Liturgy of the Hours

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Benedictine" Altar Arrangement in the Archdiocese of Ozamis (Philippines)

I found these interesting photos from the website of the Archdiocese of Ozamis in Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental, Philippines. They are images from the Dedication of their Cathedral last April 10, 2008. Particularly interesting is their use of the "Benedictine" altar arrangement (there are only six candles although the Archbishop is celebrating); they kept the (possibly) original high altar (which is far more traditional and better than the new) and the position of the cathedra; and the deposition of relics in the altar.

They also have a number of articles about the Holy Father including some regarding the changes in the Liturgy and Mass celebrated ad orientem (though in the vernacular).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

High Schoolers Facing East

(Standing on My Head blog of Rev. Fr. Dwight Longenecker)

Six high school boys stayed after Thursday's daily Mass at St Joseph's Catholic School:

"Father, why didn't you celebrate Mass facing East today?"

"I'm doing so on two days of the week, and on the other two the usual way. Do you like the Mass when I celebrate facing East?"



"It feels more holy. It's older right? But you're not really facing East here."

"There's something called 'liturgical East.' It's when the priest faces what used to be the East 'cause all the churches were built to face the rising sun, which was a symbol of the resurrection and also because Jesus would return to Jerusalem, which was in the East."

"Like Muslims facing Mecca."

"Sort of, but I'm not going to start wearing a turban"

"You could wear your biretta more often."

"Shall I?"

"I like Mass when you face East because it feels like you are offering the Mass for us more."

"I just like stuff that's more traditional."

"I think it feels more, well, manly. Do you know what I mean. Is that dumb?"

"That's interesting. No, I don't think it's dumb, but I have to think about why it might be true."

"I think it's good because I was thinking more about God and not you, and when you elevated the host it was like Jesus floating there. It was more mysterious. It was cool."

"Would you like me to continue saying Mass facing with you to the Lord?"

"Yes please."

"You don't feel slighted because I have turned my back to you? You sure I haven't hurt your feelings?"

Laughter all around. "You're not that good looking anyway Father."

"OK, why don't you all go to lunch now?"

Trad Drawings

I kept this small index card with some drawings: an altar for a 'reform of the reform' celebration of the Mass in the OF, a papal tiara, a miter, the Pope vested, and more. Being traditional and liturgical for a couple of minutes being bored in class. . . Haha. .

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Cross Scorned and Revered

A History of the Feast of the Exaltation

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, SEPT. 18, 2008 ( What a difference a couple of decades makes! After years of lawsuits demanding that crucifixes be taken down from public places and the banalization of the cross as a fashion accessory or body art, it’s no wonder that the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross leaves many people scratching their heads.

The history of the true cross is a long and convoluted one, starting with a shoot from the tree of mercy in Eden, passing through King Solomon’s bridge to Jerusalem, to the selection of this aged piece of wood for Christ’s crucifixion.

Tradition has it that after the crucifixion the cross was hidden.

The cross of Christ was rediscovered by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326 at the age of 80. Her indomitable spirit, as well as her extraordinary adventures, took their most delightful literary form in Evelyn Waugh’s little book “Helena.”

Part of the cross stayed in Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was dedicated on Sept. 14, 335. This date would become the feast of the Exaltation, a word that means “raising aloft.”

The remainder seems to have traveled all over the world. Fragments were sent to Constantine’s new churches in Constantinople, while another piece was housed in the Church of the Holy Cross here in Rome, built by St. Helena on her own land.

The devotion to the cross spread so rapidly that before the end of the fourth century the hymn "Flecte genu lignumque Crucis venerabile adora" had been written, and St. John Chrysostom tells us that fragments of the cross were being venerated all over the world.

A king humbled

Oddly enough, however, the Exaltation of the Cross does not only celebrate the rediscovery of the true cross; it also commemorates an event in one of the most turbulent moments of early Christian history.

In 615 A.D. on the cusp of the rise of Islam, the Persian army was sweeping through the Mediterranean. King Chosroes of Persia, while leaving the tomb of Christ intact, took the fragment of the cross that Helena had left there.

Setting himself up as god, King Chosroes built a throne in a tall tower where he sat with the cross to his right, calling himself “the father.”

The Byzantine emperor Heraclius challenged Chosroes to single combat to retrieve the cross. Victorious, Heraclius bore the jeweled reliquary back to Jerusalem. He had planned to bring the relic through the same city gate Christ had entered before his crucifixion, but the stones fell and blocked his passage.

Told that Christ had passed through this gate in humility on a donkey only to suffer death, King Heraclius stripped himself of crown, jewels and shoes, and in his simple tunic took the reliquary upon his shoulders. On Sept. 14, 630, the cross was restored to Jerusalem as an example of humility for all people.

This epic captured the imagination of numerous artists, particularly in the Renaissance, when art dedicated itself to recounting only the greatest of stories.

Antoniazzo Romano portrayed the event with the jewel-like colors of an illuminated manuscript in the apse of the Church of the Holy Cross, while Piero della Francesca, working in the more remote center of Arezzo from 1452 to 1463, rendered the majesty of this story in one of the most important fresco cycles of the 15th century.

Bearer of peace

In the Franciscan Basilica of San Francesco, Piero tells the story simply and with a minimum of decorative detail, but with powerful monumentality. In one of the earliest night scenes in Italian art -- "Dream of Constantine" -- the emperor sleeps in his tent and dreams of the cross on the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. A dramatically foreshortened angel erupts into the space along with Piero’s lipid light to represent the miracle of Constantine’s conversion.

Piero’s "Exaltation of the Cross," despite the loss of the figure of Heraclius, expresses the peace, calm and order brought with the restoration of the cross -- an appropriate message during his age of constant war.

These images reflect the dignity shown to the cross by artists, citizens and rulers alike.

Over the years, the cross has been attacked by more than would-be gods and thieves. Voltaire taught the world to mock the cross when in "The Philosophical Dictionary" he wrote under the heading of Superstition, “Are those pieces of the true cross, which would suffice to build a hundred-gun ship -- are the many relics acknowledged to be false -- are the many false miracles -- so many monuments of an enlightened piety?”

In answer to the scientific age, a group of Jesuits in Belgium, the Bollandists, were formed in the 17th century. They study the evidence relating to miracles, relics and lives of the saints. They cite a study that weighed and measured all the known relics and found that the extant pieces do not make up a single cross.

This feast, so often overlooked, has long served the Christian community to remember that the means of our redemption should be brought into the light of our word, lives and hearts at all times, and that we should reflect upon it with the same courage, humility and determination as Jesus showed during his passion.

In today’s world, where pop culture derides the cross, and politicians deny the cross, this feast rallies Christians to exalt in Christ’s heroic sacrifice, and not to be embarrassed by it.

* * *

Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University’s Italian campus. She can be reached at

Symposium Finds "Stunning" Facts About Pius XII

Pope Says He Hopes Truth Can Be Made Known

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 ( Benedict XVI says he hopes the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII this year will offer an occasion to get to the historical truth about him, overcoming prejudices that hide the facts.

The German Pontiff said this today when he spoke to an interreligious foundation that organized a symposium this week to study the life of Pius XII (1876-1958).

The Pope's address to the Pave the Way Foundation and its president, Gary Krupp, thanked the group for aiming to analyze "without bias the events of history and [concern] yourselves only with seeking the truth."

"So much has been written and said of [Pius XII] during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light," the Holy Father noted. "The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favor of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth.

"When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people."

Benedict XVI said the Pave the Way symposium offers the public forum the possibility of knowing better what Pius XII achieved for Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes.

Courageous and paternal

The symposium gathered and presented a large amount of documented material, supported by authoritative testimonies.

"In the proceedings of your convention," the Holy Father noted, "you have also drawn attention to [Pius XII's] many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them."

"It is my great hope that this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of my venerated predecessor's death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice," the Pontiff concluded.

Direct contradiction

Krupp, himself a Jew, told ZENIT that the results of the symposium were significant. He said that the Pave the Way Foundation feared that misinformation about Pius XII will "never go away" even when the Vatican Archives for the war years are opened.

"We discovered that many messages and orders were verbal and encrypted and since archival researchers seem to believe that if it wasn't written it didn't happen, that any lack of discovered documents would only spawn accusations of intentional document destruction," he said. "This is why we sought out those who are eye witnesses to papal intervention."

In his address to the Pope today, Krupp explained why the foundation took on the project of investigating Pius XII.

"Pave the Way has identified the papacy of Pope Pius XII as a source of friction and misunderstanding," he said. "Accordingly, we have undertaken an independent investigation to identify significant documents and to video-record eye witness testimony. I wish to report to you that results of this investigation [are] stunning, and directly contradict the negative perception of the Pope's wartime activities."

"This year," he continued, "for Catholics, Oct. 9, 2008, will be the commemoration the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII. For Jews that date is also significant as it is our holiest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. May this providential date usher in a new effort to correct the historical record and bring to light the truth of this papacy."

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Dawning of Redemption

Images from vaious sources

Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!

Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!

Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!

Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!

Mary the temple, Christ the temple's Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!

Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven's Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!

Mary the mother, Christ the mother's Son
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen.

(taken from Mother of All Peoples)

Happy Birthday, dear Mother!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bishops Respond to House Speaker Pelosi

(Catholic Exchange) Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (No. 2271)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

More information on the Church’s teaching on this issue can be found in our brochure “The Catholic Church is a Pro-Life Church”.


A Statement by the Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan Regarding the Evil of Procured Abortion

Colorado Springs, CO - Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In light of recent confusing statements by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggesting that Catholic teaching allows for procured abortion in certain circumstances, it is important for all Catholics to understand the teaching of the Church regarding abortion.

From the first century the Church has taught that abortion is gravely immoral. “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2271, quoting Didache 2, 2). The procuring of an abortion is always and in all circumstances intrinsically evil. (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2271). It is murder of the most vulnerable and innocent human beings. Speaker Pelosi’s outrageous attempt to present what she considers the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding abortion is simply wrong and should be disregarded by every faithful Catholic.

All other rights are useless if one is denied the right to live. Our founding fathers recognized this when they enumerated life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as unalienable human rights. They also recognized that these three rights are not equal in importance. Pursuing happiness means little if one is a slave. And freedom means nothing to someone who has been denied the right to life.

Pope John Paul II echoed these sentiments when he wrote “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights . . . belong to human nature and are inherent in the person . . . from the moment of conception until death.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2273, quoting CDF, Donum vitae III).

The teachings of the Church on abortion are consistent and unambiguous, and it is very disturbing to hear someone who claims to be a Catholic distort these teachings and sow seeds of confusion among the faithful by attempting to relativize the right to life.

There can be no compromise on this issue. “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2272). “Those who are excommunicated . . . and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” (Code of Canon Law 915).

Those Catholics who take a public stance in opposition to this most fundamental moral teaching of the Church place themselves outside full communion with the Church, and they should not present themselves for the reception of Holy Communion.Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan
Bishop of Colorado Springs



To Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver:Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate tend to take a hard line in talking about the “separation of Church and state.” But their idea of separation often seems to work one way. In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a “political” issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.

Interviewed on Meet the Press August 24, Speaker Pelosi was asked when human life begins. She said the following:

I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition . . . St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.”

Since Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue “for a long time,” she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery’s Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977). Here’s how Connery concludes his study:“The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion.”

Or to put it in the blunter words of the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:”Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”

Ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil. In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the Early Fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; and various scholars theorized about when and how the unborn child might be animated or “ensouled.” But none diminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Church closely associated abortion with infanticide. In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always, gravely wrong.

Of course, we now know with biological certainty exactly when human life begins. Thus, today’s religious alibis for abortion and a so-called “right to choose” are nothing more than that — alibis that break radically with historic Christian and Catholic belief.

Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they’re famous or not — fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.

The duty of the Church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the “separation of Church and state” does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it’s always important to know what our faith actually teaches.

+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

+James D. Conley
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver

Also, see USCCB site in the lnks.