Friday, May 31, 2013

Geeky Joke

Reaching for a $10 bill
I sense most of my readers will have a humanities-oriented style of thinking and learning, so I may be skating on the proverbial thin ice with this jab, but here it goes.
(Background: a regression is a computer-done math equation created out of a set of data which gives you numbers determining how important certain factors are called "coefficients" and relegates the rest to test controls)
My friend and I were discussing the madness that is psychiatry, as opposed to psychology, which is a serious field of study. We debated if you could quantify Sigmund Freud's theories, as you can quantify any serious scientific theory. For those unaware, Freud formulated his theories based on his time working as a shrink/earpiece for sexually deprived, upper-class Austrian housewives (for whom Freud commonly prescribed cocaine). Hardly a reasonable sample size. The "control group" for experimenting with Freud's theories would be the rest of the human population. My friend and I concluded that were one to create a controlled study and run a regression to test Freud's theory Oedipus theory, one would find that after accounting for socioeconomic status, for cocaine use, and for boredom, the coefficient on Sexual Yearning for One's Mother is zero. Neither positive, nor negative. A big fat zero. No impact, up or down. It is nonsense and does not exist—except for perhaps a few very unusual individuals.
Perhaps I am too critical of old Sigmund, but I feel immediate suspicion of any idea that derives from the German-speaking world. It seems as though every bad idea either originates from or makes a long-term stop in that part of central Europe: fascism, beer, Marxism, sausages, Protestantism, and, worst of all, Wagner. I believe it was Winston Churchill who once said "Wagner's music is not as bad as it sounds." Still, that part of the world gave us Mozart, Beethoven, and other contributors to the arts. Maybe the Rad Trad ought to lighten up and Dora again. Or maybe not.
Time for some Beethoven.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Considering Same-Sex Marriage

The prominence of pro-marriage protests in France and the revelation that a few persons I knew in high school were homosexuals—only on of the individuals surprised me—has led me to consider the issue of same-sex unions in a bit more depth.
Anyone looking for Catholic teaching on this matter can find it without problem. The Tridentine Catechism discusses marriage as a Sacrament. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church goes into greater depth on marriage. Numerous bishops have made statements affirming the Church's position. Biblical prohibitions against sodomy are arrant in their nature. The moral aspect here is not really in much doubt for Catholics.
But how does this work in a practical sense? That is, how does God's definition of marriage look when put into practice in the world? Numerous books, most recently Charles Murray's Coming Apart, have documented the decline of the family unit in the middle and lower classes of wealth and cognitive ability in the last five or six decades, with the upper-class remaining mostly unchanged. I find it amusing that the class which usually decides the cultural and political trends of the nature generally do not adopt these behaviors themselves, by that is beside the point. Let us think about marriage in practice.
Marriage, until the mid-twentieth century, was not primarily done out of love for the spouse. Marriage was, obviously, for the propagation of children. The spouses made a vow to love each other, which indicates that mutual love was not already a given. Marriage was expected to be a life-long effort, a joint-partnership is raising children. Women, aside from whatever education they received, learned how to judge and attract potential suitors and men were sure to have bright futures with well-paying jobs. The point was to say: reproduce with me!
The excess-wealth, at least in the United States, resulting from the post-War boom introduced a novelty to marriage: it was now primarily about the pre-existing love between the partners, which is, usually, expressed in feelings rather than demonstrated dedication. In the old way the vows at the altar were the dedication and love was supposed to follow.
The main reason why in the West the State became involved in marriage, a pre-existing social institution, was to champion the Christian religion by creating formal respects for the married in the form of tax and inheritance policies. A secondary reason, which became the primary reason when most nations secularized in the 19th and 20th centuries was to incentivize fecundity, to get people to keep providing a population at an increasing rate. The point of marriage in every culture in history has been to reproduce. Even polygamist societies, which would allow multiple wives but not husbands, emphasized children.
The problem with gay unions being put on par with marriage is that they are a further step in the West's protracted cultural and demographic suicide. We know a gay couple cannot reproduce by God-given means, but they could by artificial means: in vitro, sperm donation, and test tubes might be in the near-future for gays. How could this be a problem?
Think about it! Children learn how to function in their sex from the respective parent. Just as significantly, they learn how to pick a future spouse based on the traits they find in the respective parent by sex. A woman will look for a man based on what she saw in her father, whether she liked what she saw or not; she understands masculinity and how to approach it. A gay couple not only cannot provide the same care-dynamic as a straight family, but it cannot provide a model for a person of a particular sex either! The vast majority of gay men are highly effeminate, with some ready to wear mini-skirts. Among the lesbian population one can more easily find less ostentatious persons, but the "butch" woman is a reality. One should not learn femininity from a Brown alumna with a buzz cut, aviator sunglasses, a plaid shirt, and Birkenstock sandals. Not only would the child normally get a distorted view of the parents' sex, he or she would also only see half of the sexual population in an intimate, family setting. A child in a gay-male household would only be able to understand genuine femininity from a distance. This is emotionally and parentally cruel. Some may advocate a more "open" approach to parenting, but would that really be better? Divorce is already troublesome enough on children—increasing their own odds of divorcing in the future—without introducing more parental instability.

The political correctness that accompanies such radical social upheavals also influences the future of normal marriages. The Boys Scouts decided to begin to admit openly homosexual members. The Scouts, a setting where boys could socialize and learn traditionally masculine behavior, must open its door to—and eventually, cater its practices to—a minute and effeminate segment of the population. A place where boys could start to be men and practice the conventional values associated therein is now a setting for political correctness and experimentation. Virtues like honesty probably will not disappear immediately from the Scouts, but there will certainly be a decline.

We often hear from several sectors of the political world that we should be open to any social policy that does not directly hurt us. Drug legalization and same-sex unions are examples. Do gay unions hurt me? No, not physically or emotionally, but that does not mean they would not damage society on the whole. Gay unions would confirm that marriage is now just a formalization of mutual feelings of attraction rather than either a child-bearing venture or a permanent commitment. Enough marriages in the United States end in divorce (about 50%, and the rate increases in the middle and lower socioeconomic realms) that many couples do not marry, but just cohabitate. Cohabitation rarely produces children, unless the couple decides to have a child or their contraception fails. Cohabitation being neither a formal union nor a blessed one does not care the same stability as marriage and exposes the rare child born into such a relationship to a broken upbringing. Gay unions would further hurt the prestige and popularity of marriage-for-the-sake-of-children and further popularize cohabitation and a weak outlook on the part of those who marry anyway. Lost in all of this is children, who need a firm environment with a father and a mother in the household. Homosexual unions will lessen society's view of marriage as an endeavor worth one's time, which will impact the rearing of many children.

One last thing to consider is reproduction itself. Poorer demographics and immigrant demographics reproduce at a higher rate in the West than do those in the upper-range of socioeconomic status. Those in the middle and upper classes tend to have fewer children for many reasons: they enjoy their wealth and prefer a BMW 3-Series and a nice TV to another child; they do not need the physical labor and care that an extra family member provides; they have excess wealth, which can be spent on more effective means of contraception etc. My own country, the United States, reproduces at about 2.11 births per couple, which—when considering the infertile, those who never reproduce, and premature deaths—is on par with replacement rate, but is without growth. Immigrant and low-income groups are keeping that number where it is, which would be much lower if everyone followed the middle and upper-class lead. All I previously mentioned about the diminished attractiveness of marriage, the consequences for raising children, and the more casual and self-centered view people have of children comes into play here. Gay unions could indirectly have some small, but significant, influence on further lowering a country's fecundity in the ways I have enumerated above. Meanwhile, the poorer groups will continue to reproduce and shift the demographics of a given country. A larger poor and lower-middle class population will effect greater polarization along the lines of wealth and potentially contribute to political unrest. Gay unions can and will hurt society, even if I am not forced to wed a fellow. Note: I have nothing against poor, immigrant, and low-income; I am just trying to make a forceful point.

I wish our policy makers would stop pursuing such nonsense as this so they can congratulate themselves on how tolerant, broad-minded, and accepting they are, and instead consider the long-term damage their policies can and will create.

There. End of rant. God bless you all.

The Rad Trad

Corpus Christi

From St. Gregory of Nyssa's Catechism:
The question was, how can that one Body of Christ vivify the whole of mankind, all, that is, in whomsoever there is Faith, and yet, though divided amongst all, be itself not diminished? Perhaps, then, we are now not far from the probable explanation. If the subsistence of every body depends on nourishment, and this is eating and drinking, and in the case of our eating there is bread and in the case of our drinking water sweetened with wine, and if, as was explained at the beginning, the Word of God, Who is both God and the Word, coalesced with man’s nature, and when He came in a body such as ours did not innovate on man’s physical constitution so as to make it other than it was, but secured continuance for His own body by the customary and proper means, and controlled its subsistence by meat and drink, the former of which was bread,—just, then, as in the case of ourselves, as has been repeatedly said already, if a person sees bread he also, in a kind of way, looks on a human body, for by the bread being within it the bread becomes it, so also, in that other case, the body into which God entered, by partaking of the nourishment of bread, was, in a certain measure, the same with it; that nourishment, as we have said, changing itself into the nature of the body. For that which is peculiar to all flesh is acknowledged also in the case of that flesh, namely, that that Body too was maintained by bread; which Body also by the indwelling of God the Word was transmuted to the dignity of Godhead. Rightly, then, do we believe that now also the bread which is consecrated by the Word of God is changed into the Body of God the Word. For that Body was once, by implication, bread, but has been consecrated by the inhabitation of the Word that tabernacled in the flesh. Therefore, from the same cause as that by which the bread that was transformed in that Body was changed to a Divine potency, a similar result takes place now. For as in that case, too, the grace of the Word used to make holy the Body, the substance of which came of the bread, and in a manner was itself bread, so also in this case the bread, as says the Apostle 1 Tim. iv. 5., “is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer”; not that it advances by the process of eating. Seeing, too, that all flesh is nourished by what is moist (for without this combination our earthly part would not continue to live), just as we support by food which is firm and solid the solid part of our body, in like manner we supplement the moist part from the kindred element; and this, when within us, by its faculty of being transmitted, is changed to blood, and especially if through the wine it receives the faculty of being transmuted into heat. Since, then, that God-containing flesh partook for its substance and support of this particular nourishment also, and since the God who was manifested infused Himself into perishable humanity for this purpose, viz. that by this communion with Deity mankind might at the same time be deified, for this end it is that, by dispensation of His grace, He disseminates Himself in every believer through that flesh, whose substance comes from bread and wine, blending Himself with the bodies of believers, to secure that, by this union with the immortal, man, too, may be a sharer in incorruption. He gives these gifts by virtue of the benediction through which He transelements.

I am not usually a fan of Thomistic theology, but I do love the Saint for his devotion and understanding of the Eucharist. Indeed, in my opinion his greatest contribution to the Church is not the Summa but the Corpus Christi Office, Mass, hymns, and benediction. Very similar language and description of St. Gregory's understanding of the Eucharist can be found in St. Thomas's Pange Lingua: "Verbum caro, carnem verum/ Verbo carnem effect."
This feast is an opportune moment to remember that the Church is the Body of Christ in a very literal way, and that the Eucharist, along with Baptism, is the means by which Christ makes that happen. The Church is God sharing Himself with mankind, a loving condescension that should make us blush, but not be scandalized.
I will save you from my poor observations, but I have put the antiphons for first Vespers of Corpus Christi below in English. They are worth some meditation (hint: pray Vespers tonight here).
Psalm 109: Christ the Lord, being made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech, hath offered bread and wine

Psalm 110: He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat unto them that fear Him

Psalm 115: I will take the cup of salvation, and offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving
Psalm 127: Let the children of the Church be like olive-plants round about the table of the Lord
Psalm 147: The Lord, That maketh peace in the borders of the Church, filleth her with the finest of the wheat

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Military Chapels

Done the Russian way! I have copied and pasted this from a forum for your edification and amusement.


Russian paratroopers were holding parachute exercises near the city of Ryazan, about 200 kilometers southeast of Moscow. But among the so-called ordinary paratroopers there were paratrooper priests making their jump complete with a mobile chapel.

Around 100 paratroopers accompanied by eight parachuting Russian Orthodox priests made the jump in a wide-open field.

Airborne Orthodox chaplains have made parachute jumps to improve the morale of the warriors.

The training plan included airlift delivery of a mobile chapel that the chaplains assembled at the point of impact.

The inflatable chapel weighs about one metric ton and takes around an hour to inflate and deck out.

The chapel comes complete with interior sacred objects like Orthodox icons that are secured to the walls using Velcro.

Each chaplain made two training parachute jumps from AN-2 and Ilyushin 76 airplanes. In April, military training of Orthodox chaplains for all types of troops and military districts will be held near Moscow.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Picking a Year....

...In praying the Divine Office!

Many readers probably pray all or part of the Divine Office. I myself pray Vespers and Compline daily, with Mattins and Lauds on, or the evening before, the majors feasts. For those not bound to praying a particular version it is good to be aware of what options are available and what differentiates certain versions. The major differences between versions will be:
  • The arrangement of the psalms: the older psalter was modified, or outright suppressed, by Papa Sarto in 1911. The psalter from 1911-1965, when the office of Prime was suppressed, is theoretically the same throughout, but other changes by Pius XII and John XXIII means it differs in practice. The pre-Pius X psalter prescribed 12 Mattins psalms on ferial days and 9 on feasts, using a consistent repertoire on feasts for Mattins, Lauds, and Vespers. The "little hours" would be the same daily. After Pius X the offices remained the same, but the psalter changed drastically, chopping psalms into roughly equal 15-verse bits and distributing them in order throughout the week. The little hours became fungible at this point.
  • The rubrics: the post-Pius X office has the odd practice of splitting semi-double and double feasts into halves, using the ferial psalms and antiphons, but with the festal hymns, collects, and canticle antiphons. Given the number of feasts in any calendar after the 17th century, this makes a daily difference.
  • Preces/suffrages: these delightful and moving intercessory prayers are prayed on semi-double, simple, and ferial days outside of octaves. They are most notable by their absence on feasts, reminding us that we are to rejoice on feasts, but most of our time ought to be spent in prayers for mercy and in penance. The Advent/Lenten Vespers suffrage is particularly powerful. The 1911-1913 reforms reduced the suffrages to one antiphon and collect, but on the whole kept the idea. At some point between 1955 and 1960 they went extinct.
  • The calendar: the ranking system was in principle the same from time immemorial through 1955, when Pius XII eliminated semi-double days and when John XXIII tossed the entire thing in favor of a numerical system, but the number of feasts in the calendar by 1910 and the rubrics governing Sundays and other special days in the post-1911 Office make each version substantially different in practice. Even 1568 and 1910, which use the same psalter and mostly the same rubrics are very different in practice due to the proliferation of double feasts. The Johannine calendar is very simple, but also has a narrower experience with its compressed rankings and commemoration system. Most noticeable, aside from feasts, is the disappearance of most octaves and vigils in 1955, a sad loss.
  • Assorted matter: many other things changed between 1568 and the mid-twentieth century. The scriptural readings at Mattins were altered and shortened a bit by Clement VIII. Pius IX introduced a new, and improved in my opinion, feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pius XII introduced a new Assumption feast. Urban VIII toyed with the hymns. There was the 1942 Common for Popes. A lot differs that is not structural, but I do not think these matters are as substantial as the structural differences.
The choices for praying the Divine Office have proliferated thanks to the internet, which has given us both resources to pray from online editions of the Roman Office or to purchase used copies on sites like Abe Books or eBay. I will narrow my comments on what one can pray from Divinum Officium, a very nice and informative website that allows one to pray any number of editions of the Office, more or less, including a theoretical reconstruction of a medieval monastic Office—which I will actually be ignoring in my comments along with the 1960 Office according to the Pauline calendar.
Here we go:
  • 1570: actually 1568, but it's "Tridentine" either way. Uses the original Roman psalter, including full-length psalms aside from the little hours. Over half the days are ferial, lending a strong awareness of the temporal cycle. The limited number of psalms used for festal offices and for octaves actually makes the feasts more special. I entered a state of shock by praying ferial Vespers tonight for the first time in a very long time, after having prayed the octaves the Ascension and Pentecost, followed by the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Simple feasts have the "splitting" structure I mentioned for most feasts in the Pian Office, but I do not mind it here, as most all the saints under the Simple category were local saints of the diocese of Rome, giving those offices a special and familiar character. My only real cavil with this edition is that St. Pius V eliminated the feasts of Ss. Joachim and Ann, the ancestors of our Lord. It has the suffrages and preces, which can be time consuming, particularly during Advent and Lent, but are very rich in their content during those seasons. This year is the most difficult, and in some sense the most brutal, to pray, but I find also the most rewarding. Saints feasts can supersede Sundays, but there are comparatively so few double feasts that one does not mind the break from the green days. Twelve psalms at ferial Mattins!
  • 1910: theoretically the same as above, but the multiplication of doubles severely curtails the praying of the psalter, especially considering that any feast with the word "double" in it has first Vespers. For instance next month, June, has four ferial days—two of them Saturdays of Our Lay—and three Simple days that will be observed. At none of them will the ferial Vespers be prayed, and at some of them there preces and suffrages will be omitted because of tomorrow's feast. In practice, this is a very different Office from 1570. Feasts replace the Sunday Office very often.
  • Divino Afflatu: while the name might give one the impression that this is the 1911 Office, it is not. It is basically 1954, meaning the Pian psalter, but with fewer psalms at ferial Mattins, the "splitting" of most feasts, and the ranking of octaves to clear up any ambiguity. If one had to read the rubrics of a breviary and decide how to pray the Office for the day, this would be the most confusing edition of all mentioned by far. The calendar is very balanced in this edition, but there is the reduced length of the psalms. Each major office and minor office, and even each nocturn at Mattins, is roughly the same size—very streamlined. This edition does have some pluses: octaves are observed, preces and suffrages are still there but curtailed, one goes through the entire psalter, full range of Mattins lessons, and not too time consuming if one wants to have a fuller experience of the Office in limited time. One should note that the little hours during Holy Week and Tenebrae during the Triduum will differ from the ancient version. Feasts replace the Sunday Office about as often as they do in 1570.
  • 1955: much of what I wrote above from Divino Afflatu still applies, but without most octaves (only Pascha, Pentecost, and Christmas live), with modifications to the Triduum per Pius XII's reforms, and the mixing of most semi-double days into Simples. Also, the antiphons, I believe, are now entirely doubled on every day, discarding the partial singing of the psalm antiphons to begin a psalm on ferias, Simples, and semi-doubles, consistent with their character. The effect is the blurring of feast days.
  • 1960: calendar is mostly third class days. Very few days have first Vespers. On all but a few days there is one nocturne a Mattins, and those days are almost never Sundays. First class feasts can still take precedence over Sunday, as can second class feasts of our Lord, but these occasions are rarer than ever. The overall use of patristic texts is lacking in this Office, as is the means of commemorating superseded offices. The ancient character of feasts of ancient Roman saints or ancient saints of universal fame is gone. First class days are mostly the same, as are some second class feasts of our Lord and Lady. On the whole, this is the least time-consuming Office, but also the oddest structurally and most impoverished textually.
I would first recommend the 1570 if one has the time, and then the Divino Afflatu edition. Why Divino Afflatu over 1910? Purists may disagree with me, but I hold the 1910 Office does not fully accomplish the purpose of the Office: to pray the psalms. Yes, everything else is intact, but in this sense everything else is less important. Was the reform of 1911 wise? I would respectfully say it was very unnecessary, as some calendar changes would have solved the problem. Still, I would prefer Divino Afflatu over 1910 if those were my two choices because one can pray the psalter and still go through the entire calendar. 1960 is very barren to me and 1955, while fuller in content, is clearly a transition.
My advice is to take things easy and begin by praying a little hour. I started with Compline in the Divino Afflatu form and soon adapted the older version, then took on Vespers. One advantage to starting with a minor hour like Compline or Sext or whatever in the 1570-1910 form is that it is more or less the same daily, but one finds small variations like the preces from day to day, allowing both familiarity with the calendar and stability with the general structure of that particular office. Perhaps something like Vespers of Lauds on Sundays and feasts could be added later.
Of course this is just my suggestion. Pray whatever you like and however you find your prayer effective. The purpose of this post was to help anyone praying the Office who is confused about versions clarify those matters and to aid anyone considering praying the Office in making an informed decision, given that person's time and desire to be immersed in the ancient prayer of the Church.
God bless,
The Rad Trad

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Anticipating Corpus Christi

....With St. Augustine:

By use of meat and drink men would fain that " they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more," and yet there is but one Meat and one Drink, Which doth work in them that feed thereon that " this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality," namely communion with that general assembly 2 and Church of God's holy children, who are "kept in perfect peace," and are "all one," fully and utterly. And therefore it is, as men of God before our time have taken it, that our Lord Jesus Christ hath set before us His Body and His Blood in the likeness of things which, from being many, are reduced into one. In one loaf are many grains of corn, and one cup of wine the juice of many grapes. And now He giveth us to know how that which He spake cometh to pass, and how indeed " this Man can give us His Flesh to eat," and His Blood to drink.
He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him." To dwell in Christ, therefore, and to have Him dwelling in us, is to "eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup," and he which dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, without all doubt doth not spiritually eat His Flesh nor drink His Blood, although he do carnally and visibly press the Sacrament with his teeth but, contrariwise, he " eateth and drinketh damnation to himself," because he dareth to draw nigh filthy to that secret and holy thing of Christ, whereunto none draweth nigh worthily, save he which is pure, even he which is of them concerning whom it is said " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." This is as though He said: The Father hath sent Me into the world and I have emptied Myself [and taken upon Me the form of a servant, and being found in fashion as a man], I have My life from the Father, as One That is greater than I. He that eateth Me, even he, by thereby taking part in Me, shall live by Me. It is as having humbled Myself that I live by the Father, but he that eateth Me, him will I raise up,and so he shall live by Me. It is said "I live by the Father " that is to say, He is of the Father, not the Father of Him, and yet not so, but that the Father and the Son are co-equal together. Also it is said "So he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me," whereby He showeth the gracious work towards His people of Him Who is the " one Mediator between God and man," and not that He Which is eaten and he which eateth Him are co-equal together.—26th Tract on the Gospel of St. John

Pray and Fast

Exactly what it looks like
Nicholas Samra, Melkite-Catholic bishop of Newton, has requested that the faithful pray and fast in the weeks leading up to the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul and dedicate their efforts to the Christians of Syria, who are particularly afflicted by the on-going war in that country. I suspect most of my readers are Roman Catholic, but I ask you to consider taking up this effort. Many already fast and abstain on Fridays, so perhaps you could recall the Syrian churches on that day of the week. Any priest readers could remember them at Mass during the Canon. A lot can be done and needs to be done.

-The Rad Trad

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Old Roman Basilica of St. Peter's

In a previous post we looked at the first millennium Roman liturgy from a textual and historical perspective, at how the traditional liturgy as we have it today evolved from a remarkably similar Mass around the year 800 AD. Today I just want to "throw" some material at you for your own edification once again, this time pertaining to the setting of the first millennium and medieval Roman liturgy, namely the original St. Peter's basilica. Most of what I have below is republished from last year, but with many improvements.
The original St. Peter's basilica was begun by Emperor Constantine over a shrine on Vatican Hill here Christians had venerated what tradition tells us was the place of St. Peter's burial since the first century—St. Peter's bones were not actually discovered until the reign of Pius XII. The basilica was completed in 360, but constantly remodeled. Originally the tomb of the first Pope of Rome was in the apse of the basilica, behind the altar. Tidal flow of pilgrims necessitated switching these two. A more elaborate throne for the Pope was constructed, as consecration of the Bishop of Rome became more usual at St. Peter's. The proliferation of Papal burials at St. Peter's and a series of ninth century invasions by Saracens necessitated further renovations. One such remodel, around the time of Leo IV, led to an altar embroidered in precious stones, ambos and doors of silver, and mosaics taken from the finest Eastern churches. Like most Roman basilicas, there was a group of canons attached to the church.

A cloister preceded the entrance. I cannot help but think of Dr. Laurence Hemming's theory of the Catholic churches as temples, as fulfillment of the Temple of Jerusalem. The cloister here is more of an enclosed sacred courtyard than anything monastic. It functioned as a gathering place for people to prepare for Mass, an eschaton—a place between the world and eternity. A pineapple, which I believe predates the Christian era, sat at the center of the cloister. The faithful, as late as the eighth century, washed their hands for Communion at the fountains in this area—although reception on the hand differed drastically from the modern practice. In all, it is like the courtyards of the Temples of Solomon and Herod: a gateway through which the faithful would leave the world and prepare for the Divine. Sort of the story of salvation, eh?
Drawing of how the mosaics on the façade of the basilica,
as restored by Innocent III, would have been arranged.

The inside was very much that of a Roman basilica which, before the Christian age, just meant an indoor public gathering place for Romans. The nave would be lined with colonnade, but statuary and imagery was sparse and likely introduced in the early second millennium. The primary source of color would have been through patterns and mosaics on the ceiling, particularly in the apse. While Byzantine churches tend to either depict Christ as a child in our Lady's arms or Christ the Pantocrator in the apse, Roman churches vary more, and St. Peter's would have been no exception. St. Mary Major's apse bears Christ and our Lady seats in power, while the Lateran depicts Him ascended above all the saints—and above us, lest we forget, and St. Paul outside the Wall depicts Him in blessing but with a book of judgment. St. Peter's might have also had some variation of Christ in the apse, above the stationary Papal throne.

The altar was both ad orientem and versus populum, a rarity outside of Rome. During the Canon the faithful would go into the transepts and the aisles of the nave and face eastward with the priest, meaning they did not "see" the change on the altar. Curtains may have been drawn regardless, guaranteeing people did not see the consecration until the Middle Ages at least.

The populistic arrangement, of the Pope facing the people, gives us a clear indication of where the reformers discovered their "Mass as assembly" idea, but neglects the very hierarchical arrangement, which the Bishop of Rome elevated, surrounded by his counsel and the servants of the faithful in Holy Orders. Certainly a more popularly accessible structure than a Tridentine pontifical Mass from the throne, but not remotely as democratic as the reformers would have us believe. Papal Mass continued their arrangement through 1964, the year of the last Papal Mass.

St. Peter's basilica around the year 1450
(taken from wikipedia)

A cross-section of the old basilica
Neglect during the Avignon papacy left the Roman basilicas in ruins, St. Peter's included. The roof of the basilica and its re-enforcement were both wood, which had long rotted. Instability eventually caused the walls and foundations to crack and, although many maintained the basilica was still usable, the decision was made to replace it in 1505 by Pope Julius II. The decision rightly sent Romans into uproar, as the old church had been used by the City and by saints for twelve centuries.

Inside the old St. Peter's notice the elevated altar surrounded by the twisting
arches. St. Peter's tomb was below. Above is the fatal ceiling.
(image taken from
The fate of much of the original basilica is unknown. Elements of the portico survived, as did the Papal tombs. St. Peter's tomb received its own chapel, named for the Pope who built it. The high altar was retained and en-capsuled in the new altar. The altar sanctuary had been walled from the nave by winding pillars, supposedly taken from the Temple of Solomon. They were destroyed, although their design is retained in the new basilica's baldacchino.

Another long view inside the old basilica

Below is a reconstruction of how the sanctuary would have looked during the Middle Ages. Note the wall and doors, much like an iconostasis, betwixt the sanctuary and nave. The semi-circular benches around the Papal throne were for the canons of the basilica, the seven deacons of Rome, the archpriest, and the cardinals. The doors on the sides might have been either for the deacons, for those administering Holy Communion to the people in the transepts, or for those visiting the tomb below the sanctuary.

From New Liturgical Movement
Note the side altars, where the Roman low Mass as we know it was formed. Also, the entrance to St. Peter's tomb from doors under the stairs.
The reconstruction below, however, seems to aim at imitating a medieval version of St. Peter's basilica. The above image, of the basilica in the first millennium, shows a church which has not yet undergone various renovations consequent to medieval piety and style: the barrier above is more of a railing than a wall, there are side-chapels below but not above, and curtains around the altar—emphasizing the mystery of it all, and colonnade around the Papal throne—pointing to the unique place in the sanctuary of the chair of Peter. The walls are also sparser in the pre-Middle Ages image above. I suspect the person who created these images is of the Byzantine tradition, as he has put icons above the altars as decoration rather than more Romanesque mosaics and paintings. Still, quite an effort.

Below is a video from the same source showing a detailed view of the old basilica. I always found the old pineapple funny. It is a pagan bronze work dating to the first century and which resided in the Vatican square for no reason other than its pre-dating the basilica.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Ancient Roman Mass

St. Mary Major, from a recent trip by the Rad Trad to Rome
Title says it all. I am re-producing below the text of the Papal Mass of Pascha Sunday as it likely would have been in the eighth century. The source is Cuthbert Ashley's translation of the Ordo Romanus Primus, which contains a proposed reproduction as the third appendix. The book, printed in 1905, is in the public domain and available on Google Books, so do not fret over copyrights.

Pay attention to what has changed and what has remained. The Mass would be at St. Mary Major, to join with our Lady in celebrating her Son's Resurrection, and possibly to give the Pope a breather after no less than three liturgies at the Lateran Cathedral. The opening antiphon, in Latin, would be the familiar Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum Mass of Pascha, but is here sung with more than one psalm verse in between repetitions of the antiphons. As an entrance chant, it would be sung as long as the entrance procession lasted. Before the "little hours" became popular in the Roman Divine Office I am not so sure there would be a long introit, as Mattins and Lauds would precede such a Mass. But the introduction of the little hours put the Mass after Terce, meaning a return to the sacristy for Mass vestments.

The Kyrie is not in its more ancient litany form, and probably had not been since before St. Gregory the Great. The Gloria is sung, as it was on festal occasions at Papal Mass. Pay attention to the orations, which are the same as they are in the traditional Mass today. There is certainly more antiphonal singing throughout, which only comes to us in rare occasions like Holy Week (the real old Holy Week). I suspect this looked more like the prokeimenon of the Byzantine rite and less like the "responsorial psalm" of Pope Paul VI's rite. Yet the antiphonal singing was primarily, though not exclusively, handled by the cantors and "district officials"—probably meaning additional deacons and subdeacons who vested for Mass but did not perform the main actions associated with those orders such as assisting the celebrant with the chalice and reading the Gospel or Epistle; you get the idea. This brings up another important point: there would be several deacons and subdeacons at this Mass, and probably some priests who might have or might not have concelebrated. Concelebration was done on festive occasions and with the bishop (in this case the Pope) as a sign of the communion between the bishop,the parish priests, and the parish faithful. It was not done as regularly and as casually as today. It had meaning. Some remnants of this existed until 1964 at Papal Mass, where the cardinal-priests and cardinal-deacons would wear chasubles and dalmatics with mitres over their choir dress.

See the cardinal-deacon, left, and cardinal-priest, right, remnants of the ancient manner of Papal Mass, which survived in the Papal liturgy until 1964.

The preface and Canon are basically the same as we have received them today. Some things differ though. The prayer for the dead is noted as a weekday practice that eventually became fixed on all days. There is a prayer of blessing for the first fruits of the season. With no supporting text the editor as inserted a Gallican prayer and a Roman prayer from the Feast of the Ascension right before the minor [and at this point, only] elevation.

With large gaps of inactivity on the celebrant's part—awaiting the end of the entrance, the gap at the offertory, the time for an exit procession to line up etc)—we can see how and where private prayer, which eventually became institutionalized, entered the Mass—prayers before the altar, the longer offering prayers for the Host and Chalice, and the Prologue of St. John. We also see some ritually and spiritually awkward practices and can understand why they died, such as announcing the location of tomorrow's Mass before the Communion of the Faithful!

Like it, love it, hate it, this is a fairly accurate reconstruction of a first millennium Roman Mass celebrated by the Pope. We see the very firm roots of the traditional liturgy, both in prayer and in movement, meaning it is the root in spirituality, too. Moreover, this is the clearest piece of evidence I have seen to support Fr. Quoex and Fr. Conrad's thesis that Papal Mass is the standard in the Roman  rite, not parish Mass. Pontifical Mass and Solemn Mass clearly descend from the rite shown here, with some adjustments for the qualitatively different celebrant.

Enough of me. Look at the Mass and realize how the saints prayed then—and how they still pray now!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Abbey of Cluny

Some readers versed in medieval History or sacred architecture will know the name Cluny immediately. A monastery famous for the abbot St. Hugh, for the diffusion of Benedictine monasticism in France, and for two particularly great reformer-Popes (St. Gregory VII and Urban II), Cluny was perhaps the most iconic religious center of Europe in the Middle Ages. A community of remarkable wealth, the monks had different colored habits for the corresponding color of the day or liturgical season. Cluny did not possess a reputation for taking penance very seriously.
At its height the abbey boasted hundreds of monks and a separate segment of the complex for the housing and education of novices. The order's spreading of monasticism eventually led to its own undoing, as more people joined Cluniac priories or new orders that arose during the high Middle Ages, such as the Cistercians. The Great Western Schism further weakened the monastery and the French Revolution ended up as the straw that broke the camel's back—the archives were incinerated and the abbey church became a rock quarry.
The abbey church of Cluny, in its third incarnation, was large enough to give St. Peter's and St. Paul Outside the Wall in Rome a serious run for the title "largest church in the world." The church has dozens of substantially sized chapels for private Masses, which pilgrims probably attended when passing through the abbey. In the morning and evening one or two hundred monks would line each side of the choir for Mattins, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline, and the conventual Mass(es).
Today only one transept of the abbey church, the third built on that spot, survives. Although Romanesque, it looks a little bit Armenian, with the octagonal sides and vertically accentuated windows.
The inside of the remnant

A model collating the remnant with a skeleton of the actual abbey church

A layout of the monastery proper. Note the narrow entrance to the abbey church, which widens in
the narthex, and more so in the nave. Windows would have progressively increased in size,
illuminating the church as one approached the sanctuary, which would be washed in bright light, a physical reminder of the spiritual journey to God. The placing of the baptismal font in the rear of
most churches reflects the same idea.

A drawing of the sanctuary and transepts. The rood screen, which has no rood in this image, separates
the sanctuary from the nave. Note the communion rail. I do not know which era the artist intended to
capture in this image, but the railing seems improper, unless I am missing something.

A cross section of the same area
One artist's idea of what walking through the abbey might have been like. Unfortunately the artist has neglected the colorful décor of the Middle Ages. Statues, or even walls, would have been painted in numerous beautiful colors, depicting Christ, angels, saints, and events in an overwhelming visual blaze.
The exterior of the church
A large-scale depiction of the entire Cluniac complex
A cutaway of the church, exposing the bases of the columns, whereby the arches would force the pillars to support one another
The apse of the abbey's retreat chapel, likely a replica of the apse of the conventual church
A 3D reconstruction of the church
We are in dire need of a greater emphasis on the vertical and on color and luminosity in Christian architecture today. Let us drop the psuedo-simplistic, bare-walls style of modern day, and also that "sweet" look so popular in a lot of 19th and early 20th century churches, and go for that which makes man look up to God. Even in a small parish this is a very plausible endeavor.
Was this that much cheaper to build....
....than this?
Come on.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Happy Pentecost!

"Dearly beloved brethren, our best way will be to run briefly through the words which have been read from the Holy Gospel, and thereafter rest for a while quietly gazing upon the solemn subject of this great Festival. This is the day whereon "suddenly there came a sound from heaven," and the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles, and, for fleshly minds, gave them minds wherein the love of God was shed abroad and, while without "there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them," within, their hearts were enkindled. While they received the visible presence of God in the form of fire, the flames of His love enwrapped them. The Holy Ghost Himself is love whence it is that John saith "God is love." Whosoever therefore loveth God with all his soul, already hath obtained Him Whom he loveth for no man is able to love God, if He have not gained Him Whom he loveth.
"But, behold, now, if I shall ask any one of you whether he loveth God, he will answer with all boldness and quietness of spirit "I do love him." But at the very beginning of this day's Lesson from the Gospel, ye have heard what the Truth saith " If a man love Me, he will keep My word." The test, then, of love, is whether it is showed by works. Hence the same John hath said in his Epistle. "If a man say, I love God, and keepeth not His commandments, He is a liar." Then do we indeed love God, and keep His commandments, if we deny ourselves the gratification of our appetites. Whosoever still wandereth after unlawful desires, such an one plainly loveth not God, for he saith, Nay, to that which God willeth.
And My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." O my dearly beloved brethren, think what a dignity is that, to have God abiding as a guest in our heart Surely if some rich man or some powerful friend were to come into our house, we would hasten to have our whole house cleaned, lest, perchance, when he came in, he should see aught to displease his eye. So let him that would make his mind an abode for God, cleanse it from all the filth of works of iniquity. Lo, again, what saith the Truth " We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." There are some hearts whereunto God cometh, but maketh not His abode therein with a certain pricking they feel His Presence, but in time of temptation they forget that which hath pricked them and so they turn again to work unrighteousness, even as though they had never repented."—Pentecost Sermon of Pope St. Gregory the Great, 30th Sermon on the Gospels

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The "Organic" in the Roman Rite

When reviewing Fr. Sven Conrad's Ratzingerian paper on the development and changes in the Roman liturgy since the 1960s, one criticism I levied was an excessive, albeit implicit, reliance on the notion of the "organic" within the pre-Conciliar Roman rite.

Fr. Conrad's article defined, or exemplified, organic as concerning the development of secondary customs around a set Roman form. This is certainly true concerning local usages, but I would argue that it is true of the form itself. A look at the appendices of the Ordo Romanus Primus reveals a Roman Mass clearly a predecessor to the "Tridentine" form of the Roman rite. The structure is darn-near the same, although quite a lot is different: much of the chants we think of as reserved for the schola were sung antiphonally, like the Resurrexi introit for Pascha as is illustrated in this edition; many of the prayers and responses were handled by the subdeacons (yes, plural); there was no Agnus Dei; communion was distributed in a manner similar to how the Byzantine churches do it now; and the general use of space was much more similar to that of Papal Mass than a Solemn Mass or even Pontifical Mass in the "extraordinary" form, lending a lot of credibility to Fr. Franck Quoex's thesis that Papal Mass ought to be taken as the norm when considering the Roman rite, rather than, as the reformers took it to be, parish-level Mass.

Moreover, the private prayers most of us love—the prayers at the foot of the altar, the offertory prayers, the blessing, and Last Gospel—came midway through the Middle Ages and were not original to the rite. Far from being corruptions or secondary customs, these were marvelous developments. I would hardly call the prayers at the foot of the altar a secondary custom, but rather part of the form. Their exact character could be considered secondary.

Perhaps we could even consider the diffused use of the Roman rite to be inorganic but related to the form, rather than the secondary. Fr. Conrad draws attention to Pepin's mandate that the Roman rite be used throughout the Frankish kingdom, eliminating local rites very distinct from the Roman rite. Milan similarly adopted the Roman Canon. Ditto for rites of far northern Europe. One could tell a similar story of the spread of the Byzantine rites throughout the Eastern Roman Empire, where political centralization quashed local, but obscure to us, liturgical rites.

Why am I saying all this? To complain? No. I just wanted to say that liturgy, good or bad, is often spread and promulgated by broad steps. However, the Roman rite, in its form and not just its customs, was subject to organic change for a long time, indeed distribution of Holy Communion was not explicitly prescribed until 1962 (was Communion a secondary custom I wonder?), the spread of the Roman rite was sometimes natural and sometimes imposed.

How does this fit into Fr. Conrad's article? Not everything in the Pauline or 1962 rites can be judged as traditional or novel. Many things in the old liturgy we treasure, like the opening of Mattins or singing hymns in the Divine Office, were once novelties. The question should be: Does this improve upon what it replaces? or: Does this additional to an existing practice enrich it? Does this help the practice of the liturgy in a given setting?—be it Papal or private Mass. The Pauline rites, unfortunately, have little to no organic element, which is what separates it from the older rites. But we should not think everything in the older form was made entirely by custom. Some centralization did exist. Local adaptations followed centralization, rather precede it.

Just some thoughts....

The Rad Trad

Vigil of Pentecost

The esteemed and informative Rubricarius of the St. Lawrence Press has published a detailed post on the ancient Vigil of Pentecost, suppressed in 1956—probably, as he notes, because it would remind too many people of the old Holy Saturday Mass.
Violet penitential vestments, the "folded chasubles," worn by the deacon
and subdeacon during a Lenten Mass at the Pantheon

The old Vigil would start, as all Vigils did, after None, which is interesting as it bridges the times between the office of the day and first Vespers of the feast. A true practice of anticipation! The Mass itself begins with violet penitential vestments and six prophecies, all borrowed from Pascha's Vigil, are read with unique collects at the end. The collects and other prayers of this Mass have an even more baptismal undertone than those of the Paschal Vigil!—and should, as on Pentecost the Church baptized 3,000 people. The baptismal font if blessed, people are sparged (without that "Renewal of Baptismal Promises"), and converts are baptized. The Litanies of Saints again acts as an introit and Mass ensues. No candles are carried at the Gospel, a symbol that the feast is only expected, but has not yet arrived. First Vespers are sung later.
As Rubricarius points out at the end of his post, the Johannine Missal misses all of this and it is treated as a glorified ferial day. The rites of Paul VI actually improve on this dire situation by restoring the readings.
Depending on your location, you may have prayed first Vespers by now. If so, happy Pentecost!


Yesterday this blog reached 10,000 views. A small number, but something of a milestone. Our series on the Reason for the Reform of the Roman Rite provided an enormous surge in readership.
Thanks for your support and keep on reading!
-The Rad Trad

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seeking Continuity

A constant theme of Benedict XVI's papacy was that the teachings and practices of the Church after Vatican II are congruent in quality and meaning to those that preceded the Council. When this idea was first floated around 2005 many, myself included, assumed this meant a concerted effort to create some continuity between 2005 and 1905. Instead, it seems to be to assume continuity and move on to some other topic of discussion. That is fine for most things, but occasionally one finds points of inquiry that one cannot ignore.
Pope Eugene IV, author of Cantate Domino
Recently I have been thinking about one in particular: the teaching "Outside the Church there is no salvation." No one is going to suggest for a moment that the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI, John Paul II, or Benedict XVI repudiated this doctrine. Indeed, many hold it to be still on the books. One only needs a particular understanding of what the Church is. Here is where my curiosity enters. We will quickly consider the Church's teaching in three eras:
  1. the high Middle Ages
  2. the 19th and early 20th centuries
  3. the pontificate of Pius XII through modern day
The first era's teachings are brutally clear, almost depressingly so. Boniface VIII's bull Unam Sanctam is a forthright contention that unless one is politically and religiously subject to the Roman See, then that soul is damned. Eugene IV's Cantate Domino speaks more generally about being in communion with the Apostolic See, in the context of attempted reunion with the Coptic Orthodox Church (non-Chalcedonian). Cantate Domino states that all Jews, pagans, heretics, schismatics, and un-baptized will go to hell, although with differing degrees of punishment. Limbo, in my opinion, was an emotional and intellectual hypothesis to fill the void created by this teaching. We can give political and era-based context to these bulls, but that cannot alter their meaning. Indeed, they use such unequivocal language that one cannot for a moment be confused as to what their writers intended to say:
"It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."—Cantate Domino, Eugene IV
Going forward several centuries, we enter the time of Pius IX and St. Pius X. These two pontiffs in particular stated that while the Catholic Church is the means of salvation, God could save a person living in ignorance of the Truth out of His kindness:
"If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God's will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation."—Catechism of Pius X, Question 29
I do not find this in conflict with the medieval teaching, as the discovery of the New World created a shock to the theological system. Surely God would not damn souls for not knowing of the Church? He could, in His kindness, save those who seek Him and who wish to live morally upstanding lives.
Pope Pius XII, who gave the world
Mystici Corporis
Just a few decades later, when Pius XII issues Mystici Corporis, things begin to take on a new light. Despite writing Humani Generis, which implicitly condemned some propositions of Fr. Karl Rahner SJ, Pius XII seems to have accepted the idea that one could be an anonymous Christian in some sense. The Church, suggests the encyclical, is not just the Body of Christ, but the Mystical Body of Christ. One could be a member of the Church without having been formally initiated, perhaps by baptism of desire or, imperfectly, by taking Sacraments from Orthodox or protestant churches. Many traditionalists are very fond of Pius XII and recall this elegant understanding of other religions with joy, but do they realize how new an idea it was? Pius X's concept involved God saving someone who could not access the Church. Pius XII's concept was that such a person could already be part of the Church! This teaching became the basis of the Second Vatican Council's Lumen Gentium, which dealt extensively with other religions.
Here we have three ideas:
  1. Anyone who is not a member of the institutional Church goes to hell
  2. God might save persons who are outside the institutional Church, if they are separated through no personal fault
  3. Those outside the institutional Church might already be part of the Mystical Body of Christ, the actual Church, and could possibly obtain salvation this way
Ideas one and two seem fairly consistent with each other. Number three is internally consistent, but does it "jive" with one and two? A quick Google search will bring the inquirer to a plethora of apologists who say the living Magisterium gets to decide and that, since Lumen Gentium, the Magisterium has decided the value of the medieval documents survives, but is modified and clarified based on one's understanding of the "Church" a la Pius XII. Was there even a formal field of ecclesiology before Pius XII? Probably, but Papa Pacelli's delineation would have been considered worthy of attention in earlier days. Most difficult, for a former student of medieval history, is that for this particular spin to be true, Boniface VIII and Eugene IV's bulls would have to mean something other than what they were clearly supposed to mean. Maybe a historical investigation would show "Outside the Roman communion there is no salvation" did not have much traction in earlier times, which would make such a teaching illegitimate and non-binding. Then again, could not the same be done for Mystici Corporis?
The purpose in asking these questions is not to publicly doubt the Church. On the contrary, the necessity of communion with the entire Church is a point in need of vital clarification, clarification that has been long overlooked. Perhaps a future Pontiff or movement of theologians will view this particular point as an opportunity to exercise Benedict XVI's hermeneutic of continuity in a lasting way.... Or maybe I am just way off track....
P/S: I am not a Feeneyite