Category Archives: Jesus

Liturgy: Deviations In Holy Week


These are just a selection of many inquiries about blatant reordering of the liturgy in general and the Easter celebrations in particular. Why these things happen and why some priests are deluded into thinking that this is a more “pastoral” approach than following the prescribed rubrics, remains a mystery.

I remain convinced that the best and most effective pastoral policy is to offer Christ’s faithful the rites that his Church proposes. This is what has stood the test of time and of widespread use. Our personal tinkering can only impoverish and weaken their effectiveness.

From the legal standpoint, all of these initiatives violate Sacrosanctum Concilium 22’s basic principle of liturgical law quoted by our first questioner. This norm is not restricted to the Mass but to the entire liturgy, including all celebrations of the sacraments and also the sacramentals. In the case of the sacramentals and the Liturgy of the Hours the official books themselves occasionally allow for greater leeway in choosing texts and modes of celebration, provided that certain core criteria are always met.

As our first correspondent observed, they also explicitly violate many other liturgical norms. This is the case in Q2 where, effectively, the only occasions when laypeople are allowed to read the Gospel along with the priest is Palm Sunday and Good Friday. The other exception, foreseen in No. 47 of the Directory for Masses with Children, does not apply to Masses celebrated for the whole parish community.

Read or download Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara’s, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university,  complete responses at Deviations in Holy Week.

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The Beauty of the Annunication


We are reproducing a fine article that appeared in Zenith. The article does not need an introduction.

Five Joyous Pieces

Contemplating and Enjoying the Annunciation Through Artistic Genius

ROME, MARCH 29, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A few weeks ago, the ever-alert editors at ZENIT sent me an interesting idea for a column. A writer for the Catholic Herald UK had selected his favorite images of Mary to present to his readers. Taking a leaf from his blog, I thought I might propose a list of my five favorite images of the Annunciation in honor of the feast day this week.

It is impossible to choose a single favorite, therefore the list doesn’t go in any particular order, but simply presents five ways that artistic geniuses inRomehave offered this great mystery for our contemplation and enjoyment.

Sta Maria Maggiore, Triumphal Arch, Mosaic, c. 450

 1. The triumphal arch in the basilica of St. Mary Major contains one of the most unusual images of the Annunciation as Mary sits in a throne surrounded by attendant angels. No simple girl in a plain woven dress, this Mary wears regal robes and sits with the dignity of an empress. This mosaic, crafted in 450 for the first Western church dedicated to Mary, was made for an audience ofRome’s senatorial elite. Fashioned only a few years after the Council of Ephesus, where the Nestorian heresy had been defeated and Mary proclaimed Mother of God, this elegant work, made for the local aristocrats, intentionally conferred a royal aspect on Mary to evoke due homage from the Romans. A particularly interesting touch is that the Annunciation to Mary is paired with the angel speaking to Joseph — this is the first image of Joseph in the history of art.

Annunciation, Pietro Cavallini, Mosaic , 1290

2.  We cross the Tiberto Trastevere for the next image of the Annunciation, this time by Pietro Cavallini. This mosaic was crafted in 1290, almost a thousand years after that of St. Mary Major. The mosaic art was dying out, soon to be replaced by the medium of fresco, which was more versatile for narratives. Cavallini gave the art of mosaic its swan song in this series of small panels, very much an homage to the works in St. Mary Major. The gold ground of this Annunciation is dazzling and as light shimmers around the two figures it evokes the mystery and majesty of the event. But this mosaic is not all transcendence; Mary sits on a monumental throne, much like the triumphal arches of antiquity, still visible in the Forum. With Mary’s fiat to God, so begins the era of victory over sin and death. The Blessed Virgin is not bedecked in jewels nor swathed in folds of drapery as often portrayed in Byzantine art; her tunic falls around her revealing the human being underneath. In this work we also see God the Father in the upper left sending the Holy Spirit to Mary. As in all early representations of the First Person, He appears with the visage of Christ, the visible Person of the Trinity. Cavallini not only teaches but also delights. A bowl of figs sits by Mary’s one side while a vase of lilies stands by the other. It appears that Medieval artists rediscovered the still life a century before the Flemings and half a millennium before the Impressionists. Another innovation of Cavallini’s age was the rendering of perspective space. Over the head of the Virgin, the artists re-creates a coffered vault depicting a three dimensional space. In this ancient story, told in an archaic medium, Cavallini invents fresh new flourishes.

Annunciation, Filippo Lippi (student of Botticelli), 1492

3. The 13th century church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva forged a special bond with the Annunciation. Here, Cardinal Juan de Torquemada founded the Confraternity of the Annunciation in the 15th century. Together with other wealthy prelates, he started an endowment to provide poor girls with dowries. Every March 25, the Pope would preside over Mass in this space and then distribute the dowries to the future brides. It is therefore unsurprising that two ofRome’s best Annunciation paintings are in the same church. The first is in the right transept chapel, built by Cardinal Oliviero Caraffa in 1488. To decorate his chapel, Cardinal Caraffa consulted Lorenzo de Medici who suggested Filippino Lippi, the painter with finest pedigree in Renaissance art. As the son of Filippo Lippi, student of Botticelli and heir to Masaccio, there was nothing that could daunt this young painter. His Annunciation from 1492, turns traditional imagery around in a surprising new way. Mary receives the angel Gabriel not in a garden or bedroom, but in a study, much like a monastic cell. The wooden walls are constraining and her shelves are lined with books. Here, Mary embodies the motto of the Dominicans, who were and are the custodians of this church: Contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere – “to contemplate and to share with others the fruits of the contemplation.” In this dark enclosed space, Lippi painted Gabriel as an iridescent figure framed by an arch, who seems to gaze in awe at Mary. The Virgin, poised on a chair, is the pinnacle of the composition. To our surprise, she does an extraordinary thing; turning her back on the angel, she directs her attention to two onlookers, St. Thomas Aquinas who is presenting a kneeling Cardinal Caraffa. Could it be that the Virgin was distracted during the Annunciation? Of course not. The luminous hues of the angel also envelope her cloak while the matte red of her dress matches the robes of the Cardinal. Her hand is raised in blessing toward her devotees and thus we see Mary in this work as a conduit of grace. Having received the grace of the Lord, she already turns to pass it on to others.

Annunciation, Antoniazzo Romano, 1500

4.  A few steps down the same aisle will bring the pilgrim to the second image of the Annunciation, in the chapel of the homonymous Confraternity where they met and prayed together. This altarpiece is by Antoniazzo Romano, a painter born just a few steps away from the Pantheon. Despite being painted in 1500, the zenith of the High Renaissance, Antoniazzo’s work looks a little old-fashioned. The figures of the angel and Mary are larger compared to the others in the panel and the background is a wall of gold leaf. Antoniazzo was not ignorant of Renaissance innovations, however, he chose to use them sparingly so as to not distract from the central significance of the story. Mary and Gabriel are indeed the protagonists of this event, and the smaller cardinal with the young maidens are in fact of minor importance. Despite the elegant lines of the figures and his good drawing skills, with Antoniazzo the hierarchy of heaven takes precedence. Similarly, Antoniazzo has learned the new art of perspective as is visible in the floor tiles, but chooses to leave the gold ground like the many mosaicked apses ofRome. Antoniazzo sparingly adds details from the empirical world, but the true wonder of the Annunciation is in its mystery of incarnation, and Antoniazzo’s artistic decisions underscore this.

Annunciation, Marcello Venusti, 1500

5. The last is a little-known work by Marcello Venusti, a follower of Michelangelo. This Annunciation, dated around 1550, is kept in the Corsini Gallery in Trastevere. Venusti was part of Michelangelo’s closest circle and was commissioned to make a copy of the master’s Last Judgment for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Michelangelo often prepared designs for Venusti’s works and it is likely that the Florentine genius was responsible for the composition of this work. Unlike the other versions of the Annunciation, this was not meant for public display, but private devotion. In this panel, the Virgin does not kneel in submission, but looks startled, taken by surprise by the angel in her room. The sharp turn of her body and the raised hand indicate an immediate reaction to the unexpected. This type of image was well suited to private devotion as it captured the way that God often surprises us when He calls. A statue of Moses with the Old Law sits on her table. The prophet appears to be smashing his tablets. The Old Covenant with God will be now superseded by Mary, theArkof the New Covenant. This little panel must have provided much fruit for meditation for its former owner.

These five joyful pieces have allowed generations of Romans to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation through different perspectives, styles and techniques in a case where all roads lead to God.

 * * *

Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at DuquesneUniversity’s Italian campus and Universityof St. Thomas’ Catholic Studies program. Her new book, “The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de’ Medici” was published by Harcourt, Mifflin Houghton Press this fall.  She can be reached at lizlev@zenit.org

Read or download the full article on Sacred Art And Its Most Intimate Essence.

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Liturgy, Work of the Trinity/2: God the Son


In the celebration of the sacraments, that is, in the sacred liturgy, Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit,signifies and realizes the Paschal mystery of his Passion, Death on the Cross and Resurrection. This mystery does not consist simply in a series of events of the remote past (even if the historicity of those events cannot be overlooked!), but enters the dimension of eternity, because the actor that is, He who acted and suffered in those events was the Word incarnate. Because of this, the Paschal mystery of Christ embraces all times and is being made present in them all (n. 1085) through the sacraments that He himself entrusted to his Church, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Read Uwe Michael Lang’s Column on Liturgical Theology in The  Liturgy, Work of the Trinity- Part 2 – The Son (CCC 1084-1090). 


REFLECTIONS ON EUCHARIST IN LIGHT OF “ADORO TE DEVOTE”


Effectively there are two variants of this beautiful hymn. Most of the variations occur in the first two verses. The substitution of the words “posset omni scélere” for “quit ab omni scélere” in the second-to-last verse and “cupio” for “sitio” in the closing one are practically the only other changes.

This hymn is usually attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) even though the earliest extant manuscript hails from about 50 years after his death. References to Aquinas’ hymn in the writings of his

Franciscan contemporary Jacopone da Todi (1228-1306, author of the Stabat Mater) tend to confirm its authenticity.

In spite of its saintly authorship the hymn never entered into the official liturgy and was only saved from obscurity when Pope St. Pius V included it among the prayers of thanksgiving after communion in his missal of 1570. Paul VI incorporated it into the Roman ritual, using a critical text established by the liturgist Dom André Wilmart. (read the entire Adoro Te Devote + Blue Vestments).

In 2004, Father Cantalamessa began a series of Eucharistic reflections in the light of the hymn Adoro Te Devote.

Reflection on the Eucharist


First Sermon – Adoro te devote

To respond to the Holy Father’s desire and intentions to dedicate this year to the Eucharist, the preaching for this Advent — and, God willing also for next Lent, will be a stanza-by-stanza commentary of the Adoro Te Devote.

With his encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” the Holy Father John Paul II said he intended to reawaken “Eucharistic wonder” in the Church,[1] and the Adoro Te Devote lends itself wonderfully to achieve this objective. It might serve to give spiritual inspiration and heart to all that will be done during this year to honor the Eucharist.

A certain way of speaking of the Eucharist, full of warm unction and devotion as well as of profound doctrine, banished by the advent of so-called scientific theology, was preserved in old Eucharistic hymns and it is here that we must look for it today, if we wish to overcome a certain arid conceptualism that has afflicted the Sacrament of the Altar in the wake of so many disputes surrounding it.

Ours, however, will not be a reflection on the Adoro Te Devote, but on the Eucharist! The hymn is only the map that helps us to explore the territory, the guide that introduces us to the work of art. (Continue Reading the Reflections On Eucharist In Light Of Adoro Te Devote Part 1.)


Spiritual Art: Consumer Christ


This is an example of spiritual art.

What does it say to you?

Consumer Christ

Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.


Traditional Proclamation of Christ’s Birth


VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has restored the tradition of proclaiming the birth of Christ with the chanting of the “Kalenda.” The chant culminated the prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square on Christmas Eve, which was accompanied by the unveiling of the life-size Nativity Scene.

Nativité (Marc Chagal)

Here is an English translation of the proclamation, provided by the U.S. bishops:

* * *

THE PROCLAMATION OF THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

Today, the twenty–fifth day of December,

unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth and then formed man and woman in his own image.

Several thousand years after the flood, when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant.

Twenty–one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah; thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges; one thousand years from the anointing of David as king;

in the sixty–fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel.

In the one hundred and ninety–fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty–second year from the foundation of the city of Rome.

The forty–second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; the whole world being at peace,

Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit,

and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.

Today is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Read or download the entire proclamation with music at proclamation-of-the-birth-of-christ.


Blotting Out Parenthood


Imagine gazing at your child and coldly declaring, “You should never have been born.” Yet parents are doing exactly that in courts around the world as they bring “wrongful life” or “wrongful birth” lawsuits against doctors and fertility clinics.

  • “Wrongful life” cases are filed on behalf of the child, claiming that non-existence is preferable to living in a diseased state.
  • A 2003 lawsuit sought damages because Down syndrome was not diagnosed prenatally.
  • A 2009 case in England sought £1.5 million as a down payment on the care of Rupert, a 5-year-boy who was born with congenital heart defects, a cleft palate, a vertebral abnormality and a single kidney.

Here are some useful definitions:

1) Wrongful life means the the child sues the mother or other people for being born.

2) Wrongful birth means the mother sues other people for being burdened with a disabled child something she could have avoided. In essence wrongful birth suits are genetic or prenatal malpractice suits tort cases

3) Wrongful pregnancy means that you became pregnant or had a child period without wanting it (this happens if a pregnancy isn’t detected or a sterilisation procedure fails the difference between 1-3 in my eyes is that in 2) the child is damaging the mother.

in 1) the child him/herself can say they were wronged and they could at least theoretically say that based on their impairment or based on the societal framework.

3) is like 2) but not based on disability. Interestingly if you sue for 3) you will like in USA be compensated for the cost of e.g. the sterilisation procedure but NOT for the cost this addittional child will cost you till he/her is 18. But in 2) you will get payments for the costs the kid cost you (very likely lifetime costs). The rational for not giving child
related cost s to the mother in case 3) the non disabled child is that having a child is so great that you can’t get reimbursed for it. but in 2) in the case of the disabled child that argument of 3) is not used because having a disabled child is truly not a good thing and so you the mother were harmed.

In addition, there is case 4)

4) wrongful breech of warrenty means that a mother or child can sue because a bad embryo was used in the IVF procedure in the case preimplantation diagnostic is available. UK below opens possibility that child can sue related to preimplantation diagnostic

HFE Act1A; (1) (UK) In any case where

  • a child carried by a women as the result of the placing in her of an embryo or of sperm and eggs or her artificial insemination is born disabled,
  • the disability results from an act or ommission in the course of the selection, or the keeping or use outside the body, of the embryo carried by her or of the gametes used to bring into the creation of the embryo, and
  • a person is under this section answerable to the child in respect of the act of omission, the child’s disabilities are to be regarded as damage resulting from the wrongful act of that person and actionable accordingly at the suit of the child.

Read the entire scandalous practice at  When the Child ‘Ordered’ Is Not the Child Received. In similar connection, please see my Opinion comments on Abortion.


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