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    Those in the northeast will be delighted to learn of the upcoming USA tour of the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. The Schola is undoubtedly one of the finest choirs in the world, and certainly should be an occasion of joy for anyone who loves Catholic sacred music. Too, the Schola is a model for the spiritual and musical formation of children at the service of the worship of God in the sacred liturgy.

    The Schola will be in the USA October 22 to 29, visiting Boston, New York, and Washington DC. In keeping with their mission as a group which finds its home primarily in the sacred liturgy, they will be singing for Masses as they go. 

    I am looking forward to taking the groups of children that I teach to see one of the concerts; others might consider doing likewise, for the concerts and Masses will be inspiring in every way. The concerts will feature music by Monteverdi, Guerrero, Byrd, Tallis, Purcell, Stanford, Britten, La Rocca, Bruckner, and Holst. 

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    Next Thursday, October 26th, the church of St Ann in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Charlotte Latin Mass community, will welcome Bishop Athanasius Schneider for the celebration of a Solemn Pontifical Mass in honor of Blessed Karl of Austria. The Mass will begin at 7pm; the church is located at 3635 Park Road.

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    Among the ruins of the Roman Forum, the center of public life in the ancient city, there lies half-hidden an ancient church called Santa Maria Antiqua. It was constructed sometime in the second half of the 6th century within an older building at the north-west corner of the Palatine hill, and remained in use until 847, when it was partly buried by a mudslide off the hill caused by an earthquake, and abandoned. It remains came to light in 1702 when another church built on the same site much later was being restored; in 1901-2, the newer church was demolished to free it up. With the completion of extensive restoration work, it was recently reopened to the public as part one the regularly visitable areas of the Forum archeological zone.

    Santa Maria Antiqua contains a remarkable amount of Byzantine fresco work from several different periods of its brief (by Roman standards) life. Many of these are in fairly bad shape, but many others are remarkably well preserved, considering how long they lay buried and neglected, and they give us an interesting sense of what Christian churches might have looked like in antiquity. Our thanks to Fr Alex Schrenk, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, for sharing with us these photos taken during a recent visit.

    The roofed structure next to the trees on the right is an Oratory dedicated to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste; Santa Maria Antiqua is to the right of it from this point of view.
    A frescoed niche with three holy mothers and their children: St Anne holding the Virgin Mary, Mary Herself holding Jesus, and St Elizabeth holding St John the Baptist.
    The mother of the seven brothers whose martyrdom is described in 2 Maccabees 7, here given the name of Salome, with Eleazar to her left. They are the only Old Testament Saints whose feast is traditionally kept on the general Calendar of the Roman Rite, as a commemoration on the feast of St Peter’s Chains. The Byzantine tradition holds that Eleazar, whose martyrdom is recounted in 2 Maccabees 6, 18-31, was her husband and the father of her seven sons, although this is not stated in the Biblical text.
    One of the most famous things in the church is this “palimpsest”, in which frescoes from two different periods can be seen, one on top of the other, the older layer revealed by the partial disintegration of the newer. 
    A frescoed column
    The ancient building within which the church is located was part of a large structure that led into the Imperial palace on the Palatine hill. (The word “palace” actually comes from “Palatine.”) It is believed that at first, Santa Maria Antiqua principally served the Greek-speaking imperial administrators housed within the ancient palace; there majority of the Saints depicted in the church are Greek, as indicated by the names written in the frescoes.

    St Anne with the Virgin Mary
    The Adoration of the Magi above, and the Carrying of the Cross below, with two Saints in medallions, the Apostles Andrew and Paul.
    A deesis scene, as it is called in Greek, a supplication, with Christ between the Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist.
    Four Saints “quorum nomina Deus scet (scit) - whose names God knows.”
    A Crucifixion scene from the 740s. Christ is dressed in a blue garment with Roman bands of rank, and flanked by Our Lady, St John the Evangelist, and two smaller figures; of the latter, the one one the left is labelled as Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ's side, and the other is holding up a sponge soaked in vinegar.

    A fresco of various Saints, together with the donor Theodoretus on the right, and his son on the left, depicted smaller than the Saints, and with square blue haloes, conventions of the age which indicate that they are people still living.
    The left wall of the church has a huge frescoe, relatively much better preserved, with Christ surrounded by nine Latin Saints and eleven Greek ones.

    This extremely ancient icon (possibly of the 5th century), was originally kept at Santa Maria Antiqua; after 847, when the church was abandoned, a new church called Santa Maria Nova was constructed on the other end of the Forum to replace, and the icon has been kept there ever since.
    The apse of Santa Maria Nova now has a copy under the apsidal mosaic, which was executed in the 1160s. The church is more commonly known as Santa Francesca Romana, after a very popular Roman Saint of the 15th century who is buried in the crypt.

     /ra For this reason, a new church called Santa Maria Nova (New St Mary, now Santa Francesca Romana) was erected nearby by Pope Leo IV, on a portion of the ruined temple of Temple of Venus and Roma, where once stood a chapel commemorating the fall of Simon Magus.[5] Santa Maria Antiqua suffered further damages during the Norman Sack of Rome (1084). The church of Santa Maria Liberatrice (Sancta Maria libera nos a poenis inferni) was built in 1617 on its ruins, but then demolished in 1900 to bring the remains of the old church to light.[6]  

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    I recently learned that last year, the Congregation for Divine Worship approved a request of the Italian Bishops’ Conference to make the memorial of St Nicholas obligatory in Italy; on the General Calendar of the OF it remains at the lowest grade of feasts, optional memorial, on his traditional day, December 6th. As Fr Hunwicke pointed out, with his great talent for witty expressions, St Nicholas has “as large a portfolio of Patronages as a Renaissance cardinal”, and there are of course plenty of places and ecclesiastical institutions where his feast is kept with a higher degree of solemnity as that of a patron.
    Altarpiece of Saint Nicolas, by the Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy (active ca. 1480-1510 in Bruges).
    In a circular letter to the Italian bishops, the head of the Conference, Angelo Card. Bagnasco, the Archbishop of Genua, highlighted not only the strength of devotion to St Nicholas among Italians, who boast the possession of his major relics in the city of Bari in Puglia, but also the ecumenical importance of this devotion. His feast is extremely prominent in the Byzantine tradition, as evidenced by the popularity of his name among the Greeks and Slavs. (In the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, there is a scene in which the groom is introduced to his Greek fiancée’s family, including ten cousins named Nick and one Nicky.) He is named in the preparation rite of the Divine Liturgy, alongside such Doctors of the Church as Ss Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Athanasius and Cyril. The Russians traditionally honor him as a patron of the nation alongside St Andrew the Apostle, and prior to the 1917 revolution, the imperial government maintained a pilgrim hospice at Bari. On Thursdays, there is a special commemoration of him alongside the Apostles when there is no major feast to celebrate, roughly the equivalent of the Roman Saturday office of the Virgin, and the translation of his relics is celebrated on May 10th.

    In the beautiful Byzantine custom of giving distinctive epithets to the more important Saints, that of St Nicholas is “thaumatourgos – wonderworker.” The liturgy refers to this repeatedly, as for example this text from the beginning of Orthros: “Thou shinest forth upon the earth with the rays of miracles, wise Nicholas, and movest every tongue to the glory and praise of Him who glorified Thee upon the earth; do Thou, elect among the Fathers, beseech Him, that those who honor thy memory with love and faith may be delievered from every pain.”

    The traditional Roman Collect for his feast also refers to this tradition: “O God, Who didst glorify the blessed Bishop Nicholas with innumerable miracles; grant, we beseech Thee, that, by his merits and prayers, we may be saved from the fires of hell.” In the post-conciliar reform, it was determined that Modern Man™ is better off not hearing about miracles or hell when at prayer, and a shiny new Collect was put in the Missal to replace the dusty old one: “We humbly beseech Thy mercy, o Lord, and, by the intervention of the blessed bishop Nicholas’ prayer, keep us safe in all dangers, that the way of salvation may lie freely open to us.” It often seems to me that the ecumenical implications of such reforms were hardly considered, back when this sort of thing seemed like a good idea; and likewise, that we should give more attention to the ecumenical implications of Pope Benedict’s achievement in giving the traditional texts back to the Church by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. It is much to be hoped for that this decree will be made general for the whole Roman Rite.

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    As we have covered in the past (e.g., here and here), The Aquinas Institute has undertaken the project of publishing a Latin/English Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor in approximately 60 hardcover volumes. The progress has been impressive so far: the Summa Theologiae; the Pauline Commentaries; the Matthew and John Commentaries; the Job Commentary. All of these books, due to their high-quality texts and bindings and their comparatively low cost, have now become standard go-to editions for teachers, students, theologians, philosophers, and general readers.

    After years of work under an NEH grant, The Aquinas Institute is happy to announce that the edition of Book IV of St. Thomas's early masterpiece, the Scriptum super Sententiarum or Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, is starting to be available in print, with volume 1, distinctions 1-13, just released. If you order this book directly from The Aquinas Institute, you can get it at a 50% discount (more on that below).

    This past July I had the privilege of teaching the Albertus Magnus Summer Program in Norcia, devoted to the subjects of sacraments in general, baptism, and the Eucharist, using a preliminary copy of this volume. It was a great experience getting into the youthful Aquinas's wrestling with major questions of his day (and of ours, such as his treatment of whether and when sinners, and what kind of sinners, should be admitted to holy communion!). Once again, as with my own collection of parts of the Scriptum on love and charity, I found that reading the Scriptum on sacraments significantly enriched and enhanced my understanding not only of Aquinas's process of thinking and maturation, but, more importantly, of the sacred realities themselves, which are the end of all theology. It was a true intellectual banquet, and one that I highly recommend to readers with a serious interest in scholastic theology. (Earlier at NLM, I published a portion of text from this volume: St. Thomas's "division" of the Mass into its parts.)

    Also worth of note is that the Latin edition of the Scriptum that is printed in this volume (and that will be used for all the volumes of the Scriptum) is derived from the classic Mandonnet-Moos volumes and corrected against the not-yet-released critical edition of the Leonine Commission, with whom the Aquinas Institute is collaborating. That feature makes these volumes the best Latin editions as well as the only English editions.

    Please note, as well, that there is a 50% sale on all Aquinas Institute books during October only:
    • Summa theologiae (8 hardcover vols.): normally $360, on sale for $180
    • Commentaries on Paul (5 hardcover vols.): normally $225, on sale for $112.50
    • Commentaries on Matthew and John (4 hardcover vols.): normally $180, on sale for $90
    • Commentary on Job (1 hardcover): normally $45, on sale for $22.50
    • Commentary on Book IV of the Sentences (4 hardcovers--the first in print, the others to follow over the coming year): each volume normally $45, on sale for $22.50
    To take advantage of the sale, visit The Aquinas Institute website.

    The Aquinas Institute is well under way with Books II and III, with a new NEH grant. Other works will appear from time and time. Their publication will be duly noted here and at

    Here are some photos of the new volume of the Opera Omnia.

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    I received a note from the multifaceted artist Francis Koerber of Jackson, Wyoming, concerning a project he recently completed: an interpretation, in three dimensions, of the traditional Byzantine crucifixion scene, using woods and paints. Here is the completed work:

    The woods utilized are, back, quarter sawn oak; crucifix, Brazilian cherry; corpus; quarter sawn oak; hair and beard, walnut; halo, cherry; loincloth, poplar; Mary: outer garment, walnut; inner garment, cherry; hand and shoes, light cherry; St. John: cherry, hair, walnut; headplate and footplate, cherry. The colors of the wood are all natural; Koerber does not use paints or stains (the only paint is the crimson blood). A clear coating of Tung oil brings out the subtleties of the color and grain of the wood simply by accentuating what is already there.

    On one of Koerber's many websites, Teton Craftworks, he shares with the reader the process of putting together this icon. I will post only a few of the photos here; the rest may be viewed there.

    The artist wrote the following to me:
    My basic philosophy on Catholic Art is that I value the tradition of iconography from the Byzantine (Russian and Greek) schools. In my opinion, the religious art from the Middle Ages and beyond fell into the decay of anthropomorphism, which for me, presents more of an opaque view into spiritual realities. I prefer the transparent view of those earlier styles which allows one to see ‘through’ the artwork into the spiritual realm. For me, it is a purer art form. This is not a hard and fast rule because you can certainly find wonderful works of sacred art that aren’t a part of those early traditions, but in general, I believe it is true. I think this ideology also mirrors the anthropomorphism of the liturgy, where the music has also become opaque, the end of its own means, and is heavily marked by a sense of time and gravity (Mozart for instance) that weighs one down. The polyphony of the earlier years maintains the same artistic transparency of the iconography of the East.
    This account from Koerber largely parallels that given by Ratzinger in The Spirit of the Liturgy when he defends the suitability of Byzantine, Gothic, and (to a lesser extent) Baroque styles for sacred visual art, and severely critiques the Renaissance. In the sphere of music, as Koerber notes, we would have to say that medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music are better suited for the liturgy and for prayer than the later Classical and Romantic styles. David Clayton also goes into these topics in his book The Way of Beauty, which we use at Wyoming Catholic College as one of our texts for the Visual Arts in the Western Tradition course that all seniors take.

    This admirable wooden icon is available for purchase; please contact Francis Koerber if you are interested or if you would like to discuss a commission.

    You can find out more about Francis Koerber's creative activities at his main website. He has a composer website (I particularly love his A minor prelude and fugue for organ), a performer website, and a site for fine handmade rosaries, among others.

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    This past June, The Ecclesia Choir under the direction of Timothy Woods gave a concert of my sacred choral music at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago. It was a splendid and memorable occasion, one for which I am very grateful to Our Lord, Our Lady, St. Cecilia, the singers, the canons at the church, and all who attended.

    We made a professional recording of the final rehearsal as well as the concert and are planning to release a CD from these materials, but the project will naturally take some time to complete. In the mean time, my son has combined some of the recordings with scrolling scores or video footage, and these I wanted to share with NLM readers, along with some remarks about what I was intending to do with each particular piece of music.

    Lord, Dost Thou Wash My Feet?

    Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said: If I wash not thy feet, thou hast no part in me. He came therefore unto Simon Peter, and Peter said unto him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said: If I wash not thy feet, thou hast no part in me. What I do, thou knowest not now: but thou shalt know hereafter. Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said: If I wash not thy feet, thou hast no part in me. (John 13, vv. 6, 7, 8)
    This is the third of a set of seven Mandatum Antiphons (antiphons for the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday), composed in 2010 and dedicated to Arvo Pärt on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The score was sent to Maestro Pärt in Estonia by his agent at Universal Edition in Vienna, and Pärt did me the great honor of calling me on the telephone to accept the dedication and to thank me for the music.

    In this antiphon, I want to express the shock and dismay of Peter when the Lord stoops to wash his feet. In a way reminiscent of his initial reaction to Jesus, "Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man," it is almost as if Peter is saying: "Lord, depart from me, for I am your servant, not your master." The difficult emotions through which Peter is going are expressed by the uncertain, conflicted, and clashing harmonies. The response of Jesus is authoritative and unwavering, expressed in ringing consonant chords. In the antiphon as given by the Church, Peter asks three times, "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" (as Jesus was to ask him three times after the resurrection, "Peter, lovest thou Me?"), each time with a greater intensity, as if to say: "Are you really quite serious about this footwashing?"

    Christus natus

    Christus natus est nobis: venite, adoremus.
    Hodie lumen mundi, hodie Salvator Israel natus est nobis.
    Illi clamemus: Qui natus es de Virgine, miserere nobis.
    Christus natus est nobis: venite, adoremus. Alleluia.
    (Christ is born unto us: come, let us adore.
    Today the light of the world, today the Savior of Israel is born unto us.
    To Him let us cry out: Thou who wast born of the Virgin, have mercy on us.
    Christ is born unto us: come, let us adore. Alleluia.)
    This Christmas motet was commissioned by Heath Morber for the Choirs of St. John's Catholic Newman Center Chapel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Latin text is drawn from Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year and is derived from old Gallican sources. As befits a song of joy, the pace is fleet and the mood is festal, with a contrasting turn at "miserere nobis" before the return of the opening theme, which is now presented with elaboration and syncopation. I listen a great deal to Giovanni Gabrieli and I'm sure he was an influence at some points.

    The Coventry Carol

    The haunting melody of the Coventry Carol has long been a favorite for arrangers of choral music. In this arrangement, I bring out the eeriness of the juxtaposition of a lullaby with the lamentation over the slaughtered infants by using polytonality and some "false relations." During the verses, the lower voices are chanting "vita mutatur, non tollitur," from the Preface of the Mass of the Dead. At the end, while the sopranos and basses sing "Amen," the inner voices sing "Orate pro nobis."

    My Jesus, Mercy

    King of creation,
    purest oblation:
    Thy Body torn for me,
    Thy Blood poured out for me,
    Jesus, my Savior, My Jesus, mercy.
    Jesus, my Savior, My Jesus, mercy.

    Priest interceding,
    wounds ever pleading,
    Lamb slain before all time,
    Love stronger than all crime:
    Jesus, my Ransom, My Jesus, mercy.
    Jesus, my Ransom, My Jesus, mercy.

    Good Shepherd, guide me,
    safe refuge, hide me,
    True Prophet, Light from Light,
    Shine through my inward sight:
    Jesus, my Glory, My Jesus, mercy.
    Jesus, my Glory, My Jesus, mercy.

    I fall before Thee,
    Christ, I adore Thee,
    Be Thou my sovereign Lord,
    Be Thou my sure reward:
    Jesus, my Treasure, Joy without measure.
    Jesus, my Treasure, Joy without measure.
    This hymn is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Roy Horton, my composition teacher and choirmaster from 1985-1989. I wrote both the lyrics and the music. One never fully knows why a piece takes on the form it does, but it may be that the fact that Dr. Horton was a Methodist who loved four-part hymnody and who often spoke of the beauty of this repertoire prompted me to remember him with a work of that kind.

    Another performance of this piece, by the Scottish ensemble Cantiones Sacrae, may be found here, with a scrolling score.

    My YouTube channel has a number of other performances of choral music as well as of the Wyoming Catholic College Choir and (why not?) lute music -- but I can take no credit for the lute music.

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    Yesterday, Catholic World Report published an article by Dom Alcuin Reid entitled “Liturgy, Authority, and Postmodernity”, originally delivered as the opening address at The Society for Catholic Liturgy’s annual conference, held this year in Philadelphia on September 28. Dom Reid addresses a number of very interesting questions, beginning, as he himself writes, with the following: “The liturgical reform which followed (Vatican II) was a self-conscious attempt to construct rites which would better reach modern people. Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, ‘modern’ is modern no longer: we have moved beyond modernity into the “post” modern era. ... What does that mean for our modern liturgical rites and practices as they approach their fiftieth birthdays?” This question becomes all the more pressing with each passing day and year, as the “modern” man for whom the reform was purportedly created recedes ever further into the background of history, and “post” modern man’s lack of interest in it becomes an ever more seriously problem for the Church.

    He also addresses the question of the Church’s authority to change the liturgy, a question whose importance is all the more crucial in light of the way the post-Conciliar reform was done, purportedly on the authority of Vatican II, but in open defiance of its intentions. As Fr Bouyer wrote in The Decomposition of Catholicism, a passage which Dom Reid cites, “Perhaps in no other area is there a greater distance (and even formal opposition) between what the Council worked out and what we actually have.”

    “Where was authority in respect of the implementation of the liturgical reform? It is clear that the authority of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy itself was all too easily set aside as key players sought to have initiatives and even personal enthusiasms endorsed in its name, at times in spite of such initiatives having nothing whatsoever to do with the Council or the Constitution itself. First amongst these reforms aimed at creating a new liturgy for the modern world was the total vernacularisation of the liturgy mentioned earlier. The rapid promotion of Mass celebrated facing the people, the enthusiastic introduction of new Eucharistic prayers, and the creeping concession of permission for the reception of Holy Communion in the hand are but three other examples.

    Each of these ‘reforms’ was effected, ironically, by the utterly premodern exercise of absolute papal positivism. For the papal positivist the Pope’s will is sovereign and unquestionable. This positivism (ultramontanism by another name)—which is alive and well down to our own times—is a critical factor in the study of the implementation of the reform. Paul VI personally approved the details of the reform in forma specifica. To obtain his signature was to win the day.

    Too few people are aware of the extent of the politics and of the spirit of opportunism in which the reform was affected. Any yet it was a reality. ...

    If we ask whether the resultant compromise, the Missal of Paul VI promulgated in 1970, is an example of authority acting in regard to the Sacred Liturgy in a manner that respects and is utterly consonant with its nature so as to optimise the good of souls, we must take pause. For there is much evidence that those responsible for what the supreme authority promulgated had their eyes fixed more on modernity, certain related ideologies, and their own personal preferences rather than on Christ alive and acting in the millennial liturgical tradition of the Church. The resultant product (we may even say “products”, for the same reality is more or less true mutatis mutandis of the reform of the other liturgical books) betray a self-conscious desire to conform to modernity rather than the pursuit of a judicious development of the rite so as to give it renewed vigor in the light of the circumstances and needs of modern times. The distinction is subtle, but real: in the liturgical reform following the Council the tail of modernity wagged the dog, and not the dog the tail.”

    There is a great deal of food for thought in this piece, and very much worth your time. I add only this passage, suggesting that it be included in a future Magna carta for truly Catholic liturgical reform.

    “Catholic liturgy, then, intentionally has its eyes firmly focussed on Almighy God and not modernity, postmodernity, or any other culture or philosophy. It has, as Sacrosanctum Concilium taught, a fundamental place in the Christian life as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church (see: n. 10). Catholic liturgy is normative for the life of the Christian, and enjoys an objectivity in that its content is not subject to the passing fashions of each generation – or to the peculiar tastes of given priests or bishops – but is handed down in tradition with integrity whilst being proportionately persuadable according to true pastoral need.”

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    And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid. (Luke 23:53)
    Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath prepared herself. And it is granted to her that she should clothe herself with fine linen, glittering and white. For the fine linen are the justifications of saints. And he said to me: Write: Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith to me: These words of God are true. (Rev. 19:7-9)

    The following is a description by a Marian Sister of Santa Rosa of the art of creating and preparing linens for the altar. I asked her to this as an essay for a class she is taking with us at Pontifex.University, and I was so taken with what she presented to me, I thought you would enjoy reading this too. One point that struck me particularly, was the importance to her of the symbolism of using linen; there might be other fabrics with properties that create the same aesthetic, but the use of linen connects the altar with Scripture in a special way. It is a long essay, but I hope you will feel it is worth reading; tomorrow I will post more pictures of her work.

    Linen: The Liturgical Fabric

    In the Sacred Liturgy, we worship God with our whole beings, our bodies as well as our souls. Each physical element of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has a role in drawing us closer to God. This involves many things that affect our senses, including the choice of fabrics to be used in the Liturgy. Since the beginning of the Church, the linen fabric has had a special place in the worship of God. In my experience of making the Altar cloths and other cloths needed for Mass, I have come to appreciate the particular role of linen in serving the Liturgy.

    Linen is a natural fabric made from the flax plant. Through a long process, parts of the flax stems are separated from the roots, seeds, and woody outer stems. The result is long strands of “flax strick” which are spun into linen thread, then woven into fabric.(Footnote 1) Depending on the thickness of the thread and the tightness of the weaving, linen material can be of higher or lower quality. New linen may be stiff at first, but over time and with wear it becomes a beautiful soft fabric that is useful for many purposes.

    In the Old Testament, linen was used as one of the fabrics approved for use in the Temple. The priests’ holy garments were to be made from fine linen and not from wool or other material.(Footnote 2) After Christ, the tradition of using linen in the worship of God was continued, but with a new significance. All four Gospels record that Our Lord was wrapped in a linen cloth for burial. (Footnote 3) Since the essence of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary (Footnote 4), it is significant that the only fabric which is associated with Jesus’ death is linen. In addition, linen is mentioned in Revelation as the “righteous deeds of the saints” which clothes the Bride of the Lamb, the Church. (Footnote 5) Throughout the history of the Church, writers have referenced these facts as the reasons for linen’s use in the Liturgy. (Footnote 6).

    Until the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass by Pope Paul VI and the new General Instruction for the Roman Missal, linen or hemp were the only two fabrics allowed for the Altar Linens, the Corporal, the Pall, and the Purificator.(Footnote 7) If the Corporal or Pall were not made of linen, or the Altar was not covered with three linens, it could be matter for sin for the priest who celebrated the Mass.(Footnote 8) Other fabrics such as silk were approved for vestments and other liturgical items. In the current General Instruction for the Roman Missal (1969), the type of fabric for the one required white cloth covering the Altar is not specified (para. 304), nor the type of fabric for the Corporal, Pall, or Purificator. The only mention of types of appropriate fabrics is in reference to the sacred vestments, which requires that the materials, either natural or artificial, be in keeping with the dignity of the sacred action and sacred person.(Footnote 9)

    The invention and common use of artificial fabrics is relatively new in the history of the world, and materials such as rayon and polyester are very accessible and can be made into exquisitely beautiful fabrics. Even though Holy Mother Church has allowed for the use of other fabrics, the significance of linen as related to Christ’s Passion and its Scriptural basis should not be overlooked when choosing material to use for the Sacred Liturgy.

    Besides being the primary fabric in the history of the Church to clothe the Altar and come into contact with Our Lord and the Sacred Vessels, linen is practically a superior choice. In my fifteen years of experience in working with fabric and the few years I have served in the sacristy, I have seen everything from polyester to rayon to cotton as an alternative to linen. There are some advantages to an “easy-care” fabric such as polyester. It does not wrinkle as badly as linen, it can be dried in the dryer instead of by ironing, and it is durable. For an Altar cloth, it can seem like a good choice. However, it is not a natural fiber and melts, becoming plastic easily. If it is left in the dryer too long or too hot, it becomes permanently wrinkled. Wax stains do not ever fully come out, and it cannot be bleached or it will turn yellow. Rayon is similar in its advantages and detriments, but it is not as durable as polyester. Both of these fabrics are not useful for the smaller linens, such as Purificators and Lavabo towels because they do not absorb moisture well.

    Cotton also seems like an advantageous choice because it is more readily available. It is a natural fabric and absorbs moisture better than polyester and rayon, although not as well as linen. Stains do come out of it and bleach can be sparingly used on cotton. To make it as unwrinkled as possible, it can be partially dried and then ironed, but it will never have the crisp, precise, and smooth effect that well cared-for linen can achieve. In working with all of these fabrics, it became clear to me that God chose linen as the liturgical fabric for a reason. Wax and other stains come out more easily, it meets the needs of absorbing moisture efficiently, and is durable when cared for correctly. Linen takes a little bit more work to launder and iron, and needs ironing more often, but when finished, is more beautiful and satisfying than any other commonly used fabric.

    I started to work with linen a couple of years before I entered the convent when a priest asked me to make him a few amices. Since this was the first time I had worked with linen, I had difficulty finding suitable fabric. The linen I bought was a large weave, and not of the highest quality, but adequate for my project. I learned that linen moves quite a bit as it is being measured, cut, and sewn, and even if it looks straight when it is cut, it may not be after it is hemmed. However, the weave is a very nice grid for embroidering a straight cross. I was thankful to start with amices, because they do not need to be as precise as other linens.

    After I entered the convent, one of the first tasks I was given as seamstress was to make an Altar cloth for the new convent Altar. I had not received additional education on the construction of linens, but I realized that linen can be cut along one thread of the weave to make the edges straight. Since I did not know how to do this most efficiently, it took me many hours just to cut out the very long linen. Then, I painstakingly pinned a one-inch hem with a half-inch turn-under, again following the weave of the fabric. On the sides, I made the hem three inches deep with a half-inch turn under. I then machine stitched the entire hem. Since I had not learned the technique for mitering corners, I hand stitched the corners to make what looks like a normal mitered corner. The result of this process was a fairly accurate and even hem. The two long sides, called falls, were supposed to reach to just above the ground, and I measured accordingly. However, I did not realize how much linen can stretch and move depending on anything from the weather to how it is ironed. The finished linen drapes on the floor about a half-inch on each side, which makes it hard to keep clean, but it fulfills its purpose to clothe the Altar.

    After I constructed this first large linen, the convent acquired a wonderful resource in a book called Sewing Church Linens. Elizabeth Morgan, its author, was very helpful in sending us her instructions and pictures of how to work with linen. From her, I learned to cut linens along the drawn thread, but in a much faster way than I had done it before. She also encouraged us to buy her “Golden Ruler”, which is an invaluable tool for marking hems in linen. It is a straight piece of clear plexiglass with a few lines drawn along its length for the different hem widths. Once the fabric is cut and ready for hemming, the edge of the Golden Ruler is laid over the fabric at the correct hem marking, and then the linen is creased along the ruler with a dull blade that does not harm the fibers, such as a butter knife. That crease in the fabric makes it very easy to fold the hem and pin it accurately. This method only works well on linen, because not many fabrics can hold a crease like linen does. The same property of linen that makes it wrinkle so easily, is one of its greatest assets when a straight hem needs to be folded and sewn. Morgan’s instructions and pictures also showed me how to hem linens by hand so that the stitches are invisible on the right side of the fabric, to hem corners on small linens in an unbulky way, and to correctly miter corners on larger linens.

    Using these newly learned techniques, I made Purificators for our convent Chapel as well as for St. Eugene, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. I was able to take the time to hem the convent Purificators by hand, and became proficient in sewing the invisible hems and small corners. For the larger number of Cathedral Purificators, I neatly machine stitched the hem. On both sets of linens, I hand embroidered a simple red cross, counting threads and using the weave of the fabric to make sure the cross was straight and even.

    After this, I received permission to make a set of linens as a gift from our community for the ordination of a priest of our diocese. One aspect of our charism as Marian Sisters is to support our priests, especially in beautifying the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, so this project was perfectly in concord with our life. From working in the sacristy and studying various linens, I noticed a beautiful way of stitching the hem to form a pattern in the threads along the edge. With little trial and error, I figured out a way of achieving this design on my linens. Once the hem is creased, the thread in the fabric that is directly above and parallel to the edge of the hem is pulled out. A few more threads above that one are pulled out of the fabric as well. (The number of pulled threads depends on the size of the linen and the size of the desired pattern.) This results in a very narrow strip of fabric that has nothing but perpendicular threads in relation to the hem. Then, the sides which do not have pulled threads are hemmed as usual, omitting the corners. The other hems with the pattern are finished by securing the hem and making the pattern at the same time. To do this, first, with the wrong side of the fabric facing up, one small stitch is taken in the topmost edge of the hem. The needle then separates a specific number of the perpendicular threads in the fabric, securely wraps around them twice, and returns to the hem. A very small stitch of the same number of threads as taken in the fabric is taken in the hem, and then the perpendicular threads are counted and wrapped again. This process continues until the end of the hem. The result is a border of bound fabric threads along the hem. If desired, this can become a double or triple row design by sewing a second time over the pattern, binding half of one set of bound threads with the half of the adjacent set of bound threads at a point above the initial pattern (see figures 1 and 2).

    This same technique can be used to form patterns not immediately along the hem as well. For the set of linens for the newly ordained priest, I made a single pattern around the entire Corporal, a double pattern along the two short ends of the Purificator, and a double pattern plus an extra double pattern about a half-inch above it on the two short ends of the Lavabo towel.

    Once I finished the hems, I embroidered the red crosses in the correct place. For a Purificator, the cross is centered on the fabric so that when it is folded, the cross appears on or just below the top fold in the center of the linen. On a Lavabo towel, the cross is placed in one of the corners. For a Corporal, a simple cross can be positioned near the front edge, but in such a way so that the priest will not have trouble collecting any Particles of the Blessed Sacrament with the Paten.

    The cross pattern I designed was symmetrical, with the tips flaring out a few threads wider than the beams, then tapering in to a point at the end. I used a variation of the satin stitch, which enabled the cross to be clear and neat on both sides of the linen. While embroidering the crosses, I discovered that the distance and thickness of the linen threads of the warp is slightly different than those of the weft. As a result, I had to count the threads differently depending on the direction of my embroidery to make sure the finished appearance was uniform both vertically and horizontally. The competed linens were beautiful, simple, and fit for use at the Altar.

    A recent project has been to alter the Cathedral’s new High Altar linens. This Altar is one hundred forty-six inches long, and twenty-five inches deep. However, the Tabernacle extends four inches from the gradines into the mensa. Because of this, the Altar linens cannot be strictly rectangular. In the center of the linen on one side, there must be a cut-out for the Tabernacle. We ordered the primary set of linens from a lady named Lynne Smith before the Altar was actually completed, so our measurement for the width of the Altar was incorrect. When we received the beautifully hemmed linens, made exactly to the size we ordered, they were four inches too wide for the mensa at the center, where the Tabernacle is placed.

    To fix this, I devised a way of sewing the cut-out in the linen to make it fit the Altar correctly. Even though I could have used a variety of materials and methods of doing this, I wanted to use the linen’s own fabric to bind the edge of the cut-out so that it would shrink and stretch in the same manner during washing, ironing, and general use as the rest of the linen. First, I cut a rectangle from the center of the linen one half-inch smaller in dimension than the finished need. The Tabernacle needs a four inch by twenty-three and one-half inch area, so I cut a rectangle three and one-half by twenty-two and one-half inches. This allowed for one half-inch seam allowance on each side.

    Then, I took out the hem in the piece that I had cut, ironed it flat, and cut two “L” shaped pieces to be a facing for the cut-out. Each “L” was six inches in depth, thirteen and three-quarters inches in length, and two inches wide along the entire piece. After sewing the two facing pieces together at the long ends of the “L” to form a “[” shaped piece, I stitched the facing to the linen with the right-sides together. I then turned the facing to the inside, ironed the seam so that it lay flat, and turned under the raw edges of the facing to sew them down on the linen. On the right side of the linen, all that is visible is a line of stitching one inch from the edge of the cut out. The finished product was a linen that fit the Altar and Tabernacle perfectly.
    It is truly a privilege and a duty to use the talent God has given me for His greater glory. As Mary made Our Lord’s clothes, now I, too, have the honor of making the beautiful linens which serve Him and even touch His Sacred Body and Blood. The worship of God should use the best and most beautiful elements of His creation to reflect His majesty and beauty and to draw us closer to Him through our senses. In using linen as a primary fabric for the Sacred Liturgy, it is not only continuing the tradition of the Church, but also offering to God one of the finest fabrics for His greater glory.

    Works Cited
    • Catechism of the Catholic Church. With Modifications from the Editio Typica, Doubleday, 1997. 
    • Fuller, Deb. “A Brief History of Linen.” The Thread,, April 2, 2015, . Accessed on September 22, 2017 
    • Missale Romanum 4o. Editio Iuxta Typicam. Benzinger Brothers, Inc., 1962 
    • Morgan, Elizabeth. Sewing Church Linens, 1997. ---. Church Linens and
    • Smith, Lynne. Altar Linens by Lynne Smith, 2017.
    • The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume I, . Accessed on September 22, 2017. 
    • The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume IV, . Accessed on September 22, 2017. 
    • The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, Ignatius Press, 2006. 
    • The Roman Missal. Amended Third Latin Typical Edition, 2008. Magnificat, 2011.
    Part 2, tomorrow, will have a series of photographs of her work.

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    Here are photos from a variety of events which have taken place over the last few weeks, with out thanks, as always, to everybody who sent them in! We have a nice mix of Masses and processions held for particular events, and a follow up on our last photopost, since someone asked to see more of a certain church in the Philippines.

    The Marie Reine du Canada Pilgrimage
    Around 100 people participated, walking on foot over 60 miles to the miraculous shrine of Notre Dame du Cap in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, from September 2-4. This is the 14th pilgrimage, organized by members of St Clement Parish in Ottawa, Canada (FSSP). The pilgrimage culminated with a Solemn High Mass in the historic shrine. (Photos from Mr Ian Gallagher.)

    Summorum Pontificum Conference in Chicago
    Veritas Bonitas Pulchritas Chicago, a young group that organizes traditional Latin Masses at various parishes, chapels, and shrines in the Chicago area, presented the “Ever Ancient, Ever New” Conference on September 16th to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. Following the conference, Mass was offered at the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross by Bishop Perry on the External Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. (1st photo, courtesy of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, the rest from VBP and Xavier Boudreau.)

    Una Voce Iowa Welcomes Fr Cassian Folsom
    Fr. Cassian Folsom of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia offered a Day of Reflection at the invitation of Central Iowa Una Voce. His topics were all related to the Extraordinary Form, and how the faithful can come to a deeper understanding of it, as well as an exegesis on the Roman Canon. The Mass of St Jerome was celebrated in the Minor Basilica of St John in Des Moines, the first Extraordinary Form Mass celebrated at the Basilica in over 25 years. Seminarians from the dioceses of Des Moines and Sioux Falls, South Dakota were in attendance; Monastic None was celebrated in the mid-afternoon.

    Forty Hours and Eucharistic Procession at Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, New Jersey
    Photos courtesy of Saveria Rose Symons

    Some More of St Joseph the Worker Cathedral in Tagbilaran City, The Philippines
    Mr Joseph Skelton writes, “Someone commented on the last post to which we contributed that he would like to see more of our Cathedral. Please know that the paintings that you see on the ceiling are only one year old, done by a young local artist who was commissioned by the church to beautify it with holy artwork. The dome depicts the Holy Trinity and a multitude of people surrounding God, they are Filipino men and women who are His throne. The nave depicts scenes from the Sacred Scriptures; the middle pictures are reminders of the First Diocesan Synod, and also the earthquake that devastated many of our churches on October 15, 2013. I am so proud of our Cathedral; it is a very beautiful and worthy place of worship!”

    Procession in Honor of the Fatima Centenary
    Holy Comforter Catholic Church in Charlottesville, Virginia held a procession for the 100th anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions at Fatima on the morning of October 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary. The route went right past the park which saw a violent conflict during a political rally in August, an area that assuredly needs prayers for peace. (Photos from Matthew Blumenfeld.)

    Eucharistic Procession in Virginia Beach, Virginia
    1,100 Catholic parishioners of the Richmond Diocese participated in the sixth annual Traditional Eucharistic Procession along the oceanfront boardwalk in Virginia Beach on Sunday, October 8, offering litanies, rosaries, and hymns as they walked the two mile round-trip from Star of the Sea Catholic Church to the 24th St. Park for Adoration and Benediction, and then processed back for Benediction, prayed for our country, our bishop, priests, deacons and more vocations to the Holy Priesthood. (Photos from Michael Sottung. You can see the first photo in its original size by clicking on it, and appreciate how big this procession really was!)

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    Following on from yesterday’s post about the creation of altar linens, written by one of the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, here are photographs which show some of the details of her work. I must admit that I have barely given a second thought to altar lines, and had no idea of care and attention that is given to them. The comments are hers.

    Hemming a Purificator:
    Pulled hem and thread pattern:
    Pulling threads

    Three types of border: single (to hem and bind it once); double (pattern away from hem); and triple (finished part along the hem).
    To hem and make a single border:
    Pick up a number (in this case four) of threads
    After wrapping the threads, take a small stitch to the hem

    Double pattern away from the hem:
    Wrap two threads from previous binding with two new threads
    Repeat, crossing from top to bottom at each repetition

    Four styles of crosses

    Linen for the high altar of St Eugene’s Cathedral in Santa Rosa
    Detail of the corner, wrong side (facing side) up
    Linen folded back, wrong side (facing side) up
    Fitting around the Tabernacle

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    On Sunday, October 29th, the Church of St Agnes in New York City will celebrate the feast of Christ the King, starting with Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 9 am, followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, and Benediction. The Missa Ave Virgo Sanctissima by Juan Esquivel will be sung, along with music by Monteverdi, Handl and Vierne. The church is located at 143 East 43rd Street.

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    Three historically important Ambrosian missals were recently on display at the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana in Milan; the first two as shown here are the oldest complete missals of the Ambrosian Rite. The Missal of Biasca is dated by scholars from the end of the 9th to the middle of the 10th century. It was written for a parish outside Milan, and long kept at Biasca in the Val Levantina region of the Swiss Canton Ticino; parts of the canton were formerly owned by the cathedral of Milan, and still use the Ambrosian Rite to this day. It was donated to the Ambrosian Library in 1776. The typical edition of the Ambrosian Missal published in 1902 was made partly in reference to this manuscript.
    The Missal of Lodrino dates to the first half of the 11th century; it was originally written for the church of St Stefano in Brolio in Milan itself, but was long kept in the town of Lodrino, also in Canton Ticino.
    The Missal of Robert Visconti is named for a member of Milan’s ruling family who was the archpriest of the Duomo from 1293-1312. The Bibliotheca Ambrosiana also preserves his will, in which he left the missal to the Duomo, together with his chalice, and a legacy to pay for the solemn celebration of the then relatively new feast of Corpus Christi, which is first attested in the Ambrosian Rite in this book. Under the figure of Christ in majesty, he is shown celbrating Mass, the inscription says “The Lord Robert Visconti, archpriest of the major church of Milan, had this missal made.” The other side of the page shows the Preface Dialogue and the common form of the Preface, which varies far more in the Ambrosian Rite than in the Roman.

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  • 10/26/17--05:24: Young People™
  • The least religious generation, you say? But we have art! Young People™ love art like this.

    From the World Meeting of Families 2018 Twitter feed.
    And it worked so well back in the 70s!

    (Shamelessly stolen from KP and MTK!)

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    The Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City will start its Forty Hours Devotion tomorrow evening, at 6 p.m., with a Votive Mass of the Most Blessed Sacrament, followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament a solemn Eucharistic procession inside the church, the Pange lingua, the Litany of the Saints; other special psalms and prayers will be chanted. On Saturday, October 28 at 1 p.m., the traditional Votive Mass for peace will be celebrated. The closing Mass on the third day, Sunday, October 29, will be that of the feast of Christ the King, starting at 10:30 a.m celebrated coram Sanctissimo (in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed throughout the entire Mass). At the end of the closing Mass, the Litany of the Saints and other special psalms and prayers will be chanted and we will have another Procession of the Blessed Sacrament inside the church. This Procession will end with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Divine Praises, and the recitation of the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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    As a follow up to yesterday’s post of some historical Ambrosian Missals, here is a collection of illustrations and decorations found in early Roman Sacramentaries, from the endlessly useful website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Some of the most famous and important liturgical manuscripts in the world are kept there, and can be downloaded for free in pdf format, since they are all in the public domain; this is no more than a tiny selection of their many treasures. I have cropped most of these images, eliminating the empty spaces on the pages. They are all from the Latin section of the Département des Manuscrits, so in the headers, I have put the name and date of each manuscript, and its number within that department, and then the folio numbers and brief explanations of the text in the small captions beneath. The illustrators tended to put their best efforts into the Preface, Sanctus and Canon, and the majority of the images are taken from that part.
    Sacramentary of Charles the Bald, 869-870 (1141)
    “Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare” (folio 4r)
    The Sanctus (folio 6r)
    The beginning of the Canon (folio 6v)
    Gellone Sacramentary, 780-800 (120480
    The first page of text (folio 1v): “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, here begins the Sacramentary.” The ancient Roman sacramentaries typically began as this one does with Christmas Eve.
    Part of the Solemn Prayer at the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday (folio 54v)
    Part of the Preface and the beginning of the Canon (folio 143v). The Sanctus is written in red letters, in Latin, but with Greek letters.
    The Sacramentary of Nonantola, 9th century (2292)
    The Preface (folio 7v). Part of the text on the other side of the page is visible through the parchment.
    The beginning of the Canon (folio 8r)
    The prayers of Easter (folio 50v)
    Sacramentary of Figeac, 11th century (2293)
    Preface dialog and the beginning of the Preface (folio 17v)
    End of the Preface (folio 19r)
    Beginning of the Canon (folio 20v)
    Sacramentary of the Abbey of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, 1134-50 (12072)
    Preface dialog and the beginning of the Preface (folio 2v)
    Preface (folio 3r)
    Beginning of the Canon (folio 4r)
    Sacramentary of Rodrade, ca. 850 (12050)
    “Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare” (folio 20v)
    “Te igitur clementissime” (folio 23r)
    Sacramentary of Corbie, (Abbey of St Peter), 853-75 (12051)
    This is one of a number of Carolingian and post-Carolingian luxury manuscripts of extremely high quality, in which the pages are dyed with a very expensive purple material, a technique imitated from Byzantium. In this case, only six pages are dyed in this fashion, with the text of a very brief Ordo Missae and the Canon from the Preface to the Agnus Dei (folios 6-11). 
    “Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare” (folio 7v)
    Te igitur clementissime Pater (folio 8v)
    Sacramentary of Liège (from the monastery of St Bertin), 11th century (819)
    Preface dialog (folio 9r)
    Preface (folio 9v)
    Beginning of the Canon (folio 10r)
    The Lamb of God, with a very clever illustration of the words of Psalm 84, “Truth has risen from the earth, and justice has looked down from heaven.” (folio 13r) 
    Sacramentary of St Denys, second half of the 9th century (2290)
    The beginning of the Sacramentary, and a very brief and almost useless succinct Ordo Missae (folio 17v)
    VD for “Vere dignum” (folio 19r)

    The first word of the Canon, “Te” (folio 20r). The use of a whole sheet for a single word of two letters indicates that this is also a luxury production.
    The Sacramantary of Drogo, Bishop of Metz, 845-855 (9428)
    Ivory carvings on the cover, which is contemporary to the manuscript itself.
    The Sanctus (folio 15r)
    “Te igitur” (folio 15v)
    Prayer on the feast of the Purification (folio 38r). Note the lovely illustration of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, worked into the first letter of the prayer.

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    On October 14, the Emperor Karl League of Prayer recently presented to the Holy Father an icon of the Blessed, the work of Bulgarian iconographer Alexander Schelekow; this was done during a private audience in commemoration of the centenary of the initiative of Pope Benedict XV to end the First World War. Thanks to our friend Jordan Hainsey, who is very active in the League and consulted the iconographer, for sharing this with us.

    Part of the description of the icon, from the League’s website: “Blessed Karl is shown in arrested movement. He is portrayed in stillness because he is becalmed by God. His eyes are shown in an open gaze because they are keenly and prayerfully aware of our world. His lips are closed, expressing true contemplation which requires total silence. Karl is surrounded by a halo of radiating light and is standing against a sheet of gold, showing that he is living in the light of God.

    In one hand Karl bears a budded Cross. The four arms with four buds symbolize the four Evangelists and invite discipleship in Christ's ministry. The softness of the buds evoke peace and recall Karl's tireless work for peace during WWI. His left hand is open, inviting contemplation of Christ's salvific work through the Cross.

    Above Karl, angels present two crowns. The angel on the left clothed in red, the color of royalty, presents the Crown of Saint Stephen, worn by Karl for his Coronation as King of Hungry on December 30, 1916. The angel on the right clothed in blue and green, the colors of life and heaven, bears a crown of thorns, recalling the suffering that Karl bore working for peace for his country and peoples. Together, both crowns recall Karl's view of his Kingship as Divine Right and the sufferings and sacrifice he was called to make throughout his office and life.”

    The Pope’s address to the members of League: “With affection I greet you and all the members of the Emperor Karl League for Prayers for Peace Among Nations. I thank the president, Msgr. Fernand Franck, for his words.

    Your annual assembly in Rome takes place in the context of the centenary of the initiative for peace undertaken by Pope Benedict XV and, among political leaders, supported only by Blessed Emperor Karl, with the strong desire to bring an end to the slaughter of the First World War. The three aims of the League for Prayers underlined by your president – to seek and observe God’s will, to be committed to promoting peace and justice, to atone for the injustice of history – were, so to say, the recurrent motif of the life of Blessed Karl as a statesman, as a husband and father, and as a son of the Church. Delivering himself to God’s will, he accepted suffering and offered his own life as a sacrifice for peace, always sustained by the love and faithfulness of his wife, Servant of God Zita.

    The challenges of our time require the collaboration of all men of good will and, in particular, prayer and sacrifice. I invite you, therefore, to keep your promise to take part, with prayer and personal commitment, in the many efforts of the Pope in favour of peace. Without the support of the prayer of the faithful, Peter’s Successor cannot fulfil his mission in the world. I count on you too. I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy and to the intercession of Blessed Emperor Karl, and heartily impart my apostolic blessing to you and your loved ones.”

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    Now in its 44th season at the Church of Saint Agnes in Saint Paul, Minneapolis, the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale will continue its tradition of performing the Requiem of Mozart (K 626) with orchestra, at a Solemn Latin Mass, beginning at 7:30 p.m.on November 2. For more information, visit the website The church is located at 548 Lafond Avenue.

    From last year’s All Saints and All Souls photopost, here are a couple of great pictures taken at St Agnes during the ceremony.

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    A reader from Slovenia, Mr Simon Kocjan, sent in this scan he made of a placard with the prayers of Preparation for Mass, and Thanksgiving after Mass. Once upon a time, these were very commonly kept in sacristies, although the prayers themselves were not mandatory. I have seen them printed out in various formats, large and small, framed and hung on the walls of sacristies all over the place. The same prayers are of course also traditionally included in the Missal, and for convenience, in the Breviary as well. Feel free to click on the image, download, print, as you will. The psalms and the canticle Benedicite are given in the version of the Bea Psalter; below it is another version from this website, with the Vulgate text, also available as a pdf. (This was the site’s last post, 4½ years ago, so I assume they also won’t mind what people do with it.)

    Some of these prayers are included in the Missal of the Novus Ordo, but the antiphons Ne reminiscaris and Trium puerorum, and the psalms, versicles, and collects that go with them are omitted, only heaven knows why.

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    On Saturday, December 2nd, Heitor Caballero, the director of sacred music at St. Agnes Church in NYC, will present a sacred music workshop at Our Holy Redeemer Parish in Freeport, NY.

    The workshop will serve as an introduction to reading and singing chant, as well as an understanding of the principles of sacred music given in Musicam Sacram

    The workshop begins at 11:00 a.m. and concludes with participants singing a Mass at 5:00 p.m.

    The workshop fee is $10, which includes lunch. More information about how to RSVP is included on the flyer below. 

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