Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Suffrages of the Saints


The suffrages of the various saints in the old Divine Office are rarely treated in histories of the liturgy. Gregory Dix and Pierre Battifol make no mention of them. Perhaps Jungmann does, but I am not familiar enough with his scholarship to recall off hand. Yet these intercessions to the Saints were present in the Lauds and Vespers of the Roman rite for nearly a millennium, as stationary and consistent as the antiphons on the psalms themselves.

Devotion to the Saints entered the regular aspects of the liturgy some time between the reign of Gregory the Great and the reforming pontificate of Gregory VII. In the 9th and 10th centuries monks began to dedicate ferial, non-Lenten Saturdays to Our Lady. At the same time demand for additional Requiem Masses birthed the "private" Mass, that is, an additional Mass not specifically required by the liturgy of the day (in contrast to days where the liturgy traditionally does demand numerous Masses, like the Roman rite on Christmas or the pre-Byzantine rites of Jersualem on Pascha). Votive Masses of the Saints came some time later, but from the same popular desire for liturgical devotion. Early chapters of Duffy's Stripping of the Altars has some fascinating discussion of the evolution of votive Mass texts, mainly by means of priests guiding the benefactors through what sort of readings might be most appropriate and even efficacious for a Saint.

It might be safe to say the Suffrages date to around this time, some era shortly after the Gregorian reforms cemented the place of Gallican influences in the Roman liturgy, including Gallican monastic influences. This last point ought not be overlooked. When Saint Peter Damian visited Cluny, sure the monks were slacking on their vows by wearing habits of the daily liturgical color and feasting on huge meals, he was exhausted after participating in several days of their common life, which included the full daily Office, the Office of the Dead, the Office of the Blessed Virgin, and the Office of All the Saints, some ten hours in choro plus the day's Mass and any potential private Masses.

The texts of the Suffrages relate more to the votive Offices of the Middle Ages than they do to the older feasts of the Saints. For example, the collect for Our Lady is that of Vespers in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, not that of any generally celebrated Latin feasts of the Virgin, the Assumption, the Nativity of the Virgin, or the Annunciation. Similarly, the collect for Ss. Peter and Paul is that of the votive Mass of those two Apostles, not that of their feast, although the votive Mass is remarkably similar to that of their Octave day, which presents and "chick or the egg" question about which came first. It would seem possible, if not probable, that the Suffrages were initially instituted as means of honoring Saints on days when their greater veneration was impeded by the presence of Sunday.

Lastly, in the Tridentine Office the Suffrages were sung in choro and kneeling. Was it always like this? Or were the Suffrages sung in the manner of other antiphons prior to Mattins or Mass, that is, as "stations" within the church? Would the antiphons Sancta Maria be sung in procession to the chapel of the Virgin followed by the aforementioned collect from the Little Office? Perhaps readers can chime in on this final point.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Organic Development of the Liturgy Since Trent

Not quite the quire of Westminster Abbey
source: New Liturgical Movement
At its surface, the old Roman liturgy did not appear to change very much between the pontificates of Pius V and Pius X, the former codifying the extant medieval liturgy and the latter initiating sixty years of liturgical tinkering. The texts of the Office and Mass hardly changed saved the addition of numerous Duplex feasts for canonized founders and foundresses of French and Italian communities of religious. The erection of the Congregation for Sacred Rites in 1588 ensured that there could be no further significant textual or structural developments in the Roman rite, like those that happened in late antiquity and in the high Middle Ages. The Roman rite at the dawn of the 20th century, on paper, really looked no different than it did at the dawn of the 16th century, but in fact there had been several organic changes due to circumstance or popular piety which changed the way the liturgy was celebrated and even what was celebrated.

The most obvious changes can be viewed from the lens of architecture. Upon walking into a post-Tridentine church one easily sees the high altar, elevated against the reredros and crowned in the center with the tabernacle. The sacred space is partitioned by a Communion railing [sic], a hint that the sanctuary is something to be viewed and not touched. The ceiling ascends heavenward and without obstruction, an open and breathing arrangement. Additional altars to saints flank the main altar, although their use for Mass is more infrequent than in past times; these altars proclaim tales of heresy, fidelity, damnation, and the glory of the saints; each altar is as much a sermon as it is a shrine. Scattered Confessionals awkwardly stand out of any open space in the nave or aisles of the church, invitations for ambulating sinners to reconcile themselves at a moment's notice. Most obviously, and loathsomely, pews litter the nave itself, confining anyone who desires to witness the Holy Sacrifice to his own static place, a sight-seer and viewer of the Mass and devotions rather than a full participant in them.

Within this casual characterization of a post-Tridentine church rests a thousand assumptions concerning the change in liturgical praxis, although rarely text, that followed the pontificate of St. Pius V. Above all, the post-Tridentine liturgy emphasized witness to the liturgy and Incarnation rather than a personal and communal participation in Christ's Passion which characterized the preceding medieval cathedral rites. Medieval churches, narrow and high, impossible to see straight in unless one was staring down the nave at the Holy Rood, always directed the attention of the faithful to the Cross and then upward; everything else was shrouded in mystery, things one could see and to an extant understand, but not know in entirety. After Trent the prevailing designs suggested a liturgy which could be beheld and known, for it took place in plain sight.

Devotion in this piety shifted away from the Divine Office and more toward new liturgical acts of piety which underscored the arrant nature of the new liturgy. Now, when the priest held up the Sacred Species during the Canon saw the Incarnated Christ in open space. Unlike previous generations, peering through screens at the elevation once a Mass, new generations would extend the elevation of the Sacred Host by means of a new ceremony called Benediction. They sang hymns and offered incense before directly displaying the Sacred Host for a few moments in blessing, a short time to be sure, but more time than was afforded during the Mass. The song of the day was no longer Ave verum corpus, but Tantum ergo Sacramentum.

These new forms of devotion met the mood of the day, still largely communitarian in towns, but more amotized in cities, where Catholicism went from being the religion of the people to being the religion of the majority of people. Personal encounters with grace, be it Confession or Benediction or a quick Mass, replaced the public processions and liturgical anamnesis which would derisively be rebranded as theater in our times.

Mass itself underwent a simplification in its ceremonial observance. As sounds became more complex and polyphony superseded chant as the normative style, people came to see music more as ornamental than as essential. Following the reduced ceremonies of the Roman Curia's Missal published by Saint Pius, servers and ministers followed the prescriptions as to what needed to be done to complete the Sacrifice. Said Mass replaced sung Mass, even without deacon and subdeacon, as normative. Still, a desire for the Mass to be sung and celebrated with as much effort as possible prevailed in some places and a sung version of low Mass evolved into the Missa cantata, styled more as a "high" Mass without the other ministers.

Once of the less obvious liturgical changes since Trent, which was not a variation of something directed in the Missal, was the addition of rose as a liturgical color. The medieval and Pian Missals directed violet for Gaudete and Laetare Sundays. The true differentiation between these Sundays and the other Sundays of Advent and Lent are the use of the dalmatic and tunicle instead of folded chasubles, which would also permit the organ to be used to elevate the music from sober chant into polysonic joy. Rose accomplished a similarly end, providing a break in the exercises of the seasons, to a culture bent towards a simpler liturgy. Rose eventually gave birth to a vast array of colors deemed proper for the Mass and even replaced the seasonal violet in the cardinatial choir dress on those Sundays.

Liturgy as it existed in the years after Trent has been examined and criticized extensively on this blog for its reduction of the Latin liturgy to bare essentials which neglected large pieces of the Church's patrimony. In context, these reductions also reflected creeping individualism and a less communal culture from which sprang the medieval Mass. And yet the post-Tridentine Church was not without its own development in art, architecture, liturgy, and devotion. One wonders what a genuine reform to the liturgy would look like in our even more isolationist age.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

My Breviary was printed in 1865 with the imprimatur of the Archbishop of Mechelin in Belgium. It is a choral book made for the conventual celebration of the Office with a full supplement of proper Offices for the Minorites; evidently, it was a Franciscan book.

For today, the "Solemnity of Our Seraphic Father Francis", and the octave that follows, the medieval hymn Proles de coelo is sung at Vespers. Written by Julian of Speyer in Paris just four years after Francis's death, the hymn follows an older melody commonly sung in the proper Offices of saints prior to the 17th century, including the feasts of Saint Anne and Saint Stephen of Hungary.

Regardless, it is a beautiful melody and offers a welcomed break from the rite of Iste Confessor the Common of a Confessor, non-martyr.


1. Proles de caelo prodiit,
novis utens prodigiis:
caelum caecis aperuit;
siccis mare vestigiis.

2. Spoliatis aegyptiis,
transit dives, sed pauperis
nec rem nec nomen perdidit,
factus felix pro miseris.

3. Assumptus cum Apostolis
in montem novi luminis,
in paupertatis praediis
Christo Franciscus intulit:

4. Fac tria tabernacula
Petri secutus studia,
cuius exemplo nobili
sponte reliquit omnia.

5. Legi, Prophetae, gratiae
gratum gerens obsequium,
Trinitatis officium
Festo solemni celebrat.

6. Dum reparat virtutibus
hospes triplex hospitium:
et beatarum mentium
dum templum Christo consecrat.

7. Domum, portam et tumulum,
Pater Francisce, visita,
et Hevae problem miseram
a somno mortis excita. Amen
1. A son came forth from heaven,
performing new miracles,
opening the heavens to the blind,
crossing the water with dry feet.

2. The spoils from the heathens
made him rich, yet from the poor
never did he fame or goods demand,
he was a blessing to the destitute.

3. Together with the disciples
he was accepted onto the mountain of light
and in his preachings on poverty,
Francis followed Christ:

4. "Make three tabernacles",
following Peter's vow,
whom neither the power nor the omen
of this name deserted.

5. Paying grateful allegiance,
ye Prophets, to the law of Grace,
he celebrates the ceremony
of the Trinity with the holy feast.

6. While he as host restores to the virtues
the threefold hospitality,
and when he consecrates to Christ
a temple of the blessed minds.

7. O Father Francis
visit our door, house and grave
and redeem Eve's poor descendants
from sleep's eternal dream. Amen.



Monday, October 1, 2018

Darken the corner where you are!

(Hannibal Crossing the Alps, J.M.W. Turner)
“[Some] say it is best to dispel the gloom, not make it worse, and stick to the cheery side. I happen to have a small vocation for spreading gloom; my favorite Protestant hymn, slightly emended from the way it is sung even at Catholic Masses today, is ‘Darken the corner where you are!’ because I think, though life is funny, it is not for fun; and we have blurred the distinction between being happy and being blessed.” —John Senior

We ambulate now in the gloomy half-light of a perpetual cloudiness by day, and of a too bright, washed out starlessness by night. Without the sun beating down on us at noon and the stars delighting us at midnight, we lose our way. Everything seems to be a shapeless murk. Light is no longer light, darkness no longer dark. Our celestial signposts are imperceivable. It is the spiritual equivalent of living in one of the urban Sodoms of the American Northwest.

We could look on the cheery side of things—God is still on his throne, the pope is ravaging the last shreds of ultramontanism in his wrath, and Evelyn Waugh was taken from this world before the Novus Ordo could drive him to apostasy—but we look for a more immediate comfort. We want to see evil overthrown. We want to restore the influence of the Church upon the world. We want to have one stupid sermon where the stupid priest says something that isn’t stupid. We want not to worry about whether or not Fr. is going to groom our sons in the confessional and make his advances in the sacristy. We want to not have a sinking feeling every time someone relates that, “Today Pope Francis said…” We want, we want, we want.

God sends us out as sheep in the midst of wolves, and we need to toughen up.

We are not given the Church for our consolation, although it possesses consolations beyond imagining. We are not given our little rare islands of traditionalism and good spiritual fathers so we can simply huddle away from the aerial bombardment of the Enemy.

God sends us out in the midst of wolves. We are not out there solely to save ourselves but to save our brethren. Be as clever as the Devil and as pure as the Virgin.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither from our friends nor from our enemies. In order to be a beacon for the lost and imperiled, it cannot hide itself from the armies of Hell. A hidden stronghold speaks lies to those who hide within; it lies that hiddenness is sufficient for safety, that they can trust on hoarded wealth and unpracticed arms.

Be as gloomy as you please, but do not let that be an excuse for sloth. The ancient Jews were conquered by Rome and fenced in on all sides. By the time of the Incarnation they had ossified and used this oppression as an excuse for an ouroboros-like ethic of scrupulosity. Sloth is sadness at the thought of real spiritual practice, a repulsion against spiritual action that penetrates into the inner man and reaches out for the betterment of others. It is easier to condemn a cardinal than to practice a cardinal virtue.

The early Church faced oppression from without; we are learning what it is means to be oppressed from within. The Roman martyrs could ask, “Why do the nations rage?” We learn to ask, “Do you betray the son of man with a kiss?” We encounter Iscariots everywhere. We are sheep sent out in the midst of wolves. Learn how to survive or be devoured.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Neither Death Nor Life Shall Be Able to Separate Us from the Love of God

Comments on the previous post suggest a tired and perhaps spiritually exhausted readership, a feeling we have all felt periodically. It is good at these times to turn off the noise, the polemics, and the mechanical prayers, instead immersing ourselves in holy things. Consider today's lesson from Mattins of Ss. Cosmas and Damian, taken from Saint Paul's epistle to the Romans:
"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope:Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen, is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God. And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren. And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who is against us? He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things? Who shall accuse against the elect of God? God that justifieth. Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus that died, yea that is risen also again; who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? (As it is written: For thy sake we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.) But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Prelatial Vindication: The Pian Revolutions


Msgr. Athanasius Schneider, an auxiliary bishop from Kazakhstan and traditionalist luminary, has recently aired some fresh episcopal opinions about both the 1911-3 and 1955-6 alterations to the Roman liturgy. The old Holy Week was a mere wish list item and the Divino Afflatu changes were absolutely off limits. Now a canonically regular bishop and genuine friend to tradition can look at these changes and clearly see them as a modern frame of thinking filtered into the old rite; much was lost and comparatively little was gained.

This blog has written extensively in advocacy of not only the old Holy Week but also the entire old Office, perhaps with a refreshed kalendar more balanced than those which post-date Trent, so there is little new to say here, but perhaps readers have some ideas.
Kazakhstan Bishop Athanasius Schneider has criticised two liturgical “revolutions” which preceded Paul VI's 1970 disastrous Novus Ordo reform.
Talking to OnePeterFive.com (September 21), Schneider pointed to Pius X's 1911 reform of the breviary. For Schneider it is “an enigma how he could do this”.
Pius X radically changed the distribution of the psalms. The Roman Church had kept this order almost unchanged since or even before Pope Gregory I (+604).
For Schneider it is “reasonable” to return to the former breviary which he calls “the breviary of all ages”.
The second revolution Schneider localises in Pius XII's 1955 failed reform of the rite of Holy Week. According to Schneider a similar thing has "never happened in the entire history of the Church”.
Pius XII replace "the beautiful rites of Holy Week" with a “manufactured” construct, Schneider adds.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Liturgy of Saint Peter?

A reader asks:
"I apologize for this being off topic, but does anyone know about a supposed "Liturgy of St. Peter" that was supposedly celebrated in Rome once a year? Supposedly it was the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with a latin ordo. The story goes that Pius IX suppressed it after he performed it once."
The short answer is No, the Roman Pontiffs did not celebrate the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom annually, and until the 20th century perhaps not at all. The question probably derives from a cranky comment on an Orthodox forum which asserts that the "Liturgy of St. Peter" was uncovered by a ROCOR priest in Turkey; the same commentator also refers to a second "Liturgy of St. Peter" celebrated until the pontificate of Pio Nono. This is an interesting question which allows us to revisit some Latin liturgical history already explored elsewhere on this blog.

Pio says No No
The only obvious example of a Pope annually pontificating in an uncommon rite was that of the feast of Saint Peter's Chair. Prior to Saint Gregory VII the Roman Mass and Office had undergone a few major changes in the years since Saint Gregory the Great's death, namely the addition of feasts, the introduction of the Agnus Dei litany, the disappearance of popular Communion, and the spoken recitation of the Roman Canon. Those using a variation of the Roman liturgy north of the Lombard region were more open to enrichment, adding hymns to the Office, shortening some chants (antiphons) and making others more elaborate (evolving the second psalm at Mass into the Gradual), a ritual for serving Mass and the Office more inspired by the Benedictine choir tradition than the Roman secular clergy's manner described in the Ordo Romanus I, and the greater variability of lessons at Mattins. Enlisting the aid of monasteries in the Cluniac tradition, Archdeacon Hildebrand, as Gregory VII, introduced these Gallican elements into the Roman diocesan liturgy. The canons of Saint Peter's basilica and the Lateran cathedral, however, refused the Gallican elements, preferring the old chants without hymns and the more ancient, urban manner of celebrating Mass. Innocent III, once a canon-subdeacon of Saint Peter's, recounts that the popes continued to celebrate Mass in this archaic rite on the feast of Saint Peter's Chair up until his very pontificate. This ancient observance only died during the reign of Nicholas III who, as a Franciscan, carried a devotion to the curial liturgy his Minorite order observed.

As far as popes running afoul of the Divine Liturgy of the Church of Constantinople one need look no further than the Council of Florence, which temporarily returned almost all the Apostolic Churches to Communion until popular disdain for the Latins in the East and the military resolve of the Turks undid that work. After the Council—which strangely met with the Pope and his cardinals sitting at the same level on the Gospel side of the Florentine cathedral, followed by the rest of the clergy opposite the Greek Emperor sitting alone atop the Epistle side with the clergy sitting below him—there came the obvious desire to consummate the re-union by offering the Eucharistic sacrifice. It was agreed that the Greeks should celebrate, but the Latin clergy accustomed to their own ways and unaware of other customs, asked if they could observe the Divine Liturgy in private before offering it in public coram Summo Pontifice. The Greeks eventually complied and returned to Constantinople all the more disgruntled with their co-religionists.

There is a very strange text purporting to be a "Liturgy of St. Peter" floating around on another Eastern Christian forum, this time ByzCath. This "Liturgy" is a pastiche of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, the Liturgy of Saint James, a few odd Coptic prayers, and a Hellenized Roman Canon for good measure, although Western Orthodoxy didn't exist yet so there is no anachronistic epiclesis. The text comes from Mount Athos, where it may have either been used as a genuine form of Divine Liturgy or perhaps was a long dead monk's literary experiment. Aside from the Canon, the only Roman part of this text is that the shortened Great Doxology (Gloria in excelsis) takes place after the litany and before the lessons. How did this text come into being? One possibility, mentioned in the introduction, is that it came by way of Greek monks in Southern Italy and Sicily; another is that the Canon Roman found its way onto Athos by way of the Latin monastery that stood on the Holy Isle until the late Middle Ages. The writer posits evidence that this ritual was used in the Slavic tradition and survived among Old Believers, but does not point to what that evidence might be. With no other clues the word-for-word copy-and-paste nature of this text speaks to this ignorant writer as a thought experiment rather than something generally used.

The Roman rite has many Greek influences in the kalendar and some in the text, but generally has its own genius distinct from the somewhat more strongly influenced rites of Milan and Benevento. The near-full import of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was not part of that influence.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Hildegard, Doctress of the Church

(Allegory of Charity)
Happy feast day of Hildegard von Bingen, abbess, mystic, polymath, and preacher. Pope Benedict XVI named Hildegard a Doctor of the Church mere months before his abdication of the Holy See, and there has never quite been a sufficient explanation for her elevation to this honor. I have recently been reading commentary on the Deutsch Doctress but am now feeling the need to study her original writings. Her Scivias looks rather daunting in length and subject matter. She also fits in with a long term plan to read from a wide range of pre-modern women mystics.

That being said, I would be happy to look at any good commentary our readers can send my way. Any thoughts on the appropriateness of her honorary doctorate or of her audacity to become a preacher are also welcome.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Remembering the Personal Cost

Lukewarm Catholics at Mass
I rarely read news stories or blogs anymore, which perhaps contributes to the on-going diminishment of my prose, but when I do click on article I primarily read the comments. An old axiom I learned while working on political campaigns, "perception is reality," holds true precisely because perception guides how people make decisions, whereas reality can be and often is ignored. One such disconnect, which elicited the poor choices of those days, was the disparity between what people wanted and what they were given by the episcopate in the mid-20th century. A New Liturgical Movement blog post on tracking bishops' statements and policies has given way to an interesting series of exchanges between young Catholics in favor of the old liturgy, old Catholics in favor of the old liturgy, and old Catholics in favor of the Pauline liturgy. One commentator writes:
"Change needs to take place slowly. That was probably the biggest problem with the introduction of the Ordinary Form, to much to quick. A more balanced slow approach in hindsight would have been far better. Dr. Peter and other we're not around at the time of the change or very young (according to Wikipedia Dr Peter was born in '71). The fact is the vast majority of folks couldn't wait for the changes. Yes there were some who are not happy and that's understandable. But if you weren't there you can't possibly comment with any credibility. One can disagree with the Pope but the things being spewed out these days is not Catholic. I agree, the pope wants to move back to before Trent. Trent was not the end all of all that is Catholic. One of the councils goals was to return to the sources. I certainly have no issues with Dr. Peter's preferences, we all have them. But how dare he or anyone else tell me how I should pray and encounter God. There is room for all of us. Also, if he had any idea of what was really going on in the average parish he would know that slowly those of us involved in the music and liturgy have slow been trying to balance the older with the new. Done slowly it will be successful but attacks just exacerbate things."
This is one of the most audaciously ignorant comments I have read regarding amenability to liturgical reform since I last read PrayTell. This is akin to saying one could not make a judgment on the execution of Charles Stuart because one was not there when that genocidal social climber, Cromwell, sat opposite the King. Some perspective is lost in time, but some fresh perspective is gained by distance and aid of statistics. In retrospect the liturgical disaster really could not have happened at any point in history other than when it did, when old bishops recovering from the shock of war heard their baby-boomer clergy whisper in their ears that everything should change so that the Church might live. The Church was hardly dying anymore in 1950 than it was during Napoleon's age, and she even emerged from the Second World War with improved prestige and improved Mass attendance relative to the dawn of the 20th century. There was much to be desired concerning how Mass was celebrated and how priests were trained, but what transpired was the wrong answer to an entirely different set of issues the Church faced.

America especially suffered from "the changes" to the Mass, to episcopal governance, to priestly formation, and discipline. In 1960, 90% of American Catholics went to Mass; 75% believed the pope to be the last authority on matters of discipline. When "Blessed" Paul VI died Mass attendance was below 50% and a third of American priests, presumably heterosexuals, too, had left their vocations. Today Mass attendance sits below 20% and is due for another sharp drop when the last of the millennials have their Confirmations.

I may not have the "credibility" to judge how people "couldn't wait for the changes", but if my apostate father, born 1941, is any indicator, people couldn't wait to get to the door. Most people from that age are now former-Catholics still hoping for a Catholic funeral. Ask them, "When did the New Mass come out?" and they will look at you in confusion because they themselves cannot remember. It all happened in a rapid haze. Vernacular, women reading, and the priest standing opposite a newly-fashioned picnic table occurred in a mad rush; then came extra readings, more vernacular, "praise" music, and altar girls; by the time Paul VI issued his Missale Romanum half the congregation had thrown up their hands in [genuine] disbelief and found the nearest exit.

These changes happened too fast? Part of the problem is that they happened too fast, but the greater part is that they happened at all. If, after decades of fasting, regular Confessions, and devotions in preparation for Mass, a man with a microphone begins with "Good morning, all are welcomed!" a return to purer spirituality is not communicated. The one and only message, which the people of the day read clearly, is that "It wasn't really important after all."

Years ago Benedict XVI, as Joseph Ratzinger, anticipated a smaller, more devout Church. Along similar lines, Rod Dreher, who has left the Catholic Church but cannot seem to stop writing about Catholic issues for Catholic audiences, has proposed his "Benedictine option", something of a retreat from the world wherein the devout can create new communities for the future of Christendom. This is a misguided attempt to make lemonade out of lemons. For all the joking about "cafeteria Catholics" and the lukewarm, many of those who lost their faith back in the mid-20th century were lukewarm people who were clinging to the Church out of social custom, habit, convert's zeal, or a devotion borne in the mind rather than in the heart; those people may not have been "good" Catholics, but they were still Catholics, aware of their sins and availing themselves to the Sacraments. They clung to drift wood near the barque of Peter and the officers on the same barque saw fit to send them to the bottom. All that remained were the liberals who wrought the destruction and had not committed apostasy as a result and the conservatives who clung to what devotion they could in a world turned upside down.

For all the talk that transpires on this blog, NLM, PrayTell and elsewhere about whether or not something is liturgically correct it is useful to remember the actual cost in souls. For all the Protestant pastors illuminated by the concept of liturgy in the '90s hundreds of cradle and convert Catholics went into the outer darkness.

But then again, I have no credibility on this matter.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Understanding the Need for Reform

Gregory X, a forgotten but great reformer pope

Walk into your neighborhood parish for Sunday morning Mass and look at the families with children, especially those with few children. Then ask yourself "How many of these kiddies will be attending a Sunday Mass with any regularity in ten years, when they are out of college on their own?" The answer, if historical trend continue, is about one in five, which is the same reduction in fidelity Americans saw in transitioning from the so-called Greatest Generation to the detestable Baby Boom generation.

The most important element of the faith, aside from working toward one's personal salvation, is the transmission of that same faith to other people. There are national churches in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, but on the whole Apostolic Christianity, not unlike its Divine Founder, "has no where to lay its head." Like the Presence of Christ after His Ascension into heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Church is ubiquitous while belonging to no place in particular. The descent of the Holy Spirit, paralleling the giving of the Decalogue to Moses, means that unlike the Ten Commandments, written on stone for all to see, the fulfilled Law resides within the illumined heart of the believer.

More to the point, we must understand and live the Catholic faith if we are to pass it on to posterity. It is not enough to remember a few bits of the Nicene Creed recited during Sunday Mass at Saint Michael's in Manhattan or that everyone was always hopping up and down in the pews at the Jesuit church on Farm Street or that Sister Agnes told us not to use condoms during a sex ed class at Catholic high school. Even among the more devout and instructed, one must go beyond remembering swatches of the [latest] Catechism of the Catholic Church. Faith and its adherence to Our Lord's wishes must be very alive and intuitive as breathing. It must be the sort of faith that drives people to their knees when a priest walks by with the Holy Eucharist or which inspires families to create their own customs around major feast days. This sort of understood Christianity, constantly aware of the power of the Incarnation and Resurrection, has met both firmer and weaker degrees of resistance from the European and American hierarchies the last five decades and in some places has survived in spite of the bishops. While it may be surviving, even healthily so in some parishes, this faith is not flourishing and it is time to understand why.

The liturgy changed, industrialism shifted the social paradigm, political revolutions threw off traditional order, and doctrine has been undermined in favor of seminar-room affability. What do we do about it? What would reform look like? And what should "reform" be understood to mean?

Reform represents a hard point in Church history, since every change inevitably has its losses and additions to custom. The essence of reform is that it introduces nothing new, refreshes what is precious, and excises what is dead to the transmission of our religion. Anything else is either failure or novelty, or in the case of the 20th century, both. What is most in need of reform right now is not the Mass, which needs restoration; it is not doctrine, which requires polish rather than the crud of recent years; it is the papacy. The Roman bishopric itself needs dire reform.

The main problem with the modern papacy is not so much its power as much as its potency, its potential to exercise power over the Universal Church. What prior popes held to be untouchable—either by fear of retribution, respect for place, or heartfelt conviction that a matter was beyond their authority—the modern papacy can and does touch. The Roman liturgy is the most obvious example of this problem, but turmoil over Paul VI, John Paul II, and now Francis' dilution of discipline and the verbiage of doctrine demonstrates that the papacy as it exists today is incapable for its most essential function, that is, guarding Christianity in a way that the faithful can truly understand and can safely pass on. The papacy, not to be confused solely with the pope, selects cardinal-archbishops who will lead national episcopal conferences which will in turn lobby and manipulate the choice of his successor. It changes, or can change, the worship of God at whim, something that previous generations held to be the active work of the Holy Spirit. It can formulate and re-formulate doctrine to suit post-modern European political sensibilities rather than a realistic understanding of human nature. The Roman Pontificate and its entourage can de facto do anything.

History tempts one to pinpoint Vatican I as the beginnings of this turgid bureaucracy, but the trouble is really a little older and less complicated than that. The popes were once crowned as "Father of princes and kinds, ruler of the world, earthly vicar of Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ." Today they are "inaugurated" as the spiritual rulers of 1.3 billion registered voters. What once was an independent state meant to safeguard the independence of the Church and regulate disputes between the rulers of Christendom became a machine of superfluous politicians co-prisoners with Pius IX inside the Apostolic Palace after the Papal States fell apart and the various monarchies of Europe shortly there after. The energy and infrastructure found itself with little to do on a grand scale, so, like any committee, sought and found new ways to justify and perpetuate its existence. The Vatican and the papacy became more and more interested in the regulation of daily Christian life, be it fasting (reduced several times in the 20th century), the Mass and Office, Canon Law (two new codes in the same period), Catechism, episcopal selection processes, and private devotions (how many extras were approved). Aside from a few dicasteries like the Penitentiary and the Rota, one would be hard pressed to justify the existence of any office in the Vatican, staffed with friends of previous administrators and soon to be staffed with their pupils. And at the heart of it is the Pope himself, the successor of Saint Peter and an Apostle in his time as Peter was in the first century. Unfortunately, the Roman Pontiffs have seen fit to travel the world where other faithful are already in possession of their own Apostolic successors, disempowered by both Canon Law and episcopal conferences. Meanwhile, the Church of Rome, which Saint Irenaeus said demanded assent from all other churches, languishes in decline.

In this respect the papacy is not unlike the Mass itself during the Renaissance, the end of the Middle Ages. At no time in history was the Mass more loved, more desired, more imminent in the lives of the faith; at no time was it more abused, more used for bad purposes, and amenable to rebellion. Liturgy, Offices, votive rites, grand processions, and local traditions proliferated in these years. The faithful demanded Requiem Masses by the dozen for a deceased ancestor, supported priests whose only purpose was to say certain votive Masses, they heard Mass at least once daily, and made up their own parts for the cycle of Divine drama that unfolded throughout the year. Simultaneously, monks would celebrate a missa sicca, an imitation of the first half of Mass sans the chasuble, and charge the faithful stipends for their intentions. Laity would go into a cathedral on a Sunday and hop from altar to altar after Prime just to see the elevation as many times as they could, all the while missing the public Mass and procession at the altar after Terce. Reformers like Luther grew to hate the Mass for its abuses and read the disposition of people towards the Mass as evidence for its hollowness. The Tridentine Fathers, far from disposing of the Mass, recognized need to purge malevolent influences so that the command of Christ to His Apostles "Do this in anamnesis of me" might continue.

Like the late medieval Mass, the papacy is an essential element of Christianity that currently suffers from vitiations that obscure its purpose and complicate its transmission to future generations. In fact, some might be well tempted to ditch it altogether, be it through sedevacantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, or outright loss of faith. And as with the Mass five centuries ago this is too far.

The essential elements of the papacy, as detailed by Adrian Fortescue in his survey of pre-Chalcedonian Church Fathers The Early Papacy, are:

  1. the pope's place as chief bishop in the Church
  2. universal episcopal jurisdiction
  3. Rome as the point of Communion for all other bishops within the Church
  4. infallibility in judgments of doctrine
At face value these are difficult elements to reform, especially the first and second points given the administrative and spiritual centralization around the papacy. The pope's duty to "confirm his brethren" mandates that he be able to correct them and their mistakes when necessary, meaning his episcopal power overrides others, even if his decisions in this regard do not enjoy the inerrancy of doctrinal teaching. 

What reform might look like in this respect is a world in which papal acts of immediate episcopal jurisdiction do confirm the Pontiff's brethren rather than do their duties in their stead. Let the bishops truly run their churches and let the pope's intervention be just that, an intervention rather than a corporate check up on how a franchisee is performing. One may ask what would have happened in Los Angeles during the '90s when Roger Mahony was Cardinal-Archbishop and the Vatican watched to make sure he could not go too far. Is not the Vatican "thing" precisely what prevents liberal bishops from going fully public with their views? On the contrary, Roger Mahony would never have been a deacon in an age in which the Pope was the guardian of the faith and the local ordinary its primary means of conveyance. A loosening of the pope's active binding and loosing might mean immediate problems, but there is no other way to give the faith sufficient room to gain roots. Otherwise we will continue to play the game pro-life Republicans have played with the Supreme Court for years: we just need to get one more person who agrees with us in place and everything will be right with the world. 

Unlike earlier generations, when papal reform meant freeing the Roman bishopric and lending authority to its Petrine prestige, a modern reform to reduce its immediate influence has very few precedents. One might be the invention of the College of Cardinals. Before the 12th century Cardinals were merely the archpriests and deacons of the major collegiate churches of Rome and the bishops of the surrounding suburbs. The pope was elected by popular acclaim in the Lateran Square and his election confirmed either by the Byzantine or Frankish Emperor. Sometimes approval was not sought; sometimes a bribe from a forgettable Italian nobleman was sought. The popes of the late first millennium were generally impotent hostages to outside forces for the very reason they had nominal power: they were the rulers of central Italy. The erection of the College of Cardinals ended this external influence on Church elections and government (while introducing other considerations, as any reform does) and freed the popes of the Middle Ages to refine the Roman rite, promote Benedictine monasticism, condemn simony, and encourage upright standards of clerical living. Something similar, if more drastic, is needed today, only today the albatross is entirely self-imposed and not from the House of Spoleto.

At a recent house party the topic of conversation turned to the current state of the papacy. A general consensus emerged that great change is needed. Some wanted Pope Francis to resign. More forthright than most, I confessed to ignoring most anything out of Rome in recent decades and suggested a serious reform of the office might be needed for it to regain its proper place. One attendee piously suggested we should still give Francis an ear before disregarding what he has to say. Another, who sees me at weekday Masses, asked if I was a Catholic. My answer now, which I did not think to say then, would be "Yes, and I would like to ensure future generations can be Catholic, too."

Monday, September 3, 2018

The One Name I Don't See Mentioned


The international media sensation around Archbishop ViganĂ²'s allegations against the Vatican and Pope Francis has managed to bring unexpected light to the dark homosexual ring around the upper clergy in the United States, especially among certain cardinals who have influenced the selection of other bishops and cardinals. Oh, if only Cardinal Bernardine could see this day! His name would be all over the papers with her spiritual children, Uncle Ted McCarrick, the Girl Donna Wuerl, some dotty Irishman named Kevin Farrell—once bishop of Dallas, and their patron, the Roman Ordinary himself, who also has his own patrons whose interests he serves.

There is one name, which I have seen a few times in passing, but which I do not see mentioned prominently in any of the articles on the Uncle Ted scandal and Bergoglio-cover up. It is a name that will not figure into prosecutions, because its bearer veiled no crime. It is a name which does not fit into the personal narrative, because that person did not commit any of the lascivious acts alleged. It is a name, however, which will become more and more dubious as the history of the late 20th and 21st century Church crystallizes, a name which will be associated with half-hearted effort, good intentions, and failure. The name is Benedict XVI.

One writer has already alluded to Lateran V in comparison to Vatican II, a council which nominally met to address the contemporary problems in the Church and which ended failed miserably because of confirmation bias on the part of its participants. The Reformation broke out and two generations later the "Petticoat Pope", Paul III, a simoniac himself, finally convened the Council of Trent and confirmed the Society of Jesus.

The name of Benedict XVI lends itself more neatly in analogy with Lateran V than any other historical parallel in this vicious saga. Lateran V met under the aegis of Julius II, the "warrior pope", when Martin Luther was still in a German monastery mismanaging his hormones. Five years before Doctor Luther's theses [dis]graced the door of a cathedral, a general council met to consider the same forces of corruption which would lend the ears of an otherwise pious populace to Luther and his successors. Rather than deal with the problems of simony, embezzlement, and the newfangled issue of book printing, Lateran V confirmed a few political treaties, advocated another crusade against the Turks, and agreed everything else was well and good. To us today, Lateran V looks like a wasted opportunity in the backward mirror that is history. Could they have known the extent of the problems at the time? Perhaps not that huge segments of Christendom would leave the Church for a novelty version of Christianity, but anyone in the know, especially after the Avignon Schism and Jan Hus, could be expected to know the bishops were trying and failing to deal with the brewing issues of the day. It was a failure. It should have been Trent two generations and a major schism earlier, but instead it was a failure.

Benedict XVI knew the Jan Hus and Avignon crises of his time, having battled John Paul II over the matter of Marcial Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ when he ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. John Paul refused to believe that a priest, much less a priest with such public fidelity to the Apostolic See, could be a pervert. Ratzinger knew and, when he replaced John Paul as Pope of Rome, made a very visible and public example of Maciel, leaving the future of the Legionaries in limbo, although they endure somehow. During his pontificate, Benedict XVI quietly removed sexually predatory priests from ministry across the world, but without the same dramatic quality as the Legionary founder. A parish priest found in scandal is a problem in a town, but perhaps not on several continents, and hence not worth the inevitable perception that the Church had an institution problem of sexual abuse. The case of Theodore McCarrick, however, much more resembles the case of Maciel than of Fr. Mustache.

Archbishop ViganĂ² alleges that Benedict XVI knew about "Uncle Ted" and his way with seminarians, and saw fit to impose a life of penance on Mr. McCarrick. On a related note, in his 2013 book length interview with Peter Seewald, the same Benedict XVI ran victory laps over having vanquished the "gay mafia" of four or five people who were influencing affairs at the Vatican. Aside from lacking what sorority girls call a "gaydar", the Bishop of Rome emeritus failed to perceive the larger gay presence in the Vatican clergy and the opportunity to make an example of Theodore McCarrick in the same way he made an example of Marcial Maciel. Instead, he read the playbook of Lateran V and executed it in his own time: quiet regret, press management, a reshuffling and a replacement, and a silent punishment.

He did not leave McCarrick on active ministry, but he did not really punish the man by not letting him go to China either. One could plead ignorance for Benedict XVI by saying this seminar room academic, out of place as Pope of Rome, neither understood the extent of the "gay mafia" nor held the power to do anything about it. One could almost believe it if not for the knowledge that, like the bishops at Lateran V, he should have known better. Benedict XVI will not be a particularly memorable pope in history, just as Lateran V was not a particularly memorable council, but like Lateran V the few people who glean his name in history primers will read the short summary and roll their eyes in regret.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Prometheus Purifying the Noosphere

(Jean Delville)
The cathartic exhilaration that now strikes us almost daily as sins long rumored are dragged out into the light has had a way of drowning out the less flashy scandals. Back in May the Internet received an article from John P. Slattery about the unspoken legacy of eugenics in the writings and speaking engagements of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ. Catholic writers have been somewhat preoccupied of late, but it is worth brushing the dust off of Slattery’s essay before it has become entirely buried. After noting the approbation given to the French Jesuit from multiple popes, Slattery treats the reader to a few select quotations, such as this one from 1929:
Do the yellows—[the Chinese]—have the same human value as the whites? [Fr.] Licent and many missionaries say that their present inferiority is due to their long history of Paganism. I’m afraid that this is only a ‘declaration of pastors.’ Instead, the cause seems to be the natural racial foundation…Christian love overcomes all inequalities, but it does not deny them.
This from 1937:
What fundamental attitude…should the advancing wing of humanity take to fixed or definitely unprogressive ethnical groups? The earth is a closed and limited surface. To what extent should it tolerate, racially or nationally, areas of lesser activity? More generally still, how should we judge the efforts we lavish in all kinds of hospitals on saving what is so often no more than one of life’s rejects?…To what extent should not the development of the strong…take precedence over the preservation of the weak?
From 1949:
From this there follows, as a first priority, a fundamental concern to ensure (by correct nutrition, by education, and by selection) an ever more advanced eugenics of the human zoological type on the surface of the earth. At the same time, however, and even more markedly, there must be an ever more intense effort directed towards discovery and vision, animated by the hope of our gradually, as one man, putting our hands on the deep-seated forces (physico-chemical, biological and psychic) which provide the impetus of evolution…. There is no future for man, I repeat, without the neo-sense of the species.
And also a biographical account of a debate between Teilhard and a French Catholic philosopher:
Once in a debate with Gabriel Marcel on the subject of ‘Science and Rationality,’ [Teilhard] shocked his opponent by refusing to permit even the appalling evidence of the experiments of the doctors of Dachau to modify his faith in the inevitability of human progress. ‘Man,’ [Teilhard] asserted, ‘to become full man, must have tried everything’ …He added that since the human species was still so young…the persistence of such evil was to be expected. ‘Prometheus!’ Marcel had cried… ‘No,’ replied Teilhard, ‘only man as God has made him.’
The eugenical frenzy of previous centuries seems almost quaint to us in the 21st century, although we have learnt how to accomplish quiet genocides in suburban neighborhoods that were once overrun with children and how also to “perfect” humanity with cyborgian grafts and the application of scalpels to regions unmentionable. Teilhard’s great theological errors are not composed of racism—however that be defined in this age of hypersensitivity—but of a rejection of Original Sin, a replacement of charity with evolutionary energies, and a non-recognition of individual personhood. (Dietrich von Hildebrand’s thorough condemnation is enough to convince any reasonable Catholic of the Frenchman’s grave errors.) It would be best if heresy were enough to strip a theologian of any respect and influence, but credible accusations of racism are in fact more likely to accomplish this end. His doctrines infect even the writings of the Pope Emeritus, whose more mystical excursions are simply incomprehensible without reference to Teilhard.

May we soon be rid of this and all such troublesome Jesuits.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Beheading of John the Baptist in Tradition and Legend [REPOST]

(Andrea Solario)
From the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia:
The honour paid so early and in so many places to the relics of St. John the Baptist, the zeal with which many churches have maintained at all times their ill-founded claims to some of his relics, the numberless churches, abbeys, towns, and religious families placed under his patronage, the frequency of his name among Christian people, all attest the antiquity and widespread diffusion of the devotion to the Precursor. The commemoration of his Nativity is one of the oldest feasts, if not the oldest feast, introduced into both the Greek and Latin liturgies to honour a saint.... The celebration of the Decollation [Beheading] of John the Baptist, on 29 August, enjoys almost the same antiquity. (Charles Souvay)
Becoming of one of the greatest saints, the recipient of protodulia, John’s feasts are ancient and multiple. In older martyrologies, the Conception of the Forerunner is feasted on September 24 (the 23rd in the East). His Nativity is of course celebrated nine months later at Midsummer, June 24. The Orthodox also have more Johannine feasts for the transferring of various relics.

(source)
St. Mark’s Gospel, strangely, has the longer account of St. John’s death:
Herod himself had sent and arrested John and put him in prison, in chains, for love of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married; because John had told Herod, “It is wrong for thee to take thy brother’s wife.” Herodias was always plotting against him, and would willingly have murdered him, but could not, because Herod was afraid of John, recognizing him for an upright and holy man; so that he kept him carefully, and followed his advice in many things, and was glad to listen to him.
And now came a fitting occasion, upon which Herod gave a birthday feast to his lords and officers, and to the chief men of Galilee. Herodias’ own daughter came in and danced, and gave such pleasure to Herod and his guests that the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever thou wilt, and thou shalt have it;” he even bound himself by an oath, “I will grant whatever request thou makest, though it were a half of my kingdom.” Thereupon she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she answered, “The head of John the Baptist.” With that, she hastened into the king’s presence and made her request; “My will is, she said, that thou shouldst give me the head of John the Baptist; give it me now, on a dish.” 
And the king was full of remorse, but out of respect to his oath and to those who sat with him at table, he would not disappoint her. So he sent one of his guard with orders that the head should be brought on a dish. This soldier cut off his head in the prison, and brought it on a dish, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard of it, they came and carried off his body, and laid it in a tomb. (Knox trans.)
(Gustave Moreau)
The Golden Legend speaks of the divine retribution wrought by the head of John the Baptist:
And in like wise as Herod was punished that beheaded Saint John, and Julian the apostate that burnt his bones, so was Herodias which counselled her daughter to demand the head of Saint John. And the maid that required it died right ungraciously and evil, and some say that Herodias was condemned in exile, but she was not, ne she died not there, but when she held the head between her hands she was much joyful, but by the will of God the head blew in her visage, and she died forthwith. This is said of some, but that which is said tofore, that she was sent in exile with Herod, and miserably ended her life, thus say saints in their chronicles and it is to be holden. And as her daughter went upon the water she was drowned anon, and it is said in another chronicle that the earth swallowed her in, all quick, and may be understood as of the Egyptians that were drowned in the Red Sea, so the earth devoured her.
(source)
There are multiple claimants to the relic of John’s skull, including San Silvestro in Rome (photographed above). The full collection of these skulls might fill a small closet shelf. The Legend again has many stories about the miraculous head throughout the ages. His bones were desecrated and burned by Julian the Apostate, but multiple pieces have survived to the modern day.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Beneventan Rite: A Missing Link in Liturgical History?

Benevento Cathedral, built in the 8th century, prior to its liberation/destruction in World War II
Study of Western liturgy in the first millennium, aside from the reasonably well documented Roman rite, is a field ripe for confusion if one is not also prudent. Even study of the Roman rite requires some prudence since some of the better resources for the Roman liturgy, like the Gregorian, Gelasian, and Stowe Sacramentaries, are really conscientious adaptations of the Roman ways in places with pre-existing local customs in an era before the Congregation for Rites. If we mention the various rites that preceded those local adaptations of Roman books we look at even more scarce documentation with even less context. All the same I trust my readers' restraint in looking into one of the more curious local rites, that of Benevento, a city whose name came up in the Mattins of Saint Bartholomew.

This city, north of Naples and part of the Byzantine Empire after de facto rule of central and north Italy turned to the Papacy and Goths respectively, celebrated what we assume to be its own unique liturgy until gradually integrating the Roman liturgy at the end of the first millennium. Practically nothing of its texts survive outside of music. There are no Sacramentaries, lectionaries, psalters, or kalendars. Sources for this rite consist of a few pieces of a Gradual for certain Masses, mostly in Advent, Lent, Christmas day and St. Stephen, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday; the Gradual includes the Gradual of the Mass and the Ingressa, an entrance antiphon without any accompanying psalm verses. Some fragments of an Antiphonale for celebration of the Office also survive, but with little direction as to the psalmnody that accompanies the texts. Curiously, the notation is written freely and without constriction to the stave notation popular in Rome and Byzantium. Ensemblem Organum has transcribed some of the music to staves and recorded it with their signature Hellenic droning, something probably foreign to Benevento. Aside from being recorded freehand and without contemporary notation, another anomaly of Beneventan music is how modest it is compared to both Roman and Byzantine chant: everything is either in the key of G or D, whereas the Roman and Greek rites each with eight tones or "modes", distinct melodies based on the initial key of the chant.


The Beneventan ordo Missae is remarkably like that of the Ambrosian tradition in Milan, far across Italy in the Lombard region. The consequences of this fact are uncertain, but made for considerable confusion a century ago when anything different from the Roman rite was taken to be older and hence more "right" and original. In resembling the Ambrosian Mass the Beneventan ordo also parallels many parts of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. The Gloria begins the popular part of Mass, followed by the Kyrie (no Christe eleison), the Symbol of Faith is sung after the offertory and before the preface, and the dismissal appears to have been Benedicamus Domino. The Greek Divine Liturgy often begins with the Great Doxology (Gloria) at the conclusion of the preceding Orthros (Mattins), Kyrie eleison is the response to the Great Litany which opens the Liturgy proper, the Creed is said before the preface and after the moving of the gifts to the altar, and the dismissal is absolutely not the Roman one but rather several different dismissals and blessings.

A hasty analysis may conclude that the Greek, Ambrosian, and Beneventan rites belong to a common liturgy ancestor from which the Roman liturgy deviated. More likely the Ambrosian and Beneventan rites reflected the cultures in which they were fostered, parts of Italy in which Greek culture and Constantinopolitan influence remained strong long after Rome fell to the foederati and began its own series of liturgical enhancements. Perhaps one strong demonstration of this point is the Great Doxology, the Gloria in excelsis Deo. In both the Ambrosian and Beneventan rites this approximates to the singing of the same in the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy, however sings this as part of the Office and not the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In Rome the singing of the Gloria was not introduced until near the time of Gregory the Great and then only for the celebration of Papal Mass; even in the twelfth century a papal Mass during Lent would hear the Gloria while Pascha at a local parish would not. It would be difficult to criticize the Roman ordo for not resembling the Byzantine Liturgy when there is little evidence it ever did to begin with.

Instead of similar and dissimilar descendants of a pure ancestor the various rites of Italy could more favorably be viewed as open systems of liturgy that cross pollinated over time until a few larger traditions (Rome, Milan) supplanted smaller ones (Benevento, Aquila). The extant rubrics for the Beneventan Holy Saturday reveal, among many things, that both the Roman and Ambrosian Masses were known in Benevento and their rubrics widely practiced; additionally, the separate traditions of the Greek and Latin communities of the city had to be integrated during Holy Week, which admitted one common Eucharist a day. In Rome fire would be blessed, the Paschal candle would be blessed in the church using the Exultet, the twelve prophecies would be sung in Latin entirely and then in Greek, catechumens would be baptized, and then the Mass would be sung. Benevento, and presumably Monte Cassino, which imitated Benevento's liturgical practices, had a different order for Holy Saturday: fire was blessed at the door of the church and brought in on a candle like in the Roman rite, then the prophecies were sung once through alternating Latin and Greek depending on the congregation (in Salerno as late as the 13th century they sang eight in Latin and four in Greek), singing the Benedicite and blessing the candle with the Exultet after the 11th prophecy; then catechumens were baptized and Mass sung.

At first glance the alternative order may seem a minor variation. In a larger context, the Roman practice of blessing fire and then immediately the Paschal candle in the church preserves the ancient lucernarium in the celebration of Vespers, the last such preservation in the Roman Church. Benevento follows the Greek rite of Holy Saturday and consequently Pascha by not beginning their vesperal liturgy with the lucernarium and instead treating the whole thing as an extended Mass with some additional ceremonies; the Exultet after the Benedicite roughly corresponds to the changing of colors during the same hymn in the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. Not until the reforming papacies of St. Gregory VII and Victor III (himself abbot of Monte Cassino) did the Exultet switch to the Franco-Roman text and placement; around the same time Benevento integrated Roman chant into its liturgy and standardized according to the uses of Rome, which begs the question: did they lose their own rite?

Answering this question may be difficult because liturgical practice varied so greatly before Trent, when many dioceses had their own "uses" or dialects of the Roman rite. It is even harder to answer in the first millennium, when mutual enrichment was more than a seminar concept and liturgical traditions were not quite as established, outside of a few fundamentals, as they would be in the high Middle Ages. In the surviving rubrics of the Beneventan liturgy there are several directives as to when something should be done "according to Roman use" or "according to Ambrosian use". It may be that the Beneventan rite was a "use" of Milan in the same way Sarum is a "use" of Rome, only with some modifications for the local Greek community and some influences from neighboring Rome. Another possibility, which is not presented in the articles I have read, is that both the Roman and Milanese rites were celebrated in Benevento, the latter gradually being merged into the former.

Benevento represents a missing link in the study, but not the history, of the Latin liturgy. It contributes scarce information, but when it does it warns us to approach the subject with as much caution as enthusiasm, for theories have clean delineations which confirm or reject hypotheses, but history just is not that clean.

For more information John Boe's Chant Notation in South Italy and Rome before 1300 and Thomas Kelly's The Exultet in Southern Italy are good starting points and both are available on Google books. The remaining musical texts might be searchable as facsimiles (Benevento 38 and Benevento 40). Benevento 33 has the ordo for Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Assumptiontide Musings: Mary, Did You Know (Mystics Revisited)

Today is the final day in the Church's annual celebration of the death and assumption into heaven of God's Virgin Mother, Our Lady. As perhaps the most uniquely Marian major feast—the older Annunciation feast being focused on the Incarnation—the octave affords us a week and a day to reflect on God's perfection of nature by grace in Mary, the Blessed Virgin's perfect obedience to the will of God, and her relationship with her divine Son. It is regarding this last point that I would like to revive the old topic of mystics and the question of what Our Lady knew, and more importantly, the manner in which she knew it.

One of the more common features of mystics that chronicle the life of Christ before His public ministry is that Our Lord prepares His Mother for His Passion by recounting His purpose in great detail and the exact manner in which He would fulfill all prophesied by the Patriarchs, Moses, the Kings, and heralds of the Jewish covenants. In short, Mary suffered with Christ at the foot of the Cross in full knowledge of how and why almost everything would transpire. The Blessed Virgin suffered a bitter trial in witnessing Jesus's brutal execution at the hands of the blood-thirsty mob, but there are no surprises for her.

This is not, however pious it may seem, the manner in which God seems to speak to the Blessed Virgin regarding Christ's life and death in the Scriptures or in the received mens ecclesiae. Instead, what is to come is always hinted at in a way which calls the soul to prepare for a bitter trial and with only enough clarity to demand fidelity of our human faculties rather than satisfaction of their curiosities. The Holy Spirit does not speak through a veil in these cases, but withholds enough to demand trust.

At the moment of the Incarnation, when the Archangel Gabriel stood saluted the one "full of grace", the heavenly messenger said He Who she merited to bear would "be great and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33). These are promises about what Christ will do for Mary to know and for all posterity. The Angel broadcasts the coming of Christ for the world to contemplate, which it has ever since, perhaps no where more beautifully than in the Akathist sung before the Annunciation during Great Lent in the Byzantine Churches.
An archangel was sent from heaven to say to the Theotokos: Rejoice! And beholding Thee, O Lord, taking bodily form, he was amazed and with his bodiless voice he stood crying to her such things as these:
Hail, Thou through whom joy will shine forth:
Hail, Thou through whom the curse will cease! Hail, recall of fallen Adam:
Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve! Hail, height inaccessible to human thoughts:
Hail, depth undiscernible even for the eyes of angels! Hail, for Thou art the throne of the King:
Hail, for Thou bearest Him Who beareth all! Hail, star that causest the Sun to appear:
Hail, womb of the Divine Incarnation!
Hail, Thou through whom creation is renewed:
Hail, Thou through whom we worship the Creator!
Hail, O Virgin and Bride Ever Pure!
These words, usually ascribed to St. Romanos of Constantinople, are deeper meditations on the words of the Angel to the Virgin. Far from adding information, real or imagined, to the Gospel, they illuminate what Gabriel said all the more brilliantly in light of what transpired later. Similarly, through Simeon the Holy Spirit made known that the Christchild is "set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many heart, thoughts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35). Again, hymnody provides some insight as to how these exchanges were conventionally viewed. The fairly modern hymn What Child is This dilates in the second verse:
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
With more age and accompanying wisdom, the Cherry Tree Carol, from the high medieval Yorkshire mystery plays, offers:
Then Mary took her babe,
and sat him on her knee,
Saying, My dear son, tell me
what this world will be.
‘O I shall be as dead, mother,
as the stones in the wall;
O the stones in the streets, mother,
shall mourn for me all.
‘Upon Easter-day, mother,
my uprising shall be;
O the sun and the moon, mother,
shall both rise with me.'  
Mary knows Our Lord maternally, as a mother who knows her son her son as any mother knows her son, the difference being that what Mary was in perfection we must aspire to through the ordinary means of grace in the Sacraments. Mary was absolutely human, but humanity perfected and re-perfected. We will never be as perfect as the Virgin Mother of God, nor will we ever know Christ as well in prayer as she knew Him by motherly instinct, but like her we can know him by grace. Mary was assumed into heaven, which is a special privilege, but perhaps not that unique. Not only may several of the Old Testament patriarchs have enjoyed the same treatment, but more importantly we ourselves will be emptied of our graves and restored as Saint Paul teaches the Corinthians and as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed reminds us. She is the foremost nighttime star in the sea of human darkness and confusion because of her humanity, leading us to her Son's divinity.

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gaudeamus Omnes! Assumpta Est Maria in Caelum!

Below is an annual repost of one of the more insightful liturgical articles on this blog.


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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 today.

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
source: joyfulheart.com
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—Eastern 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, even if the accompanying letter did in fact say she died. 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!