St. James, Our Lady, and America

I’m a day late in posting this, but yesterday (July 25) was the feast day of St. James the Greater. Along with St. John the Evangelist (St. James’ brother) and St. Peter, St. James was one of Our Lord’s inner circle, being present at the Transfiguration and during Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden. Here are some one-off notes in appreciation of St. James:

St. James’ Iconography: Apostle, Pilgrim, Moor-Killer, and Martyr

Over at the New Liturgical Movement, David Clayton has posted an article about St. James’ iconography.* One of the commenters, Thom Ryng, notes that St. James appears in art in three different ways: as Apostle, as pilgrim, and as the Moor-Killer (Santiago Matamoros).**

I’ve seen the apostle, pilgrim, and Moor-Killer (or martyr?) identities combined in iconography. Once upon a time, I used to attend Mass at St. James Parish in Trumansburg, New York. The canopy/reredos at St. James shows a bishop’s crosier and sword laid across each other. The crosier obviously shows that St. James was an Apostle, and hence a bishop. The sword likely refers to his martyrdom by beheading, but also possibly to his status as Santiago Matamoros, the scourge of the Moors during Spain’s Reconquista. I believe the canopy also shows the pilgrim’s scallop shell, which points to Santiago de Compostela and the Way of St. James. Continue reading

The TLM and Old Ethnic Parishes

Traditionalists sometimes complain about being put in “inner-city parishes.” Recently, I’ve seen complaints about how this practice inconveniences and intimidates traditionalists.* Are bishops intentionally dissing us this way?

Let’s propose a more charitable interpretation. In the 19th and 20th centuries, there were a lot of ethnic parishes in a America. The Irish wanted their own parish, and the Italians wanted theirs; so too the Germans, Poles, etc. In Wisconsin, you would get more exotic samplings, like Bohemians (=Czechs), Walloons (=Romance-language-speaking Belgians), and Dutch. Continue reading

American Catholic Parochialism: Some Preliminary Remarks

Tribalism has been a major point of discussion during this election season in the United States, so I thought I might make some remarks on the topic of American Catholic parochialism. I define this as the tendency of some self-identifying Catholics in the United States to interpret American history in light of the specific experience of American Catholics.

I’ll very briefly give two examples: 1.) the entire complex of historical interpretations propagated by E. Michael Jones et al. in “Culture Wars,” Fidelity Press, etc., and 2.) the “Catholic Confederate” meme. That’s the apparently persistent tendency of self-identifying Catholics (often chest-thumping trads) on the Internet who pledge their allegiance to the heritage of the Southern Confederacy on the grounds that the Confederacy was somehow more congenial to Catholic principles.*

Having given those examples, let me ask a question that has been around since America’s Founding, possibly since the foundation of Jamestown: can a Catholic be a good American? By “good American,” I mean an American citizen fulfilling his proper duties under natural, divine, and human law to the commonwealth of the state where he lives and to the federal republic as a whole. I give two answers:

Continue reading

St. Norbert in the Driftless

As a New Liturgical Movement article reminds me, yesterday (June 6) was the feast day of St. Norbert of Xanten. St. Norbert is the patron saint of St. Norbert Parish in Roxbury, WI. The parish was founded by Fr. Adalbert Inama, a 19th-century missionary priest who is regarded as the Apostle of the Four Lakes Region.* Fr. Inama belonged to the Premonstratensian Order, also known as the Norbertines because they were founded by St. Norbert. So a Norbertine priest named the parish after the founder of his order. To add to the name game, Fr. Inama shared his Christian name with St. Adalbert, the first Archbishop of Magdeburg, a see that St. Norbert later held.

In addition to being one of the best-preserved historic churches in the Driftless Area, St. Norbert’s is also a hub for the Traditional Latin Mass, which is offered there on weekdays and on Sundays (click the parish link above for the schedule). The parish is served by the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, which was founded in Spain (here’s the website of their founder). I think the missionary heritage at St. Norbert’s is heartening. St. Norbert held the see of St. Adalbert, the Apostle of the Slavs. His spiritual son Fr. Adalbert Inama came from Austria to serve the German-speaking Catholics of the Driftless Area. Now a Spanish order has taken the baton. Continue reading

Finding the Invention of the Cross

I like puns, and the title is a bit of one. Prior to 1960, the Feast of the Invention of the Cross was celebrated on May 3. “Invention” here means “finding,” specifically St. Helena’s discovery of the True Cross when she visited Jerusalem in the early 300s. We still celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14, which commemorates the (wicked, by the way) Emperor Heraclius’ recovery of the True Cross from the Sassanid Persians in 600s. Prior to Vatican II, the liturgical wreckers at the Vatican decided that the Holy Cross by which Our Lord and Savior Jesus redeemed the world deserved only one feast day, not two, so they deleted the Invention of the Cross. Look in your 1962 Roman Calendar, and you will not find it.

Which is sad. Because however unpopular a kind-of-sort-of duplicative feast day might be to closeted Freemasons in Rome, there is likely some group of Catholics somewhere in the world for whom that is their patronal feast. In certain parts of Mexico and the United States, Catholics of Mexican ancestry traditionally celebrated the Invention of the Cross on May 3 by performing the matachines, a type of ritual dance with Native American origins.

You can find a lot of videos of these dances on YouTube if you search for matachines. Here’s a video showing matachines dancers apparently dancing in honor of the Holy Cross. Click here for information about the matachines and their traditional celebration in Texas on May 3.