Monday, July 29, 2013

Ancient Roman Office

Herein we shall have a very brief history and synopsis of the ancient Roman Divine Office, which was preserved into the thirteenth century in the major Papal basilicas of Rome until Pope Nicholas III, a Franciscan, imposed the books the Franciscans used, meaning the books of the Roman Curia. This is fitting, given that a Franciscan pope caused liturgical trouble in the Church of Rome and now today the pope of Rome causes liturgical trouble in a Franciscan order! First, we should endeavor to understand how the idea of singing the psalms and lessons according to the hour of the day came about in the first place.

The general consensus, according to Pierre Batiffol a century ago, is that a vigil of prayer preceded the celebration of Mass/Divine Liturgy in churches every Sunday. The origin of this practice is itself obscure. Some theorized that Christians merely extended the Paschal Vigil, what St. Augustine of Hippo called the "mother of all vigils," throughout the year. As one might surmise from the etymological origin, vigilare, a vigil is a watch of prayer before something important, in this case the Eucharist of Sunday, the Lord's day. St. Jerome supposes that the evening vigil reflects the Apostolic expectation of the return of Christ, itself an anti-type to the evening exodus and liberation of God's people, the Israelites, from Egypt (Commentary on Matthew 4).

Some like Batiffol expect the vigil on Sunday began at cockcrow, while some others, less popular, might sympathize with the medieval practice of beginning the vigil at midnight. The vigil itself varied drastically from place to place, but we can say that it involved the reading of the psalms, of other holy books (remember the Canon of Scripture was not codified until the end of the fourth century, so we cannot just assume they were "reading the Bible"), and some sort of responsorial prayers—adopted from the Jewish practice of chanting an invocation to which the people would respond with a doxology such as Amen. The Gloria Patri.... is a sort of prayer ending of this variety, albeit used for the psalms rather than for the more variable prayers. The psalms appear to have been recited or chanted by a single reader or cantor in a monotone. St. Athanasius in the fourth century ordered readers to fluctuate the tones of their voices for the benefit of the laity in attendance. Ss. Athanasius and Augustine attest to deacons chanting the psalms alone, which persists in the choral practices of the Byzantine rite and which remained in various usages of the Roman rite—such as Good Friday in the Lyonese use—until the twentieth century. Between the verses of the psalm the choir would chant antiphons, which became increasingly elaborate in time, giving rise to a "responsorial psalm" (the reformers of the twentieth century misread this as a popular part of the liturgy which died off in a fit of clericalism and "restored" it in the Pauline Mass; the responsorial psalm was a clerical part from the beginning). This practice originates not in Rome, but in Antioch. St. John Chrysostom brought it to Constantinople, where it became popular and eventually traveled from the new capital in Asia Minor to the old capital in Milan. Rome, as we shall see constantly, was very slow and wary in adopting this practice, only taking on choral responsorial chant in the fifth century, a century after monastic-influenced Africa and Byzantium.

St. Lawrence outside the Walls
Eventually vigils became more and more common. The Church in Constantinople had a vigil every single night. In contrast, St. Jerome remarks, Rome held the vigils only on Sundays and the nights anterior to great feasts. Here we see a very local part of Rome's liturgy. The idea of a "stational church" originates in the vigil. For feasts of local martyrs and saints the vigil was in ancient times held at the cemetery were said saint was buried, or at least in a proximate house. When churches were constructed they were built on the sites of these cemeteries or burial spaces, St. Peter's basilica being the most famous example of this. The vigil then would not take place in every church of Rome, but the Pope and the clergy of the stational church, perhaps St. Lawrence outside the Walls on the night between August 9th and 10th, would hold the vigil and the following Mass in that particular church. Rome eventually came to the practice of the rest of Christendom and had daily vigils, as St. Benedict instructs other monks to observe in his Rule (13).

Enough about the timing and frequency of the vigil. What was the vigil? The vigil consisted of three parts: an evening service, a night time service, and a morning service, which are equivalent to Vespers, Mattins, and Lauds today. This is not very difficult to see in the names within the services. Vespers, from vesperae, meaning shadows or darkness. Mattins, from matutinus or "early," is comprised of nocturns, from the word nocte or "night." And Lauds is from Laudate, the opening word of two of the three integral psalms in the pre-1911 psalter. Easy! Vespers might begin around 4PM in the presence of the bishop, who would leave and rejoin the congregation later in the night, or early in the morning if you will, for Mattins. Lauds became seen as so important during the latter half of the first millennium the presiding cleric would often, depending on the time of year, signal all present to cease Mattins and head straight into Lauds the moment the light of the Sun entered the church.

Monks of Bethelehem
Outside of Rome, in the mid first millennium, we see a rising tension between the secular clergy and monks, who are often imposing their psalmody on parishes to the annoyance of the local bishops. Yet there developed, in Rome and abroad, a middle ground between hermetical monks and the regular laity. Since the age of martyrdom was more or less over, the very devout, often celibate or virgin, took to singing psalms together in community during the daytime without the presence of a cleric. Imitating the Jewish practice of observing the daytime hours, they prayed at the third, sixth, and ninth hours—terce, sext, and none. Parts of these daytime hours as practiced in ancient times remains in the unreformed Holy Week as it existed before St. Pius X tinkered with the psalter and made the little hours variable. The psalms did not have "doubled" antiphons nor did they have hymns nor introductory rites. They were simply sung beginning with the sign of the Cross and ending with some prayers.

Yet at late as the sixth century the little hours of the devout laity were just that, for the devout laity and not part of the "Office." The hours of Prime and Compline came last, in the fourth century among hermetical monks of Bethlehem. The leaders of monastic communities noticed that the monks had far too much free time to sin between the beginning of the vigil with vespers and Mattins later in the night, and between Lauds and Terce, so they imposed prayers to be sung during those period. For this reason we often call Prime  and Compline "chapter" hours, hours sung by the monks in common outside of a liturgical setting. One wonders why the reformers axed Prime on the false grounds that it was a mistaken repeat of Lauds but kept Compline as "night prayer" as though it was somehow more authentic. As with Lauds, the psalmody chosen for Compline reflected its character, in this case nocturnal. The lingering darkness and uncertainty of night made psalm 90, which speaks of the Lord encompassing us in His shoulders, a source of constant succor.

Back to the Roman vigil. Even in the time of St. Jerome in the late fourth century Rome still sang psalms straight through, without a "choir" concept we have today. Within a century or so we have antiphons sung in between the verses of psalms by the choir, while a deacon or subdeacon chants the psalm itself. There are lessons at Mattins, three from Pascha until late September, and then four lessons from late September until Pascha, when the night is longer. The lessons could be taken from any number of sources according to the parish or monastery's means. Whatever Scripture was available might be read, such as an Old Testament book or a Pauline epistle. The reading was not very exact in length and would end whenever the presiding cleric had heard enough. These readings could be quite long. The Abbey of Cluny, full of very eccentric monks, boasted of restoring the ancient Roman lesson length to the point where they could read the entire book of Genesis at Mattins in just a week; certain monks were ordered to walk the choir stalls and wake any others who had fallen asleep during the onerous readings.

Lessons started to come from non-Scriptural sources as well. St. Gregory the Great recommends that at Mattins his friend, Marinianus, ought to read the pope's commentaries on the psalms at Mattins rather than his writings on Job.

We can also guess that by this time the structure of the Office had become more or less set. Mattins would have three or four lessons on a ferial day and nine on a feast day, with twelve variable psalms on a feria and nine on a feast. The offices began with the sign of the Cross and psalm 69 followed by a doxology and then the proper psalmody of the day. Finding this too long, the Curia eliminated psalm 69 but kept two lines of it and the doxology at the end (Deus in adiutorium.... Domine ad adiuvandum.... Gloria Patri....). In the first half of the first millennium the readings were done in a ferial tone by the senior-most clergy, a place of honor. By the seventh century ornate Roman chant had become so developed that children often sang the lessons as liturgical ministers. Popes Leo II, Benedict II, and Sergius I entered the clerical life as choir boys who read at Mattins.

Batiffol at this point draws attention to an interesting phenomenon: without Imperial aid, churches in Gaul, the Frankish kingdom, and even England sought to imitate the Roman Office practiced at the Lateran Cathedral and St. Peter's basilica. Perhaps one source of variation between the Roman rite and local uses was the limited resources available for transmission, beyond basics like the psalter. Antiphons with their ornate chants were bound in a separate book, as were the Scriptural lessons (perhaps several book). Even if the psalter and texts could be carried from Rome to York the tones of the psalms and the ceremonies surrounding the Office would inevitably vary.

Also unique to Rome were the ornate and long responses after the lessons at Mattins, often two or three lines long. They are usually attributed to St. Gregory I, but are more likely the collective work of Popes centuries before and a century after Gregory the Great. The responses at Mattins, and antiphons for the rest of the Office, become more or less fixed by the eighth century in St. Peter's basilica, the main pilgrimage destination and liturgical envy of Europe. One contribution Gregory the Great did certainly make to the development of chant was his establishment of monasteries at the major churches of Rome. St. Peter's basilica had no less than three monasteries in the first millennium. Monasteries were eventually supplanted by chapters of canons, but their musical influence endured.

At this point it is worth saying something about the ceremonies surrounding the main hours in the ancient Office. The Pope would enter the church in a chasuble—no choir dress and copes were more like rain coats at this time—and go through the ceremonies of an episcopal visit; he would then preside from his throne behind the altar, facing the people, surrounded by the canons or monks of the church in order of seniority, with hundreds of candles lit nearby; cantors, deacons and subdeacons, would take their place at ambos on either side of the altar and a lecturn would be installed for the reading of the lessons, either facing the altar from the apse or facing the altar and Pope from the opposite side. The nature of the ceremonies was a balance of congregational and monastic, whereby clerics performed the liturgy, but directed the more didactic parts of it to the laity.

The Office of St. Peter's took on a special importance to Europe and became the golden standard of Roman liturgy. As Msgr. Batiffol reminds us, Benedict Biscop, teacher of St. Bede the Venerable, managed to convince Pope Agatho to lend him a few monks from St. Peter's to teach his English monastery the Petrine Office. The long and elaborate scriptural responses of Mattins became popular in the Frankish lands and a mainstay of the Offices of diocese and monasteries on those areas. People used the Roman Office because they wanted to do so, not because they were obliged. In utilizing the Roman Office as far as possible, clergy created a localized expression and began local customs in liturgy that would help them perform and express their adoration for God in a way unique to them while remaining substantially united to Rome in the essence and text of prayer. Unique variations developed in the late first millennium outside of Rome. For instance in the lessons at Mattins at the end of each nocturn Gallican clergy would recite the Pater noster while at St. Peter's in Rome they would pray a short absolution. What comes to us today is a merger of both practices.

Perhaps curious to us is that the ancient Office did not commemorate the saint of the day. Pope Gregory III is said to have constructed small shrines in St. Peter's basilica with short offices in honor of the saint of the day to be prayed in those places. Eventually the two became fused as monks shirked this extra duty.

In the eighth century scholae are established everywhere from Rome to Rouen according to the rites of St. Peter's basilica, effectively snuffing whatever might have been done in the Gallican practices. The long, subtle Roman Office triumphed in Europe, but outside of St. Peter's it was not immune to fluctuations and changes.

The old St. Peter's basilica, bastion of the old Roman Office. Note the Leonine wall to the south.
Another variation that arose was in the translation of the psalter. Ever notice that the antiphons in the Office and the proper chants of Mass differ a bit from the psalm texts in the Vulgate? There are many examples of this. For instance erue me versus eripe me in translating psalm 42. The Church in France under Charlemagne and his successors used the "Gallican" psalter of St. Jerome, the saint's third translation of the psalms, while at St. Peter's in Rome they used an earlier translation of Jerome's, which was just a minor revision of the Latin texts he received. Therefor proper texts like antiphons and chants, which one reads prepared in a book, would be static while the most familiar psalm text might just be sung in a tone.

The repetition of each antiphon after a psalm verse died a slow death outside of Rome, but remained until the turn of the millennium at some places like Cluny or among the Canons of St. Martin of Tours. Similarly, the Gallican psalter supplanted the Roman psalter outside of the Lateran and St. Peter's.

Another feature that seems to have changed is the "chapter," the very short scriptural lesson after the psalms in each hour. The monk Amalarius, a student of Alcuin, has lessons at the minor hours, including Compline. What the hours might have looked like in the old Roman Office can be found in the pre-1911 Offices for Holy Week: each hour is begun with the sign of the Cross and an antiphon; the psalms and antiphons are sung straight through with no lesson, only a response, at the end; depending on the hour there might be a canticle; then a closing prayer functioning like a collect (although not taken from the Mass, the texts of the Mass and the Office did not overlap as much as they did after the 13th century).

The lessons, as mentioned earlier, went on as long as pleased the presiding cleric, often an abbot or the Pope himself. The practice of reading Scripture, which seems impromptu, dates only to the late 700s, but became a fixed part of the Office, albeit in a reduced form outside of Rome and Cluny. I wonder, are the Tenebrae lessons of the Triduum abbreviated for Curial purposes from longer originals? It seems possible.

Perhaps an important factor in the reduction of the core of the Office and addition of hymns and collects from Mass outside of the major churches of Rome is the number of books necessary to pray the Office: a Bible, or collection of Scripture books; a psalter; an antiphonary; a book of homilies for the lessons; and, later, a Sacramentary. This books could take years to make and consumed precious resources. It was much easier, for instance, to shorten the Wisdom selections for August and protract their reading than to speed through them and be out of books, forcing repetition. We read, in the mid-700s, Pope Zachary donating books to St. Peter's basilica from his private library for the public Office. Even the main center for pilgrimage in Europe was not immune to a shortage of funds for these expensive liturgical resources!

Fr. Finigan doing it the rite way in Blackfen
(Zephyrine, you lucky duck!)
Another point of interest is the kalendar. The Sundays of Advent were not penitential, but joyful in the ancient Roman Office. Batiffol examines the Mattins responses for the first Sunday of Advent, which you can read for yourself elsewhere. The concept of Advent as a penitential season seems to be of French origin rather than Roman. The great O antiphons sung as the Feast of the Nativity approaches, corroborate this hypothesis. The mid points in Lent and Advent, Laetare and Gaudete Sundays, were also great days of the year which merited the Pope's public celebration of the entire liturgy as late as the Middle Ages.

Moreover, according to Pope Hadrian I and later sources on the great feasts of the year there were two celebrations of Mattins at the stational church on a given night. The first, without the elaborate introduction, would be the ferial Office. Later in the night would come the festal Office and the rest of the day would follow as normal. Simple-ranked feasts were compromises between the festal and ferial Office. They were important enough to celebrate, but too local for the same treatment as universal feasts like the Nativity or St. John the Baptist. So the ferial psalms, aside from Lauds, were sung but with festal antiphons on the canticles and prayers pertaining to the saint of the day at the end of the major hours.

So, how did the "traditional" breviary/Office we have today, or had until 1911, come into being? Certainly the groundwork for it should be visible to my more liturgically oriented readers. In 1241 Gregory IX gives the Minorites (now colloquially called the Franciscans) the use of the "modern" Roman Office, which begs the question: what the heck is that?

St. Gregory VII, a monk, was
not a fan of reduced Offices
The "modern" Office was a variation of the Roman Office used by the Curia in the Lateran Palace, although not cathedral, from around the time of St. Gregory VII onward. It has many influences from outside Rome, particularly from France. The "modern" breviary, for instance, utilizes hymns before or after the psalms, depending on the hour. Hymns were not a complete innovation, although hymns as we know them did not take liturgical flight in either Rome or in the Eastern Churches. St. Benedict, although generally following the Roman way, prescribes hymns in his Rule the same way we sing them now. "Ambrosian" hymns, following a specific sort of meter attributed to the patron saint of Milan, became very popular in monasteries and in France. The international nature of the Curia and the re-emphasis on monasticism from St. Gregory VII throughout the high Middle Ages imported elements from priories and foreign cathedrals into the Papal Court. Somehow the Lateran Cathedral managed to resist hymns in their Office until the 12th century! Even the other local churches of Rome had long ago taken on the newer practice.

A tension between the Roman Office and the Curial Office arose in the 12th and 13th centuries, during which the Curia, outside of public Papal celebrations, used their Gallicanized, modern Office exclusively. Innocent III lamented that the Curia only used the true Roman Mass and Office on the feast of St. Peter's Chair in Rome. The Mass, unrelated to this article, may have differed too. Example: at Papal Mass a cardinal deacon and the local sacristan would arrange the burse, chalice, and bread on the altar during the Creed. The Tridentine practice—wherein the deacon of the Mass prepares the burse during the Creed and the subdeacon prepares the matter for the Eucharist during the Offertory—was a Curial adaptation for smaller spaces and less elaborate liturgies. In his own time Gregory VII blamed shortening and simplification on laxity among the clergy. One wonders what he would think of the Liturgia Horarum, which one can recite, for the entire day, in 30 minutes or less! John Beleth wrote in the 12th century "How many of us are found joyfully to rise with the Sun to say the Divine services?.... How many are they who conscientiously recite in due course the Office of the day? Few indeed, and very few, if the real truth be told."

Another point of note is that the Office, among the Curia, was now more frequently read than sung. St. Leo IX is recorded, in the 11th century, to have piously recited the Office in private daily, a proof of his holiness and sanctity. Given the need for books outlined a few paragraphs ago, we must ask: did a "breviary," an abbreviated version of the Office text without musical notation, exist even then? If not it certainly existed two centuries later. The word "breviary," from the Latin breve, means "brief" or "shortened" and is directly linked with the Franciscans, who wished to carry the modern Curial Office around in a single volume. Thus the breviary for private recitation was born. The Rad Trad, who has no firm scholarly ground for this assumption, guesses that parish priests outside of cathedral cities, probably just recited psalms with a Pater noster at the end rather than an entire Office, with hymns and antiphons, every day.

Nicholas III, Franciscan and
liturgical dissident
At the same time the Papal Court slowly drifted away from the Roman Office as devotion to the Virgin and prayers for the Church Suffering in Purgatory increased. Clergy of the major cathedrals and collegiate churches of Europe would sing the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin on days with three lessons at Mattins and perhaps also the Office of the Dead. The Office of the Dead would, at least, be recited on Fridays of Lent. It was not inconceivable that on a Lenten feria, between the Office of the day, the Office of the Virgin, the Office of the Dead, the seven penitential psalms, the Mass of the feria, and, if it occurred, the Mass of a feast, a canon or monk might spend near ten hours singing. This was truly onerous (compare that with the 1975 Pauline Office!). Inevitably canons and monks viewed this schedule of prayer as a burdensome daily grind rather than as God's praises. Liturgy became a grueling obligation, which is perhaps why when Pope Nicholas III completely suppressed the ancient Roman Office he met no major opposition in doing so.

In 1223 the Franciscans obtained the Roman breviary books and may or  may not have "corrected" some aspects, such as which psalter was used. The order was permitted to celebrate local feasts where ever they lived, but had to fit each feast into the relevant Common and never rank it above semi-double. As a result the kalendar took on a lot of extra European saints with little international or distinctly Roman importance. The Rad Trad cannot verify, but guesses some of these feasts were "scrubbed" by St. Pius V in the aftermath of the Council of Trent.

And there it is. The reduced Office for Curial use which made Innocent III lament, himself a former canon of St. Peter's, became the Office of the Franciscans, which in turn became the Office of Rome, which in turn became the Office of Europe. Although the communal nature and structure of the ancient Office died with the clerically focused Curial Office, vestiges of the older Office remain, for instance, in the old Triduum Offices and from Pascha through Low Sunday. The psalm schedule remained and the psalm translation for antiphons and propers of Mass stayed, too. The effect of the impositions of Nicholas III and Trent was an abbreviation, but not a complete loss or change. If there is a real tragedy in all this, it is that the Office used at St. Peter's was the golden standard of the Latin Church and remained for so long, only to be eventually seen as an unneeded weight on lethargic clergy. The popular element of the Office, which incorporated local feasts, interaction with the bishop (in this case the Pope), and participation of parish clergy, was lost for a convenient minimalism.

Of course, as the Rad Trad has suggested earlier, there is no "going back," but we can learn the lessons of liturgical history, lest we traverse the roads of worship with only the most plain and un-detailed maps of the Divine cult.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Old Believers

Some readers might be aware of a Russian, and to some extent, Romanian, Orthodox group called the "Old Believers." Their's is a fascinating case study in liturgical upheaval's most extreme consequences. The Patriarch of Moscow in the mid-17th century, Nikon, noticed differences between the Greek and Russian Church liturgies in some very basic matters: the direction of a procession, how to say the Creed, how to make the sign of the Cross, and even Our Lord's Holy Name. Nikon, in a bout of wisdom from Solomon, assumed that whatever was Greek must be older and hence more authentic. He imposed many major liturgical changes (so much for those who think the Byzantine rite is super ancient and un-altered) and, with the help of an Orthodox synod in the 1660s, even anathematized the older Byzantine liturgical practices with the czar's approbation. Many who refused the changes, the "Old Believers," suffered violent consequences, including Feodosia Morozova, whom they esteem as a sort of martyr for her death-by-starvation in a jail cell. The resulting schism endures to this day.

Many Old Believers have dispersed throughout Eastern Europe in small droves and even into Alaska, where one community frequently attracts the attention of the press, which sees the Old Believers as a quaint, Amish-like group of benign persons. Most tragic about the Old Believers is that they were probably more in the right than Nikon was, who just assumed whatever was Greek must be better. I do not know much about mid-second millennium Byzantine liturgy, but as a former student of medieval history I can say that as a center of trade and the delta of several currents of ideas from Latin Europe, Arab North Africa, the Holy Land, and the former Greek Empire, the Constantinopolitan liturgy would be especially susceptible to alterations and changes. Moreover, the wealth of Byzantium, until its fall in 1453, meant both institutions and individuals could afford the creation or copy of books, fostering many opportunities for typographical errors and the machinations or copyists. Russia, as a poorer and geographically desolate place, would be better suited for the preservation of written and oral liturgical traditions.

This should be a lesson to those who wish for immediate liturgical changes. Even enthusiasts for the old rite ought to realize that an outright and instantaneous change in the Latin rite would do more harm than good.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Winchester Cathedral

No, not the Geoff Stephens song. The actual Cathedral in Winchester, England. This post is somewhat inspired by Marko's comment on a previous post which called attention to a pair of Latin Masses in Anglican Churches. I made an offhand comment about a "reverent informality" for the Divine things that often existed in the Middle Ages. I hope that a quick look into one of the finest churches of the Middle Ages could provide some insight as to what I meant.
Two quick points: (1) the Rad Trad purports no expertise concerning Winchester Cathedral, so he will only be relaying his impressions from a personal visit and his poor knowledge of the liturgy; (2) except for the floor plan, all images are from the Rad Trad's collection, so no copyright issues.
The diocese of Winchester dates to the seventh century and boasts many great English saints, most notably Swithun and Birinus. The enormous cathedral that comes to us today dates from only 1079. The building's foundations, built on a wetland, only go a few feet into the ground. At the turn of the last century the cathedral was actually sinking in some parts, though this problem seems to be resolved. Many famous events took place at Winchester, including the marriage of Queen Mary Tudor to King Philip II of Spain. Author Jane Austen is buried near the entrance. I am tempted to repeat something an English priest once said about the presence of her tomb, yet I think in the interest of taste I shall hold my tongue.
The layout is a classic medieval cruciform shape, although no baptistery exists off the side, as one might expect. I am unsure if perhaps it was destroyed or simply never existed, given the date of the cathedral's construction.
source: Wikipedia
The purpose of medieval architecture was to create a convergence between heaven and earth, to blur the lines between where men lived and the altar that the Son of God deigned to visit. The cathedral is gathering place for the believers of a city, and also the place where, until Trent, the bishop would instruct the people in the faith. Lastly, cathedrals were temples of God, places where sacrifice was offered to the Father in fulfillment of the Sacrifice of the Cross.
For all these purpose cathedrals like Winchester took on a general style adjustable for local needs and local character. The cruciform shape recalls the Latin emphasis on the Cross, as opposed to the generally round Byzantine churches which are more reminiscent of the Imperial Court. Many cathedrals, notes Dr. Laurence Hemming, were built on water, reminding us of that psalm that substitutes for the Asperges during Paschaltide: "I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple...."
Out of necessity the buildings were naturally luminous. Enormous portals of light washed Winchester in an albescent effulgence reflective of the un-caused energy and light of God reveals to Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor.

Yet despite the natural necessity of large windows, the builders felt no constraint in making a theological expression of the Divine nature in the arrangement of these windows. Typically the lower windows of a cathedral are large and of stained glass in the nave, emitting a rich floral array, but clearer towards the top, basking the upper part of the building in white light which better illuminates any depictions of heavenly things on the ceiling.

A variation, seen in the transepts of Winchester and more prominently in the nave of the abbey church at Cluny, augments the size of the windows either as one approaches the altar (Cluny) or as one raises the eyes upward (Winchester). The effect is an understanding of the celestial powers over the temporal.

The view to the right, which is of the North transept of Winchester Cathedral, details this last point rather splendidly. Places like Winchester did not become temples of God only by virtue of their consecration by bishops, but by the very nature and intentions of their builders to create a reflection of heaven where the faithful could carry on their conversation with the Trinity and the Saints: "But our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself" (Philippians 3:20-21). One does not come to a building like this for merely formal worship, but to become immersed in the spiritual, to commune, to pray perpetually, to gather in the rites of the Church, but also for private devotion.

This point held true for the priests as much as the laity. When concelebration died out in the Latin Church in the Middle Ages, private Masses began to take its place. Consequently altars began appearing in places normally reserved to private devotion. In this instance the private Mass was the priest's private devotion. Priestly monks and canons not assigned to the conventual Mass of the day would go to their customary chapel with a server, usually an apprentice (now a seminarian), and would pray a votive Mass particular to the day of the week unrelated to the feast or feria of the day. Mass could be done a little differently at each altar and the rubrics began to mix with pontifical Mass to create some of the unique ceremoniale of a given local rite.

The above chapel, below the Choir and Sanctuary on the North side, should end any notion that medieval religion was dark, dreary, and desolate. This chapel was once ensconced in images of the Divine mysteries, images which time and neglect have sadly faded from contemporary view.

Tilt your head to the right and see what looks like Christ the Pantocrator
Yet the image of Christ, similar to the Pantocrator icon above the Holy Places of Byzantine churches, watches the place where a priest once prayed daily Mass. Laity might enter this place around 7:00AM, an hour or two before the conventual Mass, and find a few dozen Masses hidden in the various chapels, chanted in either a simple tone or a monotone. Lay persons, in attending, might "hear' the whole of the Mass or only remain for the elevations and leave. Such was medieval piety. The elevations of the Sacred Species were themselves innovations of medieval piety.

The focus of the cathedral is entirely vertical. We expect this tall and narrow view on our neo-gothic American and English churches, but it is hard to appreciate without the massive scale of a place like Winchester.

The Choir of the cathedral is where the monks and canons would spend several hours a day, beginning very early in the morning, singing to and about God. Like the chapels, each monk or canon would have his own choir stall. Although not a social arrangement, the proximity of those in choir to each other, the conversational arrangement of the choir stalls (one across from the other), the social hierarchy (the episcopal throne closest to the altar, followed by the rector and senior-most canons), and the relatively enclosed space engendered a certain degree of familiarity with what was going on in the Choir from day to day.

Because of the communal arrangement the lessons at Mattins, the antiphonal chants of all the Offices, the propers of the Mass, and the readings of Mass, were sung from a lecturn in the middle of the Choir. The Tridentine arrangement of, for instance, singing the Epistle a few feet away from the altar directly behind the priest is the result of imposing a Missal with rubrics suited to office staff praying Mass in a limited chapel space. Entirely different game here. I see no good reason why the traditional choir arrangement could not be resurrected in the setting of the Roman books. It was probably done in the Roman basilicas for most of Rome's Christian history.
Another one of those lovely side chapels

Side chapels and Choir arrangements, far from separating the congregation from the enclosed clergy, figured prominently in the Sunday worship. I remember once reading of a saint who suggested those that attended low Mass on Sunday cheated and failed to meet their Sunday obligations. A "real" Sunday obligation was met by waking up before the crack of dawn and attending Mattins and Lauds. During the interstice between Mattins and Lauds and the Mass the laity would visit the various chapels and pray to the saints honored therein. Or perhaps they would pray for the dead, either those of prominence buried within the cathedral or deceased family in humble graves. The Office of Prime, a "chapter" hour, would not likely be chanted within the Cathedral. This meant the congregation had dedicated time to their private devotions and practices. One advantage of this era is that most dioceses had their own saints canonized through local devotion in the first millennium rather than those recognized by Papal bull, which imbued some of these shrines and altars with a distinctly local character.

Where the shrine to St. Swithun once stood. This place, located behind the Choir and Sanctuary
was in medieval times where the foremost saint of a diocese would be buried (Becket at Canterbury,
St. Osmund at Salisbury etc.) The bronze tent unfortunately obstructs the "hole" leading under the
altar where the faithful would crawl to be nearer St. Swithun's tomb.
A better view of the "hole"
Before the main Mass on Sundays the canons and monks would sing the hour of Terce and then lead a procession around the cathedral, visiting each altar and singing hymns and prayers to the saints honored there.

The faithful, depending on their interest level, might continue to pray unmolested at their private places within the cathedral and "absorb" the chant and prayer resonating above or they might participate in the procession. Some wealthier and more literate members in attendance, normally nobility, would pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the time before Mass. The "bidding prayers," which in content more resembled the old rite intercessions on Good Friday than the "For everyone getting along and feely gushy, let us pray to the Lord" material heard in most modern parishes, were prayed in vernacular before the Rood Screen. The clergy would vest either at the main altar after the procession or in the Lady chapel before the procession.

The reredos and altar are, to the Rad Trad's knowledge, not original, but re-constructions done
in the 19th century by a High Church bishop
Despite the enclosure of the Rood Screen, in this case a restoration and not original, the ceiling really unites those in the Choir to the rest of the building.

A few peculiarities of Winchester's reredos are the very Romanesque-looking Roman saints, given the influence of branch-theory in the 19th century, and the post-medieval, Renaissance-like vividness of the statuary.

The Rad Trad found this specific depiction very surprising and very powerful
After the conventual Mass on Sunday people would go their separate ways. Some might revisit the chapels to make thanksgiving or to witness private Masses. Others would spend time with their families and finally break the fast. Many would then return in the evening for Vespers and another round of saintly devotions.

A very Popish-looking Pope!

Such was liturgical life before the Reformation, when the Latin Church became very minimalistic. If anything the line between private devotion and public prayer became more formalized and strict. The public prayer was reduced to bare essentials (a valid priest using a rite approved by the Congregation of Rites in Rome) and devotions were seen as a legitimate substitute for formal liturgy, rather than part of it or an addition to it. Something I have noticed in the Byzantine rite, which was in my mind when reading Marko's comment on informal reverence, was that no one thinks twice about taking time out during Mattins to light a candle or kissing the icon of the Virgin who carried Christ after receiving communion. Call me crazy, but do pews (and the modern GIRM) not prevent this sort of thing in the Roman rite? Everyone has a space to which they feel constrained for the next hour or so. If one leaves the assigned space and visits a chapel to pray during communion or to get closer to the sanctuary during the Gospel one arouses at best unwanted attention or at worst draws the stern eyes of the liturgical police. Yet this is precisely the reverent informality that existed once, and still does in many places, in the Latin liturgy. The entire experience of being in a cathedral, or a lesser parish, should be a continual interaction with God.

On days with three lessons at Mattins the Choir would pray the Officium Defunctorum and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin in the Lady Chapel, invariably at the back of the cathedral in the Middle Ages.

The Lady Chapel of Winchester Cathedral
While visiting Winchester's Lady Chapel the Rad Trad had a memorable experience indicative of post-modern Western religion, otherwise known as stupidity. Here is an image on the wall:

.... and this is what the picture guide said about it (number 2):

Needless to say, this particular chapel is neither original nor a period reconstruction.

Woodsmen worshiped on tree stumps!
The ceiling successfully conveys the irreducible complexity and awe of the Divine, yet the design is actually very practical—the opposing arches support each other.

Many Requiem Masses were hopefully offered for this man, Cardinal Beaufort, thrice Chancellor of England, bishop of Winchester, and the man responsible for St. Joan of Arc's martyrdom. While laying in bed, minutes from judgment, he offered death all the treasury of England for more time.

Sic transit gloria mundi
A few quick exterior images:

From the approaching path:

On Palm Sunday the procession would visit the various corners, including the cemetery, around the cathedral while a few cantors would exchange chants from the roof with the choir below.

English readers fear not! The Rad Trad did visit the Round Table.

I did not know how to explain this concept of reverent informality, so I endeavored to demonstrate it by describing what the faithful did, and still do, and where they did it. I hope I have done that much.

The Rad Trad

Coming Soon: Ancient Roman Office

In the not-so-distant future the Rad Trad will give a very brief, one post overview of the development of the ancient Roman psalter and the Office surrounding it. The ancient psalter survived Pope Nicholas III's imposition of the Franciscan Breviary secundum usum Curiae Romanae, but the rest of the Office was not so lucky. Yet some of the ancient Office continues in the pre-1911 Tenebrae offices, as well as Vespers and Compline of the Triduum, Mattins and Lauds of Pascha and Pentecost, and Mattins of Epiphany. Structural hints also survive in the Officium Defunctorum.
Many readers are aware that St. Pius X re-distributed the psalms in a seemingly unprecedented move with the Apostolic Constitution Divino Afflatu. What some may not know is that the rest of the Office (the translation of the psalms, the antiphons, the use of hymns, the introductory rites etc.) underwent a similar revolution in the high Middle Ages. The more ancient Roman Office had survived in the major basilicas of Rome into the twelfth century. By the early thirteenth Innocent III lamented that the ancient Office and Mass were only used by the Papal Court on feast of St. Peter's Chair in Rome! More on how the transition happened later. Still, at least in some capacity, the ancient Office survives!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lesser Known Fathers III: St. Isidore of Seville and the Names of God

First, I apologize for the image of the statue above, but the Rad Trad doubted his discerning and tasteful readers would want to see that painting—seemingly the only one of the Saint—of St. Isidore in a Roman mitre and reading a large tome yet again. So, we went for diversity today with questionable results.

Today's saint is the seventh century doctor of the Church, Isidore of Seville. Isidore is interesting and worthy of both faithful and secular study. Like Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Isidore lived in a time between ages: the curtain had fallen on the last act of antiquity and the Western Roman Empire, yet the Middle Ages as we think the them are not entirely underway until the age of Pepin and Charlemagne. Isidore lived in a reflective time, an era when one might look back to previous days and culture and something more and more distinct from the present day, yet without much eye for the future. One trait we find of this age of intellectual reminiscence and pessimism concerning the future is an attempt to codify and preserve knowledge, either for the scholar's own achievement or for posterity. The Saint of Seville wrote a work in harmony with this trait called Etymologiae, a purported summary of extant knowledge which relies heavily on etymology and word meanings. It is his chapter on God, His Son, and the Angels and Saints which rouses our attention.

The Book VII of his Etymologiae, which we shall focus on today, is remarkably apophatic for a Latin Church writer, although we should not think his writing and thought to be obscure or without precision. He deals with the names of God, of the Son of God, of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, of the Angels, the Prophets, Apostles, and other servants of God in the Scriptures.
First, let us think about the Hebrew names of "God" in a quick list format:
  1. El: according to St. Jerome it means the "strong" one, as we hear on Good Friday, or every day, in the Trisagion. God has never had infirmity or weakness in the innate, natural way we have. He is, by His very nature, strong and without defect.
  2. Eloi: name of God used by Our Lord from the Cross.
  3. Eloe: as with "Eloi," Eloe is a plain word meaning "God." The Saint points out that Theos, the Greek word for "God" which gave us Deus in Latin, means "fear" and was probably not initially a word for a deity.
  4. God of Sabaoth: literally God of "hosts" (7). We often lose sight of what a radical idea a singular and omnipotent God was to all non-Jews of antiquity. Their gods were laughably stupid and animalistic figures with irreparable foibles. Hence why God is the "King of glory" (psalm 23).
  5. Elion: "in the highest" or "aloft" or "above the heavens" (9).
  6. Eie: "He Who is." In Exodus 3:14, the Lord reveals Himself to Moses as "I am Who I am." The implication at first eludes us and at further consideration overwhelms us. We are beings, God is being. We can be something (a husband, a doctor, a person wearing a shoe etc), while God is the only One Who simply is. Not a transitive verb. God just is. God does not know "was" nor does He know "will be" (12-13). This does not include intellectual knowledge of these concepts, but He does not experience them. In his Civitate Dei St. Augustine postulates Einstein's theory of relativity fifteen centuries early in suggesting talk of predestination that undermines free will is somewhat pointless because it relies on a linear understanding of time, which is measured by motion between objects over a given period. God is simply outside this phenomenon and hence unbound by time. St. Isidore may have been reading from the Bishop of Hippo when he had this insight.
  7. Adonai: literally "Master." He rules the world. Liturgically oriented readers will recall this from the antiphon on the Magnificat at Vespers on December 18: "O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti, veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extent."
  8. Ia/Yah: again, just means "God." Last part of "Alleluia," meaning "Glory to you, oh God."
  9. The Tetragrammaton: a compilation of four Hebrew characters. The emphasis is that God is ineffable.
  10. Shaddai: meaning omnipotent.

In section 16 the Saint considers other names attributed to God in the Christian texts, such as "immortal" in 1 Timothy 6:16: "Who only has immortality." He is immortal, immutable, and incorruptible because He alone cannot change, change being the essence of mortality, mutation, and corruption. Isidore also spends some time explaining that the Trinity is hidden, not Something we have ever seen in His fullness (23). The reason is that the Trinity exists in faces, but not in the anthropomorphic way we understand a "face." Even in John 1:18 Christ tells us "No man has seen God at any time." He means that none have seen God in His essence. The Trinity, Isidore continues in later sections, is "immeasurable," "singular," and "perfect." None of these really needs explaining, but the idea of God's "face" is worth more time.

God sees and hears all things, but He does not have eyes and ears. The purpose of applying ears and eyes to God is to make Him more comprehensible to us (36-7). The same is true of God's "face," which does not mean corporal continence, but a Divine "recognition." When the psalmist writes in number 74 "Show us Thy face" he means "Grant us Thy recognition."

Section II of Book VII is dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His names and titles in the New Testament. The most obvious title of Christ is "Christ," from the Greek chrisma, meaning "anointed." Messiah means the same thing (6-7). What interests Isidore is that while many have been called anointed in the past, Jesus retains the denomination in His very name, illuminating His own actual name and His being for us.

Many of us know the name Jesus, that holiest of names, comes from the Hebrew Yeshua—Joshua in English—yet few of us, realize that the name itself means "Savior" (7-10). The name Jesus Christ hence means "anointed Savior" or "Savior king," a new concept we today will have to grasp again. He is the only Begotten of the Father, but He is begotten twice: first in eternity before all time and second on earth of the Virgin. As the psalmist writes: Thou art my beloved Son, this day I have begotten Thee. The Saint then proceeds through other titles of the Lord: the Beginning, the Light, the Hand of God, Alpha and Omega (28).

The in section III St. Isidore comes to the Holy Ghost, the "Paraclete" which means "advocate" or "helper," although this title is also used for the Second Person of the Trinity. Here is an apercu insight into the Bishop of Seville's Trinitarian theology. We speak of the Father and the Holy Spirit as Wisdom, although Christ is Wisdom, the Word Incarnate. Similarly, the Father than Son have Charity, but the Holy Spirit is Charity (20). The essence of God is common to the three persons of the Trinity, but the expression and action differs.

There is also a bit of Sacramental theology in all of this. The Father and the Son can be understood as far as God wants, since human fathers and son are reflections of the Divine Fatherhood and Sonship. The Paraclete has no such temporal analogue, so God has seen fit to tell us about His Third Person by what He does, hence names like "fire" and "water" (23, 27). It is precisely because the Holy Spirit is not immediately comprehensible by what He does, the bestowal of grace, that we are given Sacraments, outward signs of grace whereby the actual grace is given: "The water of the Sacrament of Baptism is one thing, and the water that signifies the Spirit of God is another, for the water of the Sacrament is visible, the water of the Spirit is invisible" (28). This water, for example, is the water Jesus explains in John 7:37: "If any man thirsts, let him come to me...."

The last part spent on the names of God is devoted to the concept of the Holy Trinity, which Isidore traces to tres, the Latin word for three, and unitas, the Latin word for unity. Trinity is Triunitas. The Father, Son, and Spirit are three persons in one, subsisting in one another, hence united but with some distinction. I can understand why the Orthodox do not recognize St. Isidore's sanctity in section IV, on the Trinity. The Saint writes that while the Son is Begotten of the Father and the Father of no one, the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son" (4), a statement he makes without the clarifications that allow Augustine narrowly to escape Byzantium's wrath. There is little else Isidore says concerning the Holy Trinity that one cannot find in the Greek Fathers. A few short comments are devoted to the rationale of the Trinity that we can acquire through consideration of the relationships within the Trinity: Father implies Son etc. This is better developed in the writings of Ss. Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian.

The rest of Book VII covers the angels ("angel" meaning "messenger") and their names (ex. Gabriel means "God's strength") as well as other figures. The names of the angels and the names of types of angels (thrones, cherubim, seraphim etc) signify their unique ministries in heaven and on earth. Raphael, whose named has a medical meaning, is always sent to heal. Fittingly the Rad Trad was once taken to a St. Raphael Hospital on the Fourth of July.

More compelling are the names of persons Isidore unfolds before us in section VI of Book VII. Adam, for instance, means "man." The immediate meaning is quite plain, but consider that Christ called Himself Son of Man on earth. We call ourselves "sons of Adam" owing to our sinful tendencies, but did Christ not do the same thing with redemption of man in mind? As we sing in the Evlogitaria of the Resurrection "The orders of Angels were amazed when they beheld You, Oh Savior, among the dead destroying the power of death and raising up Adam with you, and releasing all from Hades." Our Saint of the day then goes into less interesting material, like Esau meaning the color red, but returns to form when discussing some of the Old Testament prophets. Our confidence in Christ's fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures should sore when we learn in section VIII that "Elijah" is a conjunction of "Eloi"—meaning Lord—and "Ia"—meaning God (6). Hence, the "Lord God" is He Whose coming was predicted, not a temporal prince. Some prophetic names are even amusing. Micah, for instance, means "Who is it?"

The section following on the names of the Holy Apostles illuminates both the Old and New Testament in the original name of St. Paul, Saul, meaning "temptation" (7). Saul was the first temptation of the Church after Pentecost, but Saul was also the fallen king of Israel who preceded David. "Paul," on the other hand, means "little." Therefore in Ephesians he calls himself the "least of all the saints," the littlest of them before God.

Lastly, the Rad Trad would like to point out that, according to St. Isidore, the name Mary can very well be translated as "She who illuminates" or as "star of the sea," the latter of which immediately calls to mind the hymn constantly used for our Lady at Vespers: Ave maris Stella, Dei Mater alma, Atque semper virgo, felix caeli porta."

Apologies for the dry nature of today's post, but it goes with the encyclopedic material. I hope readers found something interesting in it. Next week's post will be a bit more exciting.

Two Latin Masses in Anglican Churches

Mass at the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, King of England
There have been two, presumably MR1962, Masses of note celebrated at churches owned and operated by the Church of England. The one was at Westminster Abbey (where the Rad Trad once visited, but then left at the outrageous idea of paying £15 to see a church) and the other at Canterbury Cathedral. The former was celebrated by a Benedictine monk and the matter by a FSSP pilgrimage run by the Remnant newspaper.
The Westminster celebration, although a low Mass, was at the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor and intended for his wife, Queen Edith. You can read the particulars here. Aesthetically the Mass is very successful: neo-gothic vestments, no weird emblems on the back, very English altar, and the large candles at the foot of the altar are lit.
The Canterbury Mass was done by an FSSP priest, so as one might expect it was a low Mass, with some chant though, and a fiddleback chasuble. While not exactly "period" the server is wearing a more medieval/English surplice at least. Perhaps I am too distracted by aesthetics. This is not a historical reconstruction, it is an actual Mass. There is a video below.

Speciosa Inter Filias Ierusalem

St. Mary Magdalene holding, as usual, a Paschal egg
Tomorrow is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the penitent. It is worth reading the antiphons from Vespers and Scriptural readings from Mattins, which I have provided below. They display a rich, vibrant, sensual relationship the penitent sinner should have with the Lord:
  1. While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
  2. We will run after thee, in the savour of thy good ointments. The virgins love them exceedingly.
  3. Lo the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. Rise up, my love, and come away.
  4. Come, O My chosen one, and I will establish My throne in thee, alleluia.
  5. She is beautiful among the daughters of Jerusalem.
Mattins (starting at Canticle of Canticles ch. 3):

  1. In my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and found him not. I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I found him not. The watchmen who keep the city, found me: Have you seen him, whom my soul loveth? When I had a little passed by them, I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.
  2. (Starting at ch. 8): Who shall give thee to me for my brother, sucking the breasts of my mother, that I may find thee without, and kiss thee, and now no man may despise me? I will take hold of thee, and bring thee Into my mother's house: there thou shalt teach me, and I will give thee a cup of spiced wine and new wine of my pomegranates. His left hand under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir not up, nor awake my love till she please.
  3. Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved? Under the apple tree I raised thee up: there thy mother was corrupted, there she was defloured that bore thee. Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire and flames. Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing.
Santa Maria Magdalena, ora pro nobis!

Re-Visiting the Mass of Paul VI

The Rad Trad has two cars: let us call the newer one the Radmobile and the older one the Crapmobile. The Radmobile is only a year old but in fifth gear makes a high hissing noise. The dealer told the Rad Trad that the Radmobile needs a new transmission, which is fine with his Tradiness because the car is still under warrantee. On the down side, he is stuck with the Crapmobile, a ten year old junker with such bad brakes the Rad Trad dare not take it on the highway. This meant the Rad Trad was unable to attend the Melkite Divine Liturgy and instead had to attend a Pauline Roman Mass 15 minutes away.
The parish has a reputation for doing the Mass "reverently," the common term both "conservatives" and "traditionalists" were using five or so years ago. Discussion has evolved (progressed?) to consideration of the ceremonies and texts and chants of the old rite, the 1962 rite, and the new rite. Yet this parish, with all respect for the very kind priest, seems indicative of what a slow, half-interest reform of the reform might look like. The Mass was certainly not an "Oratorian high Mass"—with 19th century polyphony, priests dressed as deacons, Roman vestments, large chunks of Latin, and an ad orientem consecration. No, it was a low Mass celebrated versus me, polyester vestments, and lay ministers of communion.
So why the reputation for reverence? Well there was no sign of peace. No music at all is probably better than what the neighboring parishes do, where you will hear such hits like "Lord of the Dance." The readings were the ones assigned. Between the readings, psalms, alleluia, Gospel, and sermon the lector sat down for a minute or more of silence (the Rad Trad fought hard to remain awake). The purpose of this is almost certainly to foster reflection and meditation on the readings of the Mass, to allow the faithful to commune with God in some quiet. Yet, is this not an arbitrary way of effecting reverence or peace during the Pauline liturgy? To "build in" periods of reverence? The Canon in the old rite, even at a solemn high Mass (provided it was not an obnoxious polyphonic piece with a 3 minute Sanctus and 5 minute Benedictus) was more or less quiet. What strikes the Rad Trad as qualitatively different here is that in the old rite the silence was the culmination of a single action, the various parts and prayers of which are bound by song and chant. At this Mass it was action, break, action, break, action, break, sermon, break, offertory, break, Eucharist Prayer > 1, break.... To create reverence in the Pauline liturgy without resorting to old music can be futile because most of the Mass is talking, not singing. Disrupting the talk makes the Mass all the more fractious than it ceremonially already is.
At a parish with only 200 in attendance and 3 persons—2 lay—distributing Communion under one kind, communion still took ten minutes or so. The entire low Mass, low attended, took 55 minutes. An old rite low Mass is about 40 minutes, a high Mass 70, and a Divine Liturgy 75 minutes. Yet all three of those feel much quicker and more expedient because the mind and soul are immediately enveloped in prayer (though that is often difficult at the old low Mass depending on the setting).
The practical implications of this are astounding. When this parish has its 1962 Missa Cantata one Sunday a month they usually pick up 50 or so faithful, but the demographics shift dramatically. At the Pauline liturgy half the congregation could immediately collect social security and the young(ish) half is a mixed bag: many come well-dressed, some do not, some are little children, a few families, and many are middle aged. At the 1962 Mass I would guess 75% of the congregation is under 50, most under 40. There are many enormous families (3+ kids, some with 5+). Young men and women come from neighboring towns and schools on their own initiative, too. I do not know what the difference is in the collection plate, but the parish priest ought to realize where the future of his church lays.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

News Flash: Religious Couples More Intimate, Devout Catholics Happiest of All

A study from the Family Research Council, based on data from the University of Chicago, found that the devout have better intimacy within their marriages than those who attend religious services semi-regularly or never. Interestingly, the completely un-observant have a better time than the somewhat observant, suggesting that those who are neither hot nor cold must not emotion or devotion. Devout Catholics did the best of any demographic. The article does note that Catholics, sadly, do tend to engage in some racy practices more than others, too. This quotation pretty much sums it up:
"One audience member questioned Fagan on the 'danger' of selling the idea that Catholics were guaranteed better sex if they waited for marriage. But Fagan said it was clear 'those who are monogamous have the best sex they ever could – because its the only sex they'll ever know.' "

The long overdue third chapter in the Lesser Known Fathers series will, hopefully, be up this weekend. It will be either St. Isidore of Seville or St. Hilary.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Western Orthodoxy?

A supposed celebration of Sarum by a Western
Orthodox priest. source:
The Rad Trad recently had an interesting exchange over the Sarum Use in a previous post on local liturgical practices that fell away at Trent. At one point we touched on the anachronistic adaptation of a modified Sarum liturgy and a modified Roman liturgy by the Orthodox patriarchates of Antioch and Russia respectively. The experiment, which the Rad Trad believes to be aimed at Old Catholics and Anglicans, has ended in the Russian Church at least, according to the blogger John Ad Orientem. Glancing at the more informative comments, the Western Orthodox try was plagued with episcopal scandals and poor judgment in ordinations. One priest below laments having the celebrate the "arid" Roman rite for pre-Vatican II pseudo-Catholics rather than the rite of Chrysostom.

Most commentators lament the death of the Western endeavor and urge converts to embrace the Eastern liturgy rather than the Russian version of Anglicanorum Coetibus. One poster, the Catholic Gregory DeLassus, asks what this means for ancient Roman saints? Does it mean to be Orthodox means to be Greek or Russian or Egyptian? Here I see some wisdom in the Eastern Catholic Churches, which entered communion with Rome as entire communities and as they were—Latinizations usually coming later at the behest of Franciscan friars or self-imposition. Since the 1950s the Eastern Catholics have undergone a heavy de-Latinzation, casting away such foreign practices as Benediction, Roman vestments, and use of hosts for the Eucharist, a process by and large successful.

The closure of this chapter of the Western experiment for the Russian Orthodox reveals how difficult the Great Commission really is to fulfill. What is essential? What is Traditional? What is cultural? The Church must be available to all, but within the reasonable confines of the faith.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Divine Office Primer

Your very own Rad Trad, one in the interminable and ever-growing plethora of internet "liturgists," has just begun plugging through Msgr. Pierre Batiffol's History of the Roman Breviary, first published in 1893 and re-published in 1895 and 1913—the latter with a new conclusion after the 1911-1913 Office reforms. The Rad Trad realizes that the work's integrity is over a century old and probably somewhat dated, but that does not mean it is without merit or value today. The first chapter has a very nice patristic overview of the origins of the various hours of the Divine Office, both in their timing and in their contents. Msgr. Batiffol covers the ancient practice of nocturnal vigils (hence where we get the term "nocturne" for the segments of Mattins) and the later coming of Vespers and Lauds. Sacred architecture and vast public worship spaces gave rise to antiphonal and metric singing as well as concluding doxologies (Gloria Patri et Filio....), replacing the pre-313 days of a solitary lector reciting a psalm at a time. Public piety and the eagerness of virgins and ascetics to pray throughout the day wrought Terce, Sext, and None. These people later became monks and, finding periods of free time between the daytime and nighttime prayers, began to slacken their discipline. Compline and Prime filled that free time. The succeeding chapter are similarly interesting. Best of all the History of the Roman Breviary is in the public domain and free for pdf download here! Take a look. 

A Prophet for Our Times

"The literary cabal had some years ago formed something like a regular plan for the destruction of the Christian religion. This object they pursued with a degree of zeal which hitherto had been discovered only in the propagators of some system of piety. They were possessed with a spirit of proselytism in the most fanatical degree; and from thence, by an easy progress, with the spirit of persecution according of their means. What was not to be done towards their great end by any direct or immediate act, might be wrought by a longer process through the medium of opinion. To command that opinion, the first step is to establish a dominion over those who direct it. They contrived to possess themselves, with great method and perseverance, of all the avenues to literary fame. Many of them indeed stood high in the ranks of literature and science. The world had done them justice; and in favour of general talents forgave the evil tendency of their peculiar principles. This was true liberality; which they returned by endeavouring to confine the reputation of sense, learning, and taste to themselves of their followers. I will venture to say that this narrow, exclusive spirit has not been less prejudicial to literate and to taste, than to morals and true philosophy. These Atheistical father have a bigotry of their own; and they have learnt to talk against monks with the spirit of a monk. But in some things they are men of the world. The resources of intrigue are called in to supply the defects of argument and wit. To this system of literary monopoly was joined an unremitting industry to blacken and discredit in every war, and every means, all those who did not hold to their faction. To those who have observed the spirit of their conduct, it has long been clear that nothing was wanted but the power of carrying the intolerance of the tongue and of the pen into a persecution which would strike at property, liberty, and life."—Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France