Monday, April 30


Ugly As Sin, part II?

Not quite; but very amusing.

(HT: AmericanPapist; non-G-rated original source here.)

Bishop Elliott

Zadok reports that Msgr. Peter J Elliott has been named an Auxiliary bishop in Melbourne, Australia.

Bishop-Elect Elliott's book, which is quite good.

Saturday, April 28


is a sin envy is a sin envy is a sin envy is a

Episcopalians wielding Flabella!*

The world is so unfair.

*Which actually is the accusative, conveniently enough.


You Don't Ask Me About My Business

"Nor was [Ignatius Loyola] the only swordsman turned religious: the Abbe de Rance, founder of the Order of the Trappist Monks, was also a regular duelist before his move to La Trap in the 1660s.

"Even more formidable was Philip Latini (1605-67) of Corleone, Sicily, an illiterate cobbler turned swordsman. He learned to fence from the Spanish mercenaries based in Palermo (Spain then ruled Sicily), and became so expert that he was known as "Corleone, the best blade of the Island." A local crime boss named Vinuiacitu (literally, "wine-turned-vinegar") sent one of his followers, Vito Canino, to see if the man could best Corleone at swordplay. The issue was soon settled: Corleone cut off the assassin's arm. Terrified that Vinuiacitu would wreak revenge, he took sanctuary in the local church until the coast was clear, staying there for a week, during which time he repented his swordfighting ways and in 1632, at age twenty-seven, became a Capuchin friar. In June of 2001, he was canonized for his piety and good words as Saint Bernard of Corleone."

~Richard Cohen, By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers and Olympic Champions, 2002

Friday, April 27


Heralds of the Gospel Ordinations in Rome

Our tabard-wearing friends at the Heralds of the Gospel have written to us, announcing:
We would like to let you know that on April 28 there will be an ordination to the priesthood of 7 of our members (one is our superior in Canada) and 4 others will be ordained deacons (one Canadian). The ceremony will be in Rome at Santa Maria Maggiore 10 AM. If you know anyone who would like to be present, they are more than welcome.
Any takers? Don't miss it, it's bound to be a good time, and prayerful too, with these folks.

Thursday, April 26

Meet the "techie" nun behind the Vatican's website

Wednesday, April 25


This Is Not A Doctored Photo

Arrogantly, I thought I understood the world.

Rocco has more details on this, the current cover of Vanity Fair in Germany.

Holy Whapping Television Network (HWTN)

Schedule for April 22, 2007-April 28, 2007

8:00 PM. The Sopranas: Special Encore Presentation
- Ba-da-bing! The scion of a notorious Mafia family, now trying to reform his life as a seminarian at the North American College, finds himself drawn into a scheme to take over an illegal ring of cassock-oversleeve smugglers. [Okay, I'll give you a hint. The soprana is a sort of sleeveless academic gown that used to be worn by Roman seminarians...though not at the NAC.]
9:00 PM. Trading Chancels
- The late Martin Travers guest-hosts this week’s episode, where we watch the new cathedral in Oakland get turned into a perfect 1/6th scale replica of St. Peter’s Basilica. Meanwhile, something goes horribly awry with the opposing team’s attempt to put vinyl siding on Chartres.

8:00 PM. House, O.P.
- Mangy maverick novice-master Fr. Gregory House, embittered from years of suspicion from his superiors (“never trust a skinny Dominican”), ferrets out obscure heresies on the campus of the Catholic University of America. This week: fears of an outbreak of Montanism paralyze the Dominican House of Studies after unaccounted-for stockpiles of cheese are discovered in the basement by Sister Allison.
9:00 PM. The P.O.D. Couple - Hilarity ensues when Fra Oscar’s cigar and poker night clashes with Friar Felix’s turn to host his weekly ecology class. Can a Franciscan and a Dominican share an apartment without driving each other crazy?
9:30 PM. The Knights of Poverty. “We’re gonna convert a rock star!” A group of lovably bumbling CFRs plot to break into Mick Jagger’s apartment where they will convince the musician to voluntarily give up his wealth.

8:00 PM. Two and a Half Acolytes
- World-class mooch Baron Corvo is forced to move into the spare rectory room of disapproving former patron Cardinal Manning after he loses all his money in a scheme to perfect underwater photography. This week’s guest-star: Percy Dearmer as himself.
8:30 PM. When Heretics Attack! - This week: Cathars prey on an unsuspecting young couple visiting Yellowstone National Park!
9:00 PM. American Chorister - Bishop Bruskewitz brings to tears Henry Wooton-Thorpe, Choirboy Third Class from St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue, after a disastrous rendition of Nolo Mortem Peccatoris.

8:00 PM. Frater Magnus
- A new season of last year’s blockbuster reality show returns. This time, the rectory is playing host to a member of the SSPX, someone from Voice of the Faithful, a Jesuit, a Priestly Fraternity seminarian, an Opus Dei numerary, a CL member, a Bulgarian Orthodox deacon...and Matthew Fox.
9:00 PM. Dr. Pusey. “Hello, Newman.” “Hello, Pusey.” The saga of America’s favorite sitcom about the Oxford Movement continues. This week, wackiness follows Dr. Pusey and Fr. Faber’s forced apartment-switch after Faber’s disastrous attempt to redecorate his place in the style of an Italian baroque chapel. Meanwhile, Christina Rosetti concocts an elaborate scheme to falsify her street-address so she can order Supreme Flouder from the local Chinese take-away.
9:30 PM Franciscan Feud. This week on the world’s favorite game show for mendicants: Capuchins versus the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Watch who wins!

8:00 PM. Elias
- Ridiculously omni-competent Carmelite secret agent Sister Dionysia Bristow continues her search for secret technology based on the prophet Elijah's chariot of fire, which is also being sought by evil ninjas sent by…um, er, well, we’re not sure what this show is about, but she kicks the crud out of a lot of people, wears really crazy wigs and disguises and there’s something about Cardinal Rambaldi. Go figure.
9:00 PM Veronica and Mars - Christian schoolgirl Berenike and Roman centurion’s son Mars fight crime in the seaside down of Ostia. Much late-Imperial angst and incoherent flashbacks follow.

8:00 PM.How Not to Vest
- The Rev. Mr. Kelly and Sister Anastasia (with her catch-phrase “Tacete!”--essentially, “Shut up!”) offer some emergency tailoring advice and a 5,000 Euro gift certificate to Gamarelli to this week’s lucky contestant—a fashion-challenged fifty-something priest who owns clerical shirts in every color but black.
9:00 PM. CSI: Catholic Saint Investigation - Much unnecessary swoopy computer-animation and neon-lit shots of very small, very wrinkled Italian nuns bent over lab-tables accompany this week’s dramatic attempt to confirm the authenticity of the skull of St. John the Baptist as a child.

8:00 PM. Taxis
- After Gloria von Thurn und Taxis squanders her ancestral inheritance, gained by two hundred years of a family postal monopoly on the Holy Roman Empire, on buying obscure fur-lined papal regalia for Benedict XVI, she is forced to take a job in Louie de Palma’s Sunshine Cab Company in New York. Also starring Andy Kaufman as Msgr. Gänswein.
8:30 PM. Fr. Ted: The Animated Series. Somehow Mr. T. got involved in this, I’m really not sure why.
9:00 PM. NCIHS.
- The crack investigators of the Papal Navy’s police arm do their thing, though nobody can quite remember what the initials stand for, why so many interesting crimes seem to occur around the docks at Ostia, or why their lab tech looks like something out of Aubrey Beardsley.

Caption Contest!

"I once consecrated a Host thiiis big..."

(Photo stolen from Fr. Z; joke stolen--probably--from fellow Whapster Emily.)

Tuesday, April 24


New Anglican Use Priest - And More on This Year's AU Conference

Eric Bergman, late of Good Shepherd Episcopal in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was recently ordained as a Catholic priest, at St. Clare's, also in Scranton. I'm particularly excited about this, as the local Anglican Use group, the St. Thomas More Society, hosted last year's Anglican Use Conference at this parish, where I gave a short presentation on a related student project, and met the-now-Fr. Bergman. Ad multos annos!

Incidentally, the 2007 AU Conference--which I probably won't be able to attend, sadly--looks nonetheless to be a tremendous time, as it will be held on campus at the Catholic University of America, with the convention liturgies being held at the Dominican House of Studies and the Crypt of the National Shrine. Don't miss it!

Monday, April 23


A Grab Bag of Goodies for St. George's Day

Okay, so maybe he didn't slay the dragon, was from Turkey rather than England, and a spurious late account of his four martyrdoms got condemned as tgo weird for words, but St. George's true fame lies in his selfless act of martyrdom by which he slew the old serpent in defense of that fair maiden the Church. Even if some of the details are hazy, he did exist--and the fact that such extravagant glories were credibly pinned on him by later generations says something about his strength of character. (cf. "Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there.") And heck, he kicks butt. We need more macho saints like that.

The late, fairy-tale addition of the dragon to his otherwise factual life still I think still has a place in the Church's heart. We need our ecclesiastical bed-time stories the same way we need Franklin's electrical key or Washington's cherry-tree. They serve as shorthand for the larger virtues that so dominated their lives.

Two years back I did my own rendition of the George-and-Dragon tale, which is worth re-reading, not only for its own sake but for its brief and pointless digression on Gibbon's theory that the saint was actually a Cappadocian bacon-salesman, a reference to the bearded lady of hagiography, and a number of jokes hinging on the shifting meaning of debonair from the Middle Ages to the present.

You think I'm kidding.

A more conventional and sober account can be found here at the Catholic Encyclopedia, which does well to separate fact from fiction, the spoilsports. But they do agree he does exist!


I do hope everyone wore their "Kiss Me, I'm English" buttons.


The charming eclecticist and brilliant liturgical planner Sir Ninian Comper produced the splendid reredos at the top of this post, and the War Memorial for Southwark Cathedral shown below. You can't get much more English than Comper, but his work freely blended Northern German influences, the art of the Renaissance, and even the classical clarity of late Roman North Africa. Of course, even the medieval English works he drew upon, as he took great pains to point out, were the result of a cosmopolitan culture of foreign exchange that few people can grasp today.

Certainly the crusaders who fought under the banner of St. George are the textbook case we all know about, but it was an age of far more travel and resettlement than we realize: Anselmo d'Aosta became Anselm of Canterbury; the Irish St. Colman died in Austria; everyone converged on the University of Paris like a Scholastic Woodstock; and royal bridges and grooms got shuttled back and forth with the result that the later Capetians could number St. Vladimir among their ancestors and even today there's a possibility that Queen Elizabeth II is descended in some small way from Mohammed. Indeed, today's globalism is rather boringly predictable by comparison.


Everyone loves George. Even the Muslims, somewhat curiously, associate al-Khidr (literally, the Green), a companion of Moses in the Koran who may also be the Green Knight of Arthurian legend, with the much-venerated Mar Girgis, our man George, and hundreds of Muslims frequent St. George's shrine at Beit Jala, also said to be the site of the Prophet Elijah's tomb. Due to the saint's miraculous cures, it functioned in past centuries as a sort of interfaith madhouse.

St. George is also on the coat of arms of the Republic of Georgia, and the Georgian Orthodox Church commemorates the saint twice yearly, with his feast on November 23 having been instituted by the girl missionary St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles (sometimes transliterated as Nina or, less felicitously, Ninny), the daughter of a Roman general, the niece of Patriarch Houbnal I of Jerusalem, and a relative of George himself. These things do tend to run in families, as anyone who's spent an afternoon with Louis and Zelie Martin can attest to.


On a lighter note, anyone remember Basil Fawlty's impression of his lady wife making toast?

Basil: Good old Saint George, eh Major?
Major: Hmmmm?
Basil: He killed a hideous firebreathing old dragon, didn't he?
Polly: Ran it through with a lance, I believe.
Major: But why did he kill it?
Basil: I don't know, Major, better then marrying it.


In terms of Great Ominous Warnings in literature, Dracula can't be beat. While Bram Stoker places St. George's Eve on May 4 rather than yesterday, he nonetheless gives us a doozie flat up in Chapter 1 tied to that very holiday. Apparently, local Transylvanian superstition makes it an über-Walpurgisnacht of sorts, though I don't know enough to distinguish folkways from literary license in this case:
"It is the eve of St. George's Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway? Do you know where you are going, and what you are going to?" [The inkeeper's wife] was in such evident distress that I tried to comfort her, but without effect. Finally, she went down on her knees and implored me not to go; at least to wait a day or two before starting.
Ay. Happy St. George's Day! Enjoy that long, dark walk home. Muahahahaha!

Third Annual Eucharistic Procession at Notre Dame

Amy Welborn has a great writeup on her adventures and misadventures while attending this third year of the campus-wide Eucharistic Procession, which featured according to one reader, a block-busting six hundred votaries in attendance, at least double last year's number of attendies.

For a number of reasons--a shortage of cash, available time off, and energy, I had to miss it this year, though given that I've been lain up in my apartment for the past three days with a fever that nobody could have foreseen, we can chalk that one up to Providence. Meanwhile, I'm starving for news.

What is particularly striking about the event, at least what I've gathered from eyewitness reports, is how public and broad-based it's become; Holy Cross, Campus Ministry and the campus's Basilica have almost fully taken it under their protection, as opposed to being a largely grassroots event as in previous years. Both setups had good aspects, but this development is particularly exciting as an assurance of its longevity and as an example of the continual mainstreaming of traditional Eucharistic devotion. (I think--though I'm not sure about it--that the Basilica sacristy has actually acquired its own canopy, also a sure sign that the event is here to stay, as last year we had to borrow one from an outlying parish.)

Bishop D'Arcy's attendance was to me a surprise, but a very pleasant one, too.

I imagine we'll hear more detailed eyewitness reports from those Whapsters who were able to attend; in the mean time, if any of our readers managed to make it, I'd love to hear some reactions from folks who actually made it. The photos--these from Amy, and this one from Shrine friend Lucy--should whet the appetites of those who couldn't make it this year, and also show a little bit of what it is that makes Notre Dame so special to us at the Shrine.

Parish Hopping

MM asks,

Among Rome's parishes there is charismatic RC, political RC, family life RC, monastic RC, high church RC, low church RC, evangelical RC, Anglican Use RC, Eastern Rite RC, Jesuit RC, Dominican RC, Franciscan RC, etc. etc. etc. There are even those select parishes that cater to the needs of young, single, transient yuppies. How to choose?

And ought one to "choose?"

There is a certain stigma attached to going to parish other than your territorial parish. But the question, I think, is very legitimate: if the parish that will best enhance my prayer life is but a slightly-longer drive away... why not?

The obvious answer is that parish hopping might contribute to the balkanization of Catholicism, which claims to be a universal communion. But things are how they are..

The discussion will be interesting to follow!

Random Thought

A life of Faith that is not primarily concerned with cultivating and sharing a deep and personal love of the Lord Himself can hardly be a life of Faith at all, but an interesting pasttime of dabbling in ritual or social activism or some other such partiality of the whole.

I really believe that.

Friday, April 20


I Want One

The German who procures for me this stamp, I will compensate howsoever I can.

andrew _ na (at) hotmail . com

Thursday, April 19


Viva il Papa!


Virginia Tech

I've been thinking intermittently all morning if I was going to post anything about the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech, or if anything could be said at all that hadn't been said already by someone somewhere else. The more I delve into the matter, the more disturbing and saddening it gets. About all that we can do in the face of such madness--and this surely was real madness--is to pray, offer a quiet condolences, and remember the virtue of hope.

Today, we are quick to pin wickedness on a mere imbalance of chemicals in the brain, a sort of secular original sin. We sometimes call Hitler and his cronies--or any other string of cold-hearted dictators and tyrants--simply "insane," rather than thuggish, merciless, violent, twisted by hate, because it lets us off the hook when it comes to our own free will. Perhaps Hitler et al. were a bit wrong in the head--but at some point, somehow, they had a choice in their careers in infamy. As do we--we're all poor sinners of some stripe, whether great or small, who can be brought low by living only for our various passions--hatred, lust, avarice, take your pick.

But what makes this massacre so awful is that there appears to have been authentic insanity mingled with freely-willed evil deep at its heart, and nobody did anything until it was too late. In the end, only God can know what made him snap.

It is for such times that the sober conventions of mourning are made--the murmured "I'm sorry," "It's terrible," "our prayers are with you," "requiascat in pace"--that in other times might seem stale; as in such situations, both our creativity and our mind fail in the face of such tragedy.

Wednesday, April 18


When Peace means Submission

Three Turkish publishers have their throats slit for printing Bibles.

BBC (!!!) actually has a forum for Turkish Christians to describe their persecution.

Supreme Court Allows Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.


Something Off?

Confirmations by the Institute, my liturgical heros:

Being in no way critical, and only curious... am I wrong, or is something off here?

Tuesday, April 17


Blogger's Choice Awards

I have never heard of the Blogger's Choice Awards, but we're doing reasonably well in their current round of voting.

Beating out Cardinal O'Malley's blog, actually. (Sorry, your Eminence!)

With all due prelatial respect ... vote for us!

Thoughts Ecclesial

It's interesting to me that the thrust of Augustine's argument about "outside the Church there is no salvation" is this: people who leave the Church have set limits to those upon whom they will bestow Christian love, whereas the "Universal" Church is the obligation, not to love friends only, not to love people just like oneself who are images of oneself ("even the pagans do this"), but to love the entire universal Body of Christ without a self-delineating love. Because only this selfless love is salvific (because it is none other than grace itself, the love of God "poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit," Romans 5:5) , and because that selfless, universal love is found in a universal ("katholicos") communion, for that reason there is "no salvation outside the Church," because this fruit of all-embracing love is not possible when one defines oneself into self-selected group.

To say there is "no salvation outside the Church" is to say that the fruit of selfless love which should arise out of baptism cannot take root in a small garden. No: our love is katholicos; it must grow in a universal communion, without a decision to limit it to a select few. This is Augustine's defense of the Church.

It is this vision of "church" which can realize that people who do not cut themselves off from the unity of the Body of Christ in a properly moral act, those who have not deformed their hearts (by regulating themselves to a self-select group of "Christians it is OK to love") can still bear the fruit of salvific, katholicos, and self-sacrificial love.

It is not only God who is love: it is also the Church that is love, and a katholicos love. This spirit must be the animating spirit behind our ecclesiology if it is to be Christian ecclesiology, as opposed to elaborate systems of "who is in" and "who is out." The Church is those who, submitting to the belief and practice received from Christ and held by all, do not reject the challenge to grow--by grace--into a universal love. That is why Luther has been called "heresiarch": not because "sola fides" and "sola scriptura" were the greatest heresy the Church ever faced in themselves, but rather his refusal to submit, in love, to the tradition and teaching of the universal communion. It is not raw doctrinal purity that is salvific, but rather that love which is willing to submit to what the whole Church has recieved from the Apostles about its Lord. This spirit of communion and humility of heart, this catholic love, is what is salvific. Hence a heretic is not so much the person who has no doctrinal error: certainly many Catholics, ignorant of a particular teaching or another, have been in error but died without the formal description "heretic": the truer sense of "heretic" is the one who loves his own opinion over the teaching that binds the communion together, and therefore loves his own opinion more than the universal communion itself. The perfectly sound in doctrine may yet be damned: but the perfectly sound in love is saved precisely by that God-given love.

The Church is where the love which is the love we must have of Christ, the love which is His self-sacrificial and all-encompassing love, grows in our hearts and is born out towards our fellow parishioners. It cannot be knowingly and willingly rejected, especially in favor of a small self-selected group, without deforming our hearts so terribly that it robs us off that "universal love" which is the eventual fruit of baptism. And that is the thrust of Augustine's ecclesiology.

This is not said in any opposition to any of the Church's magisterial teaching on ecclesiology: it is said as precisely the spirit in which the Church's teaching on ecclesiology makes sense.

The Burgess Shale

I have a passing interest in paleontology and the odder corners of what in more interesting times was called natural philosophy. From time to time in my reading I turn up the sort of unsettling and beautiful oddities that modern science largely ignores but would have been the highlight of a Holy Roman kunstkammer. Reading the speculations of some savant on these matters, wild, intriguing and often filled with unfathomable spans of time reaching the hundred million mark, I feel the mixture of awe and shrugging skepticism more urbane individuals reserve for the pronouncements of mystics. Maybe that's how it happened; maybe not. In the end, the same sense of God's wonder is present whatever the conclusion.

Opabinia regalis, the hose-nosed something-or-other of the Cambrian.

One of these curiosities is the so-called Burgess Shale, a collection of wildly exotic fossils belonging to an assortment of evolutionary dead-ends that flourished about five hundred and five million years ago in the Middle Cambrian. The black shale fossil bed, or Lagerstätte, turned up in 1909 under the watchful eye of one Charles Doolittle Walcott in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. Their various body shapes would put Salvador Dali, Borges, and the grotesque-carvers of the Romanesque to shame. Nobody appears to have done much with its weird little inhabitants until the end of the last century, and even then nobody is quite sure exactly what they're looking at right now. One favorite is Opabinia, a five-eyed creature with 360 degree vision, a snout like a spikey vacuum cleaner, and a long leafy row of flaps down its sides--a lobster designed by H.P. Lovecraft.

Our friend the Hallucigenia, at least one version of it, a being reminiscent of the love-child of a virus and my childhood tinkertoy set.

Another was named, with very good reason, Hallucigenia sparsa, a three-centimeter long incognitum of an animalcule resembling a linear bramble-bush that made very little sense to even comparatively recent re-evaluators of the Burgess Shale. It didn't have a head, it didn't have a mouth, and it may have walked on its spines, like a zoological prophesy of the Crown of Thorns. Some theorize this odd being may have actually had mouths within its various tentacles, though others think they were looking at it upside-down, and the tentacles functioned as feet, which is the current favored theory. Or something.

The favored current reconstruction of the Hallucigenia, by one Lars Ramsköld, which is still baffling, but doesn't have to walk about on spikes.

Then there are others--the Anomalocaris (lierally, the "anomalous shrimp", with a disk-shaped mouth like a slice of pine-apple and compund eyes; Amiskwia, a worm with a double-tentacled head and a gut running down its length, and which appears to have been designed by The Cheat; the beautiful Nectocaris pteryx, which resembles a an art nouveau squid, and even whose phylum remains in debate; the Wiwaxia, a sort of clockwork pinecone, and the unnerving Orthrozanclus reburrus.

Anomalocaris, a rather cheerful-looking nightmare, that could grow up to 7 feet in length--a leviathan for its time.

What an inspiration they all are, for an artist rifling through nature's forms for new ideas and newer shapes--that go back to the dawn of life. The other day, at the Natural History Museum, I admired the long lazy curve of a stuffed anteater's snout, and thought it easy to believe God is an artist. And seeing these, I also know He has a very good sense of humor--and one which has taken great pains to remind us of the importance of one of the many gifts He has given us--that of wonder.

Monday, April 16


For Those of You in Chicago

Note the posting from yesterday on Barat College Convent Chapel below--it's still under threat of demolition, and the City Council will be discussing the subject tonight. Save Barat!

For Future Reference

If you a) have a problem with an aspect of this blog, or b) want us to link to your own website, please send an e-mail to the person in question rather than commenting on an unrelated post. Your problem will get taken care of more efficiently, and will help our conversations stay on topic.

Sunday, April 15


Brief Book Review: The Mass and Modernity

The Mass and Modernity by Fr. Jonathan Robinson.

Spearheaded by the works of then-Cardinal Ratzinger, the "Reform of the Reform" movement regarding the liturgy has produced a slew of literature, much of it published by Ignatius Press. Presumed and to some degree documented in this literature is a narrative of something being wrong with the liturgy as currently celebrated in most places, and a need for something to be done about it. In this useful book, Fr. Robinson, of the Toronto Oratory, attempts to give a narrative of movements of thought that have influenced current thinking about the liturgy, as well as some helpful and pastoral suggestions for how to improve its celebration.

Robinson comes to the issue at hand with a philosophical pedigree, and thus the historical narrative in the first half of the book is primarily one of philosophy, highlighted by Kant, Hume, Hegel, and Comte as landmark figures in the troubled story of modernity and its aftermath. This narrative is a well-constructed and fair account of these thinkers, though I found myself wishing for a more theological narrative to bridge the connections made by various parties between these philosophical movements and theology, especially in the Liberal Protestant tradition and its Catholic readers, both theologians and more importantly (in my option) pastors (who get this tradition less from any deep theological reading than from a culture that produces popular religious work like The Purpose-Driven Church). In any case, Robinson does convincingly lay out trends that have influenced liturgical life in terms of, especially, functionalizing reality and removing from it any transcendent reference.

The second half of the book turns towards a theology of the liturgy and a practical proposal of solutions for how to "fix" it. Robinson is correct, I think, in his evaluation that a full-scale return to the Tridentine Rite is by no means the solution, since this would merely return us to the problems that initiated the liturgical reform in the first place, as well as fail to pastorally address the situation in the here and now (incidentally, he also raises another criticism of mine, that the "Tridentine" Missal of 1962 needs an updated liturgical calendar). Rather, he proposes, as I have elsewhere proposed, that further use of the Tridentine Rite can serve as a kind of "leaven" to foster an interpretation of the current Missal and its successors that emphasizes continuity with the tradition rather than the kind of discontinuity with which it has often been read on both sides of the spectrum. On the practical end, Robinson proposes several standard "Reform of the Reform" suggestions, such as increased use of Latin and the ad orientem position for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The only point in this respect that I found perplexing was his critique of the current Lectionary and its 3-year cycle, which I don't find particularly problematic, without much constructive proposal for what to put in its place.

All in all, The Mass and Modernity is a good read that provides a helpful survey of the state of the questions that can appeal to those at varying levels of education. Certainly, Robinson's narrative of modernity invites one to explore more deeply in the philosophical tradition and engage the sources, and his discussion of the Mass does the same. On a related note, for those interested and in the area, Fr. Robinson himself and other noted scholars, including noted scholar of early Christianity and Catholic convert Robert Louis Wilken, will be here at the University of Chicago next week in a Lumen Christi Institute symposium on precisely this topic, in the third floor theater of Ida Noyes Hall.

Barat Chapel in Chicago - Still in Danger!

We've posted on the subject of the projected demolition of beautiful, historic Barat College Convent Chapel, and one of my readers in the Chicagoland area informs me that plans are still afoot to trash the place. Indeed, there's a City Council meeting to discuss the matter tomorrow evening:

Consideration of the Previously Tabled Matter of an Appeal of Decisions of the Historic Preservation Commission to deny Requests for Certificates of Appropriateness and Economic Hardship to Allow the Partial Demolition of the Old Main Building at Barat Campus, specifically the Removal of the Thabor wing.
The chapel is a gorgeous bit of architecture, and with so little beauty about these days, it deserves to be saved!

For more, enjoy a virtual walk through the chapel here, with some pleasant background music to boot. Save Barat!

"I'll have a tall, no-whip mitra preciosa"

"It's my birthday, Marini, and I'll wear a nice mitre if I want to."

Saturday, April 14


Chapel at Ave Maria University

Click Here for a pop-up virtual tour of Ave Maria University's proposed chapel.

I don't terribly like it. The facade still looks clumsy--like an antique radio--and the extensive use of bare steel, though probably very expensive, is not terribly attractive. Glass-roofed buildings are nice enough in sunny weather, but not so much otherwise. It looks as if most of the "atmosphere" in the chapel is intended to come from the play of light from the ceiling on the girders; but Catholic architecture is so much more iconic than that; a traditional Catholic atmosphere comes from stained glass windows which tell a story, from murals which proclaim the gospel, from elements that have clear and explicit iconographical meaning.

Well, I look forward to Matt's thoughts, as well as all of yours!

"We're Number 1! We're Number 1!"

Pope Benedict XVI's new book Jesus of Nazareth is currently the number-one best-selling book on the German version of Amazon, which--however long it lasts--is awesome.

The Stroik Strikes Again

Notre Dame architect Duncan Stroik's proposed church for Thomas Aquinas College is thoroughly under construction:


Current Status

This comes on the heels of the amazing Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis.

Would that other universities were as interested in his work..

Highlights from the New Mass Texts

Fr. Z is also posting about the new Mass translation which Dan mentions below. Highlights from the new translations of...

(1) The Epiclesis for The Deuce: "the dew of the Holy Spirit"

(2) The Domine Non Sum Dignus: "enter under my roof"

(3) The Creed: "consubstantial with the Father"

(4) The Confiteor: Triple "mea culpa"

(5) The Roman Canon: Quite Nice--but with "for all"!?

I am particularly pleased with the use of "consubstantial" to describe the relation of God the Son to God the Father. I lot of people I've spoken with have objected that consubstantial is a word that no one knows, and so we should continue to use the phrase in the current translation: "of one being with the Father." My response is this: I said "of one being with the Father" for almost a decade and a half without the realization that "JESUS IS GOD" ever dawning upon me. The words seem so simple--"of-one-being"--that it never gave me pause to think about what it meant, but the mystery of the Trinity is such that it can't be internalized without some specific attempts to "Get it." To get the point that JESUS IS GOD, people have to stop, be confused, ask and think it through. By using a new, strange, and unknown word, I believe, this new translation of the Creed with precipitate that process of confusing the average parishioner, making them ask "what does that word mean?," and then fully internalizing that it means "JESUS IS GOD."

I am pleased.

Less so about the current retention of "...for all" in the Consecration, but somehow I suspect Fr. Z is somehow attending to that...

Translation Issues

The blog Valle Adurni has released a draft of the new translation of the Mass as it currently stands. Most of it looks quite good, but I have a problem with the new Gloria translation. As everyone knows, this new translation is going to pose some issues for musicians, in terms of getting out new settings. In the case of the Gloria, the old Anglican tradition has provided us some wonderful settings by the likes of Healey Willan, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and George Oldroyd that could potentially be easily adapted to a new translation, since these old settings followed translations that literally translated the Latin and followed the same meter (as opposed to the meter of the translation currently in use, which is completely different and will require all settings to pass out of use whenever their license to be grandfathered in runs out). Thus, I show you the translation on Valle Adurni and my proposed changes to make it more musically flexible.

The current translation:

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only-begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
you are seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.

My revision (changes in italics):

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we worship you,
we glorify you,
we give thanks to you for your great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
Lord, the Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
you are seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.

Friday, April 13


Tradition and Traditionalism: Some Food for Thought

As many may recall, I ran a series of posts in late February and early March on the subject of "Tradition and Traditionalism," that is, the necessary sorting out of tradition as such from the various other agendas that have found their way into traditionalism. Two recent pieces point to the necessity of such an argument and the requisite discussion that ensued, especially in light of the forthcoming motu proprio.

Dr. Jeff Mirus tells on "How Traditionalists and Modernists Are Alike." Much as I think the word "Modernist" wore out its use in theological disputes about 90 years ago and I also think this article is a bit too polemical, Dr. Mirus makes some good points. Especially notable is this section:

The naïveté of both modernists and traditionalists is so extensive that it fails utterly to charm. Both are convinced that, if only their preferences were adopted by the Church, all the problems of the Church in the world will be solved. Traditionalists really believe, for example, both that the changes in the liturgy are the source of most other problems afflicting the Church, and that the imposition of the Tridentine Mass will quickly make these problems disappear again. Modernists really believe that the reason the Church appears to be in decline is because it doesn’t understand what is going on in the world, and that if only it will adopt the insights of the age, the Church will suddenly be relevant again.

Neither group has the slightest understanding of the incredible power of large cultural trends. Traditionalists define themselves in opposition to these trends but naïvely think, first, that their anti-culture has no problems of its own and, second, that the Church can completely rise above the prevailing culture and control it. Modernists define themselves in accordance with these cultural trends, naïvely believing they have achieved independent thought, that new is always better, and that their new ideas are panaceas. Meanwhile, the Church does contribute to the formation of culture, for her ideas and witness are always somewhat independent of the culture and superior to it, but she does so only with the greatest difficulty, because she cannot prevent her members from absorbing many of the prevailing culture’s characteristics. The sins of her members, in the main, will be the sins most characteristic of the times. This has been so in every age, and it is inevitable.

Dom Bettinelli has also discussed this issue in one of today's posts, making this trenchant point:

With the rumored motu proprio expected to be revealed sometime between now and the Second Coming (although at this point I think the over/under is now outside this millennium), folks who are thinking of asking their local priest to start providing the TLM to them should start boning up on their manners and charity. Because it looks like the agélaste is not only on the Left.

Both these pieces, I think, provide examples of a growing insight that even those sympathetic to the more widespread use of the Tridentine Rite and to more reverent liturgy in general are concerned about the problems of tradition becoming an "ism" instead of a vibrant, dynamic force in the Church. A spirit of generosity and charity will help to heal the wounds created by the iconoclasts of 40 years ago, rather than reopening them or seeking to inflict them on the other side.

Episcopalians, Dispersed

I am told that the Episcopal Church in the USA is losing 800 members a week.

The transformation and destruction of this ecclesial community is a true cause of concern for everyone: the loss of such a historic bulkward in our nation's Christian practice and heritage only furthers secularization (and anti-Christian sentiment). Hardly something about which to be triumphalistic, God help us...

The self-destruction of ECUSA also changes the Christian landscape in America, removing a link in the "progression of conversions" that, as anyone who knows the name "Marcus Grodi" will tell you, constitutes the Journey Home. Catholicism becomes a little more alienated..

But from these ashes some very moving stories are rising. Here is a fascinating, and very touching, collection of people who have thus far left ECUSA.

The infusion of these truly sterling Christians into the Catholic and Orthodox Churches can only build up the Body of Christ in profound ways. And what struck me most was the anecdotal report of the "State of Catholicism" these accounts contain: almost all those received into the Catholic Church report finding am great parish, made now the greater by their contribution.

May all this advance the plan of Providence: Ut Unum Sint!

Update: It has become necessary, in the course of the comments thread, to clarify that the Catholic Church teaches that all the baptized belong to One Body of Christ:
"[A]ll who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." Unitatis Redintagratio para. 3

The House of Benedict

(Source: BBC News, Merchindise in Pope's Hometown)

The home of Pope Benedict XVI has been turned into a museum:

An estimated 250,000 people have visited the village since 2005.

"An exhibition will be presented with one part on the ground floor covering the pope's biography and another upstairs devoted to theology," Mayor Hubert Gschwendtner told the AFP news agency.

The exhibition will include Joseph Ratzinger's birth certificate and baptism announcement.

A floor of a museum dedicated to someone's work in THEOLOGY? Be still, my heart, be still...

Read Article

Conference This Weekend

“I Came That They May Have Life – Evangelium Vitae II”

APRIL 13-14, 2007

This Friday and Saturday, April 13-14, Notre Dame Right to Life will host its
2nd Annual Collegiate Pro-Life Conference. The conference will feature
acclaimed speakers who will address a wide range of issues surrounding the
right to life of all humans from conception to natural death.

This conference is free and open to all college students, faculty and staff.
However, all are requested to register in advance at

The conference schedule is as follows:

Friday, April 13th:

Lafortune Student Center - Ballroom
3:30–3:45pm Welcome

3:45–5:00pm Fr. Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, will
present a lecture entitled “Be Fruitful and Multiply: The Wisdom of the
Church's Teaching on Contraception”

Basilica of the Sacred Heart
5:15–6:00pm Mass

North Dining Hall
6:30–7:00pm Dinner

7:00–8:00pm Katrina Zeno, coordinator of the John Paul II Resource Center for
Theology of the Body and Culture for the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, will
present a lecture entitled “Theology of the Body and Evangelium Vitae”

Saturday, April 14th:

Alumni Hall
9:00–10:00am Mass, Father Alfred Wierzbicki, Catholic University of Lublin,

Lafortune Student Center - Ballroom
10:00–10:45 Opening Remarks

10:45–11:45 Jose Bufill, M.D., F.A.C.P., of Michiana Hematology-Oncology, PC in
South Bend, Indiana, will present a lecture entitled “Euthanasia and Assisted
Suicide: A Brief History”

11:45–12:00 Break

12:00–12:30 Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students For Life of
Americas, will present a lecture entitled “Equipping the Pro-Life Generation”

12:30-1:30pm Lunch

1:30–3:00pm Daniel McConchie, Executive Director of Americans United for Life,
will present
a lecture entitled “The Day After Roe: Abortion Law in America”

3:00–3:15pm Break

3:15–4:45pm Deirdre McQuade, Spokeswoman and Director of Planning and
Information for the Pro-Life Secretariat of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops (USCCB), will present a lecture entitled “Justice, Mercy & the
Fullness of Life: Scriptural Roots for Pro-Life Work”

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

5:00–6:00pm Vigil Mass

Thursday, April 12


The Flying Padre

Mike sent along this "don't make 'em like they used to" RKO newsreel, directed by a young Stanley Kubrick. In it, we follow Fr. Fred Stadtmuller as he travels around his 400-square-mile New Mexico parish. The POD-ness and overall '50's cornyness make it a worthwhile watch. Also, "The Spirit of St. Joseph" is just a great name for a plane.

Speaking of Mike, he's looking for a good parish in the USC area. So, once you stop laughing at the previous sentence, if you could leave any suggestions in the combox or drop him an email, I'm sure they would be appreciated.

A Very Sad Altar...

... becomes a very happy altar, very quickly.

La métamorphose d'un autel

(HT: Fr. Z.)

Wednesday, April 11


A Tradition Continues

The Third Annual Notre Dame Eucharistic Procession
Sunday, April 22 2007
Procession leaves from 11:45 a.m. Mass

Main Building Benediction, Year 1

Main Building Benediction, Year 2

As longtime Shrine readers will recall, two years ago a group of students, spearheaded by members of this blog, with the cooperation of Campus Ministry at Notre Dame, revived the long-dormant tradition of the annual campus Eucharistic procession (a tradition, I note, which was dormant as much because of the fact that the academic year shifted such that Corpus Christi fell outside of it as because of other developments at the Church and the University). Notre Dame had, in earlier days, been known for the glory of its processions around the central portion of campus known as "God Quad."

Our first procession two years ago was a resounding success, such that Campus Ministry was enthused and took on the work and responsibility of planning it and making it an annual event. This year, the event is jointly sponsored by Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, and Holy Cross College (familiar to many viewers of Rudy, this is now a four-year institution), and will follow the traditional route around "God Quad," stopping for Benedictions at the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue, the statue of Our Lady of the University in the main traffic circle, the statue of Fr. Sorin, founder of the University, and finally the traditional closing Benediction on the porch of the Main Building, toppped with its famous golden dome.

I'd encourage anyone in the area to come to this year's procession, on the Third Sunday of Easter, April 22, leaving from the 11:45 a.m. Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. There will be a lunch provided afterwards free of charge, courtesy of the campus Knights of Columbus, and who knows, maybe you'll meet a couple of Whapsters and friends there.

Sign up on the website: Notre Dame Eucharistic Procession

Here are the contents of the press release for this year's procession:

Following the values set forth by the Venerable Father Basil Anthony Moreau csc, the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College are collaborating in the celebration of the Third Annual Eucharistic Procession on April 22, 2007 following the 11:45am Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Notre Dame, Indiana.

The Eucharistic Procession will be celebrated on the historical “God Quad” at the University of Notre Dame stopping at four altars of Benediction before the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of the University at the main circle, Fr. Sorin founder of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, and concluding at the Golden Dome of the Administration Building.

Students, faculty, religious, and staff of each institution, as well as the general public will give public witness of their faith and devotion to the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic Procession will also be a public prayer asking God for three graces: a greater respect of and protection for the rights of all human life from conception to natural death; an increase of vocations to the religious life and priesthood especially in the Congregation of Holy Cross; and blessings for the students, faculty, staff, religious, trustees, and administration of the three institutions of higher learning. A picnic lunch will be provided by the generosity of the Notre Dame Knights of Columbus Council #1477.

Founded in 1835, the Congregation of Holy Cross serves in fifteen countries on five continents throughout the world. Fr. Moreau envisioned the brothers, sisters, and priests of Holy Cross united in their lives and in their work as a visible imitation of the Holy Family. Fr. Moreau will be beatified in LeMans, France on September 15, 2007. A proponent of Eucharistic adoration and devotions, this procession gives honor to Fr. Moreau and his vision for a religious community of educators in the faith. With a combined history of more than 369 years of education at St. Mary’s, Holy Cross and Notre Dame, the religious of Holy Cross have been educating the hearts and minds of children and young adults. It is the mission of Holy Cross to make God known, loved and served.

For more information about this Eucharistic Procession, please contact Fr. Kevin Russeau, csc at

Contact: Fr. Kevin Russeau, csc
Director of Old College Undergraduate Seminary
574.631.7295 /

Monday, April 9


Salvation Fuzz

A Manhattan Memory from November

Maybe they were going for the ironic sell.

It was already dark, and the night splattered with harsh orange streetlight, and the air was barely cool to qualify for October, much less the November evening that it actually was. I'd been by World Boutique before, down in the quotidian little clot of high-rises south of Washington Square that is one of the few bits of New York that could truly be anywhere in the United States: a scraggle of trees, a strip of shops, and some contemporary condos from the Bob Newhart era. New York is filled with slivers and side-street vistas that call up emotions of very specific Elsewheres of Proustean intensity--the suburban, modern outskirts of Rome; Boulder, Colorado; the vast emigrant flatness and fastness of Chicago; and a few sidelong glances amid Soho's blocky brick Victoriana that, under the cold blue sky of late fall, could easily have been a prosperous Midwestern downtown. But La Guardia Place is one of the few spots that could be anywhere. It's the sort of place you associate mentally with dentists and opticians.

World Boutique, though, is unique even by New York standards. It seems like the place the hero would go in an end-times kick-butt movie to meet a shady priest contact and find out why the Secret Nine wanted to add the Holy Grail to the collection of bowling trophies in their Underground Den. I'd found it while searching for a crucifix; the place sold military surplus and religious supplies, I imagined, to bobo NYU students, the sort who own "Jesus is my Homeboy" shirts and watch South Park. One big plate-glass window was filled with semi-modish clothes, flapped fur hats, and a vague memory tells me something about novelty socks, but the other window was what caught my eye: an enormous San Damiano crucifix; a shelf full of amorphous, blobby plastic patron saints in melted Lifesaver colors helpfully labeled with their patronages: Depression? St. Dymphna. A side-table with a chalky Michelangelo Moses had a few mezuzas on it.

Inside, the left hand was Spirit and the right hand the body. A large harshly-lit glass case was filled with more blobby saints, Miraculous medals, prayer cards, and a truly alarming Madonna of Częstochowa bust. Glass cases behind were stuffed haphazardly with cruciixes, old icons with heavy pewter covers, kitschy St. Martins de Porres, enameled crucifixes gleming under warm electric light, miniature censers on chains as delicate as necklaces, and a Romanesque-looking silver item with a card labeled in black Sharpie ink stating it was the "Chalice of the Last Judgment." I had missed that particular episode of the X-Files (Die Wahrheit ist irgendwo da draußen), so I didn't ask. A bunch of crucifixes hung all over the wall, some of the plain and grubby, one a ceramic monstrosity of Gaudiesque ingenuity, all red, chalk-white and ultramarine green. The sales-lady, chatting with a stubby man in Russian took down the brass one I'd asked about. Fifty bucks. It was a possibility. Maybe I'd do better on Ebay.

I'd pawed around before, and found a case way in the back filled with cheap fraternal order swords back behind a rack of peacoats and army BDU jackets. I still couldn't find the perfect crucifix, and so I stepped back out into the evening with a polite thank you. I was pleased to hear they closed on Sundays.

A few blocks north, Washington Square was placid that evening, darkness splashed with broad swathes of light. A broad band of fluorescence ringed the top of the Washington Arch, abrupt chiarosciuro and pure white. A street magician, surrounded by a knot of flaneurs: "I want to create the illusion of an audience, so move in on closer and take a seat, since this is a ten-hour show." Shadowy silhouettes here and there in the murky evening, pleasant strolling couples, indistinct but hardly sinister. I noticed a couple of white-topped navy guys in officer's uniforms chatting with a mother and daughter team.

And then another knot of silhouettes against the harsh backlight of the arch, young folk, cheerfully chatting, a few even boisterous. I thought they were foreign police cadets at first, dressed in an unfamiliar blue busdriver sort of uniform, the boys handsome-gangly in their red cap-bands, shiny brims, shoulder-straps and ties; the girls prettily prim, squeaky-clean in standard-issue polished-up pumps, modest military-looking skirts and jackets with little squared shoulders, little round WAC knockoff hats. Then I saw the words on one of the men's caps, SALVATION ARMY, and big white S's on their collar tabs. I stood and watched them, boys and girls still in cautious little sex-segregated knots, chastely pleasant, scrubbed and pressed. This was their shot at the big city, to conquer it, or at the best try and wrap their heads around this strange and amazing and muddled place. One bolder young man was talking with a few city girls of an absurdly glossy and precarious prettiness in surprisingly non-functional down jackets and Uggs, but nobody appeared to be making any converts. It was hard to tell.

I moved on in the darkness. The Empire State Building was splashed with floodlights, bright red the color of melted cherry popsicles dissolving into its spiky black square-shouldered silhouette. Were they here for the week, for the month, for business or pleasure? I seem to recall that the Salvation Army's officer training school was located in a painfully trendy outskirt of Chicago only now beginning to be colonized by more normal souls, and wondered if they felt at home here, or felt out of place there. I'm not sure what Salvation Army officers do on their missions. I'm not even sure what they believe, besides a vague memory of Guys and Dolls. Wasn't it Guys and Dolls that had the Salvation Army chick in it?

It was warm and pleasant this evening, and I got to thinking as I walked north along the sidewalks splashed with orange from the streetlamps. Their presence, whether or not they actually caught any souls, was the ultimate point. It was like the rather lonely little knot that I sometimes see gathered on the edges of Grand Central Station with a cardboard backboard and a crucifix and a tattered sign saying "Catholic Evidence Guild." I don't know who sponsors them, I've never even said a word to them, but they're always there. They may not make a single convert, but they remind the world we still exist. You can't get rid of us.

Maybe not as flashy or irritating as the Hare Khrishnas, but their presence preaches by itself. (If our friends at the Institute ever want to strike out into a new missionary field that might utilize their liturgical skills, they will look into the heretorfore unknown practice of Catholic Street Annoyance) but they're there, patiently waiting to be counted.) Like like the Salvation army boys and girls, or like cops idling on the corner, or a university Eucharistic Procession crossing the quad as sunbathing college-students look on in puzzled wonder, it's just that they're there.

Missionary work is tricky. Too much too soon and you lose your audience, or occasionally you get eaten. Too little and you don't have an audience to lose. But in the city, there are so many Catholic memories and monuments and silent witnesses--whether like the Evidence Guild or, however unintended, like the crucifixes, smoky-faced icons and menorahs cluttering the incongruous World Boutique down on La Guardia. Sometimes somewhere it is good enough to simply sit there on the subway as a very ordinary hieroglyph of the divine Presence, make the sign of the cross, wear your cassock or your capuce, turn your Rosary over in your fingers, and remind the world streaming past that you--and God with you--is still out there, waiting and ready.

Saturday, April 7


The Lord Descends into Hell

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: "My Lord be with you all." Christ answered him: "And with your spirit." He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, 0 sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

~From the Office of Readings for today

Thursday, April 5


Communion and Liberation Way of the Cross - Tomorrow!

I won't be able to make it, but that doesn't mean you can't:

Starting at 10:00 a.m., April 6, 2007, St. James Cathedral-Basilica, 250 Cathedral Place (corner of Jay and Tillary Streets, Borough Hall stop for A, C and F trains), downtown Brooklyn.

The procession will stop at Ground Zero and will arrive at its final destination, St. Peter’s Church, 16 Barclay Street, Lower Manhattan. The event will end at 1:30 p.m.

Good Friday 2007
Phone: 212 337 3580

For similar events in your own area, see here.

Wednesday, April 4



- 3000th post
- 750,000+ total visits
- 1,050 daily visitors

Thanks, all!

Mitre'd Joy

In response to my observations on the vestiture of this game, Fr. Christopher pointed out that French and English monastics have a tradition of wearing the Mitre with various forms of choir dress.

He sent along the following impressive pictures, from his abbey of St. Wandrille, in France.

1. Henry VIII, still Catholic, opening Parliamant. Note the Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, sitting next to Archbishop Wareham, with a red hat floating over his head. The abbots, sitting behind the bishops on the spiritual side, are wearing cowls and precious mitres. The bishops are wearing parliamentary mantles, which C of E bishops still wear at the state opening.

2. Dom Pothier and two bishops c. 1900. One of the bishops seems to be wearing vestments. The other bishop and Dom Pothier are wearing rochet and manteletta, with croziers and precious mitres. Abbots used to wear a sort of episcopal choir dress of the colour of their habit. Few Benedictine abbots do so now. It was invented for commendatory abbots, that is to say for abbots who didn't have the right to wear the monastic habit.

3. The rabat is clearly visible in this one.

4. A "croix de Lorraine" embroidered on Dom Pothier's mitre is clearly visible. The mitre is in the mitre cupboard in the sacristy. A visiting abbot, who had forgotten to bring his own, wore it a few years ago.

5. The apostolic nuncio to France, Blessed Angelo Roncalli, under the watchful eye of my predecesor's predecesor as master of ceremonies, arrives to sing pontifical Mass in the ruins of the gothic abbey church during the triduum of celebrations for the 13th centenary of the foundation of the monastery, July 1949.

6. Abbots process out of the cloisters, in cowl and "mitra auriphrygiata."

7. The end of Mass. Just before leaving the sacristy before Mass, the nuncio announced that he wanted all the abbots and bishops present to bless the faithful as they processed out at the end of Mass. Our abbot was sure he had misunderstood, and asked the Mgr Roncali to repeat himself. The nuncio obliged, and made it perfecly clear that this is what he wanted them to do. The abbot in white is Dom Paul Grammont, abbot of Le Bec.

8. At the top, the abbot is bearing a relic of St. Wandrille, the founder of the monastery, prior to Vespers the evening before. Just to the right of the assistant priest, the four cantors in copes. The precentor's staff can be seen in the middle. Bottom left, abbots arrives for Mass; Bottom right, relics of our saints carried in the procession.

9. The simplex mitre with cowl: on 1st March 1968, blessing of the corner stone of our new abbey church.

10. Same as above.

Buying Silence

Does anyone know if copies of "Into the Great Silence" are available for purchase?


Muslim Extremists Target Dalai Lama.

Who the heck feels threatened by the Dalai Lama?? Is he too peaceful? Have Tibetan Buddhists launched one to many neo-colonial attacks against the Ummah? This is absurd.

Westminster Cathedral - "Improved"?

I have somewhat mixed architectural feelings about London's grand Byzantine pile. In a previous post, I mentioned my wish that they had provided the sanctuary or crossing with a more lofty dome; though my concerns about the front facade are answered by the fact that the original design faced out onto a fairly narrow street, and was never meant to be seen at a great distance. Indeed, it's a quite clever response to such a forced perspective.

Still, the domes are curiously flat to my taste; the building has a brilliant interior but its exterior, while striking with its stripes, could use a little more height now that it's a bit more exposed withn the city's context. So I was surprised to discover an unknown architect of the period had similar misgivings, and wrote a whole book on the subject.

It was all a bit of crankish overkill, probably with emnities partially worsened by the exotic foreignness that clung to the whole project from the start. Still, his proposed remedies are fascinating both for their mixture of brilliance and utter wrongheadedness. Domes--we like domes here, mostly (though their proposed profile is less Byzantine than Persian); but shearing off the top of the belltower to make it more "Gothic"? Huh? Surely thou dost eat of the ergot. It looks like a factory chimney once you take the cupola off. Anyway, read on here, at Msgr. Langham's wonderful blog.

Also, happy Spy Wednesday!

Monday, April 2


Kindred Soul

I am immediately a fan of this blog, if for no other reason than that it realized Our Lady is not only a Carmelite, but a discalced one.


Photographer claims to photograph angel. It's floating over the Pope's head in St. Peter's Basilica, so, well, if not there...

World Day of JP2!

On the anniversary of John Paul's death, BBC reports on Pope John Paul's beatification here.

When His Holiness died two years ago, I wrote,

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, great if not "a Great," inspired an entire generation of Europe to dedicate itself to prayer and seeking holiness in Cistercian cloisters. By my own personal witness, and by so many which I have heard in past times and in these few days, one of John Paul II's greatest contributions to the life of the Church was to inspire a generation of committed Catholics. Because of Teresa of Calcutta and especially because of John Paul, I discovered what sanctity looks like, laughs like, talks and prays like. I discovered that sanctity is possible, and thought: "I want to be like him!

Sunday, April 1


Rural Propaganda

Since we're banned in China anyway...

This is a sample of common rural propaganda promoting China's one-child policy. (Ethnic minorities are allowed two or three children.)

It reads,

"Humanity has but one goal: to vigorously control the population."

Somebody's Knockin' At Your Door

Fr. Z mentions the Pope's reference today to the old liturgical custom on Palm Sunday of knocking on the door of the Church with the processional cross. At my church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we continue to use this custom, and I have heard from others whose parishes (in the Missa Normativa) also keep up this venerable practice. Furthermore, the Graduale Romanum still contains the liturgical text, Ingrediente Domino, appropriate for this moment in the Mass.

It seems to me in this case we have an example of a custom that, while no longer mandated, is certainly not expressly forbidden, and thus is a part of the liturgical patrimony that we can (and do, in many cases) retain right now. After all, it would be a kind of rubricism to presume that just because the liturgy does not prescribe something like this, that it therefore proscribes it. It would be good, then, to seek to implement this custom in the future, since, as the Pope points out, it clearly symbolizes for us Christ opening the doors of the world and of our hearts. For those prevented by doing this from exigencies such as glass doors, I would recommend using a liturgical clapper to simulate the effect without potential damage.

Here's hoping the Pope's reference incites some discussion of this practice and, more importantly, its wider use.

Liturgical Burros

I can't speak about philosophy, but Palm Sunday ought be definitive proof of the Liturgical Consummation of Donkeys.

Check out City of Steeples for more photos!

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