Many parts in the archipelago are under a very inclement weather since last week. Inundations are becoming common, as evidenced below by photographs of the interior and exterior vicinity of the Cathedral of Balanga in Bataan.
If you have the time, please recite the prayers prescribed by our ritual books against meteorological inclemencies. The prayers are in the form of rogational supplications (download the file here), and require the ringing of church bells. Let us pray that everyone, those at home and at work may be spared from these diverse meteorological manifestations.
Today, however, we turn our attention to a similar feast that celebrates a victory in war, in a coetaneous Crusade that was fought in the Iberian peninsula, a historical milestone now commonly referred to as the Reconquista. To situate our minds on this feast which is still celebrated in some places in the archipelago, a few readings are in order. Here is a piece published today by Canticum Salomonis. Here is a description of the feast, its propers, and its celebration in the Philippines from Dei praesidio fultus. And, lest we forget, a direct offshoot of these Crusades are the so-called bulas de la Santa Cruzada, which granted dietary privileges during times of fasting and abstinence. Read more about this here.
There are two features of this feast that might resonate with the modern Filipino ear. First, the most obvious, the archbishop of Toledo is named Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, therefore, a namesake of the highest civil power of the country, who was probably named after San Rodrigo de Córdoba, a priest who, steadfast and unwavering in his profession of the Catholic faith, was beheaded under Sharia law under apostasy charges (after his Muslim brother, whose fight with their other areligious brother Rodrigo attempted to break, reported to Muslim authorities that Rodrigo had converted to Islam). His feast day is 13 March, but we all know that compilers of almanaques, from which parents of a bygone age used to choose the names of their children, habitually transferred some saints to other days.
Second, the archbishop of Toledo assiduously and jealously upheld the primacy of the see of Toledo against the pretensions of the sees of Braga and of Tarragona, to such a point that whenever he went to battle, he had the primatial cross processed before him. In fact, one of the many miracles inventoried in the aftermath of the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, which was victory for the Christians, was the fact that, despite the fight to the death, the archbishop’s crucifer, Don Domingo Pascasio, a canon of the cathedral of Toledo, who carried the aforementioned double-barred ferula before the archbishop, sustained no harm. One can contrast this against the limp-wristed stance this government has taken against maritime encroachments into our territorial waters.
Just wars are seldom fought by arms alone. They are fought as well with prayers. Let this feast be a reminder to us that God visits his ire upon those who dishonour His Holy Name.
Nowadays, 16 July is almost always associated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a feast that was earmarked for removal by the Commission for the General Reform of the Liturgy because its members felt the faithful focused on the privilege attached to the devotion and neglected other Marian feasts. After an onslaught of blasphemous diatribes—conveniently explained away either as a legitimate exercise of the freedom of speech, or an explosion of unresolved anger against an institution that coddled child abusers—from the highest civil power of the land, the bishops of the Philippines invited the faithful to pray and fast for those who blaspheme the Holy and Terrible Name of God. This reparatory triduum starts today.
While we pray and fast today in reparation for the outrages and calumnies spoken against the Name of God, let us also remember those milestones that, in the supreme and infinite goodness of God, lodged on this auspicious date in our calendar.
16 July A. D. 1935 Rome at Saint Peter’s
Having received the request of the metropolitan archbishop of Manila, on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the entire archipelago, as well as the relation of the apostolic delegate, Pope Pius XI promulgates the bull Romani Pontiﬁces to the Philippine Islands, declaring the Virgin of Guadalupe as the Heavenly Patroness of the Philippine Islands (in Latin, Cœlestis Patrona Insularum Philippinarum). Many would, afterwards, pit this title of the Deipara against her Immaculate Conception when, almost seven years later, on 12 September 1942, Pope Pius XII, with the bull Impositi Nobis, would declare the latter as the Principal and Universal Patroness of the Philippine Islands (in Latin, Primaria Universalisque Patrona Insularum Philippinarum).
Note: By the end of Spanish rule, the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe was kept as a double major, while the feast of the Immaculate Conception, being patroness of the Spanish Indies and titular of the metropolitan cathedral of Manila, was celebrated as a double of the ﬁrst class with octave.
16 July A. D. 1902 Ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús
A cholera epidemic breaks out in the city of Cebú. The ordinary of the see, the Franciscan Fray Martín García y Alcocer, causes the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Holy Cross to be carried in procession through the main streets of the city to invoke the heavenly aid of the Blessed Mother of God against the epidemic. Since then, the city celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 16 July, in commemoration of its deliverance from the epidemic.
Note: There are two Virgins of Guadalupe venerated in the archipelago: the ﬁrst is the image from Mexico in what was formerly known as New Spain; the second is the image from Cáceres in the province of Extremadura in Spain. These two are unrelated devotions, the latter antedating the Mexican image for almoﬆ four centuries. Of these two, the Mexican image is more widespread and more known. The Extremaduran image, however, is venerated in many parts of Bohol—Loboc, in particular. They are celebrated with their own proper Masses. The Virgin of Guadalupe in Cebu follows the Mexican archetype.
16 July A. D. 1251 Aylesford or Cambridge
The Blessed Virgin Mary appears in a vision to Saint Simon Stock, Prior General of the Order of the Carmelites, holding a brown scapular, and saying, “This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved.” The brown scapular eventually spreads amongst the people who wish to be aﬃliated with the Carmelites. Though the historicity of this vision and that of the sabbatine privilege has been seriously questioned in the last century, the devotion to the Blessed Virgin still remains strong with the brown scapular.
16 July A. D. 1212 Las Navas de Tolosa
Alphonsus VIII of Castile, Sanctius VII of Navarre, and Peter II of Aragon obtain victory over the Muslims of Iberia. The Cross appears in the sky as the outnumbered Christians press against the Muslims, while the primatial Cross of Toledo penetrates the battle lines, amid the banners bearing the image of the Blessed Virgin, eventually putting to ﬂight the Almohad caliph Muhammad an-Nasir. The Crusade has been organised by Alphonsus VIII; Roderic, metropolitan of Toledo; and Pope Innocent XIII, who mandated a special rogation in Rome a year before.
In former times, the Triumph of the Holy Cross was originally kept on 16 July in the calendar of the Philippines, with Our Lady of Mount Carmel transferred to 21 July. Eventually, the feast days were switched, until finally Our Lady of Mount Carmel was fixed on 16 July and the Triumph of the Holy Cross was moved a day later. However, in some places in the Philippines, such as Carigara in Leyte, the Triumph of the Holy Cross is still kept today.
Saint Bernardine of Siena observes: “No other sin compasses in itself so much wickedness as blasphemy does”. Saint Jerome agrees: “All other sins, therefore, are light compared to blasphemy.” Saint John Chrysostom then commands: “Strike the blasphemer, crush his mouth!” Blasphemy is a grave sin. There is no doubt about it. We must make reparation for these indecencies so carelessly and whimsically thrown to the air, lest the wrath of God descend upon our nation.
Converte nos, Deus, salutaris noster, et averte iram tuam a nobis.
On this feast of the Most Precious Blood of the Lord, which could not have occurred at a more opportune time when persecution is imminent, when the elected ditionis dux entertains no qualms not only in maligning our shepherds, but also in blaspheming God, let us remember the words of one Filipino bishop whose cause for sainthood has been opened. On 25 January 1953, at the opening of the second session of the First Plenary Council of the Philippines, D. Alfredo M.ª Obviar, then administrator of the Diocese of Lucena, delivered a solemn speech on importance of that Council of the Philippine Church, linking it to the Universal Church and Her journey throughout history.
Thus the Church accomplisheth the divine message. It is true that She, in spreading throughout the world to bring the light of the Faith to those who are seated in the shadow of death, had along her steps encountered relentless enemies, who swore Her extermination. There the same in Judea, in Rome, in Asia, in Greece, in Macedonia, as in other parts even unto our present times, Her enemies spare no means to sate their vengeance. There the persecutions are which the Roman emperors promoted against Her. But the Church obtained greater beauty and worth when she bathed in Her own blood.
For Her, the imprisonments, the flagellations, the white-hot sheets, the fire, the cold water, the sword, the racks, the iron hooks, the wheels studded with steel spikes, the teeth and the jaws of the wild beasts, which the hatred of man did know to invent in its mad frenzy, served only, as did other new incentives, to rouse in Her the most intense desire to die for the Faith and for Christ.
She knoweth how to witness with equanimity and serenity in Her visage the slaughter of Her martyrs, who marched unto the arena of the circus to fight against their executioners and against other wild beasts. By the steadfastness of Her children in the Faith, beneath the sickle of persecution, children, adults, the rich and the poor, men and women, popes and bishops, priests and deacons have fallen, with a smile upon their lips, praising Christ and forgiving their executioners.
Así cumple la Iglesia el mensaje divino. Es verdad que ella, al extenderse por todo el orbe para llevar la luz de la fe a los que estaban sentados en la sombra de la muerte, había encontrado a su paso enemigos implacables, que juraron su exterminio. Allí mismo en Judea, en Roma, en Asia, en Grecia, en Macedonia, como en otras partes hasta en los actuales tiempos, sus enemigos no perdonaron medios para saciar su venganza. Allí están las persecuciones que los emperadores romanos promovieron contra ella. Sin embargo la Iglesia cobraba más hermosura y valor cuando se bañaba en su misma sangre.
Para ella las prisiones, la flagelación, las láminas candentes, el fuego, el agua helada, la espada, los potros, las uñas de hierro, las ruedas erizadas de aceradas púas, los dientes y las garras de las bestias feroces, que el odio humano supo inventar en su loco frenesí, sirvieron únicamente como otros nuevos incentivos para despertar en ella el más vivo deseo de morir por la fe y por Cristo.
Ella sabe presenciar con ecuanimidad y serenidad en el semblante la hecatombe de sus mártires, que marchaban a la arena del circo para lidiar contra sus verdugos o contra las fieras. Por la firmeza de sus hijos en la fe, cayeron bajo la hoz de la persecución niños, adultos, ricos y pobres, hombres y mujeres, papas y obispos, sacerdotes y diáconos, con la sonrisa en los labios, alabando a Cristo y perdonando a sus verdugos.
Persecution brings out the best in the Church. Her illustrious sons rise to defend Her. We fly ever more to the Sacraments. “Sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts,” said Saint Peter, “being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.” Parallels in history become quite alarming, especially at a time when everything that the Church steadfastly holds is conveniently explained away as hypocrisy. In the meantime, when freedom has not yet been deprived from us, let us not forget the call made by Saint John XXIII when he approved the Litany of the Precious Blood on 24 February 1960, when he issued the bull Inde a primis:recite or sing the Litany everyday for the whole month of July!
For us charged with the choral office, the feast of Saint John the Baptist bears paramount importance. It is on this feast when, at vespers, we once again sing the hymn that became the basis of the names of the notes of the mediaeval hexachord. Paul the Deacon, to whom authorship of the hymn is ascribed, saw in the 8th century the parallel in his and Zachary’s situation when, scheduled to sing the Exsultet in the Easter Vigil, he instead came down with a sore throat that very day. Needless to say, the anecdote confirms that, indeed, Paul’s throat was healed.
Six months after John’s birth, our Lord was born. Shortly after the birth of the Messiah, Herod the Great ordered the massacre of all male infants, two years and under, in Bethlehem. Only two survived. Christ, Whom Joseph and Mary spirited quickly to Egypt, and John, whom Elisabeth and Zacharias hid in the wilderness. And this nourishes our motley experience in promoting sacred music, our steadfast commitment to preserving Gregorian chant in the life of the Church.
Our isolation in this seemingly inhospitable part of the Lord’s vineyard, which other workers attempt to compromise by diverting irrigation (Goodbye, 2000-ish-year-old chant! Let’s support music that people want to hear!), adulterating fertiliser (Away with Latin! Nobody understands it these days!), or substituting crops (Hello, alius cantus aptus!) is not for naught. Sweeter is triumph at the height of adversity.
Sacred music is becoming a stranger in its own home. It is as if we are continuously encouraged towards holiness from one side, and expected to act on this resolve while hearing in the liturgy music bordering on the wanton. Popes, bishops, concerned liturgists have spoken in favour of sacred music. To some Catholics, however, who harbour other notions, obeying such pronouncements, even those enshrined in the blueprints of reforms they so cherish to the point of canonisation, is a pill far bitterer than a quashed ambition. Germane thoughts of solidarity ripple across the vineyard. But when the stewards, his foremen, and their concerned labourers turn to other problems, the determination fizzes out, and we are left again in the wilderness of obedience. The head is willing but the members are weak.
But what immensely fortifies us most in the duty to which have been called and to which we have responded is the reality of persecution. Every day we labour is a day lived in martyrdom. Not necessarily with blood. Let us not shirk away from this reality, and call upon the guidance of the Precursor of the Lord, whose birth loosened the tongue of his father.
There is a pious tradition reckoning the feast of Saint John the Baptist as the Summer Christmas. It is, after all, the liturgical feast of the earthly birth of the Precursor of the Lord, Whose proper birth is celebrated six months later, a celebration the Anglosphere calls Christmas. These two and the earthly birth of the Blessed Virgin are the only earthly births the Church celebrates. All other birthdays are heavenly birthdays, coinciding with the martyrdom or the death of a saint.
That the birth of Saint John the Baptist has a summer character to it has to be underscored as well, because of its scriptural significance. The summer solstice usually falls on 21 June, and after this occurrence, we usually notice the days shortening. The shortest day, that is, the longest night, usually falls within the period of the misas de aguinaldo, and the days will begin to lengthen again after the winter solstice, which usually falls on 21 December. Indeed, even the arrangement of the season reflects the relationship between the Lord and His Precursor. Oportet illum crescere, me autem minui, so saith Saint John.
And so, today we prepare to celebrate this year’s Johnmass (which forms a triad with Christmas and Ladymass). Compared to Christmas, the feast of Saint John has not been blessed with a vast repertoire of hymns, either in Latin or in the vernacular, even if its vespers hymn is the basis of nomenclature in solfege. Years ago, therefore, we decided to appoint alternative lyrics to one the many tunes associated with Christmas, Greensleeves, which carries the Christmas title What child is this? This Johannine parallel (click the thumbnail to open the file), likewise, uses this same title, having taken the strange opportunity of commemorating in one carol the only three who were born with no original sin: Christ our Lord was sinless; Mary was conceived without original sin; the Lord sanctified Saint John while still in the womb.
In July 2015, with the transfer of our priest, our community found a new home in the parish of the Most Holy Redeemer in Santol, Quezon City. The titular of the parish is, from its name, the Most Holy Redeemer (23 October in the Missal). The patron, on the other hand, is a Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (8 May in the Missal). (Cases where the titular saint and the patron saint of a parish church have been recorded in the Philippines since Spanish times.) In the Extraordinary Form, such feasts are ranked first class in the calendar proper to the parish church, and, therefore, outclass all other liturgical observations of lower rank.
The parish keeps the feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on the first Sunday of June. Thus, on 5 June 2016, we first celebrated this feast. There was a little hiccup to this: the full set of propers for this feast is found neither in the Liber usualis nor in the Graduale Romanum. The introit and the communion are nowhere to be found. (The tract can be found in the 1924 Graduale Romano-Seraphicum, proper to the Franciscans.) We needed to set the missing propers into chant. And, so we did.
These chants proper to the choir (click the thumbnail to open the file) were first chanted in 2016. In 2017, the parish feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was liturgically dislodged from the first Sunday of June in the Extraordinary Form. Pentecost fell on that Sunday, 4 June 2017. The liturgical observance of the feast was on the following 12 June, a Monday, the first unimpeded day after Whitsuntide. This year, 3 June is not impeded, so we have to observe the feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, impeding, however, the usual external solemnity of the Corpus Christi after the feast on Thursday.
Let us rejoice and exult in the Lord, for knowing His Name, we hope in Him, Who does not abandon those beseeching Him, and let us beg the intercession of our Blessed Mother, in whom is all the grace of the way and the truth, and all the hope of life and virtue!
A blessed Pentecost to everyone! Today, Holy Mother Church celebrates the 1985th anniversary of Her beginning, having been founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who ordained thus that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.
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It is often said that history is written by the victors. Our previous post detailing the minutes of the meetings of the Commission for the General Reform of the Liturgy discussing what to be done with 1 May leaves no room for what the attenders felt about what they were discussing. One must note that the authors and personalities quoted were sympathetic to the liturgical reform. Father Carlo Braga is a known collaborator of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini. Cardinal Ferdinando Giuseppe Antonelli, O. F. M., on the other hand, whose point of view Father Nicola Giampietro, O. F. M. Cap. explored in his book, was relator general of the Sacred Congregation of Rites at the time of the meetings on Saint Joseph, later secretary to the committee entrusted with the implementation of the reforms of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Contemporary authors obviating bias oftentimes come across sounding like an accommodating triage nurse summoning the next patient through the hospital intercom. For that, we may remain in the dark about what many of them actually felt before, during, and after the changes.
If the feast was established in 1955, and the new propers were released in 1956, why then does the 1957 liturgical book for the choir not contain the melodies? The simple answer would be this: The Sacred Congregation of Rites did not like the new feast. The Pope himself needed to intervene in order to force the Congregation to publish the Office and Mass of the new feast in 1956. It would take four more years for the Congregation to finally set the new propers to chant. The diary of Cardinal Antonelli simply presents the facts chronologically, meticulously cataloguing each and every item tackled and treated, every problem discussed and resolved, every solution proposed and approved, every reflection contemplated and considered, even presenting everyone as cooperating to achieve the goal of the task placed in their charge, enough for us to somehow conclude that nothing but the sheer bulk of the work caused the delay. From the clinical emotion-agnostic realm of meeting minutes, let us shift to that more sensational and thought-provoking province of popular reaction. We will let Fr. Jean Crété’s testimony  speak for itself for précising his account might reduce its power:
Fr. [Didier] Bonneterre recognises that this decree signaled the beginning of the subversion of the liturgy, and yet seeks to excuse Pius XII on the grounds that most people, except those who were party to the subversion, are thought of today as having been ignorant as to what was going on. I can, on the contrary, give a categorical testimony on this point. I realized very well that Pius XII’s decrees were just the beginning of a total subversion of the liturgy, and I was not the only one. All the true liturgists, all the priests who were attached to tradition, were dismayed. The Sacred Congregation of Rites was not favorable toward the proposed innovations, which were the special work of a modernising commission. When, five weeks later, Pius XII announced the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, which caused the ancient feast of SS. Philip and James to be transferred, and which replaced the Solemnity of S. Joseph, Patron of the Church, there was open opposition to it. For more than a year the Sacred Congregation of Rites refused to compose the Office and Mass for the new feast. Many interventions of agents purporting to represent the pope were necessary before the Congregation of Rites agreed, against their will, to publish the Office in 1956—an Office so badly composed that one might suspect it had been deliberately sabotaged. And it was only in 1960 that the melodies of the Mass and office were composed—melodies based on models of the worst taste. I relate this little-known episode to give an idea of the violence of the reaction to the first liturgical reforms of Pius XII.
L’abbé Bonneterre reconnaît que ce décret marque le début de la subversion de la liturgie, mais cherche à excuser Pie XII en disant qu’à l’époque personne, en dehors des hommes du parti de la subversion, ne pouvait s’en rendre compte. Je puis au contraire lui apporter sur ce point un témoignage catégorique. Je me rendais très bien compte que ce décret n’était que le début d’une subversion totale de la liturgie ; et je n’étais pas le seul. Tous les vrais liturgistes, tous les prêtres attachés à la tradition étaient consternés. La congrégation des rites n’était pas du tout favorable à ce décret, œuvre d’une commission spéciale. Lorsque, cinq semaines plus tard, Pie XII annonça l’introduction de la fête de saint Joseph artisan, l’opposition se manifesta ouvertement : pendant plus d’un an, la congrégation des rites refusa de composer l’office et la messe de la nouvelle fête. Il fallut plusieurs interventions du Pape pour que la congrégation des rites se résigne, de mauvaise grâce, à publier à la fin de 1956 un office si mal composé qu’on peut se demander s’il n’a pas été saboté volontairement. Et c’est seulement en 1960 que furent composées les mélodies (qui sont des modèles de mauvais goût) de l’office et de la messe. Nous racontons cet épisode peu connu pour donner une idée de la violence des réactions suscitées par les premières réformes liturgiques de Pie XII.
Hopefully, at this point, the reason is now clear.
There appears to have been a blueprint materialising in the innovative minds of the reformers of that time, and to its consequences we are now heirs. If we leave out the feminist undertone, appropriating Mrs. Lintott’s take on the meaning of history for ourselves becomes too irresistible: “History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men” . In our case, it’s “men of the cloth”. Nothing is perhaps more damning to a once-in-vogue worldview than when the judgment of history reaffirms the wisdom of tradition: From the highest of the three liturgical ranks (first class) in the 1962 Missal, the new feast descended to the lowest of four (optional memorial) in the 1970 Missal. Let us ask Saint Joseph in these trying times, to guide all of us who look upon him as our champion and the protector of Holy Mother Church, that we may offer our travails, our labours, our sorrows, for the preservation of the Holy Catholic Faith.
Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.
 Jean Crété, Le mouvement liturgique: Itinéraire (January 1981) p. 133.  Mrs Dorothy Lintott (Frances de la Tour) in The history boys, dir. Nicholas Hytner (Fox Searchlight Pictures: 2006).
Earlier this year, the site containing links to the sheets music edited and revised by Mons. Abel Di Marco expired. Having salvaged most of the partitures, we have recatalogued them here so that church musicians working to promote Catholic sacred music can continue accessing this treasure.
Copyright remains with Mons. Di Marco. We have assumed this task purely for pastoral purposes, and we neither foresee nor expect any form of monetary compensation for or profit from it. You can access them in our Resources > Chant Resources page (directly here).
May God bless and continue to bless the labours of church musicians throughout the world!