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- 03/22/17--14:57: _A Roman Pilgrim at ...
- 03/23/17--13:34: _Beautiful Vestments...
- 03/23/17--13:50: _Byzantine Hymns for...
- 03/24/17--05:00: _Dominican Mass in N...
- 03/24/17--13:34: _The Samaritan Woman...
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- 03/26/17--13:54: _The Chinese Chasubl...
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- 03/28/17--14:40: _Triple Photopost: S...
- 03/29/17--05:00: _Now Available: Lect...
- 03/29/17--09:00: _Mass of Our Lady of...
- 03/29/17--15:01: _A Roman Pilgrim at ...
- 03/30/17--04:38: _Triple Photopost: S...
- 03/30/17--15:24: _Raising the Dead in...
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- 04/03/17--05:00: _Colonial- and Missi...
- 03/22/17--14:57: A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches 2017 (Part 4)
- 03/23/17--13:34: Beautiful Vestments in the Cleveland Museum of Art
- 03/23/17--13:50: Byzantine Hymns for Mid-Lent
- 03/24/17--05:00: Dominican Mass in NYC for the Feast of St Vincent Ferrer
- 03/24/17--13:34: The Samaritan Woman in the Liturgy of Lent
- 03/25/17--13:54: The Feast of the Annunciation 2017
- 03/26/17--13:54: The Chinese Chasuble of Dom Pierre-Célestin Lou Tseng-Tsiang, OSB
- 03/29/17--09:00: Mass of Our Lady of Sorrow In New York City, April 7th
- 03/29/17--15:01: A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches 2017 (Part 5)
- 03/30/17--15:24: Raising the Dead in Lent
- 03/31/17--05:00: Oratory Canonically Established in Cincinnati
- 03/31/17--15:28: Card. Sarah’s Address to Conference Pulls No Punches
- 04/01/17--15:48: Photopost Request: Passiontide Veils
- 04/03/17--05:00: Colonial- and Mission-Era Mexican Outdoor Chapels
|Pilgrims pass through the crypt past the tomb of Bl. Pius IX (draped in red in the background)|
|The bodies of a great many martyrs were removed from the catacombs and installed in this church by Pope Gregory IV (827-844), as commemorated by this inscription.|
|The Mass was that of the transferred solemnity of St Joseph, hence the white vestments.|
Since the Byzantine liturgical week runs from Monday to Sunday, Lent starts two days before the Roman Ash Wednesday; therefore, yesterday was Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent in the Byzantine Rite, but “Wednesday of the Third Week” in the Roman. This day is sometimes referred to informally as Mid-Lent, although this is an approximation, where the analogous half-way point of the Paschal season, the feast of Mid-Pentecost, is exactly half-way (25 days) between Easter and Pentecost. The sticheron given above is one of several placed between the verses of a group of four Psalms which are sung at Vespers every day, (140, 141, 129 and 116), while the deacon incenses the altar and sanctuary, the iconostasis, the church, the clergy and the faithful. The first of these Psalms is chosen for the words “Let my prayer raise before Thee like incense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice,” which are prominent in most historical Christian rites. (A sticheron is technically referred to as kind of “hymn”, but in construction is really more analogous to the antiphons of the Roman Rite; the number of them varies from day to day.)
The last of a group of stichera is always a Theotokion, a hymn to the Virgin Mary, and that of Mid-Lent is particularly beautiful. The references to the Crucifixion look back to the preceding Sunday, that of the Veneration of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, and forward to Good Friday and the end of Lent.
“Today, He that is by nature unapproachable becometh approachable to me, and undergoeth His sufferings to deliver me from sufferings; He that giveth light to the blind is spit upon by impious lips, and giveth His cheek unto blows, for the sake of those held captive. The holy Virgin and Mother, seeing Him upon the Cross, cried out, ‘Alas, my Child! What is this Thou hast done? Beautiful beyond the sons of men, dost Thou appear without life or spirit, having no beauty or comeliness? Alas, my Light! I cannot look upon Thee sleeping, I am wounded to the core, and a terrible sword passeth through my heart. I sing of Thy sufferings, I adore Thy compassion; long-suffering Lord, glory to Thee!’ ” (In the video below, the Old Church Slavonic version.)
|A 16th-century Russian icon of the Holy Mandylion, the cloth with Christ’s face impressed upon it, and below, the Lamentation over the Dead Christ.|
In the Roman Rite, it is read on the Friday of the third week, joined with one of the most important epistles of Lent, Numbers 20, 1-13, in which Moses makes water run from the rock in the desert. This story was understood by the early Christians as a prefiguration of the sacrament of baptism, starting with St Paul himself, who tells us that “our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea: and did all eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink; and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10, 1-4) Moses striking the rock to make the water run from it is one of the most frequently depicted Biblical scenes in early Christian art; just in the paintings of the Roman catacombs, it appears over 70 times, along with numerous other representations on ancient sarcophagi.
|Moses making the water run from the rock in a fourth-century fresco in the Catacomb of St Callixtus.|
A piece of the gridiron of St Lawrence’s martyrdom, preserved in a reliquary in a side-altar of San Lorenzo in Lucina. Photo courtesy of Orbis Catholicus.
the man born blind,’ (9, 1-38), the fifth of Lazarus (11, 1-45) and the sixth ‘of the Palms’ (11, 55 – 12, 11). On the second Sunday, the following antiphon is sung after the Gospel, while the deacon spreads the corporal on the altar in preparation for the Offertory. (As in the Roman Rite, most of the Mass propers use the Old Latin version of the Scriptures.)
For I will take you from among the gentiles, and I will pour upon you clean water; you shall be cleansed from all your iniquities. I will give you a new heart, and renew a righteous spirit within you. (Ezechiel 36, 24, 25 and 26.)In the Roman Rite, the same prophecy of Ezechiel (though not exactly the same words) provides both the introit and the first epistle of the Mass of the Wednesday of the fourth week of Lent, on which day the catechumens were exorcized and blessed at the tomb of St Paul, the great Apostle of the gentiles.
The Ambrosian Missal contains proper prefaces for nearly every Mass of the temporal cycle, generally rather longer than the those of the Roman Rite. The Lenten prefaces of the Sundays are each based on the Gospel of the day, and that of the Samaritan woman reads as follows:
Truly it is worthy and just…through Christ our Lord. Who, to instill (in us) the mystery of His humility, being tired, sat at the well, and * asked of the Samaritan woman that a drink of water be given Him, even He that had created the gift of faith in her; and so He deigned to thirst for her faith, so that, as He asked water of her, He might enkindle in her the fire of divine love. * We therefore beseech Thy boundless compassion, that defying the dark depths of vice, and leaving behind the vessel of harmful desires, we may ever thirst for Thee, that art the fountain of life, and source of all goodness, and may please Thee by the observance of our fast. Through the same etc.The words here noted between the stars form the basis of a Preface used in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite in the first year of the three-year lectionary cycle, when the story of the Samaritan woman is read on the third Sunday of Lent. Since this crucial passage is not included among the readings of the second and third years, a rubric provides that it may be read on Sunday in place of the Gospels assigned to those years, or it may displace one of the ferial Gospels; a similar provision is made for the blind man and Lazarus.
exapostilaria are sung at the end of Matins; the first is that of the Easter season, the second relates to the Gospel of the day’s Divine Liturgy, and the third to the feast of Mid-Pentecost. (This latter is a particular custom of the Byzantine rite which celebrates the half-way point between Easter and Pentecost, the Wednesday before the Fifth Sunday.)
Exapostilarion of Easter Having fallen asleep in the flesh as a mortal, O King and Lord, You rose again on the third day, raising up Adam from corruption, and abolishing death. O Pascha of incorruption, O salvation of the world!Note how the exapostilarion of the Samaritan woman makes the same association between the Lord’s revelations to her and the episode of the water running from the rock that is made in the Roman Rite by the readings of the Mass. This reference to the waters of baptism continues in the third text, which quotes Christ’s second reference to the “living waters” in the Gospel of John, when He speaks in the temple during the feast of Tabernacles. (chapter 7, 37-39.)
of the Samaritan Woman You reached Samaria, and talking with a woman, sought water to drink, my all-powerful Savior, who poured out water for the Hebrews from a sharp rock, and led her to belief in you: and now she enjoys life eternally in heaven.
of Mid-Pentecost At the mid-point of the feast, Lover of mankind, you came to the temple and said: You who are full of thirst, come to me and draw living water welling up, through which you will all revel in delight and grace and immortal life.
The text of this second Gospel of the “living waters” is deferred by the Byzantine Rite to Pentecost itself, a custom which it shares with the Ambrosian and Roman Rites in different ways. The church of Milan preserves to this very day an ancient custom of celebrating two Masses on both Easter and Pentecost, the traditional days for the administration of baptism; one is the Mass “of the solemnity” itself, and another “for the (newly) baptized.” On Easter Sunday, the Gospel at the Mass for the baptized is John 7, 37-39, with the second part of the last verse omitted.
On great day of the festivity, the Lord Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Now this he said of the Spirit which they should receive, who believed in him.At the Mass for the baptized on Pentecost, this Gospel is repeated, adding the final words of verse 39 which are not said on Easter, “for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” In the Roman Rite, the same text provides the Communion antiphon for the Mass of the vigil of Pentecost, although the Gospel itself is read on the Monday of Passion Week.
Wholly illuminated by the divine Spirit, and sated of your thirst by the springs, you drank deeply of the water of salvation from Christ the Savior, all praiseworthy one, and shared it abundantly with them that thirst; o Great Martyr and Equal to the Apostles, Photini, entreat Christ our God to save our souls.
|The Annunciation, by Andrea Cavalcanti; from the pulpit of the church of Santa Maria Novella, the principal Dominican Church of the city of Florence, 1445. (Image from Wikimedia commons by Sailko.)|
Full information may be found in the two images below. The lectures will be in German while the panel discussion will be conducted in English. After a break, a special Viennese form of the Solemn High Mass, the Five Minister Mass, will be celebrated.
Photo Credit: Photos of the chasuble by Cyril J. Law with kind permission of the Abbot of St. Andrew's Abbey, Bruges. Cyril also provided us with historical photos of Dom Lou. Thanks to him.
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posted on the eve of the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. So many readers contacted me to ask (a) if an English translation had been done or could be done, and (b) if the original Latin text could be made available in full. In answer to (a), to my knowledge no one has ever translated this text. However, as to (b), I am glad to offer the text to NLM readers at the link below, and I strongly encourage any enterprising Latinist out there to render it into English. If you do so, please let me know; I'd be happy to discuss ways to make it available to a wider readership.
The title of the book is
The sources Fr Carnazzo uses to support this idea are the writings of the Church Fathers, the descriptions of the historical and current practices of the Church, especially in Her worship, and Scripture itself, as well as two recent books, The Bible and the Liturgy, by Jean Danielou, and Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity by Robin Jensen.
There has been so much in this course that was worth highlighting, but I want focus particularly one aspect which I found enlightening, namely, the Biblical descriptions of evangelization. This is done through the description of salvation history as the part of the ongoing story of humanity in which we are protagonists right now.
Fr Sebastian described to us how at various times, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Saints of the early Church addressed the gathered people and told them their story. It would be modified according the assumed knowledge of those listening, sometimes starting with a description of the Creation, at others with Abraham. So, for example, we might think of Joshua talking to the Israelites before crossing the Jordan, or the martyr St Stephen addressing the Jews before he was stoned to death. The point was to make those listening, Jew or Gentile, understand that this is their story too, just as it is our story. The consummation of this story is in the reconciliation between God and man, through the Church, by the death of the old self - united to Christ crucified - in baptism; and by the rebirth of the new self - united to Christ’s resurrection and partaking of His divine nature - through Confirmation and the Eucharist.
The words of the liturgy and of scripture in the liturgy tell this story for us too, both prosaically and poetically, through the readings, the chanting of the psalms and canticles of the Church; they give us a mystagogical catechesis (one that deepens our grasp of the mysteries) so that we are prepared for that supernatural transformation in Christ that is available to us through the reception of Christ’s Body and Blood. All of this is made easier for us to grasp of course, when the external forms of the liturgy - the way in which it is celebrated, the art, the music and the architecture for example - are in harmony with this end.
This approach to evangelization, engaging outside the church building with people who do not have Christ - the telling of the story which was used by the early Church - works because it appeals to something that is deep within us. Every one of us knows instinctively that this is what we are made for. The task for each of us is to reveal that grand story, so that the listener can place his own personal story into the drama that it describes. Quite how we do this in the many situations that we are likely to deal with in life is another matter, but each of us will be able to to do it, with God’s grace, to varying degrees according to our calling. But, here is the key thing, it seems to me: our actions and words must point to this story that is the preaching of “Christ crucified.” At the very least, having a clear idea of what it is we are going to say is the most important thing. Much has been written about this elsewhere in the context of, for example, the New Evangelization; Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI speaks on the subject here and here.
This principle also tells us the purpose of the study of the history and great works of the culture. Taking history as a subject first: all history, to be of any human value, must be a participation in salvation history, and so must be seen as an aspect of Christian history. Just as every person has a story, whether he has lived his life as a Christian up to a given point or not, one that has the potential for a happy ending through the Church; so also every natural association within society has a story that, in the context of a Christ-centered view of history, participates in salvation history. This is why we need stories that reinforce these natural associations in a way that appreciates the natural hierarchy of each, and places the Church as the highest in value. (I am not arguing here for political power for the Vatican by they way). Therefore, the study of history can be a history of all peoples and all times, but always seen in the light of this principle. It should focus especially on the history of the societies that the person being taught belongs to, his country, his local neighborhood and for us, Western culture as Christian culture.
Just as important as the teaching of the facts of this history, is the teaching of what history is, why it is being taught, so that the student always places what they are learning into this context. This gives us a sense of our place in the world and where we are going, and whether or not we are on the right path. It also stimulates our faculty for seeing things historically, so that when we are presented with the ultimate expression of our history - salvation history in the liturgy - we are able to respond more deeply for the glory of God.
Poetry and literature tell our story in another way, the story itself is the same. In a wonderful talk last year at the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, Alasdair MacIntyre spoke of the need for the reading of poetry, which preserves the collective memory of who we are. I was moved by what he said and agreed wholeheartedly, in principle. But I remember thinking at the time, this is fine for those who like poetry, but what about those like me who hate it. What was not said is that, like history, the teaching of poetry and the cultivation of an enjoyment of it ought to have an even higher end in mind. That end is the telling of my human story and the development of the faculty of responding poetically, so to speak, to the poetry in the liturgy and especially the psalms. What I now realize is that so much of the literature and poetry that I was taught years ago didn’t speak to me of my story, either because it wasn’t contained within it, or because I wasn’t taught how to see it. Whatever the reason, it was not pointing to the ultimate poetry that helps transform me and which, I now realize, I was longing for even before I found it in the liturgy of the Church prior to my conversion. Perhaps if it had been presented to me in this way, I might have responded differently.
I also think that I am not by inclination particularly literary or poetic (referring to written poetry) by nature. I respond much more to art and music. Therefore while I do now appreciate the value of introducing it to those who are naturally of a literary bent, we should not think only of the written or spoken word as ways of telling stories. In fact, the whole of the culture in some way ought to participate beautifully and gracefully in the telling of that story. Art and music can do this through their beauty, not simply through the telling of a narrative, but through the cosmic beauty of form that can communicate truths beyond words. They can stimulate that deeply embedded faculty in our hearts that is receptive to the Word, the single encapsulation of whole of the story. In the end, by whichever route we get there, the goal is to be as literary as we can be in regard to scripture and the words of the literature. I feel no sense of guilt or lack in that I now rarely read a novel or poetry outside that context. I do pray the psalms daily and love them.
The images of the church should be directed to this end, in harmony with the liturgy, of course. This should be especially so in baptistries, where Christian initiation begins, along with the other rites of initiation from which it should not be separated in our minds (Confirmation and first Communion.)
This is a point that should be appreciated in designing an educational curriculum, I think. While all should be introduced to a canon of literature and poetry for reasons outlined, we should accept that not all will respond to it the same way, and not all will wish to spend their lives enjoying poetry. Part of the goal of such an education is to find those aspects of the culture to which we respond most readily and creatively, and through that door, stimulate our ability to know connaturally so that we can participate in the liturgy actively.
Connatural knowledge is sometimes also called synthetic or poetic knowledge (rather confusingly, I think, given that it is not about the means of communication of truth but about the form of knowing. This is not restricted to poetry or any written communication of the truth in the sense that the word is generally used today). Connatural knowledge is that intuitive grasp on the whole by which, for example, we know and love a person on meeting them, as one hopes to do when encountering Our Lord in the Eucharist.
This explains why the evangelization of the culture is so important. When the very fabric of our culture from top to bottom reflects aspects of this story it will be beautiful. Another speaker at the same conference last year, Roger Scruton, (who spoke on this occasion on the joys of wine) summed up the need for beauty in the culture succinctly in his book How to Be A Conservative: the beauty of the culture, he wrote, tells us we are “at home in the world.”
Here is one little piece of anecdotal evidence for the truth of this, taken from my own experience, something has happened since I first heard this and thought about it: I don’t think I have ever mentioned baptism when talking about the Christian life to non-Christians. This is something that I should mention, just as Philip mentioned it to the Ethiopian in Acts, as it will resonate with them in some way, appealing to their natural instincts. This is a bit of a preachy leap, for me but I resolved to look for opportunities
With my brother, I have started a group here in the Berkeley, California area that meets weekly, and offers discernment of personal vocation. (We call it “The Vision for You.”) We aim especially to connect with people who are delving into New-Age spirituality and who are looking for a purpose in life. We present it as a series of spiritual exercises in the Western mystical tradition. While it is pretty obvious that what we do comes from Christianity, we do not demand the people become Christian in order to participate. Rather, using a sort of Pascal’s-wager approach, we suggest that if they are willing to try this, then they will feel the effects; this is precisely what was done to me nearly 30 years ago, and as a result I converted from atheism. The hope is that it will send people on that journey, just as it sent me; however, I tend to let people conclude for themselves what the source of the power that we have as a small group of people who are working their way through this.
At each workshop, those who have experience of the process share personal stories of working through it. I realize now that what we are doing is telling our stories and placing them in the context of our ultimate purpose as we see it. I do always mention that I became Catholic as a result. The last time I did so, I added something that I hadn’t before; I said that although I wasn’t Christian at all when I went through the discernment process, I am nevertheless very grateful to my parents for having had me baptized as an infant. I now believe, I said, that although I was unaware of why at the time, that this is what placed within me an additional facility for responding to God’s grace during the process, and this is why it was so life changing for me.
I could see some cringing a bit as I mentioned baptism and grace, but after the workshop was over someone approached me. He told me that he was ill with cancer and had never been baptized. He had assumed that it wasn’t worth it, but as a result of what I said, he was thinking that he might go through with it. I encouraged him to do so, of course.
This is just anecdotal and not definitive proof of anything, but it does help to convince me that this is something that I should try to include in any account of my story in future!
Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
NLM readers are most likely already familiar with the work of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies (AMCSS). The theme of last summer's program was "The Transcendent Christ: On St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews." This just-published volume collects the lectures delivered over the course of the program as well as the culminating scholastic disputation, which involved several disputed questions, conducted at a very high level -- but with some entertaining elements, too. As one who was present for all the lectures and involved in the disputed questions, I can say that this is a most helpful book for those interested in the theology of the liturgy, the sacrifice of Christ, the Mass as a true and proper sacrifice, and the headship of Christ over the Church.
John P. Joy, S.T.L.
“How Is the Mass a Sacrifice?”
Rev. Thomas Crean, O.P., S.T.D.
“The Symbolism of the First Entrance of the Holy Synaxis in the Mystagogy of St. Maximus the Confessor”
Rev. Yosyp Veresh, S.T.D.
“Biblical and Liturgical Typology in the Letter to the Hebrews”
Rev. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., S.L.D.
“The Christian Liturgy as Sacrificium Laudis in the Epistle to the Hebrews”
Peter Kwasniewski, Ph.D.
“‘Credere oportet accedentem ad Deum’ – On the Nature and Necessity of Faith”
Br. Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B., S.T.M.
“Christ as Head of the Human Race”
Daniel Lendman, S.T.L.
Rev. Thomas Crean, O.P., S.T.D.
Q. 1. Whether he who performs the rites of the Old Law offends God?
Q. 2. Whether the shedding of blood is necessary for the remission of sins?
Q. 3. Whether to please God it is sufficient to believe that he is and is a rewarder of those who seek him?
Also, a reminder to readers that the AMCSS is now welcoming applications for the upcoming Summer Theology Program in Norcia in July, dedicated to St. Thomas's sacramental theology. See here to read NLM's announcement. The online application page is here.
A view of one of the three courtyards leading up to the church, which was built as a fortress and a possible place of refuge after the many political disturbances which Rome saw in the later 11th century, and throughout the 12th.
The church is nicknamed from the Pope who founded it, St Damasus I (366-384), in honor of St Lawrence, who has more churches dedicated to him in Rome than do Ss Peter and Paul. The church was rebuilt in the 1ater 15th-century, in such a way that it is almost completely enclosed by the “Palazzo della Cancelleria”, the Papal chancery building. The procession before the Mass was held within the Cancelleria’s courtyard.
This change was made in the midst of significant controversies between the Popes and the Byzantine Emperors, first over the Quinisext Synod, and later over the iconoclast heresy. The former, also known as the “Synod in Trullo”, was held in Constantinople in 692 to supplement the work of the fifth and sixth ecumenical councils, which had both adjourned without issuing any disciplinary decrees; hence its peculiar name, which means “Fifth-Sixth.” The Emperor Justinian II called it to legislate for the whole Church, without reference to Rome, and attempted to impose its decrees by force. The response of Pope St Sergius I (687-701) was not only a defiant refusal to recognize or approve the synod; he also added the Agnus Dei to the Mass, “a protest against canon 82 of the Synod in Trullo, which forbade the symbolic representation of the Savior in the form of a Lamb.” (Msgr. Louis Duchesne, in his critical edition of the Liber Pontificalis, quoted in the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on the Agnus Dei.)
Pope Sergius also added this mosaic to the triumphal arch of the church of Ss Cosmas and Damian, where Pope Gregory II instituted another one of the new Thursday stations, that of the third week of Lent. (Photo by Fr Lawrence Lew O.P.)
In such a climate of tension between the Pope and Emperor, the institution of the Lenten Masses of Thursday should be seen as another rejection of Byzantine practice as codified at the Quinisext Synod, the 52nd canon of which decrees, “On all days of the holy fast of Lent, except on the Sabbath, the Lord’s day and the holy day of the Annunciation, the Liturgy of the Presanctified is to be said.” Since the Byzantine council had established that the Eucharist not be celebrated on the ferial, fasting days of Lent, Gregory II all but abolished the practice in Rome.
The liturgy thus instituted for today, the Thursday of the fourth week of Lent, copies several features from that of the following day. In the Epistle of the older Mass on Friday, the prophet Elijah raises a dead child to life (3 Kings 17, 17-24); in that of Thursday, his disciple Elisha does the same (4 Kings 4, 25-38). The Gospel on Friday is the raising of Lazarus (John 11, 1-45), on Thursday, that of the son of the widow of Naim (Luke 7, 11-16). Perhaps most importantly, the older Lenten station on Friday is kept at the church of St Eusebius; the newer station on Thursday is kept less than a third of a mile away, at the church of Ss Sylvester and Martin on the Esquiline Hill. (In Italian it is now usually called “San Martino ai Monti.”)
|The stational Mass at San Martino ai Monti last year. (Photo by our favorite Roman pilgrim, Agnese Bazzucchi.)|
Eusebius himself was a Roman priest traditionally said to have died in the mid-4th century after several months of forced confinement in his house, inflicted on him because of his stance against the Arian heresy. As such, he was venerated as a “Confessor”, a title which originally meant one who had suffered for the Faith, without being violently killed. (The distinction between Martyrs and Confessors is sometimes a bit blurry.) Pope Sylvester I and Martin of Tour, to whom the station church of Thursday is jointly dedicated, were the first two Saints venerated as “Confessors” in the modern sense of the term, a male Saint who was not an Apostle or Martyr. Among the titular Saints of the Lenten station churches, these are the only Confessors. (The station of the following Saturday is now held at the church of St Nicholas ‘in the Prison’, but was originally at St Lawrence Outside-the-Walls.)
The question then arises as to why it was felt necessary or useful to have two stational Masses so similar to each other on two successive days. The answer lies in the theological controversies of the era, and the resulting clashes between the Old and the New Rome.
For most of the 7th century, the Church was plagued with the Monothelite heresy, the teaching that in Christ, the human faculty of the will is absent, replaced by the divine will. The history and purpose of this heresy are very complicated matters; suffice it to say here that its chief promotor, the Emperor Heraclius (610-41), enshrined it in law by a decree known as the Ecthesis, supported by the contemporary Patriarchs of Constantinople. In 648, his grandson Constans II (630-68) attempted to impose silence on the controversy by an imperial edict; Pope St Martin I, elected in July of the following year, held a synod at the Lateran basilica very shortly thereafter, which condemned the edict of Constans, the Ecthesis, three Patriarchs of Constantinople, and one of Alexandria.
In response to this, the Pope was arrested by Constans’ exarch and brought to Constantinople, where he was kept in a jail for months and subjected to appalling mistreatment; eventually tried for treason, he was sent to the city of Kherson on the Crimean peninsula (the very end of the earth for a Roman), where he died of the hardships of his exile. He is the last Pope venerated as a martyr, although he would perhaps have been called a Confessor by his contemporaries, since he did not die a violent death. (The title “Confessor” has become the standard epithet of the greatest opponent of Monothelitism, St Maximus, whom Constans tortured and maimed by cutting out his tongue and cutting off his right hand.)
|A 17th-century Russian icon of St Maximus the Confessor, with events of his life in the surrounding panels. He is shown being tried and imprisoned more than once; the removal of his tongue and right hand is the second panel from the bottom on the right side. (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)|
During the 15th session (April 681), there occurred one of the strangest events (among many) in the long and checkered history of the Ecumenical Councils. A leading Monothelite, a priest named Polychronius, offered to prove the truth of the doctrine by raising a man from the dead, and was allowed to put this claim to the test before the assembled council fathers. In a public square, he laid a copy of the heretical profession on faith on the chest of a corpse, and prayed in the dead man’s ear for several hours, to no effect. Despite his promise to the contrary, he refused to recant after his failure, and was condemned as both a heretic and a blasphemer. (Mansi XI, p. 609)
All of this was very recent history when Pope Gregory II instituted the Mass for this day, and the station at the church dedicated to the first two “confessors.” One of these, St Sylvester, was Pope at the time of the First Ecumenical Council, Nicea I, which condemned Arianism, and was also called by an Emperor named Constantine; the other, St Martin of Tour was likewise an opponent of the Arians, the namesake of Pope Martin (see note below), and known to have raised three persons from the dead. (As he himself was wont to note, two before his episcopal consecration, but only one after.) The Epistle of the day recalls how Elisha raised the dead child by laying on top of him, “and his flesh grew warm”; surely this would have reminded those who were present for the first celebrations of this Mass of the failed attempt at the recent council to raise a dead man by laying something on his chest.
Within St Gregory II’s lifetime, imperial Byzantium had twice professed and repudiated the Monothelite heresy, and was then moving on to Iconoclasm, and once again persecuting the orthodox. The stational Mass of this day may thus be read as a declaration that it is the Church of Rome which professes the true doctrine of the Incarnation, and the fruit thereof, when She says at the end of the Creed, “I await the resurrection of the dead.”
|The Raising of the Widow of Naim’s Son, by Mario Minniti, 1620|
“On March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, the Holy Father issued a decree establishing the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Cincinnati, a Congregation of Apostolic Life. The first congregation was founded by St. Philip Neri in Rome in the 16th Century. In addition to St. Philip Neri, the Oratory also counts Bl. John Henry Newman among its saints and blesseds.
The Cincinnati Oratory began the project of founding a house in Cincinnati in 2008, with the support of then Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk. In 2009, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, succeeding as Archbishop of Cincinnati, began supporting and working with the community of priests and seminarians to see the project brought to its completion. The current Procurator General, Fr. Mario Avilés, of the Confederation of Oratories throughout the world, has been the delegate from the Oratory since the beginning of the project to provide guidance and assistance. The Oratory is based in Over-the-Rhine at Old St. Mary’s Church.
In addition to Old St. Mary’s, the priests of the Oratory also minister at Sacred Heart Church, Camp Washington, Christ Hospital, Mt. Auburn, and the Hamilton County Justice Center, Downtown Cincinnati. This establishment brings the total number of Oratories in the United States to nine, with over seventy internationally.
The Oratory is a community of priests and brothers who do not take vows, but live a common life of prayer, apostolic work, and mutual support under a common rule. The community is composed of Fr. Jon-Paul Bevak, Fr. Adrian J. Hilton, Fr. Lawrence G. Juarez, Br. Brent L. Stull, and Br. Henry O. Hoffmann.
Fr. Jon-Paul, until now the Moderator, said: ‘We are grateful to the Holy Father for bringing this good work that was begun in 2008 to completion. We are also grateful to both Archbishop Pilarczyk and Archbishop Schnurr for their continued support throughout these past nine years. We thank Fr. Mario, and all of those who supported us with their prayers, donations, and friendship all of these years. We are excited to begin this next chapter in our history.’
The Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr, the Archbishop of Cincinnati, will offer a Mass on April 25, 2017 at Old St. Mary’s Church in Over-the-Rhine to celebrate the occasion and the delivery of the Holy Father’s decree. Further details will be forthcoming on the time of the Mass.
For more information, please visit www.cincinnatioratory.com. You may also contact Fr. Jon-Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“...The particular care that should be brought to the liturgy, the urgency of holding it in high esteem and working for its beauty, its sacral character and keeping the right balance between fidelity to Tradition and legitimate development, and therefore rejecting absolutely and radically any hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture: these essential elements are the heart of all authentic Christian liturgy. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tirelessly repeated that the crisis that has shaken the Church for fifty years, chiefly since Vatican Council II, is connected with the crisis of the liturgy, and therefore to the lack of respect, the desacralization and the leveling of the essential elements of divine worship. ‘I am convinced,’ he writes, ‘that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.’
Certainly, the Second Vatican Council wished to promote greater active participation by the people of God and to bring about progress day by day in the Christian life of the faithful (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 1). Certainly, some fine initiatives were taken along these lines. However we cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy caused by remodeling the Church’s liturgy according to their ideas. They forgot that the liturgical act is not just a PRAYER, but also and above all a MYSTERY in which something is accomplished for us that we cannot fully understand but that we must accept and receive in faith, love, obedience and adoring silence. And this is the real meaning of active participation of the faithful. It is not about exclusively external activity, the distribution of roles or of functions in the liturgy, but rather about an intensely active receptivity: this reception is, in Christ and with Christ, the humble offering of oneself in silent prayer and a thoroughly contemplative attitude.
... it is necessary to recognize that the serious, profound crisis that has affected the liturgy and the Church itself since the Council is due to the fact that its CENTER is no longer God and the adoration of Him, but rather men and their alleged ability to ‘do’ something to keep themselves busy during the Eucharistic celebrations. Even today, a significant number of Church leaders underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through: relativism in doctrinal, moral and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and trivialization of the Sacred Liturgy, a merely social and horizontal view of the Church’s mission. Many believe and declare loud and long that Vatican Council II brought about a true springtime in the Church. Nevertheless, a growing number of Church leaders see this “springtime” as a rejection, a renunciation of her centuries-old heritage, or even as a radical questioning of her past and Tradition. Political Europe is irebuked for abandoning or denying its Christian roots. But the first to have abandoned her Christian roots and past is indisputably the post-conciliar Catholic Church.
Some episcopal conferences even refuse to translate faithfully the original Latin text of the Roman Missal. Some claim that each local Church can translate the Roman Missal, not according to the sacred heritage of the Church, following the methods and principles indicated by Liturgiam authenticam, but according to the fantasies, ideologies and cultural expressions which, they say, can be understood and accepted by the people. But the people desire to be initiated into the sacred language of God.”
|From last year’s first Passiontide photopost: veiling a statue at Holy Innocents in New York City.|
A number of colonial- and mission-era churches in Mexico were constructed with outdoor chapels attached to the main church building. These chapels consist of the altar and sanctuary only, inset into the main structure and thus out of the elements, with the congregation assembled in the open air outside. Dr. Robert H. Jackson discusses these chapels in the Boletín, the journal of the California Mission Studies Association (now California Missions Foundation), issues for 2011-2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Dr. Jackson photographed a number of churches with this feature:
San Pedro y San Pablo, Teposcolula
Nuestra Senora de la Luz, Tancoyol
San Miguel Arcangel, Mani, Yucatan peninsula
Santo Domingo, Yanhuitlan, Oaxaca
San Juan Bautista Yodzoco, Coixtlahuaca
The reader who sent this information to me commented: "I wasn’t aware of this [architectural feature] until reading Jackson’s papers. Living in San Diego County, I have to wonder if it might be a good idea to incorporate outdoor chapels into new or renovated church buildings, where appropriate, particularly in regions with a favorable climate. It might allow for smaller church structures, with the option of using the outdoor sanctuary for larger liturgies, weddings, etc. I’m sure a tradition-respecting church architect could update and incorporate such a feature as the focus of a park or other landscaping adjacent to the main church, maybe using the sacristy as a common pass-through."
More information on Mixtec stonecutting artistry may be found at this website.
Unfortunately, most of these historic outdoor chapels are in poor shape today, but one can well imagine them in their pristine original condition and how useful they would have been for large congregations on great feastdays.
San Pedro y San Pablo, Teposcolula