Rorate Caeli

The Burial of the Alleluia: A Poem by a monk from San Benedetto in Monte, Norcia, Italy


The following poem was written by a monk of the Monastery of San Benedetto in Monte, Norcia, Italy.  Today is Septuagesima Sunday, the beginning of the “porch of Lent”.  This Sunday marks the “burial of the Alleluia”, when the Alleluia of the Mass is replaced by the Tract.  The very word Alleluia is also no longer heard in the chanting of the Office, until the Easter Vigil.  This poem is a wonderful gift for each of us who love the Traditional Mass to deepen our own faith as we prepare for Lent.

From every mountain, hill and vale
Let Alleluia ring!
And may each woman, man and child
This Alleluia sing!

SEPTUAGESIMA: In the Beginning

Septuagesimatide begins today, in the First Vespers for the Sunday in Septuagesima.

The lessons for Matins introduce the theme of the penitential pre-lenten season of Septuagesima: Creation and Fall, and Original Sin; and God's intervention in History to purify mankind through a remnant in an ark (Sexagesima week) and to choose a People for himself; and the will of the unfathomable Divinity to reveal himself through his chosen people of Israel; and the Mystery of the Incarnation, through which the promise to Abraham ("in thee shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed", First Lesson in the Matins for Quinquagesima Sunday) would be fulfilled by the Divine Son of the Blessed Virgin ("I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel", Third Lesson in the Matins for Wednesday in Septuagesima week).

The reality of Original Sin ("I am the Immaculate Conception") and the great need for penitence in our times ("Penance! Penance! Penance!") were also the messages of the memorable events which began on February 11, 1858:

Cassocks, Tradition, and the Dying of the New Church of Vatican II

The blog, Messa in Latino, quite recently published two pieces about Facebook postings by one of the clergy of the Bergamo diocese, Monsignor Alberto Cararra.  They are both significant in offering hope that even in Italy the light of Tradition may be dawning.

The first piece is about the ordination of three young men to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro Martyr this past August.  The author points out that as late as the early ‘90s the diocese was ordaining over twenty priests a year.  So that only three were ordained this past year was a real disappointment. One of the new young priests, don Michele Zanoni, had a photo taken of himself with the cathedral in the background.  He was dressed in “veste talare con la fascia”, in a cassock and sash, the traditional dress for a priest until after the Second Vatican Council.

The well-known and well-connected Monsignor Cararra, a Canon of the Cathedral, posted the photo on his Facebook page with a commentary. After speaking about the beauty of the photo, he goes on to say the following(my translation):

But one thing caught my eyes.  The new priest was not only wearing a cassock, but also a sash. The uniform of a priest in the diocese of Bergamo may include a cassock,( but ..there are also priests who do not wear a cassock.)  A small thing to point out, but still strange. In that it seems to fall in line with an excessive show of clerical solemnity that goes beyond what is required.  I don’t want to make this a problem, but I can’t be enthusiastic about this. Because in the end one could think as follows:  priests who are not serious wear lay clothes, priests who are somewhat serious wear clericals, priests who are really serious wear a cassock, and priests who are super-serious wear a sash.  …On the day of his First Mass I would have rather have had an affirmation of fraternity than ardor for distinction.

The photograph of Msgr. Cararra shows him in lay clothes, which we hope is not a sign that he is not serious about his priesthood.   

Christopher Marlowe and the impossible desires of Faustus

In the coming weeks Rorate will offer a series of short essays by Italian writer Elizabetta Sala, commenting on some of the greatest English literary works of all time, from the perspective of Traditional Catholicism.  These include the works of  C. Marlowe, Shakespeare, Milton, Joyce and Tolkien as well as others.

Mrs. Sala, a traditional Catholic, wife and mother of 7 children, is a Professor of English History and Literature.

As a scholar of the History and Literature at the time of the English Reformation and expert on the works of William Shakespeare in particular, she  is the author of several books*  and is considered to be the foremost Italian authority on these subjects. As Antonio Socci says in a review (published by Rorate  in September, 2019)**about her novel “The Execution :Of Justice” which treats of Shakespeare’s Catholicism: “[...]The writer, Elisabetta Sala, professor of English History and Literature reveals absolutely extraordinary narrative skills. In our present somewhat mediocre literary panorama, it is to be hoped that her talent is tested soon with other novels and that she becomes further and further known and recognized.  Until now, Sala has been known  [in Italy] as a most valiant scholar of the tragic age of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, at the time of “the rape” of the English people. [...]

*“The Wrath Of The King Is Dead” [“L’ira del re è morte”(Ares)]  “Bloody Elizabeth”[“Elisabetta la sanguinaria”(Ares)].”The Enigma of Shakespeare”  and her first novel “The Execution of Justice”.

**RORATE CÆLI: Socci: Shakespeare, the Great Voice of Catholic Resistance Against the Tyranny of Elizabeth and Co. (


Here is the first short essay on Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.

Elizabetta Sala

Il Sussidiaro

January 2016

In 1589, the Elizabethan Parliament enacted a law against theatre performances depicting religious issues. It is very likely that the cause of this draconian decree was the play Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) who had written it some months previously.

The audience of the popular theaters was the most diverse imaginable and the task of every good playwright was that of pleasing everyone. The story-line of Faustus was certainly a great choice in this respect. But if the theme of the pact with the devil, on the one hand, fascinated the audiences and ‘made a killing at the box-office’, on the other, it stirred up issues that the authorities would have preferred lay dormant. 

Vatican Basilica: St. Peter's chapter considers banning Latin Mass and private side altar masses

 Ever since at least the time of Constantine, when the persecution of Christians ended and the first Basilica on Vatican Hill, on top of the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, was built, the highlight of the pilgrimage made by uncountable numbers of priests "ad limina apostolorum" has been the possibility of celebrating a personal private Mass at Saint Peter's. This has continued unabated even after the Novus Ordo.

Also, ever since at least the time of John Paul II (in the crypt), and more freely since Benedict XVI above ground, the Traditional Latin Mass has been celebrated privately in the Basilica.

But those venerable practices may be about to be abolished.

“Forgive Us, Father”: Join the Upcoming Eucharistic Reverence and Reparation Novena, January 24 to February 1, 2021

It has become increasingly clear that the year 2020 was, by God’s providence, a wake-up call on many levels. Massive disruption was caused by civil and episcopal responses to COVID-19, and these may well worsen in 2021. The errors of Communism, which Our Lady of Fatima warned would spread throughout the world, have spread over the decades, like a light rain that slowly saturates the ground—first winning over the intelligentsia, then percolating through the media and popular culture, and finally dictating the policies of the oligarchs who exercise power.

In our churches, where we might have expected to find strength and consolation, the faithful have faced demoralization from liturgical tinkering, shutdowns, arbitrary rules, institutionalized abuses. The message has been transmitted that Mass is optional, resulting in what appears to be a permanent dramatic dropoff in attendance. Crowdedness now seems to be a “problem” only at traditional Latin Masses, where, thanks be to God, many Catholics have found the reverence and orthodoxy for which they had been longing. This, indeed, is the silver lining on the otherwise dark cloud.

We are witnessing an acceleration in the sinfulness of mankind—including, alas, in the lives of baptized Catholics—whereby more and more extreme forms of evil are becoming more and more “normal.” Our sins are piling up in number and gravity, as if we want the inevitable divine reckoning to be as terrifying as possible. At least a few should “stay awake and watch” with Our Lord in His agony in the garden, uniting themselves to His Cross and begging the Lord for His mercy. The Lord assured Abraham He would spare a city where only a few just men lived. Chastisement has come and will come, but our prayers and sacrifices will strengthen us in bearing the storm and bearing fruit for the eventual restoration of the Church and of the Faith. In some mysterious way, our involvement is part of the unfolding of God’s plan, and we should not stay on the sidelines, shocked into inactivity.

For all these reasons, Sophia Institute Press has announced a “Novena for the Eucharist,” to take place over the nine days from January 24 to February 1. The website is Those who sign up pledge to:

• pray a daily Rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet
• attend daily Mass
• fast by skipping one meal
• give alms
• abstain from media

What is important is not the flawless execution of all of these things (it’s a pledge, not a vow!), but rather doing all that one can to live a spirit of penance and reparation for sins committed against the Holy Eucharist.

The Novena of the Eucharist is linked with the release of my book The Holy Bread of Eternal Life: Restoring Eucharistic Reverence in an Age of Impiety. In Holy Bread, I take a no-holds-barred look at the evils committed daily against the Blessed Sacrament due to decades of liturgical deformation and abuse, and argue for immediate and urgent concrete solutions. Not all of us are in a position to implement most of these solutions, yet we should do what we can. At very least, we should pray and do penance.

I will certainly be doing this novena and I strongly encourage Rorate Caeli readers to join the over 5,000 who have already signed up for it. Even if you don’t think you can do all of the recommended practices of piety, it would be worthwhile to do at least some. When you sign up at the website, Sophia will send you, for each day of the novena, a short daily meditation from Scripture and a prayer.

In these opening days of 2021, I have a greater foreboding than usual about what the future holds. We need to ramp up our prayer and sacrifices. Prayer and fasting will save us, and nothing else. As Jesus said, some demons are driven out in no other way—and there are a lot of demons on the loose right now.

(Adapted from an article published at LifeSite on January 19.)

Ten Years of the Divinum Officium Project

Fr. Albert P. Marcello, III, J.C.D. (Cand.)


The number of textual resources for the liturgical books has grown considerably over the course of decades, with the impressive critical editions springing forth over the 20th century, as well as the liturgical studies done (at least in English) by such organizations as the Henry Bradshaw Society and others. Despite not being a textual critic, in the work of analyzing and systematizing such texts, credit must also be paid to the late Laszlo Kiss, a brilliant computer programmer who dedicated his retirement years to the project of ensuring that the texts of the Missal and Breviary would be available electronically, taking on the formidable task of translating the rubrics of these books into programming logic. With the generous support of Mr. Kiss’s family, especially his beloved wife, we at the Divinum Officium Project have attempted to humbly carry on this work.

De Mattei: The Genealogy of the Italian Communist Party on the Centenary of its foundation (January 21,1921)


Italian-American Weddings and the First Miracle of Jesus

We read in the second chapter of the Gospel of John: “Jesus performed this first of his signs at Cana in Galilee. Thus did he reveal his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”   For me, when reading this account of the wedding feast at Cana: the question that comes to my mind is this: "Have you ever been to an Italian-American wedding?"  Not an Italian wedding—something different yet similar but different—but an Italian-American wedding.  Now I do not mean one of those toned-down, Americanized, rather staid affairs with pasta stations (imagine such a thing as a pasta station!), not these planned out affairs where the mother of the bride is out of place in her pastel lacy dress.  The scene of today’s gospel is a Jewish wedding, and if the truth be known, and it is known, there are striking similarities between the ethnicity of Italians and Jews. Mothers and chicken soup.  Matzoh balls and little meatballs.  Need I say more.  

"No Socialist system can be established without a Political Police: this would nip opinion in the bud, and stop criticism."

In 1937, Pius XI authored several encyclicals on political matters, including the majestic Mit Brennender Sorge. But, while National-Socialism was sent to the trash heap of history in 1945, Communism and the various forms of Atheistic Socialism ended the war in a position of strength. And, as we see clearly today throughout the West, even after the Cold War, extreme Socialism has gone from strength to strength in the halls of culture and education to reach the streets and the halls of power. Pius XI's warning in Divini Redemptoris could not be clearer:

Insisting on the dialectical aspect of their materialism, the Communists claim that the conflict which carries the world towards its final synthesis can be accelerated by man. Hence they endeavor to sharpen the antagonisms which arise between the various classes of society. Thus the class struggle with its consequent violent hate and destruction takes on the aspects of a crusade for the progress of humanity. On the other hand, all other forces whatever, as long as they resist such systematic violence, must be annihilated as hostile to the human race. Communism, moreover, strips man of his liberty, robs human personality of all its dignity, and removes all the moral restraints that check the eruptions of blind impulse. There is no recognition of any right of the individual in his relations to the collectivity; no natural right is accorded to human personality, which is a mere cog-wheel in the Communist system.


Right after the war in Europe was over, the British Prime Minister,  Winston Churchill, who had been as prescient as it could have been expected about the Nazis, fought his former Labour allies in the 1945 General Election. His first radio speech is considered a "blunder" by historians, and is even called by some the "Crazy Broadcast". However, pay attention carefully to his words below, and see how they also explain in a more practical level the fears expressed by Pius XI in 1937. Also, notice how the same extreme Socialism is rearing its head throughout the West today:

 ...there can be no doubt that Socialism is inseparably interwoven with Totalitarianism and the abject worship of the State. …liberty, in all its forms is challenged by the fundamental conceptions of Socialism. …there is to be one State to which all are to be obedient in every act of their lives. This State is to be the arch-employer, the arch-planner, the arch-administrator and ruler, and the arch-caucus boss.

A Socialist State once thoroughly completed in all its details and aspects… could not afford opposition. Socialism is, in its essence, an attack upon the right of the ordinary man or woman to breathe freely without having a harsh, clumsy tyrannical hand clapped across their mouths and nostrils.   

But I will go farther. I declare to you, from the bottom of my heart that no Socialist system can be established without a political police. Many of those who are advocating Socialism or voting Socialist today will be horrified at this idea. That is because they are shortsighted, that is because they do not see where their theories are leading them.

The Demographics of the Traditional Mass

The online theology journal Homiletic and Pastoral Review has published an article of mine drawing on the FIUV Report which discusses the demographic profile of Traditional Mass congregations.

My conclusion:

I have demonstrated that the association between the EF and young people and families is neither a myth nor something limited to certain countries. Most Catholics have never encountered the EF, but of those who do, mostly by chance, the ones who make it their preferred Form of Mass are disproportionately young, and include a disproportionate number of families with small children. The presence of numerous children at the typical EF celebration can be confirmed, indeed, by anyone willing to set foot in one, provided it is celebrated in a reasonably family-friendly time and place, and is reasonably well-established.

The place of migrants, and in general of people of mixed cultural and linguistic backgrounds, at the EF, can be seen, naturally, only in places where the local population includes them. Nevertheless it is very evident in cities such as London, and as indicated in the statements quoted above, can be found in many countries.

Easiest of all to confirm is the presence of men at the EF. With Ordinary Form congregations in many places being increasingly dominated by older women, the ability of the EF to retain at least equal numbers of men, as well as young people and those bringing up children, is of no small significance.

De Mattei: True and False Conspiracies in History. In memory of Father Augustin Barruel (1741-1820)


Roberto de Mattei

Corrispondenza Romana

January 13, 2021

Among the anniversaries forgotten in 2020, was the bicentenary of the death of Father Augustin Barruel, one of the top Counter-Revolutionary writers of the 19th century.


Barruel was born in Villeneuve-de-Berg, France on October 2, 1741 and at the age of sixteen he joined the Society of Jesus, which however, after being banned in France, was suppressed in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV, under pressure from the illuminist sovereigns. Barruel lived as a secular priest, in Paris, where, between 1788 and 1792, he wrote Le Helviennes ou lettres provinciales philosophiques (1781) against Rousseau and Voltaire’s “philosophical party”, and directed the Journal ecclésiastique, a publication, in which, week after week, he continued ceaselessly to denounce the responsibility of the Illuminists in the French Revolution that had just broken out.  


After the 1792 massacres, he was forced to go into hiding and then he emigrated to London, where he wrote the Histoire du clergé pendant la Révolution française (1793) e i Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire di jacobinisme (Fauche, 1798-1799). This work was a great success, reprinted many times and translated into the main European languages (the work was republished by La Diffusion de la Pensée Française, in 1974 and in 2013, with an introduction by Christian Lagrave).  In 1802, after the Church’s Concordat with Napoleon, Father Barruel, returned to France, became Canon of Notre Dame Cathedral and in 1815, when the Society of Jesus was re-established, he returned once again to his Order. He spent the last years of his life in the community of Jesuits at Rue des Postes, in Paris, where he died on October 5, 1820.


In the third and fourth parts of his Mémoires, Barruel exposed the existence of a conspiracy against the thrones and altars by the “Bavarian Illuminati”, a secret order founded in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830), Professor of Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt.  Officially the  Illuminati proposed the moral perfection of its members, but the aim of the sect, structured according to a strict gradualism, was a Communist-style-social revolution. The social-anarchy program was revealed only to the followers at the highest levels.

“The Dictatorship of Fear and the Coming Persecution” — Sermon by a Traditional Priest

A traditional priest sent us the text of a sermon he preached recently and offered it to be shared with our readers.

My brethren, the world in which we live is falling apart. When we look at the political situation that we have in this country right now, or when we look at any other country in the globe, we cannot help but be scared, worried about is coming next.

Free 2021 traditional liturgical calendar for priests and bishops

As they have done the last few of years, the Servants of the Holy Family have asked us to alert the prelates and priests who read our blog that they can obtain a free traditional liturgical calendar! We have already reviewed this calendar and included part of that review with pictures below.

We are told that many priests, and several bishops, have requested free calendars over the last few years so this project has been successful.

For any priests or bishops who want a free calendar -- and for any layman who wants to send a calendar to a priest or bishop -- just click on the "CLICK HERE" below and fill out the form. Be sure to have the name and title of the cleric it should be sent to as well as the address.

Also, as most of us know having just gone through this for Christmas, the postal services is not only way behind but rates have gone way up. Due to this, for the first time, the Servants of the Holy Family are requesting that whomever requests the free calendar for a priest or bishop cover postage costs. 

For the regular-sized calendar, those costs are $5.50 for within the US, and $25 outside the US. However, if it's being sent outside the US, they offer a mini calendar that can be sent for $5.50 outside the country as well.

When you go to the donate page, below, please enter the appropriate amount for postage and handling using your credit card and enter the type of calendar (full size or MINI) wanted.

Earthquake: Francis decrees women can occupy the former Minor Orders of Lector and Acolyte | Update: Full Text of Motu Proprio

Swedish Lutheran female "bishops"

[UPDATE: Full English text of the motu proprio at the end of the post.] 

Of course, for us Traditional Catholics, the Minor Orders never ceased to exist. And for good reason: the  last major dogmatic Council, Trent, mentions all seven orders explicitly in the Canons and decrees related to Session XXIII 

But after Vatican II, the new elites severed the minor orders (Acolyte, Exorcist, Lector, and Porter) and one of the Major Orders (the Subdiaconate) from the Diaconate and Presbyterate. They became mere functions that could be performed by laymen, though demanded (the functions of Acolyte and Lector) from those who aspired to the Diaconate.

The limitation of these venerable positions, that have always been held by men since Apostolic times (since they are intimately joined to the cursus honorum of the Priesthood), to men was broken today by a motu proprio of Francis opening them to "lay people"-- that is, including women.

The Motu Proprio is available here (in Italian and Spanish); Francis' letter explaining it is available here (in Italian). A summary of the motu proprio and the letter sent by Francis to the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provided by Vatican News:

With a Motu proprio released on Monday, Pope Francis established that from now on the ministries of Lector and Acolyte are to be open to women, in a stable and institutionalized form through a specific mandate.

Fontgombault Sermon for the Epiphany (2021): As the Wise Men, Pay Attention to the Signs of the Times

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau

Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault

Fontgombault, January 6th, 2021

Vidimus stellam ejus.

We have seen His star.

(Mt 2:2)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My dearly beloved Sons,

Almost two weeks ago, the crib made us welcome to celebrate our Redeemer’s birth. Today, the Church invites us to attend His Epiphany, His manifestation to the world.

The birth of the Emmanuel, God with us, was indeed very private, hidden from the crowds: a secluded stable, Mary and Joseph alone, then a few shepherds summoned by the angels. That was all. The shepherds, silent men, probably kept the divine secret. Now, the time has come to proclaim this event. To whom will it be revealed, and how?

God is astonishing. On Christmas day, angels had borne the news of the divine birth to the shepherds. Isn’t that their role, as divine messengers? Today, to our utmost surprise, we can see arriving into our cribs a great show of colors, of animals, coming along with the mysterious Wise Men. Popular Christmas carols have many verses about them. These dignitaries’ arrival in Jerusalem must certainly have wrought havoc in the town. Very soon, the powerful were informed of the news, all the more as the Wise Men wished to meet them.

Epiphany and the Unordinariness of Liturgical Time


One chapter of Dom Gregory Dix’s The Shape of the Liturgy is named “The Sanctification of Time”.  This chapter shows how the Liturgical Calendar of the Church sanctifies time.  The Liturgical Calendar does not provide merely an overlay of secular time.  The Calendar is part of the recognition of the radically irruptive event of the Incarnation that changes time and space and reality forever.  Of course this includes the celebrations of the feasts of the Saints, those specific celebrations of the making real of the grace of God in the lives of those who open themselves up in a total way to this grace, above all in the Blessed Virgin Mary.  But the foundation of the Liturgical Calendar is the cycles that celebrate the Mysteries of the Birth, Life, Death,  Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Christmas cycle, which we are celebrating at this time, gives ultimate meaning to the secular, physical time when the days are becoming longer, a bit more light each day.  In the Christmas cycle we celebrate the coming into the world of the Light that shines in the darkness.  We celebrate the making flesh of God in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the birth of her child whose name is Jesus—he who comes to save. The climax of this cycle has always been the Epiphany, a feast older than Christmas, a feast that celebrates the fact that the event and the person of the Incarnation embraces not only time and space but embraces all the peoples of the world.  And the feast of the Epiphany proclaims in its three-fold way the answer to the seminal question asked in the Gospels: who is this man Jesus?  He is the one who is worshipped as God. He is the one who is the Son of God in whom his Father is well pleased.  He is the one who changes water into wine, for he is the Lord of creation itself.

One of the saddest and most deleterious effects of the changes in the structure and content of the Liturgical Calendar in the post-Conciliar reform is the lack of understanding of the sanctification of time by the feasts and fasts of the Church.  The introduction, at least in English, of the term, “ordinary time”, contradicts the fact that after the Incarnation there is no "ordinary" time. There is only the extraordinary time that has been brought into being by the insertion of the dagger of the Incarnation into ordinary time.  Now we know that the term “ordinary time” is a poor translation of the Latin term for “in course”.  But even this does not take away from the fact of the impoverishment of the Liturgical Calendar that has been effected by taking away the Sundays after the Epiphany and the Sundays after Pentecost.  The traditional way of naming these Sundays understood that these two feasts, Epiphany and Pentecost, are the climaxes of the Christmas and Easter seasons, the seasons that celebrate the event and meaning of, respectively, the Birth, and the Death and Resurrection of Christ, and therefore these feasts become the touchstone, the source of reality of the Sundays of the Church Year.

The Best Book on Its Subject: Dr. John Pepino Reviews Fiedrowicz’s The Traditional Mass

Michael Fiedrowicz.
The Traditional Mass. History, Form, and Theology of the Classical Roman Rite. Translated from the German by Rose Pfeifer. Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2020; xvi + 331 pages. ISBN 978-1621385240.

The reader interested in the traditional Roman liturgy and its place in the Roman-rite Church today ought to possess this most recent monograph on the Roman liturgy from Angelico Press. Certainly I hope that it finds its way into the hands of all Roman rite seminarians in the English world, not to mention pastors, and even bishops. It would help topple any number of sacred cows that stand in the way of a clear-eyed assessment of the two “forms of the Roman Rite.”   In fact, one finds oneself wishing that its analyses had been broadly available to the bishops before the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae . . . .

While Fiedrowicz is Germanic in his scholarly rigor and precision, at 331 pages his book is not a daunting tome. Furthermore, it is accessible even to the moderately informed layman and  manages to cover all the basic facts in its first 231 pages: Part I, “History,” tracks the development of this rite from its second-century beginnings to the twentieth century; Part II, “Form,” describes the rite from an external point of view (the degrees of solemnity, the structure of the Mass, the liturgical year, Latin as a liturgical language, ceremonies, rubrics, etc.). Its third and last part, “Theology” (pp. 233-304), shows how the traditional Latin Mass is formally a monument of Tradition, that is, an artifact which hands down revelation; the author calls it “celebrated dogma.” The book closes with a selective bibliography arranged by topic and a couple of indices (persons; subjects). In a word, it is a timely introduction to the Roman Church’s perennial Mass. 

The timeliness of Fiedrowicz’s work is partly due to his use of both pre- and post- conciliar sources: the canonical names are there, of course (Lebrun, Guéranger, Bruylants, Battifol, Jungmann, Schuster, Botte, Parsch, Mohrmann . . .), but also, and always advisedly, the heroes of the epic post-conciliar era of liturgical resistance scholarship (Gamber, Calmel, Madiran, Davies . . .), and naturally contemporary scholarship too (Barthe, Jackson, Kwasniewski, Lang, Mosebach, Nichols, Pristas, Reid, the Proceedings of the yearly CIEL conferences . . .). Even as recently published a contribution as Joseph Shaw’s important The Case for Liturgical Restoration (2019) is on the roster. Those who have recognized these names will also have noticed the international scope of the author’s scholarship: because he is a German speaker with a good command of French and English, this translation of his work gives to the English-reading public access to sources, scholarship, and insights not normally within close reach.

This is not to say that Fiedrowicz has no insights of his own. On the contrary, here is a priest who has not only read much, but also thought much, about the Roman rite of the Mass. The title of his book, for instance, reflects his own conclusions on the name by which one ought to call the Mass under study: “Traditional Mass” is his pick,  but he also finds “the Mass of All Times” to be a “lovely expression” (p. 46), and approves of  “the Classical Rite.” These terms all reflect an organic development culminating in the 1570 Missal, the “final outcome of a long evolution” (p. 55, relying on Guéranger, Newman, Bouyer, and Reid). As for the novel expressions “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite” and Usus antiquior—they are tied to our present context and are called to disappear . . . . Near the end of the book the author names the Mass as contained in the Missal that Paul VI promulgated the “recreated form” (p. 301), a nearly apt moniker.

The book reads as a celebration—if not a defense—of the traditional Mass. In this respect, it constitutes a long-overdue response to the attacks issuing from the liturgical establishment since World War Two and repeated to this day as a distraction from the obvious deficiencies of the Novus Ordo Missae. Fiedrowicz, a gentleman scholar, is never blunt; he rather lets the contrast between the old and the new speak for itself. His first disparagement, if one can call it so, of the NOM comes as a quotation from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the shift from the priest’s peccata mea (traditional) to peccata nostra (new Mass) during the Pax. One could draw up an exhaustive list of traditional elements that Fiedrowicz both explains and celebrates and that the NOM dropped, but the following examples will suffice: the importance of the Octave of Pentecost and Ember days; the relevance of “stational” Masses; the artistry of the Latin prayers; the excellence of the Offertory (responding to Dom Oury’s now-conventional defense of the NOM Offertory) . . . .

In the same vein, The Traditional Mass is a response to much of the (often dated) litnik scholarship that served as basis and excuse for the elaboration of the form created in the late 1960s. Generally speaking the author is unimpressed with the results of mid-century liturgical scholarship, which have time and again been proven wrong or at least exaggerated (p. 211).  Perhaps the most refreshing and, from the point of view of principles, satisfying argument is his tackling the (often unspoken) principle according to which the liturgical scholar’s knowledge of the first recorded mention of a ceremony or practice grants him license to dismiss it and call for its suppression (p. 209, n. 45). Here Fiedrowicz correctly points to a well-known principle of other human sciences (philology, linguistics, archaeology, etc.) that the first formal mention of a custom does not provide the date for its introduction, but rather usually reflects an already long-standing, if formally unrecorded, tradition.

Fiedrowicz’s cool argumentation goes on to explode a number1960s liturgical-scholarly shibboleths: the invocation of St. Cyril of Jerusalem for Communion in the hand (p. 115); the antiquity of the versus populum stance (p. 148), in the refutation of which he gets at the operative principle in one of his many golden lines, “the principal purpose of the liturgy is not dialogue, but collective worship”; the flaws of the Vulgate as liturgical text (p. 178); the unfittingness of the term “Gregorian” chant; the inability of the traditional Mass to include active participation (although the popes from St. Pius X to Pius XII could only have had the traditional Mass in mind when speaking of participation!); the meagreness of the traditional lectionary; the weakness of the Roman Canon as anaphora (in response to which he gives a magnificent presentation of its concentric structure around the Consecration); the silence of the Canon (much maligned, yet so eminently appropriate).

In addressing the question of the place of the vernacular in the liturgy, Fiedrowicz shows a supple command of the argumentation found in Church documents as well as in the work of the Grande Dame of Church Latin, Christine Mohrmann, who in her own day, like the never-believed prophetess Cassandra of Troy, had explained how the Latin of the liturgy is not the vernacular of the late Roman empire. Here he presents us with another of his golden lines: “the Church did not slip Latin on as a garment that could be replaced with another . . . the Roman Church artistically forged for herself her own Latin for her liturgy, and in it she uniquely expressed her identity” (p. 158). He also presents the devastatingly prophetic opinion a far-sighted Germanic bishop voiced as early as 1839, when the imitation of Protestant vernacularism was already a temptation: “Do not expect too much from the German language . . . the Protestant churches are getting more and more empty. The same may happen to ours too. I fear that we will drive out our old churchgoers without” attracting new ones (p. 171, n. 166). Fiedrowicz does not, however, appeal to the debatable argument that liturgical Latin, masking as it does the divine mysteries from the (latinless, presumably) laity, is the Western equivalent of the Eastern iconostasis; on a personal note I am grateful to him for it.

On a more theological level, the author, in chapter 9 (“Rituality and Sacrality”), explains the strengths of the traditional Mass. It is catholic, here meaning “universal,” both through time (a St. Irenaeus would be at home at the traditional Mass) and space (a foreign Catholic visitor is at home at the traditional Mass wherever he goes). It is intangible: one does not touch the sacred, as “objective space removed from human interference” is what makes God’s  presence perceptible. It is rigidly codified: the rubrics keep out subjective creativity on the part of the celebrant. It is richly symbolic: here the author goes a long way to explain the more mysterious ceremonies of the Mass, e.g. the paten hidden under the subdeacon’s humeral veil during part of the Canon at the Solemn Mass. Likewise chapter 5 (“Structure and Components of the Celebration of the Mass”) shows how the way in which the parts of the Mass are conducted is eminently fitting and meaningful, for instance the bowing and dialogue-format of the Confiteor or even the syntactical structure of the Orations. Most charming is the loving exposition of how well the Prologue of the Gospel according to Saint John fits as a conclusion to the Mass.

Another aspect of the book that will recommend it to scholar and layman alike is its carefulness. The author never claims more than he can argue; his tone is always calm and rational; the Greek and Latin quotations are refreshingly flawless and rendered into good English; citations from the Fathers of the Church, which are plentiful, refer to the most recent editions for the original ancient language and to the best English translations available. We can here thank the translator, Miss Rose Pfeifer, for not merely relying on the nearly unreadable Victorian English versions whose lack of copyright makes them too easily accessible on line.

Now a few words of criticism.

Some readers will find the author’s use of the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum as normative to be somewhat slavish, particularly in light of recent arguments for a return to the status of the Missal before the reform of the rubrics in 1960 and the “restored” Holy Week of 1956. This may be due in part to the 2011 year of publication of the first German edition. At the time (that is, before the CDF permitted a limited use of former editions of the Missal), it was hard to imagine an actual return; even now, the priests and faithful with regular access to pre-1962 celebrations are in the minority. Be that as it may, the author does also present the older, more traditional rubrics: he favors the Communicants’ Confiteor before Holy Communion; he mentions the former greater use of Benedicamus Domino instead of Ite Missa est; he gives a clear and succinct explanation of the older classification of feasts (double majors, semidoubles, etc., along with the gradation of solemnity); he mentions the reduced lessons (from twelve to four) at the Easter Vigil. On the other hand, in his otherwise excellent presentation of Vigils and their importance (fast before feast), he passes over the Vigil of Saint Andrew (suppressed in the 1960 revisions), even though it had traditionally inaugurated the Sanctoral. By and large, however, the author’s analyses should satisfy the faithful who are attached to the pre-1955 form of the Roman rite.

Another quibble concerns the selective bibliography: since the sources have been divided up into topics (“Sacred Language,” “Gregorian Chant,” “Orations,” etc.) rather than continuously listed in alphabetical order, it is hard to find the full citation of a work referred to in abbreviation in the footnotes; the work in question may not even be amongst those selected for the bibliography at the end. This makes the book unwieldy as one reads it with a view to the sources, as there may be much page flipping back to the first, full, citation of an abbreviated work. On the other hand, the bibliography as presented is perfect for one seeking to bulk up his liturgical library on any given topic.

At this point the reader will have realized, despite these last minor complaints, how important this new book is in the current liturgical conversation: it amounts to an authoritative “state of the question,” with any number of trailheads for further investigation. It also provides one with the many answers to the question posed by (as yet) inconvinced friends and relatives (including Novus Ordo clergy): “Why the old Mass?” In this respect it is the perfect gift (or loan) when one is unsure of one’s own mastery of the facts . . . or of one’s temper in what can easily turn to a heated debate. More broadly, this books constitutes the essential introduction for any one, from high school on, who wishes to understand the liturgical patrimony of Rome.

Reminder: Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society

This is our monthly reminder to please enroll Souls of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society. The Society now stands at 109 priests saying weekly or monthly traditional Latin Masses for the Souls. 

** Click here to download a "fillable" PDF Mass Card in English to give to the loved ones of the Souls you enroll (you send these to the family and/or friends of the dead, not to us). It's free for anyone to use. CLICK HERE to download in Latin and CLICK HERE to download in Spanish

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 repose of the Souls enrolled in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society." And we will always keep you completely anonymous unless you request otherwise. 

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.

De Mattei: 2021 in the light of the Fatima Message and Right Reason [updated]

January 2, 2021

The following is the text from a video lecture by Professor De Mattei from the Lepanto Foundation with his best wishes to all Rorate Caeli readers for the coming year 2021, in the Light of Our Lady of Fatima: “Light of Fatima, Light without shadows, Immaculate Light, Light of the Dawn arising: we ask Thee to illuminate our steps in the darkness of the night.”


 (The video in Italian can be found here: Il 2021 alla luce del messaggio di Fatima e della retta ragione - Prof. Roberto de Mattei - YouTube and Rorate will post the English video of this superb lecture presently).

The Message of Fatima

What really happened in 2020, the dramatic year which has just come to an end? And what awaits us in 2021? What are the prospects for our times?

The panorama we have before us is hazy, difficult to survey, but I’ll try to do it from the stance of the highest principles and greatest certainties, in the light of which, the history of the world must be judged.   

Among these great certainties there is one more than any other that can help us find our way in the present and future: the Message of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

We know well that Divine Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle and nothing can be added to it. The Message of Fatima does not belong to the patrimony of revealed faith. It is also true however, that, among private revelations, some concern the spiritual perfection of individual souls, others have, on the other hand, a social reach because they are meant for all mankind.

Well the message of Fatima is a private revelation intended not only for the spiritual well-being of the three little shepherds who received it, but for the entire human-race. And among all the private revelations of the last century, none have had as much recognition from the Church as Fatima has. In the space of a hundred years, seven Popes, from Pius XII to Pope Francis have recognized and honored Our Lady of Fatima, even if none have completely fulfilled Her requests.

In the year 2000, the Church officially revealed the so-called Third Secret of Fatima, the last part of the message revealed to the three little shepherds. An unfulfilled prophecy we must always bear in mind[1].

The prospect described by the Message of Fatima is tragic. The first tragedy that Our Lady presents to the children is the terrible vision of Hell which the souls of unrepentant sinners fall into.

How Different Are the Pre-1955, 1962, and 1969 Calendars from Christmas into Epiphanytide?

More and more Catholics are waking up to the huge differences between the old and new Roman liturgical calendars—the one, a product of two millennia of organic development; the other, brainchild of a 1960s committee. A subcategory of these folks are waking up to the significant differences between the calendar of the pre-1955 Missale Romanum and the one observed with the 1962 Missale Romanum. The chart above compares all three for the period from December 25th to January 18th.

In the period from Christmas through Epiphany, one can see at a glance the variations in logic and emphasis. The old calendars place great emphasis on Christmas, which is commemorated throughout the Octave, with the daily use not only of the Gloria but also of the Creed; even more, they place massive emphasis on Epiphany, which is a feastday older than Christmas and of loftier pedigree—although one would never know that from how it was demoted in recent decades, shoved to a nearby Sunday for convenience, and shorn of its octave. In the old calendars, the Most Holy Name of Jesus (an 18th-century addition) is an obligatory Sunday celebration, but in the new, an optional weekday celebration for January 3, which is impeded in 2021.

In terms of the “psychology” of the season, one notes that the more modern feast of the Holy Family is not permitted to “intrude” until the great event of the Nativity in all its facets—including its cluster of special companion saints who, as it were, surround the cradle of the infant King—has been given plenty of room to shine. Our gaze is intently focused on the mystery of the Incarnate Word: Christmas for eight days, the Circumcision when the Redeemer first shed His blood, the Holy Name he was given and by which we are saved, the Epiphany or revelation of God as savior of the Gentiles. Only after this do we turn expressly to the family in which Our Lord grew up, His baptism in the Jordan, His first miracle at Cana (2nd Sunday after Epiphany), and the start of His preaching and miracles (subsequent Sundays).

It’s not that Our Lady and St. Joseph are neglected, for they are always present in the readings, prayers, and antiphons, especially those of January 1st. Besides, they have their own major feastdays elsewhere in the liturgical year. It’s a matter, rather, of allowing the central mystery of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son of the Father to “breathe” or occupy center stage. In the new calendar, on the other hand, there is a bureaucratic breathlessness by which we efficiently rush from one thing to the next, almost as if we’d like to get back to “Ordinary Time” as quickly as possible.

An attentive study of these three columns indicates just how the 1962 calendar is transitional to the new calendar of 1969. For example, the Sunday of the Octave of Christmas, instead of being transferred when it collides with one of the feasts of the great saints of the octave, supplants it; the beautiful contrast between the original day and the octave day of the Holy Innocents is lost (“useless repetition”); the once-universal proper celebrations of the beloved bishop St. Thomas Becket and of the pivotal Roman pontiff Silvester are stifled. More gravely, the feast of the Circumcision is no longer given that title, but simply called the Octave of Christmas; the Vigil of the Epiphany is gone; the full-scale octave of Epiphany is gone, although the ferias continue to use the Epiphany Mass in a vestigial or placeholding way, which made the later introduction of “Ordinary Time” that much easier.

Although the 1962 TLM calendar is far superior to the 1969 Novus Ordo calendar, the pre-1955 is superior to both. As with Holy Week, as with Pentecost, so too with Christmastide: this chart gives us yet another angle from which to see the importance of a principled return to the liturgical books prior to the hasty modernizations and clumsy simplifications of Pius XII and John XXIII. It is the next great step in the ongoing restoration of Catholic tradition.

Veni Creator Spiritus! —A Very Blessed and Healthy Year of Our Lord 2021!

(Plenary Indulgence for Veni Creator sung in church or oratory on January 1st.)