Christmas on the Palatine

In my previous post, I discussed the commemoration of the martyr St. Anastasia at the Mass at dawn on Christmas Day. I focused on St. Anastasia’s name, which recalls the Resurrection of Our Lord. In this post, I will discuss the location of the station church for the Christmas Mass at dawn, namely the Basilica of Sant’Anastasia al Palatino. This basilica is located on the Palatine Hill in Rome. I will argue that this location is especially fitting for a celebration of Christ’s Birth in the Grotto of Bethlehem.

Circumstances of Our Lord’s Birth

To begin with, let’s consider some circumstances of Our Lord’s Birth. Our Lord was born in a cave or grotto in the countryside outside of Bethlehem. Despite the humble trappings of His Birth, Our Lord was the King of Israel and the Son of God. He was miraculously conceived of the Virgin Mary, and was born without damage to Her virginity. Our Lady laid the Infant in a manger; the cave was used as a sheepfold, and shepherds came to pay Him homage. Fearing that Our Lord would seize his throne, Herod the Great sought to kill Him, and did in fact massacre the other male infants of Bethlehem. As a result, the Holy Family fled into exile.

Romulus, Remus, and the Palatine

Many of the circumstances of Our Lord’s Birth find a parallel, or a pointed contrast, in the legend of the birth of Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome.* Continue reading

Commemorating the Resurrection on Christmas

(This is the first of two posts about the Solemnity of Christmas. While I had intended to post these on Christmas Day, at least I am doing so within the Octave.)

If you pay attention to the liturgy, then you might be aware that we honor a string of martyrs immediately after Christmas: St. Stephen the Protomartyr on Dec. 26, the Holy Innocents on Dec. 28, and St. Thomas Becket on Dec. 30. The joy of Christmas is tied to the witness of the martyrs; the Incarnation of Our Lord calls forth this witness on our part. That is the Providence of celebrating these martyrs within the Octave of Christmas.

In this post, I’ll focus on a martyr of the Christmas Octave who is often overlooked: St. Anastasia. I’ll also explore the significance of her name, which means “Resurrection.” Continue reading

The God of Faithful Dependability

And now I get to be a cranky trad. Pope Francis recently said that Easter reveals God as a “God of Surprises.” On the one hand, our redemption by means of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection truly is surprising. On the other hand, Our Lord explicitly told His disciples that He would die and rise again before He did it (St. Luke 24:6-8):

(6) He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee, (7) Saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. (9) And they remembered his words.
Continue reading

Easter Vigil and Cranky Trads

The Easter Vigil, celebrated at the proper time since 1955 (i.e. in the evening, not the morning, of Holy Saturday), seems to cause otherwise astute people to say nonsensical things. These folks seem to think that all liturgical reforms during the 20th century were wrong, therefore the Easter Vigil Mass should be offered in the morning. Here’s an example of their reasoning:

“Evelyn Waugh had some pungent complaints about this, noting, quite reasonably, that the evening service is not really compatible with the orientation toward the dawn of Easter.”*

Think about that. An “orientation toward the dawn of Easter” better suits a Mass said on the morning *of Holy Saturday* instead of a Mass said during the night that ends *with the dawn of Easter.* Why didn’t the Church just abolish Holy Saturday altogether and up and anticipate Easter Sunday on Holy Saturday and have done with it?

*https://semiduplex.com/2018/04/02/a-question-about-holy-saturday/

Ascent and Descent in the Mass of the Holy Family

Lately, I’ve written twice* about the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. I’ve approached this event as the fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. It also provides the Gospel (St. Luke 2:42-52) read on the Feast of the Holy Family, which we celebrated at the beginning of this month. I noticed something striking about the Offertory and Communion readings for the Mass, at least in the Traditional Latin Mass (English translation from the Baronius Press Missal):

Offertory: The parents of Jesus carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord. (St. Luke 2:22) Continue reading

A.D.: The Era of the Precious Blood, the Holy Name, and the Mother of God

Background: In the Old Rite, the Octave of Christmas (January 1) is the Feast of the Circumcision. In the Novus Ordo, it’s the Solemnity of the Mother of God. I am writing this on January 1.

A little known fact: according to the traditional reckoning, Our Lord was born on Christmas Day (December 25) in the year 1 B.C. The year 1 A.D. began only on the Octave of Christmas. As a result, the first “year of Our Lord” commences with:

1.) The first spilling of the Precious Blood of Jesus in the rite of circumcision.

2.) The application of the Holy Name of Jesus. St. Joseph gave Jesus His Name at the circumcision.  Continue reading

Transfiguration

For the Feast of the Transfiguration, here are some photos from Gesu, which is the parish church at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I used to sit next to this stained glass window when I was an undergraduate. It shows Our Lord transfigured on Mt. Tabor. Moses is in the upper left corner with the tablets of the Law and “horns” of light coming out of his face. Elias (Elijah) is in the upper right coner. Sts. Peter, James, and John appear at the bottom of the window.

P1010015 Continue reading

Honoring St. Martha on Her Sister’s Octave

For me as a Norwegian-American, July 29 is first and foremost the feast of St. Olaf, patron saint of Norway.* When I opened my Baronius Press Missal, however, I wasn’t sure which saint would be listed today; in the Roman Calendar, the patron saint of remote Norway doesn’t rank particularly high. I was intrigued when I saw that today is the feast day of St. Martha. I immediately flipped back to July 22 and saw what I expected—the feast day of St. Mary Magdalen. Per a tradition in the Latin Church going back at least to Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Mary Magdalen is the same person as St. Mary of Bethany, sister of St. Martha. So St. Martha’s feast day falls on the octave of her sister’s feast.

*See my post here: https://driftlesscatholic.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/blog-pseudonym-saint-day-st-olaf-martyr-patron-and-eternal-king-of-norway/

Blog Pseudonym Saint Day: St. Olaf, Martyr and Eternal King of Norway

271The photo above shows the altar of St. Olaf in Rome. He is shown with his battle axe, triumphantly crushing under foot the dragon of paganism (or maybe, in the artist’s mind, Lutheran heresy?). My blog pseudonym is the Latin form of “Olaf from Wisconsin.” My family is from Wisconsin (though I wasn’t born or raised here), and I’m one-eighth Norwegian. When I was a child, my late father (who was insanely proud of his one-quarter Norwegianity—may he rest in peace) used to call me “Ole,” which is short for Olaf.

St. Olaf was the King of Norway who spearheaded the conversion of that country to the Roman Catholic Faith. For his efforts at converting the pagan Vikings, St. Olaf was martyred during the Battle of Stiklestad on July 29, 1030, which is why today is his feast day. St. Olaf is honored as the “eternal king” (Rex Perpetuus) of Norway. Unfortunately, Norway was annexed by Denmark during the Protestant Revolt, and the Danes imposed Lutheranism on the country.

When I was studying under Fr. Reginald Foster in Rome ten years ago, I visited many of the so-called National Churches in the city. These are the churches that each nation claims as “its church” in Rome. I figured that Norway, despite its official Lutheranism, must have at least a chapel somewhere. Catholics—good ones, anyway—are always trying to reclaim the lost sheep among the nations. One day by accident, I stumbled upon the Norwegian national chapel in the Basilica of San Carlo al Corso* (which is the National Church of the Lombards). That’s where I took the photo above. The Latin inscriptions on the edge of the painting read in part, “Norvegia Catholica; S. Olaus Martyr, Norvegiae Rex et Patronus.” Translated, that’s, “Catholic Norway; St. Olaf, Martyr, King and Patron of Norway.” Continue reading