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    The Apocalypse Prize 2017 is a religious art competition which as been developed to stimulate interest in Medieval Art as a resource for contemporary religious artists. This is an international, free entry painting competition which is open to all; the deadline this year is December 31, 2017, and the grand prize awarded is $10,000. Subjects and media are specified on the following website,, where you can also find several videos and essays which are intended to facilitate a deeper understanding of the use of the figurative language of Sacred Scripture in Medieval Art. You can also read about how the competition was instituted by artist Gloria Thomas in this article from 2015.

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    From the Facebook page of the Fraternity of St Peter’s English apostolates comes this rather ingenious explanation of how they also use a Tenebrae hearse  as a Paschal candlestick. Although this is written a humorous vein, the device itself is real, as you can see in the pictures below.

    Exclusive release by FSSP England [owner of the patent & trademark all over the tradisphere - please use this acronym for your order: tiopcsth]: The two-in-one paschal-candle-stand-tenebrae-hearse!

    - What was your inspiration?
    - Eco-friendliness matters to us. We wanted to spare the trees! We started with a bulk order of Baronius EF missals for our parishioners, thus avoiding the waste of hundreds of printed Sunday sheets, normally thrown into the bin after being used once only. Then we recycled our palms from last Palm Sunday, according to the EF rubrics stating that those must provide the combustible for the ashes blessed on Ash Wednesday the following year. Lastly, we saved on cleaning agents for our kneeling pads, suggesting people’s knees may rest on them rather than their feet: it made the pads much cleaner and nature-unfriendly detergents were got rid off.

    - Thank you for these encouraging examples of liturgical eco-friendliness. We now come to your liturgical revolution. As a reminder for our readers, a tenebrae hearse is the free standing triangular candelabra holding fifteen unbleached candles, extinguished one after the other while singing Matins and Lauds in the Extraordinary Form during the Sacred Triduum. Had you worked on tenebrae hearses before?
    - Yes, while in Reading we made a first attempt with wrought iron. It worked well and another church in the South requested to copy it. It is now used in London. But for all our attempts, we could not find a hearse when we moved North. All we had was a good sturdy oak stand for the paschal candle. Rather than have another stand and the triangle made from scratch, we thought it would be much simpler to design only the triangle, so as to rest on the spike of the existing paschal candle stand.

    - But where will your paschal candle fit then? Do you have a spare stand for it?
    - This is the trick! No need for a second one, as by definition, the paschal candle is never used but after tenebrae are completed. Tenebrae end on Holy Saturday morning. Extinguishing the fifteen candles on the hearse one by one symbolises Christ’s passion and death. (See my note below.) But the paschal candle blessed at the Paschal Vigil symbolises Christ rising. All we need to do is take the triangle off the spike in the morning and set the paschal candle on it instead in the evening. Theologically, it makes a lot of sense to use one and the same stand for the two successive liturgical stages. It is death and resurrection.

    - Congratulations! This is a true liturgical revolution. As to the future, if we may enquire, rumour has it that Apple contacted you to produce their next i-hearse...
    - We are not at liberty to comment on this. But we invite all to come to St Mary’s Warrington during Holy Week and pray with us for a very soul-friendly Sacred Triduum.

    NLM editor’s comment: Traditionally, the extinguishing of the candles during Tenebrae was understood to represent the Apostles and the two Marys, Magdalene and the wife of Cleophas, falling asleep during the Lord’s Passion, while the last candle, which is not extinguished on the hearse, represents Christ Himself, who remains the Light of the World even in His suffering and death. (I once read somewhere that the SRC several times forbade a custom which emerged from this interpretation, that of having a white candle for the last one that is not extinguished, rather than one of unbleached wax.) The removal of the candle and its placement behind the altar during the Miserere at the end of Lauds symbolizes His burial, and taking it out and showing to the people looks forward to the Rsurrection. This tradition would make the use described here even more appropriate, since the Paschal candle would then stand exactly where the last candle stands on the hearse.

    It may be objected that a Tenebrae hearse should be very somber and simple, while it is more appropriate that a Paschal candle should be something festive and beautiful, as seen, for example, in the contrast between the two objects in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

    In the case of the two-in-one device seen above, this could easily be remedied by placing decorations on it when it is used as a Paschal candlestick, which was generally done anyway back in the day.

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    I am pleased to announce that Pontifex University is now offering studio credit for its Masters in Sacred Arts through established teachers offering workshops around the world. As the first three in a number of developing partnerships in a range of artistic pursuits (more news to follow soon), students on the MSA program now have an option of taking studio credit through icon painting courses run by the following partners: OQ Farm, Bethlehem Icon Center and Hexaemeron.

    Just to give you an idea, typically one 5-day course with project work earns one credit at the Masters level. Students pay the teacher for the course as normal, and when they complete to the satisfaction of the teacher, they pay $150 per credit to Pontifex University. offers icon painting and icon carving through a series of 5-day workshops around the US and Canada. Their expert teachers include masters Jonathan Pageau, who carves icons, and Marek Czarnecki.

    The Bethlehem Icon Center has courses and even a two year diploma taught by director and founder Ian Knowles. Classes are in English and you work alongside local Palestinian Christians; the Melkite Patriarch of Jerusalem is a patron of the school. The school offers short courses which are extremely good value, and the savings on the cost of the class alone would pay for a large proportion of travel and accommodation, which is very reasonably priced in Bethlehem. The next one is in April, ending the day before Holy Thursday.

    And last but certainly not least, the OQ Farm is an artists’ retreat in beautiful Vermont in New England, which offers a series of workshops through the summer. Keri Wiederspahn, the director, herself an accomplished icon painter, has arranged for well known Greek iconographer George Kordis and Russian icongraphers Anton and Ekaterina Daineko to teach residential workshops in this spectacular setting. They are organized for the latter part of the summer and fall. In addition, in the fall, I will be teaching a Way of Beauty retreat at the OQ Farm, in which attendees learn about and experience the traditional formation of artists, so that they understand how it engendered creativity and an ability to apprehend beauty. It is appropriate for artists in any creative pursuit.

    This is the next stage in bringing the teaching of traditional arts further into mainstream education for both artists and potential patrons, offering high quality courses that we hope will raise the standard of art in our churches, help to evangelize the culture, and draw people to the faith. My personal goal is to see sacred art viewed as a profession with the same respect given to architects. That won’t happen, however, until there is evidence of high quality art that serves the liturgy of the Church. This process of education will need to draw in all people, patrons, artists and worshipers, if it is to be successful.

    Below, George Kordis, who teaches at the OQ Farm; an example of icon relief carving by Jonathan Pageau; and Ian Knowles teaching in Bethlehem.

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  • 03/04/17--12:13: Ash Wednesday 2017 Photopost
  • As always, thanks to all the readers who send in photographs of their Ash Wednesday liturgies. Our headliner is definitely a first for NLM: ash-colored vestments (couleur cendrée) from the Fraternity of St Peter’s church in Lyon, a classically medieval custom of the ancient use of Lyon. We wish you all a blessed and holy Lenten season. Our next photopost will cover the feasts of St Joseph and the Annunciation, and Laetare Sunday, which all fall within a week of each other this year; a request will be posted the week before.

    Collegiate Church of St Just - Lyon (FSSP)

    Tradition is for the young!

    St Catherine Labouré - Middletown, New Jersey

    Bethany House Chapel - Singapore
    This is a chapel in a home for retired priests; very edifying to see the faithful put up with a bit of crowding to attend the holy Mass on this important day!

    St Stephen’s - Portland, Oregon

    Parish of the Holy Redeemer - Quezon City, Philippine Islands

    Santa Maria degli Angeli - Civitanova Alta, Italy
    This church has been hosting the Summorum Pontificum group of Tolentino since their church of the Sacred Heart was damaged in the recent spate of earthquakes.

    St Joseph Oratory - Detroit, Michigan (ICK)

    St Margaret Mary - Oakland California (ICK)

    Parish of St Mary - Kalamazoo, Michigan

    And again, tradition is for the young!

    St Eugène - Paris, France
    home of our friends of the Schola St Cécile

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    Today, March 5, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Instruction Musicam Sacram(promulgated March 5, 1967), a Declaration on Sacred Music Cantate Domino, signed by over 200 musicians, pastors, and scholars from around the world, has been published in six languages (English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German). This declaration argues for the continued relevance and importance of traditional sacred music and critiques the numerous serious deviations from it that have plagued the Catholic Church for the past half-century.

    Readers of NLM are encouraged to read the text (reproduced below in full) and to disseminate it far and wide as a rallying-point for Catholics who love our great heritage, and for all men and women who value high culture and the fine arts as expressions of the spiritual nobility of the human person made in God's image.


    A Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music

    We, the undersigned — musicians, pastors, teachers, scholars, and lovers of sacred music — humbly offer this statement to the Catholic community around the world, expressing our great love for the Church’s treasury of sacred music and our deep concerns about its current plight.


    Cantate Domino canticum novum, cantate Domino omnis terra (Psalm 96): this singing to God’s glory has resonated for the whole history of Christianity, from the very beginning to the present day. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition alike bear witness to a great love for the beauty and power of music in the worship of Almighty God. The treasury of sacred music has always been cherished in the Catholic Church by her saints, theologians, popes, and laypeople.

    Such love and practice of music is witnessed to throughout Christian literature and in the many documents that the Popes have devoted to sacred music, from John XXII’s Docta Sanctorum Patrum (1324) and Benedict XIV’s Annus Qui (1749) down to Saint Pius X’s Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini (1903), Pius XII’s Musicae Sacrae Disciplina (1955), Saint John Paul II’s Chirograph on Sacred Music (2003), and so on. This vast amount of documentation impels us to take with utter seriousness the importance and the role of music in the liturgy. This importance is related to the deep connection between the liturgy and its music, a connection that goes two ways: a good liturgy allows for splendid music, but a low standard of liturgical music also tremendously affects the liturgy. Nor can the ecumenical importance of music be forgotten, when we know that other Christian traditions — such as Anglicans, Lutherans, and the Eastern Orthodox — have high esteem for the importance and dignity of sacred music, as witnessed by their own jealously-guarded “treasuries.”

    We are observing an important milestone, the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam Sacram, on March 5, 1967, under the pontificate of Blessed Paul VI. Re-reading the document today, we cannot avoid thinking of the via dolorosa of sacred music in the decades following Sacrosanctum Concilium. Indeed, what was happening in some factions of the Church at that time (1967) was not at all in line with Sacrosantum Concilium or with Musicam Sacram. Certain ideas that were never present in the Council’s documents were forced into practice, sometimes with a lack of vigilance from clergy and ecclesiastical hierarchy. In some countries the treasury of sacred music that the Council asked to be preserved was not only not preserved, but even opposed. And this quite against the Council, which clearly stated:
    The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy. Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song, and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord. Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship. (SC 112)

    The Current Situation

    In light of the mind of the Church so frequently expressed, we cannot avoid being concerned about the current situation of sacred music, which is nothing short of desperate, with abuses in the area of sacred music now almost the norm rather than the exception. We shall summarize here some of the elements that contribute to the present deplorable situation of sacred music and of the liturgy.

    1. There has been a loss of understanding of the “musical shape of the liturgy,” that is, that music is an inherent part of the very essence of liturgy as public, formal, solemn worship of God. We are not merely to sing at Mass, but to sing the Mass. Hence, as Musicam Sacram itself reminded us, the priest’s parts should be chanted to the tones given in the Missal, with the people making the responses; the singing of the Ordinary of the Mass in Gregorian chant or music inspired by it should be encouraged; and the Propers of the Mass, too, should be given the pride of place that befits their historical prominence, their liturgical function, and their theological depth. Similar points apply to the singing of the Divine Office. It is an exhibition of the vice of “liturgical sloth” to refuse to sing the liturgy, to use “utility music” rather than sacred music, to refuse to educate oneself or others about the Church’s tradition and wishes, and to put little or no effort and resources into the building up of a sacred music program.

    2. This loss of liturgical and theological understanding goes hand-in-hand with an embrace of secularism. The secularism of popular musical styles has contributed to a desacralization of the liturgy, while the secularism of profit-based commercialism has reinforced the imposition of mediocre collections of music upon parishes. It has encouraged an anthropocentrism in the liturgy that undermines its very nature. In vast sectors of the Church nowadays there is an incorrect relationship with culture, which can be seen as a “web of connections.” With the actual situation of our liturgical music (and of the liturgy itself, because the two are intertwined), we have broken this web of connection with our past and tried to connect with a future that has no meaning without its past. Today, the Church is not actively using her cultural riches to evangelize, but is mostly used by a prevalent secular culture, born in opposition to Christianity, which destabilizes the sense of adoration that is at the heart of the Christian faith.

    In his homily for the feast of Corpus Christi on June 4, 2015, Pope Francis has spoken of “the Church’s amazement at this reality [of the Most Holy Eucharist]. . . An astonishment which always feeds contemplation, adoration, and memory.” In many of our Churches around the world, where is this sense of contemplation, this adoration, this astonishment for the mystery of the Eucharist? It is lost because we are living a sort of spiritual Alzheimer’s, a disease that is taking our spiritual, theological, artistic, musical and cultural memories away from us. It has been said that we need to bring the culture of every people into the liturgy. This may be right if correctly understood, but not in the sense that the liturgy (and the music) becomes the place where we have to exalt a secular culture. It is the place where the culture, every culture, is brought to another level and purified.

    3. There are groups in the Church that push for a “renewal” that does not reflect Church teaching but rather serves their own agenda, worldview, and interests. These groups have members in key leadership positions from which they put into practice their plans, their idea of culture, and the way we have to deal with contemporary issues. In some countries powerful lobbies have contributed to the de facto replacement of liturgical repertoires faithful to the directives of Vatican II with low-quality repertoires. Thus, we end up with repertoires of new liturgical music of very low standards as regards both the text and the music. This is understandable when we reflect that nothing of lasting worth can come from a lack of training and expertise, especially when people neglect the wise precepts of Church tradition:
    On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple. (St. Pius X, Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini)
    Today this “supreme model” is often discarded, if not despised. The entire Magisterium of the Church has reminded us of the importance of adhering to this important model, not as way of limiting creativity but as a foundation on which inspiration can flourish. If we desire that people look for Jesus, we need to prepare the house with the best that the Church can offer. We will not invite people to our house, the Church, to give them a by-product of music and art, when they can find a much better pop music style outside the Church. Liturgy is a limen, a threshold that allows us to step from our daily existence to the worship of the angels: Et ídeo cum Angelis et Archángelis, cum Thronis et Dominatiónibus, cumque omni milítia cæléstis exércitus, hymnum glóriæ tuæ cánimus, sine fine dicéntes...

    4. This disdain for Gregorian chant and traditional repertoires is one sign of a much bigger problem, that of disdain for Tradition. Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches that the musical and artistic heritage of the Church should be respected and cherished, because it is the embodiment of centuries of worship and prayer, and an expression of the highest peak of human creativity and spirituality. There was a time when the Church did not run after the latest fashion, but was the maker and arbiter of culture. The lack of commitment to tradition has put the Church and her liturgy on an uncertain and meandering path. The attempted separation of the teaching of Vatican II from previous Church teachings is a dead end, and the only way forward is the hermeneutic of continuity endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI. Recovering the unity, integrity, and harmony of Catholic teaching is the condition for restoring both the liturgy and its music to a noble condition. As Pope Francis taught us in his first encyclical: “Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory” (Lumen Fidei 38).

    5. Another cause of the decadence of sacred music is clericalism, the abuse of clerical position and status. Clergy who are often poorly educated in the great tradition of sacred music continue to make decisions about personnel and policies that contravene the authentic spirit of the liturgy and the renewal of sacred music repeatedly called for in our times. Often they contradict Vatican II teachings in the name of a supposed “spirit of the Council.” Moreover, especially in countries of ancient Christian heritage, members of the clergy have access to positions that are not available to laity, when there are lay musicians fully capable of offering an equal or superior professional service to the Church.

    6. We also see the problem of inadequate (at times, unjust) remuneration of lay musicians. The importance of sacred music in the Catholic liturgy requires that at least some members of the Church in every place be well-educated, well-equipped, and dedicated to serve the People of God in this capacity. Is it not true that we should give to God our best? No one would be surprised or disturbed knowing that doctors need a salary to survive, no one would accept medical treatment from untrained volunteers; priests have their salaries, because they cannot live if they do not eat, and if they do not eat, they will not be able to prepare themselves in theological sciences or to say the Mass with dignity. If we pay florists and cooks who help at parishes, why does it seem so strange that those performing musical activities for the Church would have a right to fair compensation (see Code of Canon Law, can. 231)?

    Positive Proposals

    It may seem that what we have said is pessimistic, but we maintain the hope that there is a way out of this winter. The following proposals are offered in spiritu humilitatis, with the intention of restoring the dignity of the liturgy and of its music in the Church.

    1. As musicians, pastors, scholars, and Catholics who love Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, so frequently praised and recommended by the Magisterium, we ask for a re-affirmation of this heritage alongside modern sacred compositions in Latin or vernacular languages that take their inspiration from this great tradition; and we ask for concrete steps to promote it everywhere, in every church across the globe, so that all Catholics can sing the praises of God with one voice, one mind and heart, one common culture that transcends all their differences. We also ask for a re-affirmation of the unique importance of the pipe organ for the sacred liturgy, because of its singular capacity to elevate hearts to the Lord and its perfect suitability for supporting the singing of choirs and congregations.

    2. It is necessary that the education to good taste in music and liturgy start with children. Often educators without musical training believe that children cannot appreciate the beauty of true art. This is far from the truth. Using a pedagogy that will help them approach the beauty of the liturgy, children will be formed in a way that will fortify their strength, because they will be offered nourishing spiritual bread and not the apparently tasty but unhealthy food of industrial origin (as when “Masses for children” feature pop-inspired music). We notice through personal experience that when children are exposed to these repertoires they come to appreciate them and develop a deeper connection with the Church.

    3. If children are to appreciate the beauty of music and art, if they are to understand the importance of the liturgy as fons et culmen [source and apex] of the life of the Church, we must have a strong laity who will follow the Magisterium. We need to give space to well-trained laity in areas that have to do with art and with music.  To be able to serve as a competent liturgical musician or educator requires years of study. This “professional” status must be recognized, respected, and promoted in practical ways. In connection with this point, we sincerely hope that the Church will continue to work against obvious and subtle forms of clericalism, so that laity can make their full contribution in areas where ordination is not a requirement.

    4. Higher standards for musical repertoire and skill should be insisted on for cathedrals and basilicas. Bishops in every diocese should hire at least a professional music director and/or an organist who would follow clear directions on how to foster excellent liturgical music in that cathedral or basilica and who would offer a shining example of combining works of the great tradition with appropriate new compositions. We think that a sound principle for this is contained in Sacrosanctum Concilium 23: “There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”

    5. We suggest that in every basilica and cathedral there be the encouragement of a weekly Mass celebrated in Latin (in either Form of the Roman Rite) so as to maintain the link we have with our liturgical, cultural, artistic, and theological heritage. The fact that many young people today are rediscovering the beauty of Latin in the liturgy is surely a sign of the times, and prompts us to bury the battles of the past and seek a more “catholic” approach that draws upon all the centuries of Catholic worship. With the easy availability of books, booklets, and online resources, it will not be difficult to facilitate the active participation of those who wish to attend liturgies in Latin. Moreover, each parish should be encouraged to have one fully-sung Mass each Sunday.

    6. Liturgical and musical training of clergy should be a priority for the Bishops. Clergy have a responsibility to learn and practice their liturgical melodies, since, according to Musicam Sacram and other documents, they should be able to chant the prayers of the liturgy, not merely say the words. In seminaries and at the university, they should come to be familiar with and appreciate the great tradition of sacred music in the Church, in harmony with the Magisterium, and following the sound principle of Matthew 13:52: “Every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

    7. In the past, Catholic publishers played a great role in spreading good examples of sacred music, old and new. Today, the same publishers, even if they belong to dioceses or religious institutions, often spread music that is not right for the liturgy, following only commercial considerations. Many faithful Catholics think that what mainstream publishers offer is in line with the doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding liturgy and music, when it is frequently not so. Catholic publishers should have as their first aim that of educating the faithful in sane Catholic doctrine and good liturgical practices, not that of making money.

    8. The formation of liturgists is also fundamental. Just as musicians need to understand the essentials of liturgical history and theology, so too must liturgists be educated in Gregorian chant, polyphony, and the entire musical tradition of the Church, so that they may discern between what is good and what is bad.


    In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis reminded us of the way faith binds together past and future:
    As a response to a word which preceded it, Abraham’s faith would always be an act of remembrance. Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope. (LF 9)
    This remembrance, this memory, this treasure that is our Catholic tradition is not something of the past alone. It is still a vital force in the present, and will always be a gift of beauty to future generations.  “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Is 12:5–6).

    Signed (partial list)

    Mº Aurelio Porfiri
    Honorary Master and Organist for the Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto, Rome
    Publisher of Choralife and Chorabooks, Editor of Altare Dei

    Peter A. Kwasniewski, Ph.D.
    Professor & Choirmaster
    Wyoming Catholic College, WY, USA

    Most Rev. Athanasius Schneider
    Auxiliary Bishop of Astana
    President of the Liturgical Commission of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Kazakhstan

    The Most Reverend Rene Henry Gracida, D.D.
    Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi

    Abbot Philip Anderson 
    Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey
    Hulbert, Oklahoma, USA

    Rev. Prof. Nicola Bux
    Priest, Archdiocese of Bari
    Professor of Eastern Liturgy and Sacramental Theology

    Sir James MacMillan C.B.E.
    Composer and conductor

    Peter Phillips
    Founder and Director of the Tallis Scholars
    Publisher of the Musical Times
    Bodley Fellow, Merton College, Oxford
    Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres

    Colin Mawby, K.S.G.    
    Liturgical Composer and Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral 1961–1977

    Kevin Allen
    Chicago, IL, USA

    Frank J. La Rocca, Ph.D.
    Emeritus Professor of Music, Oakland, California, USA

    M° Giorgio Carnini 
    Organista, compositore e direttore d’orchestra
    Presidente Associazione Camerata Italica
    Direttore artistico del festival e progetto “Un organo per Roma”
    Buenos Aires; Roma

    Prof. Giancarlo Rostirolla
    Musicologo, Ricercatore, Accademico
    Presidente dell’Istituto di Bibliografia Musicale
    Direttore Artistico della Fondazione Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

    William Peter Mahrt, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Music, Stanford University, Stanford, California
    President, Church Music Association of America

    David W. Fagerberg
    Professor, Department of Theology
    University of Notre Dame

    Dr. Joseph Shaw
    Senior Research Fellow, St Benet’s Hall, Oxford University
    President of the Latin Mass Society of England & Wales

    Martin Mosebach
    German novelist & essayist
    Frankfurt am Main, Germany

    Roberto Spataro
    Docente ordinario Università Pontificia Salesiana
    Segretario della Pontificia Academia Latinitatis

    Dottor Ettore Gotti Tedeschi
    Economista e banchiere

    Prof. Dr. Massimo de Leonardis
    Ordinario di Storia delle relazioni internazionali
    Direttore del Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche
    Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
    Milano – Italia

    Rev. George William Rutler, M. St. (Oxon.), S.T.D., LL.D.
    Pastor, Church of Saint Michael
    New York City, New York

    Rev. Brian W. Harrison, OS, MA, STD
    Associate Professor of Theology (retired), Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico
    Chaplain, St. Mary of Victories Chapel,
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA

    Rev. Thomas M. Kocik
    Parish Priest, Fall River, Mass., USA
    Past Editor, Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal

    Rev. Richard G. Cipolla
    Pastor, St. Mary’s Church
    Norwalk, CT

    Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.
    Professor Emeritus
    Georgetown University
    Washington, DC, USA

    Prof. Pier Paolo Donati
    Direttore di “Informazione Organistica”
    Già docente di Storia della Musica all’Università di Firenze

    Rev. John Zuhlsdorf
    Madison, WI, USA

    Vytautas Miskinis
    Composer, Conductor, Professor
    Artistic Director of Boy’s and Male Choir AZUOLIUKAS
    Professor of Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre
    President of Lithuanian Choral Union

    Wilko Brouwers
    Utrecht Center for the Arts
    Gregorian Circle Utrecht

    Scott Turkington
    Director of Sacred Music
    Holy Family Church & Holy Family Academy
    Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

    Jeffrey Morse
    Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge

    Rev. J. W. Hunwicke
    Priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
    sometime Head of Theology, Lancing College
    formerly Senior Research Fellow, Pusey House, Oxford

    Right Reverend Archimandrite John A. Mangels
    St. Augustine Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Denver CO, USA
    Founder of the Ambrosian Choristers

    Christopher Mueller
    Founder & President
    Christopher Mueller Foundation for Polyphony & Chant

    Massimo Lapponi O.S.B.
    Monaco sacerdote professo dell’Abbazia Benedettina di Farfa
    già docente di Etica e Filosofia della Religione presso il Pont. Ateneo di Sant’Anselmo

    Patrick Banken
    President of Una Voce France
    Vice President of the International Federation Una Voce

    (The full list of over 200 signatories is available here.)

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    On the eve of the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, recalling the very day of his passing from this life to life eternal (March 7, 1274), I would like to share with readers a translation of a curious little piece in the vast history of scholasticism and Counter-reformation piety.

    Years ago, Fr. John Saward placed in my hands a remarkable little book written by St. Francis Borgia. It turned out to be a detailed litany, or rather, a series of litanies, modeled after and drawn from the text of the Summa theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. Apparently, Borgia, to prevent the study of Aquinas from becoming abstract and bloodless, decided to turn every article into a prayer. The result is intriguing. While I would not claim that these litanies ought to be introduced into the public worship of the Church, they do remind us that the ultimate goal of theology is union with God, whose praises we sing by inquiry into the truth. The right use of the intellect to ponder the truth is pleasing to God and can be offered to him as incense of the spirit.

    Below is translated the litany that is based on the first treatise of the Prima Pars, namely, of the existence and attributes of God. The slim volume from which I translated it furnishes litanies similar to this one for every major treatise in the Summa.

    St. Francis Borgia
    of the attributes of God taken from the Prima Pars of St. Thomas (qq. 1–26)
    O highest God, whom no one save Thyself can perfectly know, have mercy on us.
    q. 1 a. 1 Thou, who art the subject of theology, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 Thou, who in Thyself art unknown to us, have mercy on us.
    q. 2 a. 1 Thou, whose existence as God is perfectly demonstrable, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 Thou, who art, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 O incorporeal God, have mercy on us.
    q. 3 aa.1,2 Thou, in whom is no composition of matter and form, have mercy on us.
    a. 5 Thou, who art Thy existence and Thy divinity, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 Thou, who art Thy existence and Thy essence, have mercy on us.
    a. 5 Thou, who art in no genus, have mercy on us.
    a. 6 Thou, in whom is no accident, have mercy on us.
    O God, wholly simple, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 Thou, who are commingled in composition with no others, have mercy on us.
    q. 4 a. 1 O perfect God, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 Thou, O God, who contain in Thyself most eminently the perfections of all things, have mercy on us.
    q. 5 a. 2 O highest Good, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who art good through Thy own essence, have mercy on us.
    q. 7 a. 1 O infinite God, have mercy on us.
    q. 8 a. 1 O God, existing in all things, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 O God, who art everywhere, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 O God, who art everywhere by essence, presence, and power, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O God, to whom alone it belongs to be everywhere, have mercy on us.
    q. 9 a. 1 O changeless God, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 O God, to whom alone it belongs to be changeless, have mercy on us.
    q. 10 a. 2 O eternal God, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 O God, to whom alone it belongs to be simply eternal, have mercy on us.
    q. 11 a. 1 Thou, who art one God, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who art one in the highest way, have mercy on us.
    q. 12 a. 3 O divine essence, whom the bodily eye does not see, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O divine essence, whom the created intellect cannot see by its natural powers, have mercy on us.
    a. 5 O divine essence, the vision of whom demands a created light, have mercy on us.
    a. 6 O divine essence, seen more perfectly by the more perfect, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 O divine essence, incomprehensible to its beholders, have mercy on us.
    a. 9 O divine essence, through whom all things that the blessed see are not gazed upon through any likenesses, have mercy on us.
    a. 10 O divine essence, in whom all that the blessed see is known at once, have mercy on us.
    a. 12 O divine essence, of whom grace gives a higher knowledge than natural reason, have mercy on us.
    q. 13 a. 1 All-powerful God, whom we name in order to know, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 O God, of whom all names are said substantially, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 O God, whose names are truly applied according to that which they signify, have mercy on us.
    a. 5 O God, whose names with respect to creatures are said by way of analogy, have mercy on us.
    a. 6 O God, of whom this name, god, is the name of Thy nature, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 O God, whose name is incommunicable, have mercy on us.
    a. 8 O God, to whom this name, he who is, is most proper of all, have mercy on us.
    q. 14 a. 1 O God, the height of riches, of wisdom, and of knowledge, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 Thou, who art known to Thyself through Thyself, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who comprehend Thyself, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O God, whose knowing is Thy very substance, have mercy on us.
    a. 6 Thou, who know things other than Thee by proper knowledge, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 O God, whose knowledge is not discursive, have mercy on us.
    a. 8 O God, whose knowledge coupled with will is the cause of things, have mercy on us.
    a. 9 Thou, who have knowledge of non-being, of things called ‘those which are not,’ have mercy on us.
    a. 10 O God, who know evil things by knowing good things, have mercy on us.
    a. 11 Thou, who know each and every particular, have mercy on us.
    a. 12 O God, who know the infinite, have mercy on us.
    a. 13 O God, whose knowledge extends to future contingents, have mercy on us.
    a. 15 O God, whose knowledge is unvarying, have mercy on us.
    a. 16 Thou, who have a gazing knowledge of things, have mercy on us.
    q. 15 a. 1 Thou, who have ideas of all good things, have mercy on us.
    q. 16 a. 5 Thou, who art the highest truth, have mercy on us.
    a. 6 Thou, who art the one only truth according to which all things are true, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 Thou, who art eternal truth, have mercy on us.
    a. 8 Thou, who art unchanging truth, have mercy on us.
    q. 18 a. 3 O God, in whom is the highest and most perfect life, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O God, in whom all things are the same divine life, have mercy on us.
    q. 19 a. 1 O God, in whom is will, by which Thou lovest Thyself, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 Thou, who will even things other than Thee through Thy will, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who dost not will of necessity the things which are created by Thee, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O God, whose will is the cause of things, have mercy on us.
    a. 5 O God, for whose will no efficient cause can be assigned, have mercy on us.
    a. 6 O God, whose will is always accomplished, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 O God, whose will is unchanging, have mercy on us.
    a. 8 O God, whose will does not impose necessity upon free will, have mercy on us.
    q. 20 a. 1 O God, in whom is love, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 Thou, who love all that Thou hast made, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who love all with one simple act of will, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 Thou, who love more the better things, in that Thou willest a greater good to them, have mercy on us.
    q. 21 a. 1 O God, in whom is a justice that grants all things their due, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 Thou, who art justice and truth, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who art merciful and compassionate, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O God, in all of whose works are found mercy and justice, have mercy on us.
    q. 22 a. 1 Thou, who govern all things by providence, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 O God, to whose providence all things are subjected, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who provide immediately for all things, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O God, who by Thy providence do not impose necessity upon the free, have mercy on us.
    q. 23 a. 1 O God, by whom are predestined those who are chosen, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 O God, in whose mind predestination is the reason for the ordering of some to eternal salvation, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 O God, who cast off some by permitting them to fall away, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 O God, who choose the predestined, have mercy on us.
    a. 5 O God, who save us according to Thy mercy and not from our works of justice, have mercy on us.
    a. 6 O God, whose predestination is unfailing, have mercy on us.
    a. 7 O God, who foreknow the exact number of the predestined, have mercy on us.
    q. 24 a. 2 O God, whose conscription, which firmly retains those who are predestined to eternal life, is the Book of Life, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 O God, by falling away from whose grace those abounding in present justice are said to be blotted from the Book of Life, have mercy on us.
    q. 25 a. 3 Thou, who can do all things more abundantly than we seek or understand, have mercy on us.
    q. 26 a. 1 O God, to whom blessedness belongs, have mercy on us.
    a. 2 Thou, who art blessed according to intellect, have mercy on us.
    a. 3 Thou, who, as object, art the very blessedness of the saints, have mercy on us.
    a. 4 Thou, who enfold all happiness in Thy divine blessedness, have mercy on us.
    Prayers that follow
    From those who say that God is the soul of the world, deliver us, O Lord.
    From those who say that God is the formal principle of all things, deliver us, O Lord.
    From David of Dinant, asserting that God is prime matter, deliver us, O Lord.
    From asserting that an infinite body is the principle of things, deliver us, O Lord.
    From saying that God does not know things other than Himself except in what they have in common, deliver us, O Lord.
    From those who say that God does not know singulars except by applying universal causes to particular effects, deliver us, O Lord.
    From those who say that God creates nothing other than the first creature, deliver us, O Lord.
    From the vanity of philosophers who attribute contingent effects to secondary causes alone, deliver us, O Lord.
    From the Epicureans who maintain that the world came to be by chance, deliver us, O Lord.
    From those who maintain that only incorruptible things are subject to divine providence, deliver us, O Lord.
    From those who attribute to man the beginning of good works, deliver us, O Lord.
    From those who say that divine predestination can be changed by prayers, deliver us, O Lord.
    That theological study may inflame our hearts, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That through tracing effects we may arrive at the first cause, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That contemplating the divine simplicity, we may imitate it in simple hearts, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That full of praise we may admire the abyss of divine goodness, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may know God even as we are known, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may name Him with fear and trembling, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That the divine essence may enlighten us, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That loving the highest truth we may merit that the same truth will free us, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may live for Him who is our life, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may love Him who first loved us, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may follow the traces of divine mercy, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may contemplate divine providence, giving thanks in everything to God, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That He who predestines us to the adoption of sons may not see us ungrateful, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may be humbled in our knowledge by dwelling on the power of God, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    That we may enjoy the God who is our blessedness, We beseech Thee, hear us.
    V. What god is like unto our God for greatness?
    R. Thou who alone dost wonders.
    Look upon our weakness, O God, and make us not to grow faint in the praises of Thy attributes; that as Thou eternally takest delight in them without beginning, so we too, having been made partakers in them by rejoicing with Thee, may merit to praise them endlessly with Thy angels, for worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive wisdom, glory, and blessing, for ever and ever, Amen.

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    The third in the series of monthly liturgies of the Melkite Outreach of Berkeley will be held on Satruday, March 11th, 5pm, at the Gesu Chapel of the Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Leroy Ave., Berkeley.

    The liturgy is usually celebrated by Fr Christopher Hadley, who teaches at the Jesuit School; Fr Sebastian Carnazzo, pastor of St Elias Melkite Church in Los Gatos, California, has told me “This time we will be honored to host his Grace, Nicholas Samra, bishop of the Melkite Diocese of the United States, who will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy and giving us his episcopal blessing and exhortation.”

    Hope to see you there.

    Here is a recording of the Hymn of Lent: Open to Me the Gates of Repentance

    The Divine Liturgy will be that of Sunday, March 12th, which is the Sunday of St Gregory Palamas in the Byzantine Rite.

    Years ago, I was told of a difference between East and West in the interpretation of the Transfiguration. St Thomas Aquinas stated that Christ changed when he shone with light, and this was an anticipation of the beatific vision. St Gregory Palamas, on the other hand, argued that the Apostles changed spiritually and they were able, temporarily, to see the uncreated light of Christ - their climbing of the mountain was a metaphor for their spiritual upwards movement towards a greater purity in heart. Through the sacramental life of the Church, it is possible for all of us to grow by degrees in purity and be transformed, so that we can both witness and shine with the uncreated light of Christ. As Our Lord told us, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    I once raised this point, which I thought was a contradiction, with a Benedictine monk at Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland. He told me that I should “think liturgically,” and suggested that these two interpretations were not mutually exclusive. There might be a dual motion taking place in some way, so that just as God comes down to us, so to speak, as Christ is present in the Eucharist, so in taking communion we are supernaturally transformed and so are raised up to meet Him.

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    The Church Life Journal, a publication of the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, yesterday posted an article by their founding editor, Timothy O’Malley, entitled “Can Liturgy Heal a Secular Age?”, which brings some interesting ideas to the fore.

    Prof. O’Malley first describes the belief of the founders of the original Liturgical Movement that a revived liturgical life and culture would steer modern man back to God, citing as an example Jungmann’s hopes for “a new relationship to the material world itself, to the world of trades and professions ... (in which) the every-day world ... is drawn into the sacred action, joined with the sacrifice which Christ presents with His Church assembled ...” He then notes that some of the evident signs that this much-looked for and augured “(p)articipation in the sacramental life of the Church has not flourished since the Second Vatican Council.”

    Secondly, I was particularly struck by this description of what religion actually is, in terms of ritual and practice:

    “Religion provides a privileged culture whereby we can connect our narrative to those in the past. We see ourselves in a broader story, one that is ultimately connected to God. With the loss of religious memory, the human person is no longer able to see one’s identity as linked to the communion of saints, to the Scriptures, to the Tradition: all those markers we employ in assessing Catholic identity. Thus, all that is left is the naked individual who can assess the ‘efficacy’ of a religious tradition by the way that said tradition moves him. If it doesn’t move the person, then it has no value, because it is an isolated fact rather than part of a coherent narrative.

    In other words, I’m spiritual but not religious or as Grace Davie better says, I believe but I don’t belong.”

    The third section, entitled “Ritual and the Subjunctive Mood,” contrasts two different ideas of what ritual is. (Subjunctive here is understood as the tense that expresses the potential, rather than the non-real.) The first is as summed up by a quote from Nathan Mitchell’s Liturgy and the Social Sciences, “ritual is essentially a way to regulate social life; to shape personal and corporate identity; to review and renew values; to express and transmit meaning in symbolic word and act; to preserve tradition; and to insure cultural cohesion and continuity.” In other words, ritual is understood as an essentially didactic collective enterprise.

    O’Malley compares this to another view of ritual as the creation of a world “ ‘as if,’ one that Catholics understand as a sacramental world not yet visible to the naked eye.” Furthermore, participation is such a ritual is not essentially didactic: “Authentic participation in the rite can thus take place even when someone does not entirely understand what is unfolding in the Eucharistic assembly. One can understand, through ritual bracketing that this action is about the restoration of communion between heaven and earth, between God and humanity, between neighbor and neighbor. ... explanation is not the function of liturgy. Ritual does something before it communicates something. (my emphasis).” And thus, in regard to secularization, “The more that our liturgical practice seems drawn from the present world, from that which emphasizes comprehension and sincerity of belief, the less the contemporary human person will see ritual as necessary.”

    The complete article can be read at the link give above in the first paragraph.

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    My friend Agnese is once again following the daily pilgrimage to the Lenten Station churches in Rome, and, as she has so kindly done on many other occasions, sharing her photos of the ceremonies with us. A procession is normally held before the Station Masses, which, in accordance with the traditional Lenten discipline of the Church, take place in the evening; many of the churches bring out large numbers of reliquaries and place them on the altar, or somewhere in the church to be venerated by the faithful.

    Over the years, we have published a large number of articles about the Station churches, which you easily can find by putting the words “Station churches” in the NLM search box on the top right of the page. If you don’t know what Station churches are, you might want to read this great article which Shawn posted in 2010, explaining their origin and significance.

    Thursday after Ash Wednesday - San Giorgio in Velabro

    Behind the window under the altar is kept a reliquary with a piece of the skull of St George. Because the titular Saint is the Patron of England, this church was given to Bl. John Henry Newman as his cardinalitial title by Pope Leo XIII in 1879; it was held by Cardinal Alfonse Maria Stickler from 1985 until his death in 2007.
    Friday after Ash Wednesday - Ss John and Paul on the Caelian Hill

    The façade dates from the 13th-century, and makes for an interesting contrast with the 18th-century decorations of the interior seen above. The dome on the right of the church is that of the large side-chapel where St Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionist Order, is buried. St Paul had a brother named Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist), himself now a Venerable, to whom he was very close, and who was instrumental in helping him found the order. Many years after the latter’s death, Pope Clement XIV (1769-74) gave the basilica to St Paul to be the first “Retreat” (as Passionist houses are called) in Rome, in remembrance of his beloved brother, since the martyrs John and Paul were also brothers.
    Saturday after Ash Wednesday - Saint Augustine
    In the Roman Missal, the Station is listed at a church called St Trypho, which was demolished in 1595. The relics of Ss Trypho and his companions, Respicius and Nympha, were transferred along with the Lenten Station to the nearby church of Saint Augustine.

    Many of the Masses are celebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome responsible for the historical center, Mons. Gianrico Ruzza.

    The First Sunday of Lent - Saint John in the Lateran

    The procession passing through the church’s cloister, seen from the opposite side.

    Monday of the First Week of Lent - St Peter in Chains

    The famous tomb of Pope Julius II, which draws hundreds of visitors to the church every day to see the sculpture of Moses by Michelangelo. Pope Julius was a nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, the builder of the Sistine Chapel, and cardinal of St Peter in Chains until his Papal election in 1503.

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    His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke will celebrated a Pontifical High Mass on March 19, the Third Sunday of Lent, at the church of St Margaret Mary in Oakland, California, beginning at 12:30 pm. The church is located at 1219 Excelsior Avenue. The Mass will be followed by a reception at the cathedral of Christ the Light, (2121 Harrison St.), with Solemn Benediction afterwards.

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    Maestro Aurelio Porfiri is pleased to announce the publication of Issue 3 of Altare Dei. (The contents of Issue 1 and Issue 2 were published at NLM when they appeared.) Once again, there are many fine articles in this issue, not simply on music but extending to the other sacred arts and beyond, embracing speculative as well as practical matters, and including the characteristic insert of sheet music, this time comprising five pieces.

    ALTARE DEI N. 3 -- MARCH 2017
    Aurelio Porfiri

    Revisiting Musicam Sacram
    David M. Friel

    Liturgy and Assembly
    David W. Fagerberg

    Priesthood and Liturgy in Rahner
    Giovanni Cavalcoli

    The Lectionary of the Extraordinary Form
    Joseph Shaw

    ALMA REDEMPTORIS (Acclamation for the Rosary, SATB and Organ) Alberico Vitalini
    LAUS TIBI DOMINE (SATB and Organ) Colin Mawby
    AVE MARIA (Unison and Organ) Aurelio Porfiri
    ADORO TE DEVOTE (SATB) Mauro Visconti

    Part 3
    Enrico Zoffoli

    Ulisse Matthey Seventy Years After His Death
    Fausto Caporali

    Sacred Music as Occasion of Grace for Modern Man
    Peter A. Kwasniewski

    An Essential Guide to Church Music Job Offerings for Dummies
    Aurelio Porfiri

    The Gradual of the Passion
    Fulvio Rampi

    Money money money: an Interview with Ettore Gotti Tedeschi
    Aurelio Porfiri

    The True Purpose of Christian Art
    Rodolfo Papa

    Belinda e il Mostro (Aurelio Porfiri)
    Le cronache di Babele (Aurelio Porfiri)
    Tempio, Icona e Musica Sacra (Aurelio Porfiri)

    The issue may be purchased here for 6 Euros.

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    During all four sets of Ember Days, the stations are held at the same three churches: on Wednesday at St Mary Major, on Friday at the church of the Twelve Apostles, and on Saturday at the basilica of St Peter in the Vatican. In Advent, Pentecost week, and September, there is often no clear connection between the station church and the actual text of the day’s Mass. On the Lenten Ember Days, however, the Gospel of the Mass each day makes a clear reference to the saint or saints in whose church it was intended to be said.

    The high altar of St Mary Major, decorated today with relics for the Lenten station. Photo by the great Agnese.
    On Ember Wednesday, the Gospel is St Matthew 12, 38-50, in which the Lord rebukes the Pharisees who wish to see Him perform a sign. “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign; and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.”

    In the Christian perspective, Jonah is unique and uniquely important among the prophets for two reasons. First, he personally does not say anything about Christ, as, for example, Isaiah says that a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son. In Jonah’s case, it is what happens to his body that prophesies the destiny of Jesus’s body, His death and Resurrection. Secondly, this prophetic explanation of his story is given to us by Christ Himself. He therefore became at a very early period one of the most frequently represented subjects in Christian art.

    Stories of Jonah, from a late 2nd century fresco in the Catacomb of Callixtus. From right to left, Jonah is thrown into the sea, where a monster is about to swallow him; Jonah is spat out of the sea-monster; Jonah rests under the vine. The Greek and Latin words for “whale” can also mean “sea-monster”, and the creature that swallows the prophet is usually shown as such in early Christian art.
    In the ancient paintings and sarcophagi from the catacombs of Rome and elsewhere, Jonah is almost invariably shown nude, whether he is depicted being thrown into the water, swallowed by the whale, vomited out by the whale, or lying down under the vine that God uses to shield him from the sun. His nudity emphasizes the reality of his human nature, and therefore emphasizes the reality of Christ’s human nature. It must be born in mind that early heretics like the Docetists, Gnostics, and later the Arians, were concerned to deny not so much the divinity of Christ as the humanity of God. In antiquity, the idea of a savior, sage or miracle-worker sent from heaven was not particularly difficult to accept; what many in the Roman world found much harder to believe was that God took such interest in the welfare of the human race that He actually joined it. The nude figure of Jonah, therefore, is as much an assertion of the Incarnation, against the early heresies, as it is a proclamation of the death and resurrection of Christ.
    A third-century sarcophagus in the Vatican Museums’ Pio-Christian collection. This is one of the most elaborate versions of the Jonah story, and is therefore known as the Jonah Sarcophagus, although there are many other ancient representations of the prophet. Note that Noah is seen standing in a square ark above the sea-monster on the right, a clever use of the extra space to add another important Biblical episode.
    This tradition was already well established when the basilica of Saint Mary Major was built right after the ecumenical council of Ephesus, both to honor the chosen vessel of God’s Incarnation, and to re-assert this dogma of our salvation against the heretic Nestorius; the station is kept at the natural choice of church in which to read this crucial Gospel passage. Oddly enough, the traditional Roman Rite uses only one passage from the book of Jonah itself at Mass in the whole of the year; chapter 3, in which Jonah preaches repentance to the Ninivites, is read on the Monday of Passion week, and repeated at the Easter Vigil. In the traditional Ambrosian liturgy, on the other hand, the entire book (actually one of the shortest in the Bible, only 48 verses) is the first reading of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper; in the Byzantine Rite, it is read at the Easter vigil.

    At the end of the same Gospel, the Mother of God Herself appears in person: “And one said unto him, ‘Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking thee.’ But He answering… said: ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?’ And stretching forth His hand towards His disciples, He said: Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.’ ” These words are explained by St Gregory the Great to mean that the disciples of Christ are His brethren when they believe in Him, and His Mother when they preach Him; “For as it were, one gives birth to the Lord when he brings Him into the heart of his listener, and becomes His Mother by preaching Him, if through his voice the love of God is begotten in the mind of his neighbor.” (Homily 3 on the Gospels).
    The Coronation of the Virgin, apsidal mosaic of St. Mary Major by Jacopo Torriti, 1296
    On Friday is read at the basilica of the Twelve Apostles the Gospel of the man healed at the pool of Bethesda, John 5, 1-15, wherein “lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered.” This healing may be seen as a prophecy of the mission given by Christ Himself to the Apostles, and in them to the whole Church. During His earthly ministry, when He first sent the Apostles forth, He “gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities. And the names of the twelve Apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, etc. (saying) ‘Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils.’ ” (Matthew 10, 1-2 and 8). Likewise, on the feast of the Ascension, we read that He renewed this commission to the Apostles, giving as one of the signs that shall follow those that believe in Him, “they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.” Here, when Christ heals the man who is too lame to reach the pool as the Angel of the Lord stirs the water, He says to him, “Arise, take up thy bed, and walk.” In the Acts of the Apostles, the very first miracle of healing reported after the first Pentecost is that of the lame man to whom their leader says “Arise and walk.” (chapter 3, 1-16)
    Three images of Christ as healer on a 3rd-century sarcophagus, also in the Pio-Christian Collection of the Vatican Museums. From left to right, the healing of the paralytic, who is shown carrying his bed; the healing of the blind man; the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. The fourth image is Christ transforming water into wine at the wedding of Cana. In antiquity, Christ was often shown holding a magic wand to indicate that He is working a miracle; some commentators have most unfortunately chosen to understand this to mean that the early Christians thought of Christ principally as a magician.
    The Synoptic Gospels tell the story of another paralytic healed at Capharnaum, whose friends had to take the roof off the building to lower him down into the place where Jesus was preaching. (Mark 2, 1-12 and parallels) When Christ says to him first “Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.” the Pharisees grew indignant at this usurpation of God’s prerogatives. He therefore heals the man of his bodily infirmities to show that “the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” and then addresses him in the same terms He uses with the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house.”

    The healed paralytic carrying his bed is another motif of great importance in early Christian art, representing the forgiveness of sins, an article of the faith which we still profess in every recitation of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. Such images usually consist only of Christ and the man carrying his bed, and it is impossible to say whether we are meant to see him as the paralytic of Capharnaum or Bethesda. More likely, we are meant to think of them both at once.
    The healing of the paralytic of Bethesda, from the basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ca. 550 A.D. In the same church, the paralytic of Capharnaum is shown being lowered through the roof, a rare case in which the two are clearly distinguished.
    The latter, however, represents another idea of great importance to the early Church, namely, that gentiles are not obliged to live according to the religious laws of the Jews. In the early centuries, many Christians still felt themselves to be very close to their Jewish roots, and continued to follow the Mosaic law; a small but apparently rather vocal minority of these held that the same law should be binding upon all Christians. The paralytic of Bethesda, however, when reproved for violating the strict interpretation of law that no work may be done on the Sabbath, replies “He that made me whole said to me, ‘Take up thy bed, and walk.’ ” He therefore symbolizes the fact that Christ Himself has given the Church a new law, by which Christians are freed from the observance of the law of Moses.

    The same idea is expressed by another common motif in early Christian art, the scene referred to as the Traditio Legis– the Handing-Down of the Law. In these images, Jesus is shown with a scroll representing the new law of the Christian faith, in the company of at least the Apostle Peter, usually also Paul, and sometimes all twelve; very often, He is passing the scroll directly to them. The Apostles, who had of course discussed this same question at the very first Council of the Church, that of Jerusalem (Acts 15), hand down to the Church and its members the new law that permanently dispenses us from the religious observances of the Old Covenant. This is certainly one of the reason why the story of the paralytic of Bethesda is read in the basilica of the Twelve Apostles.
    The Traditio Legis with Ss. Peter and Paul, from the sarcophagus of Junius Bassus (prefect of Rome, died 359 A.D.) Note that as Christ is handing the scrolls of the law to the Apostles Peter and Paul, He is also stepping on the face of the sky god, here used as a symbolic figure, to represent His dominion over the heavens.
    The Traditio Legis with all twelve Apostles, from a late-4th century imperial mausoleum in Milan, now the chapel of St Aquilinus in the basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore. Here, Christ has one scroll in His hand, and six in the case at His feet, a total of seven; this number symbolizes perfection, and hence the perfection of the new law.
    At the Mass of Ember Saturday, the Church reads St Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration (chapter 17, 1-9) at the basilica of St Peter in the Vatican. In his homilies on this Gospel, St. John Chrysostom teaches that the purpose of the Transfiguration was to strengthen the Apostles’ faith in Christ’s divinity, so that they might not be overwhelmed with sorrow at His Passion or lose faith in His Resurrection. The Greek Church instituted a feast of the Transfiguration long before it was adopted by the West, fixing the day to August 6th, forty days, the length of Lent, before the Exaltation of the Cross. This association of the Transfiguration with the Passion is beautifully expressed by the early Byzantine mosaic in the apse of Sant’Apollinare in Classe near Ravenna, built in the mid-6th century. The witnesses of the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah above, the Apostles Peter, James and John below, represented as three sheep, are standing around a great jeweled Cross, rather than Christ in in His glory and majesty; only the face of the Lord appears, within a small medallion in the middle of the Cross, an expression of the humility with which He accepted the Passion.

    The three witnesses of the Transfiguration, Ss Peter, James and John, often appear together in the Gospels as the disciples closest to Christ. Along with Peter’s brother St Andrew, they were the first disciples called to follow Him, and were present for the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4, 38-39); they were also the witnesses of the healing of the daughter of Jairus, (Mark 5, 37) and the agony in the garden (Mark 14, 33). They alone receive new names from Christ as a sign of their mission, (Mark 3, 16-17) Peter, “the Rock”, being the name given to Simon, James and John receiving the name Boanerges, “sons of thunder”. But at the Transfiguration, as in so many other places, it is Peter alone whose words the Evangelists record for us, words which the church of Rome sings this days at his very tomb, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”

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    The church of St Anthony of Padua in Jersey City, New Jersey, will have an EF Missa cantata for the feast of the Annunciation, Saturday, March 25th, starting at 11 a.m. The church is located at 457 Monmouth St, between 6th and 7th Streets.

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    Here is an encouraging report on the parish of St Pius X in Granger, Indiana, in the diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend, which will soon be dedicating a new church; encouraging not only because they genuinely needed a much larger church, but also because the new building is so much more beautiful than the old one. Compare what you see of the new church in this video with the photos of the old one given below. According to the parish’s website, the dedication ceremony start at noon on Saturday, March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.

    Video from ABC57

    Here are a few views of the building they are leaving behind.

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    Fr Charles Byrd of Our Lady of the Mountains in Jasper, Georgia, has informed me of a spectacular new edition to the art in this little church in rural Georgia. It has been sponsored by the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. Readers will be aware of the church through a couple of articles about the long term project of alterations and the commission of art work for the interior: Beauty and Superabundance in Small Appalachian Parish.

    There is a full description cross-posted by Deacon Lawrence Klimecki on the Beauty of Catholicism blog, at

    I am so pleased to see relief carving appearing in a Catholic church. This is one of the art forms that has flourished along with the general reestablishment of the iconographic tradition in the Eastern Church. Congratulations to all involved in this project, and I would like to say how gratifying it is to see the Knights of Columbus sponsoring such a wonderful art project such as this. Beauty will save the world!

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    In his Life of St Augustine, St Possidius of Calama writes that in his final illness, the great doctor “had ordered the Psalms of David, those very few which concern penance, be written out; and lying on his bed … read the four of them (from the pages) attached to the wall, and wept copiously and continuously.” (chapter 31) He does not say which four these were, but we may safely assume that Psalm 50, often known by its first word in Latin, “Miserere”, was included among them, long recognized as the penitential psalm par excellence.

    The Funeral of St Augustine, by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1465, in the church of St Augustine in San Geminiano, Italy.
    In the following century, Cassiodorus (ca 485-585), in his massive Exposition of the Psalms, refers in many places to the Penitential Psalms as a group, and when commenting on the first of them, Psalm 6, lists the others, according to the traditional numbering of the Septuagint: 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 and 142. (The list is given twice more, in the comments on Psalms 50 and 142.) At the conclusion of this section, he states that these seven are especially worthy of attention, since they “are given to the human race as an appropriate medicine, from which we receive a most salutary cleansing of our souls, revive from our sins, and by mourning, come to eternal joy.” As he explains each one individually, he often relates it in some way to one or more of the other six, as for example Psalm 142, which is placed last in the group “because these psalms begin from afflictions, and end in joys, lest anyone despair of that forgiveness which he knows has been set forth in these prayers.”

    Cassiodorus takes it for granted that his reader know this tradition, and therefore we may safely assume it was already part of the Church’s prayer by his time; his influence was very strong in the Middle Ages, and we may also assume that his writing did much to solidify its place in the liturgy. They were added to a variety of rites, such as the dedication of a Church according to the Roman Pontifical; in the traditional ordination rite, the bishop enjoins those who receive tonsure and the minor orders “to say one time the seven Penitential Psalms, with the Litany (of the Saints) and the versicles and prayers (that follow).”

    One of the oldest manuscripts of Cassiodorus’ Exposition of the Psalms, from the library of the Swiss monastery of San Gallen. (Cod. Sang. 200, 950-75 A.D.)
    Of course, they are particularly prominent in the liturgy of Lent. The customary of the Papal court known as the Ordinal of Innocent III (1198-1216) prescribes that they be said after Lauds every ferial day of Lent, together with the Litany of the Saints. To these were added the fifteen Gradual Psalms (119-133) before Matins, and the Office of the Dead, a burden which unquestionably increased the temptation to add more Saints to the calendar, since these supplementary Offices were routinely omitted on feast days. The Breviary of St Pius distributed them over the days of the week, so that the Office of the Dead would be said on the first ferial day of each week of Lent, the Gradual Psalms on Wednesdays and the Penitentials on Fridays, if the Office was of the feria. This remained in force until the reform of St Pius X, in which all mandatory recitation of them in the Office was abolished; the Gradual and Penitential Psalms are not included as specific groups in the post-Conciliar Liturgy of the Hours.

    The Use of Rome, with characteristic simplicity, simply recites the Psalms as a group with a single antiphon, based on the words of Tobias 3, 3-4: “Ne reminiscaris Domine delicta nostra, vel parentum nostrorum: neque vindictam sumas de peccatis nostris. – Remember not, Lord, our offenses, nor those of our forefathers, nor take Thou vengeance upon our sins.” In other Uses, the antiphon was followed by a series of versicles like those sung with the Litany of the Saints, and various prayers; this custom was highly developed in German-speaking lands, less so elsewhere. At Augsburg, for example, each day of the week had a different collect to conclude the recitation of the Penitential Psalms; the prayer for Monday was as follows.

    “Deus, qui confitentium tibi corda purificas, et accusantes se ab omni vinculo iniquitatis absolvis: da indulgentiam reis, et medicinam tribue vulneratis; ut percepta remissione omnium peccatorum, in sacramentis tuis sincera deinceps devotione permaneamus, et nullum redemptionis æternæ sustineamus detrimentum.
    O God, who purify the hearts of those that confess to Thee, and release from every bond those that accuse themselves, grant forgiveness to the guilty, and bring healing to the wounded, so that, having received the remission of all sins, we may henceforth abide in Thy sacraments with true devotion, and suffer no detriment to eternal salvation.”

    The beginning of the Penitential Psalms in the Book of Hours of Louis de Roncherolles, end of the 5th or beginning of the 16th century. (Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Ms-1191 réserve, Bibliothèque nationale de France)
    At Salzburg, the intentions for reciting the Penitential Psalms were summed up in the following prayer, attested in a few other breviaries and books of hours.

    “Suscipere digneris, omnipotens Deus, hos septem psalmos consecratos, quos ego indignus et peccator decantavi in honore nominis tui, et beatissimæ Genitricis tuæ Virginis Mariæ, in honore sanctorum Angelorum, Prophetarum, Patriarcharum, in honore sanctorum Apostolorum, in honore sanctorum Martyrum, Confessorum, Virginum et Viduarum, et sanctorum Innocentum, in honore omnium Sanctorum, pro me misero famulo tuo N., pro cunctis consanguineis meis, pro omnibus amicis et inimicis meis, pro omnibus his qui mihi bona et mala fecerunt, vivis et defunctis: concede, Domine Jesu Christe, ut hi psalmi proficiant nobis ad salutem et veram pænitentiam agendam, et vitam æternam consequendam.
    Deign thou to receive, almighty God, these seven holy psalms, which I, though unworthy and a sinner, have sung unto the honor of Thy name, and of Thy most blessed Mother the Virgin Mary, to the honor of the holy Angels, Prophets and Patriarchs, to the honor of the holy Apostles, to the honor of the holy Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins and Widows, and the Holy Innocents, to the honor of all the Saints, for myself Thy wretched servant, for all my relatives, for all my friends and enemies, for all those who have done me good and ill, both living and dead; grant, o Lord Jesus Christ, that these Psalms may profit us unto salvation and the doing of true penance, the obtaining of eternal life.”

    The Penitential Psalms were also generally used at the beginning of Lent, at the ceremony by which the public penitents were symbolically expelled from the church, and again on Holy Thursday, when they were brought back in. These ceremonies were particularly elaborate in the Use of Sarum, but similar rites were observed in a great many other places. After Sext of Ash Wednesday, a sermon was given; a priest in red cope, accompanied by deacon, subdeacon and the usual minor ministers, then prostrated before the altar, while the choir said the seven penitential psalms. At the end of these were said a series of versicles and prayers, most of which refer directly to the public penitents.

    “Dómine Deus noster, qui offensióne nostra non vínceris, sed satisfactione placaris: réspice, quæsumus, super hos fámulos tuos, qui se tibi gráviter peccasse confitémur: tuum est enim absolutiónem críminum dare, et veniam præstáre peccántibus, qui dixisti pænitentiam te malle peccatóris quam mortem. Concéde ergo, Dómine, his fámulis tuis, ut tibi pænitentiæ excubias celebrant; et correctis áctibus suis, conferri sibi a te sempiterna gaudia gratulentur.
    Lord our God, who are not overcome by our offense, but appeased by satisfaction; look we beseech Thee, upon these Thy servants, who confess that they have gravely sinned against Thee; for it is Thine to give absolution of crimes, and grant forgiveness to those who sin, even Thou who said that Thou wishest the repentance of sinners, rather than their death. Grant therefore, o Lord, to these Thy servants, that they may keep the watches of penance, and by correcting their deeds, rejoice that eternal joys are given them of Thee.”

    The ashes were then blessed, followed by a procession, which, as I noted in an article last week, was a normal part of the Ash Wednesday ceremonies in the Middle Ages. The Sarum Processional specifies that a cross was not used, but an “ash-colored banner” was carried instead at the head of the procession. At the door, the penitents were taken by the hand, and led out of the church, while the following responsory was sung, reprising an ancient theme of meditation on the Fall of Man in the readings of Genesis in Septuagesima.

    An illustration from a Sarum Processional of the Ash Wednesday procession; the captions reads “The station on the day of ashes, when the bishop expels the penitents.” The ash-colored banner is seen up top.  Reproduced in a modern edition by WG Henderson, 1882. (This would seem to be one of the inspirations for Fr Fortescue’s famous little illustrations in the Ceremonies of the Roman Rite.)
    R. Behold, Adam is become like one of us, knowing good and evil; see ye lest he take of the tree of life, and live forever. V. The Cherubim, and the flaming, turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. See ye…

    On Holy Thursday, when the penitents were brought back into the church, usually referred to as their “reconciliation”, the process was reversed, again by a priest in a red cope, accompanied by the various grades of ministers and the ash-colored banner. This ceremony deserves its own post, which I shall do on Holy Thursday; suffice it therefore to note here that the penitential Psalms are said again before the final absolution is imparted.

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    Those who read the previous piece about the Melkite Greek Catholic liturgy with Bishop Nicholas in Berkeley today will have read this already, but it was buried away at the bottom of the piece, and it occured to me that some who don't live in California would be interested to read this, so here we go.

    In the Melkite Church, the Divine Liturgy for Sunday, March 12th, the Second Sunday of Lent, is a commemoration of the theologian St Gregory Palamas, the Orthodox bishop of Thessaloniki in the 14th century. I became aware of him through various icon painting classes which referred to him in connection with the theology of icons, and his doctrine concerning the light of sanctity, the “uncreated” light of Christ. This is the basis, for example, of the painting of the halo, a symbolic representation of the light on holiness, and of the fact that the Saints cast no shadow when they are painted, for they are the source of the light that obliterates shadow.

    Very often Palamas and Aquinas are pitched against each other on the doctrine of deification. There has been work to reconcile the work of the two, for example this book by AN Williams. Here is my own perception of this in very simple terms, which relates to an interpretation of the Transfiguration.

    Years ago, I was told of a difference between East and West in the interpretation of the event of Mt Tabor, namely, that St Thomas Aquinas argued that Christ changed when He shone with light, and this was an anticipation of the beatific vision.

    St Gregory Palamas, on the other hand, argued that the Apostles changed spiritually and were able, temporarily, to see the uncreated light of Christ; their climbing of the mountain was a metaphor for their spiritual upwards movement towards a greater purity in heart. Furthermore, through the sacramental life of the Church, it is possible for all of us, by degrees, to grow in purity and be transformed so that we can both witness and shine with the uncreated light of Christ. As Our Lord told us, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    As I thought about this, I raised this point, which I thought was a contradiction, with a Benedictine monk at Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland when I was on retreat there once. He told me that I should “think liturgically,” and suggested that these two interpretations were not mutually exclusive. There might be a dual motion taking place in some way, so that just as God comes down to us, so to speak, as Christ is present in the Eucharist, so in taking communion we are supernaturally transformed, potentially, and so are raised up to meet Him.

    So that’s my little pitch for East West unity and two lungs breathing as one etc.....

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    We continue our annual visit to the Lenten station churches in Rome with our friend Agnese. Here we see the basilica of St Mary Major with its customary set-up of reliquaries on the main altar, and part of the amazing relic collection of St Lawrence in Panisperna, as well as procession on Friday from the church of the Most Holy Name of Mary at Trajan’s Forum to the station at the church of the Twelve Apostles.
    Tuesday of the First Week of Lent - Sant’Anastasia 
    The church of Sant’Anastasia is also the station for the second Mass of Christmas day, in honor of the titular martyr who shares the day of her birth into heaven with the day of Christ’s Birth into this world.

     Ember Wednesday - St Mary Major

    Thursday of the First Week of Lent - San Lorenzo in Panisperna

    Ember Friday - Church of the Twelve Apostles

    A great view of the large crypt area under the main sanctuary of the church, where the relics of many martyrs, including those of the Apostles Ss Philip and James are kept.

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    This article concerns the singing of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, but its main point pertains also to the desirability of sung Masses in the Extraordinary Form.

    As is well known to historians of the liturgy, the normal practice for the first thousand years of undivided Christianity was to sing the Mass (i.e., High Mass). This practice remained and still remains the norm for Byzantine Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox, who are required to sing the Divine Liturgy. The development of a recited or ‘Low’ Mass in the West as a devotional exercise for individual priests had a trickle-down effect into many parishes, so that by the era of St. Pius X, the Low Mass was the manner in which most Catholics encountered the liturgy most of the time. Pope Pius X launched a movement to recover not only Gregorian chant and polyphony in general, but the High Mass in particular. To this pope is attributed the advice: “Don’t pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass.” In 1969, the Vatican journal Notitiae adapted this advice: “[Liturgical] singing means singing the Mass, not just singing during Mass.”[1]

    The Second Vatican Council expressly linked its teaching to that of St. Pius X when it taught: “Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people” (SC 113). The implication is that Catholics should aspire to give worship a more noble form by celebrating it in song — in other words, that the sung Mass should once more attain prominence. This implication was drawn out clearly by the Sacred Congregation of Rites just a few years later, in the Instruction Musicam Sacram (March 5, 1967), which had its 50th anniversary last week:
    Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when it is celebrated in song, with the ministers of each degree fulfilling their ministry and the people participating in it. Indeed, through this form, prayer is expressed in a more attractive way, the mystery of the liturgy, with its hierarchical and community nature, is more openly shown, the unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices, minds are more easily raised to heavenly things by the beauty of the sacred rites, and the whole celebration more clearly prefigures that heavenly liturgy which is enacted in the holy city of Jerusalem. Pastors of souls will therefore do all they can to achieve this form of celebration. (MS 5)
    In other words, the chanted celebration of Mass should be a rule, not an exception. The same document, which is still the most authoritative Vatican document on music since the time of the Council, states: “For the celebration of the Eucharist with the people, especially on Sundays and feast days, a form of sung Mass (Missa in cantu) is to be preferred as much as possible, even several times on the same day” (MS 27).

    As if to underline that singing is not an add-on but part of the inherent structure of the Mass, the Instruction Musicam Sacram goes on to establish, perhaps surprisingly, three degrees of musical participation for Mass (see nn. 28-31), such that one should begin by singing what pertains to the first degree, then add that which pertains to the second, and finally, move on to the third, according to the capabilities of the congregation and choir.
    • The first degree includes the entrance rite (including the Collect), the Gospel acclamation, the oratio super oblata, the preface dialogue and preface, the Sanctus, the doxology of the Canon, the Lord’s Prayer with its introduction and embolism, the Pax, the Post-Communion, and the dismissal. 
    • The second degree adds the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Agnus Dei, and the Prayer of the Faithful.
    • The third degree adds the Introit, Offertory, and Communion antiphons, the Gradual, Alleluia, or Tract (if chanted in full), and the Epistle and Gospel.
    One can see that the first degree depends on the priest’s chanting his parts given in the Missal, which, in the Church’s tradition, have always been in a simple form of chant, involving a few notes of melody, and may even be sung recto tono in a case of necessity. These prayers and dialogues are the most fundamental elements of the liturgy to be chanted. The second degree adds beauty and solemnity by giving the choir and faithful more scope for singing the Ordinary of the Mass, which brings out the full richness of the prayers themselves. The third degree completes the musical elevation of the liturgy by ensuring that its meditative texts (antiphons and lessons) are sung.

    The singing of the Mass is not something rare, only to be done on feasts, but something normal, flowing from the very nature of liturgy. We can see this in the fact that the Church’s tradition provides chants for every day of the year, every occasion. As Dom Mark Kirby explains:
    It is too obvious to be denied that a celebration sung in the Gregorian manner is more solemn than a celebration which is merely recited; but this statement is especially true in the modern perspective of a celebration which is habitually recited. The ancients had provided melodies for the most modest celebrations of the liturgical year, and these melodies were no less carefully worked out than those of the great feasts. For them the chant was, before all else, a means of giving to liturgical prayer a fullness of religious and contemplative value, whatever might be the solemnity of the day. Such should also be our sole preoccupation in singing. As long as people look upon the Gregorian chant solely as a means of solemnising the celebration, there will be the danger of making it deviate from its true path, which is more interior.
    Dr. Jennifer Donelson begins her classes on liturgical chant with “Top Ten Reasons to Sing the Mass”:
    1. Intensifies the sense of sacrality
    2. Encourages active participation
    3. Respects the dignity of the text of the liturgy and Scripture
    4. Centers singing on the Mass itself, not on paraliturgical songs
    5. You disappear; Christ appears
    6. Singing is often an aid for understanding (diction, audibility)
    7. Gives a better sense of the grammar of prayers
    8. Gives a better sense of the structure of the Mass
    9. Strengthens the sense of community rather than isolation
    10. Sensus ecclesiæ, not sensus individualis 
    These points are borne out in the section of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2nd ed., 2011) devoted to “The Importance of Singing”:
           39. The Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles (cf. Col 3:16). Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy (cf. Acts 2:46). Thus St. Augustine says rightly, “Singing is for one who loves,” and there is also an ancient proverb: “Whoever sings well prays twice over.”
           40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of peoples and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are in principle meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people not be absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on Holydays of Obligation.
           However, in the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, preference is to be given to those that are of greater importance and especially to those which are to be sung by the Priest or the Deacon or a reader, with the people replying, or by the Priest and people together.[2]
           41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other kinds of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful. Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the simpler settings.
    It is noteworthy that numerous magisterial documents, following the directive of Vatican II, specify that the people should be able to chant in Latin the parts of the Mass that pertain to them. We have always joyfully implemented that policy at Wyoming Catholic College. This has included the chanting of the Creed, as is provided for by GIRM 55, 68, and 137.

    These are some of the reasons why we ought to sing the Mass— not merely sing at Mass. The beauty of doing this on a regular basis is something that I have experienced at Wyoming Catholic College, where the following has often taken place since 2007:
    • the Schola sings the Introit, Offertory, and Communion antiphons, and on occasion, the Gradual and Alleluia;
    • the congregation sings the Kyrie, Gloria, Gospel acclamation, Creed, Sanctus, Pater Noster, and Agnus Dei;
    • the celebrant sings the entrance rite, the oratio super oblata, the preface dialogue and preface, the doxology of the Canon, the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer and its embolism, the Pax, the Post-Communion, and the dismissal;
    • the celebrant introduces the Prayer of the Faithful, which is sung by a cantor, with the people making the response.
    With a celebrant and congregation who know their chants from repeated experience, and provided there is a brief homily as recommended by the Church for daily Mass, it is possible to do most of these things within a 35-minute daily Mass, and all of them within an hour or a little more on Sundays and Holy Days. Moreover, there is no question that the congregation participates more fully when singing their parts than when merely reciting the spoken text. From the vantage of the pew-sitter, it is the difference between the uplifting unison of simple chant and a scattered muttering of words.

    In conclusion: chanting the Mass is more in accord with Catholic tradition. It is in harmony with what anthropology, sociology, and psychology tell us about how ritual activity is best done if it is to be satisfying, renewing, and connecting. It is more in keeping with Vatican II and subsequent magisterial teaching. Lastly, it is crucial for the evangelization of modern and post-modern man through “the way of beauty.” This is the step we must take if we wish to get past the doldrums of excessive verbosity to the heights of prayerful engagement with the sacred mysteries.

    [1] See here for more.
    [2] The GIRM cites here Musicam Sacram, nn. 7 and 16 — clear proof, if any were needed, that the 1967 Instruction is still considered to be pertinent to the Pauline missal, which appeared a couple of years later.

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    Recently, I suggested that Matthew Paris and other artists of the 14th Gothic illuminations (which I have called the “School of St Albans” after the town where Paris lived and worked) might be a model for the reestablishment of a liturgical style for the Roman rite, in the way that the Eastern Church so successfully reestablished the iconographic tradition for the Byzantine liturgy in the middle of the 20th century.

    One reader wondered if it would really be possible to adapt a style that is known largely as one for book illuminations and on a small scale to full-scale liturgical art. This was a very good point. I responded that I thought that it was possible and speculated as to how I might do it. Two people have separately reminded me of the existence of wall paintings in British churches from the 14th and 15th centuries that bear the essential characteristics of the School of Saint Albans, and perhaps demonstrate to artists today a way in which a modern style that builds on this foundation might be done on a large scale. Thanks to Deacon Lawrence Klimecki and Gina Switzer for this. (Both of themm are working artists who are taking the Pontifex University Masters in Sacred Arts).

    We have seen many of these images before on this site, but it wasn’t until recently I made the stylistic connection of the illuminations of the time. The most famous church of this style is St Cadoc’s in Glamorgan, Wales.

    Just to remind you, here is an illumination of shepherds being informed of the birth of Our Lord:

    What characterizes this style for me is the heavy emphasis on line to describe form, rather than tonal variation; restraint in the use of color, so that often the surface that is painted with egg on parchment shows through and plays a part in the image; a higher degree of naturalism in the drawing than Romanesque or other iconographic art. However, like iconographic art, it lives in the plane of the painting; there is little perspective and depth in the image, so that it has an other-worldly and symbolic feel to it.

    Now here is St Cadoc’s in Wales, and then some paintings from the interior.

    What strikes me about this style is that it will be on a practical level easier to produce as wall paintings. An artist who know what he is doing do such paintings in fresco or on panels quickly and easily and well. This will help to bring down costs for commissions, and increase sales for artists who are looking to make a living.

    Here are two more from different churches in England: first, an image of St Catherine in the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Pickering, Yorkshire.

    The following are at St Mary, Lakenheath, Suffolk, England.

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