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    Tomorrow, February 26, there will be a solemn Requiem Mass and Absolution at the Catafalque to mark the 100th anniversary of the Happy Valley Racecourse Fire in Hong Kong, an event in which 670 people perished. The Mass will be at the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in New York City, beginning at 7:30 PM; the church is located at 448 East 116th St.

    Following Mass, the sacred ministers will change from black to violet vestments and lead the choir and people in a procession throughout the Church, singing a Solemn Litany of the Saints to beseech Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Communion of Saints to intercede for the persecuted Church in China, and protect it against the attacks it faces today. At the Requiem Mass, the choir will sing the Missa pro defunctis for six voices by Manuel Cardoso (1566-1650). The Mass is being sponsored by a family that lost five members in the tragedy.

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  • 02/26/18--12:42: Roman Churches Under Snow
  • Here’s something you literally don’t see every decade: snow in the Eternal City that lasts long enough to be photographed! Rome is less than a full degree of latitude south of Boston, but the climate is so much milder that the city is about as capable of handling a major snowfall as Los Angeles or Nairobi. All the schools were closed, so a lot of people took the morning and brought their kids out to the parks and piazzas, making for a really joyous carnival atmosphere. The snow was the most perfect kind of weapons-grade sticky, and many battles were waged throughout the city; Roman children, however, are completely unpracticed in this fine and subtle art, and tend to make Soviet-style projectiles that are effectively too heavy to launch. In Piazza San Pietro, American and English seminarians showed them how it’s done. (Courtesy of Mr Jacob Stein, via his blog Passio XP; more photos at the link.)

    From our Roman pilgrim Agnese, the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda, and the Roman Forum.
    San Luca e Martina, and the forum of Julius Caesar.
    A unique snowman made by Mr Lucas LaRoche, a seminarian at the North American College.
    A Barbiconi collar was sacrificed to make this Snow-Pope, the work of Mr Joseph Sigur. (Photo by Fr Kevin Staley-Joyce, also of the North American College; see more at his excellent Instagram account.)
    From Fr Dominic Holtz of the mighty Order of Preachers (which did NOT cancel classes at the Angelicum today), some views from the roof. Here are the markets of Trajan, with the Colosseum off in the distance.
    Ss Sixtus and Dominic, the church of the Angelicum, and snow-covered trees in the local park...
    ... and in the cloister.
    The rest of these are mine, starting with the dome of St Peter’s, seen from the Janiculum.
    The Acqua Paola, also on the Janiculum, named for Pope Paul V Borghese (1605-21), who made so many beautiful fountains in Rome that he was jokingly referred to as the Fontifex Maximus.
    Santa Maria della Scala in Trastevere.
    Down the street sits a little chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Mt Carmel, which just missed being damaged by this tree bowed over by the weight of the snow.
    The bell-tower of Santa Maria in Trastevere, seen from behind the church; the façade is currently under scaffolding.
    The bell-tower of San Crisogono seen from the side of the church...
    ...and the façade, together with the snow-covered trees on one of Rome’s longest boulevards, the Viale Trastevere.
    The bell-tower of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, seen from the Ponte Cestio, the bridge which connects Trastevere to the Tiber Island. In the middle of this photo is seen the one remaining arch of the Ponte Emilio, originally completed in the middle of the 2nd century BC; it is now usually called “il Ponte Rotto - the broken bridge.” Massive floods in 1575 and 1598 destroyed about half of it, but the remains continued to be used for centuries as a fishing pier; most of what survived was pulled down in 1887 to make the modern Ponte Palatino seen to the right of it.
    San Benedetto in Piscincula, seen down the alley next to the old Palazzo Mattei; this church is on the site said to be where St Benedict lived when he was in Rome.
    By later morning, the normal weather of central Italy reasserted itself, the sun was out, and the great melt was already beginning. Here is the entrance to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere...
    ...and the courtyard in front of the church, where a snowman was soon to meet the fate that awaits all of his kind.
    San Francesco a Ripa
    One of the innumerable street shrines.

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    We continue our survey of priests on how they perceive this particular custom in their offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and how they have adopted or not adopted it in the context of the Novus Ordo Missae. (See here for part 1 of the survey; herefor part 2.)

    QUESTION 3. Lack of Rubrics and Mutual Enrichment
    Has this traditional practice affected the way you view the corresponding lack of rubric in the usus recentior? Have you considered adopting, or do you adopt, the traditional practice in the modern rite? Why or why not?

    Fr. A.P.
    When I began celebrating the usus antiquior daily, and only occasionally the usus recentior, it became more and more apparent to me that the usus antiquior corresponded much better to the reality taking place in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It became increasingly painful for me to celebrate the usus recentior, even when celebrated ad orientem and reverently. For example, I recall feeling particularly poignantly at the moment of the consecration that those words should be uttered sotto voce rather than out loud. Because I felt an increasing need to celebrate exclusively the usus antiquior, which I eventually did, I did not give much thought to how to adapt customs from the usus antiquior for use in the usus recentior. I would occasionally, instinctively, keep the thumb and forefinger together in the usus recentior, as it certainly seemed the more fitting gesture for the Holy Sacrifice. But on the whole I was simply trying to move away from its celebration altogether. 
    Fr. B.H.
    Answered already in no. 1 above.
    Fr. B.J.
    I generally do not maintain custody of the digits in the usus recentior, for practical reasons: often, in most celebrations, there is a plethora of “stuff” to be handled, such as the array of “communion cups” to be handed out to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. With the way these “cups” are shaped and the necessity to be careful in handing off the Precious Blood to another person, maintaining the digits is really not advisable. Therefore, I have gotten into the habit of thoroughly rubbing my fingers together over the chalice each time I have handled the Eucharist, and then visibly inspecting them afterward, before going on to handle some other item. It still does not feel right, but it is the only practical solution, until such time as we can do away with distribution under both kinds. That is the topic of another discourse, but suffice to say: many priests (myself included, at times) have judged that it is not worth “dying on that hill”—so hysterically do people react to the idea of “the wine” not being available; many Catholics are materially utraquists. Faith in the Eucharist is so weak and so uninformed. There is little to no episcopal leadership in this area (as in many others). Individual priests must fall on a sword and then watch all that they have done be destroyed a few years later when they are moved to a new parish and their successor restores everything they “took away”. In short, it’s a messy situation. While it persists, maintaining custody of the digits in common parish Novus Ordo celebrations is often difficult.
           (Aside: I was intrigued to notice that Cardinal Burke, while importing some things into the Novus Ordo such as the prayers at incensation, does not maintain “the digits”—something he clearly does do when celebrating the usus antiquior. It has never seemed appropriate for me to query him on this. I do wonder if it is a conscious decision on his part. It seems to me that the ethos of the Novus Ordo is so different and that one might not intuitively think to “import” this practice into it.) 
    Fr. D.C.
    I have adopted this, even before offering the Extraordinary Form. I believe, even though there is no rubric calling for it, that it is in total continuity with tradition. To me, when there is a lack of rubrics regarding something, the best practice is to adopt the posture, action, etc. from tradition. To me that is the Catholic position.
    Fr. D.F.
    It has been a struggle for many priests in the years since Summorum Pontificum to decide what steps toward “mutual enrichment” can be taken by the priest, himself, without direction from above. The rubrical silence of the Ordinary Form on many matters leaves leeway on the one hand, but the status quo of parish life and among presbyterates exerts pressure on the other. In my mind, holding the fingers closed would be an acceptable step to take in the Ordinary Form.
           Thus, on the occasions when I offer the Ordinary Form alone, I hold my fingers together. When I celebrate the Ordinary Form for a congregation, however, I do not. The reason for this is the (sadly very justified) concern of being written off by my diocese and/or brother priests as extreme or “too traditional.” In every Mass, however, I maintain the closed fingers in certain actions: turning the pages of the missal, the manner of holding the chalice, striking the breast at the Nobis quoque, turning the tabernacle key, removing ciborium lids, etc.
           Holding one’s fingers together becomes particularly difficult during the Pax as it is commonly observed in parish life. 
    Fr. D.N.
    See above answer [to question 2].
    Fr. E.W.
    I now usually adopt this practice in the new rite. Except when I am celebrating the conventual Mass in the monastery, for fear that it would annoy and distract certain of my confreres. However, even then I adopt a modified version of it: I join my fingers whenever I have to touch something—e.g., turn a page, or lift the pall, etc.
    Fr. E.P.
    I do indeed keep to this practice even when celebrating the “ordinary form” of the Mass.
    Fr. J.F.
    I adopted this position in the Novus Ordo within six months of celebrating the Traditional Roman Rite. It was difficult at first because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I use it at all times and wherever I celebrate Mass. The only times I felt uncomfortable has been in the presence of other priests. But, respect for the Blessed Sacrament is more important than human respect.
    Fr. J.K.
    When I celebrate Mass in the Ordinary Form, my preference is to use many elements that I have learned from the Extraordinary Form, especially because the rubrics are absent in the Ordinary Form. This includes the act of holding together thumb and forefinger from the consecration until the ablutions. This also includes the use of an amice with the alb, crossing the stole, wearing the maniple and using the biretta.
    Fr. J.S.
    I have adopted it, but then again, I like to joke I'm a liturgical liberal, not a rubricist. In my mind liturgical freedom ends where abuse begins. Abuse is not simply something done besides certain rubrics but something that is contrary to the liturgical end. Bearing in mind that the liturgy is the action of the Church not the act of an individual, I as an individual priest do not get to decide what befits the liturgical end. It is decided by the competent authority gaining the force of tradition at some point. But this competent authority not only exists in the present but has also existed in the past. So I think it is legitimate for the priest to select from those things that have been approved by the competent authority and that have gained the force of tradition at some point in time, AS LONG as those things were at no later point in time recognized or abolished as an abuse by the competent authority or were thus dropped as less fitting in the furthering of the liturgical end (e.g. due to excessive length, such as was the case of numerous personal priestly prayers that were interjected in the canon in the gothic era and later abolished by Trent).
           Following this rule, the priest would never get to invent anything according to private taste (barring therefore arbitrary innovation by someone lacking authority—which takes care of most modern liturgical abuse). Rather a priest who adopts a compatible element (one that is adaptable to current use) can be said to be reviving something from the past and "enriching" what is present. If his enrichment" catches on you get what is essentially liturgical development (sanctioned in virtue of previous authority/tradition and possibly re-approved by furture church authority).
           In my mind, on account of the nature of the liturgical reform in 1970 (in which much was changed but none of the old was forbidden as abuse) the priest can in principle adapt and enrich the NOM with virtually anything from the usus antiquior that lends itself to adaptation without contradiction (something would be contradictory if it has a "surplanting" character: for example changes in the liturgical calender or the actual missal texts and readings—which is the reason why for now in the German NOM we still have to say "for all" instead of "for many"—as confirmed by my bishop).
           This is basically my justification why I, as a liberal, celebrate the NOM—when I celebrate it (which I very rarely do anymore as a part time hermit)—as close to the old as is possible while keeping all the forms that are positively prescribed by the NOM.
           Possible objections to my reasoning: firstly, a greater "dis-unity" is the undesirably result if my liberal ways are followed. Respondeo, this objection is mute given the concrete and very mad reality in which we find ourselves. And a certain type of liturgical plurality was never a problem in the Church for the first 1500 years as long as it did not include abuse (i.e., that what is contrary to the liturgical end and that which has the force of competent authority/tradition). Pastoral concerns need to be weighted—and I believe pastoral concern may be in fact a very good reason to enrich the NOM with elements from the usus antiquior.       Secondly, if what was claimed above was true then priests could just go and try to recreate old liturgies from past centuries that were approved then. Respondeo, this objection does not hold, because I'm not advocating the (re)creation of a liturgy by the priest on account of its elements having existed at some point in time—which only the competent authority (however unwisely) could do (and in fact is somewhat what it tried to do in the last reform). Rather the priest may only incorporate fitting elements from the past to the current order of the Mass inasmuch as they are adaptable thereto. So he does not get to make up a new Eucharistic prayer based on ancient texts or replace this or that element with an ancient one. But he may hold his fingers together and sneak in a double genuflection, for example. Such latter changes would be sanctioned by tradition (previous authority) without destroying the integrity of the NOM, but rather enriching it.
           I don't know if this exposition is air tight. I never spent too much time rationalizing it. I virtually only celebrate vetus now and in the time before abided by the very traditional mode of celebration that was requested by my boss (parish priest) with toleration from my bigger boss (bishop). So as a simple vicar I more or less had to do things in a hybrid "new as the old" way (causing me little pain, as should be clear!).
    Fr. J.M.
    See above. The lack of this rubric leads to other lacunae in the NO, especially concerning De Defectibus. It all adds up to an undermining of what Aquinas would call a practical intellectual grasp of the truth of the Real Presence, even if the NO still has a valid theoretical intellectual adherence to the truth. But we are not pure intellect! We are also corporeal beings. And without a greater scope for prayer and worship to be expressed through gesture and for sacred objects such as the sacramental species to be recognised for what they are through how they are handled, then the modern liturgy will not be as fruitful in generating and sustaining faith as its traditional counterpart.
    Fr. J.B.
    As I can’t place myself into a situation where I don’t know the traditional rubric, I don’t know for sure, but probably if I didn’t know of the traditional rubric and practice, the lack of such a rubric in the usus recentior wouldn’t strike me particularly at all. I have considered following the traditional practice, and in some cases have, in celebrating according to the modern Missal, but do not generally in my current parishes. While there are various and to some extent complicated considerations for and against, one main reason why I do not is that in the countryside parishes where I am, the Mass tends to be seen as a mere tradition and ritual, and as merely “what the priest does,” and I believe more important developments need to be made in fostering interior and authentic participatio actuosa before my adopting this practice would be fruitful rather than counter-productive.
    Fr. M.K.
    I almost never celebrate the modern rite. Family funerals would be the rare exception. Then I do just as I do in the traditional rite because I cannot squeeze myself into another paradigm on command. It does violence to my soul.
    Fr. M.C.
    See response to #2.
    Fr. M.B.
    I have adopted the practice in the modern rite and I believe that there are three ways to read the rubrics of the ordinary form: (1) fill in the lacking rubrics from the extraordinary form on the assumption that the authors of the new rubrics had the old rubrics in mind; (2) the lack of information on things (like canonical digits, manipole, crossing the stole, etc.) is interpreted neutrally, meaning one is free to do or not do these things; (3) the lack of rubrics means one may not do things not mentioned. I follow options 1 and 2, believing that unless there is mention in rubrics of not doing something, the celebrant is free to do it if it was in the rubrics of the usus antiquior.
    Fr. P.M.
    I find myself, with the Ordinary Form of the Mass, holding my fingers and thumbs together, after the consecration until after the elevation of the Chalice, after which point I thoroughly wipe together my thumbs and fingers over the chalice. After I elevate the host over the chalice with the Ecce Agnus Dei and then consume the Host, I wipe my fingers and thumbs again over the chalice before consumption of the Precious Blood.  I hold my finger and thumb together after distribution of holy Communion until the ablution.
    Fr. T.K.
    I haven’t given much thought to the lack of said rubric in the postconciliar Missal. Sometimes I adopt the practice, and sometimes I don’t. If I’m celebrating Mass with a congregation that is accustomed to seeing it (such as when I provide coverage for my traditionally minded confreres), then I do it; otherwise I generally do not.
           The inconsistency reflects my divided mind about the use of elements particular to the 1962 Missal when celebrating the modern rite. On the one hand, rubrics exist to instruct the priest in what to do, not what not to do. If I do something the Missal does not call for, then I have no business complaining about other priests who do their own thing. Also, I think it’s important to avoid whatever could confuse the faithful or be construed as idiosyncratic.
           On the other hand, the practice in question, like other traditional practices (e.g., the priest genuflecting before as well as after elevating the Host and the chalice, and crossing himself with the Host and chalice before consuming the Body and Blood of Christ), are, as Fr. Timothy Finigan has argued (quoting Summorum Pontificum), part of what is “sacred and great” both for previous generations and for us; their use, even though technically unauthorized in the modern rite, is not on a par with liturgical abuses and novelties.
           Moreover, I can hardly imagine what “mutual enrichment” (which is supposed to be taking place already) looks like without the adoption of “Tridentine” elements in the usus recentior.
    Fr. W.S.
    Yes, I use the practice in the Novus Ordo out of sheer coherence—the gesture is not aesthetic but practical, in order to avoid particles falling.
    Cardinal Brandmueller

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    Further to my previous post, which discussed how we might bear witness publicly, yet discreetly and beautifully, through tiled images cemented into buildings, readers have been coming forward with interesting and useful points.

    First the interesting: a number of people pointed out that Portugal has many blue and white ceramic tiled images. You can see these if you do an image search on “Portuguese religious tile murals.”

    As I dug further, I found this photograph of an extraordinary mural on the wall in the town of Avente.
    There are charming little decorative details as well. Remember that these patterns reflect a geometry that echoes the mathematical description of the beauty of the cosmos. When we get this right, it is decoration with purpose - subtly but powerfully raising peoples spirits to God through cosmic beauty so that they might be receptive to the Word.

    I then decided to look further and explicitly search for Spanish architecture influenced by Islamic art, a style called Mujedar. I found these in the cathedral of Santa Maria de Teruel, in the town of Teruel.

    This external adornment is so important, because everybody sees it. If it is done beautifully enough, no one will not object to it. The onus is on us, artists, architects, patrons, that is everybody, to start thinking about this and looking for opportunities for cosmic beauty in every aspect of our environment. (If you want to know more about the theory behind these designs, then I have just created a course as part of Pontifex University’s Master of Sacred Arts program called The Mathematics of Beauty; this is an extended presentation of the theory introduced in my book The Way of Beauty.)

    Some of you may be wondering where we can get such tiles today? I am not in the building trade, so there is probably a lot more available than I am aware of. But here are some ideas.

    Patterns that reproduce the Victorian neo-gothic church floors are produced today for kitchens and bathrooms. I saw a shop on Chiswick High Road in West London that had William Morris designs in the shop window. These floor designs were introduced by artists in the Victorian era such as George Gilbert Scott for the renovation of English Gothic floors like the 13th-century pavement in Westminster Abbey. I would as happily use these tiles in the sanctuary of a church as in an external walkway.
    Here is a detail of the floor of St Albans’ Cathedral, renovated in the 1880s.
    For the figurative religious imagery, it had occurred to me that if you can order cups with personalized messages on them online, it has to be as easy to reproduce religious imagery on ceramic now as it is to put “World’s Greatest Mom” on a mug! Sure enough, a reader referred me to this Italian company that offers Catholic religious images through Etsy, and they do mail order. Here is a ceramic tile image of the Virgin at Prayer by Sassoferrato.
    So there are ways we can start to think about this. 

    It can be done well or badly - we still need to take care that we don’t put this together to create kitsch, but as long as we are aware of that we have a chance. And as Chesterton said - if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly!

    We finish with something done well, a cloister in the cathedral at Porto, Portugal.

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    Back when the Pope himself kept the Stations on a regular basis, the Stational ceremony of each ferial day in Lent began at the “Collect,” a church not too far from the Station, where the faithful would gather over the course of the day. The Pope would come there in the later afternoon, vest for the Mass, and process with the clergy and faithful to the Station; the common Roman custom of singing the Litany of the Saints at the Lenten Stations is a remnant of this tradition. The Collects, however, dropped out of use fairly early; they are not listed in the Missal, and several of them were at churches which no longer exist. (See this article from 2010 for more details.) Nevertheless, some of the Stations are now kept in Rome in a similar fashion; the one for Ember Friday at the church of the Twelve Apostles is generally preceded by a procession from the nearby church of the Most Holy Name of Mary at the Forum of Trajan. (This is the cardinalitial title of H.E. Darío Castrillón-Hoyos, retired President of the Ecclesia Dei commission.) Likewise, on Ash Wednesday, the Popes have in recent decades traditionally processed from the abbey of St Anselmo to the nearby Station at Santa Sabina.

    Ember Friday - Station at the Twelve Apostles  
    The procession from Holy Name of Mary
    Entering the church of the Twelve Apostles

    The church was originally dedicated to the Apostles Ss Philip and James, whose relics are now kept in the crypt, along with those of a great many other martyrs. “The bodies of the Saints are buried in peace, and their names shall live forever.”
    From Fr Alek: the coat of arms of the Conventual Franciscans, whose generalate has been located at this church since the 15th century.

     Ember Saturday - St Peter’s Basilica
    St Peter’s Basilica boasts possession of the relics of the Holy Lance, the Veil of St Veronica, and a piece the True Cross, all of which are displayed for the veneration of the faithful on the station day...
     ...along with a great many of the Saints, included relics of all of the Sainted Popes.

    The showing of the relics of St Veronica’s veil.
    From Fr Alek: the famous statue of St Peter by Arnolfo di Cambio, made for the Jubilee of 1300. The feet have been worn down by 7 centuries of being touched and kissed by pilgrims.
    An image of St Peter from the loggia in front of the church.
    The inside of the roof of Bernini’s baldachin.
     The Second Sunday of Lent - Santa Maria in Domnica

    Pope Leo X (1513-21), the first of the Medici family, was made the Cardinal-Deacon of this church in 1489, when he was 14 years old, and held the title until his Papal election. The ceiling was made as part of a major restoration of the church which he commissioned; the various sections represent the titles of the Virgin Mary from the Litany of Loreto, but some are different from the standard text used today.
    From Fr Alek: the inscription recording this restoration on the façade. 
    The apsidal mosaic, one of several from the time of Pope St Paschal I (817-24). This photograph as taken on a previous visit; the mosaic is currently under restoration, as can be seen above.
    Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici’s coat of arms.
    The church is also known as Santa Maria alla Navicella, “at the little ship”, from this ancient Roman sculpture of a ship, which was incorporated into the fountain by the Medicean restoration.
     Monday of the Second Week - St Clement
    These are all from Fr Alek - trecking to the 7am Station Mass organized by the NAC.  

    The chapel which has the relics of St Cyril, Evangelizer of the Slavs, who died in Rome and was buried in San Clemente in 869. The relic can been seen through the window in the altar. During their mission to the Slavs, the two brothers had discovered the relics of Pope St Clement I, the titular Saint of this church, who was martyred in exile in the Crimean peninsula in the reign of the Emperor Trajan (98-117). In the lower church, there is a fresco which depicts them bringing the relics to Rome and giving them to Pope St Nicholas I (858-65).
    The glorification of Pope St Clement I in heaven, depicted in the ceiling of the nave.

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    Dom Prosper Guéranger holds a lofty place in the history of the revival of the vita liturgica, the Roman Rite, and monasticism after the ravages of the anticlerical Enlightenment and the Age of Revolution. Many have found insight and inspiration in the pages of his multi-volume The Liturgical Year, which has never been out of print. Another work by Guéranger beloved to many is his compact yet penetrating commentary on the Mass, which has seen a number of English editions in recent decades.

    Angelico Press has now brought out a newly typeset edition of this gem of a work, under a title that is less stuffy and more appealing to readers in the post-Summorum world.

    On the left, the hardcover edition; on the right, the paperback.
    It was an honor and pleasure for me to contribute a Foreword to this book, as it gave me a welcome opportunity to discharge a small part of the debt of gratitude I owe to this great Benedictine of the nineteenth century who opened the riches of the liturgy to countless millions of souls, and who can still guide us capably today as we dig up the hidden treasure that the crypto-Protestant reformers of the 1960s did their best to bury forever. Guéranger saw more clearly than anyone in his day, and certainly far more clearly than anyone in the period from ca. 1950 to 1970, the danger of what he called "the anti-liturgical heresy."

    This new edition from Angelico is very handsome and would make not only a nice addition to one's personal library but also a thoughtful little gift for someone for Easter, Christmas, a nameday, a birthday, etc.

    Available at in paperback ($14.95), hardcover ($20), Kindle ($5.99), and international affiliates.

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    As we have noted a number of times (examples here and here), in the Byzantine Rite, the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated on the weekdays of Lent, but only on Saturdays and Sundays. (An exception is made for the feast of the Annunciation.) Therefore, at the Divine Liturgy on Sundays, extra loaves of bread are consecrated, and reserved for the rest of the week. On Wednesdays and Fridays, a service known as the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is held, in which Vespers is mixed with a Communion Rite. (It is also held on the first three days of Holy Week, and may be done on other occasions, but twice a week is the most common practice.)

    The first part of this ceremony follows the regular order of Vespers, and the second part imitates the Great Entrance and the Communion rite of the Divine Liturgy. After the opening Psalm 103 and the Litany of Peace, as the Gradual Psalms are chanted in 3 separate blocks, a portion of the Presanctified Gifts is moved from the altar to the table of the preparation. There follow the general incensation of the church to the singing of 4 psalms (140, 141, 129 and 116) with the hymns known as “stichera” between the verses, then the entrance procession with the thurible and the hymn Phos Hilaron. Two readings are done from the Old Testament (Genesis and Proverbs in Lent, Exodus and Job in Holy Week), after which, the priest stands in front of the altar and incenses it continually, while the choir sings verses of Psalm 140, with the refrain “Let my prayer rise before Thee like incense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.” (See note below.)
    This setting, sung here by the choir of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, is by one of the great modern Russian composers, Pavel Chesnokov (1887-1944), a remarkably prolific author of sacred music, with over 400 pieces to his name. Very sadly, when the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, where he has served as choirmaster, was destroyed in 1933, he became so distraught that he stopped composing altogether. (The church was demolished to make way for a gigantic public building that was never realized, and reconstructed on the same site from 1995 to 2000.)

    Note: in some traditions, the verses of Psalm 140 are sung by the celebrant, and the choir sings the refrain. The priest may also move around the table, standing first in front of it, then to one side, than at the back etc., changing places as the choir sings the refrain. He will also incense the Presanctified Gifts at the table of preparation during this part of the rite.

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    Continuing with our survey of priests (previous installments: part 1 / part 2 / part 3), today we take up the question of how this comparatively minor but, as we have seen, valuable and much appreciated practice fits into the larger whole of the liturgy.

    QUESTION 4. The “Ethos” or Spirit of the Liturgy
    In your mind, how does this practice fit into the overall “ethos” or spirit of the classical Roman liturgy?

    Fr. A.P.
    The classical Roman liturgy constantly emphasizes that one is taking part in the holiest act on earth: the renewal of the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary in an un-bloody fashion upon the altar. As such, this practice serves as a reminder and sign that my other movements, and the movements of my heart, should be particularly reverent from the consecration until the ablutions.
    Fr. B.H.
    I see it as one more example of greater reverence for and emphasis on the Real Presence in the traditional rite. But for me it is less important than other gestures like the double genuflections for the consecrations, facing 'East', the silent canon, and more signs of the cross and kissings of the altar.
    Fr. B.J.
    Because of the care I take in purifying sacred vessels, I have been accused many times of being “scrupulous” in how I “do the dishes” (this level of flippancy from the mouths of people in the pews is a sad commentary on where we are at today). Yet I would maintain that the detailed instructions and received tradition for purification in the usus antiquior are a safeguard against scrupulosity: if you have followed the instructions, you know that you have purified the vessels according to the mind of the Church, which is to say, in a way that reflects Church teaching concerning the Real Presence. Whereas for a priest whose only experience is with the usus recentior, the total lack of serious guidance about how to handle purification opens him to a wide range of possibilities, from a total lack of scrupulosity (and therefore sloppiness) to a scrupulosity fed by the fact that his faith tells him one thing but he must figure out on his own how to accomplish it and wonder if he has done it right. (The highly imprudent instruction in the GIRM about how one is to use the purificator to wipe the particles from the paten would only feed this sense of scrupulosity, since the sincere priest would then fret about particles that might get stuck on the purificator and then possibly fall to the floor afterwards when transporting it to the sacristy. How this instruction made it into the GIRM is beyond me, considering that the usus antiquior requires the thumb to be used, since the thumb can then be rinsed in the ablutions.) I really could launch into a separate “storytime” on this topic from here, but will curtail this and conclude by saying that the practice of maintaining custody of the canonical digits between the consecration and the purification is perfectly harmonious with the overall ethos of the classical liturgy.
    Fr. D.C.
    This practice perfectly fits into the overall “ethos” of the classical Roman Liturgy in that it is what we have done for centuries. Not only that, but it speaks to the utter awesomeness of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It also speaks to our doctrine regarding the Eucharist in that if we really believe that Jesus is indeed present in every particle of the Sacred Species, then we will go to great lengths to protect every particle of the Sacred Species. Celebrating Mass, and distributing Holy Communion using communion patens, it is clear to me that many, many particles fall from the Sacred Hosts, and also cling to my fingers. These particles, if we believe that they are actually Jesus Himself, must be protected from profanation or indifference. Keeping “canonical digits” is one way of protecting the Sacred Species. An anecdote could be helpful here: one time a priest who I would not describe as “traditional” visited my parish and helped distribute Holy Communion. We use communion patens and after Mass he shared how surprised he was to see so many particles of the Eucharist on the paten. He went home, and instituted the use of communion patens. This illustrates just how important things like keeping ones fingers together after touching the Sacred Host are. If so many particles fall from the Sacred Host at Holy Communion, they also, no doubt, stick to our fingers. To keep those particles that stick to our fingers from falling to the ground, being walked on, or vacuumed up by the cleaning lady, we should keep “canonical digits.”
    Fr. D.F.
    There is some truth to the description of the Roman liturgy as “practical.” In this sense, the practice of the priest holding his fingers closed is quite fitting, as it is a very practical conclusion of the Church’s belief in the Real Presence. 
    Fr. D.N.
    Liturgical digits gel with the ethos of the Roman Liturgy because everything is well-ordered. There is no need for creativity to reverence the body of Christ, to effect a sacrifice, to even know which foot to step up the altar first with (the right foot, of course). I once read a priest on an online forum write how unnatural all of this sounded to him. Within my first year of switching from the new Mass to the old Mass, however, I was astonished to find how natural all of this was. In other words, the Traditional Latin Mass is one single movement of reverence to God with no real breaks. The holding of the fingers is so clearly a part of this worship and reverence.
    Fr. E.W.
    It fits with an ethos that shows reverence for the awesome mystery of the Real Presence through formalization.
    Fr. E.P.
    Someone has written that he attributes the loss of priestly discipline of life to negligence in the observance of the rubrics of the missal. Our Lord’s authority for caring about such “little” things may be invoked: “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much” (Lk. 16:10).
           There is an act prior to the Consecration that merits mention, too: the wiping of the two fingers of each hand on the corporal. This is a miniature cleansing rite (if that’s not too strong an expression) which, along with the washing of hands before Mass and then again at the Lavabo, is expressive of the purity to be sought by the priest before he will hold the Lord’s Body in his fingers.
           The ablution in the chalice of the fingers following Communion should also be noted. There is a rubric somewhere (or perhaps just a comment by a rubricist) to the effect that in the ablution of the fingers after Communion any other part of the hand that may inadvertently have touched the Host should also be purified.
    Fr. J.F.
    It is part and parcel of the the Traditional Rite and should be mandated in the Modern Rite. Too many priests treat the sacred particles as if they were bread crumbs. The practice of the canonical fingers ties in with the whole celebration of Mass. If a priest incorporates this practice into the new Mass, it can’t be stand alone. It must be part of a greater “cross pollination” of both forms of the Roman Rite.
    Fr. J.K.
    The act of holding together thumb and forefinger from the consecration until the ablutions is just one action among many in the traditional Roman rite. But the more I can conform myself to the rite, the more I pray I may conform myself to Christ. I believe that the more reverence that I can show in the ars celebrandi, the more reverence might be called forth from the congregation. In my experience, this has been the case. Some loved it, some hated it, and some did not even notice it.
    Fr. J.S.
    It is consonant with it.
    Fr. J.M.
    By expressing greater awe and reverence for sacred realities it is quintessentially Roman. The high and fearsome reverence of the words of the Roman Canon are mirrored in corresponding rubrics such as the canonical digits.
    Fr. J.B.
    The practice fits in well with, and can support the overall atmosphere of worship of the awesome mystery, the “one thing necessary,” that pervades the traditional Roman rite.
    Fr. M.K.
    It is wholly expressive of it.
    Fr. M.C.
    It is a strong sign of reverence for the precious species of the Eucharist, and in this way it fits perfectly with all the other ritual actions in the forma extraordinaria. I’m wondering why all priests do not do it this way spontaneously.
    Fr. M.B.
    It fits in very well since the liturgy should instruct on the nature of the Eucharist and protect the Eucharist from falling on the floor and the like.
    Fr. P.M.
    The action most definitely speaks our appreciation of Transubstantiation and the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist.
    Fr. T.K.
    The practice is of a piece with the reverential and devotional spirit of the classical Roman liturgy, which takes the greatest care to safeguard the Blessed Sacrament from profanation.
    Fr. W.S.
    Yes, the ancient rite is coherently logical, from the principles of divine revelation to the minutiae of gestures.
    Archbishop Alexander K. Sample offers the usus antiquior

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    The Traditional Latin Mass is returning this Lent to Holy Innocents Church in Neptune, New Jersey, after its enthusiastic reception at the parish this past Advent. The Masses will be celebrated on three Fridays in a row, March 2, 9, and 16, starting at 5pm; the church is located at 3455 West Bangs Avenue.

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    The FSSP apostolate in Lyon, France, which has its home in the Collegiate Church of St Just, has been offering Mass in the traditional Rite of Lyon for quite some time now, in addition to the traditional Roman Mass. Currently, there is a regularly scheduled Low Mass at 8:30 every Sunday and holy day of obligation; the plan is eventually to bring it up to a regular sung or solemn Mass. This is an important act of conservation for a unique liturgical tradition, since Lyon was one of the very French sees to continue using its medieval rite after the Tridentine reform, although many changes were made to it in the neo-Gallican period. Here is a video which shows the Mass from the end of the Canon to the Fraction Rite.

    Several difference from the Roman custom are immediately noticeable. The priest is holding the Host over the chalice when the says “Per omnia saecula saeculorum” at the end of the Canon, and he keeps it there through the Our Father, elevating it together with the chalice at “sicut in caelo.” He then lays it down, and then lifts the back of the corporal, which is of course much larger than a Roman one, over the chalice. (This is simply the ancient version of the pall, which in the Roman and other uses, was later detached from the corporal and became a separate piece.) The embolism is said out loud in a low Mass; it would be sung in a Missa cantata or solemnis. The Agnus Dei is said aloud immediately after the Fraction and “Pax Domini”, and the priest drops the particle into the chalice saying “Haec commixtio.”

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    Following on from recent articles about ceramic icon corners that can be beautiful and discreet, yet clearly visible signs of faith (here and here), several reader requested more ideas on a similar line, and especially information about places that might be able to help provide materials. Here is someone who can create such images, and also carve beautiful shrines in wood or stone to house them in, Jerome Quigley of

    I met Jerome this past week at an Art and Faith event at St Pius X Catholic Church in Rock Island, Illinois; he explained to me that he creates the carvings himself in wood or an artificial granite, a kind used for heavy kitchen surfaces and which can be carved like wood.

    Jerome can respond to commission, and even more interestingly, he has a process whereby he can set images into porcelain. This is not a print, but rather one in which the pigment is set directly into the chemical structure of the substrate porcelain, similar to the way in which pigment is incorporated into the plaster in frescoes. From these photos taken from his website, you can see that thus far, he has been responding to a market that is looking for outdoor shrines in a garden or woodland setting, but it does not need to be so.

    The tradition of reproducing paintings on porcelain goes back to the 19th century at least. I have recently seen several handpainted porcelain copies of the highest quality made in that era. The look of these hand-painted antique reproductions is the same those that Jerome makes. Here is a 19th-century example, in which you can really see the innate luminosity of the porcelain.

    I spoke to him about the possibility of creating icon corners consisting of three images, and he was confident that he could produce something beautiful, either set into one of his standing shrines, or a different design that might be set into a building wall. It would need demand from customers for this to happen, but I am sure if the demand was there he could help create outdoor icon corners.

    Here are some more examples of his work. Once again his website is




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    The liturgy of Lent gives a particularly prominent place to the story of the Patriarch Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, as recounted in Genesis 37. It is traditionally read as the Epistle of today’s Mass (verses 6-22), then repeated in a longer form (verses 2-28) in the Office of the following Sunday, the third of Lent, as the readings of the first nocturn. Other stories from Genesis such as the Creation (chapter 1), the Flood of Noah (chapters 6-8) and the Blessing of Jacob (chapter 27) are read at one point in the Mass and another in Office, the last of these within the same week, but Joseph’s is repeated within only two days.

    The Office reading is part of the regular cursus from Genesis which starts on Septuagesima Sunday; the Matins responsories for the third week of Lent are taken from the subsequent chapters, in which Joseph goes to Egypt, becomes Pharaoh’s right-hand man, and ultimately saves his family from the great seven-year famine. In the Mass, the story is chosen specifically to be read on a Friday, looking forward to the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, because of the way it was interpreted by the Church Fathers.

    Joseph’s dreams of the heavenly bodies and the sheaves of wheat (Genesis 37, 6-11); Florence Baptistery, ca. 1225. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Sailko; CC BY 3.0. At this link, you can find high quality images, in high enough resolution to see the individual tiles, of this extremely beautiful and complex mosaic ceiling.) 
    Already at the very beginning of the third century, Tertullian explained the sufferings of Joseph as a prefiguration of Christ’s Passion.
    Joseph himself was also a figure of Christ, on this point alone … that he suffered persecution at the hands of his brethren, and was sold into Egypt, on account of the favor of God, just as Christ was sold by Israel, by his brothers, when He was betrayed by Judas. (Adversus Judaeos 10)
    For St Ambrose, Joseph’s status as the youngest of Jacob’s children also makes him a figure of Christ, who comes as the last of God’s emissaries, like the son in the Parable of the Vineyard, which is read as the Gospel on this day, Matthew 21, 33-46. In his treatise On the Blessings of the Patriarchs (11, 48), which explains the blessings imparted by Jacob to his sons in Genesis 49, he writes:
    My son, he says, is younger. Truly younger, because he was the last born. And the Scripture says “Jacob loved him, because he was the son of his old age. (Gen. 37, 3). This also refers to Christ; for the son of God, through the child-bearing of the Virgin Mary, came late, shining upon a world grown old and already failing, and as the son of old age according to the mystery took a body, even He that before the ages was always with the Father. (Ambrose’s citation of Genesis 49, 22, “filius meus adolescentior”, derives from the Septuagint reading of a famously difficult passage.)
    The tunic of Joseph, which his brothers dipped in goat’s blood in order to make Jacob believe that he was killed by an animal, is then read as a symbol of the body which Christ took upon Himself in the Incarnation, so that He might undergo the Passion. The tunic was “bloodied”, as the body of Christ was bloodied, again looking forward from this Friday to Good Friday. St Ambrose says explicitly in his Exposition of the Gospel according to Luke (5, 107), “The tunic of Joseph was bloodied unto the likeness of the Lord’s body.” The Mass lectionary, however, ends with Ruben stopping the other brothers’ plan to kill Joseph, presuming that the hearers know how the story continues.

    Jacob Receiving the Bloodied Tunic of Joseph, by Jan Lievens (1607-74); (public domainimage from Wikimedia Commons.)
    Lent is, of course, also the period in which the Church prepares the catechumens to receive the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter night, and many of the traditional readings for the Lenten Masses are chosen with a view to their instruction. For St Augustine, Joseph prefigures the entry of the gentiles into the Church in Baptism; commenting on the words of Psalm 80, 6, “He ordained it for a testimony in Joseph, when he came out of the land of Egypt,” he says:
    “Joseph” is translated as “increase.” You remember, you know that Joseph was sold into Egypt: (this is) Christ passing to the nations. … Joseph pertains more to the nations, and therefore (is called) “increase”, because “many are the sons of the desert, more than of her than hath a husband.” (Isaiah 54, 1; Augustine understand the “sons of the desert’ to be the gentiles, and the sons “of her that hath a husband” as the sons of Israel.) … When Joseph went out from the land of Egypt, which is to say, the people multiplied from Joseph, he was sent through the Red Sea… The passing of the people through the sea foretold in a figure exactly this, the passage of the faithful through Baptism. The Apostle is my witness; he says “For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10, 1-2) Therefore, the passage though the sea signified nothing else than the Sacrament of the baptized. (Exposition of Psalm 80)
    This interpretation of the Passing of the Red Sea is also extremely ancient; the scene appears on many ancient Christian sarcophagi, and the story is read at the Easter vigil in all historical rites.

    The Crossing of the Red Sea, depicted on a paleo-Christian sarcophagus, the front of which was been sawed off and used as the front of an altar in the Cathedral of Arles, France.
    In his book specifically about Joseph, St Ambrose explains one of the dreams recounted in today’s Epistle as a prophecy of a different aspect of Christ’s life.
    Finally, in the boy the divine grace showed forth, since indeed he dreamed, when he had bound sheaves with his brothers, that it might appear to him in a vision, his sheaf arose, and stood upright; and those of his brothers turned and worshipped his. In which assuredly the future resurrection of the Lord Jesus was revealed, whom the eleven disciples worshiped when they had seen him in Jerusalem… (De Joseph Patriarcha, cap. 2, 7)
    The story of Joseph read on this Friday therefore prophesies not only what happens on Good Friday, the Passion, but also looks forward to the Friday of Easter week, when the traditional Gospel is St Matthew 28, 16-20, in which Christ meets the eleven disciples, “and they adored Him.”

    In the post-Conciliar lectionary, the story has been retained, but is told through a different selection of verses, removing all but two glancing references to Joseph’s prophetic dreams (3-4, 12-13, and 17b-28). The verses added on to the traditional version of the readings (23-28), in which the brothers sell Joseph as a slave, rather than kill him, are no longer read in the Office, and therefore find a place in the Mass. The traditional Gospel has also been retained, but, like many of Our Lord’s harder sayings, verse 44 has been censored out of it: “And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.”

    One of the most important features of Lent in the Byzantine Rite is the Canon of St Andrew of Crete, an extraordinarily beautiful series of meditations on sin and exhortations to repentance, filled with typological and mystical explanations of Scripture, drawn from both Testaments. The following four tropars refer to the story of Joseph.

    tropar I confess to thee, o Christ the King: I have sinned, I have sinned, like Joseph’s brothers of old, who sold the fruit of chastity and of prudence. (The Church Fathers, and Jewish interpreters of the Bible before them, saw Joseph as a model of chastity, because he refused the advances of Potiphar’s wife, and of prudence, because of the way he saves not only his own family, but the whole of Egypt, from the famine.)

    tropar The just soul was delivered up by his kinsmen; the one dear (to his father) was sold into slavery, as a type of the Lord; and you yourself, (my) soul, are sold entirely to your evil deeds.

    tropar Imitate Joseph the just, and his prudent mind, my wretched, reprobate soul, and be no longer wanton, that dost ever transgress in unreasonable impulses.

    tropar If Joseph did once dwell in a cistern, Master and Lord, it was as a type of Thy burial and resurrection; but what such thing may ever I bring to Thee?

    Joseph Placed in the Cistern, and Sold to the Midianites; icon by Theodoros Poulakis, 1677-82. modelled on an engraving by the Flemish artist Jan Sadeler. From the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki, Greece.
    On Holy Monday, a special commemoration is made of Joseph.

    tropar Joseph, making an image of the Lord, is put down into the cistern, he is sold away by his kinsman; famously, he suffereth all things, truly as a type of Christ. (From another Canon of St Andrew, sung at Compline.)

    ikos Let us now add lamentation to lamentation, and pour forth tears, weeping with Jacob for Joseph, renowned and prudent, made a slave in body, but preserving his soul free from slavery, that became lord of all of Egypt. For God grants an unperishable crown to his servants. (At Orthros.)

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    Since we have two Roman pilgrims following the Lenten Stations this year, we have twice as many photos, so I have been been posting only four churches at a time, to keep the posts to a manageable length. Even so, it’s been difficult at times to choose among so many beautiful images; our thanks once again to Fr Alek Shrenck of the diocese of Pittsburgh, and Roman native Agnese Bazzucchi, for sharing them with us.

    Tuesday of the Second Week - Santa Balbina
    From Fr Alek: some of the art works of the church, which contains a fair amount of medieval fresco work, not in the best condition.
    The church was historically a dependent of St Peter’s, and contains some interesting artifacts from the ancient basilica, such as this Crucifixion by Mino da Fiesole (1429-84.) The inscription at the bottom says “This most holy image, formerly in the Vatican on the altar of Peter Cardinal Balbo (later Pope Paul II, 1464-71), was taken thence from the crypt and brought here in the Jubilee year 1650.”
     The stem of the chapter of St Peter’s
     The cosmatesque tomb of Cardinal Stefano de Surdis, who died in 1303
    Wednesday of the Second Week - Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
    Going into the church morning station Mass celebated by the North American College (Fr Alek.)
    Before the evening Mass organized by the Vicariate of Rome (Agnese.)
    The procession through the courtyard in front of the church; which may very likely not be done over snow and slush for another decade or two.

     Relics on the high altar.
    From Fr Alek: part of the fresco in the ceiling of the nave, by Sebastiano Conca, Christ crowning St Cecilia in heaven.
     A partcularly good shot of the crypt.
    Thursday of the Second Week - Santa Maria in Trastevere
    Before the morning Mass (Fr Alek.)
    The church underwent a complete top-to-bottom restoration in the reign of Blessed Pius IX, including the late 16th century coffered ceiling. Only one other Pope after Peter, St John Paul II, could ever write in an inscription like the one we see here that he did something “in the 26th year of his Pontificate.” 
    This inscription also from the celing, reads “In this first church of the Mother of God, formerly a taberna meritoria, a fount of oil bursting out of the ground foretold the birth of Christ.” In ancient Roman times, a taberna meritoria was a tavern for retired soldiers. A tradition recorded by both Eusebius of Caesarea and St Jerome says that a fountain of oil sprung up out of the ground on the night of Christ’s birth, a sign to the Jews of Rome, who mostly lived in Trastevere, the foreigners’ quarter in antiquity. (It is certain that there was a church on the site of Santa Maria in Trastevere in very ancient times, but there is no evidence that it was dedicated to Mary, and Santa Maria Maggiore remains the oldest church in the world which was certainle dedicated to Her from its foundation.)
      The evening procession with the relics of the Saints (from Agnese.)

    Friday of the Second Week - San Vitale “in Fovea”
    San Vitale was first dedicated in the year 416; modern constructions around it, including the street on which it sits, the via Nazionale, are on a much higher level, and one must now descend a rather large staircase to reach the church. Agnese took this photograph from the top of the stairs!

    From Fr Alek

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    Our thanks to Mr Ian Gallagher for sending us this item about St Clement’s Parish in Ottawa, Ontario. This parish is the outgrowth of a community which held fast to the traditional liturgical practice of the church through some the worst during the early years of the liturgical reform. Tomorrow, they will have a High Mass at 9am to mark fifty years since the first Mass of the community was offered on the altar they still use today, on March 3, 1968.

    A Humble But Honourable Place
    “…for it is better for you that you should occupy a humble but honourable place in the flock of Christ, than that, being highly exalted, you should be cast out from the hope of His people.” - Pope St Clement I, Epistle to the Corinthians

    On March 3rd, 1968, the First Sunday of Lent, at the Monastery of the Sister Adorers of the Precious Blood in Ottawa, Canada, a small group of Catholics, with the permission of Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde, gathered for a Low Mass according to the Missal of 1962. No one in that quiet chapel that day knew what impact this Mass would have on the history of the traditionalist cause. In fact, to this day, few do. Parish historian Bernard Pothier (1936-2016) described the event in these words: “This gratifying decision was only the first of many providential gestures made by the local Ordinary on behalf of the traditional Latin Mass community over the next five decades. It was an historic beginning, the birth in fact of the modern Latin Mass movement.”

    Fr John Mole, one of the many chaplains of the Latin Mass community in Ottawa before and after its erection as a full parish of the Archdiocese, offering his first Mass. The altar seen in this photo is the same one referred to above.
    For it is from that humble, grace-filled day that that sprung the Latin Congregation of Ottawa, a group of Catholics faithful to the papacy and dedicated to preserving the traditional Roman liturgy. The development and indeed the very survival of the Congregation owes much to Divine Providence, which was most obviously manifested through the actions of three extraordinarily accommodating bishops: the aforementioned Plourde (1967-1989), Marcel Gervais (1989-2007), and Terrence Prendergast (2007-). These bishops were vocal supporters, each making major contributions which ensured the Community’s growth over the years, even during times of great liturgical upheaval in the universal Church.

    The Congegration grew steadily from its humble beginnings in 1968 and was able to offer the usus antiquior with the support of the Archdiocese until 1974, when a letter from the Congregation of Divine Worship should have surely spelled the end of the group’s activities. The message from Rome read that since the promulgation of the apostolic constitution Missale Romanum in 1969, the Mass of Paul VI was mandatory for the Latin Rite of the Church. In the face of this news, the Latin Congregation did not disband, however, and complied with the Holy See’s directive. In a somewhat countercultural move, the chaplains began offering the Novus Ordo Missae in such a way as to preserve traditional liturgical elements, thus partly consoling the members. Gregorian chant, the ad orientem posture, and the Roman Canon were all retained; the prayers at the foot of the altar from the 1962 missal were used as the priestly greeting. For ten years, the Congregation never lost hope, and it was eventually rewarded for its patience when Pope John Paul II’s Quattuor Abhinc Annos liberalized the use of the traditional Mass in 1984.

    Imbued with a new spirit of vigor, the Congregation’s population increased and eventually took St Clement I, Pope and Martyr as its patron. In 1993 it attained the rank of quasi-parish after purchasing its first proper church building, following years of hosting Masses in a variety of spaces. In 1994, the community was entrusted to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, and by 1997, Archbishop Gervais had erected it as a personal parish in the Archdiocese of Ottawa according to Canon 518, almost thirty years after its inception. In 2012, the parish made headlines in local media and in the Catholic blogosphere when, at the invitation of Archbishop Prendergast, it moved into historic Saint Anne’s, a large designated heritage church near downtown Ottawa, originally built in 1873, which had been suppressed the year before due to low numbers and unmanageable debts.

    Saint Clement Parish has been offering the traditional Mass uninterrupted since 1984 and, according to available evidence, was the first diocesan parish in the world to be established after the Pauline reforms to celebrate the usus antiquior exclusively. On Saturday, March 3rd, the parish will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a High Mass offered on the same altar as on that distant First Sunday in Lent in 1968, when the faithful gathered in that humble but honourable place to worship Almighty God.
    The parish’s shield.

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    NLM readers may be interested in this short video that explains the Office of Tenebrae and why it is so powerful a way of entering into the Passion of the Lord. The video was produced by a group of students at Wyoming Catholic College, where we have been chanting Tenebrae for the past ten years. In recent years polyphony has been added to the chant (the video includes excerpts from a setting of the Lamentations by Palestrina and two responsories by Victoria, all for equal voices); this year the mixed Choir is preparing to sing Allegri's Miserere as part of two Tenebrae services. The video interviews Fr. Robert Frederick, chaplain at the College, as well as myself as the Choir and Schola director. Among other things, I touch on how popular Tenebrae has become, in spite of (or because of) the challenge it represents. While I don't say it expressly, the message is clear: the New Evangelization will reach young people better when it takes advantage of treasures like this. Enjoy!

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    The sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtledove a nest where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord:  for ever and ever they shall praise thee. (Communion antiphon of the Third Sunday of Lent.)

    Passer invenit sibi domum, et turtur nidum sibi, ubi ponat pullos suos: altaria tua, Domine virtutum, rex meus, et Deus meus.

    (A chant expert once explained to me that the notes on the words “ et turtur - and the turtledove”, which are called “epiphoni” or “liquestent podati”, are chosen so that they can be sung in way that they actually sound like the cooing of a turtledove, which he then demonstrated to perfection. Word-painting in music, the boundless riches of our liturgical tradition!)

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    Today, we come to the final question of the survey, when the responding priests address whether and to what extent laity have noticed this custom and what bearing it might have on those observing the Mass. (Links to earlier parts: part 1 / part 2 / part 3 / part 4.) On Thursday, I will conclude the series with some philosophical and theological reflections.

    Young people notice things...

    QUESTION 5. Lay Observation and Piety
    In your pastoral experience, has any layman ever commented on or asked about the holding-together of the fingers? Do you think it is noticed and has any bearing on the piety of the laity?

    Fr. A.P.
    I don’t recall anyone commenting on it. But all of the gestures in the usus antiquior are noticed by the laity, particularly children. This gesture, and the many other prescribed gestures, help the laity to foster reverence and devotion in their own bearing and prayers at Mass.
    Fr. B.H.
    I can’t remember lay people commenting on it one way or the other. But I do remember a liberal priest retreat master at a retreat for other priests some 25 years ago who ridiculed and excoriated the practice! He said (in these or similar words), ”Thank goodness we’ve now gotten rid of that artificial, prissy, unnatural-looking practice of holding our fingers together after the consecration!”  He was very big on insisting that the priest’s gestures manner of celebrating should look “natural” and “spontaneous” to the congregation.
    Fr. B.J.
           On the occasions when I have been able to maintain custody of the digits in the Novus Ordo (e.g., because I did not have to handle several other vessels besides, before purification), no one has commented to me specifically on that. However, for all of the negative feedback I have gotten at times about how I “do the dishes,” I have also gotten some very beautiful feedback from lay people who have noticed the care that I take in the purification of the sacred vessels. There ARE people in the pew, even at your garden-variety Novus Ordo, who “get it,” and they ARE edified when things are done right.
           I have been intending for some time to produce a series of YouTube videos with principles of purification for the Novus Ordo (taking into account the different shapes of modern vessels, such as the “communion cups,” how to handle purificators, how to handle multiple vessels, etc.), but I have not had the time to act on this desire. It is sorely needed and I have a lot of ideas about what needs to be communicated. Maintaining custody of the digits is just the tip of the iceberg. Reception of communion in the hand is also sort of a symptom of a larger problem. Systemic disrespect for the Holy Eucharist is very widespread and extends from Bishops who absolutely should know better (but apparently do not) to very well-meaning Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and it is a great mystery to me how our Lord tolerates such grievous outrages for so long—with really only two or three Bishops (Schneider, Laisé, and to a certain extent, Morlino) ever speaking publicly about any of it! Lord have mercy!
    Fr. D.C.
    A few pious people have commented on it, saying they noticed it and were happy to see it.  Some youth have asked me about it “question and answer sessions” during Religious Education, which provides a great opportunity for catechesis about the Real Presence.  Not a single person has ever complained. 
    Fr. D.F.
    As I noted in response to Question 3, I do not ordinarily hold my fingers together during public celebrations of the Ordinary Form. Nevertheless, my answer to this question is yes. On several occasions (between five and ten), a layman has mentioned to me that he has noticed the way I hold my fingers together when turning pages, holding the chalice, etc. Sometimes, the person has raised the matter in the form of a question, curious as to why I do this. Most of the time, however, it has been mentioned in a spirit of gratitude, thanking me for a reverent ars celebrandi. I have not yet experienced anyone making reference to my practice in a pejorative fashion.
    Fr. D.N.
    When I was doing the Novus Ordo with liturgical digits, I got questions, but I don’t think the answers made any sense to the laity, considering crumbs of Our Lord’s body would be all over the place anyway. Hence, when I finally realized my answers to them were not in harmony with systematic protection of Our Lord’s body, I decided that I could only do the TLM. This is what I have done for the past four years, even as a priest in good standing with two dioceses.
    Fr. E.W.
    Occasionally, laypersons have asked me about the practice when I have used it in the more recent use. I can say from my own experience that seeing a certain priest for whom I served as altar-boy in my youth follow this practice in the usus recentior helped to foster wonder at the Real Presence in my soul.
    Fr. E.P.
    It has been noticed by others (even though I am rightly oriented at the altar) and has aroused curiosity, leading me to explain the purpose of it. The reaction to this explanation was always one of wonder at the great reverence for the holy Sacrament the Church expected to be shown by her priests. In the early days of my priesthood when sharing the sign of peace was expected of me (or so I thought), I would first wipe my fingers on the corporal (as is the practice for the TLM before the Consecration) in order to avoid any desecration of the Lord’s Body.
    Fr. J.F.
    I have never had a layman ask me about the practice, but I have talked about it in homilies trying to instill a greater awareness of the Real Presence.
    Fr. J.K.
    No one has ever commented on the way I hold my hands after the consecration. There have been many comments on the increased reverence in the celebration of the Mass, however. I have even heard some liberals comment that there is increased reverence and silence because of some of the initiatives I have offered at the Mass. These initiatives in the liturgy also were accompanied by preaching on the Mass as well as preaching on contraception, same-sex “marriage” and abortion. It is the combination of all of the above which caused the visceral anger among the liberal, heterodox crowd that caused my removal from my previous parish.
    Fr. J.S.
    Yes and yes. But for a full effect on the piety of the laity it is necessary to adapt a form of administering communion that is consonant with the finger-holding-action of the priest. So: communion on the tongue—preferably while kneeling. Otherwise it is a nice talking point from which to develop catechesis, but no more and not very effectively so because the reverence thereby shown by the priest is somewhat subverted by him distributing communion in the hand. This discrepancy I know from pastoral experience.
    Fr. J.M.
    No to the first part. The more observant will have noticed, but I’m afraid nowadays with such a range of shenanigans commonplace in liturgy worldwide and most priests making their own adaptations to the rubrics of the NO, I think a priest would have to dance on the actual altar (not just in the sanctuary) before people would think something odd is happening here!
    Fr. J.B.
    Not that I can distinctly recall. However, I have mostly done it in contexts where it is at least an already-known practice. My feeling, at least in my area of Austria, is that to the extent it is noticed, it may confirm laity in their eucharistic piety, but taken as an individual practice, doesn’t have much force to alter this piety; e.g., few who habitually receive in the hand (and with little reverence) would rethink their own practice or show greater reverence as a result of this practice by the priest. However, I believe that, as part of an overall renewal of liturgical practice accompanied by catechesis, it does play a role.
           Though I have limited experience as a priest in the USA, I suspect this observation of mine would generally apply much more to traditionally Catholic regions, as Austria and Italy, than to the USA.
    Fr. M.K.
    I suppose that ‘clerical’ religious women of a certain age will notice it and harrumph. Ordinary layfolk take it in stride as something quite normal and seemly.
    Fr. M.C.
    Of course. People regularly ask what we are doing there. And they understand the reasons for doing this. Some faithful even intuitively understand the reasons. Or more exactly: They ask why we are doing so, but then comment that they already felt “something different” in the priest's attitude towards celebrating the Mass.
    Fr. M.B.
    Many people have asked me why I hold thumb and forefinger together and I explain the general thinking of the practice.  I am unsure if it has any real bearing on the piety of the laity attending Mass.
    Fr. P.M.
    To date, no one has said anything to me regarding my fingers and thumbs together during part of the Eucharistic Prayer. But I must say this: this action has most definitely been recognized inasmuch as those who serve as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion now have mimicked me, even handing me the ciborium at the altar with thumb and finger together and returning to the Credence table for their ablution. Without my ever having said anything, they now have a heightened awareness that their hands should touch nothing until after they have been purified!
    Fr. T.K.
    A layman, no, but a religious Sister once asked me the reason for the practice. It is noticed, to be sure, but I cannot say whether it has deepened the Eucharistic piety of the faithful.
    Fr. W.S.
    An old nun, who had not attended the Mass of Tradition since her childhood, remarked approvingly on the gesture, stating that she remembered being puzzled by it as a child.
    A priest reading this series contacted me to share a marvelous story from his own life. He gave me permission to publish it in honor of his father.
    I would like to offer my own thoughts about the use of canonical digits. My father was an Episcopal priest and he always observed this custom since his understanding of the Eucharist was clearly Catholic. I grew up seeing him up close, and how carefully and lovingly he handled the "elements." He once told me that there were two things which could provide the measure of how good a priest was: first how carefully he did the ablutions, and second, how available he was to shut-ins and the dying for the sacraments. He used to say that the most devout of his parishioners were those who came to the spoken Eucharist early each Sunday (which had no sermon in those days! Imagine: Protestants who went to church just for the Eucharist and not for a sermon: that is how strong the Catholic sense remained in some people, even after centuries).
           When I was ordained, it never occurred to me to celebrate the new Mass without observing the digitis clausis tradition. It was natural and instinctive. And when my abbot asked me about it I explained that it was because of what I had seen my father do. The abbot said that he had been intending to tell me to stop, since this gesture is not prescribed in the new missal, but that given my reason, he would let me continue! Later I noticed that Paul VI, even when celebrating the new Mass, always kept his index and thumb together after the consecration. It is practically impossible to find images of this on the internet, but it would be great to find some, so that everyone may know that even in the practice of the legislator who promulgated the new Missal this ancient practice was perfectly fine.
           If we had all done what we had seen our fathers in the faith do, everything would be fine!

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    Connecting the Thomism of Fr Norris Clarke to a Philosophy of Holy Icons

    Many NLM readers will be familiar, I’m sure, with the idea that there is a theology which is used to explain the stylistic elements of iconographic liturgical art. However, I am not aware of a metaphysics or philosophical anthropology that has been or could be used to articulate a philosophy of icons.

    That is, until recently.

    A couple of years ago, on the recommendation of a Dominican friar here in Berkeley, I read two works of the late Jesuit philosopher, Fr Norris Clarke. These were Person and Being and The One and the Many - A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics. You can see an interview with him done shortly before his death in 2008 on YouTube, in which he talks about his “personalist” Thomism.

    More recently, I sat in on a series of excellent lectures on the thought of Fr Clarke as part of a class on the philosophy of nature and philosophical anthropology, taught by Dr. Michel Accad for Pontifex University’s Master of Sacred Arts program. Dr. Accad had invited me to attend so that I might participate by discussing with him why an understanding of philosophy is important for artists today.

    There are, incidentally, a number of general reasons why such a class would be included in a sacred arts program - for example, the simple fact that an understanding of the human person and nature is always important for an artist who is seeking to reveal visible and invisible truths about both through art. However, it occurred to me as I listened and reflected on the subject that Fr Clarke’s Thomistic philosophy, in particular, might be the basis for a philosophy of icons. I offer my thoughts on this as some personal speculation for your interest.

    We will start with a brief account of some of the ways in which theology has been used to explain the style of icons. Take a look at this icon of the Transfiguration.

    We see Christ shining with light; this is understood to be a glimpse given to the Apostles of His heavenly glory. That glory, which is the radiance of His being, is the radiating of an uncreated “light of being,” the divine light of the burning bush, that shone without consuming the bush itself. Saints, who through baptism and lives of purity participate in the divine nature, shine with this light too; and in their purity are able to see in ways that we can only grasp “through a glass darkly.” This radiance is represented by the halo of light around their heads. Another indication that each figure is a source of light is none of them casts a shadow.

    The Apostles are shown here without halos, indicating that this event is prior to Pentecost when the fire of the Holy Spirit came to them, but nevertheless they do not cast shadows. This reflects the fact that at this moment, they must have been in some way at least temporarily purified, for only the “pure in heart” who are themselves participating in the divine nature can see the divine light. Even so, the power of such a vision to those who are unused to seeing it has knocked them back!

    There are other stylistic elements that reflect truths about the objects portrayed that are not ordinarily visible. There is a hierarchy of being, in which Christ is greatest, mankind is next, and inanimate beings below him. This is reflected visually by showing Christ as the most prominent figure among the six, and through the design, in His size and brightness, and the way in which His image relates to the other people in the composition. The mountain, on the other hand, is small relative to its natural size; in some icons, plants and mountains are depicted actually bowing to Christ to communicate this point.

    While the discussion so far relates to visible light, which is the only way that an artist working in a visual medium can portray such radiance, the light he is portraying is not in fact limited to visual light or even to electromagnetic radiation. This radiance is of a divine, uncreated supernatural “light” that is visible to the purified “spiritual eye”, the place inside us where we see, so to speak, truth, and are connected to God. This is the “spirit” of St Paul’s anthropology (body, soul, spirit), which Stratford Caldecott, for example, equated with the intellectus of the Western medievals, and the nous of the Eastern Fathers. (See here.)

    So how can philosophy account for this? First, it is worth describing the work of Fr Norris Clarke, who was a philosopher in the true sense, developing his own original thought, while still working in the Thomistic tradition. Dr Accad was kind enough to give me a summary of the salient points.
    I agree that the work of Fr Norris Clarke (which we cover at the end of the course, as a kind of summary and integration of everything we have learned) is likely to provide a helpful framework. Here are some of the points that Fr Clarke distills from St Thomas’ metaphysics (and to which he adds insights from modern “personalist” philosophy):
    The universe is an immense family of real beings, and all real beings—from the simplest drop of water to the human person—have something in common: They all exist! In technical terms, all real beings share in the act of existence. What’s more, we are all intimately connected with the source of our existence, God, who is existent in Himself (“I am who am”)
    Although all created beings share in the act of existence, each being is limited by an essence: A dog is a share of existence possessed—and limited by—the essence of “dogginess” and an oak tree is a share of existence possessed and limited by the essence of “oakiness.” God, of course, is unlimited, infinite being. According to St Thomas, His essence is existence.
    Because created being are all finite and limited by essence, we each have something to receive from the rest of the family of beings, but we each also have something to contribute to other beings. All beings are constantly communicating of themselves to others and receiving from others to complete and perfect themselves.
    For example, even a simple pebble communicates its own existence to the rest of the world. Modern science acknowledges that: For one thing, by its existence, the pebble contributes materially to the gravitational field of the planet—even if in a most modest way. Without that gravitational field, we would all be floating about in the ether, getting evermore separated from one another!
    Because to be real is to be giving and to be receiving, we are all substances in relation. This is particularly true in the higher beings, like animals and humans who are constantly giving and receiving from one another, but it is even true at the lowest level. Water, for example, is molecular beings that are in relation with one another. Each molecule of H2O gives of itself to its neighbor and receives the actions of its neighboring molecules. The consequence this mutual interaction is a community of molecular beings that has the property of being clear, liquid, and life-sustaining for all living organisms!
    Clarke’s rendition of Thomistic metaphysics describes a wonderful community of beings, each of which, in its own way, reflects, refracts, and radiates the light of the Creator to all other beings.
    Man, of course, occupies a special place in the universe. Being at once a spirit united to a material body, he is an “amphibian” straddling the world of angels and that of earthly creatures. Because he possesses and intellectual nature that allows him to form civilizations, he leads creation on its journey back to the Creator. And, as spirit, man is also person: individually distinct and self-possessing and capable of living in self-conscious and self-determining community with others, in the image of the community of Divine Persons.
    I do not know if Fr Clarke himself ever connected his ideas to the theology of the icon, but the parallels seem clear. He is describing this radiance of being in ways that are compatible with the uncreated light to which the theologians of the past referred, and which is manifested visually in the icon.

    As I read Fr Clarke’s books, this picture of being as an activity, a static dynamism in which each is giving and receiving of itself superabundantly (that is without depletion) reminds me of the dynamic of love described by Benedict XVI in his encyclicals. Benedict talks of love as simultaneous actions of self-gift and ordered-reception of persons in relation. He called these two components of loving relationship agape and eros respectively. I have written about this here.

    Clarke’s philosophy also helps me to understand something about the nature of beauty itself, which is sometimes defined as the “radiance of being.” Beauty is an objective quality, that is, it is an aspect of the thing considered beautiful; and in the full perception of its existence, we, the subjects observing it, delight in it. But beauty has, nevertheless, a subjective component, for different subjects will have differing abilities to “see”, that is to apprehend the incident light of being emanating from the object.

    I finish with an affirmation from the greatest school of theology and of life and all, that is, the liturgy. Light and life are connected in the hymn in the Eastern Rite called the Great Doxology. It opens with the proclamation, “Glory to You, O Giver of light!” This is the divine light in which we all participate through our existence, which incorporates our life as human beings, and which we possess in the fullness of our capabilities by partaking of the divine nature as baptized Christians. The connection is made explicitly later in this same hymn with the words of Psalm 35, “For with You is the fountain of life, and in Your Light, we shall see light.”

    The fountain of life!

    What is this if not the self-effusive activity of being made all the more resplendent with the supernatural gift of life by which we relate to each other and with God in love in, at its consummation, the liturgy?

    As an aside: in the Mandylion above, which I painted, I was told that the rounded brow that sits in the V between the eyebrows can be thought of as the “spirit” or the “spiritual eye” of the person that sees Light.

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    The following video was taken at the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Milan, where the traditional Ambrosian Mass is celebrated every Sunday and holy day of obligation, on February 25th, the Second Sunday of Lent. The MC is our own Nicola de’Grandi; Fr John Berg, the Superior General of the FSSP attended in choir. In the Ambrosian tradition, the second to sixth Sundays of Lent are named for their Gospels, which are all taken from St John: the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (4, 5-42), of Abraham (8, 31-59), of the Man Born Blind (9, 1-38), of Lazarus (11, 1-45) and of the Palms (11, 55- 12, 11).
    Several points of interest should be noted. In the Ambrosian color scheme, a special darker violet, called “morello” in Italian, is used on the Sundays of Lent, and black on the ferias. The thurible has no cover, and is swung in a pattern of circles. The equivalent of the Introit, which is called the Ingressa, has no Psalm verse or Gloria Patri, and is not repeated; there is no Kyrie analogous to that of the Roman Rite. In Lent, a special Litany is said on the Sundays, Divinae Pacis on the first, third and fifth, Dicamus omnes on the second and fourth, as heard here. (See the following posts by Nicola de' Grandi for an explanation: Ambrosian Lent III; Ambrosian Lent IV.) There are two readings before the Gospel, both of which are preceded by a blessing; on this Sunday, they are Exodus 20, 1-24 and Ephesians 1, 15-23. (For those who do not understand Italian, the Gospel ends just after 36:30, and the sermon runs until 43:51.)

    The Mass resumes not with the Creed, but with “Dominus vobiscum”, three Kyries, and an antiphon “post Evangelium”, during which the corporal is spread on the altar. The deacon or priest then says “Pacem habete”, to which the choir answers “Ad te, Domine”; the priest sings the prayer “super sindonem” (over the shroud.) The Offertory prayers are much longer than in the Roman Rite, and the Offertory ritual concludes with the Creed. The Secret is called the “oratio super oblata”, and is said outloud. Each Mass of the temporal cycle has its own proper Preface; the ordinary conclusion of the Preface always names all nine hierachies of the Angels. The Canon is mostly quite similar to that of the Roman Rite; an account of the differences is given in this article. The Fraction is done immediately after the Canon, accompanied by an antiphon called the Confractorium, followed by the Our Father; the embolism is sung outloud, and there is no Agnus Dei.

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    A warm thanks to Henri de Villiers and the Schola Sainte Cécile for permission to publish this translation of his article Les Quarante-Heurs: Histoire et Liturgie. The translation was made by the authors of the blog Canticum Salomonis, and is being publishing there simultaneously with NLM.
    Forty Hours at the London Oratory
    The Forty Hours refers to a period of devout prayer sustained by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, solemnly exposed on the altar of a church for 40 hours. Traditionally, this form of prayer takes place in the hours that precede the beginning of Lent, from Quinquagesima Sunday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, but it may be arranged at other times of the year as well.

    HISTORY. During Holy Week, the faithful used to keep vigil in the churches before a representation of Christ’s sepulchre from the time of his death—at None of Good Friday—until His resurrection, which is celebrated by the Paschal procession in the early morning of Easter: a period of around 40 hours in total. In many places, the clergy lay the Body of Christ to rest in a tomb along with a host after the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday, and it was this host that was taken from the tomb and led in solemn procession to be placed triumphantly on the altar on the morning of Easter. This symbolic number of 40 hours spent by Christ in death harkens back to an old tradition already reported by St. Augustine (De Trinitate IV, 6): From the hour, then, of His death to the dawn of the resurrection are forty hours, counting in also the ninth hour itself. And with this number agrees also His life upon earth of forty days after His resurrection. (Ab hora ergo mortis usque ad diluculum resurrectionis horae sunt quadraginta, ut etiam ipsa hora nona connumeretur. Cui numero congruit etiam vita eius super terram post resurrectionem in quadraginta diebus. We should keep in mind that the ancient form of reckoning the hours does not correspond to our current practice of having hours of a fixed 60-minute duration.)

    The Forty Hours, church of Bottanuco
    The veneration of Christ in the tomb—which in many parts of medieval Europe became a veritable military guard of the Eucharistic Body at the tomb awaiting the resurrection—was repeated outside of Holy Week beginning in the 16th century, in response to the Protestant denial of the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacred Host outside the Mass. The Forty Hours—at first considered an exceptional devotion—appeared in Milan in 1527 amidst wars and calamity, the sack of Rome and the French invasion of the Duchy of Milan. They were instituted by Giovanni Antonio Bellotti for the beginning of each trimester until 1529. In 1537, the Milanese Capuchin Giuseppe da Ferno took up the practice and made of it a series of solemn prayers with a Eucharistic procession: when one parish ended its Forty Hours, another took its place, such that the Holy Sacrament was adored perpetually (this practice is the origin of perpetual adoration). St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria (1502 † 1539), the founder, also at Milan, of the Clerks Regular of St. Paul (the Barnabites) promoted them with great zeal

    The Forty Hours at Arrone in Italy
    The Capuchins and Barnabites rapidly diffused the Forty Hours beyond Milan. Giuseppe da Ferno introduced the devotion to Pavia, Siena, and Arezzo during his missions there in 1537-1539, and his confrere Francesco di Soriano established the custom in Umbria. In 1550, St. Philip Neri introduced them in Rome and had the custom of organising them at the beginning of each month in the various churches of the Confraternities he directed, among which was the Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. At Messina, besieged by the Turks in 1552, it was the Jesuits who organized them to beg for and obtain the liberation of the city. Beginning in 1556, the Jesuit order was used to making the Forty Hours prayer from Quinquagesima Sunday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, in order to expiate the faults committed during Carnival.
    The Forty Hours Machine at the church of Bienno, Italy
    In 1575 the archbishop of Milan, St. Charles Borromeo, in a pastoral letter of wondrous eloquence on the sacredness of Septuagesima, deplores the sad state of those lukewarm Christians who use these precious days so poorly, when they should be giving themselves over especially to prayer and good works. To that end, he ordered the organization of Forty Hours in the largest diocese of Europe: the Blessed Sacrament would be exposed for three days before Lent, in the cathedral of Milan, and in thirty other churches in the city; in the morning and evening there would be a solemn procession, and the parish priests would distribute the hours of the day for their parishioners, in such a way that there would always be a large number of adorers before the Most Holy Sacrament.

    The Forty Hours machine of the parish of Colere in Italy
    On the 25th of November 1592, Pope Clement VIII, in the Constitution Graves et diurturnae, organized the Forty Hours in the city of Rome in the form in which it had been done previously by Giuseppe da Ferno: in a continuous manner, the prayers would begin in one Roman Church just as they ended in another. The Pope asked that the prayer of Forty Hours be made for three intentions:
    1. For the salvation of the Kingdom of France, at that time rent by the succession of Henry III,
    2. for the victory of Christianity against the Turks,
    3. for the unity of the Church.
    The pope began this series of prayers on the 30th of November 1592 at the Sistine Chapel.

    Neapolitan machine
    Pope Clement XI (1700 † 1721) published, on January 21st 1705, several directives for the maintenance of this observance in the churches of Rome. But it was Pope Clement XII (1730 † 1740) who published them on 1st September 1731, in the form of an instruction in Italian, the Clementine Instruction, which fixed the liturgical order of the Forty Hours devotion in Roman churches. The Clementine Instruction was not, strictly speaking, rigorously obligatory anywhere but in the Eternal City, but the general rules that it established gained currency everywhere through the rubrics and decisions of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (n°2403). Stercky calls it “an excellent treatise on the exposition of the Holy Sacrament” to which one ought to refer and conform in all the dioceses of the Roman Rite.
    Notice of Cardinal Noailles for the Forty Hours at Paris (1725 - download)
    THE FORTY HOURS IN FRANCE. France was not to be outdone by Italy, for from 1574 a Jesuit, Father Auger, had received the permission of the Archbishop of Paris to organize the Forty Hours in all the churches of our capital, despite the strong opposition of the Curé of Saint-Eustache. From Paris, the Forty Hours devotion spread rapidly throughout all France. We find them at Rouen in 1584 and 1589, at Isle-sur-Sorgue and at Lyon in 1593, at Avignon in 1596, at Annemasse in 1597, at Thonon in 1598, at Marseille in 1599, at Gap in 1604, etc… The Forty Hours were celebrated with great solemnity in the context of preaching missions, at the initiative of the Capuchins to encourage the faithful who had been seduced by Protestantism to return to the Church, and to strengthen the faith of the neophytes. The Forty Hours in our country become a veritable “war machine” of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, drawing huge crowds (100,000 persons at Gap in 1618 for example) and inspiring numerous conversions, by bringing together all the arts (extraordinary decorations and majestic musical pieces were employed on every occasion) to magnify the Holy Eucharist.

    In his brief Sacri apostolatus ministerio, Pope Gregory XV (who reigned 1621 to 1623) exhorts the archbishops and bishops of France to organize the Forty Hours devotion throughout the realm, for “the success of the royal enterprise against the heretics of the realm, the extirpation of heresies and the exaltation and peace of our Holy Mother the Church.” This brief granted a plenary indulgence to French faithful who, after having confessed and received communion, prayed for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff (this indulgence was made general for the whole Catholic world by Pius XI in 1931). Shortly afterwards, in 1625, Pope Urban VIII gave French Capuchins who heard confessions during the Forty Hours (and afterwards to other missionary orders) wide powers of absolution reserved ordinarily to bishops, something that contributed not a little to the success of many Capuchin missions—always accompanied by a magnificent Forty Hours—all throughout the 17th century in our country (the faithful preferred to come en masse to make their confessions to passing missionaries rather than to their parish priest, who—in cases reserved for the bishop—could not give them absolution!)

    In 1617 at Cahors, the crowds of people desiring to assist at the Forty Hours celebrated in the church of the Jesuits were so numerous that it led to riots. At Gap in 1628—where the Forty Hours led to the recanting of 1,500 Protestants—“heretics who came from the highest mountain reaches of the Dauphiné, upon entering the church and seeing the great pomp and magnificence, illuminated with so many lights in honor of the Most Holy Sacrament that was exposed, cast themselves to their knees, believing themselves to be in paradise and crying aloud: Praised be the Roman Church which is so wonderful, and not the temple of those ministers which by comparison are like the stables of beasts!” (Archives departementales de Hautes-Alpes, 3H2, 1, p. 89, cited in Bernard Dompiner, Un aspect de la dévotion eucharistique dans la France du XVIIème siécle: les prières des Quarante-Heures, Revue d’histoire de l’Eglise de France, 1981, Vol. 67, n. 9178, p. 17).

    The Forty Hours were celebrated throughout the year in Capuchin missions, as in Italy, and the custom very rapidly grew of having them in Quinquagesima for the three final days before Lent. At Paris, the church of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet had an annual celebration of Forty Hours during Quinquagesima starting in 1616. Several of the parish’s acts between 1628 and 1637 indicate that the Forty Hours there were a grandiose prelude to Lent, coupled with an invitation to confession and communion. The acts describe in great detail how these solemn devotions were carried out at Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet: the bell-towers rang out as on first class feasts, the main altar was decorated with reliquaries, paintings, a great number of candles, “and other pious and sacred ornaments,” “all with the dress, ornaments, ceremonies, and solemnity of a solemn feast as on the day of Corpus Christi itself, and even beyond, were it possible.” The Paris Province of the Capuchins decided to organize the Forty Hours during Quinquagesima of 1621-1622. But it was the French Jesuits—and St. Jean-François Régis (1597 † 1640) in particular—who generalized the Italian custom of their Society of making the Forty Hours in Quadragesima as a prelude to Lent.

    1956- Forty Hours in the sanctuary of San Francesco de Gironimo
    The French Revolution dealt a heavy blow to the Forty Hours in our country, and it seems that the custom of making them became less usual in the course of the 19th century. One indication of this disaffection is found in the various ceremonials and manuals of liturgy published in the course of that century in France, where it is unusual to find a description of the ceremonies of the Forty Hours. The Religious Week of the diocese of Lyon notes in 1911 that “in our diocese, it is never possible to observe the Clementine Instruction to the letter, and to make the Forty Hours without interruption either in the day or the night” (p. 218). It is probable that the Second World War dealt an even more serious blow to this tradition, which has nevertheless remained lively in the United Kingdom and Italy up to our times, including in the new rite.

    THE FORTY-HOURS MACHINES. In order to heighten the solemnity of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during the Forty Hours, the piety of the faithful, allied with the whole decorative genius of the Baroque age, invented marvelous temporary constructions to form an elevated throne for the monstrance and decorated it with a great many candles. These temporary constructions for the three days of the exposition earned the name “Forty Hours Machines” (Macchine della Quarantore in Italian). The first machine seems to have been conceived by the Jesuits in Rome. The greatest architects and artists collaborated in their construction, which testifies to the extraordinary piety of our fathers. In 1633 Nicolas Poussin received the commission for the Rest on the Flight into Egypt and the Adoration of the Magi to beautify the Forty Hours of a Roman oratory. Here we can see the machine designed in 1650 for the Jesuits’ Forty Hours devotion in the church of the Gesù in Rome:

    Here we have an engraving representing Pope Pius VI in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament placed on the extraordinary Forty Hours machine designed by Bernini himself for the Vatican:

    (Louis-Jean Desprez (Auxerre, 1743 – Stockholm, 1804) and Francesco Piranesi (Rome, 1758/9 – Paris, 1810) – “Pius VI in adoration in the Pauline Chapel during the ceremony of the Forty-Hours,” around 1783-1785. Watercolour and gouache (Desprez) over an engraving (Piranesi). Source: La Galerie Tarantino, which we heartily thank for this iconographical support.)

    Here are four more designs of Forty Hours machines from the 17th century:
    • The first bears a manuscript note indicating that the machine held 140 candles.
    • The second is a plan for the decoration of a Forty Hours. Rome, end of the 17th century. Source: Galerie Tarantino.
    • The third is a decoration project for the Forty Hours showing the “Return of the explorers from the land of Canaan” by Giacinto Calandrucci (a student of Maratta), sold to the National Gallery in Washington (the explorers had taken 40 days to explore Canaan).
    • Beneduci di Orzinuovi—design for a machine for the Forty Hours.

    This is a video of the Forty Hours machine belonging to the Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto in Rome, still in use today, but only for the Altar of Repose on Good Friday. Built in 1848, it boasts 231 candles. It is the work of one Luigi Clementi, which according to the archives cost 500 scudi for the woodwork and 50 more for the gilding.

    SYMBOLISM OF THE NUMBER 40– The number 40 is mentioned many times in Scripture, and often in relation to an encounter with God. We list the principal occurrences below:
    • The rain of the Deluge lasted 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:4, 12, 17). At the end of 10 months of the Deluge, the waters began to recede and after 40 days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark (Genesis 8:6).
    • Isaac (Genesis 25:20) and Esau (Genesis 26:34) were married at the age of 40.
    • Moses stayed 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai in the presence of God without food or drink, and at the end of this period he received the tables of the Law (Exodus 24:18; 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9,11, 18, 25; 10:10).
    • Moses’ messengers explored the land of Canaan in 40 days (Numbers 13:26), then Israel was condemned to wander in the desert for 40 years (Numbers 14:33-34; 32:13; Exodus 16:35; Deuteronomy 8:2–4; Joshua 5:6).
    • In the Mosaic Law the number of stripes given to punish a criminal could not exceed 40 (Deuteronomy 25:3; II Corinthians 11:24).
    • The reigns at the apogee of the Jewish kingdom, that of David (I Samuel 29:27) and that of his son Solomon (1 Kings 11:42), both lasted 40 years.
    • The prophet Elijah crossed the desert during 40 days to meet God on Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).
    • The prophet Jonah calls Nineveh to repent under pain of destruction at the end of 40 days (Jonah 3:4).
    • Our Lord Jesus Christ was presented in the Temple of Jerusalem, in conformity with the Law of Moses, 40 days after his birth (the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin on the 2nd of February – Luke 2:22; Exodus 13:2, 11-16; Leviticus 12:2-4, 6-8).
    • Christ began His public ministry with a fast of 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:1-2; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-2), and His Ascension took place 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3), which, according to a tradition recorded by St. Augustine (cf. supra De Trinitate 46), took place after he passed 40 hours in death.
    LITURGICAL RUBRICS. The Forty Hours devotion is regulated by the Clementine Instruction, promulgated in 1731 by Pope Clement XII based on a prior version published by Pope Clement XI in 1705. This document is cited in the ninth place in the official list of liturgical books of the Roman Church (Sacred Congregation of Rites, n°4266 of 17th May 1911).
    The instruction is divided into 37 paragraphs which offer a succinct presentation of the liturgical rules for the celebration of the Forty Hours:

    Forty Hours at the London Oratory
    General Rules
    • An external sign (a shield or a banner) must be hung on the main door of the church where the Blessed Sacrament is solemnly exposed. This sign must include a symbol of the Blessed Sacrament, in order that the people may know that the Forty Hours are being carried out in this church.
    • The altar or place of exposition must not display any relics of saints or funeral symbols. It is usually the high altar of the church. If there is a painting on the reredos of the high altar, it must be covered up with a white or red sheet. Likewise for the statues of saints that decorate the altar (but not those of angels holding candelabra).
    • An elevated throne must be placed atop the altar where the monstrance that holds the Blessed Sacrament will be placed. White curtains (with golden trims, Barbier de Montault adds) forming a canopy may be used, especially is the throne is not covered.
    • The frontal and decorations of the altar must be white, and must never conceal the monstrance.
    • Flowers must never be placed before the tabernacle. Flowers are not prohibited, but must be arranged discreetly. They are not used in Rome.
    • It is appropriate that a minimum of 20 candles burn permanently at this altar, both by day and by night.
    • No lights may be placed behind the Host to try to make it shine.
    • The windows of the church near the altar can be covered, the ideal being that the altar candles shine amidst the shadows, in order to inspire concentration and prayer.
    • A kneeling-bench is to be prepared and placed for the adoration of the clergy at the bottom of the steps of the altar of exposition after the Mass of exposition and the procession are finished. This bench can be covered in red or green.
    • Reservation of the Eucharist—if It is usually reserved at the altar of exposition—must take place at another altar. In any case, communion cannot be received at the altar of exposition.
    • The church bells must ring solemnly the evening before the start of the exposition at the Angelus, then a half-hour before sundown, and one hour thereafter. During exposition, the church bells must ring every hour, during the night as well as the day.
    • The Blessed Sacrament must not be visible from the street during Adoration (to avoid blasphemy, especially during Carnival time). A sheet is to be hung before the entry if necessary, in order to hide the view to the exposition altar from the street.
    • Although the Forty Hours are held by custom beginning on Quinquagesima Sunday, one may also celebrate them at any time of the year except during the Paschal Triduum, when they are, of course, prohibited. Nevertheless, if while the Forty Hours are taking place, one is to hold the blessing of candles and procession of Candlemas, the distribution of ashes and procession of Ash Wednesday, or the blessing and procession of Palm Sunday, the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament must be interrupted throughout the length of these ceremonies and resumed thereafter. Specific rules also exist in the case where the Forty Hours are held during the 2nd of November.
    Rules for the Clergy and the Laity
    • Two members of the clergy must always be present in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
    • They may not use the stole whilst they adore.
    • The clerics that look after the lighting must always be in surplice. Laymen may supply for these clerics, in the condition of donning a cassock and surplice while they care for the candles.
    • One must genuflect on both knees every time one enters or leaves the sanctuary where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, and each time one passes before It.
    Celebration of the Mass
    • Mass shall not be celebrated at the altar of exposition, except on the first day for the Mass of Exposition (even though exposition does not “technically” begin until after the procession that follows this Mass) and on the third day for the Deposition.
    • The Masses of Exposition (on the first day) and of Deposition (on the third day) shall be solemn votive Masses of the Blessed Sacrament (with Gloria and Credo), sung with sacred ministers (deacon and subdeacon), unless these votive Masses are impeded by the Mass of the day. On impeded days, the Mass of the day shall be said with a commemoration of the Blessed Sacrament under one conclusion. Nevertheless, the frontal of the altar of exposition and the humeral veil shall always be white, whatever the colour of the Mass being celebrated.
    • On the second day a solemn votive Mass with sacred ministers shall be celebrated, for peace or some other necessity (with Gloria unless the Mass is in violet vestments), following the bishop’s instructions.
    • This Mass of the second day shall not be celebrated at the altar of exposition or at the altar where the rest of the hosts are reserved.
    • During the exposition, no Requiem Mass may be said.
    • The frontal of the altar of exposition shall always be white, whatever the colour of the Mass or Office of the day.
    • When the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, the use of a bell during low Masses is prohibited. It is appropriate that its use be also prohibited during solemn Masses.
    • It is likewise prohibited to take any collection in the church whilst the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, or to set up special collection boxes.
    • Sermons during the Forty Hours are not encouraged, but if they nevertheless take place, they must be brief and may only be about the Eucharist; the preacher is not permitted to use a biretta or stole. The preacher must stand sideways by the altar of exposition in such a way that none of the faithful need turn his back to this altar.
    Particular Features of the Mass of Exposition
    • The altar is prepared before Mass for Exposition, but only the usual six candles are to be lighted at the beginning of the Mass. The altar cross remains at its place. A corporal may be placed at the throne of exposition if the latter is in a different place from the altar cross. The montrance is to be prepared, covered by a white veil, as well as the book used for the final prayers after the procession (they are found in the Rituale Romanum, for example). The canopy, two candles to be borne during the procession, and two thurifers for the same shall also be prepared.
    • During this Mass of the first day, the celebrant consecrates two large hosts, one of which will be exposed.
    • The monstrance is placed over the corporal after communion.
    • From the moment when the second large host is placed in the monstrance by the deacon, the rest of the Mass is celebrated following the rubrics for a Missa coram Sanctissimo:
      • The celebrant and ministers genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament each time they approach It or leave the area of the altar.
      • When the celebrate or deacon address the people (for the Dominus vobiscum, Ite Missa est, and the final blessing), they stand sideways at the gospel corner in order to avoid giving their backs to the Most Holy Sacrament.
      • During the course of the Last Gospel, the celebrant genuflects at the Et Verbum caro factum est turning towards the Body of the Lord.
    • After the Last Gospel, the celebrant and his ministers genuflect with both knees at the bottom of the altar steps and then go to the sedilia where they put down their maniples and the celebrant takes of the chasuble in order to put on the cope, always making sure never to turn their backs towards the Blessed Sacrament. The two thurifers come from the sacristy with the candle-bearers. The celebrant imposes the incense, without blessing it, on both thuribles, at the sedilia (the only time the liturgy allows this), assisted by the deacon while the subdeacon lifts the cope. The celebrant and his ministers go to kneel at the foot of the altar and he incenses (with the first thurible) the Blessed Sacrament (like during Benediction), and then takes the humeral veil from the Master of Ceremonies, which the subdeacon fastens. The celebrant goes up the steps with the ministers and kneels. The deacon, having genuflected on the footpace, takes the monstrance and gives it to the kneeling celebrant. Whilst this is happening, the procession is formed.
    Procession of the Blessed Sacrament It is very similar to the Corpus Christi procession.
    • The singers intone the hymn Pange lingua and the procession sets out.
    • The confraternities must walk before the cross and clergy.
    • The cross-bearer wears a surplice (and not a tunicle) and is accompanied by two acolytes followed by the singers.
    • Eight priests or clerics must walk before the canopy. All have their heads uncovered and they may not wear a skull cap for health reasons.
    • Everyone (clergy and laity) carry candles in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, which they hold with their external hand.
    • The clerics who are parati may only use white vestments.
    • During the course of the procession, boys and girls are not allowed to perform tableaux vivants about the saints (this was done a lot in France during the 17th century).
    • The clergy carry the canopy. Nevertheless, most honourable magistrates can take over from them by carrying the poles of the canopy, but only outside the church.
    • The two thurifers ahead of the canopy must continually incense the Blessed Sacrament without turning themselves.
    • The celebrant, even a bishop, must walk and carry the monstrance in his hands, and not with the aid of a machine.
    • All bells must ring during the procession, not only those of the church, but also those near which the procession shall pass. The procession may also be done inside the church (in which case it will turn right when leaving the choir to take the side aisle, and then take the central aisle).
    • If the route is to be long, one or two altars of repose can be set up.
    • When returning to the altar when the exposition shall take place, the deacon takes the monstrance from the celebrant and places it on the throne of exposition. The two last stanzas of the hymn Pange lingua are then sung: Tantum ergo and Genitori Genitoque.
    • The officiant imposes the incense and thurifies the Blessed Sacrament as usual.
    • Two singers then come to kneel in the middle of the choir and begin the Litany of the Saints. Everyone remains kneeling. After the Litany, the celebrant, who remains kneeling, entones the Pater noster which is continued in silence. The singers then intone psalm 69, Deus in adjutorium meum intende, which the choir takes up antiphonally. Then the celebrant sings the versicles Salvos fac servos tuos and the rest. He rises for the Dominus vobiscum and sings the five collects of the Forty Hours in the ferial tone. After these collects, the celebrants sings the versicle Domine exaudi orationem meam, the singers chant the versicle Exaudiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus and the celebrant finishes recto tono on a low note: Fidelium animæ per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace. Then the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament begins.
    Forty Hours reposition Mass, celebrated with the Blessed Sacrament exposed at Holy Innocents in New York City
    Particular Features of the Deposition Deposition at the end of the Forty Hours is basically identical to the Exposition, with the following order, however: Mass, Litany of the Saints, Procession, end of the Litany (instead of Mass, Procession, Litany of the Saints).
    • The Mass of Deposition must be chanted at the altar of exposition, before the exposed Sacrament, and must, consequently, follow the rubrics for Missa coram Sanctissimo.
    • At the end of the Mass, as at the Mass of Exposition, the celebrant and ministers go to the sedilia to remove their maniples and chasuble; the celebrant puts on the cope. The altar cross (if one was used), the altar cards, and the missal are removed from the altar, a corporal is put out at the center of the same, and the tabernacle key and a white humeral veil are prepared.
    • The sacred ministers and the celebrant kneel on the first step at the bottom of the altar. Two singers, kneeling before the middle of the altar, sing the Litany of the Saints followed by psalm 69. The celebrant sings the versicle up to the versicle Domine exaudi orationem meam with its response.
    • Towards the end of the Litany of the Saints, two thurifers go to prepare their thuribles, the procession forms up and candles are distributed to all.
    • When the versicle Domine exaudi orationem meam with its response have been sung, the celebrant stands and imposes incense into the two thuribles, without blessing it. He receives the humeral veil and goes up the steps with the ministers. There, the deacon gives the kneeling celebrant the monstrance, as on the first day, and the procession sets out.
    • During the procession, the Pangua lingua is sung, as on the first day of the Forty Hours, and then it returns to the altar. The deacon puts the monstrance atop the corporal at the centre of the altar. The two last stanzas of the Pange lingua (Tantum ergo and Genitori Genitoque) are then sung, and the Blessed Sacrament is incensed as usual during the last stanza.
    • As during Benediction, the singers chant the versicle Panem de cœlo, the celebrant stands to sing the collect of the Blessed Sacrament Deus qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili (without Dominus vobiscum, as usual) and adds the four other prayers of the Forty Hours, as on the first day.
    • As on the first day, after these collects, the celebrant sings the versicle Domine exaudi orationem meam, the singers sing the versicle Exaudiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus, and the celebrant finishes recto tono on a low note: Fidelium animæ per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.
    • The celebrant then gives the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament, as usual. The deacon returns the Most Holy Sacrament to the tabernacle, everyone extinguishes their candles, and the clerics return to the sacristy after having genuflected before the altar.

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