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    Various versions of this have been circulating over the last few weeks, but I dare say none quite as skillfully done as this one. The original screen shot comes from an episode of 30 Rock; you can see the clip here. For a more serious take on the current Synod, this article by Carl Trueman is well worth reading. (I promise that NLM is not converting to a meme-based site, but this one is just too good not to share. Thanks to the maker!)

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    The church of Our Lady of Victory/St Joseph in Rochester, New York, recently celebrated both its sesquicentennial anniversary, and the completion of a church restoration project. Some photos of the dedication mass, celebrated by the Bishop Rochester, H.E. Salvatore Matano, can be found on the diocesan website: The service featured an orchestral mass by Gounod, Latin and English chant, choral works by Bruckner and Stravinsky, and a Gregorian Te Deum.

    The restoration was overseen by Granda Liturgical Arts; highlights include the addition of an altar rail, marble flooring in the sanctuary, complete restoration of the statuary and altars, newly commissioned paintings for the sanctuary and apse, and a baptistery. Thanks to reader David O’Donnell for sending in these pictures.

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    Today, the city of Florence keeps the feast of St Miniatus (or Minias; “San Miniato” in Italian), who was martyred there during the persecution of Decius in 250-51 A.D. The authentic story of his martyrdom is now lost to us; he is traditionally said to have been either a Roman soldier, or, in another version, the son of an Armenian king, and was beheaded for being a Christian after various torments. He was buried on the large hill that looms over the city on the far side of the Arno river; a small shrine was built over the site of his burial, but replaced in the early 11th century by a magnificent basilica, one of the finest examples of Romanesque art in all of Italy. His relics today are kept in the crypt of the church. In a city much more famous as the home of so many of the great artworks of the Renaissance, San Miniato al Monte serves as a reminder of an earlier and no less glorious artistic past. Since the 14th century, the basilica has been the home of a community of Olivetan monks, who still sing the much of the Mass and Office in Latin and with Gregorian chant. (Unfortunately, Romanesque churches tend to have fewer and smaller windows than a modern photographer would consider ideal.)

    The façade, built towards the end of the 11th century, is decorated with a classically Tuscan mix of local white and green marbles, as can also be seen in the city’s Baptistery and the façade of Santa Maria Novella.
    As in many Italian Romanesque churches, the choir and principal sanctuary are significantly higher than the floor of the nave, with a crypt directly below them, much lower than the floor of the nave. The relics of San Miniato are in the altar of the crypt-chapel. The small aediculum seen in the middle used to house a famous crucifix. St John Gualbert, a Florentine monastic reformer of the 11th century, once came to pray before it and ask whether he was indeed called to become a monk; his vocation was confirmed when the figure of Christ on the Cross nodded to him.
    The nave seen from the choir.
    The apsidal mosaic (1297), showing Christ and the Virgin Mary, with the symbols of the Four Evangelists, and St Miniatus, who is here labelled “King of Armenia.”
    The choir of the church contains a great deal of very beautiful and elaborate inlaid marble work from the early 13th century, as seen here on the side of the main pulpit.
    The balustrade of the choir. The crucifix in the background is attributed the famous Della Robbia workshop, better known for their colored terracotta work.
    Frescoes from various periods survive on the walls of San Miniato, one right next to another; here, the part on the left is from the later 13th or early 14th century, the part on the right (Saint Jerome) from the mid-15th. In many other Florentine churches, as elsewhere, walls covered with these works of mixed styles and periods were stripped bare during the Counter-Reformation.
    Frescoes in a more classically Florentine Renaissance style, 15th century.
    Large images of St Christopher such as this were created in reference to the tradition that honored him as a Patron Saint against sudden death; it was popularly believed that if one saw an image of him, one would suffer no harm or violence on that day. Pictures of him were therefore made very large so that they would be easy to spot; the tradition that Christopher himself was a giant probably derives from them.
    The ceiling of the church also preserves an elaborate style of decoration (here much restored) that was eliminated in many places during the Counter-Reformation.
    Florence seen from the steps of San Miniato.

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    As of Sunday, October 7, the Traditional Latin Mass has found a new home at St Josaphat Parish in Bayside, Queens, New York. The Sung Mass on Sunday is at 9.30 a.m.; there will also be Masses on Holy Days, First Fridays, First Saturdays, and on more popular Saints’ days. The church is located at 34-32 210th Street. The high altar, which had previosly been reduced to just a shelf in place of the mensa, has now been restored.

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    For those in the Chicago area, I will be giving a lecture on “Liturgical Chant: Wellspring, Model, and Heart of All Sacred Music” at St Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, in Whiting, Indiana, on Saturday, November 3. The church is located at 2011 Clark Street; Byzantine Vespers will be sung at 5 p.m., with the lecture immediately after. All are welcome.

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    The Italian town of Capo di Ponte, in the province of Bergamo in Lombardy, is the home of a very ancient monastery dedicated to the Savior (San Salvatore), founded as a daughter house of the French Abbey of Marmoutier near Tours in the days of Charlemagne, soon after he was crowned King of the Lombards in 774. By the end of the 11th century, it had become a dependency of the Cluniac monastery of San Paolo d’Argon near Bergamo, but it was apparently abandoned before the end of the 13th century; of the original monastic complex, today there remains only the church. The irregular stonework seen in the second photo is typical of Romanesque architecture in Burgundy, where Cluny is located. The capitals of the church’s massive columns still preserve their very elaborate, classically Romanesque carvings, but there are only the barest traces of fresco on the walls. Thanks to Mr Francesco Sala for his permission to share these photos.

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    The Parish of St Pius X will celebrate the Feast of All Saints next Thursday with Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 7:30 p.m. The celebrant will be the Rev. Richard G. Cipolla, retired pastor of St Mary’s Church, Norwalk, the Rev. Timothy Iannacone, parochial vicar of St Pius, as Deacon, and the Rev Eric Silva as Sub-Deacon.

    This is part of a series of masses to introduce the Extraordinary Form to the parish under the guidance of the Pastor, the Rev. Samuel Kachuba, with the assistance of Fr. Iannacone, who was ordained in 2017, and said his first mass as a priest in the Extraordinary Form as a son of St. Mary's Parish, Norwalk. The church is located at 834 Brookside Drive; or more information, contact St Pius X Church at (203) 255-6134.

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    The arrival and passing of October has become a yearly reminder of how the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite became such an important part of St Mary’s Parish in Norwalk, Connecticut. Now known as a keystone parish in the restoration of the sacred to the liturgy, the seeds of that notoriety began in the damp and cold of October, 2007.
    The Rev. Greg Markey, pastor of St Mary’s at the time, had learned the traditional form of the Roman Rite in 2001, and celebrated the Mass regularly for the St Gregory Society of New Haven, which sponsored the services at Sacred Heart Church. Fr Markey, who became pastor of St Mary’s in 2004, had been moving the regular liturgy toward a more traditional style, celebrating the Novus Ordo in Latin, using the high altar on regular occasions, and moving the music program away from Glory and Praise and into plainsong and the choral masters.
    When Summorum Pontificum was promulgated on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross that year, he determined he would more towards having a regular high mass. One of the first things he knew he had to do was train his servers.
    Sacred Heart Church, New Haven, was the location for the traditional rites until it closed in September of 2009.
    Fr. Markey had moved away from coed servers and toward an all-male group. As happens in most places where this is tried, the numbers increased, and he had close to 40 young men and boys who served weekly.
    On Tuesday evenings in October, about 25 of those boys and young men trekked to the basement of St Patrick’s Chapel to begin learning the prayers and responses of the Traditional Mass. This writer was asked to do the training. For five consecutive Tuesdays and for several rehearsals after that, the boys learned by repetition the responses for mass.
    There was a problem: None had ever seen the traditional rite, and many had no idea what it was. Out of loyalty to their pastor, the boys, along with Deacon Stephan Genovese, learned the “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar,” the versicles and responses, the “Suscipiat” and the various other things they were expected to be ready to say. Still, this was done without them understanding where, when or why they would make these responses.
    But Fr. Markey had a plan. He was scheduled to sing the Mass and Benediction for the Feast of Christ the King at Sacred Heart in New Haven on the last Sunday of the month. This was going to be his opportunity to bring the boys down and have them take part in the service. The feast was and is still a big one for the St Gregory Society, and included Solemn Mass, exposition, Litany of the Sacred Heart, Act of Reparation and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. 
    The boys were going to get a dose of the ancient rite and traditional devotion they could never imagine.
    We attempted some “walk-throughs” at St Mary’s, but attempting to show liturgical choreography to a group that had never seen the rite had its pitfalls. We did a rehearsal the day of the Mass when a caravan of automobiles from Norwalk traveled the 35 miles north to New Haven. What we did that day was have the Norwalk boys “shadow” the regular servers. The thurifer and his shadow stood side-by-side. The acolytes shadowed. Instead of two acolytes there were four. The torch-bearers had the six required, and another six kneeling right behind. It was a way to have them see, up close, the liturgy and what was required.
    It worked. The kids were flawless, interested, and finally understood the position of the prayers they learned in relation to the liturgical action, and they were awed by the sights and smells, and the sounds of a polyphonic choir in the context of the rite. It all came together for them. Afterwards, there was a trip to downtown New Haven to pizza restaurants which is famous throughout the world.
    Eventually, the ancient rite was added to St Mary’s regular schedule, and that group of servers continued to learn and perfect their roles.
    St Mary’s is now one of the leading parishes in the country, offering both forms of the Roman Rite. The church now boast close to 60 servers, most of which are seen during the Sunday High Mass.
    Some 11 years later and two pastors removed, we are now in the fourth generation of servers. Many of that original group, now in their 20s and pushing 30, are faithful to the parish. Some have discerned vocations and are studying for religious orders or the secular priesthood. They all agree that learning the traditional rite of Mass was a pivotal moment in their lives, and helped them understand more fully the doctrines they had been taught.
    As with any large group of boys, the older guys teach the younger. They also act as sergeants-at-arms if the boys get too rambunctious. The progress through their roles from closing the gates or ringing the tower bells to more involved roles as they get older. 
    Under the tutelage of Master of Ceremonies John Pia, one of the best students of the traditional rites on the planet, the worship at St Mary’s has become a template for others who are just beginning. His work with the servers since he arrived in January 2008 has molded the corps into a cohesive unit, but also taught the young men lessons they could scarcely learn elsewhere: teamwork, responsibility, and precision -- all for the greater Glory of God.
    With the guidance first of Fr Markey, then Fr Richard Cipolla, and now the newly installed pastor, the Rev. John Ringley, St Mary’s now boasts a unit of servers that nears 60, ranging from eight to 24. Lifelong friendships have been forged here. Lifelong lessons have been learned here. Lifelong love of the Faith has been nurtured here. It’s a traditional part of a bigger tradition.
    And it all started on a damp cold night in October eleven years ago.

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    I am pleased to announce that the Rule of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic, often referred to as the "Dominican Laity" or "Dominican Third Order," and the Rule of the Priestly Fraternities of Saint Dominic are now available in noble hardback editions suitable for use in profession ceremonies.  These hardback versions retail at $14.95.

    These editions contain the official Latin text of the Rules and the official English translation on facing pages. We have also made available paperback versions of the two rules for private consultation and study.  They are economically priced at $6.95.

    These books may be purchased at Dominican Liturgy Publications. They are the first four titles on the purchase page.  I ask readers who know members of the Dominican Laity or priests in the Priestly Fraternities to let them know about these publications.

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    The two healthy (liturgical) lungs of the Church 
    For years, I have been reading articles at the Pray Tell blog, and when I make comments on its articles, I try to challenge readers with different ideas about the Church's liturgical direction.

    An article there exactly one month ago caught my attention — this paragraph in particular:
    Some Catholics (usually of the more traditional variety), upon hearing that I am an Orthodox Christian, have made it a point to proclaim their love for the Orthodox liturgy and critique the changes to the Mass after Vatican II. Mainly, they lament the loss of beauty and reverence of their experience of the Novus Ordo and long for the Tridentine Mass. I smile, but, as a scholar of liturgy, know that the Mass of Paul VI has much more in common theologically (e.g. its stronger pneumatological dimension) and ecclesiologically with the Eastern Church than the Tridentine Mass. Still, having attended a few Masses (of the post-Vatican II style) that I found (in their words) overly “informal” and/or “dry,” their concern resonates.
              Interestingly, the reform of the liturgy after Vatican II is also debated within some Orthodox circles. Some Orthodox Christians are critical of the reform of the Mass after Vatican II as well. In this case, they fail to distinguish between the greater theological and historical similarities of the Orthodox liturgy and the Mass after Vatican II while overemphasizing some of the phenomenological differences.
    If ever one needed an illustration of understatement, I would submit this quotation.

    The Mass of Paul VI has “more in common” with the Eastern Church only in the sense that (a) it was artificially Easternized by its architects, who had little or no respect for the Latin tradition and had a strange but ill-informed craze for all things Byzantine, and (b) it was conceived in a textual testtube which was cerebral, abstract, and academic, as Ratzinger has pointed out. For example, it was all the rage ot insist on the need or the desirability of an epiklesis for the anaphoras, because the scholars were too caught up in their theories to admire the Roman Canon’s antiquity that predates the Macedonian heresy over the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

    Then, the author (as if waking up to the fact for the first time) admits that some Eastern Orthodox have problems with the liturgical reform. In reality, those that are well informed understand it to be a disaster of the highest degree, a thorough disembowelment of Western tradition. This is why the Moscow patriarchate (much in the news these days) hailed Summorum Pontificum with joy.

    Notice any resemblances?
    The final claim — that there is greater theological and historical similarity between the Orthodox divine liturgy and the post-Vatican II Mass — is blatantly false. The opposite is not only true, but painfully true. The discrepancies between age-old Orthodox worship and the Bauhaus Novus Ordo are pushed aside as “phenomenological.” This is like saying that the difference between a traditional Requiem and a modern funeral is “phenomenological.” Yes, to be sure; but it is first and foremost theological and historical, in the profoundest possible way. And to say that the apparent differences are overemphasized is quite simply pure rationalism — as if our experience of liturgy, of the right approach to and attitude towards the numinous, were not something that comes through our senses first, and only afterwards, arrives in our intellects, in keeping with Aristotle’s sane empiricism.

    I found this phrase in particular incredibly condescending: “I smile, but, as a scholar of liturgy, know…” The lure of gnosis, abundantly on offer in the pseudo-scientific mystery cult of contemporary liturgists. May the Lord in His mercy preserve us from professional liturgists!

    One recalls the famous exchange between Fr. Pierre-Marie Gy and Cardinal Ratzinger concerning the latter’s book The Spirit of the Liturgy. Ratzinger had dared to criticize some of the untouchable “truths” of the liturgical reform, and Fr. Gy, whose life had been invested in this lame duck, was not amused: “How dare he write such a book — he is not a liturgist!” The same reaction, of course, greeted Pope Benedict’s intriguing if not always successful Jesus of Nazareth series, which the historical-critical gurus could not abide. In reality, with The Spirit of the Liturgy Ratzinger was doing the work of a true theologian: he was writing liturgical theology, based (it goes without saying) in a solid grasp of liturgical history and texts, but going far beyond that limited scope into more fundamental theological and philosophical principles, as well as offering a more realistic assessment of the actual cost, in souls and in sanity, of the liturgical reforms, from the vantage of one who had extensive pastoral experience, which many of our smiling theoreticians lack. It is, in truth, the specialists who are wearing blinders or suffering tunnel vision, and the non-specialists who can see deeper and farther, just as we notice today that the youth are instinctively and intuitively drawn to liturgical tradition while their elders, be they teachers or pastors, embarrassingly chase after the evanescent relevance of the new and improved whatever.

    Pontiffs of the world, unite!
    So… I decided that I would leave a brief and moderately-toned comment at Pray Tell indicating my disagreement with the perspective of the author. Here is what I wrote:
    While there are some fine general points made in this article, it is certainly not true to say that the reformed Roman liturgy has more in common with the traditional rites of the East. This statement is often made, but it is true only in the sense that certain Eastern features were artificially, unhistorically, and unliturgically introduced into the Roman rite where they had never existed before, while many features common to both East and West — notably, the use of sacred chant, the eastward orientation, the use of a liturgical language (still preserved in Slavonic and ancient Greek), the reservation of the sanctuary to vested male ministers, and plenty more — were abolished in the 1960s and 1970s in the West.
              At New Liturgical Movement, I published a study on the ten principles that the traditional (i.e., unreformed) Roman liturgy shares in common with the Byzantine liturgy — principles that are either rarely found in celebrations of the reformed Roman rite or were even abolished from it in principle:
              1. The principle of tradition;
              2. the principle of mystery;
              3. the principle of elevated mode;
              4. the principle of ritual integrity or stability;
              5. the principle of density;
              6. the principle of adequate and repeated preparation;
              7. the principle of truthfulness;
              8. the principle of hierarchy;
              9. the principle of parallelism; and
              10. the principle of separation.
    The article may be found at this link.
    Shortly after posting it, I received the following email from the editor of Pray Tell, Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota:
    Dear Peter,
              I just deleted your comment on east/west. The first reason was that it wasn’t so much a response or dialogue with the author’s main points as a promotion of your post. I’m not comfortable having posts such as that linked at Pray Tell, for it doesn’t fit our mission of promoting rich discussion and a wide variety of viewpoints among all those who support Vatican II and ecumenical liturgical reform. Secondly, your tendentious portrayal of the liturgy of the Catholic Church is, to be honest, scandalous to me by its mocking, condescending, disrespectful tone. I’m truly sorry to have to do this but I think it is better for the mission of Pray Tell and the kind of conversation and dialogue we want to promote.
              Fr. Anthony
    I found this initially quite surprising, and said so in my reply:
    Dear Fr. Ruff,
              I think this is a mistake. NLM, which of course takes a very different line, never deletes comments from people who disagree, even sharply, with the main points of the author. The only comments stifled are those that are personally insulting. I doubt if anyone reading my comment would consider it of this type. If you want PT to be an echo chamber that excludes reasoned critique of the liturgical reform, that is your prerogative, but it will increase your reputation as a one-sided progressive platform.
              Best regards,
              Peter Kwasniewski
    A "phenomenological similarity"
    There was no further response (not that I expected there to be). Each side had said its piece. Fr. Ruff apparently does not find differences of opinion a way of “promoting rich discussion.” In the end, “a wide variety of viewpoints” is permissible if and only if you “support Vatican II and ecumenical liturgical reform.” (Is that a reference to Paul VI’s statement that the Novus Ordo was designed to bring the Catholic Mass closer to the worship of Calvinists?)

    What I learned from this exchange is that, as is so very often the case, dialogue — for liberals and progressives — means “agreeing with me.” We can see the same dynamic playing out in the various Synods that have been held under Pope Francis. Each Synod has always heard many voices, from Cardinals to laymen, dissenting from the liberal baseline assumptions and conclusions that are supposed to prevail in this exercise of “walking together,” but these voices are sidelined, padded, or suppressed in the final results, and quite simply ignored in the day-to-day implementation (as we saw in a rather dramatic way with the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and with the grab-bag of fashionable sociological truisms bequeathed by the Youth Synod).

    In short, there is no dialogue, only monologue. Or perhaps soliloquy, as would befit a liturgical reform pushed through, with many a self-doubt and self-contradiction, by the pope who compared himself to Hamlet.

    No Hamlets here.

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    Here is a company that sells high-quality reproductions that are good enough for your church or icon corner. Check it out! Their focus appears to be art in the Western tradition of naturalism, with some Gothic art as well.

    I was asked to feature this site by those who have recently launched it, and am happy do so, and particularly on this occasion; by coincidence, I have just recently been discussing with friends whether or not we should encourage the purchase of reproductions of sacred art, so gives me an opportunity to raise this subject. The site itself promotes their products as art for the home, but I would go further and say that, in principle, I am very open to the idea that reproductions can be used in church too.

    Some might be surprised that I am so much in favor of the use of art prints and reproductions, given my interest as well in the re-establishment of Catholic traditions of sacred art as a living tradition. In fact, I see no contraction between promoting a website that sells reproductions and promoting the training of artists capable of creating original works of art that can inspire faith and prayer today. In fact, I would go further than that and suggest that a demand for good art, whether led by offering originals or reproductions, will benefit the sales of both... and add to the well being of the world incalculably through the prayer that it will inspire.

    Briefly, here are my reasons:

    Art is as good as it looks. If you look at a painting and you can’t tell if it is a reproduction, then it doesn’t matter if it is an original or not. With modern methods of reproduction, this is becoming possible. Even if you can tell the difference, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is inferior to the original. Sometimes, the process of reproduction can be controlled so that it creates a distinct work of art that is better than the original. In such a case, the one who is reproducing is contributing to the creative process. In this regard, sculpture is an art form in which reproduction, through casts, has been part of the creative process for centuries. Many of the statues we see in the church or public square are not only not the original sculpture, but they are also composed of new composite materials that imitate the old, such as bronze resin. No one suggests that this compromises the creative process. Just because this wasn’t the case with paintings in the past, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be now.

    I am not pushing for a lowering of standards here; I am arguing that if high standards and good judgment are used at all stages in the creation of an image, whether the process is traditional or recently invented, then good art will result.

    Even if it is the case, in your judgment, that reproductions can’t match originals, and that technology is not as powerful as I suggest, there are still good reasons to have them in church. I would rather have an attractively framed and well-chosen reproduction than an ugly and badly painted original. I do not believe there is any moral imperative to support artists by buying paintings we don’t like or which are inferior to those of the past. If we aim for quality, that will force artists to up their game and create new work that matches the quality of the past. We know this can be done. Contemporary Eastern Christians, led by Russians, Greeks, and Copts, have had great success as artists through the sheer quality of their work, which is as good today as the great iconographic art of the past. When artists meet this standard, they have the edge over any reproduction of past works, no matter how well reproduced or how brilliant the original. Only contemporary artists of today can create work that simultaneously participates in traditional forms, and meets the distinctive needs of the Christian community of today. This is precisely what the modern iconographers have worked out. By creating icons in styles that were previously unimagined, but which nevertheless conform to tradition, they have created a demand for icons that didn’t previously exist there before. Beauty does this.

    I would go further and say that the possibility of selling reproductions creates opportunities for artists to increase their earnings that were not available to artists in the past. On the whole, any business that offers higher quality products at a lower price than their competitors makes more money, not less. The consumer, in this case, is the pious Catholic who prays with the imagery. If the artist serves this need, then he will sell reproductions. This also becomes a promotional tool for originals which will become sought-after items. I would recommend that artists look at offering reproductions of their work. I think of the Catholic artist Jim Gillick here, who told me that every month he gets a significant income stream from reproductions ordered from his website, and a Gillick original sells for more in the galleries of London than any other artist that I know personally.

    The moment that an artist blames the market or the Church for not commissioning his work, or suggests that we should buy originals as a duty in order to support artists, and not because we like their work, that tells me his work isn’t good enough.

    As a final recommendation for looking at this site, I will give you the following screenshot:

    No Divine Mercy images, thank goodness!

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    The Saint Ann Choir will have sung Latin Masses for All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, November 1 and 2, at 8:00 p.m. at St Thomas Aquinas Church, in Palo Alto, California, located at the corner of Waverly and Homer. The All Saints’ Day Mass will be in the Extraordinary Form, and the choir will sing Gregorian chant propers and the Missa Nisi Dominus by Ludwig Senfl. The All Souls’ Day Mass will be a Gregorian Requiem Mass in Latin; massgoers are encouraged to bring names of family and friends to be remembered in the intercessions.

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    Our next photopost will be for the feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls, this Thursday and Friday. As always, we welcome pictures of Mass in either Form, or the Ordinariate Rite, as well as the vigil Mass of All Saints, and celebrations of the Divine Office / Liturgy of the Hours on both of these days. Please be sure to include the name and location of the church, and always feel free to add any other information you think important; email them to (Zipfiles are preferred.) Evangelize through beauty!

    All Souls’ Day at the Church of St Paul in Birkirkara, Malta, from our first All Saints and All Souls photopost of last year.

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    How Halloween Corrupts Us and Why Ad Orientem Worship is the Antidote

    I recently attended a baptism at St Elias Melkite church in Los Gatos, California. This was done on a Sunday morning immediately before the Divine Liturgy, and the whole community was encouraged to attend to welcome the new member into the Church and the parish.

    At one point we all turned as directed by our pastor to the west, in order to renounce Satan loudly and to make the gesture of spitting on him. We then turned around and to the east, ad orientem. This was as much, it seemed to me, to turn our backs on Satan as to look for the Risen Christ. It was a powerful moment.

    The power of actions and words to affect our hearts profoundly was made very strongly in the St Elias bulletin for that very Sunday, which reproduced a letter from Russian Orthodox Bishop Irenei of Sacramento to his flock, and was talking about something else also connected to the devil - Halloween.

    In the letter, he is advising Christian not to participate in Halloween celebrations. At one point he says:
    Where secular people may feel they have the option to divorce the spiritual realm from the physical and do one thing with their bodies while believing another in their minds, we Christian people do not. We know that the actions of our bodies, and the things we do with our lives, affect our hearts and are directly connected to spiritual realms of which we are, on account of our weakness, not always immediately aware. Can you honestly think—you who gaze at and touch the holy icons in your home and in our temples, and know that the saints are present with you, and that you are drawn into their holy lives—that to be willingly surrounded by images of the demons (however childish and infantile their representation) will not also affect your heart, and your children’s hearts, and draw them closer to powers that none would call holy? And not just to gaze upon such images, but to fashion them into clothes and costumes and wear them on one’s body?
    How many of us in the Roman Church, even the pious, actually venerate holy images as a habit that would make the Bishop’s words true for us, I wonder? We neglect such piety at our peril, as the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council knew over 1,000 years ago. This neglect might well have contributed over many decades to the decline of the Faith and so many of the problems we see in the Church and beyond. Accompanying the lack of engagement with visual imagery in our liturgy, there is the rise, in the wider culture, of the veneration of images of evil that the Russian Orthodox Bishop is describing. We would do well to reintroduce the veneration of sacred art into our liturgy as a matter of urgency.

    And, perhaps the same neglect opened the west door of the Church and left it ajar and unattended, drawing the “smoke of Satan” into the vacuum created by the absence of fragrant incense, followed (who knows?) by the entrance of Satan himself. If he did enter, he would as likely as not be greeted by a shower of spittle, but greeted in a spirit of diversity by a priest facing him directly, worshiping and making a sacrifice. What sort of message does that communicate, I wonder? Those who do realize the seriousness what is going on and object are too often showered with spite, if not spittle, for their troubles.

    Look at the imposing west facade of the Gothic Beverly Minster in Yorkshire, England. This is the gate of a fortress designed, I would say, as much to keep certain forces out (and to reassure us by making this clear), as much as it is to let people in.

    To repeat a sentence from the quote above:
    We know that the actions of our bodies, and the things we do with our lives, affect our hearts and are directly connected to spiritual realms of which we are, on account of our weakness, not always immediately aware. 
    Unthinking participation by Catholics in the promotion of the symbolism of Satan is not limited to reckless, light-hearted partying on Halloween. Think for a moment of the modern desire to flee the urban environment to “commune” with nature by experiencing “pristine natural beauty” (i.e. unaltered by man); this is not in itself evil, but it is a sign of something that is - the view that man and his work are unnatural and necessarily destructive to the world. The wilderness used to be the place to go and become civilized through settling and cultivation, and was seen as the place of spiritual warfare with the devil. Christ and the early Church fathers both went out to the wilderness for this reason. Now we flee civilization to embrace the spiritual wild west.

    Man is both part of the natural world, and capable, with God’s grace, of raising it up to something greater than anything it could be through its own momentum, by cultivation and civilization in harmony with Creation. When he does so, he participates in the creative force that draws the world to its final end, that is, towards what it ought to be. A symbol of this is beautiful farmland, and even more so, a garden cultivated for its beauty, which bears the mark of the gardener who made it, inspired by the Gardener. Certainly, man is fallen, and his work can destroy too; but where faith and freedom predominate, the general rule is one of improvement.

    The public park or botanical garden used to be a place within the city that elevated it through their beauty. Even the New Jerusalem has gardens, new Edens. Now gardens are deliberately unplanted, so to speak, with native plants. This still might be beautiful, but it is not as beautiful as it ought to be. Whether this is the specific intention of the new gardeners or not, it symbolizes the hatred of the influence of man on nature, and the desire to undermine good society, for it says that those species cultivated by man are not natural, not good, because man himself is not part of nature.

    And as I said before: symbols matter.

    Such gardens, by degrees, bring the wilderness into the polis, and thereby contribute to the forces that bring its spiritual overlord in too. They are anti-Edens, gardens of the culture of the abolition of man. They tell us that the existence of mankind is a failed mission of a God they reject. It tells us that the whole project of mankind itself ought to be aborted.

    By contrast, here is a public garden, also in Yorkshire, England, Breezy Knees Garden in the city of York. My guess is that there is not a single uncultivated species in view, and it is all the better for it.

    I believe that even if there is no overt religious connection to such public places, they speak to that part in us that would have participated in the medieval devotion to Mary as the Garden Enclosed in the past. Surely it is better to aim to create places in our cities that might be dwelling places for Our Lady than for the serpent? 

    Mary not only rests in the Hortus Conclusus - the Garden Enclosed of the Song of Songs - but she is also, traditionally, identified with the garden itself. What saddens me is not so much that people who hate the Church and Mary want to destroy the symbolism that speaks of them; one would expect that, even if it no more than a purely instinctual desire to destroy what is beautiful and created by man. The dismay arises from how little pushback there is from those who believe and ought to know better than to encourage the creation of the symbol of the anti-Mary - the Wicked Witch of the West - in our own backyards.

    It is the great deceit of the devil that he convinces so many of us today that he doesn’t exist; I suspect that most who propagate his influence are doing so unwittingly, and would consider the idea that they are the useful fools of Satan risible. And they are likely to scoff at those who suggest it. But this should not put us off.

    We have no need ever to fear Satan, as we know, for victory over him has been won, and those of us who have been baptized and have put on Christ participate in that victory. But that does not mean we must pretend he is not a threat and cease to be vigilant in guarding against his influence. Evil is the absence of good. The vacuum created by neglect is itself a problem; what subsequently comes in to fill it will be a greater evil if good does not fight to occupy and tame the wilderness, as St Anthony Abbot did and so many have done since.

    St Cyril of Jerusalem wrote the following in his Mystagogical Catechesis (XXXIII, 1073B):
    When you renounce all compact with Satan, all compact with hell, God’s paradise is opened for you, which he planted in the East, and whence our first parent was driven forth for his disobedience. This is figured in your turning from the West to the East, which is the symbol of the sun.
    And as Gregory of Nyssa pointed out, paradise is here, now, for the baptized, and open for us to enter if we wish.
    Every day when we turn towards the East where God planted his paradise, and when we remember our exile from that blissful locality in the East, we have a right to enter ourselves once more.
    Representations of paradise and its four rivers in early baptistries and apses confirm this connection. Here is the apse of St John Lateran in Rome showing the four rivers, in the East, with the deer who yearn for those running streams.

    Any symbolism that reinforces this wonderful message of joy in the here and now, as much as in the hereafter, is worthy of encouragement, just as any that undermines it should be discouraged. Let us hope that when the devil tries to enter our lives from the west, that he does not do so unnoticed, but rather that we are there to spit on him! St Michael pray for us!

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    The Pontifical Shrine and Parish Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New York City will have two EF Masses (one low and one solemn) and two OF Masses on both All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The solemn Mass on All Souls will be followed by the Absolution at the catafalque. The church is located at 448 East 116th Street.

    The FSSP church in Littleton, Colorado, Our Lady of Mt Carmel, will celebrate All Saints by singing Victoria’s Mass O quam gloriosa, which was composed specifically for this feast. The Mass begins at 7pm; the church is located at 5620 S. Hickory Circle.

    The ICK church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Ss Cyril and Methodius Oratory, will have Masses at 6pm on both All Saints and All Souls, with Victoria’s Requiem Mass on the latter. The church is located at 79 Church Street.

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  • 11/01/18--06:46: The Feast of All Saints 2018
  • From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the beginning of the sermon for the second day in the Octave of All Saints.

    Worthily we recall this day that the place once called the Pantheon, a place full of filth, was consecrated to God and to all the Saints, so that where sin abounded, there grace might also abound. (Romans 5, 20) So one that was mighty, and cruelly held possession of nearly all things in miserable peace, was overwhelmed and conquered by One mightier still; who, rifling his goods, (Matthew 12, 29) dedicated to His own worship the other’s temples. By this fact, perceptible to our senses, we are taught spiritually that Man, who in Adam had become by original sin the dwelling place and possession of the devil, the servant of sin, the son of death, by baptism becomes the temple of God, and is brought over to the liberty of the sons of God, and through grace reborn as a son of adoption. Worthily therefore do we celebrate the dedication of the temple, by which we recall to mind these benefits conferred upon us, and are advised to consecrate our hearts as a temple to the Lord, casting out all the idols of the demons, that is, our sins.

    The interior of the Pantheon, by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1692-1765) Over the architrave are quotations from Psalm 149, “His praise is in the church of the Saints”, and Psalm 150, “Praise the Lord in His Saints”, words that were formerly sung every single day in the psalmody of Lauds. This inscription has been removed by modern restorations.
    In the Middle Ages, the sermon read at Matins on the feast of All Saints was the same in almost every Use of the Roman Rite, called from its first words Legimus in ecclesiasticis historiis; the real author is unknown, although it was frequently attributed to St Rabanus Maurus. The first lesson refers to the institution of the feast of All Saints, and the dedication of the Pantheon as a church. The second lesson is about God, while the six lessons that follow descend through the hierarchy of the Saints: the Virgin Mary, the Angels, the Patriarchs and Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, and the various types of Confessors. The holy Virgins and other female Saints are mentioned in the same lesson as the Virgin Mary, the model of consecrated life; the ninth lesson is taken from a homily of St. Augustine on the Sermon on the Mount, the beginning of which is the Gospel of the feast. When All Saints was granted an octave by Pope Sixtus IV in the early 1480s, each day of the octave was assigned a different sermon with the same structure, covering the first eight of the nine lessons at Matins. Last year, we commemorated All Saints with the sermon for the feast day itself; this year, we will follow the Matins lessons from the very beautiful sermon assigned to be read on November 2nd.

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    The Institute of Christ the King’s apostolate in Chicago, currently located at the church of St Thomas the Apostle, will have a Solemn Requiem Mass for All Souls Day, with the Mass for the Dead in Five Voices by Palestrina, the Dies irae by Viadana, and the Libera me at the Absolution by Vazquez. The Mass will be begin at 7pm; the church is located at 5472 S. Kimbark Avenue.

    The Ordinariate community of Our Lady and St John in Louisville, Kentucky, will have a sung Requiem Mass and Absolution at the Catafalque in the Ordinariate Rite. The community uses the church of St Martin of Tour at 639 S Shelby Street; the Mass will begin at 9am.

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    Here is another great video from Brian Holdsworth which needs to be shared around as widely as possible. He very rightly points out the folly of attempts by some people within the Church to hold the interest of the young by “relating” to them. “I would much rather someone be themselves authentically than project my own characteristics back at me. If the Church wants young people to follow the message of Christ... they’re really undermining their own efforts by using tactics that provoke people to look down on the messenger...” He then brilliantly sums up why beauty and solemnity in the liturgy (and elsewhere) are necessary for the evangelization of all peoples, young and old. “These people took (Vatican II) as a license to vandalize all the outward expressions of our faith... in the hopes of making it more culturally relevant, and accessible. And the result if that the Church is less relevant than ever. ... This experiment has failed catastrophically. ... The way we present the message of Jesus should be like nothing of this world, because it’s not of this world ” Watch the whole thing, it is well worth your time, and if you have the opportunity, share it with your pastor, bishop, youth ministry coordinator etc. Kudos, Mr Holdsworth!

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    From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the second day in the Octave of All Saints.

    As we venerate the Saints with this special festivity, it is worthy that we begin our praise with Him Who adorned the heavens with the Angels, and the earth with His other creatures, that He might be praised by all. Indeed, because He is in Himself the fount of goodness, needing not our goods, (Psalm 15, 2) excluding no one from a share in His light, in order that He might be known, He made the rational creation to understand Him as the greatest good, and so understanding to love Him, so loving Him to possess Him, so possessing Him to delight in Him; and in this course, it not God Himself, but the creature that benefits. Therefore as we praise Him, though we cannot yet reach what we long for in joy, and know not how to do what we ought, let us offer our prayers with confidence, since the Lord God, giving greater thought to our desires than to our deeds, looks kindly upon the strength of our good intentions as He receives our service.
    The Funeral of St Jerome, with the Holy Trinity in the midst of the Angels, by Fra Filippo Lippi, ca. 1452-60; from the Cathedral of Prato, Italy. (Public domainimage from Wikipedia.)

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    Archimandrite Robert Taft SJ, who is well-known as one of the most important modern scholars of the Byzantine Liturgy inter multa alia, passed away yesterday at the age of 86, at the Jesuit Order’s home for retired priests in Weston, Massachusetts. He taught for many years at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome as Professor of Oriental Liturgy, producing hundreds of scholarly works; among his best known are the book The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West, and The Great Entrance, a study of that part of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

    Fr Taft was ordained to the priesthood in the Byzantine Slavonic Rite in 1963, and for decades, regularly celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the church of the Pontifical Russian College, generally known as the Russicum. Here is a beautiful video of the Liturgy at the Russicum on Pentecost Sunday, 2009, in which he was the principal celebrant. The choir is conducted by his confrère Fr Ludwig Pichler, upon whose extraordinary work is built the magnificent choral tradition of the Russicum. (Fr Pichler passed away in May of last year at the age of 101.)

    Вѣчная Памѧть - Eternal memory!

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