Friday, April 18, 2014


It has been a long time since I have posted. Schoolwork has and will continue to get in the way, among other reasons, but I would like to post something short for the days of the Sacred Triduum, those days in which we liturgically join Our Lord in His ascent of Calvary, towards the Cross, upon which He is lifted up for the salvation of the world.

Now for a brief history lesson. For many years, the offices of Matins and Lauds on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday were anticipated during the evening prior so that the liturgies of the Triduum could be celebrated in the morning. By the 19th century, few people in Europe were allowed to leave work at the factories so the priests in churches and especially monasteries moved the services to the morning (this is how I understand it, anyways, from prior reading...). In 1951, the Easter Vigil could only be celebrated in the night, and in 1955 the other liturgies followed suit: the Divine Office could no longer be anticipated, and the obligation of the Divine Office was modified with respect to the evening liturgies.

Tenebrae is Latin for "shadows" or, as in John 1, "darkness." The light is moving away from our sight. For Passion Sunday two weeks ago, the images of Christ were veiled in the Church, since He had to hide from the Pharisees in the Gospel reading. To emphasize this, at the second antiphon for the Psalms of the offices the candles are extinguished one-by-one, and any lights left at the end are put out at the end, before the singing of Psalm 50, the Miserere.

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Christ must take up the Cross and die for those who believe in Him, so that they might not perish but have life eternal. He must be buried, hidden from our sight entirely as He lies in the tomb, very much dead. Just as God, in the hypostasis of the Son, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary, so too did He truly suffer and die on the Cross. Enough Hosts must be consecrated both for the Mass of the Lord's Supper and the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion, and Adoration follows the Mass at the Altar of Repose, but must end by midnight. The altar and the sanctuary are stripped bare. We may receive Communion at the Good Friday Liturgy and if we are sick, but on Holy Saturday Our Lord may be received only in the form of Viaticum. Thus, the Church dies liturgically in commemoration of the death of Our Lord.

Matins is composed of three nocturns, with three Psalms and three readings each. The first is the most famous, featuring the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah on the destruction of the holy city, Jerusalem at the time of the Babylonian Exile. Note well, that from the exile until Christ came, Israel would never be free from foreign oppression. The Babylonians, the Persians, the Hellenes, and the Romans each took their turn in ruling over the Promised Land. Christ is the New Promised Land, in which we worship truly and freely, in every time and every place as members of His Mystical Body, the Church. Our Lord did not come to restore the Davidic Kingship, and in fact, the only time He is really referred to as "King" is by Pontius Pilate! (Ratzinger points this out in Introduction to Christianity, and I'm not sure he was precisely correct, but the point mostly holds.) Christ came to show us the interior life of the Divine, that is to say the Trinity, so that we might participate in it, and He elevates every idea of the Old Testament for He is not only the Messiah, not only a priest, prophet and king. Above all, He is the Son!

At the end of Lauds, a loud noise is made, whether by the stomping of feet or slamming shut of the choir books, whatever (in Christ the King Wednesday, the altar servers slammed the door on the side and then pounded on the metal shelves). The strepitus, thunder, signals the coming calamity in the life of Christ marked by the Church in the Triduum. The Son is not supposed to die! But He does, and I didn't even know how I could go to class the next morning after the singing of Tenebrae (and we only had time to sing an English setting of Matins plus Allegri's Miserere).

Here is Tallis's setting of the Lamentations.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Juventutem Louisville

On March 19 of this year, the feast of St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP, approved the application to affiliate with Juventutem from a group of young people in Louisville, supported by Fr. Jeffery Leger of Guardian Angels Catholic Church.

This is outstanding news! Juventutem is an excellent organization for fostering the sanctification of young people through an attachment to the prayers and traditions of the Latin Church, especially the traditional Latin liturgy.

It sprung from the efforts to establish a traditional pilgrimage to Colonge alongside the official papal events during World Youth Day in 2005, and they have participated in WYD in Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

It is also nice because Juventutem is free from institutional prejudices that are associated (sometimes unjustly) with older people attached to the traditional rites, and we really need a structured organization to spread this form of the liturgy, to assist the spiritual development of those attached to the older liturgy, and to joyfully bear witness to the Gospel. So I'm very pleased that this is coming to my home diocese.

(Now, if we only had something akin to the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales...that's organization!)

More information on Juventutem can be found at their website, and the Juventutem Louisville chapter also is using Facebook.  The first event will be on Palm Sunday: young people are invited to attend the Missa Cantata at 12 noon at St. Martin of Tours, followed by a trip out to lunch. St. Martin's is located at 639 South Shelby Street, Louisville, KY 40202. Details to follow.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Admiral Denton Dies

Admiral Denton, one of the first naval aviators to be shot down during the Vietnam War, passed away.

Denton blinking "Torture" in Morse code
This makes me a little sad, actually. Admiral Denton's name was one I knew growing up since my dad was in the Navy for virtually all of my childhood. I had a deep interest in the military, specifically naval aviation and the law, thanks to my dad's career as a JAG officer and the television show JAG. 

I am always impressed by the stories of prisoners of war, especially those from the Vietnam era since the war dragged on for so long and the men were subjected to horrendous torture, at a time when the country, the world, and even the Catholic Church were going through deep changes and profound turmoil. (Interesting then that my advisor here at at school, Dr. Robert Doyle, is one of the country's expert historians on POWs.)

And it's incredible that Denton had seven kids and his wife back home when he was in the Hanoi Hilton. That screams of another time, another place. Sacrifice is an action virtually unknown to my generation.

Fr. Capodanno as a missionary in Taiwan, in the late 1950s or so
The number of prominent Catholics who served their country well in 'Nam is incredible, especially considering the turmoil of the decade. Lieutenant General Hal Moore, of We Were Soliders fame, is another example. There's even a scene in that movie of Moore, played by Mel Gibson, praying in the post chapel. The altar is still "against the wall," since it was in the last few years before versus populum worship became the usual practice. And let us not forget Servant of God Vincent Capodanno, the "grunt Padre" who served as a chaplain to Marine Corps units in Vietnam until he was killed in action.

I have no doubt in my mind that it is because of their Catholic faith that these men made it through the war and transitioned into life at home. And of course it was because of faith that the priests who served as chaplains went and died, as is the case of Fr. Capodanno.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. 

Dominus est!

I think I have established in the previous posts that the most proper way, the best way is to receive and acknowledge the presence of the Lord is through Holy Communion being received on the tongue kneeling. Now, here's for some homework assignments.

I recently acquired Dominus Est!: Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. It's a tremendous work, first featuring stories of women who traveled secretly with hosts to the exiled German communities in the Soviet Asian republics, and then considering the historical and more importantly spiritual and pastoral considerations in favor of Holy Communion being received on the tongue. I think it is mostly left for further reading to understand that this also includes kneeling. Honestly, I believe people oppose an altar rail in newly constructed or renovated churches because for whatever reason they do not think Communion on the tongue kneeling should be the norm. For whatever reason, one person at a time kneeling, or one person receiving standing on the tongue, is enough. There is an incongruity between kneeling yet receiving in the hand, so I'm glad that is not an issue.

That work of Bishop Schneider's left me in tears. I was moved by the respect and care for the Blessed Sacrament, and I do not ever wish to receive (not that I did, but it further resolves my conviction) Him unworthily, nor do I ever think myself capably of receiving Him in the hand or standing now that I receive kneeling. The last time I was forced to stand was when I was on crutches and the time afterwards where I could not bend my knees 90 degrees. A few months later, I made the change to kneeling, and it's such a relief and a joy to be able to kneel before the Lord.

Another book to read is Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy. It will change how you see the Pauline Missal and your participation in its celebration. Although it did draw me in time towards the traditional form. Not quite his intent, but it is what it is.

I would also encourage you to read a lecture by Archbishop Chaput, now of Philadelphia, and a chapter from a book by Fr. Robert Barron on the liturgy. I disagree with His Excellency regarding the usus antiquior but that's a topic for another day...and it is more natural, I think, in the traditional Mass to kneel. It might even be called connatural. These articles were of great help in composing the first post in this series.

Finally, here is the video from the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales on this topic.


On the Act of Receiving Communion

So how is that unity of body and soul manifested in the Eucharistic liturgy when Our Lord is really and truly present under the appearence of tiny little hosts and drops of wine?

In the Latin liturgy we kneel to adore our Savior. We kneel at least at the words of institution and after the Agnus Dei (in the US we kneel from the-beginning in the older form- Sanctus through the anaphora, and then again from the Agnus Dei). But someone in most parish churches throughout the world thought it was acceptable to remove the altar rails, regardless of the lack of any mandate from the Holy See, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and so on as far as possible sources are concerned. The world's bishops did not think it was a good idea for the posture for the reception of Holy Communion to be changed.

Why? Well, in the Patristic era Holy Communion had been distributed in the hand, but very nearly simultaneously in both the East and West the practice was abolished. Evidently the Church recognized that the safeguards recommended by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, among others, such as washing of the hands before and after receiving, the making of a throne with one hand and careful reception and consumption with the other hand, and so on could no longer be practiced with universal consistency.

The Church found that although the spirit of adoration and reverence was possible with Communion in the hand, it was much more effectively accomplished with Communion on the tongue, and in the West, the act of adoration was further emphasized through the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue. Countless examples from Scripture could be cited to show that the Lord is received by one who is on his or her knees.

After the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches was promulgated in 1990, the Holy See wrote in 1996 to the Eastern Churches asking them not to change the ancient discipline for Holy Communion, saying:
Even if this excludes enhancing the value of other criteria, also legitimate, and implies renouncing some convenience, a change in the traditional usage risks incurring a non-organic intrusion with respect to the spiritual framework to which it refers.
This is clearly applicable to the Latin liturgical practice as well, and I think this needs to be taken into account for every part of the liturgy. At any rate, it is clear that the Holy See did not wish to see Communion in the hand spread to the Eastern Churches. It seems from Memoriale Domini, the indult for the practice given by Venerable Paul VI, Dominicae Cenae of Blessed John Paul II, Redemptionis Sacramentum of the CDW, etc. that the practice was only made licit so as to quell the rebellion and that the Church has always found Communion on the tongue to be the better practice, especially when done kneeling.

It's funny too that the rails came out, since the Mass was emphasized as a communal meal more than a sacrifice. The rail is an extension of the altar for the people to touch as they participate in the feast of the Lamb, and it places everyone, rich and poor, on an equal level. Whereas Communion in the hand or even Communion on the tongue standing is done in a truly individual way, placing us above our neighbor and above Our Lord (sometimes, for taller people anyways).

Following up on his letter to German liturgists, Romano Guardini wrote, "The man of today is not capable of a liturgical act. For this action, it is not enough to have instruction or education; no, initiation is needed, which at root is nothing but performance of the act."

So just kneel! Fathers, please help people follow the norm of the Church and the traditional posture. Kneelers should be provided until an altar rail can be used at every Mass.

To be continued.