Tuesday, July 31


St. Moses

I came across this image, which is pretty cool--a side altar dedicated to Moses. Moses is, in fac, considered a saint (along with Abraham, David, and many other figures from the Hebrew scriptures) by the Catholic Church: each one has a feast day in the Roman Martyrology.

I've never before seen an altar dedicated any of them, however.


Because Everyone Likes Latin Jokes

Monday, July 30


Gerard Has Done You a Favor

"The Cafeteria is Closed" blog sports a translation, from the German, of a fascinating interview with the Pope's secrety, Msgr. Gaenswein. He's done us all a favor by translating it--I really suggest reading the whole thing!

I wish that American interviewers were as knowledgeable about the topics of their interviews as this Munich newspaper writer was. Great questions.

Notre Dame and the Motu Proprio

This post has been updated--Check out The Sober Sophomore for the latest on the 1962 Missal & ND!

Did you hear about that new Catholic movie?

... it's rated "Arrrr!"

Source (and a clearer picture)

This is Far Too Cool

I just found a Catholic Stationary company which makes really kitsch and really coolCatholic wrapping paper.

The possibilities are truly endless!


Motumouth: Elderly priest who can still do Low Mass in ten minutes flat, with a homily thrown in as a bonus.
Motucross: An obscure ritual in the Pontifical of 1596, associated with the dedication of a church in which the large X in the floor is drawn in the sand by two dirt-bike-riding prelates de fiocchetti. Medieval authors linked it back to a Carmelite ceremony associated with Elijah's fiery chariot.
Moturazzi: The sort of folks who hang out outside of Gamarelli's and surprise Cardinal Medina whenever he comes in and out in the hopes of getting photos of him buying a fiddleback.
Motucycle Gang: A roving band of hard-core, big-bearded Traditionalist Capuchins who burst into churches on their Harley Hogs and then forcibly push altars back up against the wall. They wear chains instead of cinctures and grey denim jackets with skulls embroidered on them and the inscription, "All praise be yours, my Lord, for Sister Death!" (Not to be confused with the Knights of Poverty, whose motto is, "We're going to voluntarily convert a rock star!")
Moturini: A small motucycle designed to fit into the storage space in the narthex of the miniscule FSSP church of San Gregorio dei Muratori in Rome. Comes with a crash helmet shaped like a saturno and a miniature frontal in liturgical colors for the handlebars.
Mr. Motu: Japanese restaurant in Soho, named after the lovable karate teacher-cum-rubricist who tries to teach Ralph Macchio how to do the Orate Fratres via the "Wax on, Wax Off" technique in The Karate Kid XI.

(Idea blatantly filched from a posting in the comments box of Fr. Z's blog, which I can't find now.)

Thursday, July 26


The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago

If anyone's ever watched The Cardinal, the 1963 (loose) adaptation of the 1950 novel of the same name (the movie is great for the clerical vesture, but Tom Tryon has all the emotional range of a box of Cheerios), you know this fin-de-siecle ditty, which always amuses me. But if you don't...
I've studied things Egyptic
Those writings weird and cryptic
Upon the tombs that dot Sahara's sands
I've solved each strange inscription
Left by each wise Egyptian
And hold the mystic secret in my hands...
The Irish were Egyptians long ago
Just read between the lines and you will know...

It must have been the Irish, who built the pyramids,
For no one else could carry up the bricks.
It must have been a Doyle, who swam the river Nile,
For no one but an Irishman could fight a crocodile.
And every Houlihan once led a caravan;
They say the same for every Mc and O.

When Moses came to Egypt and saw those Irish faces,
He took the name of Callahan and changed it to O'Asis.
Now all the Houlihans and all the Gilligans
Must have been Egyptians long ago-o-o-o-o-o...
There's also a verse about Cleopatra being from Connemara, which sort of weakens their theory, as Cleopatra was Greek. (Duh!) But, ah well. It seems only fair. The Romans and Brits have been pretending to be Trojans for years, Athanasius Kircher once definitively proved the ancient Egyptians were the ancient Chinese (which must mean that the Chinese are Irish, the ultimate in fusion cuisine), while my favorite misanthrope Florence King was once told by a little old geneology-mad Southern lady (all old Southern ladies are geneology-mad) that the Scots are named after Scotia, the princess who fished Moses out of the river. Though, as far as I know, Cubans are quite content to just be Cubans rather than Abraham's second cousins twice removed or the great-grandchildren of the Grand Tartar. We're quite secure in our greatness.

A Question on the Origin of Mitres

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4:7)

While it was once thought that the mitres used by bishops were directly descended from the somewhat-similar hats used by Jewish high priests, it seems that mitres are rather descended from Greek athletic headgear.

The oldest part of the mitre, in fact, is the infulae--the two bands of fabric which hang from the back of the hat itself. These two bands were originally a single handband, which Greek athletes wrapped around the forehead and tied in back, creating the two bands which mitres have today. In the summer, a cap was placed over the infulae, giving rise to the mitros as such.

Both the Catholic Encyclopedia and the Church Visible cite the tenth century as the first recorded use of the mitre by bishops. The Church Visible specifically states, "During the earliest centuries of the Christian era, no mention is made of anything that resembles the present mitre." Instead, the mitre "appeared lost to history," with no continuous chronological connection between the Greek athlete's mitres and the ecclesastical mitres.

Here is my question, however: it seems to me that the ecclesastical mitros would be directly linked to the athletic mitros by virtue of the infulae, because they are a vestige that would probably not have been specifically added. Put another way, if bishops just decided to start wearing a cap and gave it the name mitros, it seems less probable that they would have thought to include vestigal infulae, if they had even know that a proper mitros had such things at all.

Further, Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 275-339) quotes a letter from Polycarp saying the following: "There is also John, who leaned on the Lord's breast and who became a priest wearing the miter, a martyr, and a teacher." The reference by Polycarp of John wearing the mitre is probably an anachronistic interpolation; but even if we assume this letter which Eusebius quotes is a forgery, this gives us a 4th century reference to episcopal mitres, which, combined with matter of the infulae, suggests to me that the use of the ecclesiastical use of mitres is older than the tenth century.

So why, then, does the scholarly concensus hold a tenth century date for the origin of ecclesastical mitres? I don't have Eusebius' Greek original, so perhaps he doesn't use the word mitros and the translator added the word "mitre" anachronistically. Or maybe there's some other reason? Does anyone know?

Wednesday, July 25


Matt's Latest Drawing

St. Augustine of Hippo in his Study, Accompanied by his Guardian Angel. Matthew Alderman, June 2007. Ink on Vellum, 5" x 7". Private Collection, Ireland.

Holy Whapping Television Network (HWTN): The Motu Proprio Edition


9:00 AM. Traddietubbies. Finally, some quality children's programming. Four freakish creatures apparently made of felt watch archival footage of Pius XII's coronation on TV monitors inset into their bellies and coo in delight. Then fifteen minutes of saying goodbye, consisting of intoning "Benedicamus Domino" intermixed with a good deal of baby gibberish. By the way, that's a maniple, buster, not a purse, so get it right.


8:00 PM. Five Simple Rules of Engagement for Dating the Church's Eldest Daughter. Fr. Z has a whole lot of trouble on his hands when he's appointed the spiritual director for an orphanage of giggly French traditionalist girls with a predilection for sneaking off on dates after curfew and gloating about the superiority of the Extraordinary Form to their heathen boyfriends.

8:30 PM. Bridezillas. Tonight's special episode deals with the care and feeding of your wedding planner and is guest-hosted by the Rev. George William Rutler with the assistance of a bullhorn, a Kevlar vest, and a very large net.


8:00 PM. Seinfeld. Kramer and Newman's private association of the faithful threatens to report Fr. Curtis to Ecclesia Dei for substituting "Yadda, yadda, yadda" for "in saecula, saeculorum, amen" allegedly to save time.

8:30 PM. Saved by the Simantron. Abba Zachary and Abba Slater try to sneak bootleg copies of the Motu Proprio onto Athos without triggering the suspicions of Hieromonk Belding, who is convinced the whole thing is a trick of Rome. Screech discovers someone has run his riassa up the flagpole. Again.


8:00 PM. The Huysmans Show. J.K. Huysmans sits through a puzzling dinner with a fan before discovering he has once again been mistaken for children's book maven J.K. Rowling, and decides that his Decadent hairstyle must really be too effeminate.

8:30 PM. The P.O.D. Couple. Fra Oscar accidentally uses Friar Felix's precious new maniple to clean his golf-clubs, and frantically races around Rome at the last minute trying to find someone who knows what the heck this weird necktie thing really is and where on Via del Seminario can he get another one.


8:00 PM. Fr. Ted: A Latin-y Ted. With nothing left to complain about after the Motu Proprio, the protesters from that weird Martin Sheen movie Catholics have decamped to Craggy Island and appealed to the parochial house for their own Latin Mass. Horror abounds it comes out the only person who remembers how it goes is housekeeper Mrs. Doyle...Fr. Jack being, er, indisposed after the Toilet Duck incident. Can Ted manage with Latin cue cards? Will Jack try to eat his biretta? Will Dougal wonder if Altarey Day is Agnes's brother?


8:00 PM. The Colbert Report. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, contrôleur général of the Kingdoms of France and Navarre and first minister to the Sun-King, brings his distinctive blend of wikiality and mercantilism to the wacky zoo-like forum of American cable news. Today's segment le møt discusses the truthiness of the Edict of Nantes. Weather and traffic by Bishop Bossuet.

8:30 PM. Life on the Rock. While blatantly ripping off EWTN's favorite Franciscan show, HWTN's adaptation of this Catholic favorite features a blend of open-air talk-show hosting and Survivor-like risks as St. Kevin of Glendalough forcibly repels frantic groupies by tossing them into the sea below his isolated islet.


8:00 PM. Stuart the Little. This spinoff of HWTN's award-winning Claymore Girls (following Alexis Bledel's hilarious, caffeine-fueled performance in the show's two-part finale "The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots") details the adventures of the singularly unpleasant young toddler James Stuart as he fends off his Calvinist guardians and plots to take over Great Britain with the asistance of his teddy-bear Lord Darnley.

8:30 PM. Albs. Sacred Heart Seminary is thrown into comic chaos when it comes out that Janitor used up all the Tridentine mass-cards to build a gigantic paper hang-glider during his Batman phase, and Fr. Cox assigns Alcuin Reid's visiting kid sister, Elliot, to fix the problem, or be forced to play the organ at one of Msgr. Kelso's interminable and frequently botched high masses on Sunday. Turk and the Rev. Mr. Dorian pretend to be the World's Tallest Seminarian. Ted spends a whole day stuck under a collapsed pile of disused copies of the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code.


8:00 PM. House, O.P. Sister Allison begins acting very strange around her colleagues from the Dominican House of Studies, trading in her starched habit for a polyester pantsuit and banging a tambourine instead of following her Breviary. Fr. House thinks the unthinkable and wonders if it may be part of a rising outbreak of Motu Incompatibility Syndrome, though Mother Cuddy refuses to believe him. As usual.

Monday, July 23




"You can't stop us!"

"We're on a mission from God!"

Sunday, July 22


All Quiet on the Papal Front

A cool anecdote

Another Bit of Amusing Ceremonial

This one's secular. From Bruce et al.'s wonderfully-photographed book Keepers of the Kingdom, p. 109, describing the duties of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod:
During the State Opening of Parliament, which is televised every year, Black Rod can be seen walking through the Palace of Westminster to the House of Commons, where, in time-honored words, he conveys the Sovereign's command that the MPs leave the chamber and appear at the Bar of the Lords to hear the Queen's Speech. As he approaches the door, it is symbolically slammed as a reminder that the Commons fiercely guards its independence. Black Rod then gives three resounding knocks against the door with his staff of office. When it is opened, he utters the Queen's command that 'this honorable House...attend upon Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers.'
Don't you wonder how that went over the first time it happened?

Amusing Rubrics from the Late Lamented Lyonnaise Rite

Another reason this one deserves to be revived. From Archdale King's page-turner, Liturgies of the Primatial Sees, p. 44, which has nothing to do with pre-Cambrian fish:
A serious mistake in either the chant or the ceremonial entailed a penance known as a priva, and the culprit had to go behind the altar where he finished the Office in a lower voice. If, however, the error occurred during Mass, the celebrant was compelled to sing the preface, Pater noster, embolism, etc., in a doleful voice.
You can just imagine the reactions from the pews. "Oh dang, it's Fr. du Pont again...let's see if he can get through the Introibo at least without screwing up...ah, here we go, here comes the moaning. Looks like you owe me ten francs, Thierry, pay up."

Thursday, July 19


Ecclesia Domestica

Generally, the architecture posts around here detail projects on a rather larger scale, but I wanted to bring our readers' attention to a new blog, "Ecclesia Domestica," that will be chronicling a Minnesota family's quest to build a Catholic home, in both the spiritual and the architectural sense. It's a narrative blog, so, you know, start at the bottom and work your way up.

Looking at a "from scratch" project like this, of course, gets me thinking about what I would put into such a domestic church, given the chance. For starters, when I think of a Catholic home, I think of a place where a lot of reading happens, so many, many bookshelves, and a few window seats in which to curl up and read said books, would be a must. And I need not remind our readers what an important part of Catholic culture food is, so a kitchen with a big pantry, and enough space for a couple of chairs or benches for the impromptu gatherings that always seem to take place in kitchens, would also be key. Lots of room for extra bunk beds would also probably be a prudent move. ;-)

But I'd like to pose the question to our readers: what would be on your "must have" list for the ultimate Catholic home?

Wednesday, July 18


Roman Pontifical

Does anyone know if the pre-Conciliar Roman Pontifical is online?

Monday, July 16



(1) A funny idea: Identity Card

(2) A silly idea: A Constitution*

*I thought we had one...?


Back in Papal April...

Back in Papal April (2005), the day after Benedict was elected, we posted this prediction of what to expect from the new Holy Father, broken down into

(1) Inner-church "ecumenism": Benedict will issue a "universal indult"
(2) Inter-church ecumenism, Eastern: The restoration of the Tridentine liturgy, and Benedict's own interests and qualifications, will give a resurgence to Orthodox dialog
(3) Inter-church ecumenism, Western: Benedict will create a "sub-rite" or some other such structure for disaffected Anglicans within the Catholic Church

Well, #1 is taken care of and #2 has progressed impressively, all things considered.

I still stand by #3--in fact, I have more cause to believe it likely now than I did two years ago. We'll see!

Sunday, July 15


Life One Week After the Latin Mass Motu Proprio

I would like to offer my thoughts on life a week after the Motu Proprio: I am so relieved and grateful, above all, that there is no longer a horrible bifurcation in my consciousness of the Church's recent past. When I hear Fulton Sheen say confidently that it is a principle of Christian worship that an object, such as the rain capes that became copes, once put into liturgical use, is never completely removed from the Church's liturgical life, I can breath easy and know that this is once again (actually, always was) the case. When my grandmother recalls some detail of life before 1965, it is no longer followed by "that was the Old Way." I hope I never hear that phrase again: whatever that detail is, it's once again acknowledged by everyone as part of the Church's current life and practice. The "hermeneutic of continuity" with respect to the Church's liturgical life exists in a real way now that it simply did not only a week ago, under the 1988 indults. The next time I teach catechesis, I will not have to say, "You know, before 1970 we did (such and such)." Now I am able to say, "in the classic form of liturgy, we do (such and such)." No more distancing it with the omnipresent rupture of "then-and-now," which brings me a sense of wholeness which I really didn't expect to have, but am so glad I do.

So here, let's practice: The Confiteor mentions John the Baptist, Ss. Peter and Paul, and Michael the Archangel. That's it. No more qualifications, such as "it used to," or "before the liturgical reform," or "by special permission of the bishop." Only this: in the extraordinary form of today's Roman Rite, the Confiteor mentions them.

Another practice: Today, the needs of the liturgy of the Roman Rite call for altar rails. Before the Second Vatican Council, they were also necessary. For a brief period of time, when the legal status of the Extraordinary use of today's Roman Rite was unclear, people didn't think the liturgy necessitated them, but with the Pope's 2007 motu proprio, this matter became clear once again.

Wow, it feels good to say that.

An Extraordinary Papal Mass?

Don Jim says what we've all been thinking: will B16 himself celebrate a Tridentine Mass?

He opines,

Maybe not the full-blown Solemn Papal Mass with silver trumpets and ostrich feathers, but I do think some form of the old Papal Mass (perhaps Papal Low Mass) is very likely now.

A Papal Low Mass (is there any precedent for such a thing at the high altar of a major basilica?) would be nice, but I for one will not be truly happy until I have seen the Liturgical Consumation of the Ostrich restored to its place in Roman worship... Sigh.

Some photos of Pontifical Masses.

I hope everyone remembered to wear their Bourbon white cockades and Sacred Heart badges yesterday. It really is the most edifying way to mark Bastille Day, if you insist on remembering it at all.

Friday, July 13


Craig Hamilton and St. Rita's Chapel

I recently ran across the work of Craig Hamilton, a very talented classical architect based in Wales who recently completed a remarkably ingenious private chapel to St. Rita on an estate in Scotland. The design shows a sophisticated use of space and precedent, mixing elements of Michelangelesque classicism with some native nods to English designers such as Dance and Soane, all handled with a very evident belief in the sacredness of the space. The exterior also features a bronze sculpture of St. Rita by renowned sculptor Alexander Stoddart. I have seen very little press on this unjustifiably neglected architect in the United States, and would be exceedingly glad of any further information.

Thursday, July 12


A Nice Helping of Sacrosanctum Concilium

In our continuing return to what Vatican II's actual document on the Liturgy actually said, and reflections on how this can lead to true liturgical renaissance, we proceed to the 11th and 12th articles.

Actual Text

11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain (Cf. 2 Cor. 6:1). Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

12. The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. The Christian is indeed called to pray with his brethren, but he must also enter into his chamber to pray to the Father, in secret (Cf. Matt. 6:6); yet more, according to the teaching of the Apostle, he should pray without ceasing (Cf . 1 Thess. 5:17). We learn from the same Apostle that we must always bear about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame (Cf . 2 Cor. 4:10-11). This is why we ask the Lord in the sacrifice of the Mass that, "receiving the offering of the spiritual victim," he may fashion us for himself "as an eternal gift" (Secret for Monday of Pentecost Week).

Brief Commentary

An important distinction must be made regarding ex opere operatus, the doctrine that a sacrament is valid if it is done correctly--regardless of the disposition of its minister. Any valid sacrament is, "ex opere operatus," a definite offer of God's grace (that is, Christ is present in the sacrament to be encountered by its recipients). The offer of grace in a valid sacrament is a opus operatus, a "done deal." However, there is still a question as to whether or not the individual recipients of a sacrament (in this case, the Blessed Sacrament) will, in their freedom, actually accept the offer of Christ's presence that is validly made in the sacrament: this is the opus operantis, the open-ended aspect of the sacrament. A valid Eucharist may very well not be efficacious at all if the individual recieving it does not receive the offer of Christ's presence, and the Council very astutely quotes the warning of 2 Cor. 6:1 to that effect.

It is therefore obviously of extreme importance that people are engaged in the ritual itself, but even more importantly it is important that, as they follow the progression of the words of the ritual, their minds are "attuned" to those words, as the Council states. Here we get into the topic of the "ars celebrandi" on which Sacramentum Caritatis, the document produced by the Synod on the Eucharist, focused. This is one of the fundamental tragedies of most liturgical celebrations today: while the words of the ritual are often now in everyone's hears and on their lips, they are still not in their minds or, above all, on their hearts: the contemplative soul of the Mass as the prayerful encounter with the Body of the Lord is terribly neglected. This lack of recollection is contrary to the explicit desires of the Council.

As Pius XII developed in Mediator Dei, the liturgy therefore presupposes a deep personal prayer life: or, as Benedict observed, the liturgical can only be the summit of the Christian life of prayer if there is a private life of prayer outside the liturgy. Prayer is not the only preparation needed: catechesis as to what the rituals means, even when the celebration is done in the vernacular, is absolutely essential. Here we have a problem: when and how is this catechesis to take place?

The Council of Trent decreed that pastors should "explain frequently during the celebration of the mass some of the things read during the mass, and that among other things they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice." (22nd Session, Chap VIII, 1562) Perhaps that would be an appropriate venue for today, or perhaps (because this approach is awkward and never caught on) restricting this catechesis to the sermon itself would be better. But a sermon is probably not enough. How, then, and what resources, would be best to catechise the average layperson, assuming he or she has the average degree of motivation to learn (at least at the outset)?

Fr. Jim's Seven Tips

For those who have never attended the Extraordinary Rite, now seems like a good time re-publish Fr. Jim's 7 tips for participating in the traditional Mass:

(1) Abandon all preconceptions about what the "Tridentine" Mass is all about (whether positive or negative)... Go with an open mind.

(2) Study the Mass beforehand: Find a good overview of the traditional Roman Mass, and read the whole thing.

(3) Many parts of the Mass -- particularly the most sacred parts -- are said silently. In a High Mass (which is sung), you may not notice this so much. In a Low Mass (which is said), it's unavoidable. Follow the silent prayers in your missal: Just because one doesn't hear anything doesn't mean that nothing is going on.

(4) Recognize the different ways that Mass is celebrated in the traditional rite.
- Low Mass: none of the prayers is sung, although music may accompany the Mass
- Dialogue Mass: the people are invited to join vocally in the server's prayers
- Sung Mass: the prayers are sung and the priest may use incense
- Solemn High Mass: the prayers are sung, where a deacon and subdeacon assist. This is the complete form of the Mass.

(5) It's useful to compare and contrast the traditional Roman Mass with Paul VI's version and with the various Eastern Liturgies, but it is obnoxious to make disparaging comments about any of them. The excellence of one or another of these Liturgies doesn't require anyone to criticize the rest.

(6) The old Roman Mass is the product of centuries of organic growth. Don't expect an easily-explained, straightforward ceremony.

(7) Don't worry about it if you don't grasp everything all at once.

And, after all this, if you really can't stand it, rejoice anyway, because over 99% of the Masses in this country are in the New Rite, so you have plenty to choose from. But be happy, too, that people who prefer the Old Rite have this option.

Wednesday, July 11


For An End to Bitterness

It is almost in the nature of politics that mutual recriminations tend to arise - that one "side" sees each victory as a gain over other perceived combatants, and so forth. In so doing, the disputes tend to give rise to an endless circle of violence - rhetorical or otherwise. The same thing is true, in many ways of the Church in recent years. In recent Church history, it has all too often been easy to categorize many events as to whether "liberals" or "conservatives" were winning battles - thus the stories of Vatican II as "liberal" victory and its aftermath as simply a natural continuation of these gains, seemingly without end. Meanwhile, in more recent times, it has been easy, in the news media especially, to slap around labels about a conservative "retrenchment" or restoration that somehow seeks to "undo Vatican II." Both stories are absurd in their own way, but we have in some ways lived them within the Church, and it is easy for us to get sucked into simplistic narratives and unnecessary fears. They are also often exacerbated by personal experience that does not match up to the broader pictures and possibilities that reality can show us.

This has become especially clear to me in the week following the motu proprio, in which trying to raise some practical questions in what I took to be a rather moderate tone led to charges that I was attempting, among other things, to "dilute" or otherwise harm the extraordinary form of the Mass, when I was rather trying to delineate what has and has not been permitted by the Holy See. By even raising these questions, it seems that in some ways it was automatically assumed that I either had an agenda or had unwittingly become the pawn of one.

Some background, of course, explains why this would be the case. Many, of course, lived through the liturgy wars of the 60's through 90's, and dealt with various practices permitted by indults being foisted upon them as practically requirements. There is the natural tendency to simply view everything through the jaundiced eye developed from that experience, rather than trying to believe that things can be different, and believing that those advocating moderate permissions are not trying to tear apart the Mass. This tendency, I think, has to be resisted, because it simply leads to continuing the cycle of recriminations on those who did not deserve them. This is especially true when those continuing the vicious cycle are not those who have much of an excuse of actually living through the bad times.

Another case may prove my point. I just finished reading the memoirs of the great Jesuit theologian Henri Cardinal de Lubac. De Lubac, of course, suffered much for his theology, especially surrounding the question of the supernatural. In some ways, he was caught in the middle of the Jesuit-Dominican debates that already existed, since he was too Thomist for the Suarezian Jesuits and too Ressourcement for the neo-Thomist Dominicans. De Lubac, of course, was also later a peritus at Vatican II and very much a supporter of the change in theological tone that this council helped bring about, what many characterize as the defeat of the "conservatives" in the Church. De Lubac, by many standards, had a right to be upset at the way he was treated in the 1950's, what should have been the core years of his theological career. Yet it was not he who carried forward the torch of "revolution" that he himself knew to be shameful and disgraceful. It was, rather, younger, more hotheaded theologians and others in the Church who tried to exact revenge for suffering that was really not their own, and took Vatican II as an excuse to try to destroy the tradition. We are living with the consequences of this today, but the worst possible reaction to it would be to try to head all the way back in the other direciton and thus continue an endless back-and-forth cycle of recrimination.

What we can learn from this example is, first of all, that our watchword should be reconciliation much more than it is victory. The last 50 years have been difficult times in which many people have suffered much at the hands of both "sides," and recriminations have gotten us nowhere. We need to let go of bitterness and harsh words, especially when they exhibit contempt for approved usages of the Church's liturgy and, whether we know it or not, insult those who attend them and are spiritually nourished by them. We need especially to stop treating priests and bishops in contemptuous ways, for however disagreeable or contemptuous to us they may be, they are both human beings, which is enough in itself, and stewards of our Church. Only by being the first ones to cast off all bitterness, and indeed by doing so to "cast into the deep," can we ever hope that anyone will follow us.

In this kind of reconciliation and peace, rather than in the assertion of our version of tradition or progress, the Church will find true healing and indeed, I think, a bright future.

Motu Proprio Party Games

Of course, I imagine most of our dear readers will be celebrating the Motu Proprio with adult beverages, or fireworks, embassy balls, a Te Deum, courtly masques, Handel violin concertos and other such wonderfully refined entertainments, but let's not forget the kiddies, since they'll be the ones we'll have to be learning how to say Et cum spiritu tuo for those 5 AM low masses. (Girls, you're off the hook in this instance, but if you're lucky, maybe you'll grow up and get to be Catherine Pickstock or St. Joan of Arc or Emily of the Holy Whapping or the like.) In any case, here are some age-appropriate festivities for the little ones--or even your favorite gang of rowdy college students:

1. Pin the maniple on the subdeacon. Determine Gothic or Baroque vestments with liturgical arm-wrestling contest beforehand. Consult Dom Roulin on how to properly fasten this very pesky garment to everyone's favorite minor cleric. (If there are no relevant guidelines for liturgical arm-wrestling in the Pontificale, no doubt we can dig up some esoteric Irish monastic ritual to fill in the gap, like Ordeal by Club Sandwich or Trial by Magic Eight-Ball).*
2. Spin the aspergillum. Whoever "wins" has to exchange the Roman Pax with the person next to him--not so fun if played with elderly bingo ladies or seminarians, but great if you're sitting next to that cute girl from your sister's Legion of Mary group. Though in that case, best to play without alcohol, to be on the safe side.
3. Rubric or Dare. Either you cite the correct passage in Fortescue or you have to wear shoebuckles and a biretta to your next Novus Ordo at the Granola Hills World Peace Retirement Home.
4. Hunt the Buskin. Just in case one of your guests is a fully-vested bishop.
5. Ambrosian Liturgical Thurible-Lassoing Competition. Here's one for the Milanese three-sixty degree censer cowboy enthusiast in the audience. (Come now, you know there's at least one in every party.) A great way to rein in wayward lectors!
6. Toilet-Paper Cardinal. Extra points for the best train on his choir-cassock.
7. Musical Cathedras. If you have two (or more!) fully-vested bishops present at your party. More fun than a barrel of apostolic protonotaries de numero. This is reputedly the favorite party game of Cardinal Medina Estévez.
8. Incense boat-boy hazing rituals. Use up all that creativity you shouldn't be expending on mass! Remember that fire is our friend.
9. Low Mass Charades. Guess the saint, feastday, or papal name! For an additional challenge, conduct the game entirely sotto voce while facing the nearest mantelpiece.
10. Motu Mania Drinking Game. Comb news accounts of the famous document. Take one sip of the Veuve for the words "back to the people," "active participation," "nostalgia," or "ultraconservative." Take two sips for any reference to the Good Friday liturgy, "over-50 crowd," "body blow," "spirit of Vatican II," "un-pastoral," "tragedy," "in a dead language," "only in Latin," or "imminent schism." Four sips for "ultratraditionalist," or for mentioning that American congregations, who can sing "Pan de Vida" and Swahili hymns can't handle Latin. Down the whole bottle if the article concludes with the observation that civilization is about to end as a consequence.

*I made those up. The first club sandwich, after all, was invented at St. Gall based on directions in Vitruvius's eleventh book. It was shortly eaten by a laybrother named Wipo who was on his tea break and just wanted to try a bite but discovered he had no self control, and the recipe was lost until the Enlightenment. Meanwhile, it appears that while the Magic Eight Ball was invented in Song Dynasty China, it did not become commonplace in Europe until it appeared in 14th century Spain among an obscure Qabalistic sect of rabbis who venerated billiards as a representation of the triumph of Adam Kadmon over primordial chaos. Situation cloudy, try back later.

If You Thought that Wendy's/Ersatz Will Ferrell Commercial Was Weird...

...wait 'til you hear about Midnight Ukelele Disco.*

I have no idea what the deal is with this program or from whence it came, but last night at about nine I was flipping channels after I discovered that some Philistine had replaced House, MD with a summer run of Big Brother. I watched about three minutes of it, was somewhat amused, then puzzled, and moved on, as I'm still waiting for the mandolin edition of American Bandstand.

In their defense, I will say the show was heavy on ukelele, and less on disco (actually I didn't see any disco at all, just two amateur guys in sailor suits playing inexplicably tiny guitars in a dark room), and that the program's surreal name helped me get through today as its cheerfully inexplicable juxtaposition of Don Ho and the 1970s kept giving me fits of the giggles as I worked away on my computer. Even Roller-Disco Fishing or the Popeil Bass-O-Matic can't compete.

*I apologize in advance to any members of the Ukelele-American community (there must be one) reading this blog. But come now, isn't the straight-faced combination of semi-contradictory words contained in "Midnight Ukelele Disco" just a wee bit funny?

Tuesday, July 10


Domus Dignus Est

Notre Dame has announced the construction of a new dorm.

Unlike the last round of dorms constructed 10 years ago, this building (a men's dorm) will be in a recognizably Gothic design. The dorm's chapel, the press release specifies, will even have a vaulted roof--an unusual touch in an era of cookie-cutter construction.

Check out the improvement in just 10 years:

Dorms from 1997

Dorm from 2007

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The interior dome has been completed in the construction of a new Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a project started by Arbp. Burke, with Notre Dame connections.

Pretty impressive!

Europeans Think they Understand Americans...

... but do they, really?

This is by far the best commercial I've seen in years.

It's hilarious.

A Lectionary Solution

Fr. Z , hardly a raving liberal, has found the answer to the question about the 3-year lectionary, and the answer is.......yes.

From his post:

Years ago, the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" clarified that the new Lectionary, for the Novus Ordo, could be used with the older form of Mass. It could be used.

I have no idea how this would be done. But… there it is.

Personally, I don’t know of any place where that was done. It is hard for me to imagine a group who would want that.

However, I don’t believe that a close reading of Art. 6 bears an interpretatio that only approved editions of Readings for the OLDER Mass and only the older Mass can be used. The Art. 6 surely includes approved editions of the Novus Ordo Lectionary.


In 1991 the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" issued guidelines to the bishops of the world. Here is the relevant passage:
5.Following upon the "wide and generous application" of the principles laid down in Quattuor Abhinc Annos and the directives of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 51 and 54), the new lectionary in the vernacular could be used as a way of "providing a richer fare for the faithful at the table of God’s Word" in Masses celebrated according to the 1962 missal. However, we believe that this usage should not be imposed on congregations who decidedly wish to maintain the former liturgical tradition in its integrity according to the provision of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei. Such an imposition might also be less likely to invite back to full communion with the Church at this time those who have lapsed into schismatic worship.
End Fr. Z., begin Dan's commentary:

I think this basically vindicates the position I was taking the other day, along with what Drew and I were sorting out in the comments. By no means should this kind of thing be imposed upon anyone with an existing tradition surrounding celebration of the extraordinary use. However, I think it could be potentially very fruitful for pastoral implementation, especially where time constraints on the part of a given priest might be make or break for whether an extraordinary Mass could be celebrated each week. On this basis, it would seem to me that having an extraordinary Mass with the 3-year cycle of readings would be significantly better than not having it at all, since one still has everything else that comes with such a celebration.

Briefly speaking, here are the obvious areas where use of the 3-year lectionary would require a bit of work to match the 1962 calendar correctly (I expect to speak more about this over time, but these are Sundays, when I would expect the vast majority of extraordinary Masses in the near future to occur):
- The Septuagesima season, which does not as such exist in the newer calendar
- Christ the King Sunday, which occurs on a different day

Once again, the purpose of discussing these matters here is to make the extraordinary use as widely available as possible, not in any way to dilute it or to question the great value of the traditional pericopes. It is to say that if we want this wonderful Mass to encounter the larger Catholic world outside of traditionalism in the broadest possible way, it makes sense to employ every allowable option given for it by licit authority in order to do so. While we may disagree on the merits of the 3-year Lectionary, there is nothing about it that ought to give scandal. It is still the word of God, in a form authorized by His Church, and one may hope that an encounter with the extraordinary form may help to point out the weaknesses that are there for the purpose of improving this Lectionary in the future.

Sacrosanctum Concilium on a Stick (para 9-10)

More of Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, to go!

Actual Text

9. The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. Before men can come to the liturgy they must be called to faith and to conversion: "How then are they to call upon him in whom they have not yet believed? But how are they to believe him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear if no one preaches? And how are men to preach unless they be sent?" (Rom. 10:14-15).

Therefore the Church announces the good tidings of salvation to those who do not believe, so that all men may know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and may be converted from their ways, doing penance (Cf. John 17:3; Luke 24:27; Acts 2:38). To believers also the Church must ever preach faith and penance, she must prepare them for the sacraments, teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded (Cf. Matt. 28:20), and invite them to all the works of charity, piety, and the apostolate. For all these works make it clear that Christ's faithful, though not of this world, are to be the light of the world and to glorify the Father before men.

10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.

The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with "the paschal sacraments," to be "one in holiness" (Postcommunion for both Masses of Easter Sunday); it prays that "they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith" (Collect of the Mass for Tuesday of Easter Week); the renewal in the eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

Brief Commentary

It is very easy to be, or to "feel," holy at Mass. Pope Benedict has observed (the citation elludes me) that holiness consists, not so much in affective devotion during Mass (with such love being poured out upon the congregation at that time, it is hardly difficult to have devotion during Mass!) as it consists in how our existence is changed by the encounter with Christ Himself which occurs in the Sacrament. St. Therese spoke of holiness as the level of water which fills a cup: each cup is a different size, some greater than others, but it is how full the cup is relative to its own capacity that signifies its "holiness." The same analogy applies: of course we are easily filled with the love of God during Communion, but how well do we "retain" that love, as it were, thereafter? Here the Council insists that the encounter with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, which is central to the Christian life, must have ramifications for our entire lives if it is to be that sanctifying grace or love by which we are saved. We live life differently because of the Jesus we receive: we live a Christocentric life.

Some Council Fathers objected to calling the Liturgy "source and summit," reasoning that the "source" of the Church's life is the Holy Spirit and the "summit" is the salvation of souls and the love of God. This position was rejected by a vote of 2004 to 101, on the grounds that the phrase does not deny that the goal of the life of the Christian is to love God and that this love comes from the grace of the Holy Spirit; but the sentence speaks not of the individual Christian, but of the Church as a whole: and therefore the intended meaning is that the Church orders all of its pastoral activities, as we see in section 9, towards "right worship" (ortho-doxia) and its pastoral activities all receive, in turn, renewed stimulus from that worship. In short, the Church is the community called together to worship God--which is precisely what the Hebrew qahal, and the Gree k ecclesia, signify.

Sacrosanctum Concilium To Go (Para 7-8)

In our continuing quest for authentic liturgical renewal, all the more possible in light of Summorum Pontificum, we continue our opportunity to read & discuss Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy.

Actual Text, 7-8

7. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" (Council of Trent, Session XXII), but especially under the eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes (Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 7). He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).

Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father.

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ[NB: Recall the definition of leitourgia as "service done by one on behalf of many others"]. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

8. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle (Apoc. 21:2; Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:2); we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4.).

Brief Reflection

The Second Vatican Council strongly reiterates the Thomistic position of the liturgy as entirely the work of Christ: Christ the priest offering and Christ the victim offered. Again, then, the the work or leitourgia of Christ is the work of redemption flowing from the Cross, done once in history; and the sacramental liturgy is again the work of Christ, done only by Christ, re-presented to us down through the ages and under the symbols of persons, words, bread, wine, oil, etc. In the sacramental liturgy (which is celebrated by the Church that is the foundational Sacrament, para 1), Christ efficaciously re-presents His saving work through the physical representation of these objects and persons, but it is really Christ who acts.

This is the necessary background to understand the Council's highlighting of Christ's four-fold presence at the Mass: Christ present in the priest, the people, the Gospel, and "especially" in the Blessed Sacrament. This four-fold presence of Christ is misunderstood unless one realizes that each mode of presence has a different effect or end and is not a goal in itself. If the simple presence of Christ were the goal in each mode of His presence, then it becomes difficult to say that the Blessed Sacrament is preeminent over the other forms: but Christ, through the ministry of the ordained priests acting in persona Christi capitis, speaks the Gospel (His presence in the Word) to the Body of Christ (the congregation) to prepare them for the encounter with His Personal, Real Presence in the Eucharist: and it is in the Eucharist that Christ "remains with us" (Lk 24:19) so that we can fulfill what Cardinal Ratzinger called the Christian vocation--simply "to be with Jesus." The sacramental encounter in the Bread of Life is the goal towards which everything flows.

The four-fold presence of Christ in the Mass, then, is dynamically oriented towards the encounter with Him in the Blessed Sacrament itself. The important qualification that Christ is present in the Word to lead people to meet Him in the Eucharist, that Christ is present in the people as the Body which receives the ministry of its priestly Head, can obscure the Council's true teaching that the Eucharist, as such, is the source and summit of the Christian life.

Monday, July 9


Odor Sanctitatis

If we ever hold Matt's Latin Grammies, Fr. Rob gets nominated for Best Use of Latin in a Photo Caption.

So, I lied...

... in the previous post, when I referred to "my crucifix," as if it were singular.

Just to brag a bit:

Yes, the huge one was from a garage sale, and yes, of course a great deal (>$5). The wood one at the bottom was 1/2 price.

As long as we're taking pictures, though, a (very belated) Danke to everyone who offered to send me a stamp of our Holy Father. Thanks especially to the person who did send one:


International Christian Retail Show

Amy Welborn is at the International Christian Retail Show, whose logo is a cross turned into a shopping bag, and has some very interesting thoughts on the pop-evangelical marketing subculture.

Just as any Catholic leaves the city of Lourdes edified by that Shrine but disgusted at the retailers, Amy notes that the annual conference is always followed by printed misgivings about the whole affair by serious Evangelicals.

And there's a lot to have misgivings about, like this photo of Amy's:

Is that Our Lord, or the Burger King?
I suspect that these proprietors would object to my crucifix, on the grounds that Jesus shouldn't be shown in pictures, or at least shouldn't be shown dying when He is risen. But... at least Jesus actually did Die, and that Death is a central tenet of Christianity. How is Jesus-playing-football supposed to be more edifying, much less edifying at all?

Then there is the amazingly ironic tension between this advice of St. Paul, which Evangelicals might call "God-breathed,"

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument. Similarly, (too,) women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds. (1 Tim 2:8-10)

And this:

Amy laments that Protestant book sales are maybe 10x the volume as Catholic booksales. But, in this respect, I can only be grateful that Catholics do not depend on mass marketing for the production of our culture, but rather we have a rich tradition that supplies it for us.

A Dead Letter?

Following both the comments on this blog and some other links I have seen, it seems to be thought among some that my postings on the motu proprio somehow demonstrate that the document is meaningless and a dead letter. The accusation follows that by trying to approach the motu proprio from the perspective of the Liturgical Movement, Vatican II, and the Ressourcement, we are somehow betraying the traditional Mass into the hands of its enemies. This accusation is patently absurd, because in fact what we are trying to do is read this document within the milieu of the Church, and in the context of the intent of the author, Pope Benedict XVI, who was clearly influenced by all three of the above mentioned movements and events and would in no way see them as problematic or detracting from a true understanding of the liturgy.

It is impossible to separate Ratzinger and his theological backdrop from the Liturgical Movement and the Ressourcement. Indeed, for someone who has read both authors, it is clear that Romano Guardini more than anyone influenced Ratzinger both in terms of style and theological approach. One need only look at the books The Spirit of the Liturgy, named for the classic by Guardini, and Jesus of Nazareth, which owes much to Guardini's large and popular life of Jesus, The Lord, to see the influence of this Liturgical Movement leader on Ratzinger. Many, indeed, have lamented that Guardini died too soon, before the goals of the movement could be properly brought about and its impetus was hijacked. One can see the sense of betrayal felt by the Liturgical Movement in the wake of 1970 in Louis Bouyer's memoir, The Decomposition of Catholicism. Bouyer was no traditionalist in any strict meaning of the term, but he certainly realized that the liturgical chaos that came about was not compatible with what the Liturgical Movement had been seeking.

As I have repeated many times, the extraordinary form of the Mass does not presuppose traditionalism as its theological milieu. Indeed, I think it is extraorinarily compatible with the Ressourcement approach to theology, and think that the traditionalist distaste for it does no good for the cause of the traditional Mass. Once again, if we look at Benedict XVI himself, he has clearly said that his life was most deeply influenced by the works of Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar. The renewal in theology that they worked so hard for was, like the Liturgical Movement, sidetracked by people with other agendas. Their works, especially de Lubac's Corpus Mysticum, are profoundly Catholic and can help one draw closer to the traditional form of the Mass - indeed, they have done this for me in many ways.

All of this is to say that there is no reason to think that my speculations and discussions here are attempts to dilute the motu proprio or to impose a theological hermeneutic on it that is not there already in the thought of its author. I am rather simply seeking to see what are allowable possibilities, and to help pastors implement this document as widely and generously as possible. No-one is going to be prevented from implementing this document in ways that traditionalists prefer by what I am suggesting, but it is my hope that some who otherwise might be cold to the document will be warmed to it by the possibilities I have brought up. To accuse such people of having a "Novus Ordo" mentality or some such polemic is counterproductive to the cause of good, traditional liturgy. So is trying to tar the Ressourcement and the Liturgical Movement with later events that were defeats, not victories, for these movements, and were recognized as such by the likes of Bouyer, de Lubac, and Ratzinger himself.

What Does the (Extraordinary) Latin Mass Look Like?

We've blogged this before, but in light of the motu proprio published Saturday, here it is again, for anyone who has never seen the the now-Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite ("It's extraordinary!"), or anyone who has the appreciation they ought for Fulton Sheen's voice, which gives commentary in the video:

Ten years ago, before YouTube, this video, an instruction on how to say Low Mass, was my first glimpse of the 1962 missal.

Sunday, July 8


Nominee for Most Creative Reaction

Cruising the digital world looking for non-Catholic reactions to the Motu Proprio, I found what must certainly be worthy of mention as the most creative response yet blogged--not only is it written entirely in Middle English, but it somehow links the SSPX to Xenu, which is impressive:

Bugge the Popes newe masse! ... The missa sarum is much preferryd to owr owyn Englysshe tongue but who nedyth som newe tridentina?

A Clarification

The point of my speculations about allowable possibilities in the implementation of the motu proprio (in which, in retrospect, I should also have discussed the possibilities of the dialogue Mass) is not to carry out a syncretism or "tampering" as I have been accused of. Rather, it is to think aloud about the kind of pastoral approach that can allow there to be the most possible "extraordinary" Masses under the current set of circumstances. I really don't see how anything I proposed should really gives scandal to anyone except for traditionalists who already take a rather purist approach to the Tridentine Rite and who presumably can find a celebration that conforms to such an approach (as indeed most of those currently in place do).

I also want to make clear that I am very much in favor of a very wide application of this motu proprio, but that in order to do so I think it makes sense to allow legitimate pastoral flexibility to make this available and plausible in a variety of contexts. What is and is not allowable in this regard is unclear to me and to others, and thus it makes sense to keep the conversation going. It is also true that part of the point of this blog is to speculate and start conversation, especially when we have a more than 2 month window to clarify what is and is not permissible in implementation. I would appreciate, then, that we continue (as most of us have) to have a thoughtful conversation and not become irate at the fact that we are even considering such things. It seems to me that the whole point of the 2 month window is precisely to allow such conversations, as well as practical planning, to take place, and no one should feel threatened by it.

I'm in Ireland with my family at the moment, details forthcoming, and so, amazingly enough, the long-expected Motu Proprio completely slipped my mind amid the rockbound coast of Kerry and rolling green hills of Tralee...they really are green, like a TechniColor version of the Midwest--but yet I compare everything, including southern Italy, and the Midwest, to a TechniColor version of the Midwest. I got the news six hours late, having been in the wilds of the Dingle peninsula at noon, but was able to celebrate belatedly by serenading the sheep one pasture over with a rendition of Tim Ferguson's alternate lyrics to La donna è mobile. Imagine Luciano Pavarotti (or Adam Sandler's Operaman, if you must) as you sing along:
Summorum pontificum
Das ist bellisimum!
Dust off the altar rails,
Dove mi mani-pales?

Te Deum chantez-vous!
Pop out the Veuve Clicquot
Vo ist mein Sanctus bell?
A cappa for Cardinal Pell! [“Schnell!” to be shouted in the background on the downbeat]

Donde biretta?
Ecco! Perfetta!

What could be betta,
Than Mass with one voice!
I followed this up with Bailey's (I may not be much for alcohol, but I do have a sweet tooth), and enjoyed the late summer sunset at 11 PM. Operaman, bye-bye!

Motu Proprio Reflections: Towards the Future

In reflecting on Pope Benedict's motu proprio concerning the now ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass, I note that it is very much in line with my recent argument that the text would be very much about a Ressourcement rather than a restoration. It seems clear to me that Benedict wants to put the Church into a conversation with the 1962 Missal and its attendant liturgical books as a way of putting us in touch with our liturgical roots, and thus allowing the liturgy to develop in more organic ways than it did in the process that led to the publication of the 1970 Missal. This development will lead, I predict, to a third-way kind of Missal, perhaps in fifty years, that would not need to abrogate either of the current Missals because it would adequately respond to the fears and concerns of those attached to either one. Such a Missal would likely preserve the language of "ordinary" and "extraordinary" forms in some way to distinguish between certain legitimate options, but in other ways it would represent more of a synthesis, especially with respect to certain issues such as the calendar of saints and the Lectionary.

In order to reach such a synthesis, however, we need things to happen that prevent such a synthesis from being a laboratory product in the way that the 1970 Missal in some ways was. The Pope indeed, by saying that the Missal is not frozen in 1962, has granted the hopes of many, like myself and the others we heard from during my "Tradition and Traditionalism" posts a few months back, who would like to see developments in the extraordinary use. These things, I believe, could also help ease people into the acceptance of the extraordinary use, as well as help the Church learn what does and doesn't work for future purposes.

The major development, of course, is the possibility of using the three-year lectionary with the Missal of John XXIII. Since this has not been forbidden by the motu proprio, I take it to be permitted, and I would encourage its use in some circumstances (especially university campuses, for example) where its possibilities could be tested out. I think this is important, because the Lectionary is not set in stone in either its 1962 or 1970 form, and presumably some future "hybrid" Missal is not going to come with two Lectionary options. It would behoove us, then, to see exactly how this Lectionary does and doesn't work with the extraordinary use rather than saying, "it doesn't work!" and leaving it at that. Certainly in some cases it would be necessary to use the older one for some reason or another, but what these cases are would play itself out better in a pastoral setting than on a chart, and either way, the readings are Scripture, so they won't give scandal to anyone. I also think that in some parish settings, such an arrangement would make life easier for priests, who wouldn't have to compose two homilies each week in addition to their other duties. This cannot be discounted as something that would make priests significantly more opening to saying this Mass on a regular basis.

For those who would oppose what I'm saying here, I would argue that I'm not opposing anyone's right or ability to have the readings from the 1962 Missal, in Latin or the vernacular. Rather, I am proposing that in certain circumstances it might be efficacious, pastorally and otherwise, to use the 1970 Lectionary with the extraordinary rite. I am also not really sold on the critiques of the current Lectionary translation, which I find to be generally very good for proclamation, much better than the translation it replaced in 1998, and certainly not theologically problematic - it's not perfect, but it's not something one ought to dwell on too much.

As I have suggested repeatedly, neither traditionalism nor progressivism correctly engage the conversation of which the motu proprio is a part, because traditionalism wants to cling to traditional forms without properly recognizing the need for development, and progressivism wants to make development so open-ended and accomodating to the surrounding cultural milieu that it ceases to be grounded in tradition. What we need now is, as the Holy Father suggested, an implementation of this motu proprio which is both deeply traditional and yet always open towards the future. What he has done, I think, especially by encouraging organic development, is tried to jumpstart the liturgical movement once again, to get people thinking about liturgy as did people like Guardini, Casel, and Virgil Michel. To let us reap the fruits of the original liturgical movement in a very different way than the first time. As I said not long ago, it is not often one gets a second chance, a time to revisit major events in one's life. The Church has received one now, and we must make the most of it.

Update: The exact text in the USCCB document that seems to support my contention in favor of the 1970 Lectionary goes as follows:

The vernacular edition of the Lectionary for Mass may be used in the extraordinary form, while the 1962 calendar is to be followed. The Ecclesia Dei Commission will study the eventual integration of new
saints and some prefaces from the ordinary form into the extraordinary

The only book I can find with the name Lectionary for Mass is the 3-year Lectionary.

Saturday, July 7


Daily Dose of "Sacrosanctum Concilium" (para 5-6)

Today's dose of the Second Vatican Council's decree on the Liturgy, in which we read the actual text of a document not nearly enough people have read:

Actual Text

The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church's Life

5. God who "wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4), "who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets" (Heb. 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the the gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart (8), to be a "bodily and spiritual medicine" (9), the Mediator between God and man (10). For His humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. Therefore in Christ "the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth, and the fullness of divine worship was given to us" (11).

The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved His task principally by the paschal mystery of His blessed passions resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension, whereby "dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life" (12). For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth "the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church" (13).

6. Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also He sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This He did that, by preaching the gospel to every creature (14), they might proclaim that the Son of God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan (15) and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of His Father. His purpose also was that they might accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves. Thus by baptism men are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him (16); they receive the spirit of adoption as sons "in which we cry: Abba, Father" ( Rom. 8 :15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks (17). In like manner, as often as they eat the supper of the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes (18). For that reason, on the very day of Pentecost, when the Church appeared before the world, "those who received the word" of Peter "were baptized." And "they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread and in prayers . . . praising God and being in favor with all the people" (Acts 2:41-47). From that time onwards the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things "which were in all the scriptures concerning him" (Luke 24:27), celebrating the eucharist in which "the victory and triumph of his death are again made present" (19), and at the same time giving thanks "to God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Cor. 9:15) in Christ Jesus, "in praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:12), through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Brief Commentary

If you have ever been told that "liturgy" comes from a Greek word meaning "work of the people," you were rather misled. The word "leiturgia" means something much more like "public service," particularly one done by an individual on behalf of many. (It was also used to denote the service of priests in the Temple: cf. Lk 1:23.) In the case of Christian liturgy, we are of course talking about the service of redemption which Christ performed for the sake of many; in public worship, this work of Christ is re-presented by the sacramental ministers who, in persona Christi Capitis, signify and effect in the present moment the grace of Christ's leiturgia.

Part of the reason that Sacrosanctum Concilium tells us that "the fullness of divine worship was given to us" in Christ is because Christ did the work which we call "liturgy," that is, the work of redemption for the many, and because the worship which we call "liturgy" makes that work of Christ work present today so that we can become incorporated into His human life of union with the Father.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, para. 3-4

The Second Part of our 65-part series, "Better Know a Document"

Having established that there is a variance between the implementation of Vatican II and what the text of the documents demanded, we take advantage of the opportunity to re-consider the way we celebrate liturgy which Benedict XVI's motu proprio is meant to provide us.

Today's Text:

3. Wherefore the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that practical norms should be established.

Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.

4. Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

Brief Reflection

The Council Fathers faced the obvious dilemma of how an ecumenical council, representing all the Churches in communion with Rome (about 22), could issue a decree primarily addressing the liturgical practices of only the Roman Catholic Church, not the Greek, Byzantine, etc. Catholic Churches.

The answer was to talk enumerate general theologoical principles which are about to follow, and then give specifics only about the Roman rite. Indeed, the Eastern Patriarchs, after the Council, affirmed on various occasions that those principles were significant in their own revisions of their Divine Liturgies.

Article four reversed a much-criticized trend which had dominated Roman thinking for about two centuries: the Curia's tendency to encourage the Latinization of Eastern Catholic rites. One vehicle of Latinization, for example, was the Code of Canon Law: before the Council, there was only one Code; when it mandated that Stations of the Cross or confessionals, this often altered Eastern practice. The same tendency was evident in alterations made to the Eastern liturgies. By declaring all rites equal, the Council rejected any attempts to influence one liturgy to conform with another. (This also helped lead to the creation of a Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches.)

Very ironically, when the new order of Mass was composed after the Council, its authors borrowed freely from other rites, "Easternizing" many Latin practices. The post-Conciliar apostolic constutition Divinae Consortium Naturae, 1971, replaced the Roman formula for Confirmation ("I sign you with the cross and confirm you with the chrism of salvation") with a version of the Byzantine Catholic formula, now in use ("Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.") The second Eucharistic prayer is another such example. There is some tension between these aspects of the new rituals and the theological principles of the Council itself.

And here we discover the importance of Pope Benedict's insistence that the Tridentine order of Mass and the new order of Mass are two forms of the same Rite: if they are not, then one has no business influencing the other. But, if they are both expressions of the same Roman rite, than they can be compared, and the strengths of one can be used to bolster the other. If the two orders of Mass were not the same Rite, then there would be, for example, no grounds for intending that the wider celebration of the Tridentine order could affect the way the new order is celebrated, easing the perceived rupture between the "pre-" and "post-" Conciliar faith.

Friday, July 6


For All Your Motu Proprio Needs

Check out Fr. Z's blog for what, I assume, will be good analysis of the very imminent (MOX) motu proprio.

Besides, he's having the best party:

Thursday, July 5


The Word on Fire

During my time in Chicago, I was blessed with several opportunities to encounter and converse with the Archdiocese's evangelist extraordinaire, Fr. Robert Barron of Mundelein Seminary. Fr. Barron is the author of several books, including most recently The Priority of Christ and Bridging the Great Divide, a book which has strongly influenced my own work on this blog. For the architecturally inclined, he is also the author of Heaven in Stone and Glass, a book about the spirituality of the Gothic cathedrals. He is gifted with the ability to express the truths of the faith in a clear, accessible and intellectually stimulating manner while also transcending ideological divisions within the Church. Notably, Fr. Barron has coined the term "beige Catholicism," which is an apt description of the American Church in the 1970's and '80's, as it accomodated itself too closely with American culture and lost touch with the riches of its tradition. Thankfully, in many places, including Chicago, the memory of these days is fading, but Fr. Barron's term is an apt descriptor for a period which many of us lived through or grew up in.

One of Fr. Barron's major evangelical projects is the website The Word On Fire, which features podcasts of his excellent weekly homilies as well as YouTube video clips of series that are in the works. I provide here an excellent discussion of The Sopranos and Christian morality - though I was not part of the Sopranos craze, as a big fan of The Godfather films I can certainly appreciate mafia stories as fertile ground for thinking about these subjects. I encourage Shrine readers to listen to and watch Fr. Barron as a good exemplar of the kind of thing we try to promote and do on this blog.


"Ad Fontes": Towards a Liturgical Renaissance

A "renaissance," of course, is a re-birth, and intellectual renaissances happen from time to time when people, returning to the original sources of their ways of thought, discover that these sources should be read in a new light. It seems to me that many, perhaps even most, Catholics have a very poor understanding of what Vatican II desired for the liturgy: we read Vatican II today (if we read it all) in light of the new Mass which we now celebrate, but I would like to spend some time exploring how, if we read the Council again, in light of the Tridentine Mass which the Council Fathers knew, our understanding of Vatican II may change.

Taking a note from Dan, whose recent reflection on the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" reminded us so well that Benedict, by opening up the riches of traditional liturgy more widely, is giving the Church the opportunity to renew the way we celebrate the Mass of Paul VI and beatify it with the customs and spirit of that traditional liturgy, I would like to start posting small sections from the Second Vatican Council's decree on the liturgy, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," including my own brief thoughts and inviting others.

First, though, a little background. Reading the comments today, I was reminded that most Catholics probably do not know how the decrees of the Second Vatican Council became, four years after that council ended, the "Novus Ordo Missae" which we celebrate today. In the words of a commentator on the Council in 1966, "The Constitution [on the Sacred Liturgy] can, after all, only be a skeleton law. Its execution, and through it its decisive work of reform, has in the meanwhile been handed on to the Consilium ad Exsequendam Constiutionem de Sacra Liturgia," or Consilium for short. The way in which the new order of Mass was formulated by the Consilium committee, and especially the way in which the new order of Mass was implemented in much of Europe and America, was not seldom at variance with the express wishes of the Council itself.

For instance, I remember a church youth group that did a presentation on Vatican II. In this presentation, they explained that before the Council, the Church used pipe organs; but, "Vatican II did away with them." To make the point, two guys used fake chain saws to destroy a fake, paper pipe organ.

But what did the Council really say, in this example, about pipe organs?
Paragraph 120 of Sacrosanctum Concilium,
"In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things."

So, as many people already know, what it is commonly thought that "Vatican II did" is often expressly opposed to what the Council actually decreed. Hopefully, we can look more closely at the history of how the new order of Mass was formulated, and the bishops' initial reaction to the new order of Mass when it was first celebrated experimentally in the Sistine Chapel during the Synod of '69. But, for now, I think the most valuable contribution we can make towards a liturgical renaissance is to read carefully, over the next few months, the actual text of Sacrosanctum Concilium and, above all, to appreciate the vision of the Council itself, leaving behind those ideologies which desire, against the Council's wishes, to progress beyond it or retreat to a place before it.

Selection from Sacrosanctum Concilium, pp. 1 & 2

1. "This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires
- to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful;
- to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change;
- to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ;
- to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church.
The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy."

2. "For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished," (Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost) most of all in the divine sacrifice of the eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek (Cf. Heb. 13:14). While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit (Cf. Eph. 2:21-22), to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (Cf. Eph. 4:13), at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations (Cf. Is. 11:12) under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together (Cf. John 11:52), until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd (Cf. John 10:16)."

Brief Reflection

First, it is worth noting that this constitution is not dogmatic in nature.

What strikes me about these two paragraphs is the emphasis on eros and agape which was brought out so clearly in Benedict's encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. Of course, it is important that we understand that Benedict, and here the sacred council, was not talking about "eros" in the sense of "erotic" that English commonly uses, but in the sense of the love which desires and stands in need. Speaking of eros in this respect is speaking of our neediness before God: we desire God's love as our bread, with a desire so strong that it is a true need: we will be less human and impossibly unhappy without that love. But in the "sacrifice of the eucharist," God's love does become our bread when the bread becomes the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ: and this allows us to love God and the world with agape, with the love that gives of itself selflessly. Scholastics speak of faith which allows us to hope, to believe that God does love us, and then hope which allows us to love: this is the essential cycle of Eros and Agape: we stand in need of intimacy with God, the liturgy supplies us that Divine Intimacy with the Eucharistic Lord, really present, and that enables us to love God unto self-sacrifice and love neighbor with heroic charity.

The liturgy therefore plays an essential role in the Christian life. It does not, however, constitute the Christian life, it enables the Christian life. I can only appreciate that the Council laid out this essential contextualization of the Liturgy before it proceeded to discuss the specifics of liturgy: this is sage advice that should protect us all from the far too frequent error of confusing liturgical celebration with the sum of the Church's, or the Christian's, life.

The whole of paragraph two describes the Church "not in its juridical structure, but in its sacramental character," in the words of Josef Jungmann. For this reason, the Church, which through the liturgy plays an essential role in mediating the Christian life, is decribed as a sacrament and as an image of Christ its Bridegroom, also being, like Him, "divine and human" in its essence and the place where the heavenly is present as the earthly.

The liturgy is thus rooted in the Church for the sustenance of the Christian life. The liturgy, whatever it is, must therefore be a place where Christ is encountered as Divine Love; it is therefore not primarily for instructing or evangelizing the faithful, but vivifying them. But it vivifies us to live the Christian life, and cannot constitute the whole of that life: we must always avoid the temptation to collapse into liturgical navel-gazing, but rather encounter Christ and by that live a life of love of God and neighbor so powerful that, without the encounter of the liturgy, it would not be possible.

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