Thursday, October 30
You Know What I'm Watching This Evening
Jack: I'm not a creative type like you, with your work sneakers and left-handedness.
Tracy: Oh check this out! My key to the city of Gary, Indiana. Mmmm, look at this! My gold record from my novelty party song! (Cut to Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video)
Tracy: (Singing, dressed up as a werewolf) Werewolf bar mitzvah, spooky scary. Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves.
Tracy: I can't talk now, I have to get my wallet out of the toaster.
Liz: If reality TV has taught us anything, it's that you can't keep people with no shame down.
(Image: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, biretta tip to Shrine reader and font of awesome Catholic factoids Sandra Miesel).
Wednesday, October 29
Save the Historic Kilgen Organ!
The church under construction in November 1933.
This one is the patron saint of dentristry, Apollonia of Alexandria, who, while elderly when she was martyred, is often given an iconographic facelift in church art. The pliers are there for a reason, but it's better you not ask what that is.
St. Cecilia, with her baby organ. Feed it enough neumes and it'll fill an entire concert hall if you're not careful.
And lastly, the explosive St. Barbara with her sword and chalice.
Tuesday, October 28
The Most Awesome Sign You Will Ever See in a Church Basement
St. Francis Roman Catholic Church (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, who else?), Lincoln, Nebraska, May 2008.
Monday, October 27
Two Variations on S. Agnes
S. Agnes, who was martyred at an early age, is shown here as a richly-attired thirteen-year-old girl, holding her emblem of the lamb, here represented as Christ the Lamb of God Himself. While Agnes’ name derives from the Greek hagne, signifying “pure,” it is often punned on agnus, Latin for “lamb,” and her tomb is inscribed Agne sanctissima, the most holy lamb. Her jewelry and dress also incorporate symbols of her passion and death in their design, and her aristocratic blood is represented by her lavish, fur-trimmed costume.
In Bl. Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Sanctorem, Agnes tells the love-struck son of the pagan Prefect Sempronius, that she has espoused Christ already, and He has given her five marks of His love—a wedding ring representing fidelity, a robe “woven with gold and jewels” signifying virtue, a necklace of precious stones, a “mark on [her] forehead” signifying her unique relationship with Christ—here represented by the hair ornament, “and his blood has tinted my cheeks,” which is represented by the pink flush to her face.
The prefect, his father, enraged, had her arrested. She was subsequently humiliated by being stripped naked, but her hair then grew to a miraculous length to cover her body. An angel later bestowed upon her a shining garment, which is echoed by the seamless tunic of Christ shown at the node on the cross tucked into the neckline of her dress. Her martyrdom by fire is shown by the flame-shaped details of her hair ornament, as well as the smoke-like pattern on her dress, while the final deathblow struck by a Roman officer’s blade is shown by the sword on her earrings, which also repeats the flame motif. Christian suffering is also signified by the small crown of thorns motif repeated in several places.
The example of S. Agnes remains deeply relevant to us today, as it so vividly illustrates that even the young can have the courage to stand up for Christ, and Christian chastity.
Agne Sanctissima. Image of S. Agnes commissioned as a confirmation present for a young girl in Minnesota. 4" x 6", ink on vellum with marker. July 2008. Private collection, Minnesota.
Tony Hillerman, Catholic, Acclaimed Southwestern Mystery Writer Dead at 83
"An author knows his landscape best; he can stand around, smell the wind, get a feel for his place."
A Merry Monarch is a Catholic Monarch
...The king murmured contrition; but when they [the Protestant royal chaplains] started trying to administer the sacrament, he waved them away.
On Thursday, the Duke of York [the future James II, and a Catholic], who had been constantly on hand, was told the king, now barely conscious, would not last the night. The duke slipped out and set an extraordinary sequence of events in motion. At about seven that evening the crowds of doctors and divines were ushered out of the bedchamber, and one of the queen's Catholic priests, the same Father Huddleston who had helped the king hide from enemy troops after the battle of Worcester, was brought up the back stairs. Two Protestant noblemen, the head of the bedchamber the Earl of Bath, and one of the Gentlemen [of the Bedchamber], Lord Feversham, remained to watch as Huddleston gave the king Holy Communion and received him into the Catholic Church. It all took less than 45 minutes. [...]
To most commentators, past and present, Charles II's deathbed conversion was deeply puzzling. Compared to his predecessor and successor on the throne, he had shown little personal religious conviction in life. [...] Perhaps Charles II had always harbored a spiritual commitmnent to Catholicism, hidden deep beneath the husk of disinterest and suppressed for reasons of state. Much more likely, paralysed with pain and with life slipping from him, he agreed to do what his brother, his wife, and his mistress must have all been urging. Confronted with his own death, it may have been a real epiphany, his one genuinely spiritual experience. Or perhaps, as in exile, he was simply adjusting to circumstance, and readying himself for whatever opportunities this last ritual might offer. We will simply never know.
Sunday, October 26
Public Service Announcement
I have no explanation.
A cool plaque spotted on an Oxford pilgrammage and blogged at NLM.
But, it would have been even more cool, and fittingly Elizabethan, if they'd spelled it "Catholick Faith."
In Which I say Something Controversial
[I]t passed with 191 votes in favor, 45 opposed and three abstentions, according to our sources.I think it's a good idea. Restricting instituted lectors to men isn't theologically justifiable; it is a discipline, but, unlike celibate clergy, I don't see how it is an edifying discipline.
“It is hoped that the ministry of lector be opened also to women, so that their role as proclaimers of the word may be recognized in the Christian community,” the proposition states in its final sentence.
What Pope Benedict XVI will do with that proposal is unclear, according to Vatican people I spoke with shortly after the synod vote.
The issue, of course, is not whether women can act as lectors, or Scripture readers, in Catholic liturgies. They already do so all over the world, including at papal Masses.
The question is whether women can be officially installed in such a ministry. Until now, the Vatican has said no: canon law states that only qualified lay men can be “installed on a stable basis in the ministries of lector and acolyte.” At the same time, canon law does allow for “temporary deputation” as lector to both men and women, which is why women routinely appear as lectors.
In actual practice, of course, basically nobody but seminarians are ever instituted as lectors, so every lay lector is technical acting as a temporary deputation--despite the fact that, often, lay lectors are given blessings to commission their work.
The practice of installed lectors proclaiming the first reading comes to us from the Tridentine (Extraordinary) Missal. When you see the 1962 Missal done well, there will be an installed lector (vested in cassock and surplice) reading the epistle, facing the congregation.*
The only innovation of the Missal of Paul VI with respect to the proclamation of readings was to allow anyone to fill in as lector when no installed lector was present. In the Introduction of the Lectionary for Mass (1981; revised 1998) we read the following in paragraphs 49-57:
Liturgical tradition assigns responsibility for the biblical readings in the celebration of Mass to ministers: to readers and the deacon... The liturgical assembly truly requires readers, even those not instituted... Whenever there is more than one reading, it is better to assign the readings to different readers, if availible... [A]n instituted reader must wear the distinctive vestment of their office when they go up to the ambo to read the word of God [i.e., cassock and surplice--Drew]. Those who carry out the ministry of reader just for the occasion or even regularly but without institution may go to the ambo in ordinary attire, but this should be in keeping with the customs of the different regions.So, importantly, the unusual aspect of Paul VI's Missal is not that lectors proclaim the readings (aside from the Gospels, of course); the unusual aspect is that non-instituted individuals are permitted to act as lectors in case of necessity.
Allowing women to be instituted as lectors would solve this unusual legal aspect.
There is no question that it could be permitted, because the office of lector (as with all the other former "minor orders") are strictly disciplinary, and in no way sacramental or even inherently related to the sacrament of Holy Orders:
Although several medieval theologians regarded minor orders as sacramental, this view is no longer held, for the fundamental reason that minor orders, also the subdiaconate, are not of Divine or Apostolic origin. The rites by which they are conferred are quite different from ordination to holy orders. Minor orders are conferred by the presentation to the candidate of the appropriate instruments, in accordance with the ritual given in the "Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua," a document which originated in Gaul about the year 500. We do not know how even in Rome the porters and exorcists were ordained in former times. Lectors received a simple benediction; acolytes were created by handing them the linen bag in which they carried the Eucharist; subdeacons by the reception of the chalice.The Catholic Encyclopedia
Incidently, theologians used to say that the Major Orders (deacon, priest, bishop) were also conferred by the reception of the appropriate instruments, but this view was repudiated by Pope Pius XII in Sacramentum Ordinis (1947).
Either way, the office of lector is not a sacrament, but a function, confering absolutely no character. Because it is a completely disciplinary function, there is absolutely nothing "inherent" to it whatsoever--and certainly nothing inherent to it which would hinder women from recieving it.
At one point in time, it presumed the legal status of a cleric; but the legal status of cleric has now been restricted to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopacy.
Frankly, given the fact that lector is not a clerical role, I struggle to see what difference there is between blessing someone with the intent that they regularly read the readings at Mass, and instituting them to regularly read the readings at Mass. How exactly the two are conceptually, much less practically, distinguished, or how the difference between an instituted reader and a non-instituted reader is anything more than a historical fiction, I could not say.
That's not entirely true. There is one difference, and it is only practical: whether or not the lector must dress in cassock and surplice is determined by whether or not they are an instituted lector (in which case, when a deacon is present, they must) or an uninstituted (but blessed) lector (in which case, they simply may). And, I'm all in favor of the proliferation of cassock and surplice.
For sake of reference, here are two blessings, the one used to institute lectors and the one used to bless uninstituted lectors. Keeping in mind that, in ancient Rome, lectors were instituted with a simple blessing and that institution-by-giving-instruments is not recorded until AD 500, it becomes even more difficult to say how, exactly, the two are different.
The institution of a lector:
Lord God,The blessing of an un-instituted reader:
Source of all goodness and light,
you sent your Son, the Word of life,
to reveal to mankind the mystery of your love.
Bless + our brothers
who have been chosen for the ministry of reader.
Grant that as they meditate on your word
they may grow in its wisdom
and faithful proclaim it to your people.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Each candidate goes to the bishop, who gives them the Bible, saying:
Take this book of holy Scripture
and be faithful in handing on the word of God,
so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.
Everlasting God,*"In sung Masses--solemn Masses and high Masses--all that the deacon or subdeacon or lector chant or recite of their own office is omitted by the Celebrant."
When he read in the synagogue at Nazareth,
your Son proclaimed the good news of salvation
for which he would give up his life.
Bless these readers.
As they proclaim your words of life,
strengthen their faith
that they may read with conviction and boldness
and put into practice what they read.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Frederick McManus, Handbook for the New Rubrics (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1961) p. 119-20
The difference between a person blessed to read and a person instituted to read is essentially a historical fiction. Neither is confers a character, both confer a duty in the church's liturgy--neither of which is clerical. If we say "You can instituted as lector for mass," will this really "lead people to think that women can be priests"--when we already say, "You can be blessed as a lector for mass"? Is that rational? Really?
And if so, how, precisely, given that being a lector is no longer a clerical position?
Revised Update II - Will Pope Benedict do it?
That's a hard call.
The most analogous case is the appointment of a woman to leadership an office in the Congregation for Religious (shorthand name)--Italian Salesian Sr. Enrica Rosanna was made under-secretary of the Congregation for Religious. Until then, an unofficial theology of the delegated authority of the Curia held that curial leadership shared in the clerical status and authority of the pontiff, and so had to be male. The breach of that unofficial theology was noted at the time by John Allen: "It’s true that a cleric co-signs letters from the congregation that exercise the pope’s delegated 'power of jurisdiction,' but nevertheless the appointment put Rosanna in a position of leadership in the universal church." Benedict's right-hand man suggested that there might be more.
So that would suggest that Benedict might be favorable to the idea.
On the other hand, it's only an analogous case, so some other factor may change the pope's mind with respect to this issue. More likely, however, is that Benedict might be hesitant to act because of the intricate changes in liturgical law. Simply issuing the alternate endings for the Mass took three years.
Friday, October 24
One of the last works of this famed Irish stained-glass designer is virtually in my back yard, his series of angels holding liturgical implements at St. Vincent de Paul in Bayonne, New Jersey.
The Apparition of the Sacred Heart, 1927-28
Thursday, October 23
I'm not entirely sure where this little image of St. Agnes came from; while its execution is rather crude, the basic composition is rather intriguing and well-balanced, and a clever fusion of a devotional presentation of the saint with the historic moment of her martyrdom by fire. I also rather like how small and childlike she is in contrast to her flanking guardian angels, and the crucifixion worked into the hilt of her sword.
The Amazing Healy Brothers
Both he and his brothers acknowledged their mixed background openly (indeed, brother and fellow priest Fr. Patrick Francis Healy was the first known American of mixed ancestry to receive a PhD.) though they also appear to have essentially self-identified as white and Irish. (Unfortunately, Bishop Healy appears to have kept quietly out of the spotlight when opportunities to condemn racism came up).
At the very least, it's an intriguing story, further sharpened by the fact that in addition to a priest and a bishop, the Healy brethren also included Michael "Hell Roaring" Healy of the U.S. Coast Guard (a friend of environmentalist John Muir, and, apparently the inspiration for Jack London's The Sea Wolf!), and three nuns, one of whom rose to the rank of Mother Superior.
From Longevity and Historical Sketches of the American Hierarchy
First Suffragan Bishop: New York, Richard L. Concanen, O.P., cons. April 24, 1808
(Footnote: Bishop Concanen was detained in Italy by French military authorities as a British subject, 1808-1810. He died in Naples June 19, 1810, without ever having reached America.)
First American Prelate to take part in a Papal election: James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, in 1903, Election of Pius X.
First American Bishop of Colored Blood [sic; remember this was printed in 1971, based on earlier texts prepared in the 1960s; though I do not know if this means he was black, biracial or multiracial, something more common in the past than often supposed]: James Augustine Healy, second Bishop of Portland (Maine), 1875-1900. Born near Macon, Ga. One of ten children, five of whom entered religious life. [There has got to be a good story here.]
First Motor Car Blessed: Dennis Dougherty, Nueva Segovia, Phillippines (later Dennis Cardinal Doughtery of Philadelphia) in the spring of 1913, on the grounds of St. Francis Xavier, Chicago. This white steamer [!] motor car was the first to be used in the missions of the United States in Texas. Donated by the Catholic Church Extension Society.
First Televised Mass of the Sacrament of Matrimony: By Richard Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, Aug. 24, 1952, in WBX studios in Boston on his birthday. [There has also got to be a good, if rather weird, story here, too. I guess Catholic Reality Television has a longer history than often supposed, as well.]
More to come.
Tuesday, October 21
Your Moment of Wren
An interesting, if rather bureacratic-looking, unrealized design for a London church by British classicist Sir Christopher Wren. And here, some intriguing photos of Wren's various rejected proposals for St. Paul's, including the famous Great Model, and another one (intended as a replacement for just the crossing-tower of Old St. Paul's) with a gigantic pinapple-shaped spire.
Friday, October 17
to "hey nonny nonny"; and then, I'm afraid, I'll shall have to call
-- Edmund Blackadder, Lord Blackadder (1531-1566) on Tudor lingo
Good Pope John, Pars II
--Corrado Pallenberg, Inside the Vatican, 1960
Thursday, October 16
Works by Matthew Alderman at St. Vincent Gallery, Latrobe, Pennsylvania
I was overjoyed about a month back to find out that two of my works had been accepted as part of the Catholic Art Competition and Exhibition at the St. Vincent Gallery, at the college of the same name in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. While I do not know the identities of the other artists yet, I am sure it is going to be an interesting show. The competition's juror is none other than classical architect Duncan Stroik, and the criteria included a specification that the work be "iconographically recognizable and appropriate for liturgical use." I have submitted the original ink drawing of Cassian of Imola (above), and the prints of my series The Three Holy Maidens (which I hope eventually to publish in a forthcoming edition of Dappled Things if I can ever finish the article I started about them). It begins on October 28 and will close on December 7, 2008. Go, have a look!
Good Pope John
"When Cardinal Wyszynski, the Primate of Poland, was released from jail by Gomulka and allowed to pay a visit to Rome, he was met at the Mestre [mainland Venice] railway station by Roncalli. As the train was scheduled to stop for three-quarters of an hour, Roncali suggested to his Polish colleague a short sightseeing tour of Venice by motorboat. The Primate of Poland was so enraptured by the beauty of the Grand Canal, he did not notice that time was flying. Suddenly, he looked at his watch and exclaimed in anguish, 'Good heavens! my train has left.' Roncalli smiled and reassured him. 'Don't worry. You see that gentleman sitting at the back of our motorboat? Well, he's the Mestre station master and I kidnapped him. While he is with us the train cannot leave.'
"But if in his relations with the world he showed himself extremely tolerant and fond of social life, he never compromised where the protection of morality or the behavior of his parishioners was concerned. [...] In December of the same year  he condemns the purchase of television sets by priests and set forth the following reasons:
"'(a) a television set is a luxury object that conflicts with the povery and want of many of the faithful; (b) it represents a true attack on the priest by worldly things and by all their seductions; (c) it brings with it a great danger of a waste of time, of dissipation, and of spiritual decadence; (d) it lowes the prestige of the priest in the eyes of the faithful, who can be disturbed by the mere thought that their priest, who celebrates the Holy Mysteries has, without any sound reason connected with his pastoral duties, has been watching television programs.'"
--Corrado Pallenberg, Inside the Vatican, 1960
1) As a confirmed (albeit low-grade) television addict myself, I'm not sure I could make the same demand of my clergy with a straight face, but, on the other hand, he does make some good points about the vast televisual wasteland and why we still even bother. On the other, other hand (if you are the Three-Handed Madonna of St. John Damascene), this was the Pope who didn't like priests driving or owning their own cars, so perhaps not all of the then-Patriarch Roncalli's pastoral advice is transferrable to the present. Presumably an indult can be got for EWTN and all those guys at the North American College who watch Father Ted.
2) Good Pope John's mix of old-fashioned liberality and old-fashioned tradition only seems contradictory until one remembers the same combination is so characteristic of our current pontiff.
Wednesday, October 15
Cleanliness is Next to Something-or-other
--Corrado Pallenberg, Inside the Vatican, 1960
Thursday, October 9
Light of Light
Some very handsome examples of twentieth-century stained glass by unjustly neglected artist Valentine d'Ogries (who has just been brought to my attention) can be found here.
Wednesday, October 8
Christ as Hero
The Ruthwell Cross described below.
From William Dalrymple (author of the most humorous and possibly only sequel to St. John Moschos's The Spiritual Meadow), writing in The New York Review of Books:
High on the front face of the cross is an image of Christ. But he is not shown as the Suffering Servant so much as the Hero—tall, well-formed, and toga-clad, receiving submission. To make this explicit, the side of the cross has inscribed on it in runes the anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem, “The Dream of the Rood,” a complete copy of which survives only in a single manuscript now in an Italian cathedral library. The poem, widely regarded as the finest short poem in Old English, was written from the point of view of the cross on which Christ would be crucified. To the poet, Christ’s torturous death was not something humiliating, but instead an act of epic heroism like the sufferings undergone by Beowulf to cleanse the world of evil:
I saw the Lord of MankindLike the image of Christ receiving the submission of the beasts, the poem is a celebration of the victorious Christ. Christ the young warrior mounts the cross because he chooses to, and he remains in control. When he is taken down, his men are standing around their fallen chieftain, who lies there “worn out after battle.” Instead of the fear-filled disciples of the gospel, “The Dream of the Rood” reimagines them as brave followers, or comitates, who would follow their Lord to his death. The poem ends with Christ’s liegemen seated at a banquet: paradise reimagined as a sort of semi-Christian Valhalla, a heavenly Anglo-Saxon mead hall “where the people of God are seated at the feast in eternal bliss.”
hasten with such courage to climb up on me...
Then the young warrior, God Almighty,
stripped Himself, firm and unflinching. He climbed
upon the cross, brave before many, to redeem mankind....
A rood was I raised up; I bore aloft the mighty King,
The Lord of Heaven....
More here in "The Egyptian Connection" by William Dalrymple.
The Ruthwell Cross used to stand in the church at Ruthwell, which was built around it; whether it stood in a churchyard or by itself when first erected is unclear. It escaped injury at the time of general destruction during the Reformation in the sixteenth century, but the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland ordered the "many idolatrous monuments erected and made for religious worship" to be "taken down, demolished, and destroyed". It was not till two years later, however, that the cross was taken down when an Act was passed "anent the Idolatrous Monuments in Ruthwell". It was shattered, and some of the carved emblems were nearly obliterated, and in this state the rood was left where it had fallen, in the altar-less church, and was used, it appears, as a bench to sit upon.
Not a deliberate similarity, but an intriguing one all the same.
"But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays; And you will gambol like calves out of the stall and tread down the wicked; They will become ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day I take action, says the LORD of hosts." --Malachias iii, 21-22.
"The royal realm of Jesus is founded on the tree." --The Letter of Barnabas
Tuesday, October 7
Churches of Kiev
Church of St. Andrew on St. Andrew's Hill (1747–1754), by Rastrelli.
Church of Bohoroditsa Pirogoscha, a recently-reconstructed church in an ancient style.
St. Sophia's Cathedral.
St. Michael's Cathedral, another recently-built reconstruction. The term "cathedral" is used in a much broader sense in Orthodox lands than in the West, and is appears to be applied to larger or more significant churches, such as the principal chapel of a monastery.
Another view of the Church of St. Andrew.
One interesting point here, which has attracted a certain degree of scholarly cultural but not mainstream architectural interest, is the phenomenon of newly-reconstructed churches in former Soviet countries, as well as the construction of new churches in traditional styles. Excepting particularly extreme examples such as the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, this is a subject not widely remarked-upon both in the world of architecture, and is worthy of further study; though it must be noted that in at least some of the examples there's a fair amount of cost-cutting; I believe many of the frescoes in Christ the Saviour are in fact photographic transfers rather than hand-made copies, but I would be happily proven wrong in this instance. Nonetheless, it would appear the death of the Cossack Baroque and Russian Byzantine styles to be rather premature in this instance.
New Dappled Things!
Monday, October 6
Hey, I Know That Subdeacon!
Friday, October 3
A Forgotten Gem by Bertram Goodhue
Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana. (More images). Architect: Bertram Goodhue, 1924. The exterior is quite handsome, too. Goodhue's oeuvre is doubtlessly well-known to our readers, though I also recently chanced across a webpage on his restrained Spanish Colonial revival work at the "million-dollar ghost-town" of Tyrone, New Mexico, intriguing for the sake of curiosity at the very least.
Photo: Scott Spalding, Flickr.
Thursday, October 2
Not Endorsing this Line of Reasoning, But Not Disagreeing Either
- Medieval German proverb
I am reminded of the fact, though, that St. Josemaría (I think it was him) encourages his spiritual charges to get a good solid night's sleep, not too much, not too little. As part of an ordered life it's not to be sneezed at.
Wednesday, October 1
(Okay, while I'm not fond of Bismarck I admit both he and Fr. Sorin had a deep and abiding love of exuberant facial hair and elaborate headgear that I can appreciate.)