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    The church of Santa Maria “in Organo” in Verona takes its name not from its own organ, but from an ancient Roman water clock which was powered by the river Adige, which runs through the city; as the water flowed through the device and turned it, it also passed over pipes that played music. The clock was perhaps already badly damaged by the flooding of the Adige when it was destroyed by the Lombards in the 8th century.

    In 1444, the church was given to the Olivetan monastic order, who held it until the suppressions of the Napoleonic era, in 1808. At the very end of the 15th century, a monk of this order, Fra’ Giovanni da Verona, built and decorated the sacristy, a work of which the great artist historian Giorgio Vasari described as “the most beautiful sacristy in all of Italy. ” Here are some photos taken by Nicola; those of the church itself are given below.

    “ the lunettes he painted various Popes in pontifical habit, two per section, those who were elected to the papacy from the order of St Benedict. Around the sacristy ... there is a band ... in which are depicted in monastic habit various emperors, kings, dukes and other princes, who left the states and principalities which they had, and became monks.” (Vasari)

    “And truly it was because of this decoration that this became the most beautiful sacristy in all of Italy, because, apart from the beauty of the well-proportioned space of a reasonable size, and the fact that the paintings are very beautiful, there is also in the lower part the doors of the cupboards, worked in cut and inlaid wood, with lovely images in perspective, done so well that in those days, and perhaps also in our own, none better are to be seen, since Fra’ Giovanni da Verona, who made the work, truly excelled in that art...  as is also demonstrated (by his other works.)” (Vasari)
    The city of Verona has an ancient Roman amphitheater, known simply as “the Arena”, built in the first century, but severely damaged by an earthquake of 1117, as seen here in Fra’ Giovanni’s representation of it. After various modern restorations, it is now used for operatic performances and many other events.

    The center of the ceiling vault.
    The church was originally constructed between the 6th and 8th century, when the Lombards dominated northern Italy, but was destroyed by the earthquake of 1117 and rebuilt in various phases after that. The church’s bell tower stands on the base of the ancient Roman water clock, the only part of the latter that survives. The façade was begun in 1547 by Michele Sanmicheli, but never finished.

    “Fra’ Giovanni also carved ... a 14-foot tall candlestick for the Paschal candle, all in walnut, with incredible diligence, and I do not believe that there is any better example of such a thing to be seen.” (Vasari)

    Andrea Mantegna’s Trivulzio Madonna was made for this church in 1497; the angels playing the organ at the bottom allude to the church’s nickname. On the left side are Ss John the Baptist and Gregory the Great, on the right, Ss Benedict (shown in the Olivetan habit) and St Jerome, who holds a model of the church. The painting is now located in the Painting Gallery of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan.
    A statue of Christ on a donkey, designed to be carried in the Palm Sunday procession.

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    There’s still time! The registration deadline for Musica Sacra Florida 2018 has now been extended to Tuesday, July 24.

    Musica Sacra Florida 2018
    10th Annual Gregorian Chant Conference
    Friday, July 27 & Saturday, July 28, 2018 
    “Treasures of the Catholic” Church Camp
    Monday, July 23 to Friday, July 27

    at Royal Palm Academy and Saint Agnes Chapel, Naples, FL 

    The conference will include:
    “Treasures of the Catholic Church” Camp (July 23-27): For young people from 8 to 18. Children will receive instruction in Gregorian chant and Catholic culture (including great art) from an expert faculty, including Father Jonathan Romanoski, FSSP, Susan Treacy, Ph.D., and others.

    Musica Sacra Florida 2018 Workshops (July 27-28): 

    “What Came before the Square Notes” (Edward Schaefer, D.M.A.) - Learn the fascinating history of pre-square-note notation.

    “A Plain and Easy Guide to Square Notation” (Susan Treacy, Ph.D.) – Are you mystified or intimidated by those little square notes? Fear not! In this workshop you will receive basic instruction on how to read Gregorian chant notation. Likewise, if you need a refresher course, come join us.

    “Gregorian Chant as the Basis for Choral Excellence” (Larry Kent, D.M.A.) - This workshop will examine various ways that correct chant technique is an essential element in mixed choral ensembles, especially with regard to sacred music of the sixteenth century. Participants will work with excerpts of works by Byrd, Victoria, Tallis, and Palestrina.

    Keynote Lecture for the Musica Sacra Florida 2018 Gregorian Chant Conference:
    Dr. Edward Schaefer (University of Florida): "The Place of Gregorian Chant in Western History and Its Importance Today”

    Gregorian Chant Conference Faculty 
    Larry Kent, D.M.A., Director of Florida Pro Musica, Tampa
    Edward Schaefer, D.M.A., University of Florida College of Fine Arts
    Susan Treacy, Ph.D., Ave Maria University

    For all the details about registration, schedule and conference hotel, visit their website:

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  • 07/16/18--04:45: World War I Army Mass Kit
  • Many readers will be familiar with the site Sancrucensis, where they will find the learned lucubrations and edifying epigrams of Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., not to mention a fair share of uplifting photographs of the yearly round of monastic life at the thriving Heiligenkreuz Abbey.

    Recently Pater Edmund shared with me the exciting news that he had received the gift of a portable Mass kit that once belonged to a World War I chaplain, which an antique store in Oberösterreich had put up for sale.[1] It features a built-in altar stone and altar cards that fold out, and in the compartments inside there are not only chalice and linens, etc., but even four chasubles in different colors (!). The chalice seems to have been made in Fulda, while the Missal is from Regensburg. The whole set-up is typical of kits in the World War I era.

    Pater Edmund asked that I share these pictures at NLM. I must say, it is both a pleasure and a challenge to do so. A pleasure, for obvious reasons; how could a more complete and better portable kit ever be devised? A challenge, because this war-time worst, this compact gear meant to be carried through mud and bullets, is more complete and more appropriate than what one might find in many peace-time sacristies today!


    NOTE [1]: Here is the German description, for those who are interested:
    Sehr schöner antiker Messkoffer aus der Zeit um 1910; schöner brauner Lederkoffer mit original Überzug und reichlichem Zubehör: 4 Kaseln, Stolen, Pallen, Kelchwäsche, Tücher, Albe, Missale Romanum, Messing Buchablage, Altarstein, Kelch mit Patene, zwei Versehpatenen, Glocke, Kerzenetui inkl. zwei Kerzen..... Kelch und Patene aus 800er Silber und Kelch mit Meistermarke Wilhelm Rauscher, päpstl. Hofjuwelier, Hof- und Domgoldschmied; Buchablage aus Messing ebenfalls mit Meistermarke Wilhelm Rauscher. Masse Koffer ca. 48 x 30 x 19,5 cm. Insgesamt sehr schöne gepflegte Erhaltung mit natürlichen Alters-/Gebrauchs-/Anlaufspuren.

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    As I described last week, praying with sacred art is not difficult if it is practiced regularly, and if the art is well chosen. Some holy images are created so as to promote good prayer, by artists who understand deeply what prayer is and how visual imagery can nourish it. In this article, I will consider how artists working within the three liturgical traditions of the Church - the iconographic, the Gothic and the Baroque - have employed the visual vocabulary of style to this end. I should point out that this analysis is my own. I cannot cite accounts from the artists themselves of their intentions in order to support what I am saying. I am drawing personal experience of painting and praying with art to formulate the account that I give you now.

    Prayer is “...the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” (CCC 2559), and within these aspects listed by the Catechism, we can distinguish also between two movements. One is passive (or receptive) by which we listen to what God is saying to us. The other is active, responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, by which we might, for example, give praise or thanks to God or ask something of Him.

    A well-painted piece of sacred art will engage the viewer in such a way that it promotes both attitudes of prayer, active and passive, and each of the traditions of liturgical art has been developed to serve this double role, but in different ways. Each is painted to use visual devices that engage us, so that we might see what God is telling us through the image, and then be inspired to respond in love.

    Iconographic art and Gothic art employ similar techniques, and as a result, engage us in a similar dynamic of prayer. Both are more stylised and less naturalistic than later Western traditions such as the Baroque. The less naturalistic styles of these traditions promote a sense of emotional distance between the observer and the Saint portrayed; the lack of naturalism always gives a painting an other-worldly feel. The stylization is also deliberately unsentimental - it does not evoke the sense of a Hallmark type prayer card, for example - and this ensures that we are not beguiled by prettiness. The austerity reminds us that this is an image and not the actual Saint. A spiritual hunger is created by this as we long for a relationship with the real Saint. At this point there is a mental jump in our imaginations, and our thoughts move from the image to the real Saint in heaven.

    The image acts as a mental stepping stone by which we come to contemplate the real Saint in heaven. This is why these styles of art are often described as “windows to heaven.” When we see Christ in an icon, through this image there is a profound awareness of the real Christ beckoning to us from heaven and saying, “Come to me, join me in heaven!”
    There is another way in which an image can create a sense of distance, which the power of the prayer dynamic just described overcomes. This is the way that the artist combines the angle of vision with the amount of detail visible. I will explain how this works.

    In nature, the closer you are to an object the wider the angle of vision. So a man close to us appears large and the angle that subtends his limits - say from feet to head - is large. However, if the man moves away from us, that angle is reduced. We naturally judge how far away a man is from us by matching his apparent height (i.e. angle vision) with the height we assume him to be. Without being able to quote precise numbers we develop through experience an innate sense of the fact that a man who is 6ft tall will create an angle of vision of about 15 degrees of arc when he is 18 feet away.

    If the artist wants to control the perception of distance, he must be aware of the point where the image is most likely to be observed from, and then he controls the angle of vision accordingly to create the desired perception of distance. So if the image is seen from 12 feet away, and the image is 4 feet high, then the angle of the arc that subtends the height of the image will be about 15 degrees; we will not think we are seeing a 4 foot tall man 12 feet away, but a 6 foot-tall man 18 feet away. We assume this because on the whole, men aren’t only 4 feet tall.

    A reasonable question might be, but there are some people who are 4 feet tall; how do we know that this isn’t a life-size image of one of them? The answer is that there are other signs. First of all, we do the same intuitive calculation for every other person or object portrayed in the picture. We quickly gauge that unless everything else in the painting is also proportionately reduced in size, which is unlikely, then this person is a 6 feet tall, not 4. As I mentioned before, we don’t think of the numbers when we look at the image, any more than when we look at an ordinary person, we just have a sense of how far away someone is and how tall he is.

    Something else that gives us a clue as to how far away something is from us is the amount of discernible detail we can make out, what we might call “detail perspective.” Through the experience of seeing things around us, we know whether, e.g., at a distance of 18 feet, we can to make out individual strands of hair on a head, or if we will see a broad swathe of color which we recognize as a mass of hair. It takes great skill for an artist to match this detail-perspective with the angle of vision so that all is in harmony. If the two factors are not in harmony, then usually we will sense that something is wrong, and we feel uneasy about it. Getting the balance of these two effects wrong is a common error made by inexperienced or poor artists. It is a fault of many well-known artists who should have known better, for example, many of the Pre-Raphaelites. Their paintings were over-packed with detail, so that every blade of grass and every individual leaf might be painted. Typically, our brain struggles to interpret what is seen in paitings like this, because one way of discerning distance, the amount of detail, tells us “This is close”, while the other, the angle of vision, says, “This is far away.” This generally causes a feeling of unease.

    Baroque art of the 17th century, unlike Pre-Raphaelite art, is a naturalistic style that balances these two factors perfectly. However, paradoxically, iconographic and Gothic art deliberately introduced a mismatch, but in such a way that they contrive to enhance their spiritual power.

    Both iconographic and Gothic art are designed so that when measured by angle of vision, the image is in the middle distance; we can get close enough to kiss an icon, for example, and it still seems in the middle distance because of the angle of vision. This further reinforces the dynamic of prayer described above. However, by the measure of detail-perspective, Gothic and iconographic art seem to break the rule of harmony with the angle of vision; there is lots of detail, and so the images are much closer to us than the angle of vision ould lead us to judge.

    Ordinarily, we would expect to feel disconcerted by this, but generally we don’t. What then, is the difference between iconographic and Gothic art, where it works, and the Pre-Raphaelites, where it doesn’t? Clearly, something else is at play here. The difference is that while the Pre-Raphaelites attempt to portray things as they are naturalistically, the Gothic and iconographic styles are not intended to portray things as they are naturally. The style of both is informed by a theology of what man is like in heaven; the integration of theology and form in these traditions is so well worked out that we pick up on this instinctively. In heaven, to see someone is to know them perfectly, and so all the detail of their lives (in fact, more than simply the visual details) would be known to us. When we look at an icon or Gothic image, we see that they are otherworldly, and therefore the excess detail doesn’t seem unfitting to us. If this were just an arbitrary stylization that was not reflective of a truth, it would not be a convincing portrayal, but it works because these styles really do reflect something of the heavenly reality to us. In short, it rings true, because it is true.

    To recap: in the case of Gothic and iconographic art, all of this “visual engineering” by the artist comes together to create a natural dynamic of prayer as follows. We look at the image, and because it seems to be in the middle distance, we are drawn toward it; we want to pull the image into the foreground so that we can establish a firmer relationship with the Saint. As we move closer, the image rewards us, so to speak, with a clearer vision of all the rich detail, which then increases our sense of wanting to get closer. However, we just can’t get close enough to satisfy our desire. Even if our noses are pressed against the image, it seems to be in the middle distance because of its design. The only way to get closer is through the use of our imaginations, which take us through the image to the real Saint in heaven; this is a profound connection that nourishes prayer. The Saints in heaven call us to be with them through the sacred art; each is saying, “Come to me and be in heaven with me.” The image of Our Lady will be seen, for the most part, from a great distance, and so will have a small angle of vision when viewed by most people.
    Some will point out, quite legitimately, that there are life-size images in the iconographic style. The images at ground level on the walls are commonly close to life size. In these examples, the artists want the images to appear closer so that we know the Saints are praying alongside us in the liturgy. But even then, in my experience, the images are often slightly smaller than full-size on the side walls. (Often, but not always; this shows icons where are definitely close to life size, if not larger. This is the reason why I carefully inserted the word “generally” before my argument above.) I would say in regard to these paintings, that the other stylistic aspects that affect our engagement in the way I describe are still present, and these continue to reinforce the heavenly, otherworldly reality of the image. Secondly, if I was commissioning or painting such images today (a big “if”, I hear some of you say!), I would make efforts to ensure that there were no mixed messages by making them just slightly smaller than life-size.
    Baroque art contains a visual vocabulary of style which, in contrast to the iconographic and Gothic styles, is intended to portray man on earth, what John Paul II called “historical man”, in a Christian way. This naturalistic, but nevertheless authentically liturgical style has been carefully worked out so that, in contrast to the iconographic and Gothic styles, the level of detail matches perfectly the perceived distance of the image from the observer when judged by angle of vision. This creates a different dynamic of engagement, and therefore of prayer, from that generated by iconographic and Gothic art.

    To illustrate, consider the following situation: have you ever had the experience of seeing a beautiful large traditional oil painting in an art gallery? If you are like me, you want to get closer, but when you approach the image, it transforms. What was originally a clear image changes into a mess of rough brush strokes and you can no longer see the image as clearly. Then, in order to make it cohere visually again, you have to retreat back to the place where you first saw it. This is not accidental. The artist has deliberately painted the image so that it is out of focus when you are close, and in focus when you are several feet away.

    Baroque art generally works like this. This effect is that rather drawing us into the image, as a Gothic painting might, the image jumps out to us. And when the image is of Christ, for example, God is made present to us here on earth. It says, “You stay where you are, I am with you.” This sense of the presence of God on earth is reinforced further by the artist when this device is combined with the other distinctive aspects of the visual vocabulary of Baroque art. The strong contrast between shadow and light, for example, communicates to us a sense of Christian hope that transcends suffering - the Light of the good that overcomes the darkness of evil.

    Here is Velazquez’s crucifxion.

    And here are two details of that same painting.
    The different dynamics of prayer that we see in the different liturgical traditions need not be seen in opposition to each other; rather, they are complementary. One can think of them working together as the angels on Jacob’s ladder. Some go up, taking us with them, others come down to give us solace, and all help us on our path to God.

    Ordinarily, I bemoan the fact that in the Roman Church we are detached from our authentic liturgical traditions. (I have devoted so much time to trying to understand them int he hope of helping to re-establish them as living traditions.) But there is some good in this. We can look more objectively at the past from our current position of detachment from it, and so choose what we feel is best for a new beginning.

    In regard to this discussion, we could, potentially, establish a double tradition today, one that allows for both dynamics of prayer and so enrich our worship and prayer in a way that has not been done before. We might choose the come-to-me style for the side altar and for our contemplative prayer; and the I-am-with-you style, for greater and more immediate impact, for the reredos or altar piece that is in the sanctuary and will be viewed from a distance. The task for artists who set out to do this would be to do so in such a way that each side of the coin is connected stylistically, as well as distinguishable from the other, so to maintain the sense of unity that a single tradition has.

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    A reader of this blog has asked me to let other readers know that he is offering some Dominican Rite books for sale.

    The prices listed are the opening price. He will entertain bids for that price or above until 6:00 p.m. July 21, 2018. You should send your bid to him at

    He will keep those interested informed of higher bids by return email so that potential buyers can make higher bids if they wish.

    In my opinion, the items are in good condition given their age and the opening prices reflect what seems common in used-book offerings for these items.  For each he provides an image of the title page, spine, and cover, so that you have an idea of the condition.

    1. The Saint Dominic Missal.Latin-English. First Edition. New York: St. Dominic Missal, 1959.  Bidding opens at $150.

    2. Breviarium iuxta Ritum Ordinis Praedicatorum. Michaelis Browne iussu editum. Rome: Santa Sabina, 1962.  TWO VOLUME SET--only one volume shown, other in same condition.  This was the last printing of the Latin Dominican Rite Breviary. Bidding starts at $200.

    3. Breviary According to the Rite of the Order of Preachers. Published by order of Aniceto Fernandez. Dublin: St. Saviour's, 1967.TWO VOLUME SET--only one volume shown, other in same condition.  This was the only printing of the Dominican Breviary in English. Bidding starts at $200.
    Readers should also know that I still have two copies of volume 1 of the 1930 Dominican Rite Latin Breviary for sale. Link to page here.

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    On the feast of St John the Baptist, His Excellency Glen Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles, Louisiana, celebrated a solemn Pontifical Mass in the traditional rite at the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; our thanks to Barbara Wyman for sending in these photos of the ceremony, who also wrote to let us know that attendance has been steadily growing at these Masses.

    Anyone who has ever served this rite of Mass knows that it is especially hard work, something which requires a good amount of organizing and rehearsal to do properly; the reward for such work is, of course, a ceremony which truly impresses upon one, forcibly and unmistakably, the power and majesty of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass truly is. We can all take encouragement once again from the fact that none of the people who are making the effort and committment to put this together are old enough to be doing so from any sense of “nostalgia”; what we see here is a true and sincere love for the richness of our Catholic liturgical tradition. (The assistant priest here is the same Fr Jacob Connors whose parish was featured in the very first “Tradition is for the Young” post.)
    Praying before the Blessed Sacrament
    Pontifical vesting

    The Collects

    The Epistle
    The Gospel
    The assistant priest incenses the bishop after the Gospel.
    The sermon.
    Incensation at the Offertory

    Elevation of the Host...
    ...and chalice.
    The peace

    Pontifical Blessing

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    No matter how many trips he makes, Nicola will never run out of pictures to share of Italy’s cultural and artistic patrimony. Here are some photos taken in the little town of Gravedona (population 2,752; accent on the o), on the west side of the upper part of the Lake of Como, which has four interesting churches, of which we will show two today and two tomorrow.

    Gravedona seen from the ferry. The church on the left with the polygonal apse is called San Vincenzo, a paleo-Christian church rebuilt in the 11th century; the taller one on the right is the 12th-century church of Santa Maria del Tiglio. The site was perhaps that of an ancient Roman temple, since both churches incorporate a fair amount of ancient material.
    A original Christian structure on the site of Santa Maria del Tiglio was the baptistery of San Vincenzo; much of the material from the baptistery was incorporated into the new church in the 12th century. The new structure is a Greek cross, with apses on three sides; the position of the bell-tower over the façade is unique in Lombard architecture, but the tower itself is very typical of the Italian Romanesque, with windows getting larger as they ascend.
    Looking back across the lake.
     A Crucifix of the 12th century.
    A fresco of the Last Judgment on the counterfaçade, 14th century.
     The left apse of the church, with some fragments of fresco.
     St Nicholas in front of the Madonna and Child, 15th century.

     Fragments of the 5th century pavement of the original baptistery.

    The church of Ss Gusmeo and Matteo, situated in park above the town, was originally a Romanesque building of the mid-13th century, but was radically restructured and its orientation reversed in 1533. The titular Saints are said to have been members of the Theban Legion, who fled from the massacre of their companions to the area of Gravedona, where they were captured, and then beheaded and buried on this site. The bell-tower was added in the 17th century, in a style that respects the original structure.

    Evidence of the 16th-century restructuring of the church can be see on the right, where part of it was rebuilt.

    The altar with the relics of the Saints.
    Chapel of the Madonna of the Rosary

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    Our readers will surely be familiar with the writings of Dr Anthony Esolen, who teaches at Thomas More College in New Hampshire, from a variety of Catholic publications. Every time I mention the topic of Biblical translations and how awful they are, I link this article of his from 2011, in which he explains the underlying principles of Nabbish, the language in which the North American Bible is written. “If the reader wants to learn Nabbish ... he may ask himself, ‘What are the things that make poetry lovely or memorable?’ and eliminate them.”

    In an article published two days ago at Crisis, “Novus Quodlibet: The New Whatever Liturgy”, he tackles, with his usual wit, the problem of the hymns, or rather, one of the problems with the hymns.

    “If you go to Mass every Sunday and every holy day during the year, and if four hymns are sung at each Mass, this gives you the opportunity to sing over two hundred different hymns. Need I say that, outside of the Christmas carols and three or four old Easter hymns, the typical Novus Quodlibet church boasts a repertoire of eight or nine? The same, the same, the same, like the drip, drip, drip of cold rain, without meaning, without artistic coherence, and without any feint toward the whole of the liturgical year and the history of salvation. (my emphasis)
    h/t Kathy Pluth
    Many of them are narcissistic, rather like ‘I Feel Pretty’ from West Side Story. ‘Let us build the City of God,’ really? I cannot build the City of God. I can be made, by God, into a stone for the building of that spiritual city, but the action is his, not mine. ‘We have been sung throughout all of history’? I haven’t been sung even once in my whole life, and if I ever were to be, I would surely want to slug the singer. ‘Here I am, Lord, is it I, Lord?’ Why, who ever would have thought!

    But as the music, so the rest.”

    Further down, he writes, “I am not suggesting that laymen should become liturgists. Was that not one of the plagues of Egypt? Most people are not great artists, or even good artists. The work is already given, and the task of the priest, who alone should determine what the ancillary people are doing or not doing, is to conform the praying of the Mass, in word, gesture, and spirit, to that work.”

    How then, to make the liturgy back into something which forms the Christian faithful, clergy and laity, and not something which they are compelled to form, whether they will so or not?

    First, it has to be recognized, and at a some point, offically acknowledged, that the nearly universal substitution of Gregorian chants by hymns is a betrayal of what Vatican II wanted. The Council wrote “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” That does not mean “other things being equal, except they never are...” The long-term goal of liturgical reform must always be a recognition that hymns are a non-traditional and inferior substitute for Mass chants.

    Second, there needs to be a general bonfire of the vanities, the inanities, and the vacuities that currently dominate this particular musical form. As Dr Esolen says, “No need here to bring up, like ill-digested onions, the specifics.” Suffice it to say that based on the current repertoire in general use in English, a future blacklist of prohibited hymns will be very lengthy indeed.

    Third and most important, each language needs a fixed repertoire of hymns that corresponds to the calendar of feasts and the liturgical year, and the use of that repertoire and no other must be mandatory when chants are not sung. The rubric in the book needs to specify, e.g. “On the First Sunday of Advent, if you do not sing the Gregorian Introit Ad te levavi, this is the only hymn which is allowed to replace it in English. On the feast of All Saints, if you do not sing the Gregorian Intoit Gaudeamus omnes, this is the only hymn which is allowed to replace it in French.” Etc.

    I do not propose that such a project can realistically be done right now, nor do I propose that when circumstances more favorable to a general reform come about, the project should be done all at once. It would be grossly unjust to fob off on ordinary Catholics in the pews yet another liturgical revolution for which they are unprepared and which they do not want. The only thing that would be more unjust would be to leave them to go on singing, or more likely not singing, the terrible music which dominates in so many of our churches today.

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    At the invitation of Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B., I gave a lecture at Silverstream Priory in Ireland on Friday, July 13, to the gathered community and some friends of the monastery. The monks have made the audio available at their SoundCloud page, with the following description:
    In this talk, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski explores the meaning of Tradition as understood by Catholics from the time of the Church Fathers onwards. Having explained how the notion of tradition is complex, Kwasniewski argues that all of tradition is important to Catholics, because by it the fullness of the Faith is transmitted to us. The liturgy is a primary example. Making too sharp a distinction between what is of the substance of liturgy and what is accidental to it, or what is essential and what is incidental, betrays a reductive, minimalist, and rationalistic viewpoint that is hostile to Catholic identity and worship. The traditional Roman liturgy is a composite reality that speaks to man at every level and draws him powerfully into the sacred mysteries. It is proving to be a major element of the New Evangelization for young adults who are exposed to it.

    A couple of excerpts:
    Although ecclesiastical traditions develop and change, the consistent practice of the Catholic Church over the centuries—it would, in fact, be no exaggeration to call it a rule or a principle—has been to carry along with her whatever is already part of her life, and the more so, the more universally it permeates the body of the faithful. Two corollaries follow. First, the longer the tradition, the more certain it is to be true, fitting, and beneficial. Second, new practices are to be admitted only when they refine, crystallize, amplify, or otherwise enhance traditions already in place.
    Acknowledging with Hervé that there are different kinds of tradition in the Church and that not all enjoy the same immutability or authority, we should nevertheless value the whole of our tradition, because all of its elements constitute the beautiful and subtle tapestry of the Faith. It is therefore not only misleading but dangerous to make too sharp a distinction between what is “essential” or “primary,” and what is “accidental” or “secondary.”
             For example, one hears it said: “All that matters at Mass is that Jesus is present; everything else is secondary.” Undoubtedly it matters a great deal that Jesus is present, for otherwise we are eating no more than ordinary food. But the liturgy has a greater purpose than putting on a meal for us, and even Jesus’ presence has a greater scope and purpose than sacramental communion. The Mass is the solemn, public, formal act of adoration, thanksgiving, and supplication offered by Christ the High Priest to the Father, and by His entire Mystical Body in union with Him. It is the foremost act of the virtue of religion, by which we offer to God a sacrifice of praise worthy of His glory. It is the chief expression of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. It is the inbreaking of the kingdom of heaven into our earthly time and space. It is the nuptial feast of the King of Kings. It is the recapitulation of the entire created universe in its Alpha and Omega.
             Because it is all this and still more, the Church down through the ages has spared no effort and no expense to augment the beauty and elevate the solemnity of her liturgical rites. As Pope John Paul II said in his final encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia: “Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no ‘extravagance,’ devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist.” So while it may be true that the only things necessary for a valid Mass in the Roman Rite are unleavened bread and wine of grapes, a priest, and the words of consecration, to see this as sufficient would betray a reductive, minimalist, and parsimonious view of things. Glorifying God and sanctifying our souls are deeply and intrinsically bound up with the fittingness of the worship we offer Him.
    Listen to the audio here.

    Monks praying the Office at Silverstream

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    On Thursday, July 26, the St Ann Choir will sing the Missa de Sancta Ana by Pierre de La Rue, along with the chant propers, for the feast of their Patron Saint. Fr Francisco Nahoe, OFM Conv., will celebrate the Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 8 pm at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, located at 751 Waverly Street, in Palo Alto, California.