Articles on this Page
- 05/31/17--13:02: _Pentecost at Holy R...
- 05/31/17--16:02: _Pentecost - Solemn ...
- 06/01/17--10:40: _The Octave of the A...
- 06/01/17--13:39: _The Marian Characte...
- 06/02/17--05:08: _Solemn Mass of Pent...
- 06/02/17--12:25: _A Bi-Ritual Educati...
- 06/02/17--20:34: _Fourth Issue of Alt...
- 06/03/17--04:31: _Norcia Summer Theol...
- 06/03/17--11:51: _Announcing a New Tr...
- 06/03/17--13:41: _Music from Constant...
- 06/03/17--18:36: _Highlights from Day...
- 06/04/17--06:29: _Day Two of the 2017...
- 06/04/17--11:26: _Day Two of the 2017...
- 06/04/17--18:36: _Pentecost 2017
- 06/05/17--03:00: _Pentecost Monday 2017
- 06/05/17--12:42: _At the Vanguard of ...
- 06/05/17--21:00: _Highlights from Day...
- 06/06/17--08:57: _Developing a Canon ...
- 06/06/17--13:00: _iPadre’s Silver Jub...
- 06/06/17--15:46: _Pentecost Tuesday 2017
- 05/31/17--13:02: Pentecost at Holy Rosary Church, Portland OR
- 06/01/17--10:40: The Octave of the Ascension
- 06/02/17--05:08: Solemn Mass of Pentecost and Priestly 60th Anniversary in Hong Kong
- 06/02/17--12:25: A Bi-Ritual Education: Guest Article by Sean Fitzpatrick
- Monday, July 3: Introduction to program, author, book, and themes
- Monday, July 3: Definition of sacrament; whether sacraments were necessary after the fall; whether sacraments consist of words and things
- Tuesday, July 4: Whether sacraments of the New Law are a cause of grace; whether sacraments of the Old Law confer grace
- Tuesday, July 4: Whether sacraments are remedies for evils; why there are seven; how these ought to be ordered; why the sacraments were instituted at a certain time
- Wednesday, July 5: Definition of baptism; the formula of baptism; why water must be used
- Wednesday, July 5: The sacramental character; the effects of baptism; the three kinds of baptism
- Thursday, July 6: The Eucharist as a sacrament; its unity, names, figures, and institution
- Thursday, July 6: The words of consecration of the host and the chalice
- Friday, July 7: Understanding the Mass: St. Thomas’s commentary on the Roman rite
- Friday, July 7: The reception of the Eucharist
- Monday, July 10: The Real Presence
- Monday, July 10: Transubstantiation
- Tuesday, July 11: The matter of the Eucharist
- Tuesday, July 11: The effects of the Eucharist, and how frequently it is to be received
- Wednesday, July 12: The minister of the Eucharist
- Fr. Martin Bernhard, OSB
- Fr. Thomas Crean, OP
- Gregory DiPippo
- Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB
- Dr. Peter Kwasniewski
- Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, OSB, Prior
- Christopher Owens
- 06/03/17--13:41: Music from Constantinople in a Concert in Singapore
- 06/04/17--06:29: Day Two of the 2017 Chartres Pilgrimage (Part 1 of 2)
- 06/04/17--11:26: Day Two of the 2017 Chartres Pilgrimage (Part 2 of 2)
- 06/04/17--18:36: Pentecost 2017
- 06/05/17--03:00: Pentecost Monday 2017
- 06/05/17--12:42: At the Vanguard of Catholic Renewal
- 06/05/17--21:00: Highlights from Day Three of the 2017 Chartres Pilgrimage
- 06/06/17--13:00: iPadre’s Silver Jubilee Mass
- 06/06/17--15:46: Pentecost Tuesday 2017
|Solemn Dominican Mass at Holy Rosary|
The music will be provided by Cantores in Ecclesiaunder the direction of Blake Applegate. They will perform Tomas Luis de Victoria's Missa "Dum Complerentur" with the proper chants from the Dominican Gradual. Victoria's motet "Dum Complerentur" will be sung at Communion.
This Mass will replace the usual Dominican Rite Missa Cantata sung each Sunday at 11 a.m. The next scheduled Solemn High Mass will be on June 29, the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, at 7:00. The music for that Mass will be Palestrina's Missa "Tu Es Petrus."
|Icon of the Ascension by Andreas Ritzos (1421-92)|
Courtesy of James Griffin, here are some photos of the Mass of the Ascension celebrated at the Cathedral-Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Especially note the extinguishing of the Paschal candle in third photo. Mr Griffin is also the author of the blog Modern Medievalism.
For the fourth and fifth parts of this article, Zachary Thomas reflects on the ad orientem posture in Christian worship as an expression of the Virgin Mary’s role as a type of the Church. I have therefore given them a slightly different title from the first three parts, (“Marian character”, rather than “priestly character”), but they are nevertheless the continuation of the same article. To read the first three parts, click on the following links: part 1, part 2, part 3.
The central theme of Mary’s life, in Guardini’s eyes, is offense and contradiction. Just as the prophets were a sign of contradiction to the People of Israel, Christ was a sign of contradiction even to his own dear mother. Her life lives under the shadow of Simeon’s prophecy: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Luke 2:35). From the first instant of her relationship with the Incarnate Word, her very assent is an Abrahamic exodus from her people, for Mary knows that by her assent she renounces her reputation, and opens herself to the stigma of adultery. Then, following the example of Abraham, she leaves her home immediately to care for Elizabeth, She bears Christ in the humiliation of a stable. From then on, each recorded episode between the Mother and Son is tinged with the bitterness of distance:
“From the first hour to the last, Jesus’ life is enfolded in the nearness of his mother. The strongest part of their relationship is her silence. Nevertheless, if we accept the words Jesus speaks to her simply as they arise from each situation, it seems almost invariably as if a cleft gaped between him and her. Take the incident in the temple of Jerusalem. He was, after all, only a child when he stayed behind without a word, at a time when the city was overflowing with pilgrims of all nationalities, and when not only accidents, but every kind of violence was to be expected. Surely they had a right to ask why he had acted as he did. Yet his reply expresses only amazement. No wonder they failed to understand!” (Guardini, The Lord, Regnery Publishing 1982, pp. 11-12).
From this first episode, the young Christ lived in “unspeakable remoteness” from his mother, even as he was physically never far from her. Consider the following observations:
“Mary believed blindly. Again and again she had to confirm that belief, and each time with more difficulty. Her faith was greater, more heroic than that of any other human being. Involuntarily we call to mind Abraham and the sudden, terrible sublimity of his faith; but more was demanded of Mary than Abraham. For years she had to combat an only too natural confusion. Who was this ‘Holy One’ whom she, a mere girl, had borne? This ‘great’ one she had suckled and known in all his helplessness? Later she had to struggle against the pain of seeing him steadily outgrow her love, even purposely flee it to that realm of ineffable remoteness which she could not enter. Not only did she have to accept this, but to rejoice in it as in the fulfillment of God’s will. Not understanding, never was she to lose heart, never to fall behind. Inwardly she accompanied the incomprehensible figure of her son every step of his journey, however dark. Perseverance in faith even on Calvary—this was Mary’s inimitable greatness” (pp. 13-14).
“Everything that affected Jesus affected his mother, yet no intimate understanding existed between them. His life was hers, yet constantly escaped her. Scripture puts it clearly: he is ‘the Holy One” promised by the angel, a title full of the mystery and remoteness of God” (p. 13).
There is no respite for Mary in her continual martyrdom, however sweetly she has born it. Her entire life expresses the drama, the bitter-sweet reality of contradiction that the creature “called out,” to follow God must live. Finally, at the hour of his death:
“...his mother under the cross, thirsting for a word, her heart crucified with him, he says with a glance at John: ‘Woman, behold thy son.’ And to John: ‘Behold, thy mother.’. […] Once again, she is directed away from him. Christ must face the fullness of his ultimate hour, huge, terrible, all-demanding, alone” (12-13).
|The Holy Trinity, by Masaccio, 1425, in the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)|
And he is still an offense. He is an offense to the Gnostics and Platonists who seek salvation through esoteric knowledge, self-improvement, or salvation through technological expertise. He is an offense to the worldly. He is an offense to Christians who have become cold in their habitual obligations, who substitute academic or social work or ritualism for true faith. He is an offense to multi-culturalists who claim salvation can be found in any “spiritual leader.” Ultimately, he offends all of history’s attempts to reduce him to just another figure. Perhaps what the Church has failed to do in recent decades is to be a sign of contradiction for Christ, taking all the blows and buffets and daily dyings that must follow a truly Christian life in this world. If the Church is lauded by the powers of the world, can we still recognize in her the Christ who was mocked by the Romans?
Terribilis est locus iste! (How fearful is this place!) Thus begins the introit for the dedication of a Church. In a funny contrast to the warmly smiling “greeters” in the “gathering spaces” of new suburban churches, it seems like churches used to be built precisely to scare people away from entering. Passing in full awareness underneath a Romanesque portal, under the stern gaze of Christ in judgment, contemplating the souls of the damned, menaced on both sides by fearsome lions, admonished again on the threshold by warnings (e.g. at Siena cathedral: Castissimum Virginis Templum, Caste Memento Ingredi) entering church was a harrowing experience. And yet for that, it was all the more a place of reconciliation, of the sweetest communion and warmest feelings of belonging, as expressed in the psalm verse of the antiphon: “Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum! Concupiscit et deficit anima mea in atria Domini.” The great, even paradoxical tension and unbridgeable difference between these two truths—mercy and justice, love and fear, redemption and creaturehood, man and God—is the atmosphere in which the creature walks, even one confident of redemption.
|“Remember to enter chastely (or ‘purely’) the most chaste temple of the Virgin.” From the pavement of the Cathedral of Siena. (Image from the website of the Duomo of Siena.)|
The ad orientem posture and its attendant sacred choreography is the supreme sign of offense to a proud humanity “called out” of itself to follow Another. In fact, if we are not offended by this priestly, Christological posture, there is something wrong with us. If we would rather we had full, straightforward access to the holy mysteries, a quick and easy satisfaction of our obligation, we do not have enough fear. If we prefer the priest to do his thing and leave us alone, we do not have enough love. Underneath the criticisms that “the old mass is incomprehensible,” and underneath the dubious initiative to render the sacred ceremonies “easily intelligible to everyone,” we may legitimately suspect that there lies a fundamental defect: the attempt to reduce God to our own level entirely, to make him easy and homey so as not to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities.
Along with the many other “veilings” and the indirectness of traditional liturgies, the priest’s back is an offense, an offense that remains stubbornly impervious to our human efforts to reduce the mysteries of God to our own lowly level, to something “easily comprehensible” and “simple.” There are times, as in the intimacy of the confessional, or in the depth of prayer, or in the simple love of familial life, when it is right to know God’s closeness, when he reveals himself tenderly to us. But the enactment of the most solemn Holy Mysteries would be deficient if it did not include the possibility for experience of God’s majesty.
The long kneeling, the deep silence, the ornate architecture of the Church—all parts of the traditional Roman ritual—are all an offense of the loftiness of God impinging on our spiritual autonomy, calling us out into faith. This frustration we feel when the holy mysteries are enacted under veils, behind an “iconostasis of silence,” is good and healthy. A holy soul should always feel it. Why? Because this incomprehension is just what Mary felt at Calvary when she saw her son dying on the cross, it is what we will feel forever in heaven, as we gaze in rapture on the Trinitarian Mystery that can never be exhausted. Even on the natural level, it is the pang of separation and partial communion we feel even face to face with those we love the most. Sometimes we can only say with Mary, as that great act by which he reconciled the universe was playing out invisibly before her eyes: surely He has some interior purpose, though it is to the contradiction and deep offense of all merely human expectations.
In his treatment of the ceremonies of the Old Law (ST 1–2, qq. 98–105), Aquinas points out this anticipatory, tension-laden aspect of Jewish worship. In the old ceremonies of the Temple, in the liturgy God gave them on Sinai, the Jews were actually worshipping Christ indirectly, praying for the Messiah in the posture of hopeful expectation. Aquinas even goes so far as to say that some of the chief priests, who could penetrate the liturgical symbols, explicitly expected Jesus Christ. How great must have been their longing, their impatience even, for God’s final revelation! Their liturgies were never a celebration only of what they were as a people, but also of what they were to become in the final Messianic redemption.
|The Genesis Cupola of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, in which a youthful and beardless Christ is shown repeatedly as the Creator. (ca.1210. Public domain image from Wikipedia.)|
In each Mass, the Church faces our Lord in a Marian posture. We are challenged to adjust our vision, accept contradictions, set aside the human limitations we put on the majesty of God, and fall down in creaturely adoration. The ad orientem posture, as part of the various veilings and negations of traditional ritual, preserves this possibility for the faithful.
I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy. –Pope Benedict XVI, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977
|Students at St Gregory attending and serving both the Roman and Byzantine Rites.|
The war for Catholic culture can be won by winning the battle for Catholic education, where three complimentary strategies are indispensable:
• Young people need to be challenged to a deeper discovery of reality, to encountering familiar things in an unfamiliar way.
• The renewal of Catholic culture involves making Catholic culture new again to young Catholics.
• The life of learning must incorporate the poetry and pedagogy of Catholic liturgy.
One interesting, though unusual, way to set the stage for all three of these educational objectives is through the incorporation of a bi-ritual involvement for students—a liturgical participation in the two main traditions of the Church that balances both East and West in a formative harmony. There is a boys’ school in Northeastern Pennsylvania that is off the beaten path in its communal celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—all the students at Gregory the Great Academy attend both the Western and Eastern liturgies of the Catholic Church. In a rare arrangement, these high-school boys sing and serve and are reared in both the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. This liturgical cooperation of East and West is dramatic and didactic, as they work together to raise souls and minds to the praise and contemplation of the Divine in a way that communicates the vast scope and purpose of liturgy, and thus the scope and purpose of life. The results of this liturgical approach at Gregory the Great have been striking, with boys growing in knowledge and appreciation of the Mass and the mission of the Church, when many struggle with misconceptions about the reality of the Mass and the Church.
In harmonizing these traditions, this school is revitalizing its students to a high and whole sense of liturgy itself—for as liturgy is the source and summit of the life of the Church, so it should be for the life of a school. The rhythms of a rightly-ordered education are complimented and completed by liturgy, for both frame out and measure the interplay of God and man, body and soul, mind and heart. The end of education is to free men from the seeming urgency and finality of worldly ends so that they may pursue beatitude. Thus, liturgy is intimately connected to education. It has an irreplaceable centrality in a school since only the liturgy can open the school to the eternal world, shielding it from the everyday world that ever diverts. Exposing young, ordinary Catholics to ancient, extraordinary forms of the liturgy broadens the life of the Church for them, which is vital if the Faith is to be an integral aspect of their education. The broader this vision, the broader the Church’s purpose will appear. Together, East and West encompass a horizon that is truly eye-opening and inspiring.
Sensing and seeing this horizon is the very goal that a bi-ritual educational approach can accomplish. Familiarization with the too-often unfamiliar richness of Catholic liturgy gives students a fresh and even fantastic understanding of the nature of the universal Church. It provides an experience of the modes of worship and a revelation of the Church’s versatility and wisdom in giving her members different avenues to grace. What is more, these liturgies are beautifully complimentary. The two rites and two traditions presenting the single reality of salvation will naturally appeal to different people’s spiritual lives, posing a strong advantage in their dual celebration.
The Latin rite tends to evoke the Lord’s Supper in a down-to-earth, philosophic atmosphere, economic on symbolism and song, and beatific in its reverent simplicity. The Byzantine rite reflects a heavenly celebration of cosmic mystery and awe, where the subconscious and the senses come into musical play in a poetic and dynamic pageantry. Many find that there is a lively comparison and correlation to be made in the liturgies of East and West to body and soul—the Divine Liturgy being, to some, more earthy and the Tridentine Mass being more ethereal. Others, on the other hand, characterize the Latin liturgy as more incarnational, as spare, sober, and restrained as the Latin language itself; whereas the Byzantine liturgies of the East are perceived as transcendent, even exuberant. In short, the benefit of complementarity is alive in such observations together with the potential to enliven and enrich the spirituality of young people by giving them a taste of and for something beyond the pale of a common liturgical experience.
Many will remember Pope St. John Paul II’s words from “Ut Unum Sint, “the Church must breathe with her two lungs”–its Eastern one and its Western one. In writing this, our late Holy Father was referring to the need to unify the East and West as one Church to combat the dangers of secularism and grow in cultural, intellectual, spiritual, and geopolitical strength. To be clear, the pope was not specifically exhorting individual Catholics to become bi-ritual. His encyclical calling for a balanced resuscitation and cooperation between the main traditions of the Church arose from a predominance of the Latin tradition while the Eastern tradition became more obscure. But, in the effort to achieve this balance, it can fall to priests and teachers to open the minds and hearts of individual Catholics to the liturgies they are not familiar with. With this knowledge, the Church herself might begin to breathe more fully and grow in health and strength. It is to this end that a bi-ritual experience in the context of education can help further this holy objective by making the world of liturgy full and fulfilling to those for whom it has grown stale or, what is worse, stultifying.
Though a bi-ritual approach in education is no easy arrangement—relying on a well-trained bi-ritual chaplain, or regular participation in parishes devoted to traditional liturgy—Catholic priests and teachers should at least remain aware of the potential spiritual enrichment that a collaborative exposure to these liturgies can afford to those who are learning to find their place before God and in His Church. These are suffocating times where any effort to make the liturgy appear the far-reaching powerful force that it is well worth considering and undertaking. It is an education in and of itself to learn how to breathe with both lungs.
- Sean Fitzpatrick is the headmaster of St Gregory the Great Academy in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Our thanks to him for sharing this article with NLM.
Thanks to reader feedback and editorial review, Altare Dei has adopted a new format, more elegant and attractive, and easier to read. The fourth issue also features a number of new writers and some very interesting themes. The table of contents may be found below. Allow me to draw your attention in particular to Marco Tosatti on Fatima, Cavalcoli on Schillebeeckx, an article from Denis Crouan (whom we in America have not heard from in a long time), and Fr. Spataro contributing a piece with the explosive title: "The Traditional Liturgy as Field Hospital." And lots of other good stuff. This is the best issue so far.
To purchase a copy (€6.80), visit here.
The Mysteries of Fatima
The Eucharist According to Edward Schillebeeckx
Thoughts from Benedict
David M. Friel
Why does the Church’s liturgy bore the faithful so much
The substantial Benedict
David W. Fagerberg
Traditional Liturgy as Field Hospital
The Problem of the Sacred
Breaking Liturgical Bad Habits
Peter A. Kwasniewski
DEO GRATIAS (SATB and Organ) Colin Mawby
VIRGO CLEMENS (SATB) Valentino Miserachs
DE MARIA NUMQUAM SATIS (SATB) Aurelio Porfiri
O SALUTARIS HOSTIA (SA and Organ) Aurelio Porfiri
The Singing of the Ministers in the Eucharistic Celebration
“Tradition is Christ Himself”: an interview with Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke
“Tangentitis” and Its Cure
Aldo Maria Valli
Pastoral Practice in the Church
Victory over Evil
Silvana De Mari
25 Years Ago, Grace Entered my Life
A Conference of African Theology
"The Shroud: History and Mystery"
Zachary J. Thomas
(Issue #4 is available here.)
We still have room for last-minute applications, so if you've been tottering on the edge about coming, now's the time to make the final decision. A full description of the program and practical details may be found at the above link.
We now have the syllabus for the seminars and would like to share the topics with NLM readers. Each seminar will be based on a reading from St. Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on the Sentences IV.
During the program, there will also be formal lectures by
With information about their official establishment on June 9th with a Solemn High Mass in Independence, Missouri.
The charism of the Filiae Laboris Mariae is to assist the Blessed Virgin Mary in her apostolic mission of bringing souls to Christ (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 63). Labor Mariae carries out its apostolic mission especially through prayer, above all liturgical prayer, and by making known the truth, goodness, and beauty of life in Jesus Christ in His Holy Church through works of the apostolate. The charism finds expression in three intimately connected ways or “labors,” because the sanctification of God’s people is Our Lady’s labor; it is her work, the work of the one who, clothed with the sun and crowned with twelve stars, still wails aloud as she labors to give birth (cf. Rev. 12:1-1). The threefold labor through which the members of Labor Mariae participate in Our Lady’s apostolic mission is:
1) The Sacred Liturgy: The Sisters normatively assist at the Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In order to show more clearly the intrinsic relationship between the Holy Mass and the Divine Office, the Sisters are committed to praying all the hours of the traditional Roman Breviary. Lauds and Vespers are chanted in a public chapel or church so that all the faithful may participate.
2) The Spiritual Life: The Sisters of Labor Mariae are radically given to prayer, the interior life, and a healthy asceticism which exemplifies daily that God is chosen above all other things (cf. Mat. 6:33). The Sisters are committed to at least 1½ hours of common Eucharistic adoration every day. As daughters of Mary, they pray at least five decades of the Rosary daily. They also enter more deeply into Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, with Our Lady, through the praying of the Way of the Cross.
3) Making Known the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of Life in Christ: The Sisters serve in practical ways in a parish setting by offering services in the sacristy, in the household, and in parish offices. They seek to draw souls to Christ through Mary through catechesis for all age groups, and through the apostolate of writing. In their catechesis, the Sisters place great emphasis on the Sacred Liturgy and the interior life of prayer.
Through their participation in the three Marian “labors” and through making evident the truth, the beauty, and the goodness of life in Christ in His Holy Church, the Sisters of Labor Mariae seek to participate in our Blessed Mother’s work of bringing Christ to life among God’s people, and to contribute to the edification of the priesthood, religious life, and family life.
Labor Mariae does not yet have a website. If you would like to contact Sister M. Regina, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Highlights include: the Seikilos Epitaph, which is the earliest piece of notated music that survives complete anywhere in the world; early Byzantine chant; Medieval Spanish songs about miracles in Constantinople; an extract from the Sunday Divine Liturgy as it might have been heard in Hagia Sophia in the early 1440s before the fall of the city, including acclamations for the Emperor Constantine XI which have not been sung since 1453, specially researched from manuscripts in Athens, St Petersburg, and Mount Athos; laments for the fall of Constantinople - one in French and Latin by Guillaume Dufay, one by an anonymous author from the Greek Islands; Ottoman Turkish court music; a Ladino song from the Sephardic Jews of Asia Minor; and music by Armenian composers connected to Constantinople.
Languages used in this concert include Classical and Medieval Greek, Latin, Renaissance French, Classical Armenian, Ladino, Galician-Portuguese, Bulgarian, Ottoman and Modern Turkish. There will be program booklets with full translations of sung texts.
For this concert, Cappella Martialis will be accompanied by a panoply of appropriate instruments including harp, citole, ud, kanun/kanonaki, fiddle, shawm, recorder, dulcimer, violoncello, piano, as well as authentic Mediaeval and Turkish percussion (adufe, darbuka, bendir etc).
As usual, admission is free but there will be a retiring collection toward the upkeep of the church, which is Singapore’s oldest church and a national monument.
For those who want to know more about the music, the instruments, and Constantinople in general, there will be a short pre-concert talk at 7:30 P.M.
NOTA BENE: There will be two performances - one on Saturday 10th and one on Sunday 11th. Both at 8 P.M.
The Cappella Martialis (Latin for ‘The Tuesday Singing Group’) coalesced in 2011 as a collective of singers enthused about the lesser-known gems of the early choral tradition from the Baroque and before, particularly the Renaissance and Medieval periods. Their aim is to sing sacred music liturgically and secular music in historically-informed performance. Instruments are added as appropriate for the repertoire, and they also have a small band for Renaissance and early Baroque instrumental dance music.
Notre Dame de Chrétienté
Copyright 2017 Notre Dame de Chrétienté
Notre Dame de Chrétienté
Copyright 2017 Notre Dame de Chrétienté
|The Pentecost Dome of the Basilica of St Mark in Venice, 1st half of the 12th century.|
Νῦν περιβάλλονται κράτος οἱ Χριστοῦ ἀφ’ ὕψους Ἀπόστολοι· ἐγκαινίζει γὰρ αὐτοὺς ὁ Παράκλητος ἐν αὐτοῖς καινιζόμενος, μυστικῇ καινότητι γνώσεως, ἣν ταῖς ξέναις φωναῖς καὶ ὑψηγόροις κηρύττοντες, τὴν ἀΐδιον φύσιν τε καὶ ἁπλήν, τρισυπόστατον σέβειν τοῦ εὐεργέτου τῶν ὅλων Θεοῦ, ἡμᾶς ἐκδιδάσκουσι· διὸ φωτισθέντες τοῖς ἐκείνων διδάγμασι, Πατέρα προσκυνήσωμεν, σὺν Υἱῷ καὶ Πνεύματι, δυσωποῦντες σωθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi: how we pray shows what we believe, and what we believe informs how we live. Orthodoxy in fact originally means right worship as well as right doctrine. Being an orthodox Catholic is far more than just adhering to the most recent Catechism promulgated by Petrine authority. It means turning one’s life into a liturgical offering of praise. To doxologize in the company of the saints, allowing time-honored forms of prayer to shape one’s mind and heart, is to be orthodox. To throw one’s hat in with a committee document, the fruit of countless compromises between progressives and conservatives, is not necessarily to be orthodox.
To a Church suffering from rampant anthropocentrism, horizontalism, liberalism, banality, and boredom, traditional Catholics can and must bring the witness of a life shot through with the primacy of God, the primacy of divine worship, the primacy of dogmatic truth. The more unpopular this triple commitment, the more we shall throw ourselves behind it, ready to suffer and die for it. We embrace whatever is authentic, noble, and profound, and fight mediocrity wherever it rears its ugly head.
“The True, the Good, the Beautiful”: how often do we hear this trio invoked, especially in the circles of the Newman Guide colleges? This popular motto corresponds to the classic threefold division St. Thomas Aquinas follows when expounding the Catholic Faith: first, the articles of the creed; second, the commandments; third, prayer and the sacraments.
1. The Creed, which defines us as believers, proclaims the priority of dogma or doctrinal truth in the Catholic Faith. Without dogma we are nothing, we have no existence, we are non-entities grasping at straws. A church without immutable, determinate, knowable dogma is no church at all. A church with ever-evolving dogma, vague around the edges, is a human construct that deserves our contempt and pity rather than our adherence unto death. The modern experiment of a religion of morality alone has collapsed into babbling incoherence. The faith of the saints is far different: it is at once inflexibly dogmatic and inexhaustibly loving. Our tendency to think these traits incompatible proves our small-mindedness and lack of charity.
2. The Commandments and the Beatitudes put before us the template, and make upon us the demand, of a morally consistent Christian life, especially in controversial or difficult matters such as liturgical offices and sexual ethics (two areas intimately conjoined, even if political correctness seeks to dissever them). In any case, the morality of the Gospel is more demanding than any code of ethics the human race has ever known, and it brings no benefit to anyone to say otherwise. Living it day in and day out would be an absolute impossibility without the grace of Christ — grace Our Lord is prepared to give us in abundance. This is the teaching of St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Paul II, and a few thousand other Catholic theologians of the past twenty centuries.
3. In regard to the third area, prayer and the sacraments, suffice it to say that the sacred liturgy, which has the power to unite us with Our Lord and to fill us with His grace, deserves to be celebrated in its full integrity, with reverence and beauty. We are sanctified not like machines into which coins are deposited but as living flesh-and-blood creatures who must be engaged in our senses, imaginations, memories, wills, and intellects. The liturgy is done for the honor of God and for our sanctification; it is therefore no small matter whether it is conducted well or poorly, nobly or shabbily, beautifully or hideously. In the liturgy, our Creed is either believably embodied or not, and our fundamental willingness to lead a life of holiness is put to the test. Every Sunday, indeed every day, God gives His Church an opportunity to say what she believes and act it out. What actually happens in many places reminds one of St. Pius X’s strong words in Tra le Sollecitudini: “It is vain to hope that the blessing of heaven will descend abundantly upon us, when our homage to the Most High, instead of ascending in the odor of sweetness, puts into the hand of the Lord the scourges wherewith of old the Divine Redeemer drove the unworthy profaners from the Temple.”
This threefold exposition will help us to answer a question that often arises. Young practicing Catholics (think of recent college graduates from the Newman Guide schools), with generosity of spirit and pugnacious zeal, ask themselves and one another: “Where should we go next? What should we be doing? Are we not supposed to be salt and leaven, going into bad situations and improving them? We mustn’t clump together into groups at places that are already doing well.” With reasoning like this, Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option is put in brackets or swept aside.
I think we ought to be careful in this matter. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that we have to consider the “order of charity.” In the order of charity, God comes absolutely first — and this includes offering to Him due worship so that we may live out the virtue of religion, foremost of the moral virtues. Second comes oneself: we actually have a duty to ourselves to find a good parish where liturgy is taken seriously, where worship is offered beautifully to God, as He deserves and desires, and as we need for our spiritual health. Once a person is married and has a family, this duty extends to all of one’s dependents, for whom the same goods are to be sought and provided. One should not decide where to live solely based on work, family, convenience — or a potentially reckless missionary complex. One’s faith should take first place, and, within the faith, the sacred liturgy is the foundation and center. To the extent that one is free to weight and choose factors, one may not subordinate the liturgy to any other consideration without convicting oneself of agnosticism or even practical atheism. To place human and social goods before divine ones violates the first tablet of the Law.
What, then, should a young Catholic single, or a newly-married couple, or a growing family, be doing?
Realistically, they could either seek out a community that is already strongly built up, like a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter parish, an Institute of Christ the King parish, or a regular parish with an excellent liturgical ethos (would that more of them existed!), or they could join a parish where people have their heads basically screwed on, but where a fair amount of work still needs to be done. This latter path is steeper and requires a number of virtues: patience, generosity, longsuffering, prudence, meekness. It is not a path that should be taken unless one could discern at the start that the pastor is open to the fullness of Catholicism. If he is not really open to positive change, one is only setting oneself up for enormous aches and pains.
In spite of the prevailing mediocrity, there are, if one counts them all up, many Catholic communities — regular parishes, traditional parishes, college chaplaincies, religious houses — that are joyfully committed to the liturgical renewal inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI. Some are anchored in the traditional Roman Rite, others in a “Reform of the Reform” approach to the modern rite, still others in the traditions of the Christian East. Wherever we happen to be, we are consoled by the knowledge that others, too, are fighting the good fight. There is a movement for the restoration of traditional Catholicism whose participants may be found in practically every diocese of the world. And if we must leave one place and settle in another, we need to set our sights on communities that are striving to pursue noble beauty in the liturgy, rigorous doctrinal truth, and moral heroism. So far from being “selfish,” this the natural way in God’s Providence for good things to grow organically, gain internal strength, and radiate a powerful influence on the surrounding world.
If this is the “Benedict Option,” I’m all in favor of it. But to me it just sounds like Catholic common sense.
 John Paul II famously said in his Ecclesia in Europa that the Faith was nearly extinguished in Europe. Benedict was never shy about referring to the massive collapse after the Council, although he continued optimistically to avoid attributing any share of blame to the Council itself, preferring to see the collapse as the work of villains, cowards, and compromisers (not that he would have used exactly those words).
 It is a peculiar feature of our democratic times that so many are inclined to trust the work of councils, synods, and committees. A more realistic assessment of human nature expects the worst from such group efforts, or at least something well beneath what an heroically virtuous individual could have done. This we see constantly illustrated in the lives of the saints. All the great reform movements in Church history are spearheaded by individuals, raised up by God and fighting against tremendous odds.
 I will return to this point about correcting abuses in next week’s article at NLM.
(Photo courtesy of Fr. Lawrence Lew.)
The Chartres pilgrimage wound up yesterday, finally arriving at the splendour that is Chartres Cathedral where His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke, celebrated a solemn pontifical Mass for the pilgrims and other dignitaries. Here then is a final selection of photos. The entire photo album is available, as usual, from Notre Dame de Chrétienté.
For example, when the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, D.C., put out a call for icon painters a couple of years ago, they did so in accord with this tradition. In my understanding, the rules are not absolutely rigid; most Eastern Rite churches will conform to them while accommodating some aspects that are particular to the church community, adding an icon of the church’s patron Saint.
What should we do in the Roman Rite? I know of no established schema with anything like canonical status. The Church’s guidelines such as the GIRM, Canon Law, and (in the US) a booklet produced by the bishops called Built in the Living Stone, offer suggestions as to the broadest principles for the choice of art. However, apart from asserting the centrality of the Crucifixion and images of Our Lady and the Saints, they offer little that is specific regarding what images are particularly appropriate. I do not quarrel with a single word of these documents, but I do think we need more.
This being so, the question arises: what might the ordering principles be for establishing such a schema? Tradition and the innate sense of what is appropriate would have guided patrons in the past, and for centuries this worked well. Nowadays, things are different. We have had our own iconoclastic period, which has left us disconnected from tradition in so many ways; I think that now some analysis of basic principles and a look at past practices would help us to reestablish a proper ordering of the images in our churches.
My hope is not that a set of rigid rules will be drawn up, but rather, a more detailed set of principles and recommendations by which a pattern of art can be drawn up that would be in accord with tradition. Such principles should reflect authentic liturgical praxis, and also be particular to the congregations for whom they are primarily intended. I could imagine a whole series of different schemas might develop that are all consistent with these principles.
We can take heart in this from the example of the Eastern Church, which did much scholarship in the 20th century to reestablish the iconographic tradition as a living tradition, and to present a coherent account of traditional practices. As a result, in a relatively short time, church architecture and art have flourished in the Eastern Rite in such a way that in Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches now have the self-confidence and know-how to create churches and art that are as splendid as any in the past. We can do this in the Roman Church as well if we wish to.
Here are the points that occur to me. The following is presented as a starting point from which I hope a discussion might develop, not an exhaustive analysis.
First, we need a study of Scripture so that we understand the Old Testament types, and the New Testament basis of the sacraments and the liturgy. This will focus particularly on the Rites of Initiation (Baptism and Confirmation) and the Eucharist.
Second, we need a study of the texts and meanings of the words of the Rites, and especially of the Mass; and, in that context of the Mass, of the Roman Canon in particular. This is what will create a characteristically Roman template.
Third, we need to study the example of the Eastern Rites and see how their imagery is connected to the Divine Liturgy, with a view to understanding how this can be done well in the West as well. While we do not want simply to copy iconostases as a template, there is much to be learned by studying the principles by which they are ordered.
Fourth, in the light of all of the above, we should study the examples of earlier Roman churches so that we can understand why things were done as they were. This is not always easy, as images are moved and replaced over time. Perhaps ancient mosaics and wall paintings are the most reliable indicators of past practice in this regard.
Fifth, we must consider liturgical action: we need to re-develop a way of participating in the liturgy that encourages engagement with art in harmony with the highest end to which our worship is directed, so that the art actually influences our Faith through the activity of worshipping God.
I have recently attended a series of online scripture courses that are designed to connect the traditional imagery of the Church to its scriptural roots and to the liturgy. This has been an eye-opener for me. The books that the course relied upon, apart from the Bible and the Catechism, were The Bible and the Liturgy.by Fr Jean Danielou, and Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity by Robin Jensen.
As part of that course, it became clear to me that there is a need for general re-ordering of the rites of initiation so that Baptism, Confirmation, and their culmination in the Eucharist are understood and connected in people’s minds. It will be difficult to create a pattern of art ordered to these if their meaning is misunderstood by most people who go through them because of this misplaced order. We have just heard about how this change was instituted in the diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire by His Excellency, Bishop Libasci. I understand that there are now 11 dioceses in the United States which have done this.
Also, it seems to me, these rites would be better done in connection with regular Sunday liturgies rather than quietly on a Saturday morning, as they still are for adults at the Easter vigil. The whole parish community should welcome a new member into the body of Christ, and be re-catechized each time these and the Mass are celebrated. This is how an effective and ongoing mystagogy - a deepening of the mysteries - might happen.
Art will teach people about the meaning of these sacraments by giving a pictorial commentary on what is happening, and for much of this, Scripture will be the source. There is hardly a passage in the Old Testament that doesn’t in some way anticipate what happens in the New, and there is so much of the New that relates in some way to these three sacraments.
It is often said that the images of traditional churches, such as the stained glass windows of Gothic churches, were intended as Scriptural lessons for those who could read. I doubt this. Images in churches should be chosen not to direct our attention to the Bible, but rather to focus our attention on the liturgy. The goal of art in a church is to give understanding about what primarily happens in the church, the worship of God. Certainly many of the images are rooted in Scripture, and those who understand what they are seeing would know and understand Scripture too; but art reflects Scripture, because the Bible is, fundamentally, a liturgical document. It was written to be read in the context of the liturgy, and it contains the blueprint for the sacraments and the Christian life, which is lived in its fullest in the liturgy. Scriptural art is in church, therefore, not to instruct us in Scripture as an end in itself, but to offer an account of the same truths which are in the Bible and are relevant to the liturgy.
That is why there are also many images which are liturgical, but not Scriptural, such as those of the Saints. Their presence through the year tells us that they are worshipping with us in the heavenly liturgy, and reflects the order of feasts and commemorations in the liturgical calendar. Images relating to many feasts are a visual accounts of a theology which is more than a strict narrative of a Biblical passage, and derived from many aspects of Tradition.
This being so, one might ask: why do I stress Scripture so strongly, why not just catechize directly on the meaning of the liturgy? The answer lies in identifying our worship as a living out of the story of salvation that Scripture tells. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently read Fr Robert Taft’s book The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West, in which he makes the point that in order to profit from praying the liturgy as a whole, including the Hours:
...one must be a person who prays and whose life is penetrated with the Scriptures. The Bible is a story of God’s ceaseless calling, drawing, gathering and of his people’s constant waywardness. And the Fathers and monks of the early Church, in their meditation on this ever-repeated story, know that they were Abraham, they were Moses. They were called forth out of Egypt. They were given a covenant. They knew the wandering across the desert to the Promised Land was the pilgrimage of their life too. The several levels of Israel, Christ, Church, us, are always there. And the themes of redemption, of exodus, of desert and faithful remnant and exile, of the Promised Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem, are all metaphors of the spiritual saga of our own lives. (p. 371)In my opinion, the general inability of creative Catholics to connect this grand drama, revealed in Scripture and the liturgy, to each personal story lived out by non-Catholics in wider society, is the cause of much of the division between contemporary culture from the culture of Faith. This divide is described by Benedict XVI in the Spirit of the Liturgy, and, if we accept his analysis, has existed for at least 200 years. Every aspect of human activity, and hence of the culture, can potentially be penetrated, to use Fr Taft’s word, by the Scriptures, but people can’t give away what they haven’t got. Artists, dramatists, composers and writers need to be catechized so that they grasp this, and are able to infuse their work, obviously or subtly, with this message so that it connects with those whom we wish to evangelize.
Within the books of the Bible, there should be a special emphasis on Genesis.
Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation.(CCC 289)Artist, patrons and priests, therefore, must understand the ultimate end of both Scripture and holy images in the liturgy. When this is done, a church can be adorned from floor to ceiling with images that are united to the worship of God. There is no distraction if it is all derived from and points to the liturgy. There is a place for non-liturgical, devotional art, too, but it should never be such that it dominates or detracts from that which is directly connected to the liturgy. It was the overabundance of devotional imagery in the period before the Council, I suggest, that led to a desire to strip much of the art away. Unfortunately this was over-zealously implemented!
In regard to the place of Scripture, consider the schema for the baptistery in Florence, a Romanesque structure of the 11th and 12th centuries. The building itself is octagonal, which reflects the symbolism of Christ’s Resurrection as the eighth day of creation. It is adorned with symbolic geometric art, and in the interior, the dome has a complex schema that reflects the biblical types of the sacrament.
Plan of the mosaic ceiling : 1. Last Judgment. 2. Lantern. 3. Choirs of Angels. 4. Stories from the Book of Genesis. 5. Stories of Joseph. 6. Stories of Mary and Christ. 7. Stories of St. John the Baptist.
This is only part of it, for the doors of the Baptistery - perhaps even more famous than the building they were made for - also show a whole series of scenes from the Old and New Testament. You can read about this on the Wikipedia entry for the Baptistery, from which all the above images come. There is more information on how baptisteries in the early Church were decorated in Robin Jensen’s excellent book Baptismal Imagery in the Early Church.
I do not suggest that the baptistery should always be a separate building, but it should at least be a separate place, perhaps close to the entrance of the church, so that after baptisms there might be a procession to the main body of the church building.
There are equivalent types and narratives rooted in Scripture that could be the basis for imagery for Confirmation, for example those relating to the Holy Spirit; and to the Eucharist as well and these, especially the latter, should adorn the main body of the Church.
This article will continue in a second installment.
|The beginning of the votive Office of the Holy Spirit, from the book of Hours known as the Black Hours, made in Bruge, Belgium, ca. 1475, now in the Morgan Library in New York. (click for larger image)|