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    Every choir director knows the problem. You have a number of people of good will but they are not music majors or professional singers. They need to hear their part many times before they get it. And there isn't a lot of practice time available. Yet there is a great desire for beautiful music to elevate and dignify the liturgy. We love to sing chant, of course, but we also want to bring in the polyphony, in the spirit of the old masters. What do we do?

    There's more than one way to solve this dilemma. For example, an organist can discreetly accompany polyphony on the organ; perhaps only the sopranos and altos will sing their parts, but the organ will play everything. Another solution is to find more easily accessible three- and four-part compositions. There are many warhorses in this regard, some of which favor homophony but break out occasionally into polyphony. Examples of this type include Tye's "Laudate Nomen Domini," Hassler's "Dixit Maria," and Tallis's "If ye love me."

    But Heath Morber has added a new tool to the arsenal. He has already enriched the choral repertoire with his book Bread from Heaven (reviewed here) and now he is back with another wonderful collection of two- and three-part music, English Motets for the Church Year: Choral Works Adapted from the Renaissance Masters.

    The concept is simple: Morber has carefully sifted through a vast array of Latin motets and Mass ordinaries, has chosen sections where the composers themselves thin their texture down to two or three voices, and then has carefully adapted the melodic lines to English texts. He subtly modifies the rhythms and cadences to reflect the character of the English language itself, and provides multiple versions of the motets for different voice ranges. As an experienced choir director, Morber knows what you need: since the refrains are relatively short in duration, he provides psalm verses to sing in between repetitions. The result is a balanced and beautiful whole.

    I can certainly vouch that parish and chapel choirs would greatly benefit from adding pieces of this book to their repertoire, especially when trying to prepare for Masses week after week. Indeed, I can think of about ten thousand parishes in the United States that would instantly experience musical elevation and edification if only they could stretch their horizons and, acknowledging that something is missing, insert some Renaissance polyphony. And, while I know Morber would say "bring on Latin if you can," he also knows that not every place or every situation is ready for this venerable tongue. There is certainly a dire need for good English-language music, as well, and in many situations one can imagine this book scoring a tremendous success where a more uncompromising insistence on the original language would raise hackles or draw too much attention to itself.

    The music is superb; the texts are from Sacred Scripture; the entire project is in perfect accord with Sacrosanctum Concilium's call for good, holy, and edifying sacred music. Thank you, Heath, for editing another winner.

    A full table of contents may be viewed at this site.

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    This article was originally published on the feast of St Lawrence five years ago. I have made a number of small changes and corrected a small factual error.

    Since the earliest times, St Lawrence has been venerated as a patron Saint of the city of Rome, along with Ss Peter and Paul, and his feast day has always been one of the most important in the ecclesiastical year. A remarkable number of Roman churches are dedicated to him, several more, in fact, than are dedicated to either of the Apostolic founders of the Church in the Eternal City. Among them are the Patriarchal Basilica of St Lawrence outside-the-Walls, where he is buried, and three of the most ancient parishes in the historical center of the city: San Lorenzo in Panisperna, (the reputed site of his martyrdom), San Lorenzo in Lucina, and San Lorenzo in Damaso. These four churches are frequently found on the list of station churches from Septuagesima Sunday to Low Sunday, in proximity to stational observances in honor of Ss Peter and Paul. San Lorenzo in Miranda was one of the first major churches to be built in the heart of the ancient city’s political and religious life, the Roman Forum; it sits within the portico of the temple of the divinized Emperor Antoninus Pius and his wife Faustina, on the steps of which the great martyr was said to have been tried and condemned.
    The Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside-the-Walls, in an eighteenth century engraving by Giuseppe Vasi.

    Two private chapels of the Popes are also dedicated to him, San Lorenzo ‘in Palatio’ at the Lateran, and the Niccoline Chapel at the Vatican. The former was built in the mid-8th century, and after various restorations and embellishments, became a Papal chapel about three centuries later; rebuilt by Nicholas III (1277-80), it now survives only in part within a building known as the Scala Sancta, across the street from the Pope’s cathedral. The chapel’s nickname ‘Sancta Sanctorum – the Holy of Holies’, does not come from its status as a Papal chapel, but from the amazing collection of relics formerly kept therein: among them, a piece of the grill on which St Lawrence was roasted alive, and some parts of his body.

    In the 330-year period from 1048 to 1378, the Popes spent roughly 250 years outside of Rome; after so long a period of neglect and partial abandonment, and two massive fires in the 14th century, most of the vast complex of buildings around the Lateran was in no state to be lived in. The Popes therefore took up residence at the Vatican, and have been there ever since. In 1447, Nicholas V built a new chapel within the Vatican, and commissioned the Dominican painter Fra Angelico to paint the walls with stories of the two deacon martyrs, St Stephen and St Lawrence, to whom the chapel is jointly dedicated.
    The Martyrdom of Saint Stephen, on the left wall of the Chapel of Nicholas V, by Fra Angelico. The martyrdom of Saint Lawrence is directly beneath it, but the part that shows Lawrence on the grill in the lower right hand corner is ruined.
    The association of Ss Stephen and Lawrence, naturally suggested by the parallels between their lives and deaths, figures prominently in art and liturgy in Rome. Both were deacons under the authority of the Pope in their respective cities, Stephen in Jerusalem under St Peter, and Lawrence in Rome under St Sixtus II, the most venerated of the early popes martyred after Peter. Both were put in charge of the Church’s charitable activities by the Popes whom they served, and both were eloquent preachers of the Christian faith. Both suffered terrible martyrdoms, Stephen by stoning, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, while Lawrence was roasted alive.

    In the office of St. Stephen, the third antiphon of Lauds (partially quoting Psalm 62, with which it is sung), reads “Adhaesit anima mea post te, quia caro mea lapidata est pro te, Deus meus. – My soul hath stuck close to Thee, because my flesh was stoned for Thy sake, my God.” In the office of St. Lawrence, this same antiphon is changed to “Adhaesit anima mea post te, quia caro mea igne cremata est pro te, Deus meus. – My soul hath stuck close to Thee, because my flesh was burnt for Thy sake, my God.” The artistic pairing of the two done so beautifully by Fra Angelico is also found twice in the Sancta Sanctorum which the Niccoline Chapel replaced, in the mosaics over the altar and in the frescoes that adorn its walls.
    Saint Lawrence in the 11th century mosaics over the altar of the Sancta Sanctorum.
    The martyrdom of Saint Lawrence in the late 13th-century frescoes on the walls of the Sancta Sanctorum. The Emperor Decius appears on the left; the medieval accounts of St. Lawrence usually place his death in the persecution of Decius in 250-51, rather than that of Valerian in 257-58.
    On August 3rd, a two-week long cycle of feasts associated with St Lawrence begins with the Finding of St. Stephen’s Body, a feast of the universal calendar of the Roman Rite until 1960. The body of St Stephen was discovered in the year 415, along with those of Gamaliel, his son Abibo, and Nicodemus, when Gamaliel appeared to Lucian, a priest of Jerusalem, and revealed the place of their collective burial. Relics of Stephen were brought to many places throughout the world; in the final book of The City of God, St Augustine describes a number of miracles that took place when a part of them came to Africa, including the raising from the dead of six people. Another portion of them was brought to Rome in the reign of Pope Pelagius II (579-90), who placed them in the basilica of St. Lawrence outside-the-Walls; the Golden Legend tells the story that when the Pope went to lay them in Lawrence’s tomb, the Roman martyr moved to one side to make room for his fellow Levite. The early 13th-century porch still has extensive remains of original frescoes of that period, illustrating the history of the two great deacon martyrs; sadly, these were already in poor condition when the church was hit with a bomb during World War II, damaging them further.
    The relics of St. Stephen being laid to rest in the tomb of St. Lawrence, by Lorenzo di Niccolò, ca. 1412.;
    from the Brooklyn Museum.
    On August 6th occurs the feast of St Sixtus II, who was martyred at the catacomb of Callixtus, along with six of the seven deacons of the church of Rome, the seventh being Lawrence. When the edict of persecution was issued by the Emperor Valerian in the year 257, the holy Pope ordered Lawrence to distribute all of the wealth of the church to the poor of the city. Having done so, Lawrence then saw Sixtus being led to martyrdom and, as told by St Ambrose, addressed him thus: “Whither goest thou without thy son, father? Whither, holy priest, dost thou hasten without thy deacon? Never wast thou want to offer sacrifice without thy minister. What then hath displeased thee in me, father? Hast thou found me ignoble? Make proof surely whether thou didst choose a worthy minister. Dost thou deny a share in thy blood to one to whom thou didst entrust the consecration of the Lord’s blood, and a share in the celebration of the sacraments?... Abraham offered his son, Peter sent Stephen before him…” To this Sixtus replied, “I do not leave or abandon thee, son, but greater contests await thee. We, as elder men, receive the way of an easier combat; a more glorious triumph against the tyrant awaiteth thee as a younger man. Soon shalt thou come after, cease weeping; after three days shalt thou follow me, as levite followeth priest.” (These words from the 39th chapter of St. Ambrose’s De Officiis form the basis of several antiphons and responsories in the office of Saint Lawrence.) Sixtus and his deacons were then beheaded by Roman soldiers.
    The martyrdom of St. Sixtus and his deacons, from a 14th century manuscript of the lives of the saints.
    St Sixtus is named in the traditional canon of the Mass, immediately after the first three successors of St Peter, followed by two contemporary bishops also martyred under Valerian, Pope Cornelius and St Cyprian of Carthage; St Lawrence is then named first among the non-bishops. A Roman station church near the Lateran is named for Sixtus; it was entrusted to Dominican nuns within the lifetime of St Dominic, who died on his feast day. (The church attached to the Dominicans’ Roman University of St Thomas, also called the Angelicum, is dedicated to both Sixtus and Dominic.) After their founder was canonized in 1234, the Order of Preachers kept his feast on the 5th of August, rather than the day of his death, in deference to the much older feast; this remained their custom until the reforms of the later 16th century, when he was moved back a day to make way for Our Lady of the Snows. Likewise, when Pope Callixtus III instituted the feast of the Transfiguration in 1456, assigning it to the sixth of August, many churches simply ignored it because the day was already occupied by St Sixtus.
    The Madonna and Child with Ss Sixtus II and Barbara, generally known as “the Sistine Madonna”, by Raphael Sanzio, 1513-14; commissioned for the monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza, which had relics of both Saints.
    The ninth of August, the vigil of St Lawrence, was formerly also kept as the feast of St Romanus, which was reduced to a commemoration in the Tridentine reform. He was said to have been a soldier converted to Christ by the preaching of Lawrence, who baptized him while in jail awaiting execution; Romanus was beheaded at the orders of the Emperor the day before Lawrence was killed.

    The tenth is the feast of Lawrence himself, the day of his martyrdom by being roasted alive on a grill; the Byzantine tradition, which devoted the sixth of August to the Transfiguration centuries before the Latin church, commemorates Sixtus, his deacons, and Romanus all together along with Lawrence himself on this day. The story of his martyrdom is told thus in the Roman Breviary of 1529. (Valerian appears as an official under the previous persecuting emperor, Decius.)
    And Decius said to the blessed Lawrence: Sacrifice to the gods. And he answered, “I offer myself as a sacrifice to God, unto the odor of sweetness, for a contrite spirit is a sacrifice to God.” But the executioners pressed on in adding the coals, and placing them under the grill… . The blessed Lawrence said, “Learn, wretched Valerian, how great is the might of my Lord, for thy coals bring me refreshment, but to thee eternal torment; for he knows that I denied not his holy name when accused, I confessed Christ when asked, I gave thanks while being roasted.” … And all those present began to marvel, since Decius had commanded him to be roasted alive. But with a most comely countenance he said, “I give thee thanks, Lord Jesus Christ, who hast deigned to strengthen me.” And lifting up his eyes to Valerian, he said, “Behold wretched man, thou hast roasted one side; turn me over, and eat.” Then giving thanks to the Lord, he said, “I give thee thanks, Lord Jesus Christ, because I have merited to enter thy gates.” And saying this he gave up his spirit.
    Saint Lawrence, in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia at Ravenna, ca. 450. The armoire on the left contains four books labelled with the names of the four Evangelists, a reference to the custom of keeping liturgical books locked in the sacristy in an era when any book was an expensive rarity. The deacon would process to the sacristy when it was time for the Gospel, receive the book from a porter, and process it out, a custom still found in the traditional Ambrosian liturgy.
    The thirteenth of August is the feast of St. Hippolytus, an officer of the guards in the prison where St Lawrence was held, and also converted by him to Christianity. In the Breviary of 1529, he is said to have taken the body of Lawrence for burial; reproved for this by the Emperor, and threatened with torture and death, he answered “May I merit to be a likeness of the blessed martyr Lawrence, whom you have dared to name with your polluted mouth.” After torture, he was killed by being torn apart by wild horses. The story is normally dismissed as a fabrication by modern scholars on the grounds that this manner of death, reported by the poet Prudentius, is the same as that of the Greek mythological character Hippolytus, the son of Theseus who was dragged to death by the horses of his chariot. It seems not to have occurred to any of the modern skeptics that the persecutors might have been inspired by his name to choose this manner of killing him in imitation of the mythological story.

    It is certainly true, however, that there is much confusion about Hippolytus’ history; when Pope St Damasus I (366-84) placed an epitaph upon his tomb recounting his martyrdom, he stated that he himself “relied on purely oral tradition, which he does not guarantee: ‘Damasus tells these things which he has heard; it is Christ who maketh proof of them.’ ” (Loeb Classical Library, The Poems of Prudentius, p. 304, footnote) Prudentius also attests that he personally was healed of various ailments more than once while praying at Hippolytus’ tomb. In the Communicantes of the traditional Ambrosian canon, Sixtus, Lawrence and Hippolytus are named (in that order) immediately after the twelve Apostles, indicating how great the devotion to them was in the see of Milan in antiquity.

    The Saint Hippolytus triptych by Dietric Bouts the Elder, ca. 1470.
    Like all of the most important feasts, that of St Lawrence was traditionally celebrated with an octave; the octave day has a proper Mass, like the octave of Ss Peter and Paul, sharing only the Epistle and Gospel with the feast day. The introit of this Mass is taken from Psalm 16, which is also said at Matins of St Lawrence: “Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night, thou hast tried me by fire: and iniquity hath not been found in me.” The words “visited (my heart) by night” refer to the Emperor’s threat to torture Lawrence for the length of the night, to which the great Levite answered, “My night hath no darkness, but in it all things shine brightly in the light.”

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    Monasterboice and the Grace of the Divine Office

    Clarissa Kwasniewski
    We went to Ireland. . . . No, we did not go to Ireland . . . we went to Heaven. We kept going to Heaven, we were invited again and again. We ate the heavenly banquet, we adored the Lamb; surrounded by angels and saints, all unseen, we sang His praise. In the liturgy at Silverstream, we found Heaven. Not just once, but seven times a day.

    Before this experience, I had enjoyed Gregorian chant, but being unable to sing well, had never gotten on the “inside,” so to speak. I had recited Lauds and Vespers in English for more than twelve years, growing to love the psalms and feeling regretful if for some reason I could not do it. But I still had never quite understood why St. Benedict put so very much emphasis on the Opus Dei.

    The first few days at Silverstream I enjoyed the beautiful chant and followed the text with my rusty college Latin as best I could. But I was still “outside” of it. It was only water, good, life-giving and necessary, but lacking the heartwarming power of wine.

    It was on our outing to the nearby ancient ruins of Monasterboice that this changed. Monasterboice felt as if we had really reached old Ireland at last, the isle of saints and scholars. Surrounded by gravestones, by high crosses and only a few feet from the sky-high round tower, in the ruins of a 10th-century church we — my family and part of my monastic family (three of the monks, two aspirants) — chanted the office of None. Kneeling on the damp grass to sing the praise of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the grace of St. Benedict’s love for the Office entered my heart.

    Monasterboice is a tourist attraction. I am sure we got a few stares that afternoon. Certainly, we were a spectacle to angels and to men, as Dom Benedict had preached that very morning for the feast of St. James: “For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor 4:9-10). But I think also that the souls of the Irish faithful who had prayed on this consecrated ground before us were pleased to look down and hear the praise of God rising again.
    They shall come and shout for joy on Mount Sion
    they will stream to the blessings of the Lord
    to the corn, the new wine and the oil
    to the flocks of sheep and the herds.
    Their life will be like a watered garden
    They will never be weary again.
                Jeremiah 31:12 (Jerusalem Bible)
    Since that time, assisting at the Divine Office has been different. At Silverstream, the soaring chants were not only beautiful, but became friends, hands outstretched, inviting one to the heavenly liturgy. Lingering in the mind, on the tongue, like honey. Even my stumbling recitation of the Latin and singing the easy responses became a joy. Following the monastic horarium that week, time changed and slowed, silence became a blessing and sound itself was sanctified. The office went from water to wine, and became the oil of gladness.

    When I read now the Rule of St. Benedict, or excerpts from St. Basil or St. John Chrysostom on the discipline and delights of psalmody, I finally have a glimpse of what they are talking about, what they must have experienced and why they urgently exhorted the faithful to take it up themselves. This is a gift that lies waiting in the hands of Holy Mother Church. Laudetur sacrosanctum et augustissimum Sacramentum in aeternum!

    Clarissa Kwasniewski is an oblate of Silverstream Priory.

    The fields around Monasterboice

    Entering the 10th-century chapel to pray None

    The round tower

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    St Clare died on this day in the year 1253 at the age of 59. The pope at the time, Alexander IV, had known her personally for many years, and had even come with his court to the church of San Damiano in Assisi, the first Franciscan women's house, which Clare had ruled over for many years, in order to be present for her funeral. The story is told that the Pope had such a high regard of her sanctity that he wished to canonize her immediately without process, and celebrate the Mass of a Holy Virgin in her honor, rather than a Requiem for her, but was prevented by the admonition of the Franciscan Master General that to do so would be a violation of the Church's tradition. Pope Alexander canonized her just over two years later, on the feast of the Assumption in 1255.

    Her feast day was originally assigned to the day after her death, and kept on that day until 1970, partly out of respect for the martyrs Ss Tiburtius and Susanna, whose feast occupies August 11, but also so that her feast could have both Vespers without conflicting with those of St Lawrence.

    In art, St Clare is often represented holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in it, an unusual attribute for any Saint who was not a priest. This custom arises from one of the great miracles which she performed. In the year 1234, the army of Frederick II, which counted a great many Saracens from Sicily in its number, were plundering the part of Umbria which includes Assisi. As the invaders sought to enter the convent at San Damiano, Clare took the ciborium from one of the chapels within the complex, and brought it to a window near the place where the soldiers had set a ladder against the walls in order to scale them. When she raised the Blessed Sacrament on high, the soldiers fell off the ladder and away from the wall as if dazzled, and the whole company of them fled.

    St Clare Defends the Walls of Assisi, by Giuseppe Cesari, (often called 'Cavaliere d'Arpino, 1586-1640), date uncertain; now in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
    St Clare was often very ill, and spent many years practically confined to her bed. Another story is told that one year, when she was too ill to attend the Midnight Mass on Christmas, she was able to be present for the ceremony through a vision, for which reason Pope Pius XII declared her the Patron Saint of television in 1958. (This subject seems to have attracted no attention from artists, inexplicably, and I was unable to find a good representation of it. If anyone knows of one, please be so kind as to let me know in the combox.)

    The Vision of St Clare (not the Midnight Mass vision), by Guercino, 1615-21, also from the Hermitage.

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    Our next major photopost will be for the feast of the Assumption, this coming Monday, August 15th; please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to for inclusion. We are always very glad to include photographs of celebrations in the Eastern rites, as well as Vespers and other parts of the Divine Office, blessings, processions, the vigil Mass etc. 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!

    From last year’s second Assumption photopost: the blessing of herbs and flowers at the Church of St Joseph in Singapore.

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    The Patronal Feast of St. Mary's Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, will be celebrated with more than the usual solemnity, pomp and fun this Sunday afternoon, as the Most Rev. Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will take part in the day's events.

    A Solemn Mass in the Presence of a Greater Prelate will be celebrated at 4 p.m. Sunday, followed by a "Parish Festa" that brings the many ethnic groups of the parish together. The Schola Cantorum of St. Mary's will sing Mozart's Missa Brevis in D, with motets by Mozart, Palestrina and Victoria.
    Following the Mass, Bishop Caggiano will bless an antique statue procured by the parish and put her under the title of Our Lady of Norwalk. The statue will then go into procession through the streets before taking residence in the church. 
    The day ends with a parish dinner and entertainment with an Italian flavor, bringing together the 19 nationalities and ethnic groups that make up the downtown parish.
    For more information, contact

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    The annual Fota Liturgical Conference in Cork, Ireland, is not only an important scholarly gathering, but includes a number of ceremonies celebrated at the highest level of our Catholic liturgical tradition. This year, on Saturday, July 9th, the conference’s keynote speaker, Cardinal Raymond Burke, was the celebrant of Pontifical Vespers for the eve of the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, after which he confirmed several young parishioners of the hosting church of Ss Peter and Paul. The wonderful Lassus Scholars, conducted by Dr Ite O’Donovan, sang the Gregorian chants for Saturday Vespers, and the Magnificat Septimi Toni of their patron musician, Orlando di Lassus. (Listen here on a previous post.) Our thanks to Mr John Briody for sharing these photos with us; the full set may be seen on his flickr account, along with those of a good many other liturgical events.

    His Excellency Peter Elliot, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Australia, who also spoke at the conference, and Mons. James O’Brien, one of the principal organizers, attend in choir.
    The Lassus Scholars

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    Our thanks to Mr Maurice Joseph Almadrones for sharing with us these photos of a Dominican Rite Mass celebrated in Manila by our ow Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P, at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Quezon City. This was probably the first time it was offered again in a parish setting after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Once again, especially in the month in which the feast of St Dominic is celebrated, it is very encouraging to note how many efforts are being made to preserve the Dominican liturgical tradition.

    When the priest genuflects at the Incarnatus in the Creed, he places the edge of his chasuble on the altar as seen here.
    The Dominican Offertory is rather shorter than the Roman one, and the paten and chalice are offered together.

    An extra candle is lit at the Sanctus, a custom which also be observed in the Roman Mass. 

    As in the majority of medieval Uses, the priest stretches his hand out in the form of Cross during the Unde et memores.

    Also as in many medieval Uses, the altar servers (including the deacon and subdeacon in a Solemn Mass) often stand next to the celebrant, rather than behind him, in hierarchical order. 

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    When thou departed to Him Who was born of thee ineffably, o Virgin Mother of God, there were present James, the brother of God and first hierarch, and Peter, the honored head and leader of theologians, and all the divine choir of the Apostles, and with words that reveal the things of God, they praised in song the amazing divine mystery of the dispensation of Christ God. They rejoiced as they prepared thy body, which was the origin of life, and received God, that art praised with every hymn. And the all-holy and venerable angelic powers, looking down upon this wonder from above with astonishment, said to one another:“Lift up your gates and receive Her that bore the Maker of heaven and earth. Let us exalt with songs of praise the august and holy body which contained the Lord, invisible to us.” Wherefore we also, celebrating thy memory, cry out to thee, o all-praised one: Exalt the state of Christians and save our souls. (The doxastikon of Vespers of the Dormition of the Mother of God in the Byzantine Rite.)

    Russian icon of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, late 16th or early 17th century.

    Ὅτε ἐξεδήμησας, Θεοτόκε Παρθένε, πρὸς τὸν ἐκ σοῦ τεχθέντα ἀφράστως, παρῆν Ἰάκωβος ὁ Ἀδελφόθεος, καὶ πρῶτος Ἱεράρχης, Πέτρος τε ἡ τιμιωτάτη κορυφαία τῶν θεολόγων ἀκρότης, καὶ σύμπας ὁ θεῖος τῶν Ἀποστόλων χορός, ἐκφαντορικαῖς θεολογίαις ὑμνολογοῦντες τὸ θεῖον καὶ ἐξαίσιον τῆς Χριστοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ οἰκονομίας μυστήριον· καὶ τὸ ζωαρχικόν καὶ θεοδόχον σου σῶμα κηδεύσαντες, ἔχαιρον πανύμνητε. Ὕπερθεν δὲ αἱ πανάγιαι καὶ πρεσβύταται τῶν Ἀγγέλων Δυνάμεις, τὸ θαῦμα ἐκπληττόμεναι, κεκυφυῖαι ἀλλήλαις ἔλεγον· Ἄρατε ὑμῶν τὰς πύλας, καὶ ὑποδέξασθε τὴν τεκοῦσαν τὸν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς Ποιητήν, δοξολογίαις τε ἀνυμνήσωμεν, τὸ σεπτὸν καὶ ἅγιον σῶμα, τὸ χωρῆσαν τὸν ἡμῖν ἀθεώρητον καὶ Κύριον. Διόπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς τὴν μνήμην σου ἑορτάζοντες, ἐκβοῶμέν σοι· Πανύμνητε, Χριστιανῶν τὸ κέρας ὕψωσον, καὶ σῶσον τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.

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    The 16th Annual Assumption Mass, sponsored by Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, New Jersey, will take place at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, located at Logan Circle in Philadelphia, at 7:00 p.m. tonight, August 15. This Mass is a festival of praise and thanksgiving on the feast of Our Lady's great victory over sin and death. Each year, monumental music from the Church's treasury is chosen, music that cannot be used in a small parish setting. People from across the Delaware Valley travel through traffic and all types of weather to attend. Some groups that will be participating again this year: Priests, deacons and seminarians from many dioceses, the Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, The Knights of Columbus, the Carmelites of Mater Ecclesiae, the Federation of North American Explorers, Juventutem of Lehigh Valley, PA, the altar servers and Blessed Imelda Society of Mater Ecclesiae, the altar servers and Maidens of the Miraculous Medal from Saint John the Baptist, Allentown, NJ. This Mass is also meant to be a manifestation of the beauty and growth of the Traditional Latin Mass Movement. We have been given a very great gift. Help us to share and proclaim it!

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    There are a number of papal documents that seem utterly bizarre to read nowadays because of our retrospective knowledge of how totally and absolutely they were ignored and contradicted after their promulgation. The three most astonishing examples of this particular genre (as it were) might very well be a trio all having in common their liturgical essence: Pius XII's Mediator Dei of 1947, reining in the excesses of the liturgical movement; John XXIII's Veterum Sapientia of 1962, solemnly reaffirming the central place of Latin in the Church's life; and Paul VI's Sacrificium Laudis of August 15, 1966 -- fifty years ago today.

    Pius XII, for example, lists in a famous paragraph a number of erroneous examples of antiquarianism, all of which subsequently became prominent features of postconciliar liturgical life:
    62. Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.
    Similarly, John XXIII wrote these memorable words on the role of Latin -- memorable if only for the utter tragedy of their abandonment in practice a few short years later:
    [T]he “knowledge and use of this language,” so intimately bound up with the Church’s life, “is important not so much on cultural or literary grounds, as for religious reasons. … For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time ... of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular” (Pius XI). … [T]he Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular. In addition, the Latin language “can be called truly catholic.” It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed “a treasure ... of incomparable worth.” It is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church’s teaching. It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity.
    John XXIII signed this document on the high altar in St. Peter's Basilica, in front of a large crowd of the faithful, to whom he explained its significance (scroll down in this article to read an eyewitness account from Fr. Suitbertus). As Romano Amerio soberly commented: “There is not, in the whole history of the Church, another instance of a document’s being so solemnly emphasized, and then being so unceremoniously cast out so soon afterwards, like the corpse of an executed criminal.”

    But in many ways the greatest tragedy of the postconciliar period was the sudden, dramatic, worldwide collapse of religious life, especially in its contemplative branches, and the disappearance, as if overnight, of the chanting of the Divine Office in Gregorian chant. It was an anti-miracle, so to speak -- a feat of Satan who, appearing as an angel of light, lured the religious to their doom. The praises of God, which had been sung day and night for well over a millennium with melodies more beautiful than any the world has ever birthed before or since, fell silent, with the silence of the tomb.

    And yet, Pope Paul VI, in words no less clear, stalwart, principled, and prophetic than those he uttered about birth control in Humanae Vitae, urged religious in 1966 to uphold their traditional choral office at all costs, for it was their special contribution to the life, health, and growth of the Mystical Body. While it is true that Paul VI, with his self-admitted Hamlet syndrome, walked a zigzag path in contrary directions, seeming to be trapped in the torments and doubts of his age, he nevertheless rose above the churning waters now and again to speak a clear word that, had it only been followed, would have been a blessing for the Church.

    My purpose, however, is not to go into this vexed and over-complicated pontificate, but merely to commemorate the half-century anniversary of the much-neglected and yet wonderfully luminous Apostolic Letter of August 15, 1966, and to make its content better known, for the encouragement of all who strive, today, to restore to the Divine Office its full textual, musical, and ceremonial splendor, whether in the monastic rites, the old Roman usage, the Pius X reform, or the Pauline Liturgy of the Hours.

    Apostolic Letter Sacrificium Laudis

    (Translation by Fr Thomas Crean, OP)
    To the supreme moderators of clerical religious institutes obliged to the choral recitation of the divine office.

    Beloved sons, health and apostolic blessing.

    Your families, dedicated as they are to God, have always held in honour, as an offering from lips that confess to our Lord, the ‘Sacrifice of Praise’: that is, the psalms and hymns by which the hours, days and seasons of the year are hallowed with religious devotion, in the midst of which the Eucharistic Sacrifice shines, as it were like the sun, and draws all things to itself. With good reason is it held that nothing should be preferred to so holy a work as this. It is not difficult to perceive how much honour is rendered by it to the Creator of all things, or what benefits it confers upon the Church. You have proved, by following this fixed and unceasing manner of prayer, what importance divine worship has for human society.

    Yet, from letters which some of you have sent, and from many other sources, We learn that discordant practices have been introduced into the sacred liturgy by your communities or provinces (We speak of those only that belong to the Latin Rite.) For while some are very faithful to the Latin language, others wish to use the vernacular within the choral office. Others, in various places, wish to exchange that chant which is called ‘Gregorian’, for newly-minted melodies. Indeed, some even insist that Latin should be wholly suppressed.

    We must acknowledge that We have been somewhat disturbed and saddened by these requests. One may well wonder what the origin is of this new way of thinking and this sudden dislike for the past; one may well wonder why these things have been fostered.

    You yourselves know well how greatly We love your religious families, and how we value them. You can have no doubt of this. We have often marveled at the examples of outstanding holiness and the products of deep learning which ennoble them. We think it a happiness if We are able, in any lawful and fitting way, to support them, to comply with their wishes, to take thought for their betterment.

    Yet those things that We have mentioned are occurring even though the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council has after due deliberation declared its mind in solemn fashion (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 101,1), and after the publication of clear norms in subsequent Instructions. In the first Instruction (ad exsecutionem Constitutionis de sacra Liturgia recte ordinandam), published on 26th September, 1964, it was decreed as follows: In celebrating the divine office in choir, clerics are bound to preserve the Latin language (n. 85). In the second Instruction (de lingua in celebrandis Officio divino et Missa “conventuali” aut “communitatis” apud Religiosos adhibenda), published on the 23rd November, 1965, that law was reinforced, and at the same time due consideration was shown for the spiritual advantage of the faithful and for the special conditions which prevail in missionary territories. Therefore, for as long as no other lawful provision is made, these laws are in force and require the obedience in which religious must excel, as dear sons of holy Church.

    What is in question here is not only the retention within the choral office of the Latin language, though it is of course right that this should be eagerly guarded and should certainly not be lightly esteemed. For this language is, within the Latin Church, an abundant well-spring of Christian civilisation and a very rich treasure-trove of devotion. But it is also the seemliness, the beauty and the native strength of these prayers and canticles which is at stake: the choral office itself, ‘the lovely voice of the Church in song’ (Cf. St Augustine’s Confessions, Bk 9, 6). Your founders and teachers, the holy ones who are as it were so many lights within your religious families, have transmitted this to you. The traditions of the elders, your glory throughout long ages, must not be belittled. Indeed, your manner of celebrating the choral office has been one of the chief reasons why these families of yours have lasted so long, and happily increased. It is thus most surprising that under the influence of a sudden agitation, some now think that it should be given up.

    In present conditions, what words or melodies could replace the forms of Catholic devotion which you have used until now? You should reflect and carefully consider whether things would not be worse, should this fine inheritance be discarded. It is to be feared that the choral office would turn into a mere bland recitation, suffering from poverty and begetting weariness, as you yourselves would perhaps be the first to experience. One can also wonder whether men would come in such numbers to your churches in quest of the sacred prayer, if its ancient and native tongue, joined to a chant full of grave beauty, resounded no more within your walls. We therefore ask all those to whom it pertains, to ponder what they wish to give up, and not to let that spring run dry from which, until the present, they have themselves drunk deep.

    Of course, the Latin language presents some difficulties, and perhaps not inconsiderable ones, for the new recruits to your holy ranks. But such difficulties, as you know, should not be reckoned insuperable. This is especially true for you, who can more easily give yourselves to study, being more set apart from the business and bother of the world. Moreover, those prayers, with their antiquity, their excellence, their noble majesty, will continue to draw to you young men and women, called to the inheritance of our Lord. On the other hand, that choir from which is removed this language of wondrous spiritual power, transcending the boundaries of the nations, and from which is removed this melody proceeding from the inmost sanctuary of the soul, where faith dwells and charity burns – We speak of Gregorian chant – such a choir will be like to a snuffed candle, which gives light no more, no more attracts the eyes and minds of men.

    In any case, beloved Sons, the requests mentioned above concern such grave matters that We are unable to grant them, or to derogate now from the norms of the Council and of the Instructions noted above. Therefore we earnestly beseech you that you would consider this complex question under all its aspects. From the good will which we have toward you, and from the good opinion which we have of you, We are unwilling to allow that which could make your situation worse, and which could well bring you no slight loss, and which would certainly bring a sickness and sadness upon the whole Church of God. Allow Us to protect your interests, even against your own will. It is the same Church which has introduced the vernacular into the sacred liturgy for pastoral reasons, that is, for the sake of people who do not know Latin, which gives you the mandate of preserving the age-old solemnity, beauty and dignity of the choral office, in regard both to language, and to the chant.

    Obey, then, these prescriptions sincerely and calmly. It is not an excessive love of old ways that prompts them. They derive, rather, from Our fatherly love for you, and from Our concern for divine worship.

    Finally, We impart most willingly to you and to your religious, as an earnest of heavenly gifts and as a sign of Our favour, the apostolic Blessing in our Lord.

    Given at Rome, at St Peter’s, on the 15th day of the month of August, on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the year 1966, the fourth of Our pontificate.

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  • 08/15/16--21:20: Assumption Photopost Request
  • We will be doing a photopost for today's Feast of the Assumption. Please send your photos to by Wednesday evening for inclusion. Photos could include Masses in either form, and public celebrations of the office.

    My most sincere apologies for not getting this out yesterday.

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    I recently read an interview of with Catholic sculptor Thomas Marsh recently, and was thrilled to be introduced to his work. The interview is by Dr Carrie Gress and you can read it here.

    As he tells Dr Gress, Marsh is trained in the classical tradition; he converted to Catholicism sometime after going to art school. I am happy to let his work, shown here, and Carrie's interview do the talking, and just make a couple of comments in regard to his work.

    First is that I think the quality of his craftmanship comes through in his portraits, which in my opinion are stunning. The individual character of the person shines out of his work. Here are some examples.

    The mark of a unique person is present, though slightly reduced, in this sculpture of a surfer, which is not intended to be a portrait, but an idealized personification of a surfer, and a tribute to surfing. Again, this is skillfully rendered.

    Contrast this with the face of Our Lady shown below, in which the idealization is taken a step further:

    Notice how the portrayal of individual character is least evident here. The face is idealized in a way that partially resembles, it seems to me, the idealized features of an ancient Greek Venus. Any portrayal of Our Lady must reveal her as a unique person, as a portrait does, of course. We discern the general through the particular. But at the same time, it must emphasize those qualities that are common to all of humanity, and present them in their best light, for these are the qualities that we can emulate in her. Those aspects that are unique to Mary cannot, by definition, be imitated. It is this emphasis of the general that leads the artist into a portrayal of an idealized form in sacred art. The exact nature of that idealization can vary - in the iconographic tradition it is different from classical naturalism. But it must be there.

    The degree of idealization is slightly less in the surfer, because he is meant to portray not those aspects that are common to all people, but rather those aspects that are common to all surfers when they are presented in their best light.

    Another wonderful example of sacred art by Marsh is this relief sculpture: "Sorrow 1" from the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph, a meditation which is very beloved by the Oblates of St. Joseph,(see a small religious order devoted to "serving God in imitation of St. Joseph." Sorrow 1" is part of a 2006 landscape architectural prayer walk (co-designed by March) on the grounds of the Oblates' U.S. provincial headquarters in Santa Cruz:

    Relief sculpture is, one might say, not a representation of the form directly, but a painting in shadow.

    Here is a picture of the Sorrow Walk:

    In the interview  Marsh refers to a commission he is about to begin for a series of statues for a Rosary walk. I look forward to seeing it completed. 

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    The Church has always embraced a wide variety of proper customs and rituals attached to the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony; as we have noted previously, the Philippine Islands has preserved in the local Rituale a number of customs which originated in the Mozarabic liturgy, then passed over into the Roman Rite, and were eventually brought there by the Spanish. The excellent blog Dei praesidio fultus recently published some photographs of a wedding celebrated in this tradition; you can see more photos and a complete explanation of the particular details of the ceremony over there. A post from 2013 gives links to the full text of the Philippine wedding rite in both Spanish and Latin; my thanks to reader RM for letting me know about this. Best wishes to the happy couple, and our thanks to Fr. Michell Zerudo, spiritual director of Una Voce Philippines, for helping to maintain these beautiful local customs. Ad multos annos!

    The wedding itself is celebrated before the doors of the church, rather than inside.

    The bride and groom are asked by the priest to give their consent to the Matrimony three times, rather than once as in the Rituale Romanum. In addition to the rings, the priest blesses 13 coins called arrhae, the Latin word for "pledges", which are then given by the husband to the wife. They symbolize temporal prosperity and fruitfulness, as well as the husband's promise to care for his wife materially.

    Towards the end of the Epistle, the spouses receive lit candles which they hold for the chanting of the Gospel. After the priest reads the Offertory, he receives the candles from them, and then offers them a crucifix, and which they kiss while he gives them a blessing. (This would seem to be imitated from the Mass of the Purification.)

    After the Sanctus, a veil is placed over the wife's head, extending over to the husband's shoulders. A cord in the form of a figure 8 is then laid over it upon the shoulders of them both, symbolizing the bond of matrimony. According to the notes on the original post, the original edition of the Philippine Rituale prescribed either a red or white veil, but the red fell out of use, and was only restored in the final pre-Conciliar edition in 1961. 

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    Thomas Marsh, the sculptor, was kind enough to get in touch with me to tell me a little more about the Rosary Walk referred to in yesterday's post about his work. He even sent me some sketches he has produced in advance of creating it, along with a description of his intentions for the church, St Isidore the Farmer Catholic Church in Orange, Virginia.

    I thought that it was worth a look to see how a sculptor describes his vision in advance, both in words and in preparatory sketches:

    When completed, the Rosary Prayer Walk, with an over life-size statue of Mary and the Child Jesus at the high point of the walk, will span just over 75 feet. This sacred and beautiful space will beckon those who for the first time notice the statue as they drive by the front of St. Isidore on Highway 15. It will be a magnet for those who attend Mass at St. Isidore, and for those Catholics in the region who hear about this new sacred space. What will be this beckoning force, this magnetic attraction? 
    In his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI wrote of the “exitus-reditus” (movement outward and returning) character of worship. He likened this movement to man’s experience of God, of leaving and returning, and ultimately returning home to God forever. In this prayer walk, the Rosary is laid out before the prayerful person as an elliptical path, to descend down the gentle slope of the hill, and return upward, homeward. In the manner of Christ one climbs the slope of the hill, not only in sight of the Cross (held by the Child Jesus), but toward the sculpture of Mary, Queen of Heaven, and Christ, King of the Universe, a reminder of our heavenly home. As the high point and focal point of the design, the sculpture has a symbolic and representational power to draw us “…to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God…” (CCC 2502). 
    The Rosary has the potential to be experienced as movement in a large space. Usually the “small scale” practice of praying the Rosary, the traditional beads with the very physical sense of touch, offers an intimate quietness, a quiet closeness. Yet Christ often went to the mountain, to the “high place” to pray. There is an expansiveness of sight and breath, and a special depth when there are great vistas surrounding one’s prayer experience. Our Rosary prayer walk will offer such an expansive experience. The rich and fertile beauty of the rolling rural Orange County vistas, with their seasonal colors and atmospheric variety, invite one to engage such a space in prayer. To wed the Rosary with this spatial beauty has the potential to provide a profound prayerful experience, a special path to God.
    On a “practical” level, there are pressing contemporary issues which so often manifest in the assault of secular culture on Christianity. We know that praying the Rosary is one of our great strengths in combatting these assaults in our trying times. What a tremendous force for good would be the praying of the Rosary on this fully human scale: one decade, ten natural steps, repeated, culminating in petitioning the Queen of Heaven as intercessor to the King of the Universe! Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! And what a natural evangelization this would be for those who are not Catholic but notice this sculpture from the highway, and wonder, “What is this about?” 
    Our Rosary Prayer walk with its sculpture of Mary and the Child Jesus will create a sacred site, filled with beauty, to add to the wonderful landscape adjacent to St. Isidore Catholic Church. Beauty will beckon, and the attraction will pull us closer to God. 

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    The Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce its 2016 annual conference, to be held at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.

    September 29 – October 1, 2016

    We are especially pleased to host keynote and plenary presentations by Archbishop José Gomez (Los Angeles), Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan (Maronite Bishop of Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles), and Sister Esther Mary Nickel, R.S.M. (St. John Vianney Seminary, Denver), as well as an update on the liturgical activities of the U.S.C.C.B. by their representative Fr. Andrew Menke.

    The conference will include sung liturgies in both the ordinary (pontifical) and extraordinary forms of the Roman rite as well as the Maronite rite (pontifical), along with sung vespers.

    Saturday features a Spanish-language track.

    Registration, more information on the conference venue, and bios of our distinguished speakers are available at the SCL's website:

    Preliminary conference schedule:

    Thursday, September 29
    3:00pm Registration and Welcome Reception
    5:00pm Sung Mass (Stational - Ordinary Form)
    6:00pm Opening Banquet with address by Archbishop Gomez “Popular Piety, Liturgy, and the New Evangelization”

    Friday, September 30
    8:00am Divine Liturgy (Maronite)
    9:00am Continental Breakfast
    9:30am Keynote: Bishop Elias Zaidan, “The Liturgy and the Church Persecuted”
    11:00am Concurrent Sessions
    • (1) Academic Track: James Pauley, Renewing Liturgical Catechesis: Towards the Cultivation of Desire for God
    • (2) Academic Track: Michon Matthiesen, “The Eighth Day”: the Evangelizing Potential of Liturgical Time
    • (3) Pastoral Track: Andrew Casad, Preparing the Uncatechized for Confirmation and Eucharist
    12:00pm Lunch
    1:00pm Concurrent Sessions
    • (4) Academic Track: Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, The Rites of Christian Initiation and the Baptized but Un-catechized
    • (5) Academic Track: Veronica Arntz, “This is a Great Mystery”: Sacramental Families Formed by Cosmic Liturgy
    • (6) Pastoral Track: Paolo Miguel Cobangbang, The Canonical Coronation of Marian Images as a Liturgical Revival: a Philippine Perspective
    2:30pm Concurrent Sessions
    • (7) Academic Track: Sr. Moira Debono, R.S.M. The Church Shares Your Joy: Amoris Laetitia and the Order for Celebrating Matrimony
    • (8) Academic Track: Mike Nolan, Re-interpreting the Poetry of Robert Southwell within the Context of New Evangelization
    • (9) Academic Track: Alphonso Lopez Pinto, Visions of Heaven on Earth: Mystagogy, the Santo, and Modernity
    • (10) Pastoral Track: Fr. Daniel Cardó, The Homily and the New Evangelization: Saint Augustine and Some Lessons for Today’s Preaching
    3:30pm Business Meeting
    5:00pm Vespers
    6:00pm Reception and Banquet, after dinner talk by Sister Esther Mary Nickel, R.S.M. and the screening of Prophet for our Times.

    Saturday, October 1
    8:00am Mass (Extraordinary Form)
    9:00am Breakfast with Registration for the Spanish Track
    9:30am Fr. Andrew Menke – USCCB “Liturgical Projects Undertaken by the USCCB”
    9:30am Spanish Session: Fr. Daniel Cardó : Fuente y cima: La Liturgia y la Nueva Evangelización
    11:00am Concurrent Sessions and Spanish Session
    • (11) Spanish Track: Fr. Daniel Cardó: Explorando los Misterios de la Misa
    • (12) Academic Track: Dom Benedict Andersen O.S.B., Benedictine Liturgical Values and the New Evangelisation
    • (13) Academic Track: Dino Marcantonio, Symbolic Architectural Form
    • (14) Pastoral Track: Michael Foley, Sanctifying the Bar: Liturgical Drinking and the New Evangelization
    12:00pm Lunch
    1:00pm Concurrent Sessions and Spanish Session
    • (15) Spanish Track: Fr. Daniel Cardó: La Homilía y la Nueva Evangelización
    • (16) Academic Track: Lisa Knutson, Principle and Foundation of Beauty in the Missionary Liturgy: The Jesuit Reductions as Model and Ignatian spirituality as Guide
    • (17) Academic Track: Steve Baker, Between Luminous and Numinous: the Coincidence of Opposites and Its Role in the Aesthetic Appreciation of Catholic Sacred Architecture
    • (18) Pastoral Track: Fr. Jamie Hottovy, Sacred Beauty: Evangelizing through the Images of Our Faith     
    2:00pm Concurrent Sessions and Spanish Session
    • (19) Academic Track: Richard Nicholas, the Sacramental Ordo in Medieval Architecture as a Means for Evangelization in the Twenty-First Century
    • (20) Academic Track: Richard Bulzacchelli, There Are No Doors to Open if There Are No Walls: Maintaining Sacramental Discipline as a Prerequisite for Preaching the Gospel
    • (21) Pastoral Track: Fr. Nick Schneider, In My Heart and on My Lips: Proclamation in the Mass as a Model for Evangelization
    3:00pm concluding Plenary Session (announcement of new officers)

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    Two days ago, on the feast of the Assumption, two American members of the Sons of the Divine Redeemer, Brothers Peter Mary (on the left in the first photo) and Seelos Maria (on the right), made their perpetual profession of the vows of religion, Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, joining to it a fourth vow and oath of Perseverance in the Congregation until death, as has been done since the time of St Alphonsus. Our thanks to the order for their kind permission to reproduce these photos from their Facebook page, and our hearty congratulations to the newly professed, to their families, and to the whole congregation - ad multos annos!

    At the singing of the Veni Creator Spiritus. In many rites of profession, the religious not only prostrate themselves, but are covered as seen here, to symbolize that in taking on the burdens and responsibilities of religious life, one is dying and being buried to self in order to live in Christ.

    Br Peter Mary confirms his desire to consecrate himself entirely to God for the rest of his life before the superior of the congregation, Fr Michael Mary.
    Likewise Br Seelos Maria, whose name in religion 'Seelos' comes from Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, a German Redemptorist who died in 1867, and was beatified in 2000.
    Kneeling before the Most Blessed Sacrament, the two brothers pronounce their vows, and with their hand on the Holy Gospel, they call God to be their witness.

    Br Seelos' parents were able to come from the United States to be with their son.

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    We choir directors have a duty to pass on the REAL treasures of church music to the next generation ... and impart the musical skills which will enable them to continue this wonderful tradition... It is their rightful inheritance. Musicians and liturgists of the Catholic Church throughout the world of the duty and responsibility we all have to pass on to a new generation the treasures of church music protected by Vatican II and by many papal documents. Let the young singers experience and come to love this music. They are the Future … they are wonderful and highly talented young people! Do not deprive them of their heritage by offering them less than the best!”

    These are the words of Dr Ite O’Donovan, director of the Dublin-based Lassus Scholars, whom we have featured many times here on NLM. She writes this à propos of a program which she led last week at St Kevin’s Church in Dublin, (home of the Dublin Latin Mass Chaplaincy,) the Orlandus Summer School for Choir and Organ; she was joined by vocal coach, Dr Imelda Drumm, and organ tutor Dr Paul McKeever. The program is geared towards young people from ages 14 to 26, with a view to introducing them to the glorious treasures of church music when they were young; as Dr O’Donovan writes, too often the parents take their children out of choir when they reach age 13/14 for the sake of sports and other activities.

    The teachers were assisted by some of the older and very committed members of the Piccolo Lasso (Little Lassus) singers, who could all read music but who had not yet been singing polyphony - the Lassus Scholars of the future! As you will see from the series of 4 videos they really did very well - they even sang Isaac for the Communio. On Thursday August 11th, they began work on ALL the music which they were able to sing only 4 days at Mass on August 14th, as you can see in this video; some singers from the outside had never sight-read choral music before, though most had some experience in playing an instrument.

    Below are the videos for all 4 days of the summer school, (3-5 mins each) with a little commentary by Dr O’Donovan on what was done each day. These show the progress made from the very first session on Thursday morning to the performance at Holy Mass on Sunday. They also gave a concert - extra motets including Allegri Miserere - and organ pieces!

    Day 1: Twenty-two young singers from many parts of Dublin, Co Meath and Co Louth gather together at the Orlandus Summer School 2016. While about half have them have had an excellent musical training as members of Piccolo Lasso, very few of them have performed polyphony before and almost all the repertoire is new to everyone. This video is taken from the very first session.

    Day 2: Much progress was made in learning Palestrina’s Missa Brevis in the choral sessions. Other new pieces included Tallis’ If ye love me, Lassus’ Benedictus from the Missa Ecco amor colei, Panem de caelo from Isaac’s Choralis Constantinus and Allegri’s Miserere. Motets learned on day 1 were revised, including Pitoni’s Cantate Domino and Victoria’s Ave Maria. Many of the young participants availed of the opportunity of having individual singing lessons with Dr Imelda Drumm and organ tuition with Dr Paul McKeever. Excellent progress was made by all!

    Day 3: All the participants had an intensive rehearsal schedule during the morning. One cannot praise them highly enough for their concentration and commitment which enabled them to bring 10 new pieces of polyphony to performance standard in 3 days. On top of that, the young singers had to learn to read/sing the Gregorian Chant Introit and Alleluia, short psalm-tone settings of the other Propers and regular chants such as the Asperges and Credo III. And to crown it all we were working on Allegri’s Miserere to sing at the Sunday afternoon concert. Amazing!

    Day 4: The culmination of three days of rehearsals with two performances given by the participants at the Orlandus Summer School 2016 – morning Mass and afternoon concert. We have a saying in Ireland - “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí - Praise the youth and he will come.” On Sunday Morning, August 14th, the Orlandus Summer School Choir gave stunning performances of Gregorian chant and Polyphony during the Mass for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost at St Kevin’s Church, Latin Mass Chaplaincy in Dublin.

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  • 08/19/16--05:07: St Sebaldus of Nuremberg
  • Today is the feast day of St Sebaldus, a rather obscure character who lived as a hermit in a forest west of Nuremburg, in the Franconia region of south central Germany. Various versions of his life put him in different periods, some in the mid-11th century, others in the 8th. By the middle of the 13th century, he was venerated as a Patron of Nuremburg, and an older Romanesque church dedicated to St Peter was rebuilt, now jointly dedicated to him as well; his shrine-tomb became an important pilgrimage center. At the Reformation, the church became Lutheran, but neither the shrine nor the relics were destroyed.

    Our Ambrosian correspondent Nicola de’ Grandi recently visited Nuremburg, and took these photos of the church.

    The earlier, Romanesque phase of the church is still visible in the apse and the lower part of the bell-towers. The upper parts date from the 13th century Gothic reworking, as does the nave seen in the next photo.

    St Sebaldus was formally canonized by Pope Martin V in 1425. This marvelous bronze ark containing his relics was made by Peter Vischer the Elder in 1509-1519, and is considered one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance in Germany. The Gothic structure beautifully blends with the more Italianate elements such as the statues of the Apostles on the pillars.

    The ark of St Sebaldus is not the only thing that remains from the church’s Catholic history. Unfortunately, the building was very badly damaged during World War II, and had to be extensively rebuilt.

    The former location of the medieval Eucharistic ark.

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    Solemn Mass, Feast of the Assumption, 2014
    Holy Ghost Church, Tiverton, R.I.
    For many years, the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Providence, Rhode Island, has offered Holy Mass in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms every Sunday and holy day of obligation — the only diocesan parish in the Diocese of Providence to do so. That will soon change, thanks to liturgical liberalism (the good kind). Beginning Sunday, September 4th, the Church of the Holy Ghost in Tiverton will likewise offer the traditional Latin Mass (Missa Cantata) every Sunday, not just on the first Sunday of the month (as has been the case since 2009), as well as on certain holy days (as announced). So, what does this have to do with the new liturgical movement? One connection is the “mutual enrichment” for which Pope Benedict XVI expressed desire in his Letter to the world’s bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum. To reiterate a point I made at the Sacra Liturgia USA conference last year: the process of mutual enrichment takes place, firstly, not at the level of the Holy See or the national episcopal conferences, but from the “ground up,” in actual liturgical celebrations, to people and communities who have experience worshiping in both the older and newer forms of the Roman Rite. It would be interesting to learn what, exactly, mutual enrichment has meant for parishes like Holy Name and Holy Ghost. But that’s a topic for another day.

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