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
(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
This Sunday (Sept. 2), I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Mass twice. The first was a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) at a nearby parish, the second a Novus Ordo at my own parish. It was a study in contrasts.
Normally, a traditionalist-leaning person such as myself would provide a quite predictable contrast between the TLM and the Novus Ordo. The emphasis would be on how becoming and wonderful and great and holy and awe-inspiring (and masculine!) the TLM was, versus how low-brow, saccharine, maudlin, mawkish, and irreverent (and effeminate!) the Novus Ordo was.
This will not be my approach here; I am far too contrarian to offer you the same old color-by-numbers trad whining that you can find elsewhere. I’m not denying the obvious contrasts between the two rites, nor my preference for the TLM. Rather, I will focus on the two homilies. On the whole, I found the homily delivered at the Novus Ordo more challenging and fulfilling. Let us begin: Continue reading
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?
Whatever the date on this post says, I’m writing this on the first Sunday of Lent. Here, I propose that David’s famous battle against Goliath is an Old Testament type of Our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness, as well as a type of Lent.
Here are my starting points:
1.) Today’s Gospel in the Traditional Latin Mass is St. Matthew 4:1-11, which narrates Our Lord’s temptation in the desert. After Christ fasts for 40 days, Satan tempts Him. Our Lord resists the temptations and triumphs over Satan. This passage is our New Testament Scriptural type for Lent. We fast for 40 days, at the end of which we celebrate Our Lord’s triumph over Satan in the mysteries of the Easter Triduum.
2.) David’s triumph over Goliath has traditionally been interpreted as a type of Our Lord’s triumph over Satan. Our Lord was a physical descendant of David and legal heir to his throne. David was anointed by Samuel to be King of Israel, and “Christ” means Anointed. Our Lord was born in Bethlehem, David’s birthplace, and was hailed on Palm Sunday as the Son of David. Etc. Continue reading
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
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
Today’s feast day (prior to 1960, anyway) commemorates the consecration of the Basilica of St. Peter ad Vincula (“at the Chains”). That’s the basilica in Rome that houses a major relic of St. Peter. It’s a single chain formed from two separate chains, one that bound St. Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem and one that bound him when he was imprisoned in Rome. When the two chains were brought together in the 400s, they miraculously fused together.*
Here are some photos that I took at the basilica in 2007. First, the miraculous chain. The reliquary is located in the confessio (crypt shrine) below the basilica’s high altar.
(Prefatory note: this post was inspired by an article* by Mons. Charles Pope on the radical deficiencies of Catholic catechesis in America during the past century and more.)
The “spirit of Vatican II” said that the Church as it existed in 1958 (let’s say) was hide-bound, clergy-bound, conformist, brittle, stifling, and infantilizing. The adult lay Catholic was treated as a child, lacking in personal responsibility for achieving personal holiness and maturing as a Christian. The institutions of the Church alienated him from a personal response to God’s grace.
The traditionalist often reflexively tries to reject this characterization. He states that he wants to restore all of the institutions that existed in 1958, or whatever date he picks. But shouldn’t the traditionalist agree with the indictment of Catholicism as lived ca. 1958? How, HOW, could the spirit of Vatican II have wrought such pure havoc if things were good?** How could religious orders and lay attendance at Mass, and devotion to the old liturgy, and public orthodoxy, etc., etc., have collapsed so readily unless the Church of 1958 was in fact victim to crippling institutionalism? The revolutionaries seized control of the institutions and proved their case. Continue reading
Here are some notes from today’s* Traditional Latin Mass for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, offered at St. Norbert’s Parish in Roxbury, WI:
1.) During my Confession, the priest told me to say Psalm 50 (aka 51) for my penance. That’s King David’s famous psalm of repentance. I went to the parish bookshelf in hopes of finding a Bible, but one didn’t turn up. Then I tried the table at the back of the church covered in devotional literature. I saw a small, antique-looking volume entitled “Extensionist Manual.” I figured it was put out by Catholic Extension**, which is an outreach organization directed at small rural parishes like the one I grew up in. Without knowing precisely what an “Extensionist Manual” would contain, I cracked the book open. It opened immediately to Psalm 50, in a section entitled “Penitential Psalms.” So a big thank you to Catholic Extension.