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  • 09/25/18--13:00: Blessed Hermann the Cripple
  • Blessed Hermannus, whose feast day is kept in some Benedictine houses on September 25, is usually called “Hermann the Cripple” or “the Lame” in English, but his Latin appellation “Contractus - the deformed” (literally ‘the contracted one’) is really more accurate, as is so often the case with Latin. The combination of congenital defects from which he suffered made him “not simply a cripple, but ... practically helpless”, writes Alban Butler. Born in 1013 to a noble family in Swabia, modern southern Germany, he survived childhood by some miracle of God’s providence, and was entrusted at the age of seven to the Benedictine abbey on Reichenau Island on the lake of Constance. He was professed at the age of twenty, and lived as a monk for twenty years more.

    Although he was barely able to move without assistance, he was a polymath and a genius, well-versed in theology, music, astronomy, mathematics, Latin, Greek and Arabic. Students came to learn from him many parts of Europe, and his intellectual achievements were such that he was known as the wonder of his age. Among his works are the earliest surviving medieval chronicle of the whole of human history, and a treatise on mathematics and astronomy; he was also able somehow to build both musical and astronomical instruments. Above all, however, his name will live in blessed remembrance as that of the composer of the Marian antiphons Alma Redemptoris Mater and Salve Regina. His cultus was officially approved by the Holy See in 1863. Beate Hermanne, ora pro nobis!

    A manuscript illustration of one of Bl. Herman’s treatises on astronomy.

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    One of my students at www.Pontifex.University has been commissioned to contribute to an exhibition, and has to create one painting a month for the coming year. She asked me if I had any experience of artist’s block when approaching deadlines, saying she was beginning to feel some anxiety about whether or not she would be able to paint at her best, and this was inhibiting her.

    The best I could do was suggest the following to her as my personal approach to dealing with it. I can’t promise it will work for everyone, but it has always worked for me, so it might be of help to some of you out there who a facing a similar situation too.

    1. Stick to a routine
    Schedule the time and paint, regardless of how you feel, and just do your best. Put pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard (as I am doing now), or brush to canvas, and make it happen. Painting engages the intellect, and I find that usually my work isn’t actually affected by how I feel very much. Also, the action of painting will induce a particular feeling more in harmony with the activity, and so it will be more enjoyable once I actually get going. Aside from scheduled breaks (which are a good idea), during your scheduled time never give up and go and do something else instead, such as washing the dishes...or teaching yourself to juggle (which is what I did while studying for my finals at university - I learned to juggle, but I’m not convinced it did much to raise my degree classification.) This is where past discipline and practice help. The more ingrained the good habits and skills are, the better the quality of the work, regardless of mood. In a totally different context, the South African golfer, Gary Player always used to say something that is nevertheless apropos: ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get.’ 

    2. Set up an icon corner and pray
    Create your prayer corner in the traditional form (Mary on the left, Crucifixion in the center, risen Christ on the right) and pray to it (look at the icons, stand, bow for the doxology etc).
    Here’s a simple icon corner I created for my courtyard garden where I live. The plants are fairly new so I am waiting for them to mature - and for the vines to climb up the frames - but it’s getting there.
    If you can sing, even just simple monotone chant, all the better. Pray some sort of prayer for guidance, but I suggest the following:

    In the name of the Father Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
    Glory to you O God , Glory to You!

    Prayer to Holy Spirit: O Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, Treasury of Goodness and Giver of life: come and abide in us. Cleanse us from every stain of sin and save our souls, O Gracious Lord.

    Trisagion Prayer: Holy God. Holy Mighty. Holy Immortal Have mercy on us.(3)
    Glory be to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen
    All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for the glory of Your Name.

    Lord, have mercy.(3)

    Glory be...
    Our Father...

    Lord have mercy (3)

    Way of Beauty prayer: God be in my thoughts and words and deeds. Send your Holy Spirit that I many complete your will, grace responding to grace. May the beauty of my work inspire those who see it to love as Christ loved, that through worship of you and charity to others, all may know His peace and joy.

    3. A spiritual exercise for anxiety reduction
    If you really have to deal with feelings of deep anxiety, adopt the method of analysis of fears and resentments that I outline in my book The Vision for You. I have been doing these spiritual exercises daily for nearly 30 years now, and there is no anxiety yet that it hasn’t been able to dissipate.

    If I were to summarize the approach, two sayings come to mind:

    Pray for rain and dig for water! or

    Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God.

    And finally, if none of that works, then try the secular method: stare at the blank canvas, or blank page, and think of a clever justification for it, as it is, as a work of art. Ideally, this will be peppered with pseudo-intellectual jargon. Then call yourself a cutting-edge Minimalist.

    The quality of the work is as good as the justification you create - and remember it doesn’t actually have to make sense, so you’ll get away with any old gobbledygook as long as you can keep a straight face as you do it. After, all, that’s what most other people have done for last 100 years.

    What is it? is a stupid question’ - a blank canvas named by David Clayton (copyright 2018)

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  • 09/26/18--16:04: An FSSP First Mass in Italy
  • On June 23rd, the FSSP celebrated the priestly ordination of five of its members at the parish church of Heimenkirch, Germany, very close to their International Seminary of St Peter in Wigratzbad. Among them was Fr Dimitri Artifoni, born and raised in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, who is now the Fraternity’s second Italian priest; he is currently serving at their Roman parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini. On the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Fr Dimitri was able to return to his native city and celebrate solemn Mass there for the first time, at the church of the Holy Spirit. The Mass was served and attended by several of his confrères; once again, it is very encouraging to see how young these fellows are who devoting their lives and their priestly ministry to the preservation of the traditional Catholic liturgy. Congratulation to Fr Dimitri, and all the new priests of the FSSP - ad multos annos!

    Tradition will always be for the young!

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    Yesterday, Aleteia published a nice little article about the return to beauty in church building, with a slideshow highlighting six American churches built within the last 15 years or so. These are all nice examples of the trend away from the ugliness of modern architecture, which continues to grow as the Church slowly, painfully gets over its unrequited love for the modern world and all it represents. One of them, St Benedict’s Parish in Chesapeake, Virginia, run by the FSSP, is also one of the first churches in the world to be designed and used exclusively for the Extraordinary Form since the 1960s; it was dedicated on March 5, 2011 by H.E. Francis X. DiLorenzo, the bishop of Richmond, Virginia, and canonically erected as a parish less than a year later. They are also faithful contributors to our NLM photoposts.

    Holy Saturday
    Blessing of water on Epiphany

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    The chapel of the Most Holy Rosary in San Rafael, California, will have a Missa cantata for its titular feast, on Sunday October 7th, sung by the schola of the Benedict XVI Institute and the San Francisco based Schola Sancta. The Rosary will be said before the Mass, starting at 11:15, in conjunction with the US Rosary Coast-to-Coast, with the Mass itself beginning at 12:15. The liturgy also marks ten continuous years of the traditional Mass being celebrated in this church by Fr William Young. The church is located at St Vincent’s School for Boys, 1 St Vincent’s Drive.

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    Saints Cosmas and Damian are said to have been brothers from Arabia and physicians, who left their native place and settled in the Mediterranean port city of Aegea in Cilicia, modern south-east Turkey. They practiced medicine without taking any fee for their services, for which reason the Greek Church gives them the title “Unmercenary Saints”, (ἀνάργυροι, literally ‘un-moneyed’, Slavonic ‘бєзсрєбрєники’), a title which they share with several others. During the persecution of Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century, their Christian charity brought them to the attention of the local Roman governor, and they were martyred for the Faith, along with their brothers Anthimus, Leontius and Euprepius. By the 5th century there were two churches named for them in Constantinople, and in 527, Pope Felix IV converted a building in the Roman Forum into a church in their honor. This church is particularly important not only because the original apsidal mosaic is still preserved, although much restored, but also because it was the first “sanctuarium” in Rome, i.e., a church named for Saints, but with no material connection to them. (Churches of the Virgin Mary are an obvious exception.)
    The apsidal mosaic of the Church of Ss Cosmas and Damian in Rome. On the far left, Pope Felix IV offers the church which he has built to Christ and His Saints. One of the two brothers is presented to Christ on the left by Saint Paul, the other by St Peter on the right. Peter and Paul, as the patron Saints of Rome, are closer to Christ, and dressed as Roman senators; Cosmas and Damian are wearing clothes that evidently would have look foreign to the eyes of a sixth-century Roman, and their faces are darker. On the far right, St Theodore, whose church is not far away on the other side of the Forum, balances the composition; as a Greek, he is also dressed as a foreigner. Above St Paul’s head, a phoenix, the symbol of the resurrection of the body, perches on a leaf of a palm tree. 
    They are among the Saints named in the Canon of the Roman Mass and the traditional form of the Litany of the Saints; along with four other Unmercenaries, (Cyrus and John, Panteleimon and Hermolaus), they are also named in the Preparation Rite of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. The Emperor Justinian I (527-565) attributed to their intercession his recovery from a serious illness, and granted special privileges to the city of Cyrrhus in Syria, where their relics had been brought after their martyrdom. Many churches now claim to have their relics, among them the Jesuit church of St Michael the Archangel in Munich.

    In the fifteenth century, they became particularly prominent in Florence as patron Saints of the de facto (and later de jure) ruling family, the Medici, whose name means “doctors.” In 1437, the Dominican convent of San Marco, newly established in an old Benedictine foundation, was completely renovated at the family’s expense. The painter Fra Angelico, one of the founders of the community, was commissioned to do a large altarpiece depicting the Madonna and Child surrounded by various Saints, with Cosmas and Damian kneeling before them in front of the group.
    The main panel of the San Marco altarpiece, by Blessed Fra Angelico, 1438-40
    The predella panels depict events from their story as given in the Golden Legend of Bl. Jacopo da Voragine. In the first, a woman named Palladia, who had spent all her money on doctors without being cured (like the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospels), is healed of an unspecified ailment by the brothers. She then compels Damian to accept a reward, at which Cosmas is so indignant that he states that he wishes to be buried apart from his brother, but the Lord Himself appears to Cosmas in a dream and excuses Damian.
    The five brothers are hauled before a proconsul named Lysias, who orders them to worship an idol, shown on the far right. (Fra Angelico shares with his contemporary Piero della Francesca and other Tuscan artists of that era a predilection for depicting people in unusual hats; this comes from seeing Eastern clergymen during the great ecumenical council of reunion (1431-49), which was moved from Ferrara to Florence while he was working on this project.)
    Since they refuse to worship the idol, the brothers are chained up and thrown into the sea, but are rescued from drowning by an angel. Lysias attributes their deliverance to sorcery, and asks them to teach him their magic, promising to become one of their followers. At this, he is immediately attacked by two demons, which depart at the brothers’ prayer.
    Lysias, however, states that the demons attacked him because he thought to abandon the service of the pagan gods and follow the brothers, and therefore he will no longer permit the gods to be blasphemed. The Saints persist in the Faith, for which they are set on fire, but do not burn; arrows are then fired at them, but they turn back on the archers and kill them. (This is a persistent theme in the passions of the early martyrs, that nature itself will not cooperate with the persecutors, who are eventually forced to take the job in hand themselves.)
    The series is interrupted by this classic Fra Angelico image of the deposition of Christ in the tomb.
    Cosmas and Damian are crucified, and arrows are shot and stones thrown at them and their younger brothers, to no effect; they are therefore all beheaded.

    The Christians take the bodies to bury them, knowing that Cosmas had previously expressed a wish to be buried separately; however, a camel approaches and speaks with a human voice, ordering them to be buried together. (The camel’s words are represented as a banderole with writing on it coming out of its mouth.)
    A particularly bizarre miracle is reported of them in the Golden Legend, that shortly after Pope Felix built their church in Rome, the guardian was taken ill with a cancer that destroyed one of his legs. As he was sleeping one night, Cosmas and Damian came to him, and not only removed the diseased leg, but substituted it with a new leg taken from the body of an Ethiopian, who had died that very day and been buried in the cemetery of the nearby church of St Peter-in-Chains.

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    I am sure our readers will find this vocational film made by the Dominican Order in 1960 very interesting, despite the almost completely expressionless voice of the narrator. It was filmed at St Albert the Great College in Oakland, California, and seems to have been made not by professionals, but by the fathers of the house themselves. There are several scenes of the Mass, and one of the Exsultet being sung at the Easter vigil; there is also a brief but lovely scene of a young friar caring for an elderly one, while the narrator recites the words from the antiphon Media vita, the prayer that “we not be cast off in our old age by the Lord, but when our strength shall have failed, He shall not depart from us.” (This was the verse that St Thomas Aquinas could never hear without weeping.) As is almost always the case with such videos from the late ’50s and early ’60s, there are also a few worrisome signs: the almost featureless chapel of the cooperator brothers, the table-altar in the student brothers’ chapel, with a very modern-art crucifix, and the chasuble used at Mass.

    Back in July, we shared a vocational film made for the Franciscans in 1962, starring Jack Nicholson, who was then 25 year old, as a young friar looking back on his path to priestly ordination.

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    After seeing our post on Ss Cosmas and Damian two days ago, reader Patrick Werick very kindly sent in these photos of a relief sculpture of them which he commissioned after invoking their intercession and being cured of an illness; it is kept in a little shrine dedicated to them in his house. The artist, Becky Quain, sculpted the image out of clay, created a silicone mold, then a plaster mother-mold, and finally cast it in plaster in September of 2017. She applied gold leaf for their halos, and painted in their names, and the black leg of the Saints’ patient. The miracle depicted is recounted in the Golden Legend, that shortly after Pope Felix IV built their basilica in Rome in the year 527, the guardian was afflicted with a cancer that destroyed one of his legs. As he was sleeping one night, Cosmas and Damian came to him, and not only removed the diseased leg, but substituted it with a new leg taken from the body of an Ethiopian, who had died that very day and been buried in the cemetery of the nearby church of St Peter-in-Chains.

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    On October 5-6, First Friday and First Saturday, there will be an all-night vigil of Adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament at the Pontifical Shrine and Parish Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Manhattan, located at 448 East 116th Street. The opening Mass will be offered in the Extraordinary Form, beginning at 7:30 pm, followed by the Stations of the Cross. At approximately 9:00 pm, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed and enthroned on the high altar; silent Holy Hours and vocal prayers will be offered throughout the night. At 4:30 am, there will be an indoor procession with the Blessed Sacrament, followed by Benediction, and a closing Mass in the Extraordinary Form, beginning at 5:00 a.m. Mass intentions and candle offerings are available for this vigil. Gentlemen are invited to serve as acolytes for the Masses, the Stations of the Cross, Exposition, Procession and Benediction; ladies and gentlemen are invited to lead the prayers throughout the night. Benefactors and volunteers to assist in bringing and preparing refreshments in the meeting room, serving as ushers to guide the faithful, especially elderly and disabled faithful to the facilities of the stairs and restrooms.

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    The traditional title of today’s feast is “The Dedication of St Michael the Archangel”, a term already found in the 8th century Lectionary of Wurzburg, the oldest of the Roman Rite that survives, and in the ancient sacramentaries. The Martyrology erroneously refers this feast to the dedication of the famous shrine of St Michael on Mt Gargano in the Italian region of Puglia, following a medieval tradition attested by William Durandus at the end of the 13th century. In reality, the title comes from the dedication of a church built sometime before the 7th century on the via Salaria, about seven miles from the gates of Rome, and remained in use long after the basilica itself fell completely to ruin. The traditional Ambrosian liturgy, which borrowed the feast from Rome, has in a certain sense preserved the memory of its origin better than the Roman Rite itself; not only does it use the Roman name, but it also takes several of the Mass chants, as well as the Epistle and Gospel, from the common Mass for the dedication of a church.

    The central panel of The Last Judgment, by Rogier van der Weyden, 1446-52, showing Christ above, and below, St Michael weighing the souls of the dead.
    Despite the fact that the feast’s title refers specifically only to St Michael, September 29th is really the feast of all the Angels, as stated repeatedly in the texts of both the Office and Mass. The Introit is taken from Psalm 102, “Bless the Lord, all ye his angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute his word, hearkening to the voice of his orders.”

    This text is repeated in part in the Gradual.

    The Communion is taken from the Old Latin version of the canticle Benedicite, “Bless the Lord, ye angels of the Lord: sing a hymn, and exalt him above all forever.” (Daniel 3, 58)

    The collect of the Mass makes no reference to St Michael at all: “O God, who in wondrous order assign the duties of Angels and of men: mercifully grant that our life on earth be guarded by those who continually stand in Thy presence and minister to Thee in heaven.”

    The Lauds hymn of the Office speaks in its first stanza of all the Angels, and in the following three of Ss Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the only Archangels specifically named in the Bible. In the Greek version of the book of Tobias (12, 15), however, St Raphael refers to himself as “one of the seven holy Angels, who present the prayers of the saints, and who go in before the glory of the Holy One.” This gave rise to a Byzantine custom of depicting seven Archangels standing together around the Lord; many icons of this motif give names to the remaining four from various apocryphal sources. One is called Uriel, who is mentioned several times in the Book of Enoch which St Jude quotes in his epistle (verses 14-15). The names of the remaining three are not the same in all sources; in the 19th century Russian icon seen below, they are given as Jegudiel, Selaphiel and Barachiel.

    The Byzantine feast of all the Angels is kept on November 8th, and like the Roman feast, originated with the dedication of a church; this was a basilica in Constantinople known as the Michaelion, traditionally said to have been built by Constantine himself. The formal title of the feast is “The Synaxis of the Great Commanders (ἀρχιστρατήγων) Michael and Gabriel, and the rest of the Bodiless Powers.” Curiously, the liturgical texts of the feast make no reference to St Raphael, nor to any of the other Angels, nor to the origin of the celebration.

    In the Middle Ages, many places imitated the Roman custom of celebrating a second feast of St Michael, commemorating the famous apparition which led to the building of the shrine on Mt Gargano. In northern Europe, however, we find instead the feast of “St Michael on Mount Tumba”, the Latin name of the celebrated Mont-St-Michel, as for example in the Use of Sarum, which kept it on October 16th. A votive Mass of all the Angels was already in common use in the early ninth century, as attested by Alcuin of York, and is present among the votive Masses in every medieval missal. However, only very rarely does one find a feast of St Gabriel or of the Guardian Angels in the pre-Tridentine period; a Mass of St Raphael is sometimes found among the votive Masses especially to be said for the sick, but I have seen no reference to an actual feast day for him in the Medieval period.

    In the year 1670, Pope Clement X added to the general Calendar of the Roman Rite a feast of the Guardian Angels, which had been granted to the Austrian Empire by Paul V at the beginning of the century. The feast was kept in some places on the first Sunday of September, but the common date, October 2, was chosen as the first free day after the feast of St Michael.

    The Three Archangels and Tobias, by Francesco Botticini, 1470
    Pope Benedict XV, who reigned from 1914 to 1922, took a particular interest in devotion to the Angels. At the end of 1917, he raised the feast of St Michael to the highest grade, double of the first class, along with the March 19 feast of St Joseph. In 1921, he added the feasts of Ss Gabriel and Raphael to the general Calendar, the former on the day before the Annunciation, the latter on October 24 for no readily apparent reason. The feast of St Michael’s Apparition was removed from the General Calendar in 1960; in the post-Conciliar liturgical reform, Ss Gabriel and Raphael have been added to September 29th, and their proper feasts suppressed, along with the traditional reference in the title to the church dedication.

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    Many readers will be familiar with this wonderful photograph of St. Thérèse, shown posing in her work of filling the ciborium with hosts (among other typical functions of a sacristan) for the daily conventual Mass:
    This, of course, is much in keeping with the usual customs of women’s monasteries, where the sisters perform many of the tasks that would otherwise be assigned to clerics, such as leading the entire Divine Office and chanting its readings and prayers; making the responses at low Mass from outside the sanctuary in situations where no servers are available; and, in some rare cases, chanting the epistle at Mass (see Shawn Tribe’s “Carthusian Nuns and the Use of the Maniple and Stole”).

    A photo that is much less known, and which I myself saw only for the first time recently, shows Thérèse with, if I may so say, her liturgical assistants in November 1896. Three of them are her blood sisters Marie, Pauline, and Céline (Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, Mother Agnes of Jesus, and St. Geneviève of the Holy Face) and one is her aunt Marie Guérin (Sr. Marie of the Eucharist). Sr. Marie of the Eucharist, Sr. Marie of the Angels (not in the photo), and St. Thérèse were the sacristans, while her three blood sisters were altar bread bakers[1]:

    St. Thérèse was a gifted amateur poet and playwright who composed a surprising amount of literary work in her spare moments during her nine years as a Carmelite nun. Some of her work was intended for public occasions such as recreations, birthdays, and feastdays, while other pieces were more private, sent to one or a few of her religious sisters.

    In the same month of November 1896, she wrote a poem called “The Sacristans of Carmel,” in rhyming octosyllabic verse, which I wish to share with readers in honor of the Little Flower’s feast (whether you are celebrating it today on the new calendar or two days from now on the old calendar).

    The poem was written for Sr. Marie Philomena, who had asked Thérèse for something she could sing while baking; but it was first read by her aunt. Later, all of the sacristans and altar bread bakers got to know the poem, and apparently sang it regularly in their work, to whatever familiar tune they chose that would match the meter. In this we see a splendid example of the genre of a “work song” that has nearly disappeared from the world of mass-marketed and passively consumed entertainment. One may hope such work songs still survive in the Carmels.

    The religious and theological content of the song are quite worth of attention. Here is the ICS translation, slightly modified to make it more literal[2]:
    1. Here below our sweet office
    Is to prepare for the altar
    The bread and wine of the Sacrifice
    Which brings to earth—“Heaven”!

    2. Heaven, O supreme mystery!,
    Hides itself under humble bread,
    For Heaven, it is Jesus Himself,
    Coming to us each morning.

    3. There are no queens on earth
    Who are happier than we.
    Our office is a prayer
    Which unites us to our Spouse.

    4. This greatest honors of this world
    Cannot compare
    To the peace, profound and heavenly,
    Which Jesus lets us savor.

    5. We bring a holy envy
    For the work of our hands,
    For the little white host
    Which is to veil our divine Lamb.

    6. But his love has chosen us.
    He is our Spouse, our Friend.
    We are also hosts
    Which Jesus wants to change into Himself.

    7. Sublime mission of the Priest,
    You become our mission here below.
    Transformed by the Divine Master,
    It is He who guides our steps.

    8. We must help the apostles
    By our prayers, our love.
    Their battlefields are ours.
    For them we fight each day.

    9. The hidden God of the tabernacle
    Who also hides in our hearts,
    O what a miracle! at our voice
    Deigns to pardon sinners!

    10. Our happiness and our glory
    Is to work for Jesus.
    His beautiful Heaven is the ciborium
    We want to fill with souls!...
    The original draft
    I heartily agree with the Carmelite commentators who find this poem both charming and insightful:
    The sacristans are the untiring agents of this mysterious exchange [between heaven and earth]. In this poem, they readily call to mind something like Jacob’s ladder. These stanzas are full of “gentleness.” There is the discreet gentleness of the “housewife,” if we dare call it that: of the spouse “happier than a queen” whose heart remains attentive to her Husband, while her hands are diligently working for Him. There is also the discreet gentleness of the Carmelite nun, who is associated with the apostle at the altar in the role that is hers, that of the hidden companion. In both cases, the assistant becomes like the one she assists. …
           Here she [Thérèse] sings of her concrete way of sharing immediately in the “sublime mission of the Priest.” “Transformed” into Jesus by the Eucharist, “changed” into Him, does she not then also become an “alter Christus”…? She cannot leave her cloister to “preach the Gospel,” but Jesus, the first Missionary, walks in her and through her. He “guides her steps,” as He does those of the apostles she prays for, loves, and struggles for.
           She cannot absolve from sins. But Jesus present in her through the Eucharist gives her a share in his ministry of reconciling sinners.
           She will never fill the ciborium with consecrated hosts. But she is spending her life “filling Heaven with souls”—living hosts in which Christ lives alone from then on. …
           So Thérèse has no inferiority complex toward “men” or priests. She has no presumption either. For her, it is Jesus who acts in collaboration with men—and women. Even in 1892, she wrote to Céline: “I find that our share is really beautiful; what have we to envy in priests?”[3]
    In fact, if we may use the awkward expression “holy envy,” it will always be the case that each Christian vocation has reason to admire the goods of every other, since these goods are not, simply speaking, compatible with one another. The priest may well “envy” the female religious her total and silent dedication to prayer, which he will almost never attain in his active ministry; the married man or woman may “envy” the consecrated soul its undivided attentiveness or availability for the things of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 7); the consecrated man or woman may “envy” the married their sacramental realization of the faithful, fruitful union of Christ and the Church, which brings new immortal souls into the world, to complete the number of the elect. In the Mother of God alone do we find united that which nature cannot unite, combining and exceeding all Christian states of life: she is the wife unwed, the child-bearing virgin, mother inviolate, mediatrix of all grace as the inseparable minister of the High Priest. In her all vocations are at one, like white light before it splinters into a spectrum of colors. For the rest of us, the individual colors are distinct, complementary, and beautiful, as they are intended to be, for our individual benefit and for the common good of the Church.

    St. Thérèse’s poem serves as a profitable meditation on several intertwined mysteries: the unique, exalted, and irreplaceable nature of the ministerial priesthood; the lofty participation in Christ the High Priest enjoyed by all who are baptized into His sacerdotal and royal dignity; the special position of consecrated religious, who follow the priestly and sacrificial Lamb whithersoever He goeth; and the value in God’s sight of the quiet, humble work done by sacristans whenever they reverently prepare the materials and environs required for worthily offering the sacrifice of praise.


    [1] For this and other details, I am indebted to the excellent commentary in The Poetry of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, trans. Donald Kinney, OCD (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1996), 169–70.

    [2] The translation is found in Kinney, Poetry, 170–71, as well as at this website. The French is contained in Kinney, pp. 301–302.

    [3] Kinney, Poetry, 169–70.

    The fair copy

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    On this first day of October, I am happy to be able to publish the schedule of my upcoming lecture tour in England, kindly sponsored by the Latin Mass Society of England & Wales. The tour serves in part as a launch for my new book from Angelico Press, coming out in mid-October: Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile.

    I shall be giving five lectures from October 26th to October 30th at five different locations: Oxford, Aylesford Priory, Ramsgate, and two in London. All details are listed below, as well as in the attached posters from the LMS.

    In addition, two new choral compositions will receive their world premieres by the ensemble Cantus Magnus, under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn: a motet “Ego Mater Pulchrae Dilectionis” (SATB) on October 27th and the Missa Rex in Æternum (ATB) on October 28th; these will be joined by three UK premieres of other motets.

    My thanks in a special way to the Latin Mass Society of England & Wales and to Cantus Magnus for the invitation and preparations. I certainly look forward to meeting the attendees at each of the events.

    SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford
    Friday, October 26th – SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford

    6:00 pm – Votive High Mass for St Gregory the Great
    7:30 pm – Refreshments
    8:00 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “Pillar and Ground of the Roman Rite: The Roman Canon as Doctrinal and Moral Norm”
    8:30 pm – Signing of Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico, 2018)

    Aylesford Priory
    Saturday, October 27th – Annual LMS Aylesford Pilgrimage: Relic Chapel, Aylesford Priory

    12:45 pm – Confessions (Fr Neil Brett)
    1:30 pm – Missa Cantata (Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP
    de Rivera, Missa a cuatro voces
    Kwasniewski, “Benedicta et venerabilis” UK PREMIERE
    Kwasniewski, “Ego mater” WORLD PREMIERE
     (All sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
    3:00 pm – Talk by Dr Kwasniewski: “The Spirit and Spirituality of Gregorian Chant”
    3:45 pm – Enrolment in the Brown Scapular
    4:15 pm – Vespers (Little Office of Our Lady) and Benediction

    Shrine of St Augustine (designed by Pugin)
    Sunday, October 28th – Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate, Kent

    12:00 pm – High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King
    Kwasniewski, Missa Rex in Æternum  WORLD PREMIERE
    Kwasniewski, “Christus vincit” UK PREMIERE
    Kwasniewski, “Jesu dulcis memoria” UK PREMIERE
     (All sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
    2:30 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “On Living Tradition: The Basic Good of Catholic Culture and the Spiritual Discipline of Fine Art” 

    Sunday, October 28th – Church of St Anne Line, South Woodford, London

    6:00 pm – High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King
    7:30 pm – Talk by Dr Kwasniewski in Parish Hall (7 Grove Crescent, South Woodford, London, E18 2JR): “Tradition as Ultimate Norm: Clearing up Confusion about Essentials and Incidentals”

    Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory
    Tuesday, October 30th – Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London

    6:00 pm – Vespers with Palestrina’s Magnificat quinti toni
     (Sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
    6:30 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “Liturgical Reform, Ars Celebrandi, and the Crisis on Marriage and Family”
    7:30 pm – Signing of Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico, 2018)

    For Oxford:

    For all events:

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    Fr Dunstan at St Mary’s Monastery in Petersham, Massachusetts has sent me notice of the next Monastic Weekend, so if you would like to explore a religious vocation, go on a retreat, or just investigate what it is like to be  monk, this might be for you!

    This is regular event which has been appreciated in the past, and I am happy to pass on details again.

    Fr Dunstan explains more about it in a video at the bottom, with another great opening line (he has a knack for these): “If you want to change the world, think big and act little!”

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    St Robert Bellarmine was born in 1542, and in his youth, received a classical education typical of his era, showing himself to be a particular bright pupil at a very early age. It was an essential part of education in those days that people were trained not only to read and comment intelligently upon the Latin classics, but also to write their own Latin in both prose and verse, and Robert was already skilled at this as a boy. In his early years in the Society of Jesus, which he entered at age 18, he taught the classics in the order’s school in Florence. When he was transferred to Mondovi in Piedmont, he discovered that he was supposed to teach Cicero and Demosthenes, although he knew hardly any Greek at all; he therefore taught himself in one night the grammar lesson he was supposed to deliver the next day. In the midst of his vast output of theological writings, for which he was named a Doctor of the Church in 1931, and his many other scholarly achievements, he also continued to write poetry in both Latin and Italian throughout his life.

    St Robert Bellarmine (Public domainimage from Wikipedia.) 
    Formal liturgical devotion to the Guardian Angels is found sporadically in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but really began to establish itself in the Counter-Reformation period, of which St Robert was such an important protagonist. Pope Paul V (1605-21), who kept him as one of his most valued counselors, was also the first post-Tridentine Pope to formally approve a feast of the Guardian Angels, which he granted to the Holy Roman Empire at the request of Ferdinand II of Austria. When the feast was extended to the universal church by Pope Clement X in 1670, it was given a proper Office, which includes two hymns composed by St Robert: Custodes hominum, which is sung at Matins and both Vespers, and Aeterne rector siderum for Lauds.

    Ancient Greek and Latin poetry was not based on rhyme, which was considered a blemish on verse in antiquity, but on alternations of long and short syllables, according to various established patterns. The oldest Christian hymns, such as those of St Ambrose or Venantius Fortunatus, were similarly constructed, although often rather more loosely than in the classical period. In the Middle Ages, when Latin vowel quantities were mostly not heard or pronounced, rhyme established itself as the norm for new liturgical composition, and even extended itself beyond the various types of hymns into non-metrical forms like responsories. The Renaissance, however, which sought to imitate the classical world in all the arts, rejected rhyme and returned to metrical composition based on vowel quantity; this classicizing spirit in the use of Latin lasted much longer than the Renaissance itself did, and is found in new liturgical compositions of every period, up to and including the most recent texts of the post-Conciliar rite. In the same spirit, Pope Urban VIII (1623-44) had the whole corpus of hymns in the Roman Breviary revised and classicized, giving rise to the famous remark “Accessit Latinitas, recessit pietas - Latinity came in, piety went out.”

    To judge by St Robert’s compositions for the Guardian Angels, it is a pity that he did not live to contribute to Pope Urban’s project, which might have been more successful with his input. His vocabulary is almost entirely within established usage of Christian Latinity. The metrical form is one used by Horace in his odes, called the Third Asclepiadean, but he mostly avoids the contorted word order which the classical poets and their later imitators often employed. Here is a splendid recording by the Ensemble Venance Fortunat, in alternating chant and polyphony; a pure Gregorian version sung by the Gloriae Dei Cantores, alternating women’s and men’s voices, is given below. The English translation is that of Alan Gordon McDougall (1896-1965).

    Custodes hominum, psallimus
    Naturae fragili quos Pater addi-
    Caelestis comites, insidianti-
    Ne succumberet hostibus.
    Angel guardians of men,
    spirits and powers we sing,
    Whom our Father hath sent,
    aids to our weakly frame,
    Heavenly friends and guides,
    help from on high to bring,
    Lest we fail through
    the foeman’s wile.
    Nam, quod corruerit proditor
    Concessis merito pulsus hono-
    Ardens invidia pellere nititur
    Quos caelo Deus advocat.
    He, the spoiler of souls,
    angel-traitor of old,
    Cast in merited wrath out
    of his honoured place,
    Burns with envy and hate,
    seeking their souls to gain
    Whom God’s mercy
    invites to heaven.
    Huc, custos, igitur pervigil ad-
    Avertens patria de tibi credita
    Tam morbis animi quam requi-
    Quidquid non sinit incolas.
    Therefore come to our help,
    watchful ward of our lives:
    Turn aside from the land,
    God to thy care confides
    Sickness and woe of soul,
    yea, and what else of ill
    Peace of heart
    to its folk denies.
    Sanctae sit Triadi laus pia jugi-
    Cujus perpetuo numine machi-
    Triplex haec regitur, cujus in
    Regnat gloria saecula. Amen.
    Now to the Holy Three
    praise evermore resound:
    Under whose hand divine
    resteth the triple world
    Governed in wondrous wise:
    glory be theirs and might
    While the ages unending run.

    A different and somewhat looser English version, by Fr Edward Caswall. (Fr Caswall, born in 1814, was an Anglican clergyman who converted to Catholicism in 1847. After the sudden death of his wife in 1849, he entered the Birmingham Oratory in 1850; he was ordained priest two years later, and died in 1878. He was a talented poet, and many of his English translations of the traditional Latin hymns were incorporated by John Crighton-Stuart, the Third Marquess of Bute, into his monumental English version of the Roman Breviary, including this one.)

    Praise we those ministers celestial
    Whom the dread Father chose
    To be defenders of our nature frail,
    Against our scheming foes.

    For, since that from his glory in the skies
    Th’ Apostate Angel fell,
    Burning with envy, evermore he tries
    To drown our souls in Hell.

    Then hither, watchful Spirit, bend thy wing,
    Our country’s Guardian blest!
    Avert her threatening ills; expel each thing
    That hindereth her rest.

    Praise to the trinal Majesty, whose strength
    This mighty fabric sways;
    Whose glory reigns beyond the utmost length
    Of everlasting days. Amen.

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    On Saturday, October 13th, His Excellency Arthur Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at the throne of his cathedral in the traditional rite. The Mass will begin at 9:30 am, and be followed by a convivium in the Rodimer Center behind the Cathedral. Sacred Music will be provided by the Northern Jersey Catholic Chorale, the Metropolitan Catholic Chorale and the Schola Cantorum of St. John the Baptist, Allentown, including Rheinberger’s Missa Sanctae Crucis (Mass in G) and Ave Regina Caelorum, Bruckner’s Ave Maria, and Severac’s Tantum Ergo. The cathedral is located at 381 Grand Street in Paterson.

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    As reported yesterday in several Italian newspapers, a forensic analysis recently performed on the relics of St Ambrose has not only confirmed their authenticity, but also the accuracy of the most ancient portrait of the Saint. In a letter to his elder sister Marcellina (also a Saint), Ambrose speaks of an intense pain which he experienced in his right sholder, and difficulty of movement, caused by a fracture of the right clavicle which he suffered in his youth, and which never properly healed. The presence of this fracture is confirmed by the examination of his skeleton, and, as explained by the head of the forensic team, Dr Cristina Cattaneo, accounts for the notable asymmetry of his face, as seen in this mosaic portrait of him from the early 5th century, in the chapel of St Victor in Ciel d’Oro within the famous basilica where his relics are kept. The Saint’s age of the time of his death is also confirmed, around 60 years old.

    Analysis was also performed on the relics of the Ss Gervasius and Protasius. In 386 A.D., St Ambrose uncovered the relics of these two Milanese brothers and martyrs, after been shown the place of their long-forgotten burial in a dream. He had them brought to a newly built basilica, then called simply “the Basilica of the Martyrs”, and laid in the place he had originally intended for his own burial; he also attests to the miraculous healings which accompanied the translation, as do his secretary, Paulinus, who would later write his Life, and St Augustine. Ambrose himself died on April 4th, 397 (which was Holy Saturday that year), and was laid to rest next to Ss Protasius and Gervasius; the basilica is now officially named after him. In the mid-ninth century, the abbot of the attached monastery placed the relics of all three saints in a large porphyry sarcophagus, which was later sunk into the floor and covered over; it was rediscovered in 1864 during a major restoration project, and the three bodies are now seen in the Confession of the church under the altar.

    The relics of St Ambrose, in the middle, in the white of Confessors, and Ss Gervasius and Protasius, in the red of the martyrs, to either side of him. Photograph by Shawn Tribe, from this article published in 2012.
    The forensic analysis shows that the two Saints were unusually tall for their era, about 5’10”, in their mid-20s, definitely brothers, most likely twins, since they suffered from the same congenital defect of the vertebrae, and have very similar faces. (This disproves the claims of some hagiographical skeptics that the skeletons were not those of two brothers, but that one was much older than the other.) One of them was decapitated, and has signs of injury on the ankle, the other was wounded on the hand with a small weapon of some sort.

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    Last Saturday, the feast of St Michael the Archangel, His Excellency Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, blessed the new conventual church of the Fraternity of St Vincent Ferrer in Chémeré-le-Roi, France, and celebrated a Pontifical Solemn Mass. Over 1,200 people attended the ceremony, a bid eough crowd that many of them had to watch from outside on a big screen television set up for the purpose (as you can see below.) Video of the ceremony should be available fairly soon; in the meantime, we thank the Fraternity for sharing these photos of the ceremony with us.

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    The Seventh Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition will open at the Saint Vincent Gallery, with a prize award ceremony and reception, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28. Admission is free and open to the public. This biennial Competition and Exhibition was established at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in 2001 by the late Br. Nathan Cochran, O.S.B., whose untiring efforts to cultivate and revive the Sacred Arts were the catalyst for its creation. Br. Nathan wanted to give artists who engage Catholic subject matter an opportunity to dialogue with the Church, pastors, and lay faithful, in the hope of creating new, original artworks for churches, liturgical spaces, and private spaces. (Here are some examples from among this year’s submissions.)

    Christ Cannot be Kept Out of the History of Man, by John Del Monte

    Christ Our Teacher by David and Suzann Miriello
    Coptic Martyrs of Libya, by Jordan Hainsey
    Since its inception, the competition has received global attention, bringing in submissions and artworks from South America to all across Europe, and has been very successful in fostering a relationship between artists working in the Catholic Arts. It has been featured in the Washington Post, EWTN, Sirius Radio, Huff Post, and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. World-renowned and acclaimed jurors working in the areas of Sacred Art and Art History have brought their expertise to the Competition and Exhibition. Past jurors include: Dr. Frima Fox Hofrichter, an art historian specializing in Baroque and Rococo; Duncan G. Stroik, an architect and professor working in classical and sacred architecture; Sr. Wendy Beckett, an art historian and BBC personality; Dr. John T. Spike, an expert in Renaissance and Baroque art who directs and curates the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary and past director of the Florence Biennial; Janet McKenzie, an artist working in sacred art; and Dr. Denis R. McNamara, an architectural historian specializing in the theology of liturgical art at the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary on the Lake, Mundelein.

    Three hundred eleven artworks from 127 artists working in 30 states and five countries were submitted for the competition this year; 44 were selected for exhibition, including two international submissions from Malta and Italy. “The remarkable submissions to the Catholic Arts Competition testify to that fact that sacred art is very much alive, but it needs the support of the faithful to flourish,” commented this year’s juror, Dr Elizabeth Lev. For more information, visit:

    Fiat Mihi Secundum Verbum Tuum, by Manuel Farrugia
    Mary with the Stolen Chibok Girl, by Janet McKenzie
    Regina Caeli, Laetare, by Margaret Farr
    An opening lecture with the 2018 juror, Dr. Elizabeth Lev, entitled “Catholic Art of the Modern Age: New Images for an Ancient Story”, precedes the exhibition’s opening reception, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Fred M. Rogers Center. Admission is free and open to the public, but reservations are required by calling 724-805-2177. Prof. Lev is an American-born art historian who specializes in Christian art and architecture, Baroque painting and sculpture and High Renaissance art. She is a professor of art and architecture for the Italian campuses of Christendom College and Duquesne University, and a licensed guide for the city of Rome and the Vatican Museums. Lev holds a bachelor of arts degree in art history from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Bologna.

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    This is a simply a reminder that the first of the Dominican Rite Missae Cantatae celebrating the First Saturdays of the current academic year will be celebrated on October 6, this Saturday, at St. Albert the Great Priory, in Oakland, California, at 10:30 a.m.

    The celebrant will be Fr. Christopher Wetzel, O.P., who was ordained last June.  The music and servers will be provided by the student friars of the Western Dominican Province. The St Albert the Great Priory Chapel is located at 6170 Chabot Road in Oakland, with ample parking available on the street or the basketball-court parking lot.

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  • 10/04/18--23:14: Liturgical Books for Sale
  • Fr Thomas Simons of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Comstock Park, Michigan, has asked me to post this list of liturgical books which he has for sale, hoping to find them good homes where they will be used and studied. The proceeds from the sale of these titles will go to benefit the parish school; you can contact him directly for more information about the books, and arrangements for purchase, shipping and handling at the following email address: Only U.S. orders can be handled; postage will vary depending on the number of books purchased.

    1.   Missale Romanum, Mame Publisher (Printed in France), 1962 edition, 270 pages, plus index and American supplement, large altar size, red leather, gold stamped and edged, 8 ribbons, excellent condition, $450.

    2.  Missale Romanum, New York, Benziger Brothers, 1962, 276 pages, plus appendix and American supplement, Special Masses and Particular Prefaces, large altar size, red leather, gold stamped and edged, 8 ribbons, good condition, $300.

    3.  Missale Romanum (chapel size), New York, Benziger Brothers, 1957, red leather and gold stamped, 807 pages plus 215+ pages of supplements, 6 ribbons, good condition, $225.

    4.  Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae Instauratus, New York, Benziger Brothers, 1956, 143 pages, altar size, red leather, gold stamped and edged, 2 ribbons, excellent condition, $225.

    5.  Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae Instauratus, Mame Publisher (Printed in France), 1956, 126 pages, embossed, red edges, ribbon, good condition, $175.

    6.  Ritus Solemnis pro Dedicatione Ecclesiae, Frederic Pustet (Printer), 1890, 171 pages, large size, red leather, gold stamped and edged, good condition, $300.

    7.  Pontificale Romanum, boxed set (3 volumes), plus Appendix, Frederic Pustet (Printer), 1888, black leather, gold stamped and edged, ribbons, very good condition, $375.

    8.  Pontificale Romanum (with slip case), Marietti (Published in Italy), 1962, 355 pages, red leather, gold stamped and edged, 3 ribbons, excellent condition, $275.

    9.  Ceremoniale Episcoporum, H. Dessain (Publisher), 1906, 305 pages, black leather, gold stamped and edged, very good condition, $140.

    10.  Liber Usualis, Belgium, Desclee Company, (Publisher), 1961-62, 1882 pages, plus appendix and supplements, good condition, $125.

    11.  Ritus Celebrandi Matrimonii Sacramentum, New York, Benziger (Publisher), 1941, 45 pages, red leather, gold stamped and edged, 2 ribbons, very good condition, $80.

    12.  Collectio Rituum (Latin & English), Ritual approved by the National Conference of Bishops of the USA, New York, Benziger (Publisher), 1964, 343 pages, black leather, 2 ribbons, very good condition, $50.

    13.  Collectio Rituum (Latin & English), For Dioceses in the USA, Milwaukee, Bruce Publishing Company, 1954, 263 pages, black leather, gold edges, 2 ribbons, very good condition, $45.

    14.  The Roman Ritual (Complete Edition), Philip T. Weller, Milwaukee, Bruce Publishing Company, 1964, 777 pages, red embossed and gold stamped cover, 3 ribbons, fair condition, $50.

    Also: A. The Roman Missal in Latin and English for Holy Week and Easter, Collegeville, The Liturgical Press, 1966, 268 pages, leatherette binding, gold stamped, 3 ribbons, excellent condition, $75.

    B. The Roman Missal in Latin and English for Masses for the Dead, Collegeville, The Liturgical Press, 1966, 68 pages, leatherette binding, gold stamped, 3 ribbons, excellent condition, $50.

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