Rorate Caeli

Happy New Year!

The new Liturgical Year begins today at 1st Vespers of the First Sunday in Advent. As our readers know, the advent of the nativity of Our Lord is a very special season for us, considering the name chosen for this venue. We wish all of you and your families a very blessed new year and a very blessed season of preparation for Christmas.

As an Advent and Christmastide gift, we will post in installments in the upcoming weeks the newly retitled, updated, corrected and revised version of the great work first published by us in 2011: Don Pietro Leone Monselice's "The Destruction of the Roman Rite" (new title), translated by our dear Francesca Romana.

Reminder & Review: the Baronius Press Latin-English Breviary is back in print

The Baronius Press edition of the Breviary of 1961, the only Latin-English edition of it to be produced since 1970, is back in print. While based in its form on the 1963 Collegeville Latin-English Breviary, this edition is by no means a mere “reprint”, since the the scriptural translations were remade. 

Of greater interest to our readers would be the Baronius Breviary's use of the traditional Vulgate (Gallican) Psalter of St. Jerome rather than the “Bea Psalter” briefly in vogue in the 1950’s and used in the Collegeville edition. This reflects the current consensus of the Traditional Catholic movement about the greater sonority and usefulness of the Vulgate Psalter, and its irreplaceable value due to the immemorial lived tradition of singing the Psalms from it. The translations of the Psalms have been revised for this edition, ensuring both readability and a high level of linguistic elegance.

The first 1,000 or so pages in each of the three volumes are largely the same, containing the Propers and Commons needed for the Divine Office regardless of the time of year. While adding to the overall bulk of the complete set (which has more than 6,000 pages all in all) this allows anyone who wishes to say the Breviary to have to carry around only the appropriate volume for the time of year.

The publication of this Breviary brings to the fore an aspect of Summorum Pontificum that is far less known than the liberty it gave to the Traditional Latin Mass. We refer here to the permission granted to all clerics of the Latin Rite to satisfy their obligation to “say their Office” by saying the Roman Breviary of 1961. The Breviary is therefore not restricted to those who already know Latin. The fulfillment of the traditional Office is of course limited to its typical text - but, with its English and Latin text, the Baronius edition can be a crucial step in allowing for the gradual but continuous promotion of the Breviarium among the clergy.

We hope that the demand for this Breviary will reflect the large interest in praying the traditional Divine Office. The costs of preparing and producing such large liturgical works is substantial and it will be an important sign of the vitality of the traditional Roman liturgical tradition in the English speaking world should such a work remain in print.


Note: As always regarding our reviews, Rorate (or this poster personally) has neither asked for, nor received, compensation from Baronius Press for this review-reminder. 

The Friday after Thanksgiving Day indult

A friendly and tasty annual reminder that there is a strong argument to be made that there is no required abstinence from meat this Friday.

While always a topic of great discussion, it is widely known that Pope Pius XII granted Americans a dispensation from their Friday abstinence, so that they may enjoy turkey the Friday after Thanksgiving. I say "enjoy" turkey (or any meat) because that is truly the only reason he would have granted it -- the arguments over refrigeration and whether meat would spoil don't hold water since wide-spread, in-home refrigeration (as well as cable TV) actually did exist in the 1950s.

So eat your turkey this Friday and give great thanks to a merciful God for all that we have to be thankful for. And, while you're at it, thank and pray for Pope Venerable Pius XII before you dive into that turkey, that he may be canonized a saint soon.

"Homosexual Marriage": How Catholics lost or may lose this battle, in ten steps

In Italy, the change of the Catholic "mood" indicates that the redefinition of marriage to include counternatural unions may be a matter of time - it was exactly in such a climate that abortion was approved in the country under a DC (Democrazia Cristiana) prime-minister who was a "daily mass-goer" (!) and as close as possible to Paul VI. Montinian Church, Montinian consequences. It would hardly have happened so after one single decade of Wojtyla, but then it was too late.

Anyway, in this fine article published in October, Mario Palmaro explains how Catholics in Italy may lose this battle (as Catholics in many other places have already lost it) if they follow the ten steps to the "homosexual marriage" precipice.

Mario Palmaro

With the laws on “homophobia” mankind is torn to pieces, a bit at a time, to the triumphant chorus of approval from the enemies of the Church.

Homophobia. The Italian Parliament is about to approve a law that will prosecute, with specific sanctions, behaviour that is part of this new conceptual categorization. But what does being a homophobe mean? In reality, no-one is able to define it with precision, because homophobia is an ideological invention. It is an idea from the Soviet penal-code, which will allow public ministers and judges to prosecute the most diverse behaviors, in the most grotesque victory of creative jurisprudence.

Homophobia as a category of the absurd
Homophobia presupposes that the world is made up of heterosexuals and homosexuals, along with other categories eventually definable, connected to the sexual sphere. But the concept of heterosexuality is already fake: in fact, when men and women have sexual relations, they are simply behaving like normal people. It is all the rest that is abnormal. Once the juridical category of homophobia is accepted, this statement will be impossible to make publically, without risking the prosecution of the law. The same can be said about a professor or teacher who teach their students that relationships between persons of the same sex are abnormal, or that having two fathers or two mothers is damaging to children. A penal denunciation will also hang like the Sword of Damocles over the head of any priest or catechist who defines homosexual acts as sins against nature, and therefore sins “that cry out to God for vengeance.”

Homophobia is a category of the absurd. If a person is attacked or insulted, the juridical order already provides sanctions applicable to everyone on the basic principle of equality. By inventing new penal laws in the case of a homosexual victim (or claims to be, since how can it be verified?) signifies inaugurating a potentially infinite proliferation of protected categories, reinforced by the penal code. You could hypothesize laws to punish severely “fat-phobia” in order to protect the obese from being mocked by colleagues and class-mates; or even “tobacco-phobia” to defend smokers against those who discriminate them for their smoking habits; or even “bald-phobia” to bring an end to the shameful discrimination of people who have hardly any hair. As you can see, there is no limit to this insane competition in the proliferation of civil rights.

Gender, Homo-marriage and Homosexual Adoptions
A nation that introduces the category of homophobia into its laws inevitably accepts the ideology of gender. What does this mean? According to the theory of gender, a person’s sex is not a fact that inexorably comes from nature i.e. one is born a man or a woman and tertium non datur – but each individual chooses, and not once and for all, whether they want to be a man or a woman with [total] disregard to their body and genetics. Homophobia certifies through jurisdiction, the destruction of natural sexual identity, transforming it into an individual and arbitrary choice. Being a man or woman will be like deciding whether to eat peach or cherry jam. Man literally “makes himself” which brings to fruition the devastating anthropological and social project initiated by the illuminist thinkers and revolutionaries like Rousseau. A project which is summed up in the total rebellion against God, and which culminates in rejecting the sexual constraints imposed by the body and its organs. It also makes a mockery of the Divine project for man “be fruitful and multiply.”

It must be made clear immediately that, once a law is passed on homophobia, whatever it is, the follow-up will automatically be a law on homosexual marriage. And consequently there will be the legalization of adoptions for homosexual couples and the access of the same to artificial insemination.

CATHOLICS: How to lose in ten steps
In short, the effects of this law on homophobia are apocalyptic. In Italy, a strong reaction from the Catholic world i.e. the Church, the Conference of Bishops, ecclesial associations and the main Catholic newspapers, would have been completely normal. Instead – they are all silent. The only Catholic entities that have not been, are: ‘Alleanza Cattolica’ who having been fighting non-stop with a a clear and very lucid manifesto of opposition; the ‘Nuova Bussola’ on-line, with an intense and tenacious campaign; the weekly ‘Tempi’, by supporting the campaign against the law, plus there are other sites or organized groups which are combative but small.

How can this lapse in neglecting the truth be explained? I would suggest three causes:

a. The habit of compromise: for years now the Catholic world has become used to pursuing the lesser evil instead of the good and the true: a law on bad homophobia rather than a worse one.

b. The existence of a homosexual lobby in the Catholic world which paralyzes it on this and other battles.

c. Fear of clashing with the world and of losing a political battle.

When all is said and done, this “surrender” explains how homosexuality, judged as a harmful abnormality by the greater part of public opinion until not so long ago, has become not only licit conduct but worthy of special juridical protection; making it become even more meritorious than the traditional man-woman relationship. It is clear that it is the work by the homosexual lobby and the favourable ground created by the mass-media which have contributed to this situation. Nonetheless, it needs to be added, that Catholicism, you might say, “has dug its own grave”, through ten earth-shatteringly erroneous moves:

1. Christianity’s judgment on homosexual conduct has been undoubtedly very severe for two thousand years: the first losing move consists in progressively softening this judgment of truth, which anyway does not take away the message of forgiveness and redemption for the sinner, as the same for every other sin.

2. Being silent about the fact that homosexual behaviour is a sin. Out of human respect and because of the complexity of the causes, it is deduced that this behavior cannot be substantially judged. If you notice, even the most rigorous Catholics feel the need to state beforehand “that they do not have anything against homosexuals”. On the other hand, when speaking about the ninth commandment, they would never say as a premise “I have nothing against adulterers.”

3. The subsequent step is to deny explicitly that it is about sin: there are those who are born like that and so nothing can be done to change things.

4. The term “against nature” is abolished from language use in sermons, conferences and books, liquidating also the idea of nature in the philosophical sense. What remains is merely the “nature” that you find in Piero Angela’s TV documentaries.

5. Every pretension at conserving a distinction in judgment with regard to the homosexual in the juridical order, is abandoned. For centuries, laws considered this phenomenon tolerable, or as totally irrelevant on a juridical level, but they always maintained an implicit negative valuation towards this condition, which can have problematic aspects of public relevance. For example, the possibility of the role as educator, or of being part of a community organized in a specific way, such as the military or a religious order. Specific and motivated distinctions that came from recognition of the pathological character of this condition, were recognized world-wide until 1973.

6. At this point the effect of “the lay state” spreads: since the law cannot give ethical judgment, everyone must be treated in the same way; ergo every emotional relationship is of the same moral and social value; therefore, the laws will treat homosexuals and heterosexuals, and eventual ulterior categories, in exactly the same way.

7. Now, at this point, the person who tries to say homosexuality goes against nature, and that they would not want a homosexual teacher, becomes an outlaw, first at the level of the mass-media (pilloried by TV and newspaper journalists) and then at the juridical level (laws on homophobia); and here, the Catholic world abandons to their fate, all those who run into the executioner’s axe which has been set up by the new “homo-cracy”, liquidating them as “imprudent” or “integralists.”

8. So then the law on “homosexual unions” is passed, and here the Catholic loser displays satisfaction because “they have not been defined as marriages”.

9. “Homosexual marriages” obviously then are passed and here the Catholic loser displays optimism, because “adoptions by homosexuals are not foreseen.”

10. Adoptions by homosexuals are passed and here the Catholic loser concludes, with satisfaction, that anyway “the idea of the family still exists.”
[Source: Il Timone October 2013 (n.126). Translation: Francesca Romana]

Speaking of strange altars ...

We recently wrote about some very strange altars (see here). Now, a former student of Calvert Hall College High School in Maryland, sent us this photo via Facebook of the school's "Thanksgiving Liturgy." We're not sure if this is the unbloody Sacrifice on Calvary or aisle 8 at Whole Foods. 

Who says Catholic education is dead? Feel free to weigh in here

(The Crescat has also posted this.)

A new Rituale Romanum app for priests and servers

Our friends at LiveMass send us the news of this new smartphone application that will be of great use to priests and servers:

It has been a while since the iMass app has received an update. Complete with making it possible to view Holy Mass, being used as a Missal, as a Breviary, or to view the LiveMass YouTube Channel, there is not much room for improvement. Still, taking the same concept a step further, Fr Fryar has created a new app: iRituale Romanum 1962.

The app provides nearly all the blessings from the Rituale Romanum, in Latin, so that priests can have these readily available when needed.

The app is divided into three sections:

Formulae Brevia - brief forms for emergencies,
Frequenter Data - the most common blessings (for example for the St. Benedict Medal, the Scapular and the Rosary), and
Rituale Romanum - nearly all the blessings from the Rituale Romanum.

The app will be available for free on the App Store as soon as it clears the Apple approval process, which can take about a week.

While it is available for iPhone, an iPad version will be available soon. Also there are plans to work on a version for Android devices.

For the record: what the Pope and the President of Russia talked about, according to the Vatican

The secular media has largely focused on the discussion over Syria and the unexpected icon-venerating incident at the end of the audience. However some points in the discussion have largely gone unnoticed, such as on the "protection of human life and the family". 

We note that this is an official Vatican press release, and we are simply posting it for the record -- it may very well be handy for future reference in some blog posts we have in mind. Those who would like to accuse us of falling for "Putinist propaganda" for merely posting this should, for consistency's sake, also take the Vatican to task for coming out with this text in the first place. 

Our emphasis:

In the afternoon of Monday 25 November 2013, the President of the Russian Federation, His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin, was received in audience by the Holy Father Francis. Mr. Putin subsequently went on to meet with the Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations, and the Parties focused on various questions of common interest, especially in relation to the life of the Catholic community in Russia, revealing the fundamental contribution of Christianity in society. In this context, mention was made of the critical situation faced by Christians in some regions of the world, as well as the defence of and promotion of values regarding the dignity of the person, and the protection of human life and the family.

Furthermore, special attention was paid to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and the grave situation in Syria, with reference to which President Putin expressed thanks for the letter addressed to him by the Holy Father on the occasion of the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg. Emphasis was placed on the urgency of the need to bring an end to the violence and to ensure necessary humanitarian assistence for the population, as well as to promote concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict, favouring negotiation and involving the various ethnic and religious groups, recognising their essential role in society.

Event: Pontifical Mass and Conference with Bishop Athanasius Schneider in Hong Kong

A Pontifical High Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Athanasius Schneider in December (Gaudete Sunday) during his visit to Hong Kong, followed by a seminar on the history of Communion on the tongue. 

Different speakers will be part of the 2013-2014 Hong Kong Liturgical Formation Seminars, including the former bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen, in February 2014.

More information below:

(Source: reader)

The Honeymoon is Over

November 24, 2013
(Warning: disturbing and inappropriate images)

Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”.

Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.
Evangelii Gaudium

Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium"

Apostolic Exhortation
of the Holy Father
to the Bishops, Clergy,
Consecrated Persons,
and the Lay Faithful
on the Proclamation of the Gospel
in today's World

We notice in particular the persistent references to Saint Thomas Aquinas throughout the text - a much more Thomist text than anything ever authored by Benedict XVI, and the most Scholastic-oriented document since Fides et Ratio. Paul VI in particular, but also John Paul II and Benedict XVI also widely quoted.

A remarkable quote: "Since this Exhortation is addressed to members of the Catholic Church, I want to say, with regret, that the worst discrimination which the poor suffer is the lack of spiritual care." (EG, 200)

On the other hand: "Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy. It is my duty, as the Bishop of Rome, to be open to suggestions which can help make the exercise of my ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization. Pope John Paul II asked for help in finding 'a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation'. We have made little progress in this regard. The papacy and the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion. The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position 'to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit'. Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach." (EG, 32)  And once again the Council is widely quoted, as is Pope John XXIII's criticism of the "prophets of doom", without the expression of deep sorrow for all post-conciliar failures caused directly by the implementation of Vatican II.

A series on different aspects of Evangelii Gaudium is forthcoming here in Rorate. If you wish to send us your comments and thoughts, follow us @RorateCaeli.

Two years and thousands of souls enrolled

Below, please find the seventy-seventh posting of enrolled Souls of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society. This is our biggest month to date with over 2,000 souls enrolled!

We began this Society a little over two years and, while we have lost official count, we believe we have enrolled over 50,000+ individual souls and countless others as entire families have been enrolled. Thank you all, our dear readers, for your compassion in sending us these names!

Priests: The Souls still need more of you saying Mass for them! Please email me to offer your services. There's nothing special involved -- all you need to do is offer a weekly or monthly TLM with the intention: "For the Souls enrolled in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society."

How to enroll souls: please email me at and submit as follows: "Name, State, Country." If you want to enroll entire families, simply write in the email: "The Jones family, Ohio, USA". Individual names are preferred. Be greedy -- send in as many as you wish and forward this posting to friends as well. And please follow this formatting strictly. 

Please consider forwarding this Society to your family and friends, announcing from the pulpit during Holy Mass or listing in your church bulletin. We need to spread the word and relieve more suffering souls.

Please pray for the enrolled Souls and the 36 holy priests saying Traditional Masses for the Society:

On the Social Kingship of Christ and Dignitatis Humanae

We note that Fr. John Hunwicke's old blog (formerly known as Liturgical Notes and now named "Mutual Enrichment") has come back to life with a series of posts beginning last week. He was apparently "silenced" for a short while by, among other things, an injury he sustained at the steps of St. Peter's Basilica in November last year. His latest post (as of today) mentions Rorate's translation of the letter of Pope Francis on Trent (and the hermeneutic of reform in continuity). Many thanks!

At any rate we would like to share here his thoughts (posted yesterday) on the change of the Collect for the Feast of Christ the King. Fr. Hunwicke's article refers to a little-known but very important quote by Fr. Aidan Nichols OP regarding the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom, which we reproduce in full at the end of this blog post.  

Our emphases. 


The Social Reign of Christ the King

I wonder how many people realise that the original Collect for the Feast of Christ the King put in place under Pius XI in 1925 was radically changed and given a new meaning in the post-Conciliar 'reforms'? And I suspect that even fewer are aware that, by an amusing paradox, the Church of England retains, for the Third Sunday Before Advent, that pre-Conciliar Papal collect, unmodified. Vatican II mandated that liturgical changes should only be made when essential; can it have been all that essential to change this Collect if the original version remains uncontroversially acceptable in the Church of England? It makes you wonder.

The Pian Collect expressed clearly the Sovereignty of Christ over all the nations. The modern rewriting eschatologises the celebration and introduces instead the notion of the redemption of the whole of creation.

In one sense, we can hardly complain about that. S Paul clearly teaches such a glorious understanding of the End in Romans 8. But we can complain about the concomitant loss of the old concept of Christ's lordship over all sorts and conditions of men. You don't have to be an integriste Frenchman to do this. It would be possible to argue that, for a period, the only doctrine more or less peculiar to the Church of England was that of the union of Crown and Altar, the old Tory 'Squire Western' toast of 'Church and State', an understanding in which a Monarchy by Divine Right enforces the Christian State, its rules, its worship, its moral code. *This old Stuart, Jacobite, Ancien Regime notion, dear to the country squirearchy and the parochial clergy, despised by the Whiggish Court Party, the Upper Clergy, and the 'Hannover Rats', is not a million miles from the polity to which Mgr Lefebvre and French adherents of Tradition and Integrisme bore and bear witness. The older I get, the less sublimely confident I become that all these people were, are, so totally misguided.

Fr Aidan Nichols, in 2011, expressed the view that the Declaration on Religious Freedom of Vatican II "occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics", and believed that the Council Fathers cannot be "wholly exculpate[d]" for a "dereliction of duty". He concluded that "publicly recognising divine revelation is an entailment of the Kingship of Christ on which, despite its difficulties in a post-Enlightenment society, we must not renege". There is here a troubling question which our annual celebration of Christ's Kingship - whether we do it at the end of October or the end of November - places starkly before us all; every year more starkly as every year the powers that be in this country repudiate ever more decisively our Saviour's Lordship. Viva Cristo Rey.

*Of course, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes under the Great Monarch witnesses to a similar culture in Gallican France. Furthermore, by another paradox that vision was, back here in England, undercut by the very genuine commitment of the Catholics James II and James III to religious toleration. Some recent work ... I browsed through a book in Blackwells the other day ... has emphasised the 'Gallicanism' of James II ... er ... the web gets a bit tangled ...


The quote from Fr. Nichols that Fr. Hunwicke refers to, comes from the former's letter to Moyra Dooly concluding his and Dooly's correspondence on Vatican II and the state of contemporary Catholicism. This correspondence was published by Catholic Herald in 2010. An expanded version of their epistolary "debate" was later published by Gracewing. (Source of quote.)

... But unlike (I would say), the Eucharistic doctrine of the Constitution on the Liturgy, the Declaration on Religious Freedom occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics. As you point out, it is not immediately apparent how to reconcile its acknowledgement of the traditional teaching about the Christendom state with its development of the teaching about the freedom of the act of faith. If we are unpersuaded of a difficulty here, we have only to look at its aftermath. Except among two groups, the period since the Second Vatican Council has witnessed a withdrawal from “theo-politics” on the part of the hierarchy. Traditionalists and Liberation theologians, neither group popular with Rome, are the two constituencies that have most vocally supported a continuing appeal to civil society to recognise evangelical and Catholic truth not just in the private lives of individual citizens but also in its public institutions, which include its own legal form, the state. Does the Declaration bear some responsibility for this dereliction of duty? I do not think we can wholly exculpate the Fathers of the Council who were aware of the difficulty involved yet chose (through, I take it, a desire not to prolong further a contentious debate) to restrict to a passing mention their acknowledgement of what I prefer to call, more in the idiom of Chesterton and Christopher Dawson than Lefevbrists or Liberationists, the thesis of “Christendom”.

It is true that the state establishment of the Church has produced, historically speaking, many inconveniences. When, during the Third French Republic, anti-clerical politicians rejected the Liberal thesis of a “free Church in a free state” in favour of continuing establishment, they did so because, in the words of one of their number, the maxim could only mean “an anarchic Church in an impotent state”. A state church may well enable infidel statesmen to control the Church, as when 10 freethinkers on the Conseil d’Etat sat around a green carpet choosing bishops. Believing and even devout Catholic politicians and princes have, in the past, demanded their pound of flesh, as the examples of Gallicanism in France and Josephinism in Austria indicate. The secularisation of Catholic states has not been without its advantages for the Petrine office-holder.

Nevertheless, I strongly agree with you that publicly recognising divine revelation is an entailment of the Kingship of Christ on which, despite its difficulties in a post-Enlightenment society, we must not renege. Where the ethos of society is such that an elected legislature may be trusted to regard the Judaeo-Christian tradition as normative, the Church should be accorded her rightful place as “mother and mistress”. (The Edwardian priest-novelist Robert Hugh Benson’s The Dawn of All will give you the idea.) Where that is not possible there should at least be, in the former Christendom, a recognition of the historic role of the faith in forming the human patrimony and thus what a bishop of the Church of England, arguing against disestablishment, has recently termed a “symbolic privileged position”.

Basket case:
The craze for strange new altars and "youth churches"

In the past few days this photograph has circulated among some Catholic blogs (and at least one Orthodox blog):

It shows Cardinal Marx spreading chrism on what surely has to be one of the strangest altars ever consecrated for a Catholic church in the past 60 years.

This event, the consecration of this altar, actually took place in 2010 for Munich's Jugendkirche ("youth church"). More pictures of the event can be found here. The altar is not as light as it appears: it is made of galvanized bronze and weighs 160 kg (350 lb) all in all. 

Below we see the altar in use during a Youth Mass in 2011 led by Bishop Engelbert Siebler, at that time an Auxiliary Bishop for Munich and Freising (source):

Speaking of youth churches: all in all there are more than a hundred Catholic "youth churches" in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. There is a website on the activities of the various Catholic and Protestant "youth churches" in German-speaking lands: Jugendkirchen. There are no words to describe many of the pictures. For example:

Coming back to Cardinal Marx and his attitude to strange altars: he consecrated or will be consecrating 2 of them this month. 

On the 10th of November, he consecrated a new altar for the Church of the Annunciation in Traunstein-Haslach, one of the oldest parishes in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, dating back to the 14th century. (More photos here.)

Then on the 24th of November (today) he is scheduled to consecrate the following altar, for the church of St. Michael in Attel. According to the linked article, the altar is made of glass, with a metal framework inside.

These are no "isolated instances" but part of a wider trend that has not stopped at all in these past few years. This is the continuing trend of permanently erecting deliberately "modern" (normally cube or irregularly-shaped) free-standing altars versus (or in place of) traditional and venerable altars, implanting dissonance, rupture and ugliness in the middle of so many old churches in Europe. This trend has continued and will continue, Benedict XVI or no Benedict XVI, Francis or no Francis, with or without the blogs documenting them, and despite the fantasies of some that insanity in liturgy and sacred art is over. In this article alone we show, or link to pictures of, 48 examples of these modernist altars. All but one have been set up in traditionally-designed churches constructed before Vatican II, and all were set up after the election of Benedict XVI, with 42 being installed in the period from 2010 to the present year (2013) -- we are talking here of a continuing trend, on top of thousands of churches already disfigured during the post-Conciliar era. In setting up these "dissonant" altars the intent to destroy harmony in very heart of the sanctuary, and therefore of the liturgy, is obvious.

To see more examples from Germany, the old version of Fides et Forma has a post with pictures of Archbishop Gerhard Müller consecrating five very "modern" altars as Bishop of Regensburg between 2006 and 2012 (three of them between 2010 and 2012), all in beautiful old Bavarian churches. In 2011 we reported about the horror in Hildesheim's seminary and the devastation of the Augustinian church in Würzburg. As for Austria, Eponymous Flower featured the consecration of a red "lego altar" in an 18th-century Baroque church in 2012.

This year, France saw the consecration of a decidedly modernist new sanctuary (and altar) in the Church of Our Lady of Accoules. France also has this blank-looking altar consecrated in May of this year for the 12th century Abbey of Leoncel, this round altar (with scarcely enough space for the sacred vessels) consecrated in December 2012 in St Etienne de Corbeil-Essonnes (see also this link), a tiny altar made in 2012 for an old church in Nerbis, and this disturbing altar (with seemingly headless bodies) consecrated in 2011 for the old church of St. Pierre du Mont:

New altar, St. Pierre du Mont, 2011.

Even in Paris the mania has taken its toll: witness the new altar of the church of Saint Medard (consecrated by Cardinal Vingt Trois in 2011; click here for more pictures) or the new altar of the church of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Paris, consecrated early this year (scroll down this page for the date, and pictures of the consecration):

Church of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Paris. New altar, 2013.

The creator of the above altar, Jacques Dieudonne, made a similar altar for one of Lyons' old churches, Saint Polycarp, where the new altar was set up in 2011. The year before (2010), the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyons consecrated a new altar for the church of Saint Louis de Fontaines sur Saône in the Archdiocese of Lyons. Judge for yourselves (and note that the denuded old High Altar still has a neglected tabernacle):

 New altar (2010) of Saint Louis de Fontaines sur Saône in the Archdiocese of Lyons

In addition, France has such delights as the monument to dissonance consecrated in 2011 for the 18th-century Sainte-Madeleine de Besançon (see below), the Cathedral of Amiens' new altar dedicated in 2011, and this cramped little altar established last year in the historical Église Sainte-Marguerite de Soppe-le-Haut. There was also, in 2011, the infamous "restoration" of the historic church of Saint Hilaire, in Melle (Deux-Sèvres, Poitou-Charentes).

The new altar and ambo of Sainte-Madeleine de Besançon, 2011.

Want more? See this tree-trunk-like altar consecrated in 2011 for the medieval church of Notre-Dame de Pré-en-Pail in the Diocese of Laval. And then we have this nondescript table in Brassempouy (also blessed in 2011), this cube consecrated for the medieval Basilica of Paray-Le-Monial (2011), this altar "on fire" (the article doesn't say the year, but this was installed in the centuries-old Carmel of Angers in 2012), this new altar made for the church in Givry in 2012 (the new altar is shown past the 3:00 mark, see also below) and this (the new altar, along with the new ambo and throne of the Gothic-style Cathedral of Nantes, set up in May of this year).

Givry's new altar, 2012.

Deserving their own category for bad taste are the irregularly-shaped altar consecrated in Notre Dame d'Urville in 2011 (see this and this) and the plainly weird altar installed in the ancient church of Saint-Paul-lès-Dax in 2012. And how can we forget the "ikea" altar of the Cathedral of St. Vincent in Viviers, placed around 2011?

Examples just a bit older are the square altar consecrated in 2008 in Sayrac, the new altar consecrated in 2008 in St Martin de la Canourgue, and the new altar and sanctuary of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Belleville in Paris (inaugurated in 2008). We are not sure when this green cube was stuck into the magnificent church of Saint Pierre in Besançon, but from its style and design it would seem to be of recent vintage.

In neighboring Belgium, Archbishop Leonard of Mechlin-Brussels blessed a glass altar in 2012 in the splendid neoclassical (18th c.) Église Saints-Jean-et-Étienne-aux-Minimes in Brussels. In that same year, the Cathedral of Liege was gifted with this green horror:

Tiny Luxembourg has not escaped the trends: see this example from 2011.

For examples from Italy, we have this cube altar consecrated only last month for a neoclassical church, this new asymmetrically designed altar consecrated in August this year for an 18th century church in Trent (!), yet another cube altar of rough stone consecrated in December last year for the 16th-century parochial church of Montorfano, this "work of art" installed in a large Renaissance church in Bergamo in late 2010, the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia's controversial new altar (and sanctuary area) consecrated in 2011, and the infamous red cube of the Camaldolese monastery in Montegiove (that we reported in 2010).

The Gesù in Rome was not spared. This monument to banality was installed only a couple of years ago, when Benedict XVI was Pope. (More pictures can be found here.)

And there are so many other examples on the Internet...

These aberrations can and will continue, as these are but symptoms of the profound dislocation of the sacred liturgy of the Roman Rite. This dislocation cannot be set right either by purely voluntary movements for the promotion of the sacred from among the clergy and the laity or by the "good example" and "encouraging words" of any Supreme Pontiff.

And the "Liturgical Art and Sacred Music Commission" that was supposed to have been set up in the Congregation for Divine Worship late in 2011? No one seems to have heard of it after its creation was announced... Has it already joined the long list of aborted liturgical projects from the last two pontificates? 

Francis, writing on the Council of Trent, explicitly affirms the authority of the 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity'

Today the Vatican website published the Latin letter addressed by Pope Francis to Cardinal Brandmuller on the celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent. 

The letter affirms the continued importance of the doctrine of Council of Trent. While some might dismiss this as mere routine, this letter has the significance of being the very first occasion (to our knowledge) that Francis has directly and explicitly invoked, when touching upon the interpretation of doctrine, the authority of Benedict XVI's epoch-dividing December 22, 2005 address on the "'hermeneutic of reform', of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church." (Sometimes shortened to 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity' and, with less precision, to 'hermeneutic of continuity'.)

Coming back to the letter's treatment of the Council of Trent: regardless of the actual "level" of this document (which at least is not a mere summary or an interview with a secular newspaper), and without the need to assume anything about future events in this unfolding Pontificate, we now have something "quotable" from this Pope about the continued importance of Trent -- not just as a historical event, but in its doctrinal heritage.


To our Venerable Brother
Walter Cardinal Brandmüller
Deacon of St. Julian of the Flemings

As the 450th anniversary of the day on which the fortunate Council of Trent was closed approaches, it behooves the Church to recall with more prompt and attentive eagerness the most fruitful doctrine which came out of that Council convened in the Tyrolese region. Certainly not without cause, the Church has for a long time already accorded so much care to the Decrees and Canons of that Council that are to be recalled and observed, since, indeed the most grave affairs and questions having appeared at that time, the Council Fathers summoned all diligence that the Catholic Faith appear more clearly and be better understood. No doubt, with the Holy Ghost inspiring and suggesting, it especially concerned the Fathers not only to guard the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine, but also to more clearly enlighten mankind, so that the saving work of the Lord may be poured out onto the whole world and the Gospel be spread through the entire world.

Graciously hearing the very same Holy Ghost, the Holy Church of our age, even now, continues to restore and meditate upon the most abundant doctrine of Trent. As a matter of fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” (interpretatio renovationis) which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers not only to the Tridentine Council but also to the Vatican Council. The mode of interpretation, certainly, places one honourable characteristic of the Church in a brighter light that is given by the Same Lord (Benedict XVI): “She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Christmas Address to the Roman Curia).

Therefore, we rejoice and express gladness that, glowing with such splendor of the Church, this event is celebrated in a more solemn manner in the City of Trent. Wherefore, the Venerable Brother Luigi Bressani, Metropolitan Archbishop of Trent, requested that We assign some honourable Prelate who, on the 3rd of the following December, may pronounce the exhortatory words to all who shall attend this gladsome commemoration. Deeming this request, therefore, as just, and willing to designate You, Our Venerable Brother, who indeed have expertly investigated and have wisely carried forward the decrees of this Council. We, therefore, name You in these letters OUR EXTRAORDINARY ENVOY to the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the day on which the Conciliar Fathers completed the works of the Council of Trent. Indeed, You will exhort all who shall participate in this event, that, souls joined together with the soul of the Most Holy Redeemer, they may be fully conscious of all the fruits derived from this Council, and that they may unite themselves in bringing these fruits to others and in propagating them in every way. You shall greet on Our behalf the Metropolitan Archbishop of Trent and all other attending holy Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and lay faithful of Christ, and You shall show them Our benevolence.

[Concluding greetings and blessing.]

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on November 19th of the year 2013, 1st of our Pontificate.


[Source (in Latin): Letter of the Holy Father to the Special Envoy to the celebrations of the 450th Anniversary of the Closure of the Ecumenical Council of Trent  - Trent, December 1, 2013]

Original translation for Rorate was made by the owner of the Philippine Catholic blog Dei Praesidio Fultus. Adapted by NC. 

For the record: Francis on the importance of adoration in the liturgy
"Adoration is what is most important: the whole community together look at the altar where the sacrifice is celebrated and adore"

The following is the L'Ossservatore Romano's report on Pope Francis' homily in Santa Marta yesterday, November 22, Feast of St. Cecilia.

Radio Vaticana's English summary is much shorter and leaves out many points.

Radio Vaticana's longer Italian summary, which has some quotes that can't be found in the L'Osservatore Romano summary and in turn omits details that can be found in the latter, can be read at Papa Francesco: nel tempio non si va a celebrare un rito ma ad adorare Dio. At present there is no summary of the homily in the Vatican website.

We at Rorate are certainly not alone in hoping that the Vatican's communication arms will at least, in the future, issue a single summary of the Pope's daily homilies, if they could not provide the actual text. It is difficult enough not to have the full text of the homilies, but having to deal with different summaries is downright crazy!

Our emphases.

The temple exists “for the adoration of God” and those who worship there are themselves “spiritual temples in whom the Holy Spirit abides,” Pope Francis stressed at the Holy Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of Santa Marta on Friday morning, 22 November.

In his homily Pope Francis commented on the Readings of the day taken from 1 Maccabees (4:36-37, 52-59), which recounts the rebuilding of the temple by Judas Maccabeus; and from the Gospel of Luke, which recounts Jesus' driving the merchants out of the temple (19: 45-48). 

“The temple is a place of reference for the community, for the People of God,” the Pope said. It “began with the ark, then Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, and then it became a living temple: Jesus Christ, the Temple. And it shall end in glory, in the heavenly Jerusalem”. 

Referring to the first Reading, the Pope noted that the essential meaning of Judas Maccabeus' act was “to reconsecrate the temple so that there glory might be offered to God”. “The temple is the place where the community goes to pray, to praise the Lord, to give thanks, but above all to adore: the Lord is adored in the temple. And this is the most important point. This is also true for liturgical ceremonies: in this liturgical ceremony, what is most important? The songs, the rites, they are all beautiful... however, adoration is what is most important: the whole community together look at the altar where the sacrifice is celebrated and adore”

Pope Francis then asked: “Are our temples places of adoration? Do they foster adoration? Do our liturgical celebrations foster adoration?”. Judas Maccabeus and the people “were zealous for God's temple because it was the house of God, God's dwelling place, and they went as a community to find God there, they went to adore”. 

Turning to the Gospel of Luke, the Pope noted that “Jesus also cleanses the temple, but he does it with whip in hand”. He drives out “pagan attitudes, in this case of the merchants who bought and sold, and had transformed the temple into a series of little shops where they sold and changed money. Jesus cleanses the temple admonishing: It is written, 'My house shall be a house of prayer'. He said nothing else. The temple was a sacred place. And we should enter there, in the sacredness that leads us to prayer”. 

“Saint Paul tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “I am a temple. The Spirit of God is in me. And he also tells us: 'Do not sadden the Spirit of the Lord that is within you!’ And also here, perhaps we cannot speak of adoration, but of a type of adoration that is the heart which seeks the Spirit of the Lord within oneself and knows that God is within him, that the Holy Spirit is within him. He listens and follows it”. 

“We too need to be continually purified with prayer, penance, and with the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist,” the Holy Father added. Thus, “in these two temples – the physical temple which is a place of adoration, and the spiritual temple within me where the Holy Spirit dwells – our disposition should be one of true piety that adores and listens, that prays and asks pardon, that praises the Lord”. He then added: “when we speak of the joy of the temple, what we are speaking about it this: the whole community in adoration, in prayer and thanksgiving, in praise. In prayer with the Lord who is within me, since I am a temple; and I stand listening, ready and available”. 

Pope Francis concluded his homily by inviting those present to pray that the Lord “might grant us true understanding of the meaning of the temple, so that we might grow in lives of adoration and listening to God's Word”.


We note that the Radio Vaticana Italian summary quotes an additional passage: "But, I think - I say this humbly - that maybe we Christians have lost a little the sense of adoration, and we think: we go to the Temple, we come together as brothers - that's good, it's great! - but this is where God is. And we worship God." 

A papal tradition survives...

From Catholic News Agency:

A golden rose sent from Pope Francis
to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on Nov. 18, 2013.
Credit: Michelle Buaman/CNA.

Pope Francis sends golden rose to Our Lady of Guadalupe 

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, presented a golden rose from Pope Francis to Our Lady of Guadalupe, calling the rose a sign of love, gratitude and enthusiasm.

“Our hearts more than our heads know the debt of love we owe you,” the cardinal said to the Blessed Mother. “This is why we beg you to receive from us a special gesture of grateful love.”

He prayed that the rose remind the Virgin Mary of “the gold, frankincense, and myrrh offered by the magi who once hastened to the manger to adore the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

Cardinal Ouellet presented the golden rose Nov. 18 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City as part of the “Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization” conference, led by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Guadalupe basilica and the Institute of Higher Guadalupan Studies.


Event: Watch FSSP diaconate ordinations live

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) will air its diaconate ordinations live on Saturday, November 23, at 10:00a.m. Central  streaming from the Live Mass website. 

"In 20 years, I've buried 120 priests and ordained only one"

And whose fault is that, Most Reverend Archbishop?

Monseigneur Yves Patenôtre has been a bishop since 1994, and Archbishop of Sens-Auxerre (and Prelate of Mission de France) since 2004. And, in an article on a talk he had with a faithful who complained of giving to the Church's tithing campaign when he had not had a priest available for important moments of his life, Patenôtre wrote:

I told him what I often mention: "In almost twenty years of episcopate, I have buried one hundred and twenty priests, and I have ordained only one in the dioceses of Yonne [Sens] and the Jura [Saint-Claude, whose bishop he was from 1994 to 2004]."

And the article goes on with platitudes on how important it is to give and that the Church's foundations are her priests, and that many who are called are not willing to follow their vocation (all true, of course). But his admission is an absolutely shameful thing for a bishop to say because it is not joined by a public declaration of his grievous personal fault for this state of affairs.

As we have always said, the crisis of the Church is indeed a crisis of bishops first of all.