Saturday, December 28, 2019

James Tissot's Painting of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents

The above image is cropped from a watercolor painted by James Tissot of the Massacre of the Innocents—which was carried out by the order of Herod the Great, king of Judea

The Catholic Church honors the murdered children as the first Christian martyrs and celebrates the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28.

As the familiar story is told in the Gospel of Matthew  (Chapter 2:16-18), wise men from the east passed through Jerusalem seeking the child whose birth was foretold by a star—which they had followed from their home countries. They made the mistake of referring to the infant as the King of the Jews after they were brought into Herod's presence. 

Herod was a jealous and fearful ruler of Judaea who was appointed by the Romans, and he knew he was hated by the Jews. When the priests and scribes of the Jews reminded him of the prophecy that the Messiah would be born in the insignificant town of Bethlehem, Herod planned to have the child killed to remove any threat to his power. He deceitfully told the Magi to continue on their journey, "and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come to adore him." But after the Magi found Jesus, they were warned in a dream to return home in by a different route. When Herod realized he had been outwitted, he ordered the murder of all male children under the age of two in the vicinity of Bethlehem. 

The historian Macrobius (c. 395–423) reported that Herod's perverse lust to retain his power was so great that one of the baby boys killed in that slaughter was Herod's own son:

"When he [emperor Augustus] heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered killed, his own son was also killed, he said: it is better to be Herod's pig, than his son."

The implication is that a pig in Judea would be safe, since the king might keep kosher, if only for form's sake. But no regard for his reputation prevented Herod from killing anyone to maintain his power, even his own child.

The Brooklyn Museum curators wrote, "Although Tissot acknowledged that the number of victims must have been relatively few in a village like Bethlehem, he depicted horror on a large scale in this episode. . . . According to a tradition recounted in Tissot’s commentary, Herod lured the intended victims to the palace with the promise of a party. The children were then wrenched from their mothers’ arms and tossed to their deaths in a courtyard. Herod’s deviousness was thus highlighted: called singly into a long corridor, the women had no opportunity to warn others of the impending tragedy."

James Tissot was a highly renowned artist in England and France during the 19th Century, who turned from making sensuous oil paintings of the beautiful women in scenes in London and Paris to making watercolors of Biblical events with authentic backgrounds, which he painted during visits to the Holy Land after he regained his Catholic faith. The San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor is currently showing an exhibit titled James Tissot:  Fashion and Faith, that will be up until February 9, 2020. 

Note: Click to view larger images.

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Massacre of the Innocents (Le massacre des innocents), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. Brooklyn Museum.

Friday, December 27, 2019

St. John the Evangelist, Poet of the Word and of the Deification of Believers

Today is the feast of St. John, the apostle, who is the great mystical writer of the Gospel that starts with "In the beginning," the same phrase that begins the book of Genesis. St. John also wrote about his visions of the risen Christ in heaven in the Book of Revelation.
St. John the Apostle and Evangelist was with Christ at His Transfiguration and the only apostle who stayed at the foot of Christ's Cross, along with His mother and a few other women. Christ gave His mother to St. John (and through John to us also), at the foot of the Cross. 
These words from the start of St. John's Gospel are fitting for today, as we continue to celebrate the birth of Christ on the third day of Christmas: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
John's Gospel begins with a unique perspective among all the Gospels. His Gospel does not start—as others do—with Christ's earthly lineage or His birth. Instead St. John moves away from earth and time into eternity to show us the mystical reality of who Jesus really is. The way his Gospel soars above the things of earth is one of the reasons behind St. John's symbolic representation as the Eagle. Because he experienced "in the spirit" great revelations of Christ in heaven, the eagle is his symbol also—because Christian writers believed the eagle is able to look directly into the sun.
St. Augustine wrote this in his "Homilies on the Gospel of John":
"The evangelist John himself looked to heaven and earth when wishing to speak of the Son of God; he looked, and rose above them all. He thought on the thousands of angelic armies above the heavens; he thought, and, like the eagle soaring beyond the clouds, his mind overpassed the whole creation: he rose beyond all that was great, and arrived at that which was greater than all; and said, 'In the beginning was the Word.'"
St. John wrote in inspired poetic phrases about Jesus' cosmic identity as the Word of God. 
The Word is eternally one with the Father.
The Word was with God. 
The Word was God. 
By the Word all things were made, and without this Word nothing was made. 
Think of it! Jesus is the Word that God spoke when He created the universe and everything in it, starting with, "Let there be Light." 
And the Word was the Light of the world. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us.
I especially love this gospel because it had a powerful effect on me when I was looking back in my thirties at Christianity more than a decade after I'd fallen away as a college freshman from my Catholic faith that I had sincerely believed as a child. A young college girl, a member of Campus Crusade for Christ, God bless her, started meeting with me for a Bible study of the Gospel of John.  The poetry of the unique opening to that Gospel and the sense of divine realities it evokes helped convert me back to belief in Christ in my thirties. 
God's Word came to live among us, and to those who receive Him, He gave the power to be made Sons of God, sharing in His divine nature—by adoption! 
We too quickly skip past that striking promise—that we mere humans who receive Christ will be given the power to be be made sons (and daughters) of God. 
We can glimpse of what that will be like for us when we look at Mary, the Mother of God, who was the first to fully receive that promise to share in God's divinity.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, one of whose titles is Theotokos, God-bearer, was the first to receive Christ, in her case literally in her womb. She became the holy Ark of the New Covenant. 
To prepare for her motherhood of the Son of God, by a special dispensation she was the only child of Adam and Eve to be redeemed by Christ's future sacrifice when she was immaculately conceived. Christ spent thirty years with her before He began His public ministry, and for these and many reasons her union with God is therefore unique. 
She alone is sinless and her body was taken up into heaven with Christ. She must be the first created human to be deified, which means she is now like God as far as it is possible for any creature to share in the divinity of the Creator. From her many appearances, we know she is being used as God’s messenger to continue His work of salvation. 
In St. Dionysius the Aeropagite, who was converted by St. Paul in Athens, we have a witness of how even when Mary was still on earth, her glory was already great, and incidentally how St. John shone also with Christ's glory. 
This story was preserved by the early Christian historian, Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical history. While Mary was still alive, Saint Dionysius traveled from Athens to Jerusalem to meet Her. He wrote to his teacher the Apostle Paul: 
“I witness by God, that besides the very God Himself, there is nothing else filled with such divine power and grace. No one can fully comprehend what I saw. I confess before God: when I was with John, who shone among the Apostles like the sun in the sky, when I was brought before the countenance of the Most Holy Virgin, I experienced an inexpressible sensation. Before me gleamed a sort of divine radiance which transfixed my spirit. I perceived the fragrance of indescribable aromas and was filled with such delight that my very body became faint, and my spirit could hardly endure these signs and marks of eternal majesty and heavenly power. The grace from her overwhelmed my heart and shook my very spirit. If I did not have in mind your instruction, I should have mistaken Her for the very God. It is impossible to stand before greater blessedness than this which I beheld.”
Others who saw her in apparitions after her body was assumed to heaven, such as the converted non-practicing Jew Roy Schoeman, have also said she appears  so glorious that they are tempted to worship her—but she always makes it clear that what they see of glory in her is all from her Son.
There is much to ponder here. And all of us who receive Him and are born of God have a similar future to anticipate.

St. John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.

Top image: My photo of St. John at the Cross, at the site of Christ's crucifixion at Golgotha. Below: St. John's symbol the Eagle.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Best Books I Read in 2019, by Catholic Pundit Wannabe

This is the year that I discovered the marvelous Anna Haycraft, whose pen name was Alice Thomas Ellis. It says a lot about Haycraft’s style that the writer of her New York Times obituary hazarded that Haycraft chose her nom de plume because of its hissing sibilants. 

And, as another journalist noted, her writing plowed an “exquisite furrow of black comedy shading into satire.” In many ways, but not all, I see her as a kindred spirit: A bohemian yet deeply devout writer with a dark past before her conversion, a lover of domestic life and adorer of her children (she bore seven during her marriage to publisher Colin Haycraft) and of cooking and entertaining. She was quoted as saying that the work she did as an editor at her husbands publishing house and as a writer was part of being a good wife, which she regarded as her vocation, and if her husband did something else for a living, she would be helping him with that.

She began to write only after Joshua, one of her sons, a teenager, died of his injuries after a roof of a building in a railroad yard collapsed, while he was up on the roof trainspotting. He was not shooting up in the slang sense of the word that became well known after the movie, Trainspotting. The much-lamented Joshua had simply been practicing the hobby of watching trains (sort of like bird-watching) that had been popular in the UK since the 1940s.
Ellis's books were widely read because of their excellence and intrinsic interest; even though she was so unabashedly Catholic the headline of her LA Times obituary referred to her as a “Prolific Author with Staunch Catholic Views.”

My favorite photo of her that I’ve come across shows her in her kitchen, dressed in her signature black, drawing on a cigarette, with shelves stacked with pots and pans and dishes on the sage green wall and counters cluttered with food stuffs and cooking tools behind her. A good-sized plaster statue of the Sacred Heart with His hands extended in blessing stands in the corner.

As a not-as-prolific or well-known author but one who also has staunch Catholic views, once I learned of her and fell in love with her witty and witchy artistry, I started reading everything of hers I could get my hands on. I dont buy books as a rule, since I believe books—like every other good—should not be hoarded but should be shared. When I do get a physical book, a review copy, for an example of one way a physical book comes into my possession, I like to pass it on for others to read when I’m done. After I read everything by Ellis at the Internet Archive, I went through a lot of trouble to get interlibrary loans of any other books of hers that were available. She seems to have been mostly forgotten, but she well deserves to continue to be read and enjoyed.

I like her fiction, especially her first novel, The Sin Eater (1977), better than the books based on her Home Life columns and better than her non-fiction books, though I am in sympathy with two of her nonfiction books that painted vivid pictures of some of the deformations of liturgy and practice that she witnessed and abhorred after the Second Vatican Council: Serpent on the Rock: A Personal View of Christianity, and God Has Not Changed

In those two books, and in her fiction, Ellis skewered some of the aberrant post-Councilar attitudes towards doctrine and liturgy that galled me too. But unlike me, she stopped going to the Mass for a long time after the new Mass came in. She had one of her characters, Rose, say, “There was nothing to do on Sundays since the Pope went mad.” No, she didn't mean Pope Francis. This was 1977, and Paul VI was pope.

The Loved One

Speaking of black comedy shading into satire, I re-read Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One again this year.  It's one of the few books I've read and enjoyed multiple times. 

The Loved One is a great satire on British expatriates, the American film industry, our extravagant burial practices for humans and animals, and the absurd romantic fantasies about death that people engage in when they lose track of the realities of the Four Last Things (Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell). I was led back to read The Loved One this time by coming across a good essay on P.G. Wodehouse, which was written by the otherwise-loathed-by-me Christopher Hitchens. In Hitchens' essay I learned that Wodehouse had a stint writing for the films in Hollywood in 1933 or thereabouts, before he wrote the Jeeves and Wooster books, and that Wodehouse started the Cricket Club there. Hitchens wrote it was to that Hollywood Cricket Club started by Wodehouse that Waugh was indebted for the extremely funny first chapter of The Loved One.

The story of what brought Waugh to Hollywood in 1947 is a funny one too. He pretended to negotiate with MGM about a film adaptation of Brideshead Revisited to get a free trip for himself and his second wife, Laura, while being paid $2000 a week (in 1930s dollars!) during the negotiations. The studio refused to see the novel as anything other than a romance, and he was not going to let them film it since they dismissed the religious elements. Its actual title is: Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder. MGM was not interested in the Sacred.

While Waugh was in Hollywood, he was given tours of Forest Lawn Cemetery by the founders, got ahold of a book about embalming, and he relished the prospect of writing a novella about it all. A Waugh biographer wrote, "As Waugh felt that the eschatological or apocalyptic implications he had intended in Brideshead Revisited had escaped many American readers, he was determined to highlight eschatological aspects of American society in The Loved One." Eschatological, to save you the trouble of looking it up, as I had to do, means having to do with the ultimate destiny of humanity. 

And oh how sublimely Aimée Thanatogenos, the main female character, misses the real point of human destiny and just about anything else. Named after evangelist Aimée Semple McPherson, her first name is French for "loved one" while her last name is Greek for "born of death." Her end is both a little sad and very funny. Come to think of it, I once chanced across online an essay a student wrote about Aimée's vaporous musings before her death, and to my amusement, the essayist took them seriously! That was sad and very funny too.

The above image is the same book cover that was on the copy I read first when I was 15 years old in 1960. I was in a long term care hospital recovering from spine surgery, and this is one of the three books my high school English teacher sent me in a literary care package every week during the ten months I was there. Miss Marjorie E. Frye was a creative writer manquée and was encouraging me to be a writer, and the plan, I think it was a good one, was for me to learn how to write by reading lots of books by many great writers.

Christmas Carol

Re-read Christmas Carol and marveled again at Dicken’s power of description, his ability to breathe life into and deftly name a most-original set of characters, and tell greatly entertaining stories about them.

From Fire by Water and Calm in Chaos: Catholic Wisdom for Anxious Times

I read, admired, and reviewed Sohrab Ahmari’s From Fire by Water. See “C. S. Lewis was Wrong about the Liturgy; Observations from Sohrab Ahmari's From Fire By Water” here or a shorter version titled "Saved by the Mass: Sohrab Ahmari’s From Fire by Water" at New Liturgical Movement here.

I also read, admired, and reviewed Fr. George Rutler’s Calm in Chaos: Catholic Wisdom for Anxious Times here 

Called to Be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification

This final book I want to mention from my reading this year is titled, Called to Be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification. It was published in 2016, but it’s a book that will endure because it is an excellent reference that pulls together in one place the relevant Scripture references and the views of great saints and Catholic theologians about the promised deification of those who receive Christ. 

The book was edited by Fr. David Meconi, S.J., Professor of Theology at St. Louis University, who I know from working with him in his role as editor of “Homiletic and Pastoral Review,” and by Carl E. Olson, M.T.S., author, and editor of “Catholic World Report.” I asked Fr. Meconi for a review copy because I often ponder what this phrase from  Chapter 1 of the Gospel of John means (which is read at the end of traditional Latin Masses) “[T]o as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.” Has that ever made you wonder, as it makes me wonder, what is it like for a Christian to become a son of God?

And it makes me think of this too. The Blessed Virgin Mary, one of whose titles is Theotokos, God-bearer, was the first to receive Christ, in her case literally in her womb. She became the holy Ark of the New Covenant. To prepare for her motherhood of the Son of God, by a special dispensation she was the only child of Adam and Eve to be redeemed by Christ's future sacrifice when she was immaculately conceived. Christ spent thirty years with her before He began His public ministry, and for these and many reasons her union with God is therefore unique. She alone is sinless and her body is in heaven with Christ, so she must be the first to be deified, which means she is now like God as far as it is possible for any creature to share in the divinity of the Creator. From her many appearances, she is being used as God’s messenger. Those who have seen her say she is so glorious that they are tempted to worship her, but she always makes it clear that what they see of glory in her is all from her Son. There is lots to ponder here.

It seems obvious to me that we can look at Mary to see what being deified will be like for us all, but I am waiting to interview busy Fr. Meconi to see what he thinks. Someday soon, I pray, I’m going to get around to finish writing that review.

Postscript: Alice Thomas Ellis on Reading

"My late husband read slowly and intently, works of scholarship from beginning to end, going so far as to lament the availability of the Public Library which, he held, encouraged the autodidact, the untrained enthusiast to wallow wildly in matters beyond his grasp, emerging with an undigested mass of factual error and proceeding, in his turn, to write books promulgating some daft theory about whatever had taken his fancy. I read quickly, flitting and sipping, skipping the boring bits and seizing on the oddities and inconsistencies which are often ignored by the scholar since they interfere with the measured and coherent approach to the matter in hand.
"Most of my books date from the 19th and early-20th centuries, and it is these that hold the greatest fascination because it is just possible to creep back along the frail bridge that separates us, identifying links and relationships with the present. At the far limits it is possible to peer into the 18th century, but further than that is a gulf and the people beyond move in a mist or, at best, an artificial light."— Anna Haycraft. From Fish, Flesh and Good Red Herring.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Interview with James Matthew Wilson about his Poem Cycle: The River of the Immaculate Conception

“'I felt,' Marquette would write, 'a joy I can’t express,
To name for her that river which flows like a tress
Down the vast back of that great land we bring
To Christ, and trust to the protection of our king.'”—James Matthew Wilson

The River of the Immaculate Conception: In Commemoration of the Premiere of the Mass of the Americas, is a seven-poem cycle by James Matthew Wilson that was recently published as a chapbook by Wiseblood Books. The following interview with the author was conducted by email. 

RTS: At the end of a recent article titled “’Mass of the Americas’ and the Flourishing of Religious Culture,” I mentioned that the Benedict XVI Institute brought you to San Francisco for the December 12, 2018 premiere of Frank La Rocca’s “Mass of Americas,” which was commissioned by the institute. The institute also commissioned you to write a poem about the Mass. I was surprised when I learned about the second commission. How did that come about? 

JMW: I had done an interview with Catholic Arts Today and was already planning to speak as part of a Benedict XVI symposium on René Girard and the Catholic artist. [See “Heroic and subversive Rene Girard honored at USF for more about that event. RTS.] My particular practice as a poet is pretty obviously close in sensibility to Frank's and so, on my end, it seemed an almost inevitable invitation. Not because I make any great claims for my work, but because this kind of service to the Church is one that comes naturally and fits well with what I most love about poetry and the liturgy. 

RTS: Historically, commissions by the Church supported the creation of much of the great art and music of Western Civilization. Is there a similar tradition of great ecclesiastical poetry commissions? I can’t think of any, off the top of my head. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any. 

JMW: Many poets have received significant patronage over the centuries, though it was generally less tied to a specific work. Dante received support from several patrons as he composed the Divine Comedy; some of whom he had criticized in early parts but had, as it were, to revise upward the great chain of being, as he came to depend on them for support as he cobbled together his poem. One thinks of Chaucer and E.A. Robinson as poets who received offices, in some cases sinecures in others posts of real responsibility, that allowed them to complete their work. One of the advantages of being a poet—at least a poet in the classical tradition, as opposed to the unintelligible scrawlers of fragmentary free verse—is that verse writing is an extension and refinement of the practices of rhetoric. Most poets in history have written poetry within a broader and varied practice of writing in other genres, including writing as lawyers and diplomats. Though poetry may be one's first love and though it is, objectively speaking, the highest art form, the poet usually has to do other things and to wield language—rhetoric—in varied ways, and it is this versatility that has, in the past especially, earned the poet patronage. Whether the ecclesial hierarchy directly supported poetry, that may be a less certain matter; poetry is less tied to place than, for instance, a work of sacred art intended to adorn the walls of a chapel.

RTS: Because the Benedict XVI Institute was created by Archbishop Cordileone, your commission from the institute was essentially a commission from the Church. Can you talk about the current status and possible future for commissioned poetry? Even if there was no modern precedent, maybe your commission will act as a precedent for the future.

JMW: I hope it will be. Dana Gioia's The Catholic Writer Today proposed that the Church cannot and probably should not get too directly involved in supporting a Catholic literary culture, and with good reason. Cultures are driven and support by institutions, but they cannot be reducible to them; they are a whole way of life of a people, after all. But some involvement of the Church in our letters has been typical in the past and is as important as ever now, especially in this age where literary life is so largely confined to the universities and colleges. The academy has never done a very good job of supporting culture. But, a Church that understands it must foster a variety of institutions, including the academy but extending beyond it, would be one fine way to foster a renewal of our culture. For my own part, I now write poems by commission regularly, and I find it improves the quality of my work; when I am specifically writing without a sense of personal possession of the poem I am able to make it a kind of self-emptying, or rather, a self-giving enterprise, wherein part of the act of making is saying not only, "this thing will come to exist outside of and separate from me," but indeed, "this thing is not mine. It is given to the Church." At no point in writing The River of the Immaculate Conception, did it feel like my poem, but rather, to the core of me, it seemed a poem I was writing in order to give it not just to one diocese but to the whole Church.

RTS: Your poem cycle describes with beauty many events in the holy history of the Catholic faith in the Americas. You dedicated the poem to composer Frank La Rocca, and also to the memory of historian Kevin Starr, a historian who wrote Continental Ambitions Roman Catholics in North America: The Colonial Experience. In what way was your poem cycle inspired by La Rocca’s Mass setting?

JMW: The poem not only describes moments of the Mass, but follows directly the unfolding of the liturgy, sometimes in obvious and sometimes in subtle ways. Two poems take their titles from lines sung in La Rocca's setting, and my "Hymn of Juan Diego" retells the revelation of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a narrative that follows closely the original Aztec account of the revelation but which also echoes La Rocca's more lyric hymn on the subject in the Mass.

RTS: And how did Kevin Starr’s Continental Ambitions inspire what you wrote? 

JMW: Kevin Starr was one of the great American Catholic writers and scholars of our age. His love of the Church and his peculiar way of learning to see America as a Catholic land, a Catholic drama was a great gift—one made all the more precious because it must forever remain a fragmentary gift, cut short by his death. His and Daniel Sargent's histories of Catholicism in America, which are also ways of coming to view America as Catholic, resonated with my own vision of America. As I touch on directly in one section, "Gloriosa dicta sunt de te," as a Catholic blessed by God's grace to be born and raised in Michigan, my own education in American history taught me that the archetypal American experience was that of the French Jesuits slipping down the veins of America, its rivers, in their canoes, to meet, learn from, trade with, and above all catechize the Indians. My poem also addresses the early, more brutal contacts of the Spanish with the Indians, but in both these moments, I see a vision of America as a place of grace, that is to say, not America as bare land ready for conquest by pioneers, but by as a great and beautiful mystery into which one enters in hopes of working out one's salvation and spreading the glory and word of God. This has always been my America, thanks in no small part of Mrs. Rambo, my fourth grade teacher! Starr, Sargent, and La Rocca helped me bring that vision to expression, because they saw it already more deeply and authoritatively than I did.

RTS: One of the many gratifying things about reading your poem was to learn that the missionary Jacques Marquette was the first European to discover the great Mississippi that is so prominent in the history and lore of the United States and that he named it The River of the Immaculate Conception. How did you decide to make it the title of your poem cycle? 
JMW: So much of this poem I bore within me for year—and years—and was waiting for it to come out. That's how I write, how most poets do, bearing fragments on the interior until they so constellate as suddenly to form a luminous unity. Perè Marquette's adventures are among the oldest stories I carry with me. I have read the Midwestern Catholic writer, August Derleth's fine novel about Marquette to my own children. But, in the last few years, in a discussion of Starr's work, I noted an author's observation about Marquette's consecration of the Mississippi, and it seemed to be the one fact and bears within itself everything there is to say about America as a new age in the life of the Church.

RTS: You wrote on the copyright page that the vision of Archbishop Cordileone and the supporters of the Benedict XVI Institute “holds that the greatest art, the greatest liturgy, the Catholic faith will celebrate is still to come.” Can you explain that to those who might think that the liturgy as it evolved over the centuries cannot be excelled? 

JMW: Pope Benedict XVI allowed for the celebration of the Mass in the ordinary and extraordinary form because he understood that the upheaval of the last fifty years has cost the Church and its people a heavy price indeed. By allowing the forms of the Mass, and the actual practice of the Mass, a certain freedom to express the genius of the pre-Vatican II and the post-Vatican II sensibilities, some synthesis will gradually emerge. There may be less tinkering and less of a feeling of things being snatched away that had been dear and new things imposed that were at least in part alienating and confusing. As the final section of my poem observes, the Mass is always a heavenly banquet, and in that dimension it is perfect and can never be anything less than perfect; but so much of the Mass is our human participation in heaven, and we inevitably will find various, more or less perfect, typically imperfect, forms of expression—all of which we hope will be condign to the mystery in which we are absorbed, but which often won't be quite. Everything short of heaven can be excelled, because only heaven is that most excellent of places.

RTS: At the Benedict XVI website, I saw this quote from you about “Mass of the Americas”: “This is what a flourishing religious culture looks like—piety being lifted up and sublimated in the actual liturgy of the Church.” You used sublimated, a term many of us know only from psychology. Can you explain further your thoughts behind this interesting statement? I know sublimated has other meanings that may not be obvious to everyone . . . 

JMW: That is, as it happens, the theme of the final section of River. Forget psychology. Sublimation is the lifting up of the mundane—the worldly—so that it bears within itself and gives expression to the absolutely great, the sacred.

RTS: Thank you very much! When will the book be available to the public? 

JMW: At Loyola Chicago's “Catholic Literary Imagination” conference, I held in my hands for the first time The River of the Immaculate Conception in its beautiful, deep-blue jacket. Those in attendance had a chance to buy the book there. However, the official launch of the poem will take place on the same day that Frank's “Mass of the Americas” is performed as part of an extraordinary form Mass in the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. There could be no more perfect place.
Frank La Rocca’s adapted Mass setting for the Extraordinary Form premiered on Saturday November 16, 2019 at the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Benedict XVI Institute held a conference in conjunction with the D.C. premier, which featured James Matthew Wilson. The event included the official launch and book signing for The River of the Immaculate Conception​.

I asked Maggie Gallagher, Director of the Benedict XVI Institute how it came about that the B16 institute commissioned the poem cycle.

MG: We knew the Mass of the Americas was going to be important: We are doing what Pope Benedict XVI urged in creating new art from the bosom of the Church, and working to create a Cathedral "pipeline" to help it find new audiences and uplift souls. But what else makes a work of art significant? One important answer is that it is fertile: it gives birth to other works of art. That is why we are so pleased that James Matthew Wilson agreed to attend the "Mass of the Americas." He was so inspired instead of writing one poem, he created a whole song cycle. And this is the poet whom Dana Gioia told me is "the future of Catholic letters in America."

James Matthew Wilson

For excerpts from Perè Marquette's diary of his voyage of discovery of the river already known as the Mississippi, which  he promised to name after the patroness of his search see "Marquette finds the Mississippi and names it the River of the Immaculate Conception.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Archbishop Cordileone to Lead a Unique St. Nicholas Day Prayer Service

A one-of-a-kind prayer service is coming up on Friday, December 6, at 6 p.m. in the Chapel of St. Patrick’s Seminary (320 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025). It promises to be an enriching way to observe the feast of St. Nicholas during the first week of Advent in a beautiful setting—and perhaps to escape for a few hours from the hectic secular round of shopping and celebrating Christmas before its time.

More details and how to register for this free event are here.

The Dec. 6 service will include all of the O Antiphons interspersed with readings and reflections by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and followed by a hymn to Saint Nicholas.

What’s an O Antiphon?

An antiphon is a short line that precedes a liturgical hymn. The O antiphons get their names from the somewhat prosaic reason that they each begin with an O.  Each night between Dec. 17 and 23, wherever Latin Vespers or the vernacular Evening Prayer are prayed, one of seven O antiphons is sung or recited before and after the Magnificat. In the post-Vatican II form of the Mass, each of the O antiphons is also included as the Gospel Acclamation during the Mass during those days.

Each O Antiphon invokes Christ under different a different title. Each day has its own particular antiphon:
  • O Sapientia (O Wisdom) 12/17
  • O Adonai (O Lord) 12/18
  • O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) 12/19
  • O Clavis David (O Key of David) 12/20
  • O Oriens (O Dayspring) 12/21
  • O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations) 12/22
  • O Emmanuel (O With Us is God) 12/23
The O antiphons powerfully express the Church’s longing and awe at this time of heightened anticipation, as the feast of Christmas approaches.
The Dec. 6 service will include all of the O Antiphons, which are usually sung individually with the Magnificat at Vespers during the last days of Advent, from November 17 to 23. But it will not be Vespers.
Each O antiphon will be sung first in Gregorian chant and will be followed (with one exception) by a setting of the same antiphon by various composers. A setting of the Magnificat for eight voices by Palestrina will also be sung.

Conductor Richard Sparks explained the plan for the music:
"Since we are doing this in one Advent service (with all seven of the O Antiphons) we will do only one setting of the Magnificat, a wonderful 8-voice setting by Palestrina. 
"As we go through the Antiphons, we will always sing the Gregorian Chant for that Antiphon, followed in all but one case by a setting of that antiphon by various composers, most contemporary, since composers in recent years have been fascinated by these beautiful texts. 
"Some examples: O Adonai will be sung in a setting by Arvo Pärt the Estonian Orthodox composer (who set all seven of the Antiphons in German), for men’s voices alone. It’s a slow, mystical setting, and utilizes the wonderful low basses in Benedict 16. The setting of O Radix Jesse is by Rihards Dubra, a Latvian composer born in 1964, who was raised as Catholic by his grandparents, and whose music is almost entirely sacred. And O Oriens is set in English by one of today’s preeminent Catholic composers, the Scottish James MacMillan as O Radiant Dawn."
When I asked for more details about the service, Maggie Gallagher, Director of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, which sponsored this event, wrote me:
"We think of it as a form of 'lessons and carols' but with sacred polyphony. It's a bit pioneering. But between the Archbishop's spiritual and liturgical sense and Richard Sparks spiritual and musical brilliance, it's going to be great. The music will be extraordinary, the food and fellowship be fun."
The Benedict XVI Institute has sponsored several well-received events designed (in Gallagher’s words) “to open the door of Beauty to God through beautiful liturgy and energizing a Catholic culture of the arts.”

The most spectacular recent example is the Mass of the Americas, a new musical Mass setting by Frank LaRocca, composer in residence for the institute. The Mass of the Americas was adapted for the extraordinary form for a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cordileone at the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on November 16, 2019. The D.C. event attracted a standing room only crowd to the 3,500-seat basilica, many of whom had never attended an extraordinary form Mass before.

These two articles about the Mass of the Americas provide more information:
Because the singing will alternate with prayers and reflections led by Archbishop Cordileone, its format resembles Anglican Lessons and Carols services. But it’s not an Anglican Lessons and Carols service either.
Gallagher forwarded my question about the event's genesis and the intention behind it to Archbishop Cordileone, who founded the institute: "What inspired you to create this seemingly unique service?"

Archbishop Cordileone replied that the original idea for the service was based on a “St. Nicholas Day concert,” formerly held at the seminary on the first Friday in December. Then the lessons and carols format suggested itself after the Benedict XVI Institute held a well-received Festival of Marian Hymns in May. When renowned choral conductor Richard Sparks became the Benedict XVI Institute's principal conductor, Archbishop Cordileone planned this event with him as a way to bring a service back to St. Patrick’s Seminary on the first Friday of December.
"The focus is on Advent, and thus the O Antiphons, but, happily, this year that Friday coincides with the feast day of St. Nicholas, so we will also pay him homage in the service through prayer and song.
The St. Nicholas Day prayer service also reflects the Benedict XVI Institute’s deep commitment to offer sacred music in the context for which it was written: as prayer, not performance, for the praise and glory of God.”

Roy Schoeman and the Return of the Jews: From a Jewish Perspective Within the Catholic Faith

After Roy Schoeman's first book, Salvation is from the Jews, was published in late 2003 by Ignatius Press, the book became one of the press's top sellers.

Another book by Schoeman, Honey from the Rock: Sixteen Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ, was published in 2007. I interviewed Roy Schoeman about his first book at his home near the Massachusetts coast for a National Catholic Register article. You can read the published interview here and the original unedited version, with many additional interesting details, here)

Several years after its initial publication, Schoeman’s first book was still being talked about in many sometimes-unlikely places. I’ve seen Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVE, quote Schoeman several times in homilies during televised Masses on EWTN. A lay Carmelite named Marylou Roblin told me she gave a copy of Salvation is from the Jews to her Seventh Day Adventist dentist. A Mountain View, CA priest, Father Robert Finnegan, frequently brought up one or another of the ideas Schoeman writes about at a monthly prayer group meeting I attended.

Obviously, this is not the type of book that makes an initial stir at first release and then sinks into oblivion. The ideas Schoeman presents as the fruit of his studies have ancient roots in Jewish and Christian history and in the Sacred Scriptures and other writings from both traditions, and they bear looking at anew.

I contacted Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, to ask how they decided to publish Schoeman’s first book, which was submitted as an unsolicited manuscript. Brumley wrote the following about why he, along with a team of editors, including Father Joseph Fessio, the founder and editor-in chief, made the decision. Brumley’s words are not only interesting in themselves but are also a good summary of some of Schoeman’s most important points.

"My initial reaction to it: This is a fascinating, moving and thoughtful story ... with a balanced Catholic theology of the place of Jews and Judaism in salvation history. Roy is not timid about his faith in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah of Israel and the Catholic Church as having been founded by Jesus. But he also doesn't hold that God's saving purpose for Israel in history has been simply superceded by Jesus Christ and his establishment of the Catholic Church. . . . His discussion of Judaism and the Holocaust casts light on the current circumstances of Judaism, and his treatment of Nazism's occult origins is riveting. . . . I thought publishing the ms. would help further a much-needed discussion of how, while respecting the religious heritage of the Jewish people, the Church can and must carry on her mission to proclaim Jesus as the Savior of all—Jews and Gentiles alike."

The words of the title, Salvation is from the Jews, are the words of Christ to the Samaritan woman in John 4:22. As Brumley’s remarks and the subtitle The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming clearly indicate, Schoeman’s writings address the question, “Was the role of the Jews finished when Christ came the first time?”

In the conversion stories he includes about prominent Jewish converts in both his books, Schoeman also describes special graces that God is sending to draw many Jews to the Catholic faith. Schoeman wrote in the chapter titled, “The Return of the Jews” that a Jew who becomes a Catholic is not a really a convert, but someone who is coming into the fullness of Judaism.

This notion of return, Schoeman writes, is not odd when you realize that “the Catholic Church is simply the continuation and fulfillment of Judaism after the first coming of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.” The return of the Jews, for Schoeman and for other Jews who have accepted Christ and Catholicism, is a turning away from the rejection of Christ at His First Coming. Also stressed in Schoeman’s work is the basis in Scripture and Tradition for the belief that the return of the Jews is a necessary prerequisite for Christ’s Second Coming.

Schoeman’s own conversion story was added to the end of the first book only at the insistence of Ignatius Press. Father Fessio has been quoted in interviews as saying that they do not publish conversion stories, so the fact that Schoeman was asked to provide his story is remarkable in itself.

I think how Schoeman came to know Christ and the Catholic Church is awe-inspiring. Schoeman recounts two major events on the way to his baptism as a Catholic.

The first was an experience of what he calls “falling into heaven” during a walk on the beach. Father Joseph Mary quoted this part of Schoeman’s story on EWTN several times because it bears consoling witness to God’s all-embracing love. Schoeman writes, “I saw my life laid out before me, seeing it as if I were reviewing it in the presence of God at the moment of my death.” He saw with great regret “all the time and energy I had wasted worrying about not being loved, when every moment of my existence I was held in the sea of God’s unimaginably great love.”

A year later he had a vivid dream vision in which he was granted an audience with the Mother of God. “[W]hen I went to sleep I knew little about, and had no special sympathy for, Christianity in any of its aspects; when I awoke I was hopelessly in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Schoeman writes that he then “knew that the God who had revealed himself to me on the beach had been Christ.”

My first contact with Roy Schoeman occurred while we were both on a pilgrimage to Israel in November 2005 (along with Father Joseph Mary who came along as one of the priest leaders). At the Notre Dame Pilgrimage Center in Jerusalem, Schoeman spoke on the evening of the day on which our group had gone to the Wailing Wall. During my own time at the one remaining wall of the Temple from the time of Christ, I had been moved to pray for those who still wait for the coming of the Messiah. So on that same night when I heard Schoeman speak, I found it especially meaningful that Schoeman asked the group to pray for the conversion of the Jews.

Some Catholics say these days that trying to bring Jews to Catholicism is always and everywhere the wrong thing to do. If you are one of those who think that way, I believe that you will think differently if you read Schoeman’s books.

This attitude some hold about Jewish conversion is vividly illustrated by an article about cloistered Carmelite nuns who live on Mt. Carmel (published in AP online and quoted here).

The presence of French Carmelite nuns in Haifa was facilitated in the late 19th century by two Jewish brothers, Augustin and Joseph Lemann, who became priests and canons of the Catholic Church in Rome and close associates of Pope Pius IX. The nuns’ specific raison for living in Haifa was to pray for the conversion of the Jews.

But, after Vatican II, a misunderstanding about the unique and essential role of Christ in salvation crept into the some circles in the Church, and like many others, the nuns of Mt. Carmel were not immune. In the above-mentioned article, Mother Angela del Bono, OCD, was quoted as saying that it would be as ridiculous for anyone to pray for the conversion of Jews to Catholicism as it would be for someone to pray for her to be a Muslim. Mother Angela told the reporter that the nuns on Mt. Carmel would never pray any more for Jews to become Catholics, that it is enough for Jews to be good Jews.

On this topic Schoeman writes, “Evangelization efforts aimed at Jews are frequently seen by Jews as a threat to their religion and their people and even compared to the Nazis’ attempts to exterminate them. Yet the words of Jesus and the Scriptures themselves make it abundantly clear that God Himself, and certainly Jesus Himself, very much wish the Jews to come to Him. It was one of His greatest sorrows just before His crucifixion, when He exclaimed, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem.... How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!’ [Matthew 23:37)”

As Schoeman’s quotes from the Lemann brothers and from Christ Himself show, there is no better way for a Jew to be a “good Jew” than to accept Christ and become a Catholic. So, ironically, those who are praying only for Jews to be good Jews may be praying better than they know.

Another aspect of Schoeman’s writings that mesh with my own interests is his description of a post-Holocaust Jewish theology that in many cases has turned to rejection of God Himself. As part of my preparation for the Israel pilgrimage, I re-read some writings of Holocaust author, Elie Wiesel. In response to the horrors of the sufferings of the Jewish people under Hitler, Wiesel blames God.

Reading Wiesel raised this question in a new way in my mind: What is the purpose of the Holocaust in the divine plan? As I found out by reading Schoeman’s book, Wiesel is “an example of one who gives up on God’s faithfulness to His covenant with the Jews.” With the rejection of God among many Jews after the Holocaust as one of the many pieces of evidence, Schoeman has a lot to say about the Satanic roots of the Holocaust. Diabolical fury directed against the Jews in the form of pogroms and persecutions is to Schoeman is one strong indication of the continuing importance of the Jews in God’s plan for salvation.

This thread of Schoeman’s thought merits far more space than can be allotted here, but I want to mention how, quoting from many reliable sources, Schoeman shows that the Nazis opened the way into the depths of other types of moral depravity by practicing sexual impurity. Last November, Schoeman appeared on the EWTN TV show “The Carpenter’s Shop” to discuss the topic of the effects of unchastity and how it gives a foothold to Satan in all other areas of our lives.

Another of the benefits I gained from reading the first book is an exposure to passages from Jewish rabbinical writings that most Catholics never hear about, including the Talmud. Schoeman quotes a remarkable passage in the Talmud about a miracle that would occur at the yearly Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) sacrifice at the Temple. The High Priest would “enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifice for atonement for the sins of all Israel.” The Talmud and another Jewish work called the Zohar describe a scarlet thread that would turned white on the Day of Atonement “as a sign that God had accepted the sacrifice.” The Talmud recounts “For 40 years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but remained red.”

The year that the cord stopped turning white at the yearly sacrifice coincides with the year of Jesus’ crucifixion, so the Talmud inadvertently confirmed that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross made the Temple sacrifices obsolete.

Schoeman’s ideas seem to be solidly in conformity with the Magisterium. While Pope Benedict XVI was still Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote the following about Israel (used in the sense of the Jewish people) in his book God and the World, which was published by Ignatius Press in 2002, “Israel still has a mission to accomplish today. We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel, too, will say Yes to Christ, but we also know that while history still runs its course even this standing at the door fulfills a mission, one that is important for the world.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

This Friday at 6:30 p.m., the TLM and California Mission Music Return to Mission Santa Clara, in Honor of the Holy Man of Santa Clara

One sad fact for lovers of traditional Catholic liturgy everywhere is that almost exactly fifty years ago—after the first Sunday of Advent of 1969 when the new Mass was mandated—the traditional Latin Mass was effectively banned, with few exceptions.

Although Pope John Paul II granted two indults in the 1980s to allow the TLM to be celebrated with permission from local bishops, I know—from talking to TLM-loving priests and laity who were around at the time—permission was rarely granted.  Pope Benedict XVI greatly loosened restrictions in 2007 and allowed the TLM to be celebrated more widely under the name “extraordinary form,” but another sad fact is that extraordinary form Masses are even now rarely celebrated at most Catholic colleges and universities.

The disdain for the past is widespread. A few years ago outside the Mission Santa Clara, I ran into a new Santa Clara University graduate who came back for a summer program on the campus, and I was saddened to learn that he had never been taught about the role of Latin as the official language of Catholic Church and had never attended a Latin Mass or heard Gregorian Chant. That smart young man was in total ignorance about these aspects of the Church's heritage after 12 years of parochial school and four years at a Catholic university!

A third sad fact also related to the main topic of this article is that the traditional liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church has been replaced in most Masses on- and off-campus with often-banal and sometimes even heretical hymns. Who could then imagine a day would come when an extraordinary form High Mass would be chanted again on the Santa Clara University campus? Or that  actual polyphonic Mass settings written by missionaries for converted natives during the Mission days would be sung at Mission Santa Clara again?

 On November 21, 2018, as the result of a lot of prayer and persistence by a group of lay Catholics and the help of priests from the Institute of Christ the King, the day did finally come when a high Mass was celebrated at the restored and enlarged Mission Santa Clara, which now serves as the Santa Clara University chapel. Two local choirs came together to sing the Propers for the day in Gregorian Chant and the Ordinary in a polyphonic Mass setting titled the “California Mission Mass."

 The “California Mission Mass” was arranged by California composer John Biggs from music written down by the missionaries for the converted Native Americans to sing and play, which Biggs curated and arranged from various Mass settings archived by the Franciscans at Mission Santa Barbara. This year, on Friday, November 22, 2019, at 6:30 p.m., that day will come again—with even more solemnity, when the traditional Latin Mass and the California Mission Mass music returns once again to Mission Santa Clara.

 This year a Solemn High Mass will be celebrated by Canon Raphael Ueda, rector of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory in San José, with the help of Canon Jean-Marie Moreau, at the Mission Church’s main altar, which is used only for wedding Masses.
Elevation of the consecrated host at the main altar last year
Canon Moreau who has returned for a one-week visit to the area after eight years at other apostolates of the Institute of Christ the King, will preach the homily from the otherwise mostly-unused high pulpit. Canon Moreau will bring a lot of memories to the event, since he was the first priest to assist the lay people who started the process—eleven years ago—that eventually helped bring the traditional Latin Mass back to SCU, if only once a year.
Homily given from the reconstructed
Mission pulpit last year
After the Mass for the Feast of St. Cecilia, the two priests will lead a prayer for the canonization of "The Holy Man of Santa Clara," Father Magin Catalá, who died on November 22, 1830; this year marks his 189th death anniversary.  Father Catalá first came to Mission Santa Clara in 1796, nineteen years after the mission was first founded by Saint Junipero Serra in 1777, and Father Catalá labored there with love and great personal sacrifice for thirty-six years until his death in 1830. Although he is not as well known as Saint Junipero Serra, Father Catalá won the devotion of the Native American converts and the Spanish settlers he served. When he died the mourning was universal; natives crowded his bier to obtain relics, snipping away pieces of his habit until his body was almost nude. When a new habit was put on the body, they did the same thing again. The Spaniards and the converted natives mourned his death vehemently, crying, "The saint has left us.” To read more, you can find a two-page biographical sketch of Father Catalá here.
A fascinating 1909 biography of Father Catalá titled The holy man of Santa Clara or, Life, virtues and miracles of Fr. Magin Catalá, O.F.M. is also free for download at The Internet Archive. It includes testimony from several reliable witnesses that was taken when Father Catalá's cause for canonization was opened that year. (Those letters still can be viewed in the University of Santa Clara Library Archives). Witnesses saw Father Catalá levitate when he prayed in front of a carved wooden life-sized crucifix from Mexico, and they reported that the figure of Christ detached his hands from the cross and laid them on Father Catalá shoulders. That very same crucifix hangs over an altar where the prayer will be recited for his canonization.
When a fire burned down the Mission in 1926, students and priests risked their lives to save the crucifix. Later, Father Catalá’s remains were retrieved from the ashes. As documented in the SCU archives, his remains were re-buried in the reconstructed church, at the Gospel side of the rebuilt side altar where the crucifix now hangs. His marble grave slab, whose carved inscription was formerly filled with gold, now is on the wall to the left of the altar. It's inspiring to realize that the music for the Gloria, Credo, and Sanctus that will be sung at the Mass on November 22 may well have been sung by the natives at the same form of the Mass at Mission Santa Clara back when Father Catalá was alive.

From Small Beginnings

The return of the Mass and the music came about this way: for the past 11 years, a group of lay people have organized an annual commemoration as close as possible to the death anniversary of Father Catalá, which falls on November 22, the feast of Saint Cecilia.
Eleven years ago, Canon Moreau was rector of the former Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Santa Clara about ten blocks away from SCU, and the first year he celebrated a Mass at the Oratory before he led a rosary procession to the Mission, where the group said the canonization prayer at the altar of the crucifix. After Canon Moreau was assigned to New Jersey, the institute priests who replaced him along with the late venerable diocesan priest Father William Stout continued the commemoration. Six years ago, the Jesuits who run the university granted permission for one traditional Latin Mass a year (the group was refused when they asked to reserve the Mission for a TLM to celebrate another event). For the next four years, the group was able to reserve the Mission for a Low Mass at the altar of the crucifix, and the oratory choir joined with the choir from Thomas More School in San José to sing the California Mission Mass. Last year the group was able to arrange for the first High Mass to be celebrated at the high altar, and finally this year they obtained permission for a Solemn High Mass, again at the high altar.
Masses in the SCU chapel for students are celebrated in the middle of the nave, with chairs with kneelers arranged around a simple altar, and the homily is given at a podium with a microphone. The organizers who set up the High Mass on November 22 will need to redirect the chairs to face towards the high altar and the liturgical east, and they will also need to bring in candles and altar cloths and Mass cards, but all will be a labor of love.

Father Catala taught the converted natives to say this prayer when blessing themselves with holy water:
"Holy water, blessed by God, cleanse my body and save my soul."
Then while making the sign of the cross:
"By the sign of the holy Cross deliver us, O Lord, our God, from our enemies."
Jan Halisky, co-founder of the Familia Sancti Hieronymi, translated this prayer into Latin:
"Aqua sancta, a Deo benedicta, corpus meum lava et animam salva."
"O Domine, Deus noster, per signum sanctae Crucis, libera nos ab inimicis nostris"
Mr. Halisky told me he found it edifying that the book, The Holy Man of Santa Clara, recounted that Father Catala always insisted on the utmost reverence during every religious or ecclesiastical function, however slight. Much of the current Catholic world seems to have cast this reverence aside.
It’s easy to imagine that Father Catalá rejoices along with those who attend this yearly event, when, through the efforts of a persistent few of his devotees and some dedicated priests and choir members, the reverence and sacred music of the traditional Latin High Mass returns for one evening a year to the beautiful Mission Santa Clara.

For More Information

Two articles about the yearly Mass have been published by California Catholic Daily:
This article about Father Catalá and the long history of devotion to him was published in Latin Mass Magazine: