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Bish. Schneider Celebrates Pontifical Mass in Pennsylvania

This past Sunday, His Excellency Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan, celebrated a solemn Pontifical Mass at the very full church of St Joseph in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Allison Girone was there, working together with her daughter-in-law Alyssa to take these beautiful photos, and we thank them for sharing them with us. (The full album of about 600 photos can be seen here.) Two of our other frequent collaborators were also present, James Griffin of the Durandus Institute, who served as the subdeacon, and photographer Arrys Ortañez (just attending this time.) As always, it is extremely encouraging to see how young most of the people are who putting in the hard work of preserving and promoting our Catholic liturgical tradition. Meet the guardians of the tradition!

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Posted Friday, October 15, 2021 Comments (1)
Labels: Allison Girone, Arrys Ortanez, Bishop Schneider, James Griffin, Pontifical High Mass

The Final Conflict and the Orations of the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost
Michael P. Foley

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, by Claude Vignon, 1629

The Sundays near the end of the traditional liturgical year are increasingly concerned with the Last Judgment and the end of time, and increasingly alarmed. Whereas the previous Sunday had a somewhat joyful tone, the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost is more somber. In the background, from the Divine Office during the month of October, is “the astonishing annals of the heroic warriors, the Machabees,” writes Fr. Pius Parsch. “Their deeds, as it were, illustrate the Epistle of the 21st Sunday, which describes the armor needed in the spiritual conflict.” (The Church’s Year of Grace, vol. 5, p. 65; Liturgical Press, 1958) In the foreground of the Mass is an array of different biblical texts involving some kind of conflict between two parties:
The Introit is from the Book of Esther, when Mordecai and Esther plead with God to save the Jews from a new Babylonian law decreeing their extermination;
The Alleluia, from Psalm 113, pits the Jews against the “barbarous” Egyptians—apparently, there is more to being civilized than impressive architecture, political stability, and mummification;
The Epistle, from Ephesians 6, describes the Christian spiritual warrior and the armor that he needs to defeat the demons, who are especially active during the final days;
The Gospel, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18, 23-35), presents Christ the King as the Judge who will not forgive those who do not forgive others;
The Offertory Verse presents the miserable figure of Job who is beset with misfortune at the hands of Satan;
The Communion Verse, from Psalm 118, turns the fear of judgment, which is evident in the Gospel, into an appeal for judgment against our enemies. A sharp distinction is drawn between wicked persecutors and innocent victims.
The orations for this Sunday shed further light on the conflict that we must win in order to be judged well. The Collect is:
Familiam tuam, quáesumus, Dómine, contínua pietáte custódi: ut a cunctis adversitátibus, te protegente, sit líbera; et in bonis áctibus tuo nómini sit devóta. Per Dóminum nostrum.
Which I translate as:
Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy household in continual piety; that, with You protecting it, it may be free from all adversities and devoted to the glory of Thy name through good works. Through our Lord.
Pietas, as we have seen elsewhere, can be a difficult word to translate, since it means two different things depending on whether it is used to describe God or man, and it is not entirely clear in this Collect which one it is. I have translated continua pietate as “in [man’s] continual piety” (one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit), but the phrase can also be an ablative of means and thus refer to God’s continual mercy. If it is the latter, the meaning of the petition is, “Guard Thy household with Thy continual lovingkindness.”
The second half of the Collect includes a double petition: to be free from all adversities and to be devoted to good works. The former asks for the bad to be removed, the latter for the good to be added. And the good is devotion to the glory of God’s Holy Name. Glory is what is bestowed on those who have emerged victorious in a conflict. It is God who wins the battle for us; we only ask to participate in the spoils of victory and to have the grace to do our share in the fighting.
The Secret presents a peculiar challenge:
Súscipe, Dómine, propitius hostias: quibus et te placári voluisti, et nobis salútem potenti pietáte restítui. Per Dóminum nostrum.
Which I translate as:
Graciously receive, O Lord, these offerings, by which Thou hast also willed to be appeased: and restore salvation to us through Thy powerful lovingkindness. Through our Lord.
Hostias (“offerings”) refers to sacrificial victims in the plural. But is there not one Victim, offered on the Cross? The reference is to, no doubt, the double offering of Christ’s Body and Blood, which is about to happen. It is through the Sacrifice of the Cross, offered through the different species of bread and wine, that God’s will is appeased, placated. And the petition is bold: to have salvation restored through God’s powerful lovingkindness (pietas). Piety shifts from the loyalty of man to the mercy of God. And the sacrifice of the Eucharist restores our salvation, marred and compromised by sins committed after our cleansing in Baptism.
Finally, the Postcommunion prayer is:
Immortalitátis alimoniam consecúti, quáesumus, Dómine: ut, quod ore percépimus, pura mente sectémur. Per Dóminum.
Which I translate as:
Having snatched up the food of immortality, O Lord: we beseech Thee, that what we have received with our mouth, we may follow with a pure mind. Through our Lord.
“Food of immortality” is a common reference to the Eucharist in the Postcommunion prayers, but in context here (with Doomsday looming nigh), it has the sense of the viaticum, the food that was given to a Roman soldier for his hard campaign and the eternal food that is given to a dying Catholic (his last Holy Communion) before he passes to the next world. We pray fervently, as we enter into the final struggle, for the grace to act with a pure, internal mind the rituals which we perform externally, such as receiving Holy Communion on our tongues. We have been Catholic for so long, going through the motions and doing all the requisite deeds: when will we be Catholics in heart and soul?

Posted Friday, October 15, 2021 Comment
Labels: judgment, Lost in Translation series, Michael Foley, piety
Thursday, October 14, 2021

“Fearless Heralds of the Truth” - The Order of a Synod in the Traditional Pontifical, Third Day
Gregory DiPippo
This is the final part of the order of a synod according to the 1595 Pontifical of Pope Clement VIII; here are the links to part 1 and part 2. We are posting this series for the Synod on Synodality; let us pray that the bishops of the current assembly may indeed be “fearless heralds of the truth.”
The third day of the synod begins as the first two. After Mass, a faldstool is placed before the altar, and the bishop, in cope and precious miter, accompanied by deacon and subdeacon, kneels before the altar, and intones the same antiphon as on the first day: “Exáudi nos, Dómine, quoniam benigna est misericordia tua: secundum multitúdinem miseratiónum tuárum réspice nos, Domine. – Hear us, o Lord, for kindly is Thy mercy; according to the multitude of Thy mercies look upon us, o Lord.” The choir continues the antiphon, followed by the whole of Psalm 68, “Save me o God, for the waters have entered unto my soul”, during which the bishop sits until the psalm is finished and the antiphon repeated.

The bishop then turns to the altar and says:

Let us pray. Crying out to Thee, o Lord, with the cry of our heart, we ask as one, that, strengthened by the regard of Thy grace, we may become fearless heralds of the truth, and be able to speak Thy word with all confidence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ etc.
All answer “Amen”, and the bishop adds a second prayer.

Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, who in the sacred prophecy of Thy word, did promise that where two or three would gather in Thy name, Thou wouldst be in their midst, in Thy mercy be present in our assembly, and enlighten our hearts, that we may in no way wander from the good of Thy mercy, but rather hold to the righteous path of Thy justice in all matters. Through our Lord Jesus Christ etc.
The bishop now sings, “Oremus”, the deacon “Flectamus genua”, and the subdeacon, after a pause, “Levate”, after which the bishop sings this prayer.

O God, who take heed to Thy people with forgiveness, and rule over them with love, grant the spirit of wisdom to those to whom Thou hast given to rule over discipline; that the shepherds may take eternal joy from the good progress of holy sheep. Through our Lord Jesus Christ etc.
The deacon then sings the following Gospel, Matthew 18, 15-22, with the normal ceremonies of a Pontifical Mass.

At that time: Jesus said to His disciples: If thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by My Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter unto Him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.

The First Vatican Council
As on the previous two days, the bishop now kneels to intone the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, which is continued by the choir, after which he sits at a chair which is set up facing the assembly, and addresses it. A brief model for his address is given, accompanied by a rubric that he himself, or a “learned and suitable man” appointed by him to this task, may address the synod with words more appropriate to the circumstances for which it was called.

Venerable and most beloved brethren, it is fitting that all things which have not been done properly, or as fully as they ought, in regard to the duties of ecclesiastics, and the priestly ministries, and canonical sanctions, because of various distractions, or (which we cannot deny) our own and others’ idleness, should be sought out by the unanimous consent and will of us all, and humbly recited before your charity; and thus, whatever is in need of correction may be brought to a better estate by the help of the Lord. And if anyone be displeased by what is said, let him not hesitate to bring the matter before your charity with kindliness and gentility, so that all which is established or renewed by this our assembly, may be kept and held in the harmony of holy peace by all together, without contradiction, to the increase of all our eternal blessedness.
There are then read out the constitutions put forth for the approval of the synod (presumably those which were voted upon the previous day), which are confirmed by those assembled. The bishop sits, and commends himself to the prayers of all present; the names of all those who are supposed to be present are read out, and each answers “Adsum – Present.” Notice is taken of those who are not present, so that they may be fined by the bishop.

In the Pontifical, there follows an immensely long model sermon, over 1000 words in Latin, in which the bishop reminds the priests of their many duties, both spiritual (“Receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with all reverence and fear.”) and temporal (“Let your churches be well decorated and clean.”) The bishop then says another prayer.

O Lord, the human conscience hath not such strength that it can endure the judgments of Thy will without offense; and therefore, because Thy eyes see our imperfection, deem as perfect that which we desire to conclude, merciful God, with the end of perfect justice. We have asked for Thee to come to us in the beginning, we hope in this end to have Thee forgive what we have judged wrongly; to wit, that Thou spare our ignorance, forgive our error, and grant, though the prayers now completed, perfect efficacy to the work. And since we grow faint from the sting of conscience, lest ignorance draw us into error, or hasty willfulness steer justice wrong, we ask this, we beseech Thee, that if we have brought upon ourselves any offense in the celebration of this synod, that we may know we are forgiven by Thy mercy. And since we are about to dismiss this synod, let us be first released from every bond of our sins, as forgiveness followeth transgressors, and eternal rewards follow those that confess Thee. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The bishop gives the Pontifical blessing and proclaims an indulgence. The archdeacon then sings “Let us depart in peace”, and all answer “In the name of Christ.” All rise and accompany the bishop back to his residence.

St Charles Celebrating a Provincial Synod, by Gian Battista della Rovere, known as “il Fiamminghino.”

Posted Thursday, October 14, 2021 Comment
Labels: Pontifical ceremonies, Synods

The Liturgical Movement Between Two Centuries: Live Discussion Tomorrow
Gregory DiPippo
In his allocution to the Assisi Liturgical Congress in 1956, Pope Pius XII said, among other things, “The liturgical movement is thus shown forth as a sign of the providential dispositions of God for the present time, of the movement of the Holy Ghost in the Church, to draw men more closely to the mysteries of the faith and the riches of grace which flow from the active participation of the faithful in the liturgical life.”
But how we should evaluate the liturgical movement today? Tomorrow, beginning at 9pm Eastern time, musician and author Aurelio Porfiri will host a discussion of this topic with Fr Thomas Kocik, author of “Singing His Song: A Short Introduction to the Liturgical Movement”, Fr James Jackson FSSP, author of “Nothing Superfluous: An Explanation of the Symbolism of the Rite of St Gregory the Great”, Fr Paul Gunter OSB, professor at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome, and Chris Carstens, editor of Adoremus. The program will be streamed on various social media channels, including the YouTube channel RITORNO A ITACA (youtube.com/channel/UCshUvo1HKOZwS_d1nF8YmvQ), Maestro Porfiri’s Facebook page (facebook.com/login/) and Twitter account (twitter.com/aurelioporfiri).

Posted Thursday, October 14, 2021 Comment
Labels: Aurelio Porfiri, liturgical movement
Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Divine Worship Mass for St John Henry Newman in Philadelphia
Gregory DiPippo
On Thursday, October 7, the Durandus Institute for Sacred Liturgy and Music assisted the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter in organizing a Pontifical Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, celebrated according to the Divine Worship Missal in honor of St John Henry Newman. The Mass was offered by Bishop Steven Lopes, presiding from the faldstool in the presence of the Most Rev. Nelson Pérez, Archbishop of Philadelphia, who attended in-choir on the throne, and preached the homily. The Philadelphia Oratorians brought a relic of St John Henry, which was placed upon the altar for this Mass. This event was the beginning of a triduum of celebrations in honor of the great cardinal, continuing in Washington DC on October 8 with choral Evensong in the presence of Bishop Lopes at Saint Luke’s Ordinariate Church, and concluding on the feast itself, October 9, with a pontifical Mass and Te Deum, also at Saint Luke’s.

Fr Armando Alejandro, Jr. (who celebrated the recent Divine Worship Mass in New York City) served as deacon, and Josue Vásquez-Weber, Chancellor of the Ordinariate, as subdeacon. Seminarians of St Charles Borromeo Seminary and the Philadelphia Oratory served as ensign-bearers, while clergy of the Ordinariate acted as chaplains to Abp Pérez at the throne. James Griffin, director of the Durandus Institute, served as Master of Ceremonies. A number of distinguished guests joined in choir, including Fr Roman Pitula, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Philadelphia, Fr Robert Pasley, rector of Mater Ecclesiae Chapel and Chaplain of the Church Music Association of America, and priests of the Philadelphia Oratory.

The choir of St John the Baptist Ordinariate Church in Bridgeport, together with associate choristers of the Durandus Institute, sang Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices, Purcell’s “O God, thou art my God” at the offertory, and a gradual psalm in Anglican chant, under the direction of visiting conductor Dr Kevin Clarke (director of music at St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas). The choir of St Charles Seminary, under the direction of Dr Nathan Knutson, attended in the chancel stalls and assisted with the singing of the Proper chants from the Graduale Romanum, as well as Heinrich Isaac’s “O food to pilgrims given” at Communion.

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Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2021 Comments (3)
Labels: Anglican Ordinariates, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Divine Worship, Durandus Institute for Sacred Liturgy and Music, James Griffin, Philadelphia

The Order of a Synod in the Traditional Pontifical - Second Day
Gregory DiPippo
For the current Synod on Synodality, we are sharing the traditional order for holding a synod according to the 1595 Pontifical of Clement VIII, both as a matter of general interest, and as something which will perhaps serve to inspire prayers for the good outcome of the current assembly. It is divided into three days, and seems to presume that much of the Synod’s business will be determined by the bishop and his assistants beforehand. The rubrics are given here in summary, omitting several of the less pertinent details, such as the places where the bishop removes his miter etc.
The second day of the synod begins with the same ceremony as the first, although it is not specifically stated in the rubrics that the Mass of the day is to be the Mass of the Holy Spirit. When this is over, a faldstool is placed before the altar, and the bishop, in red cope and precious miter, accompanied by deacon and subdeacon also in red, kneels before the altar, and intones the following antiphon. “Propitius esto * peccátis nostris, Dómine, propter nomen tuum: nequando dicant gentes: Ubi est Deus eórum? – Forgive us our sins, o Lord, for Thy name’s sake: lest ever the gentiles should say: Where is their God?” The choir continues the antiphon, followed by the whole of Psalm 78, “O God, the heathen are come into Thy inheritance”, during which the bishop sits until the psalm is finished and the antiphon repeated. (These are different from the psalm and antiphon said the day before.)

The bishop then turns to the altar and says:

Bending the knee of our hearts before Thee, o Lord, we ask that we may accomplish the good which Thou seekest of us; namely, that we may walk with Thee, ready in solicitude, and do judgment with most careful discretion; and with love of mercy, shine forth in our zeal for all that pleaseth Thee. Through Christ our Lord.
All answer “Amen”, and the bishop adds a second prayer.

Let us pray. Kindly pour forth upon our minds, we beseech Thee, o Lord, the Holy Spirit; so that we, gathered in Thy name, may in all things hold to justice, ruled by piety, in such wise that here our will agree with Thee entirely; and ever pondering on reasonable things, we may accomplish what is pleasing to Thee in word and deed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ etc.
This prayer is a cento of the first collect of the Ember Saturday of Pentecost, the first prayer of the preceding day of the synod, and the collect of the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany.

The previous day the Litany of the Saints was said at this point; it is not repeated today. The bishop now sings, “Oremus”, the deacon “Flectamus genua”, and the subdeacon, after a pause, “Levate”, after which the bishop sings this prayer.

O God, who command that we speak justice, and judge what it right; grant that no iniquity be found in our mouth, no wickedness in our mind; so that purer speech may agree with pure heart, justice be shown in our work, no guile appear in our speech, and truth come forth from our heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ etc.
The deacon then sings the following Gospel, Luke 10, 1-9, the common Gospel of Evangelists (and some Confessors), with the normal ceremonies of a Pontifical Mass.

At that time: The Lord appointed also other seventy-two: and He sent them two and two before His face into every city and place whither He himself was to come. And He said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send laborers into his harvest. Go: Behold I send you as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way. Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And in the same house, remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house. And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them: The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
As on the previous day, the bishop kneels to intone the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, which is continued by the choir, after which he sits at a chair which is set up facing the assembly, and addresses it. At the corresponding point the previous day, a brief model for his address is given; the rubric of this days specifies that he speaks “his verbis – with these words,” but also says that he may omit them.

My venerable and most beloved brethren, just as we reminded your kindness and gentility yesterday, concerning the divine offices, and the sacred grades of (service at) the altar, or even (our own) mores and the needs of the Church, it is necessary that the charity of all of you, whensoever it knoweth of any matter in need of correction, hesitate not to bring forth in our midst such matters for emendation or renewal; that by the zeal of your charity, and the gift of the Lord, all such matters may come to the best, to the praise and glory of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A photograph of an archdiocesan synod held in the Duomo of Milan during the episcopate of the Bl. Andrea Card. Ferrari, archbishop of Milan from 1894-1921. The cardinal is preaching from one of the two large pulpits on either side of the entrance to the main choir. At the lower left is seen the “scurolo”, the chapel in the crypt where the relics of St Charles are kept over the altar. This was formerly open in such wise that one could look down into it from the floor of the Duomo; it was, more unfortunately closed for the construction of the post-Conciliar versus populum altar. – In the post-Tridentine period, although the church of Milan maintained the use of the Ambrosian liturgy, it adopted the Roman Pontifical, and would therefore have followed the rite given above for the celebration of a synod.
As on the previous day, before or after the bishop’s address, a “learned and suitable man” delivers a sermon “on ecclesiastical discipline” and other matters “as the bishop may determine”. The archdeacon then reads any Apostolic Constitutions which may not have been promulgated hitherto in that place, and other such documents, as the bishop may decide. There are then read out the constitutions put forth for the approval of the synod, which are then voted upon. (One must assume that in accordance with local traditions, various other matters may also be dealt with.) The bishop then gives the Pontifical blessing, and all depart.

Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2021 Comment
Labels: Milan, Pontifical ceremonies, Synods

“Return to Beauty”: Catholic Art Institute Conference in Chicago, October 24
Gregory DiPippo
On Sunday, October 24th, the Catholic Art Institute, a Chicago-based community of artists, will host a major conference bringing together leading artists and scholars to rediscover the power of Beauty in the modern world.

The conference, entitled “Return to Beauty,” will feature Sohrab Ahmari, columnist for many publications including the New York Post and The Catholic Herald, and author of several books including The New Philistines and The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos. His presentation will be titled “Liminality, Communitas, and Beauty” in reference to cultural anthropologist Victor Turner’s defense of the Tridentine Mass.
Also presenting is renowned art historian, author, and Vatican tour guide Elizabeth Lev, whose recent books include the acclaimed How Catholic Art Saved the Faith. Her presentation, “Returning to Wonder – Lessons from the Giants of Italian Art,” will discuss why Christians initially became involved with art, and how they employed human creativity to underscore key Christian beliefs.
Filmmaker and podcaster Cameron O’Hearn, whose visionary work Mass of the Ages has garnered over a half-million views on YouTube, will also present. His talk, “Beauty Will Save the World”, will discuss how art changed the course of his life, and how artists can change the world by reminding us of our purpose.
This ground-breaking event opens with a Solemn High Mass featuring Renaissance choral music in the baroque splendor of Chicago’s historic St John Cantius Church, a parish well known for bringing beauty into Christian worship.
Conference presentations will take place at the The Drake Hotel, accompanied by a sumptuous lunch buffet, a four-course dinner banquet, culminating in a panel discussion with the speakers, moderated by art critic for The Federalist, William Newton.
“Beauty has been denigrated in today’s culture as a result of the prevalent utilitarian ideology. This unfortunately relegates those with artistic gifts to the periphery or worse, and tells them their gifts are useless,” says organizer and CAI President Kathleen Carr, who is also an award- winning fine artist. “This conference will shine a light on the necessity of Beauty in the modern world and offer an opportunity for fellowship, networking and a path to restoration.”
Everyone is welcome to attend: for tickets and details, please visit catholicartinstitute.org/conference2021
Inquires or requests for interviews can be directed to kcarr@catholicartinstitute.org

Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2021 Comments (1)
Labels: beauty, Catholic Art Institute
Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Order of a Synod in the Traditional Pontifical - First Day
Gregory DiPippo
Since we are now in the first days of the Synod on Synodality (a title which, incredibly enough, does not come from The Babylon Bee), our readers might find interesting the traditional order for holding a synod, according to the 1595 Pontifical of Clement VIII. The attentive will have no trouble finding inspiration here for their own prayers for the good outcome of the current assembly. It is divided into three days, and seems to presume that much of the synod’s business will be determined by the bishop and his assistants beforehand. The rubrics are given here in summary, omitting several of the less pertinent details, such as the places where the bishop removes his miter etc.
On the first day, the bishop who has called the synod processes to the church, accompanied by the clergy who are called to the synod “by right or custom”, all in choir dress, and celebrates a Mass of the Holy Spirit. When this is over, a faldstool is placed before the altar in the middle, and the bishop, in red cope and precious miter, accompanied by deacon and subdeacon also in red, kneels before the altar, and intones the following antiphon. “Exáudi nos, * Dómine, quoniam benigna est misericordia tua: secundum multitúdinem miseratiónum tuárum réspice nos, Dómine. – Hear us, o Lord, for kindly is Thy mercy; according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies look upon us, o Lord.” The choir continues the antiphon, followed by the whole of Psalm 68, “Save me o God, for the waters have entered unto my soul”, during which the bishop sits until the psalm is finished and the antiphon repeated.

The bishop then turns to the altar and says:

We are here, o Lord, Holy Spirit, we are here, hindered by the enormity of sin, but gathered especially in Thy name; come to us, be here with us, deign to come down upon our hearts. Teach us what we ought to do; show us, where we ought to go; work Thou what we ought to accomplish. Be thou alone the one who prompts and effect our judgments, who alone with God the Father and His Son possess the name of glory. Permit us not to be disturbers of justice, Thou who love righteousness most mightily; that the evil of ignorance may not lead us, that favor may not sway us, that the receiving of gift or person may not corrupt us. But unite us to Thee effectually by the gift of Thy grace alone, that we may be one in Thee, and in no way depart from the truth. And thus, gathered in Thy name, in all things we may hold to justice, ruled by piety, in such wise that in this life our decree agree with Thee entirely, and in the future life, we may obtain eternal rewards, for the sake of what we have done well.
All answer “Amen”, and the bishop adds a second prayer.

Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy mercy hast safely gathered us especially in this place, may the Comforter, who procedeth from Thee, enlighten our minds, we beseech Thee; and bring us unto all truth, as Thy Son did promise; and strengthen all in Thy faith and charity; so that, stirred up by this temporal synod, we may profit thereby to the increase of eternal happiness. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ etc.
The bishop then kneels at the faldstool, and all others present also kneel, as the cantors sing the Litany of the Saints. After the invocation, “That Thou may deign to grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed”, the bishop rises, takes his crook in hand, and sings the following invocation; at the place marked, he makes the sign of the Cross over those gathered for the synod . “That Thou may deign to visit, order and + bless this present synod. R. We ask Thee, hear us.” The cantors finish the Litany.

All rise, and the bishop sings, “Oremus”, the deacon “Flectamus genua”, and the subdeacon, after a pause, “Levate”, after which the bishop sings this prayer.

Grant to Thy Church, we beseech Thee, o merciful God, that gathered in the Holy Spirit, She may merit to serve Thee in sure devotion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ etc.

A session of the Council of Trent in the Cathedral of St Vigilius. (Image from Italian wikipedia)
The deacon then sings the following Gospel, (that of the Thursday within the Octave of Pentecost, Luke 9, 1-6,) with the normal ceremonies of a Pontifical Mass.

At that time: Calling together the twelve Apostles, Jesus gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And He said to them: Take nothing for your journey; neither staff, nor scrip, nor bread, nor money; neither have two coats. And whatsoever house you shall enter into, abide there, and depart not from thence. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off even the dust of your feet, for a testimony against them. And going out, they went about through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.
The bishop kneels to intone the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, which is continued by the choir. He then sits at a chair which is set up facing the assembly, and addresses it. A brief model for his address is given, but the rubric specifies that he speaks “in hanc sententiam - along these lines.” (In many rites, such as ordinations, sermons of this kind are part of the rite, and must be read exactly as they given in the Pontifical.)

My venerable fellow priests and dearest brethren, having first prayed to God, it is necessary that each one of you take up the matters upon which we must confer, whether they concern the divine offices, or sacred orders, or even our own mores and the needs of the Church, with charity and kindliness, and accept them, by the help of God, with supreme reverence, and all his might; and that each one may faithfully strive with all devotion to amend the things that need amendment. And if perchance what is said or done displease anyone, without any scruple of contentiousness, let him bring it forth before all; that by the Lord’s mediation, such matter may also come to the best result. And in this way, let strife or discord find no place to undermine justice, nor again the strength and solicitude of our order (i.e. the clerical order) grow lukewarm in seeking the truth.
Before or after this address, a “learned and suitable man” delivers a sermon “on ecclesiastical discipline, on the divine mysteries, on the correction of morals among the clergy”, as determined by the bishop. Complaints may then be heard (“querelae, si quae sunt, audiuntur”), presumably in accord with the matters the synod has been called to address.

The archdeacon then reads several decrees of the Council of Trent on disciplinary matters pertaining to synods, and the Profession of Faith known as the Creed of Pope Pius IV. Finally, all are “charitably admonished that during the synod, they conduct themselves honestly in all regards, even outside the synod itself, so that their behavior may worthy serve to others as an example. The bishop gives the Pontifical blessing, and all depart.

Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2021 Comment
Labels: Pontifical ceremonies, Synods

Bishop Schneider Discusses His New Book on the Mass
David Clayton
Here is an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider on the reasons for the crisis in the Church today. The interviewer is Steve Bannon, and it was presented as part of his War Room Pandemic podcast, which is politically conservative, but not by any means all Catholic. He asks a number of open questions and for the most part, gives Bishop Schneider center stage for 20 minutes.
The interview is posted in video on Rumble, and so I can’t embed it on this platform. The link is here.
rumble.com/…e-deepest-crisis-of-the-catholic-church-today.html
His Excellency speaks of the changes in the Mass and the crisis in the Church today. Interestingly, he calls the 1965 Mass the “Mass of Vatican II”, which, he says, was substantially the same as the centuries-old traditional Mass, with some use of the vernacular, and is an organic development.
He then goes on to describe the Novus Ordo as a “revolutionary order of Mass that goes against the nature of the Church.” He speaks of Pope Francis’ recent motu proprio restricting the celebration of the TLM as being reflective of a man-centered and materialistic ideology, rather than a God-centered religion that offers us eternal life. It is more in line with the protestant understanding of liturgy, that is, primarily as a meal, and more informal. “Christ did not save us through the Last Supper,” he says, “but through the sacrifice on the Cross and his Resurrection.” He also says that the motu proprio has had the effect of increasing curiosity about the TLM amongst young people. This is evidence, says Bishop Schneider, that not even a Pope can overcome the Holy Spirit.
The show promoted the Bishop’s forthcoming book on what he calls the “unspeakable richness” of the the Holy Mass, called The Catholic Mass: Steps to Restore the Centrality of God in the Liturgy. The publisher is Sophia Institute Press, but you will have to be patient, since it is not due for release until January 2022.

Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2021 Comments (3)
Labels: 1965 Mass, Bishop Schneider, David Clayton
Monday, October 11, 2021

From Extemporaneity to Fixity of Form: The Grace of Liturgical Stability
Peter Kwasniewski

Catholics who love the traditional liturgical rites of the Church maintain that a fixity and stability of sacred formulas is essential both to the nature of liturgy as such and to the fruitful participation of the laity. But some liturgical scholars might object: Wasn't liturgy in the earliest centuries of the church extemporaneous and improvised? The answer is: yes — and no. Few things are as important as understanding how and why we moved from liturgy-in-flux to fixed and stable liturgy.

For starters, in their gatherings for worship, ancient Christians do not seem to have practiced “casual” or “informal” prayer in the way in which the relaxed Christians of today might practice it. All the records we have indicate set prayer forms not only among the Jews whose Scriptures are full of formulaic prayers but also among the earliest Christians, several of whose hymns are preserved in the New Testament and in Patristic literature. Gregory Dix, Adrian Fortescue, Paul Bradshaw, and other scholars note that the prayers of the Christians, offered up by their leaders in a spontaneous but tradition-informed manner, acquired consistent formulaic patterns over time and settled into repeatable rites and ceremonies. After a few centuries of ever-solidifying praxis, improvisation ceased to be a feature of the liturgy — and this, for obvious reasons.

Christianity is a religion with deeply conservative instincts: we are holding on to what has been given to us once for all in the revelation of Jesus Christ, the depositum fidei. A devout bishop who celebrated the Eucharist would arrive at satisfactory ways of speaking to which the people became habituated [1], and his successor, drawn from within his own clergy, would naturally wish to follow in his footsteps and model his liturgical prayer after that of his father in Christ. As Michael Davies observes, when a community had a holy bishop who was accustomed to praying in certain ways, his successor would have had every reason to imitate him, and the people every right to expect that continuity. Otherwise, how would the ancient sacramentaries, with their carefully-formulated orations, have ever developed?

The eloquent and polished prayers we find in the oldest extant liturgical books did not suddenly drop down from heaven; they are the faithful reflection of the actual practice of Catholic communities gathered around their God-fearing bishops. In this way it was normal, one could say inevitable, that fixed anaphoras, readings, collects, antiphons, etc., would develop and stabilize over time. Thus, it should come as no surprise to find, no later than the seventh century and possibly as early as the fifth, a complete cycle of propers for the Roman Rite. Gennadius of Massilia (5th cent.) says of St. Paulinus of Nola, “Fecit et sacramentarium et hymnarium – he made both a sacramentary and a hymnal” (De viris illustribus, XLVIII). There is an account in Gregory of Tours of a bishop who had everything memorized, and when the book was removed (maliciously) he was able to do everything by memory.

In short, improvisation has not been a characteristic of the liturgy for 1,500 years. The evidence we have points to the relatively rapid development of fixed forms.

It is, moreover, absurd to think that the Holy Spirit did not intend this state of affairs as a positive good, or that the Church erred in remaining a jealous guardian of the spelled-out content of liturgical books. It would be no less ridiculous to assert that the same Spirit, after having willed such a state of affairs for 1,500 years, would suddenly will its dissolution, dilution, or replacement. So much for improvisation—or optionitis, which might be called a soft version of improvisation. [2]

A key principle in liturgy is “the principle of stability.” The early Church was in a divinely-willed state of formation, and had wider and freer powers precisely because she was in an embryonic condition, growing rapidly and establishing her institutions under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. [3] The same Spirit guides her gently and gradually into set forms, which are the fairest flowers of those early developments. He prunes what is less worthy and nourishes what is more worthy. We should therefore expect, as time goes on, that the liturgy will become more and more solid, definite, fixed, and perfected. It will be handed down increasingly as a family inheritance, an approved profession of the Church’s one faith.

We see the same kind of development in the dogmatic debates of the early councils, with their ever more precise creeds that cut off all heretical depravity. We do not have the “freedom” to go back to the looseness and ambiguity of the early centuries, although modernists seem to wish they could do so. [4] Catholics have the immense blessing and privilege of carrying more refined and more precise formulas on our lips. Those who live after an Ecumenical Council — any of the councils except the last one, that is — are at a decisive advantage compared with those who lived before it, since they can now profess their faith in the Lord and confess His holy Name using a more perfect expression of the truth, and with less danger of lapsing into error about the highest, best, and most difficult things.

The development of the liturgy in this respect is much like the development of languages. Yes, a language such as French or German or English is ever developing, but it is much more the same than different from decade to decade and even, as time goes on, century to century. English as we write it today is much the same as that which was written 300 years ago; any literate person can pick up Samuel Johnson and read him without much difficulty (perhaps looking up a word here or there).

Yet a notable difference obtains between “hieratic” languages — those that, having attained a certain richness or fullness of development, were then taken over into religious practice as sacral tongues — and vernacular languages. The hieratic languages — e.g., Hebrew, ancient Greek, ecclesiastical Latin, Church Slavonic — are, as regards their use in divine worship, unchanging and unchangeable. They do not need to develop any more, since they are perfect at expressing what their respective liturgies need them to express. Only if revelation were to change would the language conveying it need to change. A hieratic language becomes an external sign of the internal stability, consistency, and timelessness of the religious truths conveyed through it. It does not deviate to the left or to the right in its unerring delivery of the message. Its linguistic completeness not only participates in divine attributes but helps bring about our participation in these attributes. In this way, a sacred language has a sacramental function.

A vernacular language, on the other hand, is intended to be the medium of daily discourse, the supple tool of life in the world, which is rife with change. The vernacular will never be done changing, reflecting the hustle and bustle of the people who use it. It is just this mutability and instability that explain why the religious instincts of all peoples have enshrined their highest forms of worship and doctrine in hieratic or classical languages. The vernacular is for this world of change, of Heracleitian flux; the hieratic is for the eternal world that always abides, like Parmenidean Being, and penetrates through the veil of this world in the form of dogma and doxology.

Think of the Eastern Christian liturgies, which are extremely conservative (at least where modern liturgists have not defaced them). The priest might add a personal intention during the litanies, but the fixed prayers are exactly that: fixed, finalized, admitting of no improvement. It would be a species of sacrilege to tamper with these glorious prayers. That, too, was the attitude of the Latin Church towards the pillars of the liturgy: the antiphons, the readings, the offertory, the Canon, the calendar, the use of certain psalms at certain times of the day or in certain seasons. We might augment, extrapolate, enhance, ornament, and even occasionally prune the dense growth, but in no sense did we throw off what earlier generations held to be sacred and great.

Hence, the essential response to the objection with which this essay opens — “Wasn't liturgy in the earliest centuries of the church extemporaneous and improvised?” — is at once simple and profound: we are not in the same position as the early Christians. They had the first contact with Christ’s life, death, and resurrection; they had the guidance of the Apostles and their immediate successors; they had to develop for themselves a liturgy out of Jewish precedents and apostolic oral tradition. It was a unique situation. Tollite vobiscum verba: “take with you words” (Ember Friday of September). The need to design or write a liturgy is, on the one hand, a sign of imperfection, because it belongs to a phase of institutional immaturity.

On the other hand, because of how central the liturgy is and will be for all future generations until the end of time, the writing of liturgy requires a special charism of the Holy Spirit — a profound spiritual maturity, discernment, and inspiration on the part of anyone who would dare to write liturgical texts or chants. It follows that already elaborated liturgical rites possess an inherent sanctity and nobility that will not and cannot be surpassed by later generations. [5] Since, as time went on, such rites had become more stable, refined, explicit, and expressive of their sacred content, Christians received them accordingly with reverence, as gifts handed down from their forebears. This process of development — which is at the same time a process of explicitation and solidification — must be held to be a work of the Holy Spirit, as Pope Pius XII reminded the Church in Mediator Dei. [6]

After 1,500 or 2,000 years of development, the situation is not and could never be the same for us as it was for the early Christians in the decades and centuries immediately after Christ. The reformers’ argument from antiquity is invalid from the word “go.” Nor has this argument the wherewithal to be taken seriously. Henry Sire demonstrates in Phoenix from the Ashes that the twentieth-century reformers invoked antiquity as an excuse for their modernist agenda, since as a matter of fact (1) they did not restore much that was ancient; (2) they abolished many things that were known to be ancient; (3) and they invented much that was utterly novel. How such people, whose motley work is clear for all to see, can expect us to credit their affected motives is quite beyond me.

The main argument of the postconciliar reformers, expressed in countless pamphlets and publications, boils down to this: “We are now celebrating the Mass as the early Christians did, and dropping away all the ‘accretions’ that accumulated like soot over time and obscured the original purity of worship.” But there are three devastating flaws to this argument.

1. We don’t really know what the early Christians did, and evidence from cultural history suggests that it was probably quite elaborate, rather than the contrary.

2. Many arguments based on antiquity have subsequently been shown to be false, such as the main argument in favor of Mass facing the people (St. Peter’s basilica).

3. Most importantly, Pius XII taught in Mediator Dei that we must believe that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit throughout the ages and that the developments that occur are part of God’s plan. So the development of “medieval liturgy” and “Baroque liturgy” are, if not in every detail, at least in the main, providential. To cast them away and try to return to a questionably reconstructed “primitive church model” is not only to exalt mere hypotheticals over real facts, it is an assertion that the Holy Spirit guides the Church less and less as time goes on, and that we must strip away what each age has added in order to return to the purity of the origins. This is liberal Protestantism, this is higher criticism, this is Modernism. All of it is condemned by the Church.

NOTES

[1] Funnily enough, we see this even today, among well-practiced Protestant preachers when they are offering public prayers, for which they have developed their own vocabulary and formulas. The result is not random but carefully channeled, almost predictable. I have seen the same thing in the Catholic Church. For example, in a certain diocese, almost every “spontaneous” prayer I have heard begins: “Good and gracious God…” I don’t know who originated this alliterative phrase, but it reproduces itself successfully in the wild.

[2] An objection might be raised: Are there not aspects of the old liturgy that are also up to the celebrant’s discretion? And should you not argue against them, as well? The truth is that the realm of choice in the old liturgy is extremely narrow, and is always a choice between fully articulated elements. In some commons, there is a choice between two epistles or Gospels. On a solemn day, a priest may choose to wear gold instead of a different liturgical color. He may choose to sing the most solemn Preface tone rather than the more solemn tone. If his missal has the Gallican prefaces, the rubrics allow him to use them on specified days. But notice how small a range of choice is allowed, and how its components are already fully spelled out — the priest invents nothing. There is no putative right to extemporize; and the most essential elements, such as the Canon, can never be altered. The holiest thing is beyond the realm of choice; it is a given. The Byzantine liturgy is the same: which of the anaphoras is to be used is dictated to the priest by the calendar, not left up to his pastoral discretion.

[3] One may consider what Charles Cardinal Journet said about the difference between the apostolic period and the succeeding ages, and apply it analogously to the early age of worship in contrast with later ages of worship.

[4] Pope Francis, for instance, preaches with such sloppiness that one would think none of the Ecumenical Councils had ever occurred, nor any of the Church Fathers had preached.

[5] John Henry Newman recognized this fact as well.

[6] To question, therefore, the inherited forms in the radical way they were questioned in the 1960s was nothing less than a sin against the Holy Spirit, the sin for which Our Lord says there is no forgiveness.

Posted Monday, October 11, 2021 Comments (20)
Labels: antiquarianism, improvisation, language, Latin, Liturgical Books, Mediator Dei, optionitis, Peter Kwasniewski, stability
Sunday, October 10, 2021

Durandus on the Offertory Super Flumina Babylonis
Gregory DiPippo
Upon the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, when we remembered thee, o Zion. (The Offertory chant of the 20th Sunday after Pentecost.)
The bodily captivity (of which the Offertory speaks) signifies our spiritual captivity; the return from captivity is the forgiveness of sins. ... Therefore, lest we return to a similar captivity, and be shut out of the wedding feast (in last week’s Gospel, Matthew 22, 1-14), Paul warns us in the Epistle, “See to it that ye walk with care, not as the unwise, but as the wise.” The Introit Omnia quae fecisti is the voice of Daniel remembering that past captivity, and ascribing it to the judgment of God; likewise, in the Offertory, we weep over that captivity, but in the Gradual Oculi omnium, we give thanks (for deliverance from it). - William Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum 6.137 in fine.

This text has also been used by some of finest composers of liturgical polyphony, including Palestrina,
Orlando de Lassus (an historical recording from 1961),
and Victoria, who was having a particularly good day when he wrote this.

Posted Sunday, October 10, 2021 Comments (1)
Labels: Offertory, Orlando de Lassus, Palestrina, polyphony, Victoria, William Durandus
Saturday, October 09, 2021

The Anniversary of the Death of Pope Pius XII
Gregory DiPippo
From the archives of British Pathé, a remarkable tribute to Pope Pius XII at the time of his death (October 9, 1958), accompanied with some rare and beautiful footage of the Papal Mass.

“Cardinal Pacelli was crowned Pope in 1939. On the last anniversary of that coronation, he had served 19 years as supreme head of the Catholic Church, through the World War, and when that had passed, through threats and rumors of more war to come. But though on all sides enemies assailed the Faith, the Christian citadel held fast. By his courageous guidance, at all times firm and unfaltering, Pius XII steered the Church safely though dangers, where a less able Pope might have failed. By divine blessing, he was spared long enough to leave Catholicism sound in body, unassailable in faith.”

Posted Saturday, October 09, 2021 Comments (2)
Labels: British Pathé, Pius XII

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