The Use of Esztergom (Ritus Strigoniensis)

We are pleased to present this article on the Use of Ezstergom (Ritus Strigoniensis) by Miklos Istvan Foldvary, whose paper summarizes the work of his colleague, Fr. Atilla, a priest of Galanta, Slovakia. Fr. Atilla is an expert on the Use of Ezstergom, having obtained his PhD doing studies on the Ritus Strigoniensis. He  currently offers the Mass according to the Use of Ezstergom with permission of his Ordinary. The Latin liturgy lived in many variants in the Middle Ages. With respect to their cha­racter and history of development, we may distinguish two major periods, and accor­dingly two principal types of ritual variants. The first group comprises the ritual va­riants dating to the period prior to the process of Romanisation at first supported and later commanded by the Carolingian rulers, the second includes the post-Ca­ro­lin­gian variants which were later discontinued in the wake of the Council of Trent.

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Philippine Bishop: Stop Homily Abuse

One thing we have often stressed on this website and blog is the importance of decent homiletics. This pertains not only to the content of a homily, but also to its delivery and length. It is ironic that homiletics is in such a particularly dismal state today, given that the post-Vatican II Church was supposed to "break open the Word of God" to the people with increased Scripture readings, more Gospel-themed homiletics, and a focus on the "pilgrimage of the People of God." These "fruits", like others of the "new springtime", have not materialized. By and large priests today do not know how to give a homily. They flounder about looking for ways to make the Gospel "relevant": we get anecdotes from sports, banal personal stories, terrible jokes, interpretations of the Scriptures that we fluffy or doctrinally suspect, and worst of all, it all goes on too long.

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Mandatum: Liturgical History

The Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper is distinctive for two unique features: the foot washing ceremony known as the Mandatum, and the Eucharistic procession to the Repository, which sets the stage for the services of Good Friday. Both features are well attested in the history of the East and the West and serve to highlight the Mass of the Lord's Supper as the opening of the Triduum, the "Still Days" preceding the celebration of our Blessed Lord's Resurrection on Easter. The washing of the feet has its origin in the actions of our Lord after the Last Supper, as narrated in the Gospel of St. John; it later became a sign of service in the early Christian community and eventually found its way into the liturgies of Holy Thursday. In this article, we will hypothesize about the origin of the foot-washing ritual, trace the history of the Mandatum in the Latin rite and examine the different forms it has taken over the centuries.

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Is liturgy really a big deal?

It is no surprise that liberal Catholics have traditionally placed a low value on the quality of liturgical celebrations; not on liturgy itself, because progressives think liturgy is extremely important - that is, so long as it is an anthropocentric, horizontal affair. It is not liturgy per se they disparage, but liturgy done well - that is, liturgy that is transcendent and God-centered. "Why be so finicky about the liturgy?" they say. "There are more important issues to get upset about! Issues like poverty, war, abortion and social justice!" Unfortunately, it is also common for conservative Catholics to hold dismissive attitudes towards the liturgy as well, adopting a minimalist approach that the externals of liturgical action are dispensable, can be discarded or changed without consequence, that all that matters is having a valid Eucharist, etc. Similarly, the charismatic movement tends to foster an attitude of undue casualness in the presence of the Lord. All of these are deficient approaches to the Sacred Liturgy.

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Multiple Voices in the Passion Readings

The most distinguishing feature of the Palm Sunday liturgy, whether modern or ancient, is of course the blessing, distribution and procession with palms, from whence the common name of the feast is derived. However, this is not the only distinctive feature of this Mass; it is also noteworthy for the reading of the Passion narrative in multiple voices. This is recalled in the Roman Rite, where the current official name for this feast is Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord. The ancient Gelasian Sacramentary (c. 750) makes no mention of a procession with palms but simply calls the feast Dominica in palmis, De passione Domini; many other names, ancient and modern, make reference to Jesus' passion. The reading of the Passion narrative on this day is very ancient. In this article we will trace the history of this practice, focusing in on the use of different lectors to represent the different voices in the Gospel narrative.

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Truth about the Kyrie

The Kyrie Eleison offers an interesting distinction between old Mass and New, but its history also provides an interesting challenge to contemporary myths about liturgical development. It is often supposed today that the Kyrie is a remnant of a time when the Mass was said in Greek, and thus a sign for us that just as the Mass was changed from Greek to Latin, it should be changed to the vernacular of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Kyrie was a later addition, unknown in the sub-apostolic era. Modern approaches to the Kyrie actually introduce foreign elements into the liturgy, as demonstrated in classic article by Ryan Grant.

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Mosebach on Losing our Liturgical Innocence

One of the most formative books in the development of my own thought on Catholic liturgy and tradition was The Heresy of Formlessness by German author Martin Mosebach (Ignatius Press, 2006). Though relatively unknown in America, Mosebach is a well-known voice for Catholic Tradition in the German speaking world. Heresy of Formlessness is truly an illuminating book that puts the liturgical rupture of the past four decades in perspective from the point of view of the layman in the pew. Particularly fascinating is Mosebach's notion that the liturgical problems since the 60's have caused us all to lose what he calls our "liturgical innocence." What does it mean to lose our liturgical innocence?

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Liturgy, Decorum and the Bible

There are many practices that certain laity and priests, of their own authority, have introduced into the Catholic liturgy that find no precedent in two thousand years of Christian Tradition. Yet, if questioned on the justification for these practices, their adherents will often cite examples out of the Bible. A common example is David dancing before the Ark as justification for liturgical dancing; a new one I encountered recently is the practice in charismatic parishes of people taking their shoes off and going about barefoot in the sanctuary, even in the immediate presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The argument in favor of this behavior is that it calls to mind the intimacy God wishes to have with us, as well as the example of Moses, who when coming into God's presence, was told to remove his sandals. Based on these considerations, this practice of going about in the sanctuary barefoot is considered praiseworthy and not irreverent in the least. Yet, as we shall see, the practice is based on an errant approach to the Bible and liturgy that wrongly assumes that it is acceptable to lift liturgical practices directly from things we read in the Bible without reference to the Church's Tradition.

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Primer on Restoring Liturgical Music

What is wrong with contemporary Catholic liturgical music, and why should we prefer a return to the Church's traditional forms of liturgical music? Let us begin by recalling that the Church’s liturgy is her official public prayer. As such, it is the common patrimony of all Catholics (not the private property of one parish, priest or bishop). In the Church's liturgy, we necessarily find an expression of the faith. The Liturgical arts, like all arts, are modes of communication, in this case, meant to communicate important truths about God and how He is to be worshiped. This article and subsequent follow-ups will deal with restoring to use, one of these arts, the native musical form of the Latin Church.

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Are Traditionalists Guilty of Pharisaism?

One of the most reoccurring and stinging accusations made against Traditional Catholics is the charge of “Pharisaism” or “legalism.” This is a very serious claim: after all, the Pharisees were the human agents responsible for the crucifixion of Christ and were referred to as a “brood of vipers” by Our Lord Himself (Matt. 22:33). It was of the Pharisees that Jesus asked the terrifying question, “How can any of you escape damnation?” Therefore, Traditionalists ought to respond to this charge with utmost seriousness and not just take it when liberal Catholics, Protestants or conservative Catholics start hurling the “P” word around.

The derogatory power in the label “Pharisee” consists not in the word itself, but in what this word brings to mind. When someone calls a Trad a Pharisee, they are of course not saying that we are adherents to a sect of 1st century Judaism. Rather, they are leveling the same criticisms that Christ leveled against the Pharisees of His day...

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St. Cyprian on "Disciplined Prayer"

In honor of the Feast of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian,  (September 16th), let us look at Cyprian's excellent Treatise on the Lord's Prayer, where he speaks of a topic that is very relevant today vis-a-vis the discussions between traditionalist and charismatic Catholics on the proper posture for prayer. Rather than preface the saint, I will just let him speak for himself:
 
"Let our speech and petition when we pray be under discipline, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God's sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. For as it is characteristic of a shameless man to be noisy with his cries, so, on the other hand, it is fitting to the modest man to pray with moderated petitions
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Law and Tradition

In two weeks (September, 2011), all of the dioceses in the U.K. will reinstate the pre-Vatican II law requiring (not recommending) but requiring abstinence of meat on Fridays. This is a very welcome development from a region of the Church that is known for its wackiness and extremely progressive tendencies. We should all applaud this move by the British bishops as a step in the right direction and pray that such measures would be contemplated and enacted by their American counterparts.

How often have we all wished that the bishops of the world and the Holy Father would take definitive stands for the restoration of tradition! Imagine if this directive was followed up by another directive forbidding communion in the hand, or abolishing altar girls, or forcefully asking the bishops to stop relegating all the major feast days to Sunday, or forbidding drums in Mass, mandating chant, etc. How we would rejoice!

Read more: Law and Tradition
 

Law and Tradition

In two weeks (September, 2011), all of the dioceses in the U.K. will reinstate the pre-Vatican II law requiring (not recommending) but requiring abstinence of meat on Fridays. This is a very welcome development from a region of the Church that is known for its wackiness and extremely progressive tendencies. We should all applaud this move by the British bishops as a step in the right direction and pray that such measures would be contemplated and enacted by their American counterparts.

How often have we all wished that the bishops of the world and the Holy Father would take definitive stands for the restoration of tradition! Imagine if this directive was followed up by another directive forbidding communion in the hand, or abolishing altar girls, or forcefully asking the bishops to stop relegating all the major feast days to Sunday, or forbidding drums in Mass, mandating chant, etc. How we would rejoice!

Read more: Law and Tradition
 

Papal Masses are Liturgical Paradigms

The Holy Father recently gave an improvised talk to the members of the Choir of the Pontifical Chapel. In this talk he made some truly extraordinary statements regarding the function that papal liturgies play in setting the liturgical tone for the universal Church. Benedict said:


"Papal liturgies, broadcast internationally, are a model by which all liturgical celebrations can be measured...papal ceremonies should be liturgical paradigms for the entire world. Those who follow papal ceremonies probably use them as a measure of accord by which the liturgy must be measured. In this way, the liturgy is transformed into a path through which the Pope teaches the Catholic faithful, giving them a proper idea of what they should expect [from the liturgy]." (Miles Christi Report, no. 107, Sept. 2009).

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