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    My favorite photoposts are the ones which show not only the beauty, but also the great variety of the Catholic liturgical tradition, and the submissions which we received for the Assumption this year are a great example of this. We have Masses of the feast in the EF and OF, as well as the EF vigil Mass and the Byzantine Rite; the blessing of herbs, fruits and flowers seems to be getting more and more popular every year. We have enough to make two posts out of them; I will do the second one when I get a bit of free time in the next day or so. Our thanks and best wishes to all those who sent them in - Evangelize through Beauty!
    Prince of Peace - Taylor, South Carolina
    Herbs and wildflowers blessed on the feast day.
    St Peter Eastern Catholic Church - Ukiah, California

    Shrine Church of St Walburge - Preston, Lancashire, England (ICKSP)
    Tradition will always be for the young!


    Blessing of herbs and flowers

    St Mary’s Parish - Kalamazoo, Michigan

    Procession with a statue of the Virgin Mary, the church’s Patron Saint.

    Santissima Trinità - Pordenone, Italy

    St Anthony of Padua - Des Moines, Iowa

    San Simon Piccolo - Venice, Italy (FSSP)

    Blessing of fruit

    Santuary of the ‘Madonna della Salute’ - Dossobuono (Verona), Italy
    EF Vigil of the Assumption

    Church of the Annunciation - Houston, Texas

    St Kevin - Warwick, Rhode Island

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    Between the later stages of the Second Vatican Council and the promulgation of the reformed Ordo lectionum Missae in 1969, various episcopal conferences were granted permission to expand the selection of readings used at weekday Masses, on an experimental basis. Three main schemes were used in this period: the German scheme, [1] the French scheme, and the Consilium scheme. The latter, prepared by Coetus XI of the Consilium, was presented to episcopal conferences that had not asked specific permission to use either of the other two schemes. The Consilium’s scheme was also the subject of “extensive deliberation”, being given to each episcopal conference, to the participants in the 1967 Synod of Bishops, and around 800 periti in various fields such as biblical studies, liturgy, catechesis and pastoral care; 460 responses were received. [2]

    The table of the Consilium scheme of readings is now available for download from the following link:

    Table of Readings from the Consilium’s Experimental Lectionary (Schemata 233 [De Missali 39], 1967), with the text of the introductory material (PDF)

    This scheme is vital source material for studying the work of Coetus XI, and it is worth mentioning that it had eluded me for a number of years until recently. Very many thanks are due to the library staff at Blackfriars Hall (University of Oxford) for allowing me to consult their copy of the Ordo lectionum pro dominicis, feriis et festis sanctorum.

    The elusive Schemata 233 of the Consilium ad exsequendam
    With this table of readings, all of the primary experimental schemes of readings in use have now been made publicly available for research (see the links above and also my Lectionary Study Aids blog). Though I have yet to do any detailed comparisons of the various schemes, or to compare them with the eventual Ordo lectionum Missae, there are a couple of observations that immediately stand out about the Consilium’s scheme:
    1. It was produced at a point in the post-Vatican II liturgical reform where there was clearly some uncertainty about what the General Roman Calendar would look like in the future. For example, Lent appears to start on the 1st Sunday of Lent rather than on Ash Wednesday, [3] and though we have Sundays labelled as post-Epiphany and post-Pentecost, the ferial weekday lectionary does not make this distinction (there are 34 weeks in tempus per annum).

    2. Compared to the 1969/1981 Ordo lectionum Missae, there are very few short forms of readings, and the majority of those that do exist in the Consilium scheme would seem to conform more to no. 75 of the General Introduction to the Lectionary than those in the 1969/1981 OLM. This issue is more complex than first appears, however, and will be examined in future posts.
    Other interesting observations are, no doubt, waiting to be made, and I hope to be able to share some of them at NLM in the future.


    [1] The German scheme was the one also used in England & Wales between 1965-69. Closely related to this scheme is the one used in Spain and some other Spanish-speaking nations.

    [2] Annibale Bugnini gives more details about the reform of the lectionary in The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990), pp. 406-425.

    [3] Bugnini makes it clear that this was a feature, not a bug. Pope Paul VI had to personally intervene in order to ensure that Ash Wednesday and the three days following would be retained in the General Roman Calendar (cf. The Reform of the Liturgy, pp. 307, 310-311).

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    Our second Assumption photopost starts with something particularly impressive, a video of the complete Mass celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. This event is organized every year by the Mater Ecclesiae chapel in Berlin, New Jersey, and always features some truly excellent music, accompanied by an orchestra. The photos below also include a Pontifical Mass celebrated by the HE Czeslaw Kozon, the bishop of Copenhagen, who will be leading the Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome this year, as well as confirmations, the blessing of flowers, and the Byzantine Rite celebrated in blue vestments. As always, our thanks to everyone who sent these in, continuing the important work of evangelizing through beauty.

    Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul - Philadelphia, Pennsylvnia

    St John the Baptist - Minneapolis, Minnesota (Byzantine Rite)

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

    Piarist Church - Krems, Austria
    Blessing of Flowers

    Ss Peter and Paul - Wilmington, California
    Celebrated by the Norbertine Fathers of St Michael’s Abbey

    St Francis de Sales Oratory - St Louis, Missouri (ICKSP)

    Cathedral of the Sacred Heart - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Excellency Czeslaw Kozon, bishop of Copenhagen.

    Old St Patrick Oratory - Kansas City, Missouri (ICKSP)

    Blessing of flowers
    St Margaret Mary - Oakland, California (ICKSP)
    His Excellency Michael Barber, the bishop of Oakland, celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation before the Mass, which he then attended in choir.

    Holy Innocents - New York City

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    Truly it is worthy and just, meet and profitable to salvation, that we give Thee thanks always, here and everywhere, o Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, humbly entreating Thy majesty, that in Thy might Thou may drive away from Thy Church whatever is harmful, and give bountifully what is beneficial. Grant to us to preserve a reasonable humility against the proud spirits, and mercifully bestow upon us Thy grace. Leave us not in the uncertainty of human aid, but preserve us by Thine own governance, that cannot be deceived, through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy majesty, the Archangels venerate, the Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Principalities and Powers worship. The Cherusim also and the Seraphim, join them in exsultant praise. And we beseech that that Thou order our voices  also to be admitted with theirs, saying with humble confession: Holy, holy, holy ... (The Preface of the 14th Sunday after Pentecost in the traditional Ambrosian Rite. This is the second of a group of 6 prefaces said in rotation thought the Sundays between Pentecost and Advent.)

    The Most Holy Trinity, by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, ca. 1550
    Vere quia dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, hic et ubique gratias agere, Domine, Sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus, majestatem tuam suppliciter exorantes: ut ab Ecclesia tua, quidquid est noxium, tua virtute repellas; et quod eidem salutare est, largiaris: nobisque contra superbos spiritus humilitatem tribuas rationabilem custodire, et gratiam tuam clementer impendas: nec nos humani incertos auxilii derelinquas; sed tua quae falli non potest, gubernatione conserves. Per Christum Dominum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, venerantur Archangeli, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Principates, et Potestates adorant. Quem Cherubim et Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus...

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    Monastic authors steeped in lectio divina often bear witness to the “liturgical providence of God.” Experience confirms again and again that the texts offered for us in the sacred liturgy, especially the fixed traditional texts, furnish a key to understanding what is going on in our personal lives at the moment, in our immediate community, in the Church at large, and in the world. The combination of proper antiphons, orations, and readings comes to us from without and presents a message that the attentive preacher or practitioner of lectio divina can tune into. As Dom Mark Kirby writes: “The man who trusts in the liturgical providence of God will never be without a glimmer of light in the night, a spark of fire in the cold, a cup of cold water in the heat, a signpost on the road.”

    There are times when the message can be rather subtle, requiring well-trained ears. But there are other times when it seems as if Our Lord is positively whacking us over the head with the obviousness of His message to the Church. One such occasion was surely yesterday’s Mass for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, with readings and orations that the Church has proclaimed on this Sunday for 1,500 years or more — and still does, wherever the Roman Rite endures in its classical form.

    The Epistle of the Mass is taken from Galatians, a letter of ever-growing relevance in the ecclesiastical situation in which we find ourselves today (one thinks of such luminous passages as “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” and “When Cephas [Peter] was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed”), and more particularly, from chapter 5, with its famous contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit:
    Brethren: Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh: for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another, so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences.
    As each day brings with it fresh revelations of clerical corruption in high places — indeed, in the very highest place of all, the seat of Cephas in Rome, whence proceeds a Gospel other than the one Christ and His apostles preached to us — we are comforted and strengthened by hearing these uncompromising words of St. Paul, who assures us that whoever does these works of the flesh, as well as they who approve or support those who do them or fail to take action against them, cannot be acting by the Spirit of Christ. (Indeed, as the Apostle teaches in Romans 1:32, with a nod to the death penalty: “Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.”)

    They that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences. On the very Sunday of the Viganò revelations, this is the message of liturgical providence for the Church in the United States of America, in the Vatican, and everywhere. They that are truly Christ’s will live a mortified life of battle against disordered concupiscence, striving for holiness in a relentless military campaign against interior vices and against the external manifestations of vice over which they have any control, especially if they have been given positions of authority by God.

    And lest we rely on our own strength or on that of any earthly protector, the Collect of the Mass and the Gradual teach us where our victory will come from:
    Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy Church with perpetual peace; and because the frailty of man without Thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by Thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation. Through our Lord.
    The Gradual of this day’s Mass tells us soberly and simply:
    It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in man. V. It is good to trust in the Lord, rather than to trust in princes.
    The Introit cries out: “Behold, O God, our protector, and look on the face of Thy Christ”! Many are they who feel like sheep abandoned by their supreme shepherd, abandoned to the wolves. At times like this, we feel and we know that God is our sole protector. Because He is looking on the face of His Christ, His well-beloved Son on whom His favor rests, and seeing us in Him, He loves us and will never abandon us.

    In The Saint Andrew Daily Missal from 1945, each Sunday is preceded by a lengthy commentary on the readings and prayers of that day in the Divine Office and in the Mass. I am struck by two things about these commentaries: first, how tough they are (the doctrine is clear, its moral demands are stated with no compromise, and salutary rebukes are offered to the reader as an examination of conscience); second, how apropos they are to the tragic situation of the Church today, since they frequently diagnose the very diseases of intellect, will, and passions that harass us on all sides.

    Here is part of the commentary offered for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost:
    St. Gregory says: “There are men, all athirst for passing joys, who are ignorant or indifferent where eternal blessings are concerned. Poor wretches! They congratulate themselves on possessing the good things of this life without regretting those of the world above, which they have lost. Fashioned for light and truth, they never lift up the eyes of the soul; never betray the smallest desire or longing for the contemplation of their eternal home. Giving themselves over to the pleasures among which they are thrown, they bestow their affection upon a dreary place of exile as if it were their fatherland; and surrounded by darkness, they are full of rejoicing as if they were illumined by a brilliant light. On the other hand, the elect, in whose eyes fleeting goods are of no value, seek after those for which their souls were made. Kept in this world by the bonds of the flesh, each, none the less, is carried in spirit beyond it while making the wholesome resolve to despise the passing things of time and to desire the things which endure for eternity.”[2]
    In a rare instance of alignment of liturgical planets, the readings of yesterday’s Ordinary Form Mass, for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B), deliver the same message.

    The first reading shows Joshua (Jesus) summoning all the tribes, their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers, and asked them whom they will serve — the true God, or the gods of the nations round about. In other words, accommodation to the world, or fidelity to God the revealer? The people respond:
    “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
    for the service of other gods.
    For it was the LORD, our God,
    who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
    out of a state of slavery.”
    This is the state of slavery St. Paul is describing with his “works of the flesh.”

    The Sunday psalm declares:
    The LORD has eyes for the just,
    and ears for their cry.
    The LORD confronts the evildoers,
    to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
    The second reading, Ephesians 5:21–32, affirms traditional Catholic doctrine on marriage, with a strong emphasis on its heterosexual essence as a reflection of the relationship of Christ and the Church, with the Church being subordinate to Christ, who calls her to be “holy and without blemish.”

    The Gospel, from John chapter 6, begins right after the Lord Jesus has finished His discourse about the Eucharist as the true flesh and blood of the Son of Man: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” This saying is indeed hard — like the sayings of Jesus about divorce, about celibacy, about welcoming the little children, and about the need for chastity and purity if we would enter the kingdom of heaven. In words that uncannily parallel those of the Epistle in the usus antiquior, Jesus says:
    It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
    But there are some of you who do not believe.
    Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
    and the one who would betray him.
    Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe, and the one who would betray him — the lay people, religious, deacons and priests, and bishops, and the Judas in each generation, in whom the features of the Antichrist yet to appear are glimpsed as in a dark mirror.

    May the striking liturgical providence of God, displayed on this Sunday of infamy, August 26, 2018, be an aid for us, a confirmation, a consolation, and a challenge, as we strive to reject Satan and his pomps and the works of the flesh, and cleave ever more to Christ the Head of the Church, the gardener who makes the fruit of the spirit grow within and around us.

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    Readers will be interested, I’m sure, to learn that my colleague here on the NLM, Peter Kwasniewski, is now doing a weekly column on Christian art at LifeSite. He is a daily columnist and will be devoting one article a week to some aspect of Christian art; his art commentaries appear every Tuesday. In addition to writing on artworks with an obviously Christian content, he also discusses more mundane pieces from a Christian point of view. Thus far, he has posting on paintings by TintorettoGiotto, Rubens, and Fra Angelico’s beautiful fresco of the Lamentation,

    In each, he gives his personal views and response to the works through the prism of his characteristic deep love of and respect for the Faith and traditional Catholic culture, even when discussing art by non-Catholics on non-religious subjects. Once again, this will be on Tuesdays on his daily blog at Life Site.

    In addition to this major item, I have some minor news about my own blog, I am starting a weekly podcast on matters of faith, culture and beauty and all subjects tangential, which you can find at The site has recently been upgraded, and, perhaps connected to that, I was pleased to learn recently that it has been awarded third place in the Top 15 Christian Art Blogs on the Web by the media managing site I would like to put in a plug for Carolyn McKinney at, who did the design of the new site. She is a Catholic who has been a reader of the Way of Beauty for years, and so I asked her for help on this, not only because she understands the technical side of website creation (about which I know nothing), but she also appreciates how the values of a Catholic culture can be highlighted and manifested in this medium.

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    Among the countless pilgrimage shrines up and down the Italian peninsula, there is a famous group of nine sites in the northern provinces of Lombardy and the Piedmont (three in the former, six in the latter) known as the “Sacri Monti - Sacred Mountains.” Each of these consists of a group of chapels arranged around a particular theme: at Belmonte, the theme is the Way of the Cross, at Orta, the life of St Francis, etc. Four of them (Varese, Oropa, Ossuccio and Crea) have the Mysteries of the Rosary as their theme, with the addition in some cases of other episodes from the Virgin Mary’s life. Inside each chapel, one of the sacred episodes is represented by a group of life-sized painted statues, and frescoes on the walls; some of these are quite small and simple, others very elaborate indeed. The pilgrims say the Rosary or do the Stations while passing from chapel to chapel, walking up the mountain through a beautiful park, until they reach the main church or sanctuary at the top. (The chapels, by the way, are so called because of their architectural structure, but they don’t have altars and are not set up for the celebration of Mass.)

    Original Sin, the first chapel of the Sacro Monte di Varallo.
    Ecce Homo in the thirty-third chapel.
    During the pilgrimage I recently participated in with the Schola Sainte-Cécile, we visited two of the Sacri Monti, at Varallo in Piedmont, and Varese in Lombardy. The shrine in Varallo is the most elaborate of them all, with 44 chapels representing the life of Christ from the Annunciation to His burial, and the Fall of Man (seen above) as a prelude. There wasn’t time to visit more than a handful of them, although in compensation, we did have a splendid Mass in the main sanctuary. At Varese, however, we visited each of the fifteen chapels, and said the Mystery represented therein as we walked to the next one; today, I will post the photos of the chapels of the Joyful Mysteries, and the Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries tomorrow and Thurday. The chapels were built between 1604 and 1623, and no, wiseacres, they haven’t added any new ones.

    Each group of mysteries is preceded by a gate; that of the Joyful Mysteries is dedicated to the Virgin Mary Herself. Under the statue is an inscription with the words of Ecclesiasticus 24, 26, which the liturgy often reads as if they were spoken by Her, “Come over to me, all ye that desire me.”
    The Annunciation
    The cleaning staff had left their supplies inside, making it look as if the Angel Gabriel had surprised the Blessed Mother in the middle of getting ready for dinner guests. This was not really very dignified, and in any case, the light inside was very bad for photography.

    The Visitation
    “And She entered into the house of Zachary, and greeted Elizabeth.”
    Also very bad lighting inside, so I took this image from Wikipedia. (Photo by Mattana, CC BY-SA 3.0
    The Birth of Christ

    The Presentation of Christ and Purification of the Virgin Mary
    The exterior of this chapel seems to have been deliberately made more elaborate than the others, since it represents the Temple of Jerusalem.

    We didn’t sing the whole Rosary, but we did sing the last Ave of several of the Mysteries, and the Gloria Patri as well. The French traditionally say “priez pour nous pauvres pêcheurs - pray for us poor sinners” in the Ave Maria.
    The Finding in the Temple

    Looking back down on the Presentation.

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    The Northwest Indiana Latin Mass Community announces that, for the first time in years, the Traditional Latin Mass will be regularly celebrated in a parish setting, at St Joseph’s Parish in Dyer, Indiana (Diocese of Gary). To begin, Masses will be on first Fridays at 7:00 pm; the Sung Mass with incense will feature Gregorian chant and Renaissance choral polyphony. All are welcome to attend! The church is located at 440 Joliet St.; further details and images are available at

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    Following up on yesterday’s post about the Sacro Monte di Varese, in which we saw the chapels that represent the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, here are some photos of the chapels of the Sorrowful Mysteries. The gate which leads into this section is dedicated to St Charles Borromeo, who was very devoted to the Sacri Monti, and towards the end of his life, passed a great deal of time meditating on the life of the Lord at the one in Varallo.

     The Agony in the Garden

    The Scourging at the Column

    The Crowning with Thorns
    This is roughly the first point on the itinerary from which you can see the little town of Santa Maria del Monte in top of the mountain. The bell-tower is part of the small but very beautiful sanctuary where pilgrims can attend Mass, and which also serves as the chapel of the fifteenth station. (Photos of it will be posted tomorrow.)

    The Carrying of the Cross

    The Crucifixion

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    The Beheading of St John the Baptist is one of the oldest and most universal feasts that exists, attested in the sermons of the some of the Church Fathers already in the early fifth century; it is kept on the same day in the Roman, Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Gallican and Byzantine Rites. However, even though the Church’s devotion to the Saints in ancient times was very much focused on the martyrs, the day which commemorates John’s martyrdom has always been less celebrated than that of his birth; thus we find among the works of St Augustine fifteen sermons for the feast of his Nativity, but only two for his Beheading. The Nativity also had a vigil from very ancient times, and somewhat later, was given an octave, while the Beheading has neither. Durandus explains that this is because at John’s birth “many rejoiced”, as the Angel said, but at his death, he did not go straight to heaven, which was not yet opened by the death and Resurrection of Christ.

    The Beheading of St John the Baptist, by Caravaggio, 1608; from the Co-cathedral of St John in Valletta, Malta.
    In the Roman Rite, the feast of the Nativity has a fully proper Mass and Office, while on the Beheading, the majority of the liturgical texts are shared with other Martyrs. The Introit of the Mass is one normally used for Virgin Martyrs, but was selected for his feast day as a text particular apposite to the cause of his death, that he spoke to King Herod the truth about his unlawful “marriage” to his sister-in-law. “I spoke of thy testimonies before kings, and I was not ashamed; and I meditated also on thy commandments, which I loved.”

    This is also expressed by the Epistle of the Mass, Jeremiah 1, 17-19, which follows from the Epistle of the vigil of his Nativity, verses 4-10 of the same chapter.

    “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command thee. Be not afraid at their presence: for I will make thee not to fear their countenance. For behold I have made thee this day a fortified city, and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass, over all the land, to the kings of Juda, to the princes thereof, and to the priests, and to the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee, and shall not prevail: for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.”

    The Roman Rite traditionally makes very little use of the Gospel of St Mark, notwithstanding the evangelist’s traditional association with the first bishop of Rome. There are three very prominent exceptions: Easter and the Ascension among the feasts of the Lord, and today’s feast among those of the Saints, on which the Gospel is Mark 6, 17-29. The same Gospel is read in the Ambrosian Rite, and also in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, with one additional verse at the end.

    In the Roman version of the Divine Office, the majority of the musical propers (antiphons, responsories, hymns) are taken from the common Office of a single Martyr, but there are a number of propers as well, which follow the text of this Gospel fairly closely. At Second Vespers, the antiphon for the Magnificat is slightly more rhetorical than the Gospel itself. “The unbelieving King sent his loathsome messengers, and commanded that John the Baptist’s head should be cut off.”

    A page of the Antiphonary of Hartker, written at the monastery of St Gallen in Switzerland at the end of the 10th century. (Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 391, p. 107 – Antiphonarium officii
    Other Uses of the Roman Rite have more proper texts, which vary greatly from one to another; most of these are also taken from the Gospel, with some notable exceptions. The Premonstratensians have this extraordinary antiphon, the text of which comes from a sermon by St Peter Chrysologus, (ca. 380-450), bishop of Ravenna, whom Pope Benedict XIII declared a Doctor of the Church in 1729. As Canons Regular, St Augustine is one of the principal patrons of their order, and his feast therefore ranks higher than that of the Beheading; this antiphon is used to commemorate the latter at Vespers on August 28th.

    Aña Joannes schola virtutum, magisterium vitae, sanctitatis forma, norma justitiae, virginitatis speculum, pudicitiae titulus, castitatis exemplum, poenitentium via, peccatorum venia, fidei disciplina; Joannes major homine, par Angelis, legis summa Evangelii satio, Apostolorum vox, silentium Prophetarum, lucerna mundi, Praecursor Judicis, Christi metator, Domini testis, totius medius Trinitatis: hic tantus datur incestui, traditur adulterae, addicitur saltatrici.

    Aña John, the school of virtues, the master of life, the form of holiness, the norm of justice, the mirror of virginity, the glory of modesty, the model of chastity, the way of penitents, the forgiveness of sinners, the discipline of the Faith; John greater than man, equal to the Angels, the greatest plant of the law of the Gospel, the voice of the Apostles, the silence of the Prophets, the light of the world, the Forerunner of the Judge, that showeth Christ, the witness of the Lord, that standeth amid the whole Trinity; this man so great is handed over to the unchaste, he is delivered to the adulteress, he is consigned to the dancer.

    An ancient responsory for Matins places in the mouth of St John as he dies in prison the words later later spoken by his cousin on the Cross; note how the doxology is cleverly incorporated into the repetition. It appears in the Dominican Office with a slight variation.

    R. In medio carceris stabat beatus Joannes; voce magna clamavit et dixit: * Domine Deus meus, * in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum. V. Misit rex, et decollari jussit Joannem in carcere, orantem et dicentem. Domine Deus meus. Gloria Patri. In manus…

    R. In the midst of the prison stood the blessed John; with a great voice he cried out and said, * “O Lord, my God, * into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” V. The king sent, and ordered John to be beheaded in the prison, as he prayed and said, “O Lord my God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

    There is also an antiphon used by the Cistercians and Dominicans among others, whose text is actually that of a Collect attested in the Gelasian Sacramentary; a surprising number of collects were set to music in this fashion in the Middle Ages.

    Aña Perpetuis nos, Domine, sancti Ioannis Baptistae tuere praesidiis; et quanto fragiliores sumus, tanto magis necessariis attolle suffragiis.

    Aña Defend us, o Lord, by the perpetual protection of St John the Baptist; and the more fragile we are, the more do Thou sustain us by such prayers as we need.

    A Greek icon of the Beheading of St John from the second half of the 18th century.
    The Byzantine Liturgy is famous for the use of highly complex rhetorical language in its Office texts, and those of the “Cutting-off of the Honorable Head of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John” are no exception. The following hymn is sung at the blessing of bread (‘artoklasia’ or ‘litia’) which is held at the end of Vespers on major feast days. Its author seems to presume that Salome is the daughter of Herodias with Herod, rather than with Philip, and that Herod connived with her at the oath, as an excuse for the murder.

    Today, the mother of the murder, skilled in the works of impiety, contrives with murderous counsel to send her own wanton daughter, born from a lawless embrace, against the greatest of the prophets chosen by God. For as the most hateful Herod completes the banquet of his unlawful birthday, he contrives with an oath to be asked for the honorable head of God’s herald, whence pour forth wonders. And this he accomplished, the senseless man, giving it as a reward for a vulgar dance, for the sake of his oath. Nonetheless, the prophet of Christ’s coming did not cease to denounce their union that was hated of God, even after his death; but he cried out in rebuke, saying “It is not licit for you to commit adultery with the wife of your brother Philip.” Oh, this birthday that slayeth the prophet, this banquet full of blood! But let us, in accordance with piety, in the beheading of the Forerunner, keep the festival, brightly clad, and rejoicing as if on an auspicious day, and ask him to propitiate the Trinity for us, to deliver us from every danger and calamity, and save our souls.

    (In Greek, the words “skilled in the works of impiety” are a single word, “ἀνοσιουργότροπος” (anosiurgotropos), which in Old Church Slavonic becomes the jaw-cracking eleven-syllable “непреподобнодѣлоѻбразнаѧ” (neprepodobnodjeloobraznaja). )

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    Back in May, we posted an item about a new Carmel which has been founded in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, in the diocese of Harrisburg, which uses the traditional Mass and Office, and is undergoing a surge in vocations. Last month, on the feast of St James the Apostle, His Excellency Ronald Gainer, the bishop of Harrisburg, celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form to officially open the monastery and bless the new buildings, still, as you will see, very much under construction. After the Mass, he gave this interview in which he speaks among other things of the traditional liturgy as a powerful source of religious vocations. For more information about the Fairfield Carmel, see their website here: We thank and congratulate Bishop Gainer for his support of this important initiative, and pray that it will bear much fruit for the Church in his diocese.

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    The oldest lectionary of the Roman Rite, a manuscript now in Wurzburg, Germany, dates to ca. 700, and represents the reading system used at Rome about 50 years earlier. It has a very disorganized and incomplete set of readings for the period after Pentecost, which is divided into four parts; the Sundays are counted as two after Pentecost, seven after Ss Peter and Paul, five after St Lawrence, and six after St Cyprian, a total of only 20.

    The second oldest lectionary, from Murbach in eastern France, dates to about 100 years later, and represents the Roman Rite as used in France after Charlemagne had introduced it to replace the older Gallican Rite. It is much better organized and more complete than the Wurzburg manuscript, with 25 Sundays “after Pentecost.” This system has remained in use in the Roman Rite ever since, adjusted for the variable date of Easter, which can leave as few as 23 and as many as 28 such Sundays. The later medieval variant of counting Sundays after Trinity is no more than a variation on this theme.

    A page of Ambrosian Misaal printed in 1522; the Ingressa (Introit) of the First Sunday after the Beheading of St John the Baptist is at the bottom of the lower right hand column.
    In the Ambrosian Rite, however, the same period is divided into four different parts, as it anciently was in the Roman Rite. There are fifteen Sunday “after Pentecost”, followed by five “after the Beheading of St John the Baptist”; depending on the date of Easter, up to four of the former series will be omitted so the latter can begin. There are then three Sundays of October, on the third of which is celebrated the dedication of Milan cathedral, followed by three Sundays “after the Dedication”, which close the year before the beginning of the six-week Ambrosian Advent.

    In the ancient use of the Roman Rite, the Saints whose feast days mark the divisions of this period are three patrons of the city of Rome itself, and one of the most prominent martyrs of the era before the Peace of the Church. The question therefore arises as to why the Ambrosian liturgy marks the second division with a feast which is certainly very ancient, but by no means the most prominent within the same period, where the Assumption might be seen as a more logical choice. This was answered by Prof. Cesare Alzati in his talk given last year at the Sacra Liturgia conference held in Milan.

    On the Egyptian calendar, the New Year begins on the first day of the month of Tout, which corresponds to the Roman date of August 29th. [1] The Roman Emperor Diocletian began his reign on November 20th, 284, but the Egyptians backdated his regnal year to the start of their New Year, and the “Era of Diocletian” was thus counted from August 29th, 284. Since it was he who initiated the last, greatest and most systematic ancient persecution of the Church, the “Era of Diocletian” soon came to be known as the “Era of the Martyrs”; this term is still used to this very day by the Coptic Church, whose calendar begins in 284, making their current ecclesiastical year 1734.

    A famous icon showing Christ with St Menas, one of the most revered of the early Egyptian Martyrs; his feast was even adopted at Rome, and he is still kept as a commemoration on the feast of St Martin in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. (Public domainimage from Wikipedia.) This icon, which is now in the Louvre, is one of the oldest in existence, dated to the 6th or 7th century.
    August 29th, theefore, becomes a crucial point within the Ambrosian ecclesiastical year both as the beginning of the Era of the Martyrs, and slightly later, as a feast of the Saint who is both forerunner and prototype of the Martyrs. This tradition, which is attested in the oldest Ambrosian liturgical books, would have come to Milan from the East in the 4th century.

    After the Council of Nicea adopted the method of dating Easter followed by the churches of Rome and Alexandria, it became the latter’s responsibility to calculate the date of Easter, and communicate it to the other churches. St Ambrose speaks about this in one of his epistles. “In the eighty-ninth year from the reign of Diocletian, when the 14th day of the moon was on March 24th, we celebrated Easter on March 31st. The Alexandrians and Egyptians likewise, as they themselves wrote, when the 14th day of the moon fell on the 28th day of the month of Phamenoth), celebrated Easter on the fifth day of the month of Pharmuth, which is March 31st, and so they agreed with us.” (Ep. 13, alias 23, 14, PL XVI 1031A)

    The church of Constantinople has perhaps preserved a memory of the same tradition, since the ecclesiastical New Year of the Byzantine Rite begins with the first day of the first Roman month after August 29th. The years, however, are counted from the creation of the world, and the year about to begin is reckoned as 7527.

    [1] Since the Copts have not reformed their calendar according to the principle of the Gregorian calendar, Tout 1/August 29 currently falls on Gregorian September 11th.

    Part of this article comes from notes written by Nicola de’ Grandi.

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    We never let August 30th pass without remembering the Blessed Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, who went to his eternal reward on this day in 1954, after serving as Archbishop of Milan for just over a quarter of a century. We have written about him many times on NLM, partly in connection with our interest in the Ambrosian liturgy, of which he was a great promoter, but also as one of the most important scholars of the original Liturgical Movement. I am reprinting this meditation on the value of praying the Office, hoping that our readers will find them an encouragement particularly in their prayers for the Church during these dark days.

    I close my eyes, and while my lips murmur the words of the Breviary which I know by heart, I leave behind their literal meaning, and feel that I am in that endless land where the Church, militant and pilgrim, passes, walking towards the promised fatherland. I breathe with the Church in the same light by day, the same darkness by night; I see on every side of me the forces of evil that beset and assail Her; I find myself in the midst of Her battles and victories, Her prayers of anguish and Her songs of triumph, in the midst of the oppression of prisoners, the groans of the dying, the rejoicing of the armies and captains victorious. I find myself in their midst, but not as a passive spectator; nay rather, as one whose vigilance and skill, whose strength and courage can bear a decisive weight on the outcome of the struggle between good and evil, and upon the eternal destinies of individual men and of the multitude.”

    At the time Bl. Schuster said this, he was close to death, and too weak to follow the Office very attentively as he prayed it; this in itself must have been a great burden to one whose devotion to the liturgy was so great that it was noted and praised even by the communist newspapers. Despite his weakness in his final days, and his enormous pastoral duties, he never ceased to fulfill his obligation to recite the official prayer of the Church. I think these words may serve as a great consolation to anyone who, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstance, finds it difficult to concentrate when saying the Office, the Rosary, or some other prayer.

    For those who know Italian, the passage is well worth reading in the original, as he was a man very skilled in the rich rhetorical language of his era.

    “Chiudo gli occhi, e mentre le labbra mormorano le parole del breviario che conosco a memoria, io abbandono il loro significato letterale, per sentirmi nella landa sterminata per dove passa la Chiesa pellegrina e militante, in cammino verso la patria promessa. Respiro con la Chiesa nella stessa sua luce, di giorno, nelle sue stesse tenebre, di notte; scorgo da ogni parte le schiere del male che l'insidiano o l'assaltano; mi trovo in mezzo alle sue battaglie e alle sue vittorie, alle sue preghiere d'angoscia e ai suoi canti trionfali, all'oppressione dei prigionieri, ai gemiti dei moribondi, alle esultanze degli eserciti e dei capitani vittoriosi. Mi trovo in mezzo: ma non come spettatore passivo, bensì come attore la cui vigilanza, destrezza, forza e coraggio possono avere un peso decisivo sulle sorti della lotta tra il bene e il male e sui destini eterni dei singoli e della moltitudine.”

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    Here is an interesting thing I recently stumbled across, a French documentary (with English subtitles) on the Belgian Abbey of Chevetogne. I am sure our readers already know that the abbey was founded in 1925 by Dom Lambert Beauduin, one of the leading figures of the original Liturgical Movement, as a biritual monastery, using both the Roman Rite and the Russian version of Byzantine Rite, with the aim of working towards the reconciliation of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. It continues to function in this way even today, with services in both rites in the monastery’s two churches. Via the abbey’s website, you can also listen to the services live every day, and the services of the previous few days are always available to enjoy when they are not broadcasting live. (The monks seem to have found a good medium between preserving the proper music of the Byzantine Rite in Church Slavonic, while making judicious use of the vernacular for the recitative parts.)

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    Here is the last set of photos from the Sacro Monte di Varese, one of northern Italy’s most beloved pilgrimage shrines, which I visited last week with the Schola Sainte Cécile. The mysteries of the Rosary are represented with life-sized painted statues and frescoes on the walls of a series of “chapels”, with the church at the top of the mountain representing the Coronation. Be sure to listen to the recording of the Schola singing Victoria’s Ave Maria! (The Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries were posted earlier this week.)

    Each group of mysteries begins with a gate; the last one is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Milan, St Ambrose.
    The Resurrection

    The Ascension

    currently under restoration... (ahem...)
    The Assumption

    Here begins the climb to the little town of Santa Maria del Monte; in winter, people come here to sled when it snows.
    The pilgrims are welcomed for a drink of water (much needed at this point on a hot day) by this neo-classical fountain dedicated to Moses, in the last piazza before the stairs that bring you up into the town itself
    The Coronation of the Virgin Mary
    is represented by the image of Her over the altar of the church, in which two angles are placing a crown on Her head.
    The Ave Maria of Victoria, sung at the conclusion of the fifteenth mystery of the Rosary.

    The relic chapel is known as the “Cappella delle Beate - the Chapel of the Blesseds”, from the relics of Catherine Moriggi (1437-78) and Giuliana Puricelli, (1427-1501), founding members of the cloistered community of Augustinian nuns that has had charge of the shrine since the later 15th century. They were beatified together in 1769 by Pope Clement XIV.
    The Chapel of the Epiphany

    The Chapel of the Presentation
    Looking back down on the chapel of the Assumption.

    A tired pilgrim.

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    As part of the Schola Sainte Cécile’s recent northern Italian pilgrimage, we had two Masses in the Ambrosian Rite; the first of these was celebrated last Saturday at the church of San Maurice at the Greater Monastery, known as the Sistine Chapel of Milan. (We have written about this extraordinary church before; on this occasion, I was able to get some pictures from the church’s gallery, which are included below.) Here are two videos of the Mass, the first of which runs from the end of the Preface to the end of the Canon, and the second from the Fraction, which takes place before the Lord’s Prayer, to the Peace. The magnificent Sanctus and Benedictus are from the Missa Exsultate Deo by François Cosset (1600-64), choir-master of Rheims cathedral and one of the favorite composers of King Louis XIV; the score can be seen here at the Schola’s website. Below each video, I include some notes on the Ambrosian Mass.

    The Mass was that of the Martyr St Genesius, an actor who, in the presence of the Emperor Diocletian was performing a mockery of the Christian faith when he was suddenly inspired to embrace it. - The default position, so to speak, of the servers in an Ambrosian sung Mass is standing before the altar. The Preface conclusion “per quem majestatem” names all nine choirs of the Angels, and the melody is of course quite different. The Canon of the Mass is similar to the Roman Canon; the differences are outlined in these articles on the Communicantes, the Nobis Quoque, and the rest of the Canon. There is no lavabo during the Offertory; instead, the priest washes his hands right before Qui pridie. The coverless thurible is swung in a series of circles, as seen during the Elevation. As in most medieval Uses of the Roman Rite, the priest stretches his hands out in the form of a Cross immediately after the Consecration.
    The fraction and commingling are done immediately after the Canon, accompanied by an antiphon called a Confractorium. On the feast of St Genesius, it is taken from an Old Latin version of Psalm 118: “In salutari tuo anima mea, et in verbum tuum speravi. Quando facies de persequentibus me judicium? Iniqui persecuti sunt me, adjuva me, Domine, Deus meus. - In thy salvation is my life, and in thy word I have hoped. When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? The wicked have persecuted me; do thou help me, o Lord, my God.” Oremus is said silently before Praeceptis salutaribus moniti; at sanctificetur nomen tuum, all bow the head to the Cross. The embolism is sung outloud, and includes the name of St Ambrose; the conclusion is slightly different: “Praesta per eum, cum quo beatus vivis et regnas etc. -  Grant this through Him with whom Thou blessed livest and reignest etc.” The formula for the peace is “Pax et communicatio Domini nostri Jesu Christ sit semper vobiscum. R. Et cum spirito tuo. - May the peace and fellowship of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with you.”; all make the sign of the Cross. The priest then says “Offerte vobis pacem.  - Offer the peace to each other.”, to which the choir answers “Deo gratias.”; as in the Roman Rite, the peace is only given at solemn Mass.

    At the conclusion of the Mass, the Schola sang this Magnificat by Orazio Colombano (1554-95), a Capuchin friar who was choir master first at the church of St Francis in Milan, and then become the choir master of Vercelli cathedral, which we also visited during the pilgrimage. I took this very amateur video and the pictures below it from the upper gallery where the choir was singing, which runs around the whole church.

    The building is divided unevenly into two parts, the smaller being the public church, where the Mass was held, and the larger the nuns’ choir, which is on the other side of the wall from the altar. Most of the walls in both parts are frescoed, the work being done between 1509 and the end of the 1570s, and very well preserved. The religious community was expelled during the suppressions of the Napoleonic era, and has never been reestablished, but the church, although little used, is still consecrated.

    The nuns’ choir.

    The back sides of the doors of the organ.

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    Dominican Rite Missae Cantatae will be sung at the Priory of St. Albert the Great, Oakland CA, the house of studies of the Western Dominican Province, on the following Saturdays of the Fall Semester:

    October 6, 2018
    November 17,  2018
    December 1, 2018
    February 2, 2019

    The Mass will normally be that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with Propers and Ordinary from the Dominican Gradual. The servers and schola will be composed of student brothers of the Western Dominican Province. I will post the celebrants for these Masses as they are determined.

    The St. Albert the Great Priory Chapel is located at 6170 Chabot Road, Oakland, CA 94618, with ample parking available on the street or the basketball-court parking lot.

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    Much has been written about the manner in which Church music has, in the postconciliar period, deviated from its properly liturgical purpose and sacral characteristics. [1] I will limit myself here to observing that there has been a tendency for the lyrics of Catholic hymns or songs to be emotionally saturated, narcissistic, pantheistic, horizontal, this-worldly, and, at times, effeminate. [2] They focus not on objective (usually revealed dogmatic) truths and man’s appropriate response to them — sober jubilation, humble adoration, and devout thanksgiving — but on subjective states, how we should feel, how we are together as one family, how we will overcome prejudices, judgmentalism, differences, and such “social evils.”

    The musical language follows suit, with “lounge chords,” syncopations, meandering melodies, and awkward leaps replacing the more orderly rhythms, dignified melodies, and stylized harmonic progressions of classic hymnody, or better yet, the peaceful and flowing lines of Gregorian chant, illuminating ancient texts in angelic arcs.

    A musical repertoire that is people-oriented rather than God-oriented, turning us towards each other rather than to the Blessed Trinity and the mysteries of salvation, inculcates the false impression that worship is something we do from and for ourselves, a communal self-help ritual that vaguely gestures towards the divine but in a way that validates our own assumptions. (It was, after all, in a similar though artistically superior way that Protestants in the sixteenth century used music to express, transmit, and validate their doctrines and supplant Catholic dogma. It remains a scandal that the best music often to be met with in Catholic churches today are the Protestant hymns of the last several centuries, rather than our own distinctively Catholic musical repertoire in monophony and polyphony.)

    In expressing themes of togetherness, equality, and non-judging attitudes, the message of popular liturgical songs is too easily assimilated to or confused with secular ideas of equality between all humans and especially between men and women (on every level), barring the way to making necessary judgments about states of objective human disorder or discordance from natural law and divine law. One might put it this way: if contemporary church music tells me that Mass is all about forming a warm, affective community of people who are “there for each other,” and I buy into that message, then of course I can’t deny someone the “symbol” of belonging in that community: the full participation in the communion rite. I’d risk hurting that affective community by making a person feel offended and excluded.

    This is exactly the mentality we are up against in a world run by Amorites. [3] It will eventually undermine every aspect of Catholicism if it is not vigorously combated, because it is an acid that breaks down intellectual assent to propositional truths and spiritual commitment to inflexible principles, that is, revealed religion as such.

    The direction of popular liturgical music after the Council therefore furnishes the archetypal instance of the ecclesial surrender to the seemingly invincible forces of secularization. The music reflects and strengthens a worldview or mentality that is at odds with traditional Christian doctrine, morality, and devotion, thus playing into the hands of those who would see Church doctrine altered, morals recast in a flexible postmodern form, and devotions reconceived as delivery systems for political agendas.

    Put simply, if the great Catholic liturgy and its centuries-old music can be changed overnight, written off as irrelevant and virtually abandoned at the whim of the Church’s shepherds, why cannot women become deacons, or some types of contraception be approved, or remarried divorcees be admitted to communion? While such reasoning would be terribly simplistic, it cannot be denied that there are powerful forces at work in the Catholic Church that suggest and support this very inference, and pastors have done far too little to counteract those forces.

    These difficulties concerning music surface also in matters of architecture, furniture, sacred vessels, and liturgical vestments — indeed, any area in which the categories of fittingness and beauty must be dominant concerns. There is an intimate relationship between beauty and evangelization, as Bishop James Conley explains:
    We speak of beauty as something “transcendent.” Every instance of real beauty points beyond itself, toward the infinite perfection of God. … We can think of beauty as a kind of language, through which God speaks to our hearts and souls. ... The first point — and the most essential — is that we must present the truths of faith in a beautiful way. Our liturgical worship, in particular, must reflect God’s own beauty and holiness. Worship, after all, is the basis of Christian culture. The beauty of the sacred liturgy is meant to radiate outward into the world. Liturgical beauty shapes the common life of believers, and it can also help to attract those who are outside the Church. A leading liturgical scholar, Monsignor Nicola Bux, has said that: “a mystical liturgy celebrated with dignity can be a great help for people searching to find God.” ... Monsignor Bux is right. To renew Catholic culture, and evangelize our contemporaries, we must restore beauty to the sacred liturgy. If we cannot restore beauty and holiness to our sanctuaries, we will not be able to restore it anywhere else. [4]
    The recovery of the beautiful in worship — the specifically and unmistakably sacral beautiful, one might say — is an urgent priority for the Church in an era of obsessive utilitarianism, “scientific” material reductionism, technological excess, and saturation with banality and superficial messages. The works of the fine arts of the Catholic tradition have a spiritual power, deriving from their inherent qualities and consecrated status, that is capable of awakening modern man to an awareness of an entirely different realm of being and manner of action. [5] In particular, liturgy beauty plays a part in ordering the communion of persons in marriage to God, its source, strength, and shield, restraining the downward tendency of fallen human beings to turn in on themselves and their own fleshly desires, and making it easier to keep one’s mind on the things of the spirit and to live according to the desires of the spirit (cf. Rom 8:5; Gal 5:16–17).

    If the lyrics and style of church music do not continually elevate the soul to God in such a way that a habit of meditation and even rudimentary contemplation can be formed, it is not clear that they will not have the contrary effect in the long term, producing habits of distraction or emotional self-absorption.[6] This will not assist the individual in his pursuit of holiness, nor will it assist married couples in their striving for a shared life of prayer, purity, and fidelity. [7]

    As Bishop Conley’s observations imply, the paucity of vibrantly and transcendently beautiful works of art in Christian worship is a tragedy of the first order, since it blunts the keen edge of man’s longing for the transcendent God and His supernal beauty — a longing that draws man out of himself towards his divine exemplar and relativizes earthly desires by placing them in a greater context. [8]


    [1] See, inter alia, William Mahrt, The Musical Shape of the Liturgy (Richmond, VA: Church Music Association of America, 2012); Joseph P. Swain, Sacred Treasure: Understanding Catholic Liturgical Music (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012); Edward Schaefer, Catholic Music Through the Ages: Balancing the Needs of a Worshipping Church (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2008); Thomas Day, Why Catholics Can’t Sing: Revised and Updated with New Grand Conclusions and Good Advice (New York: Crossroad, 2013); Jeffrey Tucker, Sing Like a Catholic (Richmond, VA: Church Music Association of America, 2009).

    [2] Lucy E. Carroll, among others, has exposed these aspects of modern Catholic lyrics: “Singing for the Supper or the Sacrifice?,” Adoremus Bulletin 8.8 (November 2002); idem, “A Choir Director’s Lament on Lyrics for Liturgy,” Adoremus Bulletin 12.3 (May 2006). See also Anthony Esolen, “Pop Goes the Mass: The Curse of Bad Liturgical Music.

    [3] That is, proponents of the pastoral accommodationism of Amoris Laetitia as codified in the Buenos Aires documents.

    [4] Bishop James D. Conley, “Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Role of Beauty in the Restoration of Catholic Culture,” Crisis, October 10, 2013.

    [5] For a thoughtful reflection along these lines, see the concluding document of the 2006 Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture: The «Via Pulchritudinis», Privileged Pathway for Evangelization and Dialogue.

    [6] For more discussion of the dangers of emotionalism in church music, see "Sacred Music vs. 'Praise and Worship': Does It Matter?"

    [7] Here is the bare-bones argument: Those things that communicate or constrain Catholic beauty have an effect for good or for ill on the spiritual life of married couples; we have lost the things that communicate Catholic beauty and added things that constrain it; therefore, there has been an ill effect on the spiritual life of married couples. The liturgical reform is a contributing cause to the breakdown of marriage and family in the last half-century; it must therefore be resisted and supplanted as part of the strategy of renewal.

    [8] It is part of God’s providential plan that we be steeped in the beautiful in divine worship so that our ability to recognize and resonate with the beautiful in nature and in human persons can be awakened and energized. The spread of body-piercing, prolific tattoos, and other forms of mutilation and defacement seem to show that, as a culture, we are blind to the simple beauty of the human body and deaf to the primacy of spiritual realities. How can this not affect the most natural of all relationships, that of man and woman, in which the body and the spirit are uniquely interwoven? One is reminded of the words of Gaudium et Spes, in one of its less woolly moments: Creatura enim sine Creatore evanescit. ... per oblivionem Dei ipsa creatura obscuratur — “for without the Creator, the creature disappears ... when God is forgotten, the creature itself is darkened” (n. 36).

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    Una Voce New Mexico is pleased to announce a weekend of lectures and traditional Roman Rite liturgies on the weekend of September 22-23. I am happy that UVNM has invited me to come out for the weekend, and I look forward to meeting whoever will be there.

    On Saturday, September 22, at 2:00 pm, I will give a lecture at the Albuquerque Hyatt on “Tradition as Ultimate Norm: Clearing up Confusion about Essentials and Incidentals.” That morning at 10:00 am, a High Mass for Ember Saturday will be celebrated at Church of the Incarnation in Rio Rancho.

    On Sunday, September 23, at 12:00 pm, I will give a lecture in Santa Fe on “The Roman Canon: Touchstone and Transmitter of the Catholic Faith,” at the home of Ms. Mary Turner. That afternoon at 2:00 pm, a High Mass for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost will be offered at San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe.

    Full details may be found in the UVNM poster below. Events are open to all. Please help spread the word among Catholics in this part of the country. Questions may be directed to Ryan Wityak at

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    I have just heard from Catholic sculptor Andrew Smith (whose work at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma will be known to some reader of New Liturgical Movement) about an exciting development. He is getting ready to offer apprenticeships to willing students at his studio on the campus of St Gregory the Great Academy in Pennsylvania. He has made this decision after taking on an apprentice for the summer as an experiment.

    Here is a detail of his Twelve Apostles at Clear Creek Abbey.

    You can read about the experience of his summer apprentice Bethany Lee on her blog. She has written two great articles, The Summer of Stone and More About Scranton. Bethany is no beginner; she is soon to complete her training in the academic method of drawing and painting at the Florence Academy of Art US, which is located in Jersey City. The academic method as offered at the Florence Academy is an excellent way to learn the hard skills of drawing, painting, and sculpture, but the Catholic artist also needs an understanding of our traditions, and how to depart from strict adherence to naturalistic appearances so as to reveal the invisible truths of the Faith. Andrew Smith’s training offers an education in such skills and in the Catholic tradition of sculpture. He chose Bethany as someone who had the discipline and aptitude to learn, and very quickly reach the point of being able to contribute to Andrew’s commissioned projects.

    Here are some more examples of Andrew’s work (and one of Andrew at work) which show how he has a personal style which, in my opinion, conforms to the standard of Catholic art as a balance of idealization and natural appearances, . Andrew’s work reminds me of Late Antique early Christian sculpture in style.

    This balance is articulated as follows by Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei; he uses the word “realism” for my “naturalism”, and “symbolism” for my “idealism”. “Modern art should be given free scope in the due and reverent service of the Church and the sacred rites, provided that they preserve a correct balance between styles tending neither to extreme realism nor to excessive ‘symbolism,’ and that the needs of the Christian community are taken into consideration rather than the particular taste or talent of the individual artist.” (195) 

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