Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Paschaltide Resume

A blessed feast of Saint Mark, founder of the Alexandrian Church, to all. Throughout the year my favorite Mattins is that from the Common of Virgin Martyrs, but the Paschaltide Mattins from the Common of Apostles and Evangelists is a close second.

With the continued proliferation of old rite Holy Week celebrations accelerated by the Ecclesia Dei indult (did everyone with an indult send pictures to New Liturgical Movement or are liberties being taken?) it might be a good time to ask readers or Facebook linkers whether they know of any communities that implemented the old liturgy this year and how it was received. I would be particularly interested if readers could comment on:

  1. How those unfamiliar with the pre-1962 changes were able to adapt to the old rites
  2. Whether they were practiced at the old times, the Paul VI, or the head-scratching 1962 times (Holy Saturday Vespers at 1:30AM on Sunday morning?)
  3. What would have made the implementation easier to facilitate from the perspective of both clergy and laity
Weren't choirs happy to sing Palestrina's Sicut cervus in its proper place?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ave Verus Sonus

While looking for something else I stumbled upon this little gem, a setting of Ave Verum Corpus by Geoffrey Burgon. It is really little more than a vocal overlay of the hymn's words onto his main theme for the 1981 serialization of Brideshead Revisited, yet it somehow works quite well. I'm not keen to hear this after the elevation at Mass, but it makes a pleasant and thoughtful listen.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Orthodox Orders

"Women....." -St John Chrysostom
"The divine law excluded women from this ministry, but they forcibly push themselves in, and, since they can do nothing personally, they do everything by proxy. They have got such power that they appoint and dismiss priests at will."

So writes Saint John Chrysostom in chapter nine of his third book on the priesthood. The Golden Mouth's books on the priesthood focused a Lenten book reading between myself, another Catholic, and some Orthodox friends with varying views towards Latin Catholicism. Saint John wrote his dialogues, if they can even be called that, on the priesthood after he and his friend, Basil, were elected bishops of their respective cities and John deceived Basil into receiving while fleeing the same fate. After some face-saving protestations, the Saint lays down the timorous duties of a "priest," by which he really means a bishop.

Priest is a word which has numerous meanings in ancient times. The one-time Patriarch of Antioch and Constantinople meant it as a bishop, which the older Pontificale Romanum preserves in calling the episcopacy the "second order of priesthood." In the time of Saint Cyprian of Carthage some meant it merely to denote those who sat on the bishop's council for the administration of the local church, whether that person was ordained or not (cf. Allen Brent's introduction to the S. Vladimir Press books). And, of course, it meant men who were ordained to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice in places where the bishop could not be present, which it almost universally meant by the time of Nicaea and which it still means today.

It was in giving this context to the term "priest" that I adduced the above quote and presumed aloud that we were all in perfect agreement on its meaning. One Orthodox conversant asked how broadly I would like to apply the idea that women cannot enter the priesthood. In turn yours truly suggested that if women cannot inherently enter one stage of Holy Orders then how could they logically enter any. Then the real tumult turned.

"I guess it goes back to the energies versus essence debate."

"No," I replied. "No, it doesn't really."

"I guess if you're going to call them 'Sacraments' instead of 'Mysteries' then you really need to reduce them to something simple that you can count."

"How would you have us understand the effects of Ordination? Is the Church's blessing and laying of hands in any ministry to be understand as a kind of Holy Order?"

"Yes! That is exactly what it is!"

"What of deaconesses?"

"Yes, they're ordained, just like an abbot or abbess, or a male deacon. Their roles are just different."

"But you don't think a woman could become a priest? There have been deaconesses, but the extent of their roles outside of Baptism is highly debated."

"They can be Sacramental deaconesses, but they cannot be bishops. We don't know yet if they cannot be priests. Orthodoxy must not be afraid of this question."

Initially this remark reminded me of Church World Mission by Alexander Schmemann, wherein the priest condones the idea that any encounter with God could be a Sacrament, a holy thing wherein God touches someone by His grace. The problem comes in assuming this must always be the case.

Deaconesses are a tricky matter. They certainly existed in most of Christendom up to and including the fourth century, but they never seem to have been very common in the city of Rome. In northern Italy and places under Byzantine influence they assisted in the full-immersion Baptism of female catechumens; at the Hagia Sophia they were permitted to take Communion at the altar; then again so was the Emperor, who was also allowed to perform certain incensations. In Armenia the order has died and been revived in several stages throughout history, including quite recently; the Armenian Apostolic Church permits them to read the Gospel at Mass, but I do not know if this has always been the case. Wikipedia declares them fully Sacramental and our Orthodox interlocutor declares anything hierarchically blessed a Sacrament, so why can we Latins not simply accept that women once upon a time had a separate-but-equal place in Holy Orders? Should they again?



Then again perhaps a blessing for work and the bestowal of a place doing something for the Apostles' successors is not always the same thing, even if it often is. Separate-but-equal ministries sound fine until you realize that the Church has the power to make or unmake these offices. The priesthood in the modern sense is an extension of the priesthood Christ gave the Apostles to be used only when the Apostles' successors are not presents; this came about some time after the Apostles invented the diaconate before our eyes in Acts. In the lifetime of some readers Paul VI eliminated three traditional Orders in the Latin Church: porter, exorcist, and subdeacon. If the power to create Orders for the Apostles' ministry rests with the Church then the Church has the power to confer them as it sees fit. Women cannot be divinely barred from one step of a created Order while admissible to another. If the Church can give women a fully Sacramental (or "Mysterious", if our book club friend is to be believed) place, why can she not have a higher rung at a later point?

This cannot be chalked up to Church discipline or tradition. There is no inherent reason why a married man with twenty children cannot be a bishop. It is a matter of strongly corroborated tradition and experience that he ought not be, but if he receives the laying of hands then he will become a bishop according to all Churches, East and West. No Apostolic Church, however, believes laying hands on a lady is anything other than an invitation to a bar fight or accusations of "micro aggression." If Providence has decided she cannot take the fullness of the Apostolic role there is no reason to think she could only have a particular part of it, the unique tradition of the Armenians not withstanding.

Then again cosmetic surgical procedures and adoption can aid some in embracing delusions of maternity, but it will not make men into mothers.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Dubious End of the Dubia


The word on the street is that the dubia of Cdls. Brandmüller, Burke, et al. has finally reached its termination with a traditional definition of the immorality of receiving Communion whilst in the midst of adultery by a small, toothless conference in Rome. This “whimper” ending of the dubia process is disappointing but unsurprising. An old mentor of mine once encouraged me to pray for Joseph Ratzinger upon his election to the papacy because he was “more of an academic than a man of action,” and that goes double for Raymond Leo Burke, a man more comfortable in a law library than the public square.

This is not to suggest that the cardinal lacks a spine, merely that he is better at standing still in the midst of a hurricane than he is at wielding a weapon against the enemy. The fruitless exercise of the dubia by the ever-dwindling association of cardinals ended in frustration and confusion, and perhaps it has left the situation worse than when it began.

Meanwhile, the Francismachine continues to bulldoze apace. Cdl. Raymond “Lion” Burke lacks the resolve of his middle-namesake, favoring public respect and a show of obedience to the direct opposition of this Satanic undermining of marital life.
How can any one enter into the house of the strong, and rifle his goods, unless he first bind the strong? and then he will rifle his house. He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.
The Vatican’s offenses against matrimony are accumulative and disastrous for the salvation of men. We traditionalists have been looking to the dubia cardinals as modern-day Bishop Turpins—the celebrated warrior-bishop of La Chanson de Roland—but they are in the final analysis mere clerics in the reductive sense of the word: clerks worried more about an imbalance in the books than about the evil at the root of the problem.

One day we may get the reforming clergy we need, but Brandmüller and Burke have quietly retreated from the field while their soldiers still fight. They may continue to grant interviews until the day they die, but talk is only talk.
From the other part is the Archbishop Turpin,
He pricks his horse and mounts upon a hill;
Calling the Franks, sermon to them begins:
“My lords barons, Charles left us here for this;
He is our King, well may we die for him:
To Christendom good service offering.
Battle you’ll have, you all are bound to it,
For with your eyes you see the Sarrazins.
Pray for God’s grace, confessing Him your sins!
For your souls’ health, I’ll absolution give
So, though you die, blest martyrs shall you live,
Thrones you shall win in the great Paradis.”
The Franks dismount, upon the ground are lit.
That Archbishop God’s Benediction gives,
For their penance, good blows to strike he bids. (lxxxix)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ready for Another?

"Nothing gets you over the last one like the next one," or so goes common advice after the termination of a serious relationship. We Americans recently dwindled down our long-term relationship with Iraq and are looking to move into a new Middle Eastern residence. Did we find a new beau in Syria? Or will it just be—I pray—a one night stand.

The joint bombing of Syria has the distinct flavor of Bill Clinton's 1998 bombing of an abandoned factory in Iraq during his impeachment for using his office to cover up his infelicitous soiree with Monica Lewinsky. Or perhaps this is the influence of John Bolton, the UN ambassador under the most recent Bush? Neo-conservatism shares with its socialist ancestor the belief that all contemporary problems could be solved if only other cultures would embrace our post-Roosevelt federal system and be "free." Apparently Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq did not sufficiently convince Western leadership otherwise. It is a long discredited idea, but, like witchcraft and democracy, it tells a comforting lie: that we can do something about everything we do not like.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Liturgy & Bad Language

During the transitory years of youth, which seem to have a languor of isolation and distance from the harshness of parents' bothersome lives, children are rarely distinguished from each other based on ability. That comes with high school or university education. Until then anyone at a school may be much more or less capable than any other pupil. In the menagerie of third grade or eighth grade perhaps a less bookish student calls a more bookish student a "smarty pants" for using a polysyllabic word. In high school well placed use of a verb, other than some conjugation of "to be," is met with a similarly derisive animadversion of "showing off." By college one walks a tight rope between good writing and "purple prose."

The right use of the right words expresses a thought, an idea in dimension and depth that simple descriptions and synonyms cannot relate. It is much the same difference between reading Shakespeare's plays on the page for years and finally finding the time to see Hamlet on stage in a proper theater, when "To be or not to be" ceases to be the words of a student in a tweed jacket and becomes the reflection of a suicidal depressive. The art of real wordsmithing so enchants that imitators come flocking in, hoping to learn the art while replicating the works of the originals like Sorbonne students who copy pieces in the Louvre. The inevitable outcome is something flat, two dimensional. It is better than modern art, or language, to be sure, but it leaves the lingering feeling of fakery, of not quite being the "real deal." Essays in the New Yorker possess greater literary quality than their brotherly hit pieces in the New York Times, but inevitably they are both meant to convey the same narrow, drivel on the left that the Wall Street Journal peddles on the right.

And yet we need good language. Bad language—"they" used to say—reflected a poor education, and it does. Ignored, and more worthy of concern, is the lasting influence of bad language on each succeeding generation. Thoughts come to inquisitive minds only to be thwarted by an inability to get them out, or at least to get them out well, much like a young commis chef in a fine restaurant who knows a sauce is off, but does not know how the sauce is made or how to add acidity. Basic feelings like "good," "bad," "happy," and "angry" become the only expressions of complex personal ideas. Either someone satisfies himself with a lesser word choice or he learns an unspoken lesson not to go down that hole in the future. A good chef would tell his commis what to change; a bad one may just tell him to add some salt and move on.

For all of living memory Christianity's language of liturgy has become every bit as dulled down, minced, and made "bad" as spoken language. Liturgy is the language of Christianity because it is the greatest prayer of Christianity and a Christian, the pagan Romans said, is one who prays. The fullness of the Church's liturgical tradition provides for every breadth of desire of the soul, the need for the Transcendent, the urgency of repentance, the wish to suffer with Christ and rejoice with the Apostles, to ruminate alone, or to make peace with one's neighbor; in a phrase, it moves any which way the Spirit wills.

This year at Tenebrae I remembered something Laszo Dobszay wrote in his Bugnini Liturgy, namely that the traditional Holy Week services did not recall any one point in Christ's Passion, but rather that each day the entire Passion, albeit with different points of emphasis. The Mandatum brings the faithful to the upper room and the Mass, with its interpolations in the Canon, point to the institution of Holy Eucharist as Our Lord entered into His suffering. What is Tenebrae if not a glimpse into Gethsemane?
Amicus meus osculi me trádidit signo: Quem osculátus fúero, ipse est, tenete eum: hoc malum fecit signum, qui per ósculum adimplévit homicidium. Infelix prætermísit prétium sánguinis, et in fine láqueo se suspéndit. Bonum erat ei, si natus non fuísset homo ille. Infelix prætermísit prétium sánguinis, et in fine láqueo se suspéndit.
Losing parts of the liturgy such as this constitute a reduction in liturgical language that exceeds whatever may be recovered in textual restorations. In the case of Tenebrae, the Church visits Christ during His agony in the garden by sharing his impending sense of suffering, by putting words of innocence and accusations of betrayal into the responses, and in leaving the temple in utter blackness. The reduction of this aspect of the Passion, both by moving the time of the service in the 1955 reform and the elimination of the Office altogether the following decade, does not ignore these aspects of the Passion as much as, like reduced language, it fails to articulate them properly. Instead the faithful are treated to a narrated text on Good Friday, read from three separate ambos, that most clueless people in the pews liken to a play that replaces the Gospel.

Likewise, the compression of the Roman liturgy into the Mass and nothing but the texts of Mass assume that people will find all the inspiration they need in the relevant readings from the revised lectionary, lessons that will be read in the course of a minute or two. At some points of the year the dramatic ceremonies imposed on the Mass form a unique spiritual vocabulary for articulating those seasonal mysteries, however, throughout most of the year the Mass serves the purpose of solemnizing a feast. The Mass was never meant to be the solitary means of entering into the Divine mysteries.



In spoken languages certain features or even entire languages themselves obsolesce while new characteristics or families of speech replace them. The withering of Latin, for instance, as a poetic language in post-Renaissance England made room for Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, and the rest of the Anglophonic tradition. The same has held true of the liturgy traditionally: readings, feasts, musical styles, or urban practices fall out of use over the course of centuries because piety has headed in a new direction. What has transpired in the last century is something altogether different. Much like the "bad language" in our vernacular, our prayer language has devolved to the point where we can say very little and think only in the most crude, obvious of terms. The desire for the fuller spiritual language of the past comes with the accompanying "purple prose" stigma of written tongues, yet there is no telling a full story without it. "Chirpy" polyphony from Monteverdi is part of that purple prose, but Victoria's setting of the aforementioned Amicus meus is a weave of language for the spirit akin to what the Bard did for the stage.

Generations of bad language have left us in an atomistic society with little to say about anything save ourselves. It would be hard to deny that the current state of the liturgy is much the same affair. And yet is not the old liturgy the re-education we need?

As an aside, my new laptop has arrived so technology troubles should be over and blogging should return to normal.... I hope.....

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Christ is Risen!


"If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

"And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

"Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

"O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen."



A blessed Pascha to all!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

He Descended into Hell: Holy Saturday (REPOST)


First, let me say that contrary to many contemporary opinions the old Holy Saturday liturgy was not at the wrong time. It was at an unusal time, morning, rather than after the canonical hour of None, around 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm, but it was never a night time liturgy. Also, it is not Easter's Mass done the day before, nor is it a midnight Mass, as at Christmas. It is a Mass and liturgy meant to help us anticipate the Resurrection. Let us see what the Church has given us.

The liturgy begins after None, the last "little hour" of the afternoon. The deacon and subdeacon still wear the folded chasubles, their penitential vestments. The clergy and laity gather outside the church, where, hopefully, someone has lit a fire. The priest, vested in violet, sings three luminously themed prayers: the first referring to the "brightness of Your Son," the second calling God the "Creator of all lights," and the third an actual blessing. This is very reminiscent of the Eastern blessing at the end of Divine Liturgy, which quotes St. James in calling God the "Father of Lights," of all that is perfect, luminous, and good.

A server ignites coals and the priest imposes and blesses incense. He sparges the Holy Fire with blessed water and then incenses it. He also blesses five grains of incense which he be inserted into the Pascal Candle, representing the light of Christ throughout Easter season, inside the church.


The deacon then changes his penitential folded chasuble for a white dalmatic and maniple. He takes a large, triple-branched candle and, lighting a new wick from the Holy Fire, enters the church exclaiming Lumen Christi—"The Light of Christ." This happens twice more until we are in the church proper.


A deacon with the triple-candle preparing to enter the church.





The deacon then petitions the priest for a blessing, approaches the Paschal Candle, which is off to the Gospel side of the altar, and sings the Exultet, a long blessing. The Exultet is rich with imagery of light in the night and the deliverance from Egypt. This day is the deliverance from our spiritual Egypt: Sin and Death. Part way through, the deacon inserts the five grains of incense, calling them an "evening sacrifice," and lights the Paschal Candle. The video to the left is a singing of the Exultet at St. Peter's Basilica two years ago. I find the continued use of the prayer in the newer rites odd, given that none of the actions mentioned in the text are performed, nor is the intention any longer to bless! The prayer concludes with a petition for the Pope and the, no longer extant, Holy Roman Emperor. The lights of the church go on at the words Vere beata nox—"Oh, truly blessed night!" In the middle ages, when this ceremony took place in day light, the windows of the church would be covered in dark cloth, which would be removed at those words, washing the church in God's light after a spiritual slumber.


The deacon returns to his penitential folded-chasuble and, along with the priest and subdeacon, read twelve prophecies, which are chanted by lectors in the middle of the choir. The prophecies together form the story of salvation, both in anticipation and in prediction of Christ:
  1. Genesis 1:1-31, 2:1-2: The creation of the world by God, the ruler of all things. He sees that it is good.
  2. Genesis chapters 5-8: The Great Flood and God's commissioning of Noah to build an ark. The ark is a foreshadowing of the Church, which God gives us to protect us from the Flood of Sin.
  3. Genesis 22:1-9: Abram is about to offer his son, Isaac, but an angel intervenes. For his love of God, the Lord makes a covenant with him and renames the man Abraham.
  4. Exodus 14:24-15:1: God lets the Israelites pass through Egypt unto freedom through the Red Sea, which drowns the pursuing forces of the Pharoah. Baptism will be our watery means of passing unto freedom.
  5. Isaiah 54:17, 55:1-11: God has heard the cry of His people and will honor the promises to David.
  6. Baruch 3:9-38: God has absolute knowledge and dominion over His creation.
  7. Ezekiel 37:1-14: The bones of the fallen will rise again under the spirit of the Lord.
  8. Isaiah 4:1-6: The Lord will wash away the "filth of Jerusalem" and build a covenant.
  9. Exodus 12:1-11: God prescribes the Passover sacrifice of a lamb to the Jews, which will deliver them from God's plague over the first-borns of Egypt. They will be free. Christ is the perfect, spotless Lamb, the perfect sacrifice. He will intercede for us before the Father.
  10. Jonah 3:1-10: The prophet Jonah convinces the city of Nineveh to repent of their sins and do penance, averting their impending destruction. Penance is necessary to pay the debt of sin, not just to be forgiven.
  11. Deuteronomy 31:22-30: Moses provides for his death and the continuation of the Israelites into the promised land. This succession of leaders will continue until Christ.
  12. Daniel 3:1-24: King Nabuchodonosor attempts to kill three Jewish children for not worshiping his idols. They are thrown into a fire, but angels guard them.
In between these readings are sung various prayers and sung psalms. A procession forms and heads to the baptismal font. The priest blesses the empty font and the water in it by plunging the Paschal Candle three times. He sprinkles water towards the four points of the compass and then the faithful with Holy Water from the font, and then infuses Holy Oils into it. He proceeds to baptize and confirm any converts present in the normal manner. The procession then returns to the altar as the choir sings the Litany of Saints, doubling the invocations and answers (ex: choir: Pater de caelis, Deus, Miserere nobis people: Pater de caelis, Deus, Miserere nobis). If there is no font, everything until the Litany is excluded.


Everyone kneels for the duration of the Litany, which takes the place of the Introit of the Mass. The intention of the Litany is mainly to pray for converts, but also for the Church as a whole, as She enters the Paschal mystery. The priest, deacon, and subdeacon remove their outer vestments and prostrate themselves.


Towards the end of the Litany the priest and his ministers rise and head to the sacristy to vest in white vestments for Mass. Servers prepare the altar with the missal and put on the best, most festive frontal.



The altar candles are lit from the Paschal Candle. The ministers of Mass return and sing a normal solemn high Mass. The Gloria is the lovely Lux et Origo setting. The Epistle is from St. Paul's letter to the Colassians, in which the Apostles tells us that if we are dead with Christ, Christ will rise and us with Him.

The priest sings Alleluia for the first time in two months. Absorbed in joy, he sings it three times, each higher and each repeated by the choir. The Gospel, taken from St. Matthew's account of the myrrh-bearing women finding the empty tomb, is accented by the fact that candles are not carried in the procession, emphasizing that the Resurrection has not yet happened for us, but that we are anticipating it. All of this subtlety is indicative of the restraint of the old Roman rite.


The celebrant reads the Gospel before the deacon sings it.


As this is a vigil, the Creed is not sung. There is no verse or chant prescribed for the offertory, so the organ  is played or Latin hymns are sung.


The preface is of Easter. During the Canon of the Mass, the Communicantes prayer is unique: "Communicating, and keeping this most holy night of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; and also reverencing the memory...." The Pax is not given and the Agnus Dei is omitted. This may be for two reasons: (1) the Lamb is not yet risen and with us or (2) this liturgy is so old that it pre-dates the eighth century introduction of the Agnus Dei


After communion and the cleansing of the vessels, a short Holy Saturday Vespers is sung rather than a communion chant. It is psalm 116, surrounded by a triple Alleluia. The priest begins the antiphon on the Mangificat: Vespere autem sabati....  During the Magnificat everyone is incensed as usual. The priest sings the post-communion prayer, which I have given below:
Pour forth, O Lord, we beseech thee, the Spirit of thy love into our hearts, and by thy mercy make all them to be of one mind to whom Thou hast given to eat of thy mystic Passover. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.

The dismissal is Ite, missa est, alleluia! Alleluia. The Deo gratias response is also given a double alleluia. The priest says the Placeat, gives the blessing, and recites the Last Gospel as normal. It is traditional to end the liturgy with the Regina Coeli.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice! Alleluia!
For He Who you did merit to bear, Alleluia!
Has risen as He said, Alleluia!
Pray for us to God, Alleluia! 
These rites would end about four hours after they started. The main point of celebrating this liturgy early was so that Paschal Mattins and Lauds could start at a reasonable time. The twentieth century de-emphasis of the Divine Office saddens me. Paschal Mattins and Lauds are the most important liturgical event of the entire week, more so than any Mass or office. In these offices we formally begin the celebration of the Resurrection. In Eastern Churches the people wander the church looking for Christ, but not finding Him! He is risen! They then sing Mattins and Lauds at midnight, followed by Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is of Easter Sunday, it is not a vigil nor is it a midnight Mass, as we have on Christmas. The reformers lost this critical difference and canned the most important office of the year in the process.

In the West there would be a Resurrection ceremony, which would find the sepulcher created on Good Friday empty, the crucifix would be adored again as on Good Friday, and Mattins and Lauds would be sung. Mattins has one nocturn, with lesson from a sermon of Pope St. Gregory the Great, in which the saintly pontiff says we, the Church, must come to Christ's tomb bearing gifts like the women if we are to be surprised and rejoice. The Te Deum is sung de tempore for the first time in two months. At Lauds, the first antiphon declares that an angel descended from heaven to roll back the stone. The antiphons for this Lauds are among the most beautiful of the year. There is no hymn at Mattins or Lauds. The dismissal has a double Alleluia, as at Mass. The office ends with the Regina Coeli again. Easter has begun at this point.




Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday: Mass of the Pre-Sanctified (REPOST)

Today's Pre-Sanctified Mass is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, liturgical rites in the Roman Church. A "Mass" without a consecration, it follows the pattern of liturgy that pre-dates even St. Gregory the Great, to whom this particular day's ceremony is attributed: readings, collects for the needs of the Church, the Eucharist, and Vespers. This day is not Church theater or ritual for its own sake. This is worship of the God of all Who died for all.



The priest and his two deacons, who wear folded chasubles rather than dalmatics, prostrate themselves before the altar for enough time to pray psalm 50, the Miserere, in silence, while servers spread a cloth on the altar. Like at Mass, the crucifix and candles remain on the altar, though unlit.


A lector sings a prophecy of the prophet Osee (or Hosea, in the Hebrew spelling), which foretells the suffering, burial, and third day rising of Christ. Then the subdeacon sings chapter 12 of the book of Exodus, which recounts the manner in which the finest lambs were killed during the first Passover in Egypt. This sacrifice liberated the Israelites from the bondage of the Pharoah. The sacrifice of the perfect victim, Christ, liberated the world from the bondage of death. God does not want a sacrifice because He wants things to be destroyed. A true sacrifice is the gift of what is precious to one's self unto another. This was the intent of the Israelites in Egypt, and more so on the Cross. A tract, psalm 139, is sung: Eripe me Domine ab homine malo—"Deliver me, Oh Lord, from the wicked man!"


Three deacons then sing the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John, beginning with His arrest in the Garden and ending just after His death on the Cross. The deacon of the "Mass" removes his folded chasuble, as at Mass, and sings the burial of Christ as the Gospel, suggesting that this, not the general narrative, is the most important text of the day.


Priest and subdeacon listen to the Passion.


Then deacon, now wearing the "broad stole," returns to the other ministers. Returning to the epistle corner, the priest sings the Solemn Collects, some of the oldest continuously used prayers in the Church. Moreover, these prayers give us some indication as to what the structure of the Mass was like in the mid-first millennium and for what those Christians prayed. There is a preface to announce the prayer intention, followed by Oremus—"let us pray," Flectamus genua—"Let us kneel," and Levate—"Let us stand" before the actual prayer itself.


The prayer intentions were:
  • For the welfare of the Church universal
  • For the Pope
  • For the clergy, people in religious life, virgins, and widows
  • For the enlightenment of the catechumens and the remission of their sins
  • For the cleansing of the world of errors
  • For the rescue of heretics and schismatics
  • For the conversion of the Jews
  • For the end of idolatry and conversion of the pagans
No genuflection was made during the prayer for the Jews. A genuflection was added by Pope John XXIII in the revised rite of Holy Week in 1959, although John XXIII seems to have continued to celebrate the old Good Friday in the Sistine Chapel!

The prayer that caused so much consternation is as follows:
Orémus et pro pérfidis Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dóminus noster áuferat velámen de córdibus eórum; ut et ipsi agnóscant Iesum Christum, Dóminum nostrum.
Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui étiam iudáicam perfídiam a tua misericórdia non repéllis: exáudi preces nostras, quas pro illíus pópuli obcæcatióne deférimus; ut, ágnita veritátis tuæ luce, quæ Christus est, a suis ténebris eruántur. Per eundem Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Unlike the other solemn intercessions on Good Friday the clergy and people make no genuflection between the announcement of the intention and the actual collect. 
Initially I did not think this prayer bigoted, but I did consider it unnecessarily inflammatory given the use of the term "pro perfidis Iudaeis." That all changed when then-Pope Benedict issued a shiny new prayer for the Jews to be used during 1962 rite Good Friday services. A friend of mine reacted positively to the new prayer, saying it brought us away from "tribal hate" and towards a more brotherly outlook on our antecedent religion. At this point I began to re-consider my position. Benedict's prayer, although different from the traditional one, at least asks for conversion, in stark contrast to the vague platitude in the Pauline Missal's Holy Week.

The first clue in my re-evaluation was the true contextual meaning of that term "perfidis," which does not mean "perfidious" in the modern understanding (wretched, wicked, evil), but rather "faithless." This ought not be anti-Semitic. It is merely a deduction. Anyone who does not believe in Christ lacks proper faith.

The next, and most profound, point makes the loss of this prayer a liturgical, historical, and theological travesty. The intention asks that God might "remove the veil from their hearts," which the collect proper continues to petition that the Jews might "acknowledge the light of Your Truth, Which is Christ" and that they may be "rescued from their darkness." To understand the deeper meaning and truth of this prayer we must recall what happened at the end of the Crucifixion.

"Jesus, when He had taken the vinegar, said: 'It is consummated.' And bowing His head he gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). In tract 119 St. Augustine writes "What, but all that prophecy had foretold so long before? And then, because nothing now remained that still required to be done before He died, as if He, who had power to lay down His life and to take it up again, had at length completed all for whose completion He was waiting." Our Lord's death on the Cross completes everything the Father promised in the Old Covenant and which He appointed His Son to do for our sake. The prophecies and promises are, at this point, fulfilled. Fulfillment, in the Church, does not mean something finished. Rather it means something brought to fruition.

Consequently, the covenant God made with the Jews did not vanish entirely, but became something else, something greater and, as the angel told the shepherds when He was born, a great thing "for all peoples" (Luke 2). The God Who dwelt only among the Jews and Who only revealed His intentions to them and Who only acted among them now dwells and reveals Himself and acts among all people and for the good of all. "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22), but not limited to the Jews. The Old Covenant, now something greater, ends as it was. The Temple veil "was rent in two from the top even to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51). The veil, which concealed the awesome qualitative presence of God within the Temple, is entirely torn when a new, and greater, covenant is sealed in the Blood of Christ. Here is a New Covenant for all people. God, no longer hidden behind the Temple veil, is now accessible to all people. St. Paul reflects on this in his epistle to the Hebrews (9:1-8):

"The former indeed had also justifications of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made the first, wherein were the candlesticks, and the table, and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the holy. And after the second veil, the tabernacle, which is called the holy of holies: Having a golden censer, and the ark of the testament covered about on every part with gold, in which was a golden pot that had manna, and the rod of Aaron, that had blossomed, and the tables of the testament. And over it were the cherubims of glory overshadowing the propitiatory: of which it is not needful to speak now particularly. Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year: not without blood, which he offereth for his own, and the people' s ignorance: The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing."

We have come halfway to understanding the significance of the older Good Friday prayer, but only halfway.

What does a veil, curtain, or wall do? It keeps something concealed, but also protects that something from exterior elements, usually light. Our Lord said "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). The Jewish leaders persuaded the crowds gathered in the Roman praetorium to reject Jesus and ask for the release of a bad man. After dissolving themselves of the Savior promised to them Jerusalem fell and the Temple, the place of God's covenant with them, burned to the ground. What survived was not Judaism in the pre-Christian sense, but a new sort of Judaism meant for scattered local communities and based on the Jewish people's experiences as the minority in an increasingly Christian world (the so-called "modernist" George Tyrrell wrote an interesting letter on this subject, concluding that Catholicism is the real continuation of Judaism). Rabbis replaced priests; synagogues replaced the Temple; and the Talmud became a new holy book to the Jewish people rather than the New Testament books. This reformed, leaner Judaism would help Jewish culture survive its coming difficulties and would also insulate Jewish people from the light of Christ—as it was founded partially in reaction to what Christ did. When the Father tore down the Temple veil to reveal Christ's light to all a new veil ascended to shield that light.

No one should conclude that this is anti-Semitic. Fr. Hunwicke points out that Arabs are Semites, too. This prayer is about Judaism, not Jews as an ethnic group. On some level the concepts "faithless" persons and of hiding the light of Christ with a "veil" applies to all non-believers. And yet the Jewish people, given their unique place in the chain of event that led to Christ's Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection, surely warrant a unique place in the liturgical prayers, particularly given their once exclusive covenant with God.

I have never felt comfortable with the description of practitioners of post-Temple Judaism as our "older brothers" in the faith, given that the Judaism which preceded Catholicism no longer exists. I suspect the shift in attitude towards Judaism and the eventual revision of this prayer results from [humanly understandable] European guilt that followed the Holocaust. The pope who initially altered this prayer (John XXIII) aided Pius XII's efforts to obstruct deportations of Jews in Turkey. The pope who introduced the 1970 prayer (Paul VI) served the same Pius XII as his secretary during the War. And the pope who issued a new prayer for the 1962 Missal (Benedict XVI) was a young German man during the War and who, certainly, has a greater cultural association with the Holocaust than the other two.

And yet I maintain that the loss of this prayer is something worthy of re-consideration. It contains a wealth of lessons about covenants, the meaning of the Crucifixion, the openness of Christ's grace, and the danger of veiling Christ's light. During the first fourteen or so centuries, or more, of this prayer's use no one decided to attempt mass extermination of the Jewish people. Hitler's anti-Semitism had nothing to do with Catholicism. His was a neo-pagan, racially-based hatred steeped in the eugenicist delusions pervading secular culture in the early 20th century—not that modern "intellectuals" have disowned the spirit of this delusion. Axing this prayer added very little and pushed aside very much.


The ministers, probably for mobility in ancient times, remove their outer-most vestments and the deacon retrieves the veiled crucifix from the altar and gives it to the priest. The priest, beginning at the bottom of the epistle side, steps higher and towards the center of the altar, unveiling part of the crucifix and singing Ecce lignum crucis—"Behold the wood of the cross"—as he rises. The people respond In quo salus mundi pependit. Venite, adoremus!—"On which hung the salvation of the world. Come, let us adore!"

This happens three times, after which the entire crucifix is visible. It is then laid upon a pillow or cloth and adored by the people. First the priest, then the ministers of the service, then any other present clergy, and the servers. They all adore barefoot. Then the congregation adores, making three prostrations before their kiss of the cross.


Although the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified supposedly died in 1956 under Pope Pius XII, John XXIII continued to use it in the Sistine Chapel, as seen in this 1959 celebration.


Ecce lingum crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit.


Venite, adoremus!


Whilst the laity make their adoration, the altar is prepared for the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified and the choir sings the Reproaches, which includes the Trisagion.

The crucifix is then placed upon the altar, where it would normally go, and is reverenced with a genuflection for the rest of the day.


The clergy, and laity if they wish, process to the altar of repose, where the Blessed Sacrament has been over night.


The Sacrament is then incensed by the priest, who assumes the hummeral veil and takes the Sacrament back to the main altar.


This is a full Blessed Sacrament procession, with incense and the processional cross carried before the priest and the Sacrament. The great hymn Vexilla Regis is sung.


The procession returns to the main altar.


The deacon arranges the chalice and its veil, containing the Sacrament, as it would be at Mass.



The Blessed Sacrament is then incensed by the celebrant.


The subdeacon prepares the chalice with wine and water, as he would at Mass and the "Gifts" are incensed in the same way they would have been at a regular Mass. The priest turns to the people and says the Orate, fratres... ("Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours....) as at Mass.

One English friend of mine always insisted that the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified is indeed an actual Mass. He had something of a point. Its prayers are those of a Mass. It is not a simple communion service. Although there is no consecration of the Host, the actions imitate those of a Mass in order to emphasize the relation between the Mass and Calvary, that they are one and the same sacrifice of Christ.


The celebrant then sings the Pater Noster, "Our Father," and elevates the Host for public adoration as he would after consecration at Mass. He then fractures the Host as at Mass and mingles a fragment of the Blessed Sacrament with wine. Liturgical reformers particularly disliked the pious medieval belief that the fragment consecrated the wine into the blood of Christ (which Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox still believe).

The union between the offering of the Body and Blood here and the same sacrifice that took place on the Cross cannot be emphasized enough. There are two reasons why no active consecration takes place here: the first is that the Eucharistic (which comes from the Greek word for "thanksgiving") has a celebratory character to it, which makes it ill suited for today; the other is that today the priest is less an agent of Christ, in persona Christi, than the rest of the year. Today Christ does everything. He offers Himself on His own and by His own accord. So the priest elevates the Sacrament as at Mass both for adoration of the people and to parallel the same work of Christ that takes place at a normal Mass.


The priest then says the communion prayers of Mass and consumes the Host as normal. He consumes the chalice's contents saying nothing, leaving some mystery as to whether consecration occurred or not!

Today the congregation and attending clergy do not and cannot receive Holy Communion. As we have the Real Presence one could say that today we have the Real Loss. The gravity of this Loss is lost on us today. For one day out of the year there is no Blessed Sacrament, there are no holy images, there are no candles, nor is there any vibrant color. All there is after the Pre-Sanctified Mass is the Crucifix. One is reminded of Cordellia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited lamenting the de-consecration of the family chapel during which a visiting priest consumed the Sacrament and took the altar stone and relic with him. Cordellia asked Charles must "every day be Good Friday?" As a matter of principle when I attend the Pauline Good Friday I do not receive Communion. Doing so misses the point today.

Before monstrances and private receptions on Communion, the Roman Eucharistic praxis saw the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the altar as perpetuating His very real place on earth. In his second sermon on the Ascension of the Lord, St. Leo the Great preached that "that which till then was visible of our Redeemer was changed into a sacramental presence, and that faith might be more excellent and stronger, sight gave way to doctrine, the authority of which was to be accepted by believing hearts enlightened with rays from above." Laurence Hemming connects the Roman Eucharistic theology with the liturgy of the Ascension, when the Paschal candle is extinguished after the Gospel and the remaining candles in the church are lit from the fire, diffusing Christ's light from one source to many places; similarly, the Pope used to send fragments of the Eucharist from his Masses to other parishes of Rome to emphasize the Communion of the bishop with the city and clergy; perhaps most shocking to modern readers is that it was common practice for believers to bring Holy Communion home in a muslin bag and consume it prior to family supper, bringing Christ's presence from the altar to the Christian's home.

The middle ages witnessed a shift in liturgical action, not necessarily one in outlook. Medieval piety valued stillness, shocking the believer, staring at the presence of God before him. Out of this was born the elevation of the consecrated elements during the Canon of the Mass. Perhaps a more dynamic development was that of processions, most apparent in the Norman liturgical family during Holy Week. In Sarum the Eucharist was carrying by the priest, presumably in a pyx, during the Palm Sunday procession; in spiritual eyes Christ's refusal of entry into Jerusalem and triumphant crossing through the door truly was relived; similarly, a host was buried in the sepulcher after the corpus was deposed from the crucifix on Good Friday only to be removed and placed back in the tabernacle for the Resurrection. 

The Mass of the Presanctified fits into this story. One Good Friday no one save the celebrant has anything to do with Communion. In the Holy Temple Christ's Real Presence vanishes. In practice some hosts would be reserved in case of emergency last rites, usually in the rectory or in a side chapel in the church; in these cases, however, no reverence is traditionally rendered to the Sacrament until Pascha.

The priest purifies his fingers and the subdeacon cleans the chalice as normal at Mass.

Vespers, the same as yesterday except for the addition of mortem autem crucis ("even unto death on a cross") to versicle and a proper Magnificat antiphon, are chanted in a monotone immediately.

The clergy then leave in silence unless they intend to follow the custom of deposing the corpus from a Crucifix and "burying" it in a sepulcher, a medieval practice which is still alive and well in parts of England, Poland, and the Byzantine rite. One such ceremony, at the monastery of the Franciscans who care for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, is shown below.


This marvelous rite was replaced with a general communion services. The revised rites, from 1956 until 1969, involved a maddening three changes of vestments. Prayers and readings, in both the 1956 rite and the Pauline rite, take place at the chair, the altar, at a podium, and any where else you can find. Odd.

A blessed Good Friday to you all.

For those interested here is a video of the first third or so of the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified celebrated as a pontifical Mass from the Faldstool.




A blessed Good Friday to all.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday: In the Presence of the Lord (REPOST)


Today is one of the great days in the Church's year, Palm Sunday. Today we re-live and commemorate both the Lord's entrance into Jerusalem and His Passion and death. It is also a day which highlights our personal ignorance of God, in spite of what seems obvious in retrospect. Two millennia later, we safely judge this concatenation of events. At the time their meaning was not so obvious, and would not be until Pentecost. Are we ignorant of the truth of God's actions? Do we recognize Him in our midst? Do we expect of Him merely human things, solutions to our personal concerns?

Jouvenet's Raising of Lazarus
Just a few days before, on his way to Jerusalem, our Lord Jesus stopped in Bethany at the news that Lazarus, one of his beloved followers, had fallen ill. By the time Christ arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. Yet Christ took pity upon him and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus here reveals Himself to be more than a prophet, more than a healer, more than a local mystic or anti-establishment rabbi. He has dominion over death.

Christ asks Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26). She responds that she does believe. Christ turns to the tomb where Lazarus has resided in decay and rot for days and yells "Lazarus, come out!" And the man who was not near death, but dead, was now alive.

Not quite understanding the gravity of what transpired, but still chocked and interested (John ch. 12), the people came to see and greet our Lord when he finally arrived in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not a city with a temple, but a temple with a city. It was the center of the Jewish religion and the only place on earth where a meaningful sacrifice could be offered to God. Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire often sent money to have an offering made at the Temple for their intentions if they were unable to be in Jerusalem. And this is where Christ went, not to make a legal sacrifice on stone foundations, as St. Ambrose reminds us today in Mattins, but to make a sacrifice that would established foundations of faith.

As Benedict XVI pointed out in his second Jesus of Nazareth book, Jesus sent two Apostles ahead to acquire a donkey and a horse, meaning He already had a following in Jerusalem. Other places in the Gospel indicate that outside the Apostles, Christ had a significant entourage, several hundred people or more. These were those who greeted  Him with palms and enthusiasm. The rest of the crowd sought a thrill or novelty. Actually, did not the Apostles and other disciples? They knew more than the people of Jerusalem, but they comprehended practically nothing. In my moments of cynicism I cannot help but interpret certain words of Jesus' like "How much longer must I endure this generation?" as "These people are ridiculous." The Church has understood this frustration over the years. St. Leo the Great remarks in a sermon "Let man's weakness, then, fall down before the glory of God, and acknowledge herself ever too feeble to unfold all the works of His mercy."
Reading from Exodus at the dry Mass at the Institute of Christ the King
seminary in Gricigliano, 2003
What was the purpose of the palms? I've always wondered. At some level there is a practical and honorific element to the placing of palms in the path of the Lord, almost saying that the ground on which Christ's donkey walks is unworthy to support the Lord. Yet we ought to recall some typology from Exodus. During the Mass today there is actually a "dry Mass" (Missa sicca) to bless the palms, a ceremony with an introit, reading, gradual, Gospel, preface, Sanctus, and blessing prayers, much like a Mass. the reading from the "dry Mass" is from the book of Exodus, at the moment when Moses and the Israelites arrive at an oasis of twelve fountains and seventy palm trees. The Israelites had left their bondage but would not have made their way out of Egypt without rest, a place of shade, and some water. In short, the palms provided that. As those palms and water provided the Israelites the means of leaving the bondage of slavery, so Christ provides His people with the means of leaving the bondage of death. The third of the five collect prayers to bless the palms contains not a few didactic lines:
The branches of palms, therefore, represent His triumphs over the prince of death; and the branches of olive proclaim, in a manner, the coming of a spiritual unction. For that pious multitude understood that these things were then prefigured; that our Redeemer, compassionating human miseries, was about to fight with the prince of death for the life of the whole world, and, by dying, to triumph. For which cause they dutifully ministered such things as signified in Him the triumphs of victory and the richness of mercy.
The procession from the aforementioned celebration of Palm
Sunday by the Institute of Christ the King in 2003
Recall also that in Rome palms are not always used. Often the Roman Church substitutes olive branches given their greater availability in Italy. The olive branch is no less significant. After the Great Flood a dove brought an olive branch to Moses. To he who survived the Flood the olive branch was not a peace-offering, but rather a sign that death had ended and life had begun anew.

Olives branches are especially prevalent throughout the Mediterranean world. It is not unthinkable that the Cross was made from from the wood of an olive tree, making olive branches and palms both types and anti-types of Christ's redemptive work.

Palm Sunday initiates Holy Week, both the most important proper week of the year and a curio in the Roman rite, a week that preserves the most ancient liturgical customs of the Eternal City which fell out of regular use. In the first millennium there would be two Masses in Rome. The first would be celebrated in the presence of the Pope at St. Mary Major, where palms would be blessed and distributed. The focus of this Mass would be Palm Sunday. There would then be a procession to the Archbasilica of Our Savior, the cathedral of Rome, where the Pope would celebrate a Mass of the Passion of the Lord. The current arrangement of a "dry Mass" followed by a procession and a Mass of the Passion is a remnant of that, unless one uses the reduced new rite. The "dry Mass"—with its Introit, collect, Epistle, gradual, Gospel, preface, Sanctus, "consecration," distribution of holy things, and dismissal—is the relic of the former of the two ancient Palm Sunday Masses.

A procession of clergy and laity, holding their palms and preceded by a veiled cross—as the mystery of the Cross is hidden!—leaves the church and takes a path eventually leading back to the front door, which is sealed, a representation of the resistance of the people of Jerusalem to our Lord. A small choir still within the Church sing the hymn Gloria, Laus, et Honor Tibi Sit in alternation with those outside. The entrance of Christ, the unease of the Jewish people, the laud of Christ's followers, and the Lord's lament for Jerusalem are not simply re-enacted, but re-visited! At the end the subdeacon knocks on the door of the Church with the cross, opening it. From here the Mass of the Passion begins.
Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna's song.
Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna's song.
Hail, King of Israel! David's Son of royal fame! Who comest in the Name of the Lord, O Blessed King.
Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna's song.
The Angel host laud Thee on high, On earth mankind, with all created things.
Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna's song.
With palms the Jews went forth to meet Thee. We greet Thee now with prayers and hymns.
Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna's song.
On Thy way to die, they crowned Thee with praise; We raise our song to Thee, now King on high.
Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna's song.
Their poor homage pleased Thee, O gracious King! O clement King, accept too ours, the best that we can bring.
Glory, praise and honor to Thee, O King Christ, the Redeemer: to whom children poured their glad and sweet hosanna's song.
A short clip of the door knocking ceremony with an Old Roman
style Gloria, Laus, et Honor tibi sit.





The Mass is one of the most beautiful of the year, and especially notable for its music, including the singing of psalm 21 as the tract, the full Passion according to St. Matthew, and the Gospel in the "haunting" tone.

The prayers at the foot of the altar are the reduced form used in Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent. This form omits the Iudica me psalm and the Gloria Patri.... doxology, which is also omitted in other parts of the Mass as at a requiem Mass. As Fr. Andrew Southwell, OSB once said, Mother Church "is in mourning."

The Epistle is from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians, in which the Apostle writes that at the "name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth." Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for man gives Him primacy over all things in God's creation.

The gradual today, as in very ancient days, is a full psalm and not just an excerpt. It is psalm 21, which Christ quoted from the Cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The Father did not desert the Son, regardless of what von Balthasar thought, but today the psalm functions as an allusion, as the psalm describes the pains of a just man suffering for the sins of the world. Christ fulfills the prophecy of David. The One with power over death dies.

Deacons reading the Passion according to St. Matthew
Then three deacons enter the sanctuary and begin to sing St. Matthew's account of the Passion of our Lord, beginning with the events leading up to the Last Supper and ending just after Christ's death on the Cross, for which there is silence and all present kneel.

The three deacons then leave and the deacon of the Mass asks for the blessing, incenses the Gospel book, and sings in a special chant-tone the burial of Christ. The separation from the Passion reading may not be intuitive, but it is instructive: this is the Gospel reading of the Mass, not the Passion—which is an interpolation into Mass. Christ's death and burial are the point of this Mass, which should clear up confusion for us, as opposed to those who watched these events two thousand years ago with little or no break, and who were left in bewilderment as to what to make of the drear they had just witnessed.

In the video to below, Fr. Tim Finigan sings the Gospel of Holy Tuesday in the same tone used for the Gospel of today. It is sublime.


The Mass continues as normal, with no extra "frills."



At Vespers the hymn Vexilla Regis is sung, which beings with the words:
Abroad the regal banners fly,
Now shines the cross’s mystery;
Upon it Life did death endure, 
And yet by death did life procure.
The hymn makes a conclusive elucidation of the mystery of Palm Sunday, that the Cross is slowly unveiled before our eyes. We do not merely read about it in the Scripture or hear some analysis in the sermon, but we enter these mystical events which are so monumental that they do not know the limits of time. Perhaps one of the great tragedies in the Roman rite in the last century or so is that with the endless stream of reforms begun by St. Pius X, furthered by Pius XII, and concluded by Paul VI, we have lost the notion that the liturgy reveals mystery to us, that it is a method of worshiping God, but also a tool God gives us to understand Him.  The raising of Lazarus, the veiling of the Cross, the Old Testament significance of the palms, the restless and lamenting entrance into Jerusalem, and the Cross itself make "sense" to us here. Through the lessons, the Mass, the hymns, and procession today God lifts the veil of ignorance the people of Jerusalem had when they went to see the One who raised a man from the dead and, in their own understanding, turned Him over for death, not realizing His dominion over it. 

The textual wealth of the ancient Roman Holy Week reflects the rich austerity of the Latin tradition. Scripture and psalms narrative a liturgy in which the Church stands in the presence of God and revisits events belonging to a place outside of time and space, belonging to eternity. While the Roman rite lacks the explicitly didactic quality of the Greek tradition, the simplicity of the rite—veiled in an odd tongue and a music belonging unto itself—perfectly present the awesomeness of God and the desperate need of the sinner for His forgiveness. With Christ, the sinner enters Jerusalem unwelcomed. The sinner witnesses the Passion again. The sinner proclaims the one wearing a crown of mockery his master. The sinner encounters God in His words and actions.

A blessed Palm Sunday to all.