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The Reform of Holy Week in the Years 1951-1956

25 March, 2016 0 Comments

In October of 1949 at the Congregation of Rites, a liturgical commission was named which… was to study whether eventual reforms should be adopted; unfortunately, the calm necessary for such a work was not possible on account of the continual requests by the French and German episcopates demanding immediate changes with the greatest and most precipitous haste.

By Stefano Carusi, Rorate Caeli, March 2016

NB this is a reprint of a Rorate Caeli article from five years ago, but well worth revisiting at this time.It gives useful and not-widely-known background to the later and more ambitious program of liturgical reform, and introduces some familiar figures. As it happens a friend and I were speculating about the reason for the red cope on Palm Sunday; I’m still a bit puzzled… Ed.

Photo: Fr Mark D White, “Cosmos + Sun”

In the course of recent years, the publication of numerous studies concerning the history of the theological and liturgical debate of the 1950’s has cast new light on the formation and the intentions (which were not always openly declared at the time) of those who were the actual composers of certain texts.

As regards the work of the reform of Holy Week in 1955 and 1956, it is desirable to consider the declarations, finally made public now, of the well-known Lazarist Annibale Bugnini, and of his close collaborator and later secretary of the “Consilium ad reformandam liturgiam” Father Carlo Braga, and of the future-Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli, in order to establish whether or not their work of liturgical reform corresponds to a wider theological project and in order to analyze the validity of the criteria used and then reproposed in the reforms that followed. We shall consider the notes and minutes of the discussions of the preparatory commission, preserved mainly in the archives of the Congregation of Rites and recently published in the monumental work of the liturgical historian Msgr. Nicola Giampietro, which testify to the tenor of the debate.

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At the Summit is the Embrace in Havana, but at the Base Unity is Far Away

9 March, 2016 0 Comments

The Orthodox would rightly point to the dilution and tendency towards banality in the modern Catholic liturgical texts. The Orthodox would frown upon the express Sunday liturgies that sometimes are over in 30 minutes. Other worries for the Orthodox include: secular music, Communion on the hand, Communion without fasting, priests facing the congregation, liturgical dancing, women at the altar and excessive use of the laity.


Loyal readers may remember a review of a 2007 book Being Human for Human Beings, by Australian Catholic doctor and writer Aniello Iannuzzi. Here is a commentary of a different kind, written with his wife Paraskevi Tsironis, who is from the Orthodox tradition – with an introduction by Sandro Magister, who is well-known to most of us as the Editor of Chiesa Espresso, and thus perhaps be forgiven for describing Coonabarabran as “a village” – Ed.

“Ut unum sint”, post Kirill

by Aniello Iannuzzi and Paraskevi Tsironis, Chiesa Espresso

Photo: Chiesa Espresso

Pope Francis adores making headlines with Muslim, Protestant and Orthodox leaders.  Decrying proselytism, Pope Francis and his media operatives advertise all this as oecumenism and dialogue.

All agree that unity in Christendom is what our Lord wants. Reality suggests reunifications are only possible amongst the sacramental Churches, as the other ecclesial communities are too different and too varied.

Indeed the most serious oecumenical discussions have been those between Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. A type of new Council in Nicaea has been foreshadowed for them or their successors in 2025.

Last weekend, Pope Francis met Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Cuba. Commentary has ranged from cynical to euphoric.

But can these orchestrated manoeuvres realistically result in reunification of the Churches?

To do so, three broad areas need addressing: geopolitics, liturgy, sacraments.

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A Miracle of Liturgical Art: The Church of the Protection of the Mother of God at Yasenevo

18 February, 2016 0 Comments


Several things are amazing about this Church in an outer suburb of Moscow:

  • It’s beautiful (well, judge for yourself);
  • it’s brand new (consecrated last December);
  • It’s based on the Norman Cathedrals of Sicily (themselves marvels of eclecticism, with Western, Byzantine and even Moorish influences);
  • it was built by volunteer labour (“There was one professional iconographer hired to draw the great Pantocrator, but beyond that, the work was planned by highly-capable art students… in total there were at least 225 of these volunteer mosaicists, some of whom arrived with no skills, but only a life-long dream of making an icon, and ended up creating works of incredible beauty.”)
    – Editor




Interior (Photo: Orthodox Arts Journal).

This past fall I had the opportunity to visit a construction project that is nothing short of a miracle. I saw a group of mostly volunteers and amateurs, working with small donations, building a church to rival any monument in the history of Christendom. The project was recently completed, consecrated by His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, on December 27th, 2015. I would like to share what I have learned about this astonishing church.

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Bishop Schneider: 10 Elements of Renewal in the Liturgy

18 February, 2016 0 Comments

During the Eucharistic liturgy – at the very least during the Eucharistic prayer – when Christ the Lamb of God is immolated, the face of the priest should not be seen by the faithful. Even the Seraphim cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2) when adoring God. Instead, the face of the priest should be turned toward the cross, the icon of the crucified God.

By Steve Skojec of OnePeterFive

This is excerpts from, analysis of, and audio of [I haven’t listened to it yet] of a talk given by our old friend in Washington DC, sponsored by the Paulus Institute.

Why do we publish so much by Bishop Schneider? Well, we sponsored his visit, and I met him. Everything he said made excellent sense – while personally he struck me as being not merely humble, but infectiously joyful. (Reverence, I presume, is self-evident.)  So whenever I come across something by him, I read it. And whenever I read it, I have the sensation of being hit over the head with The Truth, in the form of a hardwood 4×4.

As a general rule, I tend not to read anything on the internet which starts with a number. If you share this prejudice, make an exception for this one. You’ll realise this fairly brief list also contains the rationale for things we know and love in the traditional liturgy, in ways that – at least for me – were wonderfully fresh, and in many cases new.

It also expresses, much better than I could in a recent attempt, the complexity of the Mass, and (by implication) the futility of attempts to reduce it to an 

There’s also a great commentary by Steve Skojec of OnePeterFive – and don’t miss his comment in the combox about the Bishop’s response to the question “Well why not just have the Old Mass?”

– Editor.

On February 14, 2015, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, was sponsored by the Paulus Institute to give a talk in Washington, DC.  During the talk, he proposed concrete actions — ten essential elements — which should be implemented to accomplish liturgical renewal.

As an attendee, I was impressed once again by his excellency’s concern for reverence and piety in Catholic worship. Because of the deep value of the insights he presented, I would like to offer to you my own summary of his principle themes.

Bishop Schneider in Washington (Photo: OnePeterFive.)


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Book Announcement: T&T Clark “Companion to Liturgy”, edited by Dom Alcuin Reid.

11 February, 2016 0 Comments

…most of the authors represent the new wave of liturgical scholarship that is highly respectful of and dedicated to the Catholic tradition and, accordingly, skeptical about the rapid and ideologically-motivated changes that befell the Roman Catholic liturgy before and particularly after the Second Vatican Council.

By PETER KWASNIEWSKI, New Liturgical Movement, 2 February 2016

Ever since my copy arrived, it has been my devout intention to prepare a worthy review of this momentous and authoritative new book, the T&T Clark Companion to Liturgy, edited by Dom Alcuin Reid. But since the review may take a while to finish given my teaching schedule and the density of the book, I thought it best to offer at least a teaser of this magnificent volume — particularly in light of the announcement from the publisher, Bloomsbury, that during the month of February exclusively, people may purchase this book at a 35% discount, using the code LITURGY35.

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