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    A four day workshop-retreat for those who want to learn how to sing and lead Gregorian chant will take place from Monday, June 25, through Thursday, June 28, at the Wethersfield Estate in Amenia, New York. This workshop will include instruction in singing, teaching, and directing Gregorian chant. Each day, sung Masses and liturgical offices will be celebrated in the house Chapel, and communal meals will be shared by the participants. Individuals will be accommodated in the historic Wethersfield House. An example of the course schedule is attached here.

    The classes will be taught by two Dominican friars, Frs Vincent Ferrer Bagan and Charles Shonk. Fr. Vincent Ferrer received the M.Mus. in sacred choral music from the Catholic University of America and the B.Mus. in vocal music education from St Olaf College, as well as the Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He presently teaches theology and music at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. Fr. Charles received the License in Sacred Theology from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and the B.A. in Latin and philosophy from Denison University. He presently serves as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Church in Columbus, Ohio. Both friars are experienced organists, choral singers, and church musicians and have sung and led Gregorian chant together as Dominican friars for the past nine years. Their work can be heard on the four albums of sacred music (Christ Was Born To Save, Gaudeamus, Ave Maria, and In Medio Ecclesiae) produced by the Dominican friars during their time as students at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

    Participants are asked to provide $200.00 to cover program costs for the workshop, To register for this workshop, complete the application below and send to

    Once your application has been received, it will be reviewed for acceptance. If accepted, you will be contacted and payment information will be shared.
    Click here for a copy of the flyer.
    Click here for a copy of the postcard.

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    The Catholic Sentinel, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, published an article yesterday by Archbishop Alexander Sample, titled “Reverence for Our Eucharistic Lord.” It concerns two new liturgical provisions which His Excellency is enacting, aimed at increasing reverence for the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. The first is a return to the practice of kneeling after the Agnus Dei.

    “The priest at that moment is about to hold up before the congregation our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist and proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It seems most fitting that we be on our knees before the Lord for such a proclamation of faith. In the Book of Revelation, when the Lamb of God (Christ) is presented before the throng of heaven, all fall down in worship before him. The Mass is a participation in this heavenly liturgy.”

    The second is a prohibition on Communion services held without a priest on weekdays, except in cases where there is a real pastoral need, such as in nursing homes, where it may not be possible to have Mass on Sundays.

    “There is an intimate and intrinsic link between three realities that is essential in this context. They are the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest who ministers in the person of Christ, and the distribution of Holy Communion. These are not to be separated except for serious reasons and pastoral need. As long as the faithful have the opportunity to participate in Mass and receive Holy Communion on Sunday, there is no such pastoral need to receive Holy Communion outside of Mass.

    When we go to Mass, we are there to do much more than just receive Holy Communion. We participate actively and consciously in the offering of Christ, the Paschal Victim, through the hands of the priest, who ministers in the very person of Christ at the altar. From this sacramental offering, we receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, thus culminating our participation in the paschal mystery being celebrated. ...

    I am confident that (these changes) will lead us to a more profound reverence for the most precious gift of the Holy Eucharist, and a more informed, conscious and active participation in the Holy Mass. And a greater love for our Lord in the Mass and in the Blessed Sacrament will lead to a greater love of neighbor and service to the poor.”

    This second provision reminds me of an article which I read many years ago in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, which I believe was by its long-time editor Fr Kenneth Baker, SJ. This was in the days before the internet; at the time, it caused a good deal of stir and comment in the Catholic press. The article described the situation where due to the shortage of priests, some churches might have Sunday Mass only once a month; a large number of extra Hosts would therefore be consecrated at the monthly Mass, and reserved. On the other Sundays, delegated lay people, or at best a deacon, would preside over a kind of para-Mass, with a “service of the Word” essentially indistinguishable from the regular order of Mass, and then distribute Communion. Fr Baker pointed out that it was only a matter of time before a church where this had become customary would discover one Sunday that it had run out of pre-consecrated Hosts. The temptation would inevitably arise (given the lunacy of the 1970s and ’80s, which only started to die down in the ’90s) for the lay leader to hold the service as usual, and then invoke some kind of blessing over the bread and wine, and distribute this non-Communion as it were the real thing. All of this would serve only to divorce the faith and devotion of the congregation even further from the Catholic understanding of the Mass, the Sacrament and the priesthood, and of course, contribute to perpetuating the vocations crisis.

    In a similar vein, just a few years ago, a visitor to Rome said to me as we passed though Piazza San Pietro that she and her friends had been there the previous day at the Pope’s Mass. I explained to her that what they had attended was actually not a Mass, but the regular Wednesday public audience, at which she seemed a little surprised, but then answered, “Well, it was Mass enough for us.”

    I make bold to suggest that provisions such as these enacted by Archbishop Sample will encourage among the faithful a greater understanding of the nature and the importance of the whole Mass, and, in addition to what His Excellency says above, will also thereby encourage vocations to the priesthood. Oremus!

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    This post comes entirely from notes written by our Ambrosian expert, Nicola de’ Grandi. The photos were taken on Monday at the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Milan, where the traditional rite is celebrated, and which observed the Minor Litanies with a procession and a station within the church. Last month, I posted the liturgical texts of the Ambrosian form of the Major Litanies.

    In the Ambrosian Rite, the Minor Litanies are celebrated on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the Ascension, not before as in the Roman Rite. This custom is attested in the very oldest Ambrosian liturgical books, and was observed from very ancient times throughout the north of Italy, not just at Milan, as seen in a liturgical manuscript at Friuli, in the Veneto region, already in the 6th century. They were originally known as the “Major Litanies”, since they were instituted before the observance on April 25th that now bears that name, but which is not attested in the Ambrosian Rite before the 11th century.

    An Ambrosian liturgical manuscript of the 13th century.
    Although St Ambrose himself writes that it was not the custom of the Church to fast during the Easter season (Exposition of the Gospel of St Luke 25), a fact which was adduced in criticism of the Milanese custom in the Middle Ages, it was defended in the later 11th century by a cleric of the city named Landolfo, who refers to what Christ says when asked why His disciples did not fast. “The days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.” (Matthew 9, 15) The three day fast after the Ascension, the departure of the Bridegroom, therefore imitates what the Apostles did while waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. A contemporary of St Ambrose, St Philastrius of Brescia, attests to exactly this same custom, and for exactly the same reasons, already in the mid-5th century. The Mozarabic liturgy also traditionally observes a fast of three days in the week after the Ascension, on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the vigil of Pentecost.

    From the most ancient times, the Church administered baptism on Pentecost with the same rites as on Easter; this is attested in a letter of Pope St Siricius (384-99) to Himerius, bishop of Tarragon in Spain (cap. 2), and one of Pope St Leo the Great (440-461), in which he exhorts the bishops of Sicily to follow the Church’s custom and the example of the Apostle Peter, who baptized three thousand persons on Pentecost day. (Epist. 16)

    In accordance with this universal custom, the traditional Ambrosian celebration of the Minor Litanies, as they are now called, has many elements in common with Lent, the season par excellence for baptismal preparation. During the processions, there are stations at various churches; at each station, lessons are read as part of the catechumenal preparation for baptism, exactly as was done in Lent. Black vestments are used as on the ferias of Lent, and in the Office, all of the characteristic features of the Easter season (the Paschal hymns, antiphons consisting of just the word “Alleluia”, etc.) are replaced with those of the season per annum. The Ambrosian Rite has no Ash Wednesday, and only much later did it adopt the imposition of ashes on the first Monday of Lent; the blessing and imposition of ashes is in fact historically done on the first day of the Minor Litanies.
    In the Middle Ages, when the Minor Litanies were still kept with great solemnity, on each of the three days, the archbishop, the cathedral chapter and the entire clergy of the city participated in a procession which departed from the cathedral, and stopped at twelve different stational churches along the way, each group within the clergy walking behind its own processional cross. An enormous number of processional antiphons were sung, interspersed between the verses of the longest Psalm in the Psalter, Beati immaculati. At each station, a synaxis was held in a form which is common to various penitential functions in the Ambrosian Rite such as vigils and the ferias of Lent: twelve Kyrie eleisons, followed by a prayer, a reading of the Old Testament, a responsory, and Gospel.

    The procession

    Entering the church

     Station at the altar of the Virgin

    As is the case at many of the Lenten stational Masses in Rome, the readings are often chosen in reference to the Saint to whom the stational church is dedicated. For example, the Gospel at a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was that of Mary and Martha, Luke 10, 38-42, the traditional Gospel of the Assumption.

    After the last station, the procession returned to the cathedral, where a Mass was celebrated in a very simple form also characteristic of penitential days; all of the usual Mass chants are omitted, apart from a very brief Cantus, the equivalent of the Roman Tract, between the readings. The Ambrosian Mass has no Kyrie or Agnus Dei, and the Gloria and Creed are omitted; the Ordinary is therefore reduced to just the Sanctus.

    The Epistle at Mass
     The Gospel
    Incensation at the Offertory; the Ambrosian custom is to swing the thurible, which has no cover, in very wide circles, while the servers hold up the chasuble very high.

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    From St Gregory the Great’s 29th Homily on the Gospels, read in the Breviary of St Pius V on the Octave Day of the Ascension.

    Concerning this glory of (the Lord’s) Ascension, Habacuc said (3, 11), “The sun was raised up, and the moon stood in its order.” Who is indicated by the name of the sun, if not the Lord, and who by the name of the moon, if not the Church? For until the Lord ascended into heaven, His Holy Church was in every way fearful of its enemies in the world; but after She was fortified by His Ascension, She openly preached what She had come to believe in secret. (Luke 12, 3) Therefore “the sun was raised up, and the moon stood in its order”, because when the Lord repaired to heaven, His Holy Church grew in the authority of her preaching.

    The Ascension of Christ, by Andrea Mantegna, 1460-64
    Hence through Solomon is it said in the voice of the Church, “Behold He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills.” (Canticle 2, 8) For She looked upon the heights of such great works, and said “Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains,” since in coming for our salvation, He made certain leaps … From heaven He came into the womb, from the womb to the manger, from the manger to the Cross, from the cross to the tomb, from the tomb He returned to heaven. Behold, that He might set us to run after Him, the Truth made manifest though the flesh made these leaps for us, for “He rejoiced as a giant to run His way” (Ps. 18, 6), that we might say to Him from the heart, “Draw us: we will run after thee to the odor of thy ointments.” (Canticle 1, 3)

    Therefore, dearest brethren, it is necessary that we follow Him in our hearts to that place where we believe He ascended in the body. Let us flee earthly desires; let nothing here below now delight us, who have a Father in heaven. And we must also consider this very carefully, that He who ascended peaceably will be terrible in His return, and whatsoever He commanded us with mildness, He will demand of us with severity. Let no one therefore take little account of the times of penance granted to us, let no one fail to take care for himself while he can; for Our Redeemer will come to judgment all the more strictly, according as He first show greater patience to us before the judgment.

    The Ascension Dome of the Basilica of St Mark in Venice; mosaics ca. 1175-1200. (click to enlarge) The words written in a circle that separate Christ and the four angels around him from the Virgin Mary and Apostles are four hexameters, “Dicite quid statis, quid in aethere consideratis. / Filius iste Dei, Christus, cives Galilaei, / Sumptus ut a vobis abit et sic arbiter orbis / Judicii cura veniet dare debita jura.” (Tell us what you are standing and looking at in Heaven. This Son of God, Christ, o ye citizens of Galilee, being taken from you, goes; and so He will come as the judge of the world, with right judgment to give all their due.)
    We may note here that St Gregory cites the Prophet Habacuc according to the text of the Old Latin version of the Bible, the translation made from the Greek text of the Seputagint, while the citations from the Song of Songs are taken from St Jerome’s version, which we now call the Vulgate. Just as several of Jerome’s Biblical commentaries explain both versions of the text, so also the Church Fathers continued to use both, and of course, there are many text throughout the liturgy, in the Mass, Office and elsewhere, which still use the Old Latin to this very day. Likewise, the first citation from the Song of Songs, (or “Canticle of Canticles” as it is traditionally called in the Vulgate), follows St Jerome’s version, but the second mixes the two, “Draw us” instead of “Draw me.” St Gregory also takes it for granted, as do all the Fathers, that the Song of Songs is a dialogue between Christ and the Church; many early printed Bibles actually contain notes added into the text which explain “This is the voice of the Church speaking to Christ”, or “Christ here says to the Church” etc.

    From a Breviary according to the Use of Bamberg, Germany, printed in 1501, part of the Office for the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. In the left column, a bit below the middle, begin the Matins readings from the Song of Songs, with the interpretive notes, “The voice of Christ to the Church”, “The voice of the bride to the young women”, etc.
    Our thanks to Fr Joseph Hearty for sharing with us these photographs of the Solemn Mass which he celebrated on the feast of the Ascension at the church of the Sacred Heart of Mary in Boulder, Colorado. (Photos by John Barton.)

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    St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the Fota XI International Liturgy Conference, to be held at the Clarion Hotel in Cork, Ireland, July 7-9, on the subject Psallite Sapienter: The Liturgy of the Hours. Registration forms may be printed from the images below.

    Note from the editor: I had the great pleasure of delivering papers at this conference for the past two years. Both times, it was in every way an excellent experience; the talks were all quite interesting, and followed up by very fruitful discussions, and I was able to meet and speak with a number of very nice people. The liturgical ceremonies at the nearby church of Ss Peter and Paul were done at the highest possible level, the full Pontifical rites accompanied by superb music, sung by one of the finest choirs I know of, the Lassus Scholars. (Sample below). This year, I will be joined by three of my NLM colleagues: our publisher Dr William Mahrt, President of the CMAA, Dr Peter Kwasniewski, and Matthew Hazell. If you are able to make it to Cork to attend, you will certainly not be disappointed.

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    In the course of rearching something, I recently stumbled across this rather interesting painting.
    This work by the Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin (1842-1904) represents one of Napoleon’s generals, Louis-Nicholas Davout, the Marshal of the French Empire, using the sanctuary of the Chudov Monastery in Moscow as his office. (This was a very important center of learning, inter alia, the place where the first complete Old Church Slavonic Bible was produced.) Vereshchagin, who was born 30 years after the infamous Russian campaign, specialized in depicting the horrors of war; some of his paintings were so graphic that they were never exhibited publicly. This work is one of his series of twenty paintings known simply as “1812”, which also includes this image of French soldiers stabling their horses in the Cathedral of the Dormition.
    And this painting, known as “Bad News from France”, in which Napoleon himself is camped out in a Russian church.
    It seems to me that when considering the current parlous state of the liturgy, we often forget what an unbelievable amount of damage was done to the Church’s whole patrimony, (liturgical, scholarly, artistic, etc.) in the long and disgusting period of Europe’s history that runs from the French Revolution to the Second World War, and well beyond that in the lands dominated by Communism in the 20th century. These paintings are but a few examples of a scene which was repeated an incalculable number of times, as all over Europe, monasteries, canonical chapters and religious houses were closed down and plundered by the French Revolution, Napoleon, the Austrian Emperor Joseph II, the Italian Risorgimento, and so on. Religious orders like the Premonstratensians and Cistercians, that once numbered hundreds or thousands of houses, were reduced to a shadow of their former greatness; cities that once boasted 20 religious houses were lucky to preserve one as a parish in the hands of the secular clergy.
    This map of Liège from 1627, long the seat of an ecclesiastical principality, contains in the legend at the bottom 295 entries of notable places, 83 of which are churches and religious houses. (Click to see in close-up; public domain image from Wikipedia.)
    Of course, as canonical and religious life disappeared from most of Christian Europe, for a great many people, there disappeared with it their contact with the fullness of the liturgical life, the regular celebration of the Divine Office and the Solemn Mass. Solesmes Abbey has managed to persist, despite the fact that the monks were expelled from it by their government three times in the 1880s, and the entire community had to live in exile for over 20 years, from 1901-22. But in most places, the liturgical life that was revived after the age of revolutions was partial at best, and merely functional at worst. No honest person denies that the post-Conciliar reform changed the liturgy far more than the Fathers of Vatican II imagined it would. However, the reformers’ imprudent haste was all the more imprudent for the fact that they did their work while the Church as a whole was still very much recovering from the damage done to it over the previous 200 years.

    When the time comes to undo some of their unhappier deeds, as it surely will, though we know not the day nor the hour, we should remember Pope St John Paul’s famous admonition that the Church needs to breathe with both its lungs. Without romanticizing the current state of things in the Eastern churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, we can see that many of them have come through some of the most ferocious persecutions Christianity has ever suffered, and many of them still undergo it on a regular, even daily basis. They seem, however, to be blessedly untouched by the idea that the best way for them to recover, and to bring the faithful closer to the public worship of the Church, is to radically divorce the liturgy from its own history and tradition. The West would do well to follow their example, even if that means shifting into reverse.

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    His Eminence Darío Cardinal Castrillón-Hoyos, who served the Church as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 1998-2006, and as Prefect of the Ecclesia Dei Commission from 2000-2009, passed away during the night of May 17-18, at the age of 88. All those who love the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite owe a great debt of thanks to Cardinal Hoyos, both for his work at the Ecclesia Dei commission, and for leading by example in helping the return of traditional Rite as a regular feature of the Church’s life. In May of 2003, he offered us a tremendous sign of encouragement by celebrating a Pontifical Mass at the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome, the first Cardinal to celebrate the Mass in a Patriarchal basilica after the reform. Since then, he celebrated the traditional Mass publicly on many occasions, and constantly asserted that the pre-Conciliar Missal had never been suppressed, a thesis ratified by Pope Benedict XVI’s declaration that “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

    Cardinal Hoyos performing a diaconal ordination at the FSSP seminary in Wigratzbad, Germany in 2010. (Courtesy of the FSSP.)
    Deus, qui inter Apostolicos sacerdotes famulum tuum Darium, Presbyterum Cardinalem, pontificali fecisti dignitate vigere: praesta quaesumus: ut eorum quoque perpetuo aggregetur consortio. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

    God, who didst raise Thy servant the Cardinal Priest Dario to the dignity of bishop in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we beseech Thee, that he may joined in the everlasting fellowship of the Apostles. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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    We are much obliged to the Schola Sainte Cécile for permission to publish this translation by Mr Gerhard Eger of an article by Fr Jean-Pierre Herman “La Pentecôte – Fête élaguée ou restaurée ? La suppression de l’antique vigile baptismale de la Pentecôte”, which is also being published simultaneously on Canticum Salomonis.

    The Missal of Paul VI promulgated on April 3rd, 1969, effectively eliminated the ancient custom of assigning vigils and octaves to major feasts. Subsequently, octaves are celebrated only for Easter and Christmas. As for vigils, all that remains of them is a “vigil Mass in the evening” for certain feasts, which usually passes unnoticed. Further, the nature of this service is different. It has become an anticipation of the feast and no longer a day of fasting and preparation for it.

    The Mass for the Vigil of Pentecost is a unique case. There are now four texts to choose from for the first reading, all Old Testament readings in which the gift of the Holy Spirit is prefigured. But this is all that remains of the rich ancient liturgy of the Vigil of Pentecost.

    This reduction was accomplished in two steps. The Vigil disappeared first in the reforms of the ‘50s and then the octave was abolished with the promulgation of the new missal.

    The Baptismal Character of the Ancient Vigil of Pentecost

    In a conference on Pius XII’s “restored” 1955 Holy Week liturgy [1] , Msgr Léon Gromier declares:
    The Vigil of Pentecost no longer contains any reference to baptism. It has become a day like any other, and makes the Missal tell a lie in the Canon. This vigil was an annoying neighbour, a fearsome rival! Scholars of the future will likely be more severe in their judgement than pastoral types are today. [2] 
    The rite he is referring to was in many respects a sort of repetition of the baptismal vigil of Easter, practiced by Christians from earliest antiquity at the Vigil of Pentecost.

    The first Christians celebrated the entirety of the Paschal Mystery—death, resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit—during the one great night of Easter. But very soon the teaching mind of the Church focused its attention on the various aspects of this mystery, and spread out the liturgical celebrations according to the chronology of the Gospels.

    Moreover, as we know, the sacraments of Christian initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist—were formerly conferred on candidates during the same celebration, a practice that the Eastern Churches have retained. Cardinal Schuster points out the intimate connection between Baptism and Confirmation and their distinct characters:
    Although the sacrament of Baptism is entirely distinct from that of Confirmation, yet the latter takes its name of Confirmatio from the fact that the coming down of the Holy Ghost into the soul of the neophyte completes the work of his supernatural regeneration. Through its sacramental character it confers on him a more perfect likeness to Jesus Christ, impressing on his soul the final seal or ratification of his union with the divine Redeemer.
    The word Confirmatio was used in Spain to denote also the invocation of the Holy Ghost in the Mass, Confirmatio Sacramenti. Hence the existing analogy between the epiklesis—that part of the Mass which begs from the Paraclete the fullness of his gifts upon those about to receive Holy Communion—and the sacrament of Confirmation, which in olden days was administered immediately after Baptism, shows very clearly the deep theological meaning hidden in the word Confirmatio as applied to this sacrament. [3]
    As early as Tertullian, we have evidence for the celebration of baptisms not only during the great Easter Vigil but also during the Vigil of Pentecost:
    Another solemn day of Baptism is Pentecost, when a sufficient amount of time has passed to dispose and instruct those who are to be baptized. [4]
    The choice is not accidental, for during baptism the bishop places his right hand on the head of the neophyte “calling the Spirit by means of a blessing.”

    We also have a letter written by Pope Siricius (384–399) [5] to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona that attests this practice. Furthermore, in a letter to the bishops of Sicily, Pope St Leo the Great (440–461) exhorts them to imitate St. Peter, who baptized three thousand people on the day of the first Pentecost. [6]

    Liturgical books of a later period give the framework for a celebration of the same type as the Easter Vigil found in all the missals that preceded the Tridentine reform, as well as in the missal of St. Pius V up to the reform of the 1950s. We will leave it to Dom Guéranger to describe the practice:
    Formerly, this Vigil was kept like that of Easter. The faithful repaired to the church in the evening, that they might assist at the solemn administration of Baptism. During the night, the Sacrament of regeneration was conferred upon such catechumens as sickness or absence from home had prevented from receiving it on Easter night. Those, also, who had then been thought insufficiently tried or instructed, and had, during the interval, satisfied the conditions required by the Church, now formed part of the group of aspirants to the new birth of the sacred font. Instead of the twelve prophecies, which were read on Easter night while the priests were performing over the catechumens the rites preparatory to Baptism, six only were now read; at least, such was the usual custom, and it would lead us to suppose that the number of those baptized at Pentecost was less than at Easter. [7]
    The Paschal Candle was again brought forward during this night of grace, in order to impress the newly baptized with respect and love for the Son of God, who became Man that He might be the light of the world. The rites already described and explained for Holy Saturday were repeated on this occasion, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, at which the neophytes assisted, began before the break of day. [8]
    As Schuster relates, in ancient times the Vigil of Pentecost, as the Vigil of Easter, was celebrated in the Lateran during the night between Saturday to Sunday. By the 12th century, it had been moved to the afternoon. Towards the end of the day, the Pope betook himself to St Peter’s for the singing of Vespers and solemn Matins.

    As Baptism began to be celebrated on other days and the practice of baptizing infants quam primum meant that these ceremonies were no longer exclusively performed on the Vigil of Pentecost. This brought the day down to the level of a preparation for a feast, like any other vigil, but it remained a celebration of a manifestly baptismal character.

    Pius Parsch introduces it thus:
    Today is a solemn vigil and thus a day of full penance with fasting and abstinence (in certain diocese, however, this obligation is no longer binding under pain of sin but merely recommended). A vigil is always a day of preparation. The house of the soul must be cleaned and prepared for the great feast. Two thoughts should occupy the Christian who follows the Church in these days: 1) the memory of his baptism; b) preparation for Pentecost. [9]
    The beginning of the vigil of Pentecost, from a Roman Missal printed in Venice in 1596
    Time and Structure of the Vigil

    After None, the prophecies are read without title, with candles extinguished, as on Holy Saturday. This is the rubric found before the Pentecost Vigil in the Missal. It is celebrated at the same hour as the Paschal Vigil. Once celebrated in the night of Saturday to Sunday, it was eventually fixed to be celebrated after None, a situation ratified by the rubrics of the Tridentine liturgical books. By the end of the Middle Ages it was commonly anticipated to Saturday morning, before noon, in imitation of the Paschal Vigil, which the Tridentine books mandate be celebrated before prandium.

    Its structure is comparable to that of Holy Saturday, except for the blessing of the fire and Paschal candle. Pius Parsch describes it as an abridged imitation of the Office of Holy Saturday It begins with the reading of the prophecies, three of which are followed by a Tract, and each one by a prayer said by the celebrant. Then there is a procession to the Baptistry for the blessing of the water, accompanied by the chant of a Tract composed of verses from Psalm 41 (Sicut cervus ad fontes aquarum). After a prayer, the celebrant says the prayer for the blessing of water, as at the Paschal Vigil. The procession returns to the altar chanting the Litany of the Saints, while the celebrants go to the sacristy to vest for Mass. [10]

    The color used in the vigil is violet. The rubrics specify that the priest wear a cope for the procession to the baptismal font. The deacon and subdeacon wear “folded chasubles.” Red, the color of Pentecost, is used for the Mass. When the litany is finished, the candles are lit, the ministers go to the altar, and while the choir chants the Kyrie they recite the prayers at the foot of the altar. Then the priest performs the incensation and intones the Gloria, during which the bells are rung. [11]
    The Prophecies

    The readings of Pentecost are taken from the readings of Easter, but in a different order.

    1 - Gen. 22 The Sacrifice of Abraham (3rd of the Easter vigil)
    2 - Exod 14 and 15 The Passage of the Red Sea (4th of the Easter vigil
    3 - Deut. 31 The Mosaic Testament, Respect for the Law (11th of the Easter vigil)
    4 - Isa. 4 The Liberation of Jerusalem (8th of the Easter vigil)
    5 - Bar. 3 Return to the Promised Land (6th of the Easter vigil)
    6 - Ezek. 37 The Dry Bones (7of the Easter vigil)

    The second, third, and fourth prophecies are followed by Tracts, the same three Tracts as sung in the Paschal Vigil. The prayers that follow the readings, however, are different. They are taken from the Gregorian Sacramentary. [12] They all focus, each in its own manner, on the continuity between the two Testaments, and the passage of the Israel of the Old Testament, liberated from slavery in Egypt, to the new Israel of the baptized, liberated from the bondage of sin. We cite here only those that follow the second and fourth reading, which are remarkable:

    “O God, who by the light of the New Testament hast expounded the miracles wrought in the first ages of the world, so that the Red Sea was a figure of the sacred font, and the deliverance of the people out of the bondage of Egypt did represent the Christian sacraments: grant that all nations who have now obtained the birthright of Israel by the merit of faith may be born again by the participation of thy Spirit. Through the same Lord … in unity with the same Holy Ghost.”


    “O almighty and eternal God, who by thy only Son hast shown thyself the husbandman of thy Church, mercifully cultivating every branch which bringeth forth fruit in that same Christ, who is the true vine, that it may be more fruitful; let not the thorns of sin prevail against thy faithful, whom thou hast transplanted like a vineyard out of Egypt by the baptismal font; but protect them by thy holy Spirit, that they may be enriched by everlasting fruits. Through the same Lord … in unity with the same Holy Ghost.”

    The procession to the baptismal font and the blessing of water that follow the prayer of the sixth prophecy re-use all the texts of the Paschal Vigil, with the exception of the collect that precedes the blessing of water, which speaks about the feast:

    “Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God, that we who commemorate the giving of the Holy Spirit, being inflamed with heavenly desires, may thirst after the fountain of life. Through our Lord … in unity with the same Holy Ghost.”

    In these texts the intimate links between Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Christian life are put in clear relief.

    The Mass

    As we have already seen, the Mass follows directly upon the Litany. As at Easter, there is no introit. It was only at a later period, when the custom of private masses became widespread, that an introit was added, Cum sanctificatus, taken from Wednesday of the 4th week of Lent.

    This Mass is the culmination of the Vigil and its collect expresses once more, in a very concise manner, the link between Baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit:

    “Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God, that the splendour of thy glory may shine forth upon us, and the light of thy light may by the illumination of the Holy Ghost confirm the hearts of those who have been regenerated by thy grace. … in the unity of the same Holy Ghost.”

    This link is underscored once again in the Epistle taken from the Acts of the Apostles (19, 1-8). The subject is the encounter of Paul with the disciples of John the Baptist, who “had not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit,” after which Paul baptizes them “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

    The rest of the Mass is entirely focused on Pentecost, including the Gospel, John 14, 15-21, in which Jesus promises never to leave his disciples orphans, but to pray the Father to send them the Comforter.

    The Secret and Postcommunion both ask God to purify the hearts of his faithful in preparation for the effusion of the Holy Spirit.

    The Canon contains two proper parts. In the Communicantes, mention is made of the day’s feast:

    “Communicating, and keeping the most holy day of the Pentecost, whereon the Holy Ghost appeared to the Apostles in countless tongues; and also venerating the memory, first of the glorious Mary, ever a Virgin, Mother of the our God and Lord Jesus Christ …”

    While the Hanc igitur, as at Easter, intercedes for those baptized that night:

    “We therefore beseech thee, O Lord, to be appeased and accept this oblation of our service, as also of thy whole family; which we make unto thee on behalf of these also whom thou hast vouchsafed to bring to a new birth by water and the Holy Ghost, giving them remission of all their sins; dispose our days …”

    The Reform of 1955

    In the missals after 1955, the Vigil of Pentecost has been reduced to the Mass alone, in the form we just described, including the introit Cum sanctificatus. The prophecies, procession, and blessing of water have simply been abolished. The baptismal character of the vigil has been erased and the liturgy is entirely focused on the coming of the Holy Spirit.

    The Epistle, which expresses the link between the two sacraments, has been retained. One wonders why the proper Hanc igitur, which intercedes for those who were baptized just before Mass, was retained, even though the baptism ritual it references was effaced. As in Easter, the proper Hanc igitur is said in the Vigil Mass, the Mass of the Day, and the masses throughout the octave.

    This Hanc igitur had already become merely symbolic by the time of the reform, because in actual fact baptisms were practically never held during the celebration. Nevertheless, it referred back to the ceremonies performed at the baptistry before the Mass proper, and thus emphasized the baptismal character of the entire Vigil. The choice to retain the prayer here after having suppressed the ceremonies before the Mass renders it much more of a meaningless vestige.

    The Missal of 1969

    The Missal of 1969 contains, as we mentioned above, a “Vigil Mass in the evening.” It is an anticipatory mass of Pentecost that, apart from a prayer retained here and there, is quite different from the ancient Vigil.

    The opening antiphon is no longer the ancient introit Cum sanctificatus, but a citation of Romans 5, 5, “The love of God has been poured into our hearts by his spirit living in us, alleluia”, rescued from the suppressed Mass of the Ember Saturday of Pentecost.

    The baptismal aspect no longer receives any explicit mention and the accent is placed on the coming of the Holy Spirit and the close of Paschal Time.

    The ancient collect has been retained, but only as an alternative; another prayer, which is found in several ancient sacramentaries and was also used in the Ambrosian Rite, is set before it.

    “Almighty ever-living God, who willed the Paschal mystery to be encompassed as a sign in fifty days; grant that from out of the scattered nations, the confusion of many tongues may be gathered by heavenly grace into one great confession of your name. Through our Lord.”

    The allusion is to Babel, the division of languages, and the reading of the next day from Acts, where each one understands the apostles preaching in his own language.

    The particularity of this mass, making it unique in the missal, is the option of four texts for the first reading. They are:
    --Genesis 11:1-9: The Tower of Babel
    --Exodus 19:3-20: God manifests himself in the fire in the midst of his people
    --Ezekiel 37:1-14: The Dry Bones
    --Joel 3:1-5: The Spirit will make Its dwelling in all men

    The prophecy of Ezechiel was traditionally said at both the Easter and Pentecost vigils: the others are selected ex novo.

    The rest of the Liturgy of the Word is fixed:

    Psalm 103, 1: Lord, send forth thy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.
    Romans 8, 22-27: The Spirit come to our aid in our infirmity.
    John 7, 37-39: They who believe in Him will receive the Spirit.

    The Communicantes of the Eucharistic prayer is the one found in the ancient missal:

    “Communicating, and keeping the most holy day of Pentecost, whereon the Holy Ghost appeared to the Apostles in countless tongues”

    There is of course no mention of the baptised in the Hanc igitur or its equivalent in the new Eucharistic prayers.

    The prayer over the offerings and the Postcommunion make abundant references to the Spirit:

    “Pour out upon these gifts the blessing of your Spirit, we pray, O Lord, so that through them your Church may be imbued with such love that the truth of your saving mystery may shine forth for the whole world. Through Christ our Lord.”


    “May these gifts we have consumed benefit us, O Lord, that we may always be aflame with the same Spirit, whom you wondrously poured out on your Apostles. Through Christ our Lord”

    The Communion antiphon, it is taken from the Gospel:

    “On the last day of the festival, Jesus stood and cried out: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink, alleluia.”

    One wonders why the following phrase—“but this he said of the Spirit, which they should receive who believed in him”—was not kept.

    Continuity or Rupture?

    “This renewal has also shown clearly that the formulas of the Roman Missal ought to be revised and enriched. The beginning of this renewal was the work of Our predecessor, this same Pius XII, in the restoration of the Paschal Vigil and of the Holy Week Rite, which formed the first stage of updating the Roman Missal for the present-day mentality.” Thus the words of Paul VI in the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum.

    We return to the perennial question: have the changes made since the 1950s, during the liturgical reform, been in logical and historical continuity with the ancient Frankish-Roman rite or do they mark a rupture?

    In this case of the Pentecost Vigil, an immemorial practice has simply been suppressed. As Msgr Gromier rightly said, this suppression effaced the baptismal character of this day, and all emphasis is now therefore laid on the coming of the Holy Spirit. The goal of the members of the Commission was manifestly to focus solely on Baptism at Easter and then on Confirmation at Pentecost, on account of the descent of the Holy Ghost.

    Nevertheless, at least the Mass remains, without serious change, and even contains elements that hearken back to the Vigil. The least that can be said is that this is rather incoherent. The “restoration” of the 1950s did not restore anything. As a result of its vague operating criteria, it hewed with axe-strokes and didn’t bother to put finishing touches on its work. It doesn’t take any extraordinary perspicacity to see that this reform was carried out in haste, and its numerous incoherences are obvious.

    With regard to the formulary of 1969, save for the two retentions mentioned above, we are dealing with a novel creation. Currently, the majority of dioceses organize a “vigil of Pentecost,” sometimes with the mass of the vigil, often with the sacrament of Confirmation, but in these cases one must allow for a large helping of “creation” and “creativity” due to the missal’s lack of sufficient directives.

    Far from an “organic development” , we must once more note the absence of logic and continuity in the work of the commissions. In this case, it was largely a work of suppression that left a void and ample room for improvisation. Furthermore, perhaps more so than any other day in the liturgical year, the diversity of current practice regarding the vigil of Pentecost recalls one of the optional readings for the day: the one about the tower of Babel.
    ● SCHUSTER, I., The Sacramentary (Liber Sacramentorum): Historical and Liturgical Notes on the Roman Missal. Trans. by Arthur Levelis-Marke. Volume II. London, 1924.
    ● GUERANGER P., The Liturgical Year. Trans. by Laurence Shepherd. Volume IX. London, 1910.
    ● PARSCH, P., The Church’s Year of Grace, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1953.
    ● REID A., The Organic Development of the Liturgy, St Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough, 2004.

    [1] See the link here:
    [2] The complete text of this conference is available here.
    [3] Schuster, Ildefonso. The Sacramentary (Liber Sacramentorum): Historical and Liturgical Notes on the Roman Missal. Trans. by Arthur Levelis-Marke. Volume II. London, 1924.
    [4] Tertullian, De Baptismo 8, 1.
    [5] Epist. ad Himerium cap. 2 (PL XIII, 1131B-1148A).
    [6] Epist. XVI ad universos episcopos per Siciliam constitutos (PL LIV, 695B-704A).
    [7] During the reading of the prophecies on Holy Saturday, the priests concluded the preparatory rites of Baptism over the catechumens. These ceremonies took some time, whence Dom Guéranger's comment on the relative brevity of the prophecies.
    [8] Guéranger, Proper. The Liturgical Year. Trans. by Laurence Shepherd. Volume IX.
    [9] Parsch, P., The Church’s Year of Grace (Liturgical Press: Collegeville, 1953).
    [10] The rubric says: If there is no baptismal font, the Tract Sicut cervus, the prayer following the Tract, and the blessing of the font are omitted. Instead, after the pryer Domine Deus virtutum, the priest removes the chasuble, prostrates himself before the altar with the ministers, and so all others in their places, and two cantors the middle of the choir sing the litanies. The two choirs respond together. When they reach the verse Peccatores te rogamus audi nos, the priest and ministers solemnly put on red vestments, and the candles around the altar are lit.
    [11] The rubric is: When they reach the Kyrie eleison at the end of the Litany, the cantors solemnly begin the Kyrie eleison for Mass. When that begins, the priest with the ministers makes the confession, and, ascending to the altar, after the Kyrie eleison is finished, solemnly intones the Gloria in excelsis, and the bells are rung
    [12] This manuscript, tagged Codex Regina 337, was recently put online by the Vatican Library. It dates from the 8th century and reflects the papal liturgy of the Lateran, a result of the reorganization of the liturgy undertaken by St. Gregory the Great and continued by his successors until the time of Pope Hadrian I (d. 795), who sent it to Charlemagne when the latter wanted to establish the Roman liturgy in his empire. The Codex Regina 337 has been studied by H. A. Wilson in his work The Gregorian Sacramentary under Charles the Great, published by the Henry Bradshaw Society in London (1915).

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    Our next major photopost will be for Pentecost, this coming Sunday, May 20th; please send your photos to for inclusion. As always, we are glad to receive images of celebrations in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form, including the Vigil, as well as any of the Eastern rites, the Ordinariate Use, Vespers and other parts of the Office, and Confirmations. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!

    The icons of Pentecost at St Peter Eastern Catholic Church in Ukiah, California, from last year’s Pentecost photopost, for which the Byzantines turned out in force. The one on the left shows the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles; the four Evangelists are included among them, as is St Paul, even though Mark, Luke and Paul were not historically present. This demonstrates that the Holy Spirit continues His mission in the Church even after the day of Pentecost itself. The other Apostles hold scrolls, which represent their role as the Church’s teachers. The figure below, an aged king with a crown, represents the World, grown old in sin and idolatry, and living in darkness. In the cloth in his hands are scrolls, which again represent the teaching of the Apostles, by which he will receive the preaching of the Gospel and be enlightened. On the right is the famous icon of the Trinity by Andrej Rubliev; in the Byzantine Rite, the Pentecost is also the feast of Holy Trinity, when the teaching of it began to be revealed to the world. The drape underneath is green, which the Slavs used as the feasts  liturgical color, to represent the renewal and flourishing of the world at the coming of the Holy Spirit.

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    For the feast of Pentecost, the St Ann Choir will sing the Messa de Capella by Claudio Monteverdi, along withe the Gregorian chant propers, at the church of St Thomas Aquinas in Palo Alto, California. The church is located at 751 Waverly Street; the Mass begins at noon.

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  • 05/20/18--09:25: Pentecost 2018
  • Cum complerentur dies Pentecostes, erant omnes pariter in eodem loco, alleluia: et subito factus est sonus de caelo, alleluia, * Tamquam spiritus vehementis, et replevit totam domum, alleluia, alleluia. V. Dum ergo essent in unum discipuli congregati propter metum Judaeorum, sonus repente de caelo venit super eos. R. Tamquam spiritus vehementis, et replevit totam domum, alleluia, alleluia. (The first Responsory of Matins on Pentecost Sunday.)

    Giotto, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, 1305
    R. When the days of Pentecost were fulfilled, they were all together in the same place, alleluia, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, alleluia. * as of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house, alleluia, alleluia. V. Therefore, when the disciples were gathered together in one place for fear of the Jews, there suddenly came upon them a sound from heaven. As of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house, alleluia, alleluia.

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    (The continuation of the argument of “Divergent Political Models in the Two ‘Forms’ of the Roman Rite” will be published next week. Today’s post honors the Solemnity and Octave of Pentecost.)

    The Second Vatican Council was billed as a “new Pentecost.” But a new or second Pentecost is impossible. Pentecost is the mystery of the Church’s identity and vitality down through all ages until Christ returns in glory; Pentecost is not a simple event like a Fourth of July fireworks display, repeatable at will, but a permanent dynamism, expressed in the perennial freshness of the liturgy over which “the Holy Ghost … broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings” (1), warmly remembered in all those “Sundays after Pentecost” that fill the authentic Roman calendar with bright green.

    There can be a new Pentecost only if the old one has failed; and in like manner, there can be a new Mass only if the old one has failed. (2) If there can be a new Pentecost, there can be a new form of Catholicism, with new doctrines, new morality, a new liturgy, for a new humanity in a new creation — all of which can be openly in conflict with their old counterparts.

    Martin Mosebach eloquently diagnoses the problem:
    The “spirit of the Council” began to be played off against the literal text of the conciliar decisions. Disastrously, the implementation of the conciliar decrees was caught up in the cultural revolution of 1968, which had broken out all over the world. That was certainly the work of a spirit — if only of a very impure one. The political subversion of every kind of authority, the aesthetic vulgarity, the philosophical demolition of tradition not only laid waste universities and schools and poisoned the public atmosphere but at the same time took possession of broad circles within the Church. Distrust of tradition, elimination of tradition began to spread in, of all places, an entity whose essence consists totally of tradition — so much so that one has to say the Church is nothing without tradition. So the post-conciliar battle that had broken out in so many places against tradition was nothing else but the attempted suicide of the Church — a literally absurd, nihilistic process. We all can recall how bishops and theology professors, pastors and the functionaries of Catholic organizations proclaimed with a confident victorious tone that with the Second Vatican Council a new Pentecost had come upon the Church — which none of those famous Councils of history which had so decisively shaped the development of the Faith had ever claimed. A “new Pentecost” means nothing less than a new illumination, possibly one that would surpass that received two thousand years ago; why not advance immediately to the “Third Testament” from the Education of the Human Race of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing? In the view of these people, Vatican II meant a break with the Tradition as it existed up till then, and this breach was salutary. Whoever listened to this could have believed that the Catholic religion had found itself really only after Vatican II. All previous generations — to which we who sit here owe our faith — are supposed to have remained in an outer courtyard of immaturity. (3)
    What we have seen in the past half-century is a clumsy revival of the medieval Joachimite heresy by which the Church would have entered the third and final age, a new age of the Spirit, which leaves behind the Old Covenant of the Father, represented by the tables of the decalogue and the animal sacrifices, and the New Covenant of the Son, represented by the Constantinian conjunction of Church and State and the holy sacrifice of the Mass. The new age ecumenically and interreligiously “moves beyond” commandments and Christendom and traditional divine worship. With Paul VI’s liturgical reform, we move beyond the inherited liturgical tradition; with John Paul II’s Assisi meetings, we move beyond the absolute difference between the true religion and false religions; with Francis’s Amoris Laetitia, we move beyond the rigid confines of the Decalogue and the Gospels.

    Now, obviously, all this novelty would be nothing but a new religion, and a new religion is a false religion. In this way, the most distinctive features of the so-called “new Pentecost” or “new springtime” are manifestations of a neo-Joachimite heresy that is incompatible with confessional Catholicism. The collapse of the Church in our times has been the divine stamp of disapproval on the deliberate departure and the passive drifting away from Scripture, Tradition, and (yes) Magisterium, in these decades when amnesia has replaced anamnesis and sacrilege has supplanted sacredness. As a writer at Rorate Caeli noted on May 2, 2014:
    It is the general untrustworthiness of much of the official Catholic media and printing houses that has made blogs so popular. This is especially true regarding the obvious cognitive dissonance any serious Catholic feels between the placidity and jolliness of the official media, and the reality seen on the ground, from the abuse of children to the abuse of sacraments, from the abuse of liturgy to the abuse of confidence, from the promotion of dissidents to the hiding of the statistics of the general collapse of Catholic demographics and practice in most of the world since this wintriest of springtimes began.
    The Church today suffers from heart disease: she is lethargic from fatty tissue and clogged arteries. She needs a heart transplant — but rather than getting a different heart, she needs to get rid of the artificial mechanical heart installed by her ill-informed doctors and take back the heart of flesh that her tradition grew within her. When this occurs, we shall witness, not a new Pentecost, but a renewal of the worship of God in spirit and in truth, even as Our Lord prophesied and has already provided for us. Dom Paul Delatte (abbot of Solesmes from 1890 to 1921) wrote, concerning the traditional sacred liturgy:
    In it the Holy Spirit has achieved the concentration, eternalization, and diffusion throughout the whole Body of Christ of the unchangeable fullness of the act of redemption, all the spiritual riches of the Church in the past, in the present, and in eternity. (4)
    It is no wonder that Dom Guéranger, in a line I love to quote, said: “The Holy Spirit has made the liturgy the center of his working in men’s souls.” This is where our Pentecost is to be found; this is where the Church is perpetually reborn in her youth, finding ready to hand the one common language with which to praise, bless, glorify, and adore her heavenly King, until He returns from the east in glory. “I will go up to the altar of God, to God, who giveth joy to my youth.”


    (1) Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur.”

    (2) A “new Mass” is a contradiction in terms; the Church has no mandate to do such a thing.

    (3) “On the Occasion of the 90th Birthday of Benedict XVI,” Foreword to P. Kwasniewski, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2017), xii–xiii.

    (4) Commentary on the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, 133.

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    With the kind permission of His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, we here publish an English translation of the homily which he delivered yesterday in the cathedral of Chartres to the pilgrims present for the annual Notre-Dame de Chrétienté pilgrimage. Our deepest thanks to His Eminence, and to the organizers of the pilgrimage for the pictures, from the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté website.

    Allow me first of all to warmly thank His Excellency Bishop Philippe Christory, Bishop of Chartres, for his fraternal welcome to this wonderful Cathedral.

    Dear Chartres pilgrims,

    “The light has come into the world,” Jesus tells us today in the Gospel (John 3, 16-21), “and men have preferred darkness.”

    And you, dear pilgrims, have you welcomed the only light that does not deceive: that of God? You walked for three days, prayed, sang, suffered under the sun and in the rain: did you welcome the light in your hearts? Have you really given up darkness? Have you chosen to pursue the Way by following Jesus, who is the Light of the world? Dear friends, allow me to ask you this radical question, because if God is not our light, all the rest becomes useless. Without God all is darkness!

    God came to us, he became man. He has revealed to us the only truth that saves, he died to redeem us from sin, and at Pentecost he gave us the Holy Spirit, he gave us the light of faith ... but we prefer darkness!

    Let’s look around us! Western society has chosen to establish itself without God. Witness how it is now delivered to the flashy and deceptive lights of a consumer society: to profit at all costs, and frenzied individualism.

    A world without God is a world of darkness, of lies and of selfishness!

    Without the light of God, Western society has become like a drunken boat in the night! She does not have enough love to take in children, to protect them beginning from their mother’s womb, to protect them from the aggression of pornography.

    Deprived of the light of God, Western society no longer knows how to respect its elderly, accompany unto death its sick, make room for the poorest and the weakest.

    Society is abandoned to the darkness of fear, sadness and isolation. She has nothing to offer but emptiness and nothingness. It allows the proliferation of the maddest ideologies.

    A Western society without God can become the cradle of an ethical and moral terrorism more virulent and more destructive than Islamist terrorism. Remember that Jesus told us, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10, 28).

    Dear friends, forgive me this portrayal. But one must be clear and realistic.

    If I speak to you in this way, it is because, in my priestly, pastoral heart, I feel compassion for so many wayward souls, lost, sad, worried and lonely! Who will lead them to the light? Who will show them the way to the truth, the only true path of freedom which is that of the Cross? Are we going to leave them to be delivered to error, to hopeless nihilism, or to aggressive Islamism?

    We must proclaim to the world that our hope has a name: Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world and of humanity! We can no longer be silent!

    Dear Pilgrims of France, look upon this cathedral! Your ancestors built it to proclaim their faith! Everything, in its architecture, its sculpture, its windows, proclaims the joy of being saved and loved by God. Your ancestors were not perfect, they were not without sins. But they wanted to let the light of faith illuminate their darkness!

    Today, you too, People of France, wake up! Choose the light! Renounce the darkness!

    How can this be done? The Gospel tells us: “He who acts according to the truth comes to the light.” Let the light of the Holy Spirit illuminate our lives concretely, simply, and even in the most intimate parts of our deepest being. To act according to the truth is first to put God at the center of our lives, as the Cross is the center of this cathedral.

    My brothers, choose to turn to Him every day! At this moment, make the commitment to keep a few minutes of silence every day in order to turn to God, to tell him “Lord reign in me! I give you all my life!”

    Dear pilgrims, without silence, there is no light. Darkness feeds on the incessant noise of this world, which prevents us from turning to God.

    Take the example of the liturgy of the Mass today. It brings us to adoration, filial fear and love in the presence of God’s greatness. It culminates in the Consecration where together, facing the altar, our gaze directed to the host, to the cross, we commune in silence in recollection and in adoration.

    Dear friends, let us love these liturgies that enable us to taste the silent and transcendent presence of God, and turn us towards the Lord.

    Dear brother priests, I want to address you specifically. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the place where you will find the light for your ministry. The world we live in is constantly petitioning us. We are constantly in motion, without taking care to stop and take the time to go to a deserted place to rest a little, in solitude and silence, in the company of the Lord. There is the danger that we regard ourselves as “social workers”. Then, we would not bring the Light of God to the world, but our own light, which is not that which men expect from us. What the world expects of the priest is God and the Light of his Word proclaimed without ambiguity or falsification.

    Let us know how to turn to God in a liturgical celebration, full of respect, silence and sacredness. Do not invent anything in the liturgy. Let us receive everything from God and from the Church. Do not look for show or success. The liturgy teaches us: To be a priest is not above all to do many things. It is to be with the Lord, on the Cross! The liturgy is the place where man meets God face to face. The liturgy is the most sublime moment when God teaches us to “ to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. 8, 29). Liturgy is not and should not be an occasion for grief, struggle or strife. In the ordinary form, just as in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, the essential thing is to turn to the Cross, to Christ, our East, our Everything and our only Horizon! Whether in the ordinary form or the extraordinary form, let us always celebrate, as on this day, according to what the Second Vatican Council teaches: with a noble simplicity, without useless additions, without factitious and theatrical aesthetic, but with the sense of the sacred, with the primary concern for the Glory of God, and with a true spirit of a son of the Church of today and of always!

    Dear fellow priests, always keep this certainty: to be with Christ on the Cross is what priestly celibacy proclaims to the world! The plan, again advanced by some, to detach celibacy from the priesthood by conferring the sacrament of the Order on married men (“viri probati”) for, they say, “pastoral reasons or necessities”, would have serious consequences, in fact, to definitively break with the Apostolic Tradition. We would to manufacture a priesthood according to our human dimension, but without perpetuating, without extending the priesthood of Christ, obedient, poor and chaste. Indeed, the priest is not only an “alter Christus”, but he is truly “ipse Christus”, he is Christ himself! And that is why, following Christ and the Church, the priest will always be a sign of contradiction! ~ To you, dear Christians, lay people engaged in the life of the City, I want to say with force: “do not be afraid! Do not be afraid to bring the light of Christ to this world!

    Your first witness must be your own example: act according to the Truth! In your family, in your profession, in your social, economic, political relations, may Christ be your Light! Do not be afraid to testify that your joy comes from Christ!

    Please, do not hide the source of your hope! On the contrary, proclaim it! Testify to it! Evangelize! The Church needs you! Remind all that only “the crucified Christ reveals the true meaning of freedom! “ (Veritatis Splendor 85) with Christ, set free liberty that is today chained by false human rights, all oriented towards the self-destruction of man.

    To you, dear parents, I want to send a special message. Being a father and mother in today’s world is an adventure full of suffering, obstacles and worries. The Church says to you: “Thank you”! Yes, thank you for the generous gift of yourselves! Have the courage to raise your children in the light of Christ. You will sometimes have to fight against the prevailing wind and endure the mockery and contempt of the world. But we are not here to please the world! “We proclaim a crucified Christ, scandal for the Jews and folly for the Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1, 23-24) Do not be afraid! Do not give up! The Church, through the voice of the Popes - especially since the encyclical Humanae Vitae - entrusts to you a prophetic mission: to testify before all of our joyful trust in God, who has made us intelligent guardians of the natural order. You announce what Jesus has revealed to us through his very life: “Freedom is accomplished in love, that is to say, the gift of oneself.” (Veritatis Splendor 87)

    Dear Fathers and Mothers, the Church loves you! Love the Church! She is your Mother. Do not join those who laugh at her, because they only see the wrinkles of her face aged by centuries of suffering and hardship. Even today, she is beautiful and radiates holiness.

    Finally, I want to address you, you the younger people who are numerous here!

    However, I beg you first to listen to an “elder” who has more authority than me. This is the Evangelist St. John. Beyond the example of his life, St. John also left a written message to young people. In his First Letter, we read these moving words of an elder to the young people of the churches he had founded. Listen to his voice full of vigor, wisdom and warmth: “ I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world”(1 John 2, 14-15).

    The world we must not love, as Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa commented in his homily on Good Friday 2018, to which we do not have to comply, is not, as we all know, the world created and loved by God, it is not the people of the world to whom, on the contrary, we must always go to, especially the poor and the poor of the poor, to love them and serve them humbly ... No! The world not to love is another world; it is the world as it became under the rule of Satan and sin. The world of ideologies that deny human nature and destroy the family ... structures from the UN, which impose a new global ethic, play a decisive role and have today become an overwhelming power, spreading through the airwaves through the unlimited possibilities of technology. In many Western countries, it is a crime today to refuse to submit to these horrible ideologies. This is what we call adaptation to the spirit of the times, conformism. A great British believer and poet of the last century, Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote a few verses that say more than whole books: “In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away”.

    Dear young Christians, if it is permissible for an “elder,” as St. John, to speak directly to you, I also exhort you, and I say to you, you have overcome the Evil One! Fight any law against nature that would be imposed upon on you, oppose any law against life, against the family. Be of those who take the opposite direction! Dare to go against the grain! For us, Christians, the opposite direction is not a place, it is a Person, it is Jesus Christ, our Friend and our Redeemer. A task is especially entrusted to you: to save human love from the tragic drift into which it has fallen: love, which is no longer the gift of oneself, but only the possession of the other - a possession often violently tyrannical. On the Cross, God revealed himself as “agape”, that is to say as a love that is given to death. To really love is to die for the other. Like the young gendarme, Colonel Arnaud Beltrame!

    Dear young people, you often, without doubt, suffer in your soul the struggle of darkness and light. You are sometimes seduced by the easy pleasures of the world. With all my heart of a priest, I say to you: do not hesitate! Jesus will give you everything! By following him to be Saints, you will not lose anything! You will win the only joy that never disappoints!

    Dear young people, if today Christ calls you to follow him as a priest, as a religious, do not hesitate! Say to him: “fiat”, an enthusiastic and unconditional yes!

    God wants you to have need of you, what grace! What a joy! The West has been evangelized by the Saints and the Martyrs. You, young people of today, will be the saints and the martyrs that the nations are waiting for in a New Evangelization! Your homelands are thirsty for Christ! Do not disappoint them! The Church trusts you!

    I pray that many of you will answer today, during this Mass, the call of God to follow him, to leave everything for him, for his light. Dear young people, do not be afraid. God is the only friend who will never disappoint you! When God calls, he is radical. It means He goes all the way to the root. Dear friends, we are not called to be mediocre Christians! No, God calls us all to the total gift, to the martyrdom of the body or the heart!

    Dear people of France, it is the monasteries that made the civilization of your country! It is men and women who have accepted to follow Jesus to the end, radically, who have built Christian Europe. Because they have sought God alone, they have built a beautiful and peaceful civilization, like this cathedral.

    People of France, peoples of the West, you will find peace and joy only by seeking God alone! Return to the Source! Return to the monasteries! Yes, all of you, dare to spend a few days in a monastery! In this world of tumult, ugliness and sadness, monasteries are oases of beauty and joy. You will experience that it is possible to put concretely God in the center of his whole life. You will experience the only joy that will not pass.

    Dear pilgrims, let us give up the darkness. Let’s choose the light! Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to know how to say “fiat”, that is, yes, fully, like her, to know how to welcome the light of the Holy Spirit like she did. On this day when, thanks to the solicitude of the Holy Father Pope Francis, we celebrate Mary, Mother of the Church, let us ask this Most Holy Mother to have a heart like hers, a heart that refuses nothing to God, a heart burning with love for the glory of God, a heart ardent to announce to men the Good News, a generous heart, a heart as profuse as the heart of Mary, as abundant as that of the Church, and as rich as that of the Heart of Jesus ! So be it!

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    If you want to see some of the best Christian art ever created (in my humble opinion) then do a search on google images for “Gothic psalters” or “medieval illumination”.  By digging around from those starting points, you can see wonderful examples of Western and Eastern Christian sacred illumination. Unlike, most larger paintings, the pages have not been displayed for centuries in the light, and their colors remain fresh, their design sharp and clean.

    Here is one in the Romanesque style, the St Albans Psalter, with St Mary Magdalene announcing the Risen Christ. Note the beautifully ornate patterned border!
    And another in the Gothic style from the De Lisle Psalter.
    Whenever I see examples such as these, which are part of a tradition of beautiful work that was produced over centuries, I cannot keep myself from wondering why we don’t see artists producing work with these religious qualities today, or at least not very often. Then I ask myself, how can we help artists to emerge in the 21st century who can do the equivalent of this art, which has a balance of idealism and naturalism, and which encourages prayer?

    I had to consider just this question recently when I was involved in the creation of an online class about the psalms “The Psalms in Words, Images and Prayer.” I contributed to the “images” part of the course. First, I considered the principles by which sacred art has been used to illuminate the psalms in the past; then I discussed how we might move forward from where we are now, in order to create art that will encourage the praying of the psalms.

    This article will be in two parts. Today I will offer a summary of the past principles.

    Next week, I will discuss where we go from here: in this age of Universalis and iBreviary, for example, should we try to re-establish the traditional psalter by commissioning the creation of a “retro” Psalter, rather like the St John’s Bible project? Or should we create a distinct and new 21st-century approach?

    Images in Traditional Psalters

    I considered Psalters and Books of Hours of the Roman Church largely from my favorite periods, the Romanesque and Gothic, from around 1000 AD to the advent of the printing press. For this period that pattern of the order of illumination seems, generally, to be as follows:

    Themes relating to the Psalms in general, e.g. salvation history, or the mysteries of the Faith.

    St Thomas tells us that the Book of Psalms is at the heart of Scripture because it contains “all of theology”, encapsulating poetically the historical events that occurred before they were written and pointing to those that occurred afterward. It is no surprise that in order to illuminate this, artists chose a schema that included themes relating to salvation history. Interpreting this broadly this allows for any of the images we might appropriately in a church or icon corner connected to the liturgy. These would typically be placed in the Psalter before the text of the psalms themselves, and the common themes might be the Fall, the Baptism of the Lord, the Crucifixion, the Risen Christ, and then depictions of David as the author of the book of Psalms.
    There might be also depictions of the genealogy of Christ, with the main line running from Jesse through Our Lady to Him, with the intermediary descendants represented on the branches, as in this image from the Lambeth Psalter.
    Calendar Pages
    These are in the first section of the Psalter, and as the name suggests, would be a single page devoted to a month and listing the feasts. Illuminations would be the sign of the zodiac for that month and common nonliturgical activities - labors of the month - associated with it, such as planting or harvesting crops. Here is August, complete with a depiction of Virgo, from the Psalter of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

    Historiated Initials and Bookmark Pages
    Historiated initials ornate combinations of lettering and art for the first letter of the psalm. These would not typically be done for all the psalms but were elaborate ways to mark designated points in the Psalter. These bookmarks were needed as reference points because although the psalms might be numbered, the pages were not. Typically the psalter would be divided up into 10 sections. Here is the first Psalm, Beatus vir, (Blessed is the man), from the Psalter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. 
    In Books of Hours, Images to Mark the Beginning of each Office
    The purpose of these was also to mark the beginning of each Office, so that you could find it more easily in a book that contained no index or page numbers. These might be general themes of salvation history or the psalms, or a series that presents a narrative theme. For example, in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the major episodes of her life are very often depicted at the start of eah Hour. Here is the beginning for Matins, showing the Annunciation, from the Belles Heures of Jean of France, Duke of Berry, a French manuscript of the 5th century.
    Incidental illustration
    Through the Psalter, the artist might add illustrative details. Sometimes one gets the impression that this iwas done to fill a gap in the text, so that there wouldn’t be a lot of empty space on the page. Here is Moses as an incidental illustration for one of the traditional Canticles of the Divine Office, Deuteronomy 32, 1-43. The horns, incidentally, derive from a famous mistranslation by St Jerome in the Vulgate, and ought to be rays of the reflected light of God shining from him.


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    The following comes to us from Dr Lynne Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre, who writes about the purpose and history of the Sacred Liturgy Conference held annually in Salem, Oregon, which she began in 2003. For more information, see the conference website and Facebook page, and the video below.

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a celebration and a sacrifice. But what exactly is it that we are celebrating and what is being sacrificed? Is the sacred Liturgy directed to God or to us? It is said to be the source and summit of our faith. When we know what the liturgy is, then we will know how to celebrate it properly.

    From the beginning, the Church has understood that the sole purpose of the liturgy is to seek God and to give Him glory. The Liturgy is not a means to an end. The liturgy does not seek attention for itself, it doesn’t seek to entertain or to influence the world. When the focus of the liturgy is (as it should be) totally on God; it is theocentric and contemplative. The focus is on Christ, His Words, His action, His Passion. The boundary between heaven and earth collapses as Jesus lifts us into Himself and gives Himself totally to us. We witness the Holy Spirit converting the bread and wine into the glorified and transfigured Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We behold Jesus in His glory and receive Him in the radically transformed material reality. This experience in the Eucharist is purgative and illuminative. It leads to our sanctification, to our transfiguration and ultimately to the sanctification and transfiguration of the world.

    H.E. Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland, celebrating a Pontifical Mass at last year’s conference.
    To make known the profound purpose, meaning and ancient beauty of the Eucharistic Liturgy is the goal of the annual Sacred Liturgy Conference sponsored by Schola Cantus Angelorum. The conference aims to educate and inspire the faithful with an understanding of the Eucharist as the right worship of God and the consequent life changing realities of the Holy Mass. Through lectures presented by an international faculty of scholars and through the four Eucharistic liturgies, the theocentric and contemplative dignity and beauty of the sacred, ancient liturgy is illuminated and experienced.

    At the 5th annual Sacred Liturgy Conference in 2017, the keynote speaker, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, spoke on The Role of Canon Law in the Celebration of the Liturgy. His Eminence celebrated a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the 400 participants in attendance. At the conclusion of the conference, he stated, “This is an impressive gathering and speaks to a growing desire by the faithful to enter into sacred worship and therefore to live holier lives.”

    Why do the people desire sacred worship and holiness? Sacred worship of Holy God and the consequent personal holiness are necessary. Sacred worship is the first and one essential thing. It is the one thing necessary before confronting any and all interior and exterior evil. How we pray the liturgy affects how we believe, which determines who we are and how we live our lives (Lex orandi; Lex credendi; Lex vivendi). The Holy Mass is the major source of our spiritual formation and our sustained growth in holiness which determine our impact upon the world. St. Benedict taught that nothing is of greater importance than the Liturgy. It is through the liturgy that we become holy and the world is sanctified.

    The theme of The Sixth Annual Sacred Liturgy Conference 2018 is “Transfiguration in the Eucharist”. Special guest speakers include Bishop Athanasius Schneider from Astana, Kazakhstan; Rev. Cassian Folsom, OSB from Norcia, Italy; Bishop James D. Conley from Lincoln, Nebraska, Msgr Andrew Wadsworth of Washington DC, and many other distinguished scholars.

    This theme underlines the importance of the Transfiguration in the Holy Eucharist. The Transfiguration event recorded in the Gospels is a theophany which reveals the full cosmic identity of Jesus as the beloved Son of the Father, illuminated by the Holy Spirit. On the Mount of Transfiguration, the boundary between heaven and earth collapses and the disciples behold their Lord in the eternal Light which penetrates earthly time. The disciples witness Christ’s incarnate beauty grounded in His divine glory. The light of the Transfiguration is the beginning of Christ’s descent to the via dolorosa. The fullness of His glory is intimately tied to His suffering, as He offers Himself to rescue all people from the evil of sin. In the Eucharist Jesus leads the exodus of His people from the evil kingdom of darkness into the Divine light of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is transfigured as He prays on Mt Tabor; He is Transfigured as He prays on the Cross; He is transfigured as He is resurrected and as He ascends into heaven. He is transfigured in His Eucharist. In His transfigured and glorified Human Body on the throne of His bodiless Father Jesus sends His Holy Spirit to transfigure you and me as we pray the Divine Liturgy. St Paul said: “We are transformed from glory to glory by beholding Him in His glory.” (II Corinthians 3, 18)

    The greater our knowledge and understanding of the Transfiguration in the Liturgy, the more prayerfully we can participate in the sacrificial offering and Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus in His Eucharistic liturgy.

    The four beautiful Gregorian liturgies of the 2018 Sacred Liturgy Conference will be celebrated in both forms of the Roman rite and in the Dominican rite. The conference will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Eucharistic adoration, catered meals and time for fellowship. In addition, Alex Begin will conduct workshops for priests, deacons and seminarians on celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and Nicholas Lemme will lead his very popular workshops on learning the basics of Gregorian chant. Please visit for full details. The conference is June 27 to 30th 2018 in Salem, Oregon. Register today as space is limited and last year sold out early.

    Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre MD, PhD
    Executive Director of the Sacred Liturgy Conference
    Director Schola Cantus Angelorum

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    The Traditional Latin Mass Apostolate of Cape Cod will sponsor an Extraordinary Form Solemn Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi at St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis, Massachusetts (347 South Street), on May 31st, starting at 1:00pm. A Eucharistic procession and Benediction will immediately follow. Since 2001, Cape Cod has been home to the only regularly scheduled Sunday and Holy Day Latin Mass in the Diocese of Fall River. In 2009 the Mass was moved from its original location in Chatham to Hyannis. The first Solemn Mass since the postconciliar reform was celebrated in this historic church on the Feast of the Epiphany, 2016.

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  • 05/24/18--04:40: The Psalms of Pentecost
  • In the traditional Roman Divine Office, the only Hours which change their Psalms according to the specific feast day are Matins and Vespers. [1] On the majority of feasts, the first four Psalms of Vespers (109-112) are taken from Sunday, but Psalm 113, the fifth and longest of Sunday, is substituted by another; on the feasts of martyrs, by Psalm 115, on those of bishops by 131, etc. There are, however, four occasions on which Psalm 113 is not replaced, three of which are very ancient indeed, and the fourth relatively recent in origin.

    The latecomer is the feast of the Holy Trinity, which was first instituted at Liège in the 10th century, and spread from there very slowly. Pope John XXII (1316-34) ordered that it be celebrated throughout the Western Church on the Sunday after Pentecost, a custom which became universal after Trent; however, even as late as the mid-16th century, the Low Countries and several major German dioceses kept that day as the Octave of Pentecost, and put Trinity on the following Monday. The use of Psalm 113 at Second Vespers is a reminder of the day’s previous status as either the octave of Pentecost, or the first of the ordinary Sundays after it.

    A page from a Breviary according to the Use of Augsburg, Germany, ca. 1493. In the right column, the first rubric reads “And so on Monday after the octave of Pentecost will the feast of the Trinity be celebrated.”
    The three ancient feasts are Easter, Pentecost and Epiphany, on which it is said on the day itself and through the octave. (Some medieval Uses, however, vary this.) This custom reflects the traditional baptismal character of these celebrations, which go back to the very earliest days of the Church.

    The Psalm numbered 113 in the Septuagint and Vulgate is really two Psalms joined together, those numbered 114 and 115 in the Hebrew. [2] It is the first of these which speaks of the passage of the Jews out of Egypt, and then of the Crossing of the Jordan into the Holy Land.

    “When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people: Judea became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea saw and fled (i.e. the Red Sea): the Jordan was turned back. … What ailed thee, O sea, that thou didst flee: and thou, O Jordan, that thou wast turned back? … At the presence of the Lord the earth was moved, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into pools of water, and the stony hill into fountains of waters.”

    The Church has always understood the story of the Exodus as a prefiguration of salvation in Christ, and specifically, the Crossing of the Red as a prefiguration of the Sacrament of Baptism. The reading of the relevant passage from Exodus is attested in the very oldest surviving homily on the subject of Easter, the Paschal homily of St Melito of Sardis, from the mid-2nd century; it begins with the words “The Scripture about the Hebrew Exodus has been read”, and this custom continues into every historical Christian liturgy. Following the lead of St Paul, who says that the rock which provided water to the children of Israel in the desert was Christ (1 Cor. 10, 4), St Melito attributes all of the events of the Exodus directly to Him.

    “This was the one who guided you into Egypt, and guarded you, and himself kept you well supplied there. This was the one who lighted your route with a column of fire, and provided shade for you by means of a cloud, the one who divided the Red Sea, and led you across it, and scattered your enemy abroad. This is the one who provided you with manna from heaven, the one who gave you water to drink from a rock, the one who established your laws in Horeb, the one who gave you an inheritance in the land, the one who sent out his prophets to you, the one who raised up your kings. This is the one who came to you, the one who healed your suffering ones and who resurrected your dead.”

    Psalm 113, therefore, which speaks of the Red Sea fleeing to make passage for the children of Israel as they go out of Egypt, and the rock that becomes a pool of water, is perfectly suitable to the two most ancient feasts on which the Church celebrates the Sacrament of Baptism, Easter and Pentecost. Likewise, on Epiphany, the Church commemorates the Baptism of Christ in the waters of the Jordan, to which the Psalm also refers.

    The Crossing of the Red Sea, by Agnolo di Cosimo, known as Bronzino, 1540; from the Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.
    Matins of Pentecost, like those of Easter, has only three Psalms; these are 47, 67 and 103 according to the Vulgate numbering. The antiphon sung with Psalm 47 is not taken from it, but from the Acts of the Apostles (2, 2): “There suddenly came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, alleluia, alleluia.” The psalm seems to have been chosen because of the words of its first verse, “Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised in the city of our God, in his holy mountain.”, the city of our God being Jerusalem, where the first Pentecost took place. And likewise, the second verse, “With the joy of the whole earth is mount Sion founded”, may be referred to the preaching of the Gospel to all nations, which begins on Pentecost.

    The third Psalm, 103, describes the glory of God throughout His creation, drawing us back to the very beginning of the Bible, when God created the heaven and the earth. “Who stretchest out the heaven like a pavilion … Who hast founded the earth upon its own bases.” It is sung with an antiphon from verse 30 which makes it obvious why it was chosen, “Send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created: and thou shalt renew the face of the earth, alleluia, alleluia.”, for the renewal of creation at the coming of the Holy Spirit is also celebrated at Pentecost. The Byzantine Rite expresses this idea of renewal very beautifully in the traditional icon for the feast. At the bottom is placed the figure of an aged king, who represents the world grown old in sin and idolatry, and living in darkness. In the cloth in his hands are scrolls, which represent the teaching of the Apostles, by which he will receive the Gospel and the renewal of the Holy Spirit.

    All four of the Evangelists are included among the Apostles, as is St Paul, even though Mark, Luke and Paul were not present at Pentecost. (They are the five shown holding books.) This demonstrates that the Holy Spirit continues His mission in the Church even after the day of Pentecost itself. The other Apostles are holding scrolls, representing their role as the Church’s teachers.
    It is also a common custom to fill the church with greenery for the feast day, and although there is no absolutely formalized liturgical color scheme, among the Slavs, it has become standard to use green vestments. In Ukrainian, this has given rise to a nickname for the feast, “Зелені свята – green holiday.”

    St Peter’s Eastern Catholic Church in Ukiah, California, decorated for Pentecost this year.
    The choice of the middle psalm, 67, is also explained in part by its antiphon, which is taken from verses 29 and 30, “Confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought in us, from Thy holy temple in Jerusalem, alleluia, alleluia.” This refers to the place of the first Pentecost, and the last words of the Gospel of St Luke, who says that after the Ascension, the Apostles “were always in the temple, praising and blessing God.”

    This is famously one of the most difficult texts in the entire Psalter. There are a number of lines which are very hard to understand, and endless emendations have been proposed for the Hebrew. These difficult readings carry over into its first translation, the Septuagint, and thus to the Vulgate, which derives from it; a good example is verse 14, “If you sleep among the midst of lots, you shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver,” But even where the individual lines are perfectly clear, the psalm as a whole is not; indeed, the thought of it is so disjointed that some Biblical scholars have proposed that it was not originally written as a psalm at all, but rather as a list of titles of psalms which are now lost, or a collection of their first lines, or a collection of fragments.

    It is precisely this disjointed quality that makes it a perfectly appropriate choice for Pentecost. When the people in Jerusalem first heard the Apostles speaking in a variety of languages, “they were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to another: What meaneth this? But others mocking, said, ‘These men are full of new wine.’ ” This confusion is reflected by the confusion of thoughts in the psalm. But St Peter explains to them that “these men are not drunk, as you suppose, … but this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel, ‘And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (saith the Lord,) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.’ ” (Acts 2, 12-17, citing Joel 2, 28) The Apostolic preaching takes away their confusion, as it reveals to them the true meaning of the Old Testament. We may therefore conclude by noting that St Augustine explains the “lots” in the verse given above as symbols of the two Testaments, and that “sleeping” between them signifies the Church’s peaceful acceptance of the harmony between them. (Enarratio in Psalmum LXVII)

    St Peter Preaching in Jerusalem, by Charles Poërson, 1645. (The twisted columns in the background will be familiar to anyone who has visited St Peter’s in Rome, and the many Baroque churches throughout Europe that imitated the Vatican Basilica. They are also known as “Solomonic” columns, from the legend that the Emperor Constantine recovered them from the ruins of Solomon’s Temple, and brought them to Rome to decorate the original church. On the basis of this wholly mistaken but widely accepted belief, artists often included them when representing the Jerusalem Temple.)
    [1] The regular psalms of Sunday Lauds (92, 99, 62-66, the Benedicite, and 148-149-150) were traditionally said on all feast days in the Roman Rite. In the reform of St Pius X, psalms 66, 149 and 150 were, lamentably, removed, but the group thus reduced continued to be used on all major feasts, including Pentecost. The psalms of the day hours were likewise traditionally invariable for all feasts (53 and the eleven parts of 118), and those of Compline always invariable; this was also changed in the reform of St Pius X, but not in a way that applied to major feasts like Pentecost.

    [2] There are four places where the Psalms are joined or divided one way in the Hebrew and another in the Greek. There are also psalms which both traditions have as a single text, but are generally believed to be two joined together, (e.g. 26), and others which both traditions have as two (41 and 42), which are generally believed to have originally been one, later divided. It is quite possible that these variations come from ancient liturgical usages of which all knowledge has long since been lost. Likewise, the meaning of many words and phrases in the titles of the Psalms had already been lost when the Septuagint translation was made in the 3rd century B.C.

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    The church of Corpus Christi in the Covent Garden district of London is planning a week-long series of celebrations to mark its official ‘re-opening’, culminating in a Pontifical High Mass of Corpus Christi celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, on Sunday, June 3rd, at 11 am, at which he will officially proclaim the church a Diocesan Shrine dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. The Mass will be followed by a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament in Covent Garden.

    When the church was opened in 1874, Cardinal Henry Manning, the then Archbishop of Westminster, said Corpus Christi would be “specifically devoted to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.” As the first Catholic church in England to be named Corpus Christi since the Reformation, its construction was intended as reparation for the offences against the Blessed Sacrament committed in England since the 16th century.

    The church has lately undergone extensive renovation and restoration work over the course of five years at the request of Cardinal Nichols. The building work has been complemented by the establishment of a Sodality of the Blessed Sacrament, a Confraternity with hundreds of members worldwide.

    Fr. Alan Robinson, Parish Priest, said, “This is an important day in the life of the Diocese of Westminster and the Parish. I hope that Corpus Christi will become a place of pilgrimage, drawing people ever closer to our Eucharistic Lord. The Adoremus Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool this year will help to rejuvenate Eucharistic adoration in our country and we will keep that flame burning in the heart of the nation’s capital.”

    The traditional 40 Hours Devotion will begin on the preceding Tuesday, May 29th at 6:30 pm, and will close with a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form celebrated by Abbot Hugh Allan, O. Praem., on Thursday, May 31st, at 7:00pm.

    In addition, the new Stations of the Cross will be solemnly erected on Friday, June 1st, at 6:30 pm according to the traditional rites of the Church. The stations were sculpted by the artist Arthur Fleischmann and kindly donated in his memory by his widow, Joy, who will be present at this celebration.

    On Saturday 2nd June, there will be a Pontifical First Vespers of Corpus Christi, celebrated by Bishop Robert Byrne, Cong.Orat., Auxiliary in Birmingham, starting at 3:30 pm, followed by a Pontifical Vigil Mass at 6:00 pm.

    To find out more about Corpus Christi visit
    To find out more and join the Sodality of the Blessed Sacrament visit

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    As we come to the end of the Pentecost octave and the Easter season, we wish to thank all of our readers who sent in these photos of their liturgies. We had a rather bigger response this year, so there will be a second part fairly soon. This is also, I believe, the first time we have a shower of rose petals. (Photos and videos below.) Our next photopost will be for Corpus Christi; a reminder will be posted early next week. Evangelize through beauty!

    Beatae Mariae Virginis in Arena - Wrocław, Poland
    Lots of vocations here...

    Mater Ecclesiae - Berlin, New Jersey

    St Mary’s Parish - Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Ordinary Form

    Extraordinary Form

    Cathedral of St Paul - Birmingham, Alabama
    Following an old custom still fairly common in Europe, most famously at the Pantheon in Rome, a shower of rose petals was dropped from the ceiling to represent the tongues of fire at the coming of the Holy Spirit.

    Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish - Cebu City, Philippine Islands

    Santissima Trinità - Pordenone, Italy

    St John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church - Minneapolis, Minnesota

    St Bede the Venerable - St Louis Park, Minnesota
    Ordinariate Parish, hosted at the church of the Holy Family 

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

    St Ladislaus - Hempstead, New York

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    The season for priestly ordinations is now upon us, so I thought it would be a good time to share this item, sent in by Deacon Shawn Roser of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, who is studying in Rome and will soon be ordained a priest. This is a piece of music written specifically for First Masses celebrated at the North American College, by one of its many famous alumni, William Cardinal O’Connell, who was archbishop of Boston from 1907-44. The text is taken from Psalm 109, 4, “Juravit Dominus, et non pœnitebit eum: Tu es sacerdos in æternum. – The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever.” The same music can also be sung as the O salutaris hostia, which is printed under Juravit in the score.

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