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- 12/15/17--07:07: _FSSP Mission Trips ...
- 12/16/17--07:32: _The Other Major Ant...
- 12/17/17--07:46: _Gaudete Sunday Phot...
- 12/18/17--06:42: _Time for the Soul t...
- 12/19/17--06:59: _Anthony Visco's Ate...
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- 12/22/17--21:29: _A Traditional Neapo...
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- 12/24/17--19:37: _Christmas 2017 Phot...
- 12/25/17--10:42: _Merry Christmas!
- 12/25/17--13:14: _Something Unusual F...
- 12/26/17--05:00: _Recently Completed ...
- 12/15/17--07:07: FSSP Mission Trips in 2018
- 12/16/17--07:32: The Other Major Antiphons for the End of Advent
- 12/17/17--07:46: Gaudete Sunday Photopost Request 2017
- 12/18/17--06:42: Time for the Soul to Absorb the Mysteries — Part 3: The Communion
- 12/19/17--06:59: Anthony Visco's Atelier for Sacred Arts Announces Classes for 2018
- 12/19/17--09:52: O Radix Jesse
- 12/20/17--03:08: Gaudete and Rorate Photopost 2017 (Part 1)
- 12/20/17--05:00: PCED Ordo for 2018 Now Available
- 12/20/17--11:38: A New CNS Series about Gregorian Chant
- 12/20/17--14:53: Gaudete and Rorate Photopost 2017 (Part 2)
- 12/21/17--05:21: St Ann Choir Christmas Season Schedule, Palo Alto, California
- 12/21/17--15:00: An Early Renaissance Pulpit
- 12/22/17--07:08: Fall and Winter 2017 Issues of Sacred Music
- 12/22/17--21:29: A Traditional Neapolitan Nativity Scene
- 12/23/17--06:46: Gaudete and Rorate Photopost 2017 (Part 3)
- 12/23/17--19:29: The Importance of Ritual
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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.
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 www.SJSInstitute.com 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.
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.|
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.
|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)
2 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)
3 Ecce jam venit plenitudo
temporis, in quo misit Deus
Filium suum in terras.
|Behold, the fullness of time hath
already come, in which God
hath sent His Son upon the
lands. (Galatians 4, 4)
4 Haurietis aquas in gaudio
de fontibus Salvatoris.
Canticle of Isaiah, chapter
|Ye shall draw waters in joy from
the fountains of the Savior.
5 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
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)
2 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)
3 Ut cognoscamus, Domine,
in terra viam tuam, in omni-
bus gentibus salutare tuum.
|May we know, o Lord, Thy way
upon the earth, Thy salvation in
all nations. (vs. 3)
4 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)
5 Lex per Moysen data est;
gratia et veritas per Jesum
Christum facta est.
|The law was given by Moses;
grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ. (John 1, 17)
|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
2 Spiritus Domini super
me, evangelizare pauperi-
bus misit me.
|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)
3 Propter Sion non tacebo,
donec egrediatur ut splen-
dor justus ejus.
|For Sion’s sake I will not hold
my peace, till her just one come
forth as brightness. (Isa. 62, 1)
4 Ecce veniet Dominus, ut
sedeat cum principibus, et
solium gloriae teneat.
Canticle of Anna, I Kings
|Behold, the Lord shall come to
sit with princes, and hold the
throne of glory. (vs. 8)
5 Annuntiate populis et di-
cite: Ecce Deus Salvator
noster veniet. Psalm 145
|Proclaim ye to the peoples, and
say: Behold, God our Savior
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.
2 Convertere, Domine, ali-
quantulum, et ne tardes ve-
nire ad servos tuos.
|Return, o Lord, a little while, and
delay not to come to Thy ser-
3 De Sion veniet, qui regna-
turus est Dominus, Emma-
nuel magnum nomen ejus.
|From Sion shall come the Lord
who is to rule, Emmanuel is
His great name.
4 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)
5 Dominus legifer noster,
Dominus Rex noster, ipse
veniet, et salvabit nos.
|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)
2 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.
3 Veni, Domine, et noli tar-
dare: relaxa facinora plebi
tuae Israël. Psalm 84
|Come, o Lord, delay Thou not;
forgive the crimes of Thy
4 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)
5 Ego autem ad Dominum
aspiciam, et exspectabo
Deum, Salvatorem meum.
|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.|
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.
|Behold ye how glorious is this
one, that cometh in to save the
2 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)
3 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)
4 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)
5 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-
|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?
|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.|
Part 1 and Part 2)
“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.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.
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.
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?
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.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.
 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.
 See, for example, Scriptum super Sententiarum, Lib. IV, d. 9, q. 1, a. 4, qa. 2, sol.
 Mother Mectilde, The True Spirit of the Perpetual Adorers of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, ch. 6; unpublished translation.
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.
Our Lady of Mt Carmel - Littleton, Colorado (FSSP)
Part of a series of ten Rorate Masses which the church held this year.
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.
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.
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.
Here are the tables of contents:
Gestures | William Mahrt
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
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
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.
As always, we are very grateful to all those who sent these photos in - continue the work of evangelizing though beauty!
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.
|His Eminence Joseph Card. Zen celebrating Pontifical Mass at Mary, Help of Christians in Hong Kong, from last year’s third Christmas photopost.|
|Illustration for Christmas Day from a Missal printed by the Desclée publishing house, late 19th century.|
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.
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.
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.
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!