Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Two Very Different Dallas Churches

Again I bring readers a report on the very curious situation with regards to ecclesiastical architecture here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

The first building shown is St. Thomas Aquinas in Dallas, which, if the website is correct, is only fifty years old. Built in a plane, but well done neo-gothic style, it has survived the liturgical revolution more or less intact. The altar was brought out from against the wall, yet it is still suitable for more traditional rites.

Neo-gothic with plenty of color and not too many statues.

Correctly the Baptistry is an octagonal room at the back
of the church, behind the nave.

The other church is called St. Jude's and is located in Allen. Its style is an unusual
blend between modern brutalism and the traditional layout, although not
the traditional decorative style.

The center of attention is unclear here. Yes, that iron plank on the wall is
the tabernacle door.

The transepts and altar are arranged such that
everyone gets a view of the "action"

The place lights well, but has no distinctly Christian
architectural features. I have seen banks with similar
ceiling patterns.

The Stations of the Cross seem to be charcoal drawings of
scenes from Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ

Oh boy....

A fascinating processional cross

Monday, April 28, 2014


Today this blog hit 100,000 unique views. Less than a year ago we hit 10,000 and marked it as a milestone in readership, as in the first month this blog had 177 hits. Now we tend to get about 500 hits a day, not bad considering that when I took a leave of absence we were getting around 180-200 a day. Each month since December has been a new all-time high, thanks primarily to the dedication and patience of subscribers and regular readers. I appreciate your loyalty.

The top ten most viewed posts on this blog, in order of popularity, are:
  1. Sedevacantism
  2. Practical Effects of Ultramontanism
  3. URGENT: Papal Bull on 1962/5 Missal and Reform of Roman Liturgy
  4. Book Review: The Banished Heart: Origins of Heteropraxis in the Catholic Church by Dr. Geoffrey Hull
  5. Good Friday: Mass of the Pre-Sanctified
  6. I'm Done
  7. The Last Acceptable Error?
  8. Yet Another Dallas Area Church
  9. The Roman Rite in Transition
  10. Reasons for the Reform of the Roman Rite Part I: Feasts
Clearly the old Roman liturgy and the authentic place of the papacy are on people's minds, as well as bad architecture in Dallas.

I would also like to add that I am grateful for the opportunity to correspond with many of your privately and for the chance to share thoughts and cultivate ideas with you all.

I will pick up again on our series on the Lyonese Missal this weekend, having stalled during Lent, and see about reviewing another Lesser Known Father, perhaps St. Andrew of Crete.

Thank you again,
The Rad Trad

St. Felix of Valois, pray for us!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Prayer Request

Please say a quick prayer for the soul of a man named Gerry, a cantor at the Melkite parish I used to attend who died rather suddenly a few weeks ago.
"You alone, Who created and fashioned man, are immortal; for we of the earth are made from the earth, and into the same earth we shall return, as You, my Maker, commanded, saying to me: 'Because you are earth, so also shall you return to the earth' where all men shall go singing 'Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!'"
From the Byzantine funeral rite

Come Take Light....

Above is a short clip from a ceremony I have been blessed to see twice in my life, a rite called the "Hajmeh" or "Rush" wherein the priest takes the Paschal Candle and the burning Paschal Fire (blessed during the daytime "vigil" vesperal liturgy) and gives the Holy Fire to the faithful who form a procession around the church outside in quiet, as if in search of Christ as Mary Magdalen was. The priest sings "Come ye faithful and take the light from the Light which is never overcome by night, and glorify Christ, Who is risen from the dead." It might be the most hauntingly beautiful and simple thing I have ever seen.

The procession ends at the doors of the church. The priest reads the Resurrection account in St. Mark's gospel and then announces "the King of Glory" at the doors of the church, which represent Hades. The faithful re-enter the church in bright light and sing Paschal Mattins (and Lauds, sort of), which concludes with the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom of Constantinople. The Divine Liturgy follows immediately. In the Slavic tradition the faithful venerate the priest's blessing cross and the empty tomb (the epitaphios) during the last ode of Mattins. The Royal Doors and Deacon Doors between the Holy Place (sanctuary) and the nave are wide open and are left open throughout Paschaltide, because the barrier between God and Man is now finally broken.

In many ways quite similar to what we used to do. A friend who attends a FSSP parish went to the Byzantine Good Friday and Paschal Sunday and said "There's just no goin' back after that."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bragan Holy Saturday

Our friend Marco da Vinha has been at it again and has a wonderful explanation of the Bragan rites on Holy Saturday, including some information on the serpentina, a Portuguese variation of the Roman triple candle. There are extra verses in the Exultet and a slightly different melody, with pictures of the notation for you to sing or see. Much like the neo-Gallican rites, litanies are prominent. There is even a unique ceremony with the extinction and re-lighting of the Paschal candle. Take a peak!

Informal Bibliography on Pius XII

Maestro asked for it, but I sense others may find some of the material here useful in understanding my opinion or stance concerning Pius XII, Ordinary of the diocese of Rome from 1939 until his death in 1958. My thoughts on Papa Pacelli are shared by others, but not very widely because it runs against the accepted narrative of most traditionalists, which in turn curtails the publication of books and source material directly related to our theses. So for those who wish to "connect the dots" on their own here are some primary and secondary sources to consider:

On the Pacelli family, their associations, and three generations of influence in the Vatican prior to Eugenio Pacelli's elevation to the Roman Pontificate:
  • Papal Genealogy by George L. Williams
  • Money and the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican 1850-1950 by John F. Pollard
On Eugenio's rearing:
  • The Life and Pontificate of Pope Pius XII by Frank Coppa (lots of valuable information, although it mostly repeats the accepted narrative)
  • Anything available on the Almo Collegio Capranica
  • Anything available on his mentor, Mariano Rampolla, and his colleague Giacomo della Chiesa (Benedict XV)
For more on his relaxation of discipline, this falls under common knowledge, but someone very determined could venture through the Acta Apostolicae Sedis for the 1940s and 1950s.

Best read any New York Times archives from October of 1936 and find out the people with whom Pacelli associated during his American visit (not a few of them—like Myron Taylor of Cornell University, my alma mater—would send people into cahoots about Masons and conspiracy theories). On that note, it would also be prudent to learn more about his family doctor, Tito Ceccherini.

There is precious little on his time as a nuncio and member of the diplomatic corps, but it would prudent to familiarize one's self with the career of Pietro Gasparri, Pacelli's boss during the first half of Pius XI's papacy, and his use of Ostpolitik. Ostpolitik, in Vatican use, was more or less invented by Benedict XV and applied by Gasparri, although everyone attributes it to Paul VI. It formed the basis of Pacelli's foreign policy as pope and understanding it aids one in seeing his highly selective attitude towards Nazism and Communism. Look up the works of Roland Cerny Werner.

Contrary to popular opinion these days, Pacelli was a strong anti-Nazi who exerted tremendous effort to save hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. I spent an entire semester at university on a research project about his involvement. For a brief synopsis see The Myth of Hitler's Pope by Rabbi Dalin and The Last Three Popes and the Jews by Pinchas Lapide. His efforts to save Jews largely succeeded, but his aiding and abetting the Allies during the War—through which he established communication with the Communists (no, Montini did not do it alone)—he helped Roosevelt give half of Catholic Europe to the Soviets.

For more on his liturgical work, see Reform of the Liturgy by Annibale Bugnini and La riforma liturgica di Pio XII by Carlo Braga, a series of pamphlets produced by the 1948 Commission Pius XII established and the members of which he hand selected to reform the Roman liturgy. He received members and demanded regular reports on their progress even when he was too ill to see other people. It may also be worthy perusing that ridiculous Latin psalter he had Cardinal Bea produce in 1945.

Do not under-estimate the importance of Italian politics to this papacy either. Learn about the Italian Popular Party, Giorgio Montini's center-left party, which evolved into the Christian Democrats. As a coalition party, when they began losing members to the Communist party in 1949 Pius finally aided them by placing membership in Communist organizations under excommunication.

And as far as his centralization and his political views, read Mediator Dei and Mystici Corporis, which put the authority of the papacy well beyond the previously accepted juridical grounds. Some of his more liberal moments can be seen in Divino Afflante Spiritu, which finally accepted the historical-critical method of Biblical interpretation at a time when the historical-critical method was being used imprudently to undermine the veracity of the New Testament, the trustworthiness of the writers, and the time frame of the books (all matters which have now swung the other way). And then of course there is Humani Generis, in which he opens the floodgates for evolution at a time when Chardin was spreading his pantheistic nonsense (interestingly the Jesuits and Holy Office condemned and silenced Chardin, the Pope did not; indeed he arranged for the preaching ban to be lifted so Chardin could deliver lectures in Paris). Was Pius advocating a middle path in matters or was he taming and domesticating the more radical parts of the progressive movement, telling them to wait for their time?

I have mentioned Frank Coppa and will do so again. He reviews Pacelli's foreign policy in his Policies and Politics of Pope Pius XII and in another book (forget which) lays out the study groups Pius established for an ecumenical council, the one which his successors called and completed.

In reviewing this material one must not judge the dead too harshly given the seventy years of perspective the living have. And yet one must ask: what motivated this man to do what he did given the climate of the age, the politics of the era, his education, his family background, his mentors, and the effects of his pontificate? Do the actual research and stop reading the Traddie blogs (my own included if you must!).

Alright? No more mention of Pius XII for a long time!

Any other book recommendations will be welcomed though.

Of Impending Canonizations (and one that is not happening)

In a matter of days Pope Francis will canonize two of his many mis-understood 20th century predecessors, declaring them saints fit for universal veneration and examples given their state of life. I generally shy away from blogging about politics—and that is precisely what these canonizations are—but the significance of this event warrants some thoughts.

Why are John XXIII and John Paul II mis-understood? Because modern people think them more important and influential in the modern Church than they really were. In principle, I am entirely indifferent to the canonization of Papa Giovanni. He was elected to do three things: 1) make Pius XII's true successor, Msgr. Montini, a cardinal 2) call Pius XII's Council and 3) die. In some sense he was the first pope since Gregory XVI to live up to expectations! So why has the Roman bureaucracy undertaken effort to canonize John? It is an attempt to canonize a particular narrative and aesthetic of the Second Vatican Council.

When he died on the feast of the Transfiguration in 1978, ABC news reporter Stuart Laurence said  of Pope Montini "Romans never really in fact warmed up to Pope Paul because he was not gregarious and grandfatherly like his predecessor Pope John. John, of course, was loved. Pope Paul was only liked." Pope John represents a kinder, gentler means of looking at the transitional years of the Church than the harsh, turbulent years of Pope Paul. Paul VI's pontificate was more the reality of the transition, with the drop of Mass attendance in America (it plummeted in Europe decades earlier), the fallout over Humanae Vitae, the open resistance of Lefebvre, the failure of ecumenism and ostpolitik, and the decay of the Vatican's potency in political affairs. John's pontificate, for those lacking in perspicacity and historical knowledge, saw a fleetingly vibrant Church—rich in faith and dignity—opening itself up to a changing world with open arms. Rome has chosen to canonize a strong Church entering renewal rather than a long collapsing Church emerging from self-inflicted chaos. They have chosen to canonize a fuzzy, paternal pope rather than a morose one full of regret. The canonization might actually make Vatican II into "Pope John's Council" rather than "Pope Pius' Plan" and "Pope Paul's Burden."

The other canonization has nothing (I cannot emphasize this enough) to do with Vatican II and everything to do with crowd pleasing. He traveled everywhere. He touched everybody. He smiled for everyone. He was something for ever Catholic to behold. John Paul II was the first media superstar pontiff. He trotted the globe over the course of four decades and cemented himself into every living person's memory for good or ill. Two generations of Catholics (those born in the '60s-70s and those born in the '80s-90s) and Catholic priests know John Paul as their pope. He was against abortion. He had a warm, vague, way of inspiring confidence for people of all walks of like while maintaining the tenets necessary for orthodoxy. Conservatives could point to him as a living example of "renewal": he was clearly on board with many brands of spirituality, he favored the new liturgy, he was pro-life, he was against Russian Communism, he was friendly with people of other walks of life, and he had the occasional humorous moment when he defended orthodoxy, such as forcing a monarch to receive Communion on the tongue. He was everything a college student wants in his campus chaplain: Catholic, fun, and not too demanding.

Even Traditionalists got something out of him. Many favorite saints in the Traditionalist milieu—Padre Pio, Juan Diego, and Maximilian Kolbe—were canonized by John Paul. He also gave both domesticated Traditionalists and neo-conservatives the Divine Mercy devotion (never quite understood it or the Sacred Heart). Indeed, National Review religion editor and ex-priest Malachi Martin succeeded in convincing many Traditionalists that John Paul really did believe everything they did and with the same sensus fidelium, hence the 1984 indult and attempts to smooth out relations with the potentially schismatic Lefebvre. He even invoked infallibility against women taking priestly orders!

The truth about the man is probably somewhere in the middle. He was elected because he was a charismatic man who could appeal pastorally to Catholics and non-Catholics while not disturbing the Vatican political machine, which continued to run the administrative side of the Roman Church into the ground. It is likely the same reason the prior pope and namesake of Wojtyla was elected.

The canonization of John Paul II will be an act of self-affirmation for hundreds of millions of modern Catholics following his unusual synthesis of doctrine, engagement, and outlook. "My pope is a saint," the average Mass-going Catholic between ages 20 and 50 will say in a manner akin to answering a question out of a self-help book. Whether he was actually a good pope is entirely irrelevant. Rome wants to keep its young faithful and young priests content. This, like the canonization of Celestine V by Rome and that of Emperor Constantine by Constantinople, is highly political in its motives and meant to continue to steer the barque of Peter in a particular direction.

Which brings me to my last point: the canonization I hope I never see. Readers know exactly who I mean. Given that yesterday's reformers are getting their canonization with John and today's youth are getting their's with John Paul, Traditionalists (particularly here, here, and here) are asking "Why not Pacelli?" Religiously and historically I cannot see any reason to canonize the man. His papacy was one of the all-time worst, certainly the worst since the Renaissance, replete with an immense relaxation of discipline, an undermining and re-programming of priestly education, friendly relations with Communists (except when it came at the cost the Christian Democratic party in Italy), liturgical destruction on a scale—at the time—unseen, bureaucratic centralization, and he put the people in place to finish the revolution which he began. Politically speaking his canonization would make even less sense: he wore the tiara, defined a dogma, and issued a large volume of encyclicals that go into the Magisterium file. Liberals see Pacelli as the last of the old guard while neo-conservatives have no substantial acquaintance with the popes before John Paul. Who, other than American and FSSPX-affiliated Traditionalists, gains from the canonization of Papa Eugenio?

American Traditionalists are fond of Pope Pius because the American branch of the Church seemed to be growing at an exponential rate: more vocations, more seminaries, more parishes, more converts. As Cardinal Spellman said, in a hundred years America would be a Catholic country. Then came the 1960s and the "fresh air" of the Council blew over the house of cards that was American Catholicism. The numbers touted by American Traditionalists are quite ignorant. The growth in the 1950s and 1960s was due to the Baby Boom generation, progeny of World War II veterans and their wives, reproduction at a rate unseen since the 19th century. Yet many of these Boomers were second and third generation descendants of immigrants and, often, practicing the faith out of cultural obligation. The first generation Italians would go to Mass and carry on the traditions of Catholic Italy with conviction. The second generation would continue the same out of devotion to one's parents. The third would do so out of habitual custom, far removed from the source of custom and devotion. American Catholicism had no firm roots. It was in many ways Catholicism-lite made for a protestant country: low Masses, devotions, and church organizations allowed for the "personal relationship" with God emphasized by protestants while upholding the administrative and communal side of the Church. What was missing was a strong foundation grounded in liturgy, martyrdom (very little devotion existed to the North American martyrs), local traditions, and episcopal authority. The American Church's structure was planted during the mid-19th century, when the previously mentioned trends were in vogue. The Church in Europe had long collapsed. America, demographically vibrant but spiritually frail, shattered at the shock of the Council. The growth had nothing to do with Pope Pius and its end had nothing to do with Gaudium et spes. It was about the young tree of American Catholicism that was turn up and was exposed to have not taken root. Canonizing Pope Pacelli would add him to the museum of 1950s American Catholicism. Nothing more.

The canonizations of Popes John and John Paul indicate a Vatican ready to affirm itself and the psychological needs of its devotees. For the same reason, the Rad Trad thinks a canonization of Pope Pius quite unlikely, unless Francis is overcome with nostalgia for the pope of his youth and early formation.

Alright. Enough politics for a month or two. Time to do something spiritually productive. Christ is risen after all.

Monday, April 21, 2014

More Thoughts on the Time of the Holy Saturday Liturgy

source: FSSP Roma
What is the right rite time for Mass on Holy Saturday? The failure to answer this question with a proper foundation in liturgy has spelled trouble for those who discuss the significance of the Pian Holy Week and its child, the Pauline liturgy. What follows is hardly scholarship, just conjecture which I hope is well grounded in the facts and which might incite more significant discussion on a topic at the core of how we understand and value the Roman rite.

One hears in some quarters words such as "Well, Pius XII restored the right times for Holy Week, but he went too far in changing the ceremonies. Still, it's better to celebrate a vigil at night than at 8AM." I counter this common statement in saying that Pius XII got the times, particularly on Holy Saturday, far more wrong in reforming them than they were when he inherited the rites from his predecessors. Why?

Let us briefly recapitulate that in liturgical time, tomorrow begins tonight, hence the concept of first Vespers for Double feasts and just one Vespers, the evening before, for Simple feasts. The major hours—Vespers, Mattins, and Lauds—were originally one long vigil prayed outside the holy places of Jerusalem and Rome in ancient time which would conclude with the offering of the Eucharist within those holy places. This vigil eventually broke up, separating the parts into the major hours and the Mass proper. The original Office was a series of readings separated by psalms. The Office began with a lamp-lighting service called the Lucernarium. With the growth of monastic presence in Rome the more singable psalms took precedence over readings and the Office evolved into the psalter which existed from the fifth century or so until the radical redistribution of 1911.

All of this is essential to understanding my [entirely willy nilly] theory. Here is how I believe the vigil, understood in the ancient sense of the word outlined above, may have looked in the middle of the first millennium for Pascha:

Reception of Neophytes with litanies procession into the church
Mass of the Resurrection

Now we can see that the Lucernarium survived as the blessing of the fire with three collects and the bringing of the holy fire into the church in the pre-Pius XII Holy Saturday rite. Lauds, until 1911, always meant the singing of psalms 148, 149, and 150 (and still does in every other rite). Mattins is a series of "nocturns" (psalms followed by three readings). Given that Lauds ends the all night vigil by welcoming the daylight, the reception of the neophytes appears to be more of a break in the normal action of the vigil or an interpolation than its own stand alone rite. Vespers and Mattins likely had the same character: readings interspersed with psalms. 

As the Roman Church began to separate the major hours into Vespers, Mattins & Lauds, and the Mass, devout locals seeking to pray constantly and monks concurrently created the little hours which fall between the major hours, cementing the differentiation of the majors.

Now, instead of the above table, which was one vigil beginning with the Lucernarium and ending with Mass, the time from Vespers to the Mass of the Resurrection would have looked like this:

Vespers with reception of Neophytes with litanies procession into the church
Mattins & Lauds
Mass of the Ressurection

Vespers with the blessing of fire and reception of the Neophytes became its own separate rite, now practiced in the late afternoon during the late daylight after the hour of None, around four o'clock. That means Vespers began with the remnant of the Lucernarium once practiced at every Vespers. The ancient Vespers of readings interspersed with psalms remained and ended with the blessing of the font, Baptism of converts, and their entrance into the church proper with the litanies of saints, which according to Cuthbert Atchley's critical edition of the Ordo Romanus Primus was used as an entrance chant in ancient times when ending the vigil and moving into the church for the Eucharist. Perhaps a more modern reading would judge that the litany was used generally in processions. Still, ending a rite with a litany and procession would be quite odd so a simple Mass which anticipates and does not celebrate the Resurrection was added as a glue to bind these ceremonies together, hence the absence of an Offertory or Communion chant and the use of the litanies as an Introit. Psalm 116 and the Magnificat constituting a mini-Vespers was added later perhaps.

If I am right about this, and I may not be, the consequences are startling. It would mean the pre-Pius XII Holy Saturday was the most ancient extant rite in the Roman Church. It would mean that the ancient Lucernarium was preserved, in contrast to the Byzantines who moved the Lucernarium to Paschal Mattins; yes, Rome's Paschal rites were older than Byzantium's. It would mean a complete ancient form of Vespers was preserved (the twelve prophecies and tracts were the Vespers). It would also mean that the Mass itself was not terribly important and was not the "first Mass of Easter" as so many believe. It would mean that, legally, the proper time to begin this rite was when the sun was setting, not late at night (either the 9PM norm in the Pauline rite or the near-midnight norm in the Pian rite). It would also mean that the "vigil Mass" exists precisely because the Vespers service became celebrated more and more during daylight.

It would also mean that while the ancient rites were preserved, the character of the Holy Saturday liturgy changed when the little hours came into being and the short Vespers became part of the Mass. Whereas the old Vespers, now the reading of prophecies, began the celebration of the Resurrection, now it is strictly part of the day of Holy Saturday. A new liturgical day begins with Vespers, which is why any pre-Pius XII vigil Mass was sung after None and prior to Vespers, anticipating the feast and not celebrating it. The Holy Saturday rites—Lucernarium, readings, and receptions—became a part of Holy Saturday prior to the introduction of a Mass and not because of it. The Mass was never at night!

On another note, should I be right the destruction and discarding of the old Holy Saturday was a catastrophe and disgrace of monumental proportions....

But let us work towards restoration rather than wallow in bitterness. Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Paschal Mattins

Above is two minutes from the Paschal Mattins attended by yours' truly at the Melkite community in Houston, TX. Right now they are using the Ruthenian church (and clergy) until they have their premises. The liturgy was a bit more "ethnic" than I have previously experienced in the Byzantine rite. Everything was in Arabic with a few bits of Greek for the sake of tradition. The priest, an American Ruthenian cleric, did his parts in English and once had to consult the choir for a page number. It was wonderful to be back at a Melkite liturgy again though.

Above they are singing "Christ is risen from the dead and by His death He has trampled upon death and has given life to those who were in the tombs" in Greek then in Arabic followed by "Having risen from the grave as He foretold, Jesus has granted us eternal life and great mercy." The deacon then chants a "little litany."

Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen

Christ is risen from the dead and by His death He has
trampled upon death and has given life to those who were
in the tombs!

No greater words have been or will be spoken about the Resurrection than these words given by St. John Chrysostom sixteen centuries ago:
"If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
"And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
"Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
"O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday: Anticipation (repost)

First, let me say that contrary to many contemporary opinions the old Holy Saturday liturgy was not at the wrong time. It was at a distorted time, morning, rather than when it once would have been, around 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm, but it was never a night time liturgy. Also, it is not Easter's Mass done the day before, nor is it a midnight Mass, as at Christmas. It is a Mass and liturgy meant to help us anticipate the Resurrection. Let us see what the Church has given us.

The liturgy begins after None, the last "little hour" of the afternoon. The deacon and subdeacon still wear the folded chasubles, their penitential vestments. The clergy and laity gather outside the church, where, hopefully, someone has lit a fire. The priest, vested in violet, sings three luminously themed prayers: the first referring to the "brightness of Your Son," the second calling God the "Creator of all lights," and the third an actual blessing. This is very reminiscent of the Eastern blessing at the end of Divine Liturgy, which quotes St. James in calling God the "Father of Lights," of all that is perfect, luminous, and good.

A server ignites coals and the priest imposes and blesses incense. He sparges the Holy Fire with blessed water and then incenses it. He also blesses five grains of incense which he be inserted into the Pascal Candle, representing the light of Christ throughout Easter season, inside the church.

The deacon then changes his penitential folded chasuble for a white dalmatic and maniple. He takes a large, triple-branched candle and, lighting a new wick from the Holy Fire, enters the church exclaiming Lumen Christi—"The Light of Christ." This happens twice more until we are in the church proper.

A deacon with the triple-candle preparing to enter the church.

The deacon then petitions the priest for a blessing, approaches the Paschal Candle, which is off to the Gospel side of the altar, and sings the Exultet, a long blessing. The Exultet is rich with imagery of light in the night and the deliverance from Egypt. This day is the deliverance from our spiritual Egypt: Sin and Death. Part way through, the deacon inserts the five grains of incense, calling them an "evening sacrifice," and lights the Paschal Candle. The video to the left is a singing of the Exultet at St. Peter's Basilica two years ago. I find the continued use of the prayer in the newer rites odd, given that none of the actions mentioned in the text are performed, nor is the intention any longer to bless! The prayer concludes with a petition for the Pope and the, no longer extant, Holy Roman Emperor. The lights of the church go on at the words Vere beata nox—"Oh, truly blessed night!" In the middle ages, when this ceremony took place in day light, the windows of the church would be covered in dark cloth, which would be removed at those words, washing the church in God's light after a spiritual slumber.

The deacon returns to his penitential folded-chasuble and, along with the priest and subdeacon, read twelve prophecies, which are chanted by lectors in the middle of the choir. The prophecies together form the story of salvation, both in anticipation and in prediction of Christ:
  1. Genesis 1:1-31, 2:1-2: The creation of the world by God, the ruler of all things. He sees that it is good.
  2. Genesis chapters 5-8: The Great Flood and God's commissioning of Noah to build an ark. The ark is a foreshadowing of the Church, which God gives us to protect us from the Flood of Sin.
  3. Genesis 22:1-9: Abram is about to offer his son, Isaac, but an angel intervenes. For his love of God, the Lord makes a covenant with him and renames the man Abraham.
  4. Exodus 14:24-15:1: God lets the Israelites pass through Egypt unto freedom through the Red Sea, which drowns the pursuing forces of the Pharoah. Baptism will be our watery means of passing unto freedom.
  5. Isaiah 54:17, 55:1-11: God has heard the cry of His people and will honor the promises to David.
  6. Baruch 3:9-38: God has absolute knowledge and dominion over His creation.
  7. Ezekiel 37:1-14: The bones of the fallen will rise again under the spirit of the Lord.
  8. Isaiah 4:1-6: The Lord will wash away the "filth of Jerusalem" and build a covenant.
  9. Exodus 12:1-11: God prescribes the Passover sacrifice of a lamb to the Jews, which will deliver them from God's plague over the first-borns of Egypt. They will be free. Christ is the perfect, spotless Lamb, the perfect sacrifice. He will intercede for us before the Father.
  10. Jonah 3:1-10: The prophet Jonah convinces the city of Nineveh to repent of their sins and do penance, averting their impending destruction. Penance is necessary to pay the debt of sin, not just to be forgiven.
  11. Deuteronomy 31:22-30: Moses provides for his death and the continuation of the Israelites into the promised land. This succession of leaders will continue until Christ.
  12. Daniel 3:1-24: King Nabuchodonosor attempts to kill three Jewish children for not worshiping his idols. They are thrown into a fire, but angels guard them.
In between these readings are sung various prayers and sung psalms. A procession forms and heads to the baptismal font. The priest blesses the empty font and the water in it by plunging the Paschal Candle three times. He sprinkles water towards the four points of the compass and then the faithful with Holy Water from the font, and then infuses Holy Oils into it. He proceeds to baptize and confirm any converts present in the normal manner. The procession then returns to the altar as the choir sings the Litany of Saints, doubling the invocations and answers (ex: choir: Pater de caelis, Deus, Miserere nobis people: Pater de caelis, Deus, Miserere nobis). If there is no font, everything until the Litany is excluded.

Everyone kneels for the duration of the Litany, which takes the place of the Introit of the Mass. The intention of the Litany is mainly to pray for converts, but also for the Church as a whole, as She enters the Paschal mystery. The priest, deacon, and subdeacon remove their outer vestments and prostrate themselves.

Towards the end of the Litany the priest and his ministers rise and head to the sacristy to vest in white vestments for Mass. Servers prepare the altar with the missal and put on the best, most festive frontal.

The altar candles are lit from the Paschal Candle. The ministers of Mass return and sing a normal solemn high Mass. The Gloria is the lovely Lux et Origo setting. The Epistle is from St. Paul's letter to the Colassians, in which the Apostles tells us that if we are dead with Christ, Christ will rise and us with Him.

The priest sings Alleluia for the first time in two months. Absorbed in joy, he sings it three times, each higher and each repeated by the choir. The Gospel, taken from St. Matthew's account of the myrrh-bearing women finding the empty tomb, is accented by the fact that candles are not carried in the procession, emphasizing that the Resurrection has not yet happened for us, but that we are anticipating it. All of this subtlety is indicative of the restraint of the old Roman rite.

The celebrant reads the Gospel before the deacon sings it.

As this is a vigil, the Creed is not sung. There is no verse or chant prescribed for the offertory, so the organ  is played or Latin hymns are sung.

The preface is of Easter. During the Canon of the Mass, the Communicantes prayer is unique: "Communicating, and keeping this most holy night of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; and also reverencing the memory...." The Pax is not given and the Agnus Dei is omitted. This may be for two reasons: (1) the Lamb is not yet risen and with us or (2) this liturgy is so old that it pre-dates the eighth century introduction of the Agnus Dei

After communion and the cleansing of the vessels, a short Holy Saturday Vespers is sung rather than a communion chant. It is psalm 116, surrounded by a triple Alleluia. The priest begins the antiphon on the Mangificat: Vespere autem sabati....  During the Magnificat everyone is incensed as usual. The priest sings the post-communion prayer, which I have given below:
Pour forth, O Lord, we beseech thee, the Spirit of thy love into our hearts, and by thy mercy make all them to be of one mind to whom Thou hast given to eat of thy mystic Passover. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.

The dismissal is Ite, missa est, alleluia! Alleluia. The Deo gratias response is also given a double alleluia. The priest says the Placeat, gives the blessing, and recites the Last Gospel as normal. It is traditional to end the liturgy with the Regina Coeli.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice! Alleluia!
For He Who you did merit to bear, Alleluia!
Has risen as He said, Alleluia!
Pray for us to God, Alleluia! 
These rites would end about four hours after they started. The main point of celebrating this liturgy early was so that Paschal Mattins and Lauds could start at a reasonable time. The twentieth century de-emphasis of the Divine Office saddens me. Paschal Mattins and Lauds are the most important liturgical event of the entire week, more so than any Mass or office. In these offices we formally begin the celebration of the Resurrection. In Eastern Churches the people wander the church looking for Christ, but not finding Him! He is risen! They then sing Mattins and Lauds at midnight, followed by Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is of Easter Sunday, it is not a vigil nor is it a midnight Mass, as we have on Christmas. The reformers lost this critical difference and canned the most important office of the year in the process.

In the West there would be a Resurrection ceremony, which would find the sepulcher created on Good Friday empty, the crucifix would be adored again as on Good Friday, and Mattins and Lauds would be sung. Mattins has one nocturn, with lesson from a sermon of Pope St. Gregory the Great, in which the saintly pontiff says we, the Church, must come to Christ's tomb bearing gifts like the women if we are to be surprised and rejoice. The Te Deum is sung de tempore for the first time in two months. At Lauds, the first antiphon declares that an angel descended from heaven to roll back the stone. The antiphons for this Lauds are among the most beautiful of the year. There is no hymn at Mattins or Lauds. The dismissal has a double Alleluia, as at Mass. The office ends with the Regina Coeli again. Easter has begun at this point.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Great and Holy Friday

End of the procession with the shroud

Veneration of the shroud after Vespers

The priest "creeping" to the shroud

Church readied for Jerusalem Mattins

Good Friday (re-post with new material)

I will endeavor to give a very brief explanation of the old, pre-Pius XII, Good Friday "Mass of the Pre-Sanctified." The name is such because the structure, vestments, music, and prayers of this services, particularly towards the end, follow the structure of a Mass, although using a Host consecrated at yesterday's Mandy Thursday Mass.

The priest and his two deacons, who wear folded chasubles rather than dalmatics, prostrate themselves before the altar for enough time to pray psalm 50, the Miserere, in silence, while servers spread a cloth on the altar. Like at Mass, the crucifix and candles remain on the altar, though unlit.

A lector sings a prophecy of the prophet Osee (or Hosea, in the Hebrew spelling), which foretells the suffering, burial, and third day rising of Christ. Then the subdeacon sings chapter 12 of the book of Exodus, which recounts the manner in which the finest lambs were killed during the first Passover in Egypt. This sacrifice liberated the Israelites from the bondage of the Pharoah. The sacrifice of the perfect victim, Christ, liberated the world from the bondage of death. God does not want a sacrifice because He wants things to be destroyed. A true sacrifice is the gift of what is precious to one's self unto another. This was the intent of the Israelites in Egypt, and more so on the Cross. A tract, psalm 139, is sung: Eripe me Domine ab homine malo—"Deliver me, Oh Lord, from the wicked man!"

Three deacons then sing the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John, beginning with His arrest in the Garden and ending just after His death on the Cross. The deacon of the "Mass" removes his folded chasuble, as at Mass, and sings the burial of Christ as the Gospel, suggesting that this, not the general narrative, is the most important text of the day.

Priest and subdeacon listen to the Passion.

Then deacon, now wearing the "broad stole," returns to the other ministers. Returning to the epistle corner, the priest sings the Solemn Collects, some of the oldest continuously used prayers in the Church. Moreover, these prayers give us some indication as to what the structure of the Mass was like in the mid-first millennium and for what those Christians prayed. There is a preface to announce the prayer intention, followed by Oremus—"let us pray," Flectamus genua—"Let us kneel," and Levate—"Let us stand" before the actual prayer itself.

The prayer intentions were:
  • For the welfare of the Church universal
  • For the Pope
  • For the clergy, people in religious life, virgins, and widows
  • For the enlightenment of the catechumens and the remission of their sins
  • For the cleansing of the world of errors
  • For the rescue of heretics and schismatics
  • For the conversion of the Jews
  • For the end of idolatry and conversion of the pagans
No genuflection was made during the prayer for the Jews. A genuflection was added by Pope John XXIII in the revised rite of Holy Week in 1959, although John XXIII seems to have continued to celebrate the old Good Friday in the Sistine Chapel!

The prayer that caused so much consternation is as follows:
Orémus et pro pérfidis Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dóminus noster áuferat velámen de córdibus eórum; ut et ipsi agnóscant Iesum Christum, Dóminum nostrum.
Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui étiam iudáicam perfídiam a tua misericórdia non repéllis: exáudi preces nostras, quas pro illíus pópuli obcæcatióne deférimus; ut, ágnita veritátis tuæ luce, quæ Christus est, a suis ténebris eruántur. Per eundem Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Unlike the other solemn intercessions on Good Friday the clergy and people make no genuflection between the announcement of the intention and the actual collect.
Initially I did not think this prayer bigoted, but I did consider it unnecessarily inflammatory given the use of the term "pro perfidis Iudaeis." That all changed when then-Pope Benedict issued a shiny new prayer for the Jews to be used during 1962 rite Good Friday services. A friend of mine reacted positively to the new prayer, saying it brought us away from "tribal hate" and towards a more brotherly outlook on our antecedent religion. At this point I began to re-consider my position. Benedict's prayer, although different from the traditional one, at least asks for conversion, in stark contrast to the vague platitude in the Pauline Missal's Holy Week.

The first clue in my re-evaluation was the true contextual meaning of that term "perfidis," which does not mean "perfidious" in the modern understanding (wretched, wicked, evil), but rather "faithless." This ought not be anti-Semitic. It is merely a deduction. Anyone who does not believe in Christ lacks proper faith.

The next, and most profound, point makes the loss of this prayer a liturgical, historical, and theological travesty. The intention asks that God might "remove the veil from their hearts," which the collect proper continues to petition that the Jews might "acknowledge the light of Your Truth, Which is Christ" and that they may be "rescued from their darkness." To understand the deeper meaning and truth of this prayer we must recall what happened at the end of the Crucifixion.

"Jesus, when He had taken the vinegar, said: 'It is consummated.' And bowing His head he gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). In tract 119 St. Augustine writes "What, but all that prophecy had foretold so long before? And then, because nothing now remained that still required to be done before He died, as if He, who had power to lay down His life and to take it up again, had at length completed all for whose completion He was waiting." Our Lord's death on the Cross completes everything the Father promised in the Old Covenant and which He appointed His Son to do for our sake. The prophecies and promises are, at this point, fulfilled. Fulfillment, in the Church, does not mean something finished. Rather it means something brought to fruition.

Consequently, the covenant God made with the Jews did not vanish entirely, but became something else, something greater and, as the angel told the shepherds when He was born, a great thing "for all peoples" (Luke 2). The God Who dwelt only among the Jews and Who only revealed His intentions to them and Who only acted among them now dwells and reveals Himself and acts among all people and for the good of all. "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22), but not limited to the Jews. The Old Covenant, now something greater, ends as it was. The Temple veil "was rent in two from the top even to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51). The veil, which concealed the awesome qualitative presence of God within the Temple, is entirely torn when a new, and greater, covenant is sealed in the Blood of Christ. Here is a New Covenant for all people. God, no longer hidden behind the Temple veil, is now accessible to all people. St. Paul reflects on this in his epistle to the Hebrews (9:1-8):

"The former indeed had also justifications of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made the first, wherein were the candlesticks, and the table, and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the holy. And after the second veil, the tabernacle, which is called the holy of holies: Having a golden censer, and the ark of the testament covered about on every part with gold, in which was a golden pot that had manna, and the rod of Aaron, that had blossomed, and the tables of the testament. And over it were the cherubims of glory overshadowing the propitiatory: of which it is not needful to speak now particularly. Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year: not without blood, which he offereth for his own, and the people' s ignorance: The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing."

We have come halfway to understanding the significance of the older Good Friday prayer, but only halfway.

What does a veil, curtain, or wall do? It keeps something concealed, but also protects that something from exterior elements, usually light. Our Lord said "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). The Jewish leaders persuaded the crowds gathered in the Roman praetorium to reject Jesus and ask for the release of a bad man. After dissolving themselves of the Savior promised to them Jerusalem fell and the Temple, the place of God's covenant with them, burned to the ground. What survived was not Judaism in the pre-Christian sense, but a new sort of Judaism meant for scattered local communities and based on the Jewish people's experiences as the minority in an increasingly Christian world (the so-called "modernist" George Tyrrell wrote an interesting letter on this subject, concluding that Catholicism is the real continuation of Judaism). Rabbis replaced priests; synagogues replaced the Temple; and the Talmud became a new holy book to the Jewish people rather than the New Testament books. This reformed, leaner Judaism would help Jewish culture survive its coming difficulties and would also insulate Jewish people from the light of Christ—as it was founded partially in reaction to what Christ did. When the Father tore down the Temple veil to reveal Christ's light to all a new veil ascended to shield that light.

No one should conclude that this is anti-Semitic. Fr. Hunwicke points out that Arabs are Semites, too. This prayer is about Judaism, not Jews as an ethnic group. On some level the concepts "faithless" persons and of hiding the light of Christ with a "veil" applies to all non-believers. And yet the Jewish people, given their unique place in the chain of event that led to Christ's Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection, surely warrant a unique place in the liturgical prayers, particularly given their once exclusive covenant with God.

I have never felt comfortable with the description of practitioners of post-Temple Judaism as our "older brothers" in the faith, given that the Judaism which preceded Catholicism no longer exists. I suspect the shift in attitude towards Judaism and the eventual revision of this prayer results from [humanly understandable] European guilt that followed the Holocaust. The pope who initially altered this prayer (John XXIII) aided Pius XII's efforts to obstruct deportations of Jews in Turkey. The pope who introduced the 1970 prayer (Paul VI) served the same Pius XII as his secretary during the War. And the pope who issued a new prayer for the 1962 Missal (Benedict XVI) was a young German man during the War and who, certainly, has a greater cultural association with the Holocaust than the other two.

And yet I maintain that the loss of this prayer is something worthy of re-consideration. It contains a wealth of lessons about covenants, the meaning of the Crucifixion, the openness of Christ's grace, and the danger of veiling Christ's light. During the first fourteen or so centuries, or more, of this prayer's use no one decided to attempt mass extermination of the Jewish people. Hitler's anti-Semitism had nothing to do with Catholicism. His was a neo-pagan, racially-based hatred steeped in the eugenicist delusions pervading secular culture in the early 20th century—not that modern "intellectuals" have disowned the spirit of this delusion. Axing this prayer added very little and pushed aside very much.

The ministers, probably for mobility in ancient times, remove their outer-most vestments and the deacon retrieves the veiled crucifix from the altar and gives it to the priest. The priest, beginning at the bottom of the epistle side, steps higher and towards the center of the altar, unveiling part of the crucifix and singing Ecce lignum crucis—"Behold the wood of the cross"—as he rises. The people respond In quo salus mundi pependit. Venite, adoremus!—"On which hung the salvation of the world. Come, let us adore!"

This happens three times, after which the entire crucifix is visible. It is then laid upon a pillow or cloth and adored by the people. First the priest, then the ministers of the service, then any other present clergy, and the servers. They all adore barefoot. Then the congregation adores, making three prostrations before their kiss of the cross.

Although the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified supposedly died in 1956 under Pope Pius XII, John XXIII continued to use it in the Sistine Chapel, as seen in this 1959 celebration.

Ecce lingum crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit.

Venite, adoremus!

Whilst the laity make their adoration, the altar is prepared for the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified and the choir sings the Reproaches, which includes the Trisagion.

The crucifix is then placed upon the altar, where it would normally go, and is reverenced with a genuflection for the rest of the day.

The clergy, and laity if they wish, process to the altar of repose, where the Blessed Sacrament has been over night.

The Sacrament is then incensed by the priest, who assumes the hummeral veil and takes the Sacrament back to the main altar.

This is a full Blessed Sacrament procession, with incense and the processional cross carried before the priest and the Sacrament. The great hymn Vexilla Regis is sung.

The procession returns to the main altar.

The deacon arranges the chalice and its veil, containing the Sacrament, as it would be at Mass.

The Blessed Sacrament is then incensed by the celebrant.

The subdeacon prepares the chalice with wine and water, as he would at Mass and the "Gifts" are incensed in the same way they would have been at a regular Mass. The priest turns to the people and says the Orate, fratres... ("Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours....) as at Mass.

One English friend of mine always insisted that the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified is indeed an actual Mass. He had something of a point. Its prayers are those of a Mass. It is not a simple communion service. Although there is no consecration of the Host, the actions imitate those of a Mass in order to emphasize the relation between the Mass and Calvary, that they are one and the same sacrifice of Christ.

The celebrant then sings the Pater Noster, "Our Father," and elevates the Host for public adoration as he would after consecration at Mass. He then fractures the Host as at Mass and mingles a fragment of the Blessed Sacrament with wine. Liturgical reformers particularly disliked the pious medieval belief that the fragment consecrated the wine into the blood of Christ (which Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox still believe).

The union between the offering of the Body and Blood here and the same sacrifice that took place on the Cross cannot be emphasized enough. There are two reasons why no active consecration takes place here: the first is that the Eucharistic (which comes from the Greek word for "thanksgiving") has a celebratory character to it, which makes it ill suited for today; the other is that today the priest is less an agent of Christ, in persona Christi, than the rest of the year. Today Christ does everything. He offers Himself on His own and by His own accord. So the priest elevates the Sacrament as at Mass both for adoration of the people and to parallel the same work of Christ that takes place at a normal Mass.

The priest then says the communion prayers of Mass and consumes the Host as normal. He consumes the chalice's contents saying nothing, leaving some mystery as to whether consecration occurred or not!

Today the congregation and attending clergy do not and cannot receive Holy Communion. As we have the Real Presence one could say that today we have the Real Loss. The gravity of this Loss is lost on us today. For one day out of the year there is no Blessed Sacrament, there are no holy images, there are no candles, nor is there any vibrant color. All there is after the Pre-Sanctified Mass is the Crucifix. One is reminded of Cordellia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited lamenting the de-consecration of the family chapel during which a visiting priest consumed the Sacrament and took the altar stone and relic with him. Cordellia asked Charles must "every day be Good Friday?" As a matter of principle when I attend the Pauline Good Friday I do not receive Communion. Doing so misses the point today.

The priest purifies his fingers and the subdeacon cleans the chalice as normal at Mass.

Vespers, the same as yesterday except for the addition of mortem autem crucis ("even unto death on a cross") to versicle and a proper Magnificat antiphon, are chanted in a monotone immediately.

The clergy then leave in silence unless they intend to follow the custom of deposing the corpus from a Crucifix and "burying" it in a sepulcher, a medieval practice which is still alive and well in parts of England, Poland, and the Byzantine rite. One such ceremony, at the monastery of the Franciscans who care for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, is shown below.

This marvelous rite was replaced with a general communion services. The revised rites, from 1956 until 1969, involved a maddening three changes of vestments. Prayers and readings, in both the 1956 rite and the Pauline rite, take place at the chair, the altar, at a podium, and any where else you can find. Odd.

A blessed Good Friday to you all.

For those interested here is a video of the first third or so of the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified celebrated as a pontifical Mass from the Faldstool.