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    On the feast of the Epiphany, Saturday, January 6, His Eminence the Most Reverend Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at the Roman parish of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. The Mass will begin at 11 am; the church is located in the Piazza della Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, very close to the Ponte Sisto.

    Card. Burke celebrating the midnight Mass of Christmas 2016 at Trinità dei Pellegrini.

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    We received the following from Fr Edward Nemeth of St Genevieve Catholic Church in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. This parish was founded in 1759 in the oldest settlement in the state of Missouri, also named Ste. Genevieve. The town was founded by the French, but welcomed a large number of German Catholic immigrants in the mid 1800’s. The current church was built in 1860, the fourth in the parish’s history, and has been spared any modern renovations.

    On January 1, 1818, Bishop William DuBourg, on his way to take possession of the soon-to-be formed Diocese of St Louis, arrived in Ste. Genevieve, where he celebrated a Pontifical High Mass before heading north to his episcopal see. In order to commemorate the second centenary of this milestone, the parish organized and hosted a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, with music provided by the local Juventutem St Louis group. Over 600 people attended the Mass, some traveling from as far north as St Louis and as far south as Cape Girardeau. About half of the participants were parishioners, many of whom have never attended the usus antiquior. The Veni Creator Spiritus was sung at the end of the Mass to invoke the Holy Spirit’s grace upon the new year. Below we give the sermon preached by the celebrant, Mons. Eugene Morris.

    Our thanks to Fr Nemeth for sharing this with us, and for taking the initiative to commemorate this anniversary with the same Mass that Bishop DuBourg would have known 200 years ago!

    Mons. Eugene Morris and Fr Nemeth
    JANUARY 1, 2018
    Sermon by Mons, Eugene Morris
    I recently read this in a book about the history of our Archdiocese:

    On December 31, 1817, Father de Andreis and forty leading citizens of Sainte Genevieve greeted their new bishop. In a solemn procession, in full ecclesiastical garb, the clergy walked from the rectory to the village church, accompanied by twenty-four servers. At the church, Bishop Du Bourg spoke eloquently of the love he had for his flock. The speech was well received and the event ended with the chanting of a Te Deum. On New Year’s Day, the Catholics of Saint Genevieve were treated to a liturgy seldom celebrated there, a Pontifical High Mass.

    It’s no ordinary feast that descendants can celebrate a two-hundred-year-old occurrence on the exact date of the anniversary and in the same location. Where, in America’s heartland could this be done from the Alleghenies in the east to the Rockies in the west, from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Louisiana delta? Only in New Orleans, but not there either. Read their history. That city rejected the man we welcomed and gave a home.

    So, William Valentine Du Bourg came north on his way to the village of Saint Louis, his chosen see. His trek took him first to Apple Creek and then here to Sainte Genevieve where he celebrated for the first time as bishop in his diocese the Holy Eucharist.

    This event marked the penetration of history and place which would begin, once and for all, the Catholic evangelization of America’s heartland.

    Du Bourg did not come alone. He brought Vincentians like De Andreis and Rosati who would build Saint Mary’s of the Barrens in Perryville, the cradle from which would come a legion of priests as well as bishops to bring the Gospel and the sacraments to the people of the heartland.

    Du Bourg brought Christian Brothers with him to teach at Sainte Genevieve Academy, the building still standing in our midst, though the effort was ill-fated. Du Bourg brought Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne and the Religious of the Sacred Heart. They stopped here in Sainte Genevieve on their way to their ultimate destination, Saint Charles. Father Henry Pratte, pastor and native son, tried to persuade them to stay here. Their experience in Saint Charles no doubt prompted them to wish they had taken him up on the offer.

    Sainte Genevieve played an enormous role in the Catholic evangelization of the Mississippi Valley. It was here in Sainte Genevieve that Father Charles Nerinckx, co-founder of the Loretto Sisters, died on his last journey.

    It is here that Father James Maxwell served the Spanish authorities as pastor. Maxwell Hill, on the way to Riverview Nursing Home is named for him, for on one fateful day the priest fell from his horse, in a fatal accident.

    It was at Sainte Genevieve that Father Pierre Gibault learned of a stand-off on Kaskaskia Island between George Rogers Clark with his Virginia Long-knives and the British garrison of the 18th Royal Irish Regiment. Gibault’s timely intervention gave Kaskaskia to the American cause, and with it the whole of the upper Mississippi River Valley. For his patriotism, the priest had a British price on his head the rest of his life.

    We are surrounded by history, mid-western and Catholic. But let us not be bedazzled by historical events. We celebrate the bicentennial arrive of Bishop Du Bourg because he came to us and celebrated Mass. He and the others who came to build up Holy Mother in America’s heartland were inspired by God to bring Christ to the creoles of the valley as well the natives of the forests and plains. Osage came to Du Bourg seeking a Catholic priest as their chaplain. Three times Flathead Indians of Oregon made arduous journeys to Saint Louis, finally securing the mission of the Jesuits, most renowned being Father Peter DeSmet.

    Why this effort? Why leave lives of comfort and security behind to come to this untamed land? What can we, the descendants of these heroes and inheritors of their great work draw from them that might inspire us?

    They did all they did for the greater glory of God, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

    I began this reflection with a quote from a history of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Allow me to end it with a quote from Father John Rothensteiner, whose literary efforts were among the first to preserve our noble past. He notes, “and when at last their prayers and labors began to bring victory after victory under such leaders as Du Bourg, Rosati, De Andreis, Van Quickenborne, Elet, De Smet and John Timon, Peter Richard Kenrick and the multitude of their devoted followers, penetrating into the regions of darkness, north, west, east and south, carrying the glad tidings of the gospel to the scattered fragments of many nations, it was again, ‘Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.’ ”

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    There are three precious gifts which the wise men offered to the Lord on this day, and they have within them divine mysteries: * in the gold, that the power of a King may be shown; in the frankincense, consider the great Priest, and in the myrrh, the burial of the Lord. V. The wise men worshipped the author of our salvation in the crib, and from their treasures, they offered to Him the mystical honor of gifts. In the gold... (The first responsory of Matins during the Octave of the Epiphany.)
    The Monforte Altarpiece, by Hugo van der Goes, ca. 1470 (Click to see in high resolution, which is always especially rewarding and interesting with Flemish painters.)
    R. Tria sunt múnera pretiósa, quae obtulérunt Magi Dómino in die ista, et habent in se divína mysteria: * In auro, ut ostendátur Regis potentia: in thure, Sacerdótem magnum consídera: et in myrrha, Domínicam sepultúram. V. Salútis nostrae auctórem Magi veneráti sunt in cunábulis, et de thesauris suis mýsticas ei múnerum species obtulérunt. In auro...

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    Although the Ambrosian Office shares many features with that of the Roman Rite, its structure is different in almost every respect. Vespers begins not with psalmody, but with a Lucernarium, a responsory originally sung while the lamps of the church were being lit. This is often (but not always) followed by an antiphon called “in choro”, because it was originally sung by the cantors standing around the throne of the celebrant. At Second Vespers of the Epiphany, this antiphon is repeated four times; traditionally, the first repetition was followed by three Kyrie eleisons, the second by Gloria Patri, the third by Sicut erat, and the fourth by three more Kyrie eleisons. This is still observed in the Duomo of Milan to this day, with only a very slight modification, as in the video below. Also note that the second repetition is sung by the boys’ choir, and the third by the primicerius, one of the dignitaries of the cathedral chapter, as many chants of the Office are assigned to specific persons or parts of the choir in the Ambrosian liturgy.

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    Over the years at NLM, various authors have published articles concerning how the Ordinary Form might be “enriched” or “improved,” usually by way of adapting or importing practices of the traditional Roman rite. Sometimes this has taken the modest form of recommending that the OF’s own rubrics be actually followed (e.g., on the ad orientem stance, or on the use of Propers), and that a celebrant exercise a well-informed liturgical phronesis (prudence or practical wisdom) in the choice of options. At other times, the proposals have been more comprehensive, as in Fr. Richard Cipolla’s “A Primer for a Tradition-Minded Celebration of the OF Mass.” Such proposals tend to be greeted with two strongly contrasting reactions: a warm welcome from proponents of “mutual enrichment,” or a stern rebuke from those who see them as fomenting disobedience to the new liturgical books and the documents that control their use.

    I submit that we can find a way forward in this debate by considering the contrast between the Kantian notion of duty and the Aristotelian notion of epikeia, often translated “equity.”

    For Kant, duty is something absolute: in Germanic fashion, one ought never to swerve from the strict provisions of the law. In fact, the only way we can know that we are virtuous is by suppressing any subjective motivation or personal judgment about what is right to do and submitting to the objectivity of legal dictates. In this perspective, there is no room for going beyond the letter of the law to achieve more perfectly the law’s own intention of promoting the common good. If a traffic light or crosswalk signal is red, one must always stop at it, regardless of the circumstances.

    For Aristotle, in contrast, formulated laws, as necessary as they are for social life, suffer from the inherent flaw of having been universally framed (as if to embody a timeless and placeless rational perspective), and thus incapable of responding to certain immediate needs. While justice is surely founded on law-abidingness, it is perfected by an additional virtue called epikeia, whereby one judges well of when and how to adapt the law to specific circumstances. Epikeia is the virtue of seeing past the phrasing of the law to the good it intends to safeguard or promote, so that one may do that which will best safeguard or promote that very good — even if at times it involves stepping aside from the literal dictate of the law. Hence, if the traffic light is red, but one has a seriously injured person as a passenger, one looks both ways and then drives straight through the red light to reach the hospital.[1]

    In light of this brief sketch, it seems to me that people come at liturgical law and rubrics from one of two positions:

    1. The Kantian: “Say the Black, Do the Red.” No more and no less.

    2. The Aristotelian: “Say the Black, Do the Red, in accord with the requirements of liturgy and the pattern of tradition.” In other words, you must do and say the things that are directed, and refrain from doing or saying the things that are prohibited, but beyond this there is a wise liberty to practice unity with one’s Catholic tradition, letting it dictate the way the liturgy should be offered. A priest friend described this view as “classical liberal traditionalism.”[2]

    (For the sake of completeness, there is a third position one might identify: the Liberal or Progressive. The clergy who espouse it, however well-intentioned they may be, neither consistently say the black nor do the red, but abuse their positions to improvise and make stuff up as they go along — e.g., arbitrarily speaking aloud prayers that are supposed to be silent.)

    Now it seems to me that the Kantian position lines up with those who would see themselves as, or whom others would call, “conservatives,” while the Aristotelian view lines up with those who might are more likely to be characterized as “traditionalists,” whatever we may make of these inadequate labels. Each of these views seems to line up with a fundamental commitment. The Kantian values authority and its dictates over all other considerations, including Tradition, which is not regarded as having normative and probative value. The Aristotelian works with multiple criteria, regarding the moral act as a complex of internal and external elements, which include, to be sure, authority and law, but also extend beyond them to natural law, precedent, custom, and discretion in a Benedictine sense. (The progressive, for his part, takes as a first principle the superiority of the future over the past: he assumes the inferiority, crudity, or corruptness of tradition, exalts the value of human science as a guide to original purity and contemporary need, and therefore tends to chafe at, if he does not violently attack, the restraints of former custom and current law.)

    The first or Kantian approach suffers from a kind of mechanistic hollowness: one acknowledges a strict duty to an extrinsic principle but makes no room for the intrinsic principle of intelligence to interpret the situation and act appropriately.[3] That this cannot possibly work for the OF is evidenced by the fact that all kinds of decisions have to be made for which there is no provision in the rubrics (unlike in the usus antiquior, where the Church, drawing on the wisdom of centuries, has carefully specified what is to be done, allowing the celebrant to yield himself more freely to the rite in its perfection). This is why Msgr. Elliott’s Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Riteand Ceremonies of the Liturgical Yearare such helpful books — and so hated by liberals. It draws upon the wealth of classical rubrics in order to give more dignity to the OF’s celebration. While it is nowhere near as daring as the Primer published at NLM, it still presupposes the same “classical liberal” attitude of doing what is in line with tradition.

    Let me offer a concrete example. Whether the architects of the Novus Ordo disbelieved in transubstantiation or whether they understood the Real Presence in a heretical manner is a moot point; what is beyond dispute is that they suppressed practices that centuries of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament had prompted, and that this suppression has had the effect, in practice, of lessening both the clergy’s awareness of the awesomeness of the sacred mysteries they enact and the people’s faith in the Real Presence. A priest, therefore, possessed of good liturgical sense, understanding why a genuflection should be made immediately after the consecration, why the fingers are thenceforward to be held together, and why, during the ablutions, the fingers should be washed over the chalice with wine and water, will simply do all this as dignum et justum, the right and just thing to do. In this way he is more in keeping with the mind and will of the supreme legislator, who is obligated ex officio to preserve and promote both the liturgical tradition and maximum reverence towards the Body and Blood of Christ. In this way the legislator’s authentic intention is taken up and strengthened, whatever a particular legislator may have been thinking in his human frailty.

    All this being said, the Aristotelian approach is advisable for a priest who is steeped in the tradition and thus will know how and when to bring traditional elements to the OF. In contrast, it is dangerous, one might say, for a priest who is operating from a flawed or piecemeal liturgical formation to attempt to apply epikeia, for he may introduce untraditional, unliturgical elements, again with the best of intentions.[4] To put the matter practically, the priest who will be most capable of exercising epikeia in the OF will be the one who is well-versed in the celebration and rubrics of the usus antiquior. Indeed, this was precisely the source of the Primer: its author is a priest who for years has offered both the traditional Mass in all three of its forms (Low, High, and Solemn) and the Ordinary Form within a hermeneutic of continuity.

    There is no magisterial document on this “meta-question.” The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum and other documents say, of course, that the priest must be obedient to the rubrics, and that the faithful have a right to a liturgy that is celebrated according to them, etc., but both the Kantian and Aristotelian approaches already concur on this point. The confusion in the Latin Church today results, at least in part, from the importation of the antinomian culture of the 1960s into the very sanctuary, in the form of an open-ended liturgy with options, inculturations, adaptations, and a vastly impoverished code of rubrics. Whatever may be its social merits or demerits, antinomianism is an unsustainable liturgical philosophy. This is precisely why young clergy are eager for the kind of guidance offered them in Msgr. Elliott’s books and NLM’s Primer.

    Ezekiel’s depiction of Israel — “you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred on the day that you were born; and when I passed by you, and saw you weltering in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live, and grow up like a plant of the field’” (Ezek 16:5–6) — might well remind us of the sorry spectacle of a liturgy so much depleted of sacrality, so much in need of growing up and joining the world of actual historical liturgies (if such a reunification is even possible — a theoretical question better left for another occasion). Naturally, clergy and laity who love Catholic tradition, and who are, in one way or another, confined to the use of the Ordinary Form, wish to do something about this problem of the loss of sacredness and the lack of appropriate rites and rubrics. We ought to recognize that there are various plausible and defensible solutions. One of them, as this article has argued, is to Say the Black and Do the Red with an epikeia that avails itself of traditional means by which the Black acquires a fuller resonance and the Red achieves a fuller dignity.


    [1] See Nicomachean Ethics, Book V, ch. 10, for Aristotle’s most complete treatment of this virtue.

    [2] I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek; my actual views on classical liberalism as a socio-political philosophy are well known. Suffice it to say that, following in the line of Gregory XVI, Pius IX, and Leo XIII, I am not a fan of it.

    [3] The priest is an instrument or tool, but he is, as Aquinas says, an intelligent tool. That is, the Lord makes use of him according to his own nature as a rational animal.

    [4] There are larger theoretical issues here, as well, that go beyond the scope of this article. On the one hand, those who designed the OF presumably wanted to revive some fantasy of a free-wheeling early Church liturgy with ex tempore prayers, but there was no thought of the liturgical formation that would be necessary for such virtuosity. Then, formation itself presupposes a specific liturgical tradition, whereas the OF and its options are eclectic between traditions. How is anyone supposed to know if this (mangled) set of Roman orations goes best with that (bowdlerized) Alexandrian Preface, or this or another chant in Latin, English, or Spanish? Prudent choice makes sense within a stable, coherent structure. This, again, is why the usus antiquior is the only possible guide to stabilizing and harmonizing the usus recentior.

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    A musician friend, Mr Ján Janovčík of the Netherlands-based Early Music ensemble Cantores Sancti Gregorii, recommended this motet by the French composter Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) as a good example in music of what we like to call “The Other Modern”, (i.e., the Modern that doesn’t wallow in ugliness,) usually in reference to things like architecture and vestments. The text is the antiphon for the Magnificat on January 7th, but would be perfect as an Offertory or Communion motet.

    Aña Videntes stellam Magi gavisi sunt gaudio magno: et intrantes domum obtulerunt Domino aurum, thus et myrrham.
    Aña Seeing the star, the wise men rejoiced greatly; and entering the house, they offered to the Lord gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

    This recording includes three other motets for the Christmas season, O magnum mysterium, Quem vidistis pastores, Videntes stellam and Hodie Chistus natus est.
    And speaking of sacred music, our readers may also be interested in a new streaming radio station, SacredMusicFM, which offers a good mix of Gregorian chant and polyphony 24/7, and can be listened to on the usual range of mobile devices.

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    Last year, the number of submissions for Epiphany was small enough to cover everything in a single post; this year, we have received twice as many, so will definitely be doing a second one, and will be glad to receive more. Once again, we manage to cover most of the feast’s many liturgical bases, especially the blessing of water, which is becoming more popular with each passing year; also the blessing of chalk, the proclamation of the movable feasts, plus the Ordinariate Use and two Pontifical Masses, one in traditional Roman Rite and one in the modern Ambrosian Rite. (The Byzantine Rite will appear in the second part.) As always, our thanks to all those who sent these in - Evangelize through Beauty!

    Regina Pacis Convent - Santa Rosa, California (Marian Sister of Santa Rosa)
    starting with one of the famous and well-loved amice-tie designs, a star for the Epiphany.

    Mater Ecclesiae - Berlin, New Jersey

    All Saints - Minneapolis, Minnesota (FSSP)
    Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Excellency Andrew Cozzens, Auxiliary St Paul and Minneapolis

    Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary - Milan, Italy
    Pontifical Mass in the Ambrosian Rite celebrated by His Excellency Mario Delpini, Archbishop of Milan

    The first of the three Scriptural readings sung by a reader in a cope. 
    The Gospel sung from the great pulpit on the left side of the main sanctuary.

    Santissima Trinità - Pordenone, Italy

    Our Lady of the Sacred Heart - Cebu City, Philippine Islands
    Chalk to be blessed!
    Genuflecting during the Gospel at the words “and falling down they adored Him.”

    Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel - New York City

    St Mary - Kalamazoo, Michigan
    The Proclamation of the Movable Feasts

    Old St Patrick’s Oratory - Kansas City, Missouri (ICK)

    The blessing of chalk
    Bl. John Henry Newman Parish - Irvine, California
    Sung Mass in the Ordinariate Use

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    St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce that the Fota XI International Liturgy Conference will be held in Cork, Ireland, from July 7-9, 2018. The subject of the conference is Psallite Sapienter: The Liturgy of the Hours, which will explore the role of the Divine Office in the life of the Church. Further details will be released before Easter.

    Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke  in the church of Ss Peter and Paul in Cork, as part of last year’s Fota Conference.

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    The Schola Sainte Cecilé has just published on their Youtube channel a recording of the sequence for Epiphany from the Parisian Missal of 1685, Ad Jesum accurrite; this was made during the Mass of Epiphany at the church of St Eugène in Paris. Note that the odd numbered verses are “sung”, so to speak, by the organ, a practice sometimes called “alternatim”, and very common once upon a time. (A single cantor sings them along with the organ, although he can hardly be heard in this recording.) Below the video, we reproduce from their website the text with notation, followed by my own prose translation.

    1. Run to Jesus, subject your hearts to the new King of the nations.
    2. The star preaches abroad; within, the faith shows the Redeemer of all.
    3. Bring here gifts of your free will, but gifts of the heart.
    4. This will be a most pleasing offering to the Savior, the sacrifice of the heart.
    5. Charity offers gold, austerity myrrh, desire incense.
    6. By gold, he is acknowledged as king, by myrrh, as a man; by incense, worshipped as the god of the nations.
    7. Judea, show no envy to the nations who rejoice at the mystery revealed.
    8. After the shepherds, the Magi join the company of the faithful.
    9. Even He that calls the Jews, calls together the nations into one fold.
    10. Bethlehem becomes today the beginning of the whole Church as it is born.
    11. Let Christ reign in our hearts, and His rule advance, the rebellious being conquered.
    Amen. Alleluia.

    A reminder that Masses for Sundays and feast days can now be followed live from St Eugène at the Youtube channel Ite, Missa est:

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    As promised, the Byzantine Rite arrives in force for our second Epiphany photopost, including some photos from a church we have never shown before, the Greek-Catholic cathedral of Athens. Our thanks as always to everyone who sent these in - evangelize through beauty!

    St Peter Eastern Catholic Church - Ukiah, California

    Tradition is always for the young!
    St Stephen the First Martyr - Sacramento, California (FSSP)
    I visited this church many years ago, before it was given a complete top-to-bottom restoration. It was originally built as a Lutheran church in the late 1960s, not so much ugly as featureless. It’s almost hard to believe that it looks like this now. 

    St Margaret Mary - Oakland, California (ICK)

    Holy Trinity Greek-Catholic Cathedral - Athens, Greece
    Blessing of the Water celebrated by Bishop Manuel Nin, Apostolic Exarch of Greece

    St Mary, Star of the Sea - Jackson, Michigan

    Ss Cyril and Methodius Oratory - Bridgeport, Connecticut (ICK)

    St John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church - Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Our Lady of the Assumption - Stafford, Pennsylvania

    Santa Maria della Consolazione - Milan, Italy (Traditional Ambrosian Rite) 

    Although we have published a great many articles on the Ambrosian Rite over the years, and shown a great many photos of it, I believe this is the first time we have ever shown this custom: the thurifer kisses the altar as he goes around it during the incensation at the Offertory.

    St Joseph Oratory - Detroit, Michigan (ICK)

    Holy Innocents - New York City

    St Louis - Tallahassee, Florida

    A temporary profession of promises by a new lay Carmelite.

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    It was with great excitement that a reader of my blog contacted me recently, to tell me the that the Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, has very generously offered the Anglican Ordinariate a home in his diocese, which is in the north of England. I thought New Liturgical Movement readers might want to know about this too!
    At the beginning of February, the Manchester Ordinariate Mission will move from a new home at St Joseph’s Heywood to St Margaret Mary, New Moston in Manchester. The site includes a church, hall and presbytery and the Bishop says in his letter that he believes it will “form a fitting base for building up the worship and other activities of the Ordinariate community.”
    The main Sunday Mass will be in the Ordinariate Use, but Fr Starkie, the Ordinariate Mission Pastor, will also assume pastoral care for the diocesan Catholics of the parish and make arrangements for a Sunday Mass in the Ordinary form, and their other sacramental and pastoral needs.
    I have no comment beyond this except to say that this is great news! I would like to offer Fr Starkie and his congregation very best wishes and my prayers as you establish yourselves in your new home!

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    Extracts from a major (and fascinating) address given by Dom Karl Wallner, O. Cist., Rector of the Pontifical University of Heiligenkreuz and national director of Missio for Austria, have been translated and are posted at the new liturgical site Canticum Salomonis, the unveiling of which NLM announced to readers last week. A taste:
    Along with desacralisation inside the Church there was another phenomenon, which I was able to experience personally in my encounters with the profane world of show business: a form of sacralisation of the profane, a ritualisation of the banal, the promotion of non-religious objects to the level of cult objects. From the backstage of the show to which I had been invited, I could observe how the show was designed down the last detail as a sort of dramaturgy, so that the viewer in front of the television participated in a kind of “Pontifical Mass of Entertainment.”
              Several years ago, after celebrating a vigil service with a youth group, I had an experience that struck me profoundly and became the key to understanding.
              For the past 20 years at Heiligenkreuz, we have organised prayer retreats for young people between the ages of 15 and 28. Since the majority of young people that age suffer a severe lack of enculturation in everything related to Catholicism, and must still learn how to pray and adore, these vigils represent a real challenge. That is why we could not even imagine celebrating a Mass with them: we must first render these young capable of receiving the Eucharistic mystery. First and foremost they need to have a personal relation to Jesus Christ. In that regard, the Catholic liturgy offers a range of possibilities, a whole sacred repertoire that is able to create an ambiance that permits the young people to open their hearts so that they may be touched by the presence of God.
    A side-note: when Canticum Salomoniswas launched last week and many visited it, the social media links and RSS feed had not yet been set up. They are now in place, so please do pay them a visit, and read Pater Wallner's remarkable talk.

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    The subject of our most recent quiz was an item from the Basilica of Our Lady in Fribourg, Switzerland, which was entrusted to the care of the Fraternity of St Peter in 2012 by His Excellency Charles Morerod, O.P., Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg. The church was originally constructed in the 12th century, but has subsequently undergone a number of rebuildings and redecorations; its current appearance is mostly from the late 17th century, and it was given a thorough restoration done between 1990 and 2011. It is also the seat of a confraternity originally known as the Confraternity of the Assumption, founded in 1582 by St Peter Canisius, who lived in Fribourg for the last 20 years of his life. (He died there in 1597, and is buried in the city’s Jesuit church of St Michael.) Subsequently, it was united to other confraternities and pious associations under the title “Marian Congregation (Congrégation Mariale).”

    As a reminder, this is also one of the four churches from which Mass is broadcast live every day on the Fraternity’s LiveMass website: The previous Sunday’s sung Mass is always available to watch, and the choir in Fribourg is really excellent.

    The Asperges before the Sung Mass on Sunday, December 31st. The church has a large crew of young servers, and there are many young families with lots of children, singing along well and enthusiastically!
    The basilica’s processional umbrella, also known as a “synnichium” in Latin. Back in the days when canonical chapters were required by diocesan custom or statute to participate in certain processions, they were usually also obliged to carry their umbrella and “tintinnabulum”, a bell suspended on a frame which is mounted on a pole, with them.
    The tintinnabulum is seen on the far left of the Gospel-side choir stalls; the frame in which the bell is suspended is small and not very attractive. The two other objects mounted in the stalls, the candle stick in the middle and the pole on the right, can also be carried in procession.
    The Epistle side choir stall, with the same processional objects.
    The pulpit, which is being still used for preaching.

    This plaque on the inside right wall lists the various confraternities and pious associations established within the basilica, and records that it was elevated to the status of a collegiate church on January 24, 1798.
    A stained glass window of St Peter Canisius.
    To the right of the main sanctuary. a fragment of the church’s older medieval structures serves as a Lady Chapel.
    A very nice rosary hung as an ex-voto on the wall.
    A 17th-century lockbox for donations, no longer used.
    Some of the vestments from the treasury.
    The ovals on the left and right are two of a set of fifteen, each of which represents one of the Mysteries of the Rosary. These could be mounted on poles and carried in processions, which were clearly a very important thing in Fribourg!
    Some of the reliquaries.
    A stained glass version of the seal of the Marian Confraternity.

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    I’ve been wanting to mention this book to NLM readers for a long time, but with one thing and another, it's taken me a while to get to it. Angelico Press has recently republished a splendid Catholic novel from the 1940s, The Mass of Brother Michel, that I can highly recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction.

    Here is the publisher's description, which I think whets the appetite:
    The Mass of Brother Michel, set in the tranquil countryside of southern France during the Reformation, is the story of a young man who “has it all”—until a fateful series of events leads him to a monastery. As Huguenot violence mounts, the characters of the story are pushed to extremes of hatred and love. The reader is swept along by a narrative as twisting and turbulent as a mountain stream, which culminates in a sovereign sacrifice as unforgettable as it was unforeseen. This is a story that shows with utter vividness the power of romantic love to cripple and deform, the power of suffering to undermine illusions and induce the labor of self-discovery, the power of prayer to reassemble the shards of the shattered image of God in the soul, and the power of the priest as the divine Physician’s privileged instrument.
              At the center of the novel is the awesome mystery, scandal, consolation, and provocation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To it some of the characters are irresistibly drawn; against it, others are violently arrayed. Here is a passionately told tale of their inner struggle and outward confrontation. The Mass of Brother Michel is a gripping story of adventure, renunciation, redemption, and ultimate victory. No reader will fail to be astonished at its outcome and touched by its inspiring and miraculous climax.
    The Mass of Brother Michel has been out of print for decades and not always easy to get hold of. In fact, I enjoyed the book so much that I agreed to write the Foreword to this new edition, in which I attempt to say why the novel has such a peculiar shimmering quality to it, such a compelling fascination. There are its intrinsic qualities as a ripping good story with many startling plot twists, but there are also its many theologically penetrating lines on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which read sometimes like the disputes of a medieval scholastic, other times like the diary of a medieval mystic. I have copied down some of my favorite bits. Here are a couple of samples:
    Every Crucifix was now a living figure. It was no longer necessary to dwell on the Passion of Our Lord as an essential part of his spiritual exercises. The Passion dwelt in him; engulfed him; possessed him with its agony, as the love of Mass had possessed him with its joy; nor were the two separate, but one, wearing only a different aspect, as light and darkness are both of the same day.
    For Michel could no longer be said to possess the love of Mass, but rather the love of Holy Mass possessed him. At first it had risen in his heart like a little stream, clear and singing and beautiful; now it was become a torrent, sweeping him along in full flood.
    I'd recommend this book for priests, religious, and laity, and in the last category, especially for high school and college students, and parents who are looking for excellent historical fiction to enrich a homeschool curriculum. It's on my list of the top ten "Catholic novels" (alongside Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Greene's The Power and the Glory, and Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop).

    The book is available from and affiliates.

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    A friend has just brought to my attention an article by Jennifer Miller on, which discusses the question of when the Christmas season officially ends; I have also seen a few similar discussions on social media. With all due respect to the author, this article incorrectly asserts that in the Extraordinary Form, the Christmas season officially ends with the Baptism of the Lord on January 13th. Liturgically, the Christmas season ends on the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and Our Lady’s Purification, on February 2nd.

    Prior to the 1960 revision of the rubrics, the liturgical books of the Roman Rite did not refer to either Christmas or Epiphany as “tempora – seasons”, and indeed, neither the Missal nor the Breviary had a rubric on liturgical seasons per se. In the 1960 rubrics, within the newly-created section on the seasons of the year (title VIII), “the season of the Nativity” (tempus natalicium) is subdivided into two parts, “the season of Christmas” (tempus Nativitatis) which runs from First Vespers of Christmas to None of January 5th, and “the season of the Epiphany” (tempus Epiphaniae), which runs from First Vespers of the Epiphany to January 13th. In the body of the Missal, the Sundays after Epiphany are given a new header, “the time per annum before Septuagesima”, the forerunner of the widely and rightly detested term “ordinary time.”

    Folio 11v of the Gellone Sacramentary, a Gelasian type sacramentary dated 780-800. At the top are several Office prayers for the Epiphany, towards the bottom, the prayer of the First Sunday after Epiphany, the same (Vota quaesumus) found in the Missal of St Pius V. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048)
    The designation of the second part as the “season” of Epiphany serves to explain the position of the Baptism of the Lord on January 13th, after the unjustifiable suppression of the octave of Epiphany, which is older than that of Christmas, in 1955. Apart from that, none of this new terminology describes the liturgical texts of the season particularly well.

    In the Temporal cycle, there are a maximum of six Sundays after Epiphany. The Gospels of these Sundays, the arrangement of which is extremely ancient, are as follows.

    First Sunday, within the octave of Epiphany – Luke 2, 42-52, the finding of Christ in the Temple. (The feast of the Holy Family was permanently fixed to this Sunday in 1921, but its Gospel is the same; the monastic orders retained the older celebration of the Sunday.)
    Second Sunday– John 2, 1-11, the wedding at Cana.
    Third Sunday– Matthew 8, 1-13, the healing of a leper and of the centurion’s servant.
    Fourth Sunday– Matthew 8, 23-27, the calming of the storm on the sea.
    Fifth Sunday– Matthew 13, 24-30, the parable of the wheat and the tares.
    Sixth Sunday– Matthew 13, 31-35, the parables of the mustard seed and of the leaven.

    Of these six Gospels, the first three always occur before the Purification, the fourth can occur either before or after it, and the fifth and sixth always occur after it. The placement of the Finding in the Temple, the only recorded episode of Our Lord’s life between His infancy and the beginning of His public ministry, is obvious. From the most ancient times, the writings of the Fathers attest that the Wedding at Cana was celebrated as part of the Epiphany, a tradition to which the historical Office of the Epiphany refers several times. (In the post-Conciliar three-year lectionary, this Gospel is now read on this Sunday only in year C; the modern Ambrosian lectionary, which corrects some of the grosser defects of the reformed Roman one, reads it in all three years.) The two miracles read on the Fourth Sunday are the first ones specifically recorded in the Gospel of St Matthew.

    The Wedding at Cana, from the Très belles Heures de Notre-Dame, a work of various masters, ca. 1375-1425. (This part of the manuscript is attributed to Pol de Limbourg, 1385?-1416). Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, NAL 3093
    These Gospels, therefore, are all very much an extension of the theme of Epiphany, which means “manifestation.” After celebrating the private manifestations of the Savior in His infancy, the Church commemorates the sole recorded episode of His youth, His public manifestation at His Baptism, and His earliest miracles in both the Synoptic and Johannine traditions. However, the two Gospels which can only occur after the Purification break away from this Epiphany theme, being solely parables, as are those of Septuagesima and Sexagesima.

    It is true that Septuagesima can arrive before the Purification; its earliest possible date (which has not occurred since 1818, and will not occur again until 2285) is January 18th. It is also true that when this happens, the series of Gospels after Epiphany is interrupted; this year, for example, Septuagesima falls on January 28th, and therefore, the Gospels of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Sundays after Epiphany will be read at the end of the liturgical year. These facts are, however, irrelevant to the original arrangement of the season after Epiphany, in which the first four Gospels continue the theme of that feast, an arrangement which predates the institution of Septuagesima. All of which is to say, the underlying theme of the Christmas season, the revelation of God’s salvation in the Incarnation of His Son, breaks off liturgically with the Purification, and not before.

    We should also take note here of a much more significant fact about the arrangement of the liturgical year. The earliest possible date for Ash Wednesday is February 4th; there will therefore always be an interval of at least one day between the closure of the Christmas cycle on February 2nd, and the beginning of Lent.

    In the Sanctoral cycle, the month of January is a fairly busy one, and has been for a long time; the feasts of the Saints that occur within it have no bearing on the Christmas season. The article cited above correctly notes that the daily commemoration of the Virgin Mary after Compline is traditionally the same from Christmas to the Purification, and changes on February 3rd. It also states that this is “(t)he only remaining liturgical hint of the Christmas Cycle … within the Liturgy of the Hours.” (Technically, this arrangement is optional in the new Office, and might more accurately be described as the memory of a hint.) However, this is not true of the traditional rite. Between Christmas and the Purification, the Saturday Office and Little Office of the Virgin use the Collect and several antiphons from the feast of the Circumcision. Much more importantly, the Votive Mass of the Virgin for the whole of this period uses the same Collect, as well as the Epistle and Gospel from the Dawn Mass of Christmas; it should be remembered that for a very long time, all major churches had at least one Votive Mass of the Virgin every day.

    In practical terms, none of this has much effect on the liturgy, and the discussion on social media seems to focus mostly on the appropriate time for taking down Christmas trees and crèches, whether in church or at home. Both of these are, of course, noble customs which should always be encouraged and maintained, but neither of them has any formal liturgical place. In regards to Christmas trees, it would be perfectly harmonious with the Catholic tradition to leave them up until February 2nd, without ever forgetting that very dry conifers can burn with an incredibly dangerous speed and intensity. In regards to crèches, I have observed a custom in a number of European churches that seems to me very sensible, and a good way to present and celebrate the events of Christ’s life more vividly through the liturgy. Having “arrived” at the adulthood of Christ in the liturgical year, so to speak, with the feast of His Baptism, the manger scene is taken down. A statue of the Infant Jesus continues to be displayed prominently in the church, and only removed after the celebration of His Presentation in the Temple.

    The high altar of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, the FSSP parish in Rome, on Christmas night. The Baby Jesus statue seen in the middle remains on the high altar until the evening of February 2nd.

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  • 01/13/18--08:10: The Baptism of the Lord 2018
  • Seeing our enlightenment, that enlightened every man, come to be baptized, the Forerunner rejoices in spirit, and trembles with his hand: he shows Him, and says to the people “Behold Him that ransoms Israel, that delivers us from corruption. O sinless one, Christ our God, glory to Thee! (The first sticheron of Vespers of the Theophany in the Byznantine Rite.)
    Mosaic of the Baptism of Christ, early 11th century, from the monastery of Hosois Loukas in Boetia, Greece. (public domain image from Wikipedia; click to enlarge.)
    Τὸν φωτισμὸν ἡμῶν, τὸν φωτίσαντα πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἰδὼν ὁ Πρόδρομος, βαπτισθῆναι παραγενόμενον, χαίρει τῇ ψυχῇ, καὶ τρέμει τῇ χειρί· δείκνυσιν αὐτόν, καὶ λέγει τοῖς λαοῖς· Ἴδε ὁ λυτρούμενος τὸν Ἰσραήλ, ὁ ἐλευθερῶν ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς φθορᾶς. Ὦ ἀναμάρτητε, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, δόξα σοι.

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    When I attended Thomas Aquinas College in California from 1990 to 1994, one of the first things I noticed about their Novus Ordo liturgies — apart from the startling fact that the unchanging parts were always in Latin, a practice they have been following for almost 50 years now — is that the reading was always done by one of the altar servers, vested in cassock and surplice. This struck me immediately as far better than the “normal” approach I had seen everywhere else, where a layman or laywoman gets up from the congregation and goes up to the ambo. Why did it seem better?

    First, the server was dressed for a liturgical function, so it made the reading seem more obviously a liturgical act, part of the act of worship in which were were involved. Second, he was already up there in the sanctuary, to which he had processed together with the priest, so he was on hand, ready to perform the function. It no longer looked random but orderly, the right person at the right time and place. Third, each day one of the servers knew ahead of time that he was going to be the reader, and over time the servers tended to become far better lectors than most of the enthusiastic volunteers or appointees who seldom had a clue what they were doing. Fourth, a man’s voice is better suited for such reading. In most cases, it sounds stronger, calmer, more resonant, more authoritative. If “the lector sounds the voice of God,” then one ought to hear God speaking to us in His lordly, fatherly voice. As Psalm 28 has it: “The voice of the Lord is in power … The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars … The voice of the Lord shaketh the desert.” As much as I admire the piety of ladies who eagerly serve as lectors, the timbral qualities one hears — from sweet and soft to schoolmarmish and scolding — are often simply not edifying. Besides, as a psychologist recently argued, it is more distracting to men when women are reading than it is to women when men are reading. There is no parity or equality of the sexes in this regard.

    These were some of the reasons why I rather liked the TAC practice after experiencing it, and I can’t say it surprised me when I discovered that the young ladies liked the practice, too. They were traditional in their views of liturgy and the roles of the sexes, and they felt a sense of relief at not being pressed into the modern feminist program of breaking down the “barriers” to an all-male sanctuary. They were quite content to let the men step up to the plate, as men should do — and as they usually will not do whenever women, with their native generosity and piety, are allowed to take over. These are the things that most caught my attention as a college student.

    Years later, I was involved in a Catholic community that had been following the TAC practice for a number of years but was forced to abandon it due to pressure from particular clergy who disagreed with it. Watching that sudden transition from vested servers in the sanctuary acting as lectors to plain-clothes laymen and laywomen rising from the pews to read a text and returning to their seats brought home to me how theologically problematic this contemporary praxis really is. In particular, it transmits both Pelagian and Protestant messages — a surprising combination, but nonetheless true.

    The Pelagian message is this. The lector walks right up into the sanctuary, although not vested, and usually not having been a part of the liturgical procession. Since liturgy of its essence is symbolic, this symbolizes something (whether intended to or not). Given that the sanctuary of the church represents heaven, walking right up into it symbolizes that any man has immediate, free, and easy access to the Holy of Holies. Heaven is ours for the taking, if we just take to our feet and use our God-given natural talents. A layman sauntering up into the holy place to read is the obliteration of the entire lesson of the Old Covenant — namely, that owing to man’s creatureliness and sinfulness there must be separation between man and God, which is overcome only by Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God and man. Christ does not abolish the distinction but takes it into His very Person, so that we have access to God through Him. Therefore the ministerial priesthood and all the lesser ministries that assist it must have this mediational characteristic in order to be true to themselves. The unvested lay lector seated in the nave who walks right up into the sanctuary is a walking, talking contradiction of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

    The Byzantine tradition, needless to say, underlines this point by forbidding a lay lector (if there be such out of necessity) to read except from the nave, and keeping the holy of holies off limits behind the iconostasis except to those clergy who are allowed to enter it. The West had the same understanding of sacred space even if, at a certain point, we lost our rood screens and other such dividers: while everyone was permitted to see the ritual actions taking place in the sanctuary, no one bodily entered into it except the sacred ministers. The abolition of this distinction, by way of lectors and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, is a symbolic erasure of the distinction between the source of holiness in Christ (who is most properly and clearly represented by the sacred ministers in the mediatorial roles) and the reception of holiness in the people (which is symbolized by their architectural separation and the manner in which they traditionally approach the sacraments — for example, receiving the host on the tongue from the anointed hand of a priest, who blesses them). Such an erasure may justly be called Pelagian, and it will be difficult to uproot a pervasive Pelagian habit of thinking in the people if this is the kind of thing they see whenever they go to church.

    Furthermore, there is an implicit Protestant message: anyone can read the word of God; no office is required. The Word of God is free and open to everyone; no one need be specially set apart to read its holy, awesome, fearful, comforting message. Its words are like all other words, for which only mere literacy, that is, a purely natural (not supernatural) qualification, is called for. Thus, these words are not treated as if they are divinely inspired tokens of the ineffable Presence of God, to be handled by men who are formally deputed for this sacred task. For Protestants and modern Catholics there is a democratic availability of the Word that bypasses or sidesteps the hierarchical structure of the Church rooted in the Apostolic Succession of the episcopacy and its assistant clergy.

    Contrast this with the traditional practice: only a vested lector — which, in the traditional Roman Rite, will be the subdeacon — may read. And at Low or High Mass, the priest fittingly reads everything because he contains in himself all the lower powers. What the lower may do, the higher may do, but not vice versa.

    Now, I do not deny for a moment that the vast majority of lay lectors have the best intentions in the world. They want to be involved; they want to be helpful; they are doing what they have been told is good. I myself was a lector for many years in high school because, well, it just seemed like a thing one does at Mass. So the problem is not one of bad will. The problem rather lies in the “law of unintended consequences.” Quite apart from our subjective good intentions, everything we do in liturgy signifies something. Liturgy is a realm in which nothing done is “merely” practical or useful. Even something as originally practical as the washing of the hands acquired a symbolic meaning of purity from sin that now dominates (most priests don’t have to wash dirt off their hands at the lavabo, but all of us have at least venial sins to wash away). So, too, walking into the sanctuary, mounting the ambo, and reading from the Word of God are not mere human actions; the liturgical context endows them with a meaning of their own. In short, they are signs. Other related signs include the clothing one is wearing (is one vested for a liturgical ministry or wearing plain clothes?), the type of language one is reading from the book (is the Word being delivered in a sacral and poetic register, or is it in an ear-numbing modern dialect like Nabbish?), the quality of the lectionary and evangelary as physical objects (are they beautiful books or are they hideous chunks of self-conscious modernity, with all the charm of rock samples from Mordor?), and so forth. All of these actions, objects, and appearances mean something.

    The important question to ask is what these signs are transmitting to us, what belief or attitude is being inculcated by them. When a lay minister distributes Holy Communion, for example, that says something: contrary to the way Catholics behaved for centuries, it turns out we are not, after all, dealing with a divine and fearful mystery, to be handled only by men specially set apart by a holy anointing and clothed in sacerdotal garb; we are dealing with ordinary food and drink that anyone can handle, as at a picnic or snack bar. It is a practical repudiation of the dogma of the Church, although perhaps few (except El Grillo) would think of denying Trent outright, although it should be noted that many people seem only too willing, in verification of Ratzinger’s oft-repeated critique, to make Vatican II the “super-council” that trumps even earlier Councils that are manifestly of greater magisterial weight inasmuch as they defined de fide dogmas and anathematized the contrary errors, while Vatican II purposefully avoided definitions and anathemas.

    In any case, what is crucial is not recovering the teaching of earlier Councils (although we shall have to get around to doing this eventually!), but recovering a fundamental sense of the sacredness of everything that pertains to the worship of Almighty God, both in the veneration of His inerrant and infallible divine Word and in the adoration of His all-holy Eucharistic Body — actions for the conducting of which the Church had never failed, and should never fail, to appoint hierarchical ministers.

    The ordinary of a Byzantine subdeacon

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    We received a late submission of Epiphany photos, but one which deserves its own separate post, since it gives us a chance to enjoy something a little unusual, a Solemn Mass celebrated in the Premonstratensian Rite. These come to us courtesy of Mr Adhika Lie from the church of Ss Peter and Paul in Wilmington, California, which is staffed by the Norbertine Canons of St Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, one of the most vibrant young religious communities in the United States today. The photos show us very nicely some of the proper customs which distinguish the Premonstratensian Use from the Roman.

    At the first “Dominus vobiscum”, the deacon kneels and elevates the front of the priest’s chasuable, as seen here. In The Liturgies of the Religious Orders, Archdale King writes that this was also done by the Cistercians and in some local Uses, but that the custom was in his time (1955) “very generally disregarded.”
    The deacon and subdeacon bowing their heads at the Collect.
    The subdeacon singing the Epistle.
    The subdeacon bringing the burse and corporal to the altar, and in the photo below, setting the corporal on the altar. In medieval Uses, it was commonly the practice to prepare the altar and the chalice either during the Epistle, or between the Epistle and Gospel.

    The deacon kneeling for the Munda cor meum.

    A deacon in cope comes to the ambo to sing the Proclamation of the Movable Feasts.

    The Gospel book is brought to be kissed not only to the celebrating priest as in the Roman Rite, but also to the clergy attending in choir, another common medieval custom.

    The Peace given to the clergy in choir with a Pax brede.
    A houseling cloth at Communion.

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    We are happy to share with our readers news that the church of the Holy Rosary in the Bronx, New York, is adding a monthly Mass in Extraordinary Form to its Sunday schedule, beginning this month. The first one will take place on Septuagesima Sunday, January 28, at 1 pm, with music by Hans Leo Hassler and Cristóbal de Morales. The church is located at 1510 Adee Avenue, and accessible by public transportation; parking is also available.

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  • 01/16/18--23:58: St Peter’s Square, 1956
  • Our thanks once again to Fr Alex Schrenk, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, this time for sharing with us this marvelous photo of seminarians of the North American College having a snowball fight in St Peter’s Square. The exact provenance of the photo is unknown, but the date would be in February of 1956, when Rome experienced its heaviest snowfall since 1796. Many of the national colleges in Rome had a distinctive design for their cassock, the wearing of which was, of course, absolutely mandatory at all times; that of the North American had blue buttons and piping, and a red fascia, but was only used by students. (The use of such cassocks for formal occasions has made a bit of a comeback in recent years, and not just at the NAC.) Even without the fascia, the fact that they are enjoying the snow, and not desperately huddled around a radiator somewhere inside, clearly marks them as Americans.

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