Saturday, August 30, 2014

Leave of Absence

I've just had a major shock/loss in my life and will be away from blogging for a week or so. Pray for me.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rite of Econe II

A certain non-rad trad blog has posted a video of a FSSPX Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It is quite reflective of the FSSPX liturgical praxis. On what was the vigil of St. Lawrence, the feast gone on Sundays in 1962 (hence no vigil), they celebrated the Marian Saturday in red vestments. Why? Perhaps because in the Pauline kalendar August 9 was the feast of St. Edith "Teresa Benedicta" Stein, counted as a martyr. Yet, why not just yank white vestments from the drawer? About a third of the private Masses at the Basilica are according to pre-Pauline Missals. The sacristy must be equipped accordingly. Salve Sancta Parens....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Not A Restoration

But an outright improvement!

Readers will recall the post The Roman Rite in Transition, which supplied some photographic documentation of certain liturgical novelties before and during the Second Vatican Council, when the "Mass of All Ages" was still in use. Among the photographs was the below image of Archbishop O'Hara celebrating the titular feast at Christ the King parish versus turbam in 1954, at the time a brand new parish.

Today New Liturgical Movement has collated pictures of various celebrations of the Assumption from around the world, including a Latin Mass at Christ the King in Kansas City! Notice what is different?

This is more "Forget the Reform" than "Reform of the Reform" methinks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Old Time Religion

In every hotel—alright, just in Marriott hotels—is a Gideon Bible and a copy of the Book of Mormon. Willard Marriott was a Mormon and so the only religion I know that started from scratch in the U.S. of A. has an in with businessmen and vacationers across the motherland.

Mormons seem to be everywhere in Texas and, unlike other states, we are powerless to do anything about it because Texas has no solicitation laws. They are quite free to pester me at my front door, or in the check lane at Target, or in the library. Quickly browsing the Book of Mormon, it seems to be a lot of "So and so begot So and so, who begot So and so...." and self-referential citations. The illustrations are an odd blend of Sacred Heart style paintings with American Indians. All very odd. I gave up after a good three minutes. At least the Koran is entertainingly mad.

On the bright side, my travels yielded the opportunity for a dinner with Lord of Bollocks. On the down side, there was the horror of an unclad woman in the unlocked restroom of a gas station. Happy to be home.... (I think?)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Liturgical Theology and the Assumption

Liturgical theology is, according to Aidan Kavanagh, not a theological examination of the liturgy, but theology done by means of the liturgy. Liturgy is the theologia prima of the Church. When someone asks a Catholic how to learn more about the faith, the believer never directs the inquirer to obtain a copy of Denzinger. Invariably, the believer tells the non-Catholic to go to Mass (and hopefully at a carefully selected location). With this in mind, let us [very succinctly] consider what the Church told and taught us about the Assumption of the Mother of God ten days ago.

Apse of St. Mary Major with mosaic of Mary as Queen of Heaven,
crowned by and reigning with Christ.
source: Rad Trad's collection
Mattins—or the "vigil," as Dobszay insisted on calling the first major hour—consists of nine psalms and readings divided evenly into three nocturnes. Contrary to the eccentric and rich local traditions of northern Europe, which created special texts for Marian feasts, the Roman rite retains a primitive and sparse text. The psalms and hymns for the feast are typical of any Marian feast prior to the 1860s when Pius IX issued a unique liturgy for the Immaculate Conception. Where the Assumption stands alone is in the Mattins lessons and the text of the Mass. According to Dom Gueranger: 
"the Lord Pope went to St Mary Major, where, surrounded by his court, he celebrated First Vespers. At the beginning of the night the Matins with nine lessons were chanted in the same church.
"Meanwhile an ever-growing crowd gathers on the piazza of the Lateran, awaiting the Pontiff's return.... Around the picture of the Saviour, within the sanctuary, stand twelve bearers who form its perpetual guard, all members of the most illustrious families, and near them are the representatives of the senate and of the Roman people.
"But the signal is given that the papal retinue is redescending the Esquiline. Instantly lighted torches glitter on all sides, either held in the hand, or carried on the brancards of the corporations. Assisted by the deacons, the Cardinals raise on their shoulders the holy image, which advances under a canopy, escorted in perfect order by the immense multitude. Along the illuminated and decorated streets, amid the singing of the psalms and the sound of instruments, the procession reaches the ancient Triumphal Way, winds round the Coliseum, and, passing through the arches of Constantine and Titus, halts for a first Station on the Via Sacra, before the church called St Mary Minor.... In this church, while the second Matins with three lessons are being chanted in honor of the Mother, some priests wash, with scented water in a silver basin, the feet of the her Son, our Lord, and then sprinkle the people with the water thus sanctified. Then the venerable picture sets out once more, crosses the Forum amidst acclamations.... it at least enters the piazza of St Mary Major. Then the delight and the appluse of the crowd are redoubled; all, men and women, great and little, as we read in a document of 1462 (archivio della Compagnia di Sancta Sanctorum), forgetting the fatigue of a whole night spent without sleep, cease not till morning to visit and venerate our Lord and Mary. In this glorious basilica, adorned as a bridge, the glorious Office of Lauds celebrates the meeting of the Son and the Mother and their union for all eternity." (The Liturgical Year, August 15)
All rungs of Roman society paused regular life and joined Christ and Mary in the divine life for a night and an octave, celebrating Mary joining her Son in eternity and anticipating their own union with Christ in eternity. Mary was the first of what Christ wants all Christians to become by the Sacraments, albeit in a lesser degree.

The first three lessons are extracted from chapter 1 of the Song of Songs:
1 Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine,2 Smelling sweet of the best ointments. thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee.3 Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the righteous love thee.4 I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon.5 Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept.6 Show me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions.7 If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds.8 To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love.9 Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels.10 We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.11 While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof.12 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts.13 A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi.14 Behold thou art fair, O my love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are as those of doves.15 Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing.16 The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees.

Some of these verses are very sensual and even sexual. Let no one say that the medievals were prudish on matters of intimacy! These verses can be applied both as the Church's acclamation to the Virgin, joyfully exclaiming her maternal nurturing of us Christians working out our salvation in fear and trembling. These words can also, with some care and reservation, be interpreted as a dialogue between Mary and her Creator. The first verse "Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine" speaks to Mary on a level of intimacy that no man ever knew, but Christ did. He nursed from her, yes, but He, in the Father, also created her in accordance with His divine plan for mankind. The image of the breast conjures immature sexual ideas today, but previous peoples instantly affiliated it with nurturing and familial ties: the affection of the husband, the nurturing of the children—two kinds of love, the second generated from the first, which reflects the Divine Love. At this level of power and privacy did Mary know God, of course without the sexual element. Should the dialogue interpretation continue, Mary is both removed from conventions "I am black, but I am beautiful" and presented as close with God on the level of bride in the King's chamber, as the versicle before the third nocturne says.

The readings in the second nocturne come from St. John of Damascus' second treatise on the Dormition of the Mother of God. These readings replaced the writings of St. Dionysius of the [pseudo] Areopagite —which would have been the lessons read at St Mary Minor—with the Tridentine reforms. St. John explains the typology of the Virgin, her prefigurement in the Ark of the Covenant, which housed the old promise between God and mankind, and its fulfillment in her, who housed the new and eternal promise between God and mankind. And like Christ, she did not refuse death, but embraced it as a path to life away from the death wrought by Adam:
"From her true life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by Him to Whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, Who is the very Life Itself, had not refused; but, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by Him unto Himself."
In the treatise from which the above passage in extracted, the Damascene saint goes on to teach that Mary's body could only be assumed into heaven because its use by Christ consecrated it as a thing of heaven. The treatise goes on to recount the entire event of the Dormition and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, which ran the course of three days:
"An ancient tradition has been handed down to us, that, at the time of the glorious falling-asleep of the blessed Virgin, all the Apostles, who were wandering throughout the world preaching salvation to the Gentiles, were caught up aloft in the twinkling of an eye, and met together in Jerusalem. And when they were all there, a vision of Angels appeared to them, and the chant of the heavenly powers was heard; and so with divine glory she gave up her soul into the hands of God. But her body, which bore God in an effable manner, being lifted up amid the hymns of Angels and Apostles was laid in a tomb in Gethsemane. There for three whole days the angelic song was heard.
"But after three days, the chant of the Angels ceased, and the Apostles who were present (for Thomas, the only one who had been absent, came after the third day, and wished to adore the body which had borne God) opened the tomb; but they could by no means find her sacred body in any part of it. But when they only found those garments in which she had been buried, and were filled with indescribable fragrance which emanated from them, they closed the tomb. Amazed at this wonderful mystery they could only think that he, who had been pleased to take flesh from the Virgin Mary, to be made man, and to be born though he was God the Word, and the Lord of glory, he who had preserved her virginity without stain after childbirth, should also have been pleased to honor her pure body after her death, keeping it incorrupt, and translating it into Heaven before the general resurrection." 
The best sermon this writer ever heard preached about the Assumption, or "Dormition" given the setting, was that of a Melkite deacon. Paraphrasing and condensing ten minutes into a few sentences, "Heaven and earth were not vast enough to hold Gods' glory, but Mary's womb was. Christ received His Divine nature when He was begotten of the Father in eternity. He received His human nature when He was conceived and born of Mary in time. When her earthly course was run, Mary died and her body was taken into heaven by the One Who created her because it was inconceivable that the womb which ore God-made-Man could decay in the ground. But this does not separate Mary from mankind. God became united to mankind through her. Mary was the first. We will never know God as closely as she did on earth, except perhaps when we receive Holy Communion, but we can pray to know Him in eternity because of her."

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico
At the third nocturne we arrive at the Gospel of the day, also used in the Mass of the day. The pericope, Luke 10:38-42, is the same Gospel story applied in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the Greek tradition for this feast, adding verses 11:27-28. The last verses used in the Byzantine liturgy highlight the entire point of the Gospel for this day: "And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it." Is any depiction in pre-modern art more popular than that of the Annunciation? Mary became special because she bore Christ. She is a powerful intercessor with Him, indeed the most powerful intercessor with Him precisely for this reason. But also for this reason Mary is not a lone, solitary figure of power. She matters because wherever she is, Christ is nearby. Practically every depiction of the Virgin before the vulgar kitsche artwork of the 19th century showed Mary and our Lord Jesus together. In the various pieta paintings and sculptures, the great paintings depicting the Crucifixion and Norman rood screens recounting the same event, and first millennium holy images—Easter and Western alike—Mary is with her Son. So let us agree with the woman in the crowd: blessed is the womb that bore the Lord! And then let us turn our attention from Mary to Christ by hearing the word of God and by keeping it.

Culminating with the Mass, the Introit invites us to enter into the heavenly abode of joy, elevated from the earthly joy and instruction in Mattins and Lauds, as well as the rites local to the diocese of Rome described by Gueranger above. In the Mass God's presence begins as a mystic one and elevates into a literal presence that can be seen and touched, a presence similar to the one Mary knew as Christ's mother. The collect of the Mass is among the best in the Roman tradition:
"Forgive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the sins of thy servants: that we who by our own deeds are unable to please thee, may be saved by the intercession of the Mother of thy Son our Lord."
This collect, as Fr. Hunwicke has stated, is the theology of Mary East and West. What words could better express our Lady's place in the plan of salvation? The Mass became the integral part of the Assumption liturgy and, in time, many stunning settings of the Mass were written by the great polyphonic and choral composers. Palestrina's setting of the Ordinary of Mass is a personal favorite. The below sequence of videos has both the proper chants and Palestrina's setting concatenated, as for a Mass.

Lastly, the feast is an octave. This blog has discussed in other posts the concept of the eighth day and the theology of the Resurrection. Christ rose on the eighth day after He entered Jerusalem and He appeared to the Apostles on the eighth day after that, one octave after another. Moreover, the Resurrection constitutes the eighth day of the week, the new day of Creation, or re-creation. Mary's tomb, like her Son's was found empty. While the myrrh-bearing women and the Apostles Peter and John only found a few burial garments in Christ's tomb, Mary's tomb was found full of flowers and sweet scents. Christ's Resurrection brought mystery only clarified with the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Mary's Assumption was clear and a fruit of Christ's Resurrection. 

Unfortunately, this historic and gladsome liturgy was altered in 1950 after Pius XII's definition of the Assumption—wherein he says nothing new and clears up none of the controversy stemming from the chirpy immortalist crowd. The Office readings were altered severely: the first reading is now taken from Genesis chapter 3 and the next two readings from Corinthians (the same passage used in the Requiem Mass). The Pope's encyclical Munificentissimus Deus replaces one of the lessons from St. John of Damascus. The hymns are new and utterly ghastly. And the Mass is entirely new. The Introit is no longer an invitation to joy, but instead an excerpt from Revelation chapter 12. The collect is banal beyond belief and the Gospel is the account of the Annunciation heard at practically every Marian feast now other than the Immaculate Conception. Of all the changes to the feast in 1950, the insertion of Genesis chapter 3 at Mattins and the new Introit of Mass stand out most. Far from according to a "hermeneutic of continuity" with the previous liturgy, these texts exude the images of plaster statues and devotional lithographs so common in the 19th and early 20th century. Who has not seen a plaster statue of the Virgin, clothed in blue, perhaps with a bulbous baroque crown rimmed in twelve stars, standing on a blue globe and crushing the head of a green snake? The problem that arises from this depiction of Mary as crushing sin and standing above the moon, crowned with stars is not so much what it says as much as what it fails to say. The Mary of these images, pieces of art, and, to some extent, devotions is an aggrandized Mary not entirely dependent on Christ for her importance. There is nothing wrong with these texts doctrinally, but they replace other texts that were more coherent, beautiful, and holistically reflective of the Church's understanding of our Lady. The octave was stripped in 1955.

As with Holy Week, the same people who created the Pauline liturgy restored a few small portions of what they vitiated in the 1950s. The old Gaudeamus omnes Introit is made available as an option. The Mass as a whole is just as bad as the Pian Mass though. The readings are respectively Revelation 12 and the 1951-1969 Mattins readings from Corinthians; the Gospel is again the Annunciation. Mattins The Office of Readings gives Ephesians 1:16-2:10 and again Pius XII's encyclical as the lessons. The mystical understanding of Mary in union with Christ, representing the Church, and the link between the God-Man and mankind is obscured or forgotten. Who can deny that even the most pious of Roman Catholics—far better people than the Rad Trad—only know of Mary through the kitsch statue or as the object of the line "Hail, full of grace"? Again, there is nothing strictly heterodox about this folkish interpretation, but it comes at the cost of the stronger, traditional interpretation of the feast.

On a happy note I know of at least one priest who celebrated the old Mass and kept the old Office for August 15 and the octave! This feast, like so many of the most ancient feasts in the Roman rite, brings the faithful deep into the mens of the Church and her theology of the mysteries of God.

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino!

Original Documents of Vatican II

The Rad Trad generally avoids discussing the can of worms that dominates the trad-o-sphere, the Second Vatican Council. Rorate Caeli seems to publish something every week on the destruction "since Vatican II," as though that Council was the starting point and not the end point of the revolution. Still, once in a while some reflection on Vatican II is useful. Here is a link to some of the documents created by Pope John's commission, which included archbishops Giovanni Battista Montini of Milan and Marcel Lefebvre of Dakar, who butted their heads even then. The document on Christian Order has interesting footnoting, quoting Pius XII's radio addresses as magisterium over a dozen times! The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church is a good document, even though the last sentence chapter 1, section 7 is a load of bollocks. The Council Fathers scrapped all these documents during the first session. Pope John died in 1963 and Montini replaced him. Suddenly, new and very verbose documents appeared from small commissions which were not supposed to have been meeting, suggesting that the study groups had been meeting "off the clock" for a considerable time. Only Msgr. Annibale Bugnini's very own Sacrosanctum Concilium survived the Council Fathers and indeed became the first document passed; it was supposedly written with the other schemas, but its removal from the work of the general commission suggests, at least to me, that it may have been written when the initial study groups for an Ecumenical Council began to meet late during the pontificate of Pius XII. 

Read and learn! Do not let silly bloggers, myself included, distract you from primary information sources.

Happy Feast to a Living Saint

A happy feast to a living saint and reader of this blog, His Holiness Pope Zephyrinus. Ad multos annos, Sancte Pater!

picture from wikipedia

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Variation of St. Bartholomew's Day (Double Repost)

From my 1911 Missale Romanum
You will recall a few days ago a post displaying a photo of my 1911 Missale Romanum, which indicates that within the city of Rome St. Bartholomew's feast is to be celebrated on August 25th, as opposed to the broader celebration on August 24th. The other day, at Sunday Divine Liturgy, we commemorated the Saint, which I assumed to be a lingering Latinization that had not yet been discarded. A quick look revealed that the Antiochian Orthodox and the Greek Orthodox also observe St. Bartholomew on the Roman day. According to Rubricarius of the St. Lawrence Press the differing dates have to do with the transfer of the Apostle's relics the date of which was observed as the feast in Rome and in the Eastern rites. Gregory DiPippo relates that while the Latin Church observed the feast on the 24th a major celebration would take place at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island with the help of Rome's Greek community. The Sacred Congregation for Rites, not always a historically informed committee, axed this variation on October 28th, 1913 in accordance with the reforms Divino Afflatu began two years prior. The record of the relevant decree can be found here on page 463, section V, item d.

More On Liturgical Changes

For this interested in a more complete comparison than the post from last Sunday, check out the charts offered by the St. Lawrence Press at the bottom of this page. I recommend the analysis for April.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Impending End of Civilization?

Our only hope?
Politically and cultural conservative people uneasily predict the looming end of the long decayed Western order that emerged slowly from the ashes of the Roman Empire. The vetus ordo is quite dead and, despite what Republican candidates tell their frustrated base, it will never return as it once was. Some pinpoint 1517 as the beginning of the end, others 1789, some 1914, and many anticipate a day to come. Fr. Chadwick wonders if we are on the cusp of a totalitarian emergence. The Rad Trad tends more for an "I don't know, but the stuff is going to hit the fan in two generations" view.

The current period is transitional, the deep breath before the leap into cold water. New short term alliances grow out of the empty chasm where the old ones fell. China's economy remains an anomaly. Did they really grow at 8% annually? Possibly, but economists also estimate their inflation to be something around 10% and their banking system is under duress to make high risk loans at cheap rates. Their naval expansion reflects their ambition to become the regional hegemon in Asia at the cost of Japan and Taiwan. Communism is dead. The nominally Communist CCP operates a fascist regime (which is not the same as Nazism) based on federal subsidization of manufacturing enterprises. They own a considerable amount of American debt, but are far from the primary holder. Their massive "awakening" only took place in one quarter of the country and an even smaller sliver of Chinese will ever have the opportunity to access that wealth. China is an ambitious, unstable country underneath its tiger veneer.

America and Europe dally in remarkable culture, political, and economic decadence masked by America's military and GDP. The debt, the unstable demographic shifts, the extraordinary polarization of ethnic groups, and other factors make the United States susceptible to a moment of shock, the sort of thing that causes riots or public frenzies. The two fold danger is that a serious American problem both plunges the global hegemon into chaos and removes the largest power player in international affairs from its position, allowing the other aggressive players to re-align. America stood at the edge of empire after World War II and then stepped back to allow her own cultural tergiversations to chew and swallow her slowly. That same process happened in Europe a century earlier and ended in the general suicide of World War I. The "West" died decades ago. No one has gotten around to signing the certificate of death yet.

And Russia is as pesky as ever. The Soviet Union never really collapsed, it jut retracted. The last two decades in Russia could be summed up in "new name, same friendly service." Putin has re-vitalized masculinity in Russia and used the still-unattended Orthodox church as a point of cultural centralization. Russia's population decline and lack of resources prohibits Russia from becoming a self-sustaining global power, but she will always be a global player. Why was anyone surprised to learn that Ukraine, Russia's latest target, was during the communist days the engineering and manufacturing center of the Soviet Union?

America is dying. Europe is dead. China may or may not be a serious long term player. And Russia will always lurk in the background. What will emerge in the impending void? A charismatic figure who can solve all the world's problems? Such traits are found in the most potent and wicked of dictators, themselves so often types of the greatest and most charismatic despot of them all, the one who rules in misery because he did not wish to serve in splendor.

Do not worry! We are faced with decline and tremendous uncertainty over a vast period of time. Many other events will shape our future between now and the time a new order takes root. Such a malleable period may well be an opportunity for the Church, once she gets through her own collapse, to evangelize and re-structure herself for the age to come.

Regardless, these matters are hardly worth losing one's sleep over. It may not all be so bleak. Events need not unfold according to the worst interpretation, although recent events hardly suggest anything better. Yet these factors do not necessarily elicit a certain outcome. A dear neo-conservative (politically) friend said "I've given up. I'm rooting for either Skynet or God at this point." We should always root for God. Skynet can wait.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

St. Bernard on the Song of Songs & the Kiss of the Lord

One of the most enduring and enriching sermons given by the great saint from Clairvaux:
Today the text we are to study is the book of our own experience. You must therefore turn your attention inwards, each one must take note of his own particular awareness of the things I am about to discuss. I am attempting to discover if any of you has been privileged to say from his heart: "Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth." Those to whom it is given to utter these words sincerely are comparatively few, but any one who has received this mystical kiss from the mouth of Christ at least once, seeks again that intimate experience, and eagerly looks for its frequent renewal. I think that nobody can grasp what it is except the one who receives it. For it is "a hidden manna," and only he who eats it still hungers for more. It is "a sealed fountain" to which no stranger has access; only he who drinks still thirsts for more. Listen to one who has had the experience, how urgently he demands: "Be my savior again, renew my joy." But a soul like mine, burdened with sins, still subject to carnal passions, devoid of any knowledge of spiritual delights, may not presume to make such a request, almost totally unacquainted as it is with the joys of the supernatural life.
2. I should like however to point out to persons like this that there is an appropriate place for them on the way of salvation. They may not rashly aspire to the lips of a most benign Bridegroom, but let them prostrate with me in fear at the feet of a most severe Lord. Like the publican full of misgiving, they must turn their eyes to the earth rather than up to heaven. Eyes that are accustomed only to darkness will be dazzled by the brightness of the spiritual world, overpowered by its splendor, repulsed by its peerless radiance and whelmed again in a gloom more dense than before. All you who are conscious of sin, do not regard as unworthy and despicable that position where the holy sinner laid down her sins, and put on the garment of holiness. There the Ethiopian changed her skin, and, cleansed to a new brightness, could confidently and legitimately respond to those who insulted her: "I am black but lovely, daughters of Jerusalem.'' You may ask what skill enabled her to accomplish this change, or on what grounds did she merit it? I can tell you in a few words. She wept bitterly, she sighed deeply from her heart, she sobbed with a repentance that shook her very being, till the evil that inflamed her passions was cleansed away. The heavenly physician came with speed to her aid, because "his word runs swiftly.'' Perhaps you think the Word of God is not a medicine? Surely it is, a medicine strong and pungent, testing the mind and the heart. "The Word of God is something alive and active. It cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely. It can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or the joints from the marrow: it can judge the secret thoughts.'' It is up to you, wretched sinner, to humble yourself as this happy penitent did so that you may be rid of your wretchedness. Prostrate yourself on the ground, take hold of his feet, soothe them with kisses, sprinkle them with your tears and so wash not them but yourself. Thus you will become one of the "flock of shorn ewes as they come up from the washing.'' But even then you may not dare to lift up a face suffused with shame and grief, until you hear the sentence: "Your sins are forgiven,'' to be followed by the summons: "Awake, awake, captive of Zion, awake, shake off the dust."
3. Though you have made a beginning by kissing the feet, you may not presume to rise at once by impulse to the kiss of the mouth; there is a step to be surmounted in between, an intervening kiss on the hand for which I offer the following explanation. If Jesus says to me: "Your sins are forgiven," what will it profit me if I do not cease from sinning? I have taken off my tunic, am I to put it on again? And if I do, what have I gained? If I soil my feet again after washing them, is the washing of any benefit? Long did I lie in the slough of the marsh, filthy with all kinds of vices; if I return to it again I shall be worse than when I first wallowed in it. On top of that I recall that he who healed me said to me as he exercised his mercy: "Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you." He, how ever, who gave me the grace to repent, must also give me the power to persevere, lest by repeating my sins I should end up by being worse than I was before. Woe to me then, repentant though I be, if he without whom I can do nothing should suddenly withdraw his supporting hand. I really mean nothing; of myself I can achieve neither repentance nor perseverance, and for that reason I pay heed to the Wise Man's advice: "Do not repeat yourself at your prayers." The Judge's threat to the tree that did not yield good fruit is another thing that makes me fearful. For these various reasons I muse confess that I am not entirely satisfied with the first grace by which I am enabled to repent of my sins; I must have the second as well, and so bear fruits that befit repentance, that I may not return like the dog to its vomit.
4. I am now able to see what I must seek for and receive before I may hope to attain to a higher and holier state. I do not wish to be suddenly on the heights, my desire is to advance by degrees. The impudence of the sinner displeases God as much as the modesty of the penitent gives him pleasure. You will please him more readily if you live within the limits proper to you, and do not set your sights at things beyond you. It is a long and formidable leap from the foot to the mouth, a manner of approach that is not commendable. Consider for a moment: still tarnished as you are with the dust of sin, would you dare touch those sacred lips? Yesterday you were lifted from the mud, today you wish to encounter the glory of his face ? No, his hand must be your guide to that end. First it must cleanse your stains, then it must raise you up. How raise you? By giving you the grace to dare to aspire. You wonder what this may be. I see it as the grace of the beauty of temperance and the fruits that befit repentance, the works of the religious man. These are the instruments that will lift you from the dunghills and cause your hopes to soar. On receiving such a grace then, you must kiss his hand, that is, you must give glory to his name, not to yourself. First of all you must glorify him because he has forgiven your sins, secondly because he has adorned you with virtues. Otherwise you will need a bold front to face reproaches such as these: "What do you have that was not given to you? And if it was given; how can you boast as though it were not?"
5. Once you have had this twofold experience of God's benevolence in these two kisses, you need no longer feel abashed in aspiring to a holier intimacy. Growth in grace brings expansion of confidence You will love with greater ardor, and knock on the door with greater assurance, in order to gain what you perceive to be still wanting to you. "The one who knocks will always have the door opened to him." It is my belief that to a person so disposed, God will not refuse that most intimate kiss of all, a mystery of supreme generosity and ineffable sweetness. You have seen the way that we must follow, the order of procedure: first, we cast ourselves at his feet, we weep before the Lord who made us, deploring the evil we have done. Then we reach out for the hand that will lift us up, that will steady our trembling knees. And finally, when we shall have obtained these favors through many prayers and tears, we humbly dare to raise our eyes to his mouth, so divinely beautiful, not merely to gaze upon it, but I say it with fear and trembling - to receive its kiss. "Christ the Lord is a Spirit before our face," and he who is joined to him in a holy kiss becomes through his good pleasure, one spirit with him.
6. To you, Lord Jesus, how truly my heart has said: "My face looks to you. Lord, I do seek your face." In the dawn you brought me proof of your love, in my first approach to kiss your revered feet you forgave my evil ways as I lay in the dust. With the advancement of the day you gave your servant reason to rejoice" when, in the kiss of the hand, you imparted the grace to live rightly. And now what remains, O good Jesus, except that suffused as I am with the fullness of your light, and while my spirit is fervent, you would graciously bestow on me the kiss of your mouth, and give me unbounded joy in your presence. Serenely lovable above all others, tell me where will you lead your flock to graze, where will you rest it at noon?" Dear brothers, surely it is wonderful for us to be here, but the burden of the day calls us elsewhere. These guests, whose arrival has just now been announced to us, compel me to break off rather than to conclude a talk that I enjoy so much. So I go to meet the guests, to make sure that the duty of charity, of which we have been speaking, may not suffer neglect, that we may not hear it said of us: "They do not practice what they preach." Do you pray in the meantime that God may accept the homage of my lips for your spiritual welfare, and for the praise and glory of his name.

Take from Paths of Love.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Constantinian Christianity

Popular now among Catholics, Schmemann-derived Orthodox, and various stripes of protestants is the narrative that Constantine corrupted Christianity by bringing about its legality and the official juridical preference given to it by his successors. Malachi Martin promoted this telling in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Church as did Alexander Schmemann in his Church, World, Mission. A complimentary narrative purports that the schism between Rome and Constantinople occurred in 1054, was solidified in 1204, and was the consequence of papal ambition. There is some truth to the last part of the second story, but it wholly misses the point. The un-caused cause of the schism is Constantine, who created "Byzantine" Christianity.

He is called "St. Constantine, equal to the Apostles" in the Greek liturgy—"equal" in his influence in spreading Christianity and in no other way whatsoever. Emperor Constantine was accorded by Russell Kirk the same appellation Edmund Burke gave Oliver Cromwell: "a great bad man." After the miraculous apparition prior to the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine found himself the ruler of a war torn empire stirred by the upstart Catholic faith. Constantine presided at the Council of Nicaea, partially to resolve a theological dispute which caused angst within the large Christian community and partially to baptize Christianity into the reformed and Hellenized Roman Empire. 

In the years following Nicaea the bishop of Constantinople, formerly a minor bishopric of little prestige (antipodal to Jerusalem, a prestigious bishopric of no political importance) exercised greater and greater authority within the Eastern Roman Empire. The fourth ecumenical council, held at Chalcedon, effectively pushed out of the Church Coptic Christians who were duped by the heresiarch Eutyches. The same council promoted the bishop of Constantinople to Patriarch, second only to the Apostolic See of Rome. This promotion bypassed the eminence of the Petrine see of Antioch and the newly-alienated see of Alexandria in favor of political expediency. Slowly the Christianity at Constantinople became separated from Roman Christianity. By the time of the iconoclast controversy, we could say that there was such a thing as Byzantine Christianity, supported by the state and defined both by its Platonic language, its liturgy, and its prominence in conciliar decisions.

All this time the popes sat in Rome doing exactly what they should have done, absolutely nothing. Fr. Hunwicke once said it best: the strongest point of the popes during the period of Byzantine domination of theology is that they themselves contributed next to nothing. The popes of the first millennium, in stark contrast to the 20th century popes, were distinctly allergic to any kind of renovation, innovation, or evolution of the faith whatsoever. The papal reaction to the iconoclast dispute exemplifies this. While the Byzantines fought in the streets over proactive veneration of icons against the imperials who want them erased from the churches altogether, Pope Gregory III condemned iconoclasm and at the same time suggested a pastoral resolution, to put icons on the walls and ceilings of churches where veneration would not become an issue. After Greek control of the papacy detumesced and the Western Roman Empire fell apart, the Bishops of Rome and their Greek counterparts found themselves presiding over two increasingly distant parts of the universal Church.

The schism, contrary to popular opinion, did not happen in 1054. It did not happen in 1204 either. 1054 was not a breech between Rome and the rest of Christianity, which had long ago itself been separated from the former-Byzantine Empire. 1054 marked the culmination of a bickering match between Rome and Constantinople that began with the creation of a uniquely Byzantine Church, which was nurtured by the Photian affair and the triumph over the iconoclasts, and which was brought to a head by the re-assertion of Papal power. Over the two previous centuries, the popes had been a remarkably bad bunch (philanderers, simonists, murders, and the occasional heretic). Meanwhile the various patriarchates became accustomed to operating without the popes and their judgments. One could say Papal power was stronger in the 5th century than in the 10th. The all-time nadir of the Papacy came during the reign of Benedict IX, who bought and sold the papacy to marry a woman, held the Petrine chair thrice, and raised an army to dispute his uncle for the Roman see. After such a soap opera, the re-assertion of papal primacy under Leo IX, Gregory VII, and Urban II seemed absurd to the Byzantine patriarchs, who now presided over a tradition separate from that of Rome. A rift that had been taking root for centuries flowered with the dispute between Cardinal Humbert and Archbishop Michael Cerularius. The Emperor rightly ignored the separation when his kingdom was put at risk. The Crusades created a cultural animosity between the Greeks and Latins that spilled over into religion and in the years after the fall of Constantinople Greek Christians, understandably, looked to blame the Latin Church for its sins in meddling with Byzantine affairs. The Pope became the absolute head of all matters in the Latin West and the Greek Patriarch became Vice President of non-Islamic Religions in the Ottoman Empire; many patriarchs, even given their animosity towards the Roman Church, should be admired for their sufferings under the Turks. Individual cases of reunion, like that of the Melkite Church, were often disrupted or brought to naught by Turkish and Constantinopolitan intervention. Moreover, the roles of the Pope as Patriarch of Rome and "head bishop," as Armenian king Vartan II called the Roman bishop, became blurred.

At this point the "Hull thesis" takes over. The Latin Church been self-reflective and encumbered in her own legal system, her own theology, and her own devotions with no external oversight from the other patriarchates as existed centuries earlier. The Roman objectified theology and turned it into a variation of Greek logic. Conversely, the Greeks began to hold in suspicion things that were not Greek: the Roman Canon, the primacy of the Pope, St. Augustine, and the like. One epigraph in Banished Heart referred to the Pope as the "ghost of Caesar." Similarly, historian John Romer called the Orthodox churches the last "relic" of the lost Byzantine Empire. Both statements are exaggerations, but do procure strong elements of truth for modern consideration.

Now the Roman Church is in administrative and bureaucratic shambles; Mass attendance is in the gutter. The Byzantine Orthodox world is de facto run by Russian primacy, and Russia is among the most secular countries in the world; Orthodox churches are often strong centers of faith, but just as often seem to function as cultural hubs (Eastern Catholic churches are just as guilty here). The Greeks triumphantly uphold the religion of a defunct world power while the Romans have dismantled their once ubiquitous, virile praxis. And the Oriental Catholic and Orthodox Churches are forgotten.

Patriarch Gregory III of the Melkite Church
The cultural divide begun by Constantine continues to this day, separating Byzantine Christianity from both Rome and the far East. Coptic Catholics and Orthodox have inter-Communion in Egypt and have for years. The Melkites and their Antiochian Orthodox brethren also have inter-Communion, shared Sacraments, and even shared parishes; they use the Greek liturgy, but have carefully spurned any excessive embrace of non-Arabic culture. The non-Byzantine Eastern Catholics have displayed very little trouble adapting to the teachings of the last millennium without vitiating their own perspectives. Why must the Byzantines be different? Perhaps it is post "Uniate" guilt wrought by de-Latinization, pro-Orthodox ecumenism, and cultural pull. One Slavic Byzantine Catholic said to me "Well, we should all really be Orthodox and would be if not for the Union of Brest." Ignoring the fact that the Union of Brest influenced the Slavic churches and not the north African or far Eastern churches, my mind nearly prompted me to ask "Are you Catholic by birth or by faith?" I held my tongue.

The healthiest Byzantine Catholic parishes I have seen in the United States have embraced Byzantine spirituality as their future and reeled in the ethnocentrism that once dominated those churches. The Melkites and Ruthenians are doing well enough in the United States while the Ukrainian Catholic Church is struggling (but doing well in missionary areas). Was this not what Alexander Schmemann wanted his own Russian Orthodox Church to do decades ago? God became Man neither as a Greek, nor Slav, nor Roman, but as  Palestinian Jew. Constantine did not intend to drive a wedge between the various parts of Christendom, only to use part of it to strengthen his declining Empire. In that he succeeded. He was not the immediate cause of the East-West Schism, but he is the most necessary one.

This short reflection carefully advocates nothing. The purpose of this post is to summarize why the author believes the seeds of division of Byzantine Christianity (Orthodox and Catholic) from the rest of Apostolic Christendom were planted long before most think. Such a long division brings about many questions. Answers will not be found with the Moscow Patriarchate, the Congregation for Oriental Churches, or weekend conferences in Ravenna. They will only be found at the ground level.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Let's Compare!


As a follow up to this post on the Liturgy of the Hours, I would like to share this brief comparison of the Roman rite as various stages in the last four a half centuries.

Liturgy & Feast
I Vespers
II Vespers
1570: Octave day of St. Lawrence
Vespers of St. Lawrence; comm. X Sun. after Pentecost and oct. of Assmpt.
Festive. Three nocturnes of three psalms and three lessons; last lesson concatenates dominical readings. Comm. of Sunday and Marian oct. at Lauds
Of St Lawrence. Comm. of Sunday and oct. of Assmpt. Last Gospel from Sunday
Vespers of St. Lawrence; comm. X Sun. after Pentecost and oct. of Assmpt.
1910: St. Joachim
Vespers of St. Joachim; comm. X Sunday after Pentecost, oct. day of St. Lawrence, oct. of Assmpt., and of St Hyacinth
Festive. Three nocturnes of three psalms and three lessons; last lesson concatenates dominical readings. Comm. of Sunday, St. Lawrence oct. day, Marian oct. and St. Hyacinth at Lauds
Of St Joachim. Comm. of Sunday, St. Lawrence oct. day, Marian oct. and St. Hyacinth at Lauds. Last Gospel from Sunday
Vespers of St. Joachim; comm. X Sunday after Pentecost, oct. day of St. Lawrence, oct. of Assmpt., and of St Hyacinth
St Pius X: X Sunday after Pentecost
Vespers of St. Joachim, comm. of oct. day of St Lawrence, X Sunday after Pentecost, St. Hyacinth, and oct. of Assmpt.
Of Sunday, three nocturnes of three psalms and three lessons; comm. of St. Hyacinth, oct. day of St. Lawrence and Marian. Oct. at Lauds
Of Sunday. Comm. of oct. day of St. Lawrence, St Hyacinth, and oct. of Assmpt.

Optional private Mass of St.. Joachim with comm. of Sunday and proper Last Gospel
Of Sunday. Comm. of oct. day of St. Lawrence, St Hyacinth, and oct. of Assmpt.

1962: X Sunday after Pentecost
Vespers of St. Joachim, comm. of X Sunday after Pentecost
Of Sunday. One nocturne of nine psalms and three lessons.
Of Sunday.
Of Sunday.
Paul VI: XXth Sunday of “Ordinary Time”
Evening Prayer scheme I for Sundays of Ordinary Time
Of Sunday. Three psalms and two [very long] readings
Of Sunday. Readings of year A
Of Sunday.

I am sure some of this is wrong, so JohnR and Rubricarius can disabuse me of my errors. The Rad Trad advocates no specific year here, although he would not mind the 1570 scheme with St. Joachim permanently fixed for August 16.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Oceanic Chapels

Up until quite recently most cruise ships and ocean liners were equipped with chapels, even if modestly sized, for the religious needs of passengers. On larger ships priests and other kinds of ministers were retained for every voyage. Indeed, one Jesuit teacher the Rad Trad had in high school made his annual vacation a cruise on Princess Line's dime in exchange for a Mass a day.

Although oceanic chapels have never been large, they were once better decorated and often explicitly denominational. The RMS Queen Mary, now a floating hotel in Long Beach, CA, had no less than three chapels, two consecrated Catholic houses and one a Jewish synagogue. The first class chapel was very nice, ornamented with a large Mother and Child mosaic and a full altar topped with the "big six." The chasuble seems to be of decent quality, too.

The book from which these pictures are taken recounts:
"I rather feared that the innovation of giving the Madonna and Child a sea-faring interest might not be approved," said artist Kenneth Shoesmith, "but as it happened, they were delighted." The panel was covered with a mosaic of gold leaf to withstand the rigors of sea air, but the greatest challenge was keeping the details correct. Father Hurley, the port chaplain at Southampton, gave ecclesiastical approval, but Shoesmith probably cared more about the sextant at the feet of the Madonna of the Atlatnic than the Papal keys in her halo. 
Here we see the second and third class Catholic chapel:

The second and third class chapel, stark by contrast to the first class temple, was still well appointed. A very small image topped the altar: a medieval English styled depiction of the Crucifixion. Judging by the arrangement of the vessels and book on the altar in this picture, one wonders if this room was not also used for Anglican/Episcopalian services.

The Jewish synagogue.

These chapels were built with the demography of passengers in mind. The first class chapel was likely built for French passengers and wealthy Americans whereas the second and third class chapel probably accommodated Catholic American tourists and Catholic Europeans heading to the United States. Similarly, the synagogue was most likely built for migrant Jews trying to leave Europe.

The RMS Queen Mary 2, on which I plan to travel one day, differs from its namesake in that it does not have any chapel or religious services available.

Note: quotation and pictures taken from Images of America: RMS Queen Mary by Suzanne Tarbell, Frank Cooper, Athene Mihalakis, Don Lynch, John Thomas, and the Queen Mary Archives.

Mozarabic Liturgical Dance?

I was recently reading The Commodore, one of Patrick O'Brian's "Master & Commander" novels. Over the course of a dinner two characters discuss, in a story set during the Napoleonic wars, liturgical dance and its enduring presence in the Mozarabic rite of Toledo. Do any readers have insight as to just what the heck this is supposed to mean?

St. John Chrysostom

The Ruthenian parish in Houston. It was only built in the early 1980s and has a very imposing iconostasis. The building previously housed a Baptist community, much like the Ukrainian church in Dallas and the FSSP church in Irving. Ruthenian tones are very similar to the Ukrainian ones I knew. The congregation is diverse and has two deacons to assist the priest.

Anyone familiar with the Ruthenian Church in America will recognize these green volumes.
They are strange Divine Liturgy guides, with four tones or more available
for each chant (a dozen for the Our Father) and no indication which one might
be used on a given day. The translation is easy to read, but very strange. "Orthodox" is
translated as "true faith"—reasonable, but very strange colloquially—and "man" and
"mankind" are rendered as either "all" or "everyone." One suspects Robert Taft....

Divine Music

I attended Mass here when I lived in Connecticut. A beautiful Polish church
with an excellent choir. Sadly, I was usually only around in summers when the
choir was off.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Assumption Reading Material

Here is an account of what happened at the Assumption of the Mother of God. Read it, or at least give it a serious browsing. Four and a half pages well worth your time.

Gaudeamus Omnes in Domino....

The old Mass for the Assumption, taken from the Rad Trad's 1911 Missale Romanum:

The introit is quite stunning to hear

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ascension and Assumption

Fr. Blake has a few interesting observations about the connection between the Ascension of our Lord and the Assumption/Dormition of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. One important thing to add to his thoughts about the icon of the Dormition is the size of Mary in the Byzantine representation. Here we see Mary, having died in Jerusalem, surrounded by the Apostles (as recorded by St. Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite and St. John of Damascus), being take in soul by Christ while her body temporarily remains on earth, only assumed into heaven after it was sealed in the tomb. In iconographic depictions Mary is almost never shown apart from Christ. Commonly icons depict the Virgin holding young Jesus, wrapped in clothing that shapes the painted (or "written" to use the Greek term) Son of God as a peanut. Regardless of whether the young Christ is written as an infant or as an older child, as is often the case in the apse of Byzantine churches, the Lord is always in front of the Virgin. The Virgin shows us the Lord, Who is due glory in His own right. All honor of Mary descends through him (the opposite of the co-Redemptrix?), 

The Dormition icon reverses this. Mary, although fully grown at the time of her death, is now the size of an infant and shown in the same peanut-like shape as the infant Jesus of the Nativity icon. Christ holds His mother in front of Himself for the faithful to see.

Here the iconographic tradition shows the spiritual realm. Icons spiritually interpret God's action in the physical world. But, as Fr. Blake asserts, there are two planes of reality in this icon: what the Apostles saw, Mary deceased and heralded by angelic song, and the spiritual realm, the taking of her soul into heaven by her Divine Son. In the physical realm Mary was larger than Christ probably for 10 or 12 years and not much smaller for the next 20. In the spiritual realm the Blessed Mother is "more honorably than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim," but menial compared to God-made-Man, Christ. Mary, great as she was and is among Man, is still small in contrast to the One Who made her. With the Assumption of the Virgin, the Divine plan for the Incarnation is now complete.

The Dormition fittingly marks the end of the liturgical year in the Byzantine rite. The year re-starts on September 8th, the feast of Mary's Nativity.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Liturgy of the Hours Considered

This blog fondly analyzes and discusses less considered aspects of the old Roman liturgy which have been lost both during the mid-20th century reforms and the cultural milieu in the days prior to then. Among these forgotten facets is the Divine Office. For more thoughts on the Office changes in general click here.

The changes to the Divine Office in the 20th century were more radical than those to the Mass and they occurred in several turns. There was the new psalter, kalendar ranking system, and rubrics governing feasts in 1911-1913, the drastic reduction in readings and feasts as well as another re-ranking in 1956-1960, the abolition of Prime in 1964 and the introduction of vernacular, and then the full blown new Office in 1970 with translations becoming available over the following five years. Unlike the Mass, which although different in much of its content at least retained its primitive outline (entrance, readings, Gospel, offertory, Canon, Communion, dismissal), both the structure and the ornament of the Office were re-done entirely. 

Except for the so-called "Office of Readings," all the hours follow the same structure of an introduction, a hymn, three psalms (often fragments and often Biblical texts other than the psalms), a reading, and a canticle (sometimes non-song text made into song) followed by petitions and the dismissal. The readings hour may be recited at any time. Lauds and Vespers are rebranded Morning and Evening Prayer. And the little hours are replaced by three choices of "Daytime Prayer"—only one need be used. The old journey through the psalms to the Benedictus or Magnificat at the major hours or the familiar simplicity of the [mostly] unchanging minor hours is gone. The "Readings" Office is the oddest of them all, with long, turgid passages that are unsingable and clearly meant to be read sitting in a chair. Another unique feature of the Pauline Office is that since now Mattins/Readings may be read at any time prior to Vespers, the psalm that began Mattins in the old rite (94/95) has been misplaced to whatever hour is celebrated first. 

Below is a comparison of Lauds for Holy Saturday in the old rite, for which I take the pre-Pius X as the text, and the Pauline Morning Prayer for the same day, copied from's edition using the English Grail psalter.

Old Roman
Invitatory rites
Ps. 50, 42, 62 & 66, Canticle of Ezekiel, ps. 148-150
Ps. 64, Canticle of Isaiah, ps. 150
Responsory (replaces chapter for Triduum)
Reading from Osee 5:15-16:2
Benedictus with antiphon Mulieres
Benedictus with antiphon Save us/Salva nos
Oration Christus factus est and psalm 50
Pseudo-Byzantine intercessory prayers
Prayer Respice, concluding in silence
Concluding rites
Some features of the Pauline Office for this day are thoroughly un-traditional, such as having a hymn or using Gloria Patri.... during the Triduum, a time in which the rubrics and prayers are somewhat like those for a Requiem Mass and Office because the Church is in mourning. The old Benedictus antiphon about the women at the tomb—and the stone cold tomb is the point of consideration for this day—is replaced by a general text about salvation. The intercessory prayers, which in the Pauline Office are subject to options, as printed have the Greek response "Lord, have mercy" after each petition, but lack the character of the Byzantine litanies; Roman responsories are traditionally that, with the two sides of the choir exchanging prayers, something un-accomplished here. And the subtle, silent ending of the old Lauds is replaced with "May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen."

Lastly, the inversion of the old Office seen in praying Vespers after the morning Mass and Mattins and Lauds in the darkening evening, a strong reflection of one's spirit during the Triduum and the uniqueness of this time of year, is discarded in favor of using the same prayers and rubrics as are used the entire year round. Mattins and Lauds, since 1955/6, are now prayed in the morning as they are every other time of year during public recitation and Vespers (non-existent in the Pian Holy Week actually) are prayed at night.* Of course the strepitus, symbolizing the earthquake when our Lord died on the Cross, also died in 1955/6.

The new Holy Saturday Morning Prayer may not be heterodox, but it is heteropractic.

For more on the old Holy Saturday, especially the Mass with pictures, click here

* = to be fair, there are provisions for praying the Pauline Readings and Morning Prayer at night, but scheduling often puts this at an un-pastoral hour like 10:00 PM.