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- 04/03/18--22:33: _Everybody’s Favorit...
- 04/04/18--05:52: _The Good, the Bette...
- 04/04/18--11:57: _Palm Sunday Rites A...
- 04/04/18--15:12: _Holy Thursday 2018 ...
- 04/05/18--10:39: _Catholic Arts Compe...
- 04/06/18--04:08: _Holy Thursday 2018 ...
- 04/06/18--06:26: _Video of Medieval V...
- 04/06/18--23:48: _A Hand-decorated Pa...
- 04/06/18--12:45: _Prelatitial Mass on...
- 04/07/18--06:32: _Good Friday 2018 Ph...
- 04/07/18--09:44: _Byzantine Music for...
- 04/07/18--15:07: _Good Friday 2018 Ph...
- 04/08/18--15:28: _Low Sunday 2018
- 04/09/18--14:43: _Solemn Mass for Voc...
- 04/09/18--15:34: _How the Liturgy May...
- 04/10/18--06:27: _Connecting Ad Orien...
- 04/10/18--10:00: _Announcement: Pro M...
- 04/10/18--14:00: _Good Friday 2018 Ph...
- 04/10/18--16:21: _Church Architecture...
- 04/11/18--06:34: _Good News for the E...
- 04/03/18--22:33: Everybody’s Favorite Easter Ritual
- 04/04/18--05:52: The Good, the Better and the Sunday Best (Part 1)
- 04/04/18--11:57: Palm Sunday Rites According to the Missal of Braga
- 04/04/18--15:12: Holy Thursday 2018 Photopost (Part 1)
- 04/06/18--04:08: Holy Thursday 2018 Photopost (Part 2)
- 04/06/18--06:26: Video of Medieval Vespers of Easter in Paris
- 04/06/18--23:48: A Hand-decorated Paschal Candle from Ireland
- 04/06/18--12:45: Prelatitial Mass on Low Sunday in Carona, Switzerland
- 04/07/18--06:32: Good Friday 2018 Photopost (Part 1)
- 04/07/18--09:44: Byzantine Music for Holy Saturday
- 04/07/18--15:07: Good Friday 2018 Photopost (Part 2)
- 04/08/18--15:28: Low Sunday 2018
- 04/09/18--14:43: Solemn Mass for Vocations - Long Island, NY
- 04/09/18--15:34: How the Liturgy May Open or Close the Door to Christ
- 04/10/18--14:00: Good Friday 2018 Photopost (Part 3)
- 04/11/18--06:34: Good News for the EF in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
(h/t AA and JM)
Thoughts on How to Use St Thomas’s 4th Way to Evangelize Without Ever Asking Anyone to Try to Understand ItWhat’s the use of proofs of God’s existence? Will they persuade anyone to believe anyway? These are thoughts that crossed my mind recently when I attended the excellent lectures presented at the Thomistic Week of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (I.V.E) near Washington DC. The following is a personal reflection in response to this.
In this article, I am suggesting that the 4th Way of St Thomas is a powerful tool for evangelization, but not through an explanation of the proof itself, no matter how engaging it might be. Rather, the 4th Way describes after the fact a mode of thinking that leads naturally to faith as a response to the world around us. It is seen most commonly, therefore, in those who already have faith regardless of whether or not they have even heard of St Thomas Aquinas, let alone read his proof. This being so, as a method for evangelization, one approach to using the 4th Way is to do so indirectly. Accordingly, the goal is to stimulate and nurture the natural facility in us for ‘4th-Way’ thinking, leading in turn to faith in God, through the influence of the culture, and our actions and interactions with others. That mode of 4th-Way thinking is one that uses analogy to connect beings to each other, recognizing the natural place of a hierarchy of being, and that all lesser beings participate in the fullness of Being which is the ultimate cause of their existence. This mode of thinking comes so naturally to us that even small children can employ it. Furthermore, when we apprehend beauty, we intuitively employ all of these modes of thinking and so in many ways, the 4th Way is itself analogous to, if not directly identifiable with, the Way of Beauty. Finally, and in the light of this, after suggesting general principles by which we might create an environment that evangelizes, I illustrate with some specific examples that occurred to me.
The forum which sparked this reflection was the Thomistic Week presented by the Institute of the Incarnate Word (I.V.E). at their seminary near Washington DC, the Ven. Fulton Sheen House of Formation. This is one of a cycle of seven annual conferences that study the writing of St Thomas through the prism of the writing of the highly respected Italian Thomist, Fr Cornelio Fabro (d.1995). The focus this year was modern atheism. This included presentations that explained the roots of atheistic philosophies, with a particular emphasis on philosophers since the Enlightenment, as well as rational proofs for the existence of God to counter such philosophies, and responses to the common objections to those proofs by atheists made and other critics.
Of the proofs referred to, the strongest emphasis was put on the 4th Way of St Thomas, described in the Summa Theologiae, and in the Prologue to his commentary on the Gospel of John. St Thomas thought this was the most persuasive of the proofs, we were told, and two presentations were devoted to this one proof alone.
Here it is as described in the Summa:
The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings, there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But “more” and “less” are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.Put another way: we observe degrees of perfection in the properties found in beings (good, better, better still...etc.); by analogy this establishes a hierarchy of beings within a given property. This hierarchy indicates to us that there is something which might not be otherwise known, but which is the greatest in each property. In turn, and again by analogy, we see that the best in all categories exist in a single being which contains all attributes of being in perfection, which is Being itself. All lesser beings owe their existence to that greatest possible Being and are said to participate in that fullness of Being.
My understanding is that St Thomas’ intention in presenting this was not to convert, but rather to demonstrate that faith is consistent with reason - faith seeking understanding. For those with faith, understanding is certainly a noble goal. But does this mean that this Way has no application as a tool for evangelization? I believe that the answer to this is No, and in fact, the Fourth Way is indeed the most powerful tool we have for conversion, though perhaps not in the way that some people might think.
If we have faith, then it is likely that we already naturally think in terms of “hierarchy”, “substance”, “analogy” and “participation”. We may not be able to articulate how we think, or define these terms in ways that a philosophy professor would be happy with, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking in that way. For so many who have faith, they are engaging in 4th-Way thinking deep in their hearts, naturally and intuitively, and in response to the world around us.
If our mode of thought changes, as it can under the influences of bad education or culture, then faith will decline too. This being so, the task before us is not so much to teach people about the 4th Way of St Thomas, (although doing so might help some of them), but rather to stimulate and nurture this mode of thinking. In the context of its use for evangelization and preservation of the Faith, the need to teach people about the argument of the 4th Way itself is primarily for those few who are in a position to influence education and culture.
What do we do to encourage 4th-Way thinking?
I think that the approach should be similar to that by which we might encourage people to apprehend beauty naturally. Here’s why:
One simple definition of beauty is “the radiance of being.” When we grasp the beauty of something, we are in relation to it, and we apprehend truths about its existence that are transmitted to us. When we respond fully, we see an object as beautiful; this causes us to look instinctively for the perfection and superabundant source of its beauty, which is Beauty itself, God. We also look to the source of that object’s existence, Being itself, which again is God.
The desire for the original source of beauty and being can be so great that it has been compared to a wound. Benedict XVI, for example, quoted Nicholas Cabasilas, the 14th century Greek writer, who said, “True knowledge is being struck by the arrow of beauty that wounds man: being touched by reality, by the personal presence of Christ himself.” This visceral response to beauty is powerful ‘4th-Way’ thinking that directs us to the contemplation of God.
Furthermore, when we see something as beautiful, we are are seeing a pattern of related parts within a being, or of beings related within a community, harmoniously arranged. Either way, to do so we must be capable of recognising beings (substances), as well as communities of beings, as entities that really exist, and recognise also that they are interrelated through common properties of being. We mus also see how, collectively, they point to the highest being possible. Again, to think ‘beautifully’ is to employ 4th-Way thinking. Every time we see a pattern in which we can see that something is missing and fill in the gaps, as it were, we are thinking in this way.
So, when Benedict XVI and St John Paul II stressed the power of beauty in evangelization, those modern prophets of beauty were simply reiterating in their own way what St Thomas told us several hundred years ago when he spoke of the power of the 4th Way.
A formation in beauty encourages 4th-Way thinking
This being the case, the simple answer as to how we might encourage 4th Way thinking is that we work to create the liturgical city here on earth - the New Jerusalem - that is we strive to create a beautiful culture that is informed by the divine order. Furthermore, others should see that our response to the beauty around us is faith and joy, and that as a result, we conform to that order in our own behaviour, and especially interactions with others so as to compound it.
My book The Way of Beauty describes my general ideas for how we can work towards such a culture; in the second part of this essay, I will give some specifics that occurred to me that are informed particularly by this consideration also of St Thomas’ 4th Way.
...the high altar is vested in purple, with the statues uncovered until after the procession, when the altar and statues are covered again as before. A cope is worn by the celebrant, and dalmatics by the assistant ministers; while the two thurifers, crucifer and taperers have girdled albs and dalmatics. ...a table was set in the middle of the nave, with a white cloth and two candles.... the palms are sprinkled and censed...
A life-size sculpture group of the Last Supper!
Mass celebrated by His Excellency Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria: the Eucharistic Procession
The Biennial Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Competition and Exhibition was established in 2001 by the late Br. Nathan Cochran, O.S.B. His untiring pursuit to cultivate and revive the Sacred Arts was the catalyst for the creation of this Competition and Exhibition. Br. Nathan wanted to give artists who engage Catholic subject matter an opportunity to dialogue with the Church and pastors, in the hope of creating new, original artworks for churches and liturgical spaces. For the third Competition and Exhibition, famed British art historian Sister Wendy Beckett served as judge. She praised Br. Nathan’s endeavors, noting that, “Artists often come to understand their faith by the actual creation of artworks. We need these artworks, these attempts by artists known or unknown, to share with us their understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Would that there were hundreds of Brother Nathans in all countries!”
Cash prizes will be awarded at the opening of the exhibit on Sunday, Oct. 28. These include a $1,000 best-of-show, $750 second place award, $500 third place award and four juror mentions of $250 each.
The exhibition will be held from Tuesday, Oct. 30, through Sunday, Dec. 2, in The Saint Vincent Gallery located on the third floor of the Robert S. Carey Student Center.
The competition is open to any artist, professional or amateur, of any religious background, who is age 21 or older. All entries must be original by the submitting artist and created within the past five years. Previously submitted works are ineligible.
Complete entry guidelines, including submission forms, are available at http://gallery.stvincent.edu
Click to Submit Your Entry Online
Click to Download Entry Form
During the ceremony, numerous Alleluias were sung, with alternating verses in Greek and Latin. The presence of these chants and the evidence of St Gregory the Great indicate that the rite was brought to Rome at the time of Pope St Damasus I (366-384) by St Jerome, in imitation of the practice of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the very site of Christ’s Resurrection. Vespers of Easter and its octave began in the basilica, followed by a procession to the baptismal font, and ended at the chapel over the site of Golgotha. The catechumens baptized on Easter night participated in the procession in white robes, (hence the term “in Albis - in white garments” for the Easter octave), and the bishop of Jerusalem delivered to them each day a catechetical sermon, explaining the mysteries which they had received. (We have 23 of these Catechetical Lectures from St Cyril of Jerusalem.) The Use of Paris preserves a memory of this in the albs which the cantors wear in place of the normal copes.
The 70 years of Papal residence in Avignon in the 14th century led to the disappearance of this venerable office from the Roman basilicas; the Roman Office therefore simply repeats the antiphons of Lauds. However, most dioceses of France and the Rhineland continued to observe this tradition, which was included in their diocesean propers even into the 19th and 20th centuries. (Text thus far by Henri de Villiers.)
As I described in this article two years ago, there were a huge number of variations to this ceremony, depending on local customs; my article was based on the Sarum Use, since the rubrics of the Sarum liturgical books are unusually thorough and clear. The Parisian version is fairly long and complicated; fortunately, our friends from the Schola Sainte-Cécile are assiduous in making the liturgical texts of their ceremonies available. (Their work in this regard should be a model for all apostolates which celebrate the traditional rites!) At the following link, you can access a pdf with the complete text of the ceremony in Latin, with all of the music, rubrics, and a French translation. I know our readers will find the ceremony very interesting, and as always, enjoy the superb music.
Dom Benedict took his inspiration from an authentic Irish penal crucifix in the possession of a friend of the monastery. The penal crucifix, which was loaned to the monastery for all to admire and venerate, dates from the 1700s.
This is a splendid example of the kind of customized work that we need to see flourish once again in local communities, be they religious houses, parishes, or school chapels. It is refreshing and inspiring to see something that is made by hand, made for only one place, and offered up for only one year. Hand-decorated candles are returning slowly, following in the wake of better vestments and works of all sorts in recent years. May the renewal of fine arts in the service of the Church find more and more success.
1. Genesis 1, 1-13
2. Isaiah 60, 1-16
3. Exodus 12, 1-11
4. The Book of Jonah
5. Joshua 5, 10-15
6. Exodus 13, 20 - 15, 19
7. Sophoniah 3, 8-15
8. 3 Kings 17, 8-24
9. Isaiah 61, 10 - 62, 5
10. Genesis 22, 1-18
11. Isaiah 61, 1-9
12. 4 Kings 4, 8-37
13. Isaiah 63, 11 - 64, 5
14. Jeremiah 31, 31-34
15. Daniel 3, 1-57, and the Song of the Three Children
For the last part of the final prophecy (58-90), the reader continues as before, while the choir sings the refrain “Sing to the Lord and exalt Him unto all ages!”, as heard here. (The same is done with the sixth reading from Exodus, once the reader reaches the beginning of the Canticle of Moses at verse 15, 1.)
After the prophecies, a small litany is sung, followed immediately by the chant “As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ, alleluia.” (Galatians 3, 27) This replaces the normal chant of the Trisagion (“Holy God, Holy mighty...”) on all of the days traditionally dedicated to Baptism, such as Epiphany and Pentecost. In the following video, it begins at 0:52.
The reader and choir chant a Prokimen as usual before the Epistle, Romans 6, 3-11; however, on this day alone, there is no Alleluia between the Epistle and Gospel. Instead, Psalm 81 (82 in the Hebrew numbering) is sung with the final verse, “Arise, O God, judge thou the earth: for thou shalt inherit among all the nations.” as the refrain. The full Psalm is appointed to be said in the liturgical books, but it may be shortened, as in this recording from the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, which has only the first three verses.
Reader: Arise, O God, judge thou the earth: for thou shalt inherit among all the nations. Choir repeats.
Reader: God hath stood in the congregation of gods: and being in the midst of them he judgeth gods. Choir repeats Arise, O God.
Reader: How long will you judge unjustly: and accept the persons of the wicked? Choir repeats Arise, O God.
Reader: Judge for the needy and fatherless: do justice to the humble and the poor. Choir repeats Arise, O God.
Reader: Arise, O God... (Choir repeats.)
During this chant, the clergy change from dark to bright vestments, and dark coverings of the altar, the icon stands, etc., are replaced with bright ones. Its theme, that Christ receives as His inheritance the nations which come into the Church in the Sacrament of Baptism, is continued in the Gospel, the whole of Matthew 28: the first report of the Resurrection to the women who come to His tomb (1-7), His appearance to them (8-10), the bribing of the guards (11-15) and His commission to the Apostles to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
On Holy Saturday alone, the regular hymn “Let us, who mystically represent the Cherubim” is replaced with a different chant, which was originally the daily Cherubic hymn of the Liturgy of St James. This version is also from the choir of the Novosspasky Monastery.
“Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and in itself consider nothing of earth; for the King of kings and Lord of lords cometh forth to be sacrificed, and given as food to the believers; and there go before Him the choirs of Angels, with every dominion and power, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, covering their faces, and crying out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.”
To all Christians who celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord tomorrow, we wish you a most blessed Feast of All Feasts - He is truly risen!
|The Incredulity of St Thomas, by Mattias Stom, 1641-49 ca.|
Church of Our Holy Redeemer
37 South Ocean Avenue
Freeport, New York
Friday, April 20, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
The Metropolitan Catholic Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Donelson, will sing Vierne’s Messe Solennelle, motets by Pitoni and Gibbons, Gregorian chant propers, & hymnody.
The Mass, in the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite, will be preceded by recitation of the rosary at 7:00.
What exactly is the problem? There are, as usual, a variety of theories, but I think we should take very seriously the argument of Dom Karl Wallner of Heiligenkreuz Abbey in his lecture “The Profanation of the Sacred and the Sacralisation of the Profane.” Here are some choice snippets:
The experience of the sacred is more fundamental than the notion of the divine. This means that religiosity is based in the first place on letting oneself be touched by the existence of something that transcends the every-day, through a sort of purity and majesty, something that compels respect, something unexpected. It is only based on this experience that a man seeks the origin of this sentiment in God. … We repeat: the necessity of being affected by what one feels is “sacred,” even to the point that it makes our hair stand on end, is fundamental for man: for man is predestined for the sacred. … If we do not cultivate the sacred and the dignified in our churches, if we forget the tremendum and fascinosum, then we can expect that human psychology will go looking elsewhere to fill the need to tremble before something majestic. If we degrade our liturgical ceremonies to the level of simple mundane ceremonies, if we banalise them, we should not be surprised to see people going elsewhere to satisfy their innate desire for sacred places, sacred symbols, sacred texts, and persons to venerate.Although Pater Wallner does not say so, he could easily have said that the movement of desacralization in the name of modernization is precisely what characterizes the reformed Catholic liturgy in its conception and its execution.
Let us put it this way. The Novus Ordo babysits the congregation; parishes might as well hand out binkies and blankets at the door. The event is pretty much wall-to-wall verbiage, from “Good morning. Today is the Umpteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Our opening hymn is ‘God, What an Awful Hymn This Is’” to “The Mass is ended. Haver nice day!” Can you think of many young adults in this postmodern world who would want to have anything to do with that? Can you think of many people in general who actually want to be talked at in the opening rite, three readings, the homily, the usually painfully anemic and sentimental prayers of the faithful, the Eucharistic Prayer, the communion rite, and the closing remarks? This is hardly a recipe for attracting converts and reverts. We will not bring in the “nones” with a liturgy that has its greatest appeal for middle-class librarians. The “nones” would rather fast with Zen silence or take mind-altering drugs than surfeit on an all-you-can-eat buffet of words.
Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, I quote several testimonies about how someone's encounter with the traditional liturgy was a dramatic moment of discovery, an unexpected “shock of the beautiful,” a theophany. Such testimonies continue to mount, as year by year now this parish, now that diocese, becomes a new home for the old Roman rite. Looking at five of these testimonies (these are new ones, not included in my book) will give us much to ponder.
A layman sent me the following email:
We now attend the TLM as our ordinary mass. It was a little overwhelming at first but even after a couple of months it has become more normal for us. Both my wife and I were astounded that even though at the beginning we had no idea what was going on, we still prayed more at mass in the first month of TLM liturgies than in the last 10 years of NO liturgies combined (or at least it felt like that!).To which I could only respond: I know exactly what you mean.
A laywoman wrote to me:
I am 38 years old and have spent my entire life in the Novus Ordo Mass. I was very lukewarm until about four years ago when Our Lady brought me into relationship with her Son through the Rosary. … I finally attended the TLM for the first time last month and I was so overcome by the solemnity and beauty of the Mass that I was reduced to tears.She is just one of countless people who have reacted thus—and not, obviously, from nostalgia (a 38-year old isn’t old enough for that, unless you take “nostalgia” in the rarefied philosophical meaning that Wojtyla and Ratzinger give to it). In company with the Desert Fathers, we ought to dwell on the significance of tears. In my 25 years of directing sacred music for the Novus Ordo, only a couple of times have I seen someone go away from Mass in tears because the the liturgy had so moved them. But it happens rather often at a High Mass that middle-aged and older people will have tears in their eyes because of the “solemnity and beauty” they experienced. This is common knowledge among musicians, probably because we are most likely to be accosted by these people afterwards. Tears like this are a sign of being moved in the depths, beyond the noise of opinions and preconceptions. They are the sign of an interior release and restoration, both a coming to oneself and a going out of oneself. They are the very opposite of something put on for show or grimly willed because it is good for you, like cod-liver oil.
My third example is taken from an article posted at the Chant Café, where a writer described how she perceives and experiences the usus antiquior. The testimony is all the more valuable in that the writer would, I believe, describe herself as a proponent of the ROTR—and yet, she writes movingly of what it is like to attend the traditional Mass:
This taste of heaven, this time out of time, strengthens my heart for the rigors of the Gospel like nothing else has ever done. The receptivity has to do with a certain silence and peace. I experience silence, interior silence, even when there is a great deal of activity, for example at a Solemn High Mass, with its overlapping motions and sounds, with prayers repeated, whispered, announced. It is very calm. I breathe more deeply. Such a quiet peace.A fourth example is from a high school valedictorian’s speech at Gregory the Great Academy:
This quiet is possible at the postconciliar, ordinary form of the rite. It is possible, but not normal. What is more normal for me is a rushed and hurried experience. The sometimes casual and often thoughtless atmosphere becomes part of my own experience of trying to pray the Mass. Instead of sharing peace, I share in the distractions all around.
It seems to me that a certain hierarchy has been inverted. Sunday Mass should be the prayer experience par excellence, an experience that our daily Masses and personal prayers echo but never reach with the same profundity. Instead, I find that my private prayers are more devotional and solemn than daily Mass in the ordinary form, which is in turn more prayerful and less distracting than the ordinary form Sunday Mass.
Though it was strange at first, I quickly came to fall in love with the structure and the poetry of the [traditional] Mass, and most of all, by the musical traditions that bind East and West into a chorus of divine praise. I came to know anew what I had always known, but never understood: the tradition of my Faith. Much in the same way as I was converted to appreciate the many beauties of the Divine Liturgy, I was drawn into a new understanding of the Roman rite, seeing in its structure a common purpose, which is the purpose of salvation and the depth of the sacred traditions. Through these traditions and the experience of the liturgy, I was brought into a new experience of my place in the divine family and my spiritual heritage. … I was thrown headlong into a new world of tremendous meaning and mystery.A fifth testimony is from a letter written to a monk by one of his college-age friends. Both the monk and the friend gave me permission to include it here.
I write in the midst of the Octave of Pentecost, and I have been to three Latin Masses over the course of this week (N. has been to two), and hope to go both tomorrow and Trinity Sunday. It is a grace-filled time in my life. I have not had such peace and strength for good work in a long while. Part of that is likely due to school finally ending, but I am convinced that the Holy Spirit has also been working this in me through the Latin Mass.One could add so many more to these five. We might take as a summary of all such reactions the words of Dom Alcuin Reid, who says of the usus antiquior:
Its demands bring forth a response in us. We find that the restraint and beauty of the ritual, the silence in which we find space to pray interiorly, the music which does not attempt to imitate the world or soothe the emotions but which challenges us and facilitates worship of the divine, indeed we find the overall ritual experience of the numinous and of the sacred, to be uplifting and nourishing.“I was so overcome by the solemnity and beauty of the Mass that I was reduced to tears…”
“This taste of heaven, this time out of time, strengthens my heart for the rigors of the Gospel like nothing else has ever done…”
“A new world of tremendous meaning and mystery…”
“I have not had such peace and strength for good work in a long while.”
“Its demands bring forth a response in us…”
All you proponents of the New Evangelization (including Bishop Barron), all you riggers of pseudo-Youth Synods, ye ageing peddlers of the wares of yesteryear, are you listening? Are you listening to the sensus fidelium, the vox populi Dei? “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:17).
|New Life in Christ — New Life in Tradition|
 Pater Wallner goes on to illustrate substitute religious practices in which people try to find or make meaning for themselves and come into contact with something “separate” from the everyday, such as pilgrimages to famous people’s tombs, obsessive devotion to sports, the cult of “star” personalities, the dramaturgy of films and rock festivals, zealous dedication to political movements, superstitious practices. I cannot recommend this short lecture highly enough, as it contains precious insights into the course of the past half-century and the prospects and dangers of the present moment. In particular, all who are involved in youth ministry shold read it carefully.
 See Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, ch. 10, “The Peace of Low Mass and the Glory of High Mass,” for more on this problem.
 This is a startling admission that rings true to me: “I find that my private prayers are more devotional and solemn than daily Mass in the ordinary form, which is in turn more prayerful and less distracting than the ordinary form Sunday Mass.” A Catholic who prays traditional Lauds or Prime in the morning by himself will have a stronger sense of devotion and the solemnity of a sober and earnest prayerfulness than he will find at the Novus Ordo Mass, except in the rarest of circumstances; and the Sunday Mass will usually be the worst of all, that is, the furthest removed from that spirit of devotion and prayerfulness.
The Good, the Better and the Sunday Best, Part 2: Thoughts on Harnessing St Thomas’ 4th Way for Evangelization.
Last time I got as far as giving examples of things that might be done in the context of the liturgy and the culture of faith. In this article, I focus on some ways of encouraging this faithful mode of thinking in the wider culture. This is not meant be an exhaustive list, but rather some particular examples that I think would have an impact and through which you can discern the general principles.
As with nearly all human behaviour and thought, whether directly or indirectly, the most important influence is the liturgy. If we get this right, it catechizes the faithful and evangelizes the faithless. Here are some suggestions:
Sacred Images: In regard to sacred images, in particular, we must again learn to pray with and venerate sacred images, especially in the context of the liturgy. To do so requires us to think analogically and hierarchically when we recognise that the image presents to us in a particular way the prototype in heaven. Accordingly, when we venerate an icon we understand that the respect we show is transferred to its prototype; and furthermore, we understand that there are degrees of respect. These are traditionally seen as “latria - worship”, which is the highest and is for God alone; followed by “hyperdulia”, which is accorded to Our Lady only among the Saints and Angels; and then “dulia”, which is for Saints and Angels. This mode of thinking, which takes delight in and recognises degrees of perfection that point us to an ultimate Being, is powerful 4th-Way thinking.
So important is this to our faith that the Church asserts that sacred art is not just permitted, but necessary in the Christian life. When we cease to pray with images, they become superfluous to our worship and this, in turn, undermines further the authenticity of our worship. Sacred imagery has a powerful role in preserving and stimulating a faithful mode of thought; by contrast, the neglect of them opens the way to a chain of negative consequences connected to each other: the rejection of the Church’ authority, the inversion of the hierarchy of being, an inversion which seeks to bring “god” down to us (rather than allowing Him to draw us up to Himself by our partaking of the divine nature), and then atheism, which rejects Him altogether. People may doubt that these things are connected, but I am certain that they are.
It is not the only thing to think about, but I suggest nevertheless that until devout Catholics once again engage actively with sacred images in the act of worshipping God in the liturgy, we will not stop the decline in the Faith that we see in the West. One cannot underestimate the importance of this or how far from this ideal we have strayed today. Remember that Christians died in order to defend the orthodoxy of holy images. Today in the Roman Church, it seems, we so often give away freely what Saints in the past fought so hard to defend. We have a situation (in both forms of the liturgy, I might add) where, generally, imagery is irrelevant to our worship. Even for the pious, prayer can become an internalised, eyes-closed affair which reduces the role of art and architecture to that of a beautiful but essentailly irrelevant backdrop.
Polis and metropolis
When possible, we should design cities and towns so that God has pride of place; the heart of the community is where we worship because that is where we meet God, not at the shopping mall or even the government building. This is the tradition going back centuries which has been lost in the last couple of centuries. Vitruvius knew that the temple ought to be the focal point of the city. This meant placing it centrally and prominently, and treating it as the source of an architectural style in which all other buildings participated, with design modified to suit the purpose of each building.
We often have to start from where we are, and if our church and neighborhood don’t conform to this standard already, it doesn’t always mean that we have to flatten everything and start again. Wherever the church is, to the degree that it is beautiful and it houses right worship, a community will naturally develop around it, and it will start to become the natural heart of the community. Then, organically and slowly, but perceptibly, the neighbourhood will order itself to the natural focal point. People who are outside of that religious community will notice that it is the worship in the church that is the beating heart of a community, and will be curious to see more.
This encourages an appreciation of the natural connections between things that convey meanings to us. We must learn again to look symbolically at the culture of faith, at nature and the world around us, and then strive to create a culture that reflects this symbolic way of thinking. This is not simply the re-establishment of the old symbolism that has been lost, but rather a creative and discerning retrieval, informed both by tradition and our new understanding of things; for example, of nature in the light of developments in natural science. The pelican symbolized the Eucharist at the time of St Thomas because it was thought to feed its young with its own blood. This was reasonable at the time, but nowadays nobody seriously believes it anymore. I wonder if it might be that the case that, beautiful though such symbolism might seem, that to persist with it makes us look superstitious and foolish.
|Symbolism based upon scripture should be the starting point of the recovery. Who are the two figures on fish in this scene?|
We must strive to re-institute or preserve the natural authorities that exist in society, based upon family, nation and Church. When we visibly and joyfully respect those authorities, it tells others that we are happily conforming to the natural order of things, and will provoke curiosity. Similarly, when we are in positions of authority, we must assert it, but responsibly and lovingly, otherwise people will rebel. These are high ideals and we will fall short, but the effort will bear fruit. As an aside, I always thought that one of the things that made the series Downton Abbey so popular was the portrayal of a community in which, generally, people respected authority, and those in authority recognized their obligations to those over whom they had authority, and did their best to exercise it lovingly. This contrasted with the usual dramatic narrative, in which the hero leads a rebellion against tyranny or fights injustice. Sometimes rebellion against unjustly exercised authority is right, I don’t deny, but it’s not an inevitable dynamic in society, and not the only story worth telling!
Nurture our inherent facility for 4th-Way thinking from the earliest age
“Suffer the little children…”: Cornelio Fabro describes how even young children have the natural faculty for recognizing the existence of God as a personal God and Creator. It is still natural to them, perhaps because the awareness of hierarchy is so strong. They depend upon their parents who have full authority over them, and are the apparent source of all that is good in their lives.
Another reason that children have this natural inclination to faith might be that they have not yet had it knocked out of them by our culture, bad education, or bad liturgy.
Modern secular education deliberately, it seems to me, seeks to undermine faith by subtly but powerfully undermining the 4th Way, while professing a mind open to personal belief. This will be no surprise, but what is sad is that sometimes what we generally think of as a good Catholic education can do it too. Any education which is too focused on what Newman called scientific or analytical thinking will stifle our sense of the beautiful, if our abilities to think synthetically are not nurtured in parallel with our ability to analyse. There is little point in learning anything if we are incapable of bringing it into the whole body of learning via synthetic thinking, which then places it into the context of our ultimate purpose in life, union with God. A formation of beauty develops this facility.
There is a prejudice in academic circles, even amongst Catholics, that says that book and classroom-based learning is the real education, while other activities that develop our ability to apprehend beauty, a powerful mode of synthetic thinking, are just recreation. In point of fact, if education is not re-creating the person, it fails to attain its highest goal. Very few Catholics argue would with me on this point, I think, but when it comes down to curricula design, many seem to hesitate to actually devote time to the formation of synthetic thinking through creative pursuits. This is a subject I address at length in The Way of Beauty.
|Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, England|
These are natural modes of behaviour that indicate respect for others in accordance with the natural hierarchy. They tend to be disparaged today as old modes of behaviour that are restrictive and stifling for other peoples’ natural expression of thought. A rigid rulebook of manners can be stifling, but when it is understood that good etiquette, when well taught, promotes respect in accordance with the natural order of things, it can be liberating. The virtuous gentleman is one who makes all around him feel at ease; for most of us, this is a skill that has to be learned.
Behave and dress so that we demonstrate to others that we respect authority.
Even what we wear can send out visual messages. It is right to dress up on certain occasions, and even the seemingly innocent trend of no longer wearing “Sunday best” for church contributes to the destruction of the Faith more than we imagine. The clothes we wear reveal something of our attitudes and who we are. We all make judgements about people based on the clothes they wear, whether we admit it or not. In church, we should dress and behave in a way that reveals to others the respect we have for God. When we go for a job interview, we take great care to make sure that the clothes we wear and the way we behave indicate respect for the person who is going to give us a job; so much more should we remember a church is God’s house. Formal dress does not alienate fellow worshippers if it is appropriate to our actions, and our subsequent interactions with others speak of the love of God. Our appearance contributes to the sense that we want to invite others to join us, rather than to push them away. The goal here is to dress in a way that tells people what we think about God, not what we want them to think about us. This should be thought of a principle that we apply to ourselves and those beholden to us, not one by which we can criticise others!
This is a true humility. All that we do ought to draw the attention of others, not in a way that says, “Look at me”, but rather, “Look at the One who made me,” or “Look at the One who inspired me.” All that we do can potentially speak of the love of God and so direct others to Him. When we strive for this ideal, it is a true humility, for it recognises our responsibilities as Christians and our place in relation to our fellows and to God. Reflection upon the lives of Our Lady and the Saints, especially through the prism of the liturgical year, will help us in this regard, for they are the experts in showing us God through their lives.
Nearly all people recognise the beauty of the natural world, but not all recognise the natural hierarchy of being within nature. Hence, that hierarchy as it ought to be - man highest, then animals, plants, and inanimate nature last - is often distorted or inverted.
Furthermore, in the right way of things, man is made to cultivate nature; when he does so well (and it has to be admitted he can do this badly!) he raises it up to something greater than what it was originally. I would argue, therefore, that there is also a hierarchy of beauty in nature, which puts the work of man at the pinnacle: gardens cultivated for beauty highest, land for production of food next, and wilderness lowest. The task here is twofold: we must change the general understanding of this hierarchy, as well as strive to work in harmony with the cosmic order, so that what we cultivate reflects this hierarchy.
People used to see things this way, but it is not so common now. Those who hate God aim to destroy our natural desire to praise Him for it by inverting the hierarchy, so that man is at the bottom of the pile. Some forms of extreme environmentalism do this. For them, man in the ideal is the noble savage in harmony with nature. Modern man, however, has been corrupted by the false constructs of society, and as a result of this corruption is inferior to the rest of nature. “Corrupted” man, it is maintained, will tend to destroy nature, for he no longer lives in harmony with it. The only way to save the planet, so the argument runs, is to restrict man’s activity. The easiest way to do this is to aim to reduce the number of humans. This is why abortion and contraception are promoted across the globe and why the garden, created by man’s dominion of nature, is a powerful and underappreciated antidote to this as a symbol of the culture of life. I wrote about this in a blog article here: Come out of the wilderness and into the garden!
In this regard, it is interesting that after the Resurrection, Mary Magdalene mistook the Risen Lord for a gardener. Our Lord did not deny that He was when asked, rather He made Himself known to her more fully. I suggest that Mary was correct, although perhaps she didn’t appreciate why, for as the new Adam, Christ is the gardener par excellence who cultivates Eden. We participate in the creation of Eden through all human activities that synthesize and use the natural world gracefully and beautifully, and within this, gardening particularly speaks of this special role of man in nature.
The liturgy can form us here too. Our delight in the beauty of creation is completed when we sing our praises to God for his creation in the psalms and canticles of the Liturgy - for example, the Canticle of Daniel, or Psalm 18(19). This not only trains us to see God through his works but supernaturally forms us as people who might imitate the work of the Gardener.
|Ness Gardens in Cheshire. My mum used to work as a gardener here!|
Sometimes one wonders if atheists and anti-Catholic forces understand better than we do ourselves how the changing of our mode of thinking leads to faith, so skillfully do secular educators and shapers of the culture promote the values of atheism while appearing to promote the values of freedom and tolerance. They seem to realise that they don’t need to attack faith directly, but can destroy it by restricting the parts of our culture that reinforce the sort of thinking that leads to faith. We must learn to recognise this, and learn to assert what is good and true and beautiful to counter it.
All the structures of false egalitarianism, which fails to recognise the unique value of each person, disguised by exaggerated identity politics and supposed tolerance for individual faith, promote a culture of ugliness and disrespect for natural authorities, while asserting respect for unnatural authority and an unnatural hierarchy.
We need to present to them a counter to the art of protest. That is the art of suffering and hope!
|St Jakob Church|
9.30 Uhr Ankleidung des Zelebranten in einer Seitenkapelle von St. Jakob (Jakobsplatz, 96049 Bamberg)
10.00 Uhr Pontifikalamt, Zelebrant: Dom Josef Vollberg, Mariawald
12.15 Uhr Mittagessen im „Scheiners am Dom“ (ca. 10 Min. zu Fuß von St. Jakob, Anmeldung erforderlich s.u.)
14.00 Uhr Begrüßung im Spiegelsaal in der Harmonie am Schillerplatz (10-15 Min. zu Fuß vom „Scheiners“)
14.15 Uhr Vortrag (auf Deutsch): „Im Herzen der heiligen Messe: Zwölf Glaubenswahrheiten im römischen Kanon“ von Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Professor für Philosophie und Musik am Wyoming Catholic College (USA)
15.45 Uhr Vereinssitzung
17.00 Uhr Ende der Veranstaltung
9.00 Uhr Hochamt in St. Jakob
Saturday, April 21, 2018
9.30 am Clothing of the celebrant in a side chapel of St. Jakob church (Jakobsplatz, 96049 Bamberg)
10.00 am Solemn Pontifical Mass, Celebrant: Dom Josef Vollberg, Mariawald
12.15 pm Lunch at „Scheiners am Dom“ (ca. 10 min. walk from St. Jakob, registration required for lunch)
2.00 pm Welcome in the Mirror Hall of the Concerthall on Schillerplatz (10-15 min. walk from „Scheiners“)
2.15 pm Lecture (in German): "At the Heart of Catholic Worship: Twelve Truths of the Faith in the Roman Canon" by Dr Peter Kwasniewski, Professor of Philosophy and Music at Wyoming
3.45 pm PMT business meeting
5.00 pm End of the general meeting
Sunday, April 22, 2018
9.00 am High Mass, St. Jakob
For more information, visit here.
9:30 Registration, Coffee, etc
10:00 Session I: Biblical Foundations of Church Architecture: The Temple, the Synagogue and the Mystical Body
11:15 Session II: Classical Architecture: The Sacramental Meaning of Ornament, Decoration and the Column
12:15 Break and Questions
12:45 Lunch (included in the cost of the program)
1:45 Session III: The Objective View of Beauty: Learning from Thomas Aquinas
3:00 Session IV: What the Church Intended: The Twentieth Century to Today
The cost of the program includes a lunch buffet of sandwiches, salad, coffee and dessert. Clergy and seminarians attend for free. Lunch orders will take place 48 hours prior to the event.
Please email info@CatholicArtGuild.org with any questions; visit here to register.
The decree notes that this decision was made after consultation with “the Council of Priests, area pastors and others around the archdiocese who are already involved in public celebrations of the Extraordinary Form.” May this be a good sign and a model for fruitful collaboration, in Philadelphia and elsewhere, between the various Ecclesia Dei institutes and the local clergy.
We wish to express our gratitude to Archbishop Chaput for his pastoral solicitude on behalf of the faithful who are attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and our congratulations to the Fraternity of St Peter.