balance of naturalism (sometimes referred to as ‘realism’) and idealism. The naturalism in art tells us visually what is being painted – put simply, if you want to paint a man it must look like a man, with a human body and limbs and so on. The idealistic element of the style is a controlled deviation from strict adherence to natural appearances, by which the artist reveals invisible truths. The invisible truths that the artist might reveal through style are, for example, the fact that man has a soul and a spirit that is intellect and will.

    It is this deviation from strict ‘photographic’ naturalism that characterizes the style of art. (However, in reality even a camera lens distorts appearances in a way that makes a photograph subtly different from what the eye actually sees). All paintings in any particular tradition will have in common particular methods of controlled abstraction that are carefully worked out to reveal the Christian understanding of what it portrayed. It is through perception of these that we are able to recognize the style. For example, we recognise the iconographic style because of an enlargement of the eyes, the diminution of the mouth, and the elongation of the nose, all in particular ways. These elements of iconographic style were developed to suggest to the observer particular characteristics in the person portrayed that are appropriate for a saint.

    Incidentally, it is as easy to distort appearances to hide truth and to create the equivalent of a visual lie through style. Many advertising hoardings have photographs that are composed and then usually ‘airbrushed’ – that is, deliberately distorted – so as to exaggerate in an imbalanced way the aspect of sexual attraction (and so, it is believed, sell products). This tells us that it is not enough to stylize; the Christian artist has a great responsibility and must understand deeply how his stylization is going to reveal truth, rather than hide it. If he gets it wrong he can lead souls astray. It’s not just what he paints, it’s how he paints it. (I hesitated to portray the image, below right, which I see as an example of art that has an anti-ideal. It is about at the limit of what I feel I can show and even then I felt I had to make is small.. Bear in mind it is intended for a children’s comic.)

    Aware of the deficiencies of the sacred (and mundane art) of their own time, Beuronese art sought to introduce an idealization into their style by seeking inspiration from ancient Egyptian art and from the Greek ideal. Visually, it is easy to see the influence of the Egyptian papyri; but in addition, the Beuronese artists used a canon of proportion that was said to be derived from that of the ancient Greeks, although this was a matter of speculation on their part, since the artistic canon of Polyclitus is lost. The link between ancient Greek art and Egyptian art is not an unnatural one. Plato praised the Egyptian style, and it has been speculated that Greek art from the classical period (around 500 BC) was influenced by Egyptian art. The Beuronese artists themselves were trained in the methods of the 19th century atelier, and the result is a curious mixture, 19th century naturalism stiffened up, so to speak, by an injection of what they believed to be Egyptian art and Greek geometry.

    What of the painting of Beuronese art today? In his encyclical about the sacred liturgy Mediator Dei, Pius XII made it clear (in paragraph 195) that we should always be open to different styles of art for the liturgy, provided that any style under consideration has the right balance of naturalism and idealism. (He uses the words ‘realism’ and ‘symbolism’ to refer to these qualities). Its use is determined by the need of the Christian community, and not the whim of the artist or patron. In my experience, the Bueronese style does connect with people today in the right way, so that it is appropriate for the liturgy. It has the sufficient naturalism so that one can recognize easily what they are looking at, and sufficient idealism that it does suggest another world beyond this one. Furthermore, contemporary culture does seem to provide naturally enough cultural reference points to allow modern people, even those without a classical education, to relate to this style. Art deco architecture, for example, is also derived from Egyptian styles. Strangely, many might find the Beuronese style with its Egyptian roots more accessible than a traditional icon in the classic Russian style of Andrei Rublev.

    I have read an account of the geometric proportions used in the human form in translation of the book On the Aesthetic of Beuron, written by their main theorist, Fr Desiderius Lenz. It was so complex that my reaction was that it would be very difficult for any painter to use the canon successfully in any but very formal poses. As soon as an artist seeks to twist and turn a pose in the image, then the necessary foreshortening requires the painter to use an intuitive sense as to how the more distant parts relate to the nearer. Usually this means that in such cases he is less able to adhere to the canon of proportion. This might account for that fact that when the figures are in less stiff and formal poses, Bueronese art seems to work less well, in my opinion. To my eye, the more relaxed poses produce art that looks like illustrations from the Bible I was given when I was a child: good in that context, perhaps, but too naturalistic for the liturgy.

    The approach of original Beuronese school is idiosyncratic – I do not know of any other Christian style of liturgical art that looked to ancient Egypt for inspiration. Nevertheless, the end result, when done well, does strike me as having something of the sacred to it and being worthy of attention. Perhaps their efforts to control the modern temptation to individual expression have contributed to this too. The school stressed, for example, the value of imitation of prototypes above the production of works originating in any one artist; furthermore the artists collaborated on works and did not sign them once finished.

    Note, the icon detail, above, is from a contemporary icon at St John the Baptist, Euless, TX, painted by Vladimir Grygorenk

    Below I show some examples of Beuronese art that I think are less successful than the examples above. The first is less formal and ends up looking like a good illustration for a children’s Bible, but is less suitable for a liturgical context.

    The next is highly skilled, but a little to close to 19th century academic naturalism for my liking.

    This article is a slight modification of one that appeared first in the May issue of the Adoremus Bulletin, which is produced by the editorial team of Chris Carstens, Editor and Publisher, and Joseph O’Brien, Managing Editor.

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    A friend recently brought to my attention the following website, which contains the full text of Compline from the Breviary of St Pius X. It is a work in progress, and from the fact that the word Compline is on the other-side of a /, it would seem the creator plans to expand it. The clever thing about how it is arranged it that every possible variant is represented by two or more buttons, which you can click and instantly bring up the relevant texts. For example, is a priest officiating or not, is it the Easter season or the rest of the year; all the possible variant doxologies and hymn tones have their own buttons as well. The most important button for this particular Hour, which would allow one to choose which day’s Psalms will be said, has yet to be installed, so as of now, the Psalms of the Feria appear, even on days when the Sunday Psalms would be said. The most useful feature of all is that the text is given in Latin, with all of the corresponding chant notation. including the Antiphon of the Virgin at the end.

    No other information is given, but I would encourage the creator of the site to continue to develop this highly useful resource.
    Screen shot of the beginning of today’s Compline as it appears on the site.

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    Fr Peter Stravinskas, the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation, has asked me to make people aware of a three-day seminar for bishops, priests and seminarians on The Role of the Priest in Today’s Catholic School.

    It will take place at the St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia from July 19-21. Topics discussed range from a clear articulation of the ideals set out by the Magisterium to an account of the history of Catholic education in the United States, along with more mundane and practical matters,such as considerations of PR, finances, governance and best practice.

    The Catholic Education Foundation is a national, grass-roots effort to preserve and expand an extremely important asset that is in danger of disappearing, namely, the genuinely Catholic secondary school. Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, whose diocese is hosting the event, is on the advisory board of the CEF.

    For more information go to the Catholic Education Website:

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    Two years ago, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of St Elias the Prophet in Brampton, Ontario, was completely destroyed by fire. Ever since then, the community has been working to rebuild its church, and an important phase has just been completed, with the mounting of the main dome. Here is a video from their Facebook page, which really has to be seen to be believed. (Wait for the end, when the bells of the church are rung to celebrate this important phase of the rebuilding.)

    The head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, will consecrate the finished church at the end of September and beginning of October; details will be announced on their Facebook page. If you are anywhere near the area, you should certainly attend the ceremony if at all possible. St Elias has and deserves a reputation as a place where the Byzantine liturgy is cultivated in the fullness of its richness and beauty, and this will be a unique opportunity to witness a ceremony of even-greater-than-usual magnificence.

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    For the first time since Vatican II, on Saturday, June 4, at 11:30 a.m., at Holy Face Monastery, 1697 Route 3, Clifton, New Jersey, there will be celebrated a Solemn High Mass with Gregorian chant in honor of Our Lady of Sacro Monte of Novi Velia, Salerno, at her shrine. Following Mass there will be a grand procession on the monastery grounds with the statue of Our Lady, her canopy and authentic cinte (Italian candle-houses), all accompanied by the Tony Neglia Italian Feast Band.

    The miraculous image of Our Lady of Sacro Monte of Novi Velia, crowned by pontifical decree in 1889, rests atop Mount Gelbison in the town of Novi Velia in the Cilento region of the Province of Salerno, Italy. Mount Gelbison, which soars 5,594 feet above sea level, was most probably first used as a place of religious worship by the ancient Oenotrian peoples of southern Italy, and later by the ancient Greeks who colonized the Cilento area in the centuries before Christ, and constructed a temple atop the mountain dedicated to the goddess Hera. With the dawn of Christianity and the embrace of the salvific Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the people of the Cilento, a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary was built upon the ruins of the former pagan temple, which was eventually maintained by Greek monks fleeing the ravages of the Iconoclast heresy.

    Devotion to the Virgin Mary is so strong in the Cilento and her sanctuaries are so numerous that the region has become known as “La Terra di Maria - The Land of Mary.” The shrine at Novi Velia is continuously besieged by pilgrims from its opening on the last Sunday of May until its closing on the last Sunday in October. (In the intervening months the mountain is covered in snow).

    From the time of the shrine’s foundation until the 1950s, whole towns of the Cilento, as well as those in the surrounding areas of Lucania, Basilicata and Calabria, would annually travel on foot, (often barefoot,) as an act of penance, to visit the sanctuary. Arrival at the shrine and the return trip home took many days. The pilgrims would walk by day carrying banners and singing hymns in the Cilentano dialect dedicated specifically to the Blessed Lady of Sacro Monte, the hymns themselves being varied and often particular to the hometowns of the pilgrims. Many women would carry on their heads tall cinte or candle houses as votive offerings to the Virgin.

    The candle houses would be constructed by creating immense towers of one hundred or so beeswax candles decorated with flowers and ribbons, decorated with images of saints, often the patron of the town, as well as the Madonna del Sacro Monte. After days of carrying the candle houses atop their heads, these votive offerings, often as acts of thanksgiving for favors received, would be left at the shrine by the female pilgrims so that the candles could be used to light the sanctuary in the days before electricity.

    At night, in those times of unimaginable hardship and poverty, large groups of pilgrims would camp in the fields or on the streets of the villages and towns that lined the pilgrimage routes. The singing would continue as it had during the day, with men and boys playing the zampogna and organetto to accompany the traditional Sacro Monte pilgrimage hymns. The zampogna is an Italian bagpipe, an ancient instrument of the area, the origin of which predates recorded history. It is made from goat skins by shepherds, the Cilento breed of goat being profuse in the area and famed for the cheese made from its milk. Cheese, dried sausage, soppressata, and the rustic whole grain bread unique to the area would be the meal for the journeying pilgrims, the food having been carried through the trip in baskets on top of the heads of some of the female members of the party.

    These pilgrimages were for the impoverished people of this area the one time during the year when they would be able to leave behind the daily hardship and work of their native villages and towns. It was a time of great joy and festivity, families and neighbors uniting in preparations for the journey. Young people would often make the pilgrimage in hopes of finding a spouse, the girls especially praying for a good husband. These pilgrimages were one of the very rare opportunities in those years for the young boys and girls of the Cilento to actually interact.

    When the pilgrims would arrive close to the summit of Monte Gelbison and Our Lady’s sanctuary, they would encounter the stone Cross of Rofrano, a monument indicating that they were very close to the shrine of their most beloved Madonna. At the Cross of Rofrano, the pilgrim groups would circle three times, leaving at the foot of the cross stones they had gathered along their pilgrimage routes. Passing the cross they would soon come to the doors of the church, and after another series of rituals, by tradition the youngest member of the party would enter first, followed in order by the musicians playing the zampogna and organetto, the banner carrier, the women with their cinte followed by the rest of the group. In the shrine’s piazza the pilgrims would break into song and dance celebrating the joy of being in a place where they felt so close to their celestial Mother.

    Love for the Madonna of Sacro Monte was carried to the United States by Cilentano immigrants who arrived in the United States at the turn of the last century. In Jersey City, where many of them settled, an annual devotion was started, celebrated at Holy Rosary Church every May where a statue of “Maronna ru Monte” would be carried in procession. In the late 1960s the devotees from Jersey City moved their celebration to Holy Face Monastery in Clifton, New Jersey. At the Monastery they constructed a stunning outdoor shrine to the Madonna and brought a small statue for veneration.

    The annual celebration at Holy Face Monastery ended in 1980. It was revived in 2012 by Cilentani and their descendants in New Jersey, inspired by what they perceive to be a number of miraculous events which they felt were a very clear indication that Heaven wished this devotion in New Jersey to be not only revived, but to spread and flourish.

    Musical entertainment will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a performance of the Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra, followed after Mass by the Tony Neglia Italian Feast Band, Italian American singing sensation Maestro Marcantonio Pezzano, and DJ Stefano. Delicious meals and desserts will be sold throughout the day and there will be activities for young and old to enjoy. For more information about this grande festa, you can contact us at, or call Pat at (201) 658-0775.

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    The FSSP will have a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., this coming Saturday at 11:30, as the culmination of an annual pilgrimage. See poster below for details.

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    The Order of Preachers celebrates its 800th Jubilee this year. Before our founder St Dominic received papal confirmation of the Order, though, he had lived in Osma as a canon regular under the Rule of St Augustine. Indeed, Pope Honorius III had confirmed the Order of Preachers likewise as a group of canons regular. Like our founder we Dominicans still profess obedience to the Rule of St Augustine, and like other canons (both secular and regular) we wear a kind of mozzetta with a hood as part of our habit – we call this part a 'capuce'. However, to distinguish ourselves from canons, our founding stories tell of how Our Lady gave Blessed Reginald of Orleans (one of the first Dominicans) a monastic scapular that henceforth replaced the canon's rochet.

    In this Jubilee Year, our Dominican heritage as canons regular living under the Rule of St Augustine was especially brought to my remembrance recently when I had the chance to spend the Memorial Day weekend with the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem (CRNJ). The CRNJ are a relatively recent American foundation who, after some years of a somewhat peripatetic existence, have finally settled down in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, thanks to the hospitality and wisdom of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield who agreed to give the CRNJ canonical recognition, and who duly incardinated their clerics into his diocese. Hence, in October last year, two canons regular were ordained in Charles Town, WV by Bishop Athanasius Schneider; it was a most beautiful and joyous occasion. Since that occasion, I have been keen to find out more about the CRNJ and their life but it wasn't until last weekend, with the academic year over, that I had the chance to visit the community.

    The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem have their Priory, dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, in Charles Town, WV. The dedication recalls the Augustinian canons' foundation at Walsingham, the ancient Shrine to Our Lady in England; the CRNJ are founded to make reparation for the destruction of that Shrine and for the abandonment of the Catholic Faith by the canons regular during the Protestant Reformation.

    Located just a block from the heart of historic Charles Town which was founded in 1786 by Charles Washington (brother of the first U.S. President), the canons have the care of a small church which belongs to the Diocese but which is given to them as their permanent oratory. It is a charming rural church which the CRNJ have transformed into a sanctuary of worship and prayer, reminiscent of the medieval Shrine of Walsingham in its intimacy and candle-lit beauty; votive candles burn constantly before the image of Our Lady of Walsingham at the Lady Altar. As an English Dominican, I was glad to be able to celebrate private Low Masses in the Dominican rite at this Altar.

    The Liturgy here at the CRNJ is celebrated in its entirety according to the Extraordinary Form, both the Mass and the Divine Office, and the other sacraments. Often the liturgical form can be separated from the rest of one's religious life. So, for example, if one occasionally celebrates the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, the Mass in this form is somewhat marooned from the rest of the former Liturgy and also from a religious life that gave it its context. This is not the case for the CRNJ, and I found this deeply attractive. For the old Mass in Latin flowed organically from the Latin Divine Office, as well as from the other sacraments such as Confession, for example. Thus I had the chance to hear Confessions in the older form in Latin on Sunday before the High Mass, and one sees at once the connection between the prayers and formulas used in Confession, and again at the beginning of the Mass. Moreover, as I stood in choir and prayed the psalms of Matins in Latin, I felt a connection to St Dominic, who would have done likewise with his fellow canons regular in Osma. And as I looked at the tonsures on the heads of these canons today I recalled that St Dominic and the other Dominican saints are often shown with tonsures, as had been our practice too until recently.

    This Liturgy and way of life has, in our time, become extraordinary. And yet, what made my experience of the CRNJ life so beautiful was the ordinariness of it all. With the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, I glimpsed what it was like for 21st-century religious to pray in Latin ordinarily, to sing the old Mass ordinarily, and to work and live in the habit ordinarily. And because it was ordinary the Liturgy also seemed relaxed without becoming casual, organic and lovely rather than an oddity or showpiece as can be the case elsewhere when the Extraordinary Form is something out-of-the- ordinary for which clergy and singers have to be imported for an 'event'.

    The result of the canons' commitment to this life and Liturgy is the creation of a culture. This is to be expected since the 'cultus' of the Liturgy has always enriched the surrounding culture and imbued it with beauty; the Faith and its liturgical expressions gave rise to a civilisation. Hence, the canons have attracted a goodly congregation to their oratory who, together with them, form a civilisation of love and beauty. As a result, a talented group of young Catholic musicians come here regularly, and they sang Byrd's Propers for Corpus Christi at the Sunday Mass, which on this weekend was kept as an 'external solemnity' of Corpus Christi; I preached this Homily at the Mass. The Gregorian chant Ordinary for the Mass was sung by the whole congregation, and a Schola sang Gregorian chant hymns and antiphons during the Eucharistic Procession, while the congregational hymns during these devotions were sung by all in four-part harmony. Present at the Mass were many young families with plenty of lively children who were actively involved in the celebrations.

    Indeed, many of the children helped with the Eucharistic Procession, and did so in the uniform of the Federation of North American Explorers (FNE). A word about the FNE: they are the American branch of the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe, which is a Vatican-approved private lay association of Pontifical right. This group, which has a distinctive French influence, believes that through traditional Scouting (or 'Scoutisme') according to the insights of both Baden-Powell and the Venerable Fr Jacques Sevin SJ, Catholic children are formed in virtue and in the Faith. In Europe, 'Scoutisme' is hugely successful and many will have seen French Catholic Scouts assisting at the annual Chartres Pilgrimage; Scoutisme accounts for many religious and priestly vocations in a scale that is disproportionate to the numbers involved. In North America, the Scouts of Europe go by the name of North American Explorers and, having begun in Canada, they are currently expanding rapidly in the USA. If any Catholic parent and pastor is looking for a vibrant Faith-based alternative to the mainstream Scouting and Guiding movements, do investigate the FNE which has a proven track-record. This year the movement in Europe celebrates its 60th anniversary. The FNE group attached to the CRNJ in Charles Town, WV is one of the first groups in the USA, and the canons are instrumental in its development.

    In addition to the above, the canons are currently in the process of opening a coffee shop, just a block away on the main street of Charles Town. It will be called 'Mad Monks Coffee Shop', and it will be staffed by friends of the community although the canons will also be on hand when their schedule allows, and they will provide some of the baked goods for this shop. It seems to me that this is a development with good apostolic promise; a chance to witness to the joy of the Gospel. Finally, I had a chance to visit a house near the Priory which serves as an art studio. Here, the Prior, Dom Daniel Augustine, makes impressively beautiful hand-crafted vestments with the help of long-standing friends of the community. Dom Daniel Augustine is currently making a High Mass set for an ordinand of the diocese, and he is open to receiving orders for new vestments.

    What I discovered this past weekend, then, was a thriving and inspiring community gathered around the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, who are committed to the Church's living Tradition – not as a showpiece nor because of 'nostalgia' nor with any combative sense, as such, but because this Tradition sustained the Faith of many, and formed countless souls in holiness. One such person, indeed, became the sainted founder of the Order of Preachers.

    Currently the CRNJ numbers three: Dom Daniel Augustine, Dom John Berchmans, and Dom Alban. However, if so much can be accomplished by three, imagine what more could be done if their number were to double. So, I would encourage young men who are thinking of a religious vocation, and who are committed to the traditional Liturgy, to consider the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem; do go and visit them. At the very least, you'd have a good retreat and some soul-refreshing days of beautiful worship and prayer – I know I did!

    For inquiries about vestments, or for more information about the CRNJ community and vocation, please contact the Prior, Very Rev. Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer. Address: Priory of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 219 South George Street, Charles Town, WV 25414. Or email:

    Some of the photos in this post are used courtesy of Mr Joe Kline, and of the Priest Field Pastoral Center.

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    Here is a translation of a recent interview with His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in which he advocates a general return to worship ad orientem. The interview was originally published online by French journal Famille Chrétienne; the translation linked above by Christine Broesamle was published on Monday the website of the National Catholic Register.

    I would recommend also a blog article written by Christ Carstens, the editor of the Adoremus Bulletin, in which he comments on why this call is so important. (h/t Adam Bartlett of Illuminare Publications).

    I have nothing to add myself except, if only this would happen...

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    For the third year in a row, we received a bumper crop of submissions for our Corpus Christi photopost, enough to make at least three; they are posted in the order received, so if don’t see yours here, check back over the next couple of days. As always, we are very grateful to all those who contribute to our efforts to promote the best of our liturgical tradition, especially on this most solemn and most Catholic of feasts. Feliciter!

    Immaculate Heart of Mary, Glasgow, Scotland
    Indoor procession due to inclement weather

    Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, London, England

    St Gregory the Great, Stoneham, Massachusetts 
    St Gregory the Great Church, a community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, celebrated Corpus Christi at St Patrick Church in Stoneham, Massachusetts with a Solemn High Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal, followed by a Eucharistic Procession through the neighborhood and Benediction. Note that in the first photo, the Gospel is sung from the midst of the congregation, in accord with a custom of the Anglican Church specifically authorized for use in DWM Masses.

    Holy Ghost Church, Tiverton, Rhode Island
    Mass and Eucharistic Procession celebrated by His Excellency Thomas Tobin, Bishop of Providence 

    Good Shepherd Parish, Fall River, Massachusetts
    Procession to St Stanislaus

    St Kevin’s Church, Dublin, Ireland

    St Martin of Tours, Louisville, Kentucky

    Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver, British Columbia
    Mass and Eucharistic Procession celebrated by His Excellency John Miller, Archbishop of Vancouver

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