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    Tomorrow, ten men from the FSSP’s American seminary, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, will be ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St Cecilia in Omaha, Nebraska, by His Excellency Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland. The Mass will be that of the Ember Saturday of Pentecost, which is a very beautiful Mass, and a very appropriate choice, since the Ember Saturdays were particularly designed for ordination rites. It is also the feast of St Philip Neri, one of the finest Saintly models and patrons for all priests. The traditional ceremony for the rite of priestly ordination is an extraordinarily beautiful thing, well worth your time, even if you can only catch a part of it.

    If you can’t be there in person, you can watch the live webcast at LiveMass, either through the website here or the iMass app, with commentary by Fr. Robert Fromageot, FSSP. The ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. Central, (11 a.m. Eastern, 8 a.m. Pacific.)

    From this post last year of the FSSP ordinations celebrated by Cardinal Burke; reproduced with permission.

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    Repleátur os meum laude tua, allelúja: ut possim cantáre, allelúja: gaudébunt labia mea, dum cantávero tibi, allelúja, allelúla. Ps. 70 In te, Dómine, sperávi, non confendar in aeternum: in justitia tua líbera me, et éripe me. Gloria Patri. Sicut erat. Repleátur...


    Let my mouth be filled with Thy praise, alleluia: that I may be able to sing, alleluia. My lips shall rejoice as I sing to Thee, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. 70 In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be put to shame; in Thy justice deliver me, and rescue me. Glory be. As it was in the beginning. Let my mouth be filled...

    The French composer Jacques Colebault (1483-1559), generally known as Jacquet of Mantua from his thirty-three year long career as Master of the Chapel at the cathedral of St Peter in that city, composed a motet based on the same text, which was later used by Palestrina as the basis of one of his Masses.


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    This sermon was preached today by Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B., at Silverstream Priory.

    Ireland's National Apostasy
    The Preamble to the Constitution of Ireland. In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, We, the people of Éire, humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the full independence of our Nation, and seeking to promote the common good with due observance of Prudence, Justice, and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations, do hereby adopt, enact, and give ourselves this Constitution.

    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

    On this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, two days after Ireland’s national apostasy from the Holy Catholic Faith, how can we hear the Gospel that was sung just moments ago, and not recall the Constitution that the Irish people gave themselves 80 years ago in 1938? Friday’s vote was not about abortion only; it was about killing Ireland’s soul, about snuffing out all that made Ireland a beacon among the nations, about publicly renouncing all that, from the time that Saint Patrick kindled his blazing fire on the Hill of Slane, made this island home of ours a great welcoming Catholic hearth in a world grown cold and dark. Ireland was, among all the nations on earth, the one that unsparingly sent forth sons and daughters, intrepid in confessing the Holy Trinity, to bring the light of faith to the most far-flung corners of the globe.
    And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28, 18)
    How did we come to this? Among those who voted “Yes” on Friday, the vast number were baptized, and sealed with the sign of the Gift of the Holy Ghost in Confirmation. Some of these would have been confirmed but a few years ago. Among them were people who once knelt at the altar to receive the adorable Body of Christ, formed by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, immolated on the Cross, risen from the tomb, ascended into heaven, and returning in glory. Among them are people who, (and I say this with fear and trembling), will dare even to present themselves for Holy Communion today. To these, I can only repeat what the Apostle says:
    Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11, 27–29)
    One cannot say that we were not warned. God did send his prophets to Ireland. I think of Frank Duff. I think of Saint John Paul II who, in October 1979, was given a rapturous welcome. Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, written only eight years ago, was prophetic. What became of it? Why was it filed away and not heeded?

    There are reports of victory celebrations in Dublin and elsewhere: a satanic crowing, jeers hurled at Our Lord, against His Virgin Mother, and against the Church. The whole climate is eerily reminiscent of France in 1789, of Mexico in 1910, of Russia in 1917, of Germany in 1933, and of Spain in 1936. Even worse than the crowds hell–bent on celebrating the choice of death over life are the complacent lies of those government ministers who, with a smug satisfaction, speak of A New Modern Ireland At Last, an Ireland of compassion, justice, and respect for women. The accent in all such discourses is that of the ancient serpent:
    Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3, 1–5)
    You will forgive me if I repeat today the words of the prophet Ezechiel:
    Thou hast played the harlot with the nations among which thou wast defiled with their idols. Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister, and I will give her cup into thy hand. Thus saith the Lord God: Thou shalt drink thy sister’s cup, deep and wide: thou shalt be had in derision and scorn, which containeth very much. Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness, and sorrow: with the cup of grief, and sadness, with the cup of thy sister Samaria. And thou shalt drink it, and shalt drink it up even to the dregs, and thou shalt devour the fragments thereof, thou shalt rend thy breasts: because I have spoken it, saith the Lord God. (Ezechiel 23, 30–34)
    What is remains for us? I will tell you what remains:
    And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13, 13)
    Draw near to the altar of the Holy Sacrifice, even as our forefathers drew in around the Mass Rocks. The altar is Ireland’s Divine Hearth. Not for nothing was the altar of the Lamb shown at Knock in 1879. Fall down in adoration and in reparation. Cry out to the Immaculate Mother of God, still Ireland’s Queen and Sorrowful Mother. My own dear father, with all the wisdom of his 91 years, said to me yesterday, “God has a plan. God will have the last word.” And what says Our Lord in today’s Gospel? He says this: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28, 20). In this promise of His, let us rest all our hope.

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    Our friends at Canticum Salomonis have published a translation of a part of an important liturgical treatise of the later 11th century, the Micrologus de Ecclesiasticis Observantiis, which contains a well-known anecdote about the feast of the Holy Trinity. The author, one Bernold of Constance, reports that when Pope Alexander II (1061-73) was asked a question about the feast of the Holy Trinity, then being celebrated in certain parts of Europe, he said that he saw no more need for it than for a feast of the Unity. For this reason Bernold considers the feast to be “not authentic.”

    What Pope Alexander and Bernold of Constance say in this regard needs to be read in light of the great reform movement going on in the Church at the time, and the role of Rome and the Papacy in that reform.

    Rome has usually been a late-comer to the great movements of reform and renewal in the Church. St Nicholas I, who traditionally shares the epithet “the Great” with Ss Leo I and Gregory I, and is famous inter alia for his defense of the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, died in 867 after a reign of nine years. From him, it was a distance of but thirty years and eight Popes to Stephen VI, whose reign of roughly sixteen months is summed up as follows in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

    “Whether induced by evil passion or perhaps, more probably, compelled by the Emperor Lambert and his mother Ageltruda, he caused the body of (his predecessor) Formosus to be exhumed, and … placed before an unwilling synod of the Roman clergy. (Note: this is often referred to as ‘the Cadaver Synod’.) A deacon was appointed to answer for the deceased pontiff, who was condemned for performing the functions of a bishop when he had been deposed and for passing from the See of Porto to that of Rome. The corpse was then stripped of its sacred vestments, deprived of two fingers of its right hand, clad in the garb of a layman, and ultimately thrown into the Tiber. Fortunately it was not granted to Stephen to have time to do much else besides this atrocious deed. Before he was put to death by strangulation, he forced several of those who had been ordained by Formosus to resign their offices …”

    Pope Formosus and Stephen VI - The Cadaver Synod, by Jean-Paul Laurens, 1870 (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)
    After this infamous event, which has provided endless grist for the mills of anti-Catholic controversialists, the Papacy remained essentially quiescent as simony, lay investiture (the de facto control of ecclesiastical appointments by lay civil rulers) and clerical incontinence became nearly omnipresent in the Church. What made Cluny so important, especially in the 10th and 11th centuries, was the fact that the duke who founded it in 910, William of Aquitaine, renounced all control over it, in an age when monasteries were essentially the private property of the nobility, who appointed whomever they wished as abbots and officials. Given the tenor of the times, such appointments were very often made solely for the sake of providing an important connection with a salary, and with no reference to whether the man so appointed had any intention of living as a monk. Much the same applied to clerical offices of all ranks.

    This state of things continued until the reign of another particularly unworthy successor of St Peter, Benedict IX, whom St Robert Bellarmine described as “the nadir” of the Papacy, and over whose career we draw a veil, as the sons of Noah drew a veil over their father. However, after his deposition in 1048, and the 24-day reign of Pope Damasus II, the papal throne was occupied by Leo IX, an active and enthusiastic reformer, now canonized as a Saint. From this point on, the reform party within the Church was in the ascendant, and would go from strength to strength, with the Popes very much at its fore; the clerical vices which were universal in the mid-11th century were almost entirely gone by the end of the 12th.

    Alexander II, however, was elected in 1061, only 13 years after Benedict’s deposition; the like-minded Popes who preceded him were all fairly short-lived. Moreover, the ascendancy of the reform party was only made possible by the direct intervention of the German Emperor Henry III, for it was he who effectively deposed Benedict and then appointed to the Papacy a series of German bishops, all of whom owed their episcopal see to him; the short-lived Damasus II, his own kinsman St Leo IX, and then Victor II.

    In these circumstances, it was perhaps only natural that once the reform party had taken control of Rome, it should begin to insist that the specifically Roman form of the Roman Rite also be followed, as a sign of unity with the Papacy and the worthy cause it had only very recently embraced. This was also the period when the Mozarabic liturgy was to a large degree forcibly suppressed, despite coming out the victor in a trial by fire; a similar attempt was made on the Ambrosian Rite, endorsed by St Peter Damian, and only stopped because Alexander II was himself Milanese.

    The trial by fire of the Mozarabic liturgy.
    Bernold of Constance was an enthusiastic supporter of the reform party; he lists a number of liturgical provisions enacted by Alexander’s successor, St Gregory VII, who was so much the embodiment of the reform that it is sometimes called “Gregorian” after him. The Micrologus, a treatise of roughly 16,500 words, refers more than 70 times to “the Roman order”, “the authority of Rome”, etc.

    Richard Krautheimer, one of the great historians of the Christian art and architecture of Rome, writes à propos of the end of the 13th century, when the Papacy was about to pass into another of its less edifying phases, of “a problem recurrent in the history of Rome. Basically she was conservative. Her past, Christian and pagan, was her pride; but it weighed her down. The mistress of the world, see of the successors of St Peter, did not take easily to new ideas. Not by chance did she never house a medieval university. Bologna, not Rome, developed Roman law; Paris developed scholasticism. Similarly, for long periods patrons and artists remained untouched by new concepts of art evolved elsewhere in Europe. … the upsurge of a new art was (at various points) linked to a political revival; and it was interwoven with a rediscovery of the Roman past, Christian and pagan, rejuvenated. The alien ideas only took root when wedded to the living tradition. But a plainly conservative undercurrent lazily moved along beneath the recurrent upsweeps.” (Rome: Profile of a City; 2000 edition, p. 211. He could have added references to Gothic architecture and medieval music theory at this point.) This is very much the attitude embodied by Pope Alexander’s remark, and Bernold’s characterization of the feast of the Holy Trinity as “inauthentic.”

    But even for all this, Pope Alexander’s critique of the feast evinces an astonishing lack of historical perspicacity.

    The unicity of God was taught by the Jews and the pagan philosophers long before the coming of Christ, and inherited from them by the Church without question. This is why St Paul was able to preach to the Athenians that the “unknown god” to whom they had dedicated an altar had in fact finally revealed Himself, and come to seek the salvation of man, citing in support of his teaching the Greek poet who said “For we are also his offspring,” which is to say, of one God, not of many. (Acts 17, 22-31) This is also why it was a commonplace among the early Church Fathers that Plato had learned many of his ideas from Moses; already before the end of the 2nd century, St Clement of Alexandria calls him “the philosopher who learned from the Hebrews.”

    It hardly needs to be said that the doctrine of the Trinity, on the other hand, the central mystery of the Christian Faith, was the subject of considerable discussion, which required seven ecumenical councils, innumerable local councils, and a vast body of theological writing for its defense.

    The First Council of Nicea, depicted in a 14th-century fresco within the monastery complex of Panagia Sumela, in modern Turkey. The Emperor St Constantine, as he is called in the Byzantine churches, presides over the Council; in the lower left corner, St Nicholas is shown slapping Arius in the face for his impiety. (The monastery has been abandoned since 1923, and the frescos are sadly much damaged by vandalism.)
    The most important heresies of the pre-Constantinian era, those which drove Arius and others to the opposite extreme, the denial of Christ’s divinity, all turned around the idea that because God is one, Christ must be in some way the same as the Father. This doctrine is usually known as Sabellianism, after a Roman priest named Sabellius who was excommunicated for teaching it by Pope St Callixtus I in 220 AD. However, it is also known as “Patripassianism”, the heresy that it was God the Father who suffered on the Cross. The Church Fathers, therefore, had to assert that the Incarnation did not compromise the essential doctrine of the unicity of God; the doctrine of the Trinity is the elaboration of this teaching. Among the modern writers, perhaps no one has expressed the import of this better than GK Chesterton did in The Everlasting Man.

    “If there is one question which the enlightened and liberal have the habit of deriding and holding up as a dreadful example of barren dogma and senseless sectarian strife, it is this Athanasian question of the Co-Eternity of the Divine Son. On the other hand, if there is one thing that the same liberals always offer us as a piece of pure and simple Christianity, untroubled by doctrinal disputes, it is the single sentence, ‘God is Love.’ (1 John 4, 16) Yet the two statements are almost identical; at least one is very nearly nonsense without the other. The barren dogma is only the logical way of stating the beautiful sentiment. For if there be a being without beginning, existing before all things, was He loving when there was nothing to be loved? If through that unthinkable eternity He is lonely, what is the meaning of saying He is love? The only justification of such a mystery is the mystical conception that in His own nature there was something analogous to self-expression; something of what begets and beholds what it has begotten. Without some such idea, it is really illogical to complicate the ultimate essence of deity with an idea like love. If the moderns really want a simple religion of love, they must look for it in the Athanasian Creed.”

    The Trinity first appeared at the Baptism of Christ, as the Byzantine Rite states in the tropar for January 6th: “When you were being baptized in the Jordan, o Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.” But the Western Church did not place the feast of the Holy Trinity on a Sunday after Epiphany. (Neither for that matter did the East, which keeps Pentecost itself as its feast of the Trinity.) The salvation of man was accomplished and revealed at the Resurrection, but the Church did not place the feast of the Holy Trinity on a Sunday after Easter. On the first weekly commemoration of the Resurrection after Pentecost, the Church pauses to contemplate not only what was done for us in the Passion and Resurrection, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, but also to contemplate Who exactly did these things, and now sends Her forth to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

    I think it unlikely to be mere coincidence that once the Gregorian reform had largely achieved its purpose, the blanket rejection of new feasts and devotions as “inauthentic” seems mostly to have faded away. There was a similar controversy over the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the days of St Bernard, who was opposed to it. But in the 13th century, it was the Pope himself, Urban IV, who commissioned St Thomas Aquinas to write the great masterpieces which are the Office and Mass of Corpus Christi. It is yet another oddity of liturgical history that Pope Urban’s initiative was not received even in the Papal court itself until the time of John XXII (1316-34), perhaps another example of the undercurrent of Roman laziness described by Krautheimer. It was the same Pope who canonized St Thomas, and extended the feast of the Trinity to the universal Church.

    The Holy Trinity, from the Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne (The Great Hours of Anne of Brittany), made by Jean Bourdichon, 1503-8, for Anne, Duchess of Brittany and Queen of France (1477-1514), and considered to be one of the finest illuminated Books of Hour ever made. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits Latin 9474.

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    Monks at Clear Creek: no lack of vocations here!
    In my post “Divergent Political Models in the Two ‘Forms’ of the Roman Rite,” I argued that people who bring a well-developed life of faith to the Novus Ordo are equipped to derive spiritual benefit from it, while those who attend the traditional Latin Mass are confronted by a strong and definite spirituality that drives them deeper into the mysteries of faith and the exercise of theological virtues. The new form is a loosely-demarcated playing field for liturgical intramurals, whereas the old form is an ascetical-mystical bootcamp through which soldiers of the Lord are driven. The former presupposes virtue; the latter produces it.

    Can we find any external confirmation that this analysis is correct?

    I would say yes. A sign of its truth is how often one encounters young people who either converted to the Faith or discovered a religious vocation precisely through the traditional liturgy. It was the liturgy itself that powerfully drew them in. Conversion and vocation stories in the Novus Ordo sphere seem to have a lot more to do with “I met this wonderful person” or “I was reading the Bible” or “I found this great book from Ignatius Press” or “I got to know the sisters in my high school” or “their devotion to the poor was so moving.”

    All these motives are truly good, and the Lord wants to use them all. But it is still noteworthy that the Novus Ordo is rarely the powerful magnet that draws them in; it is a thing that people who are already drawn in for other reasons will go ahead and do as a regular prayer service. It’s the difference between relying on a neighbor for help and falling in love. Young people today rely for help on the Novus Ordo; they fall in love with the traditional liturgy. Or it is like the difference between acting from duty and acting from delight. We dutifully attend the Novus Ordo because it’s seen as “good for us,” like oatmeal; we get excited when the Latin Mass is available, because it’s delicious to the spiritual palate.

    Perhaps readers may object that I am exaggerating the contrast. It may be that I am. But I can only speak from my own experience, as well as from conversations I’ve had as a teacher, choirmaster, or pilgrim with hundreds of young people over the past twenty years. There seems to me to be a vast difference in the perception of the attractiveness or desirability of the old liturgy versus that of the new — so much so that if a Catholic college or university wished to increase daily Mass attendance, all they would have to do is to provide the old Mass, or to provide it more frequently, and the number of communicants would significantly increase. It might seem utterly counterintuitive, and yet it is borne out again and again at chaplaincies across the world.

    A psychologist or a sociologist would say that this can have many causes, but what concerns me at the moment is that there is a real theological explanation. One can see, in liturgical terms, why the old form of Mass (and Office and sacraments and blessings, etc.) would be powerfully attractive to today’s youth who discover them. These age-old, pre-industrial, pre-democratic forms are so much richer and denser, more symbolic, involved, and mysterious, pointing both more obviously and more obscurely to the supernatural, the divine, the transcendent, the gratuitous, the unexpected. They are seductive, as only God can be seductive. Seduxisti me, Domine, et seductus sum: fortior me fuisti, et invaluisti (Jer 20:7). This, after all, is what Pope Benedict XVI had in mind when he wrote to all the bishops of the world: “It has clearly been demonstrated that young persons, too, have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction, and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist particularly suited to them.”

    The reformed liturgy in its Genevan simplicity has never won any awards for seductiveness. It can barely be looked at head on before people feel embarrassed about its nakedness and try to clothe it with every accoutrement they can find or invent. We have to bring to it a devotion or a seriousness of purpose that we ourselves possess, if we are going to be in a position to benefit from the divine sacrament it spartanly houses. Without love of the Lord presupposed, this would be a wearisome, unrewarding business, rather like having to convince an indifferent person to be friends with you. It’s an uphill battle from the start. Why should young people be interested in something that is so boringly lecture-like, so logical and efficient, or so much in need of artificial sweeteners, like sacro-pop music? Most of them would rather be anywhere else.
    A nun of the traditional Benedictines of Mary
    In attempting to understand how liturgy helps or hinders priestly and religious vocations, we should also take into account the demands of active life and contemplative life. Religious communities nowadays tend strongly in the direction of the active life, with apostolates in the world. As Dom Chautard and others have pointed out, modern people are strongly tempted to fall for the “heresy of activism,” whereby we believe that by our hard work we will bring about the kingdom of God on earth. Liberation Theology is an extreme example of the same tendency, but it has been at work since at least the heresy of Americanism diagnosed by Leo XIII in Testem Benevolentiae, according to which the so-called “active virtues” of work in the world have surpassed in worth and relevance the so-called “passive virtues” of religious and contemplative life.

    Since the Novus Ordo valorizes the active and denigrates the passive, it seems to fit well with the activist or Americanist mentality. Thus it seems that active religious orders could find it somehow amenable, as long as they could keep bringing to it an interior life cultivated largely through other means. But the priesthood, which must be rooted in the mysteries of the altar in order to remain strong and fruitful, and the contemplative religious life, which focuses on offering up the sacrifice of praise and not on an external apostolate, cannot flourish on a subsistence diet. What may seem “good enough” for the laborer in the vineyard is perilously inadequate for the priest and the contemplative, who need a truly sacerdotal and contemplative liturgy if they are fully to realize their great callings.

    This is why we see everywhere across the world that serious priests and contemplatives will either “traditionalize” the Novus Ordo as much as they can, or adopt the traditional Mass and Office, or both. Examples of this variety of tradition-friendly approaches may be found in communities such as the Abbey of St. Joseph de Clairval, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, the Community of St. Martin, and the monks of Norcia, Fontgombault, Clear Creek, and Heiligenkreuz.

    Am I saying, then, that the (relatively few) healthy religious communities that use the Novus Ordo would be even better off with the Vetus Ordo? Yes, absolutely. The good they have would be multiplied, their power of attraction and intercession greatly intensified. Unfortunately, however, even those who have come to recognize the superiority of tradition will be discouraged by the hostile climate introduced under this pontificate from returning to the Church's authentic lex orandi, lest they suffer the fate of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate or the Trappists of Mariawald. In this official opposition to the desperately-needed restoration of Catholic tradition we can see the telltale signs of the Devil's implacable hatred for the celibate priesthood and the contemplative religious life.

    But neither human nor angelic opposition should prevent any community from quietly and judiciously incorporating the traditional liturgy into its daily life. “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev 13:10). The ancient Latin liturgical rites and uses have nourished the saints of the Western Church for over 1,600 years. They have an imperishable power to do the same for all the saints Our Lord desires to raise up today. Traditional liturgy never failed to attract vocations of every kind or to support the Christian life of the laity; it continues to exercise the same fascination and fortification among us. The new-fangled liturgical rite of yesterday, like the Americanist world in which it was inculturated, is failing. A healthier Church, a healthier spiritual polity, is in the making.

    Seminarians of the FSSP in Germany


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    Last week, I presented a summary of the principles for the ordering of images in psalters, such as those that might have been produced in the Gothic period. This week, I want to consider how we might illuminate the psalms and the Divine Office today. I will be referring to some of the principles articulated last week without going into detail, so you may need to refer back to that original article from time to time. You can read it here.

    My purpose in writing this is to encourage the praying of the psalms and the Divine Office fruitfully. It is not primarily to reestablish the tradition of sacred art for psalters, but because I believe that sacred art is necessary for the most fruitful encounter with the Word, whether it be at the Mass or the Divine Office.

    The first approach to consider might be the simple one. Assuming that we think that these psalters of the past did a good job and people prayed the psalms fruitfully in the 13th century, why not just do exactly they did in the ,13th century? With modern technology, we could even mass produce facsimiles of the St Albans Psalter or the Westminster Psalter that look and feel authentic, and are small enough to handle easily. They would be cheap enough for most people to be able to buy them. You could have vellum-like pages (so well produced that most of us couldn’t tell the difference) with ornate historiated initials like this one, if you wanted to. (We’ll discuss if that’s a good idea in a moment.)

    There is one obvious problem. Most people today can’t read it. Beautiful though it is, it would not be an aid to prayer for most people because they have no idea what the words means, are unfamiliar with the calligraphic style of writing. Even if it were in the vernacular, people would struggle to decipher it, and likely wouldn’t want to try.

    It might be possible to adapt this idea, though. I think that the style of some of the images from this period does connect with people today, so those images that relate to the general themes of salvation history, themes which are contained within the psalms, could be reproduced and put into, say, an English- or Spanish-language psalter, with an attractive but readable typeface.

    We could begin by using reproductions of great art from the past that we feel are most likely to connect with people today, and use these as the foundation for an artistic tradition that develops organically from this point on, so as to speak to people today powerfully. This is same approach to re-establishing the traditions of liturgical art in general that I have suggested in the past.

    In regard to which psalters to choose, my suggestion for a starting place is the art of Englishman Matthew Paris and the 13th-century School of St Albans, as we see in the Westminster Psalter. I have found that people respond well to this style when praying, and when I teach this style in art workshops, students seem to understand it so naturally that the quality of the art they produce is high.

    Sacred art of this type is designed to communicate in a single visual statement a story or an idea that might take a lot of text to articulate in words. It this sense, it is in a visual poetic statement that tells the story in one moment of looking, that is, to those who know what they are seeing. Through this, the artist can add to the story through the beauty of the work, which tells aspects of the mystery that are beyond words. While people can pick up what it is telling us intuitively, and they can certainly enjoy it and be drawn into what it reveals through its beauty, it would still help if there was catechesis available on the meaning of the psalms, salvation history, the study of scripture, and how traditional sacred art and symbolism encapsulates these truths.

    This form of instruction is the mystagogical/liturgical catechesis, rooted in scripture, that has been asked for by recent Popes, and like so many other such requests, seems to be largely ignored. I would say that it should be included in the general education of every Catholic as a matter of absolute priority. It should be there at the start and the finish. It is surprising to me, for example, how little emphasis on the study of scripture, the greatest book, we see in some Catholic Great Books programs.

    Realistically, however, this is not going to happen soon, but given that the liturgy itself is the best vehicle for catechesis, our newly designed psalter can contain this catechesis too. There can be explanations to support the images, supplied in some detail in supporting text sidebars. Keywords and references to connected scripture from elsewhere can be placed by the artist in the painting itself. It has always been part of the tradition to name key figures, and for a festal icon, to write the name of the feast day on the icon. This is part of the tradition that should be reestablished today and perhaps, with judgment, extended slightly.

    Many people today pray the office via smartphones, using, for example, Universalis.com or prayer.covert.org. It might be possible to have the option of accessing an appropriate image through a tap or a stroke of the screen and then with a further action seeing its accompanying explanation.

    After the question of what images we would have, the next is, Where do we put them? This is where I might use a different approach to the psalters of the past. It has to be useable to the modern reader. I would not take the route of commissioning a new “retro” psalter along the lines of the St John’s Bible Project. This was the project commissioned in 1998, in which the text of the Gospel was written by an expert calligrapher, and master artists who worked in traditional styles (sometimes with a deliberate modern twist). For all the value that this might have had artistically, I am not convinced that it encouraged many to read the Bible because it was large and unwieldy, and therefore difficult to read.

    I would aim for a high-standard mass-produced psalter as described, in which the placement of paintings within the pages is changed for the modern reader too. To explain: many of the images in the Gothic psalters were placed in particular places in the psalter for practical reasons that don’t apply today. They were used, for example as bookmarks, to help people locate a particular psalm. We don’t need whole pages devoted to an image in order to create a bookmark nowadays, because we use page numbers to find a psalm, and this works much better.

    I would retain the broad-themed images at the start of the book, such as King David to represent the psalms as a whole, and some incidental illustrations within the book itself. Many of these generally themed images which relate salvation history to the mysteries of the Faith are the same as those that are the basis of the icon corner and of the liturgical art in the church (and which are described in my book, co-written with Leila Lawler, called The Little Oratory). The following image of King David was painted for that book and was based on an original which is found in the Westminster Psalter.
    Here is the original:

    Because the smartphone has a small screen, photographic images of large paintings reduced in size drastically, say from 3 feet to 3 inches, will lose much valuable detail. The best images for such a medium will be those painted small (like those of Matthew Paris, incidentally) or designed deliberately for reproduction on the device. If artists paint art intended for social media and smartphones, they could also take into account in a positive way the changes in color, clarity and transmitted detail that occur in an electronic reproduction, so that their effectiveness is optimized. This represents an opportunity for the contemporary artists; art that is good and reproduces well on smartphones and social media is more likely to attract attention.

    Furthermore, the placement of images should be considered in conjunction with the particular way that the psalms are prayed, so as to encourage actual engagement with them. As part of the ritual of praying the Office, we can pause after the opening versicles, look at the images, and venerate them with a kiss (if in a book) or a bow, and with incensing if we are at the icon corner or church. We could develop the same habit during the Glory Be. Perhaps the day will come when the person who studies and kisses his smartphone in church is not someone who is hooked on technology, but the pious man praying the Office well!

    A similar ritual can be established for the repeated texts, such as the Gospel canticles: Magnificat, when we can venerate an icon of Mary, or if we have one, an image of the Annunciation; for the Benedictus, any image of John the Baptist would be good, and for the Nunc Dimittis, the Presentation or of Mary presenting her son to us, (which would be the Simeon’s-eye view of the scene!).

    And what of the historiated images - when the first letter of the psalm is incorporated into an elaborate design? This is what epitomizes art in the traditional psalter for many people:

    One would like to think that there is a place for them today. It would serve as a theme that summarizes a particular psalm, providing a moment’s reflection; or could it perhaps be presented as the equivalent of a visual antiphon? You never know, it might happen, but I’m not holding my breath. Remember, all of these are built into the Latin text, and it would be a lot of work to create the art to have every psalms like this today for the vernacular psalter which, realistically, will be the choice of most people.

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    The church of Ss Peter and Paul in Wilmington, California, located at 515 West Opp Street, will have a solemn High Mass this Thursday for the feast of Corpus Christi, celebrated according to the Premonstratensian Use by the Norbertine Fathers of St Michael’s Abbey. The Mass will start at 7:00 pm, and be followed by a Eucharistic Procession.


    From last year’s Corpus Christi celebration - the deacon at the solemn Mass wearing the “almutium”, a large garment of white rabbit fur worn over the maniple at the singing of the Gospel and the “Ite, missa est.”



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    Continuing with our Pentecost photopost series, once again we have a beautiful set of pictures (and one video) that show not only the beauty, but also the great variety and richness of our Catholic liturgical tradition: the vigil Mass, Vespers, Confirmation, a priest’s first Mass, and a shower of rose petals (photographed with a very cleverly chosen filter). Part three will be posted tomorrow, along with a request for photos of your upcoming Corpus Christi celebrations. Evangelize through beauty!

    Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini - Rome, Italy (FSSP)
    Mass of the Vigil
    The Second Prophecy (Exodus 14, 24 - 15, 1), followed by the tract (15, 1-2), and prayer. The Mass was sung by Floriani, a choir made of students from Thomas Aquinas College in California, one of the best choirs I have ever heard.




    Pontifical Vespers, celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop Georg Gänswein, and followed by the Confirmation of two parishioners.




    Oratory of St Philip Neri - Birmingham, England
    First Mass of Fr Dominic Edwards, C.O., who was ordained the previous day.



    Assumption Grotto - Detroit, Michigan
    Thanks to Fr Zuhlsdorf!



    Sacro Cuore - Tolentino, Italy


    St Catherine of Siena - Columbus, Ohio
    Photos by filter-meister Luke Vautour. This shot was taken from the vantage point of the persons dropping the rose petals from the church’s ceiling, which was done by temporarily removing some of the lights.



    St Anthony of Padua - Des Moines, Iowa






    St Gianna Beretta Molla - Northfield, New Jersey


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    New Liturgical Movement is pleased to make this announcement on behalf of the Carmelite sisters of Fairfield. Their noble project will be of great interest to many of our readers. Pray for God's blessings on their worthy endeavors.

    A New Carmel
    To continue and perpetuate the vital work of love in the heart of the Church, a new beautiful Monastery of Discalced Carmelite Nuns is being constructed (http://fairfieldcarmelites.org) in the quiet rural farmland of Fairfield, Pennsylvania. This beautiful new property will provide a fitting home for an interior blossoming of monastic life and will be ready to receive a constant stream of vocations zealous for God and His Church.
    “In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things!” (St. Therese of Lisieux)
    The Carmelite in the Heart of the Church
    The Carmelite Nun is a consecrated bride of Christ who is called to give herself unreservedly to the work of her Divine Bridegroom: the salvation of the world. In union with the Savior and imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary, Carmelites are hidden away in the heart of the Church, beating day and night with the rhythm of continuous prayer and sacrifice, in order to bring the vital flow of divine grace to the other members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Like the heart concealed in the chest, behind grilles, turnstiles, and high enclosure walls, they joyfully pursue a life of prayer and sacrifice so that they might glorify and love God—even for those who do not—and make reparation for sin, obtain heavenly aid for the clergy, support the labors of missionaries, preserve the unity of families, and increase divine charity in all the faithful for their eternal benefit.
    “The smallest act of pure love is of greater value in the eyes of God, and more profitable to the Church, than the greatest works.” (St. John of the Cross)
    The new Carmel in Fairfield is a daughter of the vibrant and growing Carmels in Valparaiso, Nebraska and Elysburg, Pennsylvania. The Nuns pray the full traditional Divine Office and have the Traditional Latin Mass daily, which is open to the public.
    Making History
    This Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Fairfield is being built according to the traditional style of an original 16th Century Spanish monastery, not merely for its aesthetic value, but for the quality and integrity of religious observance that is fostered by the beauty and simplicity of traditional monastic architecture. As the Nuns draw from the riches of their Spanish Carmelite architectural heritage, this new monastery will also be built using traditional building methods. Thus, stone masonry, timber framing, slate, plaster, and reclaimed wood for flooring will be used to recreate the simple but edifying style of an original 16th Century Carmel, for a shining example of the beauty of the Catholic Religion and a testimony to the world of the glory of God.
    Visitors to the Carmel will be able to be immersed in the graces of the prayer of Nuns, which reverberates within their cloister walls in the silence of holy contemplation, echoes in their devout recitation of the Divine Office, and resounds on high in the sublimest chant at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Furthermore, the contemplative religious brothers and priests of the Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the area will help provide the Sacraments to visitors and a place of hospitality in a guest and retreat house near the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, helping to make Fairfield, within driving distance of many Catholics on the East Coast, a center of prayerful retreat and spiritual refreshment for priests, religious, and the lay faithful coming from the region and around the country.
    Going on now and until July 25th, 2018, a series of stone and timber framing workshops will be held by professional craftsmen from Europe to begin construction on some of the initial facilities for the Carmel. These and future workshops are aimed at cultivating a workforce comprised of both volunteers and professionals. No previous experience or training is required. Both volunteers and professionals are invited to participate and can gain new certifications through this project. There is no charge for the course, and those who are interested in registering may call the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at 570-672-2122 to learn more.


    “Build the house: and it shall be acceptable to me, and I shall be glorified, saith the Lord.” (Haggai 1:8)
    How You Can Help Make History
    As these Carmelite Nuns offer their spiritual labors day and night for the eternal benefit of souls, this unique and historic work for Our Lord and Our Lady depends on the material support of the faithful in the construction of this house of God for generations to come. Organizations, families, and individuals are welcome to contribute or volunteer in a variety of ways in the construction and support of the Carmel, at any time of year. Also, your generous financial donation is much appreciated to realize in Fairfield a center of beautiful traditional liturgy for the enduring benefit of many souls. The St. Teresa of Jesus insisted to her religious daughters: “we live upon alms.”
    For more information and to support this Carmel in making history, please visit http://fairfieldcarmelites.org. May God reward you!

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    Our final Pentecost photopost for this year continues to show the great richness of the Church’s liturgical life, with First Communions, Confirmations, a bit of the Byzantine and Ordinariate Rites, a pilgrimage, and another first Mass. As always, we are very grateful to everyone who sent these in; time to get ready for Corpus Christi!

    Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory - San Jose, California (ICKSP)


    First Communions

    St Peter Eastern Catholic Church - Ukiah, California 






    In the Byzantine Rite, Vespers on Pentecost Sunday is known as “kneeling Vespers”, from a series of very long (even by Byzantine standards) prayers which are interpolated into the normal order of the service. The priest says these prayers as he and the congregation kneel facing each other.



    Mount Calvary Church - Baltimore, Maryland (Ordinariate) 
    Our Lady of Mt Carmel - Littleton, Colorado (FSSP) 



    Tradition will always be for the young.
    Holy Innocents - New York City
    Confirmations celebrated by H.E. John O’Hara, Auxiliary Bishop of New York

    The famous slap!





    Shrine of Our Lady of Pranto - Dornes, Portugal
    Photos of the pilgrimage from the church of Paio Mendes to the Shrine, courtesy of Mr Pedro Froes, from his blog Senza Pagare.




    St Agnes - New York City
    Fr. Leo Joseph Camurati, O.P., offered his first traditional Mass.


    Singing the Te Deum



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    Our next major photopost will be for Corpus Christi, which is celebrated either tomorrow, May 31, or this coming Sunday, June 3. Please send your photos (whether of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) to photopost@newliturgicalmovement.org for inclusion. Of course, we are especially glad to include pictures of Eucharistic Processions, one of the major staples of this feast, but also those of celebrations in other rites, as well as Vespers and other parts of the Office. For the past four years, we received enough submissions to make three separate posts - let’s keep this tradition going! Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important. Evangelize through beauty!

    From our second Corpus Christi photopost of last year, a particularly good shot by one of our regular contributors, Mr Arrys Ortañez; the Eucharistic procession in Manhattan from the church of the Holy Innocents.

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  • 05/31/18--05:00: Corpus Christi 2018
  • Transiturus de mundo ad Patrem Jesus, in mortis suae memoriam * instituit sui corporis et sanguinis Sacramentum. V. Corpus in cibum, sanguinem in portum tribuens, Hoc, ait, facite in meam commemorationem. Instituit. Gloria Patri. Instituit. (The twelfth responsory of Matins of Corpus Christi in the Benedictine Breviary.)

    Folio 22r of the Hours of René of Anjou, King of Sicily (15th century; Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits.)
    V. When He was about to pass from the world to the Father, in memory of His death, Jesus * instituted the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. V. Giving His Body as food, and His Blood as drink, He said, “Do this in memory of me.” He instituted. Glory be. He instituted.

    The text of this responsory is taken from the Bull Transiturus of Pope Urban IV (1261-64), by which he ordered the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi; it is such a beautiful piece of writing that it was commonly read in the Divine Office at Matins of the feast. This custom was changed in the Roman Breviary by the Tridentine reform, but it continued elsewhere, most notably at Liège, where the feast was first celebrated, and where Pope Urban had been archdeacon; also in the Carthusian Breviary.

    When Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, was about to pass from this world to the Father, as the time of His Passion drew nigh, having taken supper, He instituted unto the memory of His death the most exalted and magnificent Sacrament of His Body and Blood, giving His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. For however so often we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. In the institution of this saving Sacrament, He said to the Apostles, “Do this in memory of Me”, so that this august and venerable Sacrament might be the special and particular memorial of the exceptional love with which He loved us: this memorial, I say, wondrous and astounding, full of delight, sweet, most secure, and precious above all things, in which signs are renewed and wonders changed, in which is contained every delight and the enjoyment of every savor, and the very sweetness of the Lord is tasted, by which we do indeed obtain the support of our life and salvation. This is the memorial most sweet, most sacred, most holy, profitable unto salvation, by which we recall the grace of our redemption; by which we are drawn away from evil and strengthened in good, and advance to the increase of virtues and graces, by the bodily presence of the Savior.

    The Institution of the Holy Eucharist, by Federico Barocci, from the Aldobrandini Chapel of St Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome; 1603-8
    Transiturus de mundo ad Patrem Salvator noster Dominus Jesus Christus, cum tempus suae passionis instaret, sumpta coena, in memoriam mortis suae instítuit summum et magnificum sui Corporis et Sanguinis sacramentum: Corpus in cibum, et Sánguinem in poculum tribuendo. Nam quotiescumque hunc panem manducamus, et calicem bibimus, mortem Domini annuntiamus. In institutione quidem hujus salutiferi Sacramenti, dixit ipse Apostolis: Hoc facite in meam commemorationem: ut praecipuum et insigne memoriale sui amoris, quo nos dilexit, esset nobis hoc praecelsum et venerabile Sacramentum, memoriale, inquam, mirabile ac stupendum, delectabile ac suave, tutissimum ac sitibundum, carissimum et super omnia pretiosum. In quo innovata sunt signa, et mirabilia immutata, in quo habetur omne delectamentum, et omnis saporis suavitas, ipsaque dulcedo Domini degustatur; in quo utique vitae suffragium consequimur, et salutis. Hoc est memoriale dulcissimum, memoriale sanctissimum, memoriale salvificum, in quo gratam redemptionis nostrae recensemus memoriam, in quo a malo retrahimur, confortamur in bono, et ad virtutem et gratiarum proficimus incrementa, et in quo profecto reficimur ipsius corporali praesentia.

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    St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy is pleased to announce a provisional list of speakers and topics for the Fota XI International Liturgy Conference, to be held in Cork, Ireland, July, 7-9, on the subject of the Divine Office, entitled Psallite Sapienter: The Liturgy of the Hours.

    1. Dom Benedict Maria Andersen, OSB (Ireland): Erant semper in templo: The Divine Office in the Life of the Church

    2. Fr. Joseph Briody, (St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts): The Imprecatory Passages of the Psalms and their use in the Divine Office

    3. Fr. Sven Leo Sven Conrad, FSSP (Germany): Praying in the name of the Church - The liturgy of the hours as public prayer

    4. Gregory DiPippo (U.S.A.): The History of the Church in the Divine Office

    5. Matthew Hazell (United Kingdom): The Second Vatican Council and Proposals for Reform of the Roman Breviary (1959-1963)

    6. Sr. Maria M. Kiely, O.S.B. (U.S.A.): Sobria Ebrietas: the role of the hymn in the Divine Office

    7. Dr. Peter Kwasniewski (U.S.A.): Useful Repetition in the Divine Office: A Case Study for Questioning Sacrosanctum Concilium 34

    8. Prof. William Mahrt (U.S.A.): The Role of Antiphons in the Singing of the Divine Office

    9. Fr. Dennis McManus (U.S.A.): The Reform of the Liturgy of the Hours in Light of Nostra Aetate. 

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    Sung by our friends of the Schola Sainte-Cécile at the church of Saint-Eugène in Paris this past Sunday.


    Kyrie, fons bonitatis, Pater ingenite, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, eleison. --- (source of goodness, unbegotten Father, from whom all good things come forth)
    Kyrie, qui pati Natum mundi pro crimine, ipsum ut salvaret, misisti, eleison. --- (who sent Thy Son to suffer for the sin of the world, that He might save it)
    Kyrie, qui septiformis das dona Pneumatis, a quo caelum, terra replentur, eleison. --- (who givest the gift of the sevenfold Spirit, by whom the heaven and earth are filled)
    Christe, unice Dei Patris genite, quem de Virgine nasciturum mundo mirifice sancti praedixerunt Prophetae, eleison. --- (only begotten of God the Father, whom the holy Prophets foretold would be wonderously born into the world of the Virgin)
    Christe hagie, caeli compos regiae, melos gloriae cui semper astans pro numine Angelorum decantat apex, eleison. --- (Holy one, Lord of the kingdom of heaven, to whom the highest Angels sing the song of glory as they stand forever before the Godhead)
    Christe, caelitus adsis nostris precibus, pronis mentibus quem in terris devote colimus; ad te, pie Jesu, clamamus, eleison. --- (from heaven be present to our prayers, whom we devoutly worship in earth, our minds turned toward Thee; to Thee, holy Jesus we cry out)

    Kyrie, Spiritus alme, cohaerens Patri Natoque, unius usiae consistendo, flans ab utroque, eleison. --- (kindly Spirit, united to the Father and Son, consisting of one essence, proceding from both)
    Kyrie, qui baptizato in Jordanis unda Christo, effulgens specie columbina apparuisti, eleison. --- (who, when Christ was baptized in the waters of the Jordan, appeared in brightness in the form of a dove)
    Kyrie, ignis divine, pectora nostra succende, ut digni pariter decantare possimus semper, eleison. --- (divine fire, enkindle our hearts, that we may always be able to sing with the same worthiness)

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    Here’s something which we have never shown before on NLM, the blessing of a church bell according to the traditional rite. The ceremony was done this past Sunday at St Barnabas Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska, a church of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, by His Excellency Elden Curtiss, Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha. Since it was done at an Anglican Use church, the blessing followed the original version of the Pontifical of Clement VIII, whch the Anglicans very wisely elected to followed, rather than the drastically mutilated version promulgated in 1961: yet another reason to rejoice at the creation of the Ordinariate Rite. These photos by Mr Mel Bohn are reproduced from the parish’s Facebook page, with the permission of the pastor, Fr Jason Catania.

    The bell is suspended in such a way that it can easily be touched on both the inside and outside, and so that the bishop can walk around it.
    In according with the long-standing custom that bells are named for Saints, this bell is called Leo, after Pope St Leo I.
    The bishop wears a white cope and miter. A faldstool is place near the bell, at which the bishop sits for the beginning of the ceremony, while the choir recites a group seven psalms without an antiphon. (These are Psalms 51, 54, 57, 67, 70, 86 and 130, according to the Hebrew numbering traditionally used in Anglican Bibles.)
    The bishop then makes holy water with the normal blessing found in the Ritual and in the Missal, which is also used elsewhere in the ceremonies of the Pontifical. However, before the mingling of the water and salt, he adds the following prayer, which is unique to this blessing.

    “Bless, O Lord, this water with a heavenly benediction, and may the power of the Holy Ghost come upon it, so that when this vessel, prepared to call together the children of the Holy Church, has been washed with it, there may be kept far away from wheresoever this bell may sound, the power of those lying in wait, the shadow of spectres, the ravages of whirlwinds, the stroke of lightning, the damage of thunder, the disaster of tempests, and every breath of storm; and when the sons of Christians shall hear its ringing, may their devotion increase, so that hastening to the bosom of their loving mother the Church, they may sing to Thee, in the Church of the Saints, a new canticle, bringing therein to play the proud sounding of the trumpet, the melody of the harp, the sweetness of the organ, the joyous exultation of the drum, and the rejoicing of the cymbal; and so, in the holy temple of Thy glory by their service and their prayers, may they bid come the multitude of the angelic hosts. Through our Lord...”
    The bishop begins the washing of the bell with the holy water, taking an aspergil and sprinkling it along the edge both inside and out. This is the part of the ceremony which has given it its traditional nickname, the “baptism” of a bell.
    The washing is completed by the sacred ministers with sponges; the bell is washed inside and out, from top to bottom, and then dried. While this is done, the bishop sits at the faldstool, and with the other clergy present recites the final six psalms of the Psalter, without an antiphon; the last three, psalms 148, 149 and 150, are recited as a single psalm with a single doxology, as they are at Lauds.

    The psalms being finished, the bishop rises, and makes a single cross on the outside of the bell with the Oil of the Sick.

    He then says the following prayer, making the sign of the cross over it at the place marked.

    “O God, who through the blessed Moses, the law giver, Thy servant, didst command that silver trumpets should be made, through which when sounded by the priests at the time of sacrifice, the people, reminded by their sweet strains, would make ready to worship Thee, and assemble to offer sacrifices, and encouraged to battle by their sounding, would overcome the onslaughts of their enemies; grant, we beseech Thee, that this vessel, prepared for Thy Holy Church, may be sancti+fied by the Holy Spirit, so that, through its touch, the faithful may be invited to their reward. And when its melody shall sound in the ears of the peoples, may the devotion of their faith increase; may all the snares of the enemy, the crash of hail-storms and hurricanes, the violence of tempests be driven far away; may the deadly thunder be weakened, may the winds become salubrious, and be kept in check; may the right hand of Thy strength lay low the powers of the air, so that hearing this bell they may tremble and flee before the standard of the holy cross of Thy Son depicted upon it, to Whom every knee bows of those that are in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confesses that the same our Lord Jesus Christ, swallowing up death upon the gibbet of the cross, reigneth in the glory of God the Father, (Philippians 2, 10), with the same Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end. R. Amen.”
    He wipes the cross off with a towel, and then intones the following antiphon, which is completed by choir, and sung with Psalm 29 Bring unto the Lord, from which it is taken.
    Aña The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of majesty hath thundered, The Lord is upon many waters.

    While this is sung,the bishop makes with the Oil of the Sick seven crosses on the outside of the bell, and with Chrism four on the inside. As he makes each cross, he says, “May this bell be sancti+fied and conse+crated, o Lord. In the name of the Fa+ther, and of the + Son, and of the Holy + Spirit. Unto the honor of Saint N. Peace to thee.”

    At each place he anoints the bell twice, at the words “sanctified” and “consecrated”, and then makes the sign of the cross with his right hand over the same place three times at the words “In the name of the Father etc.” (This is similar to the practice by which various anointings are done during the consecration of a church.) He also names a saint to in whose honor the bell is dedicated.


    The anointings being done, the bishop says the following prayer.

    “Let us pray. Almighty, Eternal God, Who, by the sounding of trumpets before the Ark of the Covenant, didst cause to tumble down the stone walls within which the army of the enemy was entrenched, do Thou pour out upon this bell a heavenly bene+diction, so that at its sound, the fiery darts of the enemy, the stroke of lightning, the hail-storm and the damage of tempests may be driven far away; and to the prophet’s question, “What ailed thee, O sea, that thou didst flee?” (Psalm 114, 5) being driven back in their movements as was the river Jordan, they may give answer, “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. Wherefore, not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy’s sake.” (Ps. 114, 7-8; 115, 1) And thus when this vessel here present, like the other vessels of the altar, is touched with Holy Chrism, anointed with Holy Oil, may all those who assemble at its call be free from all the temptations of the enemy, and always follow the teachings of Catholic faith. Through our Lord...”
    The bishop washes his hands, and then imposes in a thurible or brazier a mixture of different kinds of incense and myrrh, called thymiama in the rubrics. This is then placed under the bell, in such a way that all of the smoke rises into the bell.

    Meanwhile, the choir sings the following antiphon, and the last five verses of Psalm 77 (76), from which it is taken, with the doxology and the repetition of the antiphon.

    Aña Thy way, O God, is in the holy place: who is the great God like our God?

    The bishop then says the following prayer.

    “Let us pray. Almighty Ruler, Christ, Who in the flesh, which Thou didst assume, were asleep in the boat, when the rising tempest disturbed the sea, which directly at Thy awakening and command did fall silent, come kindly to aid Thy people in their needs; pour out upon this bell the dew of Thy Holy Spirit, so that at its sound the enemy of the good may always flee, the Christian people may be invited to faith, the hostile army may be struck with terror; Thy people summoned together be comforted by it in the Lord, and, as if delighted with David’s harp, may the Holy Spirit come down from above. And even while Samuel was sacrificing the suckling lamb as a holocaust to the King of the Eternal Empire, the noise of the rushing winds drove away the multitude of his adversaries: so in like manner, when the sound of this vessel pierces the clouds, may angelic hands preserve the assembly of Thy Church; may everlasting protection save the fruits of those who believe, their souls and their bodies. Through Thee, O Christ Jesus, Who with God the Father livest and reignest in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen.”
    The deacon then sings a Gospel, St Luke 10, 38-42, accompanied by the subdeacon and other ministers, with all of the usual ceremonies of a solemn Pontifical Mass. (This it the traditional Gospel for the feast of the Assumption. St Mary Magdalene is traditionally understood to represent the contemplative life in religion, and St Martha the active life; this Gospel is sung here to signify that the church bell rings to call the faithful to all the different activities that take place within the church.)

    “At that time, Jesus entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord' s feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

    The bishop makes the sign of the cross a final time over the bell, and departs.

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    The Roman Rite has various ways of arranging the Masses during an octave. That of Easter, for example, has a completely proper Mass for every day, that of Pentecost for every day but Thursday, which was originally an “aliturgical” day; when its Mass was instituted later, it was given proper readings, but everything else is repeated from Sunday. The feast of Ss Peter and Paul is continued with one Mass for the days within the octave, and another for the octave day itself, plus the special Commemoration of St Paul on June 30th. Some others, however, especially the relatively late ones like Ascension and All Saints, simply repeat the Mass of the day throughout the octave.

    Folio 87r of the 9th century Lectionary of Alcuin, showing the Epistle then in use for the Octave of Ss Peter and Paul, Galatians 2, 6-10. 
    Corpus Christi, originally instituted in the mid-13th century, and slow to be received in many places, falls into the latter category, although the Mass of the Sunday within the octave, which is much older than the octave itself, is different. Octaves are for the contemplation of mysteries that are too great for a single day, and it is certainly true that “repetita juvant”, a proverb which the Roman Rite, with its habitual conservatism, historically took very much to heart.

    In the mid-17th century, most of the churches of France began revising their liturgical books on their own initiative, and without reference to the authority of the Holy See, as part of the liturgical movement which we now often call “neo-Gallican.” Paris was, of course, one of the leaders of this trend, and the first See of importance to change the order of the Breviary Psalter, which would later become the model for the reformed Psalter of St Pius X.

    When the first neo-Gallican Parisian Missal came out in 1685, the Mass of Corpus Christi remained unchanged. However, the Mass for the Sunday within the Octave was extensively revised to make it fit in more with the theme of the feast. (The neo-Gallican revisers were very fond of easily grasped themes.) The 1602 Paris Missal has the same Epistle as the Roman Rite, 1 John 3, 13-18; the 1685 Missal changes it to 1 Corinthians, 10, 16-21, principally because of the opening words, “The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread.” This is clearly very suitable for Corpus Christi, and in fact provides the text for a responsory of the feast which was composed by St Thomas, and found in almost every liturgical Use apart from the Roman. The Gospel, Luke 14, 16-24, beginning with the words “A certain man made a great supper, and invited many,” is left unchanged for obvious reasons.

    If one Archbishop of Paris could arrogate to his office the right to re-edit the liturgical books used in his See without reference to the Roman authorities, there was no particular reason why subsequent Archbishops should not avail themselves of the same right. Consequently, the liturgical books of Paris went through multiple revisions between 1680 and their definitive abolition in 1873. The most momentous of these were the editions of Abp Charles de Vintimille, the Breviary of 1736, and the Missal of 1738.

    The frontispiece of the 1685 Parisian Missal; conspicuously absent are the words “ad formam sacrosancti concilii Tridentini emendatum – emended according to the form (laid down by) the sacred council of Trent.”
    This newer revised Parisian Use is in many respects inspired by tradition, but did not shy away from innovations, which vary in quality; in regard to the Mass lectionary, it retained the traditional two-reading structure, while expanding the corpus of readings considerably. For the octave of Corpus Christi, a separate pair of readings is provided for each day; the Sunday readings of the 1685 Missal are retained as part of the series.

    Friday: Genesis 14, 17-20 – Matthew 26, 26-29
    Saturday: Exodus 12, 1-11 – Luke 22, 7-20
    Sunday: 1 Corinthians 10, 12-21 – Luke 14, 16-24
    Monday: Exodus 16, 13-18 – John 6, 27-35
    Tuesday: Wisdom 16, 20-28 – John 6, 41-44
    Wednesday: 2 Corinthians 6, 14 - 7, 1 – John 6, 51-55
    Thursday: Hebrews 7, 18-28 – John 6, 58-70

    The first two of the added Gospel readings are taken from Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of the Institution of the Eucharist; a parallel passage from St Mark (14, 17-25) is added to the readings assigned for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament. The four Gospels from John 6 (Monday to Thursday) give a broader selection from the long passage known as the Eucharistic Discourse, ending with St John’s account of St Peter’s confession. “Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”

    Christ Giving the Keys to St Peter, by Perugino, 1482; Sistine Chapel, Vatican City. The background on the left represents Christ speaking to the people at Capharnaum in John 6; on the right, the figures that seem like they are dancing are actually trying to stone Him, in response to some of the sayings like “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” In the foreground, St Peter is rewarded for his confession of Christ.
    The passage from Genesis 14 tells of the bread and wine given to Abraham by Melchisedech, the king of Salem, after the defeat of the five kings. These have been taken from the most ancient times as a symbol of the elements of the Eucharist, as described by St Cyprian in the Matins readings of  Tuesday within the octave. “In Genesis, therefore, in order that the blessing might in due order be pronounced upon Abraham through the priest Melchisedech, there was first offered the image of the sacrifice, consisting of bread and wine. And the Lord, completing this and perfecting it, offered bread and a cup of wine mingled with water; and He that is the fullness fulfilled the truth of that which was prefigured.” This is also, of course, why Melchisedech is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.

    Of the two readings from Exodus, the first is repeated from Good Friday, describing the preparation of the Paschal Lamb; the second is the instruction given to the children of Israel about collecting the manna in the desert. These were certainly inspired by the citation of the same passages in the first two Matins responsories of St Thomas’ Office for Corpus Christi.

    The second half of the book of Wisdom (from verse 10, 16 to the end) is a long meditation of the events of the Exodus; the passage given above for Tuesday also refers to the manna with which God fed the children of Israel in the desert, and to which Christ and his interlocutors refer in John 6. The words of verse 20, “Thou gavest them bread from heaven ... having in it all that is delicious” are the versicle of Vespers of the feast, and also sung at Benediction.

    The Wednesday Epistle from St Paul is included here as an admonition on the proper disposition for reception of the Sacrament: “You are the temple of the living God... Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God.” That of the Octave day speaks of the worship of the New Covenant as “a setting aside of the former commandment.” This passage is perhaps also chosen for Corpus Christi as a deliberate rebuke or challenge to the Calvinists, who often cited the words of verse 27 “Who needeth not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices first for his own sins, and then for the people’s, for this He did once, in offering Himself”, against the Catholic doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

    The neo-Gallican revisions made a number of very bold changes to the Missal; it was a common preoccupation of the revisers that original liturgical compositions should be replaced with Scriptural quotes, but St Thomas’ Mass for Corpus Christi was already mostly Scriptural anyway, and was therefore left alone in 1685. (Their great enemy of the movement, Dom Prosper Guéranger, speaks of these changes, with classic French délicatesse, as “Honteuses et criminelles mutilations, témérités coupables – shameful and criminal mutilations, rash acts deserving of condemnation.”)

    St. Thomas Aquinas in Glory among the Doctors of the Church, by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1631
    One change was then made to it in the Missal of 1738, by replacing the original Communio, “As often as you shall eat this Bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until He comes. Therefore whoever eats this Bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Alleluia.” Anticipating one of the more inexcusable changes made by the Novus Ordo lectionary, this is replaced by an exact quote of Wisdom 16, 20, “Thou didst feed thy people with the food of angels, and gavest them bread from heaven prepared without labour; having in it all that is delicious, and the sweetness of every taste.”

    The Missal of 1738 has two other interesting things to note in regard to Corpus Christi. The first is that during the Sequence Lauda Sion, the verse “Ecce panis Angelorum” is sung three times on the feast day itself, and on the octave, but only once on the days within the octave. The celebrant and the major ministers kneel when it is sung, while the members of the choir “face the altar until the end of the Sequence.”

    The second is that when it was issued, the feast of the Sacred Heart had not yet been formally approved by Rome, or accepted outside a few religious orders; however, this Missal did fulfill one aspect of the requests made by the Lord to St Margaret Mary Alacoque in His appearances to her. Among the collection of votive Masses is a special Mass “for the reparation of injuries done to Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament”, placed between the votive Mass of the Sacrament and that of the Passion. A rubric after the Octave of Corpus Christi prescribes this Mass be said on the following day, which is now kept everywhere as the feast of the Sacred Heart. The proper texts of this Mass can be read in Latin and English here.

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    As announced previously at NLM, The Society of St. Dominic sponsored a visit of Bishop Athanasius Schneider to the city of Winnipeg for two Pontifical Masses and a ceremony at which the Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii award was presented to His Excellency in gratitude for his clear articulation and courageous defense of the Catholic Faith. Bishop Schneider graciously gave NLM permission to publish his sermons for both days. Today we will publish the sermon for the Feast of Corpus Christi; tomorrow will be published the sermon from the previous day.

    “Heaven is Being Opened”: On the Most Holy Eucharist
    Sermon of H. E. Bishop Athanasius Schneider
    St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba
    May 31, 2018
    Dear brothers and sisters! Our Lord Jesus Christ said: «I am with you always, even unto the end of the world» (Mt 28:20). Jesus remained with us in the sacraments, particularly in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

    Jesus sent the Holy Spirit who stays always with us. The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, dwells in those souls who live in the state of grace. The Holy Spirit lives always in the Church, because the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. The soul gives life to the body and to each of its parts. When the souls departs from the body, the body becomes dead, without life. This applies also to the Church. The Church cannot live without the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot move without the Holy Spirit. All good and holy deeds in the Church are accomplished with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Which is the greatest, the most important, the most indispensable act, which the Church could accomplish? This act is the celebration of the Holy Mass. And why? Because the Holy Mass is really and substantially the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. It is the same and identical sacrifice which Jesus offered upon the Cross for the salvation and the eternal redemption of humankind. On the Cross, Jesus accomplished the most sublime act of the adoration of the Father, of the whole Holy Trinity, offering as the High Priest the sacrifice of His body and of His blood. He did this through the Holy Spirit (cf. Heb 9:14), with the power of the eternal Flame, Who is the Holy Spirit and Who burned always in the soul of Jesus. The sacrifice of the Cross, offered through the power of the Holy Spirit, is really and actually present in all its substance and in all its effects in the celebration of the Holy Mass.

    Jesus, our High Priest, offers His sacrifice continuously—that means without interruption—through His priests. The human priest is the living instrument of Christ. The human priest was made a true priest by the power of the Holy Spirit. The human priest offers in the celebration of the Mass, also through the power of the Holy Spirit, the immense and divine sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifice of Christ is to such an extent great, that it can not be limited in the tight frame of time and space. The sacrifice of Christ is infinite and eternal. Whenever Holy Mass is celebrated, heaven is being opened, and Jesus Christ, our Eternal High Priest, is present with His immolated body, with His blood poured out, with His merciful Heart where without interruption burns the flame of the act of His total surrender to the Father for the salvation of men. Hence, in the Mass we are gazing spiritually at the living Christ with His wounds, His luminous and radiant wounds like divine diamonds. The mystery of the Holy Mass shows us the truth that Jesus Christ is our High Priest «ever living to make intercession for us» (Heb 7:25).

    In each Holy Mass heaven is being opened, and with our spiritual eyes we see the immense glory of God, we see with the eyes of our soul the immolated and living Lamb, before Whom all the Angels and Saints in heaven prostrate themselves, falling down on their faces, adoring and glorifying Christ the Lamb with joyful and awed love. When the priest offers the sacrifice of Mass in the moment of the consecration and elevation of the living and immolated body of Christ, the heavens are truly being opened. What should we do in these sublime moments? We too should fall down on our knees, offering to our Savior the affects of our love, of our contrition, and of our gratitude, pronouncing in the depth of our heart maybe such words as: «Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner», or «My Lord and my God, I believe!», or «My God and my All».

    And then, this Eucharistic Body of Christ, filled with the immense divine glory and with His radiant wounds, is being carried by the consecrated hands of the priest in order to be delivered to our souls as divine food in the moment of Holy Communion. And what we shall do in this moment? Without any doubt, we should greet our Lord in the same manner as did the apostle Saint Thomas, who fell down upon his knees professing: «My Lord and my God!».

    Saint Peter Julian Eymard said: “Has Jesus not a right to still greater honors in His Sacrament, since He multiplies His sacrifices therein and abases Himself more? To Him the solemn honors, the magnificence, the richness, the beauty of worship! God regulated Mosaic worship in its minutest details, and it was only a symbol. The worship and honors paid to Jesus Christ are the measure of the faith of a people. Let honor therefore be given to Jesus Eucharistic. He is worthy of it; He has a right to it” (The Real Presence. Eucharistic Meditations).

    The form of the Holy Mass which we celebrate today is the form which had been celebrated even in its details during more than a thousand years. All our ancestors, almost all Saints whom we know from the second millennium—as, for example, Saint Francis, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint John Mary Vianney, Saint Therese of Child Jesus, Saint Padre Pio, the young Saints: Saint Maria Goretti, Saint Francisco and Jacinta of Fatima—all of them were drawing their spiritual strength from this immemorial liturgy of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

    This form of the liturgy is therefore very ancient and venerable, it is the form which expresses the constant liturgical tradition of the Church. It should therefore not be called the “extraordinary form” of the Mass, but the “more ancient and constant form” of the Mass. The Church makes it available to us in our days. In this way we can feel as one and the same big family, which embraces Christian generations of more than a millennium. This represents for us a moving fact, which fills us with gratitude and joy. We not only have the same faith, we can as well pray and glorify God in the same liturgical manner, which has been valid and which had been loved by our ancestors. «Jesus Christ is same yesterday, today and forever» (Heb 13:8).

    Come, O Holy Spirit, and make our faith unshakeable, so that we may not allow ourselves to be confused in our holy convictions by anyone. Come, O Holy Spirit and kindle in our soul the flame of a deep and awed love for the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Body of our Savior Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, stay always with us with your Holy Sacrifice and with your Eucharistic Body. The Eucharist is our true sun, our true life, our true happiness, our paradise already here on earth. Amen.

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    Today NLM is pleased to publish the sermon preached by Bishop Athanasius Schneider on May 30, 2018, at the Pontifical Low Mass offered in St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Winnipeg, Canada. We are grateful to His Excellency for the permission to share these inspiring words with our readers.

    Bishop Schneider in London


    The Holy Mass — Our Divine Treasure

    Sermon of H. E. Bishop Athanasius Schneider
    St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba
    May 30, 2018

    Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! In these moments we participate in the most holy, in the most great, in the most wonderful and in the most divine work in all creation and in all eternity: the Holy Sacrifice of Mass. The Holy Mass is in substance the same as the Holy Sacrifice of Golgotha. We are present at the same work which Christ accomplished on the Cross and which Christ the Eternal High Priest is now and forever acting in Heaven in the presence of the Holy Trinity: the sacrifice of the eternal and everlasting Covenant.

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen said: “There are certain things in life which are too beautiful to be forgotten, such as the love of a mother. Hence, we treasure her picture. The love of soldiers who sacrificed themselves for their country is likewise too beautiful to be forgotten; hence, we revere their memory on Memorial Day. But the greatest blessing which ever came to this earth was the visitation of the Son of God in the form and habit of man. His life, above all lives, is too beautiful to be forgotten; hence, we treasure the divinity of His words in Sacred Scripture, and the charity of His deeds in our daily actions. Unfortunately, this is all some souls remember, namely, His words and His deeds; important as these are, they are not the greatest characteristic of the divine Savior. The most sublime act in the history of Christ was His death. … If then death was the supreme moment for which Christ lived, it was therefore the one thing He wished to have remembered. He did not ask that men should write down His words into a scripture; He did not ask that His kindness to the poor should be recorded in history; but He did ask that men remember His death. And in order that its memory might not be any haphazard narrative on the part of men, He Himself instituted the precise way it should be recalled.”

    Archbishop Sheen continues, saying: “Hence the Mass is to us the crowning act of Christian worship. A pulpit in which the words of our Lord are repeated does not unite us to Him; a choir in which sweet sentiments are sung brings us no closer to His Cross than to His garments. A temple without an altar of sacrifice is non-existent among primitive peoples, and is meaningless among Christians. And so in the Catholic Church the altar, and not the pulpit or the choir or the organ, is the center of worship, for there is re-enacted the memorial of His Passion. Its value does not depend on him who says it, or on him who hears it; it depends on Him who is the One High Priest and Victim, Jesus Christ our Lord. The Mass is the greatest event in the history of mankind; the only holy act which keeps the wrath of God from a sinful world, because it holds the Cross between heaven and earth.”

    When we recognize and really believe in what each Holy Mass is, then every detail of the rite of the Holy Mass, every word, every gesture is important, is deeply meaningful and spiritual. Even from the moment we enter a church to participate in the Holy Mass, we have to try to lift up our mind and heart to Golgotha and to the heavenly liturgy. Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote: “The Catholic Church alone is beautiful. The celebrant, deacon and subdeacon, acolytes with lights, the incense, and the chanting — all combine to one end, one act of worship. You feel it is really a worshipping; every sense, eyes, ears, smell, are made to know that worship is going on. The choir singing out the Kyrie, and the priest and his assistants bowing low, and saying the Confiteor. This is worship, and it is far above reason” (words of Mr. White in the novel Loss and Gain).

    Saint John Mary Vianney explained the greatness of the Holy Mass: “All good works together are not of equal value with the sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men, and the Holy Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison; it is the sacrifice that man makes of his life to God; the Mass is the sacrifice that God makes to man of His Body and of His Blood. Oh, how great is a priest! If he understood himself he would die. God obeys him; he speaks two words, and Our Lord comes down from Heaven at his voice, and shuts Himself up in a little Host. God looks upon the altar. ‘That is My well-beloved Son,’ He says, ‘in whom I am well-pleased.’ He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim. If someone said to us, ‘At such an hour a dead person is to be raised to life,’ we should run very quickly to see it. But is not the Consecration, which changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of God, a much greater miracle than to raise a dead person to life? If we knew the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or rather, if we had faith, we should be much more zealous to assist at it.”

    Saint Peter Julian Eymard said: “Why has our Lord willed to establish so close a relation between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and His death? It was, in the first place, to remind us of the price His Sacrament cost Him. The Eucharist, in fact, is the fruit of the death of Jesus. The Eucharist is a testament, a legacy, which becomes valid only at the death of the testator. To give His testament legal force, Jesus had then to die. Every time we come into the presence of the Eucharist, we may therefore say: ‘This precious testament cost Jesus Christ His life; He thereby shows us His boundless love, for He Himself said there is no greater proof of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus gave me the greatest proof of His love when He went to His death in order to make the Eucharist possible and give it to me. How many think of this price paid for the Eucharist? And yet Jesus is there to remind us of it. But like unnatural children we are bent only on using and enjoying our riches, without ever thinking of the One Who acquired them for us at the cost of His life” (The Real Presence. Eucharistic Meditations, ch. XIII).

    Dear brothers and sisters, let us receive the Eucharistic Lord with love, with purity of heart, with a gesture of adoration kneeling down, with a gesture of humility and littleness opening our mouth and receiving the Holiest of Holies, the King of the universe, in the little sacred Host. O Lord, when we have You in the Eucharist, we have all things and we want for nothing. Amen.


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    To me, and, I think, to most traditionalists, it is obvious that the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and the traditional Roman Mass are spiritual close relations, and that the Novus Ordo departs from the heritage they share in common.

    But one sometimes encounters Byzantine Catholics who, misled by superficial similarities between the Byzantine liturgy and the Novus Ordo (e.g., that they are usually done in a vernacular language audibly pronounced) and by the obvious differences between the Byzantine liturgy and the traditional Roman rite (e.g., that there is much more silence in the latter than in the former, and that the people seem to play a more “active” role in the one than in the other), maintain that the Byzantine and Novus Ordo liturgies are spiritually more akin, and thus, when presented with a choice, will choose the Roman usus recentior over the usus antiquior. Indeed, protagonists and apologists of the Roman liturgical reform often pretend to be admirers of the Eastern tradition and like to point out the many seemingly “Eastern” features of the neo-Roman liturgy.

    Now, if it is true that the Byzantine liturgy and the traditional Latin liturgy have far more in common with each other than either has with the Novus Ordo, we ought to be able to state precisely what this commonality consists in. I propose that we can see it in the following principles, which I will first list, and then expound:

    1. The principle of tradition;
    2. the principle of mystery;
    3. the principle of elevated mode;
    4. the principle of ritual integrity or stability;
    5. the principle of density;
    6. the principle of adequate and repeated preparation;
    7. the principle of truthfulness;
    8. the principle of hierarchy;
    9. the principle of parallelism; and
    10. the principle of separation.

    1. The Principle of Tradition. Both are the result of an organic development of an ancient apostolic core, transmitted through centuries of living faith; in spite of attributions of this or that liturgy to a famous saint such as St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil, in fact the rite is the work of many whom we cannot name. No Byzantine liturgy or classic Roman liturgy is the product of a committee of avant-garde experts out of touch with the people and captive to fashionable theories long since exploded. We may call this the principle of tradition, of receiving what is handed down. Put simply: it is not the case that a liturgy is good because the authority of the Church deems it to be good; rather, the Church knows it to be good because she has received it. Here we strike at the root of that bizarre ultramontanism in the West that considers liturgy to be nothing other than what papal authority has promulgated — as if liturgy is an infinitely malleable clay whose shape is wholly left to the sculptor’s will. Prior to Paul VI, papal authority promulgated that which was already known and loved as traditional in the Latin Church.[1]

    2. The Principle of Mystery. Each of these liturgies exhibits the principle of mystery: the liturgy is palpably sacred, a work and a wonder that God does in our midst, to which man is permitted to unite himself in fear and trembling. Traditional liturgy is like a cloud in which God dwells, and unto which Moses dares to approach. There is no sense of a meeting with an agenda, conducted by company managers, characterized by a lot of reading of texts and sharing out of tasks. We lie prostrate on holy ground before the burning bush of divine self-revelation.

    3. The Principle of Elevated Mode. The prayers and lessons of traditional Eastern and Western liturgies are either chanted by cantors, deacons, subdeacons, and choirs, or whispered in the sanctuary by the priest, but never merely recited like the daily news or a school lesson. Part of this elevation is the use of what we might call “high language.” In the East it takes the form of exquisite poetic compositions; in the West, of venerable Latin locutions. Latin is as truly, properly, and definitively the language of the Roman Catholic Church as the vernaculars are the languages of Eastern rites. Something that has endured for 1,600 years in the West is not a random accident but a constitutive principle, as none other than Pope John XXIII declared in his Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, signed on the altar in St. Peter’s in 1962. Those who attend the usus antiquior are well aware of the powerful effect on the faithful of the ceremonial use of an ancient language that has acquired a numinous force with the passage of time. The very fact that this language is specially set apart, consecrated as it were for the public worship of God, objectively represents and subjectively induces that separation of sacred from profane that is at the heart of sacrificial religion.
    4. The Principle of Ritual Integrity. Both the Divine Liturgy and the traditional Latin Mass pre-exist any given celebration as determinate, fully-articulated rites that clergy and people follow with humble obedience. The prayers, antiphons, readings, gestures, and chants are fixed and prescribed; above all, the most holy prayer, the anaphora, is either unchanging (in the West) or determined by the liturgical calendar (in the East). In this way, the celebrant’s personal preferences or choices are never driving the action. We may also call this the principle of stability, since the ritual integrity guarantees to the clergy and the people an immovable rock on which they may build their spiritual lives.

    5. The Principle of Density. The old Roman liturgy, and likewise the old Byzantine, is shot through with dogmatic, moral, ascetical-mystical content. The prayers are thick and rich and full of religion. They are a poetic tapestry of Scripture and other devout utterances. The Novus Ordo is patently exiguous by comparison. Think of the various troparia of the Byzantine tradition, or the wealth of proper antiphons in the Roman Rite, and the collects, secrets, and postcommunions, almost none of which survived intact the bowdlerizing scalpel of the Consilium.[2]

    6. The Principle of Preparation. Closely connected with the foregoing is the principle of adequate and repeated preparation. In both East and West, the clergy and ministers prepare themselves thoroughly before the liturgy for their work, whether it be at a side table preparing the offerings with abundant prayers, or at the foot of the altar reciting Psalm 42, the Confiteor, and prayers of ascent. How could anyone imagine just sauntering out of the sacristy and walking right up to the altar, as if it’s no big deal? As if one were going to a fundraising luncheon?

    As Catherine Pickstock noted so well, the repetition of prayers in all genuine liturgies is deliberate and of immense spiritual importance. The Byzantine liturgy has the priest frequently praying secretly from start to finish as he prepares himself again and again for the next wondrous step that has to be taken into the mysteries of Christ. The authentic Roman liturgy is no different, with its ample Offertory, its three prayers of preparation for communion, prayers of ablution, Placeat, and Last Gospel. Famously, we find much repetition of certain prayers in the Divine Liturgy and the Roman usus antiquior — in the former, litanies of “Lord, have mercy” or “Grant it, O Lord”; in the latter, the ninefold Kyrie, the triple Confiteor, the triple “Domine, non sum dignus” (done twice to indicate the distinction between the priest’s communion and the faithful’s).[3]

    7. The Principle of Truthfulness. The whole of the Gospel message is present in the traditional lectionaries — the so-called “difficult” parts, too, as well as the easier ones. In the Novus Ordo, as is well known, Scripture is heavily edited to conform to modern prejudices.[4] More broadly, the traditional lex orandi contains and transmits with apostolic vigor the full lex credendi of the Catholic Church, without any editing for contemporary sensibilities or sensitivities. Thus, to take one example from a thousand, the damnation of Judas, and the real possibility of hell for any of us, is taught unflinchingly, while the cursing psalms directed against our spiritual enemies are made use of plentifully. This kind of thing is excised from or heavily reduced in the Novus Ordo.[5] In this regard, it fails to pass on the fullness of the Faith as we find it in Scripture, the Fathers, the Councils, and the Doctors of the Church. In this way it fails in its role as lex orandi of the orthodox Church.

    In fact, many doctrines of the faith are seen and heard in the old liturgies, whereas they have to be studied and blindly accepted in the context of the neo-Roman liturgy, because the rite itself does not make them evident. As examples, consider the veneration that ought to be paid to the saints, or the adoration of latreia that ought to be shown to the Blessed Sacrament. One who attends either the Byzantine or the traditional Roman liturgy will have a visceral experience of the venerability of the saints and the adorableness of the Eucharist. In contrast, the Novus Ordo has systematically pared down the focus on the saints[6] as well as the signs of reverence to be paid to the awesome mysteries of Christ.

    8. The Principle of Hierarchy is manifest in the clear division of roles for priest, deacon, subdeacon, acolyte, cantor, etc. This non-interchangeable diversity of roles is grossly confused and diluted in the Novus Ordo, with its loose regulations on laypeople functioning in the sanctuary. Neither Byzantine nor authentic Roman liturgy allows unvested laymen to enter willy-nilly into the sanctuary and perform works proper to the clergy, above all the handling of the Most Holy Eucharist. Rather, the identity of the priest as a mediator between God and man is thoroughly respected and demonstrated in action — and the identity of the layman as actively present to the sacrifice is likewise respected and demonstrated in action.

    The liturgy is a true embodiment of ecclesiology instead of an imaginary alternative to it. One would never be able to derive a coherent and consistent account of the hierarchical nature of the Mystical Body from the Novus Ordo, whereas it is easy to do so from either the Divine Liturgy or the traditional Roman Mass. Participation, therefore, is understood in a fundamentally different way in the traditional liturgies and in the neo-Roman rite. The correct view is that participation should befit the distinct roles of various parts of the body, and that this should be visible to all in the dress, bearing, location, and tasks assigned — and not assigned — to participants.[7]

    9. The Principle of Parallelism, which is in keeping with that of hierarchy. In any authentic Eastern or Western liturgy, we find that several things are often happening simultaneously (or to use the technical term, there is “parallel liturgy”). The deacon is leading a litany when the priest is reciting his own prayers; the people are singing the Sanctus while the priest has started the Canon. Those who attend either Byzantine or traditional Latin liturgies come to see the liturgy as a multi-layered action made up of many individual actions converging on a common goal. It is most definitely not a logical sequence of discrete acts, where only one thing is allowed to take place at a time (as in “sequential” or “modular” liturgy, exemplified in the Novus Ordo).[8]

    10. The Principle of Separation. All authentic Christian liturgies preserve and make ritual use of the theology inscribed in the architecture of the Old Covenant temple, which, as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches, is recapitulated in Christ and therefore symbolized forever in our Eucharistic sacrifice. In the East, the separation of the sanctuary or holy of holies from the nave is more obvious due to the presence of an iconostasis through which only certain clergy may enter. In the West, curtains gave way to the rood screen, which in most places diminished into the communion rail, but always the sanctuary remained distinct, elevated, and off limits to the laity. Moreover, in the Western liturgy the visual iconostasis has yielded to a “sonic iconostasis” of Latin alternating with silence. Both the hieratic language and the enveloping absence of sound lower a veil over the holy of holies and shield the sacred mysteries from the profanation of casual treatment. Thus, while Eastern and Western liturgies accomplish this “veiling of our faces to the Presence” in different ways, both are highly effective in achieving it, powerfully drawing the worshiper’s attention to the hidden glory of God.

    Beyond these principles, which evidently point to the very nature of divine worship, there is a whole host of things that are not necessarily characteristic of the Novus Ordo, and yet accompany it in 99% of its instantiations, such as the versus populum stance. After fifty years of clergy facing the people almost always and everywhere, with papal rebukes to those who dare to think differently, even the most optimistic proponent of the Reform of the Reform cannot maintain that versus populum does not typify the Novus Ordo in the minds of its architects, implementers, and end users.

    The following chart summarizes our findings.

    Compared to the Novus Ordo, the Byzantine liturgy looks like a king next to a pauper, a Rembrandt next to a caricature, a feast after a famine. But compared with the traditional Roman rite in all its intricate splendor and regimented solemnity, it is an equal at the table of tradition. We do an injustice to the Holy Spirit’s work in the Western Church by speaking as if Byzantine liturgy is the “gold standard,” when the Roman rite in its fullness — sadly, so rarely seen by Roman Catholics!— is fully its match. Instead, it is the Novus Ordo that should be shown the door, for it has no claim to be seated at the royal table of authentic liturgical rites.

    If someone objects at this point that the Novus Ordo can be celebrated in a way that is “in continuity” with the preceding Roman tradition (and therefore in a manner not dissimilar to the Divine Liturgy), my response is simple. Several of the ten principles summarized above are not embodied at all by the Novus Ordo — and this by design (here, I would include at least 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9); while the remaining principles (2, 3, 8, and 10) might be acted on — or then again, they might not, depending on who the “presider” is. In short, they are possible but not necessary. This fact, in and of itself, already demonstrates the profoundly anti-traditional character of the Novus Ordo, which depends for its very coherence with tradition on the free decisions of its celebrant, rather than relying on adherence to a fixed rule.[9] Thus, the Novus Ordo could be offered in a quasi-traditional way, whereas the Byzantine and Tridentine liturgies must be offered in a traditional way — there is no choice in the matter.[10]

    In that one difference alone, we can see the almost infinite gap that separates the modern Roman Rite from any historic rite of Christianity, Eastern or Western. Its lack of doctrinal, moral, rubrical, and ceremonial density, its modular-linear-rationalist structure, and its “optionitis” separate it in essence from the sphere of sacred culture that the Roman usus antiquior and the Byzantine Divine Liturgy inhabit in common. One might adapt to this situation the words of Abraham in the parable of Dives and Lazarus: “Between us and you, there is fixed a great chasm, so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither” (Lk 16:26).

    What is truly surprising, given the foregoing, is how many Byzantine Catholics and “experts” in Eastern liturgy — Robert Taft, S.J., being the most prominent — favor the “reformed” Roman liturgy, overlooking the monumental discrepancies and contradictions between its principles of composition and execution and those that are common, as I have shown, to Byzantine and traditional Latin liturgy. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the Pauline liturgy, both as a whole and in its particulars, is a deformation of Latin liturgy that cannot be classified with authentic Catholic rites of history. It is therefore due to a profound inconsistency that Byzantine Catholics would prefer the Novus Ordo on account of secondary or tertiary characteristics while overlooking, tolerating, or even seeming to approve of its deviations from fundamental principles of classical liturgy.

    This is no mere speculative issue. As we know, liturgists for decades have been talking about how to “reform” the Eastern Catholic rites to bring them into line with Sacrosanctum Concilium and Bugnini’s Bauhaus blueprints. The combined force of a prejudice in favor of multicultural pluralism, the inherent conservatism of the East, and the lack of a centralized authority capable of imposing gigantic liturgical changes has for now spared the Eastern rites of the worst excesses of the liturgical reform. But this fragile peace may not last forever, especially if church leadership continues to display the twin traits of arrogance and myopia that have afflicted their kind for the past fifty years. It therefore behooves every Eastern Christian and every Roman sympathizer to understand the errors that led to the Pauline rites and are thickly embedded in them, and to oppose any reduction, compromise, or novelty in their own liturgical life.

    To return to the beginning: Byzantine Catholics who love their own liturgical tradition will do well to expose themselves to the Western liturgical tradition as preserved and handed down in the usus antiquior, and — precisely out of love for what is common to East and West — to avoid the neo-Roman liturgy, with its mingling of inconsistent antiquarianism and modern novelties, its cognitive dissonance and rupture with Christian tradition. It is nothing less than a counter-sign to both the Greek and Latin traditions, contradicting age-old dogmatic and moral truths that the liturgy has always shown forth and inculcated in the faithful. Roman and Byzantine Catholics know themselves to be safe, in good hands, when attending one another’s authentic rites; but neither can feel safe attending the Novus Ordo.

    I conclude with the words of Martin Mosebach: “All the striving towards ecumenism, however necessary, must begin not with attention-grabbing meetings with Eastern hierarchs but with the restoration of the Latin liturgy, which represents the real connection between the Latin and Greek churches.”[11]

    NOTES

    [1] Geoffrey Hull in The Banished Heart shows that the problem of papal interference in liturgy goes back many centuries. Nevertheless, he recognizes the abyss that separates anything done by popes prior to Paul VI from the monstrous rupture Montini introduced. There is a difference in kind, not just a difference in degree. I know a Catholic philosopher who actually maintains that the only reason a rite of Mass is valid is because the Pope has declared it so, and that if the Pope wanted to gut all the content of the rite and replace it with something totally different, it would be a true Catholic rite as long as it contained the words of consecration.

    [2] Carl Olson made this observation: “Having now attended a Byzantine parish for nearly 20 years, it’s interesting that while the Eastern Liturgies are not silent in the way that the Latin Mass is — in fact, there is little silence in a Byzantine liturgy — the deeper similarities and convergences are found in reverence, transcendence, and theological richness. Frankly, listening to many of the prayers said at a Novus Ordo Mass about makes me lose my mind. Put another way, the Divine Liturgy and the Latin Mass both speak to the mind, the heart, and the senses in mysterious and deep ways that, while somewhat subjective to certain degrees, are at the service of objective truth and divine reality.”

    [3] I am well aware that these prayers were built up over time, and that, e.g., the Last Gospel was a relatively late addition. But all the additions happened for good reason; they happened under the gentle influence of the Holy Spirit. To remove them after they had been appropriately and harmoniously added and had become a fixed part of the rite for centuries is nothing less than a repudiation of their theological content and liturgical function, and thus a sin against the Holy Spirit. Sacrosanctum Concilium thus errs in claiming that the liturgy contains “useless repetition” that must be purged. In reality, anyone who enters prayerfully into the repetitions of the old liturgy understands their purpose, which has never presented any difficulty to Christians until the narrowly rationalist and utilitarian assumptions of modern times.

    [4] See my article “A Tale of Two Lectionaries: Qualitative versus Quantitative Measures” for more on this troubling aspect of the revised lectionary.

    [5] On Judas, see my article “Damned Lies: On the Destiny of Judas Iscariot”; on the omission of psalms, see my article “The Omission of ‘Difficult’ Psalms and the Spreading-thin of the Psalter.

    [6] The Roman Canon, like the anaphora of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, mentions many saints. The neo-anaphoras severely pare down this homage and appeal.

    [7] In Sacrosanctum Concilium, however, participation becomes ideological because it is exalted above all other principles, which unavoidably causes distortion and corruption: “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else” (n. 14); contrast this statement with Pope Pius X’s Tra le sollecitudini: “We deem it necessary to provide before all else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple.” Perhaps a better concept than participation would be assistance: every member of the body assists at the liturgy, each according to his place. Belonging is a more basic category than doing, just as our insertion into Christ at baptism is more basic to our identity than any particular act we perform.

    [8] There are a very few moments when the priest can be doing something in the Novus Ordo when the people and/or choir are doing something else: the prayer before the Gospel, during the alleluia; the offertory prayers, if a chant is being sung; the breaking of the host while the Agnus Dei is being sung. But the number of such moments has been severely pared down, and their euchological content has been eviscerated.

    [9] Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so a liturgy filled with options is only as good as the worst of these options. It should be judged not by what it might be if many unlikely best choices were to be made, but by what it usually is when customary choices are made.

    [10] This is not to say, of course, that the traditional Roman rite will always be offered in an edifying or aesthetically appropriate manner — but that is not something that can ever be guaranteed in any rite, for we are still dealing with human beings in their variety and frailty. Rather, I refer to the rules and customs that govern the ceremonies as such.

    [11] From the forthcoming revised and expanded edition of The Heresy of Formlessness (Angelico Press, 2018), 187. Elsewhere in the same book Mosebach says: “It is characteristic of this century that just as the axe was being applied to the green tree of liturgy, the most profound insights into liturgy were being formulated, albeit not in the Roman Church but in the Byzantine Church. On the one hand, a pope dared to interfere with the liturgy. On the other, Orthodoxy, separated from the pope by schism, preserved the liturgy and liturgical theology through the terrible trials of the century. For a Catholic who refuses to accept the cynic’s easy conclusions, these facts produce a baffling riddle. One is tempted to speak of a tragic mystery, although the word tragic does not fit in a Christian context. The Mass of Saint Gregory the Great, the old Latin liturgy, now finds itself on the ‘lunatic fringe’ of the Roman Church, whereas the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is alive in all its splendor in the very heart of the Orthodox Church. The idea that we have something to learn from Orthodoxy is not a popular one. But we must accustom ourselves to studying — and studying thoroughly — what the Byzantine Church has to say about sacred images and the liturgy. This is equally relevant to the Latin Rite; in fact, it seems as though we can only get to know the Latin Rite in all its Spirit-filled reality if we view it from the Eastern perspective” (57).

    Breathe with both lungs, yes — but in their healthy condition, not their diseased condition.


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    On the Roman calendar, June 5th is the feast of St Boniface, Archbishop of the important German see of Mainz, who was martyred on this day in the year 754, around the age of 80, after several decades of missionary activity in Western Germany and the Low Countries. The English historian Christopher Dawson once wrote of him that he “had a deeper influence on the history of Europe than any Englishman who has ever lived;” his feast, however, was not added to the general calendar until 1874. This was done in part as Bl. Pius IX’s response to Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, which sought detach the Catholic Church in Germany from its loyalty to Rome. Boniface’s first, unsuccessful attempt at preaching the Gospel in Frisia “convinced him that if he was to succeed he must have a direct commission from the Pope; and in 718 he presented himself before St Gregory II in Rome.” (Butler’s Lives). The whole of his subsequent career, included the establishment of the most ancient sees and abbeys of that part of the world, depended on the authority he drew from Rome.

    St Boniface, by Cornelius Bloemaert, ca. 1630 (Public domainimage from Wikipedia.)
    The curious representation of him with a sword on which a book is spiked derives from a tradition concerning his martyrdom. At the moment when he was attacked by a group of pagans, he was reading a book, which he held above his head to keep it from getting damaged by their weapons. (In the mid-8th century, any book was by definition an incredibly precious and rare thing.) His relics were taken to the abbey of Fulda, which he and a disciple, St Sturmi, had founded in 741; the abbey also had the book in question, wich was venerated as a relic, its cover marked with sword-cuts, and stains believed to be his blood. The same story is represented in a Sacramentary produced at Fulda around the year 1000, now kept at the State Library of Bamberg.


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