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  • 12/15/17--07:07: FSSP Mission Trips in 2018
  • We are very glad to share with our readers this information from the Fraternity of St Peter about their important initiatives in Latin America, a series of mission trips in Mexico, Perú and the Dominican Republic, and their Spanish language school for the clergy.

    Registration is now open for the 2018 St Francis Xavier Missions of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Our Blessed Lord commanded us to preach the gospel to all nations and also assured us that what we do to the least of His brethren we do unto Him. For this reason, the St Francis Xavier Mission Trips combine the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and provide young people with an extraordinary opportunity to put their faith in action and experience first hand the Catholicity of the Church. Missionaries are challenged to deepen their own faith because, without a doubt, growth in holiness is the most essential element of an effective apostolate. The missions are directed by priests of the FSSP, and are therefore centered on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered daily in the Extraordinary Form. This year four trips are being offered: two in Mexico, one in Perú, and one in the Dominican Republic. Please visit the website for more information or to register. We also invite those who are unable to go to join this great effort by means of their donations and, most importantly, their prayers.

    The Saint Junipero Serra Spanish Institute

    Mission Tradition of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is pleased to announce that the St Junipero Serra Spanish Institute is now accepting applications for the summer of 2018. This is a Spanish immersion program for priests and seminarians in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico under the direction of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. There is no doubt that the need for Spanish speaking priests is urgent, considering that statistics say that only about 30% of Catholic Latino immigrants to the United States remain Catholic upon their arrival.

    The St Junipero Serra Institute is unique among language immersion programs because it is specifically tailored to priests and seminarians. This year we will be publishing our new textbook series, Habla Cristiano, in which the themes, vocabulary, and exercises are chosen with an eye to the future priests´ ministerial needs. The Institute provides students with an atmosphere of prayer and pastoral experience. Students attend daily Mass and the Divine Office in the Extraordinary Form and are provided with a wide array of pastoral and cultural opportunities. Service in hospitals and orphanages, dinners with families, and first-hand encounters with the richness and beauty of Mexican Catholic tradition, all serve to enrich not only their immersion experience, but also their priestly formation. The program concludes with a mission trip that involves door to door evangelization and catechesis. Please visit the website for more information; here is the first in a series of new promotional videos.

    Discounts are available to those who register before Christmas. Space is limited! The Saint Junipero Serra Institute is also looking for benefactors interested in supporting this very important work.

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    The best known feature of the Office in Advent is of course the O Antiphons, which will be upon us on Sunday, said with the Magnificat from December 17-23. Their prominence has perhaps overshadowed some of the other riches of the season, which has an unusually large number of proper texts. In addition to the daily antiphons of the Benedictus and Magnificat, the psalms at Sunday Matins also have their own antiphons, which is not true of either Lent or Passiontide, and each individual Sunday has another set of five antiphons for the psalms of Lauds and Vespers, also used at the minor Hours of the day.

    The last six ferias before the vigil of Christmas also each have a proper set of antiphons to be sung with the psalms of Lauds, and repeated at the minor Hours, though not at Vespers; they are one of the most beautiful parts of the Gregorian repertoire. If December 17 is a Sunday, as it is this year, these begin on Monday the 18th; otherwise, on the 17th, along with the Os.

    A folio of the winter volume of the Hartker Antiphonary, end of the 10th century, beginning with the 3rd antiphon for Monday. San Gallen Stiftsbibliothek. Cod. Sang. 390. 
    I have here set them out in tables, with the Latin on one side and an English translation on the other. With the Latin, I have indicated the psalms and canticles with which they are currently sung according to the Breviary of St Pius X. Prior to his reform in 1911, the third psalm of Lauds each day was Psalms 62 and 66 said together as a single psalm, and the fifth was Psalms 148, 149 and 150, also said together as a single psalm.

    On the English side, I have noted the Biblical citations in the text; “vs.” stands for “verse”, indicating that the antiphon is a verse of the psalm or canticle with which it is sung. Many of them are not Scriptural at all, and some of them, such as the very first one, Ecce veniet Dominus, are either vaguely or only partially taken from the Bible. The traditional corpus of Breviary antiphons is very ancient, and some of the Biblical citations come from the Old Latin version of the Bible used before St Jerome’s Vulgate translation, such as the antiphon Deus a Libano which is said with the canticle of Habacuc.

    Aña 1 Ecce veniet Dominus,
    princeps regum terræ: beati
    qui parati sunt occurrere illi.
    Psalm 50
    Behold the Lord shall come, the
    Prince of the kings of the earth:
    blessed are they that are pre-
    pared to meet him. (Apoc. 1, 5)
    Cum venerit Filius hominis,
    putas inveniet fidem super
    terram? Psalm 5
    When the Son of Man shall
    come, thinkest thou that He
    shall find faith upon the earth?
    (Luke 18, 8)
    Ecce jam venit plenitudo
    temporis, in quo misit Deus
    Filium suum in terras.
    Psalm 28
    Behold, the fullness of time hath
    already come, in which God
    hath sent His Son upon the
    lands. (Galatians 4, 4)
    Haurietis aquas in gaudio
    de fontibus Salvatoris.
    Canticle of Isaiah, chapter
    12, 1-6 
    Ye shall draw waters in joy from
    the fountains of the Savior.
    (vs. 3)
    Egredietur Dominus de lo-
    co sancto suo: veniet ut sal-
    vet populum suum. Ps. 116
    The Lord will go forth from His
    holy place, He will come to save
    his people.

    Aña 1 Rorate, caeli, desuper,
    et nubes pluant justum; ape-
    riatur terra, et germinet Sal-
    vatorem. Psalm 50
    Drop down dew, ye heavens,
    from above, and let the clouds
    rain the Just One; let the earth be
    opened, and bud forth a Savior.
    (Isaiah 45, 8)
    Emitte Agnum, Domine,
    Dominatorem terræ, de Petra
    deserti, ad montem filiae
    Sion. Psalm 42
    Send forth the lamb, O Lord,
    the ruler of the earth, from Petra
    of the desert, to the mount of the
    daughter of Sion. (Isaiah 16, 1)
    Ut cognoscamus, Domine,
    in terra viam tuam, in omni-
    bus gentibus salutare tuum.
    Psalm 66
    May we know, o Lord, Thy way
    upon the earth, Thy salvation in
    all nations. (vs. 3)
    Da mercedem, Domine,
    sustinentibus te, ut Prophe-
    tae tui fideles inveniantur.
    Canticle of King Ezechiah,
    Isaiah, 38, 10-20 
    Reward them, o Lord, that
    patiently wait for Thee, that
    Thy prophets may be found
    faithful. (Sir. 36, 18)
    Lex per Moysen data est;
    gratia et veritas per Jesum
    Christum facta est.
    Psalm 134
    The law was given by Moses;
    grace and truth came by Jesus
    Christ. (John 1, 17)

    In many medieval Uses, the first antiphon of the following set, Prophetae praedicaverunt, was said with the Psalms of either Lauds or Vespers, or both, in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary during Advent.
    The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-11. (From the website of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; click to see in high resolution.)
    Aña 1 Prophetae praedica-
    verunt nasci Salvatorem de
    Virgine Maria. Psalm 50
    The prophets foretold that the
    Savior would be born of the
    Virgin Mary.
    Spiritus Domini super
    me, evangelizare pauperi-
    bus misit me.
    Psalm 64
    The Spirit of the Lord is upon
    me, He hath sent me to preach
    good tidings to the poor. (Isa.
    61, 1, as cited in Luke 4, 18)
    Propter Sion non tacebo,
    donec egrediatur ut splen-
    dor justus ejus.
    Psalm 100
    For Sion’s sake I will not hold
    my peace, till her just one come
    forth as brightness. (Isa. 62, 1)
    Ecce veniet Dominus, ut
    sedeat cum principibus, et
    solium gloriae teneat.
    Canticle of Anna, I Kings
    2, 1-10 
    Behold, the Lord shall come to
    sit with princes, and hold the
    throne of glory. (vs. 8)
    Annuntiate populis et di-
    cite: Ecce Deus Salvator
    noster veniet. Psalm 145
    Proclaim ye to the peoples, and
    say: Behold, God our Savior
    shall come.

    Aña 1 De Sion veniet Domi-
    nus omnipotens, ut salvum
    faciat populum suum. Ps. 50
    From Sion shall come the Lord
    Almighty to save His people.
    Convertere, Domine, ali-
    quantulum, et ne tardes ve-
    nire ad servos tuos.
    Psalms 89
    Return, o Lord, a little while, and
    delay not to come to Thy ser-
    De Sion veniet, qui regna-
    turus est Dominus, Emma-
    nuel magnum nomen ejus.
    Psalm 35
    From Sion shall come the Lord
    who is to rule, Emmanuel is
    His great name.
    Ecce Deus meus, et hono-
    rabo eum: Deus patris mei,
    et exaltabo eum. Canticle of
    Moses, Exodus 15, 1-19 
    Behold my God, and I will honor
    Him, the God of my father, and
    I will exalt Him. (vs. 2)
    Dominus legifer noster,
    Dominus Rex noster, ipse
    veniet, et salvabit nos.
    Psalm 146
    The Lord is our law-giver, the
    Lord is our king, He will come
    and save us. (Isaiah 33, 22)

    Aña 1 Constantes estote, vi-
    debitis auxilium Domini su-
    per vos. Psalm 50
    Be ye steady, ye shall see the
    help of the Lord upon you.
    (I Chronicles 20, 17)
    Ad te, Domine, levavi
    animam meam: veni, et eri-
    pe me, Domine, ad te con-
    fugi? Psalm 142
    To Thee, o Lord, I have lifted up
    my soul: come and deliver me,
    o Lord, to thee have I fled.
    (vss 8-9)
    Veni, Domine, et noli tar-
    dare: relaxa facinora plebi
    tuae Israël. Psalm 84
    Come, o Lord, delay Thou not;
    forgive the crimes of Thy
    people Israel.
    Deus a Libano veniet, et
    splendor ejus sicut lumen
    erit. Canticle of Habakkuk,
    chapter 3, 1-19 
    God will come from the Leba-
    non, and His brightness shall be
    as the light. (vss. 8 and 9)
    Ego autem ad Dominum
    aspiciam, et exspectabo
    Deum, Salvatorem meum.
    Psalm 147
    But I will look towards the
    Lord, I will wait for God
    my Saviour. (Micah 7, 7) 

    The Testament of Moses, by Luca Signorelli and Bartolomeo della Gatta, 1482, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.
    The Breviary of St Pius V has no special set of antiphons for Saturday, on which the ones impeded by the feast of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21st are used. (Obviously, this is not done if Saturday itself is the 21st.) However, the antiphon for the Old Testament canticle from the impeded set is replaced by a proper antiphon Exspectetur, which corresponds to the Canticle of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. When the vigil of Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, the Thursday set is impeded by St Thomas, and omitted that year; the antiphons from the Fourth Sunday of Advent are anticipated to Saturday, with Exspectetur for the canticle.

    This custom was changed in the Breviary reform of St Pius X; Saturday is given its own antiphons, and those impeded by St Thomas’ day are simply omitted. Of the four new antiphons, the first and fifth (Intuemini and Paratus esto) are found in several very old chant manuscripts, and were widely used in the Middle Ages; the second and third (Multiplicabitur and Ego Dominus) appear to be new compositions made specifically for this reform.

    Aña 1 Intuemini, quantus sit
    gloriosus iste, qui ingreditur
    ad salvandos populos.
    Psalm 50
    Behold ye how glorious is this
    one, that cometh in to save the
    Multiplicabitur ejus im-
    perium, et pacis non erit
    finis. Psalm 91
    His empire shall be multiplied,
    and there shall be no end of
    peace. (Isaiah 9, 7)
    Ego Dominus prope feci
    justitiam meam, non elon-
    gabitur, et salus mea non
    morabitur. Psalm 63
    I the Lord have brought my jus-
    tice near, it shall not be afar
    off, and my salvation shall not
    tarry. (Isaiah 46, 12)
    Exspectetur, sicut pluvia,
    eloquium Domini: et de-
    scendat, sicut ros, super nos
    Deus noster. Canticle of
    Moses, Deut. 32, 1-43 
    Let the word of the Lord be
    awaited, like the rain, and let
    our God descend upon us like
    the dew. (vs. 2)
    Paratus esto, Israel, in oc-
    cursum Domini, quoniam
    venit. Psalm 150
    But I will look towards the
    Lord, I will wait for God my
    Saviour. (Amos 4, 12)

    Finally, on December 21st and 23rd, there are special antiphons to be said with the Benedictus, the last of these an especially fitting final word of the season, before the special office of the vigil of the Nativity. (Nolite timere is used for the commemoration of Advent on the feast of St Thomas, unless the feast is transferred off the 4th Sunday of Advent.)

    Aña Nolite timere: quinta
    enim die veniet ad vos Do-
    minus noster.
    Fear ye not, for on the fifth day
    our God will come to you.
    Ana Ecce completa sunt
    omnia, quae dicta sunt per
    Angelum de Virgine
    Behold, all things are fulfilled
    which were said by the Angel
    about the Virgin Mary?

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    We have already received a fair number of photos of Rorate Masses, and we will shortly do a photopost which will include them along with those of Gaudete Sunday Masses, featuring your rose-colored vestments, in either Form of the Roman Rite. We will be very glad to include anything else from your Advent celebrations as well, such as Vespers, Masses of Our Lady of Guadalupe etc. Let’s see if we can match last year, when we received enough to make three separate posts! Please send photos to: for inclusion; be sure to include the name and location of the church, and any other information you consider relevant. Thanks as always - Evangelize though Beauty!

    Rorate Mass at St Joan of Arc in Oberlin, LA, from last year’s second Gaudete and Rorate photopost.
    Gaudete Sunday at Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, New Jersey, from last year’s first Gaudete and Rorate post.

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    (Links to Part 1 and Part 2)

    Continuing our exploration of how the ancient Roman Rite has, built into it, sufficient time or leisure for the appropriation of its sacred content, today I would like to focus on the segment of the liturgy usually referred to as the Communion rite, which, in a well-celebrated usus antiquior, is a veritable oasis of tranquility.

    “Deep calleth on deep, at the noise of thy flood-gates. All thy heights and thy billows have passed over me” (Ps 41:8). After the long silence of the Roman Canon, the uttering or chanting of the Lord’s Prayer emerges like the cry of a swimmer raising his head above the water. Soon, though, he is submerged again in the Libera nos, followed shortly after by the rich prayers of preparation for Holy Communion, the threefold Domine, non sum dignus, the poignant psalm verses.

    I’ll admit that I used to feel a little impatient right around this time. We’ve had our oasis of silent worship during the Canon, and just as the sung or recited prayers are cranking up again, we find ourselves confronted once more with several sizeable pauses: the gap between the Lord’s Prayer and the per omnia saecula saeculorum preceding the Pax Domini, and then the gap between the Agnus Dei and the Confiteor/Ecce Agnus Dei. Why are we standing or kneeling and waiting for stuff to happen? Can’t we move on?

    One could answer this question with a disquisition on the development of this part of the liturgy and the importance of the various prayers and gestures that the priest is busy with at that moment. But here we are considering the moral and spiritual benefit that accrues to the people from the way the liturgy developed. This benefit is summed up in the famous words of Milton: “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Certain virtues or spiritual dispositions are formed precisely in these gaps or pauses, these stretches of profound and expectant silence. We know what is coming, and yet it still has to come, in its own way and at its own time. We may not, must not, rush it in our desire to be “in charge.” It is like having to wait nine months for a child to be born. How hard it is to go for so many months without seeing the child, or even, in many cases, knowing whether it is a boy or a girl!

    Waiting for the priest at the altar, waiting for the liturgy to do its work at its own pace, is a model of our stance vis-à-vis life and death. Think of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who had to wait for her Son to suffer his agony, die upon the cross, and be taken down. The Mass reflects this trustful stance of waiting for God to act and readying oneself to meet Him, to be acted upon — that is, to suffer, and thus, to partake of His victory, when and as He wishes to share it. Thinking of it this way, I have learned not only to accept but to welcome and appreciate these pauses in the post-Canon portion of the Mass.

    Let us return to the rich prayers of the liturgy at this juncture, most of which are said silently by the priest. Laity with daily missals often make these prayers their own, but just as often they may pray in their own words or thoughts or desires or emptiness as they await their invitation to the banquet of immortality. The priest’s separate communion brings two immense goods: first, it strongly accentuates the de fide teaching that the priesthood of the priest and the priesthood of the faithful are essentially different and that, as a result, only the priest’s communion is required for the completion of the holy sacrifice; secondly, it allows the faithful an ample moment of proximate preparation, in which we can take a big spiritual breath (so to speak) before we approach the altar ourselves. I was recently reminded of the importance of this moment when reading about a medieval nun, St. Mechtilde of Hackeborn (c. 1240–1298), who had the pious custom of reciting five Hail Marys before receiving Holy Communion:
    At the first Hail Mary, she reminded our Lady of the solemn hour when she conceived a Son in her virginal womb, at the word of the Angel, and drew Him to her from heaven by her profound humility. She asked her to obtain for her a pure conscience and profound humility.
             At the second Hail Mary, she reminded her of the happy moment when she took Jesus for the first time into her arms and first saw Him in His Sacred Humanity. She prayed Mary to obtain for her a true knowledge of herself.
             At the third Hail Mary, she begged our Lady to remember that she had always been prepared to receive grace and had never placed any obstacle to its operation. She begged Mary to obtain for her a heart always ready to receive divine grace.
             At the fourth Hail Mary, she reminded our Lady with what devotion and gratitude she received on earth the body of her well-beloved Son, knowing better than anyone the salvation to be found there by mankind. Mechtilde begged her to obtain that her heart might be filled with worthy feelings of gratitude. If men knew the blessings which flow for them from the body of Jesus Christ, they would faint with joy.
             At the fifth Hail Mary, she reminded our Lady of the reception given to her by her divine Son when He invited her to take her place near Him in heaven in the midst of transports of joy.[1]
    Everyone who attends the usus antiquior can understand why St. Mectilde was able to do this as her own “pious custom.” Quite simply: she had the time, the space, the silence, to recite five Hail Marys before going to communion. Alas, such a thing is well-nigh unimaginable in the Novus Ordo, when one is scarcely allowed an opportunity to collect one’s thoughts, let alone enjoy the presence of mind to pray five Hail Marys for these noble intentions! A mystic like St. Mectilde would have fared rather badly any time after about 1964, since the liturgy would no longer have been able to nourish her interior life as it had done before.

    If the saints have warned us to guard against lapsing into a routine of thoughtless, unprepared communions — even in the best of circumstances, when the liturgy itself, with earnest prayer and pools of silence, furnished every opportunity to rise above this fault! — what would they say about our situation today, when the casual, routine, indiscriminate and undiscerning reception of the Holy Eucharist is the norm throughout the Catholic Church, rather than the exception?

    A different Mectilde, Mother Catherine Mectilde de Bar (1614–1698), foundress of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, describes what happens when a person receives communion. Her description helps us to appreciate why St. Thomas Aquinas says that two things are required for a fruitful communion: being in a state of grace, and being in a state of actual devotion.[2] A certain devout recollection is required from the communicant in order to follow Our Lord whither He goes, for He hides Himself in the depths of the soul:
    Jesus Christ, being thus in the soul, whither does He withdraw? As I said, to the sancta sanctorum of the soul, which is its most intimate depth and which serves as a sanctuary for this High Priest and as a temple where He celebrates His divine and terrible sacrifice of all that He is to His Father. This sacrifice He wants to renew in the depth of each soul as in a holy temple, for which it was consecrated on the day of baptism. O inconceivable marvel! Jesus Christ descends into our hearts in order to sacrifice Himself and to celebrate there His solemn Mass in profound silence. All is quiet in this temple, the angels and saints admire and adore the way the Lord humbles Himself there, and the Eternal Father is well pleased.[3]
    I might add in passing that the theoretically optional but in practice mandatory “sign of peace” only contributes to the superficiality and spirit of distraction. The Novus Ordo seemingly does not want you to drift away from the surface of things: since it supposed to build up the community, the People of God, you must be forcibly reminded of that at every turn. This, I think, might explain why so many pastors seem content to allow the faithful to chit-chat before and after Mass rather than catechizing them about the sacred silence that befits the temple of God. This chit-chat is, in a way, the conversation one would expect at the family dinner table, which is what the Mass has been reduced to in progressive circles. How strange it would be for guests at a meal to keep silent, close their eyes, and speak only in whispers!

    But we are not at a mere meal; we are at a sacrificial banquet, whose host is the crucified and risen Lord. Our behavior should be utterly different. It should never remain on the surface but respond to the still, small voice that calls us to the heights and depths of Our Lord’s infernal sorrow and celestial joy: “Deep calleth on deep…”

    In the fourth installment of this series, I will consider the ablutions to the last Gospel, and find, once more, that the usus antiquior as it has developed under the care of Divine Providence displays a subtle grasp of human psychology and divine largesse in pacing the conclusion of the liturgy.


    [1] From The Love of the Sacred Heart, Illustrated by St. Mechtilde, with a Foreword by the Lord Bishop of Salford (London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, 1922), 164.

    [2] See, for example, Scriptum super Sententiarum, Lib. IV, d. 9, q. 1, a. 4, qa. 2, sol.

    [3] Mother Mectilde, The True Spirit of the Perpetual Adorers of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, ch. 6; unpublished translation.

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    Anyone who wants to learn to draw and paint in the naturalistic style should consider classes at the atelier of Catholic master artist Anthony Visco in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The contact details for his Atelier for the Sacred Arts are in the posters below.

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  • 12/19/17--09:52: O Radix Jesse
  • O Root of Jesse, which standest as a sign to the peoples, at whom kings shall shut their mouths, whom the gentiles shall beseech, come to deliver, delay thou not!

    This particularly beautiful painting of the Tree of Jesse, which is referred to in today’s O antiphon, is attributed with some uncertainty to a Dutch painter named Gerrit Gerritsz, generally known as Geertgen tot Sint Jans, of whom very little is known for certain. His birth is placed by conflicting sources ca. 1455 or 1465, in either Harlaam, where he also died at the age of about 30, or Leiden. The nickname “tot Sint Jans” refers to his membership in the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. Like many Dutch and Flemish artists of the period, he revels in delicate colors and extremely very fine decoration. The subject, the line of kings from David to the Virgin Mary, offers an opportunity to dress his figures in refined clothing with many small details.

    Jesse, King David’s father, is usually shown in this motif sleeping on the ground, with a tree coming out of his side, populated with Christ’s ancestors; the Virgin and Child may be at the top, as here, or in the middle. Since the inclusion of all 27 ancestors given in St Matthew’s Gospel between Jesse and Christ would make the composition far too crowded, a selection of them is given, twelve kings of Judah, from David to Manasseh. King David, the author of the Psalter, is depicted with a harp on the lowest branch; Solomon is shown half kneeling to the right. Further up, Abia lifts his father Roboam onto the next branch, next to whom are shown Abia’s son Asa, Ozias with a book, Josaphat with a hawk, a large necklace and a purse, Joram with a fur hat in his hands, and Joatham. Around the Virgin at the top are Achaz, a wicked and idolatrous kings, Ezechias, one of the holy kings, and Manasses (to the right of the Virgin, with the crown and scepter), an idolatrous king who repented. (It is Achaz to whom the Prophet Isaiah speaks when he foretells that “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”)

    Abia, (next to Solomon, shown from behind) wears both a crown and sash of roses, while Josaphat’s necklace is made of larger and smaller beads, both of which remind one of the rosary. (The Dutch word for “rosary - rozenkrans” literally means “crown of roses.”) In this regard, it should be remembered that the root of Jesse was long associated by the Fathers with the Virgin Mary. As St Jerome writes in his commentary on Isaiah 11, “We understand the rod (virga) from the root of Jesse to be the Holy Virgin (virgo) Mary.” This passage is read in the Breviary of St Pius V in the second nocturn of the Second Sunday of Advent, commenting on the reading of the first nocturn, Isaiah 11, 1-10, which begins “And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.” Jerome continues, “the flower we understand to be the Lord and Savior, who says in the Canticle of Canticles, ‘I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.’ ” The garden refers to the words of Canticles 4, 12 “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up”, which are constantly used as an image of Mary’s virginity.

    The kneeling nun in the lower left, who is holding a rosary, was at one time painted over with an extension of the brick wall next to her, perhaps even by Gerritsz himself; she was uncovered by a restoration in 1932. The man behind her may be the prophet Isaiah, who is of course the prophet of the Virgin Mary par excellence. The man on the lower left, richly dressed and holding a book, may be the rector of the convent or charitable institution to which the nun belonged. Finally, we should note to the left of the man a peacock, the symbol from very ancient times of the resurrection of the body and eternal life.

    This painting has been in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam since 1956.

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    As was the case last year, the response to our request for photos of Gaudete Sunday liturgies and Rorate Masses has been really outstanding, and there are enough that we will make at least three posts of them. If you have sent photos in, but don’t see them here, know that they will definitely be posted, and that we are very grateful for your submissions. This set also includes a new rose vestment chasuble in the Borromaean style, recently made by someone we have featured on NLM before, Br Augustine Kelly OFM. Once again, we should all take particular encouragement in seeing how these aspects of our Catholic liturgical tradition continue to be rediscovered and flourish, contributing to the work of evangelizing through beauty!

    St Joan of Arc - Oberlin, Louisiana

    Sacred Heart - Albany, New York

    St Gianna Beretta Molla - Northfield, New Jersey
    Our Lady of Mt Carmel - Littleton, Colorado (FSSP)

    St Joseph’s Catholic Chapel - San Antonio, Texas

    A New Rose Chausble by Br Augustine Kelly, OFM

    Holy Innocents - New York City
    Part of a series of ten Rorate Masses which the church held this year.
    December 6th

     December 7th

     December 9th

    St Mary’s Parish - Kalamazoo, Michigan

    St Anthony of Padua - Jersey City, New Jersey 

    St Mary’s Catholic Church - Toronto, Onatario 

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    The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei informs us that the “Order for Reciting the Divine Office and Celebration of the Mass According to the Ancient or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the Year of the Lord 2018”, edited by the Commission published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, is now available. Copies of this publication can be bought directly from Libreria Editrice Vaticana at the ecclesiastical booksellers in Rome and elsewhere.

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    Catholic News Service has posted over the last couple of days a great series of videos about Gregorian chant and its place in the Church and the liturgy. Here is a particularly interesting one about the experience of St John the Beloved, a parish in McLean, Virginia, that decided to embrace chant as the normative music for all its Masses, exactly as Vatican II wanted. The parish, which has four different choirs, has successfully made chant an important part of the educational program at its school as well, and the music is embraced by the students.
    And another about the nature of chant as prayer...
    and how it elevates the worship of the Church.
    You can find the rest of this excellent and useful series at the CNS Youtube channel.

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    We continue with your photos of Gaudete Sunday liturgies and Rorate Masses, which are still coming in! There will be a third post of these, so again, if you sent photos in and don’t them here, they will be included in the next one. Thank you all once again!

    St Paul - Birkirkara, Malta

    Nuestra Señora del Pilar - Guadalajara, Mexico (FSSP)

    Prince of Peace - Taylor, South Carolina
    After the Mass of Gaudete Sunday, some of the expecting mothers of the parish received a blessing.

    Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church - Tampa, Florida

    St John Chrysostom Melkite Greek-Catholic Church - Atlanta, Georgia
    Orthros and Divine Liturgy of the Sunday of the Forefathers (the 2nd Sunday before Christmas)

    Old St Mary’s Parish - Cincinnati, Ohio (The Oratory)

    St Margaret Mary - Oakland, California

    St Apollinaris - Napa, California

    Holy Trinity - Przemyśl, Poland

    Santa Marta - Lugano, Switzerland (Dominican Rite)

    St Louis Church - Tallahassee, Florida 

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    The St Ann Choir is one of the few choirs that sings the traditional sacred music of the Church at Latin Masses in the Ordinary Form on Sundays, and polyphonic Masses by renowned Renaissance composers on special feasts. The schedule for Christmas and Epiphany this year includes Masses by Victoria, Byrd, and Morales; New Year’s Eve Vespers (First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary) includes music by Josquin, Dufay, and Mouton. All are welcome! Please note that the Masses will be celebrated at St Thomas Aquinas Church, located at 751 Waverly St in Palo Alto, while Vespers of December 31st is at the St Ann Chapel, located at 541 Melville Avenue.

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  • 12/21/17--15:00: An Early Renaissance Pulpit
  • It is a convention of Italian art history that the Renaissance began in Florence in the year 1401, with a competition among artists to make bronze panels for the doors of that city’s baptistery. While this event was certainly very important, this convention steals a bit too much credit from earlier artists who were already laying the foundations of the Renaissance in the mid-to-late 13th century, and over the course of the 14th. Among sculptors, two of the most important in this era are Nicola Pisano (ca. 1215 – 1280), and his son Giovanni, (ca. 1248-1315.) The monumental pulpits which they created, Nicola in the cathedral of Siena and the baptistery of Pisa, Giovanni in the cathedral of Pisa and the church of St Andrew in Pistoia, are particularly important as the earliest sculptural groups directly inspired by ancient Roman works.

    Pisa is not very far from the famous Carrara marble quarries, and in ancient times was an important center for the production of sculptures and sarcophagi. In the Middle Ages, an impressive collection of Roman sculptures had accumulated in and around the cathedral, and many of the ancient sarcophagi had been reused for new burials. Nicola Pisano, who came to the city about 1257 to make a pulpit in the baptistery, was one of the very first Italian artists to study and imitate these ancient works, and one of the first in whose work the specific ancient models which he studied and imitated can be identified. The same is true of the works of his son, such as the pulpit which he added to the cathedral itself about 40-50 years later, to replace a very primitive Romanesque work of the mid-12th century.

    A common motif on ancient Roman sarcophagi was a lion devouring a herbivore, usually a donkey or a deer; for the Romans, this may have been intended to represent the victory of death over all things. Here, Giovanni Pisano has copied it very successfully; his lions are far more realistic than those commonly seen at the doors of Italian Romanesque churches, which are often just very hairy, elongated cats. Its placement at the base of the pulpit represents the savagery of the world, which is tamed by classical civilization, and sanctified by the coming of Christ.
    The base of the central pillar is decorated with symbolic figures representing the Seven Liberal Arts, the Trivium (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (Music, seen here, plus Arithmetic, Geometry and Astronomy.)
    The base with the Liberal Arts supports a column decorated with the Theological Virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity, whose faces are also notable as works inspired by classical models. This demonstrates how the study of the arts informs the practice of the virtues, which are the foundation of the Christian life. Their placement in the middle of the pulpit, however, is not original. In 1595, the cathedral of Pisa suffered a disastrous fire which destroyed the ceiling. During the subsequent restoration works, the pulpit, then seen as very old fashioned, was dismantled, and the pieces displayed in various parts of the complex. By 1926, its historical importance as a foundational work of the Italian Renaissance had come to be more widely understood, and it was reassembled in place, but modern scholars believe that the caryatids were originally more visible.
    This figure of Hercules represents Fortitude, and is well-known as one of the very rare examples of a nude (again, based on classical models) in late Medieval sculpture.
    This figure of the Church stands on a base, around which are placed the Cardinal or Philosophical Virtues, Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude. The figure of Temperance, seen here in the foreground, is copied directly off of a well-known classical representation of the goddess Venus known as the Venus pudica, the “chaste” or “modest Venus”; a very considerable number of ancient examples of it have been found.
    The central register between the columns and the narrative panels is decorated with figures of Prophets, Sybils and Evangelists, those who announced the Faith to the ancient world, as the preacher standing above them proclaims the teaching of the Church to the faithful gathered to hear him. The narrative panels, in accordance with the common medieval tradition, represent various episode of the life of Christ. Pisano is particularly skilled in incorporating a very large number of figures into his panels, as we see here in the Adoration of the the Magi.
    The Massacre of the Innocents and the Betrayal of Christ.
     The Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple.
    The Birth of the Virgin (below), the Annunciation and Visitation all crammed into a single rather chaotic panel.
    The same panel from a different angle, and the birth of Christ.
    Due to over bright lighting, I was unable to get any usable photos of my own of the two other panels of the life of Christ; these two come from Wikimedia, by Sailko. Here, the Crucifixion; note how the artist emphasizes the humility of Christ in His Passion by filling the panel with other figures; compared to earlier representations of this scene, including that by his father in the baptistery, Christ occupies far less space.

    The Last Judgment; in the modern placement of the pulpit, this is set at the back in such a way that it cannot be seen very well.

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    The fall issue of Sacred Music has recently arrived, and the winter issue will soon arrive in the mailboxes of subscribers. Become a member of the Church Music Association of America and receive a subscription as one of the benefits of membership.

    Here are the tables of contents:

    Fall 2017
    Gestures | William Mahrt

    Enchanting Spanish-Language Liturgy in the United States: Experiences, Observations, and a Roadmap for the Future | Very Rev. Bryan W. Jerabek

    A Parish Orchestra and Conservatory for a Diverse Neighborhood | Lisa Knutson

    From Indianapolis to Nigeria: A Narrative of Experience of a Church Music Apostolate in the Onitsha Diocese | Rev. Jude Orakwe

    Introducing Gregorian Chant to an American Catholic Congregation | Kurt Poterack

    Introduction to the Russian Edition of Theology of the Liturgy | Pope Benedict

    The Communion Antiphon Beatus servus: An Expressive Commixture | William Mahrt

    Olivier Messiaen: Texts, Contexts, and Intertexts (1937–1948) by Richard D. E. Burton | Aaron James

    Winter 2017
    Polyphony | William Mahrt
    “Fulfilled is All that David Told”: Recovering the Christian Psalter | Dom Benedict Maria Andersen, O.S.B

    The Primacy of Gregorian Chant: Reflections on the Fiftieth Anniversary of Musicam Sacram | Ted Krasnicki

    Progressive Solemnity and the Dominican Liturgy | Rev. Innocent Smith, O.P.

    Palestrina’s Singers’ Lament: Super flumina Babylonis | William Mahrt

    “Hermeneutic of Continuity” | William Mahrt

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    The Quirinal Palace in Rome, the official residence of the Italian president, is currently displaying a nice example of a traditional 18th century Neapolitan Nativity scene.

    Although the invention of the creche is attributed to an Umbrian, St Francis of Assisi, the city of Naples can truly boast of having developed it into a particular art form, with the creation of a highly theatrical Baroque style admired and imitated up and down the peninsula. The Neapolitan tradition began with St Cajetan, the founder of the Theatine Order. One of his favorite places to pray in Rome was the basilica of St Mary Major, specifically, the chapel where the relics of Christ’s crib were kept. At the end of the 13th century, the sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio had made for this chapel a large Nativity set, several pieces of which survive to this day. While praying there one year on Christmas Eve, St Cajetan had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who handed him the Baby Jesus to hold. When he came to Naples in 1534, he set up a Nativity scene in the church of a major public hospitial, in imitation of the Roman one; this was then picked up by many other churches, as well as private families. It was also in Naples that the tradition began of dismantling the creche after the Christmas season ended, so that it could be reassembled, perhaps in a different way, the following year; previous ones like di Cambio’s, the figures of which were all stone, were permanent fixtures.

    As the tradition developed, it became a kind of competition (a friendly one, we hope) to enrich the scene with an ever larger number of human figures, and make them continually bigger with the addition of whole buildings, streets, piazzas etc. The persons and scenes shown are for the most part ordinary folks going about their ordinary lives, a theological declaration that the sanctifying grace of Christ, which begins to come to us in the Incarnation, is available to all in whatever station of life they find themselves. Very frequently, the Holy Family are shown within a ruined temple, or some other ancient Roman building, representing the world which suffers from the ruin of sin, and longs for renewal in the coming of the Savior.

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    We conclude this year’s series of photos of Gaudete Sunday liturgies and Rorate Masses, starting with a new priest’s first Mass at the FSSP’s Roman church, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. Fr Michael Baggot, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, was ordained on Saturday, December 16th, at the basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, and celebrated his first Mass in the Traditional Rite the following day, with his parents, family members, and several members of his community present. This was apparently the first time that a Legionary has celebrated his first Mass in the Extraordinary Form; our congratulations to Fr Baggot, to his family and to the Legion. Further down, some more good news from the Univ. of Nebraska Newman Center: the first public Traditional Latin Mass celebrated freely for the students to attend started at 6:30 a.m. on the Saturday between dead week and finals week, and still saw a full church, around 400 students present!

    As always, we are very grateful to all those who sent these photos in - continue the work of evangelizing though beauty!

    Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini - Rome, Italy (FSSP)

    University of Nebraska Newman Center - Lincoln, Nebraska

    All Saints - Minneapolis, Minnesota (FSSP)
    Pontifical Mass celebated by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke (Courtesy of Tracy Dunne)

    Prince of Peace - Taylors, South Carolina

    St Mary - Kalamazoo, Michigan


    Our Lady of the Rosary - Tacoma Washington
    A Rorate Mass in the Ordinary Form ad orientem

    Co-Cathedral of St Joseph - Burlington, Vermont

    Cathedral of St Eugene - Santa Rosa, California

    St Alphonsus - Baltimore, Maryland (FSSP)

    St Paul’s - Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Organized by Juventutem Boston

    St Paul - Birkirkara, Malta

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  • 12/23/17--19:29: The Importance of Ritual
  • Our readers are probably familiar with The Coming Home Network, an organization which helps to share the stories of people from all walks of life who have converted from other Christian denominations to Catholicism. There is also a regular Coming Home segment on EWTN; I know a few people who have found their way into the Church in no small part because of such testimonies.

    I found this video particularly interesting as a testimony to the power of liturgy and liturgical rites to instill the truths of the Faith. Mr Nathan Wigfield, who is now the director of religious education at a Catholic church, speaks about his experience with the physical reality of Catholic worship. In the midst of his upbringing as an evangelical, his formerly Catholic mother used to bring him to a Catholic Church for the Good Friday ceremony of kissing the Cross. After this very simple act of participation in one of the most important Catholic rites, “I began to ask deeper questions in regard to the teaching of the Church.”
    The power which this ritual exercized over him, which helped to lead him to the fullness of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church, reminds us why it is so important that the liturgy be celebrated with beauty, solemnity and reverence, in the fullness of Catholic tradition. Even the simplest ritual acts, and in this case, something which he at first experienced only once a year, and which was not even a Sacrament, can deeply plant the seeds of the Faith. It is the essential mission of all Catholic worship to make sure that such seeds be given the chance to flourish.

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    Our next major photopost will be for the liturgies of Christmas, whether in the OF or the EF, or any of the Eastern Rites, Ordinariate Use, etc.; as always, we will also be very glad to include other liturgical ceremonies, such as Prime on Christmas Eve, Vespers, and any liturgies celebrated during the Octave. Please send your pictures to, and don’t forget to include the name of the church and its location, and any other information which you think worth noting. Evangelize through beauty!

    His Eminence Joseph Card. Zen celebrating Pontifical Mass at Mary, Help of Christians in Hong Kong, from last year’s third Christmas photopost.

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  • 12/25/17--10:42: Merry Christmas!
  • Hodie nobis caelorum Rex de Virgine nasci dignatus est, ut hominem perditum ad caelestia regna revocaret: * Gaudet exercitus Angelorum: quia salus aeterna humano generi apparuit. V. Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. R. Gaudet exercitus Angelorum: quia salus aeterna humano generi apparuit. V. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. R. Hodie nobis caelorum Rex ... (The first responsory of Christmas Matins.)

    Illustration for Christmas Day from a Missal printed by the Desclée publishing house, late 19th century.
    R. Today the King of heaven deigned to be born of a Virgin for us, that He might bring back to the kingdom of heaven man who was lost. * The host of Angels rejoiceth, because eternal salvation hath appeared to the human race. V. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth. peace to men of goodwill. The host of Angels... Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Today...

    On behalf of the publisher and writers of New Liturgical Movement, I wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas, and every blessing from the Child that is born unto us! By the prayers of the Holy Mother of God and all the Saints, may God grant the world peace in the coming year.

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    Just as with someone whose birthday is on Christmas Day, St Anastasia is not often commemorated, even though it is her feast too. So as something slightly different for today, here is a feature on her, one of the saints of the Roman Canon, to complement your consideration of Our Lord’s Nativity.

    Since a separate Mass for her cannot be said on December 25th, I suggest something else that could be done liturgically to revive her memory. Perhaps we could find a way of adding a veneration to her without distracting from the Nativity, through the addition of her name to the prayers of the day in the Mass or the Divine Office, or through a veneration of her icon in the processions, in a way that supports, rather than distracts from, the main focus of the day. We could take a lead from the Eastern Church, which often commemorates the Saints of the day even in the Sunday liturgy, by singing more than one troparion of the day at the appropriate juncture.

    In regard to St Anastasia, not much is know about her, except that she was a Roman by birth who was martyred at Sirmium in modern-day Serbia, during the persecution of the Emporer Diocletian.

    You can read about her at New Advent here. This Western depiction of her shows her with the idealized features of a Greek goddess, as would have been the norm in the classicizing art of the High Renaissance or the early 19th century.

    Her liturgical title in the Byzantine liturgy is “Φαρμακολυτρία - Deliverer of Potions”, i.e., one who delivers people from the harmful effects of potions and poisons; Eastern icons therefore show her with a bottle in her hands, which symbolising the power of her prayers to cure the sick.

    This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches, and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. (Read it here.) In these, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon - Eucharistic Prayer I - and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate. For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master’s of Sacred Arts, www.Pontifex.University.

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    I was delighted to receive notice of the completion of a major commission by Thomas Marsh. It is statue group of the Holy Spouses, St Joseph and Our Lady of Guadelupe, Patrons of the Unborn, located at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bakersfield, California.

    I love the restrained use of color applied to the bronze. Also, note that the faces are not portraits from models, but rather idealized, taking inspiration from the Greek ideal that was used by High Renaissance and Baroque masters. This is something that is so important in sacred art, yet is not understood by so many artists who work in naturalistic styles. I explain the reasons why idealization is important in sacred art in an this post from last year.

    These are as important to the creation of a culture of life as the noble political battles fought by those in the Right to Life movement. I hope this might add to your enjoyment of the Feast of St Stephen...or if you are in the UK, Boxing Day!
    Below is a detail of the original clay model that the cast was based on.

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