Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

Two Contrasting Interpretations

April 18th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

From a Lenten series in 2011.

Previously here


Click on pictures for sharper images

“Mond Crucifixion” by Raphael Sanzio

“Christ Between Two Thieves” by Peter Paul Rubens

In this post we see two contrasting interpretations of the crucifixion, each coming out of a different historical period. The Mond Crucifixion (or Crocifissione Gavari; the names are of former owners) is a High Renaissance painting by Raphael Sanzio. The other a painting, Christ, Between Two Thieves by Peter Paul Rubens, is from the later Baroque period.

Reflecting the Renaissance interest in a rebirth of the Classical Greek and Roman intellectual values based on reason, Raphael’s Renaissance painting expresses idealized stability and harmony. Ruben’s painting, on the other hand, is exciting and dramatic, reflecting an interest in engaging the emotions. Raphael’s Crucifixion is serene and peaceful.  Ruben’s is calamitous and noisy.

Raphael deploys design principles in a typically Renaissance fashion to create his image. The design is balanced symmetrically; the right side pretty much mirrors the left in the placement of shapes and distribution of lights and darks. His composition carefully arranges forms to create a predictable pattern of vertical lines. Forms are subtly modeled and rendered in clear, ‘clean’ colors. The arrangement of shapes and forms reflects an underlying idealized geometric plan based on the triangle and circle.

Raphael shows us that even Christ’s horrendous crucifixion reflects God’s ultimate plan. All is well in this painting; all is for a purpose regardless of appearances to the contrary.

Rubens deploys design principles for a whole other purpose. He has been commissioned by the so-called Counter Reformation Church to counter the Protestant reformers’ attack on Catholic emotion, piety, practices, and use of art. He does so by upping the ante and dramatically stimulating the emotions. In contrast to Renaissance artists Baroque artists, like Rubens, use forms, shapes, colors, and all the other elements of design in a forceful, asymmetrical composition. Forms fall into diagonal arrangements trusting us into the action. Contrasting diagonals create tension. Light and dark areas dramatically contrast creating a kind of visual thunder. Bodies are twisted or contorted. Colors are mixed and textures contrasted. In these ways Rubens creates dramatic movement and an unstable environment that arouses interest in the viewer and invites emotional involvement. We enter into the event. The image invites not so much contemplation as emotional attachment and commitment.

Great Thursday Icon

April 5th, 2012, Promulgated by Bernie

Previously here



“Mystical Supper” by Rolland Luke Dingman


Of thy Mystical Supper,

O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant

for I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies,

neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas

but like the thief will I confess thee;

Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom.

Westerners recognize this scene as the Last Supper while in the East it is known as the Mystical Supper. Holy Thursday is known in the Eastern Church (both Catholic and Orthodox) as Great Thursday.

The word mystic in the Eastern title of this icon comes from the Greek word mystikos and signifies sacrament, communicating through the title that Christ instituted the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist at the last supper with His apostles.1

The group is shown all seated on the same side of a semi-circular table, the common arrangement, at the time, utilized for large dinner groups. Servers brought the dishes to the table from the empty side of the table. Sometimes tables were rectangle or “U” shaped with the diners seated to the outside. It was usual for the host or the guest of honor to sit on the left end of the table as seen from the entrance door. Some icons show that arrangement. More commonly, Christ is depicted seated in the center of the group with the twelve apostles evenly flanking Him. St. Peter sits, appropriately, at the right hand of the Lord. St. John, the “beloved apostle” appears to be gesturing toward the bread and wine –the Body and Blood; the Sacrament- and Christ lovingly places His left hand on John’s far shoulder, gently pulling him toward Him. In some icons, St. John is shown reclining his head on the Lord’s breast.

All of the figures, except one, are shown full face; we can see both eyes. Only Judas, the betrayer, is shown in profile with only one eye visible to symbolize his dishonesty.2 In some icons Judas is seated at the table on the side opposite the apostles and Jesus. In others, his face may be darkened by shadow. In still others he is the one reaching for a bag of money.

The long wall and towers in the background are suggestive of the Jerusalem Temple –the show bread of Jerusalem Temple was a type of the Bread of Everlasting Life instituted on Great Thursday3 and the sacrifices of the Temple were a type of Christ’s sacrifice. The curtain is meant to indicate that the supper scene is taking place indoors.

Finally, Christ appears in the traditional pose of Christ Pantokrator (Omnipotent, All Powerful) Ruler of the universe.

The Mystical Supper icon is usually over the royal doors of the iconostasis screen in most Orthodox or Eastern Catholic churches. In front of this icon is where the faithful come to receive the Eucharist at the Divine Liturgy (Mass). Beyond the icon, at the altar, is where the mystery of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated.


1 The Mystical Language of Icons, Solrunn Nes, (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005) p74

2 <>3 Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper, Brant Pitre, (New York, Doubleday Religion, 2011)
Picture Sources Mystical Supper Icon:

The Gero Crucifix

April 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

Continuing our Lenten series on crosses and crucifixion images.

Previously here.

This crucifix is 6’2” in height and is the first monumental sculpture of the crucified Christ still in existence. Made of wood and painted, it was commissioned in 970 by Gero, Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, for his cathedral.

When the Gero image was carved, the controversies over the use of religious images (the iconoclastic crisis) had still not subsided and large sculpture-in-the-round images of Christ, Mary and the saints would have been considered as encouraging idolatry.  The veneration of relics, however, enjoyed a renewed popularity and energy in northern Europe where the Gero cross was made. The relics were often contained and displayed in table-top sized reliquaries that had cavities for holding them. These reliquaries were often small sculpted or cast figures, no more than a foot or two in height, at most.

Crucifixes too became popular objects in early German sculpture and, like reliquaries, were usually small and cast in bronze.  The Gero Crucifix, therefore, must have been something of a sensation when it was created and put on display for the first time in the cathedral.

Upper Cover of the Lindau Gospel Book ca. 875

In addition to the sensationalism of its size must have been the image’s realistic treatment of the crucified Christ. Prior to this time in Christian art, Crucifixion icons and illustrations in books depicted a type of crucified Christ that suggested the dual natures of Christ: the crucified body, his humanity; his non-suffering serene expression, his divinity (left). But, in the Gero Crucifix, we see a very human Christ who actually hangs upon the cross, his body sagging from dead weight.  The muscles and skin are stretched from the shoulders across the chest. The stomach bulges out from the weight of the torso pressing down from above. The eyes of Christ are closed in death and blood streams down across His forehead. The lips are contorted and the mouth at the corners hangs down. Between the bottom lip and the chin a deep cup indicates that the head fell down onto the chest at the moment of death. This is not a serene image.

Why the change from the traditional dogmatic image of Christ to a totally human one? Some would say that mysticism prevalent in the early middle ages resulted in an intense spirituality that was expressed through human emotions. The Gero Crucifix depicted a suffering Christ whose agony paralleled the spirit of the times. In other words, this was an image with which people could emotionally identify because it seemed to sum up their own lives.

The Gero Crucifix inaugurated in Christian art -alongside the dogmatic tradition- a tradition of realistic portrayals of Christ’s crucifixion. It would reach its most powerful expression in the exaggerated realism of the Crucifixion panel of the Isenheim Altarpiece.

San Damiano Icon Crucifix

March 20th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie
We continue with our Lenten series on crosses and crucifixes. Previously: here and here.

Click on pictures to see larger images

The San Damiano crucifix which we see here is one of the better known of all images of Christ’s Crucifixion. Its popularity is attributed to its role in the conversion of St. Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226) from a life of self-indulgence to a life of total obedience to God. One day in 1206, the saint stopped into the abandoned and dilapidated Chapel of San Damiano just outside of Assisi to pray before this crucifix which was still hanging above the altar. Three times he heard a voice coming from it say, “Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is falling into ruin.” He thought he was being enlisted to repair the chapel building but later determined that it was the dilapidated condition of the universal Church at the time to which the voice was referring.

This Crucifixion scene is in the tradition of Byzantine icon painting which took root in Italy as a result of Greek icon painters and monks fleeing from the East during the period of the iconoclastic persecution between 730 and 787. It’s a classic Byzantine dogmatic or programmatic icon which presents us with several stories and doctrines in one unified image. Before us is not just represented the scene of the Crucifixion but the entire Paschal event.

The Crucified Christ is the most obvious image we notice. Like the ivory carving of the earliest Crucifixion scene we looked at in a previous post, this one presents us with a crucified Christ who is not only free of suffering but apparently strong, robust, serene and self-confident. Here, again, we see illustrated the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ: the bleeding wounds of the body indicate His humanity and the calm and serene psychological expression suggests his divinity.

Those who witnessed the Crucifixion (John 19:25–27) are depicted behind Christ at about the mid-point of the cross. On the left is Mary His mother and St. John, the apostle to whom Christ entrusted His mother. Mary’s hand is raised to her face as she mourns for her son. On the right, first is Mary of Magdala, also with her hand to her face, His mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and then the centurion who proclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). The smaller figures depict the soldier Longinus on the left with his spear, and on the right, Stephaton who put the sponge soaked in wine to Christ’s mouth. This central part of the image therefore depicts the mystery of the Crucifixion of the Son of God.

Directing our attention now to the bar of the cross, behind the arms of Christ, we can see a long horizontal black shape representing the empty tomb of Easter. Notice the figures of Peter and John, as described in John 20:2–10, peering into the emptiness of the tomb at either end of the tomb. Four angels, two on each side along the bottom of the tomb, excitedly react to the mystery of the Crucifixion and the mystery of the Resurrection.

Finally, the third mystery, the Ascension, is depicted at the top of the cross in the ‘T’ shape. Christ is shown being welcomed by a heavenly host of angels into heaven where he will sit at the right hand of the Father. The Father is symbolized by a blessing hand indicating that His will has been accomplished.

Here is an except of a reflection on the San Damiano cross from The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, San Francisco, California:

“To the world, the cross is a stumbling block and foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:23); but to the eyes of faith the cross is the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension, in their full simultaneous reality…

Francis learned to rejoice in the overwhelming beauty of God’s creation—a beauty signfying God’s love—yet he did not desire anything of the material world for his own fulfillment. Instead, he desired nothing but to receive our Lord with a pure heart and chaste body.

And, as he showed through the rest of his life, Francis fully understood the reason for the odd depiction of Christ’s serenity upon the San Damiano crucifix. For when someone accepts injustice, cruelty, and contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, and endures it all with charity and total faith, what else can we call it but perfect joy? And so, right from the beginning, Francis understood that the “background” to all human suffering must be total faith in the ultimate triumph of the Cross.”

Earliest Known Crucifixion Scenes in Christian Art

March 13th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

Previously and Related

As we are in the holy season of Lent I thought maybe we could look at images of the cross, and scenes of the crucifixion, as shown by artists from different periods or working in a variety of styles.

Below are the earliest known representations of the crucifixion of Christ.  Note that it is not until the fifth century that scenes of the crucifixion began to appear in Christian art. The cross, itself, only began to be used as a symbol of Christianity about the same time. Prior to the fourth and fifth centuries the plain cross usually was disguised in some way or obliquely referenced.  I have written elsewhere of the possible reasons for the delayed use of the cross in Christian art.


This first image of the crucifixion of Christ appears on a single relief panel on the early 5th c. wooden doors of the Church of Santa Sabina in Rome. Santa Sabina is the church at which the pope celebrates Ash Wednesday each year. Construction commenced during the pontificate of Pope Celestine I (422-433) and was consecrated in 440. There are two fascinating aspects of this work. First, it is the only representation of the crucifixion taking this design. You will note that crosses are not clearly represented, only three pediment shapes, a horizontal beam, and two vertical posts in the background seemingly dividing the composition into sections. (A vertical post might be suggested just above the head of the left figure.) If the background represents tau crosses surmounted by pitched roof shapes for emphasis, it is puzzling that the crucified figures are not attached to the crosses. The arrangement may represent a building (note the window in the left ‘pediment.’) The carved figures stand (?) in the orans position of prayer although there are nails visible in the hands. Second, the crucifixion panel is at the very top of the left hand door, in the left corner –a rather ‘out-of-the-way’ location. Needless to say, much debate and conjecture surrounds this particular image.


This second image may have been made earlier than the Santa Sabina one (which makes the Sabina one even more puzzling if a ‘canon’ for representing the crucifixion had already been established). It was carved as a relief panel for a small ivory box, probably in Rome but perhaps in Gaul, around 420-30. It is 3 x 4 inches in size. This, of course, is a more traditional representation of the event. We can see that the suicide of Judas is depicted on the left. This carving has artistic and stylistic characteristics of much interest to art historians but I would like to point out a more theological aspect.

The erect posture of Christ on the cross and his alertness and robust body (unlike the limp body of Judas) might strike us, who are used to seeing the suffering Christ on the cross, as strange and unreal. In fact, this crucified and yet ‘live’ Christ appears indestructible and triumphant. This crucifixion scene may reflect the Christological debates that raged across Christianity from the 2nd through 6th centuries. The non-suffering Christ may be expressive of an aspect of one of the theories that influenced the doctrine adopted at the Council of Chalcedon (451). The Council declared that in Christ there are two natures, human and divine; each retaining its own properties, and together united in one subsistence and in one single person. The triumphant Christ is meant to remind people that the person Jesus was fully divine as well as fully human. This early representation of the non-suffering but crucified Christ is the first in the oldest and longest running tradition of representations of the crucified Christ. It is an especially strong tradition in the icons of ‘Eastern’ Christianity.

“No meat for you!”

March 11th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

Venice ‘Celebrates’ Lent

March 8th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

At midnight tonight, Venice, Italy (and many other places around the world) will end its frivolity and pursuit of false pleasures it has been engaging in the last few weeks in order to celebrate the realities of eternal truth and happiness which come with the dawn of Ash Wednesday and the cleansing and refreshing penance of Lent. At midnight all the church bells in the city will ring and the masks will come off and the ashes will go on.  A sudden and startling contrast -conversion?

Photos by Bernie

Lenten Catechism Course

March 2nd, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Fr. Brian Carpenter, parochial vicar at Peace of Christ in Irondequoit/City East, will be offering a special six-week Catechism course for adults during Lent. At each of these sessions, the teachings of the Church will be explained, as well as the theology behind them. Each of these sessions will take place on Wednesdays during Lent at St. James Church located at 130 Brett Rd., Irondequoit.

If you are planning to attend, please contact Father at: 585-288-5000 ext. 114 in order to register. If you do not have a copy of the Catechism, you may order one through Peace of Christ parish for $18.

Votive Mass of the Prayer in the Garden

February 25th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

The following comes to us from Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby, who runs “Vultus Christi.” A Nod of the Miter to him.

There is, perhaps, no greater fan of a well-timed Votive Mass than me. This being said, laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi in blogum Vultus Christi. (Pardon the liturgy joke. When I get excited I experience spontaneous outbreaks of Latin.)

Among the beautiful Votive Masses of the Passion, found in some missals for certain weekdays after Septuagesima and through Lent, is that of The Prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani.


My heart is troubled within me;
the fear of death stands over me;
fear and trembling are come upon me (Ps 54:5-6).
V. O God, save me;
see how the waters close about me,
threatening my very life (Ps 68:2).
V. Glory.


Lord Jesus Christ,
whose word and example in the garden taught us to pray,
and thereby to overcome the perils of temptation,
grant us grace ever to be intent upon prayer,
and so to earn its abundant reward.
Thou who art God.

Epistle (Hebrews 5:5-10)

Brethren, Christ did not raise himself to the dignity of the high priesthood; it was God that raised him to it, when he said, you are my Son, I have begotten you this day, and so, elsewhere, You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchisedech. Christ, during his earthly life, offered prayer and entreaty to God who could save him from death, not without a piercing cry, not without tears; yet with such piety as won him a hearing. Son of God though he was, he learned obedience in the school of suffering, and now, his full achievement reached, he wins eternal salvation for all those who render obedience to him. A high priest in the line of Melchisedech, so God has called him.


My heart is full of trouble, my life sinks ever closer to the grave.
V. I count as one of those who go down into the abyss,
a man past all help (Ps 87:4-5)


Listen to me, Lord, of thy gracious mercy,
look down upon me in the abundance of thy pity.
V. Do not turn thy face away from thy servant in this time of trouble,
give a speedy answer to my prayer (Ps 68:17-18).
V. Do not leave me now, when trouble is close at hand,
when I have none to help me (Ps 21:12).

Gospel (Luke 22:39-44)

At this time, Jesus went out, as his custom was, to mount Olivet, his disciples following him. When he reached the place, he said to them, Pray that you may not enter into temptation. Then he parted from them, going a stone’s throw off, and knelt down to pray; Father, he said, if it pleases you, take away this chalice from before me; only as your will is, not as mine is. And he had sight of an angel from heaven, encouraging him. And now he was in an agony, and prayed still more earnestly; his sweat fell to the ground like thick drops of blood.


O God, save me;
see how the waters close about me,
threatening my very life (Ps 68:2).


Lord, by the merits of this holy sacrifice,
we beseech thee, cause us, who are schooled by thy divine instruction,
to spend ourselves so effectively in prayer,
that thy Son, Jesus Christ,
may find us at the hour of death,
watchful and free from sin.
Who with thee.

Communion (Matthew 26:41)

Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation:
the spirit is willing enough,
but the flesh is weak.


Refreshed with heavenly food,
we humbly beseech thee, Almighty Father,
that by virtue of the prayer of thy only-begotten Son,
we who are set amidst such dangers to body and soul
may be held worthy to come safely to the kingdom of heaven
Through the same.

For more information on what Votive Masses are, when they are said, and under what circumstances, just click here.

“He Descended Into Hell”

April 3rd, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

The following, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, explains how after His crucifixion and death, our Lord Jesus Christ descended into the realm of dead in order to conquer death and sin. Our Lord entered into death so that He would be raised, and by His rising, He would bring salvation to all those who hear and obey the will of God. The thought of the Son of God descending to hell might be a difficult one to comprehend, but this is how our Lord trampled death for His creation. He would rise from the dead on the third day.




631 Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens.”475 The Apostles’ Creed confesses in the same article Christ’s descent into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth:

Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.476

Paragraph 1. Christ Descended into Hell

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.477 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.478

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.479 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:480 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”481 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.482

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.”483 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”484 Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”485 Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”486

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”487


636 By the expression “He descended into hell”, the Apostles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil “who has the power of death” (Heb 2:14).

637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.”

The Easter Triduum Begins

April 1st, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

Tonight marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, the three days which encompass the Passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. The first day, Holy Thursday, is when we celebrate the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. At this special liturgy, we remember the institution of the Holy Eucharist, as well as the institution of the ordained priesthood which has the duty to consecrate the Eucharist.

There are a number of unique features of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

1. The tabernacle is to be left empty. The priest will consecrate as many hosts as he deems necessary for tonight, and for Good Friday services.
2. During the Gloria, the bells are rung. After this, they are not rung again until the Easter vigil Mass.
3. The priest may carry out the ritual foot washing, where twelve men are selected from the congregation to have their feet washed by the priest. This is done, per the example of our Lord in John’s Gospel, to show service for one another as well as humility.
4. Communion is encouraged under both species for this Mass, though not required. The local ordinary has the final say on this.
5. The Profession of Faith is not recited.
6. The Eucharist after Communion is then left on the altar while the priest incenses the Body of Christ in the ciborium. Following this, the priest takes the ciborium, and processes with it to the altar/place of repose.
7. The altar is stripped, and crucifixes may be removed from the church proper.
8. The faithful are encouraged to adore the Blessed Sacrament until midnight

There will be an article on Good Friday tomorrow. Remember, tomorrow is a day of fast and abstinence.

Another Missa Cantata on Easter Sunday

April 1st, 2010, Promulgated by Choir

Our Schola Roffensis will be singing another Missa Cantata on Easter Sunday at St. Stanislaus Church at 1:30 p.m. We will be singing “Lux et origio” for the ordinary parts of the Mass and almost all full Gregorian propers.

Here is a sample of the Gloria from the Mass ordinary.


There will be a regular High Mass, with full choir,for Divine Mercy Sunday on the 11th of April.

Pray the Rosary on Good Friday

March 31st, 2010, Promulgated by Choir

Imagine what might happen if every Catholic in the world would pray
a Rosary on the same day! We have an example in October of 1573,
when Europe was saved from the invasion of the mighty Turkish
fleet, by the praying of the Rosary by all Christians!

So, on Good Friday, let us all pray a Rosary for peace in the world and
the return of moral values into our communities. If possible, please
pray your Rosary between Noon and 3:00pm.

Also, please e-mail this message to every Catholic on your address list,
and ask them to pass it along to every Catholic on their lists. Let’s
unite in praying one of the most powerful prayers in existence, for
these intentions, on one of the holiest days in our Church year.


The Passion According to St. John

March 30th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen
I found this beautiful gem on the website of Musica Sacra. This is a perfect example of what a continuity of reform, tempered with the richness of Tradition, really truly is. You will find the original, Gregorian chant melody, but the words are in English. It is to be sung with three people, preferably three ordained men, or at least, three liturgical ministers whose roles are legitimate and not made up for political reasons.

Click here to view this piece.

Here is a segment of the original Latin chant for the Passion, Passio Domini Nostri Iesu Christi.


Washing Feet on Holy Thursday

March 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

If your parish will be having the priest wash the feet of members of the parish on Holy Thursday, and your priest will be performing this ritual on members of both sexes, be sure to gently remind him that this ritual is reserved to men alone. The reason is because the ritual recalls our Lord washing the feet of the twelve (male) Apostles at the Last Supper.

Here is the documentation to support this:

Fr. Edward McNamara, liturgy professor, on whether women may be permitted to participate in this rite:

“The rubrics for Holy Thursday clearly state that the priest washes the feet of men (“viri”) in order to recall Christ’s action toward his apostles. Any modification of this rite would require permission from the Holy See.

It is certainly true that in Christ there is neither male nor female and that all disciples are equal before the Lord. But this reality need not be expressed in every rite, especially one that is so tied up to the concrete historical circumstances of the Last Supper.”

From the Roman Missal, emphasis added:

“Depending on pastoral circumstance, the washing of feet follows the homily. The men who have been chosen (viri selecti) are led by the ministers to chairs prepared at a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each man. With the help of the ministers he pours water over each one’s feet and dries them.”

Crystal clear?

Poster Parish and Palm Sunday

March 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

I arrived home just in time for the 11 o’clock news last night. I flipped on my television to NBC, and within a few minutes they ran a story about local Palm Sunday services. Wouldn’t you know it, the church they decided to go to (once again) was St. Mary’s downtown. The following morning (today), I opened up my copy of the D&C.; Glaring at me once again from the front page of the B-section was a Palm Sunday Mass at… St. Mary’s downtown.

Are there really no other parishes in this diocese that the media must always focus on a small handful? Can the media finally choose to run a Catholic holy day story that doesn’t involve either: St. Mary downtown, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Joseph in Penfield, or Church of the Assumption?

A Cleansing Fire reader made note in the comments section of another post that the D&C; article mentions that St. Mary downtown had “about 200 people” in attendance for their 11 AM Mass.

Not only is the media focusing on one of the most progressive parishes in the diocese, but they also picked one of the smaller parishes. Maybe they pick St. Mary’s because of their great diversity. I mean, where else can you see so many shades of white?

Passiontide – Bach’s St. Matthew Passion

March 25th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

As we find ourselves confronting that hideous and blessed reality of Our Lord’s passion, we should begin to place ourselves into a deeper realization of what Passiontide is about.

We are but one week away from Holy Thursday, the day upon which Our Lord gave us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, the day upon which He gave us the priesthood, and the day upon which He was betrayed by Judas, one of his chosen Apostles. Our Lord does not prevent evil from happening to us or to Him, for if He were to intervene in every matter, He would strip us of our free will, which is the source of the sweetest discovery of God. Judas was chosen by God, elevated to his position by His divine will. However, Judas betrayed God, leading Him to that bloody death on the cross, re-enacted each and every day, upon every altar. Evil can be found everywhere, for the Evil One, the Prince of Darkness, uses our human weaknesses to attack us, weaknesses that destroy us and the Church. However, evil cannot win, for just three days after its absolute triumph, Jesus rose from the dead and ransomed our souls.

Sin and corruption are here, yes, but they are fleeting. Our Lord will not permit sin and iniquity to reign in His stead and in His name.

Below is the opening of Bach’s masterful St. Matthew Passion, the translation of which is below the video.


Kommt, ihr T?chter, helft mir klagen,
Sehet – Wen? – den Br?utigam,
Seht ihn – Wie? – als wie ein Lamm!
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig
Am Stamm des Kreuzes geschlachtet,
Sehet, – Was? – seht die Geduld,
Allzeit erfunden geduldig,
Wiewohl du warest verachtet.
Seht – Wohin? – auf unsre Schuld;
All S?nd hast du getragen,
Sonst m??ten wir verzagen.
Sehet ihn aus Lieb und Huld
Holz zum Kreuze selber tragen!
Erbarm dich unser, o Jesu !

Come, ye daughters, share my mourning,
See ye —(Faithful) whom? — (Zion, et sim.) the bridegroom there,
See him — how? — just like a lamb!
O Lamb of God, unspotted
Upon the cross’s branch slaughtered,
See ye, — what? — see him forbear,
Alway displayed in thy patience,
How greatly wast thou despis?d.
Look — where, then? — upon our guilt;
All sin hast thou borne for us,
Else we had lost all courage.
See how he with love and grace
Wood as cross himself now beareth!
Have mercy on us, O Jesus!

Si Iniquitates

March 17th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

The following is from the MusicaSacra YouTube channel.


The Seven Penitential Psalms – Psalm 50

March 7th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen
Peccatoris paenitentis confessio, promissio, preces
Confession, prayer, and promise of a penitent sinner.
Renovari spiritu mentis vestrae et induere novum hominem
(Eph 4:23-24)
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man.
(Eph 4:23-24)
3 MISERERE MEI, Deus, * secundum magnam misericordiam tuam; 3 HAVE MERCY ON ME, O God, * according to Thy great mercy;
et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum: * dele iniquitatem meam. and according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies: * blot out my iniquity.
4 Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea * et a peccato meo munda me. 4 Wash me from my iniquity; * and cleanse me of my sin.
5 Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco, * et peccatum meum contra me est semper. 5 For I acknowledge my iniquity, * and my sin is always before me.
6 Tibi, soli peccavi et malum coram te feci; * ut iustificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum iudicaris. 6 Against Thee alone have I sinned and done evil in Thy sight; * that Thou mayest be justified in Thy sentence and mayest overcome when judged.
7 Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum, * et in peccatis concepit me mater mea. 7 For behold, I was conceived in sin, * and in sin my mother conceived me;
8 Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti * incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi. 8 For behold, Thou hast loved truth, * and the uncertain and hidden things of Thy wisdom Thou hast shown me.
9 Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor; * lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. 9 Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed, * Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
10 Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam, * et exultabunt ossa humiliata. 10 Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness, * and the bones Thou hath crushed shall rejoice.
11 Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis, * et omnes iniquitates meas dele. 11 Turn away Thy face from my sins, * and blot out all my iniquities.
12 Cor mundum crea in me, Deus, * et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis. 12 Create in me a clean heart, O God, * and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
13 Ne proiicias me a facie tua * et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me. 13 Cast me not from Thy presence, * and take not Thy holy spirit from me.
14 Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui * et spiritu principali confirma me. 14 Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, * and strengthen me with Thy spirit.
15 Docebo iniquos vias tuas, * et impii ad te convertentur. 15 I will teach the unjust Thy ways, * and the wicked shall be converted to Thee.
16 Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae, * et exultabit lingua mea iustitiam tuam. 16 Deliver me from blood guilt, O God, the God of my salvation * , and my tongue shall extol Thy justice.
17 Domine, labia mea aperies, * et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam. 17 Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord, * and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.
18 Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique, * holocaustis non delectaberis. 18 For if Thou didst desire sacrifice, I would have indeed given it, * with a burnt offering Thou art not pleased.
19 Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus, * cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies. 19 A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit, * a contrite and humbled heart, O God, Thou shalt not despise.
20 Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion, * ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem. 20 Deal favorably, O Lord, in Thy good will with Sion * that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.
21 Tunc acceptabis sacrificium iustitiae, oblationes et holocausta; * tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos. 21 Then shalt Thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings, * then shall they lay calves upon Thy altar.

The accompanying prayer for this psalm is directed against the sins of lust.

Oratio contra luxuriam
Prayer against lust
Pater, peccavi in caelum et coram te, et iam non sum dignus vocari filius tuus. Quid faciam miser? Non enim permanebit Spiritus tuus in homine, quia caro est. Ah! miserere mei, miserere. Quod cum tot reproborum milibus, quos hodiedum abominanda luxuriae pestis in Gehennam praecipitat, captus non sim, infinitae tuae bonitati adscribo. Ergone iterum peccabo? Iterumne pretiosissimum Sanguinem tuum, O Iesu, in ablutionem scelerum meorum effusum, amore bestialium voluptatum, conculcabo? Absit, O Iesu, absit! Obsecro te, O Fili castissimae Virginis Mariae, a spiritu fornicationis libera me. Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea, et a peccato meo munda me. Ne proiicias me a facie tua, et Spiritum Sanctum tuum ne auferas a me! Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee, and now I am not worthy to be called Thy son. What shall I, wretched that I am, do? For Thy Spirit shall not remain in man, for he is flesh. Oh have mercy on me, have mercy! I attribute to Thy infinite goodness that I am not taken along with the many thousands of the damned, who the cursed abomination of lust casts headlong into Gehenna even today. Shall I therefore sin again? O Jesus, in the love of base pleasures shall I again trample under foot Thy most precious Blood poured forth in the washing away of my sins? Far from it, O Jesus, far from it! I beseech Thee, O Son of the most chaste Virgin Mary to free me from the spirit of fornication. Wash me from my iniquities and cleanse me from my sin. Do not cast me from Thy face nor take Thy Holy Spirit from me!

How Properly To Bury the Alleluia

March 5th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Dr. K wrote a piece documenting the local burying of the alleluia at Sacred Heart. Well, needless to say, the photos show a ceremony lacking any liturgical decorum. The problem with liberals is that they worship community. No – community worships God. You can see a clear comparison when you look at the photos posted below (care of New Liturgical Movement). Now, I ask you, which seems to be more sacred?

So, in the photos from Sacred Heart, we see a rabble professing faith. In these photos above, we see a sacred occurrence. The only way one could find fault with these words is if one, indeed, worships community and human abilities over the awesome omnipresence of God Almighty. This is not what we are called to do as Roman Catholics. 
On a “tying everything together” note, the poem I used in the latest Cleansing Fire video release perfectly suits the comparison set here before you. If you have not yet watched the video, please do so. The poem which is featured is also copied below for your literary delight. I believe it has been chiseled onto the heart of every liberal in the diocese. It certainly reflects their mentality.
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church --
I keep it, staying at Home --
With a Bobolink for a Chorister --
And an Orchard, for a Dome --

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice --
I just wear my Wings --
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton -- sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman --
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last --
I'm going, all along.
Sounds like the liberals have a new marching prancing hymn. 
Quick, someone email Marty Haugen and tell him we need a 
tune for these lyrics.