Articles on this Page
- 07/06/18--14:48: _First Mass Celebrat...
- 07/07/18--15:06: _Fota XI Conference,...
- 07/09/18--14:12: _The Ill-Placed Char...
- 07/10/18--00:40: _FSSP Elects New Sup...
- 07/10/18--06:51: _How to Pray With Sa...
- 07/10/18--13:17: _Fota XI Conference,...
- 07/11/18--09:34: _Guest Article: Time...
- 07/11/18--13:46: _Card Müller Keynote...
- 07/11/18--14:00: _A Recent TLM Pilgri...
- 07/12/18--05:00: _TLM for Our Lady of...
- 07/12/18--09:00: _Liturgy and Laity: ...
- 07/12/18--14:06: _The Feast of St Joh...
- 07/13/18--09:21: _Card. Arinze to Cel...
- 07/13/18--12:07: _Santa Maria in Orga...
- 07/14/18--09:40: _Musica Sacra Florid...
- 07/16/18--04:45: _World War I Army Ma...
- 07/17/18--10:01: _How Artists Create ...
- 07/17/18--13:24: _Dominican Rite Book...
- 07/17/18--13:40: _Tradition is for th...
- 07/18/18--05:00: _Some Romanesque Chu...
- 07/06/18--14:48: First Mass Celebrated Coram Episcopo in Wisconsin
- 07/07/18--15:06: Fota XI Conference, Day 1: Summary of the Lectures
- 07/09/18--14:12: The Ill-Placed Charges of Purism, Elitism, and Rubricism
- 07/10/18--00:40: FSSP Elects New Superior General
- 07/10/18--06:51: How to Pray With Sacred Art
- 07/10/18--13:17: Fota XI Conference, Day 2
- 07/11/18--09:34: Guest Article: Time to Say “No Thanks” to Liturgical Deviations
- 07/11/18--14:00: A Recent TLM Pilgrimage In Spain
- 07/12/18--05:00: TLM for Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Newark, New Jersey
- 07/12/18--09:00: Liturgy and Laity: Dom Alcuin Reid Reviews a History of Una Voce
- 07/12/18--14:06: The Feast of St John Gualbert
- 07/13/18--12:07: Santa Maria in Organo in Verona, Italy
- 07/14/18--09:40: Musica Sacra Florida 2018 - Registration Extended
- 07/16/18--04:45: World War I Army Mass Kit
- 07/17/18--13:24: Dominican Rite Books for Sale
- 07/17/18--13:40: Tradition is for the Young (Part 15) - Pontifical Mass in Louisiana
- 07/18/18--05:00: Some Romanesque Churches in Northern Italy
In a Missa coram Episcopo, the bishop recites the prayers at the foot of the altar together with the celebrant, with the other ministers saying the responses, and reads the texts of the Mass at the throne from a second Missal. He also blesses the incense at the throne, which is then brought to the celebrant at the altar, blesses the subdeacon and deacon after the singing of the readings, and the water at the Offertory. For the consecration, he kneels at the center of the sanctuary, so the subdeacon moves to the Epistle side; and he gives the final blessing.
Dom Benedict Andersen OSB of Silverstream Priory delievered a paper entitles “Erant Semper in Templo: The Divine Office in the Life of the Church.” The history of the Divine Office (the Church’s daily pensum servitutis or bounden duty), is the gradual unfolding of the image with which the Evangelist Luke closes his Gospel, “They were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing God”, and which he immediately resumes in the Book of Acts, speaking of perseverance in apostolic teaching, eucharistic communion, and “the prayers” (tais proseuchais).
This and other NT texts, when situated in their proper Jewish apocalyptic context, reveal a primitive community understanding itself to be the universal doxological community foretold by the Prophets, “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19,6; Apocalypse 5, 10) offering up unbloody, rational sacrifices upon earth, in a way mirroring the heavenly ministrations of Christ the High Priest and the Angels who serve him. Consideration is also given to patristic and medieval sources, as well as modern magisterial texts (e.g. Mediator Dei and various passages in the documents of Vatican II) showing that the Office is a continual “sacrifice of praise ... that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Hebrews 13, 15).
Brief consideration is given to the problem of historicism in liturgical scholarship, which has tended to de-emphasise or deny altogether a sense of continuity with the “Temple idea”, even as, ironically, biblical scholarship more and more confirms the vital importance of Jewish temple mysticism in solving some of the most difficult puzzles regarding Christian origins. Far more important, however, than debates among contemporary scholars is the Church’s living memory, witnessing to a divine reality which mere historical investigation cannot access. In order to show the pervasive nature of Temple concepts and imagery in traditional Catholic worship, the paper concludes with a brief mystagogy of the Office of Vespers according to the traditional Roman Breviary, celebrated in the solemn pontifical form.
- My own paper, entitled “The History of the Church in the Divine Office”, examined how the texts of the Divine Office, (principally, but not exclusively the Matins readings,) served as the place where the Church kept and celebrated the historical memory of itself, not only in the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, and perhaps most importantly in the readings of the Lives of the Saints. The Tridentine reform of the Breviary received this tradition from the Middle Ages, and reworked it, in no small measure as a response to the Protestant idea that Scripture is the only valid source of belief, the only “tradition” which a Christian ought to accept. The Breviary of St Pius V achieved a balance between the different parts of the received medialve tradition.
More recent reforms of the Breviary, first those of 1955 and 1960, then the post-Conciliar reform, have tended very strongly to deemphasize the lives of the Saints. The former two drastically reduced the role of the Lives of the Saints in the Office, while the latter simply removed them altogether, in defiance of the express command of the Council as stated in Sacrosanctum Concilium 92c. It is very much to be hoped for that future reforms of the Office will take into account not only the historical tradition of the Church, but also the actual order of the Council.
My NLM colleague Matthew Hazell spoke about the “The Second Vatican Council and Proposals for Reform of the Breviary: 1959-60”. “Timid”, “conformist and unoriginal”, “frankly disappointing”: these are some of the scholarly evaluations of the responses of the worldwide episcopate and superiors of religious orders in the antepreparatory period (1959-60) of the Second Vatican Council.
To the contrary, this paper sought to demonstrate why the suggestions of the future Council Fathers (known as the vota) are a vital key to their intent and their discussions at the Council itself, specifically in the area of the reform of the Roman Breviary. After a brief introduction to the antepreparatory period of the Council, an explanation what thevota are, and their value for a general hermeneutic of the Second Vatican Council; the suggestions and proposals made about the Breviary, the study of which has been sorely-neglected, was examined to get a view of precisely what the future Council Fathers wished to discuss at Vatican II. Matthew then briefly compared the vota with one of the final documents of the liturgical commission established by Pope Pius XII, the 1960 Code of Rubrics, which anticipated some of what was desired in thevota. The paper finished with indication of the possible directions for future research on the topic.
Our publisher Dr William Mahrt delievered the final talk of the day, “The Role of Antiphons int eh Singing of the Divine Office”, after which, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke celebrated Solemn Pontifical Vespers at the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, and confirmed seven young members of the parish.
When I published my article “Traditional Clergy: Please Stop Making ‘Pastoral Adaptations’” this past June 11, protesting against the manner in which the final pontifical Mass of the Chartres pilgrimage did violence to the Roman Rite in regard to the readings, little did I know what a hornet’s nest I was kicking. Blogs in French and German picked up the article (some examples here, here, here, and here). It was somewhat consoling to find that the many priests who contacted me agreed that the rubrics should be followed and that this Franco-German custom is an aberration that deserves to be set aside definitively.
However, there were some voices raised in support of such liturgical irregularities. To my surprise and disappointment, one of these voices belongs to P. Engelbert Recktenwald, F.S.S.P., who on June 28 published a column in the major German Catholic newspaper, Die Tagespost, entitled “Zeit, ‘danke’ zu sagen’” (“Time to Say Thanks” — the article is unfortunately not available online for free), in which he eloquently expresses his confidence in the rightness of the founding of the Fraternity of St. Peter in 1988 and its peaceful role within the Church, but then veers into an attack on a certain category of traditionalists. His paragraphs are worth reading in their entirety (my translation):
Personally, in the meantime, I see an unexpected danger for the traditional movement somewhere else in the Church, that is to say, in a hyperliturgization [Hyperliturgisierung]. Despite all the theological narrowness of which one might accuse Archbishop Lefebvre, he had the zeal of a true shepherd who is concerned with the salvation of souls. To him, the preservation of the liturgy was not an aesthetic end-in-itself. Far more, he saw the liturgical crisis as part of the crisis of faith that was endangering the salvation of many souls. His intention was highly pastoral, in the full Catholic sense of the word. He was not concerned with rubrics, that is, with the letter of liturgical rules, but with their spirit. He was not altogether against reforms, but only against reforms that cloud over the spirit of the liturgy.There is much that one might criticize in these paragraphs, but I would like to take a step back and consider the eerie similarity between the way Recktenwald is arguing today and the way that Annibale Bugnini and his liturgist comrades were arguing about the “urgent need” to modify the old Mass.
In my first year as a priest in the Society of St. Pius X, on Sundays I served at a chapel where they sang, on alternating weeks, Gregorian chant and Schubert Masses [i.e., Mass paraphrases in German]. No one had thought anything of that. The phenomenon of a liturgical purism that despises German songs in the liturgy, rejects the direct reading of Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular [i.e., without reading/chanting them in Latin], and cultivates an excessive rubricism to the point of a missionary self-gagging, crossed my way much later, especially in lay circles. Thus [outside] critics of the traditional liturgy are offered a target, while newcomers have a more difficult start. One enters upon an oblique path at the end of which liturgy appears to be the hobby of an exclusive club of exotic aesthetes.
I am grateful to Cardinal Sarah that, at the concluding Mass of the Chartres pilgrimage, he set a sign and gave a reminder about the correct measure of the way one ought to celebrate: “with a noble simplicity, without useless additions, false aestheticism, or theatricality, but with a sense of the sacred that first and foremost gives glory to God.”
Yves Chiron’s masterful biography of Bugnini details just how willing were the liturgical “experts” of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s to experiment with the liturgy, as if it was their personal possession. No established rubrics held them back, in spite of nearly constant warnings and reproofs from the popes, from the Congregation for Rites, or from other curial officials. The attitude seemed to be: “If we have a good enough reason to break the rubrics to try something new that we think is a pastoral improvement, then we have sufficient justification.” This attitude, in short, was the very acid that dissolved any notion of a received, inherited rite to which we are humbly subject, by which we allow ourselves to be shaped and guided.
Once this erroneous attitude had established itself, it was relatively easy to discard the entire rite in favor of a fabricated one. Why not? It’s all about what we want to do. The Novus Ordo was simply the crown placed on decades of liturgical experimentation rooted in rationalism, voluntarism, and pastoralism. In some ways, it was the archetypal expression of a council that claimed to be not dogmatic but pastoral, a council that was content with rambling texts that tack to and fro like a sailboat trying to catch the wind, just as the so-called Tridentine rite in its majestic solidity and stability is the perfect expression of the genuine pastoral concern and luminous dogmatic teaching of the Council of Trent, valid for all time, all places, all cultures.
In their myopia, partisans of the later phase of the Liturgical Movement thought that they, and not the providentially unfolded tradition of the Church, knew best what Modern Man™ needed. To them, it was evident that he needed as much vernacularization as possible. That is why Latin was eventually thrown out of the window completely. They also thought we needed to simplify, always to seek a greater and greater simplification — be it in vestments (away with the amice and maniple and biretta), in furnishings (away with six candles, antependia, and thuribles), in the texts of the Mass (away with the Propers, second or third orations, Psalm 42, Prologue of John, Leonine prayers), in the ceremonies of the Mass (away with osculations, signs of the cross, genuflections, ad orientem), in its music (away with ancient chant).
|A television Mass versus populum, for Modern Man|
It never seems to have occurred to the Liturgical Movement that quite possibly what an increasingly secular and materialist age needed was precisely a movement in the opposite direction — towards greater liturgical symbolism, a richer pageantry of ritual, a fuller immersion in Gregorian chant with its incomparable spirituality, and so forth. What modern man needed most of all was to be rescued from the prison of his own making, namely, the rationalist anthropocentrism that defines modernity and that, to our shame, made its home in the Catholic Church through the liturgical reform, in its many intended and unintended consequences. In this sense, the proposed cure turned out to be more of the same disease, which is why, predictably, it has made the patient worse, not better.
The accusation of “hyperliturgization” made by Pater Recktenwald is therefore ironic. Priests who defend departures from the rubrics — often nationalistic departures from the universal Roman tradition — are the ones who deem themselves competent to make improvements or adjustments of the liturgy. They are the hyperliturgists. Those who wish to attend a Roman Mass that, at least as regards what is specified in the liturgical books, is the same everywhere in the world, even as the Catholic Faith is the same, are not hyperliturgists; they are not even liturgists. They are faithful Catholics. They are Catholics who believe that what the longstanding tradition of the Church offers them, such as the chanting of the readings in Latin, is going to be spiritually superior to some “adaptation” or “inculturation” that this or that priest, or group of priests, may happen to think is better. We are called to dwell in the house of the liturgy as grateful guests, not to re-engineer it as project managers.
Those who make changes like this in the liturgy are no doubt acting in good faith. But they are not acting with humble trust that there are always many layers of meaning in the liturgy that go beyond what we might understand to be the purpose of some ceremony or text or music or vestment. They are acting, in short, by their own lights. But what we must do, especially today, is to act by the light of Catholic tradition, until we have learned again, like children in grammar school, why it developed in the first place. We need to learn our ABCs again before we dare to make our own contributions, whatever those might be (and may God preserve us from “creativity”).
|A relic of the past, a danger in the present|
Some have curiously accused me in this connection of “rubricism,” a charge repeated, as we have seen, by Fr. Recktenwald. The reason I say “curiously” is that it is perfectly obvious that I am not a rubricist. The phenomenon of rubricism occurs when the liturgical or theological rationale for a given practice is forgotten, and all that one has to stand on is a rubric, a prescription of positive human law. If one cannot say why a practice is right and fitting but simply shouts “That’s the rubric and we must follow it!,” or if one breaks out into a cold sweat at 3 in the morning because one suddenly realizes that three manuals disagree about how many inches apart the items on the credence table should be, then perhaps one might be called a rubricist. But if one looks at what I wrote about why the Chartres abuses should be avoided, one can see a liturgical-theological rationale in addition to a reminder that the rubrics rule them out.
The reason rubrics are good is that the practices they guarantee are themselves good and right and fitting. It is not the other way around, namely, that something is good because the rubrics dictate it. That is legal positivism. No. The Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit learns the best way of doing something — best either in practical terms, or for theological/spiritual reasons, or both — and then she formulates it as a rubric and enforces its observance. For example, the custom of holding the thumb and forefinger together arose as a custom, gradually spread, and was finally taken up into the rubrics enjoined on all. That is usually how such things develop. A great problem of 20th-century Catholicism was that rubrics had become a cottage industry. The Congregation for Rites, followed in turn by the Consilium, were cranking out new rubrics year by year, leading to a weariness and annoyance with the whole business. Forgotten was the theological and spiritual meaning of the rubrics, the reason they developed in the first place.
This is why a traditionalist is consistent in saying that rubrics must be followed, but also that some rubrics are better than others, because of what they require and why they require it. Indeed, some rubrics are bad, such as the Novus Ordo rubric that during Mass no one should genuflect to Our God and Lord Jesus Christ, really present in the tabernacle, even when passing in front of it. Let us not beat around the bush: this is stupid and wrong. It is “on the books,” but much in the same way that any bad law is on the books.
A rubricist is one who insists on the rubrics for their own sake. A traditionalist insists on the rubrics because they protect and promote something important — something that one first has to understand theologically and spiritually, after which the rubrics are seen to be right. Rubrics have legal force because they are promulgated by legitimate authority, but they have their intrinsic force from the nature of the thing itself.
This whole question of how readings are to be done is more important than it may seem, because it is not an isolated issue. It is one among several Trojan Horses by which selfless and tireless reformists may enter the traditional movement and turn it — or at least geographical portions of it — into a recapitulation of the Consilium’s descent into insatiable tinkering, modifying, expurgating, reinventing, archaeologizing, and ultimately transmogrifying the liturgy, all in the name of “pastoral improvements.” This, and not loving care for the traditional ars celebrandi, will be the “self-gagging” we need to avoid.
 German original:
Ich persönlich sehe inzwischen eine unvermutete Gefahr für die traditionelle Bewegung in der Kirche ganz woanders, nämlich in einer Hyperliturgisierung. Bei aller theologischen Engführung, die man Erzbischof Lefebvre vorwerfen mag: Er hatte den Eifer eines wahren Hirten, dem es um das Heil der Seelen geht. Die Bewahrung der Liturgie war für ihn kein ästhetischer Selbstzweck. Vielmehr sah er ihre Krise als einen Teil der Glaubenskrise, die das Heil vieler Seelen gefährdet. Sein Anliegen war ein höchst pastorales im vollen katholischen Sinne des Wortes. Es ging ihm nicht um Rubriken, also um den Buchstaben liturgischer Vorschriften, sondern um den Geist. Er war nicht gegen Reformen überhaupt, sondern gegen Reformen, die den Geist der Liturgie vernebeln. This is one of the insights that made Catherine Pickstock famous, and I gladly acknowledge my debt to her.
In meinem ersten Priesterjahr in der Piusbruderschaft versorgte ich sonntäglich eine Kapelle, in der abwechselnd an einem Sonntag Gregorianischer Choral, am anderen die Schubertmesse gesungen wurde. Kein Mensch hatte sich etwas dabei gedacht. Das Phänomen eines liturgischen Purismus, der deutsche Lieder in der Liturgie verachtet, den direkten Vortrag von Lesung und Evangelium in der Landessprache ablehnt, einen exzessiven Rubrizismus bin hin zur missionarischen Selbstknebelung pflegt, ist mir erst viel später begegnet, vor allem in Laienkreisen. So wird Kritikern der traditionellen Liturgie eine willkommene Angriffsfläche geboten, Neulingen der Zugang zu ihr erschwert. Man hat eine schiefe Bahn betreten, an deren Ende Liturgie als Liebhaberei eines exklusiven Clubs exotischer Ästheten erscheint.
Ich bin Kardinal Sarah dankbar, dass er beim Abschlusshochamt der Chartreswallfahrt ein Zeichen gesetzt und das richtige Maß für die Weise angemahnt hat, wie man zelebrieren soll: “mit edler Schlichtheit, ohne unnötige Überladungen, falschen Ästhetizismus oder Theatralik, aber mit einem Sinn für das Heilige, der Gott zuerst die Ehre gibt.”
 See the final installment of my series on the holding together of thumb and forefinger.
 Fr. Zuhlsdorf has discussed this unfortunate rubric many times. Fr. Ray Blake mentions it here as part of his observation that the Novus Ordo does not seem to be concerned very much with latria, except in words (sometimes). This, of course, is pertinent to the tendency to see the readings as having only a didactic value, without a specifically latreutic function within the liturgy.
Born in Poland in 1975, Fr. Komorowski joined St Peter’s International Seminary in Wigratzbad after studying economics at the University of Poznań. Ordained a priest in June 2006 by Jorge Cardinal Medina-Estévez, he served in various apostolates of the Fraternity in Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands. Elected Assistant to the Superior General at the 2012 General Chapter, he held that position at the General House in Fribourg, while fulfilling the duties of General Bursar and ministering to the faithful in French-speaking Switzerland. As successor to Fr John Berg, Fr Komorowski is the 4th Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
We are very happy to offer our congratulations and the assurance of our prayers to Fr Komorowski for the good success of his new ministry - ad multos annos!
So simple in fact, that I would say that the short answer to this question is just this: pray as you would normally, but look at sacred art as you do it.
Good sacred art will promote a right attitude in the one who prays, through the combination of its content, compositional design, and stylistic elements. In this sense, the artist does the hard work in advance to make it easy and natural for us. I will write another post soon, called How Artists Create a Dynamic of Prayer Through Style and Content in Sacred Art, which will explain this further. This will be, I hope, useful for artists and interesting to the curious, but I will happily say in advance, not actually necessary for the one who prays.
I am also assuming a certain degree of wisdom on the part of the one who chooses that art and its placement in the place of worship or prayer. Style, for example, can be distracting even if the content is right. When we choose art for home this is a personal choice, but I would be far more conservative when choosing art for church, where it has to appeal to as many people as possible. The traditional styles are more likely to do this. You can decide whether or not this modern style is distracting or supportive of your prayer. (It wouldn’t help mine).
|The Virgin Mary|
Madonna and Child with Ss Jerome, Bernardin, John the Baptist, Anthony of Padua and Two Angels, by Sano di Pietro, ca. 1465
In his little paper on the New Evangelization written in the year 2000, Pope Benedict XVI gives us a lesson in prayer. He does this to make the point that in order to be evangelists, we ourselves must first be transformed supernaturally, which happens through prayer. He describes a three (or perhaps two)-tiered hierarchy of prayer. Highest is the worship of God the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit in the liturgy; second is what he calls para-liturgical prayer, which is prayer in common derived from popular religiosity and devotions (such as the rosary or the Divine Mercy chaplet); and third, or perhaps equal second, is personal prayer, carried out in the “in the quiet of one’s room, alone in front of God’s eyes.”
Each form of prayer has a value in and of itself. God is not limited by His sacraments or the liturgy and the connection to us can be profound and real if He wishes it. But as a general principle, their greatest value is in the enrichment of the highest form of prayer. By all prayer, we are formed as lovers capable of an ordered reception of Him and the giving of ourselves back to Him in the liturgy. In turn, it is the liturgy which forms us most powerfully to be lovers of our fellows and neighbors in the world.
The Church tells us that art is not just desirable, but necessary to prayer and to the liturgy. We have a problem in the Roman Church at the moment, in that we seem to have forgotten how to engage with art in the context of the liturgy. In my observation, this can be as true of pious traditionalists as it is of liturgical liberals. Even when the church is beautifully adorned with high-quality art, and the liturgy that takes place in that church is dignified and orthodox, very rarely do I see anybody engaging with art in the Mass itself. As a result, the art is reduced to something that creates a mood-setting beautiful backdrop - not altogether useless, but still underutilized. Contrast this with an Eastern Church where typically every time the Mother of God is prayed to, the image is incensed by priest or deacon and all turn and address the Theotokos through her image. We need to find ways that this can happen too in the Roman Church.
As a layperson, I have no power over what the priests do and can’t, for example, direct them as to when we might process to and incense a particular image so I leave it to any priests or seminarians who might be reading this to think about what I am saying. However, there are other things that I can focus on. I can develop the habit of looking at the imagery at appropriate junctures. I don’t need permission from anyone, when the Father is addressed, for example, to look to the image of Christ (those who see the Son, see the Father); or at the same image when Christ Himself is addressed, or Our Lady and the Saints when they are mentioned. I am free to turn to their images and bow as the prayers are said, and so on.
Compressing many truths into a single visual ‘utterance’
There are also things we can do outside the church in order to make this engagement in the liturgy more fruitful. One is to practice praying with sacred imagery in front of the icon corner at home. Ideally, we would choose art to accompany all of our prayer at home. By developing the habit of praying with images whenever we can, aside from being an additional source of inspiration for our prayer, the image becomes associated in our minds with all the words of our prayers, meditation and inspirational thoughts that occur during those prayers. Each time we see that image, or another of the same subject, all those memories are re-presented to us. So, for example, if we simply ensure that we look at a single image of Mary when praying the rosary, then all the truths associated with the rosary and our reflection on the mysteries will be associated in our minds with the picture of Mary. At a certain point, simply seeing the image brings to mind in a single moment all that we know about her and that we know about her Son through her. It is as though all the time of that prayer is compressed into a momentary sight of the image. It is just like when we see a person we love from whom we have been separated, all that we know about that person is with us in the joy of that first moment of seeing her again.
The hope is that we can be like this in the liturgy. We look at Our Lady when her name is mentioned, perhaps on a feast day dedicated to her, and all that we know about her is made present in our minds in some mysterious way and then added to and reinforced by our experience in the liturgy itself.
|Vassily Maximov, ‘Sick Husband’, painted in 1881, showing a traditional icon corner|
In the afternoon, a paper by Fr Joseph Briody was presented, entitled “The Imprecatory Passages of the Psalms and their use in the Divine Office.” Here is the abstract. - The revised Liturgy of the Hours omitted some difficult passages from the Psalms in order to facilitate the public and vernacular praying of the Divine Office. These passages are sometimes called the “curses” or imprecatory passages. In recent years some scholars – including non-Catholic scholars – have argued that the praying of these difficult passages can be beneficial, especially in certain circumstances or in personal prayer. These passages express the deepest pain of the human heart and cry out to the Lord for deliverance. This paper examines some of these passages and their literal, theological, spiritual and theological senses. Interestingly, even the most difficult passages do not envisage the author himself taking revenge on enemies. This is left to the Lord: vindication and restoration belong to the Lord. The passages express a cry for justice, while leaving the outcome to the Lord. The passages recognize the movements of the heart and channel these movements away from destruction to resolution, trust and peace. The praying of the Psalms is therefore both therapeutic and transformative. These difficult passages candidly bring human suffering before the living God who speaks and heals.
Fr Briody was unable to be present for the conference this year, and so his paper was read by Fr Dennis McManus, who will begin teaching at Mount St Mary Seminary in the fall. Even though the paper which he presented was not his own work, Fr McManus nevertheless fielded questions on the topic, and I have to say that the discussion which resulted was one of the most interesting I have ever attended at any kind of conference.
Afterwards, Cardinal Burke presented the printed volume of the paper delivered at last year’s Fota Conference, which is entitled “Resourcing the Prayers of the Roman Liturgy: Patristic Sources”, edited by Fr Joseph Briody, and soon to be available from Smenos Publications.
Today NLM is pleased to present a translation of the response by Monika Rheinschmitt, president of Pro Missa Tridentina, to an article by Fr Engelbert Recktenwald, FSSP, entitled “Time to say ‘Thanks’ ”, which was published on June 28 in Die Tagespost.
After Fr. Recktenwald, FSSP in his article from June 28, 2018 (“Time to say ‘Thanks’”) has finished discussing the history of the birth of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and, as a second theme, the mutual trust between Rome and the Fraternity as well as between bishops and members of the Fraternity who care for individual parishes, he busies himself in the last two paragraphs with “the danger of a hyperliturgization [Hyperliturgisierung], especially among traditional laity.”
In response, I would like to offer a few thoughts to ponder. In my work for the lay association “Pro Missa Tridentina,” I have many contacts with about 230 sites of classical Roman tradition in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Not surprisingly, while I encounter a wide variety and certainly a diversity of different views, I cannot confirm the existence of such a tendency. The faithful, who often travel long distances to be able to assist at Holy Masses in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, are well aware of what a great treasure the Catholic Church preserves in this liturgy, and what a unique historic opportunity is the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which ensured that the liturgical books in use in 1962 might continue to be used, and used without restriction. According to the will of Pope Benedict XVI, this treasure of the classical Roman Rite is not intended for a small, elite group, but rather “offered to all of the faithful” (Instruction Universae Ecclesiae).
It is not “pastoral,” therefore, when priests carry out their own little private liturgical reform and, for example, replace Latin Scripture readings with German ones, or the sung Ordinary of the Mass with Schubert Mass-paraphrases (as Fr. Recktenwald advocates), or allow certain liturgical prayers to be said in German rather than Latin. Especially today in the age of globalization, in which communities of the faithful in places like Frankfurt or Bonn or Stuttgart can easily show a linguistic diversity like that of Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost, a common liturgical language and a single worldwide form are of inestimable value for preserving a spiritual homeland.
The desire to remove deviations accumulated over the course of years in order to keep this form visible and available is also expressed in the following papal provisions:
1) The motu proprio Rubricarum instructum of Pope St. John XXIII: As of January 1, 1961, all who belong to the Roman rite must obey the rules set forth in the liturgical books. All conflicting provisions, privileges, exemptions, permissions, and customs of any kind are withdrawn—even if they have existed for centuries or from time immemorial.
2) The Instruction Universae Ecclesiae, enacted by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in the name of Pope Benedict XVI, frees the celebration of the usus antiquior from any laws adopted after 1962 that concern the sacred rites and are incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in force in 1962.
|Edifying, perhaps, but not the Mass|
Here, the intention of the papal legislators is clear: to eliminate any possible deviations from the rubrics, whether they are matters of custom or are motivated by “pastoral” or “contemporary” adjustments. This ought to receive complete agreement on the part of all traditional believers, clergy as well as laity, and especially members of priestly communities that make an exclusive use of the liturgical books of 1962.
The authentic celebration of the liturgy by no means neglects pastoral care in favor of a self-sufficient aesthetic. As the well-known formula puts it: lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi: worship, faith, and concern for the salvation of souls belong together. Prayer, faith, and life are based on the same foundations and are supported by an authentic liturgy that is faithful to its rite.
Accordingly, in the decree of establishment of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, October 18, 1988, it says:
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is dedicated to the sanctification of priests through the exercise of pastoral ministry, principally through the uniformity of their lives with the Eucharistic sacrifice and by observing the liturgical and disciplinary traditions about which the Pope writes in his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei of July 2, 1988.It may be taken for granted that the statutes of the Priestly Fraternity have meanwhile been conformed to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007 and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae of 2011, but this would not modify anything in the assertion that the statutes of the Priestly Fraternity imply adherence to the liturgical rites.
Let us take up an example from Fr. Recktenwald’s article: the presentation of the Scripture readings immediately in the vernacular, instead of (as intended for High Mass) first being sung in Latin, and then optionally read out in the vernacular. On this point Rome has expressly spoken. The already-mentioned Instruction Universae Ecclesiae specifies: “As foreseen by article 6 of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the readings of the Holy Mass of the Missal of 1962 can be proclaimed either solely in the Latin language, or in Latin followed by the vernacular or, in Low Masses, solely in the vernacular.” This means: in all sung Masses on Sundays and Holy Days as well as feasts of the first class such as St. Joseph on March 19, or the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or SS. Peter and Paul on June 29, or the Assumption on August 15, the Epistle and the Gospel must first be sung in Latin (if the priest is not ill such that he may only read out the text in Latin).
In support of his position, Father Recktenwald refers to the Pontifical Mass that was celebrated this year by Cardinal Sarah at the conclusion of the Paris-Chartres pilgrimage. There, after all, the Epistle and Gospel were read aloud immediately in French, and Cardinal Sarah in his homily issued a reminder about how one should celebrate the liturgy: “with noble simplicity, without useless additions, false aestheticism or theatricality, but with a sense of the sacred that first and foremost gives glory to God.”
This quotation seems to me to be torn out of context and not taken in the sense in which Cardinal Sarah meant it. In the same homily, the celebrant refers in a positive way multiple times to the Pontifical Mass just celebrated, with the following words:
Let us take today’s Mass as a model: it brings us to adoration, to a filial and loving fear before the greatness of God. ... Dear brothers and sisters, let us love these liturgies that enable us to taste the silent presence and transcendence of God and turn us toward the Lord. ... What the world expects of the priest is that he proclaim God and the Light of his Word, without ambiguity or falsification. Let us know how to turn together to God in a liturgical celebration full of reverence, a silence that expresses holiness. We invent nothing new in the liturgy; we receive everything from God and His Church. We don’t want to put on a show or seek our own success. The liturgy teaches us: To be a priest is not to do a lot, it means, far more, to be with the Lord upon the Cross. ... Whether in the Ordinary or the Extraordinary Form, let us always celebrate, as we also do today, according to what the Second Vatican Council teaches: with a noble simplicity, without useless additions, false aestheticism or theatricality, but with a sense of the sacred that first and foremost gives glory to God, and with the true spirit of a son of the Church.Whether Cardinal Sarah, in a Pontifical Mass for 15,000 international pilgrims, many of whom did not understand French, really endorsed (a) the disregarding of the Roman requirement that the Scripture readings be first given in Latin and (b) the reading of them immediately and exclusively in French, eludes my knowledge, but it appears to me to be questionable.
Presumably, this remark (“useless additions, theatricality”) referred more to other elements of large-scale Mass celebrations that can be witnessed at the Pope’s Masses, and most recently at the Catholic Day [in Germany]: liturgical dance with the Gospel book, guitars, percussion, even drum kits, never-ending Offertory processions in which many people bring all sorts of gifts down the aisle to the altar, a lengthy and excessive Kiss of Peace, and so forth.
Comparable to the prescriptions about the Scripture readings are the provisions concerning church music, especially what is to be sung during Holy Mass. Ever since the motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini (1903) of Pope St Pius X, all the popes as well as the Second Vatican Council have stressed the importance and primacy of the Gregorian chant in the liturgy and have highlighted that, in addition to the cantors (Schola), the others who are assisting at Mass should also learn the Gregorian melodies and sing the parts that pertain to them. All the worshiping communities at locations where Holy Masses in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite are regularly offered make an effort to build up a schola cantorum. This should also be encouraged and appreciated by the celebrants, because the Gregorian chant is a necessary, indispensable part of the liturgy.
For the greater glory of God, believers of all centuries have made the best of what has been available to them in the fields of architecture, painting, fine arts, paraments, goldsmithing, and music. We should continue to do this today, so that the sacraments, especially the Mass, “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven,” may be celebrated as fittingly as possible.
Almighty God,[The original German text of this article may be found here.]
grant me the grace
to desire ardently all that is pleasing to Thee,
to examine it prudently,
to acknowledge it truthfully,
and to accomplish it perfectly,
for the praise and glory of Thy Name.
Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas
The conference will feature keynote addresses by His Eminence, Gerhard Cardinal Müller (“Lex orandi - lex credendi”), Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, and the Secretariat of the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship.
Our thanks to reader Daniel Martínez Pasamar for sharing with us this account of a pilgrimage / retreat recently held in Spain for a group of the faithful attached to the traditional Latin Mass.
In addition to the lectures for adults, and the parallel educational activities and talks specifically designed for the children, the participants in the retreat were able to attend Mass every day, either one of the Low Masses celebrated by the priests present at the event, or the Solemn High Mass which was the spiritual core of each day. Furthermore, the attendees took part in different traditional devotions: daily solemn Vespers in Gregorian chant, Benediction and the Holy Rosary.
www.lamisadesiempre.com for more information. Deo Gratias!
“Una Voce’s history, faithfully compiled by Leo Darroch in the present volume, is indeed the history of lay men and women coming of age in the life of the Church. It is not too much to say that following the Second Vatican Council, Una Voce formed a lay movement that, in spite of at times not insignificant opposition, came to be of singular importance. For at a time when the required obedience had anesthetized the greater part of the clergy ... it was the laity who enjoyed the freedom necessary to organize themselves to promote the goods that were seemingly being squandered by the Church herself.
... The history of Una Voce is the history of devout, intelligent, and indeed obedient Catholic men and women (at times, to be sure, severely frustrated and almost driven to distraction) seeking for decades to convince ecclesiastical authorities at every level, including the highest, that the Church had made a fundamental error not in reforming or developing her public worship—that she had done throughout history—but in excluding substantial and important elements of her liturgical tradition (including Latin) in so doing. They argued that the almost complete prohibition of the older forms of worship was pastorally harmful, culturally deleterious, and gravely unjust to the worthy aims of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council.”
In mid-March of 1964, when the Consilium ad exsequendam was not yet two months old, Dom Gregory Murray of Downside Abbey in England wrote in the Tablet, “The plea that the laity as a body do not want liturgical change, whether in rite or in language, is, I submit, quite beside the point. … (it is) not a question of what people want; it is a question of what is good for them.” The great Michael Davies, who of course figures very prominently in Darroch’s book, rightly observed in “Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II”, that this contempt for the laity was no different from that of the Soviet Communist Party for the people; as the Party “ ‘interpreted the will of the people,’ so the (liturgical) ‘experts’ interpret the wishes of the laity.” Dom Reid gives an excellent example of the the very Soviet behavior characteristic of those sad and difficult years from no less a person than the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worhsip.
“It is by no means an easy task to inform a naked emperor that he is wearing no clothes, as the early Una Voce leaders learned only too quickly. Darroch’s history is replete with polite but firm reminders from ecclesiastics that the old ways have been replaced by newer and better ones and that everyone needs to make the best of them. A 1970 petition to Pope Paul VI requesting the preservation of the older rite of Mass received this reply from Cardinal Benno Gut, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship: ‘You know that the decree . . . issued with the publication of the new Ordo provided for a certain period of transition. . . . But after this period of transition all the faithful should get used to the new form.’ His Eminence conceded that the difficulties experienced by many of the faithful with the new order were ‘due to (very genuine) psychological inhibitions.’ He concluded: ‘Your letter, written in such a distinguished tone, gives us the assurance that you will find the correct attitude.’ ”
In this age of the Church’s life, as in every other, there are many reasons to take encouragement, and many for discouragement. For those are for whatever reason inclined to the latter, it will certainly be useful to read this remarkable prophecy made by the first President of Una Voce, Dr Eric de Saventhem, in 1970.
“...from the outset Una Voce was blessed with the leadership of the German-born convert from Protestantism Eric de Saventhem—a providential unifier, spokesman, and coordinator of the movement. While for many years he too had received polite but firm replies entreating him and his associates to adopt the “correct attitude,” his vision was nothing less than prophetic. As early as June 1970, speaking as the guest of honor at the annual meeting of Una Voce USA at the Liederkranz Club in Manhattan, de Saventhem would assert:
A renaissance will come: asceticism and adoration as the mainspring of direct total dedication to Christ will return. Confraternities of priests, vowed to celibacy and to an intense life of prayer and meditation will be formed. Religious will regroup themselves into houses of strict observance. A new form of Liturgical Movement will come into being, led by young priests and attracting mainly young people, in protest against the flat, prosaic, philistine or delirious liturgies which will soon overgrow and finally smother even the recently revised rites.He continued:
It is vitally important that these new priests and religious, these new young people with ardent hearts, should find—if only in a corner of the rambling mansion of the Church—the treasure of a truly Sacred Liturgy still glowing softly in the night. And it is our task, since we have been given the grace to appreciate the value of this heritage, to preserve it from spoliation, from becoming buried out of sight, despised and therefore lost forever. It is our duty to keep it alive: by our own loving attachment, by our support for the priests who make it shine in our churches, by our apostolate at all levels of persuasion.”
the church of St Miniato on a hill outside the city, where the crucifix one of the altars nodded to him, signifying the Lord’s acceptance of this gesture of true Christian forgiveness. For this reason, the Gospel of his feast day is not the taken from the Common of Abbots, but repeated (in part) from the Friday after Ash Wednesday.
“You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5, 43-48)
9 AM - EF Sung Mass, followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and praying of 1,000 Hail Mary’s until 5 PM
Sunday, July 15
10:25 AM - EF Sung Mass
Noon - 1:30 PM - Rosary Rally & Street Evangelization in front of the Rectory, East 116th Street
5:30 PM - EF Sung Mass
7:30 PM - 1st Solemn Latin Vespers (EF), & Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament
9 PM - Outdoor Candlelight Procession
11 PM - International Rosary & Litany of the Blessed Virgin chanted in Latin
12 AM - EF Solemn Massm starting at Midnight
6 AM - EF Low Mass
7 AM - EF Low Mass
(Masses offered every Hour, Last Mass at 8 PM)
10 AM - Solemn Mass, Ordinary Form (ad orientem) celebrated by His Eminence Francis Arinze, Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
11:30 AM - Grand Procession
See this recent post for the schedule of events on Saturday, July 21, when the church will hold its the Seventh Annual Traditional Mass Pilgrimage as the culmination of the 134th annual feast of the Shrine and Parish’s Patroness.
In 1444, the church was given to the Olivetan monastic order, who held it until the suppressions of the Napoleonic era, in 1808. At the very end of the 15th century, a monk of this order, Fra’ Giovanni da Verona, built and decorated the sacristy, a work of which the great artist historian Giorgio Vasari described as “the most beautiful sacristy in all of Italy. ” Here are some photos taken by Nicola; those of the church itself are given below.
“...in the lunettes he painted various Popes in pontifical habit, two per section, those who were elected to the papacy from the order of St Benedict. Around the sacristy ... there is a band ... in which are depicted in monastic habit various emperors, kings, dukes and other princes, who left the states and principalities which they had, and became monks.” (Vasari)
There’s still time! The registration deadline for Musica Sacra Florida 2018 has now been extended to Tuesday, July 24.
10th Annual Gregorian Chant Conference
Friday, July 27 & Saturday, July 28, 2018
Monday, July 23 to Friday, July 27
at Royal Palm Academy and Saint Agnes Chapel, Naples, FL
The conference will include:
A SPECIAL EVENT!
“Treasures of the Catholic Church” Camp (July 23-27): For young people from 8 to 18. Children will receive instruction in Gregorian chant and Catholic culture (including great art) from an expert faculty, including Father Jonathan Romanoski, FSSP, Susan Treacy, Ph.D., and others.
Musica Sacra Florida 2018 Workshops (July 27-28):
“What Came before the Square Notes” (Edward Schaefer, D.M.A.) - Learn the fascinating history of pre-square-note notation.
“A Plain and Easy Guide to Square Notation” (Susan Treacy, Ph.D.) – Are you mystified or intimidated by those little square notes? Fear not! In this workshop you will receive basic instruction on how to read Gregorian chant notation. Likewise, if you need a refresher course, come join us.
“Gregorian Chant as the Basis for Choral Excellence” (Larry Kent, D.M.A.) - This workshop will examine various ways that correct chant technique is an essential element in mixed choral ensembles, especially with regard to sacred music of the sixteenth century. Participants will work with excerpts of works by Byrd, Victoria, Tallis, and Palestrina.
Keynote Lecture for the Musica Sacra Florida 2018 Gregorian Chant Conference:
Dr. Edward Schaefer (University of Florida): "The Place of Gregorian Chant in Western History and Its Importance Today”
Gregorian Chant Conference Faculty
Larry Kent, D.M.A., Director of Florida Pro Musica, Tampa
Edward Schaefer, D.M.A., University of Florida College of Fine Arts
Susan Treacy, Ph.D., Ave Maria University
For all the details about registration, schedule and conference hotel, visit their website: musicasacraflorida.com
Recently Pater Edmund shared with me the exciting news that he had received the gift of a portable Mass kit that once belonged to a World War I chaplain, which an antique store in Oberösterreich had put up for sale. It features a built-in altar stone and altar cards that fold out, and in the compartments inside there are not only chalice and linens, etc., but even four chasubles in different colors (!). The chalice seems to have been made in Fulda, while the Missal is from Regensburg. The whole set-up is typical of kits in the World War I era.
Pater Edmund asked that I share these pictures at NLM. I must say, it is both a pleasure and a challenge to do so. A pleasure, for obvious reasons; how could a more complete and better portable kit ever be devised? A challenge, because this war-time worst, this compact gear meant to be carried through mud and bullets, is more complete and more appropriate than what one might find in many peace-time sacristies today!
NOTE : Here is the German description, for those who are interested:
Sehr schöner antiker Messkoffer aus der Zeit um 1910; schöner brauner Lederkoffer mit original Überzug und reichlichem Zubehör: 4 Kaseln, Stolen, Pallen, Kelchwäsche, Tücher, Albe, Missale Romanum, Messing Buchablage, Altarstein, Kelch mit Patene, zwei Versehpatenen, Glocke, Kerzenetui inkl. zwei Kerzen..... Kelch und Patene aus 800er Silber und Kelch mit Meistermarke Wilhelm Rauscher, päpstl. Hofjuwelier, Hof- und Domgoldschmied; Buchablage aus Messing ebenfalls mit Meistermarke Wilhelm Rauscher. Masse Koffer ca. 48 x 30 x 19,5 cm. Insgesamt sehr schöne gepflegte Erhaltung mit natürlichen Alters-/Gebrauchs-/Anlaufspuren.
Prayer is “...the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” (CCC 2559), and within these aspects listed by the Catechism, we can distinguish also between two movements. One is passive (or receptive) by which we listen to what God is saying to us. The other is active, responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, by which we might, for example, give praise or thanks to God or ask something of Him.
A well-painted piece of sacred art will engage the viewer in such a way that it promotes both attitudes of prayer, active and passive, and each of the traditions of liturgical art has been developed to serve this double role, but in different ways. Each is painted to use visual devices that engage us, so that we might see what God is telling us through the image, and then be inspired to respond in love.
Iconographic art and Gothic art employ similar techniques, and as a result, engage us in a similar dynamic of prayer. Both are more stylised and less naturalistic than later Western traditions such as the Baroque. The less naturalistic styles of these traditions promote a sense of emotional distance between the observer and the Saint portrayed; the lack of naturalism always gives a painting an other-worldly feel. The stylization is also deliberately unsentimental - it does not evoke the sense of a Hallmark type prayer card, for example - and this ensures that we are not beguiled by prettiness. The austerity reminds us that this is an image and not the actual Saint. A spiritual hunger is created by this as we long for a relationship with the real Saint. At this point there is a mental jump in our imaginations, and our thoughts move from the image to the real Saint in heaven.
The image acts as a mental stepping stone by which we come to contemplate the real Saint in heaven. This is why these styles of art are often described as “windows to heaven.” When we see Christ in an icon, through this image there is a profound awareness of the real Christ beckoning to us from heaven and saying, “Come to me, join me in heaven!”
In nature, the closer you are to an object the wider the angle of vision. So a man close to us appears large and the angle that subtends his limits - say from feet to head - is large. However, if the man moves away from us, that angle is reduced. We naturally judge how far away a man is from us by matching his apparent height (i.e. angle vision) with the height we assume him to be. Without being able to quote precise numbers we develop through experience an innate sense of the fact that a man who is 6ft tall will create an angle of vision of about 15 degrees of arc when he is 18 feet away.
If the artist wants to control the perception of distance, he must be aware of the point where the image is most likely to be observed from, and then he controls the angle of vision accordingly to create the desired perception of distance. So if the image is seen from 12 feet away, and the image is 4 feet high, then the angle of the arc that subtends the height of the image will be about 15 degrees; we will not think we are seeing a 4 foot tall man 12 feet away, but a 6 foot-tall man 18 feet away. We assume this because on the whole, men aren’t only 4 feet tall.
A reasonable question might be, but there are some people who are 4 feet tall; how do we know that this isn’t a life-size image of one of them? The answer is that there are other signs. First of all, we do the same intuitive calculation for every other person or object portrayed in the picture. We quickly gauge that unless everything else in the painting is also proportionately reduced in size, which is unlikely, then this person is a 6 feet tall, not 4. As I mentioned before, we don’t think of the numbers when we look at the image, any more than when we look at an ordinary person, we just have a sense of how far away someone is and how tall he is.
Something else that gives us a clue as to how far away something is from us is the amount of discernible detail we can make out, what we might call “detail perspective.” Through the experience of seeing things around us, we know whether, e.g., at a distance of 18 feet, we can to make out individual strands of hair on a head, or if we will see a broad swathe of color which we recognize as a mass of hair. It takes great skill for an artist to match this detail-perspective with the angle of vision so that all is in harmony. If the two factors are not in harmony, then usually we will sense that something is wrong, and we feel uneasy about it. Getting the balance of these two effects wrong is a common error made by inexperienced or poor artists. It is a fault of many well-known artists who should have known better, for example, many of the Pre-Raphaelites. Their paintings were over-packed with detail, so that every blade of grass and every individual leaf might be painted. Typically, our brain struggles to interpret what is seen in paitings like this, because one way of discerning distance, the amount of detail, tells us “This is close”, while the other, the angle of vision, says, “This is far away.” This generally causes a feeling of unease.
Baroque art of the 17th century, unlike Pre-Raphaelite art, is a naturalistic style that balances these two factors perfectly. However, paradoxically, iconographic and Gothic art deliberately introduced a mismatch, but in such a way that they contrive to enhance their spiritual power.
Both iconographic and Gothic art are designed so that when measured by angle of vision, the image is in the middle distance; we can get close enough to kiss an icon, for example, and it still seems in the middle distance because of the angle of vision. This further reinforces the dynamic of prayer described above. However, by the measure of detail-perspective, Gothic and iconographic art seem to break the rule of harmony with the angle of vision; there is lots of detail, and so the images are much closer to us than the angle of vision ould lead us to judge.
Ordinarily, we would expect to feel disconcerted by this, but generally we don’t. What then, is the difference between iconographic and Gothic art, where it works, and the Pre-Raphaelites, where it doesn’t? Clearly, something else is at play here. The difference is that while the Pre-Raphaelites attempt to portray things as they are naturalistically, the Gothic and iconographic styles are not intended to portray things as they are naturally. The style of both is informed by a theology of what man is like in heaven; the integration of theology and form in these traditions is so well worked out that we pick up on this instinctively. In heaven, to see someone is to know them perfectly, and so all the detail of their lives (in fact, more than simply the visual details) would be known to us. When we look at an icon or Gothic image, we see that they are otherworldly, and therefore the excess detail doesn’t seem unfitting to us. If this were just an arbitrary stylization that was not reflective of a truth, it would not be a convincing portrayal, but it works because these styles really do reflect something of the heavenly reality to us. In short, it rings true, because it is true.
To recap: in the case of Gothic and iconographic art, all of this “visual engineering” by the artist comes together to create a natural dynamic of prayer as follows. We look at the image, and because it seems to be in the middle distance, we are drawn toward it; we want to pull the image into the foreground so that we can establish a firmer relationship with the Saint. As we move closer, the image rewards us, so to speak, with a clearer vision of all the rich detail, which then increases our sense of wanting to get closer. However, we just can’t get close enough to satisfy our desire. Even if our noses are pressed against the image, it seems to be in the middle distance because of its design. The only way to get closer is through the use of our imaginations, which take us through the image to the real Saint in heaven; this is a profound connection that nourishes prayer. The Saints in heaven call us to be with them through the sacred art; each is saying, “Come to me and be in heaven with me.” The image of Our Lady will be seen, for the most part, from a great distance, and so will have a small angle of vision when viewed by most people.
To illustrate, consider the following situation: have you ever had the experience of seeing a beautiful large traditional oil painting in an art gallery? If you are like me, you want to get closer, but when you approach the image, it transforms. What was originally a clear image changes into a mess of rough brush strokes and you can no longer see the image as clearly. Then, in order to make it cohere visually again, you have to retreat back to the place where you first saw it. This is not accidental. The artist has deliberately painted the image so that it is out of focus when you are close, and in focus when you are several feet away.
Baroque art generally works like this. This effect is that rather drawing us into the image, as a Gothic painting might, the image jumps out to us. And when the image is of Christ, for example, God is made present to us here on earth. It says, “You stay where you are, I am with you.” This sense of the presence of God on earth is reinforced further by the artist when this device is combined with the other distinctive aspects of the visual vocabulary of Baroque art. The strong contrast between shadow and light, for example, communicates to us a sense of Christian hope that transcends suffering - the Light of the good that overcomes the darkness of evil.
Here is Velazquez’s crucifxion.
Ordinarily, I bemoan the fact that in the Roman Church we are detached from our authentic liturgical traditions. (I have devoted so much time to trying to understand them int he hope of helping to re-establish them as living traditions.) But there is some good in this. We can look more objectively at the past from our current position of detachment from it, and so choose what we feel is best for a new beginning.
In regard to this discussion, we could, potentially, establish a double tradition today, one that allows for both dynamics of prayer and so enrich our worship and prayer in a way that has not been done before. We might choose the come-to-me style for the side altar and for our contemplative prayer; and the I-am-with-you style, for greater and more immediate impact, for the reredos or altar piece that is in the sanctuary and will be viewed from a distance. The task for artists who set out to do this would be to do so in such a way that each side of the coin is connected stylistically, as well as distinguishable from the other, so to maintain the sense of unity that a single tradition has.
The prices listed are the opening price. He will entertain bids for that price or above until 6:00 p.m. July 21, 2018. You should send your bid to him at email@example.com.
He will keep those interested informed of higher bids by return email so that potential buyers can make higher bids if they wish.
In my opinion, the items are in good condition given their age and the opening prices reflect what seems common in used-book offerings for these items. For each he provides an image of the title page, spine, and cover, so that you have an idea of the condition.
1. The Saint Dominic Missal.Latin-English. First Edition. New York: St. Dominic Missal, 1959. Bidding opens at $150.
Readers should also know that I still have two copies of volume 1 of the 1930 Dominican Rite Latin Breviary for sale. Link to page here.
Anyone who has ever served this rite of Mass knows that it is especially hard work, something which requires a good amount of organizing and rehearsal to do properly; the reward for such work is, of course, a ceremony which truly impresses upon one, forcibly and unmistakably, the power and majesty of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass truly is. We can all take encouragement once again from the fact that none of the people who are making the effort and committment to put this together are old enough to be doing so from any sense of “nostalgia”; what we see here is a true and sincere love for the richness of our Catholic liturgical tradition. (The assistant priest here is the same Fr Jacob Connors whose parish was featured in the very first “Tradition is for the Young” post.)
Gravedona seen from the ferry. The church on the left with the polygonal apse is called San Vincenzo, a paleo-Christian church rebuilt in the 11th century; the taller one on the right is the 12th-century church of Santa Maria del Tiglio. The site was perhaps that of an ancient Roman temple, since both churches incorporate a fair amount of ancient material.