Thursday, December 31, 2015

St. Sergius and His Bear

(Mikhail Nesterov)
As must be obvious from the company I keep, I have an affinity for animals who have received their tutelage from the saints. Joseph of Cupertino raised a flock of sheep from the dead, Hieronymus assisted an injured lion, William of Vercelli ordered the wolf that killed his donkey into service, John Bosco was accompanied by a grey dog, and Anthony preached to the fishes when the heretics would not listen.

St. Sergius of Radonezh lived in the 1300s, and is considered by Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians alike to be one of the greatest Russian saints. He made his home at one point in the wilderness, like the hermits of old. Under various forms and in various times did the devils attack Sergius, but so exhausted did they become of the saint’s rectitude that they attempted to frighten him out of the wilderness with wild animals. Wolves, bears, and other beasts frightened the ascetic, but did not cause him to forget prayer, and eventually the animals let him be. All except for one bear.

Sensing that this bear came not to frighten him but rather was searching for food, the Russian anchorite began sharing his only food with the bear—a slice of bread. The bear made a habit of eating with Sergius, since food was difficult to find elsewhere. More than once, when there was only one slice of bread to eat, Sergius would give it all to the bear rather than let it go hungry.

So do we tame our passions by bread and fasting, and by “making friends of the mammon of iniquity” (Lk. xvi) do we convert them to our own cause.

It is unknown how or when or even if St. Sergius’ Bear met its demise. For all we know, the Russian Bear has been living a lonely eremitical existence in the Russian wilderness for the last seven hundred years, quietly waiting for someone to bring him a piece of bread in exchange for a story about its old master.

St. Sergius, pray for us!

(Nicholas Roerich)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Ultramontanist Debt to Luther

Martin Luther Publicly Burning the Papal Bull
“So one is the Abraham who believes, one is the Abraham who works; one is the Christ who redeems, one is the Christ who works… distinguish between these two things as between heaven and earth.” —Fr. Martin Luther
It’s not a well publicized fact that Martin Luther hated St. Augustine and his theology. Those who study Fr. Luther’s personal copies of Augustine’s works against the Manichees have discovered that the mad Augustinian monk wrote glosses in the margins defending that ancient heretical sect against their defector’s attacks. Luther the dualist believed there were deep divisions within the life of the Trinity itself—especially during the suffering of the Crucifixion—but he also ascribed similar divisions to the human person.

How did these manifest? Mostly in the distinction between Man the Sinner and Man the Justified. Every fallen man was, to use his own word image, a pile of feces. Justification fell from Heaven upon said pile of feces like a thick layer of snow, lying over but never transforming the filth beneath. The “saved” man thus has two identities: Sinner and Justified, and never the two will merge. This is in contrast to the metaphorical Old Man and New Man of St. Paul’s theology, who represent one’s worldly and spiritual natures, and who both wish to make the Christian into the image of himself.

It is an identity crisis not unlike that posited by the ancient Greek myth of Heracles, for the son of Zeus was also the son of the mortal woman Alcmene, and he possessed two natures. When he died, burned alive on his own funeral pyre, his divine part flew upwards to Olympus, while his human part sunk down into Hades. His human soul, or shade, yearned forever for its divine counterpart; his divine self, one assumes, happily could not have cared less about the human.

Odysseus Meeting the Shade of Heracles
In like manner, Luther saw the human person as a sort of vessel for hellish and heavenly parts, neither of which could truly transform the other. Since justification sits upon the sinner like a blanket of snow, is it only the snow that is saved? One wonders what happens to Man the Sinner at the moment of death while Man the Justified is swept up into Heaven. Is the former annihilated? Used as compost? Damned, and forever yearning for the cool snow?

Dualist that he was, Fr. Luther was comfortable accepting this contradiction. Quasi-Lutherans that they are, ultramontanists are comfortable accepting a sharp, irrational dualism in the papacy.

This expresses itself especially in their attitudes towards the Bishop of Rome. Believing him (quite rightly) to be the Vicar of Christ and head of the visible Church, the Catholic ultramontanist habitually holds a sharp division between, say, John Paul the Pope and John Paul the Man. John Paul the Pope can do no wrong, and every word and action must be piously praised as coming from the Holy Ghost himself. John Paul the Man is either non-existent (having been destroyed by his elevation to the papacy) or a kind of doppelgänger that emerges when John Paul the Pope slumbers. When a papal Mass is adorned with topless natives or the man in white kisses a Koran in full view of a camera, those faults are either maniacally ignored, or they actually insist that these evil actions are praiseworthy, and that we are simply too sinful to see their merits.

Similar breaks with reality occur concerning other members of the clerical class: laymen defending pederastic priests, priests defending heretical bishops, bishops defending mad cardinals, and so forth. Clericalism is a form of dualism in which Fr. Sinner is covered in the snowy mantle of Fr. Justified—and who are you to judge when he falls?

The Sacrament of Holy Orders imprints an indelible spiritual mark on the soul, bestowing the powers to consecrate, offer sacrifice, and forgive sins. This sacrament is not, however, a magical fluffy layer of snow that makes a priest’s feces stop stinking.

Luther himself was a clericalist, returning from Rome scandalized by the excesses of the Roman clergy and full of zeal to denounce them. He was scrupulous about his own sins after he was ordained a priest, since he did not think himself worthy of the priesthood. He was so obsessed by his own unworthiness that he was nearly unable to finish saying his first Mass, much to the embarrassment of his father.

The general attitude of pre-Reformation Catholics can best be described as one of holy resignation to clerical vice. Whether they had to suffer the keeping of concubines, the buying and selling of offices, the thieving of tithes to live in exorbitance, or even outright perversities, the laity’s reaction to wicked priests was to express their disgust and move on with life. They understood and readily admitted that bishops who murdered others for their own gain were on a steep slope to Hell, and this understanding granted them a measure of peace.

Surely it can do the same for us.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Close the Doors of Mercy!

Saint Louis Catholic is reporting that the confessional door stolen from St. Francis de Sales Oratory has been returned. After all that work they put into the replacement tarp...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

'62ville: Losing the Apostles

One of the few things this blog unambiguously advocates is a widespread reform of the Roman liturgy that involves recovering essential elements of the Latin tradition conspicuously absent in the "extraordinary form" Office and Mass of 1962. These elements include the psalter (lost to Pius X), Holy Week (lost to Pius XII), decent vestments (lost to the Italians), and decent taste (lost to kitsch).

Serious discussion of the Roman liturgical reforms in traditionalist circles, at least until respectable scholars like Laurence Hemming questioned the 1911 breviary reforms, usually contrasted "pre-1955" with 1962 and highlighted glaring differences such as what Pius XII did to Holy Week as a test run for the reformed liturgy. Something less noticeable is what differs on a more regular basis.

Today, until 1955, would have been the feast of St. John the Evangelist, Our Lord's favorite Apostle. One correspondent, who has successfully implemented proper Last Gospels, public horae minores, and some pre-reform Holy Week days at his parish, lamented that his pastor would be observing Sunday within the octave of the Nativity rather than St. John. Offhandedly, I asked how many Apostles had the 1962 liturgy entirely disregarded in the last year; unexpectedly, he told me five. In another conversation a while back I was speaking with an ordo compiler who offhandedly remarked "Nothing for St Andrew this year. He was only the first Apostle."

I am unsure how strictly the Roman liturgy ranked the Apostles before St Pius V's revisions in 1568-1570. Most local European rites give the Apostles, even Peter & Paul, a semi-double rank. Pius V upgraded many feasts to double rank, which allowed them to outrank Sunday. This does not, however, put the pre-Pius V system on par with 1962. Although a semi-double did not outrank Sunday, it was not discarded. Semi-double feasts impeded by Sunday were transferred to the next ferial day. Under St Pius X's system Apostles' Double of the Second Class feasts continued to outrank Sundays, even though lesser feasts could not (they did, however, warrant commemorations at Mass and in the Office). Even under Pius XII's 1955 revisions there were provisions for commemorating the now lessened feasts of the Apostles. The simplification of commemorations in 1962 breaks with all tradition in completely and utterly doing nothing for Apostles not named Peter & Paul when their feasts fall on Sunday. 

Wholesale liturgical restoration is not feasible at this point, even within traditionalist communities, which are quite happy just to get their Mass once a week and have a place at the local parish. We cannot begrudge Catholics gratitude for this. We can, however, push for some provision to be made for such boisterous flaws in a liturgy that purports to be the "Mass of all times." Would it be too much for Fr. Tradman to do a commemoration and proper ultimum evangelium for St. John tomorrow? He only wrote a Gospel.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas: Christ is Born, Glorify Him!

If you are looking for some spiritual edification beyond Mass, look no further. Here are the Mattins lessons for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ as well as the Introit, my favorite in the Roman rite, for the third Mass of the day. As they say in the East, "Christ is born! Glorify Him!"

From Isaiah:

1 At the first time the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephtali was lightly touched: and at the last the way of the sea beyond the Jordan of the Galilee of the Gentiles was heavily loaded.
2 The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.
3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.
4 For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou hast overcome, as in the day of Median.
5 For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire.
6 For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.
1 Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.
3 The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
6 The voice of one, saying: Cry. And I said: What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field.
7 The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen, because the spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. Indeed the people is grass:
8 The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen: but the word of our Lord endureth for ever.
1 Arise, arise, put on thy strength, O Sion, put on the garments of thy glory, O Jerusalem, the city of the Holy One: for henceforth the uncircumcised, and unclean shall no more pass through thee.
2 Shake thyself from the dust, arise, sit up, O Jerusalem: loose the bonds from off thy neck, O captive daughter of Sion.
3 For thus saith the Lord: You were sold gratis, and you shall be redeemed without money.
4 For thus saith the Lord God: My people went down into Egypt at the beginning to sojourn there: and the Assyrian hath oppressed them without any cause at all.
5 And now what have I here, saith the Lord: for my people is taken away gratis. They that rule over them treat them unjustly, saith the Lord, and my name is continually blasphemed all the day long.
6 Therefore my people shall know my name in that day: for I myself that spoke, behold I am here.

From St. Leo the Great, Pope of Rome:

Dearly beloved brethren, Unto us is born this day a Saviour. Let us rejoice. It would be unlawful to be sad to-day, for today is Life's Birthday; the Birthday of that Life, Which, for us dying creatures, taketh away the sting of death, and bringeth the bright promise of the eternal gladness hereafter. It would be unlawful for any man to refuse to partake in our rejoicing. All men have an equal share in the great cause of our joy, for, since our Lord, Who is the destroyer of sin and of death, findeth that all are bound under the condemnation, He is come to make all free. Rejoice, O thou that art holy, thou drawest nearer to thy crown! Rejoice, O thou that art sinful, thy Saviour offereth thee pardon! Rejoice also, O thou Gentile, God calleth thee to life! For the Son of God, when the fulness of the time was come, which had been fixed by the unsearchable counsel of God, took upon Him the nature of man, that He might reconcile that nature to Him Who made it, and so the devil, the inventor of death, is met and beaten in that very flesh which hath been the field of his victory.

When our Lord entered the field of battle against the devil, He did so with a great and wonderful fairness. Being Himself the Almighty, He laid aside His uncreated Majesty to fight with our cruel enemy in our weak flesh. He brought against him the very shape, the very nature of our mortality, yet without sin. His birth however was not a birth like other births for no other is born pure, nay, not the little child whose life endureth but a day on the earth. To His birth alone the throes of human passion had not contributed, in His alone no consequence of sin had had -part. For His Mother was chosen a Virgin of the kingly lineage of David, and when she was to grow heavy with the sacred Child, her soul had already conceived Him before her body. She knew the counsel of God announced to her by the Angel, lest the unwonted events should alarm her. The future Mother of God knew what was to be wrought in her by the Holy Ghost, and that her modesty was absolutely safe.

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Ghost: Who, for His great love wherewith He loved us, hath had mercy on us and, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, that in Him we might be a new creature, and a new workmanship. Let us then put off the old man with his deeds (Col. iii. 9); and, having obtained a share in the Sonship of Christ, let us renounce the deeds of the flesh. Learn, O Christian, how great thou art, who hast been made partaker of the Divine nature, and fall not again by corrupt conversation into the beggarly elements above which thou art lifted. Remember Whose Body it is Whereof thou art made a member, and Who is its Head. Remember that it is He That hath delivered thee from the power of darkness and hath translated thee into God's light, and God's kingdom.

From St. Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome:

By God's mercy we are to say three Masses to-day, so that there is not much time left for preaching; but at the same time the occasion of the Lord's Birth-day itself obliges me to speak a few words. I will first ask why, when the Lord was to be born, the world was enrolled? Was it not to herald the appearing of Him by Whom the elect are enrolled in the book of life? Whereas the Prophet saith of the reprobate Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. Then, the Lord is born in Bethlehem. Now the name Bethlehem signifieth the House of Bread, and thus it is the birth-place of Him Who hath said, I am the Living Bread, Which came down from heaven. We see then that this name of Bethlehem was prophetically given to the place where Christ was born,.because it was there that He was to appear in the flesh by Whom the souls of the faithful are fed unto life eternal. He was born, not in His Mother's house, but away from home. And this is a mystery, showing that this our mortality into which He was born was not the home of Him Who is begotten of the Father before the worlds.

From St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan:

Behold the beginning of the Church. Christ is born, and the shepherds watch; shepherds, to gather together the scattered sheep of the Gentiles, and to lead them into the fold of Christ, that they might no longer be a prey to the ravages of spiritual wolves in the night of this world's darkness. And that shepherd is wide awake, whom the Good Shepherd stirreth up. The flock then is the people, the night is the world, and the shepherds are the Priests. And perhaps he is a shepherd to whom it is said, Be watchful and strengthen, for God hath ordained as the shepherds of His flock not Bishops only, but also Angels.

From St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Lest thou shouldest think all things mean, as thou art accustomed to think of things human, hear and digest this The Word was God. Now perhaps there will come forward some Arian unbeliever, and say that the Word of God was a creature. How can the Word of God be a creature, when it was by the Word that all creatures were made? If He be a creature, then there must have been some other Word, not a creature, by which He was made. And what Word is that? If thou sayest that it was by the word of the Word Himself that He was made, I tell thee that God had no other, but One Only-begotten Son. But if thou say not that it was by the word of the Word Himself that He was made, thou art forced to confess that. He by Whom all things were made was not Himself made at all. Believe the Gospel. 

A Very Merry and Blessed Feast of the Nativity to All!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sarum Special: Christmas Eve

An Englishman named Charles Dickens invented Christmas as we now know it, a season of general goodwill and aimless gift-giving that calls for us to put aside our grievances for 24 hours. It has little to do with the Incarnation of God on earth. No where in Dickens' 60 page novella A Christmas Carol do the words God, Jesus, or Nativity appear, nor is there mention of any traditional hymns. There is, however, plenteous contemning of greed, egocentrism, the primitive welfare state, and parsimony. Five centuries before Ebeneezer Scrooge put aside his daily cares and converted his heart to Bob Cratchit Englishmen put aside their daily cares and converted their hearts to the Lord in anticipation of His Nativity.

If December 24 fell on a Saturday, the Church of Sarum transferred the Ember days to the third week of Advent. If it fell on a Sunday then Mattins of Sunday was sung until the third nocturne, at which point the Office of the day began with the psalms and readings of Christmas Eve; the Sunday Mass would be sung in chapter and the Vigil Mass sung in choir at the main altar of the cathedral.

The Mattins Gospel is the same as in the Roman rite, however Sarum favors the writings of Origen over St. Jerome. In Origen we see the beginning of the Church's theology of the Incarnation and Mary's motherhood using phrases that would be canonized at Ephesus in 431:
"Why was it necessary that Mary the mother of Jesus should be espoused to Joseph : except in order that by him this Holy One would be concealed from the Devil, and that the spiteful one by trickery should contrive no vengeance against the betrothed virgin ? Or for this reason was she betrothed to Joseph : that Joseph would be seen to bear the care of the newborn child and even of Mary herself : whether going into Egypt or returning once more from thence. For that reason she was espoused to Joseph : yet not joined in wedlock. Of his mother one saith, Mother immaculate, mother incorrupt, mother untouched. His mother. Whose is his ? The mother of God, of the Only Begotten, of the Lord, and of the King of all men : of the Creator and Maker of all things. He which in heaven is without a mother : and in earth is without a father. Of himself which in heaven according to divinity is in the nature of the Father : and in earth according to the assuming of a body is in the nature of the mother. O great grace of admiration, O indescribable sweetness, O ineffable and great sacrament. Herself a virgin, herself likewise mother of the Lord, herself the giver of birth, herself his handmaiden and his fashioner, herself which gave birth."
Origen likens Mary's maternity to the miracles of the Old Covenant which preserved the pure from ordinary patterns of corruptions in order to effect a more providential end. In previous times God kept the bush on Sinai to manifest His Law. Now he preserves an unblemished maiden so that He may manifest His Incarnation, remaining both God and Man:
"Who hath ever heard such, who hath seen such greatness ? Who could have thought of this : that a virgin would be a mother, an untouched would beget, and that a virgin hath remained and yet hath given birth ? Just as indeed formerly a bush was seen to be burning and the fire did not touch it, and as three boys were kept shut up in the furnace : and yet the fire did not hurt them, nor was the odour of the fumes upon them : or just as when Daniel was shut up within the lion’s den : while the doors were shut a meal was brought to him by Habakkuk : and thus this holy Virgin hath brought forth the Lord : but she hath remained untouched. A mother hath produced : but hath not lost her virginity. She hath given birth to a child : and as it is said she hath remained a virgin. Thus the Virgin hath brought forth : and hath remained a virgin. A Mother hath been made by the Son : and the seal of chastity hath not perished. Wherefore ? Because it was not only that man which appeared : but the Only Begotten was God who had come in the flesh. Neither unexpectedly was he born in the flesh : but perfect divinity came in the flesh. Whole therefore and undivided, God came in human kind or was brought forth in flesh : and both God and Lord took up the form of a servant. Neither indeed did a part of the Only Begotten come in body : nor did he divide himself such that half was with the Father, and half was within the Virgin : but in truth wholly with the Father, and wholly within the Virgin. Wholly in nature of the Father, and wholly in human flesh. Not relinquishing the heavenly, he came to seek the earthly. Which in heaven are preserved : and which in earth are saved. Everywhere almighty : unbroken, undivided, this is the holy Only Begotten God."
Lauds is of the day, except with proper antiphons which anticipate the following day: "Judah and Jerusalem, be not afraid, tomorrow you shall go forth and the Lord will be with you." Lauds does not observe preces on this day nor is a genuflexion made. A commemoration of All Saints may be made on Sunday, but votive prayers and Offices are vanquished until after the Octave day of St. Stephen.

The Vigil Mass is virtually identical to the Roman Vigil Mass on this day with a few additions. Sarum provided additional readings on certain days and sang sequences more often than the post-Tridentine Roman Mass. On December 24 the acolyte, the liturgical minister who holds the paten during the Canon of the Mass, reads Isaiah 62:1-4, foretelling the universality of conversion to the Lord. The sequence, repeated from the Fourth Advent Sunday, and the Alleluia are sung only if the Vigil falls on Sunday.

Not the "rite" setting, but something close.

At Vespers the senior most cleric, ideally the Bishop of Salisbury, celebrates with the four most senior canons ruling the choir. The same is done at Mattins of Christmas Day. The hymn is Veni, Redemptor Gentium by St. Ambrose. During Veni the two thurifers bring a pair of copes to the celebrant, who assumes one and picks another cleric to wear the other, who in turn with incense the altar during the Magnificat. Two other senior canons begin the Magnificat antiphon, which is the same as in the Roman rite: "When the sun shall have risen from heaven, you shall see the King of kings proceeding from the Father, as a bridegroom from his chamber."

Mattins of Christmas Day begins at such a time to allow it end before midnight, when the first Mass of the feast is sung. The first six lessons and corresponding responsories are sung by canons and choristers wearing surplies in ascending order of seniority, allowing the senior-most members of the choir to sing the sixth response. At the first response, after the lesson from Isaiah 9:1-8, five boys wearing amices over their heads face the choir from the altar carrying candles. Between the iterations of the response ("This day the King of Heaven was pleased to be born of a virgin, that He might restore lost man to the heavenly kingdom....") they sing "Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill." At the second, fifth, and eighth lessons of Mattins a priest from alternating sides of the choir. The Gospel pericopes, taken from the three Masses of the day, and lessons for the final nocturne, extracted from St. Bede the Venerable and St. Gregory the Great, are read in copes.

Rather than singing the Te Deum immediately, a ninth response is sung while a full Gospel procession arrives at the lecturn in the middle of the choir. The deacon then sings the beginning of St. Matthew's gospel, which recounts Our Lord's genealogy, in a special tone.

Initium sancti evangelii secundum Mattheum
The Te Deum is sung and then the first Mass of Christmas begins, Dominus dixit. The celebrant, who should also have celebrated Mattins, faces the altar after Mass and says "Verbum caro factum est," to which the people reply "Et habitavit in nobis, alleluia." Lauds then commences. After the Benedictus and collect a series of additional antiphons are sung by choristers standing near the choir rulers:
"The Father's Word this day proceeded from a Virgin: He hath come to redeem us, And to the heavenly country hath willed to lead us back: Where the angelic powers with jubilation: Give blessing unto the Lord"
"Shining above the shepherds the angels hath proclaimed Peace, the messenger of peace; Thou O Shepherd of the Church, bestow upon us Thy peace: And Thy children of their debt to their Redeemer teach them, to sing forth in joyful thanks"
A commemoration of antiphons, versicles, and collect is made of the Blessed Virgin to "complete" the Nativity.

After Lauds the second Mass of Christmas is sung. All three Sarum Masses for Christmas are nearly identical with their Roman counterparts, except for the addition of a lesson from Isaiah before the epistle.

Second Vespers was not well attended, speculatively. The good people of Salisbury had settled their brains for a long winter's nap.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Open the Doors of Mercy!

As an unfortunate followup to our earlier photo series on the St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, Missouri, we note that one of the hand-carved confessional doors has been stolen.

If this were an average diocesan parish, the priest would probably shrug, place a tarp over the doorframe, and move on. Then again, if this were an average parish, nobody would have bothered to steal the door in the first place.

(Thanks to Saint Louis Catholic)

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et salvator earum; veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Saviour of the nations! come and save us, O Lord our God! 
O Emmanuel! King of Peace! thou enterest to-day the city of thy predilection, the city in which thou hast placed thy Temple, - Jerusalem. A few years hence, and the same city will give thee thy Cross and thy Sepulchre: nay, the day will come, on which thou wilt set up thy Judgment-seat within sight of her walls. But, to-day, thou enterest the city of David and Solomon unnoticed and unknown. It lies on thy road to Bethlehem. Thy Blessed Mother and Joseph, her Spouse, would not lose the opportunity of visiting the Temple, there to offer to the Lord their prayers and adoration. They enter; and then, for the first time, is accomplished the prophecy of Aggeus, that great shall be the glory of this last House more than of the first [Agg. ii. 10.] ; for this second Temple has now standing within it an Ark of the Covenant more precious than was that which Moses built; and within this Ark, which is Mary, there is contained the God, whose presence makes her the holiest of sanctuaries. The Lawgiver himself is in this blessed Ark, and not merely, as in that of old, the tablet of stone on which the Law was graven. The visit paid, our living Ark descends the steps of the Temple, and sets out once more for Bethlehem, where other prophecies are to be fulfilled. We adore thee, O Emmanuel! in this thy journey, and we reverence the fidelity wherewith thou fulfillest all that the prophets have written of thee, for thou wouldst give to thy people the certainty of thy being the Messias, by showing them, that all the marks, whereby he was to be known, are to be found in thee. And now, the hour is near; all is ready for thy Birth; come, then, and save us; come, that thou mayest not only be called our Emmanuel, but our Jesus, that is, He that saves us. 
From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

O Rex Gentium

O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum; veni, et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.O King of nations, and their desired One, and the corner-stone that makest both one; come and save man whom thou formedst out of slime. 
O King of Nations! thou art approaching still nigher to Bethlehem, where thou art to be born. The journey is almost over, and thy august Mother, consoled and strengthened by the dear weight she bears, holds an unceasing converse with thee on the way. She adores thy divine Majesty; she gives thanks to thy mercy; she rejoices that she has been chosen for the sublime ministry of being Mother to God. She longs for that happy moment when her eyes shall look upon thee, and yet she fears it. For, how will she be able to render thee those services which are due to thy infinite greatness, she that thinks herself the last of creatures? How will she dare to raise thee up in her arms, and press thee to her heart, and feed thee at her breasts? When she reflects that the hour is now near at hand, in which, being born of her, thou wilt require all her care and tenderness, her heart sinks within her; for, what human heart could bear the intense vehemence of these two affections, - the love of such a Mother for her Babe, and the love of such a Creature for her God? But thou supportest her, O thou the Desired of Nations! for thou, too, longest for that happy Birth, which is to give the earth its Saviour, and to men that Corner-Stone, which will unite them all into one family. Dearest King! be thou blessed for all these wonders of thy power and goodness! Come speedily, we beseech thee, come and save us, for we are dear to thee, as creatures that have been formed by thy divine hands. Yea, come, for thy creation has grown degenerate; it is lost; death has taken possession of it: take it thou again into thy almighty hands, and give it a new creation; save it; for thou hast not ceased to take pleasure in and love thine own work.
From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pop Quiz: Who Wrote This?

(No web searching before you guess.)
In accord with the command of your devout piety, we declare our faith, and in writing profess before God that we and our adherents believe as follows: 
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, and in the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who was begotten of him before all ages, God the Word through whom all things were made, both things in heaven and on earth; who descended, and became human, and suffered, and rose again, ascended into heaven, and will again come to judge the living and the dead. We believe also in the Holy Spirit, and in the resurrection of the flesh, and in the life of the coming age, and in the kingdom of the heavens, and in one catholic church of God, extending from one end of the earth to the other. This faith we have received from the holy gospels, in which the Lord says to his disciples: “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” If we do not so believe and do not truly receive the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as the whole catholic church and the holy Scriptures teach (in which we believe in every respect), may God judge us both now, and in the coming judgment.
Good luck!

O Oriens

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeterne, et sol justitiae; veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.O Orient! splendour of eternal light, and Sun of Justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
O Jesus, divine Sun! thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night: blessed for ever be thy infinite goodness! But thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing thyself in all thy brightness. Thou hidest thy rays, until the time decreed by thy heavenly Father comes, in which all thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea; thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the Edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that thou, O divine Orient! art so near him. They see thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is not yet born. And yet this Child is thyself, O Sun of Justice! Oh! increase our Faith, but increase, too, our Love. If these men loved thee, O Redeemer of mankind, thou wouldst give them the grace to feel thy presence; their eyes, indeed, would not yet see thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of thy creatures, we wish to keep near thee during the rest of this thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of Her that carries thee in her womb; we will not leave thee, until we arrive together with thee at Bethlehem, that House of Bread, where, at last, our eyes will see thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!
From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

O Clavis David

O Clavis David et Sceptrum domus Israel, qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel!  who openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and  no man openeth; come and  lead the captive from prison,  sitting in darkness and in the  shadow of death. 
O Jesus, Son of David! heir to his throne and his power! thou art now passing over, in thy way to Bethlehem, the land that once was the kingdom of thy ancestor, but now is tributary to the Gentiles. Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed the miracles of the justice and the mercy of Jehovah, thy Father, to the people of that old Covenant, which is so soon to end. Before long, when thou hast come from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides thee, thou wilt pass along this same road doing good [Acts, x. 36.], healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity [St Matth. iv. 23.], and yet having not where to lay thy head? [St. Luke, ix. 58.] Now, at least, thy Mother's womb affords thee the sweetest rest, and thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is thine own blessed will that thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O Eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world's darkness, this prison where the captive, whom thou art come to deliver, sits in the shadow of death. Open his prison-gates by thy all-powerful key. And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this Captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world thou hast enriched by thy grace, and the creatures whom thou hast made to be thine own Brethren.
From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

O Radix Jesse

O radix Jesse * qui stas in signum populórum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabúntur: veni ad liberándum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, * which standest for an ensign of the people, at whom the kings shall shut their   mouths, to whom the Gentiles shall seek; come to deliver us, make no tarrying! 

"At length, O Son of Jesse! thou art approaching the city of thy ancestors. The Ark of the Lord has risen, and journeys, with the God that is in her, to the place of her rest. "How beautiful are thy steps, O thou daughter of the Prince," [Cant. vii. 1.] now that thou art bringing to the cities of Juda their salvation! The Angels escort thee, thy faithful Joseph lavishes his love upon thee, heaven delights in thee, and our earth thrills with joy to bear thus upon itself its Creator and its Queen. Go forward, O Mother of God and Mother of Men! Speed thee, thou propitiatory that holdest within thee the divine Manna which gives us life! Our hearts are with thee, and count thy steps. Like thy royal ancestor David, "we will enter not into the dwelling of our house, nor go up into the bed whereon we lie, nor give sleep to our eyes, nor rest to our temples, until we have found a place in our hearts for the Lord whom thou bearest, a tabernacle for this God of Jacob." [Ps. cxxxi. 3-5.] Come, then, O Root of Jesse! thus hid in this Ark of purity; thou wilt soon appear before thy people as the standard round which all that would conquer must rally. Then, their enemies, the Kings of the world, will be silenced, and the nations will offer thee their prayers. Hasten thy coming, dear Jesus! come and conquer all our enemies, and deliver us."
From Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year 

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Saints & God's Plan for You

It's not the Cote d'Azur, but the North Dallas Tollway can be a pleasant drive at night, strolling through an unending space of lights which are not quite bright enough to illuminate the plastic city below. It was on such a stroll that a friend touched on on the heart of the saints.

"Rad Trad," he said, "I want to get your opinion on something. Your remember my friend Ned, right?

"Yes, I remember Ned."

"Well, Ned had this idea about the saints. He didn't think God had this great destiny planned for everyone or that everyone could have these mystical visions if only they were all sorts of holy. You see, the way Ned has it, the saints are supposed to stand out and the rest of us are just supposed to live really normal lives. I know it's not what they say at Tradistan and it always stuck out to me."

My friend stumbled on the saints' essence. Whether we know it or not we have all met saints in the legal sense of the word, someone who is in heaven or going to heaven. We have even met saints in the colloquial sense of the word, people who emanate holiness, be they prayerful people or outright fools for God. But few of us have ever met saints in the strongest sense of the word, those raised to the altars and whose names are impressed on the cornerstones of great basilicas. These saints are of a different breed.

One man I know, middle aged and disillusioned by the selfish resistance to adulthood on the part of his fellow baby-boomers, spoke in disabusing terms of that adage God has a plan for you: "It's a bad sales pitch from fifty years back with nothing to it. As I grow old I only find one message: embrace the Cross." We want to believe God has a special plan and destiny for each and every one of us and will not accept that our doldrums are our destiny. We should be like the saints and see the fingerprint of the Holy Spirit at every turn of our exciting lives. Or should we?

The Church is a community and the new creation after the old creation fell into sin. We belong to the Church on account of Christ, united to him and hence to each other by Baptism and Holy Eucharist. No one is anything except through the person of Jesus Christ, the God-man. In so far as we are anything we are members of His Church. Christ died for us men, not for any one individual. Everything Christ does He does for the Church and for her members, especially raising saints from time to time to underscore the way of truth.

The saints are different. They are headlights brightening the road on the motorway of this world towards the eternal destination. By their very purpose God makes saints distinct from the rest of us to call to mind our faults and their example. A saint cannot be confined to a cultural narrative or the walls of institutions; for this reason, I do not think a canonization arrantly aimed at solidifying a political line can be respected. There are no establishment saints, or at least there were not any.

Saints are disproportionately priests and religious. They led different lives than most of us, but did not necessary live away from us. Many of them did not occupy famous bishoprics. How many archbishop of Paris have been saints? St. Bruno was a subdeacon who realized he was failing in his piety and took to seclusion. Was St. Anthony of Egypt even a priest or was he just a man overcome by the need for penance? My favorite post-Apostolic saint, Philip Neri of Rome, only became a priest after seventeen years praying at San Girolamo in Rome. The pope did not ordain him to be archpriest of St. Peter's; an auxiliary bishop ordained him to serve a small following of twenty of so people—the primitive Oratory—and hear their Confessions. As Christmas approaches we will be hearing about how "Good King Wenceslas looked down on the feast of Stephen." Wenceslas was a duke who had a simple piety and a strong sense of charity towards his subjects, which is epitomized in the song. The saint used to fashion the bread and wine for Mass himself and present them at the offertory, as was the custom. The saints were different yet still accessible to us who follow and simply "embrace the Cross."

Where are these saints today? Philip Neri and several other Roman saints of repute would not even get a look from a modern bishop or religious order. If obedience is a virtue unto itself then there is no need for Catherine of Sienna or Teresa of Avila. These men and women still exist in our midst, invisible for bishops looking to cultivate profitable pilgrimages to pay homage at the tomb of "St. John Paul the Great." Canonizations now do what they have never done: they confirm the establishment.

The saints are still among us, but we must pray that they be raised above us.

O Adonai

O Adonaï, et dux domus Israël, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extenso.O Adonaï, and leader of the house of Israel! who appearedst to Moses in the fire  of the flaming bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai;  come and redeem us by thy  outstretched arm. 

O Sovereign Lord! O Adonaï! come and redeem us, not by thy power, but by thy humility. Heretofore, thou didst show thyself to Moses thy servant in the midst of a mysterious flame; thou didst give thy law to thy people amidst thunder and lightning; now, on the contrary, thou comest not to terrify, but to save us. Thy chaste Mother having heard the Emperor's edict, which obliges her and Joseph her Spouse to repair to Bethlehem, she prepares everything needed for thy divine Birth. She prepares for thee, O Sun of Justice! the humble swathing-bands, wherewith to cover thy nakedness, and protect thee, the Creator of the world, from the cold of that mid-night hour of thy Nativity! Thus it is that thou willest to deliver us from the slavery of our pride, and show man that thy divine arm is never stronger than when he thinks it powerless and still. Everything is prepared, then, dear Jesus! thy swathing-bands are ready for thy infant limbs! Come to Bethlehem, and redeem us from the hands of our enemies. 

From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger

Thursday, December 17, 2015

O Sapientia

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia; veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.O Wisdom, that proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end mightily, and disposing all things with strength and sweetness! come and teach us the way of prudence.
O Uncreated Wisdom! that art so soon to make thyself visible to thy creatures, truly thoudisposest all things. It is by thy permission, that the Emperor Augustus issues a decree ordering the enrolment of the whole world. Each citizen of the vast Empire is to have his name enrolled in the city of his birth. This prince has no other object in this order, which sets the world in motion, but his own ambition. Men go to and fro by millions, and an unbroken procession traverses the immense Roman world; men think they are doing the bidding of man, and it is God whom they are obeying. This world-wide agitation has really but one object; it is, to bring to Bethlehem a man and woman who live at Nazareth in Galilee, in order that this woman, who is unknown to the world but dear to heaven, and is at the close of the ninth month since she conceived her child, may give birth to this Child in Bethlehem, for the Prophet has said of him: "His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. And thou, O Bethlehem I art not the least among the thousand cities of Juda, for out of thee He shall come." [Mich. v. 2; St Matth. ii. 6.]. O divine Wisdom! how strong art thou, in thus reaching Thine ends by means which are infallible, though hidden! and yet, how sweet, offering no constraint to man's free-will! and withal, how fatherly, in providing for our necessities! Thou choosest Bethlehem for thy birth-place, because Bethlehem signifies the House of Bread. In this, thou teachest us that thou art our Bread, the nourishment and support of our life. With God as our food, we cannot die. O Wisdom of the Father, Living Bread that hast descended from heaven, come speedily into us, that thus we may approach to thee and be enlightened [Ps. xxxiii. 6.] by thy light, and by that prudence which leads to salvation.
From Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Prudence and the Three Holy Youths

(Franz Joseph Hermann)
As the Martyrology for December 16 reads, today "were born into the better life the three children Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, whose bodies are laid in a certain cave at Babylon (in the sixth century before Christ)." These three brave Jewish youths—also known as Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago to the Babylonians—were precursors to Christian martyrs, because they were willing to die for the Faith even though God preserved them from death.

The mad emperor Nabuchodonosor had created a golden image to be worshiped, and these three Jewish youths refused to bow towards it. They answered the king:
There is no need for any answer of ours to that question; thou wilt see for thyself whether the God we worship is able to rescue us from the raging fire, and from thy royal power. But, whether he rescues us or no, be assured, sir king, here are men who do not reverence thy gods, or worship any image of thine. (Dan. 3)
What holy precursors to the early Christian martyrs, who likewise refused to offer even the smallest pinch of incense to pagan deities! Many of the Roman martyrs were also preserved from death during multiple horrific torments, until God finally released them from this life. St. John the Apostle survived being boiled alive in oil without so much as a burn.

In a time when Catholics are tempted to bow to the gods of this world, it takes a great deal of willpower to stand up and stand out.

It is interesting, though, that although they were found standing, they were not standoffish towards their heathen conquerors. Even their accusers note that the youths were involved in Babylonian government: "And here are certain Jews, entrusted by thee with the affairs of Babylon province, to wit, Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago, who have set the royal command at defiance." They lived out the dominican abjuration to "be wise as serpents, and yet innocent as doves"; by working among and even for their oppressors they were wise as serpents, by refusing to step over certain moral and ceremonial lines they were innocent as doves. Earlier the three youths had sworn with the Prophet Daniel not to touch the meat from the king's table, which had been offered to idols and was likely ceremonially unclean (Dan. 1). They were willing to work alongside the Babylonians until they were pressured into immorality.

Such was the advice of St. John the Baptist to those asking how they should live under an oppressive pagan rule, rather than having them leave their professions entirely:
The publicans, too, came to be baptized; "Master," they said to him, "what are we to do?" He told them, "Do not go beyond the scale appointed you." Even the soldiers on guard asked him, "What of us? What are we to do?" He said to them, "Do not use men roughly, do not lay false information against them; be content with your pay." (Luke 3)
There is no reason to go out of our way to seek martyrdom, and the Christian can tolerate many bad situations when necessary. Joseph married the daughter of an Egyptian priest when it was clear he would not be returning to his people. Thomas More remained in government under a schismatic king as long as he was able. We need not rail against the world openly at all times, even when we are surrounded by heathenism, but we mustn't allow our prudent silence make us soft when we will be called to fall down and worship the image.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monkey See, Monkey Do

"Theaters are the new church of the masses – where people sit huddled in the dark listening to people in the light tell them what it is to be human." —1930's theater critic

The recent desecration of St. Peter's Basilica has proven to be quite the conversation starter. His Traddiness and I discussed the violent reaction this would have induced in the Catholic Romans of olden times—a new pope would need to have been elected soon thereafter—and I heard a sermon on Gaudete Sunday where the priest took the opportunity to chastise the faithful for allowing such sacrilege to make them unjoyful. Meanwhile, Mark Shea and other lukewarm hissyfitters are scourging anyone who points out the obvious about their precious Padre Jorge.

It's a demoralizing situation. The liberal Catholics who operated quietly (but freely) under Wojtyła and more surreptitiously under Ratzinger are now parading openly through the streets, waving prismatic flags and wearing tee shirts with peace signs as they make war against God. The Holy Trinity laughs at the Gentiles as they rage, but in the mean time we suffer under the weight of the yoke of their iniquities.

The Year of Mercy has turned into an orgy of indulgence, pejoratively speaking. Annulments are to be handed out for everyone, homewreckers are encouraged to desecrate the Lord's Body, and soon outright perverts will march up demanding the right to desecration. The façade of St. Peter's has been transformed into a projection screen for an anti-human environmentalist show, so how long will it be until Papa Franky removes the statues of the apostles and replaces them with carvings of endangered beasts?

"A people that continually provoke me to anger: these shall be smoke in my anger, a fire burning all the day." (Isa. 65)
"Monkey see, monkey do," was the old adage used to insult passive yes-men who facilitated the worst ideas of their leaders, never thinking twice about the consequences nor worrying to compare them against the eternal Ideas. These Monkey Catholics were anti-modernists under Pius IX, liturgical inventors under Pius XII, natural family planners under Paul VI, hermeneutical continuitists under Benedict XVI, and climate change believers under Francis I. What will they be under John Paul III, Koran-kissers? The Devil is God's ape, and today's ultramontanists are aping being Catholic. One wonders if the post-modern obsession with "authenticity" is due to this generation's inability to be clearly one thing, whether it be good or evil.

"See no evil, hear no evil," is another relevant monkey-related adage. What could it possibly take to infuriate the ultramontanists into action? Allowing pagans to desecrate Catholic churches with their perfidious ceremonies didn't do it. Watching prelates receive blessings from heathen priestesses didn't, either. We shouldn't be surprised if atheists are soon invited to preach from our cathedral pulpits. After all, we need to learn how to listen better!

Fiat Lux, indeed—"Woe to you that put darkness for light, and light for darkness." Now there is no virtue but leniency, and no vice but criticizing the pope. God help us.

"It shall no more be inhabited for ever. But wild beasts shall rest there, and their houses shall be filled with serpents, and ostriches shall dwell there, and the hairy ones shall dance there." (Isa. 13)

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Apologies, readers, for my absence. I was travelling on business last week, have taken over a new department this past week, and may be moving next year. Thankfully J has taken up the slack in the interim. I intend to resume the Sarum series with a brief discussion of English church architecture and a featurette on Advent and Christmas season in the rite of Salisbury. A proper exposé on the ordo Missae and Office will come next year. I may also review Runciman's The Eastern Schism if time permits.

Thanks for your patience,
The Rad Trad

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Walking through St. Francis de Sales Oratory: Odds and Ends

A few more items of note from St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis.

Jesus is ready for the Year of Mercy!
Good Shepherd window.
A view from the Infant of Prague transept.
An unused confessional booth sitting in the transept. Its brother booth rests in the other transept.
My Latin isn't good enough to know what this is all about.
A closer look.
Roofed pulpit.
The in-use confessionals are positioned rather awkwardly in the middle of the nave. There is another on the opposite side, and it can be grimly humorous to watch penitents walk back and forth between them during Mass as priests come and go according to their duties.
This and the following grotesques appear to be representations of the kinds of workmen who built this temple.

A wide view of the baptistery. Eight-sided, according to tradition.
A closer view shows a little more of the golden color in the mosaics.
One last farewell look at the oratory before I leave.

Definitely worth a visit, lace and all!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Walking through St. Francis de Sales Oratory: Altars & Saints

Continuing our tour through St. Francis de Sales Oratory, this time looking at the various altars and saint images. Click on the photos for higher resolutions.

The sanctuary and the main high altar.
The Mary altar, to the left of the sanctuary.
Another view of the Mary altar, with a view of the apparently random heraldic symbols.
The St. Joseph altar stands to the right of the sanctuary.
Wide view of the Joseph altar.
To the far left of the sanctuary stands the Infant of Prague, topped by an image of the Annunciation. During the Christmas season this area is turned into a crèche.
To the far right is the Mother of Perpetual Help, topped by an image of the Fall of Man.
Another view of the Perpetual Help transept, flanked by the Immaculate Heart statue and the Mother of Sorrows window. I don't know whose idea it was to insert so many disparate Marian devotions into one area—and all with unique styles.
The Holy Family gets its own space, a little past the Infant of Prague. At the bottom is the Death of Joseph.

Various saints are scattered around the oratory. There are far more stained glass windows than are pictured here, as most of them were too high or otherwise difficult to photograph.

The patron himself, positioned neatly next to a few appliances. That fan is the oratory's air conditioning in the summer months.
He looks very episcopal.
John Nepomuk shushing troublesome children.
Six of the Twelve Apostles. Note that James the Greater is standing on higher ground than James the Lesser.
Martin de Porres.
Rita of Cascia and Theodore flanking the Holy Cross.
John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary, very properly grouped together.
(to be continued)