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    The Triduum is upon us! As we do every year, we will have a whole series of photoposts of your Holy Week liturgies, with individual posts for Tenebrae, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. As always, we are glad to receive images of the OF, EF, Eastern Rites, the Ordinariate Use, etc., including any part of the liturgy.

    Due to the onslaught of photos which we normally receive in the period, we are using a different system to keep everything organized. Please upload your photos to the appropriate Dropbox link given below, with the name and location of your church in the “name” field. Feel free to email if you have additional details you want to add.

    Upload links:
    Tenebrae at St Anthony of Padua in Jresey City, New Jersey, from last year’s photopost.

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    This article is the second in a projected series of four, discussing the theology of the Good Friday ceremony of the Missal of St Pius V (part 1), the revised version of Pope Pius XII, and the Novus Ordo. For reference, complete descriptions of the first two are given in part 4.1 and part 4.2 of my series on the reformed Holy Week published in 2009. The portions of this article which discuss the rite of the Presanctified properly so-called are largely taken from part 4.2 of that series, but largely re-written. A fourth article will discuss the history of the fraction rite as part of the Good Friday ceremony. The purpose of this article is not to discuss the putative historical antecedents of the new Good Friday ceremony, with one exception.

    As described in the first article in this series, the Good Friday ceremony of the Missal of St Pius V is informally called “the Mass of the Presanctified” because it imitates the rite of Mass as closely as possible. This imitation strongly emphasizing the link between the Last Supper and the Sacrifice of the Cross, and thus between every Mass with the Sacrifice of the Cross. The “solemn post-meridian liturgical action” of 1955 goes to extremes in the opposite direction, divorcing the rite from the ceremony of the Mass as far as possible. (“Solemn post-meridian liturgical action” is far too clumsy an expression to keep repeating; I will refer to it here as the “new ceremony” or “new rite” of Good Friday, etc. This description will assume that the rite is being done solemniter, with deacon and subdeacon, ignoring the options proper to the missa cantata version.)

    At no point in the ceremony are the major ministers dressed as they would be for Mass. For the readings, they wear only amice, alb and cincture, with the priest and deacon in black stoles. For the solemn prayers, the celebrant dons a cope, and the deacon and subdeacon dalmatic and tunicle; they remove these for the adoration of the Cross, the only part where they dress as they did in the previous form of the rite. For the Communion service at the end, they change to violet vestments, with the deacon and subdeacon in dalmatic and tunicle. The maniple is everywhere omitted; this is significant because the maniple is traditionally removed for ceremonies that are connected to, but not part of, a Mass, such as the Corpus Christi procession. The sense of deep mourning expressed by black vestments, including the folded chasubles proper to penitential seasons, is compromised not only by the use of the garments of joy, the dalmatic and tunicle, but also by the inconvenience of the ministers constantly changing their clothes.

    At the start of the ceremony, the altar is completely bare, without altar cloths, candlesticks or a Cross, whereas in the Mass of the Presanctified, it is set up as it would be for Mass, and the cloth is put on at the beginning. The regular bows at the words “Oremus” and the Holy Name are not explicitly suppressed, but if they are made, they are made to a void. At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the ritual of enclosing a large consecrated host in a chalice is omitted; a ciborium of hosts is consecrated instead, and brought to the Altar of Repose by the procession at the end.

    In the new rite, a prayer has been added before the first reading, a very ancient one attested in the Gelasian Sacramentary, and said in some medieval uses of the Mass of the Presanctified even into the 16th century. Here, however, it is said without any preamble (neither “Dominus vobiscum – Oremus” nor “Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.”), and with the short conclusion. The celebrant is directed to stand in plano before the altar, as the book is held in front of him by a server, (rather than at the Missal on the Epistle side), and to keep his hands closed. No prayer of the Mass is said this way.

    Folio 54r of the Gellone Sacramentary, of the Gelasian type, ca. 780-800, with the Good Friday prayer “Deus, a quo Judas” as said in the Missal of the St Pius V, and the prayer “Deus, qui peccati veteris” added in the 1955 reform. In most Uses that preserved both prayers, they appear in this order, not in the order of the 1955 reform. The rubrics direct that they be introduced by “Oremus, Flectamus genua. Levate.”, and that “Levate” be sung by a second deacon. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048)
    The reader sings the first reading from a lectern set in the middle of the sanctuary, not standing before the Epistle side with the book in his hands as at solemn Mass. The second prayer is said at the sedilia, not at the altar; it is introduced by “Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.” as previously, but “Levate” is sung by the deacon, not the subdeacon as in the ordinary rite of Mass. The subdeacon sings the second reading also at the pulpit in the middle. The Passion cantors do not say “Munda cor meum” before the Gospel, but they are blessed by the celebrant; this is the exact opposite of what is traditionally done at a Requiem, in which the deacon says “Munda cor meum” but is not blessed.

    For the solemn prayers, a cloth is put on the altar; the Missal is placed in the middle, rather than at the Epistle side. The priest, deacon and subdeacon come before the altar, and ascend to the predella; the rubrics do not say that they genuflect before doing so. The celebrant kisses the altar. The deacon and subdeacon stand to either side of him (“ministris sacris hinc inde astantibus”), not in line behind him as at Mass; the word “Levate” is sung by the deacon, not the subdeacon.

    After the Solemn Prayers, the major ministers return to their seats, and remove the cope, dalmatic and tunicle. The priest and subdeacon remain standing at the sedilia, while the deacon, together with four acolytes, goes to the sacristy. He returns carrying the veiled Cross, preceded by two acolytes, and accompanied by two others carrying lighted candles. When he arrives before the altar, the priest and subdeacon meet him in the middle, where the priest receives the Cross from him.

    The rite of uncovering the Cross is not changed, except that the two acolytes holding the candles remain at the sides of the priest. As soon as the Cross is completely uncovered, the priest hands it to the two other acolytes, who hold it upright by the two arms, standing on the predella and facing the people. The two acolytes with the candles kneel on the predella, on the sides, where they put their candles down.

    As in the earlier rite, all come in procession to the adoration of the Cross, first the priest, then the deacon and subdeacon, the acolytes and the attending clergy. The ritual is very much simplified, no longer consisting of three double genuflections, i.e. kneeling and making a profound bow, but rather three simple genuflections. (“simplici genuflectione ter repetita”.) After the third genuflection, each person kisses the feet of the Crucifix and returns to his place; the rubrics do not mention another genuflection after kissing it, as in the previous rite.

    When all in the sanctuary have adored the Cross, it is brought out of the sanctuary for the adoration of the faithful. The acolytes hold it up straight, accompanied by the two other acolytes who hold the candles.

    As described in the previous article of this series, the “Communion” which is received at the Mass of the Presanctified is in the act of slowly approaching and kissing the Cross. It is of signal importance that the Lord comes to the the faithful on the Cross just as he does in sacramental Communion: from the altar, and back to the altar. In the new ceremony, the importance of this gesture is notably reduced by the absence of the Cross from the first half of the ceremony, and the radical simplification of the adoration. I do not think it too much to see in this an example of the obsession with efficiency typical of the modern (i.e. post-war) era that gave birth to this rite.

    Lest this seem a merely captious criticism on my part, the rubrics also permit the following variation. If a pastor or rector “foresees that the adoration of the Cross as described above can, because of the large number of people present, scarcely be done, or be done without detriment to good order and devotion”, it can be done as follows. When it is completed by the clergy (whose ability to perform it in an orderly and devout manner seems to admit no doubt), “the celebrant … takes the Cross … and standing on the top step of the altar, with a few words invites the people to the adoration of the Holy Cross. He then holds it up higher for a brief time (per breve tempus) to be adored by the faithful in silence.” Laying aside the clericalist assumptions behind this, and the concomitant display of contempt for the laity, it is now permitted to deprive the laity of the opportunity to solemnly kiss the feet of the Crucified Lord in the liturgy on Good Friday. (We can only hope that no one ever put this deplorable idea into practice.)

    The acolytes then bring the Cross back into the sanctuary, and set it in its place upon the altar, while the two acolytes who held the candles set them on the altar. The ministers change from black to violet, as mentioned above; the deacon brings the burse to the altar, and extends the corporal, while an acolyte places the Missal on the Gospel side, with a purification vessel and purificator.

    The solemn procession by which the Sacrament is brought to the altar at the Mass of the Presanctified, which is the procession of Maundy Thursday in reverse, is no longer done. The deacon and acolytes go to the Altar of Repose to bring the Blessed Sacrament back to the main altar. The Sacrament is carried by the deacon under a humeral veil, with two acolytes carrying candles on either side of him. The priest and subdeacon do not participate; incense is not used.

    At the main altar, the deacon places the vessel with the Sacrament on the corporal, removes the humeral veil, genuflects, and withdraws to the Epistle side. The acolytes place their candles on the altar, which now has four candles on it, where there would be six for a solemn Mass. All the subsequent actions in imitation of the Mass – the preparation of the consecrated Host upon the corporal, the preparation of the chalice, the incensation, the washing of the hands, and the prayers from the Offertory – are no longer performed, again, divorcing the rite from that of the Mass.

    The introduction “Oremus. Praeceptis salutaribus...” is recited, not sung. The Lord’s Prayer is also recited, not sung, by everyone in the church, not just the priest as at Mass. (A new rubric specifies that it is to be said in Latin.) The rubrics also prescribe that the priest keep his hands closed for the Lord’s prayer, whereas they are open at the Mass. The “Libera nos” is recited, not sung, by the priest, but with hands open. He then says in silence the prayer “Perceptio Corporis tui”, and communicates with the normal rites of Mass. Holy Communion is then distributed to all who wish to receive, with the normal ceremonies.

    After Communion, the priest purifies his fingers in the vessel set on the altar for this purpose; there being no chalice present, he does not perform an ablution as at Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is returned to the tabernacle of the main altar; the Missal is then placed in the middle of the altar in front of it. The priest sings three new prayers, each one preceded by only “Oremus”, (without “Dominus vobiscum”, or “Flectamus genua - Levate.”), ending with the minor conclusion (“per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum”), keeping his hands closed. The deacon and subdeacon stand on either side of him, rather than in line behind him. The major ministers descend from the altar, genuflect, and return to sacristy. Afterwards, the Blessed Sacrament is brought to the sacristy or another tabernacle.

    The radical separation between the Lord’s Supper and the Sacrifice of the Cross is further emphasized by another aspect of the 1955 Holy Week reform, the shortening of the Passions of the Synoptic Gospels. Verses 1-35 of Matthew 26 were removed from the Passion on Palm Sunday, verses 1-31 of Mark 14 on Holy Tuesday, and verses 1-38 of Luke 22 on Spy Wednesday. (The last six verses of Matthew 27 were also removed.) These passages appear nowhere else in the Roman Missal, which therefore no longer contains the Gospel account of the preparations which the Lord made for the celebration of the Last Supper, the washing and anointing of His feet, the betrayal of Judas, and the Last Supper itself. (The end of the Passion of Saint Matthew is the account of the guard set by Pilate and the Pharisees at the tomb of Jesus, a passage which has no parallel in the other Gospels.)

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    Our second of photos of your Palm Sunday liturgies, including three sets from the Philippines, and a procession in Singapore with statues of Christ bearing the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows. We will continue shortly with our series of Holy Week photoposts; click here to go to the Dropbox links for submitting your photos.

    We wish all our readers a most blessed celebration of the Sacred Triduum. As we accompany the Lord in His Passion, let us remember those Christians who suffer persecution for the sake of His Name, and especially the families of whose were killed in Egypt on Palm Sunday.

    Most Holy Redeemer Parish - Diocese of Cubao, Philippines

    Cathedral of St Eugene - Santa Rosa, California

    Old St Mary’s - Cincinnati, Ohio (the new Oratory)
    Our Lady of Lourdes Parish - Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines

    St Joseph Oratory - Detroit, Michigan (ICK)

    St Matthew - Monroe, Louisiana

    St William the Confessor - Greenville, Texas

    Shrine of Christ the King - Chicago, Illinois (ICK)

    Chapel of Bl. John Henry Newman - Irvine, CA (Ordinariate)

    Our Lady of the Pillar - Alaminos, Laguna, Philippines

    St Margaret Mary - Oakland, California (ICK)

    Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine - Hsinchu, Taiwan

    Mater Ecclesiae - Berlin, New Jersey

    St Joseph’s Church - Singapore
    Procession of Christ the Nazarene and Our Lady of Sorrows after evening Mass on Palm Sunday. This devotional practice was introduced by the Portuguese missionaries who built the church in 1853), and has been faithfully carried out every year to this day, even after the missionaries left in 1999. Other Holy Week traditions that are particular to St Joseph’s are the washing of the body of Christ on Good Friday, the ceremonial un-nailing and the procession of the dead Christ on Good Friday evening, following which the dead Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows are venerated till midnight and the next dawn till noon. Visitors come from parishes all over Singapore to participate in these devotions.

    St John Cantius - Chicago, Illinois 

    St Mary’s - Norwalk, Connecticut

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    About a month ago, I published an article about the use of the Penitential Psalms in Lent, in which I mentioned that they were generally said at the beginning of the season, 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. Here then is the promised description of the rite of the reconciliation of the public penitents, taken from WG Henderson’s 1882 edition of the Sarum Processional.

    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 from Henderson’s edition.(This would seem to be one of the inspirations for Fr Fortescue’s famous little illustrations in the Ceremonies of the Roman Rite.)
    After None of Holy Thursday, the bishop or his substitute goes to the west door of the church, wearing a red silk cope, and accompanied by two deacons, led by the same “ash-colored” banner used in the procession of Ash Wednesday. The penitents await them in the narthex. If the bishop himself performs the ritual, the archdeacon, also in silk cope, stands near the penitents and delivers a rather lengthy address to the bishop, of which I give here only the beginning.

    “The time is present, venerable bishop, prayed for by the afflicted, meet for the penitent, desired by those in tribulation. Your sons are present, father, whom their true Mother the Church bore unto God with joy; but again, She mourns with new grief every day that at the devil’s suasion, they became corrupt, and wretched, and exiled. For these, all who have happily remained in Her bosom do humbly pray, and who have remained strong in their faith under the protection of divine clemency. Spare them today, father, and with all the force of thy goodness, let that fountain of David be open to us (Zach. 13, 1), and flow forth unto the cleansing of the woman with the issue of blood, reproving none, rejecting none, excluding none. For although no season lacketh the riches of divine mercy, still, now is the forgiveness of sins more abundant through indulgence, and more copious the acceptance of those reborn through grace. …”

    The bishop then intones three times the first word of an antiphon, “Venite, Venite, Venite! – Come! Come! Come!”, beckoning to the penitents with his hand as he does, as if to invite them into the church. One of the two deacons, standing near the penitents, says “Let us kneel”; the other, standing near the bishop, says “Rise.” This is all done a second time, then the bishop repeats “Venite” a third time, at which the choir finishes the antiphon “(Come) ye sons, hear ye me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” The whole of Psalm 33 from which it is taken is sung, with the antiphon repeated after each verse. In the meanwhile, priests conduct the penitents by hand to the archdeacon, who brings them to the bishop, who then brings them into the church.

    An illustration from a 1595 edition of the Roman Pontifical, showing the reception of the public penitents on Holy Thursday. (Courtesy of the Pitts Theological Library, Candler School of Theology at Emory University.)
    When all have entered the church, and the clergy have processed into the choir, they kneel, and say the seven Penitential Psalms; these are accompanied as usual with the antiphon Ne reminiscaris, Kyrie eleison, the Lord’s prayer, and a series of versicles, followed by three prayers. Here is the third one.

    “O Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, who deigned to heal our wounds, we Thy lowly servants and priests humbly beseech and ask of Thee, that Thou may deign to incline the ears of Thy compassion to our prayers, and be moved by confession at (this) penance; and forgive all crimes, and remit every sin; and grant these Thy servants, o Lord, forgiveness in accord with their humble prayers, rejoicing in place of grief, life in place of death; so that those who have come to so great a hope of the height of heaven, trusting in Thy mercy, may merit to come to the goods of Thy peaceable promise and the gifts of heaven.”

    He then turns to the penitents, and makes the sign of the Cross over them, saying: “We absolve you by the authority of the blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles, to whom was given by the Lord power to bind and loose; and in so far as any accusation falleth to you, and forgiveness thereof to us, may God almighty be unto you life and salvation, and the merciful forgiver of all your sins.” He gives the usual blessing “May almighty God bless you…”, and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins.

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  • 04/13/17--18:26: Holy Thursday 2017
  • Communicating, and celebrating the most sacred day, on which Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was betrayed. Thou, o Lord, didst command us to be partakers of Thy Son, sharers of Thy kingdom, dwellers in Paradise, companions of the Angels; ever provided we keep the sacraments of the heavenly army with pure and undefiled faith. And what may we not hope of Thy mercy, we who received so great a gift, that we might merit to offer Thee such a Victim, namely, the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ? Who for the redemption of the world gave himself up to that holy and venerable Passion; Who instituting the form of the perennial sacrifice of salvation, first offered Himself as the Victim, and first taught that It be offered. But also venerating the memory etc. (The Communicantes of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the Ambrosian Rite.)

    The Last Supper, by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1486, in the Dominican church of St Mark in Florence.
    Communicantes, et diem sacratissimum celebrantes, quo traditus est Dominus noster, Jesus Christus. Tu nos, Domine, participes Filii tui, tu consortes regni tui, tu incolas paradisi, tu angelorum comites esse iussisti, si tamen illaesa et intemerata fide, caelestis militiae sacramenta servamus. Haud quid desperare de tua misericordia possumus, qui tantum munus accepimus, ut talem tibi hostiam offerre mereremur, Corpus scilicet et Sanguinem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, qui se pro mundi redemptione piae illi ac venerandae tradidit passioni: qui formam sacrificii salutis perennis instituens hostiam se primus obtulit et primus docuit offerri. Sed et memoriam venerantes etc.

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    The Royal Hours are a special service which is held three times a year in the Byzantine Rite, on Christmas Eve, Epiphany Eve, and Good Friday. It consists of the Hours of Prime, Terce, Sext and None, followed by a service called the Typika, the closest parallel to which in the Roman Rite would be the so-called dry Mass; these five parts are said one after the other without interruption. Those of Good Friday are the oldest ones, the other two being modeled after them. (Royal Hours services have been composed for some other important liturgical days such as Holy Thursday and Pentecost, but have never caught on.)

    Royal Hours of Good Friday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Toronto in 2014. (Photograph from Wikipedia by ΙΣΧΣΝΙΚΑ-888)
    Several features mark the Royal Hours off from the service of the same Hours on other days. It is served by a priest and deacon in their sacred vestments, where these Hours are usually sung by a reader, with a priest saying only the conclusions of the prayers (e.g. “for Thine is the kingdom…”) and the blessing at the end. A bell is rung at the beginning of each Hour, once for Prime, thrice for Terce, etc., and twelve times for the Typika.

    In addition to a large number of very beautiful proper chants, a group of Scriptural readings, consisting of a prophecy from the Old Testament, a New Testament epistle (called “the Apostle” in Byzantine terminology) and a Gospel, are added to each Hour as well. (Normally, there are no Biblical readings at the minor Hours; however, they are often done at Vespers.)

    Just to give one example of the chants, the following sticheron is sung at Terce.

    “Before Thy honorable Cross, o Lord, as the soldiers mocked Thee, the heavenly armies were struck dumb. For Thou wast crowned with violence, that did adorn the earth with flowers; Thou didst bear the cloak of mockery, that didst gird the firmament with clouds. For by this dispensation was Thy compassion made known, o Christ, and Thy great mercy: glory to Thee!”

    Icon of the Crucifixion by Andreas Pavias, second half of the 15th century. (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)
    The psalms of the Hours are the same every single day, but at the three sets of Royal Hours, special ones more appropriate to the day are chosen to replace some of the regular ones, although one of the daily psalms is retained. (The Byzantine Rite does not have antiphons for the psalmody analogous to those of the Roman Rite.) For those of Good Friday, at Prime, Psalms 5, 2, and 21 are said, instead of 5, 89 and 100; at Terce, 34, 108 and 50, instead of 16, 24 and 50; at Sext, 53, 139, and 90, instead of 53, 54 and 90; and at None, 68, 69 and 85 instead of 83, 84 and 85. Some of the Psalms particular to this ceremony are also used in the Roman Tenebrae services: 2 and 21 (in that order) on Good Friday, 53 on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and 68 as the first Psalm of Holy Thursday.

    The readings which are added are as follows:
    At Prime, Zachariah 11, 10-13, Galatians 6, 14-18, and Matthew 27, 1-56.
    At Terce, Isaiah 50, 4-11, Romans 5, 6-10, and Mark 15, 16-41.
    At Sext, Isaiah 52, 13 - 54, 1, Hebrews 2, 11-18 and Luke 23, 32-49.
    At None, Jeremiah 11, 18-23; 12, 1-4, 9-11, and 14-15, Hebrews 10, 19-31 and John 19, 23-37.

    Of course, the Gospels are selected to include a part of the Passion of each of the four Evangelists. The Byzantine Rite also has at the evening Divine Liturgy of Holy Thursday the Gospel of St Matthew, 26, 2 - 27, 2, with two interpolations, John 13, 3-17 after verse 20, and Luke 22, 43-45 after verse 39. At Vespers of Good Friday, a similar composite Gospel is read, Matthew 27, 1-61, with Luke 23, 39-43 added after verse 38, and John 19, 31-37 added after verse 54. At the Matins of Good Friday (usually anticipated to the evening of Holy Thursday), Twelve Gospels of the Lord’s Passion are read, the first of which is almost the entire account of the Last Supper from St John, 13, 31 - 18 ,1. (Four chapters and change!) There shall therefore be no whining about how long the Passions are in the Roman Rite.

    During the reading of the Apostle, there is always an incensation of the church, whether at this or any other service; some churches add an extra incensation at the beginning of Prime and at the end of the Typika service as well. Another interesting feature is that the Royal Hours are considered to be a service for a fasting day, and penitential services may not be held on either Saturday or Sunday. Therefore, whenever Christmas or Epiphany falls on Sunday or Monday, the Royal Hours are said on the preceding Friday. This may seem rather odd, but in point of fact, Epiphany, like Christmas, is preceded by a series of days known as the “pre-festal” days (five for Christmas, four for Epiphany); the Royal Hours thus anticipated to either the 3rd or 4th of January fall within this special period of preparation. Obviously, this does not apply to Good Friday.

    The full text of all three of these services, (Matins of the Twelve Gospels, Royal Hours, and Vespers of Good Friday) can be read at the following link.

    Here is a recording of the Royal Hours of Good Friday, from the cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Golenishchevo, Russia.

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  • 04/14/17--09:00: Roman Sacrament Altars 2017
  • One of the most beautiful things about Holy Week in Rome is the long-standing popular custom of visiting the Sacrament Altars (often called “sepolcri - sepulchers” in Italian) of seven churches on the evening of Holy Thursday, a practice to which a plenary indulgence is attached. Here are some photos of a few of the better ones, graciously provided by two Roman friends.

    Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini (FSSP)
     Santa Maria dell’ Orto
    Sant’Agata in Trastevere
    Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
    San Carlo al Corso
     San Lorenzo in Damaso
    San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini
    Santa Lucia del Gonfalone
    San Lorenzo in Lucina
    Gesù e Maria
    Sant’ Agostino
    Santa Maria del Popolo
    Santa Maria dell’Anima
    Chiesa Nuova
    Santa Maria in Monserrato
    San Girolamo della Carità
    San Rocco all’ Augusteo

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    Pictures of this afternoon's Liturgy of the Passion at the London Oratory. (Photos: Charles Cole)

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    As most readers know, the old Easter Vigil of the Roman Rite underwent a series of reforms beginning in 1951 and continuing until the introduction of the revised Holy Week Rite of Pope Pius XII in the spring of 1956. The Dominicans imitated as much as possible these changes until we produced a new Vigil of our own, one that went into effect at Easter 1957, a year after the Roman Rite. Readers who know the Vigil of the 1962 Roman Missal would find that in use by Dominicans from 1957 onward virtually identical to it, so I am not going to describe it. But as our older liturgy is quite different and of historical interest; thus this post.

    Following the medieval practice of Saturday afternoon celebration of the Easter Vigil, the Dominican Vigil began after the singing of None. In the modern period, when the Vigil had migrated to Saturday morning, this meant that Matins and the four Little Hours of Holy Saturday were sung back-to-back in the morning so that the Vigil itself could begin before 9:00 a.m. One of the first effects of Pope Pius XII's period of experimentation after 1951 was that in some houses the Little Hours of Holy Saturday were restored to their normal times and the Vigil was celebrated in the later afternoon, but this was by no means the universal practice. Morning celebration continued in many places until 1957.

    The old Dominican Vigil began with the Blessing of the New Fire. The prior or other priest celebrant, in purple cope, standing before the high altar, blessed lighted coals in a small metal dish held by the sacristan. The coals had been lighted without any special ceremony in the sacristry before the service. The deacon held the missal. The blessing prayer Domine sancte Pater was short and merely recited, not sung. A small candle was then lighted from these coals, but they were kept in the presbytery until the lighting of the church lamps, so that they could be used to relight the Easter Candle should a draft put it out. The deacon received the prior's blessing, gave the subdeacon the missal and placed himself to the subdeacon's left, which was the Gospel side, as all were facing the altar. The two acolytes with unlighted candles flanked the deacon and subdeacon. The prior took his place at the Epistle side of the altar, as he did for the singing of the Gospel at Solemn Mass. The Deacon then sang the Exultet, for which Dominicans have a tone somewhat different from the Roman and which differs in a number of places from the Roman text.

    Although in modern times Dominicans used Easter Candles of conventional size, as late as the 1800s we often used a very large Easter Candle, much taller than those in use today. Our Province archives have pictures from the 1850s of one of these candles at our old priory church in Benicia California. I will try to get a scan of it. Dominicans did not use a three-branch holder for the Easter Fire and there was no chantning of Lumen Christi. In many priories the ancient practice of the "Easter Card" (Cartula Paschalis) was maintained into the last century. This was tacked to the candle in place of the modern practice of lettering on the candle. The card gave the year of the Lord, the years since the foundation of the Order, Years since the death of St. Dominic, the Epact, the Dominical Letter, and the Indiction.

    When the deacon reached the words In huius igitur noctis, he inserted the first grain of incense into the candle; at the words Rutilans ignis accendit, he lit the Paschal Candle. The server holding the other four grains of incense then inserted them as the deacon continued to sing the Blessing. These acts would have required use of a ladder in the old days. As the deacon sang Qui licit sit divisus in partes, the two acolytes' candles were lighted, and then, at Pretiosae huius lampadis, the church lamps. When the Exultet was finished, the ministers returned to the sacristy, put on white Mass vestments and returned to the altar. There they bowed and went to be seated for the readings, without any other ceremony. During this one Mass of the year, the acolyte's candles were not snuffed when not in use, but allowed to burn continuously.

    A lector in surplice then sang the four readings of the Vigil. These were Gen. 1-2; Ex. 14-15; Is. 4; and Is. 54-55.  In the thirteenth-century the number of readings at the vigil varied widely: from 4 to 18. The Dominican shorter version was found widely in use in Italy. There is actually nothing unusual about it.  So, I do not believe that the Dominican was a special model for the post-1955 Roman revision of the Vigil--the readings do not match. I would think that the Roman model was one of the shorter Italian (Roman) uses from the middle ages.

    A Tract and Collect followed each reading except that from Genesis, which had only a Collect. The second reading from Isaiah had two collects, one before and one after the Tract Sicut Cervus. Two chanters wearing surplices in medio chori then lead the community in singing the Litany of the Saints in its Dominican form. When the choir had sung the last Agnus Dei of the Litany, the choir began the Easter Kyrie and the major ministers approached the altar for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. 

    The priest then intoned at the center of the altar, the Gloria in the solemn tone (very similar to that of Roman Mass IV). As it was intoned, the organ played for the first time since the beginning of Lent, the church bells were rung for the first time since Holy Thursday, and the friars took off their black cappas to reveal their white habits. The subdeacon then sang the Epistle from Colossians 3.

    The Dominican way of singing the Easter Gospel Alleluia differs from the common Roman form, with its three repetitions of the Alleluia and cantors raising each intonation. To the right you can see the Easter Alleluia according to the Domincan chant, the melody of which differs a bit from the common Roman form. You can also see how it is sung. Two cantors in medio chori intone it and the friars all rise. The community then joins in on the short melisma at the end: as indicated by the double bar. Note that this use of the double bar in Dominican notation functions as does the asterisk in Solesmes notation. Then the entire Alleluia is repeated by all, as indicated by the "Repet." The friars then sit while the two cantors sing the verse, joining in for eius at the end, as indicated again by the double bar before that word. As can be seen from "Non repet. Alleluia." the Alleluia is not repeated after the verse. So the Dominican practice is to repeat the Alleluia only once, before the verse. Originally we sang the Alleluia once more after the verse, as I will explain below. Another pair of cantors next joined the original two to sing, antiphonally, the Tract (Ps. 116). Then came the deacon's chanting of the Gospel from Matthew 28.

    The current use at the Alleluia reflects changes made in our liturgy at the time of Humbert's reforms in 1256. In the picture to the right you can see displayed one of the four extant Dominican Missals from before the Reforms of Humbert of Romans in 1256. This book represents the "Liturgy of the Four Friars" whose standardization of Dominican practice was approved in 1246. The left page shows the end of the Litany and the Vigil Mass of Easter (the right page is the Mass of Christmas). If you look carefully you can see where the rubrics for the Alleluia have been changed to conform to Humbert's revision: originally the Alleluia was sung a third time after the verse. This is here crossed out. The Tract was then sung in medio with two pairs of friars alternating the verses. At the Gospel only incense was used; no candles or cross were carried. There was no Credo and no Offertory chant.

    The Mass then continued as usual until the Pax Domini. Unlike the usual practice at Solemn Mass, the Pax instrument was not passed and there was no Agnus Dei. Rather, a very short vespers service began immediately after the response to the Pax Domini. The triple Alleluia antiphon was sung and followed by Psalm 116 with its Gloria Patri. After the choir repeated the antiphon, the cantor intoned the Magnificat Antiphon Vespere autem sabbati, which was also repeated after the choir had finished the Magnificat. The priest, who had by this time finished communion, then sang the Postcommunion Collect. The Mass ended in the usual way with the Placeat, the Ite Missa est, the blessing, and the Last Gospel, the deacon, however, sang the Ite with triple alleluias. Compline was sung after the evening meal with chants proper to the Easter season and the Salve Regina was followed by procession to the altar of the Virgin Mary singing the Litany of Loreto, was customary on all Saturdays of the year. In case you are wondering, Dominicans sing the Salve Regina all year round after Compline.

    There was no General Communion of the friars at the Vigil because the Easter General Communion was at the day Mass of Easter. But I understand that in many places a General Communion had been introduced into the Vigil in the early part of the twentieth century. Such as the practice at our House of Studies in the early 1950s. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Dominican Vigil is the absence of any rites related to Baptism and the font. This reflects the monastic origins of our rite: monasteries did not have pastoral cures and so had no baptismal font since they never needed to perform baptisms. The rite is also of interest for the simplicity of the Fire Ceremony, which is probably quite ancient.

    The Four Friars Missal show is Lausanne: Musee Historique MS MG 2117 and dates to the late 1240s. This post follows the rubrics of the 1933 Dominican Missal, the 1869 Caeremoniale juxta Ritum S. Ordinis Praedicatorum, and the memories of older friars of the Western Dominican Province, in particular Bro. Raymond Bertheaux.

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    Photographs taken yesterday at Solemn Mass of the Lord's Supper at the London Oratory, including the Mandatum and Procession to the Altar of Repose. (Photos: Charles Cole)

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  • 04/14/17--23:03: Holy Saturday 2017
  • Weep not over me, Mother, as Thou beholdest me in the tomb, Thy Son whom Thou didst conceive in the womb without seed; for I shall rise and be glorified, and as God, shall unceasingly exalt in glory them that magnify Thee in faith and love. (The ninth ode of Orthros of Holy Saturday in the Byzantine Rite.)

    Tropar Having escaped sufferings at Thy strange birth, I was exceedingly blessed, eternal Son; but now, seeing Thee, my God, without breathe and dead, I am terribly pierced with the sword of grief! But rise, that I may be magnified.

    Tropar The earth covers me of My own will, but the gate-keepers of Hades shudder, seeing me clothed in a garment, o Mother, made bloody with vengeance; for as, having struck My enemies upon the Cross, I will rise again and glorify Thee.

    Tropar Let all creation rejoice, let all that dwell upon the earth be glad; for the enemy Hades is despoiled. Let the women come to meet Me with myrrh, for I redeem Adam with Eve and all their descent, and on the third day I shall rise.

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    The Title Page of the Missal
    I have often been asked whether it would be possible to reprint the Saint Dominic Missal, originally printed in 1959 by the Eastern Dominican Province.  Some time ago, I mentioned that though the labors of Fr Sebastian White, O.P., a member of that province, had provided me with a very clean PDF of that hand missal.  But since it was over 800 pages, and my books on demand publisher,, could not publish a book of that length, I did not, at that time, reprint it at Dominican Liturgy Publications.

    As the requests have become so common in these days when Dominican Rite Masses are celebrated weekly in the Western Dominican Province and on a regular basis in the Eastern Province, I have decided to reprint this book in two volumes.  This may not be as convenient as a single volume, but each volume is completely self-contained and I do not think the inconvenience of the format will be very great. The two volumes are pocketbook-sized and paperback, the least expensive format possible.

    The first volume includes the entire Proper of the Seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany time, Septugaesima, Lent, Easter, and the Time after Pentecost).  It also includes the entire Ordinary of the Mass and devotional prayers.  You may order ithere.

    The second volume, which contains all the saints of the entire year, as well as all ritual and votive Masses, may be ordered here.  Like the first volume, it also contains the entire Ordinary and devotional prayers for Mass.

    May God grant you all a joyful Easter Season!

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  • 04/16/17--18:51: Easter Sunday 2017
  • Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere; Tu nobis, Victor rex, miserere. Amen. Alleluia!

    We know that Christ has truly risen from the dead; do Thou, victorious King, have mercy on us. Amen. Alleluia!

    To all of our readers, we wish for you, for your families and friends, a most blessed and joyful celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

    From last year, I reprint this excerpt from the first known homily on the subject of Easter, the Paschal homily of St Melito of Sardis, ca 165 A.D.

    When the Lord had clothed Himself with humanity, and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer, and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned, and had been judged for the sake of the condemned, and buried for the sake of the one who was buried, He rose up from the dead, and cried aloud with this voice: “Who is he that contends with me? Let him stand in opposition to me. I set the condemned man free; I gave the dead man life; I raised up the one who had been entombed. Who is my opponent? I, He says, am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven; I, He says, am the Christ.

    Therefore, come, all families of men, you who have been befouled with sins, and receive forgiveness for your sins. I am your forgiveness, I am the passover of your salvation, I am the lamb which was sacrificed for you, I am your ransom, I am your light, I am your Savior, I am your resurrection, I am your king. I am leading you up to the heights of heaven, I will show you the eternal Father, I will raise you up by My right hand.”

    This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and who in the beginning created man, who was proclaimed through the law and prophets, who became a man through the Virgin, who was hanged upon a tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from the dead, and who ascended to the heights of heaven, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who has authority to judge and to save everything, through whom the Father created everything from the beginning of the world to the end of the age.

    This is the alpha and the omega. This is the beginning and the end – an indescribable beginning and an incomprehensible end. This is the Christ. This is the king. This is Jesus. This is the leader. This is the Lord. This is the one who rose up from the dead. This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father, to whom be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

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    In my recent visit to Vienna for a liturgical study day sponsored by Una Voce Austria, I spent a morning walking around the center of the city with an old friend, Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., whose name will be known to some from his blog Sancrucensis. At a certain point, Pater Edmund mentioned that Heiligenkreuz Abbey owns a large building in the center of Vienna that it now rents out as a series of apartments to support the monastery. He said it housed a beautiful little chapel in honor of St. Bernard and asked if I'd like to see it. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued, and we made our way to it: the Bernardikapelle in the Heiligenkreuzerhof. The chapel is in the care of a monk who celebrates Mass there from time to time.

    Although I am not generally a huge fan of southern German and Austrian Baroque, I found this intimate Baroque chapel quite a lovely, harmonious space, with a number of interesting features. The high altar has been preserved and is still used for both forms of the Roman Rite (always in Latin):

    The ceiling is decorated with typical Baroque exuberance:

    There is a little balcony at the back of the chapel that opens on to the abbot's private Viennese apartment. Business or politics would bring the abbot to Vienna, and he needed a place to stay. What could be better than to be able to pray his office looking upon the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel below?

    The main altar was draped for Passiontide. Over the altar is a painting of the famous scene where St. Bernard mystically received milk from the Virgin Mary. Pater Edmund told me that a later generation found the literal representation too distracting and painted over the stream of milk and the uncovered breast:

    The altar cards at the high altar are hand-written -- something one sees fairly often in Europe, but always a source of wonder to me, accustomed to modern printed (and often  mass-produced) cards:

    On the left side of the high altar is a statue of one of Heiligenkreuz's principal patrons, St. Leopold, who is depicted innumerable times in Austrian churches:

    There are side altars for St. Joseph and St. Anne:

    The altar cards at the side altars are identical, and, while printed, are obviously very old -- I would guess 18th century at the latest:

    While walking to the small sacristy I noticed a side table with a candle, as if in expectation of a prelate's arrival:

    In the sacristy, the silver water and wine vessels caught my eye, as well as the chalice, with a scruple spoon, contained in a leather case:

    At the back of the chapel one finds a bust of Blessed Charles I, last Emperor of Austria, with a first-class relic in the wooden stand. I was told that once a month a Mass in his honor is celebrated in this chapel.

    The rector of the chapel has prepared a nice 4-minute video of the chapel, for those who wish to see more:

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    Photos by Charles Cole

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    I was pleased to hear recently that as a result of an article last January, Gina Switzer received orders from around the country for just over 30 paschal candles. When she was telling me about this, she also mentioned that she had seen pictures of medieval paschal candle holders, and it had occurred to her that this would be a good option for parishes as well.

    At the risk of reducing Gina’s commissions, I thought I would pass this idea on to you. This would be something that parishes might consider commissioning from an artist. It would require a carpenter to create the wooden frame into which a series of panel paintings in egg tempera could be laid. Once installed, it would allow for a greatly reduced candle budget, at least, since the candle that goes in it is relatively small and plain.

    The only example I could find was this one which is at the Cloisters Museum in New York City, from the 14th century. I would love to know if readers can provide us with any other examples - perhaps even some contemporary examples - that might inspire further 21st century artistic activity in service of the Church!

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    This Thursday, April 20th, marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Monsignor Richard Schuler. The church of St Agnes in Minneapolis-St Paul, where he served as pastor from 1969-2001, will have a Mass this coming Sunday, the Octave of Easter, in his memory, and of course in honor of his incomparable legacy in preserving and promoting the Catholic tradition of sacred music in the liturgy. The Twins Cities Catholic Chorale and orchestra, directed by Dr Robert Peterson, will sing Franz Schubert’s Mass in B-flat at the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass. The church is located at 548 Lafond Avenue in St Paul.
    With this poster we also received a flyer with some information about Mons. Schuler which is worth quoting.

    “Latin High Mass had never been discontinued at Saint Agnes in spite of an erroneous interpretation of Vatican II which abolished Latin Masses in favor of Masses in English and congregational singing throughout the United States. To quote Monsignor Schuler, as he wrote about the Mass and the music at Saint Agnes, ‘The Council established clearly that music is an integral part (pars integrans) of liturgy; it is liturgy. Two requirements were demanded; music for the liturgy must be sacred and it must be art.’ Soon Saint Agnes attracted more and more worshippers who wanted to attend a reverent and solemn Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, with a liturgy graced by Gregorian chant and traditional artistic music. Monsignor Schuler said, ‘It is through art that man comes to God. Music, architecture, painting, sculpture…all can be means of grace and prayer provided that they are worthy of the Creator of all art and holy as He is.’ There were 18 Chorale Masses with orchestra in the first season along with 4 Masses in Renaissance polyphony. The project from the beginning was funded by the Friends of the Chorale and was never intended to be funded by the parish. The music of the Chorale and orchestra continues to this day. In 2016-2017, its 43rd season, the Chorale will present 29 Masses for the liturgy at Saint Agnes.

    In 1976 Monsignor Schuler became the editor of Sacred Music magazine, a publication of the Church Music Association of America and the oldest church music journal in the United States, a position he held for over 20 years. The journal became his forum for combatting the direction that church music had taken. He is credited by its current editors and the officers of CMAA for keeping the rich heritage of Catholic sacred music alive and for promoting a sacred and reverent liturgy directed toward God.

    When Monsignor Schuler became pastor at Saint Agnes, he established the practice of praying for vocations at Sunday Mass. He also encouraged vocations to the priesthood by meeting on a regular basis with seminarians who sought him out and by inviting these seminarians to experience the liturgy at Saint Agnes by singing in the Chorale. There are 38 priests who were influenced by Monsignor Schuler on the recently established list printed in this document. Two of these priests are now Bishops and one is an Archbishop. Five permanent Deacons were also ordained for Saint Agnes.

    Monsignor Schuler was often accused of being behind the times, but he always said he was forty years ahead of the times, and, in this, he is being proven correct. ...

    We pray for Monsignor Richard J. Schuler and the work to which he dedicated his life.”

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    This April 19th-22nd, over 50 singers from Canada, the United States, and Ukraine will be presenting Resurrection: Music from the Ukrainian Sacred Choral Tradition in Toronto, Rochester, Philadelphia, and New York. This concert series will showcase the new composition for a setting of a Resurrectional Divine Liturgy by Ukrainian Catholic priest Fr. John Sembrat OSBM, including masterpieces specific to the Paschal services from renowned Ukrainian composers such as Dmytro Bortniansky, Artem Vedel, and Roman Hurko. The choir will be led by one of the leading choral directors in North America, Michael Zaugg of Pro Coro Canada. This combined male choir features fourteen members from the following renowned professional choirs in Ukraine: the Boyan Ensemble of Kyiv, the Chorus of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the National Philharmonic of Ukraine, the Homin Municipal Choir of Lviv and Vydubychi Church Choir of Kyiv. The 50-plus member ensemble will also include members of Edmonton’s professional ensemble Pro Coro Canada, the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of Detroit, the Axios Men’s Ensemble, and the Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton.

    The organizers write, “We firmly believe this music can act as a primary vehicle for evangelization, reaching people in an intimate and direct manner. This is true not merely for those who have elementary or no knowledge of the Church and its Sacred Traditions, but for those surrounded by it from birth. It is our intention that the beauty and transcendence of this music will move the faithful to greater devotion and be better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the Most Holy Mysteries. It is our aim is that this music will help stimulate a renewal in Eastern sacred music; to advance the pursuit of excellence in sacred music in conformity with truth, goodness, and beauty; and, most importantly, for the glory of God, the life of His Church, and the transformation of society.”

    For more information about the recording and concert series, including video and audio highlights, see the website

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    It was with pleasure and surprise that I noticed that an article about the Bethlehem Icon Centre, its founder and director, Ian Knowles, and its patron, the Melkite Byzantine Catholic Bishop of Jerusalem, has caught the imagination during Holy Week.

    The same piece has appeared in the Daily Mail and the Times of Israel; it was then picked up by Yahoo News, and from there by the Drudge Report, of all things, where, where, among the political headlines, the link appears with the title “Ancient sacred art resurrected in city of Jesus’ birth”.

    Beauty will save the world!

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    Back in January, we ran a post of photos sent by Fr Jeffrey Keyes, who serves as chaplain to the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa at the Regina Pacis Convent in Santa Rosa, California. They show a nice thing which their sacristans do each morning when laying out the Mass vestments, namely, making designs out of the ties of the amice. Just a small thing, but, as Father writes on his blog, “the essence of the Sacred Liturgy is Sacred, Universal and Beautiful,” and every beautiful thing, however small (and in this case, temporary) contributes to an atmosphere of prayer and reverence. The post was extremely popular, as was the follow-up in February, and since you seem to really like them, here are several more from the last two months. The last one  was sent to Fr Keyes from a church in Missouri which picked up the idea from the sisters.

    St Peter’s Chair
    St Polycarp (poly = many, carp = fish... get it?) 
    St Joseph
    Just a regular Lenten feria
    St Gabriel on March 24
    A crown for the Virgin Mary on the Annunication
    ferial day of Passiontide
    Friday of Passion Week - the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary
    These next four are the work of a different sister, who leaves little explanatory notes as well. Holy Monday
    Spy Wednesday - Crown of Thorns and Nails of the Crucifixion
    A slightly Picasso-esque Agnus Dei
    A face-forward view of Christ, with the second turn of the amice tie (from the top) representing His beard. “They knew him in the breaking of the bread.” This seems to have been inspired by the common representation of the Supper at Emmaus from the point of view of someone standing opposite Christ on the other side of the table.
    like this one by Caravaggio
    from friends in Missouri

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