Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mozart's Salzburg Church Sonatas

Over our 23-year and counting marriage, my husband and I have purchased many compact discs of many musical types: I'm a little bit classical and he's a little bit rock and roll. We went "shopping" in the cd racks last Friday night and found this 1988 recording of Mozart's Church Sonatas, or Epistle Sonatas with Peter Hurford as organist, the Amsterdam Mozart Players, and several other artists.

So soon after reading Mosebach's book on Catholic liturgy, I thought of how strangely these musical interludes must have broken up the celebration of the Mass. They were performed between the Epistle and the Gospel and thus pre-empted the Gradual and the Alleluia! They are all sprightly and, as the liner notes say, "their purpose was to highlight and herald the proclamation of the Gospel", to announce the Good News and thus all are in Major keys.

Mozart wrote them for the two Archbishops of Salzburg he served, Sigismund and Colloredo. Also according to the liner notes by Ann Bond, three of these 17 Epistle Sonatas were designated for specific Masses, and I've linked recordings of two of those Masses that include the Epistle Sonata:

K263 with the Organ Mass, K259
K329 with the Coronation Mass, K317 (conducted by the late Christopher Hogwood)
K336 with the Missa Solemnis, K337

The cd is still readily available at and other online cd shops--ours has the London logo, not the Decca.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

WWI Memoir: "Testament of Youth"

I read Testament of Youth while or after watching the 1980 Masterpiece Theatre five episode mini-series starring Cheryl Campbell as Vera Brittain:

All young Vera Brittain wanted at first was the opportunity to go to college, like her brother. That may not sound like much now, but middle class young ladies from small towns were expected to settle down with spouses, not studies, in pre-World War I England. This dramatization of Vera Brittain's 1933 autobiography--a memorial to a generation devastated by World War I--chronicles her experiences as a nurse in London and Malta and at the front in France. It also tells in heartbreaking detail the loss of her brother, her fiancé, and her two best friends on the fields of France and Italy.

Next year a new movie will be released that adapts her memoir. From the early trailer, it looks like the movie might focus on the romance and not continue the story of Brittain's return to Oxford after the war:

The movie filmed earlier this year at the University of Oxford so at least there will be some glimpses of its towers and streets. I wonder if the movie will quote the poem Roland Leighton wrote to Vera:

The sunshine on the long white road
That ribboned down the hill,
The velvet clematis that clung
Around your window-sill
Are waiting for you still.

Again the shadowed pool shall break
In dimples at your feet,
And when the thrush sings in your wood,
Unknowing you may meet
Another stranger, Sweet.

And if he is not quite so old
As the boy you used to know,
And less proud, too, and worthier,
You may not let him go---
(And daisies are truer than passion-flowers)
It will be better so.

I also wonder if Dorothy L. Sayers is featured in the movie at all--they both attended Somerville College, which was opened for women to attend Oxford in 1879. Here are their biographies on the college website: Dorothy L. Sayers and Vera Brittain.

"The Man Who Wouldn't be King"--and Should Have Been

Father Dwight Longenecker writes for the Imaginative Conservative about James III, the true heir to the throne of England, who would  not give up his faith for the throne---even though, as Winston Churchill noted, the Tories would have supported him in 1714 if he became an Anglican and he would have become the King of England, Ireland, and Wales:

In 1660 Charles II was restored to the throne. Under the influence of his Catholic brother and wife, Charles II converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed. His brother James then became King James II. James II was a Catholic. He assured his Protestant subjects that all he wished to do was to establish religious freedom, but at the birth of a male heir the Protestant powers, fearful that James would establish a Catholic succession, undermined him and installed his Protestant daughter Mary (from his first marriage) and her husband William of Orange on his throne. James fled to France where he established a court in exile.

On his death in 1701 James’ II’s oldest son became the rightful claimant of the throne of England. James Francis Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales was recognized as King James III by France, Spain and the Papal States, but he was accused of treason at home and known by his enemies as “The King Over the Water” or “The Old Pretender.” In 1708 James attempted an invasion of England through Scotland but was intercepted by the English. The French admiral in charge of James’ fleet retreated. By 1710 James’ other half-sister Anne was on the throne of England. She offered for James to be restored to the throne if he converted to the Protestant faith. He refused.

Three years later Queen Anne was close to death. In 1714 her agents were in secret correspondence with James III. They told him the queen was dying and indicated that if he converted to the Protestant faith the way would be open for him to ascend the throne. He wrote, “I have chosen my own course, therefore it is for others to change their sentiments.” Because of James’ refusal to give up his Catholic faith, the English looked for another monarch. More than fifty members of the royal houses of Europe were a closer blood relation to Queen Anne, but they were barred from the throne by their Catholic religion. Therefore at the Queen’s death, a German prince from the House of Hanover was offered the throne of England and became George I.

 Pope Clement XI offered the disappointed King the Palazzo Muti in Rome and James set up his court in exile. His attempts to regain the throne failed and he suffered from melancholy and depression. He became known as “Old Mr. Misfortunate” and grew increasingly frail and despondent.

The Old Pretender's marriage to Maria Clementina Sobieska, grand-daughter of the great victor of Vienna, was unhappy. She accused him of adultery and fled to a convent; it was two years before they reconciled. James III had been raised at St. Germain-en-Laye in France to be a king, receiving the education necessary to prepare him for that role; but he had also been raised as an observant Catholic and would not apostatize. His son, the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, would attempt a brief foray into Anglicanism, hoping to find support for the throne, but failed too and then repented and returned to the Catholic faith.
James III is rather the opposite of Henri IV of France--England was not well worth giving up the Mass!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hebrew Manuscripts at Fox's Corpus Christi

In The Wall Street Journal, Richard Carwardine writes "Out of the Anglo-Jewish Past", about a Hebrew prayer book in the Corpus Christi College library:

Corpus Christi College, which will reach its 500th birthday in 2017, is celebrated as Oxford's first Renaissance institution. The bishop-statesman Richard Fox, right-hand man to the Tudor monarchs Henry VII and Henry VIII, founded the college to instruct students in the sciences and the languages of the Bible: Hebrew and Greek. From the first, Corpus took a lead in Jewish learning and built an acclaimed library. Among the scores of manuscripts the college used for teaching its young men were Hebrew texts, several donated by the first president and noted collector, John Claymond. How and when he acquired them we don't know—and this is only a part of their mystery. They are the jewels of a small but spectacular collection of medieval Anglo-Jewish books.

These materials shaped the scholarship that gave Corpus a primary role in the translation of the King James Bible. The 400th anniversary of that publication, in 2011, sparked particular interest in the Hebrew manuscripts at Corpus. These include commentaries by the acclaimed medieval French rabbi, Rashi; other items present passages from the Hebrew Bible with a literal translation in Latin written, from the outset, directly above the Hebrew text. They point to the cooperation between Jewish and Christian scholars, eager to help non-Jews learn Hebrew and understand the primary sources of a shared scriptural tradition. The texts could equally have been used to teach Jews Latin—not impossible, given that most English law, property transactions and accounting were conducted in Latin. Command of the language would have been especially beneficial to Jewish financiers in doing business.

Read the rest there. Note that Mr Carwardine is the president of Corpus Christi College, which will observe its 500th anniversary in 2017. More about the College's Hebrew manuscripts here at the Bodleian Library website from a previous exhibition.

The Real Tudors Exhibition and Review

I mentioned this exhibition earlier this year. If you can't get to London year or Paris next year, you could order the book that accompanies the exhibition:

Who were the Tudor kings and queens and what did they really look like? Mention Henry VIII and the familiar image of the rotund, bearded fellow of Hans Holbein the Youngers portraits immediately springs to mind reinforced, perhaps, by memories of a monochromatic Charles Laughton wielding a chicken leg in a fanciful biopic. With Elizabeth I its frilly ruffs, white make-up and pink lips in fact, just as she appears in a number of very well-known portraits held in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. But the familiarity of these representations has overshadowed the other images of the Tudor monarchs that were produced throughout their reigns. During the sixteenth century the market for portraits grew and so the monarchs images multiplied as countless versions and copies of their likeness were produced to satisfy demand. Taken together, these images chart both the changing iconography of the ruler and the development of portrait painting in England. In considering the context in which these portraits were made, the motivations of the sitters and the artists who made them, the purposes to which they were put, and the physical transformations and interventions they have undergone in the intervening five centuries, the authors present a compelling and illuminating investigation into the portraiture of the Tudor monarchs.

This review contains the startling inaccuracy that Elizabeth I was "Britain's first female ruler"--startling because all of the biographical work completed in the past few years on Mary I, pointing out her role as the first queen regnant of England:

For all the political hurly burly, social change and religious upheaval of the Tudor period and the intriguing personal histories of its monarchs, it is surely the portraits of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I that have done most to secure the Tudors in popular imagination. I first saw a portrait of Elizabeth while at primary school and was enthralled by the startling contrast of red hair and pale skin, that impossibly tiny waist disappearing into a sharp V, the dress a marvel of engineering as much as couture and as extravagantly embellished as a little girl’s wildest imaginings could demand.

Far from the simpering pink princesses so beloved of little girls now, Elizabeth's image remains compelling because it achieves a feat unusual even in today’s liberated society, combining beauty and glamour with the hard edge of unassailable power. As Britain’s first female ruler, Elizabeth’s gender was a problem to be overcome, and her portraits trace the development of her image from demure princess to Virgin Queen. While her image remains within the traditional parameters of womanhood – elegant, sumptuously dressed and exhibiting a cool sort of beauty – her portraits suppress her sexuality entirely. By transcending gender she was able to assert her absolute authority and her divine right to rule. . . .

The notion of political unrest providing the stimulus for the production of portraits is a recurring one in the display, which is the result of a long-running NPG research project. Bringing together multiple portraits of the Tudor monarchs and combining technical analysis with art historical research, the curators have produced a wealth of evidence about techniques, workshop practices and the composition of individual paintings, evoking a buoyant art market doing a brisk trade in royal portraits. In dangerous and uncertain times, displaying a portrait of the king must have seemed a sensible precaution, and the political turmoil caused by Henry VIII’s break with Rome seems likely to have fuelled the growing appetite for his image.

The website for the exhibition provides lots of background and samples of the works on display.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: The Heresy of Formlessness

I purchased this book at Eighth Day Books, BTW. Martin Mosebach is a Catholic German layman, a writer (novels, screenplays, short stories, poems, essays, etc). Ignatius Press published this translation of his book on the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite with a foreword by Father Joseph Fessio, SJ in 2006.

Sure to be the subject of much discussion, this book takes a look at the post Vatican II approach to liturgy through the eyes of a man who says the Church has lost much and gained nothing through the promulgation of the “Novus Ordo” Mass. An accomplished novelist and writer, German author Martin Mosebach gives a plea for a return to the preconciliar Latin Rite, giving a persuasive and compelling argument against what he sees as a jarring break in tradition. Yet there is another way to approach the Liturgy.

In his foreword, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., points out the difference between Mosebach’s approach and “those who, like myself, the Adoremus Society, and—I think I can assert this with confidence—Pope Benedict XVI, advocate a rereading and restructuring of the liturgical renewal intended by the Second Vatican Council, but in light of the Church’s two-thousand-year tradition.”

Mosebach writes about his experience of the changes in the Mass after the Second Vatican Council with the regret that he has had to become a liturgical specialist. Instead of actual participation in the Mass, he has had to experience the Mass because of the changes to the liturgy and their effect on Catholic theology and belief. In these essays, he discusses everything from Latin, to Gregorian chant, Catholics' belief in the Real Presence, veiling, gestures, art, iconoclasm, and beauty. He even discusses problems with the way that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass IS celebrated with the delays caused by the choir's singing of the parts of the Mass! One passage I thought particularly unfortunate was his regret that the priest would speak in the vernacular to give a homily and perhaps even make parish announcements. Since the homily or sermon has always been part of the Mass, and since the Mass is celebrated most often at least in the context of a parish with activities and community events, his concern that the homily breaks through the mystery of the liturgy and disrupts the Mass with the personality of the priest seems all too pedantic to me.

This is a collection of essays, and even includes a chapter from a novel, and is a very personal book, even in translation.The author's interest in and knowledge of history and art shine through clearly, as does his passion for holy worship of God in the liturgy.

As I have been attending Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form for several years, I'm glad to say that recently I have been able to put aside the Missal at certain points of the liturgy and enter into the mystery of the Sacrifice without reading it. Thus my worship is less literary and more sacramental, I hope.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Unfree Speech at Berkeley

Sol Stern remembers how it was supposed to be in contrast to how it is now, in The Wall Street Journal:

This fall the University of California at Berkeley is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, a student-led protest against campus restrictions on political activities that made headlines and inspired imitators around the country. I played a small part in the Free Speech Movement, and some of those returning for the reunion were once my friends, but I won't be joining them. 

Though the movement promised greater intellectual and political freedom on campus, the result has been the opposite. The great irony is that while Berkeley now honors the memory of the Free Speech Movement, it exercises more thought control over students than the hated institution that we rose up against half a century ago. . . .

"Tenured radicals," in New Criterion editor Roger Kimball's phrase, now dominate most professional organizations in the humanities and social studies. Unlike our old liberal professors, who dealt respectfully with the ideas advanced by my generation of New Left students, today's radical professors insist on ideological conformity and don't take kindly to dissent by conservative students. Visits by speakers who might not toe the liberal line—recently including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Islamism critic Aayan Hirsi Ali —spark protests and letter-writing campaigns by students in tandem with their professors until the speaker withdraws or the invitation is canceled.

On Oct. 1 at Berkeley, by contrast, one of the honored speakers at the Free Speech Movement anniversary rally on Sproul Plaza will be Bettina Aptheker, who is now a feminist-studies professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Writing in the Berkeley alumni magazine about the anniversary, Ms. Aptheker noted that the First Amendment was "written by white, propertied men in the 18th century, who never likely imagined that it might apply to women, and/or people of color, and/or all those who were not propertied, and even, perhaps, not citizens, and/or undocumented immigrants. . . . In other words, freedom of speech is a Constitutional guarantee, but who gets to exercise it without the chilling restraints of censure depends very much on one's location in the political and social cartography. We [Free Speech Movement] veterans were too young and inexperienced in 1964 to know this, but we do now, and we speak with a new awareness, a new consciousness, and a new urgency that the wisdom of a true freedom is inexorably tied to who exercises power and for what ends."

Read it and weep—for the Free Speech Movement anniversary, for the ideal of an intellectually open university, and for America. 

In other words, Bettina Aptheker is now the one who gets to decide which speech is free and which is not free. FYI: Sol Stern "is a contributing editor of City Journal and a Manhattan Institute senior fellow. He writes passionately on education reform, and his writings on that topic have helped shape the terms of the current debate in New York City."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Richard III on The Son Rise Morning Show

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central time to talk about the religious services and controversy about the reinterment of the remains of King Richard III, the last king of the House of York. You can listen live here.

As background I offer these two links: my comments on the events, and William Oddie's from The Catholic Herald!

By the way, the schedule is:

*Sunday, 22 March 2015
Leicester Cathedral
The remains of Richard III will be received into the cathedral and an invited congregation will pray a service of Compline where Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, will preach.

*Monday, 23 March 2015
Holy Cross Church, Leicester
Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul – a ‘Requiem Mass’ – of Richard III in Holy Cross Church, the Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre. The choir from St Barnabas’ Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Nottingham, will sing at this Mass, which will be open to the public.

*Thursday, 26 March 2015
Leicester Cathedral
The mortal remains of Richard III will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral, with an invited congregation and in the presence of the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and senior clergy from both dioceses, and other Christian denominations alongside representatives of the World Faiths.

*Friday, 27 March 2015
Leicester Cathedral
Invited guests from across the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire will gather in the Cathedral to mark the end of King Richard’s journey and the sealed tomb will be revealed to the public.

In addition:

The regular pattern of morning and evening prayer and the Eucharist will be kept by Leicester Cathedral throughout these days as we prepare for the King’s reinterment. A number of these services will have a very special character. All these services will be open to the public.

On Tuesday 24 March the Dominican friars will sing Vespers, the Catholic Church’s evening service, in Leicester Cathedral; this is in addition to the daily celebration of Mass and the divine office in Holy Cross Church.

On Wednesday 25 March, Father David Rocks OP, the parish priest at Holy Cross Church, will preach at the lunchtime Eucharist in Leicester Cathedral.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Today in Oklahoma City

Today is the day of the horrible mockery of the Catholic Mass in Oklahoma City: some 88 people have paid the price of admission at the Civic Center to attend. Five buses from the diocese of Wichita, Kansas are on the way, filled with Catholics praying and offering reparation. Although the group conducting the Black Mass says that they returned he consecrated Host, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present under the form of unleavened bread, it will still mock the Mass and horribly call upon Satan to exorcise the Holy Spirit--and can we really trust that they don't have another consecrated Host? Too terrible to imagine!

Archbishop Paul Coakley published another letter to his flock and the public with some last minute guidance:

On Sunday, Sept. 21, we will gather for a public act of worship at St. Francis of Assisi Church. I invite all Catholics as well as other Christians and people of good will to join us for a Eucharistic Holy Hour, an outdoor Eucharistic procession and Benediction beginning at 3 p.m. We will prayerfully bear witness to our faith as an expression of our solidarity and in reparation for acts of blasphemy.

I am aware that other groups are planning to show their opposition to the blasphemous event that evening at the Civic Center. I urgently ask everyone to avoid confrontations with those who might oppose them. Our witness ought to be reverent, respectful and peaceful. I urge those who might plan to attend the black mass in order to pray or to protest not to do so! Please do not enter the venue. It would be presumptuous and dangerous to expose oneself to others to these evil influences.    

Finally, let us demonstrate our faith in the power of the Lord’s grace by praying for the conversion of those who are perpetrating this sacrilege and are bound by the Evil One. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5:44,45)

One of the unexpected (by the organizers, I'm sure) results of this event in Oklahoma City--also in Cambridge at Harvard University earlier this year--is that it reminds Catholics of one of the most central facts of our Catholic Faith. Every day of year (except Good Friday, of course), Jesus comes to us in his Body and Blood in Holy Communion, just as he promised his followers in the Gospel of St. John:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

I have been working on a project about St. Thomas More in the Tower, preparing for martyrdom. Before his arrest he wrote his Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament in which he defended Catholic teaching about the Mass and the Eucharist, particularly writing about the preparations a Catholic should made before receiving Holy Communion:

We must (I say) see, that we firmly believe that this Blessed Sacrament is not a bare sign, or a figure, or a token of that Holy Body of Christ: but that It is in perpetual remembrance of His bitter Passion, that He suffered for us, the self-same precious Body of Christ that suffered it, by His own Almighty power and unspeakable goodness consecrated and given unto us.

And this point of belief is in the receiving of this Blessed Sacrament of such necessity, and such weight with them that have years of discretion, that without it they receive It plainly to their damnation. And that point believed very full and fastly must needs be a great occasion to move any man in all other points to receive It well. For note well the words of St. Paul therein: Qui manducat de hoc pane, et bibit de calice indigne judicium sibi manducat et bibit, non dijudicans corpus Domini. He that eateth of this Bread and drinketh of this cup, unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment upon himself in that, he discerneth not the Body of our Lord. (2 Cor. 11.)

William Oddie on Next Year's Interment of the Catholic Richard III as an Anglican Protestant

William Oddie at The Catholic Herald outlines the reasons for regretting that Richard III isn't to be buried in a Catholic church with a Catholic Mass and prayers for the dead:

The point is that he was the last of the Plantagenets and therefore a Catholic King, almost the last (only his usurper remained nominally faithful before the great apostasy): so he ought to be being reinterred in a Catholic cathedral. What is there about that proposition which is even slightly controversial? It may not have been politically doable for our bishops to insist on it: but it is quite clear that the way in which the whole thing is to unfold, with the tacit agreement of the Bishops’ conference, has to be seen as a defeat for the English Catholic Church: it is, in microcosm, a narrative demonstration of our current position within English culture. And I am writing this because someone needs to say that the gruesome ecumenical subservience this indicates ought now to be challenged and repudiated by all English Catholics.

It may of course be that relations are not as calm as they appear on the surface. Is it my imagination, or has there, in fact, been some behind the scenes discord over all this? The reinterment will take place in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as though Richard had been rendered posthumously protestant. Cardinal Nichols, so far as I can see, will not be present. Was he asked? This is what the Cardinal had to say about the whole thing: “The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 was a decisive moment in English history. Following his death, Richard III was buried in the Franciscan Friary in Leicester, and his body lay in its grave until it was discovered in 2012. It is now fitting that his remains should be reinterred with dignity and accompanied by the prayers of the Church in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester. We commend all who have died to the love and mercy of Almighty God, and continue to pray for them, as we shall for Richard III and all who have lost their lives in battle.”

Now, this is strangely worded, considering who wrote it. “The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485”, says the Cardinal “was a decisive moment in English history”. Well obviously: but why was it so decisive? Because it placed on the throne the dynasty which renounced papal authority and made it illegal to pray for the departed; which invented the Church of England with all its doctrinal baggage; and which inaugurated a persecution of English Cathoiics which lasted at least four hundred years and which in some ways (though much milder) still persists. The Battle of Bosworth wasn’t just “decisive”: from a Catholic perspective, it was catastrophic. The reinterment of Richard III by a protestant archbishop may be considered to be a triumphal demonstration of how firmly in place still is the anti-Catholic ascendancy that Bosworth made possible.

Perhaps we should view this as a re-set from Father Tomlinson's more hopeful view yesterday--Catholics and the English Catholic past are still so very foreign in England--and the Ordinariate has a lot of work to do!